Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Geographic State Geography Bee

I LOVE that his name tag is so prominent in this photo.
This fall Grant (7th grade) called me after school.

"Mom can I stay after school today?  They're hosting a geography bee and anyone who participates gets a full size candy bar!"

He stayed.

And won.

Oh to be that naturally brilliant.

One of Grant's first words was "why."  He has always loved non-fiction, fact-based books and has an uncanny ability to remember random facts and bits of information.  He loves to look at maps and study science and nature - all things that are at the bottom of my Natural Intelligence List.  I stand in awe.

We thought that was the end of the Geography Bee until we got an email from the school principal this spring.

"Grant did a great job with the Geo Bee this year and qualified to go to the state level!  Attached is the letter I received today notifying us."

A very official letter from National Geographic was attached with a hard copy that followed in the mail.  The National Geographic Bee was hosted at Western Oregon University and featured qualifying students from all over the state of Oregon.  The winner of the state competition received an all expenses paid trip to Washington DC to participate in the national competition. It felt like something from a movie and was way outside the realm of anything we've ever done or thought about doing.

Waiting for the Bee to begin
We marked the calendar and promptly forgot about it.  Until the night before.  GAH!  Grant crammed for twenty minutes before bed and we hoped his semi-photographic memory would retain what he studied.

The day of the Geographic Bee was a beautiful spring day.  Western Oregon University is in the middle of Oregon's prime farmland in the Willamette Valley.  We literally were driving through No Man's Land, saw a sign for a town, and BOOM!  A darling little university in a small town.
no wonder the settlers felt this land was worth sacrificing their lives to live here.
Grant was the only kid out of the 100 participants wearing a bow tie and high-top Converse.  He definitely has a flare and style of his own.  He also appeared to be one of the only relaxed kids there.  This was a BIG deal for most of these students and their parents.  I felt bad that he didn't study more.

Oh do I love this boy and his confident sense of style
After large group formal introductions they divided the students into five groups of twenty.  Parents followed students to designated classroom where very specific instructions were given.  No photography was allowed.  No one could leave the room once the competition began.  There was an official Moderator, Timer, and Judge.

They let us take pictures - once.
The Moderator told us all the rules.  There was one preliminary round that did not count toward anyone's score but gave the students an opportunity to shake out their nerves.  The official competition consisted of eight rounds of questions.  Each round centered around a theme: for example, States in the United States. Each student answered a unique question from that category.  When all 20 students had answered their question, the Moderator introduced a new category and everything started over again.

Each student had two opportunities to stall.  They could ask to have the question repeated or ask to have a word spelled.  Students could also pass if they didn't know the answer but it counted as a wrong answer.

The questions for each round got progressively harder and moved from multiple choice to fill-in-the-blank.  The top ten students out of all 100 participants moved on to the final round that would be held in front of all the students and parents.  Talk about nerve wracking!

I thought I would be bored, but the time flew.  These questions were HARD.  These students were so impressive in the breadth of their knowledge of geography, world events, and the science behind geographic events.

Grant missed his first question - of the twenty in that category his was one of the hardest.  I could tell he was frustrated.  But he shook it off and answered the next three in a row correctly.   The fill-in-the-blank questions decimated the field of students.  Very few students answered those questions correctly.  In the end Grant answered five of eight questions correctly, including one fill-in-the-blank.  I was impressed!

This farm beckoned us to come and find it.  So we did.
We talked about staying to watch the final round but it was such a beautiful day that we decided it wasn't worth being cooped up indoors.  We each grabbed a handful of cookies and a glass of lemonade from the refreshments table and meandered home on the beautiful country roads.

Oregon has the coolest trees.

We spotted a beautiful farm off the main highway and decided to go find it.  On the way to the farm we stopped in the middle of the road for an impromptu photo shoot.  Grant did The Worm (a break dancing move) across the entire street, stood up with a really satisfied smile on his face and said, "I've always wanted to do that."
Tulips and clouds rolling in
When we got back to Newberg we went to lunch at Cafe' Diva Dogs - an interesting new cafe' that has coffee and gourmet hot dogs.  We waited FOREVER for the hot dogs and onion rings but they were super yummy and (maybe?) worth the wait.

Feeling a little out of place at the Bee.
It was a wonderful day with my Man Child.  I can't wait to see how Grant uses his God-given intellect to bring the Kingdom of Jesus to wherever he lives.  In Newberg as it is in heaven.
I could live here.

Love you G!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jodi Stilp Photography LLC is Official

I am THRILLED to announce that Jodi Stilp Photography LLC is officially launched.

Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement and support as I started this venture.

Please check out my website:

And read the back story of how God turned disaster into beauty.