Friday, October 31, 2014

A Helping Verb is a Very Fine Man

If you've ever been privileged enough to have Mrs. Casdorph as a teacher, you will easily finish out the rest of one of many grammar chants ingrained so permanently in your memory that they might as well be stamped upon your very soul.

A helping verb is a very fine man;
He gives a verb a helping hand.
Like: am, is, are, was, were,
Be and been,
Have, has, had,
Do, did, does,
May, might, must,
Can, could,
Shall, should,
Will, would.

You might also recall that the first 7 on the list can also appear as linking verbs and the subsequent six, when appearing as the main verb in the sentence, may be action verbs.

And if you haven't ever been a student of Mrs. Casdorph, you will either find yourself relating to this line of thinking or you will write me off as totally crazy.  Fair enough.

The chant is honestly of little importance to the story except as a fun anecdote to introduce the topic of helping verbs in order to tell this story:

Monday morning as we were doing our daily scripture study, Adam questioned the accuracy of the following phrase found in Alma 53:11, "...had it not been for the pity and exceeding love which Ammon and his brethren had had for them."

"Had had?" he questioned.  "Mom, why does it say had twice?"

"Because the first one is a helping verb and the second is an action verb."  I was grateful to share this vocabulary in common with my sons so the fairly complex question could be answered in relatively few words.

And then I remembered this, which I had meant to post as soon as it aired.



And then I started to chant... "A helping verb is a very fine man..."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Three Unrelated Stories

Three Unrelated Stories

about three very related boys

1.

On a Tuesday night in September, I drove Alex to meet Kirk and the other boys at Arctic Circle to make good on our promise to reward captured flags with ice cream.  But that's another, even less related story.  The important detail to note here is that Alex and I got some rare one-on-one time during which he laid out the difficult conundrum with which he currently struggled.  Did he want to become a rock star like Austin or a composer like Ally?  I got all excited to know he had either of these musical aspirations and launched into a full-blown monologue about how he didn't have to choose.  How some people are lucky enough to get to write their songs AND sing them.  Taylor Swift.  Garth Brooks.  And at the restaurant, I showed him YouTube videos of how cool it can be to sing your own songs.

Fast forward 16 hours to the following Wednesday afternoon at school.  The students all filed in to the multi-purpose room for the super-duper-top-secret assembly, the subject of which even the teachers weren't apprised.  Imagine my surprise when there, right before my son, is a man who is famous both for writing and singing his own music.  There, on stage, was Michael McLean.

He opened at the piano:

Do you think that it's possible for strangers like us could be friends
In just a moment or two...

For an hour, he was part musician, part comedian, part motivational speaker, part life coach.

And 100% cool.  The kids loved him.  The teachers loved him.  And I hoped Alex heard every word of the message Mr. McLean had come to share: don't let anybody blow out the candle of your dreams.

And then it happened.  I had walked to the front of the room to put away the sound equipment when I saw it out of the corner of my eye.  Alex, my would be composer, speaking one on one with his new idol.  Michael McLean down on my son's level telling him he could do it.  Not 24 hours after he disclosed his dream to me, Alex seeing someone who had overcome significant odds to make it happen.

2.

My third son has a different dream.  A dream that perhaps his mother might possibly decorate for Halloween.  I never have before, but this year I promised my kids they could throw an awesome Halloween party, which means I have to decorate.

Dylan has developed a new frustration recently; basically he is frustrated with me all the time.  For not knowing what's for lunch.  For not knowing when we will go to the store.  For not committing to a date to decorate.  He asks these incessant questions, and I respond, "I don't know."  To which he huffs, rolls his eyes, and explains yet again, "You can just choose.  You just choose when to decorate."

Well, I finally chose today.  And despite some minor hiccups (like not having any of the supplies on hand), we managed to at least make the monster door he'd chosen from Pinterest.  He insisted it had to be a scary door, and apparently this design fit the bill.

I was beyond frustrated when he wouldn't budge on a single detail.  No, the eyes couldn't be yellow.  No, they couldn't be light orange.  Thankfully, I finally found one sheet of orange paper that met his meticulous eye.

And it was all worth it when he proclaimed the door a success and demanded that I take a picture.  I'm just hoping I haven't set a precedent I'm unwilling to keep up.

3.

Speaking of pictures, I had to snap a quick one of Adam's "Saying and Phrase" assignment this week.  After studying the idiom "birds of a feather," he had to complete a Venn diagram listing the similarities and differences of two people.  No surprise, he chose Aiden B.

We have been hearing about Aiden B. for years.  Aiden B. and Adam have been best friends since 2nd grade, but since we don't live in the same city as the school, hanging out away from school pretty much hasn't happened.

Until this year.

Apparently the boys have decided they will hang out this year, and we frequently find out last minute about the plans he, Aiden B., and Caleb have made.  The disclosure is followed by begging, which is generally followed by the 15 minute drive to Aiden's house.  We finally managed to host Aiden last week, and it was great to pretty much not see either boy for hours as they executed the game-system related plans they had carefully laid.

Having attended a school across the valley from where I lived, I understand how challenging it can be to be friends with people you don't live near.  But my lifelong friendship with my 4th grade BFF, Rosie, helps me put in perspective that Adam's school friends could very well be his friends for life.  Just in case he ends up 33 and still friends with Aiden B., I thought I had better document the Venn diagram showing their similarities (they both like chili) and differences (mostly number of brothers and opinions on seafood).