Friday, July 30, 2010

Playing with Ice Blocks

We haven't been doing a lot of "schoolwork" the past month. This is one activity they enjoyed recently, however. I froze plastic toys in bowls of water. (I had to freeze them in layers since most of my toys floated.) I gave the kids spray bottles of water, squirt guns, eye droppers with a small bucket of water, and little hammers & chisels, etc. This kept them busy for a good hour and a half! I got my house clean, and they had lots of fun. When I do this again, I think I will use new toys to add another exciting element to it.

Toward the end, they resorted to crashing their remaining chunks of ice against the driveway. Which was enough fun in itself. Read about what other families are doing with their "preschoolers" and siblings at Preschool Corner, hosted by Homeschool Creations.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mommy's Piggy Tales: 6th Grade

6th Grade...honestly, every time I sit down to write one of these "chapters," I think, "I'm going to keep it really short this time." It ends up being so difficult to abbreviate. Believe it or not, these are the abbreviated versions of my years. I fear it will only get worse as the timeline progresses, and my memories increase.

I did not get the teacher I wanted for 6th grade. (Again, I'm sure she's a lovely person. These are just my 11 year old thoughts.) She was very strict, and we thought she was "mean." (Update: this is what I found I'd written in my diary: She's okay, I guess. She things of good projects to do. But if you do something bad, she'll make you feel really low and embarrassed...She even bawled Sarah out the other day for no reason, which surprised everyone.) I do remember, though, that she had a lot of fun ideas. And I usually completed my assignment first so she, like all of my other teachers, let me write reports, etc. for extra credit.

This was Mrs. B's discipline policy. If we broke a rule at all, she would look at us fiercely and say, "Do you want a verbal warning?" If we got a verbal warning, we missed out on the cooking project at the end of the week. It was really a great system, I admit. It was just scary! We did not want her to give us that look and use that voice, and the cooking projects were so fun! We got to make things like pudding and English muffin pizzas, etc.

I think I only got a verbal warning once. Erin didn't have her spelling words finished before recess. I gave her my spelling words I'd already finished for the next day. The plan was for her to hand it in with her name on it, then do her own and replace it later before Mrs. B saw it. Well, she saw it, recognized my handwriting, gave us both verbal warnings, and made us both do more spelling words. I loved Erin dearly, but I think she probably "helped" get me into trouble more than once.

Oh, yeah! Mrs. B also made us hold our pencil "the right way." If she caught us holding it incorrectly, she would say, “If I see you holding your pencil wrong again, you’re getting a verbal warning!” I know she meant well, but as soon as the year was over, I went back to holding it the way I had always held it and have ever since.

The top picture of me was taken on the first day of 6th grade. Our pictures went into our "time capsule," along with these index cards we filled out.

I devoured books. These are the names of the books I read just during the summer before 6th grade. (The list also continues on the back!) My mom took us every week to the Republic Library.

I'm not sure if the Unicorn Club started in the 5th or 6th grade. I was obsessed with unicorns and had a whole unicorn "collection," consisting of figurines, music boxes, posters, etc.

The club actually started as the G.I.L.W.B. Club. Any ideas as to what that stands for? "Girls In Love With Boys." I didn't think of the name; I'm sure Erin did. We had sleepovers and meetings at recess, and apparently "every 5th day in a month," we selected new officers. :) It was serious business. We continued to do a lot of toilet papering houses, snipe hunting, and prank calling. We also watched a lot of horror movies - yikes - but not at my house! I remember watching Rags to Riches (I loved that show!) at Tammy's house. We all agreed to be Chris J.'s joint "secret admirer," and we inundated him with attention.

I had my first (Unicorn Club) sleepover at my house! My sister Cary wrote a note and slid it under my bedroom door. It said something like, "If you need anything, I can be your maid!" That makes me smile so much.

We also had a gigantic crush on Chad, an 8th grader, who recently moved to our town. His parents bought a local mercantile, and looking back on it, I wonder was he even cute? But we were convinced he was, and at recess, we would sit as close to the junior high doors as we were allowed so that we could smile at him when he walked outside to the next building. Then we'd also stand and wait for him to come out of the building after school. We sometimes called him and asked him who he liked. He was tall and had longer, wavier hair than most of the boys. I wrote in my diary that I was so mad at him because on the phone and at the mercantile he would talk to me and joke around, but at school he ignored me because I was only in the 6th grade.

Uh...yeah...authentic 1987...

Sunday Night Dedications on the radio station Rock 99 were a big deal at the time. I always listened to them in my room and had a blank tape in my sterio, ready to push the record button whenever a good song came on. And it was fun to listen for any names we recognized. (Ryan B. dedicated Next Time I Fall in Love by Peter Cetera to me in the 4th grade.) Well, once when I was in junior high, there happened to be a dedication from "Jenny to Chad in Crane" - Should've Known Better by Richard Marx. Everyone assumed I did it for Chad, but I promise I didn't. I even went up to him in the hall and said, "That dedication wasn't from me." He totally smirked and said, "Right..." I was so embarrassed.

I was, once again, on a basketball team in the 6th grade. This was us after we won 2nd place at the Galena Tournament. We were actually pretty good. I'm the last one on the front row. I wore the smooth stone necklace from my Granny's house every game underneath my shirt. It was the only sort of good-luck charm I ever had.

Deanna, Me, Erin, and Tammy

We took a field trip at the end of the year to the skating ring in Springfield. The girls had the DJ dedicate Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name to the "6th grade boys from the 6th grade girls."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mommy's Piggy Tales: 5th Grade

I missed recording 5th grade last week because we were in Dallas. Catchin' back up now...

I felt a little sentimental about turning 10 (which is the age of my oldest son now!). My Mom sat on my bed in my dark room the night before my birthday and said, “How do you feel? It’s your last night before double digits. You’ll never have 1 number in your age again!” Reminds me of how I felt just turning 35…

5th grade was a time of big changes for me. I started playing the flute in the band (which I absolutely loved during that year and for the next 7 years). By now I had gotten my ears pierced. I hit puberty. I got my first perm. And I went shopping for my first bra.

I did not always like the fact that I was the oldest girl in my family, and all of this had to happen to ME first. Mom took me to buy a training bra at Sears on the mall. I remember my little sisters giggling and teasing me, trying to peek in the dressing room. My Mom would say, "Leave your sister alone." And I was just really embarrassed that I knew my Dad knew I was going to buy a bra. I think for the first week or two I wore a sweatshirt everyday to school so that no one could see I was wearing a bra. The boys at school would always come up behind girls and grab their shirts to flip their bra straps. I'm sure that could be some sort of lawsuit today.

This was taken on one of our field trips (My Mom went on this one as a chaperone.). We took trips that year to Table Rock Dam & Fish Hatchery, the museum at School of the Ozarks, and Wilson Creek Battlefield. I became very interested in the Civil War this year. That's me, second row from the top, wearing a blue jacket. That's my friend Sarah sitting next to me.

This was the first year I really had an opinion about who I wanted my teacher to be. It was quite a relief that I got the one I wanted - Mrs. Stephens. She was nice and funny, and I liked her the whole year. (We recently became friends on facebook! She's seriously a GEM.) This is what I had written in my 6th grade diary: Mrs. Stephens understood I was shy and didn't like to read my writing. She didn't make me, either.

I did not want the other 5th grade teacher. I thought she was mean. (Disclaimer: I'm sure Mrs. L is a good and lovely person altogether - these are just my memories of how I saw it back then...and ironically, she was a potential mother-in-law for me years later.)

Mrs. Stephens

I did have to go to Mrs. L's class for reading group. (My diary says: It was the pits!) One day we had to write some kind of story. I absolutely loved to write, and I was still a really great student. I think I've made it pretty clear how terribly shy I was; it was so hard for me to read something like this out loud. I didn't mind reading from a book aloud. But if it was something I wrote myself, I felt vulnerable and self-conscious...and sometimes I just couldn't do it. I think I was supposed to stand up and read my paper. I froze. (My friend Chris J. and I would always look at each other sympathetically because it was hard for him, too.) This still happens to me today on some level, to a lesser degree. This is the quality I like least about myself. I use to fret in elementary school about what I was going to do about giving a valedictory speech at graduation. Seriously. I was the best student in my class, and I wondered if I would have to give up the honor if I couldn't give a speech! (For the record, I did not end up being valedictorian.)

Anyway, I clammed up, and she was practically ordering me to read it. I murmured that I didn't want to. She told me I was going to get a zero on the assignment if I didn't read it. Okay! I was fine with that. (I was not only shy, I was stubborn.) She very coldly told me to go to the hall. She was treating this as if I was disobeying her, but I really and truly couldn't help it.

This happened to be the year my Mom volunteered at the school. And she happened to be walking by so Mrs. L stopped her and told her I was refusing to read my paper. My Mom asked me why I wouldn't read it. I said I was too embarrassed, and I couldn't do it. She told me she really thought I should read it. She could tell, though, that I wasn't going to read it and that this whole situation was devastating me. She told Mrs. L that I didn't have to read it. This is one way I love my Momma (who was only 29 at the time!). She might disagree with me to my face regularly, but when it comes to other people being involved, she is always on her children's side and will staunchly defend them.

In an almost identical story, I did not feel warm and fuzzy about my elementary music teacher, either. I love to sing, but I also had a hard time singing in front of people. (Fortunately, I overcame this a lot by highschool.) Every quarter, we had to go behind the piano with a partner and Mrs. A to sing "Frere Jacques." She would sing, "Are you sleeping?" etc. The students would sing each line back. (Looking back, how on earth was this relevant to our grade? We just sang songs for fun in elementary music class.) I didn't always have a hard time doing this. It was just this particular time, I felt overwhelmed, like my throat was closing up. When this happens to me, it's like my brain freezes, and there's no amount of money that could convince the words to come out of my mouth.

Mrs. A was not happy with me. She called my parents and told them I wouldn't sing. They had a talk with me about it, and I told them I would try to do it next time at music class. So this is what she did - takes me out to the hallway, which happens to be the Junior High hall. The bell rings, and my brother and his friends were out there going to their lockers, passing by, and smiling at me. And Mrs. A is singing, "Are you sleeping?" and expecting awkwardly-shy me, in the throes of puberty, to sing it back to her, right in front of junior high boys. (I'm getting worked up just thinking about this absurdity!) Of course, I didn't, and that's why I have "Refused to sing" forever imprinted on my 5th grade report card.

My big exciting moment in the 5th grade was getting to be on the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. There was this amazing, energetic, small lady, Dorothy Leake, who was in her early 90's. She was an author, researcher, educator, conservationalist, and environmentalist (before it was a popular choice) who happened to live in our small town. She devoted her life to protecting the wildlife and streams in the area. We took trips to see her and learn from her on more than one occasion.

One day our teacher told us something like this: the first people who finished their work had the chance to sign up for something. She wouldn't tell us if it was something fun or a chore; we had to make the decision based on whether we wanted to help or not, without knowing what it was. I finished my assignments first, as usual, and signed up right away. Since I loved school (except for reading and singing out loud!), I was always ready for an extra project or responsibility. The kids who signed up were thrilled that we got to spend the day with Dr. Leake and be on television. From what I remember, they only showed little flashes of us helping her, but it was a really fun experience altogether.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

a Dallas Museum and Dinosaur Valley State Park

We took a little road trip this week to celebrate my birthday! It was a rather short adventure - we left Wednesday, arriving in Dallas about 7 p.m., and we got home late Thursday night (well, actually Friday morning at 2 a.m.). Dallas is about 5 hours away from us.

Our first stop Thursday morning was the Museum of Nature and Science,
located in Fair Park.
There are actually two different buildings, where the nature and science sections are located. You gain entrance to these two museums by purchasing a ticket ($10, adults; $7, kids - I think). Fair Park is home to many other attractions, including an aquarium and discovery gardens.

The kids were really excited about the dinosaur skeletons. I think this was first museum they've ever visited that included real dinosaurs and parts, of this magnitude. Dash, of course, was especially thrilled.

It really is something else to see these structures in real life. Ryan's favorite was the Protostega, an underwater turtle with an 11 feet long shell. Can you even imagine something like that coming at you in the water?

There were plenty of hands-on activities, like this ball-release roller coaster.

One of our favorite rooms to explore was the Mineral Room. There is no way the pictures can do it justice. I would not have thought I, or any of us, would have gotten that worked up over a room of rocks, but seriously, they were amazing.

I realized I am a big fan of the Amethyst.

The area in which the museum is situated - all right there next to the Cotton Bowl - is large with lots to do. This little lake is right in the middle of everything. The kids LOVED running around on these paths that were right over the water.

I was just WAITING for one of them to fall in, but we managed to all stay dry, thank goodness.

It was hard to tear them away from here.

I asked Ryan to please build me something like this, all throughout our woods. :)

now onto the science building...making bubbles

We spent entirely too much time in front of "A trip down intestinal lane," a description of what exactly happens to your food during digestion, complete with a catchy song.

And, yup, it even shows the people rushing to the bathroom.

Another one of our favorite exhibits: push the button and make this guy puke.
Could there be anything more fun than that?

There is also a Children's Museum portion in the basement of the science building.
We finished up our visit with some playtime down there.

Lunch and my "birthday party" were at the same place we ate all of our meals on this trip:
Spiral Diner.
(I wrote about the food portion of our trip on my other blog.)

Next stop on our journey: Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas. Dash really needed to take a nap, but he kept saying, "I can't go to sleep because I'm so excited!"

This area "contains some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world."

You can learn more about it by watching this video.

swimming in the Paluxy River

I can't even tell you how nice it was being out there.
We found the perfect little circular pool here. relaxing...a great way to end my fun birthday trip.

Linkin' up to Field Trip Friday!