Friday, April 24, 2015

Pearl's 5 Year Gallery

One would think that Pearl would be the easiest to photograph since I have more time with her than any of my kids. We could take any morning and go out for a photo shoot. Clearly that is not the case. This morning a previous appointment was canceled and Pearl did not have school. That left us a very open schedule.

No time like the present. "Time for pictures," I told Pearl. She was all for it. She ran off and got all dressed in her fanciness. (I didn't even help her choose an outfit.) She requested braids and you might notice that she is wearing the same headband from last year.

Although I am a month (or two) behind, I have been thinking about taking her pictures. In fact, I kinda wanted to take them up at the tulip festival. But you are not supposed to take portrait pictures unless you get a photo pass for $75. We did go up to the festival (used my membership and everything. Booyah!!) and there were plenty of people taking portrait pictures. And we took some family shots as well, but I think that is standard fare. If I had taken Pearl's gallery up there, my conscience would have had something to say about it.

So I chose the next best option...the temple...which happens to have lovely tulips out front. It was like a miniature festival with no steep price tag or guilt. Win/win.

I hope you enjoy Pearl and her cheery smile. She is a fantastic kid. Especially when she is in a good mood. (Then again, aren't most of us more enjoyable on a good day.)

I love my little peapod. I wouldn't say she is blonde anymore. Her hair is light brown, but compared to the rest of us darkies, she still wins the fair award. And glasses.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Crack Me Up

I think I have more eggs on my blog than a farmer has in a hen house. This time of year, the Crack Off competitions just keep on coming.

I promised Ivory a Crack Off in her class, but I still feel like third graders are a bit young. (Yes, I know the first Crack Off I did was in Robyn's class when she was in third grade.) So, despite some desperate opposition, I skipped her class this year and did Robyn and June's classes instead. (Let's just say that I will be in BIG trouble if I don't do Ivory's class next year.)

First up: ROBYN

Her teacher is new this year and I thought he would enjoy the originality of the Crack Off. (He actually planned two Easter parties the week before Spring Break. I think he was trying to keep the kids busy so they didn't melt down early. I'm not sure I entirely approved, but I also hear he has a really tough class, so I don't judge too much.)

Recall that Robyn won her class Crack Off last time. I think she was feeling lucky this time around as well.

But her luck didn't last.

The competition was intense. In one battle both eggs broke. (Hate it when that happens.) But eventually there was a final round and a winner was decided. Good job Lindsey. (Mr. Mortensen was laughing because I guess the boy in the photo has a crush on her. Cute)

Next up: JUNE

June's class did a Crack Off last year, and the majority are the same kids. They know the drill. Everyone has a few minutes to decorate their egg. Here is June working on hers.

I did not have my trusty photographer with me this year (a.k.a. Tyler) but another mom was kind enough to take some pictures, so I have some shots of the action. I love this picture, because almost everyone seems to be laughing or smiling.

June's class has been doing CHEF NEWS all year, so they record everything. The Crack Off was no eggseption. (Plus, their teacher was gone that day. I think she wanted to see what all the fuss was about.)

I was told that a white board would be provided for me. Somehow I was thinking something a little wider, but we made it work.

As you can see, our winner was Britney. Good job. Your ninja egg kung fued them all. (Do ninjas use kung fu?)

Don't forget: MOM & DAD

I love our neighborhood Crack Off. This year was no different, although I wasn't as relaxed as usual since I was trying to get all my kids packed so we could leave on vacation the next day after school. I sent them off packing (literally) while we cracked eggs. (The only adverse effect of this was Pearl packing simply one shirt. She survived since she borrowed from Daisy and wore her jammie shirt most of the trip.)

Meanwhile, back on the farm, the eggs were coming in. Check out some of our contenders. There is often someone who brings eggs decorated with hair, stickers, etc. (Ironically, it doesn't seem to protect them.) This guy is awesome.

And his brother.

My egg was named after a book from Battle of the Books. The kids read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. My egg was Number the Shards.

Here are a bunch. I loved Groot. Tyler hasn't even seen Guardians of the Galaxy. (You may not have either.)

My Golden Goose was more bronze since my Gold sharpie is worthless. Check out the Skeleton...

Here is an aerial view of all our creative designs. (Charity would say that her eggs were boring because she didn't know they were supposed to go all out. But I loved her blue and pink eggs that she named Mr & Mrs.)

Jonny won the decoration contest with Eggs o Skeleton. Very detailed and awesome!

Now to the cracking.

TJ liked to spin his egg. It wasn't the best strategy. Jonny cracked TJ's egg right out of its spin.

And yet, Jonny liked to spin his eggs as well. (Whatever works for you. We haven't found the best strategy yet.)

Although children aren't invited, we do get some sneaks that crash the party.

TJ was still spinning his eggs.

Regardless of all the crazy rotating eggs, Chris rolled the good old fashioned way and won the competition. Way to go Chris. It was your wife last year. I must know your secret!!!

And then the boys spent the next 20 minutes spinning eggs. As you can tell, once they get spinning, they stand on end. It looked pretty cool. Some of the colors were just perfect for spinning. And if they fell on the ground, it was okay...they were already cracked.

Fear not...if you feel you haven't seen quite enough eggs for one April, there is still another Crack Off that will happen up in WA. But we have to drive there first...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Battle of the Books 2015

Battle of the Books is serious business around here. And Ivory joined the ranks this year. In previous years, I have tried hard to read the books with the kids or make sure they are reading, but I have turned ownership over to the kids. I figure if they read the books, they can feel good about doing well. If they don't read, and do poorly, that is part of life. (And I guess there is always the scenario where they read the books and still do poorly. That also is part of life.)

Let's start with Miss Ivory. She was very excited to read and battle. She worked hard in her group and read almost everything. She was the team captain, but only because the original captain moved. They made posters at school and I think her team did such a great job.

Volunteering for Battle of the Books is my favorite. I didn't ever see Ivory's team, but I hear on day 1, in one of her battles, each team didn't miss ANY questions. (That hardly ever happens.) Ivory's team won three, tied one, and lost one. That is pretty darn good. The next day during tournament play, they lost early on, but I think she did a fantastic job and she will be all ready for next year.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of Robyn. I did get to help with one of her battles. They won a lot of battles the first day, and during tournament play, moved on to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by a really good team. Robyn was also her team captain. She did a great job, especially since I know not all the kids on her team read the books.

June is at a different school and I have never helped there before, but this year, I was able to volunteer over there as well. First team of the day happened to be June's team. They won, and went on to win all of their battles. Smarties.

I don't take pictures during battles because usually I am helping, so I didn't get any pictures until the final battle at June's school. (Although Robyn didn't make it to the finals, she was called back up to be in the All-Stars battle against the teachers. The kids creamed the teachers!! They do every year.)

It was kind of sad because the finals at June's school was between two teams of girls from the same class. So really, just a bunch of friends battling. June said she was torn between wanting to win and wanting the other team to win.

In the end, June's team was victorious. They did a good job and everyone was a good sport on both sides.

Next up...battling the teachers. (Their teacher Mrs. Billings was the team captain.)

It wasn't a least not a close one. The kids blew them away.

Oh...I should tell you all the team names.

Ivory was on the Reading Rescuers.
Robyn was one of the Golden Books. (Cute.)
And June was a Read Dragon. (Pronounced 'red'. Clever pun, I think.)

June's team went on to the district competition. They went last year and did okay. (Did I ever blog about it??) They lost their first two games, but came back to win two and tie one, I think.

This year, they did much better. Four games won in a row. They kind of lost their momentum on the last game and didn't pull through, but overall, I think they felt good about the day.

Here they are at the end waiting for results. They only announce the top five teams and sadly, the Read Dragons did not make it. (It was later that we found out that ranked number six. Not too shabby.)

Mrs. Giles always helps out with the event. She is such a great lady. What makes me happiest of all is that since the program started, her school, Vineyard, has never won. This time, Vineyard went all the way to the top. In fact, the team that beat Robyn's team were the champions. Good job Vineyard. (And you can feel a little better about losing to them Robyn.)

Good job all you girls.

Oh...I was just removing pictures from my phone and I found this picture from last year at district....when they were the Bookworms. They sure grow up a lot in one year. And yes, I have too many pictures on my phone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Tax Day

I feel sorry for anyone who has a birthday today. April 15th is not the happiest day for many people. (Then again, maybe having a birthday would counter all the other unpleasantness.)

Utah decided that tax day might be cheerier with some snow.

I was picking up Pearl from preschool and enjoying the scenery.

Snow in April is pretty normal around here. I'm surprised it didn't happen last week during Spring Break. Or maybe it did? We were out of town.

Regardless, there is supposed to be lovely weather this weekend. That makes up for the snow. do we make up for the taxes?

Kelly Crack Off

We have never visited the Kelly's around Easter time. Granted, they visited a week or so before Easter, but it was close enough to introduce them to the Crack Off. It just needs to happen.

We came home from the museum and got right down to business decorating our eggs. It is so fun that the kids are getting older and their eggs are creative and original. I really believe that we all enjoy decorating them more than cracking them, but both parts are essential.

Here are all our eggs on display.

Tyler took a close up of some of them. Let's take a peek at some of the contenders. This is Tyler's Cadbury egg.

His other egg was very detailed. I wish he had taken a picture of the whale on the back.

Robyn's Penguin was fantastic. She held that thing forever in the dye to make sure the belly stayed white.

Here is Ivory's Lady Begg and my Pistachio.

June made Quizzle, Tim decorated Killer Grouper and I was very proud of my simple, easy Baymax.

I wish we had pictures of all the eggs. I really liked June's Connect, and Tim had an awesome Albert Eggstein that was great. Jeannie had some beautiful eggs too. They are in there somewhere. Ethan didn't decorate his eggs so much as name them after sports figures. (This seems fitting for a boy.)

The voting was intense, but our big winner was Robyn, with her Penguin.

Ivory was so proud of herself since she came in second.

In fact, the Cazier's, with their intense art skills, swept the podium.

Now to the cracking, in which you don't need any special art abilities to contend. I put Ethan in charge of the bracket. He knows sports and I figured he would do a great job being in charge. He did.

We do draw names at random, but it is frequent that spouses square off. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Pearl had some trouble reaching the table. That's what mom's are good for.

June looks pretty intense here, but I had to tell her sadly that even though Pistachio had smashed Ethan's egg, he too had cracked in the process. (Actually, the double crack was entirely too rampant this year. It happened here, twice at Tyler's work, and once in Robyn's class. I wonder if we have people that roll too roughly. Maybe holding them and hitting them together would be a better way.)

Jeannie helped Erin the first time around, but after that, Erin knew just what to do. She was a great cracker!

Everyone feels differently about their eggs. There are those, with no love lost, who just eat their egg once it cracks.

There are others that treasure the eggs. Daisy would not crack hers this year, and not only that, but she developed a strange attachment to my Baymax egg and practically cried when he cracked. Then she carried him around the house and put him in a bag to keep him. I had to get her a Baymax substitute so she would finally throw him away.*

Tim would step aside and whisper encouragement to his egg.

It didn't help. Jeannie beat him and went on to the semi-finals.

But alas, although Jeannie came back from the loser bracket, it was not enough to beat Tyler. He was the champion, with no cracked eggs by the end. Cadbury put away the competition.

This is actually comforting, since Robyn won two years in a row. I was beginning to think she was invincible.

After the Crack Off, it was time for the Kelly's to go. Everyone was so sad to see them leave. Robyn was the only one with any sense to take pictures. (We already know I am scatterbrained when it comes to things like that.) So one more time.





We love you all! Come visit again soon! Or we will come your way. We always love an excuse to come to sunny CA.

Other great memories from the trip - Going shopping with Jeannie and getting special jewelry gifts. Also the most confusing game of 'My Team' we have ever played. (Are you Robin?)

* We did try to buy a Baymax for Daisy, but they were all over in China and our order was canceled as soon as it was supposedly shipped. So we opted for a shirt instead, since our resident designer can bust those out.

Here is the front.

And the back.

Daisy loves it, but she doesn't like wearing it to school because people read the back over and over again. I guess that is what happens when you are in first grade and everyone is learning to read. (Actually, it would probably happen in the other grades as well.)