Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happily Ever After

The production went awesomely today. Everything just fell together and all the students did the best they’ve done so far, with very few glitches. I was so proud of them! It went great for us voice actors, too. I definitely want to volunteer again next year if I can.

It was funny, as the dress rehearsals started this morning, I couldn’t find my notebook with my scripts anywhere. I ran to my “boss’s” office and checked there, and then ran across campus to check my car. I was half-way there when I remembered it wasn’t my car--I’d carpooled with a friend. So I slipped back in the auditorium and got her keys and ran back to the parking lot. That is, almost to the parking lot. The campus gate was still locked and I couldn’t get out! So yes, I hurry back, again, and found a teacher who loaned me her key card and went back to the car. No notebook. I must have left it in my car and forgot to transfer it to my friend’s.

I decided I could get along without my script and could peek over a teammate’s shoulder if I needed to. (we each were three or four characters in each play, so we can’t completely memorize the lines in the four days we had). Since I knew my lines pretty well I discovered it actually went better without my notes. Then I could just concentrate on following the actors and their ad libbing, etc, and juggling the mic at the right times.

Naturally, right before the actual presentation, my friend found my notebook--in the office where I’d looked first. *rolls eyes* Oh well, it ended up being for the best. :-p

In between each of the five skits, some of the high school students decided to tell stories so the audience didn't have to just sit there waiting for the props to be set up. It was kinda last minute--they decided the day before the production, but thankfully we on the voicing team got the chance to practice with them. The story I was voicing for was a classic Deaf joke I knew, so that made it easier.

As my friend and I were driving to the school this morning, I was practicing telling her the story. I'm infamously behind the times on current slang, but I felt like the casual story needed some slang for "he started speeding." I tried, "he was going along at a pretty good clip." My friend looked at me. "Amy, no one says that." I protested, "I do." She laughed. Everything I came up with met the same reaction. In the end, I just said, "he started speeding." LOL

We got some pictures of our voicing team, but I forgot to ask permission to post one here. Sorry. I looked at the picture and shook my head. "I look awfully young today." Everyone looked at me. "Today? You always look young." Yeah, yeah. I looked about the same age as the teenager student that was on our voicing team. I'm in my mid twenties and (I'm not exagerating), people ask me what grade of high school I'm in all the time. Oh well, I know it'll be handy later, but it'll be nice when I at least stop looking like a teen. ;-)

This evening I was hosting the monthly Homeschool Alumni NW game night. I ended up getting home late and the first guests had already arrived. Good thing my family was home to let them in! We had a great time at the game night and I even managed to be more or less alert despite my busy week. After some English Country Dancing on our driveway, hehe, we played Dutch Blitz with a twist! Since it was a large crowd, we were playing three different games of it. So someone suggested we play it like Bunco--with the losers and winners moving up or down a table each round. That was cool!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I present to you...!

Wow, these have been a busy two days. Yesterday I put in about an eleven hour day, volunteering the in the classrooms (8:00 AM to 3:00 PM) and then four hours that evening just working on our voice acting. Then my aunt from Indonesia was here when I got home at 9:30ish, so of course I stayed up chatting with her. I was so glad I got home in time to see her.

Yesterday I was pleased with how well it went voicing for the girl I was working with (I mentioned her in my last post). I occasionally had trouble following the other teens' chatter, but that can be difficult even if it's in your first language. ;-) I'm pleased with how much my receptive skills have improved this year. Even though I'm not technically interpreting, it's awesome practice and gives me experience seeing the kinds of things you have to deal with in an actual classroom.

When I first entered one of the classrooms, the teacher suggested a job I could help with, but I didn't know much about that. Then she mentioned that one of the students was trying to learn to juggle for his role in the play. Now that I could help with! He had already figured out the basics and was juggling pretty well already, though, so I just gave him a few tips.

Today our voice team spent the whole day sitting in the auditorium, practicing the voice acting as the actors went through their skits. Even though the school owns about eight microphones, they somehow lost all but one of the cords. So four of us are trying to juggle a mic back and forth as we're voicing rapid dialog. That's...interesting. Especially since handling the mic creates a pretty loud rustling noise. But hey, we're making it work. Between the weird seats and all the twisting, it's been a bit hard on my back and another lady's.

Man, the Deaf actor who is advising and helping direct all the plays is being run ragged. He's scheduled to be with a class pretty much every minute of the day, all day. Poor guy has been working non-stop for a week and a half at this camp, then he gets about a day and a half of a break and another kind of camp starts up. He's a great teacher and in high demand. He was one of my favorite teachers in college last year.

Picking the different voices for the characters is fun. My favorite of my roles is in "The Emperor's New Wig." One of my roles is the "invisible wig" maker. I have a script with lines that are written in sort of half English/half ASL, so I have to translate them a little and have fun coming up with something that matches the character. "I present to you an exquisite wig, visible to only the most brilliant among you. Those who are fools see nothing!"

Another fun role, but also one of the most challenging, is a rejected princess in "The Princess and the Pea." She's French and the script has her written with an outrageous personality, so I've been attempting a French accent as I go all out with the performance. I was a bit taken-aback when the actor came out. (I hadn't gotten to see that part of the performance yet.) She is a very understated actor, so now I'm trying to tweak my voice to make it match her affect better.

Tomorrow will be similar to today. There is a dress rehearsal in the morning, a BBQ, and then the production! Despite the challenges, I've been having so much fun, and it's been a valuable learning experience.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adventures with the MooLoo herd

I wasn’t going to post today, but since ya’ll are enjoying my camp adventures and requested more, I guess I will. ;-) Today I worked in the 5th and 6th grade class in the morning and that was almost more challenging than the younger kids. Almost half of the ten kids in that class have learning problems, or at least attention problems. They are all great kids, though, and their play, “The Emperor’s New Wig” (lol, they figured a kid running around acting that he was bald was better than acting that he was naked) is coming along nicely.

In one scene, when the Emperor is parading down the street in his invisible “wig,” all the townspeople are ooing and awing. In the skit the teacher is having them stand in a line and have a ripple of comments move down the line as the Emperor walks along it. It was a challenge for the kids to say their line smoothly, without long pauses as they realized it was their turn, so we spent part of the day practicing rhythmic turn-taking games like clapping games. It was cool to see them improve throughout the day until they could do it smoothly.

This morning a Deaf-Blind woman visiting the area from Seattle came by and spent a little time in each of the classrooms, explaining a little about life as a Deaf-Blind person and letting the kids ask questions. I’ve gotten to meet Deaf-Blind people a few times before, but not often, so it was a great learning experience for all of us.

The woman explained how, just as each Deaf person has a different level of hearing loss, so does each Deaf-Blind person have varying levels of hearing and vision. This lady has Usher’s Syndrome--a hereditary disease that results in the person being born deaf and then gradually getting tunnel vision that grows smaller and smaller throughout young adulthood. She gave us a glimpse of what life is like for her by having us roll up a piece of paper into a tight tube and then look through it with one eye.

Depending on their visibility issues, different communication methods are used for the Deaf-Blind. Some can see signing, but need tight signs in a very small area, or very close to their face. Some even need it far away, perhaps on the other side of the room, in order to see it best. This lady, and most of the Deaf-Blind people I’ve met, used tactile signing. She had two aids who took fifteen minute turns feeding her signs and visual information. She would lay a hand gently over her helper’s dominate hand, and he would sign pretty much normally. When a student asked a question, he would indicate their raised hand and point in the direction of the child. She’d motion for the student to go ahead and then the aid would copy-sign (repeat) all the child’s signs so she could feel them.

In the afternoon I was an aid for a young lady student who is loosing her hearing and starting to learn sign language. Since she can still hear quite well, but doesn’t know much sign, I was voicing the signing and such so she could follow along with what was going on in her high school class. During the time I was there the class was practicing on the real stage, so it was a challenge to be able to see what all was going on, not get in the way of the other actors, but still be close enough to her so she could hear me. Often actors had their back to me, and I haven’t quite learned the art of x-ray vision yet, to see through their backs to their hands. ;-) She was easy-going and content with whatever I could tell her, so that made it stress-free.

Mostly she was enjoying playing with her character’s imaginary herd of cattle. ;-) They were following her all over campus, you understand, and she had to watch out that no one stepped on them. They are miniature MooLoo cows--about a foot tall with purple bodies and pink hearts on their chests. They’ve been in the bovine military, so they were quite orderly and well-behaved, until they got hungry (then they went kinda crazy and started eating people’s shoes. Note to self: beware of hungry MooLoo cattle!).

I spent most of the day standing, so my feet are pretty sore and my ankle and wrist joints have been complaining (goes along with fibromyalgia, I think), but I can tell ya’ll are praying for me because I’ve been holding up remarkably well, at least until I can crash at home. The week is going by so fast!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shhh, I'm a Secret

Today I only got to spend a half a day in the classroom at the Deaf camp, because I had a pain management class in the morning. I was needing it pretty badly at that point, too, after yesterday. I had just as much fun in the 1st and 2nd grade room today, though. Last night I put together a script from everything they’d been working on.

Right before the teacher handed out the scripts, she told the kids I’d written it up for them and pointed to me, asking them who I was. The kids responded enthusiastically with my name or name sign…that is, kinda my name sign. The teacher turned to me with a puzzled look. “Your name sign is secret?” I laughed and showed her the real one--similar to the sign for “secret,” though I’d never noticed that before. My name is so short everyone just fingerspells it--this is the first time I’ve had people regularly use my name sign.

The teacher I’ve been working with was asked to teach here only the day before camp started--the one scheduled had something come up. This lady normally teaches older kids and has never taught drama before. She’s doing a great job and is great with the kids.

I got to try out teaching just a little today, too! Since I’ve had a little experience with drama (though not teaching it to kids), the teacher asked me to take the floor a little more today. It was so much fun but a challenge, too. There’s nothing that makes one feel as if she’s signing pig latin quite like trying to explain a complicated concept to kids who aren’t that interested in the first place. ;-)

Imagine trying to keep the attention of nine 1st and 2nd graders sitting in a circle. Most of them spend most of the time fiddling around and playing with a piece of paper or tag on their shirt or whatnot, right? but they can still listen to the teacher. Now picture the same circle of kids, but all of them are deaf. It’s the same situation, with one twist--the kids only know what the teacher is saying if they are actually looking at her. This is a real challenge for the kids that can pay attention better if they can move around and be active while they are learning.

I tried to think of some fun acting games we could play and have the kids “put on” the personalities of the characters from their skit, but we ran out of time to do much. I did have them think about how their character would walk (or swim--we’re doing “The Little Mermaid”) and practice that a bit. That was fun!

Another funny thing happened today. At one point the teacher put three bits of masking tape on the floor to help the young actors know where to stand. She was a bit puzzled, though, when instead of facing the audience, the kids stood stiffly and precisely facing odd random directions. She finally realized that instead of just standing on the tape marks, they’d lined their feet up exactly parallel to the direction the tape strip happened to be facing.

Tomorrow I’m moving to another classroom. It’s good to get a variety of experience, and seeing all the classrooms will help prepare me for voice acting the plays on Saturday. I’m gonna miss this class, though! I’m suddenly wondering if I’ll end up as a teacher’s aid at this school after I graduate. ;-)


Monday, July 21, 2008


This week I’m volunteering at a Literacy Faire camp for Deaf kids. The kids are in five groups, each studying and then performing an adapted story of Hans Christian Anderson. I’m on a voice acting team, which means when the kids act in ASL, we’ll be reading the script out loud in English so non-signers can follow along.

I love doing dramatic readings and playing around with different voices, so this is extra fun because I also get to be working with sign language and kids, too. Besides preparing for voice acting, we’re helping out in the classrooms as much as we can.

Today I worked with the 1st and 2nd graders. That’s such a fun age! The kids are old enough to go to the bathroom themselves, hehe, but not so old they have massive chips on their shoulders. They are so accepting of everyone at that age. We have nine kids in a wide range of signing levels, ethnic backgrounds, and a pretty even mix of boys and girls, including one with some medical issues. For a minute I thought I might have a problem when one asked if I was Deaf or hearing and was rather shocked at my answer. “Hearing people aren’t allowed!” but they quickly seemed to forget my “shortcoming”, and accepted me fine.

My back pain mostly stayed under control, despite the toddler-sized chairs and tables. I’d love prayer that I can continue the week without problems. A couple of the kids were sick, too, so hopefully no one else will get it.

I’ve just finished writing the rough draft of that classroom’s script, and Thursday we should have all of them ready. Then we’ll be able to start playing around with voices and practicing for the voice acting!

I think I’d enjoy teaching…as long as I didn’t have to sit in pee wee chairs all day every day! :-p


My Mountain

Laury lovingly teased Mari and I for how we talk in possessives about our beloved Northwest. I can see "my mountain" (Mt. St. Helens) from my bedroom window, and I cherish being surrounded by "my foothills." The last Sunday Laury was here the four of us--Laury, Marita, SisJ, and I--drove up to Mt. St. Helens.

We didn't make it all the way up to the Johnston Observatory, which is the place with the best view and the cool seismograph, plus videos and info stuff about the 1980 eruption. But we did go to a lower observatory and saw some cool stuff like a chart that explained how the eruption forced the sound waves so high up that there was miles and miles of a "silent zone" around the mountain before the sound waves came back down as far away as Seattle. We got a pretty good view of my mountain, too, though there wasn't much pretty snow left on it.

We asked someone to take a pic of all four of us, but it was a teen boy and he half-heartedly snapped on picture and handed the camera back. Not surprisingly, that picture didn't turn out, so you'll just have to imagine Marita in this picture. ;-)

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Here’s a belated entry about the lovely weekend when Laury was here last week.

It started with a dandelion. Apparently only one kind of dandelion grows in Illinois, and Laury was incredulous that the almost-dainty-looking blooms with the small circlet of pedals balancing on tall stems were, indeed, dandelions. We finally convinced her and she rushed along to each of the flowers in our field, eager to see what other treasures the Northwest had to offer. “The Pacific Northwest is like a completely different country!”

“You know,” Marita joked, “We could tell her anything and she’d believe us.”

I grinned. “Yeah, see that, Laury?” I pointed to a pile of rocks. “That’s the rare….umm…Jubjub flower.” Mari and I laughed.

Laury spotted a flower on the other side of the rocks and peered at it. “Really? That white one?”

We laughed harder and she looked around in puzzlement before she realized I was pulling her leg. From then on whenever she asked a question I didn’t know, I would make up a silly answer (typical for me, anyhow ;-) ). And from then on, if Marita or I gave her a true answer, she would say doubtfully, “huh uh.” but if it was a made up answer she would gasp, “Really?!” Kinda backwards…so of course I had to tease her more. And of course she teased me back just as hard. ;-) We pretty much laughed the entire weekend--it was so fun.

Here’s a bunch of random silly pictures and the stories to go along with them:

< Laury and I giggling with our laptops during the sleepover at Marita's house.

>>I'm not singing--really. Mari caught me in action as I was telling a story. And to think, some people believe I'm quiet and shy!

Saturday Mari and Laury and I drove to Seaside, OR. It was a lovely day--not too hot and not too cold. It was the first time Laury had ever seen the ocean. We splashed in the cold waves a bit and then settled down to eat our lunch. As always, seagulls flocked around, eager to find any bit of food. Marita and I pretty much ignored them, but Laury was enjoying them and snapped some pictures. Then...out of the corner of our eyes... Marita and I saw Laury start to toss a bit of bread to a bird. Mari lunged for her, yelling, "No!"
It was too late. The bread fell to the beach and the entire Northwest population of seagulls made a dive. Straight for us. One bird gulped up the bread. The others made a circle around us. The three of us humans in the middle huddled closer together. "Rule number one." Mari and I told Laury. "Never, never, EVER, feed the seagulls."

The circle tightened. The birds didn't make a sound, just stared at us with menacing dark eyes. You could just see the "Mine? Mine? Mine?" thought bubbles hovering over their heads as they watched us eat.

Finally someone else made the fatal mistake and the birds flew to gobble up someone else's lunch. All but one bird, that is. Perhaps it was the one, and only one, who had gotten the piece of bread Laury threw, but it stuck close to us the rest of the day. In fact, Laury started calling it our guard-gull and you can see it in the background of the above picture.

< Two dizzy people trying to hold each other up doesn't work so well. "I'm not dizzy." I tried protesting. "I just...sorta...loose my balance sometimes."

"Hon," Laury patted my arm, "that's called dizzy."

>>Mari and Laury had never heard of drip castles, so of course I had to demonstrate the fine art, as taught to me by my dad. True
to my life as a "kid magnet," I had no sooner started when two little boys rushed over to see what I was doing. I showed them how to scoop up a handful of wet sand and let it dribble through your fingers to form a bumpy, almost-spooky-looking castle. The younger boy discovered that his hands were dirty halfway through the first drip, and rushed off to wash them (doubly funny because I used to do that during mud pie making when I was that age, too), but the older boy and I had fun making our castles.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sand Bubbles

Laury, a FaithWriter from Illinois, flew to visit Marita, Janelle, and I this week. We talk on IM and the phone all the time, so it didn't really feel like meeting her for the first time. It's been so much fun to laugh and tease in person, though. The three of us have sore cheeks from laughing so much. Both Laury and my pain levels are much lower than they've been for a while.

Marita lives right on the Columbia River, a couple of hours northwest of me, and today I drove to stay the night at her house with her and Laury. Mari's family is out of town, so it's just the three of us giggling away as we please. As I type this, we're watching a movie. Mari says she's never going to watch one with the two of us again. LOL ;-) I thought I was bad about talking during movies...Laury's even worse, ha.

After dinner today we went wading in the slough where the river is very shallow and lazy. The sun was slipping below the horizon--just an orange glow lighting the tops of the foothills and casting a silver sheen over the rippling water. The tide was up, and that created a fascinating phenomena with the sand--I've never met sand that acted quite like that. As you stepped into it, the sand sunk down a few inches, releasing a cascade of burbling bubbles that massaged our feet with every step. As the sky darkened, tiny fish jumped from the water, catching their dinner in glistening streaks.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

An Open Book (a meme)

Joanne tagged me with this fun meme:

1. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
This is my all-time favorite picture of myself--pretending to read to my baby-doll before I was old enough to really read. I know my mom and older sisters were huge readers, so I’m sure that played into my love for reading. It goes back several generations--both my mom and my grandma used to get in trouble for reading after they were suppose to be asleep, and my sisters and I followed right in their tracks!

2. What are some books you read as a child?
I’m told my favorite book as a young child was Marvin K. Mooney will you please go NOW! by Dr. Suess. To this day I still have parts of it memorized, ha. Oddly, I didn’t like most of the other Suess books.

As I got a little older I loved mystery and historical fiction books, especially if they were combined. I read a lot of the TrailBlazer books by Dave and Neta Jackson (each book told the story of a famous missionary told from the view-point of a fictional child) and enjoyed the Sugar Creek Gang and Robert Elmer’s historical adventures. And yes, I read the Hardy Boys and some of the older Nancy Drew books. Another favorite series is the PepperMint Gang--they are now out of print but are fiction stories based on the life of a missionary kid in South America. They were especially fun because my dad remembers some of the events and characters in the books from his own childhood in South America.

3. What is your favorite genre?
I read pretty much any genre if it’s well-written and clean. I guess historical fiction and adventure are still my favorites, though.

4. Do you have a favorite novel?
Nope, sorry. I can’t even pick one favorite author--too many good ones.

5. Where do you usually read?
Where ever I get the chance. Lately most of my pleasure reading has been in bed right before I sleep.

6. When do you usually read?
Right now primarily in the summer because I'm in college.

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?
Often, yes. Sometimes I’ll have one book downstairs and one or two upstairs.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
Honestly I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. Most of what I read is for school so yes, I try to take notes as I read. I also have always had the habit of sharing interesting tidbits with my family as I read non-fiction. This can be rather annoying at times, I’m sure (especially during the home schooling years when everyone else was trying to do their own school!), but I love sharing cool facts and it probably helps me remember them, too.

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?
All of the above. I have a little bookcase in my room that goes half-way up the wall and it’s overflowing… Most of the books I own were either gifts or ones I found at discount or second-hand stores. My mom has six floor-to-ceiling bookcases that are full--many of them double-stacked.

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them?
Pretty much the only reason I would get rid of a book is if it wasn’t a good book. Then I either toss it or sell it, depending on how and why it was bad. I do have some old schoolbooks (from college) I’m planning to sell, though honestly I have a hard time parting even with those!

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them? Were they some of the same ones you read as a child?
No children, but my nieces come over to borrow from “Grandma’s Library” often and are reading some of my favorites. :-)

12. What are you reading now?
I have been reading a lot this summer--making up for all the reading I didn’t do during the school year, I guess. I think I read eight or nine novels the last two weeks, (but a few of them were E.B. White children’s books). I think my favorite was a book called In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols. It was about a lady who had given up a child for adoption when she was a teen. Another good one was Abraham’s Well by Sharon Ewell Foster. It was a historical fiction about Black Cherokees during the Trail of Tears.

13. Do you keep a TBR (to be read) list?
Not really.

14. What’s next?
I found a couple of books I haven’t read when I was cleaning this week--a novel by Elizabeth Elliot and a non-fiction about a horse ranch for troubled kids. I’d also like to find a non-fiction book someone recommended to me, Pain: the gift no one wants.

15. What books would you like to reread?
I eventually reread pretty much all the books we own. Sometimes the mysteries aren’t as fun to reread because it’s missing something when you already know the secrets, but other times it’s fun to see the clues you missed the first time.

16. Who are your favorite authors?
Stephanie Grace Whitson, Jamie Langston Turner, Dee Henderson, some of Ted Dekker, A.A. Milnes (I love the way he uses capitalization for emphasis), Lewis Carroll, to name a few off the top of my head.

If anyone else would like to do this meme, let me know to look for it by posting here! :-)