Thursday, August 23, 2012

Photos and "noob" english

 While I am not taking "one photo per day", I do hope that by the end of the year, I'll have a collection of  366 photos that cover some (or maybe even most) of the high points of the year.

Here's a few more
155/366 Kelly and a friend went beach riding at the beginning of the summer.  I put this photo on the front of a photo album that I made for her friend.

157/366 On the first day of summer vacation, Toni and I took the girls out to the coast....

158/366 ...and this is the shot that I used on the photo album that I made for Carrie.

159/366 The constant wind makes flying a kite at the beach a real breeze (pardon the pun)

162/366 Squirty water park.  Kelly insists she's not going to get wet.

166/366 Skip leaves for summer camp.

168/366 Took Kelly and Nate camping on the beach during their first week of horse camp.

169/366 Kelly and her friends on the beach at sunset.  I always make them jump.  Heh.

Skip's on Day 2 of his senior year.  He's pretty much enjoying it.  Last night's "homework" was going over all the syllabi from all the courses, and having 'a parent or guardian discuss and sign" them.  Well, I couldn't let it go when his ENGLISH syllabus had, as part of the 'homework expectations' section...

"You should expect to have some homework two to three times.  Along with that, there are four novels to be read during the course of the year."

Hello?  Two to three TIMES?  You know I couldn't let that go.  Two to three times per what?  A week?  A day?  Each semester?  PER YEAR?

So I 'annotated' the syllabus.  Skip was alternately laughing and acting mortified.  I think the laughter eventually won out.  But, as he said "That's to be expected when you take "NOOB English"."

Yes, the child has ALL AP courses except for English.  Some day, he will want to write, and to become better at communicating, but that day is not now.  It's something he can pick up in College, and i have little doubt that a university communications class will be better at presenting what he needs, all things considered.

Ah... and at half-way to lunch time, Kelly and Nate start to stir.  Glad I got most of my work done for the day before 8am.  Today's the 'getting everything set up for school' day for them.  We're going through closets and drawers, and culling stuff that doesn't work for them.

And if I get adventurous, I might even take a back-hoe to the garage.  Ken's in negotiations for a replacement for The Purple Princess, which has served him well since 2001.  And it might be nice to be able to put the new steed in the garage until the new car smell has worn off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Because Disneyland came and went

 So did I mention that I chaperoned a band-and-chorus trip to Disneyland in April?
Maybe it was exhaustion from that that has kept me from writing with any regularity since then...
Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
So, the rule in our house (because I am a lazy bum, and cheap, and Ken REALLY doesn't like crowds) is that you ONLY get to go to Disneyland if you do music in school, and THEN, you only go to Disneyland on the Middle School Band Trip, which happens every other year.

Four years ago, I took Skip.

And from the day that he returned from that trip, Kelly has been counting the days until she would have her turn.
She was so excited that she painted her nails in anticipation of the trip.

Things got kind of dicey in the months leading up to the trip, when a bunch of girls told each other stuff 'in confidence' and then forwarded the email-train to all their friends, which then got in the hands of friends' mothers, which then got into my hands, when the moms realized the girls were talking smack about Kelly.

Um yeah.  So not cool.

But they worked through it, and by the time we left town, all was forgiven (though not forgotten.  Momma's got a memory like an elephant)


We stopped at an armpit of a rest-area along the 5, and one of *my* girls (each chaperone was responsible for 8 students) dropped her iPhone in the toilet of the restaurant we were eating at.


Of course, there was no dry rice to be found at any of the corner stores, and it was only after we were back on the freeway that I realized that the Mexican restaurant might have sold us dry rice, because they probably cook 100 pounds of it a day.


Fun times, but exhausting.  I hope I'm not too old in 4 years when it's Nate's turn to go to Disney.
Rides were fun!

The souvenir of choice for all the kids seemed to be Perry.

Kelly was pretty excited to play at Disney

I loved these little guys:

Mediaeval Times was a hoot!  Even if our yellow knight didn't win.

Eek.  First day of school today.  Forgot that I have to get Skip.

And on that note.  A moment of silence.
Today was his LAST "first day of school"

The days, they just fly past.

Friday, August 03, 2012

While he was gone. Part 2.

 Just to be clear... Ken *had* to go to Australia.  Secret can't-talk-about-it sort of stuff that keeps your online experience seamless.
Anyways.  he wasn't just tossing shrimps on the barbie and finding other words that were Australian for 'beer'. or anything.
And I like to think that we weren't lounging around here, either.
Nate had his Science Fair presentation.  The "Toaster Poster".

I was proud of him because you could tell that he did the whole thing himself.  Well, with a bit of help from Skip.
He also had his first flute concert.  I had a nasty seat, and not a really good angle on things.  But I was there.  And I tried to bring Ken in on a Google+ Hangout, but the Australian connectivity just stinks.  We tried the hangout (on our phones) to get Ken to see Skip's math awards, but he didn't see much between disconnects.

And!  And then!  His class performed "Gold Dust Or Bust", a musical about the Gold rush in California.  It was extremely cute.  I sat through BOTH performances.  And I pulled Kelly from class, so she could come in and be the make-up artist.

Such a cute show.  I still laugh, thinking about some of the numbers.
And Kelly's "Betsy Ross" dress from her 3rd grade biography project got another use.  Always good to see re-use of my efforts.

Oh, and I participated in a photo scavenger hunt on Google+.  One of the topics was "Horror", so I set up this in my little Hamster Studio.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

While he was gone. Part 1.

 So Ken went to Australia for three weeks with work.
They were three pretty busy weeks on the home front.
While he was gone...
Skip got a medal...

And an award...

And another one...

Um... and another...

And a second medal...

And a trophy...

(yeah, like you didn't already know his name wasn't Skip...)
On the way out to the car after the ceremony, he turned to me, while juggling the trophy, medal, and various award papers and pins.
"The sound that this medal makes when it clinks against the trophy is hurting my ears:

Yeah, first world problems, dude.  First world problems.

Mr. Nate's wild ride

 Another milestone.
Back in May, Nate decided that horses weren't scary after all, and agreed to go riding with Kelly.
He had a great time.

Kelly was very encouraging.  She wants to make sure that she has lots of possible riding companions.

It was a typical foggy coastal summer morning.  Good for riding.

And good for riding on the beach.


I think he'll be wanting to ride again.  It seems like it was a very empowering morning for him.

And when it was over, he asked if he could go to Horse Camp this summer.

My boy, he's growing up.  We can cross 'fear of horses' off of his list of foibles, that's for sure.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Les Nessman of Beetles

 Anyone here old enough to remember Les Nessman from the WKRP in Cincinnati days?

I always laugh when I remember the episode where he decided to do something special for the city at Thanksgiving, and dropped live turkeys from a helicopter, not realizing that they didn't fly.  It was horrifically funny, and I still laugh, just thinking about it.

Anyways, it reminds me that when you're working with animals, or with 'wild release', you better know all your animal facts.

All of them.


Nate's school is having a bunch of renovations done over the summer, and in the spring, leading up to the break, heavy equipment was moved onto campus, cyclone fences went up, and the preparation began for laying the footings for a number of new classrooms.  As part of the renovation, my friend Amanda's classroom was scheduled to be torn apart, and retrofitted over the summer.  In order for the work to continue apace, she was required to have Every Last Speck removed from the classroom by NOON on the last day of school.

This meant that she pretty much had to have everything packed and moved out by the last week of school, so I volunteered to bring in activities to keep the kids engaged while she finished packing up stuff that she would need to move into her new classroom (which won't be ready for her until 3 days before the first day of classes in the fall.  Nothing like cutting things close, there, school board).

The last day was a Friday, so I offered to bring in something fun to do for Thursday morning.

On Wednesday evening, I was out shopping, and found this giant tub of ladybugs at the garden supply store.  What a bonus!  I would bring in ladybugs, and we would all get to release ladybugs into the school garden on Thursday  morning.  I'd do a lesson about natural pest control, talk about Manty (our single remaining praying mantis) and what he does int he garden, and then we'd each take two or three lady bugs, and head out to the garden and set them free on flowers.

Um, yeah.  that was the plan.

I left the container of ladybugs in the van overnight, and it was a pretty chilly night (we got fog), so they were quite sluggish when I got into the van to drive the kids to school.  But by the time we got to school, I realized that they little beetles were starting to get quite active.  I needed sluggish ladybugs, I thought.  And refrigeration was the thing I needed.

I got into the classroom, and things were going pretty well. All the kids wanted to see the ladybugs, but I said that they were too active, so we needed to cool them off a bit, so I put them in the classroom refrigerator.   I then did a lesson about beneficial insects in the garden, and we talked about Manty, and what he would do in the garden.  And then, before we got ready to let Manty go, I took him around, and took his protrait with each of the kids.

Amanda's son also goes to the school, and he has some health issues.  One of those arose that morning, so she was called away for a 'brief emergency'.  I told her that I'd be fine with the kids, that I'd distribute the quiescent ladybugs, and we'd head out to the garden.  I mean, how hard could it be?  There were 20 kids, and they were all eager to see what I was up to.

So I had one girl pass out dixie cups to all the kids, and I said that I would be walking around and shaking out 4 or 5 'sleeping ladybugs' into each kid's cup.  Then we'd go by table-groups to the garden to release the beetles, while I took photos.


that was the plan.

I got the ladybug container out of the fridge, and opened it.  Most of the bugs were pretty slow, but there were a few around the edges that woke up fairly quickly.

I tapped 4 into the first cup, no problem.

The second cup, I got one ladybug into the cup before it flew away.  The activity level in the kids started ramping up, as they watched the ladybug fly around the room.  And then two of the beetles from the first cup got loose, and flew over to the floor at my feet.  One little boy jumped up to catch them, and stepped on one.  That made two girls scream, which then caused about a dozen beetles to take flight from the container (which I was now unable to close, because beetles were crawling... no, SEETHING over the edge of the opening, and putting the lid down would crush dozens.

There are now dozens of ladbugs aloft, and the kids are at chaos level ten.  The teacher's been called away, half the kids are freaking out that there are ladybugs in the air, and WHAT IF THEY LAND ON ME?  and then one girl shrieks because "I HAVE A BUG IN MY HAIR!!!!!" and more kids are upset because I haven't put beetles into their dixie cups yet.

And the hub-bub starts to build, and the bugs are surging out of the container and up my arm, and THAT was when I realized something...

Ladybugs BITE.


When they are trying to hold on, or perhaps when they feel stressed?  They just hunker down, and hold on... WITH THEIR MANDIBLES.

And that was the last thing I wanted to let this group of rapidly-becoming-frantic kids know.
Yes, kids.  Those swarms of red and black things swirling around your heads and landing in your hair by your face?  THEY BITE!

So I made an executive decision... we would not be waiting for the teacher, or for the aide.  We were beating it out to the garden.  Get in a line, kids, and don't worry if your dixie cup is empty.  We were going to RELEASE THE LADYBUGS!

We ran, more than walked.  And I didn't have a chance to do much photography.

The kids were swirling around me, pushing forward to get more bugs, and the ladybugs were flying towards kids faces, and I lost count, so I didn't know if I had all the kids I started with or not, and then...

An aide showed up wtih a kindergarten class.  "The teacher had an emergency, and told me to take the kids into Amanda's class, that she'd look after them for a while.  We saw the class coming to the garden, so I just followed.  I need to go tell her where I've gone."

Um, yeah.  A full second grade class, AND a full kindergarten class (with kids that I didn't really recognize), AND three hundred ladybugs that wouldn't unclench their jaws from my arm.

But slowly the chaos receded, and the ladybugs released their grips and flew off.  And the kids scooped ladybugs off of my arms with their dixie cups, and went  to the various plants and flowers and helped them find new homes, and asked me about the various flowers and learned stuff, and soon the teacher returned, and the kindergarteners got collected, and I could breathe...

Note to self.

Next year?  Freeze those little suckers first.