Sunday, June 29, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Week # 24 & #25

Great School Teachers
{pictured above: Jackson on his last day with his amazing speech therapist Theresa. They have come a long way together in the past 2.5 years! Kobe with Mrs. Kingston. Reagan with Mrs. Clothier. Jillie with her 4th grade teacher Mrs. Oliverio who we tracked down at another school in town at the end of the year.}

We have been blessed with some great school teachers over the years. This year was no exception. Jackson has fun and caring therapists in Theresa, Kelly, and Sally. Kobe's 1st grade teacher was Mrs. Kingston whom he has really enjoyed this year. Reagan's wonderful 4th grade teacher (and the teacher I was room parent for) was Mrs. Clothier... who just happens to be Mrs. Kingston's sister in law! Jillie had many terrific teachers this year since she travels from class to class in the Middle School. What I think is great is that she always wants to go back to see the teachers from previous years (even if we have moved but happen to come back to visit we have to go find her teacher.) Having a degree in Elementary Education I have a bit of an idea how much effort these teachers put in to making learning fun and exciting to a wide variety of students. Most of the time I honestly don't think the kids realize they are learning!

{This year's thank you notes included gum and phrases like "Thank you for 'chewsing' to teach" or "'Extra' special teacher".}

I wish there was more I could do do show them our appreciation. At the end of the year the kids write personal thank yous to their teachers- including the support staff and specials teachers (art, PE, computers, library.) I really believe in this after an experience we had at our school in Colorado. My friend Stephanie Wheeler and I were in charge of staff appreciation for the entire year for our schools (2 school buildings side by side encompassing grades from Preschool - 6th grade... about 100 staff). Sometime I should write down all of the amazing things we did for those teachers. Anyhow, on one of the days of Teacher Appreciation week we had the kids bring in thank you notes to all of the specials teachers. They never get recognized like the classroom teachers do. After that day the grumpy old art teacher came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, "Thank you so much for doing this. Never in all of my many years of teaching have any of the kids said 'thank you' before today." Let me tell you for as grumpy as she usually was, she was that sweet to the kids for the rest of the year!

Sometimes when the year's end comes along I send in my cash to donate to a group gift the room parent picks out.. but we still do a personal thank you note. Here are pictures of a few things I've done for teacher appreciation gifts lately. Which also brings me to my #25 blessing-
How in the world would I have any ideas for teacher appreciation, lessons, Church callings, activities, birthday parties, cake decorating, travel, good movies to see, keep in touch with my family and friends, know what's going on in the world, and learning how to play Sudoku, etc...etc... etc... if it weren't for the internet?!?! That list could go on and on for all of the many uses I have for the internet.
Anyhow.. on to a few recent teacher appreciation gifts...

{This bag went to Speech Therapist Theresa who is leaving us after 2.5 years. These therapists come to our home with BIG bags full of activities. I tried to replenish some supplies i.e. paper, glue, crayons, markers, suckers (yes she uses suckers in therapy!) plus a little baby blanket for the new baby that's coming and a 'baby of her own' for Theresa's little 2 year old. Jackson was so excited about the tag I made that has a picture of him & Theresa 2.5 years ago and then current picture.}

The infamous "Dollar Book" idea care of Everything Pink's Kristi.

{Mrs. Clothier opening the dollar book when she realizes it's a stack of cash. She read all 150 answers that the kids gave about what they will miss about her, what she likes to eat for lunch, what subject they enjoyed the most, etc... She even took it out to recess to show the other teachers!}
Step 1: Send out a request to parents to contribute money to the gift and a questionnaire for the kids to answer. Bug everyone for a week til you get the answers & money all back.
Step 2: call and call and call and call til you find a bank that has brand new $1 bills.
Step 3: Print up all of the questions and answers on vellum. Also make pages with kids pictures on them if you have more money than answers. Cut them out and make book by alternating vellum page and dollar bill. Make a cover page.
Step 4: Take it all to Kinkos and have them glue the end like a pad of paper. Cost: $.50 (+ tax) :)
Step 5: Tie it all up in a bow Kristi style and deliver

{This one was SO fun for the kids and I to make. It was for Reagan's teacher last year ( I was room mom and collected money for this one too. It would be easy to do on your own though- just with more candy and fewer $$ gift cards!). He is SUPER creative and fun and a typical end of the year gift card to the spa that most women teachers get just wouldn't do for him! :) This is what we came up with. He and the class loved it! It walked us through some of the highlights of the year while getting him some gift cards to places he would enjoy. Click to enlarge.}

And don't forget the bus driver!
{popcorn, pop & $10 Blockbuster gift card}

52 Blessings Project: Week #23

OK, I'm up to Week #23 now, but the problem is that this is actually week #26 on the calendar- so I have to come up with 4 blessings to get caught up.... one post at a time.

Blessing # 23
At church we have a 2 hour block of time for the kids(18 months- 11 years old) to attend "Primary". It is truly a blessing to our entire family. The lessons they learn there support the things we teach at home- and vice versa. The Primary songs teach essential gospel principles in a way they will never ever forget. They learn to speak in front of an audience. I have no doubt Jillie's confidence in speaking comes from talks given in primary. Today Jackson said the prayer in Primary (well, actually he said a few things and someone else had to fill in the rest for him... but this is how it starts.) Most importantly their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ have begun to grow. These pictures were taken last Sunday... on the last Sunday that all 4 of our kids attended Primary.

Now Jillie has graduated to Young Women (12- 18 yr old girls) and thanks to her Primary teachers and leaders, she's prepared for the next step in her spiritual development.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Oh my goodness! Wicked is amazing!

Greg and his mom saw this show when they took a little trip to Toronto once. He said he thought we'd like it, so when someone in the ward offered to go get tickets for everyone who wanted to buy some (so we could get presale tickets and at at group rate) I jumped on it. As it turned out, Greg was out of town so... Reagan and I went to see it on Wednesday night. (Jillie got to go to it earlier this month with her school choir.) We all loved, loved it. The cast was terrific. It's hard to believe that the original Broadway cast could've done better than this one. I loved seeing how the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow came to be. I love all the behind the scenes and hints at the Wizard of Oz- which I will never look at the same. I laughed and laughed during "Popular". I was in awe as Elphaba sang, "No Good Deed". I was in tears as the 2 "witches" sang the "For Good". I loved it so much I went out and bought the book today! Somehow, I will find time to read it because it is so intriguing to me.

Go see it if you get the chance!

(Reagan and her church friend Hannah at Wicked.
They have little chipmunk cheeks since they were munching a little candy before the show started.)
(Jillie and Reagan in their overpriced, but fun souvenir Wicked shirts.)

Home Improvement: Closet Edition

(My dad hard at work- late at night- the night before they left from their visit here to take care of the kids during our vacation)
Just a few pictures that are long over due for anyone who knew we were doing this. I've been thinking some cabinets above the washer/dryer would be great- and our food storage closet needed more substantial shelves since the heavy cans made the wire shelving sag. Greg wanted a beautiful master bedroom closet. Seeing how his clothes take up more than 3/4 of the space, it makes sense that he wanted some organization for all his stuff. He called in California Closets and ordered organization...
food storage closet before and after...

laundry room before and after...
emptying the bedroom closet...
our closet before... nothing but a long wire rack...
After- opposite ends of the closet:
dirty clothes organization!
tie racks on the side for all of Greg's ties. Belt rack on the other side of the closet.
I am a sucker for an organized space! :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm it! You're it next!

I've been tagged by Abby. I've seen this one on other blogs and they have been shorter. I think people are adding to it so they have more things they can highlight. :) Well, I'll try this to answer this one to the best of my memory's ability. (I have memory issues you know!) I'm not too adventurous, but the ones that are true for me are bold. And... I would like to tag Beth, Angie, Hol & Sun... and anyone else who wants to do it!
1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby's diaper- more than I would have liked to!
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain -if it doesn't have to be all the way to the top
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said "I love you" and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game- BYU, Lakers, Dodgers, ...
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty - all the way up the winding staircase into her crown.
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment- usually Holly is around.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster- many, many!
31. Hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your DVDs- wish the kids would keep them that way!
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke- at home with the kids
50. Lounged around in bed all day- when sick I suppose
51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don't
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check- not intentionally
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy- lite bright
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper or been on the news- both
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someones mind about something you care deeply about- I think/I hope.
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name ...well, my last name!
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands - yes, but it was in the fall when most flies are old and slow.
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103. Been a DJ- it was pathetic
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours- well, not too high
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people- probably
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Cooked a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play (or at least one that originated on Broadway)
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket-many times.
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt or tied one
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one - if miniature golf counts?
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz- I did learn a hula dance once to perform for a talent show.
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books- though I prefer Trixie Belden
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane- I've thought it
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life- possibly... a little girl I was babysitting was choking on a candy & I got it out.
176. Eaten cooked whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint- does cross stitch count?
178. Laughed till your side hurt- usually it's more like laughing til I cry- and again Holly's usually involved.
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Seen/heard the Bear Lake Monster
201. Eaten octopus
202. Raised chickens
203. Bought on eBay
204. Sold on eBay
205. Been arrested
206. Gotten your GED
207. Graduated with Honors- high school
208. Memorized the Preamble to the Constitution
209. Forgotten a significant other's birthday
210. Been attacked by a barnyard animal
211. Enjoy extra butter on movie theater popcorn- though I avoid it now- the extra butter, not the popcorn!
212. Driven across Texas
213. Seen the Space Shuttle in flight
214. Been to a Tim McGraw concert -with Faith Hill
215. Bought a car with cash
216. Paid off a credit card
217. Read all 7 Harry Potter books
218. Eaten blood pudding
219. Stood in 4 different states at once ...only one place in the USA to do that, It's called 4 corners, NM, AZ, UT, CO.
220. Gotten straight A's
221. Been saved from drowning

Monday, June 23, 2008

Here we go...

Our little girl is leaving us and is being replaced by an older, more mature young woman. I'm kind of feeling some sadness... a little sentimental I guess. Jillienne turns 12 today. Yesterday she finished her Faith in God program and her last Sunday in Primary. Tuesday she will officially be finished with 6th grade. Wednesday she will attend her first Young Women activity. No longer is she a little girl. And you know what? She's ready. I think I am too, although at this moment I want her to go back and be a little girl again. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Every time my first born enters a new stage of life, I end up weeping. Excited for her and nervous for her.

1. still likes to go by "Jillie". I wondered if she'd still use this nickname at this point in her life.
2. got her own cell phone this weekend and went to the movies with a friend- no grown ups!
3. has recently finished the Red Cross Babysitters Course.
4. still like to have some time alone at bedtime with me and/or Greg.
5. loves, loves shoes!
6. prefers a turkey sandwich to pizza.
7. has an amazing memory.
8. has many talents which include singing, public speaking and memorizing facts.
9. is very careful to find friends that share similar standards.
10. is offended if a friend or teacher or anyone on TV/movies takes the Lord's name in vain.
11. She gets upset if we say "gosh" because she thinks it's too close. She has trained us to say, "Oh my goodness" or "Oh my word".
12. She is a beautiful girl who cares about everyone around her. She's worked hard to become the responsible young woman she is today.
We love you Jillie!