Monday, August 20, 2007

About Home Visits

This is my second year of August home visits and I always dread starting them because of the imposition they make on my time. Don't get me wrong, we are paid for the extra hours we use: up to 18 hours in August and 10 in September. But it is analogous to having the covers ripped away from you on a cool fall morning. Then I go on one visit, then two, and the ice is broken and I begin to be enthused and I anticipate all the potential that will be entering my classroom door. They are amusing, daunting, entertaining, adorable, precocious, timid, demanding, delightful, and more. They are part of a package wrapped in 'family' and 'culture' that add layers of information which I unwrap gingerly with as much awareness and consideration as I can muster. I think back on the little Cambodian boy who, along with his 3 year old brother, mount the arms of the family couches and vie for attention as they dramatize motorcycle stunts in their living room. I kid you not, they had all the moves down , including a pose very similar to what you see in this link. There is also the little girl who writes books; and I am being literal. She brought out a story she had written on 40, yes FORTY, pages of a sketchbook. Each page had 1,2 or 3 sentences with a combination of phonetic and correctly spelled words all in capital letters but with periods or exclamation points correctly placed. She reread her story to me using smooth phrasing and wonderful expression in appropriate places. Amazing!
I have been given coffee, cookies, much needed water, invitations to dinner and gifts of smooth pebbles, flowers, and drawings; all as mementos of my home visits.

Weather Girl

I definitely need to adjust my 'weather girl' as it is pouring outside right now. It sounds different to my ears; new gutters will do that. There's no more "plink, plink, plop" as raindrops hit various buckets at the corners of the house where the old gutters leaked. My mom and dad left last Thursday and while they are gone , they are never far from my thoughts. My dad will be having surgery next Wednesday to remove his bladder. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in April and intravesical therapy was not successful so this is the next step. Blog readers out there: your prayers and positive thoughts will be appreciated. It feels a lot like summer is over for me! I have begun home visits to my incoming students. I have been warmly welcomed into 11 homes so far. More details forthcoming in my next post. In a few minutes here I will be logging off and heading to a math training to acquaint teachers with Everyday Math, our new curriculum adoption. I hope I remember how to sit still for 6 hours!

Friday, August 17, 2007

With Bubble or Without?

Do you like bubble tea? This summer I prefer bubble tea to frappacinos, fresh avacado being my favorite flavor. Mom and Dad thought pineapple bubble tea was mighty tasty and filling! The 'bubble' is sometimes called 'pearl' or 'tapioca'. In fact it IS tapioca but it looks kind of like a dark brown fish egg in my opinion, but it tastes nothing like fish. They are chewy and slightly sweet. I like the bubbles when they are really warm and the temperature is a sharp contrast to the icy tea. This photo is of the wide, colorful straws used in bubble tea.

Inside Uwajimaya

On Tuesday 8/14 we went to Seattle's Chinatown which is better know to locals as the International District. We had a totally regrettable, hopefully forgettable, lunch experience with inattentive wait staff and blah food at the restaurant Ocean City. I'm really loving getting acquainted with my new camera. Uwajimaya, a large grocery/department store provided me with many colorful subjects for photo experimentation. If I had to do it over, we would have eaten at the food court at Uwajimaya's.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Alki

Alki has a lovely beach and a great view of the city and Mt. Rainier when the clouds aren't around. And there are always plenty of people to watch and good restaurants. We strolled a bit and then ate pizza at Pegasus; yum! After that we drove to 'the Junction' in West Seattle and had ice cream at Husky deli.

Friday, August 10, 2007

At The Market

Pike Place Market is always a good destination for visitors to Seattle even if, like mom and dad, they have been here a dozen times. Aren't the flowers beautiful, and look at that glistening fish; you just know it's got to be fresh!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Made In Canada

I can't begin to tell you how happy I was when I flipped over this huge box that had sat, just begging to be opened, in our stairwell for a month and saw the words 'made in Canada'. Our school PTA forked over a cool $400. for me to purchase this state of the art easel and after 13 years of using a painting easel as my teaching station, I think I deserved it. I was quite leery of diving into the instructions to assemble it and then heaved a sigh of relief when I discovered that our neighbors to the near north were the manufacturers. Canadian English and pictographs I can handle. Isn't a divine piece of teaching equipment? Drool away sister Lynn!
After showing off my skillful assembly job to my DH he told me that assembling a 'box kit' of furniture now merits a patch in Girl Scouting. That sure is a far cry from the patches I earned for starting campfires, reading a compass, childcare and sewing!


Every summer our hazelnut bush/tree has branches hanging heavy with nuts. The squirrels get busy long before they are ripe. In the 18 years we have lived in this house I have only eaten one ripe nut and that one I found on the ground as I was doing garden clean up in September. This picture was taken 2 weeks or more ago and today there is nary a nut in sight. I have tried picking them unripe and then laying them between newspaper in the garden shed but that was unsuccessful. I know my grandma could ripen hazelnuts in that way, but I must be missing some part of the trick because it did not work for me. This morning I picked blackberries in the vacant lot next door. Not quite enough for a pie, but almost! Time to vacuum and make this place presentable because tomorrow my mom and dad arrive from Wisconsin! I also have 3 home visits to incoming kindergartners to make this afternoon. Summer really is winding down. Boo hoo!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Day at the Races

Anna Rae wanted to exercise her legal rights and gamble at Emerald Downs. She was ahead by
nearly $20. at one point but left the tracks only $3.00 richer and that was with beginner's luck! We won't even say how Chris and I fared. No matter; it was a fun family outing on a gorgeous August day.

July's Flowers

From the top: Lilies, Dahlias. Ligularia, Zinnias, and fading Yarrow. Can you pinpoint which photo was taken with my new camera? As I post this I am listening to a David Byrne podcast and opera is the feature this month. I don't normally listen to opera but this music is really beautiful and calming. It is reassuring to me that even David Byrne says he is out of his element when listening to opera. He certainly has chosen some lovely pieces for this month's podcast. Go take 'a listen'. Click on RADIO in his menu bar.

Looking At ???

"I see a whale, I'm sure I do! No it is the head of a harbor seal, REALLY IT IS!" No it wasn't either but we all did our best to peer carefully into the distance before discounting their
insistent claims.

Squint for Me!

Oh my goodness that was a bright sunset! In late July the family that purchased a beach picnic and childcare for 5 children at the auction for the school where I teach, redeemed their purchase. Here I am with the two third graders, two first graders and an incoming kindergartner, all of who have known (or will know) me as their teacher. It was really great fun! First was the picnic dinner of hot dogs, chips, carrot sticks, fruit salad and chocolate cookies then down to the beach we trooped for stone skipping and walking on the logs and dodging the waves created by the wake from the ferry boat.

Gille Visits

Where has July gone? I can't believe my birthday was over a month ago! Anna Rae's friend Gillie was a welcome guest in our house during July. I do believe I am misspelling his name. Anna Rae told me the right way once upon a time but you know how it is when you learn something. Right or wrong, it is hard to 'unlearn' prior learning. Gillie is from Annecy, France where Anna Rae was an exchange student in 04-05 and Gillie was an exchange student in Belfaire, WA in 03-04. Thusly, you see the connections. He was an easy house guest, content with a couch and a sleeping bag. He is vegan and that kind of threw me through a loop as it always gives me great pleasure to feed my house guests. Vegetarian I do easily; but vegan is a little trickier. I did have one awesome lentil and vegetable recipe from a middle eastern coworker and that was a hit as were the breakfast smoothies that Chris makes.