Sunday, January 31, 2016

Time Flies, So Have As Much Fun As You Can

Time seems to accelerate when you age. I've read about this phenomenon and I've really been experiencing it lately. CoolGuy's birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and we celebrated by visiting our children and grandchildren who live in northern Utah. They are the reason we live in Las Vegas. We are close enough to visit regularly, but we don't have to live where it snows regularly. We are willing to drive up there and experience snowy roads and cold weather periodically, but we don't want to live in it ever again.

So, we ate out at one of those Brazilian meat-fest restaurants for the birthday dinner. It's perfect for the variety of tastes and appetite levels in our group. There are noodles for the little kids, and spicy sausage links, and garlic sirloin steak for the adults. It's seriously fun and quite delicious, too.

Another day, we went bowling with some of the children. We had to wait a bit for a lane to open for us, so Grandpa gave some pool shooting lessons to one of the boys. We girls played air hockey, and skeeball, and then we got our shoes and did some bowling. It's never a dull moment, and really just so much fun.

 Auntie Skye noted that this was a lot of long hair at the "Wilk." I'd texted her a photo.

 It was a day for creative clothing choices.

 Plus, body English is an important part of bowling. 

 Later on, we had some more fun at home, reading books and being silly. 

Then, we got together with everyone again, and went to the Provo City Temple open-house. It was a lovely, lovely recreation of an historic building that had been nearly destroyed by a fire. Again, a great time, with people we love. After our tour, we went to Jessie's house and ate delicious food in the style of Argentina. That was the country that she and her children were studying that week, plus--the country where Josh served his mission, and where Analia was born and raised, and she was a missionary there, too. Fun Times!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Writing a Story

I've decided to transfer some of the stories I've written in my Writer's Notebook to this page. The Writer's Notebook is what we make for my classroom. It is where we write the first draft. I start out the year by teaching them from Lucy Calkins that anyone can think up a story about one's own life by thinking of three things:

1) people
2) places
3) things

First, you make a list of people, then choose one of them, and write down a short list of things you've done with that person. Then, you choose one of the things, and write a story. You're not telling everything you've ever done with that person--just one thing. Then, if you want, you can write about more things. Or you can choose another person from the list, and write something you did with them, or something that happened to you and them.

You do the same thing with the "places" and "things" sections. "Things" can also include pets. The trick is that it should be a story--with a beginning, middle and end. You're not just writing a description, or telling about the person, place, or thing. But you're telling about an event.

It is amazingly hard for some students to tell a story. It is a challenge every year to get them to tell a story. I usually get a lot of summaries, in one or two sentences. So, we draw the story arc (an ascending line that peaks, then drops) and try to sketch in what happened, and that often helps them to understand how to tell a story. Add in the English-as-their-second-language aspect of their lives, and you can see why it is hard for them to tell a story. But, we never give up!

I always sit and write when they are writing, so that they can see that it is possible for people to sit and write for an extended period of time--20 minutes or so. I've ended up with a really cool notebook of stories after teaching writing to fourth graders for several years.  Here's an account I wrote in my "things" section.


Not only was I in a new school, but I was the tallest, skinniest girl in my class. Then, there were my shoes. They were gray, laced-up, granny shoes, prescribed by an orthopedist. My feet had been hurting for several years, and after my mom and I visited the doctor, we left with these "corrective shoes." 

I had started sixth grade in the new elementary school in town, after spending K-5 in the little one-classroom school two miles from our farm. So, I knew very few people in my new class, and I was determined to make some new friends, and be popular. But, during the summer, my mom took me to a foot doctor to see why my flat feet got such sharp pains in the instep so often. I took off my sneakers, and stood down on the floor for the doctor, and he looked at my feet and turned to my mom to say, "Those are the worst feet I've ever seen."  I remember him saying this, but maybe he didn't really say it. At any rate, they were terrible feet. So, he prescribed the helpful shoes. Helpful, ugly, grandma-looking, icky gray shoes. Everyone else was wearing Keds or Go-Go boots. 

I always tried to just ignore my shoes, but this recess period, we were confined to our classroom because it was snowing vigorously outside. I watched the boys playing a game where they tried to see who could keep their balance longer as they stood foot-to-foot and ... I can't remember all the rules. Suddenly, there was an argument about whose foot moved first.They looked up, and saw me watching. So, I helpfully butted right in with my opinion. But, I made the mistake of sticking my foot out, and moving it, to show them what I meant. Suddenly, everyone in the room was staring at my ugly, gray, grandma shoes at the end of my skinny leg, with the white anklet socks. 

I quickly pulled my foot back in under my desk, but it was too late. I'd drawn all their attention to the most unattractive part of me. I couldn't believe how embarrassed I was. I hated the doctor, and I hated my stupid feet. 

The End

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Trip to the Past

We went to a concert last night to celebrate CoolGuy's birthday. It was the opening night of John Fogerty's show at the Venetian. Fogerty reached that point in his career where he can get a gig for a few weeks, several times a year, in a big casino in Vegas. But, seriously, it was awesome! He has a huge catalog of music and played for almost two hours!

First, you might be saying, "Hey, CoolGuy's birthday isn't this week." That's right, it is next week, January 15th. However, we will be on the road next Friday going to Utah to spend the weekend with our kids and grandchildren. So, we went to the concert this week.

It turned out quite fortuitous to have chosen this Friday, too. #1--opening night...everyone in the show was at the top of their game. The performances were terrific!  #2--it was Elvis's birthday yesterday. What do I know? I didn't realize that, but it figured into John Fogerty's life in a big way. In fact, the show started by playing a video of "Proud Mary" by Elvis in concert in Vegas.Then Fogerty comes out on stage and pointed out how big a deal it was for him to have his song covered by The King. Then, his group played it. It was a great start.

The concert had a lot of great parts. His son is part of the back-up band. Fogerty had talked about his earliest memories of music--sitting between his parents in the car as they drove and sang harmonies. And how he got introduced to composition, and how music is just something that was always part of his being. Then, he pointed out one of the band members on guitar, brought him forward and presented him as his son, Shane! The two of them played a couple of duets, and the son was featured on several other songs. But, he emphasized how satisfying it was for him to be able to play music on this level with his own son, after all the career successes he'd experienced. So, the concert was full of all kinds of good things.

Even more than the good performances, and learning details of his life, was the amazing trip to the past that we experienced listening to the music. CoolGuy leaned over during one song and said, "Wow...right now, I'm in a yellow Camero, driving too fast to Utah." One day, a group of buddies ditched school, and Tony Call (RIP) drove them down to go skiing. They'd listened to the same CCR 8-track tape all the way down and back. I realized that almost every song sent me back to milking in the warm summer evenings, listening to our Mom's radio in the barn. The station we could get during the daylight played a couple of hours of rock and roll during milking time. I needed my sister Patricia to be there at the concert, to enjoy all those songs with me, again.

We weren't the only ones tripping in the past, either. Most of the concert goers were apparently fans since the beginning of Fogerty's career, like us. Talk about Geezer-Land! CoolGuy wondered if there would be supplemental oxygen offered at intermission, or if they had to have added extra seats to accommodate all the walking appliances, etc. etc. Actually, we fit right in! Truly, we were surrounded by our peers. And all of us had a FABULOUS time! The old geezer up on the stage rocked out all night, as we all sang along to every song. He loved that we knew all the words. We loved that he was willing to sing all those songs again, for the four millionth time, as if it was the only thing he lived to do.  Mmmm, maybe it is the main thing he lives for...We sure appreciated his skill and enthusiasm.

So, anyway. Birthday celebrated. Trip back to high school memories completed. Nostalgia for friends and family members no longer with us was bittersweet. After 42 years of hanging out with CoolGuy, we had another fun time.