Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ELP

The first day of the new school year is fast approaching and Ceres will be starting 7th grade. As all mothers tend to say, I can't believe my baby is all grown up. Where have the years gone? I think it's safe to say that Ceres had a great time in elementary school, and the highlight of those years was participation in the Extended Learning Program. ELP is a program for gifted students. I always thought "gifted" was a funny description for these students as I tend to think the word refers to mentally challenged children or someone with an exceptional talent for magic tricks. Actually, these kids are pretty smart, maybe even extraordinarily so. They are "intellectually and academically gifted students" who get the opportunity to delve deeper into and beyond their usual classroom subjects. What is truly amazing about this class is that while they are putting together science projects and writing reports, learning about mythology and astronomy, solving puzzles that my engineer sister couldn't even solve, learning Latin and Chinese characters, memorizing squares and cubes, etc., etc., etc., they are having fun. FUN, FUN, FUN! They love this class! They can't get enough of it! Maybe, just maybe (it's possible), it has something to do with their teacher, Ms. Knappenberger, the Most Supreme Goddess of All She Surveys (I bow to you). What an awesome teacher she is - fun, active and creative. The kids adore her. And her rain dances are a big hit, too (although I heard she was holding out this year).

At the end of this last school year, in correlation with the Olympics and this year's Greek mythology theme, Ms. Knappenberger held her Wacky Olympics. The kids had a great time in all the events. In one of them, teams of two had to act as mother and baby. The "mother" had to put a diaper on the "baby", lift it into her lap and feed it a bottle while rocking and singing to it. The "baby" wasn't allowed to help with the task except to drink the bottle. The team who finished the bottle first, won the gold. Well, I thought I'd honor Ms. Knappenberger with a little clip of her showing her students how to put the diaper on the baby. And while she warned that any videos of this kind better not show up on youtube, she didn't mention anything about blogs.

So here's to the greatest teacher a "gifted" student could ever have! Cheers!


video

Friday, July 11, 2008

What A Night!

Even as I start this entry, it has started pouring rain again - so there may be another chapter to this story, but I hope not.

After days of the monsoon teasing us with hopes of rain we have finally got our first big storm of the season. And it brought gifts. As Ceres and I were driving back home from his Aikido class in East Mesa, we noticed that the rain that had been hanging out in the Apache Junction area had pretty much died out. I had given up on any hope of rain tonight. But, by the time we got home we noticed that is was raining in the east again and that perhaps the storm was following us home. Yes!

Sure enough, the wind picked up with a fury and the rain started falling moments later. Naturally, I had to run outside and stand in the rain for a minute. I only lasted about 20 seconds though, because the rain was cold (I know, pathetic) and I was already soaked. So I went inside and we were having dinner when we heard a large truck pull up in front of our house and saw a bright light shining into our living room. There was a fire truck parked outside and a fireman was already at our door. He notified us that a branch on a tree in the backyard had fallen on the power lines and it had caught on fire and the people behind us had called 9-1-1 but the rain had put out the fire. The line was still arcing though and causing the branch to drop burning embers in the neighbors yard and if the power line broke...well then we were in for some fun. They had put a call in to the utility company but weren't sure when they'd be able to come out and take care of it because everybody was having problems at the moment. This was all condensed into about 10 seconds, and then he and his crew and the truck were gone. (This is where KaraLyn, who had just driven by, called to check up on us. Thanks K.)

We were a little stunned, but not totally surprised; again, this is an old house with stories - like the time several years back when the very old and very corroded electrical line that we thought didn't work anymore, and that ran along our fence to our shed, was very much alive. And, during a storm similar to this one, our next door neighbors noticed the cord was sparking when the rain hit it. It was quite pretty, really; like a miniature fireworks display in our backyard. The only thing we could do was cut the power and wait until morning to take care of it. The incident ended peacefully - we sent that cord packing, to the dump.

Well, we figured that this little tree branch incident wasn't really a danger to us because 1) our yard is very deep and the tree and power lines are pretty far from the house and 2) those power lines don't connect to our house (they supply power to the houses on Ashland) and 3) even if the tree did catch on fire, see number 1 above. Dave didn't want to take any chances, though, so he had Ceres go around and unplug the computers and TV - you know, the important things. I went to look out our back window to see if I could see anything. I was hoping to see sparks or a glow of light, but there was nothing. A few minutes later we could see that a utility vehicle had shown up and flashlights were being aimed at the treetops. Then the lights in our house flickered and we heard a loud pop. At that point we just had to find out what was going on. So we got in the car and drove around to Ashland. But there was nothing to see. No utility truck, no fire. Nothing but kids running around in their front yard. So we pulled over to ask if they knew anything and before I could ask they had run over to us and were telling us about a tree on fire in their yard. Bingo!

Turns out it wasn't our tree but our next door neighbor's that had lost its branch, which had finally fallen off the power line into the yard behind them, thus producing the flicker and loud pop we experienced earlier. The utility people had been there, but as soon as the branch had fallen to the ground they took off, leaving the homeowner to deal with the still smoldering wood. And she, poor thing, who had just moved into the house (Will Mason's rental) a few days ago, was pretty freaked out. Welcome, Leah, to the neighborhood.

Once we got the story and knew that Leah and her kids were okay we went to get in our car (I was shivering at this point, yes shivering - that rain was downright cold!) and that's when we heard more sirens in the area of our own house and a sound like something banging against an empty dumpster, only magnified, and then boom...boom...boom three flashes of blue light traveling south to north, again in the general area of our house. Transformers were blowing up! So we hopped in the car and drove home. Along the way, we noticed that the east side of Horne was dark and the fire truck was now parked on 4th Pl., the street that runs perpendicular to our house. So we drove around to, what is it, Frasier I think, and asked some people what was going on. They weren't sure, but 4th Pl. was blocked off and we figured out that a power line was lying in the street and that the firemen who had been to our door earlier were now standing guard over it until the utility people could get there. And so the cycle of firemen and utility workers would continue into the night.

But it was time for us to go home. The worst of the storm was over, yet the TV and computer stayed off (the TV is especially precious to someone). Dave was starting to make a remark about how rarely we don't have an electronic appliance or device turned on when he noticed that Ceres already had his PSP in hand. Oh well. True to form, Dave fell asleep, Ceres continued with his game and I - well I sat down to write this blog (yikes! gotta go knit something quick!), until I lost my internet connection sometime around the fifth transformer explosion.

(This post was finished the next day (today) under much calmer conditions.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Wish I Had More Time For This...

I love to knit (see blog title) and crochet. I started about four years ago when I was looking for a gift to give my niece and saw a knitting kit on uncommongoods.com. I thought it was such a cute idea that I bought one for her and one for myself. I was addicted from the moment I learned how to do my first stitch. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to do it and therefore, don't have much to show for it either. In fact, I am using up my knitting time tonight to write this blog. And the longer I sit here, the grumpier I get - I'd rather be knitting than writing about it (I gotta get my fix!). Most everything I've made I've given away, and given it away before I could document (take a picture of) its existence. There is another percentage of projects that just aren't finished, like the sweater I was making for my sister for last Christmas. It's July now and I haven't touched it since two weeks before Christmas when I realized I needed sleep more than my sister needed the sweater. Maybe I'll get around to finishing it by this Christmas.

In the meantime, here are some of the things I've made recently:

Cabled hats for my boys to keep their noggins warm when we go camping.
(Naturally, Bitty had to get involved)

Basket weave afghan. I made this afghan in yellow with a raspberry border for my sister. I was so jealous that she had one and I didn't that I made one for myself. So soft....