Friday, March 29, 2013

Four O'Clock Ay Em

I think that Four O'Clock Ay Em likes me.  Not just "likes me",  but LIKES me, likes me.  Why else would it continuously wake me up just to say hi? 

It tries so hard to impress me.  It only appears once every twenty-four hours so it MUST make a good showing for the sixty seconds that it's in my presence.  One night it brought rain.  One night, it brought an owl calling for friends in the moonlight.  Sometimes it just brings stillness and quiet. 

Lately, though, its tone has changed.  Maybe Four O'Clock Ay Em heard me talking behind its back, saying that I was tired of our meetings.  I think I hurt its feelings. 

The past two nights it has woken me with a cat barfing. 

Well played, Four O'Clock Ay Em.  Well played. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adventures in Substitute Teaching

I have been a substitute teacher both in the public school system and at my daughter's private school.  I have substituted for pre-k all the way up to high school.  One time I had a 7th grader burn up the pencil sharpener during a test (and smirk all the way back to his desk).  One time I had a smart alec 10th grader ask snidely, "So what's YOUR favorite Jackie Chan movie" hoping that I wouldn't know who he was talking about (this was actually back in the mid-90s before Jackie Chan was more mainstream).  I was able to answer (Twin Dragons) and even educate them on a few JC movies that they hadn't seen.  I've put an entire class of kindergarteners in "time out" (and was told that when their teacher put them all in time out, she did it differently) and I've built compasses from sticks in a sandbox.  You never know what you're going to do or get when you sub.

This morning I got a dead mole on my desk.

It was pretty awesome.

Monday I subbed a my daughter's private school.  A 6th grade English teacher was out with a horrible cold so I got to teach reading and writing.  The first class of the day is an all boys class.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  I have a son so that's strike one to fear.  We've been at this school for eight years, that's strike two because I know most of the boys' parents.  Strike three is that at this point, I'm still bigger than they are.  Well, for the most part.  And I've been teaching this age for three years.  My blisters are becoming callouses. 

During the writing portion of the class, we studied appositive adjectives.  (Appositive adjectives are usually found in pairs and follow the noun that they modify.  Example:  The bread, crusty and warm, tasted sweet in his mouth.  Crusty and warm are the appositive adjectives.  There, you learned something today.)  I looked at the examples in the book, but when you have a room full of 10 year old boys, you need to make sure that they are engaged and that they can be interactive.  So I decided that we would build our own sentence.

"Give me an animal.  A non-human mammal."


"Okay.  Now let's describe that molerat."

Naked and pink.

"Great.  Now tell me an action that this molerat does."


Our sentence:  The molerat, naked and pink, snuggled.

They loved it.  We had other things that the molerat did, other adjectives to describe the molerat, but that was our first sentence.  They really are a fun group.

Last night I got the call that the teacher was still sick, (she's on antibiotics and getting better, but she wanted another day to rest and not have to talk) can I please sub again?  No problem.

I walked into the room and there, on the desk, was a sandwich bag with a note stuck on it.  The note said, "Happy birthday" and the bag contained a small, dead mole.

I know this school.  I know the kind of kids that are enrolled in this school.  I know most of their parents.  Had this been any other school, I would have been very suspect as to the motive and/or execution of this action.  However, as I said, I know these kids.  I looked up and all of them were smiling and excited to see my reaction.  Of course I loved it!

The boy who brought it said that he cat had killed it the night before.  Since we were talking about moles (or molerats), he wanted to bring it to share.  We spent some time looking up what kind of mole it was (Eastern mole), why it has no eye and ears (doesn't need them), why its "hands" are up around its neck (to burrow), etc.  Then we wrote more sentences about it.  (The mole, hairy and squishy, died.)  It was so much fun!

Boys will be boys and the conversation turned to who they were going to give/show the mole to next.  As a protective measure (for them), I said that I would keep the mole all day, but the boy who brought it could come get it after school.  They were a little disappointed because they wanted to show him to the science teacher.  I assured them that I would hand him over some time today.

To further the awesomeness, I e-mailed the principal and told him he needed to come to my room and burst in demanding to know if the kids had brought a dead squirrel and caused me to barf.  (We were also talking about gossip in class today so I was going to make it another lesson.)  Unfortunately he didn't get the e-mail until after the class was over.  He came to the room, I told him the story and he grinned.  He loves these kids as much as I do!  I don't put it past him to find the boys' class later and demand to know what happened just to see the looks on their faces. 

No class mascot would be complete without a name.  We decided on Pedro Phillipe von Lichtenstein III (although upon further examination and absence of certain . . . evidence, I believe we might have a female mole).  After school the boys want to have a proper burial.  I might be called upon to say a few words.  I'm going to need to look up some more adjectives.    

A photo of our dear, departed Pedro Phillipe von Lichtenstein III, may he/she rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marshmallow Jesus

Every year about his time - approaching Easter - a couple of hands-on lessons about Jesus' death and resurrection start to make the rounds on Pinterest and Facebook.  They are both recipes where the final product (either cookies or rolls) are puffed up, yet empty - like the tomb on the third day.

Here is the one we tried when the kids were younger - about 4 and 7. (I copied the recipe just like I received it.):

Resurrection Rolls

Refrigerated crescent rolls
Melted butter
Large marshmallows

1.  Give each child a triangle of crescent rolls.  The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in.  Read Matthew 27: 57-61
2.  Give each child a marshmallow.  This represents Jesus.
3.  Have him/her dip the marshmallow in melted butter.  This represents the oils of embalming.
4.  Dip the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar.  This represents the spices used to anoint the body.
5.  Wrap up the coated marshmallow tightly in the crescent roll (not like a typical crescent roll up, but bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow inside).  This represents the wrapping of Jesus after death.
6.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  (The oven represents the tomb - pretend that it was three days!)
7.  Let the rolls cool slightly.  The children can open their rolls (the cloth) and discover that Jesus is no longer there.  HE IS RISEN!!!  (The marshmallow melts and the crescent roll is puffed up, but empty.) 
(After the kids eat their roll, there is a lesson included with Bible verses and questions, etc.  If anyone wants the lesson - which is a bit long - I will be more than happy to pass it on to you.  It really is a good lesson.)

I had envisioned the kids listening to the explanations, being engaged with the lesson and actually getting something out of the experience.  But . . . we really never got to the lesson.  After we prepared Jesus for the tomb, I was just too exhausted.  Here are snippets of conversation:

Princess:  Mom!  Buddy took my Jesus!
Buddy:  It wasn't your Jesus, it was MY Jesus!  You can get another Jesus!

Princess:  Mom, I rolled Jesus in the butter.  Can I eat him now?

Buddy:  I can't wrap my Jesus!  It's too hard!

Princess:  Mom, can I have another Jesus?  I ate mine.

Buddy:  Mmmmm.  Jesus tastes good!

Now, in theory, the rolls are sealed tight and no marshmallow seeps out during the baking.  That's the theory.

Looking at the cookie sheet when we took it out of the oven:
Princess:  Ewww!  Jesus leaked!  It's brown!
Buddy:  I don't want to eat THAT Jesus.  He's burned.

Princess:  I've only had two Jesuses.  How many more can I have?  They're good!

Maybe we'll try it again when I have grandkids.

And for the record, those burial cloths were quite tasty.  

Thumb's Up to Thumbs

Ah, the joys of dog ownership. On Sunday Ruby was spazzing out, as is her custom for the first five minutes of a neighbor's visit, when I tried to calm her. I went to put my hands on her shoulder to keep her from jumping just as she did said movement. Her shoulder collided with my thumb and in one painful blast I had a jammed/sprained/strained/dislocated/maimed/bloodied/amputated digit. Okay, it wasn't THAT bad. Just sprained. But, dang, it hurt!

Years and years ago I saw the movie The Pope of Greenwich Village. In the film, The Bedbug (Burt Young) removes Paulie's (Eric Roberts) thumb as a warning to Charlie (a still-gorgeous Mickey Rourke). When Paulie shows up after the incident, he has a full-on scene-chewing rant where he repeats over and over, "Dey took my thumb, Chah-lee!" Of course, that is what was going through my mind while I tried desperately not to cuss in front of our two year old neighbor. The scene where Paulie tries to make The Bedbug coffee without a thumb has been going through my mind ever since.

Have you ever tried to just live with only one thumb? It's tough! There are so many things a thumb does for which it just gets no recognition.

I can't Hook 'Em with my left hand.

Were I left-handed, I wouldn't be able to space between my words when I type.

 Try to crack and open an egg with only one thumb. Go ahead. I'll wait.
 (That pointer finger is a poor substitute, huh?)

Squeeze a tube of toothpaste onto a toothbrush while you hold both. Yup.

Eat a huge, greasy burger.  You gettin' me?

Yeah, that little stubby pollex is very important yet completely under appreciated. I want to change all of that.  So . . . Today is Thumb Appreciation Day.

Every time you grasp, gesture, use the space bar, text, even pull up your pants, take a moment to give your thumb a thumb's up. And take a moment in the comments section and let me know for what thumb action (or reaction) you are thankful for. I bet we would all be surprised.

 (Please note that this is a family-friendly blog so keep your thumbs rated G here. If you must share a humorous, yet PG-13 or higher story, Tweet and use #ThumbAppreciation.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wildflowers in Spring

It was a ritual down at the Lake - at least once a weekend we would find time to pick a wildflower bouquet for our moms and for Bigmama.  We had no shortage of flowers from which to choose - especially in the spring.  And we made it our business to know the favorites of the recipients.  My mom was partial to buttercups because yellow was her favorite hue.  Pam loved the fiery reds of the Indian Blanket.  Bigmama's bunch always included Black-Eyed Susans, if we could find them.  No matter what was in bloom, our moms treated the small bouquets as if they were a dozen long-stemmed roses. 

Most of the time, by the time we got the flowers back to the cabin, half of them were sadly wilting as a result of being in our hot, sticky little hands.  Sometimes they would perk up once we put them in a Dixie cup of water.  However, wildflowers do live up to their mane.  They are wild, not meant to be domesticated by a Dixie cup or an empty jam jar.  They would hold on valiantly for perhaps an afternoon, proudly displayed on the mantle of the fake fireplace - trophies presented to our moms as some sort of subconscious recognition for well timed hugs and perfect grilled cheese sandwiches.  As the day progressed, the flowers would slowly wilt until someone noticed and took them back outside to set them free.