Thursday, June 26, 2014

June has been absolutely crazy; summer is officially here...

After taking the science competency test back in May, I became eligible to take a class called the Essentials of Effective Teaching - a course to designed as an intense crash-course on EVERYTHING a person with no teaching experience needs to know about entering the classroom.  How to arrange a classroom... how to establish procedures to be followed... how to deal with different behavior issues... how to plan a lesson... how to organize information such as who's turned in homework / grading / etc.  How to deal with the fact that students learn differently (some slower / some faster).... how to engage students... shake things up and speak to short attention spans... how to create tests and activities... etc.  This class doesn't even deal with the subject matter you're to teach, but it deals with everything else.  

I signed up for the class that started about 2 weeks ago.  It will be finished by the end of this week.  It's been an extremely intense class plus there's been a ridiculous amount of homework to do over the past few weeks.  But - it will pay off when I start my new part-time Physical Science teaching job at a nearby school in August!!

Also, at the beginning of June, I started some temporary part-time work at the nature center - working in the butterfly "encounter."  The opening weekend ushered in butterfly festival.  We had over 1300 people coming through our tent each day.  Since then, when working on the weekends or during the week... we get, maybe, 300 +/- people through per day.  It's been a lot of fun.  Hot, but really interesting and fulfilling to see the kids (and many adults) really really enjoying themselves seeing the butterflies.  Here are some pictures of Todd and Isabella on a recent visit.  (She has a zebra longwing on the "nectar stick" in one shot.  In another shot, she's reacting to a butterfly that just left the nectar stick, but what she and Todd don't realize is that he has a pipevine swallowtail on his hat!  Look closely~)

The nature center runs a camp (when Mercer is a little older we can send him hopefully). The camp counselors wear this shirt with a phrase I like a lot.  It pretty much sums up what this butterfly encounter offers children and adults alike!  
The butterfly exhibit will end mid-July.  It's been tough working almost every day since the beginning of June (so far only 1 day off in 3 weeks) but it's been an interesting experience.  I want to stay plugged in at the nature center, but perhaps in other ways / not working so much on the weekends!  There's a Master Naturalist course I've been wanting to take for years.  Maybe I can work this in now??  It's a fun place and has a lot of great energy there.  In fact, we recently went on a canoe trip that was hosted by the nature center - which is a staff benefit :)   Mercer seemed to enjoy the trip, saying that he liked everything the best.  

He was really chatty the entire trip down the river (about 3 miles).  Talk talk talk talk talk!  Then we went through a wetland sort of area that was next to the main part of the river as we made our trek back up the river.  Mercer was pretty silent from that point on.  We got to see a little bit of wildlife (osprey, herons, and swallows diving for bugs at the water's surface).  Mostly, it was nice trying out a new experience and sharing a relaxing evening with Todd and Mercer.

Todd has been watching the kids each weekend while my Saturday classes and Sunday butterfly work has taken place.  They've got to do some fun things such as go to a movie, the pool, go to a LEGO building event, etc.  They've gone to Mercer's taekwondo practices on some Saturdays too.  He has really taken on a lot of single parenting each weekend for which I'm grateful as I'm going through a bit of career transition!!
One of their outings was for a father's day program at our public library (where they ran into several other neighborhood dads and kids too). The library program featured LEGOs, reading books about dads, root beer, and pretzels for a snack.  

Mercer really liked the root beer.  Todd and I thought that - a few days later - that we would really rock his world and introduce him to the root beer float.  Well, he's hooked!  He's asked for one most days ever since~

We also did some fun things this month too to honor Todd~

We celebrated his birthday by going out to dinner at a Cajun restaurant he likes.  We also hung out (before and after nature center work) on father's day - again celebrating with food... a big breakfast + a nice gourmet french-inspired dinner (as requested by Todd).  He also got a new fire pit for the back yard which will provide hours and hours of enjoyment in the coming years!

There is another unique thing that Mercer got to do this month as a "first."  He and Todd went to Six Flags! Earlier in the school year, Todd and I read with / logged a great deal of reading.  He earned a free ticket to the nearby theme park.  (Of course that "free" ticket cost over $100 when you consider that Todd had to buy a ticket, pay for parking, locker, lunch, and snacks!)  He had a great time - spending much of their day on the water rides.  He enjoyed it as well and has asked to go back several times already since going as well.

Mercer has been very motivated to read this summer too - already having completed several (sponsored) reading programs with prizes as reward!  Give him a free pizza buffet or a free (LEGO) book and he'll read / ask to read more / want to double or triple his reading each day!!    

 Summer is definitely here.  We've had our neighborhood golf tournament (a friend of one of our neighbors brought this huge military vehicle for some reason and was giving the kids rides in the back of it!)  Isabella played with a sensory tub for at least an hour and played with chalk. 

 Mercer wrestled with some boys in the yard, played chase the flag with a group of the older kids (he and this group of kids actually all stayed up 'til midnight that evening).  Mercer also "won" the low score challenge, earning a certificate and tee-shirt!   

 The neighborhood golf tournament signals summertime, the browning of the grass in our yard does as well.  But so does.... catching fireflies!  :)