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Category Archives: Field Trips and New Experiences

What Summer is About

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On Sunday, I saw one of my students at the grocery store. We said hello to each other and I asked if she was having a good summer. She said she was, but lamented that it was going too fast and that it seemed to be nearly over already. I assured her that we had five weeks left – I had counted – and she has plenty of time to relax.

Of course, I have to remind myself of that as well. I don’t feel as stressed out as I did last summer, when I was trying to develop an entire new teacher induction program from scratch, but I’ve still been plenty busy, and certainly not ready to go back to the classroom yet.

Husband and I vacationed in Prince Edward Island at the end of May and beginning of June. It was a lot of driving – two days of driving there and two days back, plus quite a bit of time in the car as we explored the island. Husband drove every last mile of it, which made us both happy. He loves to drive; I prefer to gaze out the windows until the hum of the motor and the movement of the car lullaby me to sleep. (And then I wake up with a sore back and a stiff neck.) We listened to seven audiobooks on the trip. While we were there, we went sailing (sort of – the wind died so we were really just out on an engine-powered boat that has the ability to sail). We kayaked out into the ocean (with a guide) till we found a sand bar where we dug for clams, and then kayaked back and assisted our guide in making (and eating!) clam chowder. We visited Green Gables (walking through the Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane), toured an alpaca farm, walked along several beaches, and ate a lot of seafood. Lobster, clams, haddock, crab, mussels, and oysters.

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PEI is beautiful. Every single part of it is picturesque, and most of it is rural. I think Husband would like to live there. He’d have to live there without me, though, because one lady told us that last year, there was still snow on the ground at the beginning of June. No, thank you. Indiana might get miserably hot and humid, but at least our winter doesn’t last eight months. Of course, that’s one thing Husband would like about it.

Coming home made me happy. Everything is green here in the summer, and when the thunderstorms aren’t rolling through, the sun shines mightily.

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In June, Husband did some sand sculpting, and I picked raspberries and visited with friends I haven’t seen in ages. He worked on installing I-beams in the big carport we’d had put up in the spring, as part of setting up his wood shop to work on the timber frame house he is building.

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I went to a workshop on Project-Based Learning and started the second course in my Master’s program in Curriculum and Educational Technology. As July began, he drew designs for ice sculptures and house plans while he watched movies, and I listened to teacher podcasts while I washed the dishes or made dinner. We put up 13 bales of hay from our field, and then it rained three and a half inches in about two hours, and the hay – which we’d put in the barn but not in the hay loft – got wet because the barn floods. (Lesson learned.) He’s been playing soccer. I’ve been running and biking… and going to yoga, which seems a very middle-aged-woman-thing to do, but hey, I’m a middle-aged woman and I’m trying to embrace that. Besides, yoga helps keeps me flexible since I never remember to stretch after I run.

My book has languished. I’ve been waiting for feedback from a few of my students who promised to read my manuscript and let me know what they thought. And just like adults, when kids don’t have deadlines, sometimes they take a long time to get things done. It’s not such a bad thing, though. Most of my creative energies have gone into developing PBL unit plans, drafting emails to our new teachers and organizing their orientation, responding to online discussions for my class, and coming up with ways to redesign my classroom, both physically and culturally. Sometimes I play the ukulele. Sometimes I knit… and on days like today, I rip out twenty rows of knitting because I made a huge mistake waaaaay back there.

Summer, I’ve decided, isn’t about being lazy. It’s about giving my mind a rest by doing other things, by stretching it in new ways.

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End of Summer Thoughts

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There is just one week until I go back to school, and I’m nursing a wicked sunburn by slathering on the aloe every few hours.  We neglected our garden terribly this summer, you see, and Sunday we got serious and spent several hours weeding it.  It was a beautifully cool, sunny day.  I didn’t think we’d be out there long.  I didn’t think about sunscreen.  But now I think about my shoulders a lot.  I also think about my fingers which are blistered from the friction of pulling weeds.

There is just one week until I go back to school, but the school in my town started today.  The roar of school buses and the sleepy chatter of students walking to school reminded me that my days of unlimited free time are slipping away.

There is just one week until I go back to school, and I feel like there is more I should have done or should be doing to prepare.  It’s been so long since I’ve done a real first day of school.  Last year on the first day of school, I was an aide, and my class sizes were miniscule and I didn’t have units to plan or standards to hit or a multi-part evaluation to constantly prepare for.  Then, when I started my actual teaching job a month into the school year, I didn’t have time to plan for anything.  This year, I had the need and the time, but I felt like I forgot how to do this.  I am thankful not to be starting all over, though.  While I will certainly be making changes and adjustments this year, I’m still in the same school with the same principal and mostly the same colleagues.  Many of my 8th grade students were my 7th graders last year, so I won’t even have all new faces in the seats.  All that will be very nice.  And even if I am a bit disorganized this year, it can’t be as bad as last year.  I hope.

There is just one week until I go back to school, and I didn’t do all the things I’d hoped or planned to this summer.  I thought I’d go to the university’s art museum and nature preserve, but I never got there.  I thought I’d go camping more than once.  I thought I’d go canoeing.  I thought I’d have all summer to play with Stephan, but he was gone much of the summer for work.  Still, I tried new foods and a couple of crafts.  I finished knitting an afghan and started on another one.  I went to a conference and earned 15 points toward the renewal of my teacher license.  I went to two state fairs (the Indiana State Fair is lots more fun than the Ohio State Fair — sorry, Buckeyes) and took an overnight trip to Columbus, OH.  We got some kitchen redecorating done and had the exterior of our house painted.  I had very little routine this summer, which is hard for me, so I didn’t feel like I got much accomplished, but when I really think about it, I guess I did.

There is just one week until I go back to school.  I am looking forward to it.  I am dreading it.  I am learning to be content with what God has for me.

My T-shirt Yarn Rug

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SONY DSCOkay, my picture posted sideways, but you can still get the general idea of the result of the rug I made with the t-shirt yarn I wrote about in this post.

I had 13 balls of yarn, I cut the strips about one inch wide, and I think I used size 17 needles, but I don’t recall exactly.  I cast on until my rug was about 20 inches wide, and just knitted until I ran out of yarn.

There were a few issues.  First, one of the t-shirts had seams on the sides, and that made both the knitting a little more difficult and the result a little less smooth.  If you decide to make t-shirt yarn, I recommend you avoid t-shirts with seams.  Second, that same t-shirt seemed to coat my needles with some kind of weird sticky substance which meant the yarn didn’t slide on the needles well.  I’m not sure what the deal was, since I was pretty sure all shirts were clean, and this was the only one that did that.  The substance rubbed off easily, so when I moved on to the next ball, it was no big deal.  Also, you may notice that the sides of the rug aren’t very even; this is caused by differences in the thickness of the yarn.  I probably could have measured more carefully, to make sure that all my strips were more uniform.  As it was, I placed a ruler on the shirt, snipped every inch, and then just eyeballed the cuts.  So it probably wasn’t super accurate.  Secondly, the t-shirts were of different fabric thicknesses.  I don’t know why I didn’t think about that, but I think it made a difference.  Naturally, a thinner shirt will knit up smaller than a thicker one.  For those two reasons, the rug doesn’t look very even.  If I wash it and block it, I may be able to make it more uniform; I may try that in the next week or so.

But there it is.  All in all, I was pleased with it.  And my dog Gryffon likes it; I often see him lying on it instead of the hardwood floor.  He likes a comfy spot.

A Very Busy Wednesday

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Stephan’s out of town this week, which always puts me a little out of sorts.  I was just getting used to him being gone in the winter (what with being swamped with work at Christmas and New Year’s, and then traveling for competitions), but being on my own in the summer is new since he’s usually not very busy this time of year.  But he’s been doing a lot of sand sculpture, mostly in Ohio, so here I go again on my own. (Going down the only road I’ve ever known!  Like a drifter I was born to walk alone… So I’ve made up my mind.  I ain’t wastin’ no more time!  Thank you very much, Whitesnake.)

(In case you weren’t aware, Stephan and I live a musical life.  We often break into song — often they are songs from the ’80’s.  Fear not, though — we don’t recreate the hairstyles from the same time period.)

Anyway, after kind of wandering around all day yesterday, unsure what to do with myself, I got busy today!

I put a load of laundry in the washer and hung it on the line.

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(It still needs to be folded and put away.)

I baked two loaves of banana bread (now in the freezer) and four loaves of honey whole wheat bread.  (Three for us, and one to give away.)

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While I waited for the bread to rise, I cleaned out the freezer.  What a mess!  I can’t recall the last time it was cleaned out.  I moved several things to the deep freeze in the garage to make more space, threw out a few things I could not recognize, wiped out some gross frozen goo from the bottom of the freezer, and organized what was left.

While the bread baked, I tried to make a “work-out top” based on this blog post, but I didn’t have much luck.  I think the shirt I was trying to use was too big.  So, since I had fourteen old tee-shirts to use up (most of them Stephan’s but a couple of them mine), I tried another craft I had found on Pinterest:  tee-shirt yarn.  This craft worked much better.  And I didn’t have to worry about the size of the shirt or the fact that many of them were stained.  I made five balls of yarn and have gotten a start on the other nine shirts.  (I’m thinking of making a rug with the yarn.)

SONY DSCMy hand gets tired cutting through all that material though (and I think I’m dulling my scissors a bit), so I needed to take a break.  So I made myself a sandwich for lunch (with fresh homemade bread, a fried egg, fresh basil, avocado, horseradish, and spinach) and watched the last episode of the first season of Call the Midwife.

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Now it’s time to think about what I’m taking to the carry-in supper at church tonight, and maybe make some more tee-shirt yarn.

Bananas are yummy

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When I was a kid, I didn’t like bananas.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I always waited until they were too ripe to eat them.  (I still dislike dry, mushy bananas.  I like them still slightly green.)  But I keep finding delicious ways to eat them.  I already told you about the banana ice cream.  I found another lovely recipe on Pinterest:  Fried Honey Bananas.  These are so easy and so yummy.  Stephan and I had them for breakfast earlier this week.

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Simple and sweet.  We ate them plain, but I think they would also be good on top of ice cream or pancakes.

Ice Cream!

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So I was sitting here, feeling hot and wanting something sweet and cold.  I wanted some ice cream but we don’t have any, and I don’t have a car right now.

Then I remembered pinning something on Pinterest and I thought I’d actually try it!

Here’s the recipe.  It’s really good!  I did add the peanut butter and cocoa and it was delightful, though I think I put in a little too much peanut butter.  It made plenty for me and some extra to put in the freezer for later.

Hey, I actually tried something I pinned on Pinterest!

And as an extra bonus, I can check off trying something new for this week of summer.

On the Agenda

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Today I went to the Farmer’s Market, visited a friend, repotted several plants, baked pumpkin bread (from homegrown pumpkin that I stewed and froze last fall), and picked six strawberries from my garden.  Just now I put two loaves of honey whole wheat bread in the oven.

Tonight I’m going to Symphony on the Green at the local university campus, where I will picnic with friends and listen to the local symphony orchestra.  (My “field trip” for the week.)

Tomorrow is church, a missions team meeting, and a potluck dinner with Stephan’s aunt and uncle (who are visiting from Argentina), and their children/spouses (one visiting from California, the other from a few hours north of here), and Stephan’s siblings (?).

I’m nearing the completion of the afghan I’m knitting, so perhaps I’ll put some time in on that this afternoon and/or tomorrow evening.

What’s on tap for your weekend?