Friday, October 17, 2014

Perplexing Hexagons

     I always knew that yellow jackets built the cubicles where they lay their eggs in the shape of a hexagon.  What I didn’t realize is that if the nest is unhindered by obstructions, the nest itself can be built in the shape of a hexagon.  Additionally, if you look closely you’ll see that the eggs were also laid in stages, all three of which are—you guessed it—in the shape of a hexagon.   Our Creator is an amazing scientist, a master mathematician, and an awesome God. 

Other fall finds include these lovely pink and purple flowers, berries, and a fig leaf.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Disc Golf: HOLE IN ONE!

      There are always those few “firsts” of the school year.  The first test, the first one hundred, and the first hole in one.  At our school, that means a disc golf hole in one.
      We have our very own little five-hole disc golf course right here at Lott Mennonite School.  You see, our principal enjoys playing disc golf, and he taught the students how to play.  When some of the playground equipment broke and needed replacing, someone suggested getting more than just our one disc golf basket.  It worked.  Now we have five.
     The first hole is about a hundred foot par two where the students tee off from the school entryway between the columns.  Every break, at lunch, and recess we hear “fore” yelled every time the front door is opened.  Our principal kindly offered 32 ounce Cefco drinky (as we call them around here) as a reward to anyone who could get a hole in one.    There have to be witnesses, of course.  So, we all rejoiced when a high school freshman got the first hole in one of the year.  His choice: Dr. Pepper.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Found: Native American Texas Artifact

      My great-grandmother was a Cherokee, so I love learning about the Native Americans--especially those who lived in this area before we were here.   Another wonderful perk of living in our lovely little metroplex of Rosebud-Lott is finding Native American artifacts.  We are currently studying American history, and as it is still early in the year we are studying the sad story of how the European settlers displaced these indigenous peoples.   I hope we have learned from our past mistakes.  

      The family of one of our students was digging the foundation of a house when they found this fine example of a scraper (top right).  The youngster proudly displayed it at school.  I told him to get a shovel and to go and dig up some more in that area.  About one hundred and sixty years ago bands of Apache Indians roamed these parts, and there are still a few proofs left of it.  I have yet to find an arrowhead myself, but the two smaller scrapers I found in the Marble Falls, Texas area.  The arrowhead in the picture was found locally by one of the church brothers while he was plowing.  The use of the rock with the hole in it is yet to be determined, but we have found several around here.  I was guessing weights for fishing nets?   If you have any insight please let us know. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Of Rats and Rain

     Every specific locale  has its own meteorological quirks, and one of those in our area of Texas is drought followed by deluge.  We had one of the latter this week, and it prompted an unusual series of events which ultimately affected our morning science time here at school.  Here is what happened.

1.  We received a deluge of rain.
2.  The rain infiltrated rodents' dens.
3.  The rodents evacuated their homes.
4.  Cats pounced upon the rodents.
5.  Cats brought dead, partially chewed rodents to their owners' doorsteps.
    (Whether the owners actually appreciate this or are impressed by their cat's prowess in hunting will remain undiscussed at this point in time.  Why the cats even do this, instead of eating their prey, will also not be contemplated yet.)
6.  Students at our school discovered dead rodents on their doorsteps.
7.  Students brought them in to get credit during morning science time.

    Yesterday morning we received two of these, a vole in a sandwich baggy, and a wet rat with one front paw missing in a bowl.  (How appetizing.)   Sorry about the blood on the history test; I needed a white background for the photograph.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stinky, Rotting Bird on Student's Desk During Test

         My youngest son asked if he could get a dead dove he had found to take to school for morning "science time" the next day.  

       "Yes, you may get that dead bird out of our next door neighbor's yard.  But please don't touch it.  Use a shovel and wash your hands when you're done."  It spent the night in the freezer, inside a zip lock baggie, mind you.

        The next day I noticed the bird again, where it was not supposed to be.

       "Why is there a dead bird on your desk while you are taking your spelling test?" I asked.   I assumed he thought that was all right because it was frozen, but that was not acceptable at all.  I enjoy science, but dead birds on students' desks during spelling tests is not what I consider to be conducive to a good academic atmosphere, or any atmosphere for that matter.

       He gave me a strange look, like having dead birds on one's desk during school was just a normal everyday occurrence.  I tried again, "I know it is frozen, but it's going to start stinking.  Please put it outside after you've finished your test."

       Closing thoughts:  Yay for teaching.  Yay for science.  Yay for little boys.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Menno Science Geeks Unite!

     We so appreciate God's creation and love science.   Recent student finds include fall leaves, shells from the Pacific Ocean (where a brother was building houses for tsunami victims with Christian Aid Ministries), a bird's nest with eggs, and a long feather.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Playin' Opossum

       During our morning "science time" this week, I was surprised.  If students bring something in a plastic bag or bin, I never know what to expect.  This week, this is what I saw.
     And I thought it was dead.  But when I went to take a picture of it, it moved.  I yelped.  Students laughed.   Next we had a discussion about how opossums really do "play opossum", and how some students' fathers catch live opossums by their tails for their children to bring in for science and surprise teachers, or something like that.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms by Anabaptists

Anabaptist Orchestra Camp 2014
      We recently returned from a fabulous four days full of beautiful music.   Beethoven melodies are still ringing in my ears.  The rich sounds of cellos, violins and French horns are resounding vividly inside my head.  I am so thankful that God created music.

         All photos were taken by +Karl Zimmerman.
     Besides rehearsing, we enjoyed lectures on music history, played games, and had intriguing discussions.   More information and videos of the concert are available at

      If you are interested in participating next year, choose an instrument and start practicing.  Everyone is welcome.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

European English Is Cuter

      Although I am teaching American history this year, I’m not some crazy, gung-ho American who thinks everything we do in America is the best and only way to do it.  I am also an English teacher, and I have to admit that I was quite smitten with the way some of the Europeans use the language.  Not only was it seemingly more proper, but it was just cute.  Here are a few examples.
    "NO FOULING" : This is my absolute favorite.  See the steam rising up?  By the way, this was taken in Ireland and that other language is Gaelic.


    This evidently means you can only set your stuff down, or unload here.  It is not for parking.  Again, lovely usage and the correct use of the word “set” which means “to place”. 
      It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?  Instead of an awful, demanding, “Watch the step!”, we get, “Mind the step”, and it even has a “please” in it.  Music to my ears.  
     And, “to let” means “for lease”.  One of the Oasis members who will remain unnamed said, “I just want to put an ‘i” there in between the two words.  
     And, when two parties have agreed on a price, it is “sale agreed” instead of a boring old “sold”.  Maybe we should be a little more formal in our speech after all.  Cheers!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bad Spelling and Grammar, Part II

I am always on the lookout for misspelled signs.   I like to show them to my students and have them correct the mistakes.  I also think that this makes them more aware of their own spelling; people do see it and will notice it.

     Before I comment on the ones with pictures, there was one that I unfortunately did not get a picture of, but wish I had.  
It read:


     This is why my elementary students often hear me ask, “What letter almost always comes after a ‘Q’?  And I always smile when I hear their loud, “U!”  Hopefully when they are older, they won’t have any “sqaush” for sale.  (FYI, one of our favorite words to use when in a bind for Scrabble is "qaid" [a variant of "caid" which is a Muslim tax collector].) That's why I say "almost always".  They know how to use "qaid" in a Scrabble or Banangram game too.)

     I blocked out the name of the proprietor in this picture to protect the not-so-innocent.  

     I don’t know who Brian is, or why he needs to “IMRPQVE”, but he certainly isn’t MY Brian.   Surely they spelled the words like that on purpose?

     My husband and I love to find strange and funny names of Chinese restaurants, like “Happy Lucky”  and “Soon Fatt”.  I’m not sure about the two “t”s in “Fatt”, and I certainly don’t want to get fat soon either.  
     This sign was in the bathroom at a gas station.  At least they spelled “you” correctly, which is more than we can say for that pharmacy.

     This one reads, “ATTENTION Truck buyer’s”, which either means “truck buyer IS if you have a credit score” or that the truck buyer owns the “if you have a credit score”.  Neither one is correct grammar.  The funny thing is, the driver of the truck, as well as his boss who puts the bad grammatical signs on the back of the truck, probably make more money than I do.  Maybe that isn’t so funny after all.
And, these people have “Egg’s” for sale.  Now, either there is only one egg for sale, and it means “egg is [for sale]”, or the one egg owns something, like the “egg’s yolk”, or they do actually have multiple eggs for sale, and they just threw the apostrophe in there for fun.  
     Well, other than my watch, which really wouldn’t qualify as jewelry, I don’t wear much “jewellery”, thank you.  
     Participles, participles!  These are not really “damage” scraps, they are damaged scraps, as in scraps that have been damaged.