Sunday, May 13, 2018

May the Fourth and Revenge of the Fifth

One of the perks of teaching elementary school is that you get to celebrate all the random holidays with people who also love celebrating the random holidays.

 We went to see Weird Al in concert on May 4th and ran into lots of friends. It was a really fun concert. Weird Al is so talented! Not a missed note, not a skipped beat in the night. I was really impressed.

Creed and George were laughing so hard at the comedian who opened for Al that I just had to sneak a picture of their joy. The guy's name was Emo Phillips. We left the concert before it was over because Robert was competing in the Ironman Triathlon the the next day. A comedy rock concert is exactly what all the elite athletes do the night before a big race!
 He did it! I was so proud of him. I spent the day driving kids all over town for rehearsals and recitals and running errands for school dances, so I missed him crossing the finish line. I was so sad about that, but unbelievably proud of him. Maybe I should set a PE type of goal. Do a push up now and then? Take the stairs more? Something along those lines . . . except there aren't a lot of stairs in St. George. 
Even though I missed the big moment, my mom and Jim made there to support him. They really are the best. And so is Bob.

2017-2018 School Year Wrap-up

Creed worked hard this year in all Honors and AP classes. It was not an easy task for him to stay on top of all of his classes, but he handled it quite well-especially for someone who doesn't always "buy-in" to the value of high school classes. HA! He was in Student Council all year, so he helped plan and set up every dance, lots of activities, and even MC'd a few assemblies. Creed participated in the Spring Play. He played the part of Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach. He was so FUNNY! He wore a bunch of padding to make himself look a lot larger than he actually is, his delivery was spot-on, and he really entertained. One of my friends went to see the play and she thought his performance made the whole play. Creed campaigned for student council again this year and will be a Student Body Officer next year. He is still taking piano lessons and has added guitar to his studies. He got his driver's license, started dating, and survived the first year of school he has ever had to do without his big brother. Senior Status is right around the corner for this kid!

Creed designed the art for the playbill.

Stella was involved in art and choir this year. She continues to get fantastic grades and is a member of the HOPE Squad~an eighth grade leadership and suicide prevention group. HOPE stands for Hold On, Persuade, And Power. She discovered her love of ALL sports. Every unit in PE was a new opportunity to listen to her talk passionately about a new love. It was so fun. She especially enjoyed basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, and softball. She didn't much care for golf. Next year she will attend the new high school being built right around the corner from our home. She will get to walk to high school.

George is in 4th grade and has the hardest spelling lists I have ever seen. He was spelling words I have never seen! He loved being a RASCAL. The RASCALS are the Student Council team in elementary school. Some of his responsibilities included: selling Jolly Grams at Christmas, making posters, selling otter pops, and being a good example for his classmates. He has lots of friends at school, but not many around our neighborhood. There are still not a lot of kids nearby! He just finished state testing and proved that he is just as capable as his older siblings. I say: four down, one to go!

Lucy finished pre school this year and loved every minute. One of her favorite preschool buddies is the little brother to one of my students. That was fun! Every time Oliver came to my class, we were able to talk about Lucy. She can read short, easy books and decode most decodable words. She loves her teachers and her friends. Lucy will attend kindergarten at my school next year. I can't wait to have one on my kids at the school with me!

Jack loves his mission. We all love to hear from him every week. He is working hard and generally spreading joy to all who meet him in Peru. He is now a "Trainer" which means he is his current companion's first companion on his mission.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chicago in June: U2 Concert

Jackie phoned several months ago to attempt a coordination where we could meet during her  spring trip to Utah where she was going to help her daughter move home from college for the summer.

We couldn't coordinate a meet up in Utah, but she had tickets to see a concert in June in Chicago. Could we come?

I am lucky enough in this life to have friends like Jackie and Pete. That's no small thing. They are rare birds.

You bet we can come!

Chicago was hot and friendly. We ate deep dish pizza and banana pudding. We spent a day in the Art Institute of Chicago. I could spend a week there. We rode the bus to the concert. Jack's favorite band warmed up the crowd. When I texted to tell him we were watching the Lumineers, he texted back "You are at a concert?" The details of our trip had escaped his attention. All he knew was that the folks were gone.

We sang and danced all night to the songs from our youth. By the time the concert was over and we were back in our hotel, it was 3 in the morning. With a flight leaving at 6 AM, we had missed our chance to sleep. We hung around until it made reasonable sense to leave for the airport and bid our farewells. Friendships like that are the stuff of life. We pulled into our driveway at 10:45. The kids were already at church. We couldn't wait to see them, so we changed our clothes and drove over to the chapel to find them. 

 A trip to remember, for sure.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Student Council Elections are the Worst

When Creed announced that he wanted to run for student council, I was equally sick to my stomach and happy he wanted to participate. We are talking about a kid who does stand-up comedy for his school talent show, but is sobbing and sick with worry the night before the big performance and begs to back out.

He turned his application in late.

He told me he needed a video/skit type of thing so I helped him figure out a game plan. He ignored my advice and decided to make a stop-motion video. After hours and hours of work, he had about 6 seconds of footage. They were a good 6 seconds. Great, even. But those 6 seconds had cost him about 6 hours. I sent him to bed, and told him to revisit the movie after school the next day. He came home from school and announced that he didn't need a video, after all. Just a speech and some posters.

I provided the posterboard, the spray paint, some stencils for the lettering, and a few words of advice. Again, he ignored my advice and created these:

He told me that 1984 Big Brother is exactly the tone he was going for. 

Next he wrote his speech. Once again, he did this with zero help and I didn't know what to expect. I was at work when the speeches were delivered, so I didn't get to see it. Thank heavens I have a friend who noticed I wasn't there and filmed it for me. Here is a semi-paraphrased transcript:

"Some people think this election is just a popularity contest. To those people I say, 'you are mispronouncing the word DEMOCRACY!'" (Here the student body erupted in applause and laughter. I could even see a few students stand and hoot and holler at him.) "Popularity contests mean that people like me don't usually win elections. That's why America invented the Electoral College." (Clapping and cheering.) "Anyway, I believe the school belongs to US! (pounds the podium) The WORKING CLASS!" (cheering and applause.) 

Anyway, you get the idea. He simultaneously stayed absolutely true to himself and won over the student body. He used words like "proletariat" and ended with the phrase, "Remember, a vote for Creed is a vote for YOU!" at which point the kids hooted and cheered as he walked off the stage.

Obviously he won. Otherwise I would probably not tell this story. Go Creed! He has a week of leadership training this summer and he gets to wear one of those cool Student Council Sweaters. He is now required to participate in and help plan school functions. 

He is going to have a great Junior Year! (Even though I suspect he is going to miss Jack like crazy.)

Jack's Senior Year Wrap-up

Jack had an excellent high school experience. He worked hard, earned good grades, went on lots of dates, played tennis, sang with the choir, and seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
At the tennis banquet, Jack received the honor of team MVP. Coach Dave has known Jack and taught him the art of tennis for 5+ years. 

Love these tennis kids!

Jack was the Team Captain this year and he also earned an All Region distinction because of his good grades. 

I loved it when I arrived to a match to find that Jack and Creed were partnered in their matches. They were undefeated as a partnership for the season!

 A variety of people showed up to support the boys as they played. Grandma came to every match, their dad came when he was in town and not working, younger siblings were a fixture, and even our St. George grandpa, Bob Case, came to support!
Stella always has a deck of cards. She brought them to tennis.

Getting some pointers mid-match from coach.

High school choir concerts give me hope. This choir was outstanding and I enjoyed listening to them sing all throughout Jack's years in high school. Through the years he participated in countless concerts and festivals including handbells, solos, and chamber choir, called Trilogy. He was on the choir council his senior year. I love the boys and girls pictured here.

On Valentine's Day, Jack and his choir friends came to my school and serenaded me in front of the whole class. They loved it. I loved it. It was a moment that I will always remember. Especially now that I wrote it down and created a record of it. Ha! My memory is terrible. I need to record the family events far more often than I do. (They came when we were in the computer lab. These photos are not taken in my classroom.)
Stella was in choir at her school and for one night there was a giant concert that involved all the choirs for our cone site . . . which meant that they sang in the same concert! 

I don't have pictures of every single dance. MOMFAIL. But here are a few pictures from a few of the dances. I want to offer a general THANK YOU to the parents of the girls whom Jack dated. They were all of them strong, independent, intelligent girls who are going to be amazing women.

This may have been Senior Prom, I don't recall. Working full time during your son's senior year is a huge adjustment, especially if it's your first year teaching. By May I had cut my work days down to an average of 10 hours each day and only a few weekends. It was rough, but thanks to my mom and my responsible kids, he had a corsage for every dance. Phew.

Engine and caboose.

These two pictures are how I will remember Jack's senior year: a pair of shorts, dark socks, lanyard around his neck, and constant ice cream. He is such a great person. I am so grateful that I get to be the one person in the world he calls Mom.

May 2017: I Graduated!

In August, even though I hadn't completed my Bachelor's Degree yet, I started the school year with my very own class of third graders. The first couple of months were more hectic than they could have been because I was still attending classes at the University every day while I learned the ropes. I earned my degree in December and it arrived in the mail in January. In May I attended the graduation ceremony and celebrated with my family. It was a great day! 

It's not easy supporting your wife/mom while she pursues higher educational goals. I'm sure the kids feel like they deserve an award, too.

May 2017: Jack Graduated from High School!

Time marches forward and these kids keep doing their thing! Jack graduated from high school and we all cried. Sara pulled off the greatest surprise and showed up on our doorstep on his graduation day. When I pulled up to our house after work and saw her car parked out front I shouted "NO WAY!" over and over. I just couldn't believe it. It was so unexpected because we had just talked about how much she had going on in her world and that she just didn't have time to come down for the graduation. My mom pulled off a great celebration with amazing food and decorations. Robert and I worked at his "grad night" and were able to spend the evening celebrating with him and all his friends. He is going to attend Southern Utah University after he returns from his mission.