Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Zucchini Bandits . . .

My husband and I went to our community's 24th of July Pioneer Day Parade. It has been YEARS since I have had that much fun at a parade. The big draw for me was getting to see the Stevens Family Band all dressed like pioneers, playing instruments and pulling handcarts. You guys ROCK!

We were very fortunate to get to stand with a bunch of friends from our neighborhood. As we watched the parade entries go by, we thought it would be fun to create an entry for next year's parade -- something where a bunch of women get together and throw zucchini to bystanders.

The idea didn't really go much further than that at the time, but this morning as I was out picking beans, I fleshed it out a bit more. See if you like it.

The Zucchini Bandits

We could each wear a green t-shirt with "Zucchini Bandits" on the front and one of the following phrases on the back:
-- Lock your doors! It's zucchini season.
-- Spreading the green without being seen.

In addition to wearing t-shirts, one of us could make green masks -- kind of like the green version of Zorro.

We could either push wheelbarrows filled with zucchini to give away, or we could operate out of the back of someone's pick-up truck. Whichever mode of transportation we opted for, we'd create banners with our identification and mottos.

You know how businesses enter local parades and pass out flyers? Well, we could recruit a few of our kids to pass out zucchini recipes! Really, really good zucchini recipes.

I can see this being a fun ward Relief Society entry. My mother even suggested that perhaps we could get our husbands to push us in wheelbarrows while the kids distribute the goods.

Becoming Zucchini Bandits would take a good deal of preparation. Those planning to participate would need to plant more zucchini than normal so that we'd have plenty to give away at the parade. They could either pull up the extra plants after the parade, or we could continue to let them grow in anticipation of a fun ward activity -- ZUCCHINI DAZE.

At Zucchini Daze everyone brings a potluck dish to share that includes zucchini as an ingredient. (It would also be a good idea to bring a copy of the recipe for someone to compile and distribute at a later date.) There would also be a fun variety of games and activities that incorporate zucchini. For instance:

  •  The peeled zucchini toss: this is a lot like a water balloon toss only using a peeled zucchini instead
  • The zucchini crochet relay: teams of 4 or 5 people each are given a medium-size zucchini and a crochet mallet. The object of the game is to use the mallet to hit the zucchini down the field to the next contestant who then hits it down the field in the opposite direction until all members of the team have taken their turn. The first team to cross the finish line with a zucchini that is still in one piece is the winner.
  • Biggest zucchini contest: contestants bring the biggest zucchini from their garden to see who has grown the largest squash. (These will be saved to use in the next contest.)
  • The zucchini hurling contest: Only those who entered a zucchini in the above activity are elligible for this event. Contestants take their giant squash and get one chance to hurl them down the field of play. The one who hurls theirs the farthest (or who has pieces break off and go the farthest) wins!
  • Zucchini craft for kids: our scouts usually do a zucchini boat race for one of their summer pack meetings. This is a fun activity for zucchini daze if your event is near a stream or creek. If that's not the case, simply give each young child a zucchini, mini-marshmallows and toothpicks. Let their creativity take over. (A fun at-home activity would be to use your Mr./Mrs. Potato Head parts to make a Mr. or Mrs. Zucchini.)
  • Zucchini sculptures / creative displays: Participants need advance notice of this event so that they can create either a sculpture or some other kind of artistic endeavor using zucchini. You can give judging criteria in advance or simply give a prize for participation.
As you can see, zucchini are a very useful and fun vegetable!

If you have any ideas to add, please leave details in the comments. Enjoy your zucchini!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't count your chickens before . . .

Today in Language Arts we did an activity where my 7th grade students completed the beginning of common sayings. I thought the following ones were worth sharing.

Don’t count your chickens before . . . (they hatch)

… they wake up.

… Thursday.

… you take a shower.

Don’t put all your eggs . . . (in one basket)

… under the car tire.

… in your mouth.

… in an omelet.

… in a blender.

… in your pants pockets.

… in the toilet.

… in the bathtub.

… in a sock.

Children should be seen and not . . . (heard)

… hurt.

… hit.

… smelled.

… commanded.

… felt.

… tasted.

… eaten.

A penny saved is . . . (a penny earned)

… not much.

… money.

… practically worthless.

… a step closer to college.

An ounce of prevention is worth . . . (a pound of cure)

… less than it used to be.

… a life.

… a lot more than you think.

… money.

Stupid is as . . . (stupid does)

… funny as it sounds.

… as dumb as you.

… as stupid was.

… stupid as can be.

Forgive and . . . (forget)

… move on.

… be nice.

… learn.

A bird in the hand . . . (is worth two in the bush)

… may poop on you.

… must be dead.

… must be tame.

… might not be smart.

… is probably really hungry.

… is gonna fly away.

… is a baby chick.

… is cute.

… is small.

… should be set free.

What goes around . . . (comes around)

… makes you sneeze.

… hits you in the face.

… makes a circle.

… gets dizzy after a while.

What goes up must . . . (come down)

… not have tasted very good.

… not have been cooked all the way.

… somehow affect gas prices.

… be able to fly.

… be a balloon.

You don’t always get . . . (what you want)

… chocolate.

… rich.

… your way.

… a rubber chicken.

… food.

… it on the first try.

… what you need.

… first place.

… lucky.

You get what . . . (what you pay for)

… I get.

… you deserve.

… I want you to have.

… is leftover.

… is coming to you.

… you ask for.

… you need.

Think outside the . . . (the box)

… gutter.

… school.

… classroom.

… brain.

… rhombus.

… pickle.

… pumpkin.

A stitch in time saves . . . (nine)

… you from bleeding to death.

… a scar in the future.

… money.

… fabric.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t . . . (make it drink)

… lead water to a horse.

… push it in.

… pick its nose.

… make water.

… make it poo.

You get what you get and . . . (you don’t throw a fit)

… be grateful for it!

… then some.

… then we take it away.

… then you die.

Every cloud has a . . . (silver lining)

… dark side.

… problem.

… tear to shed.

… soft spot.

… rainbow.

… raindrop.

… lot of water.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve . . . (said it a thousand times)

…pumped my shotgun.

… made my point.

… said it for you.

… said it enough.

… said it twice.

An apple a day . . . (keep the doctor away)

… makes you wish you had an orange.

… gets old after a while.

… is a lot of apples.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man . . . (healthy, wealthy and wise)

… grumpy.

… boring.

… rested.

… feel wise.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Losing my class

With the school year drawing to a close, I'm looking forward to the summer but also feeling a bit sad about saying goodbye to the great batch of students I've had this year. 

Here are some things that I will enjoy remembering:

  • The first couple days of school we did chalkboard challenges to use up the extra minutes at the end of class. Two students would stand at the board with a dry-erase marker ready to turn around and write their answer. The first to write the correct answer would get a point for their team. I said, "Write the abbreviation for the day after Monday." Both students had it wrong. One even wrote,"Fri." We all had a sympathetic laugh, realizing that the pressure of a game situation can short-circuit even the best brain
  • I'd watched Nacho Libre at home and was telling the kids how I love how Nacho does his forward leap with his head back, chest out, and arms out and back. Some students had never seen Nacho Libre. Jackson volunteered to try to demonstrate the leap. It was right on! What talent!
  • Laughing to tears during a spelling test when the topic was chickens and the word was "explosive."
  • Watching the amazing progress of a student who was adopted into a family from Ukraine 2 months before school started. He came in speaking virtually no English and will leave being able to read and write fairly well. (He has over 2,000 reading pages from this quarter alone!) He is truly amazing. And a lively, michevious, lovable kid as well.
  • The way Saif's eyes crinkle and almost disappear when he smiles or laughs.
  • The enthuiastic way Jacob Jensen has of writing on the board in chalkboard challenges. He gets his whole body into it!
  • Pablo and teasing him about hair gel. He's a good sport. Especially when he and I decided to pull one on the class and pretend that I caught him cheating. You could have heard a pin drop when I ripped up his paper and told him to wait for me in the hall. Even though the door was closed, I'm pretty sure the class heard me hit a locker and say, "What were you thinking?!" Pablo and I came in after a minute. Everyone looked stricken. Pablo and I couldn't help but laugh. Boy was the class relieved!
  • Going to start the tape to go along with the class novel and having the radio come on. Me dancing along for a while as a nerdy adult. The kids were floored that I'd do it. And, yeah, they laughed. It was a great way to accidentally start the class.
  • Having Parker come up and ask me if I'd broken the wind in class the day before. I was taken aback. Was he really asking what I thought he was asking? After seeing the confusion on my face, he said, "You know -- Mr. Donohoe's yard stick?" Oh yeah. I'd forgotten that Mr. Donohoe called his yard stick "The Wind." I share a class with him, and I had actually made a tiny sliver come off the day before. (I couldn't help but tell Parker what I thought he was asking. We shared it with the rest of the class who, predictably, made "break-the-wind" jokes for weeks afterwards.)
  • Making the kids take a rubber chicken as the hall pass when they use the bathroom. (I disinfect it with Lysol spray at least twice a week.) Having Kjia return once with a slightly wet chicken. She claims it fell in the sink. I can only hope so.
  • Playing the quiz game, "Squeeze that Chicken!" The first one to squeeze their squeaky chicken and say the right answer gets a point for their team. (Who says rubber chickens can't be educational?)
  • Reading the students' fast fiction stories and having the class try to guess which one I wrote. I was constantly amazed at the creativity of my students. Students who were only so-so about writing came up with papers that beat my own attempt at fiction.
  • Sharing the ups and downs of student behavior with my husband and then noticing how I always end a rant with the words, "but I still like him/her." I've been pleasantly surprised to find that the students who have the hardest time sitting still or not talking out are every bit as lovable as the others.
Alas, I'm out of time. Can you tell I've loved my first year of teaching? I'm having a hard time believing that next years classes will be able to measure up to the joy and insights this year's students have given me.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day -- with teenagers

This year for Mother's Day I tried something new, something different, something aimed at my teenagers. On Wednesday or so I was looking through the ads that came in the newspaper in the morning. There were a number that had really nicely done Mother's Day reminders. I'm not sure what came over me, but I got out a pair of scissors.

I spent the next 15 to 20 minutes looking through all the ads -- even the ones in the recycle basket -- and cutting out cute Mother's Day reminders. When I got home from work, I taped them throughout the house. On the computer screen. On the main light switch. On the DVD player -- anywhere I thought my kids would see them.

Lou was the first to notice. "What are these," she asked. They're just little reminders I put up to annoy, and well, remind you that Mother's Day is Sunday. "Oh," she said without any enthusiasm.

Bug took a different approach. When he saw one he said, "You can thank me for putting up the Mother's Day reminders." He was so sincere that Hubby asked me a bit later if Bug really had put them up.

When Lou had a bunch of friends over on Saturday evening, they noticed too. They were curious about why I'd put them up. I told them, "If stores can advertise, moms can too!"

So now that Mother's Day is here, what were the results of my advertising? Not much. I already knew that my hubby was getting me a couple of great gifts (a notebook computer that I'm writing this post on, and a black wrought-iron bench for the front porch), and I didn't expect too much from the kids. They fulfilled my expectations. Bug did give me an oral gift -- a verbal coupon, so to speak. These are his words: "Now don't ask all the time and tell me in advance, but I'll make dinner and do the laundry one time each during the summer." Neither daughter had a gift to give, although Beans did play her viola in a large ward orchestra as the prelude to sacrament meeting today. Walking into the chapel and hearing the strings, knowing that my 12-year-old was among them put me on cloud 9! It was awesome.

Was my Mother's Day advertising a failure? Nah. I got a secret buzz watching my kids notice the reminders. It was like silent nagging. And I'm the Queen of Nag. (See previous post.) I often call myself The Nagivator -- even at school.

The way I look at it, it's occasionally a good thing for a mom to remind her kids about all the things she does for them. Especially teenagers. The results, well, that's not in my control. Enjoying the small joys of nagging -- what a treat!