Shady Jellybeans. Just Say No. Or Yes?

I know we’ve been tackling a lot of serious and important topics here lately: texting while walking, being fanned with giant leaves, life as a musical, etc.  Well, I’ve got one more that has been weighing on my mind of late: the art of eating Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.

First of all, have I ever told you my initial childhood experience with Jelly Bellies?  My dad would bring them back from business trips to New Mexico, so I was convinced that Jelly Bellies were an Albuquerque thing.  Turns out they are not.  Yet another random fact Laura convinced herself was truth as a child…

Ok, back to the situation at hand.  What is your strategy?

I’m really more of an artificial lemon first, then lime and orange second, kind of person myself.  So when it comes to hard candy or jelly beans, that’s where I start.

Then I tackle the reds family, because you know what?  Those are pretty tasty too.  Except for Jolly Rancher cherry.  sick.  I hope they never make that into a jelly bean flavor.  Then we will really be in trouble.

But soon what are you left with?  The shady flavors.  They might be good.  They might be disgusting.  And there is only one way to find out.  But is it worth the risk?

These are the tough questions I grappled with while sitting at my desk last Friday between conferences.

When it comes to the shady flavors, they can really still be divided into two camps: the jelly beans that have a slim chance of tasting decent, and those that are irrefutably disgusting.

Exhibit A: Buttered Popcorn.  This is one jelly bean that you should take the time to memorize its coloring: light yellow with yellow speckles.  Avoid this one at all costs.

But some others – iffy shades of pink or red, odd spotting, generally puky colors.  Shady.  Kind of like this shady van.

a special thanks to Cor's sermon on Sunday which taught me (amongst other things) that there is a website devoted solely to shady vans.

But actually less like a van and more like a jelly bean.

I sat there, wishing the next conference would arrive, so I could distract myself from this life changing dilemma.

What does a girl do, when faced with a situation like this?

I wouldn’t claim to have any authority on this topic, but I will tell you what I did.  I identified the 4-6 jelly beans with the highest probability of not being totally disgusting, and I tentatively tasted three of them.  The remaining?  I put them in their rightful home: the garbage.  And everyone went home happy.


Laura’s awkward moment of the week.

Hello, and welcome to Laura’s Awkward Moment of the Week!  This week, the award goes to… The Checkout Line at Trader Joe’s.

this was taken on my first visit to TJs. I was nervous, yet excited. Apparently I should still feel that way today...

So, yesterday I was innocently standing in line at Trader Joe’s, my basket of delicious food items hanging nonchalantly from my left arm.  It is confusingly warm this January in Minnesota, so I was wearing jeans, boots, a long yellow cardigan and a black fleece for a jacket.  I think that the “my cardigan is awkwardly longer than my zipped up jacket” is always an attractive look to go for… (please read sarcasm in that sentence, even though it is a look I sport too often)

There was a mom and daughter in line in front of me.  The daughter was probably around 10, and as the mom wrapped up her transaction, the daughter was loitering in front of the “place your basket here” spot next to the register, making it impossible for me to prepare for check-out.

The kindly cashier came to my rescue and stepped out to take my basket from me.  I gladly handed it to him, until [cue overly dramatic music] I realized that something was going terribly wrong, and I was somehow attached to the basket.  I swivel toward the cashier, up on my tiptoes, because somehow the basket is pulling me with it.  The cashier is looking at my funny because I am suddenly unwilling to let him take the basket from me.  I spot the problem: the giant yellow button on my cardigan somehow found its way through one of the the super skinny slits in the side of the basket, and is now stuck inside of the basket.  I begin working feverishly to get it out, and after about ten minutes 30 seconds of me fumbling around, refusing to relinquish said basket, the cashier realizes what is happening.

I eventually detach myself from my food, and move to pay.  The cashier jokes, “you are hooked on Trader Joe’s food.  literally.”  I feebly laugh, “ha.  ha.”  while thinking, “how do these things happen to me?”  “is there something I could have done to prevent this?”  and conclude, “no, no there is not.”

Follow the directions. Or your heart.

Sometimes in life you need to get from one place to another.  This is not always as easy as it sounds, because you may not actually know how to get from Point A to Point B.

My friend Sara taught me in high school that the best option is to “Just make it up!”  Is this really always the best option?  Let me give you several scenarios.  These are all scenarios when I chose the wrong multiple choice answer when deciding between:

a) Follow the signs.

b) Look at a map.

c) Use the GPS

c1) Use the built in GPS on your phone

d) Follow your heart.

I have a history of getting lost.  Yet I like to think that at times I have a good sense of direction.  Tami, my GPS, would probably beg to differ, based on the amount of times she is “recalculating” or tells me to make a U Turn.


I am at the Mall of America to meet some friends.  I tell one friend I am getting there early because I have awkward amounts of time to kill.  She comes early too.  I look at the map to find out how to get to Chipotle.  I walk around the entirety of the mall, unable to find Chipotle.  When I do arrive, I am no longer early and basically everyone is there.  Enter my inability to find people in crowds.  I walked right past them.  They shouted my name and I looked around bewildered.  Should I have used my GPS?  No, that would be ridiculous.  Should I have been able to read a mall map?  Yes.  Embarrassing.


My roommate and I go to the Bad Waitress for brunch. (sidenote: HIGHLY recommend.  If I could live solely off of the Spyhouse Caramella espresso drink, I would).  We then want to get from the Bad Waitress to Anthropologie.  Roommate googled directions.  Said googling results in us sitting in a deserted apartment back alley near Lake Calhoun.  Unless Anthro is in the neighbor’s detached garage, google has lead us astray.  Tami (the aforementioned GPS) is nowhere to be found.  Enter: the phone GPS.  It finds Anthropologie no problemo.  We follow the directions.  My heart questions going north on the highway, but we follow anyways.  The destination: defeat.  or a warehouse on a corner in Crystal.  Clearly in this instance we should have followed our hearts, not our maps and technology.


You are in Florida, heading back from a day in the Everglades.  Tami says to go on back roads.  Amber (real live friend) says to go on the highway.  You listen to Tami.  You regret this decision, as it results in a 15 hour drive home.  Ok, that is an extreme exaggeration, but it felt like forever.  I’m sorry, Amber, for trusting Tami before trusting you.


Time to meet up with some friends for dinner before small group!  The destination: one you’ve driven to a million times.  Not a problem.  Uh-oh.  You are on the phone and forgot to exit.  No worries – take the next exit.  Easy as pie.  Until you try turning around in a parking lot that spits you back out onto the one-way you entered from (clearly did not actually get to turn around).  and you weave your way through the city, following your heart, and your stomach, and don’t seem to be getting anywhere closer.  You finally cave and turn on your phone’s GPS.  ETA?  20 minutes.  How did this happen?  You miss all of dinner conversation and take your food to go.  Fail.  In this instance, I for sure should have pulled out that GPS a wee bit sooner.


You exit the subway in Vancouver with all your luggage.  Your sister thinks the hotel is one direction.  You mention you think it is the other, but know your lack of ability in map reading, so you go with your sister’s intuition.  After dragging the luggage downhill, it is determined that you were right.  Now it is time to drag your luggage UP the hill and get to the hotel.  Note: your map reading skills apparently flourish out of the country, and you should always fight for your directionality to win in situations abroad.


You are going to your friend’s house that you have gone to once, but from a different direction.  Not a problem – you can still get there, right?  WRONG.  You get utterly lost, super confused, end up miles away, put the address in your GPS, only to find that this house is too new to be in the GPS, and call your friend, to find out they can’t give you directions because they just moved in there, and then you pray, “Jesus, please help me find this house.  I will give it one more try, then I will probably just go home.” and then miracle: you find it!  PTL.

I would like to share that I kind of like getting lost.  If the circumstances are right.  I like meandering down new roads as long as I am not meandering through bad neighborhoods.  I like it if I have all the time in the world and no one is waiting on me.  Or following me.  If someone is following me (like a friend caravaning, not a creeper or stalker) then I get really stressed out that I don’t know where I am going and am also leading them astray.  (I should probably again clarify that I do not mean to imply that having a creeper follow my car is fine with me.  It would  also stress me out – but for different reasons)

Otherwise I think that getting lost is a bit of an adventure, and helps me learn the area, so that I don’t have to rely on technology to get me where I am going.  Even though sometimes I clearly should.

A Robot Named 3M

Today I got out some ancient technology: the overhead projector.

Molly and I feel quite ancient ourselves, since the overhead projector was cutting edge technology when we were in elementary school.  These kiddos have clearly never seen such a contraption before.

We are learning about light and shadows, and I planned to use the overhead projector to play a little “guess the mystery shadow” game to help us learn that shadows look like the object.  But first, the following things were said:

  • Look!  Miss K has a robot!
  • Is that a robot, Miss K? (this question is repeated about 25x)
  • Child stands next to the projector and puts one arm in the air with his hand pointing forward – After a moment of confusion I realize he is doing an impression of the projector.
  • Children clammer around, examining this mysterious object (which I should add has been in plain sight all year)
  • One child reads the logo 3M on the front of the projector
  • Children are still whispering to one another while finishing their work, pointing excitedly, and a child runs up to hug me and tell me, “You’re the best!”
  • We should get a class dinosaur!

Because I am incredibly amused at this point, I ask the kids what they think it is and what they think it does.  Some of their answers:

  • A robot that does the robot dance (which of course my students demonstrate for me, doing the robot far better than I could ever hope or dream of dancing)
  • A camera
  • A camera that when it takes your picture it makes you be in a costume

But my favorite moment of the entire exchange:

Student 1: We have a robot!  Should we name our robot?

Student 2: It already has a name: 3M!

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

On Monday I was delighted when I drove out of my neighborhood.  I thought, “Something seems different. I’m not sure what it is, but I like it!”  Then I thought about it for approximately 2.7 seconds and I realized that the rain and “warm” temps had caused the giant snowbanks on the corners of the street to melt away to nothingness, and I could actually see out into traffic, and safely turn out of my neighborhood.  It felt good.

On Tuesday I woke up confused.  I did not understand why I was confused.  I only knew that I deeply desired to go back to sleep.  Then I thought about it for approximately 10 minutes (the length of my snooze on my alarm) and when I woke back up, I realized it was raining.  This sound is not new to me, and it should not have confused me.

On Tuesday we had indoor recess.  I wanted the rain to stop.

Then I read the forecast for more SNOW.  WHAT.!?  Not ok.  I of course promptly wrote a letter to the local weather forecaster, apologizing for complaining about the rain causing indoor recess, and asking them to change their mind about the impending snow doom.

Then I read in my email that my school’s city is looking for people to sandbag.

Kindergarten field trip???  I kid, I jest, that is a terrible idea.

Then my friend sent me this from MPR:

When you volunteer to sandbag, keep these tips from MPR in mind:

1- Be young. A little work won’t kill you and, besides,
-2- Plan on meeting the guy — or woman — of your dreams. You’ll know it’s the person of your dreams because he — or she — will volunteer to do the shoveling.
-3- Two or three shovelfuls of sand will do it. Remember: Some elderly couple who met each other at a sandbagging event many, many years ago, is going to have to pick these up.
-4- Don’t tie the bags. It takes too much time, and makes it more difficult to pass the bag in a sandbag line. The person at the end of the line who has to place it on the dike just folds the top under.

My fav is point #2.  If you are sandbagging and you are not planning to meet the person of your dreams, it is important to remember that is what others have come for, so be careful in teaming up with someone to fill sand bags.

Then again… maybe you don’t need to help the community to find love, you can just be rich!  At least according to a second grader’s creative writing my coworker told me about today.

Writing prompt: If I had a million dollars…

Student response: I will buy myself a man.

… not sure that is legal, but let me know if it works out for ya, kid!

Wild, Wild, West

**I apologize if you are my facebook friend and thus this is old news**

I am considering teaching a unit on the Wild West in kindergarten.  I specifically would like to educate them on Vocabulary of the Old West (This is clearly an appropriate kindergarten topic, right?)

My first two lessons will be:

COWGIRLS are different from CALLGIRLS.

When we play four corners after recess, the person who is “it” is referred to as the “cowboy” or “cowgirl”, mostly because that is what the teacher across the hall does and all my students now think it is a universal rule.  We have them hold a ridiculous blue cowboy hat with blue streamer trim in front of their face so that they can’t be a cheater and peek who is in each corner.  That being said, a few weeks ago we came inside and a little girl shouts down the hall to me, asking, “Miss K, who is the next callgirl???”  (although looking at the picture, maybe I should use a less ridiculous cowboy hat to better differentiate between cowgirls and callgirls)

Hairstyling is not done at the saloon.

A little girl came in her with hair freshly styled in some cute little twists sticking off her head in every direction (love this look) and she excitedly told us that her mom didn’t do her hair today.  Nope!  She went to the saloon and had it done.  Did I correct her?  Nope.  I just reveled in the amazing mispronunciation of salon.

And luckily, I already know what plaid flannel I would wear to teach these important lessons.  Perhaps the same one that I unthinkingly wore on Sunday to see my cousin star in Oklahoma.  My brother made the same coordinating mistake.  After the show I had to zip up my fleece all the way because two feet away from me was a cast member wearing virtually the same shirt as me.  Embarrassing! 🙂

The following would not be covered in our “Western” unit, but perhaps in our traditions unit (which we actually teach).

One of my kids lost a tooth, and he excitedly told Mrs. T that he saw the toothfairy when she came.  I was concerned that he was about to dejectedly describe his mom.  No need for alarm.  Turns out the tooth fair has rainbow colored hair that magically changes colors and sparkly wings.

what is in the air?

Conversations  of ridiculous proportion:

Conversation 1:

Teacher: (pointing at crayon writing on the floor next to a child’s rest time spot)  What is this?

Student 1: I don’t know!  I didn’t write it

Student 2:  She didn’t write it!  I didn’t write it either.  We didn’t see who wrote it.

Student 1:  Yeah, we don’t know.

Student 2:  Somebody probably came in the night when it was all locked and wrote it.

Student 1:  yeah, that’s it!

Teacher: (seeing this is going nowhere productive)  So, like maybe a rabbit came in and wrote it?

Student 2:  Or a killer man.

Teacher:  In a school?  I don’t think so

Student 2:  Maybe it was a teacher!

Teacher:  No, a teacher would know better

Student 2:  Yeah, ’cause a teacher wouldn’t want to get fired, so they wouldn’t want to write on the floor.

Student 1:  Yeah, you wouldn’t want to be fired.  All you want is to be our teacher.

Student 2:  Yeah, you just want to help us learn.

Student 2:  Once a killer came into my house and stole everything out of my fridge.  I have a beer in my fridge in my room.

Teacher:  What?  You don’t drink it, right?

Student 2:  No, it’s my uncles.  He put my fridge in the garage.  We have a mouse in our garage.  He’s my pet.  I call him Mousey Mouse.  Or Mousy Dude.  I don’t put my finger in the trap.

Teacher 2:  Well, that went well.

Yep – got that graffiti ALL figured out.

Conversation 2:

Student: What color is this?

Teacher:  Turquoise

Student:  That’s funny.  Why would Jesus call this color turquoise?

Conversation 3:

Teacher:  Good job!  How did you figure that out?

Student:  Well, my mom says I’m smart!

Conversation 4:

Teacher: If you don’t hurry, I will have to choose someone else to do this activity with me.

Student: No!  Don’t pick somebody else.  You are my bestestest friend!

Conversation 5:

Teacher: Here is the picture of me with a Twins player!

Student: Wow!  Maybe he can come read to us!

Teacher:  That would be really great!

Student:  OR, maybe you can marry him!

Teacher:  I’ll see what I can do.

p.s.  the little girl that says I am her best friend, brought me this card today.  The front was a picture of flowers and this was on the inside:

My educational assistant also got one, but all her’s said was, “you are a wonderful helper”  we laughed at their description- she is wonderful, but  she is also definitely a legit licensed teacher…

Just a couple quotes…

I have nothing amazing to say tonight, just wanted to share a couple of great kindergarten moments.

*I think I might be a teacher when I grow up.  Or just go to clubs.

Good luck with that decision buddy.  They both sound like good options.

*Martin Luther King doesn’t like it when I sag my pants?

Nope, so you’d better keep them pulled up.

For an assessment, students had to draw people celebrating and tell me the name of the tradition and also why people celebrate it.  I approach a child.  He points to his picture, “This is the girl with the baby.” What baby?  “God baby.” Oh.  What are they celebrating?  Christmas. (Naturally).  Why do people celebrate Christmas?  (silence).  So I wrote “God baby” for his answer on that line.  I mean, I guess it sums it up?


Away in a Manger…

In kindergarten we study traditions.  A big part of this unit is talking about traditions that various cultures have for different celebrations.  Since all the kids can think about these days is Christmas, I figure we may as well embrace that and use it to our advantage.  So we started talking about varying cultural Christmas traditions – but first we spent some time clearing up why Christmas is actually celebrated.

After reading a board book called The Christmas Story to the class, we began talking about Christmas celebrations in Mexico.  One thing we learned is that lots of families have a nativity scene, but not necessarily a Christmas tree.  To help retell the story of the first Christmas, I printed out pictures of nativity scene figurines and we taped them to the board while putting together our own Nativity.

Let’s just say it is a good thing I was there to facilitate the retelling of the Christmas Story. Without my fact and vocabulary corrections, the Christmas story would have gone something like this:

Mary and Josephine rode in on a zebra.  Mary had a baby named Moses and laid him in a crib that fell over.  The three men in neat matching hats came from a long ways away to visit him.  They rode on a cow.  The angel (who wasn’t scary at all) went to tell the butcher, the surfer, and the singer who all watch the sheep that Jesus was born.  God and the devil were there too.  Then we all sang away in a manger and the itsy bitsy spider.  the end.

So – raise your hand if you are not passing “able to retell a story” on your kindergarten report card…

And some side notes:

  • If you guess that a shepherd is called a surfer, no way are you able to laugh at the kid who guesses “singer”.  At least singing is associated with Christmas!
  • The solo rendition of Away in a Manger may be one of the most high pitched versions I’ve ever heard.
  • The three wisemen, or three kings, are depicted in our nativity scene as wearing crowns.  It is not by chance that their hats are matching.
  • Donkeys and zebras are not really the same.

After the nativity fail nativity learning experience,  I showed a YouTube video that was entirely in Spanish about Las Posadas and piñatas.

  • I expected my native English speakers to be a bit disengaged (they were more into it than I expected).
  • I hoped that my Spanish speakers would not hear/understand the narrator to be saying anything sketchy (fortunately it all seemed to be on the up and up).
  • I definitely did not anticipate my African girl exclaiming, “I am just a Kenya girl.  I do not understand this!

And just so we are all clear on the real Christmas story, I have asked Linus to help remind us…