Friday, May 31, 2013

May 2013 on FB

May 1: today's lyrics: "i scream for ice cream"! and tillamook's caramel butter pecan was the perfect solution.

May 3: I hate trying to be at two different places at the same time...we went to Ammon's District track meet in Ririe today and were there for 3 hours--unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to see him run ANY of his 3 events before we had to leave to drive back to Salmon for Jonah & Micah's Par Kour Recital tonight. It has frustrated me the entire day!

May 4: I LOVE camping with my family.

May 9: The 5th graders at their Shrek {Variety} Show. There was lots of dancing, acting, singing, narration, and even a ukulele number. It was sooo awesome! I was one proud teacher today.
May 9: Lyrics for today: "I'm a believer! Not a trace of doubt in my mind!" I love my 5th grade students and have so much enjoyed enjoyed working on their Shrek {Variety} Show with them! I'm gonna miss them next year! They were amazing today, and I choked up watching them perform and excel!

May 12: I <3 mom="" my="" p="">
May 14: today's lyrics: "I am blue da-ba-dee-da-ba..." taken from the opening credits of Iron Man 3. I took Ammon to see it in the theater tonight, and I LOVED it!!!

May 16: {young} men in black -- after their awesome band concert tonight!


May 21: Tomorrow, my baby graduates from Kindergarten. I have cried at all my other boys' Kindergarten Graduation Programs, seeing them in their little gowns & caps. But now I'm the music teacher conducting the program, so it feels entirely different, but I refuse to cry while running the show!

May 21: Salmon residents, the voting results: for a new school 645 yes, 901 no. for a new roof: 354 yes, 1184 no. So the state will be in control of our new roofing remodel. So sad. This won't even help the majority of problems with the schools regarding safety and security of our students or address the needs of the students with disabilities.

May 22: the good news: I didn't cry at Kanyon's Kindergarten graduation. There were 250 in the crowd--the biggest ever at any of my music programs, so I was glad it went well. the bad news: Kanyon woke up puking (i still made him go to school), he wouldn't let me take any photos in his grad gown, he disappeared from me 3 times today, the dog ran away (& got found by a stranger miles from our home), I had a panic attack this evening. More good news: we are all still alive and survived the day.

May 24: Saw the movie "Xanadu" for the first time last night. It's so weird!

Spring 2013 Top Ten

I can't believe how quickly the spring seemed to pass this year! But I'm super happy that summer has arrived! There's nothing better than laying out on the green grass, soaking in the hot sun, going swimming outside, playing in the ditch, taking evening walks, seeing the flowers bloom and the garden grow, and staying up late/sleeping in every day! Man, oh man, I love the summer!

At the conclusion of this spring season on this last day of May, I'm posting a re-cap of the seasonal Top Ten list:

1. Go to Vegas with Josh for our anniversary trip [done]
It was a fun (& short) vacation with my hubby, but so worth it! I loved spending time alone with him and feeling rejuvenated!

2. Spend Easter with the Perkins family in Utah [done]
We went to Utah at the end of spring break on Easter weekend and spent time with both mine and Josh's families. We all enjoyed the trip and had a spectacular time.

3. Support Ammon at his track meets [done]
Ammon ran very well in his first full competitive season of junior high track. We were grateful that we could attend most of his meets and watch him run!

4. Go camping [done]
This is always a highlight for our family every spring. We went overnight to Williams Lake campground not far from our home, where we enjoyed playing games, riding bikes, building fires, and eating good food!

5. Watch Jonah & Micah do Parkour at the Recital [done]
This was their first year participating in the sport, and it was a delight to watch them perform at the recital. They are so flexible and active, so this was a good sport for them.

6. Plant the garden [done]
We planted in two different installments: one day we did all the vegetables (corn, onions, potatoes), and one day we did all the pumpkins. The boys are used to the routine by now, so we got it all planted pretty quickly! The vegetables are already sprouting, which is such an exciting stage of growth to see!

7. See Kanyon perform at Kindergarten Graduation [done]
There will be a blog post all about this--but I do admit it was an exciting time to have our youngest child graduate from Kindergarten!

8. Go on School Field Trips [done]
There will be more to come about this later also. I was only able to accompany Kanyon on his field trip, but all of the boys went to different places with their classes this year.

9. Attend Ammon's spring music concert [done]
Ammon now plays with the high school's advanced band, and they played 3 songs at the spring music concert. He also played with the group at high school graduation (a first for him).

10. Celebrate Sons Day [done]
This was such a fun day for our family, and I look forward to blogging all about it sometime soon! ;)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shrek Show

I teach music for grades K-5 in Salmon, but I am not a certified teacher. I went to college to become a Theater & English high school teacher, but I never completed my schooling to earn a degree. The Idaho state legislature has cut education spending for years, and several years ago, after some money was cut from our budget, the district found a creative way to continue music education at the elementary level without sacrificing a position. When the certified teacher who had been teaching music retired, they turned that position into a non-certified, minimum-wage job. I have background in theater and music, and a love of teaching, so I was very excited at the prospect of being able to teach music at the elementary level without having a degree. Mr. Anderson, who is the music teacher at the middle & high schools, is my direct supervisor in the music department, and the district could legally hire a non-certified person for the position as long as there was a certified person overseeing it. He oversees my budget, my lesson plans, and he used to approve of my grades until this year when the state came out with new reporting criteria (now no non-certified teacher is allowed to give grades, so students at Pioneer Elementary no longer receive music grades on their report cards). My job is 100% paid out of the 2-year supplemental levy. Every 2 years, the community votes (in favor of or against paying) for the $350,000 levy which includes paying for 2 teaching positions (mine & the high school Ag teacher's), and giving money to activities and programs which include: sports, music, drama, and technology. Every time the levy passes, I know that I have a job for 2 more years. Next spring the levy comes up again, so I know I have a job at least until then! I feel like I need to give back to the community because they are the ones who support and pay for my position, so I act very responsibly with the money that goes to my department, and I give 110% to my job while I have it. It is sometimes difficult to work hourly at minimum-wage doing my job, and I put in so many extra unpaid hours in order to have the kids succeed, but I know that it is worth it for them.
 

Pioneer Elementary has students in gradesK-4; the 5th graders here attend Salmon Middle School, so I teach students from both schools. Mr. Anderson begins teaching band to 5th grade students, but in 6th grade they don't offer general music from me anymore, and they don't begin choir until 7th grade, so their only musical option is band. I didn't feel that it was fair for 5th graders to double-dip in music, but only have the option of band in 6th grade, so last spring, I worked with administration at both the elementary and middle schools, teachers at both schools, and my supervisor at the high school, to add 6th grade choir to my teaching schedule this year. It was very difficult combining two different school's schedules and over 20 teacher's schedules to accommodate the class time it would take to teach 6th grade music, but I thought it was something that would be well received among students, parents, & faculty, and a way for me to give back to the community as a result of their supporting the bond levy. Last May, we had it all set in place, and I prepared over the summer for the additional class of 6th grade choir. However, a week before school began this past year, I found out that it wasn't going to work out after all, since the middle school had to adjust its schedule, and the only time of day I could teach the 6th grade, they now had a different class scheduled. I'd already been planning a curriculum for the 6th graders over the summer that included having a Shrek musical program in the spring, and a ukulele-playing unit in the fall. I was a little disappointed that the 25 ukuleles I'd just purchased would not be used, and the Shrek Showcase I'd planned for would not be performed. But then I decided to just add the ukulele lessons and the Shrek musical to the 5th grade curriculum, and removed half of their regular curriculum instead.
 
It turned out to be the best decision for this 5th grade group. They all did SO well in music classes this year. They enjoyed always working on something different, and increasing their skills in new areas. In the fall, we did one regular curriculum unit, then I taught them a recorder unit (they begin learning it at the end of 4th grade). They performed with their recorders at the high school Christmas Concert in December (something my students have never participated in before). After Christmas break, they did another regular curriculum unit, then I taught them a ukulele unit, and then we worked on preparing, practicing, and performing the Shrek Show this spring.
 
The Shrek Show was a huge project for me, and I admit that I completely enjoyed every aspect of creating it. I had the idea last school year when I heard the high school Show Choir sing "Hallelujah" at their concert. I was thinking of all the great songs that are included in the movie "Shrek", and I wanted to have a showcase of many of those songs. I watched the movie at least 5 times this year, getting a feel for the songs and the order of events, and writing a script based upon the dialogue. I listened to the Soundtrack at least 20 times, memorizing the lyrics and getting a feel for the different tempos and rhythms. I created and wrote the entire program, which included singing, dancing, narrating, character acting, and a ukulele number.
 
The 5th graders were separated into 3 groups this year, and each group came to music class separately. I wanted to do just one big show including all the students at once, so I had to incorporate the different groups into a cohesive program. As an entire grade, they would all learn one dance song together, one singing song together, and one ukulele song together, but then each group would also have their own song they sang and their own song they danced to. I had each group vote on what songs as a class they'd like to learn from the Shrek movie. After each group voted, I was able to figure out the entire program lineup. I taught them all the song "I'm a Believer", and I found accompaniment included in my music curriculum for that. I taught them all the same choreography for the song "Allstar" (choreography is not at all a talent of mine, but thanks to studying movements on Just Dance on the wii, I was able to get the job done). I taught them all 2 verses of the song "Hallelujah", and taught them all how to play the notes on the ukulele for the chorus part. Then I played the piano as they sang, and Mr. A played his guitar during the chorus as they played their ukuleles. Because I had just 25 ukuleles, and 48 students, they had to take turns playing the ukulele in the program--half the students played the first chorus, the other half played the second chorus.

There were 8 songs total in the program. Some of the groups split songs in half--learning just words or movements to one verse each, since the different groups voted in favor of performing some of the exact same songs.
Shrek Show song order
“Allstar” – All dance
“Stay Home” – Group 3 & 2 dance
“Best Years” – Group 1 dance (all dance Limbo at end)
“I’m A Believer” – All sing
“My Beloved Monster” – Group 2 sing
“Hallelujah” – All sing, ukulele players, special guest
Mr. Anderson on the guitar
“It is You I Have Loved” – Group 1 & 3 sing
“You Belong to Me” – Soloists sing
 

In between each song, there was narration and character portrayal to help tell the story of Shrek. There were 8 narrators and 5 actors (Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, Farquaad, & Magic Mirror), as well as 3 solo singers, 3 solo ukulele players, 3 solo dancers, and 2 program introducers in the show. Every part was auditioned for, and over 50% of the grade had a special role in the program. It was so hard for me to cast the students' parts during the audition process--they all did so well! (I admit that I shed tears and had sleepless nights for a couple of the kids who didn't get cast into the part that they so badly wanted. It was seriously gut-wrenching for me! I don't know how my drama teacher would do it over and over again! That was the worst part about doing this entire show.)

 I wanted the actors to be able to participate in group dances and songs with the rest of the grade when they weren't saying their lines, so instead of having costumes and make-up for them, I created masks for them. When they were acting their part, they came up by the microphone and picked up their mask. When their section of dialogue was over and the next song was coming on, they set the mask back down, and got back in their spot on the stage risers. It worked out so nicely! (I'm not at all an artist either, but with the help of projectors, I was able to trace and color and make realistic-enough-looking masks for the students.)


 The weeks prior to their performance, I had all the 5th graders come together to music. It was chaotic beginning each day with all 48 of them together instead of just 16 at a time. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to pull it all off in time for our performance on Thursday, May 9th. But just the day before, on our last practice together, we did, and under 30 minutes, too! I was so ecstatic! I'd worked so hard for months creating and writing. directing and teaching this program, and it felt so rewarding to watch it all come together and be performed with these talented students. They did the show twice: once in the morning for about 120 other students in grades 2-6, and once again that afternoon for their parents. I wanted to just sit back and take it all in each time, but I had to play the piano for half the songs, so that prevented me from videoing it and taking more photos. But I took plenty of snapshots of them during the show in my head, and just thinking about it and seeing the mental images still fills me with such pride and emotion.

I truly loved teaching 5th grade this year! These kids were very talented and super fun, and had such energy and enthusiasm for learning! I'm sad that I won't be able to teach them again in 6th grade next year, but I feel so blessed to have had such a great year with them! What teacher wouldn't love a zany group like this... ;)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

I had such a lovely Mother's Day this year! It started on Thursday May 9th when I attended Kanyon's Kindergarten Mother's Luncheon. I was so impressed with all that had been prepared for it: there was extra tables set up in the classroom, and all the tables had tablecloths on them, and they were set very nicely. Each child had drawn & colored 2 placemats that had been laminated, and they'd also each painted a birdhouse for their mom that they put by the placemats. Lunch was delicious ham croissant sandwiches, chips with homemade salsa, punch and cookies. I had such a wonderful time with Kanyon and I felt so spoiled!
Before we began eating:
 
Me & my cute Kindergartener:

After lunch, by the placemat he drew & birdhouse he painted as gifts for me:

In Jonah and Micah's class at school, they had painted little terracotta pots and then planted flowers in them for their moms. They did a great job painting so creatively, and I loved their gifts!

On Mother's Day, the boys all gave me some of my favorite chocolate bars and Josh got me some new sandals. Then they planted rows of flowers in the backyard along the house for me and in the pots along the front of the house, too. I so much appreciate and love that they purchase and plant flowers for me every year for Mother's Day! I love looking at the colorful plants after they've been planted; they really brighten the exterior of our home as well as my spirits!
 
I love my boys so much, and I am so blessed to be their mother! I am so grateful that Josh is a wonderful father and he teaches them the importance of showing respect and love for me, and he always remembers to show his appreciation to his mother AND his children's mother for Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Parkour will make you Jump Jump

I enrolled Jonah and Micah in Parkour this year for the first time. Parkour is doing gymnastics over obstacles. They are both really flexible, and enjoy doing tricks on trampolines, challenging themselves while swinging on rope swings in the yard, and climbing trees, so I thought it would be the perfect activity for them to enhance and refine their climbing, running, and jumping abilities!

They met once a week from October to April with 10 other kids in their group at the gymnastics/dance studio. It was the perfect time: on Wednesdays at 5:30, and they had scouts during the schoolyear on Wednesdays from 4:15 to 5:15. So they would walk across the street from the school to the church to have scouts, then when scouts was over, they would walk across another street to get from the church to the dance studio.

They really liked their dance teacher, and having the gymnastics practice once a week. Because this was their first year, and most of the kids in their class had done it previous years, they struggled because they felt like they weren't as good as their classmates. But I could see how they improved over the year with their somersaults and cartwheels and headstands. It was a positive environment for them, and they weren't in a competitive setting, so I think it was very beneficial for them.

The dance & gymnastics recital was the first weekend in May. The boys were pretty nervous, but we had two practices that week to get ready for the performance in the high school gym, and I think that helped prepare them better. The Parkour outfits this year were black Nike shorts & and orange Nike jacket. They could wear a white or black t-shirt underneath. Jonah chose white, and Micah chose black so that they looked a little different from each other:


These are their professional individual photos:


The song they performed to was "We Will Rock You". At the beginning, they start in one pose, and do some flips and jumps (Jonah & Micah are on the floor in between all the blue mats):

  video

Then they moved the mats, and got into line to do the row-by-row obstacle course routines of jumping and flipping over things. My favorite part was at the end when they tried to do headstands on the individual mats in front of the audience!
 
Even though it was an expensive sport to participate in ($450 for each boy for the whole year), I'm going to enroll them in it for one more year, because I think it's worth it for them--they will continue to improve, and have greater motor skills and more confidence in themselves. I loved watching them! I was so proud of them for participating this year and performing in the recital!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

in it for the long run

Ammon ran track on his Jr. High team again this year. Except this year, he could participate in all the track meets instead of just the Salmon one that they limited the 6th graders to last year. It was a pretty short season, lasting only 6 weeks, between the end of March and the beginning of May. He participated in 5 track meets: one in Montana, one in Sugar City, two in Ririe (one was Districts), and one in Salmon. He ran in two events--the two longest ones: the 800 (twice around the track) and the 1600 (4x around).

He really enjoyed participating in track with his friends, practicing with them each day after school, and riding with them on the bus to the meets. There was a pack of them that ran well together. It was exciting to watch them push each other and have strong finishes! Ammon's best time in the 800 was 5:46, and his best time in the 1600 was 2:36. His best finishes were 3rd place in the 800, and 4th place in the 1600. Josh and I were able to go to 4 of the races, and it was so exciting for us to watch our son run and do so well!

In Sugar City:

In Ririe:
 
 
 In Salmon:




Good Job Ammon on another successful sports season! We are so proud of you for your determination, hard work, and effort!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thank you, Tony Stark

I love Jimmy Fallon. I appreciate his humor and the way he makes silly songs and his down-to-earth style with a funny flair when he interviews people on his show. But since he is on the late show at the later time, Josh and I never make it to that time before we are dead asleep. The only night we stay up later and watch his show is on Fridays (because there's no school the next day). We don't do it on purpose, it just always happens that way. And every Friday night, he does random "Thank You's" that are hilarious. So since today is Friday, I will honor that weekly tradition, and I want to thank Tony Stark from Iron Man 3 for having panic attacks.

Except, this is not a humorous thanks like the ones that Jimmy Fallon gives, but more of a very raw & emotional one. This is the long explanation behind the reason why Tony Stark receives my gratitude this week:

Nearly 10 years ago, in 2003, I delivered twins via C-section 9 weeks prematurely. They were life-flighted to a different hospital in another state the following day. My husband and my mother drove to that hospital, and I was left alone in my hospital room, recovering from the previous day's C-section. I never thought I would see my babies alive again. I hated being alone. I hated knowing that my oldest son was being taken care of by friends, and that I couldn't be with him. I hated thinking of my babies who were struggling for their life and I couldn't do anything for them. I hated not being with my husband or any family member. It was one of the lowest points of my life. 3 days later, I was discharged, and my dad drove up from Utah to pick me up in Idaho Falls, and then drove me to Salt Lake City to reunite with my husband and my babies. From there, my mom & dad returned to their home in Tremonton, my husband returned to Salmon to take care of Ammon, and I was once again left alone to care for my twins for the next 2 months until they were discharged from the hospital. This fragile beginning of their life began some serious depression inside of me. I had Post-Partum depression, as diagnosed by my OB/GYN at my follow-up 6 weeks after giving birth.

When my three-month maternity leave ended, I had to go back to work full-time at the Credit Union. Josh took care of the twins during that time in the winter. I worked for almost a month, but quit to stay home with my little ones who needed full-time care at home. And when I quit my job, my health insurance coverage ended. That meant I was no longer receiving services that I so desperately needed. So, I quit going to the doctor and I no longer took medicine because I couldn't afford it. And being home all day caring for two intensive-care babies began to take its toll on me. My emotional health went from bad to worse.

For months I felt like I was barely surviving. It was one of the twins' therapists who came to our home that realized I needed serious help. She had a social worker come and talked to me and offered me some counseling. After speaking with another social worker, I was also referred to a psychiatrist. Then I saw another psychiatrist. I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar from both Psychiatrists. When Post-Partum depression goes untreated for a long period of time, it can turn into Bi-Polar; that's what had happened to me. For months, I was put on a mirage of medications and doses, and every month I would have to return to the Psychiatrist and report, and have my medications adjusted. It was not a pleasant time. I also had to go to monthly group therapy, and weekly individual counseling sessions. This went on for over a year, until I finally felt like I had a grip on my life once again. I went back to work again at the credit union part-time, and I established a daily routine and healthy habits for myself.

During one of my monthly group sessions, there was a girl who had an anxiety disorder that often talked of things that made her have panic attacks. I had never had this happen to me before, so I didn't understand where she was coming from. I am an uninhibited person who does what I feel like & says what I want to say, so I couldn't believe she would have panic attacks from the simplest things. I truly felt sad for her, because she was unable to live a full life of joy as her fear of things were always holding her back.

When I became pregnant in 2006, I had to stop taking Lithium, the drug that worked the best to treat my Bi-Polar. And once again, I quit working. After delivering Kanyon in 2007, I breast-fed him, so I still wasn't allowed to take Lithium. I was afraid of having Post-Partum depression again with him. I was deathly afraid of it--but thankfully, it never happened. I felt like I was doing so well that I didn't even need to take medication anymore; I felt like I knew myself well enough that if I just took care of my needs, and made sure that I didn't over-extend myself or do anything extreme, that I could manage my Bi-Polar without any extra help from anyone else.

And I did just fine for a long time. Until the fall of 2008, right before the twins turned 5, when a woman who I thought was my friend, tried to destroy my life. She had become crazy and I didn't want my kids to be around her anymore. She had done some wrong and had hurt them in ways I don't want to mention here, so when she became aware of my desire to keep my kids away from her, she did everything she could to hurt me. She spread untrue rumors about me, she called CPS and the police and Health & Welfare, and my Bishop. She claimed I was an unfit mother, and suicidal and that I also threatened to kill my children with a gun, and that I was starving my family. Police came to my house to interview me, CPS came to my house to take pictures of food in my kitchen, my Bishop came to see if it was true. All of this threw my over the edge, and I no longer felt in control of managing my Bi-Polar anymore.

I became depressed and got in a real funk, and became a hermit. I shut people out of my life in order to maintain control over it. It wasn't healthy, and it took me over a year to pull myself out of it, with the help of a loving husband and a really good and devoted friend. But I was still in a vulnerable and fragile state.

In 2010, our new house was being put together and a foundation built for it, and Josh & I and the boys lived in our camping trailer for 3 weeks. It was then that I started having Claustrophobia and Anxiety Attacks. I believe the emotional roller coaster ride and the trauma I'd experienced in the previous years, combined with the stress of being cramped in a small space with my family for a very rainy season had both been factors in this newly developing mental issue. And because of the group therapy sessions that I'd had years ago with that girl, I understood what was happening to me, and I now finally understood what she felt. I had two panic attacks during that 3-week time. They felt debilitating, and I hated them. Unfortunately, they've never gone away. But thankfully, I do not have them often.

Two weeks ago, I experienced one in a public setting in front of my son. I was unprepared for it; it came on so suddenly. I was in the middle of a meeting, and some hurtful things were being said, and members in the meeting began arguing. It had already been a long and stressful day for me, and Josh was out of town so I'd been trying to handle all the parenting and home and work stuff alone, and I couldn't deal with all this extra emotional turmoil. I instantly felt the tightness in my chest, and my vision became blurred and my head was swimming and had the inability to focus. I felt like I couldn't breathe--that I wasn't getting any air. I tried to take deep breaths over and over, but it wasn't helping. Then I felt the coldness and prickling in my head, and I knew I was going to pass out, so I got out of the chair I was sitting in, and began walking towards the door. I told everyone in the meeting that I thought I was going to pass out and I had to leave. I went outside, sat down, and tried to calm myself down. There were people outside the building, including Ammon, who were watching all this take place. One of the people in the meeting with me was a nurse, and he came outside, and talked me through it. I finally got my breathing under control, and the tightness in my chest left, and my head began to see clearly again, and I broke down and started to cry embarrassed tears because so many people had just witnessed what had happened. On the way home from the meeting that night, Ammon asked me about what had happened. He was shocked to witness my earlier state of being, and I tried to explain to him what a panic attack was. (I mean, how do you tell your teenage son that you're mental? "Um...so I sort of can't handle life son, but let's hope you don't have my emotional genes, especially as you're at the beginning of the difficult & emotional teenage years"). Explaining one of my weaknesses and what happens during a panic attack to him was not one of my finer "mom" moments, especially since I had to explain it all him AFTER the fact that he witnessed his mom going into hysterics.

Just 3 days after that happened, I took Ammon on a date to see "Iron Man 3" in the theater. In the show, Tony Stark has several panic attacks when he feels stress stemming from events that happened during the "Avengers" movie. I felt relieved that even 'superheroes' experience humiliating humanly things like anxiety, and I leaned over to Ammon and said "See, even Iron Man has panic attacks!". He was already aware of what Panic Attacks were, because I'd explained them to him just days prior. I'd been feeling bad about myself for 3 days because of what had happened. I hated feeling out of control, and having so many people witness it, and having my son see me that way. But during the movie, I felt validated. Tony Stark is a genius and is filthy rich and he has the ability to save the world as Iron Man, but still suffers from controlling his own personal panic attacks. Watching him struggle, I began to forgive myself for what had happened. I didn't feel like such a bad mom or person anymore; I felt more normal.  So, thank you creators of "Iron Man 3", for making Tony Stark have a weakness that I can really relate to. Thank you Tony Stark, for helping me to feel better about something I struggle with and hate about myself!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

...make it a better place

Last year, I made special lesson plans for all my students in honor of Earth Day, and I really enjoyed it. So for Earth Day this year (April 22), I decided to do it again. I created new lesson plans, and had been preparing in small ways for months in anticipation of Earth Day!
 
I had the Kindergarten students all watch the Sesame Street song "Once is Not Enough" on youtube, and we talked about ways we could re-use products. Then all the Kindergarten students made their own maracas out of reused items: cleaned-out yogurt containers, and lids cut from cereal boxes. They put some beans inside it, and I taped the lid on. They really liked it--and I'm glad, because I've been washing yogurt containers since the beginning of school just to have enough for all of them to have (60 containers!). This is Kanyon with his maraca that he made and got to keep:
 
I did an identical lesson plan for all the students in 1st - 4th grade: First I showed them Michael Jackson's song "Heal the World" on youtube, and then we talked about ways to make the world a better place to live. Then I showed them a few short clips of the movie "Wall-E", and talked to them about ways to beautify our earth now so that it doesn't look like the world that Wall-E lived in. Then I played them one last clip of Michael Jackson's song "We are the world". It was a good musical lesson, and the kids were really receptive to the songs and videos. Then we went outside and I had the kids all clean up some gravel off the sidewalks between my music building and the elementary school. Each class had a designated section that they cleaned up and we swept. Then the students created colorful pictures on the cement in their area with sidewalk chalk. They loved it! It was so fun for them to be outside and have free time to color. Thankfully, the weather turned out nice on both days that we did it for class time. I have a block schedule, so all the students in 1st-4th grade either come on Tuesdays & Thursdays or Mondays & Wednesdays. So, the Earth Day lesson plan was given on Thursday, April 18 to half the students and again on Monday, April 22 (Earth Day) to the other half of the students.
 
 
There's a lot of cement between my music building and the elementary school, and the colors and pictures really brightened up the dull surroundings. Most of that cement is surrounded by gravel beds that are constantly being walked in instead of on the sidewalk, so rocks are always being kicked up onto the sidewalk, and the cement is usually covered in gravel which makes it hard to walk on or have wheelchairs ride on. It was so nice the following week after we did this to have cleared off sidewalks! It made me smile to see such beautiful pictures and have the sidewalks feel clean, and I loved looking at all their colorful drawings as I walked back and forth between the buildings daily. Lots of other adults had the same feeling and made similar comments to me about it, too. There are still a few of the pictures that are visible even now, a month later! (My music building is the peach-colored one on the left, and on the right is the middle school gym:)
 
It felt good to take care of just a tiny piece of this beautiful planet Earth that we are privileged to call our home!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Greenskeeper

In the spring of last year, Josh purchased a small lawn-mowing business with our tax refund. I wasn't exactly thrilled with fun money being spent on work, but Josh was really excited about the prospect of finally owning his own lawn-mowing business like he'd been dreaming about for years. He had a vision of mowing others' lawns, and having his sons work alongside him... 


We bought a little flat-bed trailer two years ago in anticipation of taking the family on 4-wheeling trips, but we ended up never using it like we thought that we would. So, Josh used that little trailer to haul around the riding lawn-mower that came along with the purchase of the small business. After one year of working the business, he knew he wanted to have a different trailer to haul his lawn-mowing stuff in. So this winter, he began looking for a used, enclosed trailer. One of our friends decided to sell us theirs because they weren't using it a lot anymore. It was a little larger than Josh had desired, but the price was right, and he used half our tax refund money this year to purchase the trailer (the other half of the refund was used on our Vegas trip--so it was a good compromise: we did something fun for me, and something for work for him).
 
He cleaned off the vinyl lettering that the previous trailer owner had put on the sides of the exterior, and he removed some of the shelving that they had installed on the interior for their plumbing materials. Then I had a friend of mine help me create new vinyl lettering, and I applied the lettering to the outsides of the trailer at the end of April. Josh wants to have a logo made, but the fellow who was going to do it has put a pause on his orders for now, so the lettering is all we have at this time on the sides of the trailer. Josh was happy with the application of his business name on the sides of the trailer, because it feels much more professional now.

(The blue lettering at the bottom is still on from the previous owners--Josh got tired of scraping it all off!)

Josh named his business after his job at the golf course. He is the Superintendent, which is also known as "The Greenskeeper".

He's been very busy this spring picking up new clients for his lawn-mowing business. Last year, he did about 6 lawns, and this year he has grown to 12 lawns, and he doesn't think he wants to do much more than that! He's also been aerating a LOT! Nobody in Salmon has an aeration machine, and Josh was able to borrow one from his Uncle John (hopefully we'll be able to purchase it), and he has been extremely busy aerating people's lawns in addition to all the mowing! He also does de-thatching, weed-eating, fertilizing, weed control, and he shovels snow in the winter. He takes Ammon with him to help--and Ammon also does his own lawns in addition to the ones that Josh takes care of. They're a good team, and they produce excellent work together!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

bulbs, buds, and a bad dog

Our home is now on the same spot that Josh's grandma and grandpa lived for a while in their mobile home. Grandma loved flowers, and she planted them all around her yard. When we had our new home moved onto this spot, and our older mobile home moved away, one of her beautiful Peony flowers that she planted years ago was destroyed, and I was sad about that. Grandma really wanted me to get some tulips in our yard. After grandpa died, and Grandma Tolman moved to Blackfoot to live an Assisted Living Center, she would ask me each spring if we had tulips blooming. I always told her no, that we didn't have any. One year, she even gave me $20 to go buy some tulip bulbs to plant. Unfortunately, the gardening store in Salmon doesn't sell tulip bulbs, and I could never find them locally or at Walmart to plant, and I looked for years. Well, last fall, I finally found some at WinCo when we were in Boise for Josh's birthday, so I bought a few packages of them, and Josh planted them in two rows along the back side of our house. I was so excited anticipating the flowers this coming spring! Josh doesn't like tulips because they don't last long, but I like the thought of having multiple kinds of flowers that are in bloom at different points throughout the growing season. (I also have the desire to have some poppies that bloom in June, but our efforts in growing some last year failed.)
 
Anyways, last fall we also got a puppy--against my wishes, if you may remember. When the tulip plants started growing, he began digging in the dirt surrounding them. I keep thinking that stupid dog will grow out of his puppy stage and stop chewing on and destroying things. But it hasn't happened yet.
 
So Josh brought some chicken wire home, and covered the area so that he couldn't dig it up and destroy it anymore. (Of course, then the dumb dog just moved onto destroying other things--like chewing on bike seats, and 4-wheeler helmets, and my beloved hammock swing, and packages that the UPS man brings, and dirt box toys, and shoes, etc. etc. etc.)
 
Anyways...after all that disturbance to the plants, only two actually blossomed out of all two rows of bulbs that were planted. I was extremely disappointed. But, I am hopeful that next year, it will be better! (Because either the dog will grow up, or the tulip bulbs will be stronger.)