Monday, May 23, 2011

500 Posts!

I think 500 posts counts as an accomplishment worthy of celebration- and so I will appropriate pictures of another celebration-- My friend Elena had a birthday picnic yesterday and I finally got around to getting out my camera. I know Elena through fire-hazard and at any of our events there are, necessarily, nerf guns. It was a gorgeous day, my kite was attached to a bike and happily darting around in the sunlight, and there was hummous in 1 litre containers. A perfect setting for an all out nerf war.

The sky was blue, and I was sitting on the grass which meant that the sky kept beautifully framing people trying to shoot me. I started taking pictures and that soon developed into figuring out the best way to photograph a dart in flight. Most of the time this ended up with me being shot in the face and a menacing picture devoid of darts. Everyone once in a while it actually worked  and that was tremendously exciting:

Josh got hit in the face. 

I got hit in the face twice and totally missed Josh, but look! THREE darts flying through the air!!

Tom was out to get Ruth.

Gwyn looking all badass and trying to figure out how to cock two nerf pistols at once without the aid of a third hand....
Group Shot. (Heh. Pun.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Uncle Andy!

Dear Andy,
You asked me if I had eaten any British strawberries as they are your favourite and you remember eating many of them around your birthday. Well, I am here to say that YES I have, and in fact, I made your grandmother's strawberry pie with them in honour of your birthday. I think these ones were from Norfolk.

Here's the thing though, I got the recipe from my mother's (your sister's) cookbook, and it actually is a little difficult to translate it from American into British. Things like "2 large packages of Jell-O" and "2 packets of graham crackers" are a bit difficult to find/guage volume wise in a country where Jello-O is called "jelly" and it comes already woobley. The crackers I replaced with digestive biscuits and then I guessed at all the volumes. I'm not used to working with jelly or hand whipped cream (thanks, Ella!) so this is not my most aesthetically pleasing result ever, (excuses!) but it was delicious. And enjoyed by many at the picnic today (it disappeared in minutes). We toasted you and your birthday!

Also, this morning I taught some tykes- I had them make you a little birthday card:

So happy birthday, Andy. You're the best uncle a niece could ask for! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Odds and Ends

I taught in Harrow today and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Unsurprisingly, the lessons that I was prepared for went well! The ones that I wasn't? Not so much...Really, must learn from this.

We're on to a new term which means news songs for my two groups of singing tykes! I'm determined to start part singing with my older ones (5-8), which means I need to make sure that I'm not wandering all over the place pitch wise when I teach them the songs. (I like using teaching as a way to force myself to learn things I ought to have learned years ago.) We're working with "pease pudding hot" which I had them sing, use kodaly hand signals for, hocket (pass) between the boys and girls where one group sang only the words the rhymed with temperature words and the other group sang the rest of the song (pay attention, kiddoes! If you don't you'll get all confused!), and then tried signing with two different starting pitches.

We also had a big discussion about what, exactly, pease pudding is. A boiled pudding a la treacle pudding? A  pot pie filled with peas? Some old Victorian food that no one eats any more because it is gross? No one knew. Fortunately Wikipedia has come to the rescue: "pease pudding is a boiled vegetable product, which mainly consists of split yellow or Carlin peas, water, salt, and spices often cooked with a bacon or ham joint." So there you go. Huh.

 (Incidentally here's a conversation I had with one of my girls:
"Casey, have you heard of a man we're studying in school?"
"....Do you know his name?"
"I think, I think it's, um, William Morris?"
"Oh my gosh, yes! Have you been to his house in Walthamstow?"
"No, but he was born in Walthamstow!"
"Exactly! What is it that you are studying in school, The Aesthetics?"
" No? The Victorians."
Because 7 year olds will not be studying aestheticism, you ninny.)

The younger group was meant to be singing "rain rain go away" but I got all muddled so they sang "pease pudding hot" as well...which threw off my whole mental lesson plan. Mrhg. Oh, well. I lost three or four of them to their mothers, which is my highest attrition rate ever in this school. Must actually have a lesson plan next time. Ah, well. Their version of a rhythmic rhyme called "chop chop choppity chop" took a delightful turn when one of the four year olds waxed poetic about a "nice piece of meat with a bit of fat around the edge" that we ought to throw into our stew pot. He continued talking for quite a while about this meat with the fat still on it and I grinned at him trying not to giggle at the tiny gourmand.

Speaking of delightfulness, I had a quick visit for tea and ginger cake at Peter's house yesterday. He and Gail say hello and also gave me a clipping from the Guardian of one of the Westminster vergers (who happens to be a friend of theirs) doing cartwheels down the aisle after the Royal Wedding. I've got it tacked to my bedroom wall now. Fortunately, YouTube has many, many versions for you to peruse. Here's one:
Happy American Mother's Day!