Friday, March 24, 2017

Battling Books

I love me a current event since I am always catching up. And nothing is fresher than the news I have for you today. Well, actually, it is about 4 hours old, and if you left milk out that long, it would be naaaasty. (But still pretty fresh for this blog.)

The junior high did Battle of the Books today. (And yesterday.) I feel guilty because Ivory and Daisy did theirs back in February. They both did a great job, but I was volunteering, so I never got pictures. Daisy's team was the only 3rd grade team to make it to the semi-finals, although they didn't win. And Ivory's team got a great score on pool play day, but didn't make it on finals day. But they both read many books and had a good time. I'm proud of all the kids who take a stab at reading a pile of books and answering questions about them.

Personally, I love reading. (You know that.) But if I had to take a quiz on what I read, it would be laughable.

Back to current events. I asked to help out with the junior high battles, and since I am at the school often, I just had to run over during flex. Battling at our junior high is much different than the normal battles. Our media specialist doesn't follow the American Battle of the Books format.

You only have to read 7 books instead of 30. (The librarian chose books he thought the kids would be interested in.) The question format is different as well. In standard play, every question has a book title as an answer. Most questions begin, "In what book..." and the kids give a title and author for points.

Here, Mr. Trent (the media specialist) made up his own questions and rounds. Round 1 consisted of open answer questions, such as, "Who was Kira's best friend?" Or "What did Rigel learn from the mystic?" (Those are made up questions, by the way.) All the teams had a mini white board and they would answer simultaneously. Whoever answered correctly, received a point.

My job was keeping score. Mr. Trent had a projector with questions and answers and I kept a tally of all points earned. Round 1 was played yesterday and at the end of Flex, these were the scores. (Team 1 and Team 10 didn't show up. That is why they have no points...not because they were awful.)


In case you are wondering (and I know you are) Robyn is on the Cherry Bombers - Team 4, and June is on the Bookaneers - Team 9. Apparently, they have never had names before, but I asked the teams what they wanted to be called and everyone chose something. (I'm all about shaking it up.)

As you can see, June's team was leading, but only by a small margin. The rules change for Round 2 and 3, so it was anyone's game.

Round 2 consisted of quotes from the books. If the teams recognized the book, they could write it down. It was worth 2 points now, but a wrong answer subtracted 2 from your total. So, it wasn't wise to guess. I honestly can't remember the scores at the end of Round 2, but it was pretty close.

Round 3 was open answer again, but this time instead of using the white boards (or placards as Mr. Trent called them) the first person to raise their hand, would answer, with no help from their team. The questions were a bit harder and were now worth 3 points with a wrong answer subtracting 3. It was intense and much harder to tell who raised their hand first. That part always stresses me out.

All the kids did a fantastic job. I was especially proud of June who answered the question, "What was the date of Anne's last journal entry." No one else even raised their hand because no one wanted to get it wrong, but June remembered. (She should after studying Anne Frank so much for History Fair, but that is still a very small detail to remember.)

The game was SOOOO close, with only 1 point separating the winner and second place. Check it out.


Yes, I would like to brag a moment that my kids' teams came in 1st and 2nd. They both did a great job, along with the 3rd place team. That is a lot of info to remember. I did get pictures at the end so you get some happy faces of the winning teams.




p.s. I can't remember, but I think June came in 2nd or 3rd last year, but I never blogged about it.

p.p.s. To the right of Robyn is Christina, one of June's best friends. When Robyn couldn't find a fourth person for her team, Christina offered to join. I thought that was pretty cool. She was the only 8th grader on their team. Maybe next year, June and Robyn will be on the same team...but I doubt it.

p.p.p.s. If you are wondering what they read, here is a list of the seven books:

When by Victoria Laurie
Red Queen by Victorie Aveyard
Storm of Lightning by Richard Paul Evans (Michael Vey)
Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Where O Where is Seamus?

Did you wear your green last week? I feel like less people celebrate St. Patrick's Day each year. We certainly can't ignore it around here, since we have a leprechaun. Although this year, we didn't get any puzzles from Seamus.

Still, we dutifully got gold for Seamus and made our wishes.









You may have noticed Hannah in there. She and June were in the midst of some serious History Fair prep, so she got to make wishes with us. (She was practically living with us while the girls were getting their exhibit ready.)

We still stick coins to our head and drop them in the pot. Robyn was taking too long, in my opinion, so I gave her a whack on the head and sure enough, the coin came right off. (I don't think she was terribly pleased with me.)


The next morning, there was something in the pot, and a very interesting letter included. It wasn't from Seamus.



You’ve probably noticed that Seamus has been a bit scarce this year. Well, that’d be because he’s traveling. He’s on a great adventure that promises a large bounty of gold.

It’s leprechaun custom to protect territory, especially when one is engaged in a great quest. Seamus and I have a great, long history together, and when he left on his adventure, he sent me to protect his lands while he’s away.

Seamus is a natural puzzler, but I do not possess his innate abilities for befuddlements and bemusement. I, on the other hand, am an archivist — a historian and storyteller. And so, in return for the gold you’ve passed to me and Seamus, I leave you a story, such as it is.

It is a story of ancient origin, around the time of the formation of the race of man and all the glorious fairy creatures.

The great heroes of the age grew large in stature in direct relation to their fame, their strength, and their cunning. And the most giant of the heroes was Fionn mac Cumhaill, or as you say it “Finn MacCool.”

Finn was no ordinary giant. He possessed great strength and skill. He was the greatest giant in all of Ireland. He hand was so enormous he could fit a hundred men on one hand and easily raise them into the air. Many claimed they could hear his bellowing laughter across the sea, but others claim it was just thunder.

Finn lived with his wife, Oonagh. You say it “Oonah.” Finn and Oonah lived in an ancient castle set formidably on the rolling hills of County Antrim, overlooking the sea.

Finn and Oonah received many visitors and encouraged common folk to come and see them. They came to admire Finn, to speak with Oonah, and sometimes to ask for help. Finn performed many brave deeds in service to the people. That’s how he became a hero of the people. And each great deed added to his already great stature.

At that time, aye and to this day, Scotland harbored power thirsty, indecent folk who would say or do anything for recognition. They too had heroes, and while they were large, they certainly never achieved the size of Irish giants — especially Finn. Nevertheless, a messenger arrived from Scotland over the sea, bearing a challenge from Scotland’s great giant, Angus, who unabashedly proclaimed himself as stronger than Finn and larger than Finn. Angus wanted to show everyone that the giants of Scotland were greater than any giant in Ireland.

Now Finn had never seen this Angus before, but with the honor of Ireland at stake, he couldn’t ignore Angus’ challenge. Finn dropped to the ground to cast his eye upon this puny messenger. He squinted and oogled to see if he could find any clues about Angus. Finding none, Finn stood, clapped his hands, and boomed that he should like to meet this Angus. He set the messenger in his boat and fully hurled the boat skipping across the sea back to Scotland.

As no boat float Finn, he set about building a bridge from Ireland to Scotland — a veritable giant’s bridge. He pulled great basaltic rods from volcanoes to drive into the ocean floor, thus forming a great rocky bridge on a direct route to Scotland.

Mile after mile of causeway, Finn built this legendary bridge toward Scotland. Humans came from all around to see the great formation, and word soon traveled to Angus’ ears that Finn had begun work on the great bridge. Not to be outdone, Angus started construction of the causeway on the Scottish side, claiming he’d achieved the idea himself. For weeks, the giants labored to span the sea. Each night they would return to their respective homes over the massive rocky bridge to rest and prepare for the next day.

One morning, as Finn was preparing to go to the causeway, Oonah came rushing toward him. She was red faced and clearly shaken. She had been to the bridge to observe Finn’s work and had found the great Angus nearly completing the causeway. What she saw struck fear in her heart: Angus was indeed much taller than Finn. He was nearly twice Finn’s size! She immediately made for the castle to share this information with Finn.

“He’s twice your size!” she blurted, “and twice your strength. You cannot match him in battle. You must retire from the match!”

“How can I fight a giant twice my size?” Finn wondered aloud. His forehead was creased and his brow furrowed with anxiety.

Just then, a knock at the door tugged at their attention. It was the messenger from Scotland. Having crossed the sea on foot over the great giant’s causeway, he extended his formal invitation. “On the morrow at sunrise, you are hereby called to a battle of brute strength. Angus will meet you here.”

Finn glanced at Oonah, then considered his words. Could he really fight another giant twice his size? What would Ireland think if he abandoned the fight now? What should he do? This questions hung in the air as the messenger awaited Finn’s answer.

“What shall I tell Angus?” he demanded.

“Tell him to find me here at sunrise,” Finn intoned through the door.

“So be it,” the messenger affirmed, “Angus shall be here, tomorrow at sunrise. Then we shall see who is the greatest giant in all the land!” With that, he gestured a quick farewell to the door and returned to the causeway.

Oonah stared at Finn in disbelief. How could this work out well for Finn? She and Finn discussed their plight throughout the night. And by morning, they had settled on a plan.

As the sun peaked over the rolling hills of County Antrim, Angus came thundering across the causeway eager to meet Ireland’s Finn. He strode to the castle and pounded the door with such force that dust fell from the ceiling.

“I am Angus, the great giant of Scotland. I seek Finn, champion of Ireland. Today we fight for the title of the greatest giant of the land.”

It was Oonah that came to the door. “Quiet,” she hushed, “you’ll wake the baby!”

Now Angus hadn’t made an account of Finn’s children. Out of deference to the child’s mother, Angus hushed his tone. “My apologies. I did not know Finn had a child.”

“You may see him if you wish. Finn’s is preparing for the challenge and shall be with us by and by. Please come in.”

Angus entered the castle and cast his eyes toward the enormous cradle. A deafening cry issued from the bassinet, and Angus peeked over the edge. There lay the largest baby Angus had ever beheld. “Is this Finn’s son?” Angus posed, chagrined.

Oonah rushed over to the edge of the cradle to comfort the cries. “Oh, young Finn is awake now, but he doesn’t seem too upset yet.” She cooed softly into the cradle. Angus couldn’t see it, but Oonah gazed carefully at him.

Angus’ eyes grew wide and he began to consider this baby. The baby was over half his size, and if this was the small infant baby of Finn...there can be no doubt that Finn must be colossal! He must not allow himself to be seen! Finn would surely crush him in a physical brawl. He backed away from the cradle, shaking his head from side to side. Then, at once, he turned and positively bolted from the castle.

He flew past the startled messenger, striding for the causeway. “Retreat!” he yelled. “Back to Scotland.” He tore across the causeway and didn’t slow until he reached his own country. Afraid that the great Finn might follow him across the causeway, he started to tear the basaltic stone rods from their moorings. The bridge soon lay in ruin as the sea reclaimed the passage between Ireland and Scotland.

For his part, the last Finn ever saw of Angus was his rapid retreat across the causeway. He stood at the door of his castle, draped in blankets that served as his “baby” clothes.

If you travel to County Antrim today, you can still see a small piece of the causeway. Today it’s called the Giant’s Causeway — built by the great Finn MacCool, the most famous giant in the history of Ireland.

Well, now you know the story of Finn MacCool and his crafty wife, Oonah. You are all pretty crafty too, eh? I’ll see to it that Seamus gets the gold, minus a small handling fee for me, of course. I guess we’ll see where Seamus is next year, but that’s another story.

By the way, dear Ivory, Seamus has loved being your leprechaun these fine years. He told me ye all were a fine lot, and I can see from your letter than ye have tender, genuine hearts. I’ve forwarded your letter on to Seamus, who no doubt will be pleased to have news of his homeland. Please accept this as a token of my appreciation for the opportunity to share your company.

Your friend,
Keeper of the lands, and
Teller of tremendous tales,

Faolan Connolly


You pronounce that name as Fway-lan. (We had to look it up.) And Faolan was nice enough to leave us some treats. The girls seemed happy with the story and the sugar.



Happy St. Patrick's Day. (Even if you didn't wear green.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Good Riddance February

Once again February was not my favorite month. I was sick half the month, June was out of school for almost a week, and I ended the month by throwing out my back. Yowzers.

But that doesn't mean that the whole month was bad. We tend to fit in fun activities even when things aren't ideal. Let's look at some of the random fun moments we had.

Tyler went up to Front Sight again. I hope he blogs about his experience again. He had a great time,  made even greater by the fact that his back didn't come into contact with a super heated brass casing. No burns this time around. We girls had to fend for ourselves at home. I was sad to be missing Tyler, especially since I was sick, but I didn't want him getting whatever I had, so it was fine for him to be MIA for a bit. We sent him a picture of Sunday night dinner to show that we missed him.


June continues to churn out fun art projects. She could have her own display by the time the art show rolls around. No wonder it is so fantastic; so many different types of art. This time around was the graph paper art. (There might be a more technical name?) I love how June's project turned out.


My new calling has been really fun. We had our camp kickoff in February to let everyone know the theme for camp. It is Find Your Grove. I love how well it goes with the Youth Theme for the year, Ask. I think we each need to find a place where we feel comfortable communing with our Father in Heaven. The sisters did a great job decorating for the event. It makes me so excited for camp.



For Valentine's Day, the kids made their own boxes. Daisy came up with an idea for a minion box. It turned out super cute and I never took a picture, but I did manage to catch Ivory's crazy minion spawned from the original idea.


We did pretty simple valentines this year. Although anything that requires an assembly line means we put in time and effort.


New Beginnings in Young Women rolled around again. No new Cazier girls entered, but both the older girls helped out and gave information about one of the values. Robyn did Faith and June did Virtue. They both did a great job. I'm proud of my girls that they can easily speak in front of a crowd without getting visibly nervous. They are such beautiful competent young women.


Robyn saved up some money to buy herself a watch. We played around at Target for a while. We laughed at this sun hat. We know they are supposed to be floppy, but this seems overly so. I did end up buying those sunglasses though.


At the Jnuior High, there is a student of the day each day. One kid per grade. I think they are recommended by the teachers. Sadly, June was never student of the day last year. And this year, it was past half the year and still no recognition for her. She is such a great student that we were really surprised. Some people had been it twice and still no dice for June. But finally, the week she was sick, it was her turn. Don't worry, she finally went back to school on Friday and that was her moment.


During student-led conferences, they also held the 7th Grade art show. Robyn had a couple pieces. (They don't get to choose what they draw in 7th grade. They are given a few options, but you don't get to pick your own subject.) I really liked both of Robyn's pieces. The starfish eyes especially look like Robyn's work.



Ivory lost another tooth. This one was very bloody. I took a picture of the very bloody tooth, but I won't put that on here. Just the very bloody socket. (You're welcome.)


Finally Robyn had to go back to Color Me Mine to finish her project since it was a little more intricate. I took her back and really liked how it turned out. Now she has two pony plates. One might think she is making a collection...



So I guess February wasn't so bad after all. And good things come from trials. This last episode with my back inspired me to look into a better solution. I'm happy to say that there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. But that is a story for another time...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Science Fair Extensions

Ivory made it to District Science Fair. That means an evening of judging and festivities. (Although only if you think walking around looking at Science Fair projects is festivus.) Since both her sisters made it to district, I know the drill. I dropped Ivory off and came back later when parents were readmitted into the judging area.


Ivory was set up between two guys, one of which she got to know very well as they chatted between judges visiting their boards. During the open time, I went around and looked at many boards. I have no idea where Ivory was for most of this time. I'm assuming she ran off to hang out with friends. I spent some time by Ivory's board. Although she wasn't there to explain it, there always seemed to be someone looking it over. It tends to draw a crowd, of both boys and girls.


Eventually, it was time for the awards. I was actually quite nervous for Ivory. I feel like her project was done well, and she was able to talk about it intelligently, but there was so little time for actual experimentation. With only two vitamins tested, it seemed like that might not be enough to make the cut.

Ivory was positive though. We sat and we took a mandatory selfie.


They do all the honorable mentions first. It is a strange category. Most kids don't really want an honorable mention, because it means you don't move on, but in the end, they would rather have an honorable mention than nothing. There were only 30 kids in the honorable mention category, and none of them was Ivory. Ivory told me that since she wasn't called, she must have made it through. (I was doubtful, but at least she was confident.)

Now for the 60 projects that move on to BYU. Jane was the very first name called. That was really cool. (I figured out later that they call them in order. Jane was first because she was the very first project as you entered the room.) They call about 10 kids at a time and then let everyone clap. Imagine my surprise when Ivory's name was called in the first group as well. I really was stunned and so excited for her.


Oddly, both the boys next to her also advanced. The one she talked to quite a bit is standing close to her in the above photo. (More evidence that they are called in order.)

Here is the entire first group. You can't see anyone's face because of the light, but Jane is over on the far left and Ivory is easy to pick out since she is the shortest one.


Ivory came back and sat down and did her best Simone-Biles-medal-bite. (She is doing a huge report on her, so we hear a lot about Simone.)


Then it was time to pack up. We caught one last picture with Jane as we were leaving.


Ivory should have a great time at BYU. Several of her friends, including Ember, advanced. I'm excited for her to go have a great day with more science fun!

Pi Day

Did you eat pie yesterday?

We did. Although not homemade this year. A mom can only do so much, especially when she is driving kids to and from and helping one finish a huge project and secretly sneaking away to read her book every now and then.

I even had June shoot a couple photos as I went next door to invite the neighbors over. (Pie is always best when shared.)


I think Robyn prefers to eat her pie in private. Fair enough.


We hope you had a lovely 3.14.

Monday, March 13, 2017

11vory

Last week was a bit busy. I tried to blog and as you can see, it didn't happen. On Tuesday, I managed to get a screen open, but the only person that used it was Robyn. (It was very sweet that she blogged for me and in such a flattering fashion.)

This week, four posts. That is the goal.

I haven't been as good about documenting this month. Pink sock day came and went with everyone wearing awesome pink socks and me taking no pictures. (Lame.) I tell you, my brain is pulled in so many directions, I can barely keep up. But at least I still document birthdays. Ivory's was back there in February.

Ivory got older last month. Double digits are no stranger to her, but 11 is a new milestone. I can't believe how big old she is getting.

My lovely little Ivory. Unfortunately, she got more than her fair share of short genes. She is growing much the opposite of a weed. She is about the same height as June was at 10. But good stuff comes in small packages.


Ivory's birthday was a day off from school, but we still got her balloons.


She had friends over for a small party. (Small, because she wanted to go to Color Me Mine.) When her friends came over, they played Camel Up first. (We just learned this game and borrowed it from a friend. Super fun!)


Then we opened presents and had brownies.


Please note sick June in the background on the couch. She got sick on Ivory's birthday and stayed in that spot on the couch for four days. (You guessed it...a February casualty. At least it wasn't the birthday girl.)


Then off to Color Me Mine. Each of the kids chose a piece and went to work.



Tyler took pictures for me. Here we are from the other angle.


I think all the kids had a good time. Here is Ivory's finished bowl. I think it is adorable. Can you see her initials hidden in with the watermelon seeds?


Although it wasn't my birthday, I am going to brag about myself for two seconds. I finished my last dessert plate! I finally have all 8 done. This one is cookies. You have to have cookies, they are a favorite of mine. It only took my 4 years to complete the set.


Ivory got to go to lunch with Dad when school was back in. She chose Kneaders. Good choice little one. Love these two!


Oh, Ember got Ivory a fish for a gift. I'm not sure how I feel about living presents, but we all seem to be taken with Mr. Flibble. (Miranda, Ivory thinks you would appreciate his name.) He is a good fish. He has had several upgrades since his first bowl. I'll have to take a picture sometime and show you.


Ivory is such a fun, spunky personality in our family. We love that she is ours.