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A Night Off

Sometimes you just need a night off.

I had my first formal observation yesterday.

How’d it go? Well, two of my students got into a fight in the middle of class, I had to leave my group to redirect another group, and the plans I was going to do got thrown out the window and I ended up improvising. I’m dreading my review.

Today, our 5th graders took a field trip to the Griffith Observatory.


It is a great program they have for 5th graders. We got to see a fun scientist make a “comet,” got to see the planetarium show, explore the planets, and more. It was a great experience, but it was also stressful.

Our bus was supposed to leave as close to 8 as possible, as we had to be there by 9. We got on the bus at 8:10. One of my aides ran up to the playground to find one of our students. She brought him back and he didn’t want to go, so she took him back to the office, and the nurse requested to see one of the girls, as it was “urgent.” So, my aide brought him back, brought the girl to the nurse, and then brought her back to the bus. We pulled out at 8:20.

We pulled in at 9:02. Whew! Except that we were stuck behind all the buses unloading, so we didn’t get into the building until almost 9:15, and were late to the show.


After the comet show (which was HILARIOUS), we headed to the planetarium, where I was scolded by the tour guide for having students who weren’t as quiet as the smaller schools across the aisle. During the entire program in the planetarium, I paced back and forth, making sure that everyone was in their seats and listening. When I let a few girls use the restroom at 11 (3 hours after they last used the bathroom), I was scolded by a woman who worked there that I should have let them use the restroom AFTER their program. (I understand her frustration, but frankly, she didn’t tell us there’d be “free time” later, and I wasn’t going to make them hold it for another hour.

As we walked up the staircase to look out at binoculars and see the view, one of the docents said, “Wouldn’t you rather be here than at school?” One of my students complained that he’d rather be home.


We got back, we had lunch and finished out our day.

My head was killing me.

I picked up my son, went home, and collapsed on the couch, lying down and hoping my headache went away.

I took some ibuprofin and picked up some yarn and needles and “Once Upon A Knit” and cast on to knit for the first time in a year.

I watched the Goldbergs with my kids and husband. I watched “This is Us” and cried. And I’m headed to bed in a few minutes.

I didn’t do any schoolwork. I didn’t do any grading, or organizing, or ANYTHING.

I had ice cream.

My head is finally feeling better, and I’m going to bed.

I didn’t do ANY schoolwork and am 100% Totally okay this. Sometimes you need a night off.

Tomorrow’s a new day.



Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Yesterday we got back from 3 days at Astrocamp with my youngest child. You may remember me writing about my first two trips with my older children HERE and HERE.

My daughter was so excited, she packed herself and woke up early the day we left.


The buses are getting ready to leave as the parents look on.


We had 131 kids, which necessitates 3 buses instead of 2.


I snuck a pic of my girl just before they left.

This trip brought with it several firsts: first time for 3 buses, first time we went from Wed-Fri (instead of a weekend or Mon-Wed), and first time so early in the year to name a few. It was also the first time I was involved while working full-time, which was different. It was also my last time here as a parent. I’ve helped coordinate 3 trips for 3 kids as a parent at our school. This year is my last year as a parent here, as my youngest will be moving on to middle school next year. It’s hard to believe! I am trying to coordinate a trip for my own students later this year, but it will be a different experience as a teacher than as a parent.

As usual, Astrocamp was beautiful and inviting.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

After lunch, it was time to move into the dorms and get our first informational meeting, where we meet our instructor and head out to our first class.

One of the things I’ve talked about in terms of camp is the zipline. My son didn’t do it, and regretted it. I redeemed myself last time, and my youngest couldn’t WAIT to try it. Sadly, it wasn’t operating this time.

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. 😦

So, instead of zip lining, they gave us another activity to do…

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

I was feeling pretty awful (and scared), so I declined. I’m still not sure if it was the altitude or the stress of the week leading up to this, but I was feeling shaky and my head was killing me, so I took photos. My partner, however, did it and was awesome. All the girls did it, too. I was so proud of them!!

My partner

My partner, being awesome.

The classes this time were mostly the same as the last time we went…

Mars studies and rock climbing


This time, I harnessed up and climbed a Mars rock wall (I didn’t last time).

Rocket Building (and launching)


My girlie, building her rocket.

My favorite – Atmosphere & Gases. This time the chaperones got to have some fun, too!


Lights & Lasers was a class I missed last time, so that was cool.IMG_5194 IMG_5198

The funnest part of that class was the noodle fight wearing upside-down glasses. My partner and I got to try and we laughed so hard – it was like therapy!

Finally, we did the Skycoaster again. Last time, I was far too chicken to try it. This time, I got harnessed just in case. I was still terrified, but I didn’t want to let the group (or myself) down. So the lowdown is this, for those of you who didn’t read about it last time.

First, you get up on a ladder and get hooked up to the line. Then you dangle.


Then, the kids pull the rope to lift you as high as you want to go. Some people went all the way to the top.



Then you pull the ripcord…IMG_9841

And fly.IMG_9881

I went last. I was terrified. I walked up the ladder, and as I was up on the ladder, I seriously considered saying, “No. Never mind. I’m outta here.” But I didn’t. (partly because I didn’t want the girls to think less of me and partly because I didn’t think I could, knowing that one of our teachers was right there, with my camera.

So I went up.

IMG_9911 IMG_9912 IMG_9914

I only went about 3 feet in the air. Which was what I was comfortable with. I kind of wish I went higher, but I’m still proud I didn’t get back off the ladder. If I ever get the chance to do it again, I will try for a few more feet. πŸ™‚

I’m going to try to book a trip for my own 5th grade class this year, and maybe make it a tradition at our school. We’ll see how it goes. If this is the end for me, I’ve really enjoyed my 3 trips to camp. It’s been a lot of work coordinating, and sometimes hard and extremely tiring as a chaperone, but also so much fun and so rewarding.

3 trips

322 kids

36 chaperones

1 possible broken wrist

a little bit of puke

a few tears

but mostly lots of smiles.


Astrocamp, the Sequel (or how I conquered the Zipline)

Two years ago, my son’s 5th grade class went to Astrocamp, and I wrote about it HERE.

We had a great time! I knew that when my daughter was 5th grade, I’d probably take part in coordinating and attending as well. This year we went in October, rather than March, which was much warmer. We also had 113 kids compared to 78. 16 chaperones instead of 7, and 4 teachers in stead of 3.

Gracie and the girls, ready for camp!

Gracie and the girls, ready for camp!

The teachers, ready for camp.

The teachers, ready for camp.

We headed up to Astrocamp in several vehicles – 2 buses full of kids, teachers, and a parent or two, then several cars driven by chaperones, filled to the brim with sleeping bags and luggage, as well as food for the kids with severe food allergies. Most of the chaperones arrived before the buses, and I met with the Astrocamp leaders to go over our details and give them our required forms.

They arrive!

They arrive!

Last time I was at camp, I didn’t participate in the outdoor activities for different reasons. I told myself (and the teachers) “I can do it when I come back with my girls.” So, when our group had the zipline on the first day, I knew I had to do it. I volunteered to go first, with another chaperone. He was my partner last time we were here with our older kids. He wasn’t my partner this time, but our groups did activities together a few times.

I volunteered to go first so a) I could take pics of the kids after I was done and b) I was afraid I’d chicken out if I didn’t go first.

The view from the bottom. Deep breath.

The view from the bottom. Deep breath.

Climbing up that rope ladder was a little nerve-wracking, especially when I looked down.

Up at the top with Pete.

Up at the top with Pete.

Evan, the zipline guy, asked me if I’d ever done this before. I said, rather shakily, “No, and I’m a little nervous.” He was very patient. He clipped me to a line attached to the platform and asked me to step up on a little box. Once I did that, he clipped me onto the zipline and unclipped me from the platform.

I heard Pete ask the girl helping him, “Do I jump?” I panicked a little. Sensing that, Evan said to me, “You can just sit. When you feel that it has all your weight, just lift your feet and you’ll go.

I took a deep breath (or three) and sat…

My view from the zipline - Pete still on the platform, my partner Johnny down below.

My view from the zipline – Pete still on the platform, my partner Johnny down below.

I felt REALLY good after it was over. I was REALLY proud of myself and hoped that me doing it might help Gracie do it, too.

We had some of the same activities as last time – like the zipline, Atmosphere and Gases, and the Night Hike and Night Swim. We did a lot of new activities, too. One was rocket building and launching.


Rockets, ready to go.

Rockets, ready to go.



The rocket launching

The rocket launching

There was a Mars Rock climbing class.

Outside the Mars lab

Outside the Mars lab



There was also a new outdoor activity – the Sky Coaster. As brave as I was for the zipline, I was NOT going to get on the sky coaster.

Step one, get harnessed and hooked up.

Step one, get harnessed and hooked up.

Step 2, dangle.


Step 3, the rest of the group pulls you up into the trees.




Step 4, fly

We still had Atmosphere & Gases, which is one of the kids’ favorites, because of stuff like this:



I was lucky enough to sneak over and watch my daughter go on the zipline.

That's my girl!

That’s my girl!

She wasn’t going quite fast enough, so she stopped before the platform and started going backwards.

She had to be retrieved by one of our teachers and one of our chaperones.

They threw a bouy up to her.

They threw a bouy up to her.

then pulled her in

then pulled her in


Thanks, Paul!

All in all, it was a successful trip. I think most of the kids, if not all, had a really good time, as did the parents.


Bye, Astrocamp – see you in two years!!





Space Travel & Science Fun

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Today, my daughter’s second grade class went on a field trip to the Columbia Memorial Space Center.Β Β It was a pretty cool place! There were 4 areas to explore: Upstairs, Downstairs, the Voyage to the Moon movie, and the Robotics lab. The kids had a blast!

The whole second grade class went, and we rotated through the 4 areas. Our class went Upstairs first.

Upstairs, exploring the computers


My adorable astronaut!

Our second rotation was the movie. It showed a simulation of orbiting the Earth, and then heading to and landing on the Moon.

In the movie, we learned that there's a magnetosphere around the Earth. (And all the dots around the Earth are the satellites that orbit us.)

In the movie, we learned that there’s a magnetosphere around the Earth. (And all the dots around the Earth are the satellites that orbit us.)

Then we went downstairs. This is a sculpture that’s on one of the walls.


I love this! I’d put it in my house.

On the opposite wall is this stunning picture, which is actually a mosaic of lots of small photos of the mission Columbia’s astronauts.

It's really stunning up close.

It’s really stunning up close.


Downstairs, the kids could raise a parachute, then drop it and watch it fall – some kids tried to catch it.

There was a paper airplane station.

There was a paper airplane station.



Rules at the paper airplane launcher.


My girl, making her airplane.


The gravity well, downstairs. I love the reflection of the sculpture in it.


The kids had to program the robots to go forward, turn, and pick up rocks, just like a Mars Rover.


Each team used 1/4 of the area to do their task.


Our guide on the left, and the robotics dude on the right, giving the kids instructions.


Up close of the robot.

It was a pretty cool field trip, though sad to remember Columbia and, in turn, Challenger. If you’re in the L.A. area, I highly recommend the short trip to Downey to visit the center!