Monday, December 21, 2009

They Do Say the Darnedest Things!

I've been hearing some pretty funny things from kids over the past week. Just thought I would share a few:

Yesterday we went to see our Bhutanese family. They have been here about 5 months now and this is their first winter/Christmas in America. We took them some blankets and clothes. As we left, we said, "Merry Christmas!" and the 13 year old said it back. When we asked her if she knows what Christmas is, she told us it is a festival. We told her she was right, it is a celebration. My friend asked if she knows what we are celebrating and her response was, "The National Day of Jesus!" Ahhhh - language barriers......

We were discussing something in my Kinder group the other day and a boy made a very bright comment. When I asked him how he got to be so smart, he responded with, "My last name makes me smart! My dad said all of us are smart!"

Again with my Kinder group, I asked a boy a question and the following conversation took place:

S: I forgot.
Me: That's alright. Even smart people forget things sometimes.
S: I know. I'm not sad. I know why I forget things.
Me: Really? Why is that?
S: Because I'm small and my thoughts are so big they fall out of my brain! My brain isn't big enough to hold it all.
Me: That's OK because when you sleep, it rests your brain so you can remember more.
S: Oh. So that is why old people are so smart. They sleep a LOT!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Movie ABCs

In honor of Christmas break and not having a car to run errands in (she's getting some love this morning), I am going to still this idea from a random blog I saw. It is a list of my favorite movies listed by title from A to Z. Now, I won't get to list all of my favorite movies because of the restrictions but these are some definite favorites! Make your own list or tell me what you think of mine. But beware - listing your own is harder than you think! Yeah for . It reminded me of many movies I would like to see but haven't! Here you go:

A - Annie (1982)
B - Becoming Jane (2007)
C - Christmas Story (1983)
D - Dead Poet's Society (1898)
E - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
F - Finding Neverland (2004)
G - Good Will Hunting (1997) - Only on TV though
H - Holiday Inn (1942)
I - It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
J - Just Friends (2005)
K - The King and I (1952)
L - Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
M - Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail (1973)
N - Newsies (1992)
O - Oklahoma (1955)
P - Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Q - *Sorry, Couldn't find one*
R - Roman Holiday (1953)
S - Singin in the Rain (1952)
T - To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
U - *Sorry, Couldn't find one*
V - *Sorry, Couldn't find one*
W - Wizard of Oz (1939)
X - *Sorry, Couldn't find one*
Y - Young Frankenstein (1974)
Z - *Sorry, Couldn't find one*

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry Christmas, Oikos Style!

On Saturday night, my class had its annual Christmas party. To explain the title of this post, Oikos is the name of my class. There are about 9 classes in the singles program so we name them to keep everyone straight. :) Oikos is a Greek word that means house or family. About half of us were able to come. I figured that since most of you have never met my friends, I would take this time to introduce you to a few of them. Lots of pictures!

Merry Christmas from Oikos!

If you see tacky sweaters, you will have guessed the theme. I didn't have one so my boss let me borrow his jacket. I got into the top two but didn't win. I was sure I would! For the top two, we had to model. Now you can see why I am a teacher!

Me and Sarah, the winner. She turned a Snuggie into a Christmas Tree.

This is the back of my jacket.

After awards were given we sang Christmas songs for a bit and then had a Dirty Santa (Yankee Swap) gift exchange.

You know you are in a single's class when a girl opens a jar of honey with a note attached that says, "If you are single, I'll be your Christmas honey!"

At first I got candles....

but ended up with a pink pony - she likes to give kisses. :)

Now for a few of my friends:

Sharon and Lisa

Sarah, Rachel, Christa, and Jennifer

me and Stan (just a friend)

Amy and Jason (yes, they do match!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Year Later....

All day long I have been scratching my head and wondering about the date. December 11th - why is it significant. Just a few minutes ago, it hit me. A year ago tonight, Erin and I sat in the Berry Center at Converge. Beth taught a lesson on anticipating God. At the end of the evening, Beth prayed that God would be building hopeful anticipation within us for what He was going to do in the next year. She also asked that a year from that night, we would see what He had been preparing for us this entire time. God answers prayers!

It is a year later and though the areas I thought would be different are still the same, He has done a mighty work in this life! One of the main points of the evening was "God will bless you with what you want or He will bless you with more than what you did not know to want." That was what this year was about for me. He did not give me what I wanted (yet) but he gave in abundance of what I could never have imagined. At the time, I was anticipating not being single anymore but (thankfully), God had/has something bigger at play. I'm not 100% sure what yet but some major steps were taken this year. He has been faithful in His promise to direct my steps. He has pushed me out of my comfort zone on many occasions but the result has been blessing on top of blessing. As hard as they have been at times, He has been faithful to direct my steps.

He took me from being a hermit to planting me in a new faith family. I have been blessed beyond measure to be a part of Oikos (my bible class) and the body it is a part of. Just yesterday, I was doing some counting and I have been showered with about 60 new brothers and sisters to come along side in the past 12 months with about 15 of those being good friends. He has taught me how to love others in ways that I have never imagined. People and/or traits that I had little tolerance for now have a special place in my heart. He has taught me how to pray scripture like I never have before. He has taught me the full meaning of James 1:19, "....Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry...." He is changing my world view and the desires of my heart. He is being faithful in the refining fires of his convictions. In many ways, I am not the same person I was a year ago. I feel like God has brought me back to life over the course of the past 12 months. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz. Life was various shades of gray and then *BAM* color was given!

I'm excited about what the next year holds. I have no idea what I will type on December 11, 2010 but I know that I can look forward to it starting today. I know God is preparing something fresh and new for the days to come!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

You Might Need a Tissue - I Did...

While every job has its perks and challenges, I have been hitting challenges left and right recently. I love teaching for three reasons: challenging kids, seeing lights come on, and forming bonds with students. This year, I feel like I am getting NONE of that. It has reached the point that when thinking on to next year, I am already considering a change. The most challenging part is that I feel like I never see the lights come on. Or even worse, I'll think the lights are coming on and then they bomb a major test. It is heartbreaking to feel useless but ever more so to watch these kids lose confidence with each grade returned to them.

I do really like my 5th grade group. They are so sweet and really funny. It is a group of 5 girls and one lone boy. He is such a good sport about it! We tell him all of the time, "J, you are the man!" He thinks this is funny because he is really THE one and only man. We let him get away with more than he should but my group of girls love him (as do I). They took part in the annual Gingerbread House building today and were so excited about it. Late in the morning, I walked into the 5th grade math class to check on a few of them and they are taking their six weeks assessment. My stomach turned into knots and dropped at the same time. The last time one of these test were given, my kids scores ranged from a 20 to a 60. Watching them get those scores back is something I will never forget no matter how hard I try. Devastating. I noticed that my kid who earned a 20 was already finished and reading a book. Bad news! I went to the teacher and asked if I could see his test. My eyes bugged. He earned a 65! That was a 45 point jump! I thought I was about to die! I asked if I could take him and she said yes. We went outside and I showed him the grade. He shoulders drooped a little before I told him what a big deal it was for him to increase that much AND he got the hardest question on the test correct! He started grinning and actually straightened up. I asked if he wanted to look at his test and he said yes. As we went question by question, we noticed something. He answered three questions correctly but transferred to his answer document incorrectly. It started to dawn on him that he did not have a 65 but a higher score. He asked the value of each question and I told him 5 points. I watched as he counted that he had an extra 15 points for his grade. Then, tears started falling as I watched him count three times what his new grade would be. You see, he had never earned an 80 on a math test before. He couldn't believe it and had to check it three times. He needed me to to double and triple reassure him that he had in fact not only passed a math test for the first time in years but he had earned a B. He stopped again and figured out that this test was 60 points higher than his last one, checking with me again to make sure he was correct. When I told him he was, we hugged, he beamed, and I cried as I told him over and over that I have never been more proud of any student in my life. We sat and laughed for a few minutes before he suddenly stopped. This teacher is known as the hardest on the campus and not to be persuaded. He told me that he was concerned because his teacher only grades the answer document, not the test. I told him that we could talk to the teacher on two conditions: 1) He had to do the talking and 2) She may not change the grade. We talked about what he could say. We talked about that if she did not change his grade, he would know in his heart and head that he earned an 80 and nothing could take that away from him. I would not be any less proud of him. So we walked into the room, he talked to the teacher, and after a stern talking to, she gave him the 15 points! He not only officially earned his 80 but he was brave enough to make sure it happened. I gave him a hug and had to leave before I cried again.

Later that afternoon, I saw him leaving early for an appointment. He looked at me and smiled a smile that lit up his entire face. We had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: You're leaving early?
J: Yep!
Me: You've had a really good day! Dad came to build a gingerbread house with you, you earned an amazing grade on your math test, and you get to leave early.
J: Ms. LaMore, you know what?
Me: What?
J: I'm the man!
Me: Yes, J. For many reasons, you are the man!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Week With the Johnsons

On Monday, Bladen Joel joined our family. Erin, Gregg, and Liz have welcomed him joyfully and are growing love in their home. I was incredibly blessed to be able to be with them this week to help everyone get their feet on the ground. After a couple of days, Erin asked me if staying with them was making me want to have children more or scaring me off. The question still makes me smile. I told her that it makes me look forward to that time to come. I'm not longing for it more or dreading it. I know it is in God's hands. This week was just a sweet taste of things to come. Even though getting up at all hours had its challenges, rocking a sweet baby and praying at 3:00 a.m. was some of the most precious time I have had in a long time. Bladen is a sweet boy already adding joy to our lives. His expressive faces and soft noises warm the heart and balance out the times he is less than happy. He has pretty much stolen this girl's heart! Watching Liz be curious at this person who never left was something else. She was gentle with him and patient for her turn with her parents. She is going to be a great sister! She still has a tug on my heart with that smile, her dancing, and all of her different laughs. She had Erin and I laughing until we couldn't catch our breath this afternoon. Erin was able to start the process of learning how to ensure both of her children are loved, cared for, and getting their share of her. She is an AMAZING mom! She managed to work in one-on-one time with both of the kids each day without neglecting either one. Even recovering from giving birth and adjusting to being a family of four instead of three, she was an incredible hostess. If every home had a mother like her, our world would be a much better place! Gregg is such a great partner for her. They balance each other very well. I love spending time with them because they still enjoy each other - joking, playing, praying, and working together through rest and sleep deprivation. It is obvious that they know how to laugh when they need to most. Gregg is a great dad - playing with the kids, taking care of tasks around the house, and making sure Erin is getting what she needs. The Johnson family is blessed to have him as their head.

Overall, it was a sweet week. It was hard to leave them but I have no doubt that I'll be back very soon (well - when needed or to get a sister/aunt fix). Much, much love to my Johnson family!