Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Teacher Appreciation 2014

Tribute to my long ago.

Kindergarten Ms Thomas for her patience with me crying daily until I had fully acclimated and knew my mom wasn't lonely without me home. 

First Grade Mrs Flores who never judged me for not coloring in the lines.

Second Grade Mrs Gillespie who inspired me to memorize a lengthy poem to earn enough points to get the book Professor Diggins' Dragons.

Third Grade Ms Van Buren/Mrs College who got married that year and did her very best to make that year miserable for me whether she realized it or not.  Maybe swearing, yelling and telling kids they are stupid through words and actions was acceptable back then but no one else did this and I never saw her do this to other students.

Fourth Grade Ms Atchison for letting us make the coolest Utah History books ever.

Fifth Grade Ms Thiriot/Mrs Yockey, she got married that year to Terry Yockey, yup he played football at University of Utah and taught us all to play. I had my first inclination that I wanted to be the first girl to be quarterback at BYU. LOL

Sixth Grade Mr Hartvigson who retested my reading ability and bumped me back to the highest reading level from the lowest (where I had been stuck and bored stiff since 3rd grade).  I also confirmed that I LOVED math and had a plan to finish calculus before I finished High School.

Seventh through Twelfth many teachers too numerous to list.  Standouts, in 7th Mr.  Young (who was not young) my math teacher confirmed for me that I was never going anywhere with math and crushed my dreams to teach math some day.  Mrs Getz who although made me stand in the corner or sit in the red chair (no real chair just crossing legs and leaning against the wall in sitting position) when she thought we did something wrong, she chose me to be on the yearbook staff which built confidence in me that began my journey into art and an ongoing role on yearbook staff for many of the years to come. 10th grade Mr C who taught Algebra a class we mostly talked about everything else but Algebra. I cried every night getting help from my dad to figure it out but I got it, I got an A in that class and have never finished a math class since.  But I loved the life conversations he would raise. 11th & 12th grade and beyond, Coach Waite (PE) and Mr Gordon (art). Both inspired me to be more than I thought I could be.  They helped me stretch and reach accomplishments I would not have imagined.  I will be forever grateful for their genuine interest in me as a student and helping me find what was trapped inside. 

These teachers, the great and the not so great all taught me important things that shaped my life in many ways.  I learned that not everyone plays nice.  I learned what it feels like to have a teacher really believe in you.  Grateful for the lessons learned from all of them.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Dan is now in 9th grade and going into his 5th year of playing the cello.  We have always attended performances and taken Sam, who is now 10 and in 5th grade. I learned quickly that attending would require a lot of prep and patience.  Sam easily became frustrated and I can only assume that a crowd of people played a role. When I was too busy to fully prep before a performance it showed.  Even when I was prepared there have been some very challenging nights.  We have learned over time little things to help but I can't say we had ever experienced an evening stress free.  Things like having someone go early to save the seats closest the least busy door then showing up with Sam just as it starts or just as Dan's performance would begin, depending on the program, was helpful.  We have rarely ever stayed for an entire performance and leave after Dan's part. Sometimes I have driven back and forth to the High School 5 times to make it all work.

So, Why have we tried so hard to make our Sam go?  He loves music and has the local NPR station going 24/7 in his bedroom, or his preferred CD of choice which is a Christmas album of Voice Male on infinite repeat.  He has been exposed to a variety of music and loves it.  He hates singing time in primary at church though.  Its too loud and says everyone is off and doesn't sound right.  Rarely can he stay in the room.  So in my mind this is where he should be, enjoying the music he loves in other settings.

Last night we had Dan's first actual High School performance.  The orchestra was first.  This time I assumed we would stay for all since we have friends in the band and symphonic ensemble.  The only prep done was to make sure Sam knew the routine for the night (I failed to even include the part about staying for the whole performance) and had his kindle charged with headphones ready.  When I looked over during the 4th piece of music he was bouncing his head with the rhythm and smiled back at me.  He was clearly enjoying but did ask how soon before midnight we'd get home, when they switched to the band. He got frustrated with my answer because I didn't know and guessed at the ending time rather than saying how many hours from midnight that was. But he sat through almost an entire additional hour of performances where some of it got pretty loud.  He was completely engaged in the music and really enjoying it.  I actually teared up because it felt so significant to me when I realized just how far he has come and that the effort and patience is beginning to pay off.  I felt hope that some day we'd be sitting in that same place watching his performance some day!

So just a message of hope for those who struggle.  Sometimes we will get to a point where we can look back and recognize that our effort and time does make a difference in the long run.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Remember Pioneer Day from Michigan

Today July 24th is significant for me.  As a child I grew up celebrating this as it was (and still is) a Utah state holiday "Pioneer Day" or "Days of 47" celebrating the area being declared as the place the pioneers would settle and call home on July 24, 1847. The stories of these early pioneers moving west are numerous and show perseverance in the midst of major trial and hardship.  Many of my direct ancestors were part of those groups that traveled west.  As this day rolls around each year I can't help but think of my family and those who are celebrating on this day.  Also the traditional fireworks in my home town last night. Hope all who showed up to mom's had fun sitting on the front lawn watching them.   

I love old photos and came across one yesterday that made me realize my mom was likely at the event in the picture.  Sure enough she was and my sister has the dress my mom made for the occasion.  She ironed up the dress and took a picture.  What a fun piece of history to have. The event was the 100th Jubilee celebration on July 24, 1947. My mom was 15 and remembers it well. A large parade came through Sugar House area which is where she lived. My mom sewed her own clothes and this dress is a great example. She used material that had been specially printed for this occasion.  The material had seagulls, sego lillies and the number 47 on it.   My sister shared the following funny.
"Now to tease my mom a little. She sewed most of her own clothes when she was young. She told us that she often didn't finish the items and would have to pin them on herself. Here is proof . . . No buttons and buttonholes."

I love the pin still holding it together. 

Happy Pioneer Day to Utah from this little corner of Michigan.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sam's Extreme Room Makeover

As a child the only time I ever recall any room being painted was after we had a major house fire.  My parents let me pick my room color, HOT PINK!  It stayed that way for decades even as my dad's office.  When we moved here 6 1/2 years ago we bought a new house!  I was so excited to not have to paint.  But little did I realize that what now seems like white primer paint can start looking dingy and old quickly.  It is also not the easiest to keep clean. The boys have been asking for their rooms to be painted for years.  In fact Dan has been asking since we were in Illinois.  SIGH  Since we were not going anywhere this summer (again) I figured why not fulfill the request.  I committed to Sam first as it became part of his birthday present, since it's in summer.  My thought was to have a fun mom/son project while Dan was off to scout camp.  But when I proposed this to Sam he instantly thought of it as an extreme makeover surprise, since he loves that home show. 

I started off making a Pinterest - Sam's extreme room makeover board that lists all of the requirements I had for the room and then began to collect little ideas I thought would be fun to incorporate. Sam has some extreme interests.  He is obsessed with science to the point I can not satisfy his intense need for more understanding. I knew that would need to be a theme.  He is not instinctively organized so there needed to be a spot for everything.  I needed to create more space and be very careful about what goes back into the room.  He had a request for a ceiling idea that I figured out a cool plan.  But it will have to come in phase 2.  I put a call out on Facebook indicating what I was doing and received some fun feedback and ideas, one of which turned out to be my favorite part.  I have read and viewed pictures of people making over blah furniture so I figured why not, he has some OK furniture.  I did buy a headboard, frame, bed and bedding as a set from a garage sale.  Yup I actually purchased something at a garage sale.  But it was from a friend.  (if you know me well you know I have personal issues with garage sales - OK for anyone else, just not me) I am saving the frame and bed part for another project and kept the headboard and bedding for this project.  Below you will see some before and after pictures.  Our cameras all died within a week of each other.  So some pictures aren't the best as they are cell phone shots.  But you get the idea.  Final wall decor pictures and ceiling mural will come later. 

Final note, it would turn out to be the hottest week so far, the week I had to be outside a lot spray painting.  But I did have fun and felt very motivated by the idea that Sam might have a place he felt was personally his.  Result, he tells us the colors are earthy, CALMING and comfortable.  Success! 

Youtube videos of Sam seeing his room for the first time and then giving a tour.

Initial Reaction

Sam giving tour of room

SORRY for placement of these pictures.  I really hate Blogger editor.  It shows one thing in edit and does another in publish.  SIGH





BEFORE (excuse shadows)

AFTER (love the new handle)
NEW WORK TABLE BUILT BY NICK, fits over Al's crate

PAINTED AND INSTALLED, fits like a glove, Finished pillows up top

Earthy shelving, can expand

Material squares after painting design on with homemade stencils.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Growing up I'm not sure I fully appreciated Memorial Day for its original intended observance.  To me it signified that school was almost over or out.  Seems like we never really had school after Memorial Day.  It was also the day that we put flowers on all graves of our families members who have passed on.  So today I think of my family and the cemetery where my father, brother, first son, niece and grandparents are, all buried close together.  Wish I could visit today.  
Memorial Day has not been tied to military in my mind much until I moved away from Utah.  I'm not saying  Utah does not observe this it was just what I knew and what we remembered.  I did not have a military family in my history or present day and that is likely part of this as well.

I have two stories that have made me think differently on this Memorial Day.  The first was attending the funeral of a friend a few weeks ago, someone that Nick was close to who had served in the military.  Nick's favorite recollection of the stories he'd share at lunch was how his rank was whatever it needed to be for the assignment he had.  He was in military intelligence, I believe.  Fitting as he had a brilliant mind!  At the end of the funeral services held at our church chapel they opened the doors to outside and two members of the local VFW (I think) did a gun salute and marched in, refolded the flag that sat atop of his casket with precision that made me smile.  It made me  recall memories of childhood where I was taught that no red should show if folded right.  I tried many times to fold our flag that way when I was little.  The whole process was very moving and as they handed the newly folded flag to his wife I could not hold back my emotions.  

Second story, last week my mother shared a story that I have heard many times.  But this time it really had an impact on me.  She talked about the people in her neighborhood who went off to WWII.  She talked about twin brothers and how one couldn't go because he was missing two fingers from a wood chopping accident.  So the brother who had all his fingers went into the military and was trained to fly at Hill Field Air Force Base just a little more than an hour north of where they lived.  They got word when he was to fly out that he was going to break a rule and fly over the neighborhood to say goodbye.  They weren't able to meet otherwise.  So at the indicated time the neighborhood came out to watch and he did fly over.  My mother recalls it was so low they could see him and he clipped the tops of the tall trees.  He made a second pass and was off.  That was the last they got to see him.  

This memorial day as I do my normal Monday routine, laundry, cleaning and planning while the boys are off to a movie, I pause to give a different consideration to the endless unknown stories of each individual who has served our country.  I would have enjoyed being at my mom's to raise the flag on her flagpole today.