Saturday, February 27, 2016

2 Weeks Down, 2 Weeks To Go

I finally got it together and hired the gardener to redo my backyard.  I'm very excited for it to be done, but it has been a rough two weeks on Rigby.  She hasn't been allowed out in "her" backyard since they began.  Rigby loves her backyard and spends each day exploring.  Even though I take her out on the leash several times a day, it's not the same.  So most of the time she is home, she sits like this at the back door, hoping and wishing she could get out there and make sure all is ok.
While the yard is essentially finished, unfortunately there are still about two weeks left of her internment.  The sod needs that time to take hold.  In the scheme of it all, two weeks is nothing.  When there is a dog sitting at the door, it's seems like a life time.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Is Paper Dead?

As someone who equally loves technology and all things paper, this commercial made me laugh out loud.
While going paperless in some areas of my life has been quite easy, I can't do it for everything.  I still keep a paper calendar/planner and write all sorts of notes for myself.  The tablet is fine for reading, but book books are my preference.  The capabilities of art and technology are amazing, but I haven't mastered any part of it, so continue to find putting pencil/pen/brush to paper far more comfortable.  And even though I teach with all sorts of technology in the classroom, I still use a pencil and plan book to plan my days.  So after all is said and done, I have to side with Emma on this one.  You?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Mugs

During my entire childhood my parents, who were both teachers, drank cups of coffee each morning out of mugs they received as gifts from their students.  Our cupboards overflowed with teacher mugs. It was always a joke among their friends - How many teacher mugs did you get this year?  It's kind of a joke among most teachers - we as a people get a lot of teacher mugs.
The duration of my career has been the exception to this rule, however.  The gifts at sites like mine are few and far between, and most of the time they are student made or used.  But this winter, I received a very nice Starbucks' travel mug for a gift the day before we went on break.  Like I do with all student gifts, I showed my appreciation my thanking the child profusely and letting him know how much I loved it.  The next day, the last day before winter break, I received two ceramic coffee mugs.  Between those and the travel mug, that was more coffee cups than I'd received in my entire career, all because I overdid it on the thank yous.
The gift giving continued on Thursday during our Valentine exchange.  The crayon hearts were a hit, by the way.  Valentine's Day is always a favorite with the kids.  More so than our Christmas or even Halloween parties.  They all arrived with their Valentines for their classmatess and some brought gifts for me.  At the end of the exchange, I opened the gifts brought in for me which ranged from handwritten notes and pictures to a rock to flowers.  And yes, more coffee mugs.  After opening the first one, the kids ooooooed and ahhhhed over it.  Reminding me it was like the ones I got for Christmas.  When I got to the second one, their exasperation over "Another one!?!?!" was smoothed over by my response of, "Now I have one for both hands!".  By the time I got to the final mug, one particularly concerned boy asked, "How many coffee mugs does one person need?"  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday 9 - Love Story

In celebration of Valentine's Day, this week's Saturday 9 theme is the theme song from Love Story
1) The very popular tagline for this movie is, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Here's your chance to rewrite it. "Love someone the power to break your heart but trusting them not to."
2) The movie was famous for a montage of the lovers frolicking in the snow. Do you enjoy sledding, skating, skiing, snowball fights, snowmen, etc.? Or do you just want spring to hurry up and get here?  I’d just like it not to be 90 FREAKING degrees in February!!!
3) In the movie, Oliver asks his father for $5,000. The money is required for wife Jenny's hospital treatment, but Oliver is too proud to tell his father why he needs it. Adjusted for inflation, $5,000 in 1970 is $30,000 today. How much would you be willing to lend a friend or family member without knowing the reason?  Hmmm, that’s a tricky one and would probably depend on the friend and the amount.
4) In the movie, Jenny is the daughter of a baker who owns a little shop in Cranston, Rhode Island. Think of the last baked goods you consumed. Were they home made? Did you buy them from a bakery, the grocery store, or a coffee shop, like Starbucks?  I had a bagel from a bagel shop this morning. 
5) In 1970, when the movie was first released, California's First Lady Nancy Reagan said she liked it but was upset to hear Ali MacGraw's character swear. What's the curse word you use most often? Being around kids everyday, my vocabulary is pretty clean as I don’t want to slip and accidentally say anything inappropriate, but when angry my go-to is F***ing A**hole.
6) Now 75, Ali MacGraw has let her famous hair go gray. She says she's glad to "look like a grown up." Do you feel your age? Or older or younger than your years? Definitely younger, most of the time.  Other times, especially at the beginning of the school year I feel like I’m a hundred years old.
7) MacGraw and her Love Story co-star Ryan O'Neal are currently on tour in the play, Love Letters, and they're drawing big crowds of fans who remember them in their famous film. Tell us of another movie couple you felt had romantic chemistry.  I don't tend watch (or like) the sappy romantic films, so I don't know any of the traditional movie couples, but I do like Harry and Sally in Harry Met Sally.
8) Red is the signature color of Valentine's Day. Are you wearing red right now? No, but I’m in a room with a red wall.
9) Because Valentine's Day is such a big day for chocolate ... would you prefer a large, solid milk chocolate heart or a small box of four assorted chocolates?  Neither sound particularly good to me. Valentine’s candy isn’t my thing, but we are just a week or two away from Reese’s PB Eggs. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


The one part of the fitbit watch that I didn't comment on last week was the silent alarm.  This feature may very well have changed my life.  As I've mentioned a few times, I am not much of a morning person.
So the requirement as a teacher to rise early is literally painful for me.  And even worse is waking up early to an alarm clock.  That sound makes me shudder.  Needless to say, between the early mornings and the jarring alarm clock, I'm kind of moody in the morning.
While figuring out all the details of the fitbit, the directions mentioned the silent alarm.  At first I was skeptical - how could a silent alarm jolt me out of bed like an alarm clock?  But the idea of a silent alarm was also very appealing.  So over winter break, I played around with it a bit.  There weren't too many days I needed to set the alarm, but when I did I also set it on the watch.  Because the time needed to get up over break wasn't very early, on most days I woke up before either alarm went off.  So the true test was when I went back to work.  I decided to set the watch for 4:50, the time I needed to get up in order to walk Rigby, and then the alarm clock a couple of minutes later as a "just in case".  I worried that the silent alarm, which is a vibration on the wrist, wouldn't be enough to wake me so the alarm clock was a second layer of protection.  The first few weeks back to work, the setting of the watch wreaked a bit of havoc with my sleeping.  I woke up constantly through the night, I think worried about whether it was going to wake me up.  The worst was that I kept waking up 10-15 minutes before it went off.  To someone who loves to sleep, those lost 15 minutes are a killer.  Anyhow, I gave it a month trial and by the start of February, I was back to sleeping through the night and also was awakened by the silent alarm, before the alarm clock ever went off.  The wrist vibration is much less jolting than that stupid alarm clock.  Now, mornings are still painful, but at least I don't want to throw an alarm clock across the room.  It's definitely more pleasant.  The only draw back is wearing the watch to bed, but it's definitely worth it, for now.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Valentines

Over the last couple of weeks I've been searching for something fun and easy to make for student Valentine's Day treats.  Pinterest is both a huge help and hinderance.  I found some cute ideas that I very nearly made, but just couldn't bring myself to spend $50+ on Valentines.  I spend that kind of money on my classroom all the time, but not on things of so little importance.  This year's treat cost a whopping $3.00, and it can be used again for many years to come.
When I initially stumbled upon the crayon hearts, I was put off by having to purchase a heart-shaped muffin pan.  It was such an easy project, and I have crayons coming out of my ears, but when I looked for pans at Michaels and on Amazon, I again couldn't justify the cost for a silly Valentine.  But when I walked into Walmart on a fluke and found a silicone heart "pan" for $3.00, I made my decision to make them!
My students always start the new school year with a box of 24 crayons.  About halfway through the year, they get a new box.  Students are given a choice to take the old box home or to "donate" them to our classroom community crayon bucket.  Luckily, I had just given out the new boxes a week or so ago and most of my students wanted to leave their old ones with me.  Little did they know they were contributing to their own Valentine's Day treat.
I came home with bags and boxes of used crayons.  Many of the directions I saw online mentioned buying new boxes and using those.  With all the used crayons I have in my classroom, that would have been a waste.
My biggest concern about the project was getting all the paper off without breaking all my fingernails.  A work colleague of mine recommended using an X-acto knife, but even that sounded tedious.  I found soaking them in a bowl of warm soapy water for just a few minutes loosened the paper enough that the crayons fell right out.
 The purples, greens, and oranges were the easiest.  The reds and blues were more difficult - the glue holding the paper was less resistant to the soapy water.  They would begin to pull off, but then tear when it got to the glue.  A quick run under warm water in the exact place it was sticking released it easily and the papers came right off after that.
The crayons were then sorted into like colors.  Of course, the pinks and reds would have been the most ideal colors to use for Valentine's Day, but Crayola only includes one red and one pink in the box.  They include about a million oranges and purples and greens and yellows in the box however, so those colors made up most of my hearts.
 After they were dry, the crayons were broken into smaller pieces to fit better in the pan.
 And then placed into the $3.00 silicone pan with coordinating colors.
 They were baked in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
After they cooled completely (2-3 hours), they peeled right out of the pan - which is a plus using silicone.  I was very pleased with the way the lighter/brighter colors turned out - the pink, orange, and green crayons are gorgeous.  I was a but disappointed the way the blues and purples turned out as far as the look of the heart.  Both hues are quite bright and pretty on paper, but the color of the crayons are dark and they didn't show the colors when melted like I thought they would.
I made up a card which says, "Color Your (heart) Out!  It's Valentine's Day!"  And secured the hearts to the card using a large dot from the hot glue gun.
I love the way they turned out.  Valentine's Day is on Sunday this year (and over a 4-day Presidents' weekend to boot), so our exchange will be this coming Thursday.  I hope they are a hit!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday 9 - Nope

While I love me a good Saturday 9, just hearing the name of this week's song artist makes me want to punch him in the face.  I do not have Bieber-fever, in fact I think he's a little sh*!  So I'm NOT linking the song! :)
1) This song is a plea for a second chance. Are you good at forgiving/forgetting?  I actually am not.  I'm probably the world's biggest grudge holder.  If I let my heart make the decision,  it often says, "You're dead to me!"  I have to constantly remind myself that...
 2) "Little sh*!" asks his girl to "forget this." What have you done/said recently that you wish could just be forgotten?  I've been pretty well behaved recently, so I don't think there is anything that I've regretted.  The year is young, though.
3) "Little sh*!" says he needs just 6 hours sleep every night. How about you? How much sleep do you require to feel sharp?  On average, about 6 hours a night is what I get during the work week.  I'd like 10-12, so I make up for it on the weekends.
4) "Little sh*!" D&G underwear, which can cost as much as $102/pair. Sam may be crazy, but there's no way she'd spend that much on underwear. What's something you're willing to splurge on?  Shoes!!!
5) He may be picky about underwear but not cuisine. He loves Big Macs. If we were going to McDonald's, what would you order?  The fries, of course.   
6) When it comes to healthier fare, "Little sh*!" has told fans he enjoys snacking on bananas and grapes. What do you reach for between meals?  When grapes are in season, they're a favorite.  I also keep nuts and Kind bars in my classroom for recess time.
7) Performing in Germany, "Little sh*!" told a girl who approached the stage, "Ich liebe dich” and she fainted. Have you ever fainted?  Yes, three times.  The first time, I was about 8 and my family and I were watching the show Emergency One.  The doctor on the show performed a spinal tap and, after I asked, my dad told me what it was I fainted.  The second time, I was up in San Francisco with a friend of mine's family.  We were making Dim Sum and I was in charge of mushing the meat and spices up with my hands.  I don't know if it was the texture or that my hands got cold, but I passed out onto the kitchen floor.  And the last time was when I was 15 and taking a required health/first aid class.  The teacher had told us that someone passed out in the class before mine, and then as he started lecturing about going into shock, I passed out, fell out of my desk, and onto the floor.  I haven't passed out since, but often feel like I'm going to when I get my eyes checked - weird.
8) As a kid, "Little sh*!" was teased for being one of the shortest in his class. What do you recall being teased about in school?  Nothing specific, just regular kids stuff, but all pretty painless.  No scars.
9) Random question: Will you be watching this weekend's Super Bowl?  Wah, wah, wah!  No, I really could care less about it.  If the Pats are playing, I'll check the scores, but other than that I don't even know who is in it this year.  I'm always up for a good party, but not on a Sunday night.  So Super Bowl Sunday means nothing to me.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Happy February!  How has a month of 2016 already gone by?  Sheesh!
Sunday ended the first month wearing my new Fitbit watch/fitness tracker.  And after one month, here are my thoughts...
  • I did NOT need another thing to obsess over.  It has so many options (steps, miles, floors, calories, hours sleeping, restlessness), and it has kind of made me concerned over things that I've never been concerned over.  I take it off when I shower, and if I forget to put it back on the whole day's tracking (in my mind) is ruined because it's no longer accurate.  So in order to counteract the obsessiveness, I've taken to not wearing it on the weekends.  During the week, my routine is pretty established so even if it's not on my wrist right after my shower, it's on before I leave the house because I always leave the house with a watch.  The weekends are an entirely different story routine-wise.  Leaving it off those two days gives my brain a break from checking it every few minutes.  
  • 10,000 steps is supposedly the goal for a healthy lifestyle.  I spent the first month with it tracking that I was hitting 10,000 each day, but what I found was that I was hitting 9,000+ steps before even getting home from work.  A few days last month, the 10,000 "vibration" went off while walking to my car in the school parking lot.  There's walking across the room to work with a group, there's walking to students to answer a question, there's walking around the room doing a lesson, there's walking to the office and restroom during my breaks, but there's also a lot of stopping in between.  Clearly, teaching is a very active job, but what I found from the tracking is that very little of those steps are continuous, and not getting my heart rate up, which is the point.  So I've upped the goal to 15,000, which has been much more difficult to achieve.
  • With that being said, being able to see those steps and wanting to reach that goal, I often find myself just shy of it right before going to bed.  So rather than let it slide for the night, I walk around my house and up and down the stairs until it clicks over to 15,000.  Part of me feels like it's ridiculous, on the other hand maybe it's not.  
Anyhow, I wasn't really interested in getting a fitness watch at first, because I do keep a fairly active routine.  But now that I have it, it's made me look at my activity more, or maybe it's made me smarter about it.