Monday, June 24, 2013

What Has Happened to the Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils?

My gosh.

What is the world coming to?

Crappy pencils aggravate the daylights out of me.  I get tired of kids churning away at the pencil sharpener until they've eaten away at least half a pencil in order to get a decent, sharp point.  Makes me nuts.  A lot of the "cutsey" pencils (and gosh, I'm so done with cute) are absolute junk, made out of recycled paper and wood and won't even last a day.  They are useless.

So, for years, I've bought Dixon Ticonderoga pencils for my students to use on The Very Big Government Mandated Tests, and for Other Important Things that require a #2 pencil.  (For birthdays I give out mechanical pencils although most teachers, as a rule, don't like middle school kids having them - kids have been known to use them to fire straightened out staples at each other with them.)

This year I came to the dreadful conclusion that the Dixon Ticonderoga pencils have obviously changed something because they are, sad to say, just about as crappy as all the rest.

I brought home a big box from school to use in my summer camp and my suspicions were confirmed. They aren't what they used to be.  I would sharpen to a point, only to have a piece of lead you can pull out of the pencil.  Back to the sharpener.  Again, when it was sharpened, all you had to do was tug on the lead and out it would come.  You can even tell when the lead is like this as it seems to almost "bulge" slightly at the point where the lead and wood should connect.

I ended up throwing away about half a dozen pencils.

This is ridiculous.

Whomever changed things over at Dixon, do something!  You've screwed up the best pencil ever.  Now it's just junk, like all the rest.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Now the Relaxing (well, sorta) Begins

Today is the first day since school let out that I completely free.  Nowhere I need to go and nothing in particular I need to do.

I am enjoying every single second.

I went to visit my  mother for two weeks immediately after school was out, came back, did a week of in-services, then a week of summer camp, and this week I have....nothing.

Well, let me rephrase that...nothing with a particular time schedule.

I need to paint my porch and my back deck.  I need to do some serious yard work.  I need to finish up working on my Dad's estate.  That includes going through boxes, sorting, shipping off mementos to relatives, and trying to get the whole thing finished.  I need to really deep clean my house.

And I need to get caught up on my sleep.

Because, dear friend, school starts in five weeks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Called "Camp" for a Reason

I'm spending a week this summer conducting a Civil War Summer Camp for my City's Parks and Recreation Department.  I used to teach a Civil War class at a gifted camp Up North, and always wanted to recreate it for all kids, not just gifted, down here in My Beloved South.  Fortunately, we have a wonderful Civil War park and interpretive center, that's relatively new, and the Powers That Be, asked if I'd put on this camp for them.  (I know the Powers That Be because Mr. Bluebird and I actually worked as historians when developing the museum.)

Well, sure I would.

So, I have a dozen 10 to 11 year old boys (no girls, which is weird because all my classes before were a fairly even mix) this week for a camp that runs in the morning.  The site does not have a classroom, however, so we're meeting outside.  We have the real fort on one side, a view of the river on the other, and we're on a concrete patio that surrounds the building.  We're also under two large canopy tents for protection from the sun.  Water and restrooms are just steps away inside the visitor's center.

Honestly, I've never taught in such a beautiful site.

Apparently the grandmother of one of the boys has taken exception to this.  The manager of the park, who is a wonderful man, told me he got a call complaining that her grandson was spending four hours in the morning - gasp! - OUTSIDE.


Apparently she'd rather have him inside in air conditioned comfort playing video games.

I think one of the biggest problems I see with my students is that they aren't outside enough.  They're soft, and lazy and complain about the slightest bit of discomfort.  They need to get out and burn off some of their normal kid energy - that's a much better solution that slapping a pill down their throat because they're a little hyper.

My husband calls it the "pussification" of our kids.  He's right.

Funny, but the kids aren't complaining too much (it was hotter than blazes on Monday).  They're running around, learning to be a Civil War soldier.  And so far, they're having a blast.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Think I'm Coming Back

If any of my regular reader(s) are out there, you know that I took a hiatus from blogging after my father passed away in January.  It's been a tough, tough year.  I quite honestly, didn't feel like anything was interesting, witty or funny, and didn't feel like writing.   Between teaching, working on the estate, and just life in general, I was exhausted.

However, my number one reader of my blog (my Mother) asked if I'd start it up again.  I went out to Southern California to visit her for two weeks, right after school got out, and it was well worth it.  Time with her, time to decompress, time to think.  And one thing she said was she missed hearing about my kids and all the silly things that go along with teaching.

And I got to thinking that it's been enough time.  The estate business isn't done yet (I'm shooting for December), and I have a lot more to do. But it's summer now, and although I just finished a week of in-service, and have a week of summer camp, it's starting to look light there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

So, it's Father's Day - my first one without my Father - and I thought I'd come back and visit all of you and say hi.  I'm listening to the College World Series in the background, and he'd appreciate that.  He did love baseball so.

So for all the Fathers out there - bless you.  And for all of you who still have your father, please take time every single day - not just Father's Day - to appreciate the gift you have.

I think I'm kinda glad to be back.