Friday, March 30, 2012

My Birthday Day

I began the day after having to hit the snooze button.  I drank a few cups of coffee.  I got dressed and watched my lovely girls rise and shine.  Chloe got up and wished me a sleepy "Happy Birthday Daddy."   I got a new lens(the majority of the pictures in this post used this lens, a 50mm f/1.8, these pictures are denoted with an * near them.).  I went to work knowing that I only had to work half a day. I assume the district heard about my birthday and scheduled accordingly.  They are also letting all the district off for the next week to celebrate my birthday!  It's a real honor.
* bed time last night.
Several of my classes insisted on singing me happy birthday and a few of the teachers also wished me a happy birthday (I think they heard the singing).  I've never made it known when my birthday was in years passed, until this year, when I found out they were giving me half a day off for it and that it coincided with spring break...I could not pass up the opportunity to impress upon the kids that this was "Mr. Huffman Appreciation Week."  I figured it was a good clean joke hinging on my misunderstanding of the coincidence of scheduling.  The kids alternately laughed and scoffed.  I don't mind, it helps me keep a positive attitude.  And that is important when you are surrounded by kids with attention spans measured in seconds.

Still, despite the fun with the kids, I have endeavored to keep a professional attitude with the majority of the staff.  Sometimes, that is too hard to resist, though.  With on of the staff particularly, I have had a bit of fun explaining to my kids that the R in his last name is silent (explaining that it is an anachronism from Europe, which he doesn't expect Americans to know...these kids don't know what anachronism means, but they act like it's cool.)  When he fell asleep in a meeting, I was the one who used my knowledge of ballistics and mortars to lob a ball of paper into his chest while looking away innocently.  Yet, with the rest of the staff, and the administrators, I strive to be a model citizen.

I had one very desperate young lady accost me for a grade check early in the morning.  She failed to come in for a student lead conference and she was graded accordingly.  Since there was only one other assignment for this class her grade was an F.  She had the audacity to act surprised even though a progress report has been given to this girl within the week.  She wanted to go to some sort of extracurricular activity during Spring Break and her grade in MY class held sway.

The teacher taking her to the "activity" called and tried to bend my will, I explained that there were only two graded items and that she had missed the bigger of the two.  I could not do her conference at the end of the day because of prior engagements, so she was out of luck.  He reiterated that he was not trying to sway me, but my grade was the only one holding her back.  I said I was glad he wasn't trying to sway me and that my grade holding her back was too bad, but my expectations had been made known to her on several occasions and that it fell upon her, not me. (honestly, I think he WAS trying to bend my will, but he was being careful with his words.[I think the longer you teach, the better you become at saying things and yet saying nothing at all...maybe that applies to politicians, too...])

She came a while later and begged me to let her make up her conference during lunch.  Ever the helpful individual, I told her I would.

She came late.  In fact, AFTER LUNCH, but she was lucky.  My plan period falls right after first lunch.  She did a horrible job, starting and stopping, the best part of which included tears.  I pointed out that she was ill prepared because she was doing it last minute and that if she had come in when conferences had been scheduled she would have had a much easier time.  I wasn't an ass, but I think if you are going to screw off and then expect your teacher to bend over backward for you, you ought to have a little talking to.  So, I was a softy and let her make it up and gave her a grade that allowed her to go.  She got a passing grade not because I was really going easy, but because of the way I had decided to grade her classmates.  She got away lucky.

I left the school after making plans for my first day back.  I sent Cora a text to let her know I was leaving.  We ended up having a quick lunch together, which was more than welcome, since I had not packed a lunch.  It was nice having a few minutes with my wife without little ears...well, maybe it was nice because there was no little voice...either way, it was good to spend a few minutes with my lovely wife.

After lunch, we ended up back at the daycare.  Her mom, on every occasion a caring and gentle woman, is even more generous to her kids when it comes to Easter.  On Easters past, there have been 200 eggs to be found, each filled to overflowing with candy, stickers, and, sometimes, small toys.  This time she has fewer kids, so the number of eggs was only slightly overboard.

I was photographer, which actually suits me fine.  The kids had no end of fun!  Eggs were pretty much everywhere.  Chloe began to get the hang of it, but still had to be pointed in the right direction on occasion.  The young girls did pretty good, but the sharp-sighted older boys did very well.  These particular boys are special, though, since they helped the little girls find eggs and even gave from their own baskets voluntarily to help the little girls.  I was amazed.

When all was done, Chloe came home with a decent bag full of candy...which, with any luck will fall to Daddy to eat!  (the reasoning is:  She is not fat and we don't want her to become fat.  I AM fat, so what's a few more calories? )

Cora told me we were going out because it is my birthday.  We decided on Panda Express, since they make Mushroom Chicken, which Chloe obliterates...well, she obliterates the mushrooms, while leaving the chicken and the zucchini largely unscathed.  Still, she eats that better than tacos.

We came home and ate.  Then we sent her to bed.  She went down easy and then came back.  Like a little baby zombie she just wouldn't stay down.  Now she is sleeping with her mommy in our bed...I am trying to decide the best mode of entry to our bed...and my chair is looking better every moment with each thought of waking the sleeping zombie while I get into bed.

I checked my email and found that about 60 of my friends on Facebook wished me a Happy Birthday of some kind.  A few even managed some poetry and verse, which was deeply appreciated, because I try to write a short couplet or stanza for my friends that have birthdays, too!  I truly have many friends and things to be happy for.  Thanks to all for the birthday wishes!

Hmmm, 38 years old and still trying to avoid bedtime...

Funny Little Things

For the first few decades of my life I looked forward to my birthday for either presents or to say I was another year older, more experienced and mature, and, DAMMIT, where's my presents?

I still love presents, but this day, the best gift I could have ever gotten was the two girls I live with.  My lovely wife, who makes sure I have things for my camera, and my lovely daughter who calls me daddy and Dad when I'm not listening closely enough.  I'd rather have them then anything else.

I'm looking forward to today.  I only have a half-day at work and I get to come back and participate in the annual Easter Egg hunt at the daycare.  I may also get a present or two.

I am a lucky man, and damn proud of it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Thursday, You Know What That Means??

Tomorrow is MY BIRTHDAY!  Of course, I am not sure if we should be blaring out how old I am.  One of the teachers I work with said she started teaching the year I was born and I began not to feel so bad about my age.

I am looking forward to having the week to spend with my lovely daughter.  She had a fever yesterday.  It kept coming back until it finally seems to have broken for good just before bedtime when she ramped up her energy level by about 7 times.  She was sweaty when we checked and seemed to be feeling much better.  Apparently the kids have been going through it at daycare.

Well, I am awake well before I want to be and that was reason enough to post.  Hope you all have a fine Thursday.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I took this on the way home from Gymkids.  I stopped, while my girls drove up ahead.  I rolled down the window and squeezed off three quick shots.  Then I worked to destroy the image.  I cropped and I tweaked and I added a texture and I stretched and squeezed it.  I think I like the final degraded product, what do you think?

As usual, skip on over to Barn Charms to see some more awesome barns!

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Lazy Sunday

 We got some stuff done yesterday.  Cora tried a neat way to color eggs.  I'm hoping she'll share her progress on her blog.  It was pretty cool, though.

We came home and Chloe took a nap.  When she got up, it was time to start the grill.  She would not come outside unless she could wear her Mom put some boots on her and out she came to spend some time with dad.  I gave her some milk and an orange to snack on and I drank something cold while we waited for the coals to heat up.

Of course, I had my camera handy and I'm glad I did!  She wanted to try on my sunglasses and I got a good shot of the two of us...her with orange still on her face.  I tried to change the pictures up and make them seem older than they are.  I think they work pretty good.
 I am particularly happy with the way the sky played out here.  Of course, I don't have to comment on how cute the kid is...
Well, a new week begins.  Should be busy.  I have a few things to deal with at work that will  I'll be observing another teacher for awhile tomorrow.  For that I'll have a sub for an hour...crap.  I have enough trouble teaching by myself, now I have to write plans for someone else?  And did I mention subs suck?  I've had two and they stank!

I thought I was an average sub, but honestly, these people must come from the nether regions of the education community.  They made a mess of my board, left a half-empty coffee cup on my desk, and basically let the kids do whatever.

Well, I have to go get ready for the day.  My birthday is at the end of it, surely it can't be a bad week.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Morning at the Park!

 I don't know when I've had a better model.  My daughter is fun-packed and hard-charging!  She is serious about enjoying life.  That makes me happy.

 We went to the park for awhile and enjoyed ourselves on the equipment.  Later today, Cora and I will be seeing "Hunger Games."  Chloe will be spending some time with a favorite aunt.

It has been a beautiful spring day, cool, but warmer than we've had in awhile.  Clear air, but slight breeze.  Perfect!  Add to that a wonderful family and you can't get better!
Next Friday is a half-day at my school and it leads into Spring Break.  I have been telling my kids that there will be no spring break.  Instead we will be celebrating "Mr. Huffman Appreciation Week."  Especially since Friday is a half day RIGHT ON MY BIRTHDAY!!  How awesome is that?  It's as though they planned it that way!  Then they are giving me a week off!  It HAS to be related to my birthday!!!

And so it is.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Snow

It snowed this morning.  Probably about 3/4 of an inch.  Nothing special, but still, SNOW!

By this afternoon, the roads were much more reliable.  Chloe thought it good enough to play in.  I agreed since the white stuff was gone! Here is my daughter!

I can't imagine being the parent of someone more awesome.  Also, I am pretty lucky to be married to the woman I am!

Another Thursday Inching Closer to Friday!

It's Thursday.  Hurray!  I've been teaching about the economic resources of the Northwest recently, and I was looking for a few videos to show my classes.  I found a few, but one in particular was pretty interesting.  If you have thirty minutes and are interested in fishing, I highly recommend it.  

I suppose the main thing I want my kids to realize is the surprising vastness of products made here.  We did a whole class where we brainstormed things we knew were from the Pacific Northwest (PNW).  They enjoyed it, and they were all engaged in trying to get their ideas out there.  Of course, there are those who are helplessly lost and more than a bit...well, as one of my coworkers puts it, "dumb."

In this case he is right.  I was asking for them to help me list the different fruits that grow commercially in the PNW.  I got great answers: grapes, apples, pears, nectarines, plums, peaches, cherries, berries and more.  But, I also got some answers that just made me want to strangle a few kids.  It may have been that they did not understand what I meant when I said "FRUITS THAT GROW HERE," or, "FRUIT THAT WE SELL TO OTHER PLACES THAT GROWS HERE."  Still, I got answers like bananas, mangoes, papaya, starfruit, and my own personal favorite, coconuts.  All of these elicited a response from me that first attempted to ascertain whether the kid was serious, and OH, THEY WERE!  Then, I attempted to educate them as to the needs of some plants to grow in climates that don't include freezing.  Of course, such responses should not surprise me, especially if you take into account the fact that one of them came up yesterday and asked me where Oregon was.

Now, students were clearing out for lunch and the murder would not have had too many witnesses...but I refrained and asked him if he knew which three states made up the Pacific Northwest, something I have been repeating since January 3rd, but I am pretty certain the previous teacher might have mentioned a few times, too.  He gave me a blank look and I pointed to the maps hanging in strategic positions around the room.  When I pointed to one buy his seat, he said, "OH! I have a map right next to me."  It is a topographic map that has actual bumps for mountains and is about 4 feet by 5 feet.  That little horned Jim on my shoulder was saying, "Smack him just once, no one will know!"  The little haloed Jim on the other shoulder wasn't much help either, because he was rubbing his temples, shrugging, and saying, "See if it works."  I did not smack the boy, but I resolved to make sure that a question concerning the three (3) states of the PNW will always be on the quizzes!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Three Of Barns

 Three barns for the price of one!

Hello Monday, You Jerk.

I don't want to go to work.  Not because there's something I want to avoid or because I hate someone there, simply because I enjoy spending time with my family and would rather extend that fun we call the weekend then end it by going to work and tending someone else's kids.  Also, I'd like to be independently wealthy.  Oh, and I'm lazy, I don't really want to leave the house until I have gotten my allotment of caffeine squeezed into my veins.

We had a good weekend.  It was too short, as usual.  We went to the park on Saturday.  While there I took pictures.  I know, hard to believe I would drag that thing out, huh?  I did manage to make a slightly more complicated photo of multiple Chloes.  Please, tell me what you think.  I hope that next time she will not simply follow the same path as twenty-seven times before.  Oh, well, that's the hazard of shooting 2 year-olds.
 I have a ton more photos to go through.  Of course the majority were taken for this one above.  I got a few cute portraits, too.

 It was Saint Patrick's Day, so, of course we were all wearing green.  We saw her do some things we would not have let her try a few months ago, like climb up the chain ladder by herself...or course, Cora wasn't but a step away the first few times, but Chloe handled it like a pro and made it clear she can do a good many things on her own.
I hope the week cruises by.  I'm looking forward to another weekend with my wonderful family!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And Thursday Done.

 So glad Thursday is over.  I am looking forward to Friday.  I hope you enjoy these.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Adoptive Families, Ignore Us, We Don't Mind.

We get a lot of looks.  Mostly, they are harmless people who tell us how lovely our daughter is.  We can't help but agree, since we think she is probably the prettiest thing that ever graced this side of Mars ( I know Mars spins and revolves around the sun, that's my point).

We get the odd question about whether she is adopted and where from once in awhile.  In fact, Cora and I were noting last weekend before last, that people in Seattle were more likely to ask us questions than people around our home town.  We thought that was weird, since we had seen at least half-a-dozen probable international adopters/adoptees just on our trip through the zoo (We weren't actually going to ask to confirm, that's just a little rude, unless you have built up a rapport by being in line together for a few minutes, seriously, do you walk up to EVERY family and ask if one of them is adopted?).  You would think, since they were so common in the big city, that people would not have the urge to ask so many stinking questions.  We don't mind, but some questions tend to be fairly personal.  As a way to illustrate these questions here are three YouTube videos by an unknown-to-me adoptive parent.  They are PRICELESS!!

I'm sure you wouldn't, since you read my blog, but if you ever get the urge to tell someone any of these things on the videos, just know, we have ALL heard them already and probably would not like to hear them again so soon.

Some of my students ask questions like these, and I usually answer kindly since they are kids and kids really want to know.  My favorite is, "Are you going to tell her she's adopted?"  My answer is, "Well, it will be kind of hard to keep all the mirrors away from her." or, "We think she'll figure it out." 

I post these videos, not because someone asked me any rude or personal questions today, but because the videos show the whole gamut of what we hear!  If you want to educate your friends about how NOT to be rude, these videos seem to me a good way to do it.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week.  I have another two days of test proctoring.  (That makes me feel so important, but really, it's glorified babysitting, and I get to read!)  The state of Washington wants to make sure its students can read and write.  Sometimes it's a little bewildering what the test-makers thought of to include in the instructions.  "You may now stretch, but don't talk about the test or what you wrote on the test to others."  In my experience, both as a testee and a teacher, kids are LEAST likely to speak of work.  Oh, they'll talk about So-and-so getting pregnant or how So-and-so almost got arrested, but a freakin' test?  To put it in their rough vernacular, "Hey-oh no."

As a point of reference, I got observed by an administrator the other day, part of the normal thing.  My class happened to be reviewing a chapter via a study-guide I had made for them.  It was suggested that I should make class a little more rigorous for my students.  Wish he'd been there the other day when they were yelling at each other about women's rights.

Still, he suggested that we should have a debate or something...yep, that women's rights thing was totally unplanned, but it was awesome to see the majority of the males side with the girls.  One obstinate boy held out that women just weren't as tough as men.  I told him, point-blank, that he was wrong.  I got applauded for that.  Anyway, today I had planned a debate over whether Washington Territory should have been formed by breaking up the Oregon Territory or whether the Oregon Territory should have remained the large entity that it was.

This particular class could probably have fooled a medical professional into believing that every last one of them was comatose.  Seriously!  They were stone-cold little jerks with their vacant stares and the drool!  Oh! Dear GOD!  Sometimes I wish for a cattle prod or some sort of device to make them WANT to learn just a little!

I fared better with my last class.  They actually enjoyed the idea of a debate.  I think I will enjoy it with the rest of my classes, but that other one...they are a pot of stinkers.  I have two or three adults in there as parapros who help needy students.  They seem to suffer the same angst and wish to make the kids WANT to learn.  There seems to be nothing you can do to make them try.  It's disheartening at times.  And then you hear about how some state or government agency wants to pay teachers according to how well their kids do on test scores...WOW!  It seems no matter how many times you go through WHY it's important to do well in school, some kid is going to just NOT CARE!

Well, watch the videos, have a laugh, maybe have a sobering moment, but mostly, have fun.  When you stop having fun, I don't know if it's worth going on.  I like my job.  I love my wife, and I adore my kid.  I have a great life.  I hope you do too.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Barn Too Far

 I went for a short drive the other day and these are what I found.  It's been awhile since I got out for photos and I was happy for the chance, even though, mostly it was driving.  I like a good drive anyway.  Things are well here.  I have no complaints.  I hope you have the same!  As usual, drop on by Barn Charm and have a look at the other barns!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sweet Girl!

 Chloe is 100% in your face.  She is something else.  I love this little girl who can offer a sweet side and then two minutes later a side that exhibits her sense of humor.  She is awesome.  I love my daughter.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Work in Progress

 Most people who see Chloe see what you see above.  I have been trying to describe what WE see.  It's difficult without you actually being her and watching her.  Well, I took some pictures of her the other night and then I did a little photo magic.  I am not done yet, and I'm not even sure if this is what I want, but it DOES illustrate how she feels to us.  Especially if she has had sugar or...a nap...or, well, this is descriptive of her anytime, really.
like I said, I want to try this again, but this was my first attempt.  Whatdya think?

Monday, March 5, 2012

This Barn Charmed Me!

Good evening!!  Here is one I worked on for quite a while the other day.  I was adding layers and filters and shading and tweaking...It has about six different filters on different parts!  I really enjoyed adding color to an otherwise blah winter photo.  

Barn Charm is in its 75 week!  Hop on over and have a look around at the awesome posters there!  I'm afraid I don't have much time to go poking around the huge number of posters there, but I try to visit a few each week, even if it's only a click and look around!  I really do look at your pictures!

This last week was busy.  Today for instance, I worked on a study guide for an upcoming chapter for my class.  I took it to the printer and then looked back at the book and realized I'd done next week's chapter...figures.  So, I stayed a little late and finished this week's chapter, too.  At least I am a little ahead of myself.  I gave a quiz today.  One of my paras was fed up with the kids she was with.  She told them they could use their notes, but not hers.  (They rarely take their own, even though several adults instruct them on WHAT to write down)  So, if they took the notes they were okay, but if they didn't they would have to rely on their memories...and most of the quizzes I corrected showed that they either don't listen or I speak a different language than they do.  Seriously!  

One of my questions was:  

8. What was NOT a way to die on the Oregon Trail?
     a. Freezing
     b. Drowning
     c. Snake bite
     d. Car accident

I ACTUALLY got several students who chose freezing or drowning or snake bite!

Another was:

4. Use "FAMINE" in a sentence.

One smartass answered:

"I have a lot of people who ask me the definition of famine, so I tell them.

Crap.  I gave him credit, but I didn't have to like it.

My favorite was number ten, which was an open ended essay question asking them to describe a journey on the Oregon Trail, using complete sentences, specific places, and details from their readings.  I had gotten a really good, long and detailed response from one student, so I decided to try to elicit more of those.  I said, if you write A Lot on number ten, I might give you extra credit, you just need to give me all the details you can remember.  

A period later I was correcting papers and found the word, "A LOT" in bold lettering...smartasses.  I told them "Nice try."

This weekend we went to the zoo.  It was awesome!  Chloe is doing SOOO much better in the car on long trips.  Nothing like she was a few months ago when there was so much screaming and crying.  it was great!!  Chloe especially seemed to like the elephants, giraffes, and gorillas.  It was fun!  Have a look back to see a few of our zoo pics from Saturday!  Better pictures than these!

Then make sure you click on over to Barn Charm and visit those fabulous barn photographers!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Trip to the Zoo!!

 We just had to get out of the house!  I have been campaigning to go to an Air Museum for weeks, but had to give in when Cora pointed out that Chloe might not enjoy that as much as the Zoo.  So, the zoo it was!

She especially liked the elephants, but she enjoyed the Giraffes and Gorillas, too!

 All-in-all, it was a successful and enjoyable day!