Harvest, Woolly Worms, and More

Maybe I’ve mentioned it before, but Harvest is almost its own season out here, and it definitely deserves to be capitalized like the name of a month or day. I was eager to see it happen, because there was so much talk of it all the time, and finally it is here. It seems like overnight the corn and beans turned from green to a lovely golden, and the fields began to be populated with all kinds of massive equipment which delights the fourth grade boys’ hearts to no end. Big semis drive down our road and in and out our lane, and anytime you go anywhere you are liable to pass a huge tractor or combine on the road. The tall cornfields are turning into the most beautiful golden stubble which contrasts with the luscious green grass, and the landscape is opening up a little more every day. The sky grows bigger and bigger, and the sunsets full of harvest dust are brighter than ever. Sometime I want to go out in the field with somebody, and ride in a huge combine, and go in a semi to the elevator. Ron Kennell offered that I could go with him, but I’m too shy. 🙂

The youth group is doing an elevator meal in a few weeks. It’s a fundraiser, which involves making massive amounts of food and selling it to the farmers that come to the elevator to drop off their grain. It’s an annual thing, and promises to be lots of fun.

I am sitting in The Blend today, enjoying my Earl Gray latte and updating to iOS 8. I feel almost as addicted to coffee shops as Raphael! but it is such a nice way to spend my weekends, and to get out and see people besides seven year olds. By the weekends sometimes I just feel the need to get out and about and live a different life that doesn’t involve sitting in a block building for nine hours a day with jars of woolly worms and loose teeth.

Speaking of woolly worms. Oh. My. Goodness. I am SO TIRED of woolly worms! Miss Eicher has an insect collection for her fourth graders, and that has sparked such an interest in insects as you wouldn’t imagine! I had a jar in my classroom, a little quart jar, with probably twenty or thirty woolly worms in it at one point. Finally I put my foot down, and said they may have ONE worm in the little jars, and five in the big one. Max. Punto. One student’s crestfallen face looked like she thought it was the most unjust thing she ever heard, but I insisted. Now they stow their collections in cement blocks outside, and probably stuff dozens in each little slot. Well, at least they aren’t in my classroom. I will be very happy when the weather turns too cold for woolly worm collections.

Today is Rolanda Beachy’s (teacher from last year) wedding, so most of the church is gone for that, so I get to entertain myself today. I think a lot of them will be back tomorrow, since she only lives three hours away. She invited me too, but I barely know her, so I decided to be one of those nice people that says they won’t come when you’re secretly hoping they won’t.

So, are any of you wondering what my typical week looks like? Well, I’ll tell you, whether or not you were. Monday morning I drag myself out of bed at about 6:45, stumble downstairs and make coffee, and get ready for school. We usually try to be at school before eight, since that’s when kids start to come. I sit in my classroom and check papers, or text Rosie, or just generally get my head in gear for the day. Kids come, I check to make sure they did their homework, and then they go play till the bell rings.

Classes. Bible. Math. Recess. Reading. Writing. Lunch. Story time. Phonics. Recess. Reading. Poetry. Science, or art or cleaning. Send the kids back home.

Repeat for the next five days, and there’s my week, only I get less draggy as Monday fades into the distance.

Wednesday evenings is always something with the youth group. Or as they say here, we have youth. Youth is a noun, used to include all youth group activities. Every other week we do a book study, and the in-between weeks we do things like volunteer at Choice Books, or play volleyball, or go to the food bank in Bloomington and volunteer. Also, one Wednesday a month is sewing day, which means the ladies bring hot lunch to school, and the teachers get to set aside a plate for the next day too. Lovely.

The other evenings of the week we spend at home, or occasionally go to the Kennells for dinner, like we did last Thursday for basil spaghetti. Often I’m alone at home, because Tricia and Stacie both spend much more time at the Kennells than I do, con razon. Then I sometimes get a little homesick, but there are always things to do.

Saturdays I sleep as late as I can, clean the house if it’s my turn, and generally am lazy. Coffee shops, garage sales, PJs, reading… such things.

Sunday church begins at 9:30, and is terminated before twelve. Usually I go to the Kennells for lunch, along with Tricia, Stacie, Kyle, sometimes Paul Edwin, and other stragglers. Last Sunday we went to the Ulrichs instead, which was a fun change of pace. Sunday afternoon we hang out at the Kennells, or take naps (Tricia, not me). Sunday evening is always “Youth” (See, I’m adapting my language to fit in with the natives.) at somebody’s house, usually. That involves food, sometimes a campfire, occasionally a bit of singing, and sometimes games like Ultimate frisbee or soccer.

And that concludes my average week.

Last night we counted up what all we’ve spent on groceries since we came. It comes to almost $20 per person per week. It’s so interesting to me to think about these things like the cost of the food I eat. I really like living on my own, and cooking whatever I please, and being all independent. 🙂 But sometimes I just want a mom too.

That is all I have to tell you this time. Adieu.

I live!

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I’m sitting in The Blend, which is where I came for my birthday post-funeral, drinking my second pumpkin latte in a week! And yes, it is quite lovely. All the drinks I’ve had here are.

This won’t be long, but I just wanted to let you know I’m alive and well, although very sneezy. “A common cold? Gadzooks, forsooth. Ah yes, and Lincoln was jostled by Booth. Don Juan was a budding gallant, and Shakespeare’s plays showed signs of talent.” Yesterday I was miserable and today work was difficult while I was slightly less miserable, so I’m glad these two days are over, and I’m on the mend.

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The other night- a week ago actually- we teachers went to the Kennells for the mister’s birthday meal. We got to eat roast and potatoes, which isn’t the kind of cooking we usually do for ourselves. Then we sat around and there was lots of music and laughter and presents and niceness. Tricia and I laughed ourselves silly as the night became older and we got more tired. Stacie doesn’t get our nighttime humor as much, which is just an additional amusement to us.

Tricia and I just went grocery shopping, just to pick up eggs and yogurt on our way to the coffee shop, and spent $50 at Aldi. We are as bad as moms! It is quite fun grocery shopping, I think. I believe I was made to run a house. Hah.

On Saturday I decided to spend the whole day in town, so after a very lazy morning I toddled to Peoria for the day. I bopped around, spending gift cards, stressing about my dying phone battery and car charger, and grocery shopping. I also spent a few hours at Starbucks, since I NEEDED a pumpkin spice latte! The Starbucks was located right by Bradley University, so it was full of college kids, and the streets around it were lined with things like Lebanese and Vietnamese and Cantonese restaurants and an international food store. I must needs go back sometime.

The end. Now you know I’m alive and not dead!

A few pictures I’ve managed to scrounge up

It is hard to take pictures of my life! But I know you like to see, so I try!

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First up, Saint Louis! in case you hadn’t guessed.

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Out one side, and out the other, plus a panorama that makes Mara look rather deformed. Sorry Mara!

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We laughed and laughed at Lewis and Clark’s journal entries displayed in the museum. Really, read that bottom line!

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Me, Mara, and Dina Marie, and the group at the restaurant waiting for our Amish pizza.

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The science center had the coolest marble roller ever. That’s not even nearly all of it in the picture. And it was powered by a wheel which children could run in.

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And of course, the zoo and my beloved giraffes!

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And to end, a few pictures of camping, which most of you already saw. I wish I had taken more, but I was too busy enjoying it and babying my phone battery to take pictures.

My latest non-scholarly adventures

So, Saint Louis. I could make lots of excuses for not doing this sooner, like being busy and what not, but I’ll skip those. 🙂 You’re welcome.

We met early Saturday morning at Grant’s place, and hopped into three cars to make the 2.5 hour drive to Saint Louis. We stopped in Hopedale to pick up a bunch of people that live there, and wanted to go along. It’s about an hour away, and several families from church live around there. So, with our cars packed out, we drove down to Saint Louis, and parked near the Arch. We went inside and stood around a while while everyone decided what to do. The people that came along to go to the Cardinals game realized that they didn’t have time to go up the Arch before their game, so five of the rest of us got tickets to go up and then toured the museum while we waited for our turn. It talks about Louis and Clark and has all kinds of direct quotes from their journals, which are hilariously misspelled, and things like covered wagons and indians and horses. Finally our time came to go up the Arch. We stood in line for a while, got an awkward group picture taken, and waited in a few more lines for a long time. An old man approached and started asking us all kinds of questions about what church and what religion we belong to, and all the normal questions. I let the other girls answer and hid my smile. Then he asked how our men look. Kyle was quite amused, since he was standing right there. Finally we packed ourselves into our little capsule of an elevator and made our way up. It was Sherri, Dina Marie, Kyle, Mara and I that chose to see the top. The elevator was so cool, since it had glass doors and you could see the workings of the Arch on the way up. After a long, creaky ride, we arrived at the top. We were supposed to have only six minutes up there, but I’m pretty sure we could have stayed up for quite a long time without being chased out. As it was, we leaned on the edge of the windows and looked at the city and talked for quite a while before we went back down. On one side we could see the river with a helicopter taking off and landing from it, and the other side had a splendid view of the city, complete with the baseball stadium so close we could see the fans filling it. It was definitely worth doing. Maybe when you guys come visit we can do that one day. Ahem.

After we came back down and met with the rest of our non-baseballers that didn’t want to go up, we decided we were starving, so we drove way across the city to a pizza place. It had big glass windows through which we could watch the cooks effortlessly toss the dough around. Pretty neat. We decided to try a pizza with “Amish chicken” on it. Regardless of the religion of the chicken, it was pretty amazing pizza. So good, in fact, that we polished off three large pizzas, all except one unfortunate piece which Sherri told the waiter to take. Luke was greatly grieved to discover it was wasted, so grieved, in fact, that the topic still regularly comes up when he is around. 🙂

After our Amish pizza, we headed back across the city to a Science center, which was basically a children’s museum, similar to the Discovery Place in Charlotte, although not quite as big if my memory is correct. We killed some time there, then met the happy baseball fans at the zoo to finish our day together. It’s a huge zoo, and a very pretty one. It would be nice to tour just as a garden, even without the animals, or for a place to have events. In fact, there was a wedding there the day we went! I got to see the giraffes at the very end of our tour, so I ended the day on a happy note. 🙂

We piled our weary selves back into the cars for the long drive home, and a stop at A&W to nourish ourselves. 2.5 hours is long when you’re thoroughly tired out, but I managed to have a good time nonetheless, although I did sleep through the last part of it.

And that is my boring description of a very fun day. It feels like a different life to get away from school and do fun things with adults that don’t need their shoes tied and their loose teeth prayed for.

Speaking of which, I had no idea that being a teacher would be such an INVOLVING job! I mean, I could have guessed, if I had used my brains a little more, I suppose, but it didn’t occur to me that I’d have to remind them to use the bathroom and dry books when they spill water on them and scold them when they burp loudly in class, and all those things! But it’s a good job, even though it’s quite exhausting. I wonder if being a mother is so hard. Probably more, only I hope I don’t have seven 7-year-olds all at once if I’m a mother.

I suppose since I’m at it, I might as well go ahead and tell you all about camping last week, especially since I need to do lesson planning right now and not blogging. If other responsibilities are pulling, blogging generally looks much more appealing.

I decided to wait and go down to the campsite Saturday afternoon with Bradley, Stacie, Sherri, and Jessica instead of going earlier so I’d have a chance to get my lesson planning good and done, and to stock up on sleep for the weekend, since a youth campout isn’t the best place to sleep, generally. So we packed ourselves into the car once again for a two hour trek. The chosen place was at a manmade lake with over two hundred campsites built next to it. The lake is built in many fingers, which is well suited for having a lot of waterfront campsites. We drove through miles of flat corn and soybean fields, and suddenly, bam, we were in the middle of a woods, (or “timber” as they call it here) complete with hills! That’s right, trees and hills!! We located our campsites as supper was being made. This is how they camp here: with EVERYTHING!! We had a trailer with extension cords and a mini fridge and lights strung up. But hey, we did sleep in tents (some of us), and at least some of our food was cooked over the fire.

After lots of hamburgers were consumed and the dishes were washed, we sat around the fire for hours, talking and laughing at each other. Somebody had taken two tiny cherry tomatoes and mixed them into the bag of peanut MnMs, which caused much merriment for those of us that didn’t happen to crunch down on one. The moon came up after a while, big and bright, so we enjoyed its path over the lake, and kept talking around the fire. I even got to watch Keldon Kennell dig out an ingrown toenail. Since they’ve discovered I like gross stuff, maybe I’ll get more offers to watch things. 🙂 At maybe 2 AM or so, I finally hauled my weary self to bed to toss and turn for a few hours on the hard and cold ground. Ah, the joys of camping.

The next morning dawned bright and cheerful, with warming sunshine for my cold bones. I was sitting by the fire, staring into it, I suppose, when Bradley says, I’ve heard that you sit and stare in the mornings, and now I finally get to see it in the flesh. HA. I hadn’t had my coffee yet, so I had a good excuse, right!?

After a leisurely breakfast (Parfaits with fresh raspberries, yum!) we gathered around the fire for a mini service, involving guitar and a bit of discussion on what God desires from us. Church was over pretty soon, and a group of people went to play volleyball while a faithful few grilled a bunch of delicious chicken for us. Since I obviously wanted so badly to play volleyball! I instead took a walk around the lake until it got too muddy, and played around on Bradley’s guitar.

After lunch our car had decided to go home pretty soon. At least, we thought we had decided, but then Bradley and Stacey went for a little walk, and Sherri found out that the decision to stay or go home early had rested on her, and she had nicely said whatever, when she wanted to stay, so we ran away and piled onto Justin’s boat for 45 more minutes of fun before going home. And oh, what fun! The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, we were bouncing on the waves, some of the guys were wakeboarding… it was great fun! It was much nicer to end the weekend sunburned and sandy and wet and laughed out than to go home early.

And that is the end. Till next time!