Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Homework

We had a lovely Thanksgiving break.  The kids were happy, the weather was amazing, the food was great, we had a nice visit with friends, Jeff completed a big home improvement project (more on that later) and I finished my Christmas shopping!  {Hooray for Amazon.com!!!  By the way, this is by far the earliest I've ever been done shopping for my kids. I'm so excited to actually enjoy December without people breaking out in the gimme's all the time!}

One of the main reasons we enjoyed such a carefree long weekend was the lack of homework.  Sure, the older kids had some projects to complete, but they've known about those for a while and were grateful for the days off to have extra time to focus on them.  The younger ones just emptied the Thanksgiving themed artwork, word searches and empty lunchboxes from their backpacks and enjoyed their break.  Ahh, bliss!

By Sunday evening, with the realization that their long awaited weekend of freedom was at an end, people started getting agitated around here.  I was frustrated right along with them.  All too often, moods are determined by the demands of school.  It's been a hard year in that regard.  My kids are pulled in so many different directions and school has been pulling the hardest.  A couple of weeks ago I was particularly frustrated and so I wrote a letter to vent my feelings.  I'm just not sure who to send it to.  Here it is, for what it's worth....

Dear Homework,

I hate you.  There, I said it.  In fact, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! 

I hate how you follow my kids home from school every day.  I hate how you stay way too long and suck the fun out of everything.  I hate how you make my kids feel guilty when they want to spend time with anyone (or anything) else while you’re still here.  I will admit that there have been times I have felt your meaningful contribution to our lives.  Sadly, those times are rare.  Mostly, I just hate you and the black cloud that hangs over my house when you are around.

When you tell my kids they have to read, then they get no enjoyment out of reading.  When you tell them to do math, they complain because they already did math at school.  When you tell them to write, they disappear and try to hide from you and say their tummy hurts and sneak outside because they’d much rather run and play.  But when they come in, you’re still here!  You never take the hint.  I’ve tried to help them get rid of you.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down right next to them to try to help them meet your daily demands.  I’ve colored their maps for social studies. (Since when is Social Studies an art class?)  I’ve helped them brainstorm for papers even when they tell me, “That’s not how my teacher does it!”  If it’s always supposed to be how the teacher does it, then I say let them do it at school where the teacher is!  Actually, I say that even if it’s not always supposed to be how the teacher does it.  So there.

The teacher has my kids for over 7 hours a day.  You know what?  I think that’s enough.  If you always follow them home, when do I get them?  With you here, meal times are always stressful.  With you here, bedtime gets later and later.  Sometimes you even have the nerve to still be here when they wake up in the morning!  When do my kids get to be kids?  When do they get to read for pleasure?  When do they get to be excited about what interests them without having to write a report about it?  An amazing thing happens when you leave them alone:  My kids are curious.  They use their imaginations.  They read and play together and laugh and sing and joke together.  But when you’re here, they fight and cry and yell.  You are a bully.

I hate you.

The Mom

(How many days until Christmas break?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Pioneer Speak and Alpha Males

You just never know what you'll encounter in my little corner of the world.

This morning, my little Sadie climbed in bed with me and said, "Good morrow.  How now?"  She informed me that's how the pilgrims said, "Good morning.  How are you?"  Her 1st grade teacher told the kids to speak in pilgrim language until after Thanksgiving.  After lunch she asked, "What's for sup?"  What a nut!

I came home from running errands this afternoon to a very tearful Sterling.  When I asked him what was wrong, his explanation started with, "When Spencer and I were fighting for Alpha Male..."  Then Jeff chimes in from the kitchen, "I thought I was the Alpha Male."  Apparently there's a little too much testosterone around here!

Welcome to my world.  :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kid-Friendly Turkey

Isn't this a cute little turkey?  Soren's 3rd grade class made these with their 1st grade buddies this morning.  Luckily it was my day to help in the classroom so I was working with some pretty happy kids.  There were plenty of sticky fingers and smiling faces to go around.  A fun morning!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happiness Is...

...Kermit the Frog!

Oh, how I love the Muppets!  I was so excited when I heard that there is a new movie coming out this week.  I downloaded the soundtrack this morning ($5 on Amazon.com.  Hooray!) and have been dancing and smiling to the fresh, fun, silly songs for a good part of the day.  There's nothing like Camilla the chicken "singing" Forget You.  I can't wait to see how Are You a Man or a Muppet fits into the movie.  Rainbow Connection is still a favorite.  Fun stuff!

Admittedly, I'm a total cheapskate so it may be a while before we see the show.  We'll either be going on $4 Tuesday (with free popcorn for everyone!) or - gasp! - we'll wait until it comes out on DVD.  On second thought, $4 Tuesday is sounding pretty good!  :)

I can't wait!!

(All photos:  disney.go.com/muppets/)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Service

Serve others.  Be happy.  :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Personal Progress Gum

I just wanted to show off this cute gum wrapper that we gave out at our Young Women in Excellence. Designed by my friend, Jen, these are a cute reminder for the young women to work on their Personal Progress.  The back of the wrapper says, "Chews to finish a goal this month."  Too cute!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


We had our Young Women in Excellence program last night.  I was a little bit worried about it.  Some of our girls haven't been very excited about Personal Progress.  Since Young Women in Excellence is a "celebration of Personal Progress," I challenged each of them to do something that they could share last night.  Well those amazing girls stepped right up to the plate and did a great job!  I was so proud of them as they shared what they've learned, what they still hope to accomplish, and how setting goals has helped them.  A member of our Bishopric is doing the program with the girls so he contributed his accomplishments last night as well.
Our theme was S.T.A.R. - Stand for Truth And Righteousness
There is a Primary song called I Am Like a Star which went along with our theme for the evening: S.T.A.R. - Stand for Truth And Righteousness. (No credit to myself for that one.  The internet is full of good ideas!!)  I wrote a second verse to the Primary song which went like this:  I am like a star shining brightly, shining for the whole world to see.  I can be a light, stand for truth and right, and be all that He wants me to be. The young women sang that as our special musical number for the evening.  Simple and sweet.

Our Bishop challenged each young woman to:  Seize the Day (Carpe Diem), live life more abundantly (see John 10:10), and be anxiously engaged in good causes (D&C 58:27).  [Maybe he forgot he was speaking to the young women because I'm pretty sure that was all for me!!]

It was a great evening, complete with an impressive display of food at the end.  From spiced cider, meatballs, little sausages wrapped in crescent rolls to a huge veggie tray and star shaped cupcakes, there was something for everyone.  The young men and cub scouts who found us after their activities enjoyed the treats as well.  :)  (Hooray for a wonderful counselor who took on the food challenge and outdid herself.  Otherwise, we would have had homemade cookies and water...)

Overall, a great evening!  (I am SO glad that's over!!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Weekend With the Grands

The kids knew someone was coming to see us last weekend.  We didn't tell them who it was and their imaginations were pretty active in guessing who our special guests would be. 

Sam knew our mystery guests would be attending the Symphony Orchestra concert to hear him and Sterling play and, boy howdy, did they ever practice hard!  (It was awesome, by the way!!) 

Everyone was pretty excited when Grandma and Grandpa Stowell showed up late Thursday night! 

Together we enjoyed beautiful warm (but windy!!) weather, several fun activities associated with 11-11-11 on Friday, celebrated Sterling's birthday on Saturday and soaked up the amazing music at the symphony on Sunday.  It was a great weekend!  We were sad to see them go this morning. 

Thanks for coming, Grandma and Grandpa!  Hurry back!!  :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Double Digits

A big, enthusiastic Happy Birthday to my lego loving, picture drawing, battle planning, secret spying, story writing, heart melting, fiddle playing cowboy!
Ten years already!  I love you, Sterling.  (You'll always be my Boogie!)
Could you get any cuter?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

During Middle School, Savannah and her friends would always make a wish at 11:11.  Apparently it's pretty lucky.  So I guess that today, right now, must be just about as lucky as one can get!

11:11 on 11-11-11

{I'll never see that again!}

Thank A Soldier

"Dear Soldier, Thank you for serving our country, saving my freedom, keeping us safe, and last, being my hero.  Your friend, Soren"
My sentiments exactly.  Put your flag up.  It's Veteran's Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thank You Notes

That's some good advice!  I made up some cute little note cards so I can jot down a quick thank you when the thought crosses my mind.  I'm going to try to send them off more often.  Who doesn't like happy mail?  :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who Are These People?

My iPod has obviously been abducted by aliens.  I have no idea who any of these people are.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wak Upe and Tim To Go To Scooll

Sadie is an author.  She found this blank "Little Golden Book" sitting in our cupboard and she went right to work.  I'm pretty sure the little girl in the book is fictional.  At least I hope she is!  (To get the story 'Sadie style,' read everything in blue.  See below each for the translation.)

Wak Upe and Tim To Go To Scooll 
Wake Up and Time To Go To School
by Sadie Stowell

Wans there was a girl ho lovd to sleep and she only likte to sleep wenevr it was tiem to go to scooll. (yon)
Once there was a girl who loved to sleep and she only liked to sleep whenever it was time to go to school.  (Yawn.)
She nevr liket to go to scooll ethr. (I dont wonto go to scooll.)
She never liked to go to school either.  (I don't want to go to school.)

She didint like to do her wrek befor scooll. (No.)
She didn't like to do her work before school.  (No.)
At scooll she was rele bord.
At school she was really bored.
But at reeses she was not bord.
But at recess she was not bored.
She hadid math. (I hat math.)
She hated math.  (I hate math.)
She never likt to do homewrke. (I hat homwrke.)
She never liked to do homework.  (I hate homework.)
She never likt to do rednig ethr. (I hate rednig.)
She never liked to do reading either.  (I hate reading.)
But thar was u problum and the problum was evre time she wus dun with hr homewrke she had nuthig to do so she just wokt unrond the hase. (I hav nuthig to do.)
But there was a problem and the problem was every time she was done with her homework she had nothing to do so she just walked around the house.  (I have nothing to do.)

But wen dad was hame she wus not bord ene more.
But when dad was home she was not bored any more.
She lovd to sit necst to him drig dinr.
She loved to sit next to him during dinner.

She wontid to play a game wath him but he was to bisy.
She wanted to play a game with him but he was too busy.
She wantid to play oteside with him but he wus to bisy.
She wanted to play outside with him but he was too busy.
And so she was bord agane.
And so she was bored again.
She askt hr dad to tuc hr in and so he did.
She asked her dad to tuck her in and so he did.

She never had a drem onle sumtims.
She never had a dream, only sometimes.
Wen she wok up she wod allwase wok to hr moms and dad room.
When she woke up she would always walk to her mom and dad's room.
Then hr dad wod aske if she wontid brekfest and she sad yes. (yes.)
Then her dad would ask if she wanted breakfast and she said yes.  (Yes.)
Then she wod lay arownd doig nothig.
Then she would lay around doing nothing.
An then she wod hav lotse of fun.
Then she would have lots of fun.
Then she was bord agene.
Then she was bored again.

The end
(What a sad story!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Funny

If only it were this easy.  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SPYderz (Top Secret Agency)

Sterling cracks me up.  That boy has the most active imagination.  I found these in my room one night after he'd gone to bed.  I'm pretty sure they were left there by accident and were never meant for me (or anyone else) to see.

This photo (right) gives you an idea just how small those last two books are: 

Inside the books are detailed rules for this elite organization:

1.  Don't tell anyone about this secret agency.
2.  Always wear your spy suit to meetings unless you can't.
3.  Say the SPYderz promise at the beginning of every meeting.
4.  Never take the weapons out of the base unless you're on a mission.
5.  Obey all SPYderz rules and the SPYderz promise.
6.  Never say SPYderz in public.
7.  Use the MP9 properly at all times.  (The MP9 is the pen shown in the top photo.  The little pinhole above the clip is a spy camera with a 16GB hard drive to store the footage.  For real.)
8.  Don't let anyone else join this agency. (Sorry to those of you who had high hopes after reading this!)
9.  Leave the candles in the base unless it's very urgent.
10.  Don't sing Justin Bieber during SPYderz meetings.  (Well, that excludes Savannah.  And Rob.)

Pistol, Rifle, MP9, SPYderz suits, Rule book, 2 pairs of sunglasses, Battle Plans.

Thursdays - Meetings
Fridays - Planning/Mission
Thursdays - 4:00-4:20
Fridays - 4:00-4:10

SPYderz is a top secret agency.  Just follow all the rules, and you won't get fired!

Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone! ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One Nation Under God

I help during Math Centers every Tuesday morning in Soren's classroom.  Yesterday I happened to get there earlier than usual which meant that I was there when the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  Imagine my surprise when they completely skipped over the words "under God" and said instead "one nation indivisible...."  I thought I heard wrong.  I quickly pulled Soren out of class and asked him to recite the pledge for me.  He said, "Well, we say it a little bit different now."  What?   When was God removed from the Pledge of Allegiance?  After a couple of inquiries, I am happy to report that He has been put back in.  Whew!  That was a close one!  (The results of my own little informal survey show that Soren's is the only class where God was missing.)