Thursday, August 27, 2009

i just might be able to do this afterall

So, a couple of days ago I told you I started a new approach to the literacy instruction in my classroom this year. While I read the books and agreed with the strategies that were presented, I was scared. Would it really work? Would I be able to pull it off without looking like a bumbling idiot? (No comments from the peanut gallery, here!)

On Monday I introduced a strategy called cross checking that has some hand motions to go with it. When I introduced and modeled the strategy I felt like the kids were looking at me like I was from another planet. For me this one seemed like a hard one to explain in a way the kids will get it. We reviewed the strategy on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fast forward to math yesterday. I was reading a word problem to them from their worksheet. My mouth was going way faster than my brain apparently because I started giving them hints about how to solve the problem before I read the final question. Initially, I thought it was a multi-step problem. In my mind I was thinking that the first lesson in the book in 2nd grade was a little early for a multi-step problem and that I didn't remember that from last year. Once I read the question I realized I was on the wrong track and that there was just extra information. Still. Already?

Anyway, I stopped and said, "Wait a minute I didn't read that right." Right then one of my boys who is a very low reader said, "cross check" and did the motions. I just about cried with joy. This opened up a very nice discussion about how we can use our reading strategies in math. I asked the kids if they thought it was ok to use our reading strategies during math. Another little boy said, "there are words, aren't there?"

This was the exact confirmation I needed that these new ways will be ok. It was only the third day of school, but the kids are showing me we are on the right track.

You better believe that on my prep period I ran to tell my principal what happened!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

second verse, same as the first

Last year, 2nd grade had the latest recess/lunch & 1st grade had the next to latest. These guys are used to going out late ~ meaning noon. This year we have the first recess/lunch which means we go out at 11:00.

One of my students did not show up on the first day of school because he was sick, so yesterday was his first day. We were in the middle of drawing pictures to use to tell a story when I looked at the clock and realized it was time to go. I told everyone we needed to go to recess. This little guy looked up shocked and exclaimed (loudly & excitedly), "I love second grade! I can't believe it's recess already."

I can't believe I got my first full belly laugh on the second day of school.

This is gonna be a good year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

first day of school recap ~ otherwise known as the post in which i can finally breathe calmly for the first time in weeks

Do you want to hear about my day or the kids' day first? Well, my blog ~ my day first.

I know many of you are anxious to hear whether or not I was finally consumed by those small people who outnumber me. You might be sitting around in your bunny slippers wondering if I finally hurled after another unsettling lunch. Maybe you are concerned about my mid-afternoon migraines.

I am here to tell you that I have survived yet another first day. Boxes were not stacked on students' desks. I remembered to pick up the children in the morning and did not lose even one. I did thank them after lunch for deciding to stay with us instead of running away to join the circus. I went to school fully clothed in appropriate attire. I did not disappoint my principal or get reprimanded in any way. A good day.

Not only did I survive, but I have complete and full control of those little people who call me teacher. I was actually hungry this morning - a rare occurrence for a first day. I did not feel sick after lunch. I did not walk away with a migraine.

The new things I'm working on for my classroom have gone over well so far. I'm still feeling a little fuzzy around the edges with the new stuff, but so far so good. If you are a teacher and you are wondering what the hoopla is all about, check out the two books I read last week - The Daily 5 and The Cafe Book. Both books present a new way to structure the literacy program. It is empowering to the child, yet mildly horrifying to the teacher who did not learn to teach this way. If you are not a teacher, then what I just said probably closely resembled Charlie Brown's teacher.

I do have one little chatty girl who had to move her frog to the blue lily pad today after eleventy billion warnings. Hey, I was nice the first day. Finally I could stand her disrespect not a second longer and made her move her frog on the first day. She tried to butter me up later, but I would have none of it. I gave her the "we are not talking to each other look." Tomorrow we will start over.

I have another autistic boy in my room this year. Apparently they do not think I messed the last one up too much so they are trusting me with another. This boy, so far, is very different from Squeaky Clean. I have a feeling it will take us longer to get to know each other. Luckily I have the fantastic support of the autistic teacher and the aide. The aide spent a large amount of time in my class today helping him become accustomed to a new teacher.

Ok, enough of me. Let's move on to why you are really reading this post in the first place.

Oh, are they so dang cute! I love their little school-girl outfits. I showed these to them in the store and said I thought they'd make great first-day outfits. They agreed. Yay!

They were spoiled this morning with strawberry smoothies, scrambled eggs, and toast for breakfast. I think they are expecting this again tomorrow. Crap!

Check out Stephanie's new sassy cut. She got quite a bit chopped off and more layers. Heather got layers for the first time and a moderate amount cut off the length. Stephanie's hair is looking so grown up that I get a lump in my throat.

Greg was unable to get the day off to take them to school for their first day, so it was just us. I was making them walk up and down the driveway runway-style.

Suzanne is Heather's teacher this year, but she's out on maternity leave. We had to settle for a picture at Open House last week.

Mrs. M is Heather's substitute for a little while. She's sweet and lovely. As a mom I couldn't ask for a better substitute. As a teacher, I couldn't ask for a better temporary colleague.

Another Mrs. M is Stephanie's teacher. As you can see, Mrs. M tries to make the most out of life and has a flair for the dramatic. I am excited for Stephanie to be in her class this year.

Stephanie and Heather both reported having a great day today. I feel fortunate that I already know they will continue to have a great year because they love school so much and I know their teachers so well. I have faith in these gals that they will guide my children in just the right way.

Either that or we'll have to scrap on the playground after school.

here we go!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

'twas the night before the first day of school

I have been surviving on a steady diet of Excedrin and Dr. Pepper for the past several days. A few of those days I went to bed without dinner because my lunch made me so sick to my stomach and I developed afternoon migraines. Once I got home from school at 9 p.m., all I wanted to do is sleep. Greg and the kids have survived on whatever Stephanie made them for dinner. One night it was macaroni and cheese. Another night she scrounged salad ingredients. This was particularly amazing since we had not been grocery shopping in over a week. I'm pretty sure the salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, grated cheese, and chopped olives.

The launch of a new school year always does me in with nerves and nightmares. But this year seems to be worse than normal. Last night I had a dream that I let the students go out to the dot to be dismissed, but by the time I followed them out it was dark. They were already gone. In their place were the adult members of a performing choir. They were waiting for me to show them the way to the stage, but would not allow me to stay and see the show. Huh? Then I dreamed the art teacher (but not our actual art teacher) was going to show me how to carve rubber stamps. I was so excited. We gathered our supplies, but the lessons never started. I woke up mad that I didn't learn how to do that. But I guess since I don't actually know how to carve rubber stamps, I could not teach myself if my sleep! Dang!

I'm working on some new things for my classroom - new ways of doing things. I'm nervous about it and I really want to get it right.

I found out the other day that I have a child in my class who is a potential behavior issue. We'll see about that. He's not met the likes of me just yet.

Once school starts, I'll be able to calm down.


Stephanie and Heather are excited for school to start as well. Except tonight after dinner Heather told me she had a belly ache. I think the poor baby is a little bit nervous herself. Either that or I gave everyone food poisoning.

Yesterday the kids got back-to-school hair cuts. Their first day outfits are ironed. Their new back packs are all set with new school supplies. They were sent to bed tonight at a somewhat reasonable hour.

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

reporting for duty

My summer break is over. My five days off went by so fast! Today is the day teacher's all across our district report for the new school year. Not all schools here are year-round, so some have just had about 10 weeks off. Even though we just finished the school year, I am excited about the start of the new one. I have fresh supplies. I just read two new teacher books (on my mini summer break) and am excited about starting some new things. I moved rooms so I took the opportunity to change themes. Frogs this year. I have heard such good things about the students who are on my list. I am filled with hope.

Monday, August 17, 2009

shop update

I tried some new things ~ car seat strap covers and a quilted table topper. Getting ready for fall craft shows. But if you feel like you need some stuff now, by all means, don't hold back!

Any suggestion for what you'd like to see in the shop?

school dreams

For as long as I can remember, I have had school dreams before the start of a new school year. When I was a kid or in college, these dreams consisted of not finding the right class, not being dressed properly, not having the right supplies. Any mishap that might happen on the first day of school entered my dreams.

I still have school dreams. Except now they involve not having a ready classroom or forgetting to pick up the students on the first day of class.

One dream in particular from several years ago is still very vivid in my mind. In this dream I was exiled to a portable. A tornado or other fierce wind had taken away the walls in one half of the room. The floor was the kind of floor in a bounce house and I was having quite a time getting the desks to stay still. Moving boxes were still everywhere. All this on the first day of school! While I was still frantically trying to right the wrongs, my principal came to my door with my students. At this time I was teaching 4th grade, so there were lots of them. She told me I forgot to get them. She was not happy with that. Then she saw the shambles of a room and said to me in a not-so-nice voice, "We'll talk later." and marched off. I woke up from that one in a cold sweat!

Fortunately none of the misadventures in my dreams have ever come close to coming true.

I did not sleep well last night.

School dreams.

Sweet dreams to you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

this scares me

The kids are playing 'babies' in the other room. They each have a baby they are mothering and working through their day with, making up all kinds of child-rearing scenarios. I just heard Heather say, "Just a minute, Stephanie. I'm texting."

Oh my.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

slow down!

I feel like time is speeding ahead in light years. I'm doing my best to keep my grip on the rails of the train caboose as my body bobs in the gush of draft wind. My hair is flying wildly behind me, all while I'm trying to take in the surrounding scenery.

The Joann's sale circular is advertising fall decor and craft items. Fall? I'm not ready for this. I'm barely getting used to summer. I know, I know, it's August. But in my mind I still have a thousand summer things to create. If I start on fallish things then before you know it I will have to start on Christmas. This is all going too fast. Slow down the train!

And what's this about my kids growing up? Stephanie is going to be in the 5th grade in one week. Heather will be in the 2nd grade. They got their teacher assignments this week and are so thrilled to have the teachers they hoped they would get. Yet inside I'm screaming, "No, no, no!" This can't be happening. Don't get me wrong, I totally love the age they are (except the constant fighting). They are lovely to talk to. They like to help out around the house or in the kitchen. I just enjoy them at this stage. But what happened to my chubby-faced toddlers? What happened to the little arms reaching out to be picked up? What happened to the stroller that I was so glad not to need anymore?

I guess I'd better get my fall craft on. Before I know it there will be craft shows & boutiques to be a part of. I don't want to fall off the train that I have such a hard time holding on to.

Friday, August 14, 2009

best roast ever

I only buy roast when it's on sale. Guess what was on sale this week! Here's an easy, no fail crock pot recipe. You can even leave it in the crock pot a little longer than intended and it still turns out great.

Crock Pot Roast

1 roast
4 cups water
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can soda

Place roast in crock pot. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over the roast. Set your crock pot to low for 6-8 hours.

That's it! With this roast, I make mashed potatoes & gravy and some sort of vegetable.

Usually the roast cooks for longer than 8 hours and just falls apart as I'm taking it out. Yesterday it was still intact because it only cooked for 8 hours. You can add more water if you think it will cook longer than 8 hours because some of the liquid does cook off.

You said soda? Yes, any kind will work. I have used Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Coke, ginger ale, and even Mtn. Dew. Whatever you have in the house will be fine. I wouldn't use diet, though.

Put down that jar of gravy! Gravy from scratch is easier than you think.

Roast Gravy

2-3 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons flour
2-3 cups roast juice

If you want a smaller amount, use 2 of everything. For more, use 3 of everything. Just be sure the amount of butter and flour are the same.

When I start to peel my potatoes I pull out more roast juice than I think I will need. I have this handy measuring cup that allows the fat and broth to separate & the broth enters the pour spout from the bottom so less fat gets in the gravy. If you don't have that, just put it in a measuring cup and skim off the fat after it floats to the top.

Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour. Let the starch cook off the flour a little about a minute. Keep whisking. Slowly pour in some broth while you are whisking. At this point do not stop whisking or it will be lumpy. Once that is incorporated, pour in some more. Keep going, but go slow with the liquid. You can always pour more in to loosen up the gravy, but you can't thicken it more. Once the gravy bubbles, give it a little more of a stir then turn off the heat. The gravy may thicken a little more as it sits. Again, if it's too thick add a little more broth.

Leftovers? Well, you could just have this meal again. OR you can make a completely different meal.

Sometimes the roasts are on sale in a two-pack. I cook both of them (increase liquids if necessary). I shred the second one while it's still warm and mix in some green chile salsa. After it has cooled, refrigerate for a couple of days. The meat marinates in the salsa and is ready for shredded beef enchiladas, tacos, or taco salad. I only made one roast last night, but I did save the left over in the green salsa. We will have shredded beef quesadillas in a couple of days.

Go cook something good for dinner!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

until we meet again

The week before last Heather's class had their turn at conducting the flag ceremony. They were the last class of the year. So they got their western duds on and sang Happy Trails. So very fitting. And so dang adorable too.

Honor Guard, advance.
Honor Guard, please post the colors.

Heather's teacher asked the kids which lines they wanted. She picked these. At first I was a little perplexed as to why she picked the simplest lines. Didn't she want to do the pledge? That's long! Then it dawned on me that these lines command attention and respect. They are two of the most ceremonious lines in the whole flaggy spiel. Heather picked perfect lines.

She spoke clearly and not too fast. After the flag portion of the ceremony, they sang their Happy Trails song complete with cute little movements.

It was hot, Africa hot (what movie?) and a little humid. I got all teary eyed while watching Heather. Between the humidity and tears I fogged up my sunglasses and could barely see to take pictures anymore. I'm so proud of the girls that I get choked up whenever the perform, get an award, or whatever. I can barely make it through dance recitals without bawling.

Heather loves Mrs. C! This has been a wonderful first grade year for her. On the last day of school Heather was sobbing after school because she wouldn't be in her class anymore. I reminded Heather that she is lucky enough to be at school before and after school with all the teachers, so she will still get to see her plenty. That seemed to be no consolation.

Friday, August 7, 2009

kick up your heels

Pardon me while a kick up my heels for just a moment! Come on you can you it too!

Today is the last day of school! Students have a half day, then it's moving day for those of us who have to move classrooms.

I don't know who is more thrilled ~ me or my students. Like at the end of a very looong road trip, we have officially spent too much time together now. They are weary of me and they are flicking ever so violently on my last nerve. It's time to break up.

Stephanie and Heather are having bittersweet emotions. They are so excited about their upcoming new school year ~ 2nd and 5th grade (It makes me weak in the knees to think about how quickly they are growing up.) But they adore their teachers this year and are sad to leave them.

So if you hear loud whooping and hollering across these United States about noontime, it's just us teachers letting off a little steam!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


You know I have my crafts listed on my Etsy site, right? If you didn't I'll just wait a minute while you pop on over there and see what's going on.


Ok. One thing I love to waste time on do is browse on that site. Sometimes I just put in a search word and see what comes up. The other day I put lady bug in the search box. Some cute stuff. Some not so cute.

A few times recently I saw on listings that said "vintage something or other." Curious, I clicked on them. Some of these items were from the 80s. And someone is calling them vintage! Since when did the 80s become vintage?

I was a teenager in the 80s.

I moved out of my parent's house in the 80s.

I have craft paint from my first painting endeavors in my first apartment from the 80s. I know this because Michael's used to have actual price stickers that had the date on them. The paint is still usable, by the way. Maybe I should do a testimonial for Delta?

How can this stuff be vintage? Because I am certainly NOT vintage. I swear I am not a day over twenty-nine! In fact, I celebrate the anniversary of my 29th birthday every year.

Vintage! Hmph!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

reason #57 the dishes didn't get done last night

Sunday, Suzanne was able to bring Aiden home from the hospital. The kids and I planned on making a quick visit after school shopping. Hm. Best laid plans....and slowpoke shopping.

So, yesterday after school we headed over to see the little guy.

Oh, little is right. He came home from the hospital weighing 4 lbs. 11 oz. So very tiny. He's so stinking sweet. I hogged him for a long time before I let the kids have their turn. I love that my kids are big enough now that I don't have to hover over them when they hold a baby for fear of them dropping one. In fact they sit really still and coo at the babies they hold.

Although, Heather has been known to get outraged that I won't let her walk around with a baby. I have limits, you know.

They were amazed at how giant they seem compared to him. Stephanie was comparing foot sizes.

Heather compared hand sizes.

It looks like he's having a screaming fit in these pictures, but he wasn't. He was just stretching and gurgling and making general baby noises and faces. He waited to cry until they got up and left him.

I told Greg I'd stay about an hour. We ended up staying a little over two. Suzanne and I were having such a nice time talking. I miss having her at work. She's been on track break since I have come back from mine. Now she'll be out quite a while. The kids and I were having such a nice time snuggling a baby. I guess we'll just have to visit again soon!

Monday, August 3, 2009

retail marathon

Remember on Saturday we had the much enjoyed dreaded Great Try On? Well, as promised, I took the kids shopping for school clothes on Sunday.

We got a little later start than I wanted, but 10:30 on a Sunday is good. Right? Everyone was excited to go.

Even the mommy who is so dang geeky she loves the beginning of the school year! Most parents love it because they are sending their littles to school and get a free moment to themselves. I just love it because it's so cool.

Oh, and Oprah says every girl needs a fan during pictures. Turn the A/C on high while taking a photo of yourself and you're good.

Still in good spirits at the first store! We went to three stores for clothes. I threw in two stops to teacher supply stores. The kids don't mind those at all. All in all it was a good day. I got frustrated in the dressing rooms at the amount of goofing off that went on. But hey, trying on new clothes really does deserve a dance or a catwalk prance. Doesn't it? Too bad for the kids that I try to hurry them along so we don't have to spend the night in the store.

As it was we dragged our tired selves home at 9:00.

So sorry. No cameras in the dressing room.

Put that thing away!

When Greg and I were discussing his attendance for this grand adventure, he said he'd rather stay home and pull his teeth out one by one. He did not go. Good thing. He would not have lasted. Some boys just aren't made for the retail marathon we had yesterday.

coffee cozy

Get them while they're hot!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

the dreaded

Usually twice a year it happens. When it's time to go back-to-school clothes shopping or spring clothes shopping I force the kids to participate in The Great Try-On.

This morning I got up early to go to school to clean & organize my wardrobe cabinets and do general end of the year purging. I'm moving rooms, so it is essential I get organized and be ready to go for moving day this coming Friday. I was there for six and a half hours. And the air was on weekend temps ~ meaning I don't think it was on at all.

Then I went to Target. And it was HOT outside.

And as if I hadn't had enough for the day, when I got home I declared today was The Great Try-On. We actually skipped this in the spring. I just bought a few new things for the spring/summer and called it good. I told the kids that if they expected to get new school clothes they'd better cooperate.

Oh. Today. There was attitude, eye-rolling, snippy words, and general pissiness. And that was just me.

Finally, everything was tried on and either folded up, hung up, or put in the donation bag. Dinner was served at 10 o'clock. I think Heather ate in her sleep!

Tomorrow, we embark on the back-to-school shopping adventure which of course includes more trying on. Luckily they get a little more excited about trying on potential new clothes than the ones that are already in their drawers.

Give me strength.