Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Need A Tissue?

This month’s GPP Street Team Crusade is painting tissue paper.  March has been crazy – busy with work and making cards for others – so I just started this month’s project yesterday.  I was ready to throw in the towel on this one and get an early start on next month’s, but I really wanted to try the technique.  I’m glad I did because it was so much fun.

First, I choose a white piece of tissue and an orange-red piece.  Both were stolen from school nothing fancy.  Sometimes when I try a new technique I throw everything I’ve got into and go big.  This time, for some reason, I used small sheets to start.  I painted gesso over each piece.  Usually I skip this step because when I finally get a chance to work, I hate waiting for it to dry before I can get started.  However, this time I did use it since the tissue paper is pretty weak otherwise.

It was a dry and windy day, so the gesso actually dried pretty quickly.  I was able to start the painting later that afternoon.

Since there was some orange showing through the gesso, I used a warm color palette on that one and cool colors on the white piece. 

I dry brushed and stamped.  I tried to create texture with the end of my brush and by painting some weaved paper and pressing it on the tissue paper.

After drying over night, the journals were created the next day.  I had numerous ideas but the small sheets of paper limited me. 

The warm sheet was so bright and cheery.  It just made me happy which was the direction I took with that paper.  I stamped the letters onto the tissue paper, punched some circles, and used the remaining paper as a free form shape.  The picture was cut out of Vanity Fair a few months ago and I’ve been dying to use it.  Being that this is journaling I always feel the need to write all over my pages.  My plan was to write over the free form shape, but in the end, I just couldn’t do it.  The colors were just too pretty.  I used silver gel and wrote on the dancers.

For the second page, I cut out squares of the tissue and used them to frame the page that I had prepared in purple, green, and blue dry brush.  I then began to doodle on each square.  At first, I used my regular, fine tip doodle pen, but the colors were too dark and it didn’t show up.  I then used a thicker sharpie marker in order to see the doodles.  I don’t love it because it was hard for me to work small with the larger pen.  Overall though, I think it’s pretty.

I loved working with the tissue paper!  What a fun technique.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In Lieu of Writer’s Workshop

It’s Random Thoughts time!

Random Thoughts Big

  • Writer’s Workshop was “due” today. This week’s topics didn’t speak to me so I didn’t write for it. I wasn’t inspired. This post will have to do it for now.
  • Spring Break is one day away and I don’t know if it could be coming any slower. The week before school breaks always goes by slow, but this week, sheesh, IT IS DRAGGING.
  • I got my hair cut today. “It’s been awhile” would be an understatement. She cut off a lot, but it looks much healthier. I love coming home from the stylist because she always makes it look way better than I do. I wish I had something to do tonight so I could go out with good hair, because there is no way it will look that good tomorrow. Maybe if I had two hands in the back of my head I could make it look like it does tonight. Until then, just having healthy hair will have to do.
  • I’ve been having some computer problems recently – slow, freezing, etc. Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have been dealing with service techs and resetting things – I won’t bore you with the details. Every time I have to reset or turn off the computer without shutting it down correctly, I lose all my saved user names and/or passwords – blogger, facebook, the bank, online shopping, etc. It is frustrating because just about every site that I have signed up for has a different user name and possibly a new password. I have may regular name/password, but on some sites, the user name is already taken. That means I have to change it by adding a number or something to it, which I will NEVER remember. Sometimes the password needs to be more characters, so again I have to make up something new that I won’t remember. It seems to me that the email address/password combo is the best route. No one has the same email address so I don’t have to frantically make something up that I will forget later. Why don’t they just use the email for all online accounts? Who is in charge of that? I’d like to speak to them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Phobias and Good Manners

There are four things that make me seriously uncomfortable – snakes, people behind me, mayonnaise, and being photographed. All of these things make me so uncomfortable, some of them almost to the point of not being able to function.

I have a hard time with someone sitting or standing or walking behind me. I’m not sure where it comes from, but it has manifested itself to the point that if I’m not sitting in the back corner of room, like in a restaurant or at a meeting, I find it so hard to relax and not worry about someone coming up behind me. When it does happen, my friends joke, “Don’t worry, nobody is going to come up behind you and kill you." That isn’t really the fear though. I can’t pinpoint what it is, but it’s not that someone might come behind me and kill me, although if that happens my friends would feel pretty bad don’t you think.

This is also the case when I’m walking with people. I tend to move to the back of the group and usually walk through a door last.

I have a good friend, Paul, who is a very nice guy and has VERY good manners. However his manners and my phobia don’t mix so well. It’s actually kind of like a comedy routine. If we are walking through a doorway he is a gentleman and stops to let me go through first, but I stop to let him go first since I don’t want him walking behind me. We stand there motioning for the other one to go first. When we go through a door that has to be opened, we both hold it open and motion the other one through. We motion repeatedly until someone finally breaks down. Usually it’s him, but if it’s me I run through very quickly laughing uncomfortably.

The other day we went through this routine as we walked through a doorway and then up a set of stairs. I won out both times, but he commented repeatedly about how he was not being polite. However, on the way down the stairs, he went first without any motioning by me. I joked with him that I wore him down and wrecked his good manners. Instead he told me that it is actually appropriate etiquette for the man to go down a flight of stairs first. I laughed and asked him if that was in case I tripped, he would break my fall. Yes, that is why. He was very relieved that in this instance his manners and my freaky behavior were compatible. Now if we can just figure out how to always be walking down a set of stairs when we are together.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Wish I Was

Mama Kat asks, “When do you first imagine yourself wishing you were older or bigger?” for Writers’ Workshop this week.

Pondering this question made me chuckle a little because some of my first memories, maybe 3 or 4 years old, are of me wishing I was old enough to do this or that. 
Me 04


Being an only child I was quite a handful, always asserting my independence and wishing all that parent attention would be paid elsewhere.  In addition, a lot of my friends were 2-3 years older  so there was always that need to be like them  whether it was walking to a friend’s house by myself, riding a two-wheeler, staying home alone, parties, dating, driving, or drinking.

Often, this desire to age quickly caused rifts between me and my parents, especially my dad.  He wanted his little girl to stay little for a little longer and that made me just want to roll my eyes.  Of course, that always went over well.

Now, as a 36 year old, I would give anything to go back to that period of time where I wished to be older and tell myself to just enjoy being young.  The amount of time spent worrying about being older could have been spent just having fun as a little kid.  These days, I spend a lot of time wishing I was younger.  It’s funny how the pendulum swings isn’t it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shhh! Don’t Tell Anyone, But We’re Gonna Do Some Art

My real life pal at The Jason Show recently posted about how the overemphasis of standardized testing is kind of taking the joy out of teaching.

For the last few years, I have jumped right on the testing bandwagon as the new “culture” of our school – to do whatever it takes to get our test scores to go up. Granted, some of those changes have been positive. On the other hand, we are very limited in the amount of “fun” we get to have in school. I am a teacher of 2nd graders. My kids’ range in age from six to eight years old. This age group tends to go for fun. Sure, we try to make our core curriculum, or standards if you will, fun with games and projects that help with learning. However, with the amount of curriculum we have to cover I feel that I am barely able to get through everything I need to in a day, let alone anything fun like art, music, PE, or even just talking to my kids about something other than standards.

This year has been a particularly tough year. With budgets decreasing, we have more kids in our room but expectations are increasing. I’m too old for this exhausted.

While planning for the upcoming week last Wednesday, I realized that I had finished a science unit with a couple of weeks to spare. I actually had some time to add in a few things that are usually pushed to the back burner throughout the year, like art. I planned a spring art project that would be linked to narrative writing and we started it on Monday afternoon.

The kids were psyched as I explained the project, which was apparent by all the chitter chatter during the instructions. But they kept it together and got started. I had kids working at their desks on one part of the project and others working around the room on the floor on another part when in walks our assistant principal. She watched for a few moments as I helped a couple of kids and then she walked around asking the kids about what they were doing. When she walked past me I felt the need to clarify what we were doing.

“It’s goes along with a writing assignment!” I blurted out, not wanting her to think we were just doing art for fun. “We’re writing stories about it afterwards!” I continued, kind of panicking. I’m surprised I didn’t say, “Please don’t tell anyone!”

I had no reason to defend myself. I’m a good teacher and get the “job” done, but I found myself feeling the need to do so. That is what I dislike most about teaching to the standardized test; days like today aren’t the norm, but the exception.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I’m Weird and Crazy

This week I was told that I am weird and crazy!?!?! The reason for the name calling was not because of strange behavior, but instead my feelings about the weather and daylight savings time.

This past week, the weather, in my opinion, was perfect. There were clear, blue skies, wispy clouds, and cool temperatures due to the wind. I like the wind, I like the cooler weather, and I like the clear (and by clear I mean dry) sky. I got to wear comfy sweaters, jeans, and boots, and I had good hair. Everyone else I know complained about the weather this week…EVERYONE! This week’s weather made me happy.

Daylight savings time started this morning. It’s so much earlier than it used to be. I don’t like that. Well, that made me strange too. Others have looked so forward to the “longer day”. They like it staying light later. I don’t, during the work week anyways. There’s something about it getting dark around 5:00 that makes STOP and relax. When it’s light until 6 or 7 or even 8, I tend to keep going. When I’m working, my body clock tells me it’s time to unwind once it’s dark. The later that darkness comes, the shorter the unwinding is.

Most of all, however, is that with the time change, that extra hour of light has to come from somewhere and, unfortunately, it is RIPPED away from morning time. I am not a morning person so getting up for work between 5:30 and 6:00 am is painful. That pain is lessened a bit when the sun is rising at this time. With daylight savings it is going to continue to be dark for another hour and a half AFTER I get out of bed. Just thinking about it makes me really crabby. It will, in fact, still be dark when I leave for work in the morning. Of course, it’ll work itself out over the next couple of months as the days continue to get longer, but since DST occurs so much earlier now, it will take longer to do so.

Once summer comes, I’m all for long days, late nights, and lazy mornings sleeping in, but since I’ve got to function while I’m working I don’t like it at all. Whose idea was this anyways!?!?

I know not everyone practices DST. Luck out! Do you? How do you feel about it? Am I really THAT weird and crazy? (I mean about this)

Thursday, March 11, 2010


a haiku…

exit my warm bed
teach kids all day home workout
journal TV sleep

Whew! That was tough. I have much too much to say to use the haiku format very often. Free verse is more my style. Wow, my “regular” day is even less exciting in poetry. What’s your favorite part of your regular day.


Monday, March 8, 2010

This One Time I Couldn’t Hear

Over this past month, I have been fighting some kind of low-grade cold and/or sinus thing. I blow my nose about 50 times a day! My ears pop and rattle when I blow my nose which makes me nervous. Anytime my ears clog up these days, I get nervous.

A couple of years ago, I had this same type of, whatever, and it turned into some problems with my ears. I have had ear issues my whole life – ear infections and blown-out ear drums. Then this one day, one of my ears plugged up. No matter how much I yawned, blew my nose, or chewed gum, it stayed plugged up. A day or so later, while trying to clear up the first one, the other ear plugged up.

Oh, I can not tell you how awful it was. Imagine when you get water in your ear after swimming. Ya know that feeling? Well now imagine that feeling in both ears! I could feel and hear sloshing around in my ears. It was a loud “whooshing” sound which made me hopeful that it would clear up, but then wouldn’t. I also couldn’t hear very well. All sounds seemed as if I was listening to them through a glass. I could hear the outline of the sounds, but couldn’t always make out what they actually were. At night when trying to sleep, I could hear my heart beating or maybe echoing. The pounding kept me awake at night.

After a couple of weeks, I went to the doctor. They cleaned out my ears and I thought that did the trick. However, the relief was short lived. About a month into it, I visited the ear, nose, and throat doctor. He told me it was fluid in the ear. He gave me some antibiotics to keep away infection but other than waiting for it to drain, there wasn’t a whole lot else for me to do, except possibly lance the area if needed. I decided to wait.

However, during the wait, it was making my professional life very difficult. I couldn’t hear the exact words that came out of my students’ mouths. I nodded a lot and said, “OK,” or laughed like I was understanding. In the staff room, my friends and colleagues had great conversations that I didn’t understand most of the time. “What?” became the most common word in my vocabulary.

My students were good about it though, even after about 2 months of constantly asking them to repeat themselves. One time, Jayson, one of my favorite students ever, had raised his hand to ask a question. He asked it. I asked him to repeat himself. He asked it again. Again, I had to ask him to repeat himself. At that point, he sighed and said, “Never mind.”

If all that weren’t frustrating enough, I had a trip to Germany and the Netherlands planned. My ears always tend to hurt with the pressure on the airplane so I expected that this trip would be so much worse because of the fluid. However, about a week before my trip my ears got better.

I had just walked my class in the classroom to start our day. We were standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and I got a little tickle in my throat. I coughed in between “and to the republic” and “for which it stands”. The kids’ voices suddenly got louder. I stopped the pledge for a moment and just listened, in shock. One of my ears had “opened up”. I moved through my morning very cautiously, not wanting to even move my head. Later that morning, I yawned, and the other one cleared. I can honestly tell you that that was one of the happiest moments in my life. To hear things loud and clear was amazing.

This past month I’ve heard some “whooshing” in my ear when I sneeze or blow my nose. Luckily they haven’t clogged up (knock on wood). I don’t want to go through that again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Trip of a Lifetime (Updated**)

I love to travel. Since I’ve been blogging I’ve posted about my trip to Africa here, here, and here, and my trip to Italy here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I don’t have any trips planned this year. My hope is to save some money and do a trip to South America next year during spring and summer break. I would like to enroll in a language school down there for both vacations and do a little exploring while I’m at it.

Other than that, my travel wishes are really to go anywhere and see everything. My dream trip, though, would be a trip around the world. In fact, there are airline programs out there that allow you to do just that – purchase an “around the world” ticket. The ticket is purchased based on the estimated number of miles traveled. Then, as long as you stay moving in the same direction, you can fly around the world. Of course there are few stipulations about number of stops and the ticket has to be used within a year.

Someday, when I marry rich and no longer have to work, I’m going to buy myself one of those tickets, and with only my departing flight booked, set out for an unplanned adventure, going where I want, staying as long as I want. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Every-so-often I pull up the STAR Alliance website and use their travel planner to plan “my trip”. My most recent intinerary includes the following…

Los Angeles –> Chicago where I would spend some time sightseeing as I have never been there before.

Chicago –> Dublin I’ve been to Ireland before, but it is a wonderful country and I would go back in a heartbeat. Here I would travel around this country and then head, via ferries and buses, through Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England, ending up in London where I would spend some time visiting one of my favorite cities.

London –> Madrid I would travel through Spain and Portugal. I’ve never been and both are at the top of my list.

Madrid –> Zagreb I have heard that Croatia is a beautiful place. From there, I would spend some time traveling on bus or train through Eastern Europe.

Zagreb –> Athens After visiting ancient ruins and gorgeous islands in Greece I’d take a ferry to Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul –> to Cape Town Another one of my favorite cities. I spent about a week in South Africa two years ago, but there was so much more I wanted to see.

Cape Town –> Windhoek Namibia is a top priority on my travel list. On one of my other travels, someone told me that Namibia is the best country to visit in Africa.

Windhoek—> Perth I’ve never been to Australia. Of course I couldn’t go without visiting Hula Hank in Perth.

Perth –> Auckland I’ve heard nothing but good things about New Zealand.

Auckland –> Sydney for a few days sightseeing the landmarks of Australia.

Sydney –> Kona The flight back to Los Angeles is awfully long so a stop over/visit at my mom’s house would be nice.

Kona—> Los Angeles Back home.

There you have it…my dream trip around the world. Traveling without an itinerary sounds like so much fun and having the time to do the touristy things as well as spend time like a local sounds amazing.
**Jason was surprised that that was it, and that would be surprised because if I could I would go anywhere and everywhere. However, on this special around the world flight, you are only allowed 16 segments. Some of the smaller airports actually take up 2-3 segments so you are very limited. Believe you me, if it were just open, the list would be a lot longer.

Part of me wants to go by myself. How nice it would be to just go as and where I please without worrying about someone else. On the other hand, although I’m a pretty brave person, sometimes I’m a bit chicken to try new things without a partner in crime. Someday though, I will do it, I might be retired by then, but I will do it!

Do you like to travel? Where have you been? What is your dream trip?