Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Sister's Helping Hand

You know, I'm glad I'm having two girls. I'm glad I'm forming what my sister Cindy calls "A girl herd." I'm sure boys are great and all, but having grown up with four sisters, I know the power that sisters can have. I hope that I can raise my little girls to love and respect each other the way me and my sisters are. We aren't competitive. We don't compare or have drama or get jealous. We are just genuinely happy for each other and celebrate each other's successes. How exactly this came about, I am not sure. Girls are naturally competitive and drama-filled. But somehow, we missed that memo. I hope that when my girls are grown, they will have each other for support the way my sisters are for me. It seems like each sister has their area of expertise, and when you need something, ONE of them will be able to help you.

This is what happened this last week. With the coming of my babies, I knew I needed to purchase bedding for each baby. I didn't want to re-use Afton's bedding, since I really wanted a nursery that was for THEM. (Having been the fifth daughter, I know the joy of hand-me-downs.) I wasn't sure what colors I wanted to do the room in, until we decided to name the second baby Scarlett. And then I was like--well, you can't do anything but red with a name like that, can you? But what goes with red? I did some searches online for red, green, and white baby bedding. It's a tricky color scheme because you don't want to look Christmasy. But I loved the colors. In my search I found this:
I LOVED it. But what I didn't love was the price. This sucker costs $430. And I would need to buy TWO. Not a possibility. But I couldn't find anything else remotely similar with those colors. And I really wanted those colors!

Which sister's expertise did I draw on? Well, first I went to Nicki. And she was so freaking awesome about it. Like all Nielson sisters, Nicki loves a project. We are definatley a hobby-project type of family. We all five of us have hobbies and are always working on some kind of project. Sewing is just one of Nicki's. I also talked to my sister Cindy, who is also an accomplished seamstress. Unfortunately, this time of year is rather crazy for her, since she works for the Water Conservency District AND she does consults for people's yards. Spring is crazy. So she was not able to actually help sew--though she did help me plan material and she found me the patterns to use. After Cindy and I went to a few stores, I ended up buying most of  the material online at, and Cindy we great helping me decide which was best. I obviously couldn't match it perfectly or even very closely, but was happy with what I found.

I was just so glad though, that my sisters were so willing to help me make bedding for my girls. For sewing is NOT in my comfort zone. I have sewn before and I'm not all that bad at it, but I don't have a machine and I haven't sewn anything in years. The last project was the peti-skirts for my ballroom kids--a HUGE undertaking that Cindy took on. She made TEN of thsoe pink and black skirts, teenager size. It was A LOT! I did some of the sewing, but most was Cindy.

Anyway, So this weekend, Nicki and I set to work. We spent to 8-hour days sewing. Mom helped out the second day by taking our kids--which was MUCH appreciated. Nicki did the hard part--figuring out the pattern, cutting the fabric, and pinning it. I did most the sewing which, it turns out, is actually the easiest part. We Ripley's bumpers the first day, and got the cording done for Scarlett's that day, too.
Nicki and I sewing like crazy on Ripley's bedding. Photo compliments of Bethany, Cindy's daughter, who saved our bacon the first day by watching our kids! We love you, Bep!

 On day 2, Mom took our kids, and Nicki and I had a quiet morning finishing Scarlett's bedding, and then working on the dust ruffles for both.

We did the bedding different for each girl, but the dust ruffle was the same.

Completed baby bedding! I admit we were hugging excitedly when we got them done! We were so pleased with how they turned out!

Scarlett's bedding after we completed the dust ruffles. Aren't they cute? Think I'll make a valance just like it!

So the next day we got Nicki's crib that she didn't need anymore, and set it up in the nursury. I like how each bed is similar, but different--that's how I want to see my girls, whether they are identical or not.

Scarlett's Bed
Ripley's Bed

There's still a lot more to do in the room before it's ready. Trevor spent a good month repainting, putting up beadboard, adding crown molding and a chair rail, and of course, putting in that awesome laminate flooring which we LOVE and is SO much cheaper and more practical than carpet!  Now my Dad is making the shelving for the closet, and my awesome sister Aundi is going to cross-stitch some wall hangings (she's SO good at it) and my sister-in-law Andrea will help me with using wooden blocks to put their names on the wall. It's going to be so cute! I love it!

Again, I am so grateful for my family. I have so much support and help. I could never have done this without Nicki, who was willing to devote two entire days during her Easter break to help me. I am truly blessed. I hope my girls love each other as much as I love my sisters!

Friday, April 1, 2011

My April Fool's Joke

So when I was a new teacher I was so freakin' cool. I did the funniest coolest things. But as the years go by I get less cool and less fun. I feel bad about that. I miss that impish desire I used to have to do fun things with my kids. I mean, I'm still fun and cool, but not AS fun and cool. But today--today I redeemed myself. Man, I am so freaking awesome. So here is the story of the most awesome and mean April Fool's joke I ever played! (Actually, I think this is the only April Fool's joke I've ever played.)

Ok. Some background. Today I had scheduled the test for Computer Basics in my 9th grade Computer Technology class. This is the most tedius section I teach, with lots of vocab like "RAM" and "Storage" and "IP Addresses." You know, stuff like that. I had the test all written and ready to go, using the UTIPS website. This site allows me to create an online test--they take the test online, then submit it to me and get an immediate score. Anyway, this morning I had an email from a parent saying how his daughter was worried about the test because she was not allowed to take home her packet yesterday (my aide was in the middle of grading them). I realized he was right--it wouldn't be fair to test them today--they really needed another day to study. I emailed the dad and said the test had been moved to Monday. But what to do today?

Then she got an idea! An awful idea! THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

I would still give them a test today. I would just...mess with them. I then spent 30 minutes throughout the morning creating a new 25-question test. The first three or four questions were normal and exactly out of the real test. And then I did a few questions where the right answer was NOT one of the ones listed. Or where all four answers were correct. Then I found some computer vocab words that were not part of the unit and put those in. I did some really mean questions on obscure stuff that I had mentioned in class but was too nit-picky to test on. My personal favorite was, "List the six steps of the boot process."

And then it wound up with these final questions:

21. What is Mrs. Rees naming her twins?
22. Who is the coolest teacher at our school?
A. Mrs. Rees
B. Megan Rees
C. Afton's Mom (right answer)
D. The teacher formerly known as Miss Nielson
23. 200 words or less, please describe what makes Mrs. Rees so amazing, and how you would like to emulate her in the future.
24. What day is it today?
25. In 200 words or less, please explain why this test should not count on your grade.

I also had to find that girl whose dad emailed me this morning and make sure she didn't rat me out. I called her down to my room 1st period and asked her if her dad told her she wasn't taking a test today, which he had, and then I told her what I was going to do and told her to keep it quiet. She thought it was hilarious.

I was SO excited when my 5th period came in. This class has a lot of really intelligent straight-A students in it. And they were all STRESSED. They were so worried that they wouldn't pass. I played it so cool. One girl commented afterwards that she didn't suspect a thing with the way I acted. I told them to do their best, that if they thought a question wasn't fair, the software allows me to throw out any question that all the kids struggle on. And then they got started.

I tell you, I was worried. They were SO stressed. It was sad but hilarious to watch them stressing out as they took the test. To watch them deliberate forever over the answers, looking for the answer they were sure was right, but wasn't there. I was like, "Oh no! They are NOT going to think this is funny!" I wondered how they'd react once they figured it out. Here's what's funny--when the kids started to get to the giveaway questions at the end, they didn't say anything. They actually started writing the essay! I was just trying not to laugh out loud--I thought for sure SOMEONE would yell out, "Stop everyone! It's not a real test!"  But no! They laughed to themselves but let their fellow students sweat it out! Other kids started to wonder why they were laughing, but STILL no one said anything! Finally I said, "If you are still struggling, you might want to skip ahead to the last five questions," and then everyone was starting to laugh and I yelled "April Fools!"

Man, I love my 5th period. Despite what I had just put them through, they thought it was so freaking funny. We went over the test and I pointed out what I won't test them on so they don't stress. And I reminded them that if they were frustrated, that means that they really DO know this stuff. And that, of course, there would be a REAL test on Monday with 50 questions--all of them with the correct answers among the multiple choice.

So, looking over their tests, here are some of the answers to their essay questions:
 "First of all, the name Megan starts with an "M", and magnificent starts with the letter "M". So does the word "Megadeth" and " Metallica" which are pretty magnificent, too. Mrs. Rees is also amazing because she is humorous and smart and good looking and stuff. That's kind of kreepy... "

Mrs. Rees has a passion for creating a more knowledgable future of America. She does a great job at enlightening us on the joys of the computer and it's technology, while keeping us entertained.

Well, Mrs. Rees is giving us funny questions hopefully to make up for the terrible quiz that she just had us take. I'm pretty sure that I failed the test, so hopefully these weird questions will make up for it. .

"Well, She is very out going and not like other teachers! She makes class fun even if its supposed to be boring."

She is super funny and always seems to be able to turn something boring into something fun. She has questions like these and can make people laugh.

Well there are many reasons why Mrs. Rees is so amazing. One reason is the fact that the other teachers just don't compare to her. Another reason is that she teaches a decently fun class. Also she is a really funny teacher. this is shown pretty well by the test.

What makes Mrs. Rees so amazing is how funny she is. I love how she can make the subject computer tech so exciting. She's a cool teacher, with a cool personality. Like this test right here, this is what makes her so amazing. Like how awesome is that.

I love how Mrs Rees teaches. She is always giving us examples and letting us see visual examples. She's funny and she's always more than willing to help you out. She's in a pretty good mood for having twins. She's fun to be around, and she's pretty I mean computer nerds usually arn't.

This one is my favorite:

Mrs. Rees is the all knowing computer genius that is like fourty times better then other teachers in every single way. She is very wonderful and beautiful and deserves the best teacher award. By being so great she has cured cancer and aids just by walking into a room.

And this one:

Mrs. Rees is pretty epically awesome! She just is the BEST!! She knows how to really teach the leaders of the future. She's funny and supersmart. Why is Mrs. Rees so amazing? She likes me, that's why. She makes even the most boring topics fun. I know that in the future when I become president of the world (because of her) I am going to make a shrine dedicated to her! She knows how to bring computer class to life!!!!!!!!! She's just cool!!!! I am going to worship her!!

Ok, is this a little ego building? Sure. But it's friggin' hilarious.