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The Heart of Life

The Heart of Life: May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I published my last post a little prematurely.  I thought it was safe to say I had all my best GTBT stories in the bag.  Nope.

Today as I pulled my supplies out of my trunk right before my very last presentation, I noticed something very important was missing.  Jerome's pants were gone. 

Jerome is my boy Cabbage Patch doll.  He and Meridith tell stories to kindergarten and first grade kids on the last day of GTBT.  And when I say that, I mean I wiggle them around as I tell the stories.

I had taken Jerome and Meridith to another kindergarten class earlier in the day, and as far as I can remember Jerome was wearing his pants then.  Thus, they probably had fallen off as I carried him back to my car.  I made a quick decision that it was very inappropriate to bring this half-naked doll to the class, so I left him in my car in hopes that I wouldn't have time to tell Jerome's story anyway.

It just so happened that I had plenty of time to tell Jerome's story.  I started out by telling the kids, "A silly thing happened to Jerome today!  He was going to come tell a story, but he couldn't find his pants!  So he couldn't come today."

I then continued to tell the story I normally tell about Jerome.  In the story, Jerome rode his bike to the park without asking permission, and while he was there some boys told him they'd give him $10 if he took his pants off (how ironic is that?).  Then he was scared to tell his mom because he didn't want to get in trouble for riding his bike without permission. 

After I told the kids about the boys who asked Jerome to take his pants off, I asked them what Jerome should do.  They said he should say no, get away, and tell someone.  I told the kids, "Yes, Jerome should tell someone, but he's got a problem, doesn't he?"  I asked the kids what Jerome's problem is, and one child shouted out, "He doesn't have any pants!!  He can't ride his bike without pants!"

I laughed.  I couldn't help myself.  I explained that in the story Jerome is wearing pants--he just couldn't find his pants today.  I totally set myself up for that one.

I stopped by the office and sheepishly asked the secretary if she had seen Jerome's pants.  She hadn't.  I asked the teacher I'd presented to this morning if she'd seen Jerome's pants.  She hadn't either.  I watched for the pants as I walked down the halls and also as I walked through the parking lot.  No pants.  I double-checked in the trunk of my car.  Still no pants.

So bless Jerome's little Cabbage Patch heart, he is still missing his pants.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Good-Touch/Bad-Touch Experience

This week is my last Good-Touch/Bad-Touch presentation of the school year. It's probably going to be one of my last presentations ever.  It's weird.  I've had a lot of really good times, funny times, and weird times.  And now I'm going to share some of the highlights with you.

Elementary school kids are awesome at giving compliments.  And I think compliments from kids are the very best kind of compliments because you know they aren't just saying it to be nice.  They really mean what they say!  About once a week a kid (always a girl) will tell me I'm cute or pretty.  Occasionally 4th and 5th grade girls will tell me they like my shirt or my shoes.

My very favorite compliment was when I was walking down the hall of a school and ran into a single-file line of 1st graders headed out to recess.  I was greeted by a handful of kids exclaiming, "Hi, Miss Lindsey!"  I had taught their class the week before.  Then one girl said, "Miss Lindsey, you smell good!"  A few children strayed a little from the line to smell me as well, "You do smell good!"  It's always nice to know that you smell nice.

I get lots of hugs from kids.  Hugs have a domino effect on kids.  It usually only starts with one kid giving a hug, and then a few other kids see it and want one too.  One class made it a habit of giving me a group hug after every presentation.  Imagine being hugged by twenty 6-year-olds at the same time.  It was pretty intense.  It took a couple of minutes to pry myself out of the classroom.

I've received some really heart-warming gifts from kids.  Kids love giving gifts as much as they like giving compliments and hugs.

My favorite is this kite that a 5th grade girl gave to me.

A kindergarten girl gave me this necklace (I think it was the drawstring from her sweater) and sweetly told me, "I made this for you while I was listening."

Occasionally I get little pictures too.  I think this is a picture of a bracelet.

Once time I gave a gift (unintentionally).  In nearly every school I've been to I put on the school's visitor sticker so that teachers know I've checked in at the office.  As I was leaving a classroom a boy called after me, "Hey Miss Lindsey!  Can I have your sticker?"  Slightly caught off guard (nobody had ever asked for my sticker before), I peeled the sticker from my shirt and handed it to the boy.  As I walked away I remembered seeing collections of stickers on some of the desks.  I hope I didn't cause any contention in that classroom because he got my visitor sticker.

Speaking of visitor stickers, sometimes I'd forget to take them off and go nearly the whole day wearing a giant apple sticker on my shirt.  I'm sure everyone thought I was pretty classy.  Another awkward thing about my job is that lots of the schools in the area look almost exactly the same.  Thus, sometimes I would walk into a school and have to pause for a minute to remember which school I was at and where my classroom was.  It was also awkward when I'd get tongue-tied and say the wrong thing when talking about rule number five--it's never my fault.  Sometimes I accidentally said, "It's never my fart."  How embarrassing.

Sometimes the kids said awkward things too, so I don't feel too bad.  A really important part of the curriculum is teaching kids to know that sometimes it's ok for others to look at or touch private body parts when we need help or have a problem.  With the younger kids we give the example of changing a baby's diaper--it's not sexual abuse because it's helping.  However, with the older kids, we let them come up with examples.  I've told you about the time a 3rd grade boy talked about getting a physical to play sports (you can go back and read about it here).  Another time a 4th grade boy began his example with this disclaimer, "Well, I don't know if this is appropriate, but..."  That always makes me nervous, because I expect a sex reference.  However, he then bashfully explained that a mom breast-feeding her baby is not sexual abuse.  Thankfully, at that age many kids have learned that sometimes it's best to pretend awkward things didn't happen.  A younger class would have giggled like crazy.

I do get references to sex sometimes.  When telling me examples about what is not sexual abuse, sometimes kids say, "When people are married..." and then they give me a shrug that tells me, "You know what I'm talking about, but I don't want to say it out loud."  I can't (and don't want to) talk about sex to these kids, so all I say is, "Yeah, good example!"  One third grade girl gave the example, "When a mom and dad want to have a baby."  I was totally floored.  Although she had only a very simple working knowledge of sex and what it produces, it was definitely way more than I knew at age 8.

Sometimes kids say really random things.  Once I asked a class a question, and a girl raised her hand to answer.  However, instead of an answer, she excitedly told me all about how her family was going to see Disney on Ice the next day.  They were going to stay in a hotel.

In the giant story book I read to the younger kids, Jonathan (the main character) thinks it might be kind of fun to be a toaster.  Several pages after talking about being a toaster, a boy raised his hand and told me that his friend had a really expensive nice toaster, but there was no way of setting how long to put the toast in for, so the toast always got burned.  So they got rid of the toaster.  Random.

One time a child urgently asked me, "The tanks?  Will they save the day?"  I'm not sure what thought process led him to wondering about tanks.  He was adorable, though.  I saw him today and he asked if I would play tanks with him.

The older grades are really into the "What if..." questions.  We cover stranger safety in 3rd and 4th grades, and they come up with the craziest scenarios.  "What if you walked home from school and your mom wasn't home, but there was a stranger there?"  "What if somebody looked up your number in the phone book and then asked for your address?"  Oh dear.  Some of the scenarios are plausible, but most of them aren't.

I've told you the pigeon story, but I have a couple other doozies up my sleeve.  One time I asked a 2nd grade class if they remembered my name.  They couldn't remember.  So I gave them a clue, "It starts with an L."  The class continued to struggle to come up with Lindsey.  And then a boy bellowed, "Lucifer!"  He was severely scolded by the teacher, but I thought it was funny.

But this is my all-time favorite Good-Touch/Bad-Touch story:  We talk about bad touches (obviously), so one time I asked a kindergarten class to give me some names for bad touches.  I usually look for answers like hitting, kicking, biting, pushing, etc...  However one little boy gave me an unusual response.  He had some speech issues, so what he answered was hard to make out, but it sounded an awful lot like, "Don't touch the penis."  Now, had I been 100% sure of what he said, it really wouldn't have been a big deal.  I would have simply said, "That is a confusing touch and we'll talk about that in a few minutes."  However, I couldn't see this kindergartener as the type of child that would know and use that kind of terminology.  So I hesitated.  It's so hard to respond to answers you can't understand.  Fortunately a student teacher was paying attention so she clarified for me, "He said don't touch the bee's nest."  The next day as we were reviewing, he mentioned the bee's nest again.  The parents in the room snickered; they'd heard penis too.  So I clarified for him.  Bee's nest

Funny and weird stories aside, there were a lot of things that I just loved.  I love when kids see me and ask, "Hey!  You're Good-Touch/Bad-Touch?"  One time I was at a concert for my orchestra job, and a kindergartener went out of her way to say hello to me because I'd gone to her class a few weeks before.  I love when kids see me in the halls and say, "I still remember all the rules!"

One of my coworkers once had a teacher pull her aside after a presentation to tell her about a little girl who had previously been in her class and had Good-Touch/Bad-Touch.  At the time of the presentations, this little girl had been repeatedly sexually abused over the prior month.  However, she was too scared to tell someone about it.  We hand out cards with all the body safety rules on them on the last day of every presentation, and so this little girl took her card home and put it in her jewelry box.  She continued to be sexually abused, but she frequently took the card out of her jewelry box and read and re-read the rules.  Finally, after four months of looking at this card, she got the courage to tell someone that she was being sexually abused.

I get a little teary-eyed every time I think about this story.  I hope that every kid I come in contact with has the perfect childhood.  I hope that none of the kids will actually need to use the rules.  But I know it doesn't pan out like that.  Sexual abuse is a big problem, and there are kids out there who need to hear what I have to say.  It's hard to know how many kids I've actually helped, but I feel so privileged to have perhaps been a stepping stone leading some child to help.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Submitted by my brother:
She's Always Singing by The Dear Hunter

Ticket to Ride

It's really no wonder that Beatle-mania took over the world for a while.  Their songs are pretty catchy.  Ticket to Ride isn't my favorite Beatles song (the prize would probably have to go to Eleanor Rigby, Hello Goodbye, or Here Comes the Sun) but I love love love this rendition.  Everything Igudesman and Joo does is hilarious/fantastic.  Piano Lesson is also worth watching.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tiny Dancer

This is such a classic.  Plus Elton John's outfit is so fabulous.

Monday, May 21, 2012

You and I Both

This song by Jason Mraz has been around for quite a while (I think it came out when I was in high school), but I just barely happened upon his music video for it and it is so awesome.  It makes a great song even better.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pudding Cookies

There are few things I love more than chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven.  I think I could love any chocolate chip cookie recipe.  That being said, I do prefer soft cookies.  We're talking baked-yesterday-and-still-soft chocolate chip cookies.

I have a couple recipes I like for soft chocolate chip cookies.  I've made this recipe several times and loved it.  What makes it soft is the corn starch.  Sounds weird but tastes like a normal chocolate chip cookie.  Except eternally soft.  They are soft even after leaving them out on the counter overnight.  Not that I've ever done that before (wink).  It's really pretty amazing.

Pudding cookies are another fantastic way to make a delicious soft chocolate chip cookie.  Basically it's adding a packet of pudding mix to the dough.  The fun part is that you can change the flavor of your dough.  Yeah.  Flavor change.  If you prefer the traditional chocolate chip cookie, use vanilla.  But if you're feeling adventurous, you can go with chocolate, butterscotch, pistachio, lemon, etc.  So many options!

For the above pictured cookies, I used chocolate fudge pudding mix and mint/chocolate chips.  They were delish.  It had a chocolate flavor, but it still tasted like classic chocolate chip cookies.  I love the classic cookie taste.

Pudding Cookies

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cup Butter or Margarine, softened
3/4 cup Shortening
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs
1 Large Box Instant Pudding Mix
3 cups Flour
3 cups Chocolate Chips

Mix all the ingredients except the flour and chocolate chips.  Add the flour and mix just until incorporated.  Add chocolate chips.  Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop dough onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Super easy.

A few tips:

--Pull the butter/margarine out of the fridge and set it on the counter about 30 minutes before mixing up your ingredients.  That way it's softened, but not too soft.  Butter temperature plays a huge role in making the cookies look as good as they taste.

--When measuring the shortening, I line my measuring cup with a plastic sandwich bag first.  The shortening tends to come off the bag pretty easily, then you can throw the bag away.  No scraping shortening out of the measuring cup, and then little to no clean-up of the measuring cup (which is a big deal to those of us with no dishwasher).  Win.

--If I've mixed everything up and the dough seems too soft and sticky, I stick it in the fridge for 15 min. or so to let it set it up a little.

-- Seeing as there are only two of us at my house, baking an entire batch of cookies is not a good idea.  My impulse control with fresh cookies isn't great.  Thus, I usually bake a few cookies, let my dough sit in the fridge for a little while, then I use a cookie scoop to put the rest of the dough into a ziplock back.  Then I throw it in the freezer.  Having it frozen in individual cookie form makes it so easy to bake just one cookie.  Although I usually bake two or three.

--When I'm baking previously frozen dough, I put my dough balls in the microwave for 15 seconds, flipping them over halfway through.  The goal is to soften the dough up a little before baking, but not to make it too soft and gooey.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Make You Feel My Love

Adele can do no wrong.  Make You Feel My Love is probably my favorite song of hers.

I also really love her version of I Can't Make You Love Me.  Plus her accent is delightful.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Today was my last day of class with my orchestra kids.  So here is my potentially favorite classical orchestra piece.  It's Dvorak's Largo movement from the "New World Symphony."  It's so lovely.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where We Gonna Go From Here

I listened to this song a lot while I was dating my husband.  "Where we gonna go from here?" is a question I asked myself a lot.  And to my delight, marriage was where we went.  Hopefully things worked out as well for Mat Kearney.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Submitted by my mom:
Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole

Hallelujah by Kate Voegele (my mom didn't specify which version, so I chose one I've been liking lately)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Submitted by Skye
Bittersweet by Spencer Schmidt

We Were Made for Each Other by Emilie Mover

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Her Morning Elegance

I've never listened to this Oren Lavie song on its own.  I don't really see the point.  It would be like watching Fantasia without the sound.  The combination of the song plus the video is just magical.  I feel good about dubbing it my favorite music video.

P.S. Keep the song suggestions coming!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sax Rohmer #1 by The Mountain Goats
Submitted by Dani

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Call

I'm really excited for my theme this month.  But I'm excited for every theme.  I do pick them, after all.  My May theme is music, in honor of my elementary school orchestra job ending in a few weeks.  After last month's overload of deep and depressing, I'm going to try to keep it light and simple this month.

I'm going to try something new this month--interactive blogging.  That's a term I just made up.  I'll be sharing some of my favorite songs, and in return I want you to share yours with me.  If I can find a good youtube video of your favorite song, I'll post it.

I'm going to start out with The Call by Regina Spektor.  If I remember right, it was toward the end of the movie Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia). This song probably falls under my "most inspirational lyrics" category.  That's why I found a video that included the lyrics.


Your turn!  What are some of your favorite songs?