Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hot Cup of Cocoa

My sixteen-hour work week working at Navigator Pointe Academy (a charter school in West Jordan) includes running an after-school show choir for 2nd and 3rd graders.  I was initially excited by the prospect, then worried once I met my 2nd and 3rd grade students, then apprehensive when only 16 students signed up.  "What am I going to do with sixteen inexperienced kids who routinely struggle to pay attention during their 25 minutes of in-school music?" I thought to myself.  "How am I going to put together any sort of performance I can be proud of, and with only eight rehearsals?"

Well, the answer was to keep the performance short, the songs relatively easy, and the dance moves "cute" instead of precise.  I have to start somewhere, and hopefully as the program grows, so can my expectations.

The good news is that I really didn't need to worry.  My kids are doing great, and they are only two rehearsals away from singing their little hearts out, "With a h-h-h-h-hot c-c-c-c-cup of c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-co-co-coa!"

And speaking of hot cocoa, I made a less-than-wise decision two Friday's ago in promising the kids we could go for a ride down by the river if they were awesome at Grandma's while I was trying to get my work done.  They were awesome, but I didn't finish my stuff until about 4:30 pm.  The sun was still up (barely) so we quickly bundled and headed down the street to the trailhead.  Smiles lasted long enough for one family-on-wheels picture but quickly faded along with the sunlight.

We took a quick peek at the river, turned promptly around, and headed back to Grandma's with frozen hands in much need of warming.  Cocoa to the rescue!  This was Dylan's first experience with the stuff.  His questioning look quickly turned to one of pleasure, and he was the first to drain his cup.

So, after the recent snow storms I decided it was maybe time to start planning more seasonally appropriate activities.  We invited some neighbors out to our practically-next-door park for some snowy fun.  I wanted to build snowmen and forts, but the snow got too old too quickly.  Luckily, the neighbors brought some sleds, and I ran home to get the never-before-used snow tubes Grandma Tess gave us two years ago.  In the past, sledding has been a major source of anxiety and whining for my all-too-cautious oldest child, but the hill at the park is just perfect for the munchkin-sized sledders.  There was no whining about dragging sleds back up, no tears about going too fast, and thanks to the lighting, no problems with the fact that the daddies are only home when it is dark.

We all gathered at my house for - you guessed it - more hot cocoa and some yummy brownies brought by the Mechams.  Note: if you like a really dark tasting cocoa, buy the hot chocolate mix in bulk at Winco.  If you don't (and most didn't), I don't recommend it!  Luckily Alicia loved it, so I sent the rest home with her.

Oh, and this was supposed to be cool.  Pretend it was:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It All Started...

...when I drove past a yard sale last Saturday.  This awesome bunk bed caught my eye, and I had to have it for Alex's room.  I mean, if your little boy has an ocean themed room, and you happen across a ship bunk bed, you have to have it!

As always, I was in a hurry, so I called Kirk.

"Um, honey, if you walk across the street, you'll see a yard sale.  They have this awesome bunk bed.  Can you go see how much they want for it?"

He texted me, "$20."

"Buy it."

Turns out that in order for this awesome bunk bed to achieve it's full potential, it would need to be stripped and repainted.

No problem. 

I thought my little project would take me the better part of an afternoon.


It took me three trips to Lowes, about $75, and the better part of a week.

There were times - many times - I regretted even starting the project.

But I finished it, and now Alex has an awesome bunk bed to go in his already awesome room.  And I'll have a memory to keep in my back pocket for the next time I see something awesome at a yard sale.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Claim to Fame

When I was a kid, my uncle was the Vice President of Arctic Circle. 

Yes.  I know.

Practically celebrity.

That meant cool things for me, like knowing his signature was at the bottom of the coupons they passed out in schools.

It also meant I got to be in a few commercials.

I got paid in hamburgers and Easter dresses, which was just fine for a 8 to 10 year old (these commercials were from 1989 to 1991).  I also got recognized. 

"Wow, you look just like the girl in the Arctic Circle commercials," a schoolmate said to me.

"I am the girl in the Arctic Circle commercials," I informed him, dripping with an obviously tone.

Unfortunately they started hiring different kids around the time of those slap-on watches that eventually got banned from schools.  Remember those?

Anyway, it seemed my fifteen minutes of fame were over.

But were they truly?

Nope, because hidden away in the archives of my mom's basement, I found the videotaped commercials.  The studio had provided each participant with their own copy.  Fancy, right?

I played them using my mom's VCR, since she still has one of those -- I don't -- and recorded them with my camera.  Uploaded to YouTube, a tiny bit of editing to put them all together, and here you have it:

My fifteen minutes revisited.  I hope you enjoy my classically crimped hair in the first video and my rockin' side-part-pony on the last.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Quite Wrong

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It is the Soldier...

When I try to encourage my students to deliver a heart-felt performance, I often say something to the effect of, "If you have one of those moms that cries all the time, we want to make sure we make her cry."

I'm not that Mom.  At least, not usually.  But today, I left school with a headache from the combination of permanent marker and trying not to cry.

We had an assembly for Veteran's Day, and - I'll be brutally honest here - I was just wishing I had the day off.  I didn't have to teach my classes because they were going to the assembly instead.  But I still had to be there, because my classes were singing in the assembly.  I wasn't even excited for that, because we already performed these songs for the parents two weeks ago, and I've already moved on to teaching Christmas songs.

So you can imagine my surprise when, as the 5th through 9th grade classes at Navigator Pointe Academy together with about 30 invited veterans stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I choked on my words.  Teared up.  And it didn't stop there.  I had to mouth half the words to the Star Spangled Banner as I was up there leading it; I knew if I sang, my voice would give way to tears.  

The 6th and 7th grade choirs (not my classes) sang "Blades of Grass and Pure White Stone."  
"Blades of grass and pure white stone shelter those who've come and gone. Just below the em'rald sod are boys who've reached the arms of God. Buried here with dignity, endless rows for all to see. Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown, 'neath blades of grass and pure white stones."

Some of their notes were terrible.  But the feeling they put behind it was amazing.  Again with the almost-tears.

What surprised me the most, though, was the solemnity with which the students who had been selected to share Veteran's Day essays approached their task.  One ninth grade student delivered her speech with so much feeling that I hung on every word.  Included in her essay was the following quote.  Read it slowly (as she did) and imagine reading it in the presence of men and women who fought in wars ranging from WWII to the present war.  Imagine a room full of 11 to 14 year olds, silent.  Respectful.  Solemn.

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, 
Who has given us freedom of the press. 
It is the soldier, not the poet, 
Who has given us freedom of speech. 
It is the soldier, not the organizer, 
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, 
Who salutes the flag, 
Who serves beneath the flag, 
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, 
Who allows the protestor to burn the flag." 
- Father Dennis Edward O'Brian, USMC

I've never felt the stirrings of patriotism as poignantly as I did today, and I cannot deny that the spirit was present today in the multi-purpose room of a public school.  I am lucky to have been a part of the assembly today, and I am proud of the students who so nobly honored their relative veterans.

I'm already looking forward to next year's assembly.

[And I violated my personal one-post-per-day rule because I felt so strongly about this.  Read on for my earlier post!]

Five Turkeys

I hadn't planned on blogging this project.  It was just another "activity jar" and not something with which to bore the masses.  Just some not-that-impressive turkeys made by two munchins and a mom who's never been much of an artist.  Until...

I posted on Facebook about how I'd taped saran-wrap over our creations, hoping to preserve them for a week or two, and wished out loud for contact paper.

Then I went to work.

When I came home, there on my counter sat a roll of contact paper!

I couldn't blame/thank the hubby - he couldn't have read my FB post until he got home from work.

"Where did this come from?" I asked.

"Alicia.  She said you wanted some and that she had lots, so she sent it home with me."

Alicia is my friend/babysitter extraordinaire.  I'm telling you, she is crazy awesome.  But that is a whole-nother story.

I quickly went to work with the contact paper, turning our projects into somewhat durable placemats that should last us through the season.

But the real reason these have become blog worthy, you ask?

I think I'm going to keep them.

Groundbreaking, if you really know me.  I am not a keeper of stuff.  Taker of pictures?  Yes.  Preserver of memories via digital scrapbook and blog?  Yes.  Thrower-away of all things normal people keep just for sentiment?  Yes.

Still, I'm keeping these.

Why?  Because Alex is still in that sperm-people phase where his stick figure legs come straight out of the head.  Because Adam's words are starting to look like words, not just random jumbles of letters.  Because who knows how long Alex's blue and orange favorite colors will last, and so who knows how many BSU turkeys we'll get to sport.  Because it turns out Adam was right - the two eyed turkey does actually look less weird. 
Because I somehow managed to capture memories, personality, and maybe even time between those two sheets of contact paper.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my wonderful kids and the time I get to spend with them each day. I'm thankful for friends who go out of their way to make my life easier, better, and just more fun. I'm thankful for family, near and far, who stay involved in my life and the lives of my goobers. I'm thankful for our home and our jobs and the security we've been blessed with in such awful times. I'm grateful for the gospel and for music and the talents I've been blessed with. I'll even admit to being thankful for Facebook and blogging because they keep me sane and connected.

And I'm thankful for sperm-people, who - by the way - represent that Alex is grateful for his Mommy and Daddy. I think I want to remember that.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smell Like a Monster

Maybe you've seen this.  Maybe you haven't. 

If you haven't, you definately should.

My kids found it on  I found it on YouTube.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Want One for Christmas?

I've been waiting for three years for the prices on custom board books to come down, and they've finally come down enough that I think they are at least *somewhat* reasonable.  I'm going to be printing with these guys because they have the right price/size/pages combination for me.  So head there and design your own ($19.95 printing plus $4.65 shipping for a 14 page plus front and back cover book, btw) OR send me all your pics and $30, and I'll design/print/ship it for you.

And no, you don't have to go with the alphabet theme.  I can also do families or whatever ideas you can dream up.  I'll be working on a family book for Dylan, and I'll post it when it's done.

Fun idea for the kiddos for Christmas!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkins, Costumes, and Parties

I'll be brief, I promise!


I'm going to show you the happy pictures first.  Remember these as you read on....

Great start, great finish, but it got a little hairy in the middle when Mom and Dad tried to force Adam to get over his pumpkin negativity.  We decided our family Halloween tradition is fighting while carving pumpkins.  First, every face I tried to draw for Adam didn't fit his "angry" description, and any plea from me for him to draw it himself resulted in a whiny, "But I don't know hoooowwww to make it look angry!"

Then came the dreaded attempt to get Adam to touch the pumpkin guts.  Let's just say Adam and pumpkin guts have had a rough start:

But now he's almost six for crying out loud!  We figured this was the year to give it a go.  Finally realizing he couldn't handle touching it with his bare hands, we offered him salad tongs.  Tongs in hand - and with a guarantee of not even having to touch the slime - we still had all this...

Maybe next year we'll manage to enjoy the process.  Or maybe we'll can it altogether...

I guess we ended up with a bit of a movie/television theme this year, and for very little effort, the boys sure got a lot of compliments!

There wasn't much to Kirk's costume, but I was glad I went to the trouble to fund a V-neck shirt when my brother commented, "Oh, that's why you're wearing a gay shirt."

I didn't seem to get as exhausted by all the parties this year as I have in the past.  Maybe it's because the kids' costumes were super easy, and the makeup was kind of fun.  Anyway, here's the highlights:

-- Grandma Tess's Annual Party --
We enjoyed the traditional games and cookie decorating, but the highlight was definately the new addition:

-- School Carnival --
Hot and stuffy, but we still had a pretty good time.  We hit the playground in the dark to cool off and discovered that Dylan's newfound ability to slide down the stairs backwards means he also thinks he can handle ladders, ect.  I'll be watching him a little more closely at future park outings!

-- Ward Party --
We came, we ate (Kirk at 5 bowls of soup), we costume paraded, but I guess I didn't take any pics that night.  Amazing!

-- Children's Museum --
We have the annual pass, and I like to make sure we're getting our $$'s worth, so we carted the kids off to their Halloween Spooktacular.  It was well worth it.  The crowds were not at all out of control, and there were lots of fun activities for the kids to do.  My favorite was the corn maze trick or treat, just perfect for little ones.

-- The Real Deal --
Trick or Treat!  Dylan made it to about 12 houses, Alex made it to about 20, and Adam went for two hours and filled his entire pumpkin!  The rain didn't pose too much of a problem, and I really enjoyed being the one to take the goons around this year.