Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teenager in Her Natural Habitat

Caught Emma checking out You Tube videos of how to put her hair up, while giving herself a manicure. My little girl is turning into a teen girl. But not one of those bad ones :-)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Garden Post

Today it is 77 degrees! It was a bit hotter than I expected, but it drew me out into the garden. I have one bed I'm giving up on, and I transplanted all the daylilies out of it last fall, but there are a few other things I've wanted to move. Today I got some of the orange iris transferred to another bed. Then Emma helped me add soil to the strawberry bed --it had settled over the last couple of years. We pulled up a fair number of the strawberry plants, then she heaved the bags of soil into the bed. I opened them and poured them in. Whew it was stinky! Those bags of topsoil had been sitting there all last summer and winter, and there was a good crop of moss and mold growing inside them. While Emma has many wonderful character traits, she has quite an aversion to getting her hands dirty. This is true for cooking as well as gardening --it took her a long time before she was willing to crack eggs, and she didn't care for this soil :-) But she was still very helpful, and now the strawberry plants are back in, a few inches higher. Normally I plant stuff in compost, but this will have to do for now. 

After I came back in, all hot and sweaty, I visited Kristy's blog, where she had a garden update. So then I decided I had to go back out and take some photos, so I heaved my tired butt off my chair and did so. I can't get low to the ground anymore again because of my right hip, so everything is taken from a standing position :-)
Scilla with a clump of snowdrops.

Scilla in the woods. I LOVE scilla. Just ignore the railroad ties. We'll get them out of there some day!.

Glory of the Snow. These have been seeding themselves all over my gardens, which is so nice.

Some tiny species tulips.

Some more species tulips.

My earliest daffodils.
Now I've had it for the day. Time for a shower and some cooler clothes!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Foolin' Around

Yesterday was warmish (low 50s). Emma's friend came home from school with her. They did some bike-riding, baked/filled/iced some cupcakes, and played around with their guitars. They're both newbies, at about the same place in lessons. Rob took some photos.
After he took some pictures of them practicing, he got them to pose for a "rock star" shot.
I think the greatest part of being a parent is watching your kid develop into a full-fledged, independent, human. It's scary, and way too much work, but great fun.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Parenting Awards

I'm sure I'm eligible for several parenting awards.

Laziest Parent Ever Award, for instance. A FB friend posted about how she and her 10 year old daughter had just battled about dinner --as usual, her daughter didn't want to eat what she'd made for dinner. Every parent has been there, and several chimed in with comments. I found a solution to this problem years ago --gosh, quite a few years ago, as I think on it. Most of the time Emma makes her own dinner. Yes, I'm THAT lazy. It has to include a few healthy things (I make sure to keep these on the grocery list so they're always available) --lately that will be apple slices, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese sticks, bananas, etc. She puts together a plate, and yes, it will include chips and cookies, but I'm fine with that. She's healthy and at a perfectly normal weight, and she's been eating this way for years. She eats when she's hungry, and stops when she's full.

I gave up cooking regular meals quite a few years ago now. I got tired of it. Why should this be my job, anyway? I still do it sometimes (and of course they have to be minus any nuts, bell peppers, or anything in the onion family because I'm blessed to live with two people with food allergies), and Rob is wonderfully grateful when I do. I make dinner so rarely nowadays that he can't possibly take it for granted :-)

Irresponsible Parent Award. Just the thought of this one made me laugh out loud this morning, as I was driving Emma to school. She wanted to get breakfast at Panera this morning --she does this one or twice a month. It's kind of on the way to school, but it takes extra time. She's still not very good at getting ready on time, so when we got in the car and she looked at the clock, she said "We'll be late for school, won't we?" Meh --it was going to be close. So what do I do? Get her to school on time? No! Of course not. I head to Panera. It was 25 degrees with snow on the ground in April --I think the whole world deserves to have hot chocolate for breakfast when we have snow in April! So, we were about 10 minutes late for school.

An administration with a relaxed attitude is one of the advantages of having her attend a small private school. Boy, when she starts at the public high school in another year, I'm going to have to seriously shape up!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I'm starting this blog post while I'm teaching lab. Bad, huh? :-) 

But sometimes my students just really make me laugh. This semester, my traditional class (the one class I teach that isn't partially or totally online) is very small. Maybe it's because it's so small that the range of personalities seems so great.

I have one student who showed up 15 to 20 minutes late each day for the first three weeks (the class meets twice a week for 2 hours 40 minutes each time). Finally she stayed after class to let me know she'd just found out she was pregnant. She was late every day because she was so tired that she couldn't drag herself out of bed. She was a bit teary as she told me. I have so been there --I was a terrible pregnant lady, which was another good reason to only do it once. Some days I could barely lift my arms high enough to write on the chalkboard. Anyway, turns out this is her last semester at the college. She works a full-time job as manager at a fast food restaurant and is taking three classes. She lives with her boyfriend, and the pregnancy came as a surprise to both of them. She's a great student. I've made accommodations: to let her get an hour more sleep on the days we have class, she attends for the second half of the session which is the lab portion of class, and I email her the same written lectures that I use for my hybrid class. Since then, she's never missed a class or been late for the lab portion. She's going to get through this semester and have her Associates degree before the baby comes along. 

I have a boyfriend/girlfriend duo who do nothing but fight with each other during class. He's very smart, she's very emotional. He can sit in lecture, never look at the material again, and ace the exam. She doesn't take very much in during lecture, so he's always trying to explain it to her when they're working on lab. She gets upset both because she has trouble understanding the material and because she feels he's talking down to her. They are actually both nice people (she's going into music therapy and is very passionate about working with autistic children), but he's in a lose-lose situation during class. Because it's a small (quiet) class, we all get to enjoy each and every argument.

There's a table of three boys --and although they may be 20 years old, they are definitely boys-- who pretend to pay attention but then fail exams. After the third exam, I heard the goofy one say, when they were working on a lab exercise, "I need these points, so I have to be sure we're right on this." I don't know what their story is, but they're working hard in lab now, and the goofy one makes me laugh during lecture --he's so blond his hair is almost white, and he's very tall with a face only his mother could love. He's always nodding his head elaborately when he dredges up a correct answer to a question, shrugging his shoulders dramatically when he doesn't. The gestures aren't meant for show --you can tell his body just does this as he processes things. He's just totally goofy, although in a quiet way.

Another female student refuses to work with anyone, and is offended when I can't read her hand writing on the labs. She's very quiet, but obviously just dreads having to sit through my class. Big, dramatic, sighs ensue. 

I just love teaching these kids. It's weird, but I just like them, even the one who hates being there.

Now in one of my online classes I have a student who must constantly challenge my scientific judgement about what the correct answer is to a question. He's incredibly annoying, and I don't like him at all. For some reason, he seems to think that no one other than him has ever thought about the geology of the planets. He presents hypotheses that have been considered and rejected by scientists as if he's presenting me with astonishing information. I want to tell him this, but instead I just calmly explain how he's incorrect. Luckily, most of the students in the online classes are more honestly seeking information, but I cringe when I see his name in my inbox. 

So, it's not all roses and fairies, but I sure wouldn't want to have any other career. I get a new batch each semester, and there always seem to be a few gems :-) 

And, just so you know, I only wrote a few sentences of this post while I was teaching lab -I just didn't want to forget what I wanted to share with you all.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Day Of Spring

I don't know when the next one will be, but we had a day of spring today.

Emma was gone most of the day, so Rob and I (and the cat) wandered out into the yard and did a few things. Nothing too strenuous. I sprayed Liquid Fence on all the emerging bulb leaves, admired a few tiny yellow crocus (and sprayed them too), and cleared some old winter leaves. Last fall I purchased a garden seat that doubles as a kneeler, so I brought that around with me and managed to cut back some of last years iris leaves, and prune the heather. The heather did not like this winter, that's for certain --even though it was encased in snow from December forward, it needs a better pruning than I can really do with the garden scissors I was using. 

It was very pleasant to be outside for a while. When I left to pick Emma up from her Kempo class, Rob took this lovely photo of some light purple crocus with a honeybee gathering some pollen. (He took this with his iPhone --I don't know how he gets such great focus with his macro photos on his phone.)

We haven't had a hive for the last couple of years (and will probably wait till Rob retires to get back into bee-keeping) and it made me wonder how the local hives managed through this incredibly cold winter.

I hope wherever you are, it was nice :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

There's a book review in there somewhere . . .

Emma has been home for spring break this week. That used to be such a hectic week, but thank goodness kids grow up (and we only had one), so she's just been home, while Rob and I have gone off to work. Well, except for yesterday, when I drove in and out of Rockford three times --once to go to teach, then to take Emma to her guitar lesson (normally held at school, but the teacher missed last week), then for her Kempo class in the evening.  It's a 15 mile trip one way, so just yesterday I put 90 miles on my car without going anywhere. (Amazing fact: My car has more miles on it than Rob's: we bought them six months apart, and we drove his to California and back.)

Today, however, she had two friends over and I didn't have to drive for either of them! 

I have, however, spent literally (literally!) all day grading. I was interrupted twice: First, Emma asked me if chloroform was at all similar to the chlorine we put in the pool, so I quickly opened another browser tab and googled it. I can't help it. Then later this afternoon I had to remind her how to play the card game War. Oh, and I did take a few minutes to tell Rob how awesome it was that I figured out the trigonometric relationship (so I could explain it to a student) that allowed early astronomers to find out that Venus (at a certain position along it's orbit) was 0.3 times as close to Earth as Earth is to the Sun. Since trig is one of the math classes he enjoys teaching, I had to share how I actually remembered how trig worked, even though I took my trig class about 30 years ago. Important interruptions, all.

But, the reason I wanted to write a blog post was for this: a book review!

 I finished reading Anna Quindlen's latest novel, Still Life with Bread Crumbs. Wow I loved reading it. I've read all of her novels, and some of them I could never read again --not because they aren't great, but because they are too heart-breaking. I cried through the last three-quarters of Every Last One --I don't think I could take that again. 

But this novel was one of reflection, a gentle journey with the main character, a soul I felt an affection for and a connection to. I love the way it was written, with periodic asides, never boring, where the reader is caught up on events that happened in the past or would happen in the future, that the protagonist doesn't know about and might never learn. Reading this book felt a bit like taking a gentle ride down a stream --there was a fluidity to the experience that was soothing, while I'd still describe the book as a page-turner. Maybe it has something to do with a protagonist who is sixty years old, and my own age, but I just really enjoyed the journey. I certainly didn't want it to end, and I've been reflecting on it for the last two days, and wanting to share it with you all. You should all read it :-)