Saturday, December 17, 2011

Because of...

I was reading a friend's blog recently with the post title being "Can't We All Just Get Along?"  It got me thinking.  We can, but sometimes we don't and it would probably be weird if we always did.  I think for any group of 34 4th graders and 1-2 adults plus a parent volunteer here and there...there are bound to be days like Thursday.  The storm before the calm.  Every time I have ever put on a performance with my class the day before the "big day" I just about want to rip my own hair out and then the next day I am overflowing with joy and love.  Perhaps it is that push out to the end of the plank that makes us find the joy.  As Ellie likes to sing, "What shall we do with a scurvy pirate? What shall we do with a scurvy pirate? What shall we do with a scurvy pirate??????  Make him walk the plank! Argh!"

Thursday was my scurvy pirate. I made him walk the plank and Friday was smooth sailing.  

That scurvy pirate was filled with problems to solve, reminders to give, hurt feelings to mend, reminders to give, messes to clean, reminders to give, noise to try to tune out, reminders to give, a broken light bulb to be swept up....Ugh! What a day!

I complained and questioned why I chose to plan such chaos on a crazy week.  This is why...

In my mind it would be fantastic.  I would host a party for my class that would take us on a journey into our imaginations and bring to life the party at the end of the book we have been reading: Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie. The last time I had read this story with a class was the year the movie came out in the theater and we went to see it on a field trip.  It was such fun.  Then I surprised my class with a party in our room where we transformed our room into Gloria Dump's yard and had a glorious party. 

Our journey through the story has been magical and I wanted to end our week with a magical party.  The students had created book projects and made and delivered invitations to staff members on campus.  Thursday night I had to put aside frustrations and stress and got prepared to try to pull it off.  I started preparing food while the kids had their bath and when Daddy sent them in to see me I was onto  making little signs for the food from the story.  Mason asked if he could make some too.  He was inspired to make a Lemonade stand.  He decorated his signs, and served frozen corn. You know like any quality Lemonade stand would. 

Dogs that tried to snack on said "frozen corn" were given doggie treats by pajama tooth fairy to keep them  out of trouble. 

And then tooth fairies have to eat, and well, so do Lemonade Stand owners. 

It's exhausting work being a tooth fairy! And the answer is a definite NO! if you ask them to remove tooth fairy costumes in bed.

So after Lemonade Stand therapy and a good night's sleep I woke, ready to make Thursday walk the plank.  We had a party to throw and nothing would stand in my way.  We hung twinkle lights, spread out table cloths, set up book projects, set up the food table, hung signs, set out handmade thank you notes that one student made at his house Thursday night for all of our guests...ah my heart was overflowing! As they walked in from recess under the twinkle lights I heard, "It's just like we are in the book!" As they snacked I overheard, "This is the best day ever!"

My eyes were a bit misty! Perhaps it was splashes of water from Thursday walking the plank.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa's Missing Beard

Mason was writing the word Banana and ran out of room for all the letters.
I love that he made them  into characters.
On our journey this morning as we drove past the preschool Mason shouted, "Hi Preschool.  See you in a little while!"  Then realization hit and he said, "Oh no, I forgot to make my book last night for Teacher Bev."

We asked him about this and he said he had wanted to make her a book as a present.  We told him he could work on it tonight when we got home because he still had one more day of school before the break.  So tonight as we were gearing up for bath and story time and such he said, "Is there still time to work on my book?" I had no idea what time it was, but of course there had to still be time.  We got into our pajamas and he went to pick out the pages.  "Mommy you write the words I want to say and I will do the pictures. Remember, like that airplane storybook we did?"  I remember it well.

One of Mason's Drawings from another night of projecting.
So he found his paper and pencil and we sat down.  Ellie wanted to watch the Christmas movie from Grammie so she and Daddy snuggled on the couch while Mason and I worked on the book.  I thought it might not work out with the movie on.  He was entranced by the story of "Yes Virginia" a sweet story of a girl who writes to the New York newspaper, The Sun to ask if there is really a Santa Claus.  If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. We watched it last night and when one little girl is saying there is no Santa Claus Mason shouted out, "She's wrong!" All the lights are lit on his "Believe Meter".

I waited patiently for the words I was to write and they came.  "First you need to write Santa's Missing Beard.  That's what the book is called."

So I wrote and as we worked he directed, "Now turn the page." Then more story unfolded.  It was a suspenseful story of Santa missing his beard and finding it and then in his hurry to deliver toys one fell from his sleigh and then he had to call upon his elf to make a replacement and on and on.  I think one of my favorite lines was when they had a Holly Jolly Christmas and danced around the tree.  By the end Mason was pretty tired out and didn't end up drawing any pictures, but he wrote his name and her name with a box around it. He took the book in his hands.

He was too tired to illustrate his book tonight.  Here is some art from a few weeks ago.  On the left is his concert invitation.  Remember Mason's Concert ? On the right is his drawing of Baby Isaiah.
I asked him, "How did you come up with this idea?"

He looked at his book and said, "I just want her to be happy like on my birthday when everyone gives me presents and I am happy." He put the book in his backpack and I overheard him telling Josh as I was laying in Ellie's room, "We don't want to forget this book."  No we don't.  Teacher Bev you are in for a real treat.  Happy Holidays to you.  We love you Teacher Bev.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Half Full

Monkey See, Monkey Do

My mother always taught me to see the good in everyone.  When someone was mean she'd say, "Kill 'em with kindness." Even when she didn't say it, she showed it in her kindness, her actions.  I remember a girl scout camp out where one girl in our troop was kind of annoying.  All the other girls worked really hard at making her feel left out.  I globbed in on this not being secure enough in my own self to do otherwise.  I remember the last day of the trip my mom consoling that girl who was crying.  I remember thinking how brave and caring my mom was.  I felt in that moment how I should have been acting rather than going along with everyone else just so I wouldn't be treated like her.

I love my mom's "Glass Half Full" outlook on life.  My mom has always been one to see the good. Always wants to make sure everyone is happy and okay.  It is an impossible task.  We must all go through the tough spots from time to time. I think it is these tough spots that help us appreciate the FULL spots. I was thinking about this idea this morning. I think it will drive our focus this week at school.  As I think about the roller coaster weekend we just experienced filled with its highs and lows there are many moments where you could ask yourself, "Is the glass half empty or half full?"  It reminds me of the speech at my Dad's Honorary Doctorate Ceremony.  The woman who spoke shared her story as an athlete where she learned the importance of viewing the world with a "Get To" rather than "Have To" attitude.

On our Thanksgiving trip to LA we were going to head to the store to buy ingredients to cook for my family.  The garage door opener we had wasn't working, so our car was trapped inside the parking garage.  We had to leave our car, but we "Got To" take a gorgeous walk into Westwood.  The kids found treasures the whole way...leaves, seed pods, "the tiniest pinecone you ever saw", balance beams, places to dance and sing, and more.

The walk was long and tiresome for these little legs, so a rescue call into Grandpa, who had made it home from work, was in order.  We "Got To" see him and hang out more.

The last day of our visit my mom was hoping to spend the day with us.  This did not play out as planned.  We decided that this way was better.  We would "Get To" surprise her at work.  Uncle Chris had fixed our garage door button and we were able to embark on our journey.  The kids LOVE a fantastic surprise complete with sneaky elevator rides.

On our way the previous day Ellie would stop us and then, "Ready, Set, Go!"  We did this about 5 times down the sidewalk to the school.

 We made it to the playground for lunch time recess and Grandma was SURPRISED!  Hoorah!

The cup was overflowing!

Ellie instantly found the stroller and baby of her desire and all was well.

We found a tasty restaurant near a parking garage and the next day as we were heading out of town Mason asked, "Mommy today can we go to another parking garage and find a restaurant again?" That boy has always loved LA's parking garages.  Mom - Remember when he made you stand and watch all the "toll gates" while we shopped at the Farmer's Market when he was 2?

Nothing like a FULL day to call for a nap on the ride home.

I love you Mom!  See you soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Safe Journey

As we embark on any family trip it is tradition that we all stretch to reach each other and say "Safe Journey". This little tradition is one that I've carried with me on every trip since I was little and now am sharing it with my kids.  I recently attended a parent meeting at the preschool with the theme being traditions and building memories and then with the Thanksgiving season upon us the reflecting on my traditions and what I hold most dear in my heart is constantly in my mind.  As we arrived home from our "safe journey" up from L.A. I was busting with the love of my family and the anticipation of our next visit. I was laying in bed that night wishing I was not so tired and could stay up and write the stories that were dancing in my head, but I chose sleep.

Last weekend, as I imagine the next few shall be as well, was filled with magical moments of the holiday season.  Mason and Ellie could hardly wait to get out the door to deliver their Christmas cards to the neighbors.  In one Mason thanked our neighbor "for being so kind to take good care of our house when we go away on trips." I hope I find time to write and reach out to all my family and friends this season.  I have not been so organized the past couple of years.

To kick off the month of December we ventured out to our annual local Tree Lighting. It was a Thursday evening and I kind of wanted to stay home and relax, but we ate dinner and geared up for the adventure.  Mason told me he needed to "look his best" because we were going to see Santa.  He picked out red and white attire and then the final touch...this tie.  I have given up worrying too much about trying to get him to wear what I want him to wear.  He likes to choose so there you go. 

Ellie liked getting ready too and even let me put her hair up, perhaps the distraction of stealing Daddy's iPod was the trick.

Ellie loves cameras and taking pictures and was dying to take some so I convinced her to let me take a couple and then she could work her magic. A sassy shot...

Then let the dance off begin...

Rock Star!

Finally it was her turn...

She was not happy with just one...the strap was in the shot here, but with a bit of enhancing, Ta-Da there we are.

We finally got in the car and were off.  They didn't stop moving and dancing the whole walk from the parking lot to the event.

Me and my girl!

Ellie was so excited when we saw Santa and Mrs. Claus ride up in their horse and carriage. The horse was huge!  She was dying to pet it.  It was taller than Daddy and Ellie decided that she would ask Santa if she could pet the horse.  To her this took priority over gifts.

Their chat.

Meanwhile...Mason was chatting with Mrs. Claus. I overheard him telling her he would like a shiny star for the top of our Christmas Tree and anything nice that you have would be fine. While we were waiting for our turn to visit them Mason told me, "I am going to tell him, anything you have will be fine."  Josh and I had asked him the day before what he would ask Santa for. He said, "Well, 1st I lost my list.  And next, I don't remember what was on it. And 3rd I don't want to write another one."

They each got a stuffed toy, Mason got a Santa and Ellie got a Reindeer right out of that classy bag next to Mrs. Claus.  They were thrilled and then we were off to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie.  It was official the start of the season began! Let's hope for a safe journey!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Which is better the cookie or the decorating?

The wonderful world of weekending is one I can't help but get lost in lately.  I have treasured my weekends and the magical moments they bring. Last weekend we ventured out to find our Christmas tree.  Ellie and Mason got all "dressed up" for the occasion.  Ellie wanted to wear her bedazzled look and Mason found his new Christmas Snoopy shirt and pirate beads to be the right look for him.  Binoculars for searching out the best tree were a must.

Before we left the house there was much to be done...stop to visit our pirate pumpkins that seem to hang onto fall even though Christmas decorations have begun to fill the porch.

Daddy and the kids went to check on their wheat and "The Wheat is Growing Run" began to celebrate.

Mason then posed as a scarecrow and then we were off.

Baby Isaiah woke up in time to see the trees everyone picked out and his cousins were more than happy to entertain him.

On the way to buy our tree Mason found a Gingerbread Boy decorating kit that was a must have.  I was excited to decorate the tree, but the boy was all about the cookie decorating so kids win when it comes to holiday cheer.

After many laughs it was time to try these tasty? treats...

Mason and Ellie worked to create their masterpieces and I think one of my favorite parts was when they actually tasted them Ellie spit hers right on out.  I can take a few pointers from them.  They are not troubled by the thought of letting something go to waste.  If it tastes like garbage that is its need to ingest that.

Tasty?  Well not so much, but worth the experience?  Don't these pictures say it all?

The next day...

Mason: Ellie can I eat your nose?
Ellie: No.
Mason: But I love those kind. (Referring to gumdrop nose on her Gingerbread Boy.)
Ellie: (grabbing and pulling on her own nose while answering) No Mason, I can't even take it off.
Mason: (Looking at me, puzzled yet ready to bust out laughing) No I mean your Gingerbread Nose.
Ellie: (Laughing) Oh, yes that is fine.

A bit later he asked about her eyes and the the above conversation replayed but with eyes instead of nose.