* A-Z Challenge: Q is for Queasy

Do heights make you feel Queasy?  Before I went through cognitive behavior therapy, heights were one of my phobias.  I was still aware of how Queasy I used to feel when I drove past these 2 brave dudes assembling a cell tower on a stormy day.  If I had a decent camera, perhaps you could see them.  I’ve added a snippet to help you out!

queazy 1

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* A-Z Challenge: I

I is for Imaginative.  My nephew, Isaac, has Imagination in spades.  He flew up to me and donned a sad pose, doing his best Luke Skywalker Imitation.   He’s Incredible!

Isaac 2.JPG

I just noticed his brother’s shadow in the background.  Dear Christopher, with his finger in his mouth.

* Sharing my world

Cee’s weekly Share Your World challenge comes courtesy of Ribbonr.com this week.  So glad I don’t have to think of these every week!  Here are the fun questions.

What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?  Stay married and faithful.  I don’t take any credit for this.  When my dearest teaching widower met me, I was a total basket case.  I suffered from severe depression and anxiety, not to mention serious character flaws.  Instead of social skills, I had social anxiety and the mouth of a sailor. Without my husband’s tender love and the grace of God, we would not be together.

What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?  I have been reading lawyer and criminal thrillers for the past year.  I have a bunch to review!  I also love science fiction, but that genre seems more difficult to write; I often ditch a book after a few chapters.

How often do you people watch?  Not so much.  I guess it goes back to my social weaknesses.  I bird watch, tree watch, flower watch. cloud watch, and deer watch (grrrr).

What have you only recently formed an opinion about?  Algebra!  I’m sharpening my skills as I prepare to teach middle school next year.  I’m much better than I thought, which is a relief (and which isn’t saying toooo much).  However, knowing a subject is not the same as teaching it.  I really need more tools in my math repertoire.  I’m taking an excellent online course to help in that arena:  Teaching Mathematics With Technology.  It’s not too late to join!

Friday Institute

* Color your world desert sand…

… And have fun with programming at the same time!  This is the game board for a ThinkFun game for preschoolers called Robot Turtles.

Robot TurtlesIt’s never too early to play logic (aka coding) games and if you are trying to steer clear of screens with your younger ones or even introduce the joys of hands-on games to older kiddos, ThinkFun is a terrific resource.  A local toy store keeps us supplied with some of their classics, but you’ll probably have to go online to check out their wealth of problem- solving games.  The availability of non-screen games is shrinking, so it’s ironic that you need your screen to purchase hands-on fun.

I highly recommend ThinkFun as a source of individual and group entertainment, with brain challenges galore.  Does your kiddo have social skill challenges?  The structure of a group game can provide a satisfying, well-defined opportunity to engage with others.  Try Escape the Room mystery game (ages 10+). where you are transported back to 1869 to save a local astronomer.  These games are terrific for parties as well as family night fun.  Have a long car trip in your future?  ThinkFun has a number of fascinating 1 player games, too.

Thanks, Jennifer Nicole Wells, for your Color Your World challenge featuring desert sand.

* Color your world denim

I have this tune running through my head: “Dem deer, dem deer, dem demin deer.”  Don’t know it?  Think of “dem dry bones.”

denim deer 4.jpg

Mama, when do I get denim?  When you can carry a tune, dear.  

Thanks, Jennifer Nichole Wells, for your Color Your World challenge, which has officially joined The Twilight Zone.

 

* Three Things Thursday- this weekend

Thanks, Nerd in the Brain (NitB), for your reminder to slow down and smell the fluffbutts.  Wait, that’s not what you said, although your photo of the tipsy fluffbutt IS hilarious.  NitB volunteers at a cat shelter and those little critters are soooo cute.

Here are my Three Things Thursday for this weekend, a time to appreciate the goodness in my life.

First, my foot situation has improved considerably with this no-pain boot.  What do you think, Steph?  Could you make this into a fashion statement?  When she was fastening me in, a nurse commented that there was really no way to put it on backwards, but I’ve managed to do just that a couple of times.  I have been called a Motor Moron.

boot.JPG

Second, we enjoyed a movie night with our home group on Friday.  One sweet member cooked an entire St. Patrick’s Day meal AND another friend sent me this photo of her adorable lass.  I am in love with this dog!  Look at those eyes!

St patricks day dog

 

Third, a dear family sent me a video of something that touched my heart.  I can’t share it, but the love they have for their son, the joy they share with that kiddo, their brilliant minds and their sense of humor- no way can I adequately express what they add to my life!  I will share a photo of a classroom “pet” I am boarding for a while.  I tried to feed it an ant, but I think “Vance” is too young for solids.  I took a 10 minute video of an ant exploring Vance’s pink caves and then wandering off to find some crumbs.  If you ever have difficulty sleeping, just ask to borrow that video.

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* Three things this weekend

I LOVE Nerd in the Brain’s Three Things Thursday challenge. It’s quite simple (think of three happy things from your day!) and it doesn’t have to be posted smack on Thursday.  So here is my weekend version of the Nerd’s terrific idea for spreading cheer in the blogosphere!

Yesterday, we celebrated another birthday with the kiddos.  Thanks to a Korean friend, I was able to create a sort of “K-Pop” influenced cake and I also sang happy birthday in Korean.  The kiddos were generous and agreed to hum along, but no one was willing to sound like an absolute fool except me.  The arrow marks the spot where I have kept names confidential to protect the innocent!!

Cake.JPG

Today we went to a dedication of an AMAZING work of art created by Larry Heyda for a church in Greensboro, NC.  He reproduced (painting on canvas) a 9 foot wide painting by Rogier van der Weyden called “Descent from the cross.”  The original is in Madrid.  Honestly, I could not tell this wasn’t the original.  Larry is incredibly gifted.  My iPhone doesn’t capture his talent, sorry to say.

And finally, we had a teency weency bit of snow today, after weeks of spring-like weather.   OOH, I love the snow.  Maybe Punxsutawney Phil isn’t such a bad prognosticator after all!

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“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….”

 

 

 

* Water crisis over!

Whew!  After our city had declared a state of emergency due to a fluoride issue-water main break, we are now back to taking showers and flushing toilets.  How much we take water for granted!  I had to tape off the faucets because I automatically reached for one all the time.  Who knew I washed my hands so much?  What an adventure we had Friday evening with about 25 folks in our home group, sharing toilet tanks that had to be filled by hand.  We resurrected Jerry Brown’s poem (governor of California during a serious water rationing period): Yellow is mellow, brown goes down.

The water crisis was a relatively brief and local one, but tens of thousands of us descended on nearby counties in a desperate hunt for bottled water.  As I waited in line with my own cart packed to the gills with food AND water, I asked a guy in the next line if I could take a photo of what we were all doing: emptying Durham County of its bottled water.

bottled-water

We are blessed and spoiled with our clean running water.  And our electricity and abundance of grocery stores.  And the money to shop.  And the freedom to worship.  Our entitlement goes deep.  I read angry Tweets about living like a third world country.  Oh, the very idea!  Seriously, I have no idea how wretched that would be.  I’m just glad that we had working toilets when the kiddos arrived last night and running water for our Super Bowl event (pun intended).

Now enjoying our blessings and trying to figure out how to store gallons of water….

* Three Things Thursday on Saturday

Ms. Emily at her Home for Fully Grown Nerds is splinging (new word!) with gratitude, from tornadoes and dinosaurs to hot cocoa.  Can’t beat that!  Scoot over there to join the celebration of the good things in life!

Here are my top Three Things Thursday:

I got the entire yard fully blown free of leaves last week.  That was so satisfying that more leaves have joined the effort to keep me pleased.   Hmmm…..

front yard leaves.JPG

My kidney ultrasound looked good to me!  The really great news is that I am not pregnant, so don’t tell me those look just like my dearest teaching widower’s blue eyes.  (For one thing, he only has two.)  The blue specks are the not-so-good news.  I think.

kidney

And last but not least, my dearest widower saw a UFO!  He is working in the sun room and called me to catch a glimpse of his amazing encounter.    I did figure out that the white lights are a reflection of the fan lights in the family room.  But those green ones?  Total alien.  I might contact the National Enquirer on this one.

alien-lights

Join the fun and add your link to Miss Emily’s page!

 

* All in the family

I’m now tutoring another sib in my nephews-and-niece group of delightful kiddos.  This young man is a third grader who is currently failing math.  I think a good pseudonym  for him is Brainiac, but I’ll go with Isaac (he’s a science fiend!).  His school just developed a PEP (Personalized Education Plan) to document their attempts to bring him up to speed in math.

Careful evaluation is crucial for effective instruction.  When I told Isaac I needed to figure out how he solves math problems, this sweet youngster did something that few kids are capable of: he explained every single detail of his unreasonable reasoning.  In fact, I had to curb his explanations a bit because the problems quickly became obvious and we would still be sitting there, listening to his serious voice outlining mathematical disasters.  Isaac has memorized bits and pieces of all grade level algorithms without understanding what he’s doing.

Here’s a good example of how Isaac has translated regrouping into a parallel universe!

math-assessment-1

Isaac knew he that the 6 was “too little,” so he crossed out the 3 and made it 2.  The 7 was also too little, so he repeated the process.  Eventually he created 9 – 9, which equals 0, of course.  He was pleased with his effort and we kept moving onward, not necessarily upward.

I haven’t finished my assessment but we’ve already begun working on strategies to eliminate counting on fingers, as well as some confidence-boosting work.  My estimate is that it will take 6 months to correct math reasoning errors that probably started in kindergarten or first grade.  That’s an optimistic estimate, based upon his powerful work ethic, his solid real world math skills, stamina, and desire to fully participate (even at 8 PM!).  The greatest hindrance will be the new algorithms tossed his way; they are likely to need untangling as well.  A second major issue might be auditory processing deficits.  They are a familial disability that all these sweet kiddos have to one degree or another.

Stay tuned for Isaac’s launch into the universe of REAL math!