Saturday, June 30, 2018

This Week

Does anyone know what happened to my sweet peas?


Shane: "I'm glad I always have my evil laugh with me."


Dirt for Saturday arrived Tuesday! Ever try to keep large groups of children away from a big pile of dirt for 5 days?


This weeks craft was either hanging gardens,

or potato dolls

modelled after this guy:

Rot, the Cutest in the World!




$15 well spent!

Wednesday was a sad day. 13yo Bella, who had seemed fine the day before, appeared to have a stroke. We sat with her in the morning until the vet's office opened, but she passed away on the trip down the hill. We will miss her 'talking' to us (no dog talks like a husky does!), and sleeping on TOP of the dog houses in snowstorms.

She was a really great dog!


People frequently leave things behind at the library, and if I think something belongs to one of my Facebook friends, I will sometimes post a picture to see who claims it.

This one resulted in a cross-country tussle, with people in several states declaring they left it right where I found it. Wherever that was.


I can totally do plumbing and construction, but electricity is not my thing. So, of course, I planned a Teen program centered around making light-up cards. I was able to explain the basics of closed circuits, and made one of my own with one light, but I wasn't able to make two lights work off of one battery.

The kids experimented, and a few were able to make it work! That's scientific exploration that will stick in their brains!

Super simple program, you just need cover stock, batteries, LED lights, and copper tape. I got all that off Amazon, and have a ton left.

Why yes, that is the Death Star.

The program went way over because they were still experimenting. We will definitely have to do it again!


The kids like to explore the fields and forest, and bring home old rusty treasures. An old railroad spike. A broken tool.

A car.


In other news, Psycho Cat still hates my guts.


Logan's head is filled with so many awesome ideas, even when he is sleeping he needs to write them down.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Cheat, by Sheridan Jones: a story in installments. Chapter 3: I Lost My Best Friend

As soon as we got outside, Marvin started stomping down the street towards the candy shop (he likes to eat when he's mad.) I raced after him wondering if he'll ever forgive me!

When he got there he stopped and said, "What do you want?"

"Nothing," I said.

"You cheated, right?" he said.

Yes, I nodded my head.

"Then you lie and blame me!?"

I nod my head to it all. The candy man looks worried as he watches us. After a while I left.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

This Week

The days sort of blended together, so in no particular order...

...remember when I ran out on my lunch last week to buy snow cone supplies (and play with kittens?) It rained. All day Saturday. Anybody need any cups???

We still managed to make a nice mess. Watch the cherry syrup, it shoots sideways.
And after my shift Sunday, I found a treasure at a yard sale:

My Pfaltzgraff pattern! I didn't even know they had a rolling pin!


Overheard end-of-conversation between two little girls:
"And that's how my baby sister was born. And you, too!"


Saturday we had an arts and crafts day. We hold those occasionally, and they are usually fairly quiet, but again - rain all day! The room was packed, with about 80 kids and adults given free reign over craft materials. Including paint.

Someone made me a flower :)
 I asked the volunteers afterward for help cleaning up. One merrily skipped to the room and then stopped short at the door and said, "Oh, my." We got it done, though, in time to set up for Monday's art project. Painting again.

In my quest to see how much the parents will forgive me for, we painted rhythm sticks.

Some super cool designs! Some teens-who-are-not-volunteers-here helped clean up, and, well...

I should have been more specific when I asked them to put the lids on the paint bottles. Pretty much all 100 of them are like this. Blue lid on white paint. Purple on lime green. Sigh.


I think I figured out why this plant died.

Those are flying ants and their larvae. Their tunnels went all through the pot, then through the three holes and into the ground. Pretty impressive, really. I'll spare you the video.


Spontaneous STEAM on the floor in front of my desk:

Symmetry makes me happy.


We can't find the missing edge piece anywhere.

And several patrons have offered to stand as bodyguards to prevent anyone from taking it apart again. Which people have done. I don't know why.


Memo to the nameless woman at Walmart: If the police want you to go with them, you are probably going with them. Throwing yourself to the ground once you are handcuffed might be more impressive if you don't do it in slow-motion to avoid actually hurting yourself. I don't think anyone even bothered to take a cell-phone video, so you should probably just go with it.


Friday Miss Rachel from the ASOMBRO Institute came and talked to about 70 of us about the creatures we share the desert with.

Petting Peedie (Petey?)
 She did a super job with a really squirrely crowd!

Since the topic was arthropods, our hissers came out to play, too. The baby even made a rare appearance before scuttling back underneath Mom. (You can see him on the right of the log.)


I have a basket of rocks with various pictures and words painted on them. Before each story time, I let three kids pick a rock, and then I have to make up a story with those three things on the spot. Of course, the kids have to help!

Three of my favorites so far:

Just as we began this story, a young patron walked in with a rather agitated black tarantula named Wolfie in a jar, so he became the star.

Once there was a tarantula named Wolfie. Wolfie LOVED to hear stories, but he didn't know how to read! He tried walking up to people and asking them to read him a story, but as soon as they saw him, they all yelled "RUN!!!" and ran away. Wolfie was very sad.

One day, he crawled into a big stone building, and wandered until he came to a nice, quiet office. He crawled up on to the desk, and found someone's lunch spread out on it. He decided to hang out on the apple for a bit, because it was so pretty and shiny.

After a bit, our new Police Chief, Mr. Peete, came in and sat down. He started looking over some paperwork, and without looking he reached out and grabbed...

his sandwich. And he ate his sandwich. Then he reached out and grabbed...

his granola bar. And he ate his granola bar. Then he reached out and...

ALMOST grabbed his apple, but just in time he realized there was a spider on it! Now, being the Chief of Police, he couldn't very well go tearing down the hallway screaming, "RUN!!!" So he took a deep breath and asked Wolfie WHAT he was doing on his APPLE. 

Wolfie explained that he was just looking for someone to read him a story. Mr. Peete told Wolfie that he knew just the place for him! He got his little friend River to bring Wolfie to the library, where he arrived just in time for story time!

(P.S. Wolfie is now living in a tank by my desk, where he hopes to hear many stories this summer. And Mr. Peete has been warned to check his lunches.)

Once upon the time, there was a pirate...was he a nice pirate, or a mean pirate?

(Most of the group yelled 'mean', while a couple yelled "nice!")

MOST of the time, he was a mean pirate, but sometimes, secretly, he was very nice. And one day, that mostly-mean-but-sometimes-nice pirate fell in love with a frog.

Now, he could n't TELL anyone he was in love with a frog, because that would totally ruin his reputation as a mean pirate. So, he kept the frog in his cabin, and each night he would close his door, and he and the frog would play cards and chat all night.

Then one day, there was a terrible storm. The ship was rocking back and forth on huge waves, and then lightning hit the mast, and it caught on fire! Everyone had to jump into the row boats to escape. The pirate had a choice to make - should he leave the frog in his cabin, where it would surely die, or should he go save the frog - but then everyone would know his secret! What did he do?

(unanimous yell of "save the frog!")

Of COURSE he saved the frog! Love is way more important than worrying about what other people think of you! He ran back to his cabin, grabbed the frog, and jumped into the row boat with the other pirates.

They all stared at him in silence. He glared back at them and barked out, "WHAT?!" Slowly, they all reached into their pockets, and pulled out their own frogs.

See, sometimes, we aren't as different as we think. And sometimes, if we let people see what's really important to us, we can find we have a lot more friends to hang out with.

Once upon a time, there was an alligator (I forget what the kids named him, so we'll say Fred.) Most of the alligators in Fred's swamp just ate and slept, and ate and slept, and ate and slept. Fred, however, was an alligator who wondered about things. 

"What are the names for the different types of trees around the swamp?" he wondered.

"Can we eat them?" asked the other alligators.

"," Fred answered.

"Then who cares?" said the other alligators. And they ate and slept, and ate and slept, and ate and slept.

"How do humans make those cars go?" Fred wondered on another day.

"Can we eat them?" the other alligators asked.

"," Fred answered (although there were rumors involving actual humans.)

"Then who cares?" said the other alligators. And they ate and slept, and ate and slept, and ate and slept.

One night, when the other alligators had all finished eating and were now fast asleep, Fred stayed awake looking up at the moon and the stars. "I wonder what stars are made of?" Fred wondered. Nobody was awake to say, "Who cares?", but Fred did hear a sound. (generic sound of spacecraft landing) What do you think it was?


It WAS a space ship! And the door opened, and what was standing inside?

(AN ALIEN! Description settled on after some discussion)

Fred and the alien introduced themselves, and Fred asked the alien what he was doing at the swamp.

"Well," the alien said, "I have so many questions about the world and the planets and EVERYTHING. But my friends always just say, 'Who cares?' So I decided to get into my space ship and see if I could find the answers myself."

"I know how you feel!!!" Fred exclaimed. "Only I don't have a space ship to travel in."

Well, of course, the alien invited Fred to join him. Did he go? Of course he did! And the blasted off into space to see what answers they could find to their questions.

And the rest of the alligators didn't notice a thing. They just ate and slept, and ate and slept, and ate and slept.


The kids are planning a "Goodbye to Summer Party". This is Shane's menu:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Cheat, by Sheridan Jones: a story in installments. Chapter 2: Telling Lies

The next day, I was so excited to see my grades, but when I got them I slumped down in my seat. I realized Marvin slumped down in his seat. My paper said, "See me." I leaned back in my chair. Marvin's paper said the same thing.

We had another test today, but this time I didn't look at Marvin's paper, I only looked at my paper.

When class was over, me and Marvin went over to our teacher, Mrs. Money. She said, "One of you must have been copying the other's paper, and I think it was you, Emma."

I gulped, but stayed frozen. "I think it was you, Emma, because you only get five or ten right. Marvin gets one hundred or a little bit less."

Then I spoke up. "Well, my parents have been teaching me at home after school and during the weekends, so that's how I know what the answers were, Mrs. Money."

"Okay, then that means Marvin was cheating! Marvin I am very disappointed in you. I'm afraid you will have detention tomorrow after school."

"But, Mrs. Money, I didn't cheat!"

"Marvin, please! Well. See you tomorrow, kids."

Tune in for Chapter 3: I Lost My Best Friend

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Cheat, by Sheridan Jones: a story in installments. Chapter 1: The Test

It all started on a Monday morning.Me and the other sixth graders were taking a test. Everyone always gets the tests wrong. Sometimes (if we're lucky) we got five or ten right. The only one who ever got one hundred or a little less was my best friend Marvin.

Everyone was working hard but me. Nope, I just sat there thinking. Then I had an idea!

I leaned back in my chair...a little bit farther...there! I could see Marvin's paper. Hmm, let's see...55, 102, triangle, true, true, true and false. There, done! Now I don't have to worry about getting bad grades and my parents yelling at me because I got bad grades!

Tune in soon for Chapter 2: Telling Lies.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

This Week


Summer programs began today! 71 for the morning's preschool story time, where we made paper plate tambourines. If you think those were noisy, wait until we get to the rhythm sticks...

We expected around a dozen tweens for the evening program, and had twice that many! Funny what happens when you offer food! Fortunately, Miss Cheryl had made plenty of cupcakes for the Cupcake Wars. I don't know how sugared up anyone else's child got, but mine laughed like a lunatic alllll the way home.


More story times, then a trip to Walmart. Purchase orders get closed out soon, so I have to wait until the last minute to buy perishables like fresh fruit for teens and tweens. Find of the day: Incredibles themed yogurt cups for the tweens' upcoming movie night!

It was 106 degrees outside, and I had been running around too much to really pay attention to the time I got everything unloaded, I wasn't feeling too good. Picked up the kid, went home, and right to bed for a little bit. Thank goodness for a 12 year old who can make supper for all his siblings, and keep them from killing each other or burning the house down! Of course, when I got back up, I was greeted with Sheridan's list of infractions, and hashmarks by each sibling's name, showing how many times they had transgressed.

The Rules!


Today I had the older kids for story time, so we switched gears and talked about petroglyphs and pictographs. One of the books we looked at was "First Painter" by Kathryn Lasky.

In a nutshell, a young girl paints pictographs on the wall of a cave in hopes of bringing rain to her people. We talked about petroglyphs and pictographs, then painted our own pictographs on rocks. As I was cleaning up, a couple kids came runnnig back in to tell me...IT WAS RAINING! This is a huge deal, because it has not rained here in months. I went outside with them to enjoy the sprinkles and hope for more.

On the drive home later, we got more...and a ton of hail with it, unfortunately. 

Hail, at least an inch thick. I ended up putting my car in 4wd! In JUNE!!!

The things in our garden seemed to be small enough to escape major damage, but several friends - whose garden is their livelihood - were not so lucky. Many fruit trees damaged badly, too. Flooding in several areas, but no major damage reported from that. The friefighter in me is happy with the rain, but I don't feel like I can celebrate when other people are devastated! 

And then the power went out. Mike hooked up the generator so we could run the internet and phone in case there were any emergencies in the area. I had Chinese pork salad planned for supper anyway, so we ate by flashlight. At least it gave me an excuse to send everyone to bed at eight!


Down the hill with all the kids for dental appointments for the biggest (no cavities!), then back up to drop them up at Grandma's and grab things from the house, then back down again to work...

Our first Teen Cafe of the year, an interactive showing of Big Hero Six. A lot of fun! I'll post that seperately. And while we were watching, it rained! On the mountains and down in the flats. Just a good solid rain this time, so we can celebrate without guilt.

The annual Cherry Festival is this weekend, and I ended up in charge of the snow cone booth. I headed out to the local supply shop at lunch for cups and spoons, and was immediately distracted by kitties everywhere! Shy kitties, friendly kitties, kitty who just got spayed and wants attention, pretty long-haired tortie with a neurological problem who loves ear scratches, bitty orphan babies in a kennel...wait, what was I here for? Oh, right, cups. I gave one of the babies a bottle while the owner got the cups for me. 


My one day off this week, and SO much to do. Walmart had strawberries super cheap this week, so I bought a billion. First up, jam! 

Then one of my volunteers was selling peaches from her yard, so I bought all she could pick. Chunky peach butter!

My house smells REALLY good.

I had some jams and applesauces canned a couple years ago and nearing the end of their shelf life, so I started making fruit leather. Which means now I have more empty jars to fill.

Wonder if Walmart still has strawberries?

Logan kept me company with a discussion of proportion and perspective, and now wants to know if ants can see germs. Um...I don't know? Quick qeuery on the Bug Girl's page, and I got a couple cool web sites to check out later:

We are studying Sweden right now, so while the littles napped, Christopher and Logan helped me make Swedish meatballs (Sheridan was at Grandma's).

They were a teensy bit wound. The meatballs turned out great, though! With asparagus and a cucumber/lettuce/onion/feta salad, I was pretty stuffed.

After supper we ran out to the fire department to get everything ready for the snow cone booth. And it rained again! We feel suddenly rich! The kids danced and splashed and...Sheridan, we do NOT lick water out of mud puddles!!! Apologies to any neighbors who happened to be looking out their window at the exact moment I made them all strip down to their underwear before getting back in the car. (Hey, I have leather seats!!)

A little sadness on the way - we saw a kitten in the road, obviously recently hit. I stopped to move it off to the side, and realized it was still alive! It was beyond help, though, and died in my lap. At least its last moments weren't on the pavement alone.

Back home in perfect time to channge into dry underwear and PJs...and start a load of laundry. Shoes will be clean by morning, but I do not guarantee dry.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: Jack B. Ninja by Tim McCanna and Stephen Savage

Pub date June 26, 2018

Jack B. Ninja! Jack, be quick! Jack, jump over the bamboo stick! Secret mission starts tonight. Hide in shadow, out of sight.
In this imaginative ninja fantasy inspired by the classic nursery rhyme "Jack Be Nimble," cheer on Jack as he sneaks over castle walls, swims through hidden tunnels, and uncovers a secret treasure -- all while avoiding detection. But when Jack unwittingly springs a trap in the middle of his mission, will he be able to use his ninja skills to escape the bandits and make it back home?

Grace and I read this on our trip to Albuquerque. She enjoyed 'finding' the ninja on each page - not hard, but she felt smart each time she spotted him! The action-packed rhyming couplets make for a fun read-aloud, and Savage's illustrations are adorably simple. I can see them gracing a nursery wall or two!

Great addition to any home, classroom or library!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Review: Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon


The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a... SHARRRK! Poor Shark, he wasn't trying to scare them, he's just misunderstood! Then he's accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn't going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he? Explosively funny, extraordinarily clever, and even full of fun shark facts, this surprisingly endearing story gets to the heart of what it feels like to be misunderstood by the people around you. With a surprise twist ending, our Misunderstood Shark will have kids rolling with laughter!

Who do we believe? The newscaster? The shark's words? The shark's actions? If you have junior debaters in your house like I do, it might take you twenty minutes to get through to the end of this picture book! Warning, it may inspire even more outrageous excuses in your near future ("I didn't EAT you...I'm playing hide-and-seek with you!")

Dyckman and Magoon are well-known names in children's book hilarity, and this one is another hit! Since the copy I received is an ARC, I will be making an order card for a hardcover shortly!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Navigators USA Camping and Awards Ceremony

I think it was about a year ago that my friend Ellie mentioned this scouting group she had heard about called Navigators USA, and suggested we start a chapter where we live. It's co-ed, all inclusive, and stresses being outside. It didn't take much to convince me! We started up in November last year, and have sort of muddled our way through finding a schedule that works for us, getting a sponsor and insurance, and sorting through the badges and activities. Other leaders from around the country have been very helpful, and we think we have somewhat found our groove. This past weekend we celebrated with an overnight campout and our first badge ceremony!

Due to fire restrictions and busy schedules, we decided to stick with an established campground nearby. Unfortunately, being a well-known place means sometimes you have to clean up other people's messes before you even start.


Fortunately the kids had boundless energy, and had all the trash (which was not limited to the fire pit) bagged up in no time. I started unpacking supplies, but couldn't shake the feeling that the trees were watching me.

They kept creeping closer, too! Scary!

Once everyone got there, we jumped into our first activity: decorating messenger bags to put our badges on! One of the other groups did something similar, and we loved the idea - so much more useful than sashes or vests that they will outgrow quickly.

Maybe not Pinterest-worthy, but I love them.

One of our juniorest members helped keep the markers sorted.

Many, many breaks to explore and climb. This particular log is always a huge hit. You feel like you are crossing hot lava, but it's a whopping 2 feet off the ground.

It's also a great place to just sit and chat with your friends.

We found LOTS of treasures.

Brontosaurus leg, obviously.

Turkey egg! We looked all over for the babies, but the mother must have moved them far away. Go figure.

This little one, however, spent quite a bit of time checking out our camp site. 

It is hard to get a non-blurry photograph of a hummingbird. He hovered around the bright blue Navigators shirts, and checked out our messenger bags,

but he gave up and took off before we could offer any sugar water. Hopefully he found the sweet peas down the road!

We even found an Alamo Rock!!

Next up was tie-dying t-shirts, because we love making messes as much as we love being outside.

Of course, we all wore gloves.

Of course, the gloves leaked.

And I may or may not have used some of it to dye the tips of Sheridan's hair.

Time for the kids to put up the tents (step one towards our camping badge!)

This one supervised from the sidelines:

While her brother took a more centrally-involved approach.

He was convinced to move off to the side, but stayed hands-on.

Cool bug!

Some of these poles are loooooong. sword fight...

After lunch more free time to play, or brush up on your aircraft presentation - the final step in earning your Flight badge.

We had an amazing tour of the local airport a little while back, including exploring the inside of one of the slurry planes currently being used to fight a forest fire just 20 miles away. For each badge we try to complete three requirements together, then the kids do the fourth on their own. For this one, they had to research an aircraft of their choice, and tell the group about it. They all did SUCH a fantastic job, despite all the nerves!

They were really good listeners, too, and asked each other some very good questions. We didn't always know the answers,

but that just gives us something to look up later!

Finally, time for the presentation of badges!

We may have waited too long for some.

Cooking badge! 



Super proud of everyone!!

Then back to just having fun. Miss Katie's hammock was a big hit.

They are all laughing, I promise!

Getting the grown-ups trained is always fun, too.

Or just being goofy.

As we were settling in for the night, a Forest Service truck with two rangers came through, and handed out Smokey Bear bookmarks and bracelets to the kids! Great way to make contact and build good relationships with campers, while checking on fire danger. The kids were thrilled!

Those who spent the night started on the silver level of their hiking badge with a night hike. Everyone crashed prettyquickly after that!

When almost everyone in the group owns chickens, eggs are a given for breakfast.

Also sausage, banana bread, cereal, oatmeal, and pickles. Don't ask.

The log made a great place to eat, too!

Sunday morning we worked on our communications badge. We talked about different ways we communicate, and being safe - not just internet safety, but not oversharing information about ourselves or each other in general conversation - a trend we have noticed lately!

They were great about participating in the discussion, but of course that's not as much fun as one of the other tasks: making up a secret code and writinf notes in it! We decided to come up with a code for our whole group to use. Each member picked a symbol for several different letters. It's a secret, so we can't show you the whole thing!

In retrospect, our most complicated symbol probably shouldn't have been used for "e".

Next they chose partners and wrote each other commands in the secret code.

My partner made me jump up and yell "Hooray!" Nobody even blinked, they are used to me doing weird things.

Finally, we made posters for the upcoming community pot luck. We talked about making things eye-catching, communicating without words, and finding a balance between too much information and not enough.

They came up with some awesome ideas! These will be hanging up around our little community very soon.

I'm not sure this gets the time and date across, but it sure is cute:

One last aircraft presentation:

And a talk about healthy snacks:

With hands-on (or teeth-on) exploration!

Then it was time to pack up, head home...and start laundry. An excellent end to our first Navigators "season", and huge thanks to everyone who made it so great!