Monday, January 24, 2011

I Am a Novice Master Gardener

Somehow I have become the Garden Coordinator at my school. I maintain that I was tricked into doing this, but it has turned out to be a good trick, as I actually want to learn something about gardens.

As the Garden Coordinator I am in charge of maintaining our newly built school garden beds, of which there are two.   As of today the beds are over run with various pokey looking weeds, toys that preschoolers have thrown inside, and cat poop. I didn't plant anything in them after they were installed in October because winter was coming! And everyone knows you can't grow anything in a garden during the winter! (This previously held belief of mine has since been remedied due to the Internet and a couple of First Graders. Winter Lettuce?! Who knew?!)

My principal found out about a training for school garden coordinators and I jumped at the opportunity to go. I was convinced I would walk out of the training with answers to some of my most burning gardening questions such as: “Where do I buy dirt? What is mulch?” and, “Which plants are least likely to die due to neglect?”

Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong.

I entered a room filled with people who know -like, really know- a lot about gardening. And plants. And dirt (referred to as "soil" by real gardeners).

Our first task was to introduce ourselves and report on our experiences with gardens. Other people were "Master Gardeners" and "docents" and "Princesses of the Gardening Universe who invented the term soil,” or something like that.

I introduced myself like this:

"Oh, hi, I just wanted to say that I am SO impressed by all of you! I thought this workshop was for people who don't know anything about gardens, but you guys know everything! I was tricked into being the Garden Coordinator at my school. Oh, also, there seems to be a cat poop problem in our garden beds and I think the pre-schoolers are actually playing in the poop, and that can't really be healthy, so I guess I'm wanting more information about that. Getting rid of the cat poop, that is. I don't really need more information about the nutritional value or pathogens in cat poop. I'm sure it's bad; they are disease carriers!"

That stellar introduction coupled with the outfit I was wearing (dress, floral sweater, gold tights, black flats -so cute!) really set me apart from the other overall-wearing, garden boot stomping Master Gardeners I was going to be spending the day with. I was easily the person with the least knowledge in the entire room, and the only one who rolled in with a giant Starbucks cup. (So bad for the environment -cringe!)

The school that hosted the workshop had –get this- THREE different gardens, TWO different compost piles, a BUTTERFLY PAVILLION, and A SCIENCE ROOM! I couldn’t believe it! It was like the Garden of Eden, but in a downtown Sacramento school, also: zero naked sinners (from what I could tell).

It made me feel inadequate and hopeful all at the same time. Hopeful because I see the possibilities for school gardens, and inadequate because, well…cat poop.

The day actually ended up being a wonderful experience. I got to make apple cider from scratch, compared lettuces, learned about compost AND vermicompost (worm compost), and found out about a ton of great funding sources. Plus, I pretty much dominated the last hour of the day by barraging all participants with an endless assault of questions. Most were about cat poop, but a few were about peas and watering cans.

Now that I am armed with vital information and cat-deterring knowledge (chili flakes, forks, and some sort of rabbit fence, if you need to know) I’m ready to start our school garden.

Stay tuned to see how the peas and carrots turn out! (For real, I’m going to have the kids plant peas and carrots).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tic Tac Toe?

Many of the kids in my class have gotten interested in playing Tic Tac Toe.  I think it's a great game for my students and I encourage them to play it when they have free choice time.  My student "Johnny" has been watching his peers play the game and he REALLY wants to participate, but he doesn't understand how it works.  If someone is ever nice enough to try to play with him it usually turns into a fight a couple of minutes in with the other student crying, "He is CHEATING!!!!! He will not let me put my letter down!"  Ultimately, the other kids get frustrated and don't want to play with him.  Not wanting to squash Johnny's Tic Tac Toe dreams, I often end up "playing" against him.  The other day our game went like this:

Johnny: "Teacher!  You wanna play Ticky Tac Toe wif me!?"
Me: "Sure.  Do you want me to draw out the grid?"
Johnny: "NO!" he snatches the tiny whiteboard away from me "I will do it!"

So "Johnny" draws a board that looks like this:
Johnny: "OK, teacher, I be dee X and you be dee Os.  I GO FIRST!"
He took to his little whiteboard then, and diligently drew a smattering of Xs and Os all over the page.  In Johnny's version of Tic Tac Toe his opponent never actually touches the writing utensil.  The entire match is played out according to his wishes.  While he was writing the letters he squealed with glee, "X!!!" and "O!!!!" as he became more and more pleased with himself after each successful printing of a letter.
When it was done it looked like this:
Johnny held the board up to me and grinned at me as he began his celebratory screaming:

Johnny: "I WIN!!!!!!!! And you lose!" 
Me: "Umm...YAY! You wrote a lot of Xs and Os!"
Johnny: "YES!!!! I am Spiderman!"
Me: "Yeah, he probably writes lots of Xs and Os too."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Focus: Brian Williams

So, I pretty much LOVE Brian Williams.

Much like other women squeal with joy when they come across a movie with Matthew McConaughey, or a football game with Tom Brady, I do a double take when I happen upon a newscast featuring Brian Williams. He is my main Nightly News man.

I love his poise, I love his reporting, I love his awful side-part (He probably maintains that part even while he bathes) and I love the way he out-funnies John Stewart and Steven Colbert. I have visions of the children we would have: three little boys, all running around in miniature suits, with perfect articulation and the savant ability to read from a teleprompter (we would have several teleprompters in our home). They would emerge from the womb with a natural side part, and never, EVER stutter.

I mostly love him because I think he is playing a great big trick on everyone.  He is HILARIOUS, but plays it cool for all the squares who like their Nightly News served to them in a more serious tone.  I, however, am not fooled. With credits on such shows as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, SNL, and Jimmy Fallon he has a pretty impressive comedy resume.  He mostly just makes fun of reporting, and I love nothing more than a (news) man who can laugh at himself.

Also, he has a blog.  A BLOG! Here it is!

I would put a photograph of Mr. Brian Williams on this blog, but I don't know a ton about copy right laws so I'm nervous to just pluck one off the internet and post it here.  Don't worry; though: I created his likeness in a free paint document I found online.

Do you see the side part?

Thanks Brian.
You're a riot.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Adsense and Fart Noises

I now have ads on my blog.  Google Adsense determines which ads to place on my page based on the content of my posts.  I know it's not an exact science, but I'm sure they use some sort of program that picks up on frequently used words and chooses the ads based off of those.  As I glanced over the ads on my side bar today, I noticed something funny:

Online School, Grades K-12 (because I work in education!)
Sacramento Coupons (because I live in Sacramento!)
Teacher Certification (because I'm a teacher!)
Best Friend Quotes (because I have friends!)
Fart Noises (because I far-- wait? WHAT?)


I have no idea WHAT I have been writing to make Google Adsense think that I have readers that are interested in locating artificial fart noises, but if that sounds like something you are looking for (and Google seems to think you are) you're welcome!

*****POST EDIT******
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  After adding this post about the fart noises ad the ads changed again to include Fart Sounds, and POOP NOISES.  This is awesome.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Conversations at My House

Me: "I don't want to go to bed.  I need to go to sleep because I have to go to work tomorrow, but I don't want to."

Lee: "You can stay up and watch the Lakers game with me.  I can teach you about people like Martin (pronounced Mar-teen)  Gortat.  AND Matt Barnes: Sac Town's Finest."

Or, I could set all my hair on fire.  
Or, I could just go to sleep.
Yes, I choose that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Overheard in Kindergarten

Today was the first day back at school after Winter Break.  This is always the worst Monday of the year, but my students did not disappoint in reminding me why I like working with five year olds.  Observe:

I came across two little boys sitting down on a bench during recess.  One of them looked like he was in pain, and he kept periodically contorting his face while his friend cheered him on.  As I got closer to them I heard:

Jared, "Do you have to fart?  Julio, are you going to fart?  Try to fart.  KEEP TRYING."
Julio: "I'm trying!  Hang on..." (pause for fart efforts) "Wait, lemme try again..." (more farting attempts).
"Aww, never mind, I can't do it, I'll just do THIS!" (Puts his hand under his shirt to create fake fart noises with his armpit).
You see, Julio is what we call a divergent thinker: someone who can come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Your friend wants fart noises and you have no gas?  NO PROBLEM.  Just use your armpit.

Later, my most hilarious student, Ronnie, came up to me at the end of the day and said,

Ronnie: "Teacher, um, are you going to tell my mommy dat I was a good boy?  Because if you don't tell her dat I was a good boy I won't be your best friend."
Me: "Well, Ronnie, I'm going to tell her that you chose not to finish your work this morning, so you had to do it at recess.  But you did get it finished before recess was over so you got to go out and play."
Ronnie: "So, dat means dat I was a lot bit good, and a yittle bit bad.  I was one time bad.  And you are going to tell her dat I was just one time bad?"
Me: "I'm just going to tell her what happened.  You guys can decide if that is bad or good. Also, I don't like it when you tell me you won't be my best friend if I don't tell your mom that you were good."
Ronnie: "I'm sowwy teacher."
Me: "It's OK."
Ronnie: "OK, Fanks! Hey, teacher?"
Me: "Yes?"
Ronnie: (puts his arms behind his back) "Yook!  I have no arms!"

Vacation was great, but these kids are hilarious.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: I Resolute to...

Per usual, I am resoluting to blog more often.  I want to try and highlight a different person each Friday.  It may be a famous person, it may be an infamous person, or it may be just someone I know.  It will depend on how I'm feeling and who is peaking my interest on that particular day.

I'm also resoluting to... run a half marathon.  I've (crazily?) signed up to run the Shamrockn' Half Marathon in Sacramento on March 13th.  If you think that a non-runner would be silly to sign up for such a race with no training, you'd be right.  I signed up for a training group that meets Sundays and Wednesdays, and I've been running on my own trying to build up my own stamina.  I've even gone so far as to purchase special running shoes, arch supports, AND socks.  That's right: I bought two pairs of $8.00 socks, and a man at Fleet Feet assured me that I am actually a size 11 in a running shoe because my feet are supposed to swell when I run my extreme distances that I plan on running.  Well, OK shoe guy.  We shall see...we shall see.

Also, I'd like to the word "resolute" to be a verb.

OK, 2011, let's go.
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