Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Saying Good-bye



I haven't really discussed it much,  but my husband's father passed away this summer. A few weeks ago we traveled to Sunderland, Massachusetts, to say our final good-byes.


Sunderland is a lovely little town on the banks of the Connecticut River. The kids and I had never been there before, and while it was a sad reason for a visit, we enjoyed getting to explore his old stomping ground.


We laid him to rest in the most beautiful cemetery I've ever seen. There was just something about the light through the leaves that day. It was lovely.


He served in the Navy during the very end of the Korean War, so he was buried with military honors.


And while I know you didn't know Dick, know that he would have appreciated being laid to rest near a patch of brussel sprouts, a corn field, and in view of the church where he married the love of his life. You can read his full obituary here.

Rest in peace Grampie;
we love and miss you...

Monday, November 11, 2019

Teacher Halloween 2019


This year for Halloween, the Mackinac Island teachers decided to dress up as if we were characters in the Dairy of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinny.


We thought about just picking characters from the book, until I found this site - Wimp Yourself.  It's a fun little site where you can personalize a character. Some poster board, black Sharpies, tape & paint stir sticks and quick as a wink, we were wimped!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Halloween 2019



This year we were lucky enough to have friends come up from Lansing to celebrate Halloween with us. They moved off the Island a number of years ago, but their mom and I have managed to get the kids together once or twice a year ever since.


This year I had a D&D character - a rogue. K put a lot of time into creating her costume. She had a clear vision and worked hard to bring it to life through thrifted (and then altered) items. D&D is serious business but don't let that face fool you - she was thrilled withher creation.


I also had a Laughing Jack - a macabre clown. My son also knew exactly what he wanted to do. You should have seen him walking around the fabric store looking for the items to make each part of the costume. Finding the feather boas for the shoulders made his day!


S has gotten into horror (think Stephen King) and really enjoyed creeping people out with his costume. Luckily, he hasn't lost his sense of humor. 


As for candy, 2019 was an average year. The four kids brought home between 7.4 and 9.8 pounds of candy each (about 3 kg - 4.5 kg.)  Given that they all went together to the same houses, I'm not sure why there was such a difference between their hauls.  By far S's favorite item this year was the blood bag. I'm not sure if they came from Amazon, but that's exactly what they looked like; except these were filled with a thick blood-red sugary liquid. It was all I could do to watch S slurp it down...

Friday, November 1, 2019

How We Roll


My husband has been running a weekend D&D game for the kids and a few friends. It is nothing like the D&D I played back in high school.


He goes all out.

I sure hope the kids appreciate the effort he puts into it...

Friday, October 25, 2019

Escape


This little guy seems intent on escaping the third and fourth grade classroom. Three times in as many days I've discovered him making a run for it down the hallway...

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

It's Been a While


Apparently I haven't been picking up my mail often enough. All of this, plus a pile of bills, junk mail and catalogs was waiting for me at the post office this afternoon. The red envelopes are from my kids' new favorite T-shirt shop - Redbubble.


On Mackinac Island we don't have home mail delivery. We have to physically go to the post office to pick up our mail. Usually it is no big deal, but today my bike basket was a tad on the full side.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

It's That Time of Year

Barrel time!

Every year the Jamaican workers on Mackinac (and maybe workers from other countries, too - I'm not sure) get a barrel to take home. 

These guys had just picked up their empty barrels and were heading back to their housing. They weren't exactly sure why I wanted a photograph of barrels, but did give me permission to snap their picture.

A Jamaican friend of mine said she always wants to stock up on items that are significantly more expensive back home in Jamaica. She tries to fill her barrel with a winter's worth of face cream, hair dye, shampoo and other toiletries, as well as brand-name clothing and electronics to use for Christmas gifts. Jamaica is probably a lot like Mackinac - a place where almost everything has to be imported, so it all tends to cost a little bit more.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Big Plans


My plan for today is to snuggle under the covers with my cat and, hopefully, a good book. I'm a few chapters in already and am quite intrigued with the direction Atwood is going.

What do you have planned for today?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Old Dog - New Tricks

If you happen to be looking for me on a Thursday night, for the next eight weeks, you'll find me parked in front of my computer. I'm taking a class on helping kids think about fractions. I love that I can Zoom into the meeting and don't have to physically be in Sault Ste. Marie. It makes it so much easier for me to participate in professional development opportunities like these.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

El Gato


All my son wanted to do tonight was finish up his Spanish homework before he went to bed. (He's got mono so he's crashing early these days.) Our cat, Minnie, had other ideas. She thought it was time for him to give her scritches. S would gently nudge her aside, but she'd come back and plop down again. Finally, they compromised - scritches first, then Spanish.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Berry Picking Time


Blueberry picking is one of my favorite things about August. I love torturing my children by dragging them out into the woods and not feeding them until they reach their hourly berry quota. Yeah, I'm that mom.


Seriously though, the kids are usually pretty willing to pick for at least a few hours, especially if the weather is cooperative. Luckily my son remembers the amazing blueberry pie filling I made a few years ago. Now, all I have to do is suggest that we are getting close to having enough berries for pie and jam and he gets a renewed burst of energy. (Regular snacks help, too.)

We almost didn't go this year because summer had been so dry. I'm so glad went after all because the berries were better than they've been in two or three years. The four of us managed to pick 12 pounds (abut 5.5 kg) of berries in just a few hours.


My daughter even spent an additional hour winnowing with me when we got home. I think she's hoping there will be some blueberry jelly in her future...

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Favorite



Hands down, this is my favorite bread-making book. (Check out the authors' other books here.) I love bread. And when I say love, I mean love. No question, my daughter inherited her weakness for all things bready from me. 

My favorite thing about this recipe is I can come home from a long day at work and still have fresh bread on the table for dinner. (Which actually never happens any more since Allen does all the cooking on school nights. Yes, I know how lucky I am to have a husband like that.)


So now I enjoy easy-peasy homemade bread on the weekends.  As often as I can.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fall


Fall is my absolute favorite time on Mackinac Island.  I love the warm days, the cool nights and even the rain. (Except the horizontal rain in November. I really don't enjoy that.)

Don't get me wrong, I love summer.  Sleeping late, puttering in the garden, and having a looser schedule all make me smile. I just don't love hot weather. Once fall rolls around, it's warm enough where I can wear dresses and sandals to school, but I'm not sweltering in the heat. I much prefer the "sweater weather" of September. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Ready to Go


The kids are out in the kayaks; Allen and Kelaine are out fishing; and I'm here, enjoying the peace and quiet of my dear friend's cabin.

I've not taught language arts in a long time, but my upcoming week is all planned. I am ready to teach my very first week of our reading program - Wonders.

Reading lessons? Check.
Spelling lessons? Check.
Grammar lessons? Check
Writing lessons? Check.

I have a feeling it is going to be a great week. And, if for some reason something doesn't go quite right, it will not be due to a lack of planning...

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Best Year Ever


That's the plan - to have the best year ever.


The computers are all updated,


my reading corner is stocked,
and my 3D printers are up and running.


Now all I need are my six fantastic sixth graders,
and the first day of the Best Year Ever can begin.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Secret Lagoon


The Secret Lagoon was one of mt favorite places in Iceland. It's actually the oldest swimming pool in Iceland - dating back to the late 1800s. Soaking in springs is a common pastime in Iceland. Almost every community has a pool and soaking area. It's where Icelanders get together to unwind and hangout - especially during the long winters.


And just in case we forgot, the Grim Reaper was there to make sure we remembered, "Iceland can kill you if you're stupid." Don't worry, there were other signs near by to remind us, just to be safe.


Remember, water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. 


The geothermal activity in the area heats the water, which then flows into the pool. What to soak in hot water? Just position yourself near where the still-almost-boiling water flows in. (My favorite spot.) Want to be a tad cooler? Move farther way until you find the perfect temperature. 

We were worried the Secret Lagoon would be overrun with tourists, but it wasn't nearly as crowded as we expected. We predicted "Mackinac in July" tourists and were pleasantly surprised with more October-like numbers. In fact, we had been told again and again that summer was Iceland's busiest season and to be ready for throngs of tourists. Thankfully, not one place, except maybe Geysir, was as busy as Mackinac Island during the high season.


I couldn't resist taking a picture of the coat-wearing life guard, or her wind-proof booth. I took these pictures with out my glasses, so it wasn't until later that I was able to read the "please don't photograph the lifeguards" sign. Oops.


I could have soaked for hours.

And yes, I did keep a close eye on the kids so they didn't get sold to trolls...

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Perlan

If you're in Reykjavik, Perlan (The Pearl) is a must do.  The dome was built on top of the water tanks that store hot water for the city (seven days worth.) It's kind of a natural history museum with great displays.


My mom loved the information on Iceland's cliff-dwelling birds,

and the kids loved walking through the ice cave. It was actually made of ice - you could borrow a coat since it was freezing inside. Before you enter there is a nice multi-media presentation about Iceland's glaciers.



My dad and I really enjoyed to planetarium show. It was all about the northern lights. I didn't know both Saturn and Jupiter have northern lights, too.

After we'd wandered trough the museum, we went outside to take in the 360 degree view of Reykjavik. It was stunning.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Interesting


Did you know Iceland had a Phallological Museum? Yeah, an entire museum dedicated to penises. So, if you have no interest in looking at pictures of preserved animal penises, this may not be the blog post for you...

According to the audio tour, it all started when a high school principal was given a whale penis as a joke. Some of the teachers in the building  had summer jobs in the whaling industry so more penises arrived. Eventually, his wife insisted the growing collection move out of their living room and the Phallological Museum was born.

The collection is quite large. It includes most animal species found on and near Iceland, as well as a number of foreign species.

The founder of the museum narrates the audio tour, which was very dry. Imagine the teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off; now give him and Icelandic accent and a very slight slur and you've got it. Don't get me wrong, it was quite informative; it was just too much information. And anyone who knows me, knows that if I say it was too much information, it was too much information.


Probably my favorite part of the museum was the penises from Icelandic folklore. Too funny. The penis from the hidden man (elf) was invisible, just like they are. Wink wink. Plus, many of the signs throughout the museum included Esperanto. Really? Esperanto? (I know what it is, I just have yet to meet a single person who speaks it - though I did have two friends who took it for their language requirement in high school.)


The museum also has one human specimen, which was donated by a 95 year-old Icelandic man. (No, I did not take a picture.) They also have letters from four additional men who plan to donate when they die. All in all, it was an interesting stop.


On our way out I thought about using the bathroom. Luckily, I didn't have to go all that bad...