Thursday, March 31, 2011

Plan B

You guessed it.  No sun again.  To make matters worse, it was rainy most of the day preventing the kids and I from going outside. 

Time for Plan B.

I now have many little suns made by my own little sunshines decorating the walls of my classroom. 

And if this doesn't work, I have Plan C waiting in the wings.  Anyone else familiar with the poem "Sunflakes?"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It Ain't Gonna Shine No More, No More!

We are on day eight of no sun here in my part of the country.  Eight days of cloudy, gray, overcast skies.  It's getting pretty old.

If any of you have a few extra rays you can send this way, I would certainly appreciate it.  Otherwise, I will be forced to resort to Plan B which involves kindergartners and a lot of yellow paint.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Couple of Things I Find Baffling

Spring Break on the Hill continues.  The lack of funds has given me a great deal of time to think.  Despite all the things I could be thinking about, this is the best I've got.

On Monday, I went to the home improvement store to actually buy dirt for my garden.  Today, I spent hours trying to get dirt out of my house.  Anyone else find this to be a strange irony?

I have spent the past couple of days cooking yummy meals.  I now have a fridge full of food.  Apparently, actually cooking food causes me to lose my appetite.  It makes no sense!  Perhaps it will be the latest diet crazy to hit the nation and I will earn big bucks to pay for all the food that doesn't get eaten.

There are other thoughts, but I think I've given you enough to ponder for now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Library Books

I spent some time at school today in an attempt to get things organized for next week.  The kids and I will be taking a trip around the world next week through books as we continue to explore character and setting.  I have copies of many of the books on my bookshelf at home, but I opted to use copies from the school library.

Growing up, I loved library books.  I loved walking into the children's section and smelling that in describable smell.  All those spines standing upright were adventures waiting for me to discover.  Sure, I had books at home, but I had already read them all.  I would revisit them, but at the library had so many new stories waiting for me.

The kids in my class love stories just as much as I did, but I have found that the library doesn't hold quite the same magic that it did for me.  They are accustom to the brightly colored covers they see in the book stores, not the dull imitation they find on the cover of the books.  In a world where everyone is looking for the latest new thing, they associate library books things that are old.

But I am working to change this.  It started with the book Tacky the Penguin.  My copy is an old library book that was discarded.  When it was put on the shelf initially, no one bothered to pick it up.  But once I read it (complete with "the voices"), it became one of the most popular books.  They love the story and make me read it constantly.  A book that was already in rather sad shape looks pretty beat up on the shelf next to the brightly colored paperback, but it is one of the most loved books.

So next week, we will only be using books from the school library.  Some of the stories will be older.  Some will be newer.  But they will all be books the kids will have access to every Tuesday when they travel upstairs to the room full of books.  Maybe by introducing them to more of the stories in the dull covered books they will see that the true magic is not on the outside, but waiting on the pages within.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How I Spent My Spring Break--Day 2

I know you have been waiting in eager anticipation to see what Day 2 had in store.  Today was the day I tackled Mount Laundry!

Living alone with an extra bedroom is a very dangerous thing.  I have found that the guest room doubles as a laundry holding tank.  The clothes seem to go straight from the dryer to the daybed where it remains behind a closed door until
 a.) I need to wear the item
 b.) company comes over
 c.) I just can't take it anymore!

Today was Option C.  I relocated the mountain from the guest room to the dining room table where it could no longer be denied. 

Now, bear in mind that these were only the items that had been neglected for previous days/weeks.  As I was folding, I was also doing three more loads.  Each time I would get everything folded, more clothes came to take their place.

It was a daunting task, but I kept at it.  At last, it was all folded.  Then came the next challenge--putting it all away.  The temptation to take the folded items back to the guest room was strong, but I held my ground.  I would find the proper place for each and every item.  No shortcuts today.  I even rearranged some closets and drawers as I went.

Finally, I was left with an empty dining room table and an empty guest room.  Ahhhh...another successful day. 

Happy Birthday

Thirteen years ago, this little beauty entered our world.

She showed up with those big blue eyes and that wispy blonde hair and immediately stole our hearts.

She was first.  She was the first daughter, grandchild, great-grandchild and niece.  She had our full and undivided attention.  We were in awe of this incredible little being.  Every experience was new and exciting.  Every milestone a celebration. 

Now, she's thirteen.  She has grown into this unbelievable person.  She's a smart, gracious, creative, athletic, caring, beautiful person.  Other children have joined the family, but she is still first.  We are still in awe of her as we watch from the sidelines as she continues to change and grow.

So on this special birthday, I have three wishes for my niece.  May she always find joy and happiness in each and every day.  May she have the wisdom and courage to handle the challenges of life.  May she always know who she is and how much she is loved.

So Happy Birthday, my favorite blue eyed person!  No one loves you like I do!

Monday, March 21, 2011

How I Spent My Spring Break--Day 1

Spring Break has arrived.  Most people I know have abandoned town in search of more exotic and interesting locations.  Due to the fact that I'm broke, I'll be spending an adventurous week in my little house on the hill. 

Today's adventure involved the front yard.  I decided it was time to pull up the landscape ties.  It was a rather spontanous decision.  Something about the sun being out and the promises of temperatures near 80.

While the decision was spontaneous, you can see that it was also necessary.  The pieces of wood were falling part.

Once I got everything up, I had to put something else down.  It was off to the home improvement store.  (I would end up there four times today.)  Now, my mother has always told me,  "It's okay to spend money if it's going to improve your quality of life--just don't go overboard."   I kept these words in mind as I purchased 48 feet of metal edging.  I also bought a rubber mallet.  (Dad will be so disappointed he missed an opportunity to buy a tool for his daughter!)

I have no previous experience at completing such a project, but I was determined.  I even created a new arc that was not included in the previous design.

When all was said and done, I had a better looking area, but more importantly, I had a sense of accomplishment.  That special sense of accomplishment that comes from trying something you've never done before.  It wasn't a big task and it's far from perfect, but it's better than when I woke up this morning.  And I did it all by myself.

The next challenge will be to decide what to actually do with the area.  Do I leave the rock or switch it to a nice dark mulch?  Wood mulch or rubber mulch?  Flowers in the ground or contain planting?  Suggestions (and donations) are welcome. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Picture Time

Today was our faculty retreat.  During our break time, my camera and I went exploring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


As my kids were preparing to do their seatwork, the following conversation was had:

Student 1:  Hey!  You sharpened the pencils!

Me:  Yes I did.

Student 2:  You're my hero!

I even let them have pencils with erasers!  I know, I know.  I'm far too good to my students!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Sometimes, it feels like people don't really hear what you are trying to say.  No matter how you phrase it, the thought in your head just doesn't seem to translate to what actually comes out of your mouth.  The person on the other side of the conversation interprets your words with a meaning that is completely foreign to you.  You keep trying, but you have now become so defensive in your quest for understanding that it seems impossible.  You feel defeated and frustrated.

But, maybe understanding isn't what you really need.  Maybe the point you are trying to make isn't really the goal.  Maybe it's enough to release those words into world, not in a quest for understanding and acceptance from others, but to find understanding and acceptance in yourself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Week in Review

It is the end of a very long week.  Let's take a look at all that was accomplished.

1.  The four month old stack of papers were finally shredded and removed from the floor of my office.

2.  All my laundry was not only done, but folded AND put away within a 24 hour period.

3.  My friends Pain and Pressure finally decided to leave my head.

4.  One school yearbook was completed.

5.  Preparations were made for one school musical. 

6. 34 kindergartners managed to say "please" and "thank you" for an entire day.

7.  The tears of two little girls were replaced with smiles with the wave of a magic wand.  (Literally.)

8.  One little boy read his first book all by himself.

9.  One kindergarten teacher received about a million hugs.

All in all, I would say it has been a very successful week.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Touch of Elegance

At the beginning of the school year, it's me and a room full of kids.  All those anxious little faces look at me with tremendous curiosity and perhaps even a bit of fear.  They are excited to be in this place they have heard so much about, but are not quite sure what to do or what to expect.  It is my job to make them feel welcome, loved, and comfortable.

Around February, it becomes apparent that I have done my job quite well.  They do feel welcome.  They do feel loved.  They do feel comfortable.  Perhaps a bit too comfortable.  (Let's face it--they are ready to complete take over the entire school!)  That's when it's time to bring them back to reality.  It's time for the Elegant Party.

For the week prior to the party, we focus on manners.  We read books.  We have discussions.  We do projects.  We even practice.  We learn that manners are how we show the world we care about them and their feelings.  Suddenly, there are a lot more "pleases" and "thank yous" floating around the room.  There's more assistance during clean up times and more door being held open.  Tattling is replaced with reports of the good manners they see in each other. 

And, finally, the day of the party arrives.  They come dressed up in their "elegant" clothing and sit at their "elegant" table to demonstrate their "elegant" manners.  Some even demonstrate their "elegant" dancing skills.  They laugh and giggle, but they are also polite and sweet.  It is one of my most favorite days of the year.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that this party will change their behaviors for the rest of the school year, but maybe--just maybe--they'll remember a please or thank you every now and then.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pain and Pressure

My friends call me the human barometer.  I can usually tell you the arrival of a warm or cold front within five minutes of its arrival.  My friends Pain and Pressure enter my head.  They bring with them their suitcases and proceed to make themselves comfortable.  After dealing with these two for years and years, we have reached an understanding.  Pain and Pressure are allowed let their presence be known for a day or two, but agree to downplay the need to completely disrupt my life.  Lately, they have been overstaying their welcome.

Unfortunately, I live in a part of the country where changing weather happens frequently.  My friends Pain and Pressure have been with me for two solid weeks.  When I wake up in the morning, there they are.  When I go to bed at night, they are still there. To make matters worse, they have been joining me at work where they don't necessarily get along with the 33 children in my life.  

So it's now time to issue an ultimatium to my friends Pain and Pressure.  It's either time to leave or time to start paying rent!