Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jelly Week

Handley Elementary officially opened its doors and started strong with a week of jelly.  We spelled jelly, we read jelly, we ate jelly, we wrote jelly, and we visited the sea jellies at the aquarium.  I think it was a successful beginning.
As the headmaster at Handley, I learned many valuable lessons.
1.  Never teach a hungry student.
2.  Always keep the markers well away from the 18 month old explorer.
3.  Think longer term.

I was so excited/nervous about my first week at school that I threw everything I had into it. I stayed up late researching and making lesson plans.  I did prep-work at night when I should have been sleeping.  I sacrificed sanity and peace during the day for extra minutes of lesson time.  My thoughts seemed to assume that there was nothing beyond Friday.
I was very wrong.
This isn't an experiment and it certainly isn't a week's vacation.  This is a choice to be with my kids all day, every day, with no breaks (Zeke doesn't nap).  It's a bit of an adjustment for all of us.      

Highlight of Jelly Week:
We went to a small local aquarium to see the sea jellies one afternoon and I had one of those amazing peaceful, "this is good" moments.  While I was chasing little ones around wishing that someone would just close all the doors, Zeke stood at the touch tank and talked with the volunteer there for 20 minutes.  On his own.  The volunteer was patient, kind and excited.  She listened to Zeke and Zeke listened to her.  He loved the personal attention and all that time with the hermit crabs, sea stars, limpets and sundry.  We got a one-on-one lesson from a different volunteer about microscopes, barnacles, sea urchins and brine fish.  I'm not sure Zeke understood all of it, but he remembered that a barnacle eats with his feet, and he watched the barnacle grabbing brine fish and stuffing them in his mouth.         

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bad School Day

Today was not so great and I wanna make sure I remember:

1.  Not every day will be great.
2.  He probably learned something anyway.

We did this math exercise where I gave him a ruler, a regular ruler, and I called it a stick.  We each gave a "guess" about how many sticks there were between the house and the garage and we wrote our guesses on the dry erase board.  Then we measured.  He moved the stick and I marked each length with sidewalk chalk.  Then we counted.  The real number was 24.5 "sticks" and his guess was 12 "sticks".  My guess was 22 "sticks".  I asked him which guess was closer to the correct answer and he said his was.  I asked him a different way and he repeated that his guess was still the closest.
I thought about what his answer meant for my math lessons and said, "Let's go play Monopoly."
When we sat up to the game board and he took the dice to roll.  Without prompting he paused and said, "I told you my guess was closer because I wanted to win.  I know your guess was closer."
Then he rolled, counted the dots on the dice, and reminded me that he was owed $200.

[Insert:  Picture of Zeke with lots of Monopoly money and devilish grin.]

PS  My camera battery needs charging and I can't find the charger.  Just one more thing I lost in the move.  I'll probably find it the day after I order a new one.  

Friday, October 17, 2014


One afternoon I was searching for a quick and easy recipe that Zeke could make with minimal adult interference.  I found this caramel apple recipe that called for four ingredients - apples, caramel candies, milk and sticks.  It was even better because there was a video demonstrating how to make the apples.  Zeke watched it twice and decided he was ready.  (Truthfully, it had an automatic replay and he is bewitched by screens.)
In addition to be very willing to sample the caramel candies he unwrapped, Zeke did an amazing job.  He liked best using a big kitchen knife to make a slit in the apple for the sticks.  (He improvised this step, the recipe didn't call for it.)

At the end of it all I had a very sticky kitchen, a sticky floor, sticky chairs, sticky table, sticky children, and a big pool of caramel on the wax paper instead of the apples.
Turns out, children don't like eating apples on sticks - it's much too difficult and, well, sticky. 
Lesson learned, pictures taken - never again. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dodge Ball

Mike bought these three little playground balls to replace the four or five balls that have been popped by accidental run-ins with our tangerine tree.  (It has vicious two-inch thorns.) 
The kids each adopted their favorite color of ball:  Zeke - red, Ben - green, and Lily - whatever was leftover.  Then Dad introduced the game of Dodge Ball, and the children re-voted him as Favorite Parent of the Year.   
They like to do the "dodging" while I do the throwing.  If I play by the rule that I'm only allowed to aim at their knees and lower, it's a pretty fair match.  (Plus, they have unlimited numbers of lives and we usually play until I'm too tired.  They are never tired.  Ever.)