Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yes, A First for Me

Today was the last official teacher day with three, oh my, three professional developments, and I did something I've never done before.  I signed my contract for next year, signed off on my evaluation and closed the door- done, finished, over.
Report cards- done
Permanent records- done
Everything off the floor- done
done, done and more done!
Usually I have to be there putzing at something for days after the official days are over.  When people comment about teacher's having all summer off, I have to laugh.  I've never known having a whole summer off.  I suppose I never will.
After my wonderful parent/student send-off on Friday, today  left me a bit down.
The only thing that every comes up in my evaluation is my room.  Though it notes that the students are completely at ease, know where everything is, and are right at home, it is too cluttered for the powers that be.   What's so interesting about that is how hard I work to make it not cluttered. I'm just no good at it- a dismal failure I fear. Also, my whole teaching persona is about providing a structure with room to pop out all over.  Take those last animals we made.  I could say, "We're going to make gorillas and here is three kinds of yarn, period, the end."  I can't do it.  It could be a gorilla, a lion, a baboon, an orangutan,  a lion monkey, or a snow monkey, and if you have a another idea, let's here it.  Gardner E or I will be going to fetch the  yarn for your good idea and, in fact, applaud you for it.   If each of those require a minimum of four skeins of yarn, well, you do the math. That's a lot of balls of yarn.  In addition there are twenty-two weaving boards, embroidery needles, and for a time it is all out on the one table I have for such things.  You are probably shaking your head, wondering why it might be a problem.  This particular project is very involved, still, I had a kid finish in less than two weeks. Most of the kids finished over four weeks, but two never finished over many weeks.  I simply am not capable of leaving that first Speedy Gonzales with time on his hands, so next project.  The next project was tetrahedron kites that require string, straws, rubber cement, cardboard templates and tissue paper.  To further complicate matters, they are also doing the musical, bringing in props and costumes left and right, working on their state project, and making cards with unlimited use of construction paper, etc. for whomever we love that is sick or in need of a card.  Well, that likely gives you the general idea.  
I guess it makes me sad because I can't fix it.
Well, anyway, I'll think of that another day.
Today, I'm going to think about all the days I have to spend with this little sweet boy and his "hooter."

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Sad So Long

When I found out last summer that my request had been granted and I would loop with the four graders and move with them to fifth  I knew that the end of school would be an emotional one.
When you loop, there really is not a beginning of school when you spend three weeks getting to know the kids and them getting to know you. You just jump in where you left off.
From the start, this was an unusual class.  High readers, great math brains, talents out the wahzoo, but rather non-plussed by it all.  I don't believe I've ever taught a class where there were so few attitudes and such a work ethic.  I wondered if that would change as we moved further into adolescence.  Really it didn't.
That classed walked the total son deployment from beginning to end with me and prayed for that child of mine every day.
I always take pictures throughout the year and keep a big portfolio of their work.  Those last few days of school, we take the  pictures and make scrapbook pages for their portfolios.  The ones that related to 1st Lt. were so sweet.
Well, teachers usually get Christmas and end of school gifts.  I never have any idea what will turn up.  Once a little girl gave me a Hallmark Charlie Brown tree, but said the ornament, you know there is only one, got broken.  Of course, I put it up in class immediately and told her we'd find an ornament. She brought that in early for a class decoration.  The last day before break, I'm opening presents and I come to a little round shape wrapped up and it was one solitary round ornament, you know that come in a box of twelve.  How grateful I was for that Charlie Brown tree because I was able to make a really big deal about what an absolute perfect gift it was for our tree missing it's littlest ornament. You have to love those God incidents. You see, a preschooler could bring you a blade of grass, and if you coo over it, the child and all the class will think it the best gift ever.  It's harder as they get older. Even though we make over every gift, if you're trumping something up, they know it.  I knew that fellow grabbed that ornament, probably one of their own, to have something to give and it turned out to be perfect and will grace that little pine twig as long as I have it.
 Last year, they surprised me, if you remember, with bags and bags of everything imaginable to send to 1st. Lt.  I mailed him goodies throughout his entire deployment from those bags.  Well, I knew they couldn't top that, so I hadn't given it any thought.  That gift was enough for both years.
As they started trickling in Friday morning, first one child and then another brought a gift.  A vase of flowers, a Paris tote bag, a flowery desk set, cards and gift cards, umm and some grown-up drink that I favor, hidden in an insulated bag.  It was such a busy day, I hoped I'd have time to look them over with them before they left.
We have awards right after lunch. It last two hours.  Not only do we give the last of honor roll, etc. Each of us teachers give an award to each of our students based on a special talent, skill or personality trait.
Well, right before awards, in walks several parents with a gift bag.
First, I pulled out this funny pencil that holds chalk.  Then a big box of chalk. I'm thinking the theme is a bag of summer toys for the gramerlings-sweet.
 I looked too long at the chalk pencil, so to urging, I pulled out this pig.  How adorable.  I'm little slow, I didn't get it.  The kids said, " It's a chalk pig, you can write on it."  Cuteness.
 Then, "Look on the other side."  How fun.  I could hear change rolling around in there and thought the kids must have brought some change to put in the pig.  I loved it.
 Then a parent said that there was more than coins inside.  I told them we'd already been saving change to give to our new gramerling's adoption fund.  Rae and Michael found a place that would match up to 1500 dollars, if they could raise it.  Tears of course. Lands I cried all day.

When I got  home, I was quite astounded at what I found in that pig.  In addition to the new gramerlings, the old gramerlings will get a zip-line added to Pappy's tree fort.  Wow!

It was a clever and precious gift and I appreciate the talent, creativity,  and each contributor behind it.

And these cards are priceless to me.

I will love my next class, and I hope each class thereafter, but this class will always hold a special  place in my mind and heart.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Blackberry Winter

Beautiful Memorial Day Weekend we're having here, but cool.  I was freezing when I woke up this morning, but it was wonderfully perfect for yard work.  Blackberries are blooming all over, making for some happy bee girls.
I lived through the end of the school year, thank the Lord, but it was touch and go for awhile there.  I don't have a stop button. I do too much, planning to simply faint when it's over, but when the musical was over, I had to go to camp and it was ninety degrees and 2 miles between every activity, then home at midnight and back to work the next day.  So very much around here goes a begging under such circumstances, so back to that overwhelming feeling.
Well, it's done.
No pictures, as my battery is dead and the charger has gone awol.  Anyhoo, a look into Harmony Hive this afternoon did not disappoint- 15 combs, two of capped honey.  Lots of drone comb.  Girls, do you realize how many men that is to feed? Just saying.

Playing in the tree fort with Bean and Bugg, just "tetching."  Which is what Bean used to call sketching.  We spied, with our little eye (actually, Pappy did), a pileated woodpecker, which we observed chipping wood with some interest.  Later, Bugg said, "I think I'll draw that laminated woodpecker."

A special gift from a special class, but that will have to wait until the charger is found and the battery up to snuff.  Is there a charger for me I wonder?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend.
Happy Birthday to the Handy Man.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Well, It was Bound to Happen

 There she is. My first bee sting.  I knew it was bound to happen.  That Langstroth hive is grouchy.  I came home for a bit Saturday between dress rehearsal and the big opening night of our fifth and six grade musical.  It was supposed to rain all day, but the bees were out in droves.  I needed to put an empty frame in the middle of the brood chamber, just as I'd done with the Top Bar Hive earlier in the week.  The hope is the bees would be busy drawing out that frame, and the queen mum laying eggs left and right, so the next deep full of empty frames that I put on the top would get filled with honey, not brood.   I did the Top Bar Hive one evening without gloves or hat and veil and without incident.  These bees were after me as soon as the cover came off.  Thankfully, I did have the smoker going well.  I also had my alcohol pad so after being stung once, I could remove the "danger, danger, Will Robinson" scent that little mean sister would be issuing, keeping a multitude of hit bees from coming after me.  I did manage to get the frame in, but those stinky bees are just no fun.  Now, I feel worried about their location and all my gramerlings.  I told Handy Man, we may be moving that hive way up the hill. It's sad to have to requeen when she's laying so well, but a mean queen has mean offspring, so she might just have to go.

This has simply been an exhausting week.  Of course, the kids were adorable, and did a great job on stage, but the back stage job, with  a couple of middle school guys,  required all the good graces I could muster and very seriously taxed my joy.  The chicklets on the other hand were  a dream.  It's sad, because most my boys were also wonderful. It is interesting how a couple of bad attitudes can affect the whole lot isn't it?

Oh My JOY!
 Most of the week was all work, I fear, but Bugg and I turned work into play as she most joyfully helped me make the mints for the Opening Night VIP table .
You know, we're still on Coyote vigil here, so the boys were looking at weapons.  Whilst we were working she asked, "Where are the boys?"  I replied, "Oh, out looking at guns."  She heaved, "Aren't you glad we're girls, so we don't have to out hunting?"  Then, " I bet we're going to make more of these next week, pink ones, because you know I love pink."  Hating to bust her bubble, I tried to explain, 
"Well, after I've made these for two hours, I'm not usually too excited about making them again real soon." Her response, "Well, I'm always excited about eating them."
I make these mints in my classroom every year for the Mother's Day Tea. I have kids who just cannot grasp the idea of the size and how to gently pat them in the mold.  She was rolling them out like pro. She's a wonderful chef assistant.
Now it's off to camp for me, yipee!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

LIsten Up Wee Bee Girls

So, still fending off coyotes, but thankfully no more possums.  Another gander through the hives reveals a top bar busting out all over with twelve combs in comparison to the Langstroth hive which only has five. So all is well, full, and busy until I get to this third to the end and find what is known as a cross comb.  A comb built near another one, not in a nice line like we like them.  So, I carefully cut it out, lift it up, brush off the bees and........

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh a queen cell, which predicts an upcoming swarm which makes me want to cuss a little.
So, I took the divider out and tomorrow I'll get back in there and open up the area in the brood combs with an empty top bar,  hoping to convince them that there is still lots of expansion room and to

Miss SuZQ has to have radiation after all, Handy Man has a new manager who is managing to cause him a lot of grief, which hurts my heart and my car is making a very unpleasant noise.  Oh, life.

Joy, joy, joy, where are you?


Ah, yes! The humble beginnings of a tree fort, so whether we be pirates,or fairies, there's a hideout.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Trouble in the Mind

My kiddos are knee deep in practice for The Little Mermaid. I'm reminded this evening of Sebastian's line, "Child, you got trouble in the mind?"
All week the eggs have gotten less and less.  I asked Handy Man what he thought the trouble might be. He said when he switched the light to red for the new babies, he thought that wasn't enough light to keep the girls going.
Today, as I was swinging Buttercup, it occurred to me that I was not hearing the cockle doodle dooing I usually here from a very vocal Mr. Sunshine.  So I started looking around. Hmm, Mr. Sunshine was gone.  So I started looking closer, Henny Penny, gone, Owlie, gone.  Seven chickens gone and by 5:30 a coyote standing in the drive ready for supper.  Ugghh, makes me sick.

Then Handy Man goes out to feed the dog where the food is kept in a completely enclosed back porch and look what he pulls out. EWWWWWWW.  Maybe I am not such a farm girl after all.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Grape Roast

My Bean loves to light candles. This evening he decided he'd like to try to roast a grape.
Of course, Bugg wanted to join in on the experiment. 
She was loving it and all giggly fun, when....

 oops, a lost grape. That expression is hysterical.  Later, she said roasting then waxing her grape was her "technique."
I put a new bar between two combs in the top bar hive last week and this week, look at this thing- amazing, again.

My little Giddy-up came to visit Sunday.  He too is fascinated by the bees and can't figure out why he can't hold them. Pappy had to get in there and get a dead one for him to hold.
He has a pet name for me, he looks at me slyly and says, "Rotten Butt."  Don't ask, I don't know, but coming from a barely two year old it's plenty funny to me.
As all the end of the year hoopla builds day by day, I so love me some joyful things.
I'm about to have a big joy. Stay tuned for my Mother's Day present- woo, hoo!
Oh, I nearly forgot to include another joy. My sister and my cousin Debbie dropped by for a visit.  Debbie hadn't been here before. It was so lovely to have her and Auntie G-Lou for a wee bit.
My poor Mama took a tumble and had to get some stitches in her head yesterday.  She's feeling a bit beat up today.  Hope she finds some joy.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Rainy Derby Day

I've no doubt the bees are grouchy on this coolish, very wet Derby Day. Likely a sentiment shared by all the infielders and the beautifully dressed getting those shoes muddy, but for me, it is a delightful kind of day.  Last week was so crazy, leaving me feeling more like a puppet, being yanked hither and yon by state testing.  I did haul my students to our school creek, which actually feeds into my own for some exploration, sunshine and just fun.  It took no prompting on my part.
 This picture cracks me up.  This little guy loves, loves, loves to dress up.  Before uniforms were required in K-6th grade, he wore a suit most days of his wee preschool and pre-K life.  For our creek outing, they were supposed to bring scrappy play clothes to change into, as you can imagine what they look like after they've "accidentally" fallen a few times.
Well, this is his play clothes.  And they looked when he walked out like they looked when he went in.
Yes, crack up.
 After an hour of play an collecting critters, we tried to identify every thing we found.  Such interesting life under those rocks.


My ownest little bit of paradise- our creek.
Great Uncle Tim provided the entertainment for the wee folk.  Between Bugg's self applied eye make-up and chocolate face, she looks a bit ghoulish, but took her paddling quite seriously.

 Since our favorite Gramerly music this season is "Can You Canoe" by the Okie Dokie Brothers, this was a most exciting adventure.
 The water wasn't quite deep enough to accomplish much, but a fabulous experience all the same.
Whilst Gwanfader commandeered the boat traffic, the Pappy-O had to manage photography.
I was too busy you see. Swee-tee's mama came to play and brought along our newest little mister and I had to smooch him whilst the others were canoeing and creekin'.
The end of my Playdate evening was spent with Bugg in the garden, showing a little budding botanist all the sprouting plants, and checking bluebird houses.  She never tires of gardening.  Then I knew that just around the bend are some long and restful summer days as she slipped in the swing and flew in the breeze while I serenaded her with our favorite swinging songs.
Today, I planted shrubs for the bees just before a soft rain arrived to settle them in.  I took my Handy Man repaired car to pick up our farm fresh Greek yogurt and milk, enjoyed an overdue pedicure with my sister, travelled to an a bit out of the way nursery for bedding plants and heirloom tomatoes and pulled the big 40% off Derby Day sale ticket, had  lunch out with my sweetheart, a nap and now coffee.  I am a Derby winner on all counts!