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I’ve fallen two projects behind with my Kindergarten Art posts!

Back in February, I introduced the tykes to Henri Rousseau.  You know, this guy:

I prepared by cutting out a gazillion animals from Ranger Rick and Your Big Back Yard and Nat’l Geographic’s World.  I also cut out a forest’s worth of leaves and bushes and trees.  Too much scrapbook paper comes in handy sometimes.

I had them start by coloring in a sky on their papers.  Some did the standard 1 inch band of blue across the top, some did half the page like I suggested.  Some just scribbled.  I knew that handing out photos of animals was going to be dicey b/c if the girl next to you gets your very favorite animal and you get a snake, you are going to be crying.  You big crybaby.  So I gave my usual speech, animal version: “I am going to be handing out some cut out pictures of animals.  The animal you get may not be your favorite animal, but it is the animal you get for this project.  I am not even looking to see who gets what (a lie), I am just handing them out.”  They do pretty well after these talks.  It may be that they’d do pretty well without them, but I’m not taking any chances.  After they glued down their animals (“Evan, if you use that much glue it won’t dry before you graduate.  Little drops!”), I put piles of foliage on each table and let them start on those.  Meanwhile, I walked around handing out extra animals.  They really came out well, I think.  Lots of prep since I had to have it ahead of time, but if you have the time to let the kids do the cutting, it’s low-stress for you, too.

That project was a real crowd-pleaser, the staff liked it, the kids liked it, the parents liked it.

This month, I wanted to do something we could use in the spring auction.  I’m not certain I’ll put it in, in the end, as my idea in my head was grander than my reality, but that is my fault, not theirs.  I introduced them to Gustav Klimt (one kid said, “I know why you like him, you just like to say his name, Goo-stoff KLEEMT” He’s right), the pretty paintings without nekkid ladies.


This time, I had each class working on one group piece.  I prepared by making scratchboard shapes by cutting out foamcore, coloring it, and painting over the crayon.   I also cut out a bunch of different sized squares, circles, triangles, and rectangles from scrapbook papers.

I had them practice making spirals and shapes on small pieces of colored paper.  Then they layered the paper shapes and glued them (“Just a drop, Evan!”).  I introduced the scratchboard as “backwards painting.”  “When you paint, you put paint onto a paper, right?  Well today we’re going to make a design by taking paint OFF of a paper.  And when we paint, we use the soft end of the paint brush, right?  Today, you’ll use the stick end, to scratch off the paint.”  They loved that.  They also liked brushing away the crumbs with the paintbrushes.  I took all of their bits home and figured out how to lay them on a gold gift-wrap-covered foam core.  I turned out to be less gifted than I imagined I was, but it came out fairly well:


Okay, it wasn’t a school trip this time, but I seem cursed when I take other people’s kids anywhere.

I took the kids to DC on Thursday, hoping to see the damned cherry blossoms, which clearly hate me and drop from the trees as soon as they hear I’m coming (if you follow the link to the old blog, you may find no photos.  They had been hosted on aol photos, which tanked.  I may or may not get to re-linking them).  I took not one photo this time, for reasons that will become clear.  Julianna asked if she could bring Allie with her, I said sure as this is an age that likes a friend along.  Ben asked if he could bring a friend and I said yes, as the poor child is ALWAYS the only boy.  So of course Lily had to be allowed to invite a friend.  Which would make 6 kids.   I did not have 6 kids b/c I think it would have made me insane.  r.

Julianna and Allie got invited to Danni’s for a sleepover Wed. night, so I said “No problem, I’ll pick you up on the way!”  It wasn’t until I was about to set out that I recalled that Danni lives just off of 70, not 270.  I make that error in my head with a disturbing regularity.  All clear with Cam’s family for him to join Ben.  Just a little warning from his ma, “He sometimes gets a little carsick, so he might need you to open a window if that’s okay.”  No problem, we can open a window.  Lily’s friend wasn’t home. yay!  So Thursday morning, I get us out a little before 10, and go get Cam.  His dad said, as we were about to leave, “Should we send you with a bag, just in case?”  He said nah and I said, brightly, “We are not going to NEED that bag, right, Cam?”  idiot.  Out to get the girls from Danni’s and then back to the highway–nearly an hour out of our way, all totalled.  idiot.

We arrive at the Shady Grove metro station and go into a parking garage.  We had just emerged onto the roof, where there was parking, when Cam said, “can you open a window?”  I had just pushed the button when he hurled.  And again.  And again.  And, for good measure, again.  I stopped the van, let everyone out, brushed the hurl as best I could onto the parking lot.  I got Julianna’s pajamas out of the trunk and sent Cam into the van to change into them and put his clothes in a bag.  My first instinct was Go Home, but then I thought the other kids would be disappointed and might be mad at Cam, so I offered him the choice, call a parent to come fetch him or go back out and find a store and get some clothes. idiot.  He chose to soldier on, so we climbed back in the van–WINDOWS DOWN!–and headed out of the lot.

I wasn’t sure how much money I had on my metro card, so I went to the credit card exit.  Didn’t work.  Tried a different card.  Didn’t work.  A van had gone out just ahead of me, so I was convinced it should work and tried it several times with increasing panic.  Gave up, got in SmartCard line.  Insufficient funds.  Back into the garage to the garage office.  Closed.  Into the metro station, leaving the kids in the Vomit Van, to put more money on the card.  Finally escape the lot.  Head out to find a store.  I was even willing to go to WalMart if that’s what I came to first, but low and behold a Goodwill appeared.  Scored shirt and shorts, back up the road to the grocery store to get a multitude of deodorizing products.  Kids had a picnic in the parking lot while I cleaned and febreezed.  I kept an eye on Cam and let him eat about 3 bites of cheese before I stuck them back in the van.  Back to the station.  Park in the shade, leave the windows cracked.

As the doors of the train closed, I thought, “Crap.  I didn’t bring a plastic bag and now we have 30 min on another moving vehicle.”  I even sat sideways on a backwards facing seat so that Cam could have the forward facing one.  And I was a tense mess the whole time– “How you doing, pal?”–picturing Wendell Borton.  He did fine, though, and my relief when we got to Metro Center was great.  I said, “Now we need an blue or orange line train” and he said “We have to get on another train?” and I said, “NO!  We can WALK!” and off we went.  While on the train, Lily started to feel poorly and sagged against me the whole time.  She told me maybe she just needed to go to the bathroom.  She sagged and rallied all afternoon, stopping at every bathroom we passed.  So just factor that in to my stress/annoyance level.

My plan had been to leave DC by 3, to beat rush hour.  But it was nearly 2 when we got there.  So we headed for the National Museum of American History, which has recently reopened.  It was always my favorite as a kid, and I was excited to see what they’d done with it.  So was everyone else on earth.  Which you know, because clearly you were there, standing in lines and clogging the lobbies and breathing my air.  I hope YOU enjoyed it, b/c my instinct was to turn right the hell around and get. out.  I’d promised Julianna we’d see the Greensboro Woothworth lunch counter where the Civil Rights sit-ins started.    There was also an interesting exhibit showing how a house changed over the decades.  Julianna wanted to really read everything and enjoy it, but I had 4 other people starting to get antsy and roll their eyes, so I had to rush her along.  We’ll go back to it.

The redesign seems to involve making the exhibits more linear, rather than a big room full of stuff.  Unfortunately, that meant really long lines to see everything.  I do not wait in lines.  I said to Julianna that I did not care if it was a line to see Johnny Depp handing out lollipops, I was not waiting.  And certainly not to see Dorothy’s stupid shoes or Nancy Reagan’s ugly-ass inauguration gown.  We ended up in the transportation area downstairs, which was muuuch less crowded.  There was a most excellent camper.  and breathing room.

About 3:30, I decided we had to go, we went out, looked down the Mall, could kind of see a pinkish hue in the distance, and headed back to Metro.  Tense trip back–no barf–and to the car, which mostly smelled very strongly of air freshener.  I was worried about driving during rush hour with Captain Hurl in the back seat, but we were able to use HOV and did okay.  Delivered the extra children to their homes (poor Cam was probably starving since I’d not let him near food all day), returned to ours, had pizza, cancelled plans to go to NJ that very night as I had some car-cleaning to do.  By Friday, it wasn’t too bad and we were able to drive to NJ for the Passover seder.  I’m worried that when it gets warm it’s going to be bad, though.  If I take that van to a detailing place, they’ll ask for the deed to my house.

note to self and others: If a child’s parent suggests that the child take a bag along “just in case,” do not brush off the offer.  Accept it and a change of clothes to boot.

So I made the stupid reservations for the 3rd grade camp out and didn’t notice that I was booking the same weekend as my 20 year college reunion.  Holy crap, typing that out, I look old.  But anyway.  I was planning on going up on Friday and staying until Sunday and having fun with friends that I never see b/c they live far away.  And now I can’t go until Saturday afternoon.  Grr.  Check out is 12 pm at the campground, I’ll be hustling people.  “You’ve got trees in your own yard, people, let’s GO!”

See?  I get left to make a decision and I screwed it up.  Grr.  That’s why I much prefer someone ELSE to do it so I can complain about them instead.

I haven’t posted in a week because nothing ever felt big enough to mention…and so I guess I have little bits of lots of things (instead of lots of one! Thanks, Dairy Council).

Hm…After I made the eyeball cake, I still had the cake-making bug.  I periodically decide that it is imperative that I be able to turn out a good-looking, 1950s era, delicious cake.   I used a 1939 cookbook for the eyeball cake and it really was very yummy, so I went back to that well.  It was a dark and cold day, so I decided to make “Daffodil Cake,” so named b/c it is yellow and white.  The recipes are very short.  Today, a cake recipe would give you step-by-step instructions and tell you what the mixture should look like at each point, maybe even give the science behind what you’re doing.  These recipes felt more like a reality show challenge.  “You have 2 eggs, 1/2 lb of sugar, 2 c of flour, a tsp. of baking soda, a pinch of salt and some vanilla.  Make a cake from them.

Here’s the book:

It belonged to Steve’s grandma, acquired when they lived in WI and Grandpa was in the dairy business.  It was in pristine condition and I was assured that Grandma was not a cake-baker. It’s a shame because she really had a terrific wardrobe for dancing about the kitchen with a really fluffy cake on a tray.  A waste, really.

I’d never made a cooked icing, ever (my own granny just gasped in her grave–41 and never cooked a frosting?  madness), so I decided to give that a whirl too.  And look!

It’s like 12 inches tall.  Huge.  And the icing was fantatic, somewhere between meringue and divinity fudge, which is about the best place to be, in my book.  The cake is tall b/c it’s really two cakes, with alternating layers.  Were I inclined to make it again, I’d just make a half recipe of each (one cake is lemon, one is vanilla) and slice them in half.  But look:

It was delicious as well.  I had to call the Donalds up to help us eat it, though.  I cannot be trusted with that much cake.  Well, really, I’d have just licked all the frosting off….The yellow layer would have been yellower if I still had a chicken giving me those nice dark yolks.  These modern chickens, I swear.  Even the super-right-on-groovy chickens that give eggs to the co-op don’t produce the nice dark yolks of a backyard hen.  Sigh.

Which brings us to: Do I get more chickens this year?  I want them.  The barriers: I need a coop/chicken tractor/hen house that they can get into and be safe at night.  I’m just not going to go close them in every night.  Which is how Mildred met her end.  I’m not a good farm woman, I’m afraid.  When it’s 95 degrees at 9 o’clock at night I just don’t feel like slogging down to the garden to shut in the chickens.  It’s the hill you see.  It’s daunting.  And the lazy is strong within me.  Also, we’re planning to go camping on Lake Superior this summer and that will be close to two weeks away.  That’s a long time to ask a neighbor. I suppose I could pay a kid, but again, it would be best if the hens could get themselves safe in case the kid turns out to be as lazy as I.  So, there’s that.  But I do want chickens.  bok!

The Lake Superior thing–A friend of mine is attending the Traditional Ways Gathering with her family and has urged us to come along.  I was hesitant at first–white people with dredlocks tend to make me cranky–but on balance it just sounds really nice.  A week on the lake, taking workshops, learning to weave reed baskets or make clay pots, canoeing on the lake.  Just chilling.  The notion of a week with no responsibility beyond feeding my family  is quite appealing.  Apparently lots of kids come, and my friends’ kids will be there, so the squids will be entertained.  Not to mention woods to explore, rocks to gather.  I think it will be restorative.  It’s a haul, we’ll likely drive it in two days, stopping in Ohio on the way in and out–Ohio relations, you are on alert! We’ll be coming in on the 15th and out on the 22nd of August.

And in other camping news, I’ve stupidly agreed to head up planning the 3rd grade camp-out. In previous years, the teachers planned it and went with the kids, but this year they decided not to do it.  Ben has been looking forward to this since he entered 1st grade.  No WAY was I going to tell him it was off.  So I agreed to arrange it.  The teachers are unlikely to come, but at least the kids will get that rite-of-passage thing (our school has 1st-3rd grades together, so leaving 3rd is kind of a big deal, it means a New Teacher after 3 years in one classroom).  I made the reservations today which nearly gave me an ulcer.  I do NOT like to be The Decider.  But if I’d dithered another day we’d have had to camp in someone’s driveway.

Because I just can’t get enough time with kids, I took my 4-H volunteer training last week.  I’ve been doing projects with them since November of 06, but I wasn’t official yet.  Apparently the training had been 2 three hour sessions in Power Point hell.  The new guy, bless him, crams it into one 2.5 hour session.  Having seen it, I shudder to think how it was dragged out.  The high point was the sexual harrassment video made for middle schoolers in about 1991.  Big hair.  Big eyeglasses.  Lots of flannel and super chunky shoes.  And the Cool Young People who walked us through it all always said “Harrisment” instead of “ha-rass-ment” like civilized folk do.  Their advice was to shout “This school has rules!” at harrisers.  It seemed to shut them right down.  Also, the Power Point presentation told us, on about every other slide, that being a 4-H volunteer does not make us employees of the University of Maryland.  Really.  It said it at LEAST 6 times.  When the guy, who was pretty funny, asked if there were any questions, I had to say, “yeah.  Does this make me an employee of the University of Maryland?”  “As an employee of Maryland, do I get benefits?” Ah, so long since I got to be the classroom wise-ass.    And hey, did you know that 4-H is part of the executive branch of the gov’t?  It is.  And if you want to use the logo, you should know that it is the property of the USDA.  So much I learned.

Okay.  That’s enough for now.  That will tide you over until I have an entree to serve…


April 2009
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