Sunday, August 31, 2008

Photography Class

I'm taking a photography class on Saturday mornings and am saddened by how much harder it is to take pictures in manual mode. I totally suck! By the time I get the freaking thing set to take a picture, my subject wanders out of the frame. I have to find a reptile house and practice on some turtles.

This one would have been good if Isabella wasn't all blurry.

That one might have been good if the main subject wasn't see-through. Fortunately the big pile of dirty laundry in the background came through a little better.

I kind of like this one of her lying in the grass.

Here's a lovely one of my blue son. He looks almost as blue as he did in the newborn picture that Andrew emailed to everyone in my Yahoo adress book.

Just a friendly suggestion to any husbands out there-- if you're going to email a picture of your blue child to everyone you know, at least mail the one that doesn't make your wife look like a sumo wrestler.

Isabella's little belly and pained expressions make me laugh.

Here are a few of Anderson so he doesn't think I love Isabella more than him.

I think this tutu is really funny. I can't stop taking pictures of her in it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Flashback Friday

Can you believe it is Friday already? I'm anxious for Monday as I'm looking forward to having the kiddos come back to school. It's always so much fun to see how tall each student has gotten and how much they've grown up over the summer.

In honor of back to school, I searched high and low for the the goofiest picture of myself that I can remember from my elementary school years. But do you think I could find it? Of course not. I had it on display at my 40th birthday bash and I can't find any of those pictures. I know I have them ..... but it's anybody's guess where they might be. But trust me, I was a goofy looking kid and you would have had a good chuckle when you saw it. Instead, you get the picture that ran in the Alliance Times-Herald on March 11, 1975 and I'll just have to describe the other one.

The previous week-end I had just won third place in the city spelling bee. Mrs. Christensen, whom I thought was wonderful, took my picture and made up an entire bulletin board in the hallway just for me. Obviously I hadn't bothered to brush my hair when I went to school, but that didn't matter to her. She took two Polaroids, gave me one and put the other one up for everyone to see. I was a mighty proud kid.

I'll have you know that I beat Brenda Applegate (names have not been changed in order to protect the innocent) in order to compete. That alone was worth everything because she was sure she was going to represent Grandview, but then to have Mrs. Christensen make such a big deal out of it was just icing on the cake.

That was over thirty years ago and I still know what word knocked me out: sombrero. I spelled it s-o-m-b-r-e-b-r-o. I got to go on to districts in Arthur. Grandma Lou and Mom took me down. I was so nervous. Either Grandma or Mom gave me something to "calm" me down, but all it did was make me really sick ... puking sick. We took a written test and the top spellers went on .... can you believe I missed beret? What is it with hats? Needless to say, I didn't go on to state but I had a heck of a good time. I even got new Snoopy socks to wear for the occasion. I also got a new skirt, but let me tell you, I wasn't the least bit excited about that. It was pretty ugly, but my socks weren't. They were nifty. Just like my hair style.

1975 must have been the year of the nifty socks. Check out those skinny legs and wild socks!

This was taken in South Dakota when Grandma Lou and Great-Aunt Ann took Cousin Lori and myself on a vacation. At one point we ended up in Wyoming because Grandma and Aunt Ann were talking and missed a turn. They took us to Ardmore where they grew up and bored us to death, so we retaliated with Flintstone Park.

But let's end on a good picture: my first day of kindergarten and of course I had to wear a dress with pretty plain socks. It seems that I used up my quota of dress wearing by the time I was 10. Sad, really. I seemed to have used up my cute quotient by the age of 10 as well. Must have something to do with the socks. Hmmmm ........

Thursday, August 28, 2008

As Ready As We're Going To Be

We are now as ready as we're going to be for the first day of classes.
We get to have a student teacher during the spring semester.
She'll visit our room for a week to observe.  
I'm glad she'll get in on the first day of school.

This will be her first impression of our room.
Of course the tables will be clear .... for about twenty minutes before the
the children arrive.  Then again next summer when we close up our room.

Most people ask why our classroom is in the library.
It's an honest mistake.
They just don't recognize tubs of math
manipulatives when they see them.

This is our science section.  We spent two days cleaning it out.
We have cool things in it ..... varmint skulls, rodent skeletons, bird nests,
crawdad exoskeletons, spider egg sacs, rocks, magnifying glasses, microscopes
and all sorts of other really cool stuff to pique their curiosity.

The map is going to track postcards that 
we receive from around the country.  
If anyone is willing to send us a postcard, please let me know! 
We want to try to get one from all 50 states and at least five countries.

This is our main meeting area.
That is a brand new white board.
Our district rocks.
Of course, it would rock even more 
if that were a smart board, but we're not complaining!

This is right next to the meeting area.  The boxes on the shelf
are book boxes.  Each box contains 15-18 "just-right" books for a child. 
It also has a response journal.  The kids work on these books and write 
down their thoughts and reactions.  Once they feel that they can 
read a title fluently, they can trade it in and choose another. 

The section in the left side of the picture is our social studies and puzzle 
area.  You wouldn't believe how our kids love jigsaw puzzles!
 Grandma Pam has something to do with that.


Our room is L-shaped and so we have a map in this section
for those times when we split the class and do Social Studies separately.
Directly in front of the map is an aquarium with Adisa in it.
Meet Adisa, our African fat-tailed gecko.
 Isn't he just the most handsome devil?

He's an excellent teaching tool when we talk
about camouflage and animal defenses.

Can you tell which end is the head and which is the tail?

This is our new aquarium.
Directly behind the aquarium is our desk area.
With any luck it too will be clear by Tuesday at 8:05 a.m.
Don't hold your breath.

This is our Language Arts section.
The bright cards on the wall are a program called Mountain Language.
To the left is our biography section and to the right is our reference section.
We like books.
We really like books.
Lots and lots of books.
6,685 to be exact.
Of course, that doesn't include the eight boxes 
that are stacked in the bird room at home.
Or the crate in the back of my CR-V.  
Or the one next to my computer. 
Or the one .... 

This is our east wall.  We have books on every wall.
These are our poetry books.
Under that are supplies. 
And our glue.
Lots and lots of glue.
We don't like glue nearly as well as we like books, but when you order
14 glues without reading the fine print, you tend to receive 14 cases of glue.
Kids don't even eat glue like they used to.

We are pretty darn proud of our room.
Stop in and see us if you're in the neighborhood.

Our Staycation

Andrew's boss learned the word "Staycation" a few weeks ago and couldn't stop talking about it. I guess he mentioned the word about twenty times that day, so I thought we'd try it since we're hanging around Sacramento anyway.

On the first day of our exciting adventures we headed off to Old Town Sacramento.

Only a handful of people asked us for money which isn't too bad.

(I actually don't mind sharing a couple of bucks now and then because I remember all of the rejection I received when I had to sell campfire candy and always promised myself to be nicer to salespeople/beggars/etc. when I got older.

But a couple of summers ago, I was parked in the overflow parking lot at the grocery store and this weird guy came up behind me when I was trying to buckle Isabella into her car seat. He handed me a note that said "I need money".

I was totally freaked out because I couldn't grab Isabella and run away because she was already in her car seat and he was standing right in the door so I couldn't get into the front seat. I wasn't sure if he was like trying to mug me or something or if he was just homeless and wanted a dollar so I ended up shoving a bag of groceries at him and I got in the car and drove away. But ever since then, I have this creepy beggar phobia, especially when I'm with the kids.)

Anyway, having averted near death while exiting the parking garage, we headed over to the most popular summer event in all of California . . . the farmer's market. Isabella scored a free dahlia just for looking cute. I was going to flash the melon guy a glimpse of Anderson to see if we could score a Ruby Bella (have you tried those? They're really good.) but I didn't want to lug a five pound melon around with us the rest of the afternoon, so we stuck with the free flower instead.

Next we walked down to the river and looked at the Delta Queen.

(Which incidentally is where Andrew and I had our bachelor/bachelorette party -- if you want to call if that -- I wouldn't call it that myself, especially since the announcer guy told the entire audience at their dinner theater that anyone going there for their pre-wedding bash was totally lame.) But if you're not into drinking or watching strippers where else are you going to go? Denny's? The Library? Why not a floating murder mystery dinner theater?)

Then we headed off to see the trains. Why do pre-schoolers like trains so much? What's the attraction?

If I could go the rest of my life without reading another train story, I would . . . do something . . . I'm not sure what. But it would be big like giving up coffee or selling my soul to the devil or seling amway or something. I'll have to think about it.

We also went to a birthday party during our exciting Sacramento vacation. It was a pool party which was very fun for the kids but not as much fun for me because I didn't plan on going into the pool.

I think anderson really wants a dog. He just stared and stared at their dog. Poor Shasta sat there thinking if one more toddler comes over and looks at me or pulls my tail, I'm going to try them out as a chew toy.

After the party, we came home and took a bath. Isabella likes to play beauty parlor and tries to help wash Anderson's hair.

I think he likes it.

On Sunday, Tara and Dave had us over for another pool party.

But this time we also got to wear fancy hats. Actually they are popcorn bowls, but they make much better hats. The boy in blue is Shannon's baby Luke. He is two months younger than Anderson. So they'll have a lot of fun causing mayhem together when they are teenagers.

Yesterday we went to Sonoma. I wanted to take some pictures of the vineyards but a lot of them had nets over the grapes. I don't know what that's about.

We stopped at this artsy garden place just to see what it was like. They had some cool lilly pads and water lillies.

Isabella really liked these cows.

they also had this big blue sculpture that we could see from the road. I thought it was supposed to be a giant piece of coral, but it's actually a tree that died, but the owner didn't want to chop it down. So he covered it in hundreds of blue Christmas bulbs instead. It's called Blue Tree.

This statue was like $2,000. I'm not sure why. I just tried to leave a wide berth around it while pushing the double stroller.

All in all we've had a pretty good staycation, but I would rather be in Spain.

Quilt Show

Last Saturday when we went to Longmont, we took in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival at The Ranch in Loveland. It was a national show and there were over 500 quilts, dolls, garments and accessories. Hoffman Fabrics has an annual challenge in which quilters design masterpieces using a focus fabric. This years fabric was an Asian print that featured peacocks.

The interesting thing about quilt shows is that you always think of people and things when you see certain quilts. This quilt hanging reminded me of my cat Willowby, the mighty, mighty June bug hunter.

There were quilts that reminded me of everyone:
Sister Three had a stint as a hot air balloon chaser
so naturally I thought of her when I saw this quilt.
She sent me this photo in 1999. I still love it.
Wouldn't it make a great poster?

Whenever I think of Nicki or Andrew, I always think of Anderson and Isabella. Someday I'll get Izzy's alphabet quilt quilted and Anderson's continent quilt pieced together. I wasn't crazy about the little boy sleeping, but I loved the dreams that he was dreaming and I imagine that Anderson will have some of those same dreams.
Isn't it fitting that it has a hot air balloon as well?
Frog Legs is on there as well.
Teddy bears always make me think of Izzy.
I don't know why, but they do.
I thought this quilt was really cool
but I sure wouldn't have wanted to appliqué all of the bees.

The only way this quilt could have reminded me more of
Sister Two is if it had been hung by a quilt with a cow on it!

There weren't very many patriotic quilts displayed,
which is pretty unusual. However, this is one I would
have liked to have been able to share with my class.
One of the standards that we have to teach is
patriotic symbols, their origins and meanings.
Wouldn't this be cool way to introduce them?
Can anyone guess which animal is Krista's favorite?
The African animals were plentiful this year. This quilt had more giraffes, but I think the one above it is much more magnificent.

Then of course, there were the elephants. In fact, this elephant was the first quilt I saw and of course, Aunt Sue came to mind immediately. Once upon a time she collected elephants and made the mistake of saying this out loud. For the next few years, she got elephants of all sizes and shapes. I wish I were talented enough to create this for her --- whether or not she still collects them! I was just in awe of this.

I'd be happy to produce a quilt such as this Tumbling Block.
I have the pattern, but I haven't attempted it yet.

Maybe next summer.

Or the next. Or maybe the one after that.

There weren't many frogs on quilts, but this one definitely
made me think of Frog Legs! I still think her froggy quilt
is better even if the frogs were only done with the thread.

My friend Traci really liked lions.

Or maybe it was tigers.
Whatever it was, she would have loved these!
Here's another quilt I would like to try someday .... with different colors. I love this style of quilt, but I hate working with curved pieces. I would love to do a Mariner's Star, but I don't have the faintest idea of how to begin. Maybe I'll find a quilt retreat that is offering a class some summer. A quilt retreat in a tropical paradise. Or on a Greek island. Yeah, right. I'll probably just watch The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Mama Mia while I sew in my living room! That's probably as close to Greece as I'll get.
On a side note, I went and saw Mama Mia again last night. It was just as good the second time around. I seriously considered going again tonight.

My class room theme is oceans this year.
This turtle would fit right in.
Okay, so it's not a sea turtle. It looks more like Lucky Randolph
who moved back to school yesterday. Into a brand new aquarium
twice the size of his old one. No one can believe how much he has grown.

This is probably what I'll feel like a week from Monday.
No! I don't want to go back to school! And you can't make me!
Actually, I'm getting really anxious for the kids to start back.
We had a little guy come in yesterday .... only he isn't so little anymore.
He must have grown three inches over the summer!

Actually, this is how I'll look:

You know school is about to begin when
quilts begin reminding me of people from school.

Anjelica loves pandas.

Hunter loves penguins.

Of course I won't have these guys this year. They were mine
for four years. Now they belong to Loni.

Loni is crazy about paper cranes.

My friend and former teaching partner, Julie, would have loved this quilt:

By the way these quilts with the animals on them are not panels --- they are either pieces of material pieced together to make the images of the animals or else painted and dyed fabric.
Mom would have liked this chickadee. It was for sale,
but there wasn't a price listed. What does that tell us?
The back is as incredible as the front.
And the picture doesn't begin to do it justice.

She would have liked the swan quilt as well.
Too bad I didn't get a good picture of it.
However, this one made me think of her.
After we put up her shutters we had watched
the movie Dragonfly and so now I think of that time
whenever I see something with a dragonfly on it.

This one was done by a fourteen year old. Unbelievable.
I could live to be a hundred and fourteen and
I wouldn't be able to produce something like this!

This one was by a first time entrant.
This was one of the overall winners.
Here's a shot of the dolls. They were quite unique.
Some close-ups of them:
Dolls aren't my thing. Never have been --- unless you count the Barbie heads I lined up on the back fence and shot with my slingshot. But these just catch you ---- the detailing is incredible and you wonder just how long it must take to make something like that.

There were beautiful quilts ... front and back.
But you have to love a quilt with some humor!
Information Retrieval System

Fabric Approval Department

I'm just plain crazy when I'm in a space with lots of people.
There were lots of people at the show.

Even male type people.
Of course, I think he was there with the missus.
He doesn't look overly excited does he?
Even with all of the people, it was worth attending!