Saturday, February 23, 2013

Call Me, Maybe – Sat. 9

1) Do you owe anyone a phone call?  Probably because I am the worse phone caller ever.  I’d rather talk to you in person. 

2) Do you still have a landline phone? Nope.  I haven’t had a landline since I still lived in my condo about 10 years ago.  When I moved in, I did have a phone for local calls and suddenly one day the phone stopped working.  I bought a new phone, but that one didn’t work either.  So I called the phone company.  They told me since the problem was coming from inside the walls and not outside, it was my responsibility and since I hadn’t purchased the $2 per month insurance from them they would charge me just for the tech to come out as well as the cost of the repair.  So I canceled my landline and haven’t had one since.  Sometimes I wish I had one because, while I do love my iPhone for everything else, it stinks as a phone.  I actually think that’s part of the reason I don’t like talking on the phone.

3) When was the last time you looked up a number in the phone book?  I don’t know, it’s been a long while.  I do have a phone/address book that I look in for addresses all the time.

4) Do you receive more calls or texts? Thankfully texts. 
5) Call Me, Maybe’s Carly Rae made the Final 3 on Canadian Idol. Can you name another cultural import from Canada? Isn’t Martin Short from Canada? 

6) Where do you listen to the radio most often? Car? Work? Somewhere else?  I don’t listen to the radio.  Instead the ipod always plays in my car and, if I’m working late, in my classroom.

7) Is there a domestic chore you excel at? Is cooking considered a chore?  I like to cook, so probably not a chore.  Other than that, I’m not terribly domestic.

8) Do you consider yourself competitive?  I’m having déjà vu with this question.  Very, but not usually with others, just with myself.

9) Tell us your superhero name -- as determined by the color of your shirt and an item to your right. Ha, ha! The Red iPhone or The Red Remote Contol. I like my pornstar name much better (first pet and the street you grew up on).

Enjoy your Saturday…I’ll be working.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Shout Out to DonorsChoose

As a public school teacher at a low-income school in California (a state ranked 48th in education spending) I spend tons of money on my classroom - from the start of the year with new school supplies like folders, crayons, and pencil boxes and throughout the year with various materials for day-to-day work, lessons, and parties.  Each year about 5% of my take home salary is spent on supplies for my classroom.  I don’t mind the expense at all, but it does add up.  Which means there are times that because of the regular expenses, I can’t afford to do some of the extra, project-based things that make learning more fun.

Enter  In 2000, Charles Best, a New York public school teacher, started DonorsChoose.  Knowing that many people want to donate to education but don’t always know how or for what, the website was created to link up teachers who have incredible classroom projects that need funding with individuals and corporations who want to donate.  DonorsChoose has raised over $170,000,000 and has funded over 140,000 public school teacher projects.  Their donation/funding statistics are really incredible.  In addition to connecting donors to teacher projects, they also have a huge corporate following which allows them to offer “matching donations” throughout that year.  That means that during a set period of time, any donation made to a teacher project is doubled, allowing a project to be funded even faster.

Over a year ago I attended an art class, and another participant, who was a retired teacher, told me about DonorsChoose.  I had written the name down in my sketchbook and frantically searched for it when a need arose about a month later.  I was in the process of creating a take-home “book in a bag” reading library in my classroom of AR leveled books.  I had some to start the library, but not nearly enough to keep it going for very long.  I decided to put together a project on the website and see what happened.  The teacher needs to put forth some effort into putting together a project proposal which includes the what and the why and the how and the cost of the project.  After submitting my project for the take-home books on the website, I received confirmation that the project was posted.  At that time I sent out the project to my friends and family (as recommended) and typed up a letter to my students’ parents.  That same day I sent my letter in to be translated.  By the next day my project had funded – I hadn’t even received the translated letter back yet.  Between my friends and family and our local Horace Mann office my project funded within 24 hours. I was dumbfounded!  Within a couple of weeks, the books arrived and were part of my library immediately.  It was so exciting!

In all, I have funded 4 projects over the last year through  In addition to the books, I’ve received two subscriptions to Time for Kids, level 1 and 2 and Scholastic News, level 1 and 2, an iPad, and most recently (funded just last week) art supplies to create a classroom shadow puppet theater.  This newest one funded within 12 hours, and other than a donation from my mom and a gift card redeemed by me, I didn’t know any of the donors and one was even an anonymous donor from out-of-state.  I find it so amazing that people who don’t even know me or my students are willing to contribute to education.  It’s so refreshing.  My kids are going to love creating puppet performances to show what they’ve learned.  I can’t wait for the materials to arrive.

Teachers are, most of the time, in the hot seat, especially during difficult economic times and intense political debates.  We’ve been blamed for an archaic educational system, (which we have no control over by the way – no one ever asks us), standardized testing, the utter demise of our economy, crime rates, you name it, it’s our fault.  But taking a look at the number of teachers who are creating innovative and engaging projects on the DonorsChoose website, there is so much good happening out there with public education, despite its numerous challenges.  Thanks to DonorsChoose for making that happen!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On a Grand Scale

Over the past week, I’ve been watching an HBO documentary called Mea Maxima Culpa in increments.  I finished it this evening.  The film concentrates on the United States’ first-known public acknowledgement of abuse in the Catholic Church - Father Murphy, a Milwaukee priest, abused over 200 children attending a school for the deaf from the years 1950 – 1974 (before being removed and assigned to work with children in other parishes).  It follows the chronology of four of the victims, now grown men, who tirelessly pursued their abuser despite the roadblocks put up by both the legal system, due to statute of limitations and the Catholic Church’s inactions and cover-ups.  Their case took upwards of 30 years to settle.  The documentary also highlighted some of the other widespread cases during that span of time, primarily those in Ireland and Italy as well as all of these cases pointing to the cover-ups by the church.  They worked their way up the Catholic food chain, ultimately landing on the desk of the current pope.

Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement last Monday.  What a shame that he gets to live the last years of his life in a comfortable apartment without having to be held accountable for his overarching cover-up of abuse.

Funnily enough, this film came out just 5 days after retired Los Angeles Archbishop Cardinal Mahoney was stripped of his remaining duties (although still a priest in good standing) due to his wide-spread cover-up of abuse committed by priests.  Even after being mired in all of this, Mahoney is going to the Vatican at the end of the month to participate in the conclave that will choose the next pope.

Having removed myself from organized religion years ago due to its rigidity and stance on so many things, this stance is probably the most appalling, sickening.  Upon the news reporting to the public of each case, as they unfolded over time, it was bad enough.  Being reminded of them, one after another in the 2 hour film illustrated, more than ever, the magnitude of the secrecy.  It’s hard to believe there are still members on all levels of the church that take the stance that there was no wrongdoing.  I read a couple of reviews of Mea Maxima Culpa that were so scathing and so unapologetic.  I don’t know how a sincere apology isn’t the first words out of their mouths, every single time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

And It’s Still Only Friday!

After making it through Valentine’s Day a.k.a.
1without incident and maybe even a little creativity
2I’ve been rewarded with a 4-day weekend.  A 4-day weekend, hooray!!!  Thankfully George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both had birthdays in February!

I met with a parent yesterday after school and she mentioned her wish to have a long weekend every month.  I’d even take a 3 day weekend.  Having an extra day (or more) tacked onto the weekend is heavenly.  Weekends usually fly by.  Most of it is spent on chores and errands that aren’t taken care of during the week and possibly a social outing.  By the time those are over, weekend’s over.  Having that extra day to just be makes a world of difference. 

In fact, this morning I woke up rather early (for some crazy reason) and completed all my chores and errands by about 12:30.  It has been ages since I’ve washed my car.  We’ve had rain forecasted on and off for the last several weeks.  It’s rarely rain that washes off the car, but rather causes little mud puddles when it spits.  I’m not someone who is ever too concerned about the car, but it’s a nice feeling to have it clean and sparkly and to not have to worry about it for another several months.

With all the have-tos done, I went out to a movie tonight.  We saw Quartet which is based on the stage play of the same name, written by Ronald Harwood.  What a sweet movie. 
Quartet-UK-Poster-585x438It takes place in a retirement home for musicians.  I haven’t been able to find whether it’s based on a true story and/or if there is really such a thing as a musician’s retirement home.  But what a concept huh?  The best parts of the movie were when the various characters would break into song or play the piano, clarinet, cello, etc.  Children visited for lessons from the residents.  Plus, the home and its surroundings were breathtaking. 

A meteorite?  Wow!  The footage on the rare event in Russia was something wasn’t it.  I would imagine witnessing that would make you think the world was ending.  Since it’s a 4-day weekend, I’m glad it didn’t end. 

The best part of a long weekend is when, even though the first day is over, there are still three more days left! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Invigorating Font

After a particularly trying week, weekend couldn’t get here soon enough.  All I wanted to do this weekend was hole up in my house and breathe.  However, Friday afternoon I received an email reminder about a workshop I signed up for last month.  The class was Saturday afternoon.  The thought of just bailing on it crossed my mind a few hundred times, but it in the end I sucked it up and attended. 

Artist Pam Keravuori has the most beautiful lettering in her art and journaling.  When I work in my journals, my least favorite part of the process is the writing because I don’t like my handwriting.  My printing is decent when I’m teaching, because it has to be, but my script is a mixture of incorrect formation and maybe some laziness – I don’t write by hand much anymore (other than printing at school) so it no longer comes naturally.  So how exciting to find out that Pam was teaching in Southern California. 

The three hour class was held at French General, a cute boutique art/craft store in Silver Lake on Riverside Dr.stuff 303
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I was surrounded by beautiful things!
Sewing and crafting isn’t so much my thing, but the patterns and colors were inspiring.
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After a few minutes of exploring, the class began.
stuff 289Pam started us off with a great little kit that included class notes, Faber-Castell Pitt pens (my favorite pens), practice pages, and other fun odds and ends.
stuff 287
stuff 307Before she started her instruction, we had to write the word “joyfully” in our handwriting, as a starting point.
stuff 306Looking at it is painful.  As I wrote, my mind was messing with me – naturally wanting to write them my way but my brain telling me to write them using correct formation.  I can see where I stopped and had to think, “How do I make that again?”

While we worked on some practice exercises, Pam gave us a brief history of lettering and the pencil as well as notes on using nib pens – which were very helpful.
stuff 288It was a quick class, but the tips and little tweaks given were just what I needed.  By the end of the class, Pam wanted us to create a “picture” like her Doodle Amour picture.    stuff 305I’m still over thinking the lettering a bit, but I feel improved after just a little bit of practice.  Practice is definitely the key.

The creative therapy certainly helped!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hmmm, I Didn’t Realize It Would Bum Me Out Like That

I haven’t written too much about this school year.  I am as happy as a clam at my new school, and as I’ve mentioned before, so relieved to no longer be part of the angst and drama of previous years.  This year’s class is darling.  Individually, they are a nice bunch of kids.  As a class, they are a bit more challenging.  I’ve got several behavior concerns that wreak havoc on the dynamic of the entire group most of the day.  If it’s not one, it’s another.  They keep me on my toes, and most days I drag myself back to my classroom after dismissal and curl up in the fetal position for awhile.

I have two autistic children in my room this year – a boy and a girl.  Both are very nice kids, bright, and fairly well behaved.  The boy, I’ll call him E, has so much knowledge for a seven year old and reads like a whiz.  For the most part, he is a pleasure to have in class.  However, every-so-often when things don’t go the way he’s expecting – whether that be getting an answer wrong, changing the schedule abruptly, and more recently working on an assignment that’s not quite as easy as previously he thought or facing a consequence for poor behavior – E has a very loud, screaming, crying meltdown.  During these meltdowns, we’d have conversations about why.  He’d cry and tell me that he didn’t like getting things wrong or he’d push me and tell me he didn’t like when I marked an answer wrong on his test.  He’d shake and scream, the entire time telling me he could not, under any circumstances, stop.

The first meltdown of the year, threw me for a loop on the third day of school.  But I got him under control in the back of the classroom while the rest of the class rolled their eyes and covered their ears letting me know they remembered this happening in first grade.   Each subsequent meltdown, gave me another mental note about how to handle new situations with him. 

In the beginning of the year, he had a special spot where he could sit and “cry it out”.  He’d go there willingly, but as his frustration with the regular classroom increased, the special spot meant nothing.  He’d refuse to move or leave the room.  During the last couple of meltdowns, E had to be physically picked up and removed from the class. 

As that behavior escalated, my principal started the process of qualifying him for the aut class at another school in our district.  The class is much smaller in size and not the standard “test heavy, we all move at the same pace” classroom.  The principal, psychologist, aut teacher, and his mother all agreed, the new class was the best place.  After winter break, the pieces started falling into place, and I received an email today that his last day will most likely be Friday.

After reading the email, I was saddened, to the point of tears.  I know, full well, that the new class is the best place for him.  Not having to walk on pins and needles worrying about a meltdown (sending the rest of the class into a downward spiral) will be such a relief.  But I’m still very sad that he’s leaving us.  His off days have been ROUGH, but they ranged from about once a week to once a month.  Never once, even while carrying him out the door kicking and screaming, did I want him to leave.  And the rest of the time he is so pleasant to have in the room.  I will miss that.    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It’s 7:00 on Sunday Night

and I’m already in bed.  A bad cold virus and/or flu has been running rampant over the last month.  Remarkably, I’ve stayed relatively healthy while everyone around me has been dropping like flies.  Relatively healthy that is until I woke up yesterday morning with “IT”.  Actually, compared to the symptoms others have been dealt, I think I’m getting off a bit easy with what I think might just be a head cold.  However, my sinuses are screaming, my eyes won’t stop watering, and I can’t breathe out of my nose.  It could be a lot worse based on what’s been going around, but still, I am tired and I don’t like it.

I have worn out another pair of workout sneakers and went on the hunt for another pair this week. is my go-to place for shoes with literally thousands of shoes in their inventory and free next day shipping and returns.  I love Zappos.  Anyways, I found a couple pairs of Adidas I liked.  I have found Adidas fit my foot the best so I usually start there. I ordered both pairs in two sizes and they arrived the next day.  I am generally a size 8.5 in shoes, sometimes going up to a 9 with certain brands or styles.  With the Adidas, I’ve consistently worn an 8.5.  I liked both pairs that came so my choice was going to come down to fit.  I tried on the pink and gray shoes, 8.5 and couldn’t even get it on my foot, so went to the 9.  I could get them on, but they weren’t terribly comfortable.  I went to the blue pair, and started with the 9 this time.  Those shoes were too big, and so were the 8.5s.  After all said and done, I returned all 4 pairs and exchanged them for a size 8 in the blues, which fit perfectly.  And I can’t remember if I’ve ever worn an 8.  To a point, I get that there isn’t universal sizing with shoes and clothes across brands, but I was a surprised that the same brand differed so greatly. 

The main character of a book I’m listening to right now had the following quote, “I was born at 5:14 on a Tuesday morning and because of that I always thought of myself as a morning person.”  Having been born at exactly 11:00am on a Sunday and NOT being a morning person, there may be something to that theory.

I love paper, so I this will be my next local field trip…


Ha! Ha!

Have a great week.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bye Bye January

A new month means a new calendar post.  I debated (with myself) whether or not to participate in the monthly calendar challenge over at The Kathryn Wheel this year.   In the end, having a record of each month is nice, even though the months seem to fly by when making a calendar like this. 
stuff 273I received some alcohol spray inks at a class last year, so I thought I’d try them.  They had a bit of a sheen to them, and I’m not so sure I’m a fan of that in my journal.  Also, this is a smaller-sized journal than last year’s so I struggled when I had a lot to write, but nice when I didn’t.

Anyhow, the rest of my creative endeavors this month were a bit manic.  With a lot of irons in the fire so to speak, I started a lot, but didn’t get much done other than the calendar and a few pages in my sketch book.  My job keeps getting in the way!

I began a some pages in my journal, which are ready to work on, but nothing was completed.

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I screwed around in my sketchbook, just for fun. 

stuff 277 stuff 278 stuff 279

I’m working on a collage project (will post more when I’m finished).  This is where it’s at right now. stuff 280
Each January, while on winter break, I make my Christmas cards for the next Christmas. I didn’t actually finish all of them, but a good head start.   stuff 281
February is a short month, so we’ll be back here before we know it I’m sure. 

Happy February!