Monday, May 30, 2011

Pictures by Ambyr

This extremely talented friend of mine had decided to take a much deserved haitus from her photog business for a few months.  I've been waiting and saving my pennies to have her take our pics and was so sad when I saw she was taking a break (sad for me, happy for her!).  But then she said she was still "open for business" for her friends--YIPPEE!!!  We had a few challenges in getting our session completed---our first appointment time included gale force winds (uh, no, not good for the hairdo), and we were almost foiled on the second attempt by severe thunderstorms.  Luckily, things cleared up quickly and we met at this JUNK YARD.  Yes, these are all taken at a junk yard.  The gift of having that eye for beauty everywhere is astounding.  Even knowing Ambyr's huge talent, I can hardly believe how beautiful these pictures turned out.  I told her my only complaint is that Kendra looks so OLD! 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Last Days of Fourth Grade

The last week of school is always a blur!  So much going on!  But lots of fun.

All year long the kids earn grades in work habits and conduct.  The best they can get is an "E", which is Excellent.  Each six weeks I celebrate kids who received "All E's" by having lunch with them in my classroom.  Then, at the end of the year, I have a Breakfast of Champions for those kiddos who received all E's for every six weeks marking period.  These are the kiddos who attended the breakfast.

We had a talent show in my class the last week of school.  Kendra and her buddies, R and M, made up a routine to a song from Glee called "Loser Like Me".  It was so cute!  M's mom made the girls super cute shirts, and they wore geeky glasses.  I actually love the has a great message. 

Several of my kids are Tae Kwon Do or Karate students, and one of my moms is a TKD instructor.  They displayed how to break boards for their talent, and they also allowed a few other kids in the class to try.  The chose name sticks for those who could try, and Kendra's name was chosen first.  Can you tell she didn't really want to do it???

Yeah, the kids carried her out to the "stage". 

Protesting the whole way, she tried.
Her lack of confidence resulted in not being able to break the board.  But at least she tried!!!

We had several awards ceremonies this year.  One was a whole grade level award, and the teachers chose individual awards for every student.  I gave Kendra the "Theater Arts" award.  :-)

In my classroom we do two other awards.  One is the "Ms. Z Super Silly Award" which is given by me, of course, and generally has to do with things that happened throughout the year with each child.  They really reflect the culture of the class.  Kendra received the "I'm So Tiny Award" because she said that so often, being the smallest in the class.  The last awards were created by the kids.  I have the girls huddle together and the boys huddle together and they select awards for each other.  They also design and create them.  From the boys this year, Kendra received the "Most Fashionable Girl Award."  :-) 

I had just finished handing out all the awards and was moving to the next activity when one of my girls stopped me and said, "Wait, Ms. Z! There is one more award!"  Well, the class had gotten together and designed this award for me:

It is the "Loud and Proud Award!"  It is one of those plastic megaphones and all the kids signed it.  How cute is THAT???  Of course, the irony is that I NEVER need a megaphone!  :-)

After awards, I showed my kids a video I made for them.  I used a service called Animoto.  I uploaded all the pictures I took of them throughout the year (about 180 of them!) and then picked a song and Animoto sets the rhythm of the picture display to the music.  I picked "No One Like You" by the David Crowder Band.  Totally awesome song.  By the time it finished I had about 7 girls in a puddle of tears (Kendra included of course).  I sent them to the restroom to splash water on their faces and get themselves together.  It was taking them forever to come back, so I went to find them, only to walk into huddle of girlies who were just a MESS!  They were  sobbing!  They finally got themselves a little more in order and returned to the class in time for lunch.

I went to pick up the kids at lunch 25 minutes later and ran into one of my parents who was walking one of my kids (not hers) to the nurse.  The girl was STILL sobbing and just needed "a moment away from the class."  The parent then proceeded to tell me that about 2/3 of my class was crying!  OH MY GOODNESS!!!  I guess a few of my boys started up, which then caused a sob-fest avalanche!  The mom got a few pictures...I'm sure the kids would be thrilled to know I'm posting them!  :-)

Finally, they got themselves together in time for the ice cream social/dance party that our grade level does for the end of the year.  No tears here!

Kendra with bestie, R.

You KNOW I get in on a dance party.  We're doing the "Cupid Shuffle" here.

It was a great year.  I LOVED being Kendra's teacher.  We had absolutely NO issues with parents, kids, or between us.  I'm super glad we did it.  I had a great class, and I will miss them.  But I am SOOOOO happy it is summer!  :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Field Trip to the Cowboys Stadium!

Woah.  What a cool place, and BOY did my class have a BLAST.  We got to play on the field.  The. Field.  The whole time.  It was so A.W.E.S.O.M.E. 

Kendra with her good buds, R & M, on th bus all excited to get there.

I was the official school photographer, and I took a picture of EVERY fourth grader (all 128 of 'em) scoring in the endzone.

'Course, I scored, too.  :-)  Nice catch, eh?

This is me with one of my dads.  I asked him and his wife if they wanted an endzone shot, and he said he wanted one like this with me.  Who am I to let down a parent request?  :-)  Seriously great people---love this family.

Locker room tour next...Kendra by the mighty Romo's locker.  They told us the lockers each cost $9,000 because of the fancy wood they used. 

I don't see a career in football in her future. 

Kendra's favorite part.  This was in the press room.  Kendra got behind the "speaking table" and for some reason every single one of her classmates sat in the press chairs while she "took questions" from them.  Not sure why they all didn't bombard the table along with her, but she loved that spotlight. 

Another parent was kind enough to take Kendra with them to the Pro Shop.  I had brought cash, and I just gave her the whole $27 and said "Please don't spend it all."  She came back with this foam finger.  Think about stadium pro shops and how they jack up the prices.  How much do you think she paid?  It was ONE dollar.  The only thing in the store that was one dollar!  Good girl!  Oh, and good thing I got a picture of her with it.  Another one of my kids really wanted one but the store had run out, so Kendra asked me if she could give hers to the girl. What a sweetie!

Because of all the pictures I had to take and my phone calamity (explained later in this post) I didn't get to spend much time with Kendra on this trip.  But we did manage to get this one pic of us together on the big star in the center of the field right before we left. 

Much more subdued on the bus ride home.  All my kids were quiet--they had tuckered themselves right out!  ME too! 

The phone story:  Right before lunch, I took all my kids to the restroom inside the cafe restaurant place.  I used the restroom and stupidly put my phone on the toilet tissue dispenser, then promptly left it there.  I realized my mistake about 20 minutes later and rushed back (down three sets of stairs and across the field), but to no avail.  It was gone.  My friend Missie was on the field trip with me and when she saw me sprinting across the field she figured out what happened and started calling my phone.  It rang and someone answered it, but then hung up.  Several parents had my number so they started calling it and texting, but no response.  We weren't the only people there---several other schools were visiting as well.  So I'm guessing some kid grabbed it.  Of course, they had use of it for about 2 hours before I suspended usage on it, so now they have a very expensive phone that won't do anything and if they try to activate it, it will be flagged as stolen and the store will confiscate it.  How dumb.  And dishonest.  And unkind.  Yes, I was stupid to leave it.  But it really stinks to know that someone has no scruples AND has many pictures of my cutie girl, too.  Stinks.  Bad. 

BUT, as we were riding home on the bus and Kendra came to sit by me, I turned to her and said, "You know, they took a phone.  They didn't take you."  It's all about perspective.  None of my kids got hurt today, we all had fun, and it's all good.  It's a phone.  That's all.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cake Classes 1 & 2

Kendra is nuts about the Cake Boss.  Her current dream is to go to Hoboken, meet him and eat some of his bakery yummies.  Our local Hobby Lobby store offers cake decorating classes regularly, so we signed up!  It is a four week class, one day per week for two hours each session. 

I've decorated many a cake for birthdays and have done the "self-taught" method of decorating.  I have figured out simple things like borders and "stars", etc.  I don't know how to make flowers, though!  And I've been pleasantly surprised to learn a ton of stuff so far in only two classes.  Like for one---did you know the magic number of minutes to let your cake cool in the pan is 10?  Less or more time results in problems.  The cake box says 15! 

Our first class taught us things like tips for baking a good cake, frosting consistency (key when doing decorating!) and we learned how to fill and use piping bags and tips.  We bring all our supplies to class, and this time we had to bring six flat cookies (like sugar cookies).  We piped patterns with the star tip.

Kendra watches as our instructor, Marsha, domonstrates.

Practice piping stars.

Piping stars on cookies.

In our aprons!

Our next night involved icing and decorating a real cake.  We brought a baked cake and all the frosting (they gave us a recipe for a decorating buttercream).  They also taught us how to torte a cake to put a filling inside it.  We each worked with one eight inch layer.  Kendra chose to fill her cake with blueberry (pie filling) and I did strawberry. 

We learned how to color our icing with color gels, which I have never used and LOVE.  The Wilton colors are vibrant and gorgous, and a little gel goes a long way.  Then we learned how to ice the whole cake without making a crumby mess (takes practice!) and how to control our piping bag when making designs or shapes that require consistent pressure and movement.  We learned a "dot" and another shape I can't remember the name of, but it is basically a blob but you can see it's use in the pictures of the cakes we made.

Handy enough, my team at school was celebrating three birthdays the day after our cake class, so Kendra and I provided the cake for dessert.  I certainly didn't want to have that much cake in my house!  We are planning to share all our creations!

So we colored icing, iced, and decorated.  Here are our two cakes.

Looking closely, you can see the bottom part of the cupcake (the "liner" part) uses that blob design.  You basically start with a dot and move the tip down the cake. 

Kendra wanted me to post pictures of both cakes and see if people could guess which one she did and which I did: 

Because I brought them to school for our birthday lunch, we showed our class and had them guess who made which one.  The vote was almost split even down the middle.  I think that is pretty awesome, since this is Kendra's very first attempt at frosting and decorating.  Either that or I suck.  :-)  I had to help her with the frosting part since she couldn't apply enough pressure to move the frosting around effectively, but all the decorating is her.

What's your guess???

Ok.  I'll tell you.

Hers is the YELLOW cake.  :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Mom, can I PLEASE????"

After church and my required Sunday nap (oh, I love naps!), Kendra begged me to let her make a cake.  I told her we didn't have frosting.  She said, "Oh, I have an idea how to make some."  Um.  No.  I don't think so.

She disappears into the kitchen, where I thought she was getting me a Diet Coke (my required after-nap beverage).  She comes back several minutes later with a recipe card.  "Can I please, please, please make peanut butter cookies all by myself?  I know I can do it!"  Still wondering where is my Diet Coke, I asked several "are you sure" type questions and decided to let her go ahead and try it.  (My Diet Coke appeared in a few moments, for those of you worried for me).

She did a great job---just had to ask a few questions about how many sticks of butter and making sure she measured sugar correctly.  I was the first to try a cookie.  There was a good lesson learned today---be sure to check your recipe carefully.  These are sort of "diet" cookies.  The recipe called for both white and brown sugar, but Kendra didn't see the brown sugar part.  So they are a little less sweet than a normal peanut butter cookie, but they still taste ok.   She is going to try again next Sunday when her dad is in town--he loves peanut butter cookies.  Trial runs can be a good thing!  :-)

Lame-O Mom Easter pics

I completely forgot to take a picture of Kendra all dressed up for Easter.  Lame. 

But I have a few from our annual egg hunt with the Ballards and Ballards. 

And then there is the "sleepy-eyed Kendra with her Easter basket" obligatory photo.  This year the Bunny brought the movie Tangled, a couple of pool toys, bubbles, and of course, candy!

We were invited to dinner with the Ballards and Ballards, but we decided to do our own ham dinner instead.  We had ham, sweet potatoes, rolls, and a delicious salad.  YUM.  It was a relaxing and wonderful day to remember our Savior!