Saturday, February 28, 2009

PARTY TIME!!!

Friday Evening
February 27, 2009

Becky didn't request anything extravagant for her birthday. In fact, she's well aware that her mother is working these days. In her attempt to be frugal, she took it upon herself to make it simple. I should say, simple for me.

Becky made some elaborate party decorations that were a work of art, including homemade party hats. She made up her own Becky Birthday Trivia game and we sat and watched her favorite episode of "The Honeymooners".

She asked me to make macaroni and cheese for dinner which I did and I also included a tossed salad for health's sake. She blew out her birthday candles on a creamy cheesecake which we topped with cherries.

It was a birthday party event just for our family. We had a nice evening with dinner, Becky's planned activities, and the opening of a few gifts. Hughie won the prize for Becky's trivia game. He received a blue ribbon and lots of goodies in a bag that he shared with the rest of us.




HAPPY BIRTHDAY BECKY!!!





"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart."
- Anonymous


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

YES, She Was Born Yesterday

Ryan Mae Blair
February 23, 2009
7 lbs. 13.5 oz.
I have a family story to share in honor of our new grand baby girl, Ryan Mae Blair. Her proud parents are Billy and Chelsea. We're so pleased for them and are glad that everything went well . Happily mother, daughter, and daddy are doing fine. My maternal grandmother, Cassie Stapp McMullin, would always say when a child was born, and it would never fail, "I don't know what I would've named it, but I wouldn't have named it that!" It was standard procedure for her to make that comment and she'd include her opinion on names, etc. I wonder though if that was her line or if it came from earlier generations. It has been passed on to us. We love telling the story and take the liberty of using the line ourselves. There is always a debate over baby names. We've got a few stories of our own to tell on that subject, but we also know parents have the right to name their children. In remembrance of Grandma Cassie with her Texan drawl, we carry on:
"I don't know what I would've name her,
but I wouldn't have named her that!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

"You Would Cry to If It Happened to You!"

"It's my [classroom], and I'll cry if I want to,
Cry if I want to, Cry if I want to,
You would cry to if it happened to YOU!"

(from "It's My Party" by Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Wiener)

Yes, I admit it. I have had a class bring me to tears. In fact, I've had more than one class bring me to tears, but then I never broke down in front of the students before. I guess there is a first time for everything with this subbing journey of mine.


For starters, I had this fourth grade class earlier in the month. I had a certain dread when I accepted the second assignment because I remember it being a rough bout before, but then I had just come away with an improved experience on my second go-round with that troublesome first grade class. I figured this would surely be a better experience too, but I was wrong. It was worse! I was so beside myself with their disobedience.

I released the class at the end of the day and stayed after to finish my report and do a little cleaning up. As I set at my desk writing, the tears began to flow. Not everyone had exited the classroom yet and my hope was that the few who were left would be so occupied about leaving that they wouldn't notice my tears which I so desperately wanted to hide. I heard some whispering, then scampering, and then the children got very quite. It was ever so noticeable because it hadn't been quiet all day.

All of a sudden a flood of empathy came my way with apologies being voiced from left and right. Students asked if they could stay to help clean up in an attempt to offer some kind of penance for their previous wrongdoing. This was new to me. I hadn't thought of crying as a way to keep a class in check. I had obviously drawn attention to my disappointment, but the children really needed to go. One boy stepped forward, thoughtfully, and sincerely he expressed a heartfelt apology, "The entire class is sorry, Mrs. Blair." I didn't look up. I couldn't. I was so sad at how the day had gone. I tried to still myself, but instead I quietly blubbered as I thanked him.

I always think when I have an experience like this, if they'd just give me a chance, they'd be all about what I could do for their school day. I've done it for so many others, but for whatever reason, I had a group that wouldn't buy into my pitch. I also think if I was their regular teacher, I'd be able to muscle some control with some establish routines, etc. Again, that's not my lot as a substitute. They know I am uncertain about their procedures. They are well aware that I am here today and gone tomorrow so why bother. My one time appearance is nothing in their educational scheme of things, instead, it's PARTY TIME!

Anyway, it was a while before I left the classroom. As I maneuvered across the playground to the school office, I tried to walk with some dignity with my little cart in tow. I call it, HAVE CLASSROOM, WILL TRAVEL. It was filled with my fun positive incentives that I couldn't justify using at all during the day. The weirdness was just too great. As I walked along, some of my students who were staying for the after school program called out to me with a friendly shout and a wave, "Hey! Mrs. Blair! Good-bye!" They had cheerful smiles on their faces. I smiled back and waved. They wanted me to feel better. They really were sorry. I might be a gluten for punishment, but maybe I could do that class again....we'll see?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

MEMORIES of 2008

You've seen videos and slide shows posted on my blog before, but just because I did it before doesn't mean I can do it again. My techno abilities are definitely lacking. I could always use a little help. My computer knowledge increases mainly by the self-taught method of trial and error, some reading, and once in a while I'll get a step-by-step tutorial from one of my children or a friend. My latest dilemma was trying to get my 2008 slide show posted. Where's Tommy when I need him! Oh yah Texas. It's another year and a half before he gets home and I didn't want to wait that long to get this up. So happily the ALL NIGHT BLOGGER figured it out. You push enough buttons and it finally happens, but the debate continues. Will I be able to do it again?
video
This presentation is in celebration of our 2008 happenings. It was a great year of being all together. Many of the photos come from our family reunion last June and our Christmas gathering, but we had lots of other get togethers that made it an outstanding year.

I didn't post names and places. I should have been more descriptive, but at least I got it on the blog now instead of later. I put this together in January and it's almost March - I rest my case - the ALL NIGHT BLOGGER is definitely on a learning curve. Like my subbing, I tell myself, "I'll do better next time" and I might add, when it comes to blogging, "in less time."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Father and Son

Sam and Dad at Red Rock Canyon
February 14, 2009

Hughie is the father of four sons. He has some great memories of activities he has had over the years with his boys. He was concerned when Sam was born though. Hugh has a bad knee and coupled with his old age he wondered if he would be able to keep up with Sam. We've had visions of shipping Sam off in the summer to visit his older brothers in order to experience some activities that equate with male bonding, but so far so good.

The last two weekends Hugh and Sam were able to go on hikes together. Last Saturday it was Red Rock Canyon with Jedidiah. Today it's the Saddleback Buttes with the Cub Scouts.

Sam and Hugh are glad to have each other. Since Tom left on his mission six months ago, the boys are currently in the minority at our house. They are happy to share some time with one another.

"A wise son maketh a glad father."
Proverbs 10:1


and I believe too,
A wise father maketh a glad son.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Halloween in February

I was in a Special Day Class this afternoon with younger elementary children. At the end of the day I was sitting outside on a bench visiting with the last little boy from my class while we waited patiently for someone to pick him up. Suddenly his father and older brother appeared. I recognized the brother. He attended the same school. I could also see by the look in his eyes that he recognized me. I didn't remember his name, but in my recognition I said, "Hello! How are you?" He could have responded in a number of ways, like...."Fine" or "I remember you." I don't think he remembered my name either. If he did, he could have said, "Hello Mrs. Blair!" He stood there in a brief state of stammering hesitation wondering how to acknowledge me, but instead of speaking he unexpectedly, yet resolutely stepped forward like a performer on stage. With arms outstretched, his chest filled with air, head held high, and a look of mustering something from deep inside, he broke into song, "I'm stirring, I'm stirring, I'm stirring my brew...." You get the picture. I evidently substituted his class in October. I smiled. We talked for a little bit and then they were off. Another "golden moment" - I'll take it and I'm still smiling.
"I'm stirring, I'm stirring,
I'm stirring my brew.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
I'm stirring, I'm stirring,
I'm stirring my brew.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Tip...toe, tip...toe, tip...toe,
BOO!"
Add a little drama and actions and you're good to go. My mother taught this song to me. She use to sing it when she taught pre-school. She had a witch puppet, a black cat, a cauldron, and a broom for stirring. I still have the pieces for presentation and in the right setting it's great fun and evidently memorable for one little boy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"SIT DOWN !!!!!" REVISITED

I knew I was subbing first grade today, but I didn't know for whom. All the first grade teachers at this particular school were out for a morning meeting. I wasn't really worried about it. Surely the odds were in my favor, but not so. A great dread swept over me as the secretary informed me what class I would be filling in for, but I braved ahead.

There were no valentines or sugar this time. No snow or three-day weekend to distract any ones concentration. I soon learned that none of those things had anything to do with my last encounter with mayhem. It was just a very high maintenance class, and again, I was given very little information by the teacher to guide me. I knew I needed to be quick on the draw. I jumped right in with my own version of a morning routine before anyone had a chance to derail me.
I had only been assigned a half-day so my interaction wasn't long. I even had a brief opportunity to visit with the teacher before I left to carry on in kindergarten for the rest of the day. I verbalized my concerns about her scanty instructions. I won't elaborate on all that we talked about, but I understood where she was coming from on why her directions were less instead of more. I was thankful for her candor and was very much relieved as she kindly assured me that as long as no one was maimed while I was there, I did good.

Happily when the teacher walked in it was the quietest the class had been under my realm. Maybe I was finally getting a handle on this rambunctious bunch. We had just gotten in from recess. The children were quietly sitting at their tables with heads down waiting for my direction to get a drink.

More likely than not, children are happy to see me. They even make a point to tell me that they wish I was their regular teacher. Of course, I know my place, I'm just a substitute to the real learning experience - a flash in the pan and I'm on my way. I can be a good show for one day and children fondly remember me. They make a point to say hello and talk with me, relaying their hope that I will comeback to their classroom someday.

So. . . . . I have to admit, I winced a bit when I heard sighs of obvious relief as their teacher walked through the door. I knew it was more than an expression of love. They knew I was leaving and they were glad to see me go. This class in no way had me on a pedestal. I was definitely a disruption to their classroom way of life. Dare I say, I'd be glad to have this class again. I would! I did better the second go-round and I do believe, third time's a charm.

"Whenever you are asked if you can do a job,
tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!'
Then get busy and find out how to do it."

Monday, February 16, 2009

"SIT DOWN!!!!!"

It's incredible, so far this month I have subbed every day. I've had some "golden moments" which always give me a high, but last week I had "one of those days" - meaning it was horrific (at least in my eyes). I have had not so good days before, but what made this one different than the others was that I was so exasperated with the teacher. She left me so little to go on. Maybe she thought it was all perfectly clear. Her lesson plan book laid open neatly on her desk, but to me it was like reading hieroglyphics. I didn't know what she was talking about in spite of my familiarity with curriculum and classroom procedures. If there was another outline, I couldn't find it. I should have just taken over and done my own thing for the day then try to decipher the abbreviations that had been left for my guide, but then I do want to accomplish what the teacher asks.

It should have been a fun day of Valentine celebration, but it was discouraging instead. I have been in a number of first grade classrooms and have been good to keep things in check, but this situation turned into mania. It may have been a difficult class to start with, but following some routine would have definitely helped us pace through the day. Because I didn't have understandable instructions, things got out of control quickly as I thought through what to do next. As I was overcome by the onslaught of chaos, my good nature transformed. It was like a Jekyll and Hyde experience. In desperation I found myself turning into "CRAZY SUB".

I shouted, "SIT DOWN!!!!!" Oh the freak-out of it all! I just wasn't prepared for such bedlam. It was way out of control! I don't want to be punitive. I'm all about positive reinforcement, but these little first graders were riding me and running me to ruin.

Maybe it was because of the Valentine holiday (which means sugar), it was snowing outside too (which was of great excitement), and yes, the coming three-day weekend awaited (all sorts of fun plans ahead). No doubt this didn't help my situation. Whatever it all was, in spite of my preparedness, I wasn't prepared. I did not have strategies ready for this unexpected mayhem. I obviously did not come away happy about the day.

I was feeling disheartened as I handed off my classroom key to the school secretary, but soon realized that maybe I wasn't alone in my rancorous day. She cheerfully took my key and asked, "So how did sugar and snow mix in your classroom today?" She put a smile on my face which wasn't there before. I shook my already bowed head and said softly, "It wasn't good." She, still with a cheery heart and laugh, thanked me for my service. I thanked her too and as I walked away the cloud that had been raining on my subbing parade began to lift. I knew that in spite of my dismay it had been another learning experience in my subbing saga.

"Who dares to teach
must never cease to learn."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine Friend

We had a guest this weekend, Jedidiah Hudson. He's a friend of our family and we were happy to spend some time with him. Hiking at Red Rock Canyon seems to be standard procedure for visitors at our house. We also had some yummy food, played games, conversation, and church on Sunday. Jedidiah even went to the Young Adult Valentine Dance on Saturday night. We enjoyed his company. Our Valentine weekend was the better for it. Like family, he'll be visiting us again.

"Happy is the house that shelters a friend."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Karate Kid

Sam has been taking jujitsu for the last six weeks. We went with this instead of baseball this year. He's really enjoying his classes and I'm happy he's working up a sweat and it's inside. I couldn't take sitting out in the cold anymore to watch a game not to mention Sam standing out in the cold waiting for a ball to come his way. He just got his uniform this week so he's really looking the part.

jujitsu

ju·jit·su [ joo jítsoo ] or jiu·jit·su [ joo jítsoo ]

Definition:

unarmed fighting technique: a Japanese system of unarmed fighting devised by the samurai, or the martial art based on it. Judo, aikido, and karate are all developments of jujitsu.
[Late 19th century. Japanese jūjutsu - jū "gentle" ( Middle Chinese nyuw) + jitsu "arts" ( Middle Chinese zhwit)]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

33 Years and Counting

Hugh and I were married on Thursday evening, February 12, 1976 in the Los Angeles Temple. We usually go to the temple in celebration of our anniversary, but it didn't work out tonight. We'll be going later in the month. Instead we had a quick dinner at Claim Jumper and then it was back home with the fam.

The anniversary couple showing their age.
“To you who are able to attend the temple,
I would counsel you to go often. Doing so
will help to strengthen marriages and families.”
Thomas S. Monson,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confessions of a Workaholic!

I guess I shouldn't refer to myself as a workaholic. It's not that I'm all about working, but in this economy I figure I better work while I can. So far this month, I have worked every possible day available to me. Sometimes I only work a half-day, which gives me more time at home. I'm all about that!

I'm really getting the feel of the full-time experience and I don't know how women do it day in and day out. You definitely have to be creative and think differently in order to get everything accomplished. The main change around here is everyone is pitching in and helping more. That's a good thing, it's a matter of necessity. The other angle is that I've accepted the fact that certain things just aren't going to get done. I never could get it all done anyway so I'm over that hurdle.

I'm grateful for this employment. I'm learning more and more as I go along. I also see how God is helping me accomplish my many tasks even though I get overwhelmed and discouraged at times. Besides "working", I have my home and family to tend to, caregiving concerns for my parents, and church responsibilities. I also give a few piano lessons every week and fill my time with other things, like volunteering in Sam's classroom, the list goes on!

I've also grown, unfortunately, incredibly forgetful. Is it any wonder? My brain is on overload not to mention my age! I'm feeling supported though, so I carry on.

"Success usually comes to those who are
too busy to be looking for it."

Monday, February 2, 2009

January Highlights

Our new year has been filled with activity, including the winding down of our Christmas holiday and more. Here are just a few busy highlights.
January 17, 2009

Me, Aunt Betty (my Dad's sister) and her daughter, Marilyn.
They drove in from Corona for the day to visit and to especially see my mom and dad.

January 21, 2009

School Field Trip
Opening Night
"Phantom of the Opera"
Pantages Theater
Los Angeles, CA

Janna with friends. Happy to be a part of the exciting event.

January 22, 2009
Hugh and I enjoyed attending A Modest Wedding Dress Fashion Show presented by the Sierra Ward Young Women. It was a great evening. The girls all looked beautiful.


Sierra Ward Young Women
Preparing for the Temple
Janna, back row, third in from the right


Janna, modeling Leslie Dunn Knapp's wedding dress.

January 24, 2009
Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall
Clovis, CA
We (Janna, Sam, and I) made a weekend trip to visit the cousins. Our main motivation was "Les Miserable". Janna and I had the privilege of attending Buchanan's High School's presentation at the new concert hall. It was so outstanding. I couldn't believe it was high school students. What an incredible event!

"Cosette", illustrated by Emile Bayard from the original edition of Les Miserable (1862) by Victor Hugo


Our Janet played FANTINE
Read the review.

"Dance like nobody's watching;
love like you've never been hurt.
Sing like nobody's listening;
live like it's heaven on earth."

Mark Twain