Monday, April 27, 2009

Gargoyles, gifted offspring artwork and end of the school year countdown!

3 Weeks and Counting...

Holy Schmoly. I am SO happy the school year is ending (about 3 weeks!), but I wish the school year can end without the heat coming with it. All the free time that comes with summer break gets squashed by the heat and hence, cabin fever. Bleh. Seriously, this climate was never meant to be inhabited. And here I am amongst the hell. Bleh.

But the end of the year has some good things. I do my Gargoyle ceramic unit (12th-mid 13th century Gothic architecture) with junior high. Here are some of the 8th grade Gargoyle's from last year:

More of the 8th Graders:
(I mean, the 8th Grade
This year I hope to see a nicer array of colors, as there are more glaze colors, thanks to some nominal blood money that was squeezed from the turnip of the nil amount of money in this lovely state of affairs. But last Fall/early Winter(?) I did get a small monetary bone thrown my way in which I ordered a bunch of glaze colors. I can't wait to see how this year's Gargoyle's turn out. Just like last year's, their Gargoyle's have to have open mouths, because the original purpose of Gothic Goygoyle's of the French Romanesque was as drains or waterspouts. Sure, by the time Gargoyle's re-surfaced some 700 years later in the "Gothic Revival" of the mid-19th century, they were used only for decoration, but I keep the "open mouth" requirement due to the historical significance. The second purpose of Gargoyle's in that Gothic period was they provided a service to frighten away evil spirits.

Gifted Offspring
The pretty picture on the top is Mikelle's watercolor painting from her Monday afternoon art class. I love it. She matted it on pink paper and I'm going to get one of those IKEA frames that work so well with artwork and hang it on her wall.

Having Mikelle take art lessons from someone else is proving to work out much better than her trying to get the goods from me. That was never more evident than it was tonight. She came back from her art lesson all chipper and her art teacher at Blackbird has good things to say about her and she loves her teacher and all is happy in their world (as she should love her art teacher - Ms. Melody used to teach at a fellow K-8 school in the same district I work in and left last year due to not putting up any further with the district's issues , and it was the district's loss as they blew it to throw people way they did. But let's not go there..... And Mikelle benefits from her wisdom at Blackbird! ) but then I broke out a little bit of clay remnants for Mikelle to mold and play with and sculpt, and of course, the mother/daughter clashing occurred when she would ask for my assistance, but in my attempt to give it and guide and teach, she would argue and fight me on every turn, despite the fact that I was trying to guide her the same way I do my students. Yes. She and I do much better when she gets the lessons from someone else.

It's like a lady in my ward who teaches piano lessons. She teaches piano, but not to her own children. She sends them to another teacher! It's just better that way. And it's not like Mikelle and I don't do artistic projects together. We do. And she still learns from me and I get the rewarding experience of working with her. It's just good that a big bulk of it goes to sweet Ms. Melody at Blackbird! This is where the saying, "It Takes A Village" makes its point beautifully!


Well, I wanted to add some beautiful Chagall-inspired abstract profiles from my 7th and 8th graders earlier this year (February/March), but time doesn't permit. I'll be back to add some of those highlights. Besides, it may be a little confusing throwing Gothic Architecture of the 12th-14th centuries at you along with 20th century Surrealism with the watercolor abstract profiles. So perhaps it's good to wait on that.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeling STUCK? A little trapped? Do your shoes have ISSUES?

Don't fret, Friday is almost here. And at least the feeling of being stuck and trapped is not as bad as as what this poor horsie experienced. And I tell ya, I get really worked up about animals. I can't watch a movie where an animal gets hurt, dies, what-have-you (same with children). But I couldn't stop laughing at this picture in my Readers Digest a couple of months ago. Very inappropriate humor. Maybe it's because I knew the horse was okay that I found it so funny.

Yes, the horsie got stuck in the tree, but he was free'd and hopefully he doesn't even remember his unfortunate predicament. Can you imagine driving down the road and seeing that? I wouldn't be able to see the road because I'd be busting up and tearing up from the laughter. Poor horsie.

Chris doesn't find my inappropriate laughter as funny. He loves horses (and I hate them? No. I have nothing against horsies. They're certainly better than cats or cows or smelly male goats. But he LOVES horses...LOVES them...) But I just e-mailed the picture to him (yes, I can't let it go...even though he already saw the picture months ago originally in the Readers Digest) with the perfect caption under it:

"Ready or not! Here I Come!"

Funny, I didn't get a reply.

Christian's Um, "Issues"
To shift gears, I'm in Target yesterday evening with Christian and Mikelle (not a good place for me to be! That place is like crack!) and we're walking passed the shoe area and Christian says, "Mom! I need new sandals!"

I say, "No you don't." And we keep walking.

He shows me a little wear and tear on one of his straps. Sure, they don't look brand new anymore, but he's got quite a few more wears left in them. A month or two maybe. I tell him his shoes will still be fine for awhile and we are long gone from the shoe area.

But in typical Christian fashion, he won't let it go.

"But Mom! My shoes have ISSUES!!"

No, he still didn't get new sandals.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Doldrums?

I've been feeling more on the low "blah" side lately. Who knows why this is. Maybe it's because it's going to probably reach 100 tomorrow (hot weather is NEVER is a good thing in my book). Maybe it's job burnout (despite a 4 day Easter weekend last week). Maybe it's feeling overwhelmed with everything - work, home, life. Who knows. I have always felt spread pretty thin teaching 9 grades. And yes, I'll be doing the same thing next year. I'm not dreading it next year, but I do know it's not something I can do forever. Anyway, but I've been feeling every tired and very un-motivated. I'm glad the school year is ending in a month, but at the same time, it means it'll be too hot outside to do much with the free time. Yuck. Don't get me wrong. I'm very satisfied with many aspects in life, and while there are always things that would be nice to change, I'm not complaining. Those items are just on "my list" to change when it can be done, if it can be done.

I'm also sad to be losing some of my 8th graders this year. I couldn't say that last year! Sure, there are some 8th graders this year that I will feel a lot less trepidation once they're gone, but I'll miss more of them, then those that I'll rejoice their departure to the high school phase of their lives.

I think I'm also frustrated that I can't "do it all". There are some many different things (job front, home front, life front) that I want to do, but find that it just can't done, due to the fact that there's only one of me and limited resources.

I'm thinking of that saying: "God put me on this earth to accomplish a number of things. Now I'm so far behind, I'll never die."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Easter Pics Part II

Well, due to the teeth/playground trauma from my previous entry, the second batch of Easter pics didn't get shown off as soon as I planned. But since it is Easter Sunday, it seems appropriate to show off the second batch of pictures now.

Mikelle ended up with two Easter dresses, since it was "iffy" about whether it would be too warm to wear the other one (the one in the pictures that Lara took in Las Vegas). Well, today was cooler than normal (yay!) and the original dress would have been okay but there's no way I could have planned on that, being where we unfortunately live and that Easter fell in mid-April. The odds for a cooler-than-normal Easter were against us. However, it has been a BEAUTIFUL day! If only it can last all Summer! But I digress.

Therefore, last weekend, these were the shots I had taken of the kids. I would say with Lara's pictures and now these, we have a well rounded and rather complete set of Mikelle and Christian's Spring 2009 pictures.

The photographer and I wanted them to stand as if they were dancing, but they wanted to hug each other instead. Through all the chaos, that is just too cute.

And this is what we call the "goof" pics. Christian with his goofy expression and Mikelle with her wide-eyed expression (that was already in my previous post to show her "before" teeth).

And this is a nice flower shot of Mikelle:

I also especially like this black&white version of it. Between this shot and the headshots of Christian that Lara took, I want to do a wall montage.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Playground: The Final Frontier

(left: I found this image and while it's not exactly what happened to Mikelle on the playground, it sure seems fitting to add it here)

Or maybe I should have named this entry, What Happens on the Playground Stays on the Playground...if you're a tooth! No, Mikelle didn't lose a baby tooth on the playground on Tuesday. She lost a permanent front tooth. And parts of her three other permanent front teeth.

So at work on Tuesday, around lunchtime, I get a call from Mikelle's school nurse informing me that Mikelle had a rock hit her, and has a fat lip, tooth gone, chipped teeth and swollen gums (or bruised - can't remember the exact words) and palette. She was in a lot of pain and was crying (understandably so!). I knew I had to leave and get her to the dentist right away. I don't know if they told me I had to pick her up or I just said I'd be leaving to come get her. It didn't matter. I left as soon as I could.

So I finagled a few things, dissapointed two teachers that had their classes scheduled for art later that day and took off. By the time I got up to Queen Creek to get her, she had calmed down considerably, but became upset again when I informed her we weren't going home - that we were going to the dentist. She must have had horror images in her mind of dentists such as Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors (and she hasn't even seen that movie!) torturing patients like some sadist psycho. She was afraid of more pain, getting her tooth pulled, and all kinds of scary things. I tried to let her know that most likely, he was just going to look at her teeth and figure out what further action to take. And sure enough, there was too much trauma to her gums for anything to commence that day. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So how did this happen, might you ask? Well, thankfully it wasn't malicious or done purposefully. The story we received is - her friend was trying to throw a rock into a tree and either Mikelle was mistaken for a tree, or her friend has bad aim. With third graders, who knows. The thought of Dick Cheney accidentally shooting his friend came to mind. Aiming for a bird and getting your friend instead! But unlike our former VP (and I'm so glad to say former) none of the third graders had been drinking!

It wasn't until we were in the dentist's office waiting room that Mikelle told me how big the rock was. It was BIG. It was about the size of maybe a pint. To put it another way, imagine a soda can and then fatten it up. THAT is the size of the rock that put Mikelle into the dentist's chair.

My dentist (whom I've been going to for about 14 years) was pretty angry that this happened to her. He said, "I don't mean to be blunt, but what action is being done regarding this?" He was referring to the thrower of the said rock. I said, "Well, she did get a warning from the principal. And it wasn't malicious." The look on his face told me that he thought I didn't care enough. Well, I did. But first, I wanted to get a diagnoses and "road map" of where to go with Mikelle's dental work. Also, I knew Chris and I were going to communicate with the friend's parents, but that wasn't going to happen until later that evening. Therefore, if I seemed complacent, it was because I was putting that element of it out of my mind until talking further with Chris and going from there. I was in a "first things first" mode.

I figured we wouldn't have to call the other girl's parents, because they were already informed from the school. Later, when we arrived home, there was a message on my cell from the girl's father.

Since I left work early that day and took Mikelle to the dentist (and then Dairy Queen afterwards) I turned the task of returning the phone call to the girl's parents over to Chris. He said in talking with the friend's father, they were both (the parents) very apologetic and apparently, their daughter and rock throwing had been an issue before. Unfortunately, it would probably take something like this happening to get the message acrossed to her. They even wanted to know how much out of pocket the dental procedures were going to run. We told them we weren't sure yet, but would be in touch. There is some out of pocket cost and a possible deductible that has to be met. But that appt is still a couple of weeks out.

Therefore, in a few weeks, Mikelle will receive some cosmetic work to the main big front tooth that was mostly knocked out and left somewhere on the playground. Just some tooth remains close to the gum. The three other chipped ones still have some growth and only one of those three may be dealt with now and then the other two are on a "wait and see" status.

So here are some pictures I took of Mikelle's teeth (sorry for the one psycho pic - Mikelle is a goofball with the camera). You can see the top left tooth was almost all knocked out except for the area close to her gums. And you can't tell from the pictures so much (well, you can from the psycho second pic), but part of the other top front tooth is chipped (the corner). And the two bottom front teeth have chips out of them as well.

And on the note of Mikelle's personality, this picture (taken last Sat 4/4) illustrates a good "before" pic with her teeth. You might h
ave to click on the image to get a more accurate depiction of her teeth beforehand.

So there you have it. The latest in life when you have children and the risks you take when you have children. :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Wonderful Winners!!!!

No, no second batch of Easter pictures posted yet. That can wait. lol I recently entered some of my student's artwork in a local contest at a Music and Art school. The lessons for my K-4th graders fell more in line with the theme of the contest, so I entered some 2nd grade work, 3rd grade work and 4th grade work. Of the 6 winners in the grades 1-2 categories and 3-4 categories, 5 of them were my students!

Here are my first prize winners.
They received $50 cash prize and some art supplies. I think if they want to take advantage, they get a month of free lessons from Blackbird as well. They may be a little hard since Blackbird is 30+ miles from Coolidge, but it is still a great feat to win!
Also, to see better versions of the artwork, go to this Blackbird link, instead of just seeing the pictures that I took (especially with the thermostat as an inclusion). Also, by going to the link, you'll see the upper grade winners. Quite a few of the upper winner categories are students of a district colleague of mine. :-) I've also shown off some of this work already in previous posts, so if they look familiar, it's because awesome artwork should look familiar, and yes, I've posted them before. But this time as official WINNERS!

First prize in the Grade 3-4 Category is this 4th grade student's artwork, from the
Watercolor Discovery project:

And First prize in the Grade 1-2 Category is this 2nd grade student's artwork, titled "The Phoenix Desert":

Second and Third Prizes
Here are the second and third winners for the Grades 1-2 category. My student's swept the category! The 2nd Place winner is the paper mosaic titled "Penguin on Ice" and the third place winner is titled "Our Desert Home".

Here is the third place winner for the Grades 3-4 Category. I love his title: Runaway Pig.

Below are some honorable mentions. I'm so proud of my students. I love the top one. I did really wish he would have gotten some kind of prize. He was also so excited that I entered his work in the contest. The artwork on the bottom is Mikelle's desert landscape painting.
Here are some other honorable mentions. I was especially impressed with the middle one, because that particular 3rd grader has such a unique and impressive style. I also love the care the 4th grader artwork on the bottom took in putting her paper mosaic together.
More awesome Honorable Mentions!
And here is Mikelle with her painting. There was a little error and they put my school on there instead of her school (I put her school on the entry form, but they probably put mine out of habit, due to the other entries).

Mikelle had an Honors Choir recital that night and then we dashed over to Blackbird for the artists' reception.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Picture Time!

These pictures are way overdue on being posted. Well, the first batch is. The second batch just got taken over the weekend! Where is the second batch, you say? Maybe in a couple days I'll post it.

The first batch are the pictures that my friend Lara (hi Lara!) took in Las Vegas on March 9th. She and her family came down from Cedar City and as you may remember if you read the post, we didn't get there until it was getting dark. :-( Of course the added wind made for an interesting combinations of factors too. Anyway, so I don't repeat myself, the entry for that fun stuff is right here . Still, the pictures that Lara was able to get turned out pretty good. Mikelle is wearing an adorable dress that I knew we wouldn't be able to pull off for Easter, though since it was still cool enough for these pictures, I had her wear it. She has a mauve colored one too of the same style. It was one of those end-of-season clearance finds that turned into a real bargain that would have originally been too much $$$$! So when I saw two of those gorgeous dresses for more than 50% off, I grabbed them.

This one (below) cracks me up. It shows Christian's personality pretty good! (No, Lara didn't tell him to hug the tree with his whole body!) I'll probably crop it too for a version with just his face as well.

And some birthday boy head shots!

I love these head shots. I have an idea for both scrapbook layout and wall montage, but one requires time I don't have, and the other requires wall space I don't have! Oh well! Such is life. I am so happy to have such the goofball personality captured in pictures like this!

Thanks Lara! I'm sorry the whole Vegas-before-sunset goal didn't work out. But I love the results we got with wind and absence of sunlight!

Check out some more of Lara's pictures (most of them taken when the sun was up!) here: