Sunday, March 31, 2013

happy easter

 last year's [and some years before] eggs. 

three on the left are duck, the red on the far right is a certain type of chicken which I've forgotten the name. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Z day.

Rayma [21] and Pete [23]
Grandpa always did like his privacy. He passed quietly while we were away for dinner yesterday, shortly after I posted things I felt were silver linings for the situation. The nursing home called us at the house and by the time we all made it up there, he was already gone. 

Someone told us it might happen that way; we would step out of the room and he'd be gone. We're not a superstitious bunch, but we were all of the opinion that my Grandmother, in keeping with Scottish tradition that she descends from, was there and had come to get him yesterday. She passed back in 2004. 

I'm grateful it didn't last very long; that this suffering didn't go into the night, that his death came quickly. As we were packing up his things, I looked at the calendar  hanging on the wall, marked on yesterday's date with a big, black Z."He wanted to know when you were coming home," my mother explained. "Every time I saw him, he asked, so I marked the day with a Z so he would be able to see it, and crossed off the days. I think he was holding out to see you." Z, the 26th and last letter of the alphabet, the first letter of my name, and his last name. The only thing that could make this more ironic is that if the date was the 26th, and not the 27th.

I had to take the PRAXIS 2 this morning for El Ed assessment and curriculum or swallow the $115 for the test, since the window for cancelling is three days prior, no exceptions. I figured, what the heck, I'd give it a shot; the worst that would happen is I tank and I know what to expect. 

Over night, it had snowed. Not a lot, but enough that all the brown and melted off places were covered, and the trees looked as though someone had dusted them with powdered sugar or thick white frosting. Everything looked clean and fresh and new. It was probably the fatigue, but I thought I heard someone singing, of all things, Coldplay. 

Let me go boys, let me go
Push my boat from the highest cliff to the sea below
Rocks are waiting, boys, rocks await

Swoop down from the sky and catch me like a bird of prey

Now my feet won't touch the ground
Now my head won't stop
You wait a lifetime to be found

Now my feet won't touch the ground

Singing now my feet won't touch the ground
Now my head won't stop
You wait a lifetime to be found

Now my feet won't touch the ground

I got a raw score of 177 on my PRAXIS. We'll see what that means. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

some silver linings - 14 hours later

  1. I'm not in school today with everyone. I'd hate to think if I was and people decided not to call me. Or my brother did, knowing I'd want to know what was coming down. I'd have been a hot mess. And not able to drive to get here.
  2. Mom was able to get an emergency sub in five minutes, in the middle of the day, the day before break.
  3. I have 5 days before I have to be in school again. [I also have a PRAXIS exam tomorrow morning, lesson plans to write, and a boat load of other things to do, but this will sort itself out. I got the oil changed in the car, that's something off the to-do list.
  4. Someone mentioned the meds I take for my migraines, which made me remember that I'd forgotten them in the city, and had to skip a dose last night. The pharmacy in town transfered the prescription I left in the Burgh up here, to be ready at the end of the day so I won't get a migraine. They have my sincerest gratitude.
  5. Even with class in session, there is no [comparatively speaking] traffic in town. I can drive for more than 50 feet before having to stop at a light or sign.
  6. There were real water glasses and ceramic mugs in the kitchen cart. We're all stumbling over this cart unobtrusively set up in the corner of the room, and I'm thinking to myself, "Why on God's green earth is there a cart with a coffee and hot water caraffe and a pitcher of ice water, a basket of assorted sugar packets, and nothing to put it in?" And then I opened the doors of the cart. Like manna from heaven.
  7. There was also a basket of fruit and granola bars, and oatmeal cookie pies. Because who thinks of eating? I'm not.
  8. I'm glad this is happening now; I won't have to call off school. I'm already here.

Although, I did come home to find the tiny cat wasn't moving. She's fine, but if Sherry checks out on me this week, I'll have the makings of a perfectly terrible Taylor Swift song.

Are we there yet?

When I was in high school, everyone told me that when I went away to college, I would begin to call college home. It was just the natural order of things, the duality of home with family and home being with friends. 

so I find myself in the awkward duality place now. we're on spring break. I drove home right after school. The roads were clear and the traffic was light [amazing for that time of day] I paused at the halfway point to to see if there were any sales at the outlets and scored some pants that fit - realized I only forgot one little thing that we can take care of easily in the morning. Aside from total silence and no cat, I fell asleep easily.

What woke me up, as it always has, was my mother's voice on the phone. For mom to be on the phone in the middle of the night means either: 

  1. The mother [and I mean it when I say mother] of all snowstorms has hit, which means this is the "school is cancelled" phone call, so she's calling a hand full of other O's and P's in her building. [her district is 'old fashioned' and still has a phone tree, which seems to work better than email alerts or text messages, which people sometimes don't get... ]
  2. Someone has died. 

I met her in the hall asking "What time is it?" It's two in the morning. I offered to drive since I don't have to be at work tomorrow... today. Mom said she'd be fine. Grandpa was in a lot of pain, and was asking for her. There were little claws clicking on the hardwood.

And then who should appear but Bruce. Bruce is the dog. Bruce goes for a walk at oh-dark-thirty every morning. My dad was awake at this point and was ready to drive. Which left me with Mr. Prancy-pants. 

Walking is the one thing I miss about having a dog. Not at unGodly hours like 2 AM, but McScrufferson is a sweetie pie when he wants to be. He didn't feel like giving me the campus tour this morning, and for that I am grateful. 
It is a little strange being in a house with evidence of life not my own. Sherry, the little black cat, is in a chatty mood, lapping up what I suspect is the dregs of someone's long forgotten coffee [at least it's not caffeinated]. We found her and her litter mates as kittens the summer we moved into our house. Dad wasn't going to let us keep any of them. I was in first or second grade at the time and told this cat she had to do something [because that's what you do at 7, talk to the cat]. So this one little black cat kept following Dad around the yard, and would let him pet her, and would talk to him. So... he supposed we could keep that one. But no wussy names like Fluffy or Princess. I named her Scheherazade, from 1001 Nights, for the girl who saved her life by her wit, wisdom and charm. Ma chéri is now 20. Which is nothing to sneeze at for a cat. 

It's now 4 AM. No one is home yet. 

They say there's linings made of silver, folded inside each rainy cloud. They say. 
I'm going to have to wait for retrospect to deliver the introspective on where exactly the silver lining is in all of this. Or maybe I'm just tired and hungry, and should try go back to sleep.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Holi guacamole. Or, why you should listen to your little brother.

My brother came down for the Holi festival being held Saturday [yesterday.] His smartphone's GPS got him lost on the way to his destination, so it was a very panicked phone call I got heralding his arrival. [GET ME OUT OF THIS HOV TUNNEL!!!]

I wasn't intending to go to Holi; I saw the pictures from last year, and that was enough. But I went, intending to make sure he was okay and got where he needed to be. You made it, bro? This was his response:

"It's Holi. You're too clean." He said. "You had it coming."
I had to stay and return fire. And yes. It was fun. Hilariously, riotously, more fun than should be legal fun. No one gets hurt. You toss powder at people, or wipe it on their faces. I could have stood stock still in one spot, and hundreds of people would have run past, dumping powder on my shoulders, back, head, arms, torso. Or run up and wiped it on my cheeks and forehead, chirping, "Happy Holi!" 

Holi powder tastes kinda gross - you get used to it, but I'd just taken a powder bomb to the face, and my mouth had been open because I was laughing ... so, thanks to the photographer for that action shot there. My brother is now ready to sign up for the 5K Color Run in Cleveland in June. I don't run, but it's in two months. If I start now, I could get myself up from being able to run a quarter mile to running 5K in two months. Right? 5K is only a little more than 3 miles... 
K, Montour trail. Bring it. 

A word on Holi powder...

it took two separate shampoos to get all of it out of my hair. Not, oh, I think I'll stand here and wash my hair twice, since I'm trying to get cleaned up. Because I did that. Twice. On Saturday after Holi and again on Sunday, paying careful attention to my hairline. And watched as the water turned a decided shade of plum.

Also, how ever you get to your color run/Holi fest... if you weren't walking, consider the interior of the transportation. Pack some rugs, towels, tarps, something to cover the seats of the vehicle, and bring plastic bags to stash those extra colored-up layers in. Because having a base layer to strip down to isn't going to cut it. Holi powder gets everywhere.
It just does. 

My clothes fared a little better with the addition of a cup of Borax to the wash load, on a cold wash setting. I wouldn't know they had been covered in powder the day before. If you want the colors to set, wash on hot. Just ask the wash cloth I used to wash my face with hot water. It will be plum purple, I fear, for the rest of it's life. Bro recommends running the washer on an empty cycle following the Holi wash, just to make sure the machine is clear of Holi powder, lest you get it on the next load of clothes. [If you share a machine with other people, this would be a very kind thing to do. Or, if you believe in karma... I'm not sure how that would be phrased, but it would be bad karma not to clean out the washer.] 

Friday, March 22, 2013

it's the silly things; fun for Friday

A friend of mine brought this to my attention on Facebook, and I am completely fascinated.

Mostly because they have several of my favorite reads. And some I've been told I should sink teeth into. But also because when you make a purchase of a tee-shirt, e-reader jacket, phone cover, stationary, etc, a book is donated to in-need communities. [current special as of publication is Sci-Fi. So Wrinkle in Time apparel is on sale...]
an actual bound-like-a-book cover case for my kindle.
[cough-cough. also available, The Wizard of Oz, Jane Eyre or Babar. cough-cough.] 
tee shirts of some of my favorite books...
...and books I should read

Also available were titles such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Caps for Sale, Corduroy, Frog and Toad are Friends, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Harry the Dirty Dog, In the Midnight Kitchen, and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. Which, for Read Across America Day, if you didn't know where your One Fish, Two Fish tee shirt was, and didn't feel like being a character, would be a fabulous nod.

Sometimes, it's the little things that get you through the day. Or week end. Which ever. 

what ever gets you through today.

Happy Thursday.

Sweetest sweetheart [k, they're all sweetest sweetheart, who am I kidding?] brought cookies for Miss Honey and I to share. [!!!]

I probably looked like the Cookie Monster, inhaling the tasty, soft, chewy little ommie-nommies... yep, someone didn't eat breakfast that morning. [that would be me]

In any case, THANK YOU, Mrs. Mom!!!

hazelnut macchiato. that's right.  
And the next morning, a very happy Friday morning was had by Miss Honey, our compatriot next door, and myself. Forget doughnuts with Dad. Starbucks with MissO for the win.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A sock, not for Fox. The First.

Sunday night, a few weeks ago:
Was ready to graft the toe closed of the sock [YAY!!!] Looked up and practised the Kitchener. Kitchener fail. Not only was there a hole in the middle of the toe of my perfect sock, but the ends were all pointy. Eww. And when I tried to carefully take it apart, the whole toe unraveled about five rows. Decided that I wasn't about to try it again unarmed and unaided, so I reknit the toe of the sock up to the graft point and packed it in my bag for Monday, with the intention of making a detour at the yarn shop on the way home for instructions at avoiding destruction from a trained professional. I know when I'm out of my league.

Mentioned my knitting woes to Miss Honey. She said this is why she doesn't knit. But oohs and awws and thinks the sock is lovely just the same, concurring that seeking professional help is best course of action. [she doesn't knit. would love to, but has never had the patience. or something. I'm not yet convinced that she just needed thicker yarn and bigger needles - the Frankenstein approach to knitting... make it big so you can see everything. Also, pretty instant gratification.]

Monday, the day after the aforementioned Sunday:

Stopped at the yarn shop on the way home from school. Handed them the sock and said "Kitchener, please?" and learned that I should have knit a little more foot, decreased without a knit round in between each decrease and left more stitches to Kitchener with. Also, I should have left a ridiculous amount of yarn tail. Also learned that I should have cast on less stitches and used smaller needles. Or just used smaller needles. But what's done is done. Will just make sure the recipient knows where to find me so I can darn any holes that appear from my ][apparently] loose knitting.

[that's my hand inside the sock.] 
sock 1 and the start of number 2. slow going.

These socks are super stretchy. They're just long enough for person with a size 8 wide foot [le moi] but would give a little longer if necessary. [actually, I have no idea what size my foot is... rumor has it I could wear a 71/2 if it were wide enough.] Here's hoping they fit the intended recipient. Better still, I get the second one done in a timely fashion, since it took a month of on again/off again knitting to get the first one done.

knitting for other people is hard, especially if you want the gift to be a surprise. Will they like it? Will it fit? How do you go about finding out what size they are without it being obvious what you're trying to figure out? What if they hate it? What if it's too big? How do you deal with that? Here, let me trace your foot on a piece of paper, tell me your favorite color, and I'll get back to you in a few weeks? Hrm, right. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

social commentary, or big rivers in egypt

One of them ran up to me today, and tugging on my elbow, began with, "Miss Honey--!" Right orchard, dear one, wrong tree.


People, in all areas of my life, keep asking when my last day of student teaching is, as if it's going to be the happiest day of my life thus far. Masters degree in hand, yes, that will be nice. Teacher's cert, in hand, yes, that will be nice. But my last day of student teaching being one of my happiest days? Are you kidding? I'll be crying like a baby. If the waterworks don't start before then. 

Not that they haven't already. For other reasons. I got the "expect a phone call" call a few weeks ago, right before a formal observation, the lesson for which went well, but for which I gave myself a dress down for a positive neutral critique [observations, it has been my experience, can't be positive, lest one becomes cocky, so a neutral or positive neutral is what you shoot for]. My regret was not saying to my supervisor, "I just got the "expect a phone call" call, and I'm a little sensitive right now to phrases like 'Thus and so won't be around forever' ". There's nothing in the student teaching manual that covers "death of a family member". It's happened before; it has to have, but there are so many possibilities that they keep it generalized. Also, when I started this, Grandpa had yet to be diagnosed; how was I to know?

So I keep smiling, and sending cards home every week or so, and try not to equate of the end of my experience with death [once the seed has been planted...]. Is it awful I'm praying my grandfather passes a few weeks before the end of my experience, or a few weeks after? But not the week of my last day and exit interviews? Does this make me a bad person? I expected he would have passed already, but he's still hanging in there, but he's sleeping more and more, and is beginning to refuse to eat more and more. Italians; they don't die, they just pasta away. 

The next great question on everyone's mind, where are you going and what are you doing? Everyone wants to know what region I'm now [or thinking of] moving to, and what age group I want to teach. Right now I want to transition the living and bury my dead. Which means relocating is a little out of the question.  I have been quite happy working with the 6-8 set for two summers of Pgh summer dreamers and now my student teaching, but I would be equally happy trying something else. I dislike saying "I don't know,"; we're taught as graduate students to have definitive answers to everything. To back it up with scholarly research and quantifiable evidence. Would I love 4th grade? I don't know, but I'd love to find out, as I have no evidence to indicate that I wouldn't. For this reason, I wish placements were a little longer, and were dual, at two different grade levels. Personally, it would have meant that I wouldn't have gotten so attached to the children in my class. Which would mean leaving would be easier. I knew when this started that I would probably fall in love. I knew because I could say that I was well on my way to falling with the first graders I taught two summers in a row. As the program was a month long and I wasn't their regular teacher, it was easier then to say goodbye. I'm not sure how well I'm going to fare on my last day here. I hope I can exit gracefully. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Luck 'o the Irish

A leprechaun came to class on Thursday and trashed the room...

He left us a note on the board, saying that he lost a shoe in his merriment. He also left us a book... which was nice. 
We found the shoe on top of the projector. I fetched it while Miss Honey provided photo-documentation.

The students wrote letters to the leprechaun, asking him questions and writing statements about what they thought of the room. The next day, there was a surprise waiting for us! [Miss Honey and I had Starbucks! ;) ]
 The kiddos also made picture prints from green, symmetrical peppers [which must have been left over from the leprechaun's breakfast when he dropped everything off this morning] and wrote about how lucky they were.

We also had barely green homemade fun-fetti cupcakes.

A fine time was had by all.

Friday, March 15, 2013

... and what would you do differently?

The parents and I had the "we're not moving you out of the 'burgh after you graduate" talk the other night this week on the phone. Which wasn't exactly comforting, but it wasn't awful either. I don't mean to say that I hate the Burgh and can't wait to leave; it was decided by all that staying here was the best choice. That there were more opportunities down here, though I, for my part, am a little blind to how it's all going to come about. Or paranoid about being unemployed again. Or something.

There are three weeks of actual student teaching left. I, for my part, am freaking out. Quietly. But I'm freaking out. About exit interviews and unemployment and job interviews and unemployment and interim employment and student loans and, and, and... At the portfolio meeting, the undergrads were chirping about their spring break plans. Some of them were going to go party, some were making the most of the break and going on actual interviews.

I don't know if my Grandfather will be alive by the time we make it to the break. But I know I won't be interviewing. I tried not to kick myself. Nothing anyone could do about the timing of that.

When we are formally assessed on a lesson, one of the questions they ask us is, how would you do this lesson differently, if you taught it to this class again? And if I were formally assessed on life, to this point, I'd say:

  1. Don't to worry about the car.
  2. Forgive yourself, and move on.
  3. You should have called home more. Or at least, Grandpa. All the set chewing you see or think you see in the school by the other 20 student teachers couldn't do anything to make him better. A bulletin board isn't worth more than his life. And anyone can put together a bulletin board.  
  4. Stop comparing yourself to the undergrads. Stop weighing the mistakes you made in life to the Disneyana package they're presenting. You don't know what's happening backstage at Disney. 
  5. Don't panic.
  6. And stop saying "... but I did my undergrad at state school." You had your reasons. And people died then, too. Besides, you know some pretty fabulous people who went to state school, too.
  7. When in doubt, don't say anything. Bite your tongue if you have to. Because if you're panicking, it'll probably come out worse than you meant it to. 
  8. Also, think carefully about how you word your typing. While it sounds great in your head, no one is privy to the commentary going on between your ears. The details get lost with out, well... the details. So be specific and explicit. 
  9. Forgive yourself. Move on. 
  10. You do not function on 6 hours of sleep. You really don't function on 6 hours of sleep, 5 days in a row, even with large amounts of caffeine. This is probably avoidable. If people outside of the experience can't deal with your sleep requirements, find new friends. Moral of the story: get some sleep, even if it means taking a rain cheque and a nap in the car. So pack a blanket.
  11. Don't forget, try to leave it better than you found it. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

for that day when you're not busy making plans...

the swatch ruler says these flowers are 4" across... I think they'd go well with the other flowers in the gypsy throw.

I wonder if they swatch... these pictures aren't color true. Really, what I should be looking at is a red or plum to finish it off around the outside. I have all the floral I need.

Monday, March 11, 2013

erosion. it'll take your dirt away.

We talked about erosion in class today. Because it's St. Patrick's day on Sunday, I brought in a shamrock plant for the kids to look at as part of the erosion demo. Some of the questions I chose to not to answer included:

"Why is there only one flower?"
"Does it smell like anything?"
"Why is the underside purple?"
"Why doesn't the flower look like clover?"

Well... I don't have all the answers. And technically, the shamrock is an oxalis plant and looks like this.

And they wanted to know why I used coffee grounds instead of sand, or actual dirt. And I really didn't want to get into the specifics of hydrophobia with them, and how the coffee grounds were going to mimic wet sand and suck up the water easily and move the way I wanted them to.

However. They got the picture. Coffee grounds, in a pile, at the top of a tilted cookie sheet, when mixed with "rain" from a watering can, would "erode" down the side of the cookie sheet hill. But the dirt in the pot, even when the pot was tilted on it's side when it was "raining" wasn't really going anywhere, because there were roots holding it in place.

Mission accomplished.

leprechaun traps and the like, or why first grade is fabulous

I totally forgot that when I was in 1st grade, we came back from [art? gym? music? library?] and found our room in an uproar. With little green feet all over our desks, chairs, and the chalkboard - which itself was green. Miss Roberts [for this was my first grade teacher, lo these many years ago, we won't say how many] dropped what ever it was she was carrying, and I was smart enough to know that what ever happened, she wasn't behind it. Our reading specialist, whose name escapes me, but it started with an H, was behind the shenanigans. We couldn't get the feet off the board for weeks. After that... St. Patrick's day was a non-issue. I can't remember kindergarten  But I remember the little green feet on the desks and board, and that Miss Roberts could not get them off.

Maybe it's because this is my first go round, things still have that "oh boy we get to ..." glow about them. I almost want to make rainbow cupcakes for Friday, inspired by this leprechaun trap cake. [but they will be graphing that charming breakfast cereal, and no doubt noshing on it, so I hesitate]. 

I never used to care about wearing green [Or I'd be obtuse and wear orange]. But I know I have a green dress burning a hole in the door of my closet. And I have these burning questions on my mind - does it fit? Do I have shoes that match? What about a sweater?! 

For math, the students are going to be, as mentioned, sorting and graphing charm cereal. Miss Honey and I have a writing activity planned. I'm trolling for a crafty activity for them to do. Our goal is for them to earn the fun activities as a class, by spelling "St. Patrick's Day on the board. They didn't do so well today earning letters, so I'm hoping that tomorrow they will step it up a bit. 

for Women's History and International Woman's Day

People say it's a good thing when your pants don't fit. I guess they don't mind going shopping for pants. Or clothes.

Watching my shopping friend try on her dress and jacket, and giving her advice was fun. But finding pants at Macy's was almost panic inducing. I have two new pairs of pants, both purple, thanks to a gift card and the sale rack at Macy's this weekend. One is a wine sort of purple, the other is concord grape. They're both corduroy. As I said, the whole process was a little unnerving. This whole "skinny leg" thing? Woah.

I wore the wine colored pants to school today. No one said anything. So I'm guessing it was okay, but they're the tightest, most form fitting garment I've owned after a dance leotard and tights.  I'm not going to count tops because tops can be can be covered up. But pants? People wear tights under a short sweater and call them 'pants'.

Why all the talk about clothes, you ask? For the last two years, I have intentionally been trying to loose weight. I got involved with a study at one of the universities, figuring that me with a panel of registered dieticians, exercise physiologists, medical doctors and psychologists was better than me alone [okay. there was some remuneration involved; it is a study]. It was the cognitive dissonance I needed, and the "this is the safe way to do it" information I wanted, because part of me was a little worried about going overboard becoming anorexic.

Once upon a time, I used to wear clothes two to three sizes two big. I was a tween, and literally hid inside my clothes, as a reaction to bullying targeted towards my physical appearance. I couldn't help the fact that I was taller than everyone else, or that my skin was a mess, despite regular visits to a dermatologist. So I tried to fit in, but being taller than everyone else with messy skin makes you stand out. So I started hiding in my clothes. Because everything those kids said had to be true; I had to be fat, and I must be ugly, and I wish I could say the insults stopped there, but they didn't. So I did what any other kid would do; I told an adult. I told my parents. That's what everyone says to do, right? Tell, tell, tell. Because telling is not tattling.

They called me a liar, and their parents called me a liar, and even though my parents said I was telling the truth, no one seemed to believe me or my parents. So... I had to be fat and ugly, and every other horrible thing they said.

In the process of culling all those tee-shirts for the tee-shirt quilt, I found the ones from that time of my life, and even at the heaviest I ever weighed, as a full grown adult and not a tween, I still swam inside those clothes. So imagine what a 12 year old must have looked like, even if she stood head and shoulders taller than the tallest peer.  I have clothes I wore from high school, that I'm just starting to fit back into, or am to big for, that I held onto because my grandmother bought for me, so they have ridiculous sentimental value, and I'm amazed at the things I was referred to as. Being able to look at the screen prints, and not at the volume of extra material associated with those clothes is very freeing, because there were some very positive experiences represented, even though I had a very poor self image. I can be selective about the memories.

We talk about violence against women in terms of that which leaves physical scars. I would argue that those things which leave psychological scars are just as important. In the room across the hall, the kindergarten children were learning an important lesson about "using their words, not their fists," but what if the words they come to use are just as caustic? I still find that parts of my life are defined by the words and actions of those peers, and the passivity of adults in leadership who should have taken a stand, and did not. I should not have to live in fear, because what happened was not my fault.

International Women's Day was on March 8th, and one of my favorite gentlemen, Sir Patrick Stewart, had some things to say about it. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

you say toe-mato, I say to-mah-to

I really, really want to try this - recycling wine bottles into planters. All you need to cut the glass is a little yarn, some acetone [aka nail polish remover], a bowl of ice water, and a match. My fingers are itching. 

We've been talking in 1st grade about recycling in social studies - and we will be again in science in short order here. I'm glad we're talking about it, because they need to see the connections between the different disciplines, but honestly, the PC stuff is getting on my nerves... how about we actually talk about earth science? Perhaps expounding on natural resources. For example, glass comes from sand... we can recycle glass [yay!] And this is what we do with clay... yay pottery and other things... Minerals are not just in our coins, we need some for our bodies, to be strong and healthy... alas, no. Let's not even get into how we can recycle our coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable peelings and the like! Woohoo, compost! Because that is recycling! And reusing! And it's great for the earth!

We talked about sand, clay and humus last week. There wasn't even an explanation of how to say humus in the book. [You say it like hu-man. Say it with me: hu-mus.] The children know how to say clay and sand; it's probably been in their vocabulary since the time they were six months old and were putting everything in their mouths. But words like humus aren't even in most adults vocabulary, unless they happen to either pursue higher education in the geosciences or botany fields, or are really wild about gardening [or have dads that fill all those categories...] For the record, I am not any one of those people.  The book that the kids use show people picking up trash, putting plastics, glass and paper in the recycling bins, and wrapping yarn around cans for pencil cups. Which is nice. Dont' get me wrong. Because in parts of my section of town, they aren't up on all of that. I'm dodging dead bicycles and baby dolls, and worse. 

Also,  I've learned two things being in first grade: at the end of the day, the trash bin and the recycling bin end up together in the same container. So... why are we bothering?

The second thing I learned in first grade is what humus is. It's Latin, literally "earth, ground". I already knew what hummus is. You can ask Miss Honey. I make a pretty darn good hummus. Om, nom nom. 

So. Let's review:

HUMMUS                                            HUMUS 

The one on the left you eat. The one on the right... no contest. You aren't eating dirt. Who would do that? Truth be told, I know a few kids that would do it on a dare, but wise cracks aside.
It's like dessert and desert. One is something you want to eat. The other is full of sand. 
"I'd rather eat two desserts and walk through one desert"
No one wants to eat sand or dirt. Eat your double SS's and MM's.  And M&M's.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Movers, shakers, bonkers and top-button kind of girls.

you know when you tell people you write a blog, but you never expect to find out that anyone you know actually reads your blog, because no one comments on it? Besides your mother? Because the blog stats tell you people from Australia are reading your blog so you think to yourself, geeze, no one I know cares?

Famous last thought.

Someone important read my blog, and mentioned that she'd better read Matilda [cough, cough, three guesses who]. You'd have thought I was defending a dissertation. So, since I'm still technically this side of my masters, I gave it a little more thought. Did some research.

My first thought, after Miss Honey is Miss Blanchard. As in Mary-Margaret, sweetest third/fourth grade teacher on the Maine coast, who is actually Snow White. : / I don't even know what Mary-Margaret is up to these days. Because I'm busy being a Ms. Blanchard [sans the relationship drama]. As Emma put it, "When I first met you, you were a top button kind of girl." I wear buttons. Miss Honey does not wear buttons. Unless it's a teacher sweater [our room is perpetually cold]. But her sweaters don't have top buttons. Mine do, so if anyone receives the ninja name of Mary Margaret Blanchard, it'd be me. So that's a nope.

A little more research later I pulled this list of teachers off another blog, deleted all the Mrs. and Mr., and highlighted in green those titles which I have read. Which aren't a lot.

Jo March in Little MenJo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott  [I forgot that Jo became a teacher. Jo is, however, a little mercurial]
Miss Nelson in Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard[Good old Miss Nelson. But Miss Honey is not a Miss Nelson]
Ida Bidson in The Secret School by Avi
Ms. Isabel Hussey in Chasing Vermeer and The Wright Three by Blue Balliett
Ms. Shepherd in Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
Miss Hawthorn in Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan
Miss Parker in Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink [Miss Parker is not sticking out in my memory; also, I had a second grade teacher named Parker. And he was awesome in his own awesome way.]
Miss Perry in I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brissom
Miss Temple in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte [Miss Temple was okay, but I already nixed the Bronte sisters.]
Miss Binney in Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary 
Ms. Clayton in School Story by Andrew Clements
Miss Pointy in Sahara Special by Esme Codell
Miss Stretchberry in Love That Dog by Sharon Creech[I read this one too; it's written in first person perspective as a writing journal, but you don't hear the teacher's voice or read her comments, just the student's reaction to the teacher's comments about the poetry that the student writes.]
Miss Hendrickson in I Know Here by Laurel Croza
Miss Honey in Matilda by Roald Dahl [what I'm currently working with. I picked Miss Honey because she's the only memorable El Ed teacher I can think of, and it's what my friends are starting to call me. Especially when they come to my house and see my garden.]
Ms. Finey in The Cat Ate My Gym Suit by Paula Danziger
Miss Annersley in the Chalet School series (UK) by Elinor Brent Dyer
Ms. Sarah Melton in Mail Order Ninja by Joshua Elder - this one gets points for having "Ninja" in the title. 
Miss Malarkey in Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler
Miss Lupescu in The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman  [I read this book. She's not one to be trifled with]
Miss Smith in Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland [Smith? lamesauce. ]
Miss Tizzy from Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray
Miss Grey in the Betsy Brooks books by Carolyn Haywood
Miss Meadows  in Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest
Miss Agnes in The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Miss Loupe in Operation YES by Sara Lewis Holmes
Ms. Snickle in The Secrets of Ms. Snickle's Class by Laurie Miller Hornik
Miss Fowler in the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace
Ms. Minifred in Baby by Patricia MacLachlan
Ms. Mirabel in Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan
Sister Mary Louise in Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Miss Farley in Caddy Ever After by Hilary McKay
Miss O'Grady in Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson
Miss Stacey in the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery [Double nope. Neither Stacey or Shirley. Anne's too dreamy]
Anne Shirley in Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Miss Edmunds in Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Miss Barbara Harris in The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Miss Dove in Good Morning, Miss Dove by Frances Gray Patton
Miss Tansy Culver in A Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck
Ms. Raymond in Dotty by Erica S. Perl
Ms. Lilly in Noonie's Masterpiece by Lisa Railsback
Miss Plumberry in Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry by Michael Rosen  - we are in the plum district... and that's a great title. 
Miss Jewls in the Sideways books by Louis Sachar
Ms. Hill in 4 Kids in 5E and 1 Crazy Year by Virginia Frances Schwartz
Miss Bonkers in Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss [She loves this book. But I can't call her Miss Bonkers.  On principle. Would you take either me, or her, seriously?]
Miss Bindergarten in Miss Bindergarten Goes to Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
Miss Palma in After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
Miss Cribbage in My Kindergarten by Rosemary Wells
Miss Lesley in Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop
(Miss) Alina in Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

Saturday, March 2, 2013

the ruckous in room 161, or More Read Across America

Remember our door? It won best K - 3 category! The kids were shouting so loud we had no idea who won best 4 - 6!

I was doing some serious nail biting there at the out come of this contest [again, not a competitive bone in my body] but at the same time, I thought it was a little silly to decorate a door with out the kids having some part of it. To clarify, sometimes, walking down the halls, it's obvious that the teacher did everything for the door, and the kids had no input. In other cases, the kid's photographs are on the door, but... does that really count?

For the socks, I folded an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper in half and free-handed a sock on both sides of the fold. The students were instructed to write their name on the front of the sock first, and then decorate it with crayons. They were allowed to have 5 puff-balls, and one piece of sequins [someone did not follow the directions when I walked away from the table - they came in late, and really, what am I going to do at that point, take away recess? it was already glued down. Choose battles wisely.] I traced Fox on a clear transparency and blew it up onto a piece of red paper with an over head projector [remember those!] The grass was free hand cut. We kept the basket up with thumb tacks, and the clothes line was taped up with packing tape.

I really thought the door about teeth and flossing, with a box of floss [!] was going for the win with Thing 1 and Thing 2, and then there was a Truffla Tree door that looked like flossy cotton candy. Good old Fox for the win.

I got a little sad when the kids said, "Oooh! Miss O, next year, let's do 'Horton Hears a Who!' [I was dressed up as Horton for the day, sans trunk] Well, kids. Next year, you will be in second grade, and Miss O may be still looking for a job. But we didn't talk about that. We talked about Diffendoffer Day, and Star-bellied Sneetches, and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones, which are Miss Honey's favorite [and I think mine too - ZERO clean up! so easy to hold! SO MUCH FUN!!!]

Friday, March 1, 2013

Read, Across America

What if Dr. Seuss had written Star Wars?

I will be celebrating today in the classroom with my kids and Miss Honey. Pictures of our adventure to follow later, but a teaser trailer of that which would blow right over the head of the first grade.
 Yoda has to be my personal favorite.