Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Finished All of It!

I finished ALL my grading.  Well, except the admissions essays, but all the stuff for my class.  I am done.  I have zero idea how I did this in three days - 75 essays, 75 four page reading work sets, and 75 tests.  Plus the extra credit I let them do if they finished the tests early (tests were graded by the computer, hallelujah).  It's all kind of a blur. 

In fact, yesterday, I said, "Have a Merry Christmas!" to all my coworkers and they just kind of looked at me and said, "So, you aren't coming to work tomorrow?"  Oh, yeah, we had a big deal ceremony at school today - and once again, the kids amazed me with their singing, their hula, their poise.  They looked like rascals at practice yesterday, but they pulled if off today, as usual.  I wish I could just bottle up their singing and put it here - and my own kids are up there singing away.  It never fails to amaze me.  I can't sing for beans. 

I am not, sadly, finished with my shopping - never did bake the cookies, either.  I went for this long walk on Sunday, intending to come back and bake - bought the molasses, the powdered sugar, cherries, walnuts, pounds of butter... And at the halfway point, I suddenly realized that those cookies weren't going to get done.  It was a small moment of rebellion - against nothing, really - or maybe against myself.  I'll get them done tomorrow for the unofficial work party.


Allie is bagging up, finally, and it is thunder shower-y, so it's gotta be soon, right?  Don't they always come when the barometer changes - when you don't want to slog out in the lightning and rain? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Little More into the Spirit

I decided to write each kid a personalized note to hand out with a tiny little candy cane. Yeah, I am cheap - and lazy, since I would normally bake several different kinds of cookies to give out on finals week. 

I think I will do it again, though, because I heard things like: 

"Aww!  That made my day!" 

"You wrote one for everyone - wow! Thanks!" 

"A personalized note - that's so cool!" 

And just to keep me humble - I heard (a LOT):

"Wait - can you read this? Her handwriting is so ... difficult." 

Then there was the funny kid who announced loudly, "Hey, mine says I'm her favorite student!"  I agreed, of course, because it was funny - and because secretly, I have a soft spot for him since his mom was my teaching assistant and she passed away a few years ago.  I often wish to tell her what a good boy he is, and how proud I am of him ... 

Getting into my classroom is the surest way to clear up a bad mood. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Not feeling Christmas-y

I guess I am doing Advent with more gusto this year....which is good, I guess.  Usually, I am the one ramming the Christmas down the family throat: we decorate the tree while eating special snacks, I play Christmas music while cooking most of December, I make cookies.  Last year, they were appreciative for the first time in quite some time.  I even heard, "Thank you for sticking with this every year."  I just don't understand why I am not feeling it at all this year.  No one's complaining, but I feel a little sad, to be honest, that I am not enjoying it more. 

It might have to do with the 278 papers I have to grade - my grades aren't due until June 6, but I really don't want to spend Christmas grading.  It might have to do with National Boards looming.  It might have to do with the poor old dog, the limping horse, and the suspense of having, apparently, no good idea when the ewes will lamb.  I am so off on my count.  

Someone else told me they aren't doing anything until after Finals week - maybe that's just it.  Maybe I have to push hard this week, grade the papers, the finals, the admissions essays, and the reading projects, revise Entry Four, and then put it all away for two weeks.  At least the few papers I kind of looked through didn't look as painful as the last set.  We really worked hard these last couple of weeks on writing.

On a good note, I got the Summer School job!  I was worried about how to pay for the various off-island, out-of-state trips for band and Cross Country scheduled for next year - but it should work out now.  Yay!  Plus, I get to teach my favorite course ever.  The only bummer is that once again it will be hard to keep up with the garden.  I need to get the family more involved. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Poor Old Dog

My old dog, Balto (the kids were little when we got him), has a bad case of arthritis.  I heard him crying last night on the lawn.  My husband (who is home a lot more than I am!) says he cries when he wants to do something, like chase cats or sheep (he's a cynic, too) and it's hard.  So, I tried to get him up on the deck, but he's a big dog and I was hurting him.  I moved him over level ground under the pine tree where it stays dry on all but the rainiest days.  I guess it's time for him to go, but boy, it's sad. 

I told my older son that we were thinking of putting him down this month, and he asked if I could wait for his girlfriend to come home for Christmas because she loves this dog.  It's just a hard thing. 

What's funny is watching the dynamics.  Balto was the supreme leader of our pack of three dogs for so long, but now that he's relegated to the sidelines, you'd expect Cinnamon, who is about 65 lbs, to rule over Mellie, who is maybe 20 soaking wet - but nope.  Mellie is the champion in the boss department.  She growls and snaps her little jaws and big old jolly Cinnamon just grins and gives way.  She's afraid of sheep (some part Border Collie dog!) but she is not above urging Cinnamon on to some fun.  We caught them chasing the ewes when we moved them to the new paddock near the house - and scolding seems to have worked.  We also caught them attacking our cat - they've coexisted for 8 years peacefully! Scolded them on that account, too, but the cat is having none of it - she won't go outside anymore, poor cat. 

One more week until Christmas Break - lots to do before then, though.  I haven't even written my final exam, yet.  Sigh.  No lambs, yet - I really was off on my count - I was sure it was November!  Oh well, if Allie waits until Break, at least I can keep an eye on the lambs. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wow! Buddy is not Dinner!

I sold Buddy last year, about a year ago exactly.  I was shocked at our K-12 meeting today to find out that he is still out there somewhere in Hilo mowing lawns.  Kind of happy, but I seriously thought he was Christmas Dinner 2012.  I think maybe he should be Christmas Dinner 2013, because the man told me Buddy was getting "playful" with his small son.  If Buddy takes after his Daddy (Elvis), playful can be painful. 

I asked the buyer if he wanted more - I need to get rid of some boys and my freezer is full of cow and supermarket turkey (free with the little coupons you earn with purchase points).  I told him I would even trade, if he had or his neighbor wanted to trade out some of their boys, or even some of their girls.  I hope that pans out; I really do. 

Today, I had to present a unit I did which infused Hawaiian Culture.  As I faced one of my three sessions and realized all the teachers in the back corner were the ʻOlelo Hawaiʻi teachers -well, it was intimidating.  I really like this unit,  but still....  One comment tickled me:  the teacher said, "I don't have any questions, but I just want to say that hearing that you took on this project when you were new to the school - well, that's amazing."  This place can be intimidating - there is so much at stake on so many levels in everything that you do, but this project on sense of place and community is one of my favorite units that I developed at my charter school.  The kids enjoy it and we ALL learn a lot, so it wasn't as intimidating as all that, but I just said, "Thank you." 

I am just so glad it is over, because I haven't slept for three days - well, not straight through a whole night anyway.  I keep waking up at 2 or 3 am and worry for a few hours.  It was kind of nonspecific worry - like darn that laundry needs to be folded and darn it was a dumb idea to try to finish this book set in 3 1/2 weeks, and darn, I need to do more of....... but it was really, "Darn, why did I say I would share my unit with all these teachers K-12?!"  And in the back of my mind it was "Darn, why am I doing National Boards?"  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I've been doing research for my big unit in 3rd quarter.  It's a big huge identity unit and it culminates in a "Statement".  Students need to make a statement about their life - where they stand in relationship to the world, their communities, and their peers and families. 

I've been thinking about having them take one of the free Meyers-Briggs like quizzes out there.  Every single one I took had me as an INFJ - the most rare personality types (explains why I feel like a fish out of water most of the time).  Yeah, I read the descriptions and they sound spot on - as spot on as any kind if alphabet soup diagnostic test can be, I guess.  Just to make sure it wasn't some kind of "any horoscope fits anybody" kind of thing, I read some of the others - definitely not me.  So, it might be interesting for the kids. 

I just see our worldviews becoming so black and white - you are either this or you are that (insert whatever this or that you want).  In the name of tolerance, there is less tolerance than ever.  A huge chunk of my kids are reading To Kill a Mockingbird which describes such a spectrum of diverse family situations, personal oddities, and economic conditions which is eye-opening for my students.  I'd like to introduce them to some subtlety, so room for tolerance of different manners and habits. 

Even our school situation promotes an either-or kind of feeling.  There are two English teachers per grade level, basically two math teachers for each math subject, per each level of ʻolelo Hawaii, etc.  You either have me, or you have the other teacher.  We're very different in our approaches - I think my son is very happy he has the other teacher and not me, not just because I am mom, but because he thinks my work is too hard.  On the other hand, one of my students said to me, "We're SO happy we have you - even if you ask the juniors - they say, 'Mrs De is the 'mom' one." 

I would have taken it as a compliment if she hadn't added, "Yeah, you understand a holiday weekend is for families - the other teacher gave homework."  I cleared my throat and pointed to the homework board which clearly says, "Read chapters 4-12 by Tuesday."  Sigh.  Just when you want to get all puffed up. 

Waiting for Allie to lamb.  Last night when I went out with the flashlight, I saw her looking anxiously at her belly.  I thought we were on for a late night show, but no lambs appeared.  I told her in no uncertain terms that she was to have "No more than two lambs, young lady."  She's awfully portly - I really hope it isn't triplets.  They're hard to manage and such a worry even though she was a great mama the first time around.  I'll keep you posted.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lazy Sunday

My older son told me his friend says, "Sometimes you have to get your procrastinating out the way before you can work."  I guess that's what I am doing today. 

I had a nice visit with my son.  He comes up to church with us and then drives me home while his younger siblings and dad are in Confirmation class (my husband is teaching it, not taking it!).  I cook him something (biscuits and bacon and cheese today - the hens are really down in production so no eggs for pancakes), and we have a good talk.  Then he works on programming with his little brother (who is taller than him).  It's nice. 

I wanted to go to Ha'ena with the kids, but my younger son hurt his knee playing soccer yesterday.  The 10th graders have a biathlon on Wednesday - 3 mile run and a 10 mile bike - hope he can participate!  You can add me to the injured list, too, although I can't claim anything cool happening.  I just woke up in pain in my shoulder/neck/upper arm.  No fun. 

I am a tiny bit stressed that my free turkeys are all 15 lbs.  We're nine for Thanksgiving, so I might have to think of something else to throw in the oven.  I don't want to cook two turkeys - that would be too much, but 15 seems too little. 

I want to post the pictures of the pohaku kuʻi ai (poi pounder) workshop.  We didn't finish, but it was SO FUN!  You take a rather large rock and use a diamond bladed circular saw and a chisel and work away at it.  The old was is to use rock on rock, but that takes quite a lot of time.  I told my husband we so need to make a few of these.  It was just fun to take a rock and see the shape starting to form - plus, we need a poi pounder.  I use my food grinder to make poi, but it would be good to have a pounder, too.  Of course, then I need to make a poi board, too. 

Well, when it is a less lazy day, I will post the pictures.

Getting closer to our first winter lambing.  Allie looks like she's due quite soon - hopefully multiples, because she's huge and a singleton of that size would be monstrous! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

ʻAha Makahiki (Hawaiian New Years)

Today is our ʻAha Makahiki.  Traditionally it was months long, but one day is hard enough in a school year!  It's a pretty cool day.  The seniors are the alakaʻi (leaders) and they are running traditional Hawaiian games and teaching classes on traditional knowledge.  I signed up for an all day workshop to make poi pounders. Part of the attraction was the "all day" part - the rest of it is because my father-in-law used to make poi pounders and I have been missing him. 

I was freaking out a little, hoping there would be another teacher in that session, because the mom in me would be pulling the plug on power tools a lot faster than the teacher in me - but I think we're using traditional methods (rock on rock).  They can go ahead and bash their fingers to their hearts content.  I feel fine about that.  The game I am supervising is also low-injury - sliding spears along the ground.  Also, there is no one signed up for it, so theoretically, at least, I can go watch Haka Moa or Hukihuki, which is a lot more fun. 

I still haven't completely recovered from the two day stint in Maui.  I am so tired!  I have been getting up at 4:30 to exercise a little, as well, and I probably haven't adjusted to that yet, either. 

This weekend,  I was going to dig up one of our sweet potato patches to see if any tubers grew, but then the Dish guy gave us a bunch.  Cool.  I can make my purple sweet potato and haupia casserole for Thanksgiving.  Maybe I will dig up some of my white sweet potatoes, just to have baked sweet potatoes on the table, too.  I'll make the greens for a side, bake some rolls, and pop that (sadly not homegrown) turkey in the oven, bake a few pies, and I will be ready. 

Okay, one of my advisory girls just gave me a donut, I had an extra cup of coffee - I am ready for this day!  Bring on the ike Hawaiʻi and the kalua pig and poi for lunch! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Best Thing About Hotels

The best thing about hotels is the fitness room on the first floor - right downstairs, no excuses. 

Oh wait, I have an elliptical and a weight machine in my basement...okay, no excuses.  Except that to use it I have to get up on the wrong side of 5:00, where as business meetings often start later than work (not today, though) and I don't have to take care of kids' breakfasts.  And, the elliptical with the tv and the smooth stride thingy is better than my cheap-y one from Sears. 

Can't complain, though, and I WILL get up tomorrow at 4:30 to use it.  I am usually up anyway - just lying there thinking about my day.  I might as well just get up and move.  It's been harder to go make myself work out after work - there is a lot to do with National Board and my classes.  That's why I need to break my work out in two - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  They can both be shorter.

Last night, I had the most fabulous evening.  Right after work I went to Ross with a coworker.  My bag totally disintegrated over the course of the day (it was an old one I pulled out of the closet after my nice bag's straps broke - I was holding them together with tape.  Not a nice look for travel.)  I bought a new one and then went back to the hotel.  I was a little bummed everyone went to dinner without me (my coworker had plans with a friend).  Then I realized, "I am ALONE! It's QUIET!)

I decided not to work out, but instead piddled around on my computer and chatting with my kids - I was checking on homework for the school aged ones, and having a delightful chat with my oldest, so I decided to add my son on, too.  It was a lot of fun, and the hotel restaurant had a really nice turkey reuben with cut veggies and coleslaw.  I feel so relaxed.

Off to work now, though, and then the marathon trip home.  Well, as marathon as interisland can be.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dogs and Planes and Darn-its

I am on Maui for work.  It'd be nice to say I am on Maui for the beach, but nope, heading up mauka tomorrow for an all day meeting, and again the next day.  Then the stupid flight away from home to Oahu and then back OVER Maui to go to Hilo.  Apparently, people like to fly direct to Maui from the Big Island, but no one wants to go the other way?  Or, at least, not to Hilo. 

That means, technically, I will be "working" from 3 o'clock today until late Tuesday evening.  And then I go back to work on Wednesday - that's why I like it when these things are at the end of the week a lot more.  This week is Makahiki, too, which means a fun but exhausting day on Friday.  Hey, I signed up for an all day nohona session on how to make a poi pounder.  Completely not my strength, but I am interested.  I even practiced the hula to do en masse with the school.  I am ready. 

My big darn it is that I forgot my splint for my teeth - I wear it at night because I am a stress puppy.  I am going to have headaches for days because I forgot that little thing.  I am so upset with myself. 

Also, the dogs are starting to chase the sheep now that they are in the small pasture close to the house.  I caught them yesterday evening.  I went out with my flashlight and scolded them roundly (and we tied them up!) and made sure the ewes were okay.  Thankfully, they were. 

My husband told me that he heard them running on the deck and caught them heading out to the pasture.  Yup, he tied them up again.  Darn dogs. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cold and Rainy Day

As usual, I have all kinds of chores and work I could be doing, but it is a holiday and our anniversary, so I am searching the internet for some new recipe to make.  We went out to dinner last night because our daughter had a party to attend and we had to figure out what to do with four hours in town.  We went to the cheap theater and watched a mediocre movie, had a spectacular dinner, got caught in a torrential downpour, and picked her up just on time. 

We were meant to be going to the beach with our nieces and nephew-in-law, but the weather deteriorated, so no go.  Too bad - I don't get to the beach often enough, at all. 

I am kind of thinking some kind of stew since we have rice in the rice pot, maybe some kind of bread, and some kind of spice cookie or cake. 

I got three free turkeys from the grocery store with the points I had racked up.  One will be Thanksgiving, and probably one for Christmas (or for my son's birthday which is soon after that - he used to like having the whole turkey dinner for his birthday, which meant we had beef for Christmas).  One will be just cooked and canned up as broth and meat for quick soups during the year. 

We moved a few sheep into the new fenced area.  They aren't terribly happy to be separated from the main flock, and they aren't really the ones we wanted to put in there (well, not entirely), but it's a start.  We're simply not that good at moving sheep around.  We picked up the smaller ewes, lured one ewe and Elvis with food, and my husband nearly killed himself carrying Ellie (who must weigh 100+ lbs).  Now we have to move Elvis out of there and move some more ewes in.  We'd thought to put the rams and wethers in the new spot, but it isn't a tall fence, so we'd thought to put the ewes in.  The stall is built like a bunker (even painted gray for now) and we can hear and see them so easily from the house.  Perfect for expecting/new moms. 

Next big project is the chicken coop for an expanded flock, and then, hopefully, a bigger greenhouse.  Everything takes so much longer than you hope, especially when you have active teenagers and a job that takes you off the property 12-13 hours a day.  One step at a time, I suppose. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Attitudes About Rural Living

It's a curious phenomenon how people react to the idea of rural living.  There are people who idealize it, and people who think you are crazy preppers.  Anyone think maybe we just like living out here, that we like animals, that we find satisfaction in producing at least a little food for ourselves?  I don't like going to the grocery store - the prices are rising fiercely and what you get isn't even close to what it tastes like when you pick it yourself right before you eat it.

Yes, it is kind of a pain when you can't go on vacation because you can't find someone to babysit sheep.  It can even be a pain when your work off the property is so time consuming that you don't actually get around to planting that lettuce, and it's definitely a sad day when some weird fungus kills a whole bunch of plants you were looking forward to eating - or when the stupid ewe hurts her claw AGAIN. And everything takes more time than you think it will, and it costs more, too.... but it's a choice. We're not some nuts who want to escape from the world.  I have ALWAYS, all my life, wanted to live on a farm - even though I grew up in suburban neighborhoods.  I have always loved animals, particularly horses.  It's darned expensive to have a horse when you live in the suburbs, and it's not the same as having one in your yard - not at all. 

I am tired of how everything, even the rural vs urban life choice, has become so polarized in our society.  If you don't want to live in a rural area, if you are not a fan of livestock, and if you find food not washed and wrapped in plastic a little scary, well, that's fine.  That's your choice, and I don't ever knock it - sometimes I wish I could move back home, even - not to be back in the city, but to be near my parents - but our choice isn't food for your anonymous social media amusement.  We're not crazy, wild-eyed society drop-outs.  (Maybe the building your house while you live in a shack phase was a bit crazy, but those days are way over, thank you very much).  We like not being able to see (hear, and smell) our neighbors.  We like green grass and trees and animals and even hard work outside in the dirt.  I love having my horse where I can see and hear him instead of having him in a barn across town.  You can't ever beat a tomato you just picked from your own vine - never - not even from a farmer's market are they that good.  And eggs from your own chickens? Those beat the ones from a carton without a doubt.

Anyway, I guess that's my rant for the day.  Here's a happy picture for those of you have been wondering when that ram pen was going to ever get done:

Just needs a water trough and a feed trough, and it's ready for sheep.  Yay!  They can uncover the taro, which has been taken over by grass (shame on me). 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Fun!

I have to admit that I broke the rules today - my own rules for my own self.  I saw the blinking light green light on my phone during Sustained Silent Reading today and I couldn't resist clicking it open to see what it was.  My son is visiting a friend on the mainland, so I just checked just in case. 

It wasn't an emergency, though.  It was (I think - hard to tell in a text) delight!  "It's snowing!"  he texted.  My first reply was, "Do you have warm clothes?" and my second was, "How cool!"  Mom, first, I guess.  My younger son is actually in my SSR class, so I wanted to just tell him, "Wow!  Your brother says it's snowing!"  I forbore, however, because I just settled a bunch of adolescents who at least pretend they hate reading (a few do hate it, but most of them are saying it because it's popular, but I see how deep they get into their books).  

My other fun part of today was explaining the word "impeccable."  I told them this is one word I remember clearly and specifically when I learned it.  I had "cleaned" the basement because my uncle was visiting by putting all the toys in a big pile and covering the pile with a blanket.  The pile must have been as big as I was at the time.  My uncle said that the basement looked "impeccable" when I proudly showed him what I had done.  It took me another few years to realize that he was laughing (with) at me. 

On Saturday, we had the Cross Country gathering at our house.  A few parents, several coaches and volunteer coaches and roughly 40 kids packed into my house.  It was potluck and the table was groaning with goodies.  It was a lot of fun:  Foosball, air hockey, bonfire, football, singing....  I was so tired and headachy the next day that I did pretty much nothing, but it was worth it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I am actually having a Happy Halloween, even I always have costume anxiety and am, consequently, not that excited about the holiday in general.  Plus, kids who are generally in uniform who suddenly get to wear bizarre costumes tend to be a little less focused on Halloween....

I must say, though, the exercises I did with the kids to set "ideal classroom" norms seemed to have trickled into their heads - they were stellar today, in actuality.   They did get through a powerful amount of chocolate in two periods (with a few random trick-or-treats between classes). 

My observation from last week was rated today and it was pretty good!  Yay!  I now feel a lot happier with myself, which I know is stupid, but I can't help it.  

My husband forced - yes, forced! - me to dress up today.  He said, "Teachers should dress up.  The kids will think you're lame if you don't."  I thought back to how usually very few teachers dress up and considered how stupid I would feel, but I did it anyway.  At first, I considered being a girl from the 80s.  I quite remember how to do my hair like I did in 1984, and I have some jeans from a period not that far from that time - throw on a pair of Reeboks and wear one long earring and one short, do my hair, wear those old jeans, and I'd be good to go.  Instead, I went with the even easier route.  Grabbed my riding boots, a pair of jeans, a cowboy hat, and the rope from the tack room (taped up so no kids decided to try to rope each other, sigh).  Pretty basic, but at least my boots have real horse manure on them! Well, not really, but they've kicked through quite a lot of it over the last decade or so (Ariat boots are the BEST!) 

Just found out that the soccer season is four weeks long with three games (!) each Saturday.  THREE games!  That's all day.  How they expect kids to play three games in one day for several weeks in a row is beyond me.  How they expect me to sit through three games each Saturday is beyond me, too.  Well, if most of the games are at our campus, I can go to my classroom and work on stuff between games, I guess.... Always try to find a bright spot. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Advantages of Living on a Volcano

Apparently, the sulfur-y rain eventually gets rid of powdery mildew.  Who knew?  I didn't even have to spray after this last period of south (voggy) winds, my collard greens are mildew free.  Good thing I didn't rip them out. 

My olive trees seem to have liked this summer and fall - they just grew a ton.  A year or so ago, the sheep ate them up - call it a drastic prune.  No baby olives, but maybe next year. 

I got an extremely rough draft of one of my entries for National Board done, cleaned all the bathrooms, started the pizza dough rising, and got some laundry folded.  I just have to pay a few bills and make the pizza, and I will actually have accomplished everything on my list today.  That's amazing.  I must have made a manageable list, instead of my usual, "You're dreaming, honey!" list. 

After my walk/jog with my son, I got a call from the older woman  up the road about walking.  Thunder had rolled in, so I set a time to walk with her tomorrow.  She only walks a mile, so I figure I'll walk to her house, walk with her for her mile and then go back and finish  my walk, which will be cool, because it will be 7 miles instead of 6.  I really ought to finish cleaning the basement for the kids' party next week.  My son asked if I could just not do it and let he and his sister do the job - I think he thinks I am annoying (right on schedule, he's 15) and would rather not hear me barking orders.  I said that would be fine, but I am going in if it isn't done tomorrow, because I have a work thing to do next Saturday morning, and there isn't any way I am cleaning after work any day this week.  Not with my 12+ hour days. 

Nice Kid, My Son

My son decided he would go on a run with me.  Since I mostly walk (even after 18 months of fairly dedicated exercising), this is usually a euphemism for "I run ahead and you do your best."  He did run ahead, but then he waited at the top of the road.  And then he walked or ran at my slow pace all the way back down.  I thought that was pretty nice. 

He's been a bit sad this week because his sister made it to the State Meet, but he did not - by just a second.  He told me last week that he didn't want to feel like this again, so he was going to run all year.  I told our older son that and his reply was, "We all feel that way, but then you get over it and you don't run."  We'll see. 

My daughter did well at the meet, but of course, at that level, all the girls are running fast, so she didn't place that high over all, but the team did well in their division.  And so, another XC season is now over except for the after party (at my house, next week, for 60 runners or so and their families - yikes!) 

It's almost November, which is NaNoWriMo.  I have to admit I started my book last November, and I have never yet been able to keep up with it the whole month of November.  Sigh.  I told one of my students the basic plot premise and he (like my son) said, "Oh, that's cool.  You should finish it."  One thing about teaching is that you really know what 15 year olds like.  Maybe some day, this story will see the light of day. 

Right now, though, I really need to clean the house for that massive onslaught of teens,  and I need to grade, and I need to finish Entry 4 for National Boards.  Oh, and laundry, of course....And most imperatively, repair some fencing up in the front so I can let the horse out up front to eat that California grass that is growing so tall. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two Down, One to Go

This week was a rough one - a meeting on Oahu, which is torture because I come in on the first flight, take a late flight and don't even have time to see my kid or my parents.  Also, the first flight means I have to get up at 3:30 am and late flight means I get home at 8.  It was supposed to be 7, but there was something wrong with our plane, so we had to move.  The meeting was intense, too, which is good when you are there, and not so good the next day, when you are expected to be back on top of things after a very long day. 

Today was the court date for my son's small claims case.  I've never been to court, and I was under the impression that this would be a real court case, but this was sort of a preliminary.  Anyway, my son and his erstwhile landlord went into mediation and my son decided on a settlement.  The mediators told him the law was on his side, but he didn't want to go back to court during finals week (when the rest of the cases were being set in the people who went before us) and he'd made his point.  He got quite a bit of the deposit back, and he made his point.  I suspect this landlord rents to students, routinely keeps their deposits, and was rather surprised when this student objected.  I could be wrong, but hey, it all worked out, more or less.  And we all learned something. It was pretty interesting, all in all.  I also brought work with me, so when the judge was in recess, I went ahead and plugged away at the work.

Tomorrow is my formal observation #1.  I hate these things, but I just have to get over it.  I will let you know how it goes. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Regional Championship Day

Yesterday, I met my older son down at the University to give him some of his mail.  It was kind of a downer day for him and me, so we had a good talk about relationships (his, not his parents, obviously), speculating what the certified letter waiting for him at the Post Office was all about, and goals. 

Today, I got a bunch of texts from him - the certified letter was just his certified letter getting returned to him (phew - emailed my lawyer friend and she said "good!" too), and some other good kind of "everything is looking up" kind of news.  I vividly remember being 19 being a roller coaster - one of the commiserations I shared with him yesterday. I definitely feel my kids' pain a lot more than is good for me.  His relief makes me feel relieved and now I can concentrate on feeling really nervous - as if I were running the race today. 

I have a classroom full of runners and volunteer course marshals.  I jokingly told the boys that if they don't come in one of the top few spots, I am going to erase the "Congratulations" from the cake I bought them.  The girls are chatting and quite a few of the boys are sacked out on the floor.  I bought food for the course marshals (we had the PSAT today at school and most of them didn't go home) and told the runners to not eat it under any circumstances.  Jalapeno and pepperoni breads are NOT good pre-race food. 

It is a very hot and voggy day, unfortunately.  The vog makes a cover over the island that holds in the heat.  You cough and sneeze from the particulates in the air - during the PSAT, one of my students was sneezing and sneezing, poor guy.  

I am torn because I really want to ask if I can be in the chute.  It's a place everyone wants to be, so I feel bad for asking, but I have done just a lot this year, and they like to put me in the boonies where I can't see much of anything.  I just want to see my kids finish their race.  I don't want to put myself forward, though.  My husband has seen the stress I put myself through as team mom (I am sure there are moms who can handle it with aplomb, but I am obviously not one of them - I hate bothering people or being bossy and I am an inveterate introvert).  He thinks I should just say, "I want this, please!"  I did tell the kid marshals to ask to be in the field because they tend to put the kids in the chute - and they are fine being out in the course. 

Oh well, I will let you know how it all goes.  My son wants to win his Open race (sadly, even placing 4th on his team last week didn't budge him from the 8th spot going into today).  There are a couple of things that need to happen to allow him to compete in the State Championship next week.  One is that the varsity team needs to place in the top 2 for the race.  The other is that he needs to have a faster time than at least one of the Varsity boys (this is possible - but he'll have to scramble, because they are scrambling and he won't be in the same race as them for him to pace off them).  It's possible they can get the number 2 spot, but it will be an effort.  I think this is why I am so nervous.  I want him to run next week, because he wants it so badly.  It doesn't matter all that much, in the scheme of things, but still....  It's very likely that my daughter will make it because her team will make it, and I would like them to both make it. 

This isn't very coherent, I know, but it is warm-up time.  Wish us luck! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October Envy

I keep looking at the blogs from mainland rural people - and they have oodles of apples to can.  I don't think I would like winter much, but it would be so cool to have an abundance of apples that you could just pick and process (I know it'd be a lot of work, but the cheapest I can get apples is $4/lb, and they're far from fresh enough to can well). 

We do have guavas, and three bunches of bananas starting on the red banana trees.  Our mountain apple is growing fast (not a real apple, though).  Even my tiny Meyer lemon tree has four or five baby lemons.  I keep telling my orange,  lime, tangerine, and Brazilian plum trees to get on the job... Even the fig tree, which I thought was dying has a bunch of new sprouts.  So it's not like we're devoid of fruit, but still.  I love applesauce. 

Work has been incredibly stressful, although I know I am putting a lot of the stress on myself.  Yes, I got asked to represent our school at the next standards meeting, suddenly and kind of inconveniently during Imua Week (our version of homecoming).  Yes, I am planning to go to the small claims court with my son to battle the unscrupulous landlord the very next day.  Yes, we have both the PSAT and the big regional championship race.  But those aren't my responsibility - except sort of to find enough course marshals for Saturday.  It was probably stupid of me to also schedule my formal observation next week, too.  I just wanted to get it done, to tell the truth.  

National Boards is stressful on its own, but it's not like I don't do that kind of reflecting on my own - it's just the nitty gritty stuff.  They want certain fonts and formats and one line over means the whole page is discarded and you fail.  I appreciate why they need to be so exacting and detail-oriented, but it does add a certain level of stress.  Also, I really, really hate being on camera.  It's basically a phobia of mine, and the thought of filming my class and then having to watch it over and over and transcribe it and reflect on it is just so insanely appalling to me.  It's like asking someone afraid of bugs to sit in a room crawling with creepy critters repeatedly. 

Unfortunately, both my evaluator teacher and my National Board coach are exactly the opposite of me pedagogically.  In my usual, "blame myself" mode, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I had to make myself like them and felt pretty crappy in general - until I took some time to really think about it.  Although there is room for all kinds of pedagogical beliefs in the classroom and different things work for different kids and different teachers, the way the people assigned to "coach" me teach gives me the cold chills - literally: I read a lesson plan by one of them and it gave me a shudder.   It works for them; it would make me deeply unhappy.  People learn best when they are happy, and me being happy and excited makes my students happy and more willing to take the risks I ask for in their thinking.  

I asked the National Board coach whether teachers from other schools would be considered "community" for one of the entries.  Her reply was it would depend on why you are including that activity.  My first, sarcastic and quickly deleted, response was, "You are useless," because I know why I am including the activity and that was not the question. That's how I know I am stressed.  I usually try to see things from others' perspective - perhaps too much.  I have decided I will go to the meetings and take the materials, but I will have other people read my entries.  I have several friends at other schools who are already Board certified, and our curriculum coordinator has offered to help, too.  There isn't any point in dealing with that level of stress if I can find a work-around.  

On another level, there is my son's security deposit dispute.  Pray for a good outcome for my son.  There is a certified letter in the mail for him (which is problematic as he doesn't live with us and the post office closes before I get off work), which I suspect is the landlord lodging a countersuit.  He doesn't have a case and it is retaliatory, and therefore helps our case next week, but it still is stressful.  My son isn't stressed, but I am.  I just have to get through next week, and then all I have to worry about is NaNoWriMo and National Board, and NaNoWriMo is, again, self-imposed and not a big deal - if I miss a day of writing 1667 words, so what? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Loser Livestock Thieves

We heard some hunters on the large property behind us - happens sometimes; there's a pond and abundance of wild pigs.  However, this time, it seems they had a hankering for lamb.  When the sheep came in the other night, we were missing one young ram.  I walked through the pasture looking for him that evening, and my husband went the next day - there are thickets of trees where a little guy could get hidden away, but he's just not there. 

Someone asked me if they could have thought he was just a wild sheep - umm, no, he's fenced in a pasture.   There were bigger rams and wethers for them to take, but maybe they thought he looked young and tender - or maybe he was the one who walked right up to them, because he would be one to do that. 

My husband is almost done with the fence on the ram pen and/or mamma and baby pen - which ever we decide to do with it.  It's an oddly shaped pasture as it zigs around the olives and the garden.  Eventually, it will go along the almost-there pond and around the future site of the big greenhouse.  Lots of almost-theres and future sites, it seems, but, though progress is slow, it is still progress. 

Now in the house progress on anything except those essays and driving to practice has not been happening at all.  In fact, I have 18 more essays to go.  They're painful.  I have decided to postpone the literature I planned to start next week and work on rewriting these essays.  I have a process I call (secretly, to myself) "The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly."  I give the kids a pile of papers with no names and teacher comments removed, and I ask them to sort them into "Needs Work,"  "Getting There,"  and "Wow!"  and then they sit in groups and try to come to consensus on their rankings, and then discuss the criteria they used to sort the papers - what do the Wow!s have that the Needs Work could add/change to get to Wow! too?  It takes a couple of block periods, but it works.  I give them papers from another period or from another year, so no one gets bummed at being put in the Needs Work category.  We argue it out until we have a good description of a good paper, and then I give them back their papers and ask them to make the revisions they need to improve the writing. 

Oh well, once again, it is time to drive to practice.  Tomorrow is my niece's wedding and  the last regular race of the season is tomorrow.  I told the kids to run darned fast so they have time to go home and shower before the wedding!  Next week is the regional championship, the week after that (on Kauai) is the State meet (crossing my fingers for my kids to make it!) and then another XC season is done.  Phew! 

And completely off the topic of anything, I watched part of a typically foolish Hallmark movie this morning while folding laundry.  At the end, they had some weird panel of judges for a hunter-jumper show - one of them didn't want to give the first place to a pinto horse.  What is this, horse racism?  In actuality,  sport horse breeders have been adding color to the roster for quite some time, so it was a little more goofy and uninformed than the usual animal underdog movie.  Made me miss Ohia, anyway - although, as a typically quarter horse-y paint, he wouldn't make a super hunter jumper, anyway. 

Oh well, ramble aside - off to sit in the car grading the last papers. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wee Haw: Fall Break

Yes, I have a two inch stack of papers to grade this week.  Gotta love that yesterday at the race kids were asking, "How did I do on my essay?"  - you know, the essay they just turned in the day before?  I laughed,  "You think I graded those already?!"  I always feel bad when I have a small outburst like that, but I could see his mom grinning at me from the door, so it couldn't have been that bad.  Sometimes I think I am too uptight. Sigh.  Fortunately, this kid can handle a little sarcasm.  He's a good kid - they all are, really. 

Yes, I decided on the fly to mirror the history time periods, so I am re-thinking everything for next quarter so even more work to do.  Yes, I have to spend between 2 and 6 hours at school on any given day this week - but that's not 10-11 hours, so WOO HOO, it's Fall Break! 

So my usual impossible list is pared down to - check if there are any sweet potatoes in any of the patches.  Plant some lettuce and broccoli, and clean the basement.  And take a few naps and go on a lot of long walks (I think best while walking). 

Oh well, time to get ready for Mass.  Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Very Wet Race and a Musing on Shoes

The heavens opened and it poured buckets on the girls as they started their race.  It was just normally drizzly for the boys.  My kids did about as well as they did last week (faster because this is a faster course).  I think my daughter finished higher up in the overall ranks than last week, but the same for her team.  My son is still stubbornly stuck at first alternate.  He got bottle-necked in and couldn't quite catch the kid he needed to catch for that fingernail varsity spot.  He's a sophomore, though, so he's got a couple of years.  I know it is really important to him, though, so it is hard to see him not make his goal. 

He was nearly a full 5 minutes faster than his sister, who is solidly on varsity because the girls are just slower.  Oh well, that's how it goes - and almost all the runners are faster than me, so yeah, it's all relative.

The soccer coach told me, "Lucas needs new soccer shoes."  I told him that Lucas was NOT playing soccer, and I wasn't going to spend $60 on soccer shoes, only to follow up with Lucas and find he is playing soccer.  Sigh, those shoes were new last year and he only played half the season before pole vaulting pre-conditioning started.  I swear that kid and his shoes.  All those sport specific shoes, plus his general hard-on-shoes feet are killing me.  Thank goodness Ross sells racing spikes for a decent price and we actually found some.  You know the old trope with the guy rattling dice, chanting the mantra, "Come on, baby needs new shoes!"  Yeah, that's me these days, minus the dice.

Heck, I need new shoes!  I will wear shoes until they die on my feet (same with clothes) because I LOATHE shopping, particularly shoe shopping, so when I say I need new shoes, you can imagine how bad that can be.  I don't like breaking in new shoes and I would be happiest wearing slippers (that's flip flops, I think, to those of you not from Hawaii) all the time - or boots.  I like my Ariat paddock boots for riding and live in rubber boots around the farm.  My Ariat ropers are 10 years old, and they are still great.  Rubber boots - you get them at the hardware store, they all look the same, and they function (as long as a puppy doesn't gnaw on them or they don't split from age - in which case they leak).

I like having nice clothes, but I don't like shopping for them.  I thought that would change once I got back to a size 8, but nope.  I still hate shopping.  I wonder why - my daughters like shopping, my mother likes shopping - I guess I am the odd one out. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fall Break

Today is the last day of school for a week! (Trumpets are sounding)

But then comes the drums, as I realize that, in spite of there being no school for a week, I have to be here EVERY DAY next week.  Between two different sets of Cross Country practices and two concession stand fund raisers (one for each team)... On the bright side, I will seriously be ready for next quarter.  For two days, I won't even be able to come into my room, because they are painting so it means planning in the car. 

I decided yesterday to flip the quarter around to match the history teacher's schedule.  I was going to do To Kill a Mockingbird first and then The Great Gatsby, but he's doing the 20s and then the 30s (yeah, makes sense for a history teacher).  I find Gatsby horribly depressing, and we just finished The Crucible, another big downer, so I was hoping to pop Mockingbird in there for a little more hope.  Why is so much of canonical American Literature so darned depressing? 

With this in mind, I have had to scale back my usual overly ambitious break time To Do List.  Mostly, I want to dig up the sweet potato patch - or at least part of it and see if there are any potatoes.  Also, I'd like to plant some broccoli and some Brussels sprouts.  Oh, and clean things like cupboards.  Even those few things feel ambitious since I have been battling a sore throat sinus-y thing for a month and my niece is getting married next weekend.  She has her shower this weekend, too - which seems a little cramped in timing - but that's probably me being mad that I felt responsible enough to work both late shifts for the concessions (past my old-lady bedtime!) and just feeling tired all around. 

It's only the 1st Quarter and I am already as worn out as I am during 3rd Quarter.  I don't even know why, except maybe I started these new programs and as much as I like new things, change wears me out. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Living in the Boonies

Yesterday,  we had a church dinner.  When we drove up, my kids were whining (I guess high school kids still whine) about how much homework they have to do.  I was too late for Mass and too early for the potluck, so I gave in.  Not something I usually do, by the way. 

It turns out that it was a good thing I went home.  I was planning on dropping the kids at the gate and driving back down, but when we got to the gate, there was a man standing there in the mostly dark of a 6:15 October evening.  He was looking down toward our darkened house.  When I drove into the driveway, he moved slightly to the side of our driveway to be equal to my window. 

I rolled down the window and asked him if I could help him.  I wasn't speaking a friendly tone, though, because I just felt afraid.  I don't know why. 

"I am just standing here, Alo-a," he said.  I think he meant "Aloha." 

"No, you're trespassing, and you need to move along,"  I replied, making a shoo-ing gesture. 

"Aloa," he said, a little more insistently.  I just shook my head and had my daughter wait until he left to open the gate.  If he thought saying his version of "Aloha" was designed to be peaceable, he was sadly mistaken - first of all, it was really badly mispronounced and second of all - you think standing in someone's driveway looking to see if anyone is home in the dark shows Aloha?  Yeah, I don't think so, Bub.  

Of course, I drove down the drive way, instead of letting them walk down, and I stayed a bit, too, because I was afraid he didn't go far and I didn't want him to see me leaving.  I turned on every light on the second floor - the ones visible from the street.  When I drove out to meet my husband at the church, I looked carefully to see that the guy wasn't hiding in the bushes across the street or standing where he could see me leave. 

I am not sure why that freaked me out as much as it did.  I just got a bad vibe. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Race Day

So windy I had to hold on to my hat - I was glad I didn't have to run uphill against the wind! 

The kids did great, and the boys were very grateful for the li hing mui oranges, grapes, and granola bars - well, especially the grapes and the oranges.  I buy bananas, too, but I end up having to make banana bread out of them mostly. I buy the bananas, because that is what my son likes, and because they really ought to eat them after a race...but they like grapes and li hing mui oranges.  Fortunately, the also love banana bread! 

Both of my kids had their best times on that course, so that was fun.  We drove to Kona, whipped through Costco, and weren't the last family to pick up a boy (always embarrassing when you make the coach wait).  I was amused to see the giant bus drive in and drop off the girls' coach, my kid and one other girl.  I know that lots of families probably took the opportunity to head to the beach after (best beaches are in Kona, if you want sand, anyway) and the bus stopped at the mall first, but it was funny.  The coach was way up in the front near the driver, and the girls were in the back seat.

Oh well, only three more races - plus the state meet, if they make it, but that's on Kauai, so I won't be seeing that one.  I haven't been to Kauai for 24 years - hard to believe. 

We're definitely going to need a pond liner - it's been raining and it's not filling up, even with our clay soil.  My son was wondering when he could swim in in - but when I mentioned the fish to keep it clean, he was a bit reluctant.  I told him the ocean has fish and you swim in it, but I guess a pond is smaller.  I think it is just going to be too cold most of the time - the fish won't bother me, but the cold will.  I am looking forward to having it filled though.  It seems like the bulldozer came on the last possible dry day - the weather is back to normal after quite a long dry spell. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two Hours

Just spent two hours after school with a kid who really wanted to bring up his grade. 

He painstakingly learned how to do MLA format (without Easy Bib), how to evaluate websites and arguments of author's for validity and credibility.  In the interest of being precise, I think I mean, "painfully," as well as "painstakingly." 

On the plus side, he raised his grade from a C to a B. 

I really wanted to run today - but this was good, too. 

Craigslist on an Island

Sadly, craiglist is not always that great around here.  There is always cool stuff - but it is on Maui or Oahu, so kind of a pain to deal with.  But last night, I saw canning stuff on my island.  Even better - on my SIDE of the island.  The Big Island is just that - Big.  The other side is a 100 miles one way, and a 100 miles back.  It's a five hour proposition, so basically, unless you are really motivated, you mostly stick to your side of the island.  In fact, most of my life takes place in the 12 mile radius between me and school.  Once every other week, I drive to Hilo, which is a bit further. 

These people are selling a 23 qt. pressure canner, a 33 qt water bath canner, and 50 mason jars (don't know what size).  I am very tempted because basically the price they're asking is about how much I would pay to buy a 23 qt. pressure canner and ship it here, too.  And apparently, Amazon doesn't ship to PO Boxes (at least pressure cookers), and that's all we got for mail delivery out here.  Yup, no county water (just catchment) and no mail delivery and, my sore spot, no wired internet either.  No cable TV, but I don't give a rat's tail about that - though the weak and sad cell phone service isn't a lot of fun, mostly because of the sad internet, I want to use my phone sometimes to check my work email.  

You know all those memes about 1st world problems?  Well, I have some second and third world problems, too - water, for example.  Although, you know, water falls from the sky with prodigious regularity in a rain forest, so there is water - we just have to pump it and clean it.  You don't just drink out of a tap on catchment, in other words.  

On more week until Fall break.  Now, I am just crossing my fingers that the boys' and girls' cross country practices are at the same time, because I think if I have to drive to work twice a day during a break I may just snap.  I can't have them miss it, because beyond my expectations, my children have a shot at the State meet - fairly shocking in the case of the 9th grader, frankly and the qualifying meet is the week after the break.  You can't take a week off running at this point in the season, and neither of my kids is capable of pushing themselves on their own (neither am I!).   If they aren't, that might mean that the girl has to run with the boys, which isn't the greatest option.  I have absolutely drained myself this quarter (even more than usual) and my garden, animals, and house show it.  I need to sleep and then dig and then clean....after all the grading I have to do. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Race I Missed and Pictures of the "Pond"

So, my kids went to a race on Oahu.  My mom, stepdad, and older daughter went out to see them run.  They did so great!  I had updates through text messages all afternoon.

Oh well, here are some pictures: 

 Pond from the deck.  Obviously, not done, but wow! 

Chicken, just because chickens are fun. Although this one is nearing "retirement."  
 Tractor is temporarily out of commission, so Gibby does lawn mowing. 
 My husband calls this the "lake view". 

Three of my kids and my step-dad.  Gosh, I miss Oahu.  Not the traffic, but those pali in the background....gorgeous.   And my daughter, and my parents.... and beaches that aren't rocks or two hours away. 

I don't miss traffic, postage stamp lawns, or houses that are falling apart, but still cost over $600,000, though. 
Pond in the making. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bulldozing and Bulldozed

It looks like my husband's latest engineering project payment is going toward building us a pond.  There is a tiny little bulldozer digging out a pond which will be six feet deep at it's deeper end.  It's sloping, like a pool with a shallow end but round like a pond.  I've seen small homestead farmers use those ponds with good effect - to water plants, to grow tilapia, and to water animals.  I am confused, because I thought that was where part of the ram pen was going, but very happy it isn't in the middle of the main pasture - and that it is downhill from our house.  I am sure I will be grateful later, but right now I feel bulldozed.

That's because I just spent two days in a workshop on the Common Core State Standards.  No, I don't believe that these came from the states or a grass roots initiative, as billed.  I see bits and pieces of things I have seen in the 24 years since I started teaching.  The main thing is that they want kids to read primary sources and harder texts, because texts have been getting easier and easier for decades.  Just look at the Newbury winners from the earlier part of the 20th century and then at the more recent ones.  Sentence length, complexity, and vocabulary have all been lowered.  I can see that, but this thing about having them read 70% informational and only 30% literature seems like a big march to a population lacking in empathy.

On the other hand, the presenter says the average percentage of kids actually reading, as opposed to skim and scam or checking out the movie version, is only 5%.  I think it's higher - but maybe only 25%

I feel bulldozed, not just because of my irritation with being handed a bunch of new standards and being told that since kids have to read widely and add twice as much informational text, that I now have to give them tiny snippets of text from lots of sources instead of fewer whole texts.  That's like going back 30 years, in a lot of ways.  I was already asking them to do evidence based claims, back when people were asking for their feelings about the literature, so this is like "Yeah, and?" for me - but showing up for a workshop and being given a 300 slide powerpoint and 221 files on a flashdrive - and then, I kid you not, being flown through nearly all of them over 12 hour of sitting - a bulldozer just flattened me.  I think fluency comes from reading whole texts - kids get short snippets of informational text when they go on Google. 

On the flip side, I do feel validated, because the unit I did, with which the kids struggled mightily, was right on the money - except I think I want to beef up my writing task at the end of it in two weeks.  I redid my Quarter Two unit a bit while she was covering math stuff.  I gave them whole texts, though shorter ones.  I don't think I can compromise on that. 

I am flattened, tired, and so I will say good-bye for now.  Thank goodness it is Friday.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bummers and a Few Nice Bits

Bummer Number One:  The John Deere is leaking fluid, and it looks like the whole transmission needs to come out for what is probably a simple seal replacement.  Related mini-bummer:  our John Deere dealership doesn't answer the phone, doesn't return calls, and apparently have moved shops. 

Bummer Number Two:  My son's driver and passenger door windows were smashed - apparently a random act of vandalism as the car is 21 years old and there's nothing in it to steal. 

Bummer Number Three:  My daughter had to be carried off the field at the XC race today.  It was hot, she got dizzy, suddenly had to sit down, and couldn't get up.  (She's fine now - hyperventilating and about to throw up when I retrieved her from the athletic trainers).  Too bad, she was running about 15th in an Open race, which is pretty darned good.

Bummer Number Four:  I had my first formal observation yesterday. It didn't go as well as I would hope - I get so nervous in front of grown-ups.  The observers miss all the teaching and notice the kid throwing paper in the waste basket (although the kid who was throwing paper - I would rather have him do that, because he tends to do offensive things to his neighbors if allowed out of his seat).  Anyway, a real bummer for me, because I am trying to be perfect this year.  I feel like I did back in high school.  I went to a doozy of a prep school - pressure cooker stress.  I loved it, but I am not enjoying the visit from my old friend "Perfectionist Nag Voice."  I cried on my principal's shoulder at the race.  He told me to get over it, they didn't spin the wheel to hire me, I am a good teacher - basically, shut up in the nicest possible way.  Thank goodness for my principal.  Someday, when I finally grow up - that's who I want to be. 

So I guess that last bit isn't a bummer - that's a nice bit.  And our coaches measured the course (it was 3.2 miles, not 3) and that means my son made his goal time of under 19 minutes (can you imagine running 3 miles in under 19 minutes!)  He clawed his way back to varsity (he was running at the horrible 8th spot - off by less than a second for the 7th spot). In fact, he's now #6.  I don't know what basically passing out means to my daughter's place on varsity - but oh well.  She wasn't the only girl to tank. 

Nice Bit #2:  When I came home, I let Gibby out.  He followed me around the yard for a bit, which made me miss my Ohia - who followed me like a dog.  Since we don't have a tractor, and we can't let the sheep out because they'll eat the fruit trees and the sweet potatoes all up - Gibby's our only lawn mower. 

Nice Bit #2:  I let some bok choy go to seed and some of the seed got away from me.  I am finding bonus bok choy in the papayas and on the floor of the greenhouse and all kinds of places - lots of lovely dark leafy greens.

Okay, that's my bummers with a few mitigating nice bits. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Jaw Just Dropped

The invitational meet is really quite stressful for we parents - especially me.  I got to organize the main dishes and salads for the potluck for our visiting teams.  It was so stressful that I was crying the morning of - the last straw was when I was arguing with the facilities people that they needed to open the room where the warmers were because we didn't want to give everyone food poisoning.  They were worried that a parent volunteer would fall into the pool....sigh.  So, that meant I had to stay at the pool the whole time - or until the lifeguard got there.  I just lost it.  I dearly love to see my kids run; even after all these years.  That makes me sound like a baby, I am sure, but there was a whole lot of other stress between the landlord stuff and just the end of a project with students kind of stuff, and just, you know, life - on top of no sleep. 

I broke down in tears in front of the coach, which was embarrassing, but I think it got through to him that - hey this team mom thing is pretty darned stressful - even if it isn't from him but this big tradition that comes from the girls' team, actually.  At the end of the potluck he came to say thank you and all that good stuff - and then "So, you'll keep doing it for two more years, right?"  I told him I am sure there are other moms who could do it better than me, so probably not - or not without someone else doing the potluck.  I don't mind doing the fundraising and the snack thing and stuff like that, but that potluck was a monster. 

The two nice moms who were with me at the food told me to lock the door, they'd sit outside and wait while I watched the two races.  I felt bad, but I still did it. They had chairs and shade and were chatting, and I told them to not hesitate to flag down a security guy to open the door and watch them put food in the warmers should any parents show up while I was gone.  After the races were done, I went back.

It was worth it, because I got to spend time with my older son, who'd come to take my place as course marshal, and we got to watch my daughter run her race.  In this race, this top team comes from the mainland - those girls run as fast as our boys - so it was California, California, California - one after the other.  Then there were two girls from a Big Island school - and then there was MY girl.  My jaw dropped, and the other parents were screaming, "Nancy, Nancy - look!!!"  I couldn't believe it.  She just suddenly figured out she could do it - and she did it. 

My son did really well, too - he made his goal time of about a 6:30 minute mile and he caught and kept up with a couple of the boys on the team who've been faster than him this season.  I can't even imagine running a 6minute and 30 second mile - even for half a mile, much less three on a very hot day. 

Farm-wise, nothing much - my leafy greens in the greenhouse are loving the sunny weather we've had, which is odd, but the mint isn't liking it.  The asparagus ferny growth is huge and lush.  The sweet potato slips I pulled and threw in a bucket but forgot to take to the biology teacher are growing in the bucket, which is cool, I guess.  In spite of the powdery mildew, my collards are growing like - well, like weeds, since I can only eat the newest leaves before they get the mildew on them.  The neem isn't working on that.  The sheep are being sheep.  Allie is pregnant and it looks like twins because she is about a month or so shy of lambing and she's pretty fat.  Cookie keeps going into heat, but she never catches, and one of the spring lambs is growing stubby horns - which is annoying because my sheep are a polled breed.   I don't think any feral sheep could get in my yard, so that means there is a little wild blood back aways that is popping out here.

My husband decided to move where the ram pen corner was going to be (it was too close to the house) and almost punctured his neck when a board with a nail sprang right for him - first rolling the tractor, now this... He also helped a friend take down a cabin from a rental property - they guy said the could have the materials if they carted it out of there, so he got some metal roof panels and some plywood (the $50 a sheet stuff) for our chicken coops.  Even though I was pretty darned mad he wasn't home to help me as I cooked my 20 lbs of shoyu chicken for the potluck, I am pretty pleased with the building materials for the chickens.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hurdles, Getting Through The Big Weekend

It's been a week and half - in spite of being a short week and not being over, yet. 

I decided to forgo the Ed.D. degree in lieu of pursuing National Board Teacher Certification.  It costs less money - and when I pass my organization will reimburse me.  When I pass, I also am paid a stipend for the life of the certificate, so bonus.  It's pretty much like doing formal observation year, only even more so.  Since I am doing formal observation year, I figured I might as well get the pain over with. 

My challenge is to get it done in one year, which is actually pretty hard.  I also have to come up with the initial investment, but I will figure it out.  The worst of it is having to video myself.  I hate being in still pictures, and video is just torture.  In fact, my husband and I watched 24 years of life as he copied our old VHS tapes to DVD this summer.  There are 24 years of me, aging all the while, making a face and waving at the camera.  It got to be funny, actually. 

I am swamped with work, as is normal for the middle of the grading period, and I am still getting a few new initiatives of the ground - like a peer tutoring cadre, possibly a NaNoWriMo group, and I want to be in on every group this year's content lead set up.  Of course, I can't, and my perkiness is annoying to everyone else on the content lead who hates these kinds of things.  I really can't help it; I love doing research, and I love talking about teaching with other teachers - as long as it isn't complaining about kids or parents.  I get tired of those conversations real fast. 

We're in the middle of a dispute over the non-returned deposit for my son's last rental.  We got this ridiculous itemized list that claimed all kinds of damage to the apartment that was already there (and pointed out when we moved in, but sadly, not written down), damage to carpet from the landlord's own poorly maintained shower, and a "stolen" hose (which my son coiled neatly and put in their shed).  I am livid, frankly, at the really dishonest landlord.  My son and his roommate had left the key on the fridge and went back to do the inspection to find the key missing - along with $48 of recycling money which they had forgotten in the rush to the new place.  Guess how much deposit came back?  That's right - $48 - out of $750.  Guess a little bit of conscience kicked in on this creepy jerk.  He broke the laws regarding landlord-tenants several times this summer, and it was just getting old. 

This guy thinks he can get away with bilking 19 year olds.  Well, he forgot they have parents.  Since the check was postmarked after the 14 day limit, state law says they have to pay up.  They think it's all bluster, as they haven't responded to my email requesting they comply with the law, but I guess they'll feel differently when the notice to appear in Small Claims court appears. 

Saturday is the potluck, big meet day - I am beyond stressed.  That's about all I want to say about that, right now.

My husband could have died when the tractor rolled over on him.  This is one time it's was good he wasn't wearing a seat belt - he was able to jump away.  

Yeah, it's been a stressful week. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Multi-tasking and Race Results

I am attempting to answer student emails, bake bagels, bake cookies, make shredded brisket for canning tomorrow, ditto beef broth, and I am keeping half an eye on a movie (the second one in the marathon of making).  Tomorrow I will have to do that canning and make pans and pans of banana bread from the leftover bananas from the race. 

Yesterday, I drove round trip 3 hours to watch the second half of the boys' race (I was late because of SOMEONE wanting to do dishes - yeah, it wasn't me) and the first half of the girls' race - I left as soon as my daughter was finished.

 My son ran the three miles in 22:13, which is pretty good for that course (tough course), but not as good as he wanted - he's been dealing with an injury for a couple of weeks - a nasty abrasion on his leg from doing something fifteen-year-old-boyish.  My daughter ran an amazing 28:03 - for a freshman on that course that is amazing.  She has quite a kick at the end - very exciting.  I was jumping up and down like a fool - so proud of her. 

What's hilarious is that my son doesn't want to talk after races (none of my kids do, except my youngest), but the other boys love to tell every excruciating detail and second-guess when they started their kick and how they ran "the Hill."  It's lots of fun.  My kids start talking after a day or two, but at first it is all eye-rolls and pshaw noises.  I get to hear about pained knees, aching shins, second-winds later. 

I am going to miss it in a few years, when my kids are all graduated - well, everything except planning for the invitational potluck - that's just stressful.  I have 18 families signed up for main dish and pasta salad-y kinds of things and there are 150 people coming.  I feel very stressed.  I think I am going to have to make a heck of a lot of shoyu chicken and chili just to cover the bases. There are 25 more parents, and most times, they just bring stuff without telling me, but the waiting part is a little frustrating. 

Lucky You Live Hawaii: Huakaʻi Friday.

So, I am trying to catch the wireless connection here to send the pictures of work on Friday
.  We went to Haʻena (otherwise known as the "Shipman Beach" after the prominent family who owns the land adjacent to the beach).  I seriously am wondering if they have any teen/young adult sons who would be interested in dating my girls after this trip....okay, not seriously, but wow!  They did a good job of keeping their lands in the family and keeping it involved in agriculture.  And the "beach house" the family keeps for its use is AMAZING.  I could live there quite happily, thank you very much.  The beach is almost as nice as Kailua, where I grew up, and that is saying a whole heck of a lot.

The beach is actually accessible to the public with a hike from a parking lot (new, thanks to the generous Shipman family), so I have a plan for the weekend.  Several of my co-workers jumped in and swam - some of them in clothes.  I wasn't that brave (white tank top - not a good idea), but it was so great.  I love that my boss wants to furnish us with a sense of place, and I love that the place is so beautiful.  Puna is kind of looked down on these days, and to be honest, for good reason - it is quite cheap and so you get people who are trying to make it and people who are barely hanging on, and those latter sometimes make very bad choices for themselves, and sadly, their keiki.  But, today, I learned that Puna is quite significant in both ancient and modern Hawaii - and I refreshed my memory that there IS a great beach here.  We were spoiled on Oahu and this young island has beautiful but rocky beaches - but here is one with a healthy reef and lots of Uhu fish to make sand. 

There is a very large fish pond and makaha (where the freshwater joins the ocean) which is well kept and beautiful, and the hala trees are abundant.  I took pictures of the beach, and like I said, I am hoping to upload them soon.  Ah, here's the connection....and here are the pictures:

 Some of my coworkers on the grounds of the estate. 
 Nene goose and the fishpond above, and the really lovely beach at full tide.  Don't you just want to jump in?!  

The makaha - where the fresh water flows into the ocean.  The family member told us 75 million gallons flow through here every day.  Wow!  

This is a hala tree.  The lauhala (leaves) are woven into mats.  I've always wanted to learn, but the centipedes that love hala are really NOT a favorite of mine. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beautiful, beautiful weather

It's so beautiful, I may have to check those water tanks to see if we need to start conserving water. 

I stand in my classroom wishing I were on the horse (or at the beach) - and I am sure my kids are feeling the same way.  I asked one kid who mentioned he had a horse if he rode.  He said, "No,  I feed him and wave at him."  Basically, now that school is happening, that's all that's happening with me, too - I feed Gibby (or Mr. De does) and I wave at him. 

On one hand, I am consumed with doing a good job at my work - I am starting a peer tutoring program, I am thinking about doing National Board Teacher Certification, and I am determined to knock the ball out of the park in my classroom this year.  I'd like to do NaNoWriMo with a group of students in November, too.  I think I will be comatose by Christmas - just in time to sleep for a week once the festivities are over!  I am in the talking stage for teaching a class during summer school - Research Writing which is SUCH a fun class to teach.  I haven't taught summer school for over a decade....kind of mixed feelings, because if I am going to be comatose by Christmas, I'll be one foot in the grave by May - but the extra money and especially the chance to teach a class I developed and loved again will be really a blast. 

On the other hand, I am making zero progress on the food from the garden idea.  My husband is going gang-busters, though.  He's clearing for the fencing for the ram pen (he finished the shed) and the next two big projects are a bigger greenhouse and a large area for new chickens.  I guess I should be happy things are happening, even if they aren't resulting in immediate food. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To Degree or To Not Degree

I got an email on my work email from my boss regarding an EdD program opening up next summer.  (Not to get too excited, he sent it to everyone - in spite of telling me- and probably anyone else who asks - that entering a doctorate program is not worth it! He's in the middle of his final throes of his own doctoral program). 

When I first was hired at my current job, I was so excited to find out that one of our benefits is help with tuition for further professional study.  Being the big softie that I am, I could feel the tears prickling at the back of my eyes, because I have always wanted my doctorate, and I have always come back to the conclusion that it is just too expensive, and that I am getting too old for it to pay itself back.  I thought, maybe, with the generous help this organization gives, I could do it anyway. 

However, I have two kids in college - and when they get out, two more will enter in, so really, even with the help, it's not something I can rationalize.  I would have to leave the classroom to make it worthwhile, because, folks, I am ridiculously gifted in the educational credits department (still paying for the last one, as a matter of fact), and getting more credits won't move me up any teacher scale.  On the other hand, it will make me eligible for administrative jobs.  I have to decide whether that's what I want to do.

Some days, I love my job and the kids and there is nothing I want more than to stay here in this classroom.  On other days, I want to do even more.  I like research - that's the truth.  And educational research is fascinating.  I like working with teachers to make schools more effective places.

Honestly, my heart was joyful with that flyer in the mail, until the tough questions kicked in.  Plus, I do remember how hard the last degree was - I had 4 small kids, a full time teaching job, and it meant a lot of late nights and stress, and that was just a professional degree.  I also remember my MA - carting babies to classes (mine, a foster kid on a heart monitor, etc.), also working full time (but not in a classroom, which was easier).  Mentally stimulating, physically exhausting - and both times, I was a lot younger and more energetic.  And this degree means traveling to Oahu quite often, and I don't think, unlike my last traveling degree that the costs are covered by the University.  That's quite a lot more cost kicked in - plus time away from the farm, which is not negligible. 

Well, the application is due January 14; I have time to think about this. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gorgeous Weekend

It was an absolutely beautiful weekend, as far as weather goes.  I spent most of Saturday in a concession stand selling manapua, chili plate, chili dog, chili nachos - you get the idea.  As I am, once again, the "team mom,"  I spent all of one shift and most of the second in the booth (I ducked out because somehow the desperation I must have projected at Thursday evening's XC Parent meeting really worked to bring in volunteers and it was crowded - but I went to my classroom and worked on rosters, etc). 

I hope this is a harbinger of things to come, because we have FOUR meets (usually two) at our school and one of them is the regional championship - which means begging for course marshals.  Oh, and I think I heard there were will be several mainland schools at our invitational - which means more potluck.  I hate that potluck.  Well, no, I like the potluck, but I loathe the begging for donations, stress of planning, and the panic some of the other moms display the morning of, "There's not enough food, Nancy!"  Yes, yes, there is  enough;  there is always enough.  In fact, there are always leftovers.  Mostly rice and chili, but still....leftovers. 

My other duty for "team mom" is to gather donations - usually monetary, because more parents would like me to go buy the food than would like to remember what day they are supposed to bring a snack.  I like this part of my duties, to be honest.  I like knowing that the food and drinks will be there before and after the race (I am sure gonna miss the dad who was a banana farmer, though - his son graduated), and I LOVE not having to call parents to remind them it is their week. 

Coach said, "Hey, I am so glad your son is a sophomore - and hey, your daughter is a freshman, maybe you can help me the year after he graduates, even if I am not her coach."  I told him, "Every year, I come this close to telling you we're recruiting someone new!"  In fact, I already have my eye on this new freshman mom.... She seems really organized and involved, and, you know, new and enthusaistic - this is my 8th year as an XC mom.

 On the other hand, this responsibility is forcing me to do things which are uncomfortable for me - like being a little bossy to strangers, speaking in public (to not-kids), and being more ruthlessly organized than I am used.  Time and task, I am organized on; paperwork, not so much.

I love that my daughter is also running, but that means, even if I am not team mom over there, I am a mom, and they do FOUR concessions, and I have to find two people from our family to course marshal.  That means my husband and I can't trade off meets so at least one of us can really watch...we'll both have to course marshal.  I am going to find SOMEONE to marshal for us both at the regional meet.  Our son has a decent chance to make the state meet this year, and I am going to watch that race!  At the least, I can beg for a spot at the finish line - I like being there anyway - even if you have a fair chance of being vomited on at some point or at least sweated on by a fainting runner.  All you people who think individual sports aren't as valuable as team sports ought to stand at the finish line of a XC race.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teenager-y Weekend

I have never had two teenagers without also having younger kids who still think Mom is a star...until now.  Don't get me wrong, I quite like teenagers.  I must or I wouldn't have made my career of teaching them, but having two showing small (but still rotten) attitudes at the same time made the weekend less than fun.  Fortunately, the 15 year old just needed food. 

Although, I have to admit making the daughter wheedle a little to earn back her iPod was a little fun - after I got over being mad for the reason I took it in the first place.  My husband disguised being a softie about it by saying she could get it back in an hour, or never, depending on her attitude and her attempts to make amends (I'd set a week time limit).  Or maybe he gets the De mind a little better than I do. She thought she just had to wait it out, he made it a lot less pleasant (extra chores, apologize to offended parties, etc). 

I had all kinds of nightmares - I haven't had teaching nightmares since I was a rookie teacher more years ago than I care to think about.  I dreamed the students, like Tribbles on Star Trek, multiplied as I tried to get them seated and ready for their standardized testing.  I dreamed I showed up to work in my pjs.  Sigh.  Two nights of inadequate teaching dreams.  I showed up at work on Monday, though, and everything was fine.  Phew.  No multiplying kids, and a stern look worked just as well as it always does. 

To make up for it, I acted like a sneaky kid myself.  I went to every wild berry patch I could think of on our property - and I ate all the berries I found myself.  I didn't share.  Of course, that meant about 6 blackberries and two raspberries, but it was the principle (or lack thereof) of the thing.  I did give my husband the one lonely strawberry from the greenhouse, though.  Does that absolve me from being sneaky and a bit selfish? 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Earthquake and the Last Stale Ends of a Tropical Storm

We were woken up this morning by what felt like a decent sized earthquake - although the news said it was only at 4.8.  It knocked down several little porcelain horse statues.  The last earthquake that knocked those down was a 6.7.  This was the end of several of them, sadly. 

It also knocked over a brass bookend horse I had from my grandmother, which was surprising, but it didn't knock over my statue of Mary - although it was awfully close to the edge.  I am glad that didn't break:  it was a wedding present from the sisters I worked with at my first teaching job. 

We've had the tail end of a erstwhile hurricane passing to the south of us.  It is now a tropical storm and we just got the outlying showers and icky-sticky humidity.  The kids had a pre-season race yesterday morning and it was pretty soggy from the rain and humid from the general atmosphere. 

We've been thinking about getting some podocarpus (Japanese yew) for our front property line, and we found some seedlings growing wild.  Today's project was to replant them in pots - hopefully, they'll grow and we can transplant them to the front.  My  husband, who usually avoids the greenhouse, other than to water if I have a string of late days, helped plant them, and then re-organized all the plants so like plants are together and the coffee seedlings (which are getting so big) are not shading everything. 

I spent a few hours helping my son clean - he is moving on Thursday.  I don't think they've vacuumed for an entire year.  Yuck.  The bathroom wasn't too bad, but I just said, "I'll leave this bottle of cleaner - you guys get the honor of cleaning your kitchen when you've done your dishes and emptied your fridge.  Yuck."  My son wishes his room mate was cleaner - he gets tired of doing his dishes, so sometimes he doesn't do them.  The two boys are moving in with two more boys - I hope they can get a cleaning schedule going. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bucket Head

As I was recouping from a great, but long, day yesterday (I admit, recouping currently means mindless games of solitaire alone in my room for 15 minutes after coming home),  I kept hearing a persistent, but oddly soft distress call from the sheep. 

I figured that a lamb got on the ram side and was locked away from mom, so I headed outside to check it out.  It's always a bit of a rodeo to get the lambs out of the rams, because you have to keep half an eye on Elvis and try to herd the little guy through a cracked open gate - without letting Hulu or Elvis through.  Let's just say I wasn't feeling terribly enthusiastic about the adventure. 

As I rounded the corner to the sheep pen, I had to laugh.  All the sheep were piled up against the gate, seemingly in abject fear, and the complainant was in the barn with a bucket firmly stuck on her head, calling for help with the regularity of a metronome.  I thought she was a lamb because she was muffled. 

I pulled the bucket off and all the sheep came flooding back in, hoping for a second course of dinner.  Too bad, guys. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ram Shelter

My husband has been busting his okole to complete the ram pen and shelter.  The shelter is done - cinder floor (6 inch minus for drainage), fence poles for support, 2 x 4 rafters/purlings, and corrugated metal roofing.  The next step is fencing the area we laid out way back on Mother's Day - things take time around here.... 

The kids and I are back in school and pretty darned tired with it, too.  Back to 12 hour days, followed by homework and (for me - kid chores are for weekends, but mom chores are never done) household chores.  I am scrambling to get to know kids' names, faces, and abilities and needs in reading, writing, behavior, study habits, etc. etc.  It's exciting, like every school beginning, but exhausting, too.

On the other hand, I had WONDERFUL news from a friend of mine.  She needed a kidney transplant and the hospital was searching for some time.  They found a perfect match - and the donor had a wife who also needed a kidney, and my friend's husband was a perfect match for her.  Now, what are the odds of that?  One perfect match kidney donation is 1:100,000 - two boggles the mind.  All four were in surgery on Monday, and my friend's kidney function is nearly normal as of last night.  God is very good.