Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back with the First Graders

Tuesday I finally was back at school.  I missed one Tuesday to marry couples on Valentine’s Day.  The next Tuesday we were on our flight home from Louisville.  I was glad to be back at school, and I think the children were glad I was back.

Lots of different areas of work going on: creative writing, phonics’ word sorting, writing word math problems, and working on their weather journals.  I went from table to table and helped when needed.

Then Ms. H asked me to test children on two Dolch word lists.  By 11:30 I had tested every child.  Most of them have really improved. 

Then it was story time.  Ms. H had given me a book to read to them,  Grace for President  by  Kelly S. DiPucchio.   This was an interesting book.  There were two teaching points, the Electoral College and a woman running for President. 

I don’t really understand the Electoral College.  I know each state has votes based on population.  I know 270 is the magic number.  But the whys and wherefores of not a popular vote but this College?  Still not sure.

The book does a good job showing how each state has X number of votes.  It goes into some detail at the end about the constitution setting this up.  The children seemed to understand on the level they were on.

Grace is a little girl who realizes no women have ever been president.  She decides to run for President.  The book shows her campaign and her opponent’s. 

We talked about women never being president and that same sentence came up, “That’s not fair.”  Children really want life to be fair.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Orchid Show

Sunday, Marty and I went to the Orchid Show in San Francisco.  Marty has grown orchids since the early 70s.  He buys plants and nurses them into blooming year after year.  He isn’t into breeding or working from seed.

This show brings growers from around the world.  The growers exhibit the flowers and also sell plants.  It is a wonderful beautiful show.

I took 102 pictures.  I have deleted 5 pictures.  I edited myself down to about 30 pictures.  As I write this blog I will edit some more.  But there will be lots of pictures that are there just because they are beautiful.  Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them.


As we entered the show they had a mock Golden Gate Bridge surrounded by orchids.  The theme this year was the bridge.  Marty is way up the bridge in the yellow shirt.


Not all orchids are beautiful.  This looks like dead ducks hanging to me.


This one is beautiful.


Information, beauty, and a rare seed capsule.


These are pitcher plants that are among the most expensive orchids.


This is another pitcher plant orchid.


This orchid has a strange puckered lip.  It really is interesting.


This cattleya was huge, and the colors are just wonderful


Some orchids are very very tiny.  The yellow flower is really many little flowers.


This shows a “woman” standing on the Golden Gate Bridge wearing orchids.  The woman in green would be me.


This is in black and white because Marty had on a yellow shirt and cream pants.  The lights to highlight the flowers made him one big white glare.


These phalaenopsis were huge.  The white ones were as big as a saucer.  Just beautiful.


The hand of about 4 inches, belongs to a little girl.  The cluster of orchids is made up of little tiny flowers.


These were so lovely.


A close up of the previous picture.


This plant won the best plant of the show.  All these yellow blooms are from one plant.  It was spectacular.

As usual the orchid show was wonderful.  Many of the plants we saw, Marty has in his greenhouse.  Many more we wanted to own.  But there is a point you have to say, no more room.  That is where we are now. 

From the pictures, you can see some orchids are very ordinary, some are ugly, and but most are absolutely spectacular.  It does your heart good to walk around and see and smell these wonderful plants.  I can’t wait for next year’s show.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It is official, I have lost my marbles.  Marty even has it in writing.  Today we were making sandwiches for lunch.  The bread was from a loaf we had opened before we went to Louisville.  It was tightly closed, but still was at least two weeks old.  I looked at it, the top 5 or 6 pieces were  OK, but the rest of the loaf had blue spots. 

I told Marty the loaf is blue.  I threw out the blue pieces and added bread to our grocery list.  When Marty was leaving for the grocery, he said, “What’s this word?” I looked at the list, last word written, had to be bread.  But it wasn’t, I had written blue.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Louisville trips make us think: KY or CA

Some background:  my family moved to Louisville while I was in college; Marty grew up just outside of Louisville;  Marty and I have been transferred twice to Louisville; except for about 4 years in Louisville and Baltimore we have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977.

After a visit home we feel unsettled.  Should we move back?  Where is the best place for us to grow old, or truthfully older?

When we go back to Louisville I get house envy.  My brother and his wife live in a gorgeous Victorian that is 6000 square feet.  They paid about what we paid for 1400 square feet.  We drive through Louisville and see the lush yards that are huge to go with the large beautiful homes.  We visit friends and their homes inside and out are examples of gracious Southern living.  Here there aren't big yards: little water and crowded subdivisions.

Then I think, they have to heat and cool those big homes.  I rarely have to use the AC and the furnace is used mainly for a couple of hours in the morning and three or four hours at night.  Our climate is very gentle compared to Kentucky.  Cutting grass, been there done that.  Not a favorite activity.

We have close friends and family in Louisville.  We miss them greatly between visits. In California we have friends that have become our family.  Plus our son and his wife live 15 minutes from us.

Medical coveragae at our age is a huge issue.  We have Kaiser, the bench mark for health care in America.  How could we give up that? 

There are other issues to think about re Kentucky.  Marty building a client base in Kentucky, no farmer's market in winter, having to buy winter clothes, would memories and vacations be true to what daily life would be?  Lots more things to consider.  We do this every trip back.  I am pretty sure once again we will make the same decision, California remains home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Papa Jack and Mother Part 3

We are now up to the main celebration of the 50th anniversary.  Marty, Hank, Ann, and I worked on this party for a year.  It went through many changes.  First we were having a dinner for family and friends.  Then we were going to have an Open House for family and friends .  Next we discussed a dinner just for family (children, grandchildren, siblings and all the spouses).  The winner was a dinner for Mother and Jack and their two children and spouses. 

We researched restaurants in Louisville, then Mother and Jack selected Rivue. Rivue is on the 25th floor and revolves.  Love songs from 1961 and 1962 were selected and a list given to the pianist.  A book of photos from the last 50 years was created.  We ordered a low centerpiece for the table.  It was made up yellow and golden roses in a gold bowl.  We were ready to go.

Or so I thought.  A friend at the Marriage factory asked me what I would say at the vow renewal ceremony.  Uh, hadn’t thought of that.  I didn’t think they would want one.  Checked with Little Brother and his wife, they thought maybe, ask Jack and Mother.  I did, and they wanted it. 

I wrote a ceremony, Marty printed it out on fancy paper with a gold border and we framed it.  Now we were ready for the party.


Hank picking wines and champagne for the night.  Notice the lovely centerpiece.


We were there early to be sure the staff knew what we wanted: song list to pianist, ceremony, toast with champagne, then appetizers.


Mother and Papa Jack have arrived.  We are almost ready for the ceremony.  But the main reason for this picture being included to to see the reflection of the bridges on the Ohio River( which belongs to Kentucky not Ohio).


After the vow ceremony, we presented them with the framed ceremony.  Marty filmed the ceremony and put it up on You tube for absent family and friends to see.


King Crab, oysters, and shrimp. Oysters for Marty and Ann.  The rest for all.


Huge shrimp just for Mother.  Then a plate of grilled scallops for all to share.


This is for the view of the city after dark.


More skyline after dark.


Don’t those olives look yummy?  They are really chocolate.  Everything on this free dessert cart is chocolate.

It was a spectacular evening.  Great food, incredible views, lots of laughter and a few tears as we went down memory lane. 

The elopement of the 44 year old widow and the 27 year old funeral home worker has been a huge success.  Love you Papa Jack and Mother.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Papa Jack and Mother Part 2

Mother and Papa Jack meet friends every Friday morning for brunch.  Who shows up each week varies.  Someone brings dessert and they eat that first.  Then they have breakfast.  On their Golden Anniversary the group had planned a surprise party for them.  They had balloons, cake, gifts, and cards.  They invited Marty, Ann, Henry, and me to join them.  Henry had to work, but the rest of us were there for the party.


Decorating the tables.


The happy couple.  They were really surprised.


The staff, including the manager, were in and out of the room.  They congratulated them, gave them cards, and gifts.


Another waitress, another gift.


Papa Jack checking out the cake and gifts.


Mother and  Papa Jack reading their cards. 

It was amazing to see the staff of a restaurant come in and hug customers.  Mother and Jack know all about the staff’s life.  They introduced Marty and me to all of them.  Pretty cool that they are so well loved.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Papa Jack and Mother Part 1

February 17 my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage.  Papa Jack, my wonderful stepfather, married mother my freshman year of college.  Our family was blessed when Mother brought him home.

Friday we had a day of parties and fun.  Marty posted a video of the vow renewal ceremony on YouTube. Put the video on full screen for better viewing.  I will be posting pictures and telling tall tales for several days.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine’s Day Wedding

In spite of my fussing about the lack of people to marry, it was a nice day.  We  had nice groups, beautiful outfits, tacky outfits, really rude people, and thieves.

Let’s begin with the thieves.  We had roses all over the lobbies.  There were also roses in the two wedding rooms.  One of the clerks looked up and a man was pulling roses out of ALL the vases.  That took some discussion.  I discussed the same problem with a group I ran into.

They were leaving after a wedding as I was waiting to go in.  Everyone had a rose.  I asked them to put them back as they were not souvenirs.  They couldn’t understand that.  Finally all except the bride put the roses back in the vases.  She was the bride, “she should get to keep hers”.  Sorry no.

It was a day of incredible red shoes.  We had patent leather platform shoes, animal print patent leather shoes, red shoes with sparkles, red fancy sneakers, red pointy toe cowboy boots.

Lots of gorgeous dresses: red brocade, white chiffon, silver with sequins, cream lace with with a chiffon skirt, white chiffon with a red burned velvet shawl, long traditional wedding dresses.

There were some tacky trashy outfits.  One guest who was a plus size wore a micro mini so short her underpants showed when she walked.

Groups ticked us off, but I will ignore them today.  I have to share with you the wedding of the day.  The groom was born in 1923, she was born in 1929. They had been together 48 years.  Their children and grandchildren were  so excited.  One part of the vow ceremony the couple each say,  “ forsaking all others, be faithful to you”. The groom said his vows, then the bride did.  When she said forsaking . . .  he shook his finger at her and said,  “remember that!”  And they both roared with laughter.  The best part they lived on Valentine Street.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Really? I got up at 6:00 for this??

I am not a morning person.  I still can’t figure out how I was able to hold a full time job and show up at 7:30 in the morning.  Schools start really early.  Anyway, Tuesday was Valentine’s Day.  This is the Super Bowl for The Marriage Factory.  Not this year.

In past years we have added two more rooms for ceremonies.  We had 4 to 6 volunteer marriage commissioners working that day.  We married a huge amount of couples.  I’ve done  20+ weddings on some Valentine’s Day. 

Tuesday I was to be there at 8:30 when the doors open.  We get caught in traffic and I am cranky toward Marty.  I am never late.  That is just rude.  We finally get to the County Building and I am late, a whole 2 minutes.

Cranky Janet stomps in.  Where are the couples?  Where is the line around the block?  If no one is here, why am I?

We only have 17 appointments beginning at 9:00. (Other years we have had 30.)  No walk-ins waiting, a few people are buying a license.  The 9:00 doesn’t show.  Nor the next appointment.  Then there was a cancellation.  Where has the love gone?

I had nothing to do, so I took pictures of the areas staff decorated.  They were still working when I took these.


As the elevator doors open this is what you see.


They had hung white tulle from the ceiling and red tulle as a backdrop .  The heart hung down around 6 feet  2 inches from the floor.  I had several tall grooms and brides I had to warn to step forward.


They were still working in this room. The hearts hanging down were only the beginning.  They covered the wall with other strands spaced 6 inches apart.  Each room had fresh roses as did areas of the lobbies.

I did my first wedding at 9:30.  The 2 other commissioners didn’t do a wedding until close to 10:00.   The 9:00 appointment showed up at 11:00.  And we didn’t even have to work them in.  We had no business.  One commissioner said why am I here, left and went to work.  Another left shortly after that.  I only did 9 weddings.  The whole day only 30 ceremonies were performed.  Why no people, I asked.

The answer given was that the powers to be saw no need to advertise, no need for a press release, no need to spread the word.  They said people knew we were there.  I guess they didn’t.  We didn’t even have same sex protesters wanting to marry. 

The low turnout could also be attributed to the economy.  What do you think?  Let me know.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weddings from last week

Last week was very busy for me.  I  could only go to The Marriage Factory on Monday.  Monday was a very light day for weddings.

I married four couples last Monday.  Only two were blog worthy.  The first couple made a little fashion statement.  The groom wore  black slacks and a black shirt.  His shoes were the statement:  purple needle nose shoes.  You could not miss his shoes.

The plus sized bride wore white stretchy flannel looking tights.  She completed the look with a sleeveless silver sequined top, which was sequined only on the front.  The back was thin white cotton.  The crowning touch was her Pepto Bismol pink bra showing through.

There was a large group with them, maybe 20 people, all glued to their cell phones.  I asked them to please mute the phones, they all kept talking.  Even the bride and groom were on the phone.  After several requests, I ordered the phones turned off, not just muted.  Did not faze them.  Many of them kept talking, not even whispering.  I pronounced the couple married, they both whipped out their phones and started making calls. 

The second couple the groom was white and  65. The bride was Chinese and 35.  She wore a heavy lace top over very very short heavy lace hot pants.  The groom had been married twice before.  His son, who was around 14, was his Best Man.  The bride’s parents stood with her.

She had lots of family attending the weddings.  Her family was very traditional Chinese, few of whom spoke English.  I could still tell they were very happy and excited about this wedding.  The groom’s son, not so much.  He didn’t act out, he wasn’t rude.  He just looked so unhappy.

Tomorrow, February 14, is our Super Bowl at the Marriage Factory.  I will be there from 8:30-5:00.  In the past I have married as many as 29 couples on Valentine’s Day.  We have more volunteers coming in this year.  So I don’t think I’ll be as busy as in the past.  I think the day will be at a fast pace, but not crazy as other years.  I will post later this week and let you know.

Family Dinner

Today we had a wonderful family dinner at our house.  Nephew Lee is here from Chicago for a long weekend.  We have done no tourist things.  We  just talked and laughed. Lee was happy to just hang out.

We have eaten good eats.  It has been three years since Lee has been here.  We have caught up on what’s going on with each other.  We have cooked, we have drunk good wines, we ate out and had fabulous food.  And today we had a family get together.

Lee, our son Erik, and another nephew Tres had not been together in about 15 years.  Each one had seen one of the cousins through the years, but never the three together.  Today they reunited.

Tres is the only one with children.  We enjoyed the little ones.   We laughed at how busy the year and a half  old was.  This child never slowed down.  The 4 year old and 8 year old played, watched a movie, and helped keep watch over their baby sister. It was a true family gathering.

But it was all about the cousins.  They talked about who had been hurt worst while visiting their Grandmother and Papaw Jack.  Erik may have won with a broken leg from an aerator running over him.  There were falls from the pool slide.  A cousin who wasn’t here won for the highest fall from the slide.  They all agreed Lee’s older sister Lisa was mean and bossy to the little boys. ( sorry Lisa, I don’t remember that. But they told it as they remember it.)  We do all remember about big sisters.

For today’s dinner, Marty and I made smoked ribs and chicken with my famous barbeque sauce.  I also made potato salad (my mother’s recipe), cole slaw, Southern green beans, Benedictine, drunken puppies (little cocktail franks and Bourbon is involved), Bloody Marys,  and a Brownie cake.  It was a lovely meal if I do say so myself.

The cousins had a good visit. They laughed, they talked, they had fun.   It was fun for me to look at them and see the family mouth, nose, mannerisms.  Each man looks like my family, pure Triplett.(Saying man is weird, these are the little boys I diapered, played with, held in my arms.)

Yet when with the other half of their families you see that blood line.  Erik looks pure Appel with his Dad’s family.  Tres looks so much like his Mother’s family.  And Lee, I see his Dad, Leland.

Tomorrow Lee flies back to Chicago.  We will miss him.  We have had such a good visit.  He promises to come back to see us.  And maybe someday we can go visit him.


Friday, February 10, 2012

New Recipe to Test: Corn Salsa

Marty and I tested a new recipe Wednesday night for Cook’s Illustrated. The recipe will be in the magazine in July. We were to make a fresh corn salsa, no frozen or canned corn allowed.  It is February people. Corn is ripe in the late summer.  Marty found fresh corn at Costco, so I made the recipe.


Fresh corn, not great at this time of year, but not bad.


Chopped Cilantro


Me cutting corn off the cob.


Close up of my technique.


The corn has been blanched and is draining.


A lime ready to be squeezed.


Honey is added to the lime and other goodness.


Cayenne pepper!  Are you kidding me, no fresh peppers like jalapenos?


Beginning to split an avocado.


The avocado is diced and mixed into the corn and spice mixture.


The salsa has set for 10 minutes and ready to be tasted.  It was OK, not great.  It was a little bland.  It needed some heat and salt.


I got out some jalapenos and diced one of them.  We did a taste test, one was perfect.


The new finished product.  It has a bite, but not powerful, and the corn taste great.  Our addition greatly improved their recipe. 

We would make this again, with our small changes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday was one long day

I began the day at 5:00 A.M. by waking up with major leg cramps.  I got out of bed to stand on the leg to force the muscles straight.  That’s when it went horribly wrong.  The leg and foot wouldn’t straighten and wouldn’t hold me, and down I went.  I bounced off the side of the IRON bed frame, hit my head on the end table, and the damn cramps kept cramping.

Meanwhile I have nearly scared Marty to death.  He is trying to help me up, and I still can’t stand on the leg.  All of this is happening in the dark.  Finally the cramps start to ease and he helps me up.  I  walked around for 10 minutes until the leg almost felt normal.  I went back to bed.

I couldn’t sleep, so I gave up and showered and dressed.  It was my day to work with the first graders.  It had rained all night, and was still raining. Yuck, this means inside recess.  Turns out that was the least of my worries.

Soon after I arrived Ms H. had a phone call from the office.  Her daughter was sick, she had to pick her up from another school.  She told me, handed me some phonics’ worksheets, and said she would be back in under an hour.

Holy crap, Batman!  I am in charge.  The volunteer mother and I are a little worried.  Even first graders know if the teacher is gone, the “subs” are fair game.  When Ms H returned we hadn’t lost anyone and they hadn’t tied us up in the corner.

Marty picked me up at noon in Oakland.  I dropped him  at his Walnut Creek office.  I drove to Pleasant Hill to get my hair cut and curled.  I changed into big girl clothes in the bathroom and took off.  I ran errands, ate lunch at 3:30.  I went back to Walnut Creek at 5:00 to pick up Marty. (all of these stops are anywhere from 5 to 10 miles apart)

You would think it would be time to go home for supper.  Wrong.  We have a business Open House in Rossmoor to attend  from 5:30 to 7:00. There were appetizers and they were good, but they weren’t supper.  We left at 6:50.  Still not going home.

On his way home, Marty dropped me in the Berkeley Hills for my book group. I was a little late, but hadn’t missed much except the social time.  At 9:00 P.M.  Marty came back up the hill and picked me up.

Then we finally had supper.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Today Marty's brother was in the Bay Area on business. He flew into San Jose, checked into his hotel and them drove to Oakland to visit us. Our son Erik and his wife joined us and we had a family dinner. Lots of laughter.

Erik talked about when he was four and Uncle Keith took him for a ride on his motorcycle.   Then Granny took a motor cycle ride. One Christmas visit Uncle Keith let the nephews play pool on his new pool table.  That put him up there as Uncle of the Year.  Then Keith went for the Hall of Fame.  Uncle Keith showed the nephews the room where he loaded his own ammunition. He then blew up some black powder  in the room.  That made him the coolest uncle in the world.  Hall of Fame winner!

Thursday night our nephew Lee is coming to visit. We haven't seen him for a couple of years. I was so tickled when he called last month and asked if he could come visit. Lee is a charming, fun, and interesting person.

When he was a little boy, his Daddy and Papaw Jack spent an afternoon touring car dealerships.  They weren’t buying, ,just looking.  Lee fell in love with one car.   He told us when he grew up he was going to own a  Rolls Royce.  He hasn't bought one yet, but you have to  admit a great goal.

Sunday we are having another family dinner. This time my side of the family. Erik, Lee, and their cousin Tres can't remember when the three cousins have been together. We think maybe at Tres' wedding back in the 90s. And a wedding doesn't count, the groom does not remember what happened that day.

Family is great. Fun for visits because you have missed them so much. Family is great to bring back memories of another get together. This is a special week, Appel family and Triplett family visiting.  And wait until I blog next week.  Family!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The past phoned me yesterday

Friday afternoon I was mindlessly ironing shirts, watching House Hunter's International. The phone rang and Marty answered. He came down stairs and said it's for you, Valerie H, and handed me the phone.

Valerie grew up in the same small town I did. I don't think I have talked to Valerie in nearly 15 years. She was really my sister's friend, I was the tag along little sister. I remember sometimes the big kids would let me play with them. I loved the murder game.  Unfortunately, I was always the victim. I can't tell you how many times I was stretched out on the driveway, not allowed to talk, as everyone else guessed who dunit. But hey, I was with the big kids.

Valerie called for several reasons. One was to talk about the death of my sister, who died in 1997. V knew she had died, but didn't know the story. She had tried to talk to my mother, and Mother couldn't talk about it. So I gave her the short story of her illness because I can barely talk about it.

Valerie and I then talked about how tied our families were.  We had picnics together at the State Parks close to us.  Her mother and mine were good friends.  Her mother defended my mother, The Doctor’s Widow, when she married a much much younger man.  Mrs. H told the town that is was wonderful Anna had found some young to love.

Valerie’s father was our family movie photographer.  Mr. H filmed us Easter mornings before church as well as on Christmas mornings.  I was grown before it occurred to me that he had a little girl at home waiting on Daddy to come home from work so they could have Christmas.

We talked about my grandmother. V remembered my grandmother correcting the pronunciation of my sister’s name.  Maryann, everyone called her Merryann.  Grandmother would correct people and said it is May-ree-ann.  We lived in the mountains of Kentucky, but Grandmother was from the Bluegrass section of the state.  There was just a little bit of snobbery there.

Valerie also wanted the recipe for Pool Hall Chili.  I mention it from time to time.  She had seen my post on Facebook  about cooking the chili.  She lives a thousand miles from the source and wanted to taste it again.  She is having it for supper tomorrow night.

She is sending me pictures of a visit to our home nearly 20 years ago.  Also she has pictures of  her wedding she is sending.  My sister was Maid of Honor and I was a last minute substitute bride’s maid.  One of her friends was pregnant and couldn’t (wasn’t allowed to)  be in the wedding.  She “dropped out” and I fit in the dress, so was in.  In 1961 no pregnant bridesmaids, even if married allowed.

It was a nice phone visit. Thanks to Facebook and this blog Valerie had kept up with my family.  And I am learning about hers.  From the pictures she thought my brother looked just like he did as a little boy.  And he does, he still has that sweet smile.  She saw pictures of Mother and Papa Jack, and commented on them. 

So Valerie, thanks for the memories.

Friday, February 3, 2012

There is a decrease in weddings

Marriage Desk Clerk D told me there is a decrease in the number of in house weddings.  We are doing way less than usual.  D’s theory is people are waiting for Valentine’s Day to marry.  She is afraid we will have huge crowds on the 14th.  Not only is it the “most romantic” day of the year, this year it falls the day after a Federal holiday.  We always have crowds after a holiday, and now it is a double whammy.  I will report back next week.

This week was slow the two days I was at the county building.  I only had a total of six weddings for those two days. 

One couple was older, he was born in 1942 and she was born in 1949.  He wore a gorgeous black suit and she wore a brown wrap dress.  But it was all about her jewelry.  She had a huge huge marquis cut diamond engagement ring.  Huge, it was at least 2 carats.  Her necklace was very unusual.  It was a three strand pearl necklace of Tahitian pearls and creamy pearls.  The unusual part:  the right side of the necklace was Tahitian pearls and the left side the creamy pearls.  Not sure I liked it, but it was striking.

Another couple were just 20 years old.  Her mother was their witness.  Mom was a nervous wreck, visibly shaking.  She was trying to take pictures and was shaking so hard most of them were blurry.  I restaged the ceremony and took some pictures for them.

One couple was from Nigeria.  The bride had the giggles throughout the ceremony.  What set her off was the eagerness of the groom.  As soon as I started the ceremony,  he started to put the ring on her finger.  I stopped him and said I would let him know when the ring ceremony happens.  He was so happy and so excited.  When I pronounced them married he went crazy.  He yelled, he grabbed her and did a big dip kiss.  He picked her up and swung her around.  That was impressive, he was over 6 feet tall, and she was nearly as tall.  He lifted her as if she were a tiny little girl.  He was one happy guy.  The bride just kept laughing.

I do love doing weddings. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beginning blends and the magic silent e

Tuesday at Kaiser School the first graders were getting a heavy dose of phonics.  During workshop, instead of small groups working on different skills, everyone had the same worksheet.  One side had pictures and then the ending of the words.  The children had to put in the beginning blend.

A picture of  grapes        apes.  They wrote in the blank gr.  grapes.  They had bl, gr, sl, sk, tr, st to pick from.  Most of it was easy.  Snail, trunk, tree . . .   And then regional and age differences showed up. There was a picture of a blouse.  80% of them didn't know what it was.  All they could think of was shirt, but the clue was      ouse.  Little girls wear cute shirts today, not a blouse.  Then we had a sled and ice skates.  No idea what those are.  It doesn't snow in the Bay Area.  Some of them might go skiing, but if they do something like sledding, they use a snow disc.  Ice skating, not in their vocabulary.

Later they worked on the vowel blank silent e rule.   In words ending with a vowel, a consonant, and a silent e, the vowel will be long.  No e, the vowel is short.  We had 10 sentences with a word left out.  They had a choice of two words and had to add the correct word.

I like to _______ my bike.       rid      ride

The lamp is ________.            dim   dime

The page had a ________ .      rip   ripe

This didn't go well because some used only the words ending in e.  That is what we are studying, so it has to be right.  They didn't read the sentences.  When I had them read the sentences to me, they would say, "Oh, that doesn't make sense."  It is not just we have a long vowel.  It is also no e we must have a short vowel.

Ms H asked me to read to the children.  YAY!  It was one of my favorite books, Herb the Vegetarian Dragon.  If you are not familiar with this book, do check out the link. The illustrations are wonderful. And there are lots of things on the website that are fun to check out, like recipes. The point of this book is it is wrong to condemn others for living differently than you do. We all can be different and still live together and be friends.  At the same time this book is not the sweet PC book that is dumbed down so the children will not be scared.  The dragons eat people, pictures show people in the dragons' mouths.  Herb is almost beheaded.  The children love this book.  They also know it is make believe.  Just like my generation knew Hansel and Gretal were not really in danger and they didn't really throw the witch into the oven.  It is called make believe.

We did a lot of work yesterday.  The children really buckled down and finished their work.  No one stayed in at recess.  No one really acted out yesterday.  A very successful school day.