Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Holding Hugh

Time is going by so fast.  Tonight I tried to rock-a-bye my 8 1/2 year old.  He does not fit on my lap and it was quite awkward - me trying to cradle him in my arms like I did when he was a baby.  But we had a few minutes, he was close by and ready for bed in his jammies, and I just needed to cuddle my first born. He humored me.  He snuggled in (the best he could) and smiled up at me while I sang him lullabies.  He now at 8 recognizes that I changed songs and nursery rhymes to include his name when he was little and now, the poor kid, doesn't  know how they REALLY go!  Tonight he asked me about that so I had to sing the songs the right way too.  If I closed my eyes and tilted my head back against the back of the rocking chair and the only sound was the creak of the rocking chair and my voice singing those songs...well, I could almost pretend he was still little.  (sob) 






Where did that time go?  Honestly, the blink of an eye...The other day he said "Hey, mom!  I noticed the new throw pillows you got for the couch.  Classy!"  He then winked at me and did a kind of clicking sound with his mouth and pointed to me like "way to go!"  A few mornings ago when we were all getting ready for school,  I sat Claire (3) in the recliner and set up her nebulizer so she could have her morning breathing treatment for her asthma before we left and she begged me to read her a story.  She had the book in her lap and was planning on me sitting with her.  Unfortunately, I was still in my pajamas and really needed to be getting ready for the day.  I felt sad to tell her "no" but I really didn't have time to sit down and read at that moment, but big brother, Hugh stepped in and said "I'll read it to you, Honey."  She gladly accepted her brother's offer and was delighted that he sat beside her and read her story to her.  Oh, to be their mother!  What a blessing!  I am so proud of Hugh.  So tonight, I just needed to reminisce about my first little boy and snuggle what "little boy" was left in him.  And, as I said, he humored me...mostly.  I was nudged back to reality when he began arching his head backwards to see the television and I kept trying to get him to keep cuddling.  He said "Mom! I'm trying to see the score of the game!"  Yup, my baby is growing up.  I want to hang on to every minute though.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Class of 2012 Glass Pendant Tutorial

My husband and I are both teachers and we receive LOTS of graduation open house invitations every spring for former students.  I like to take a gift for all of them, but don't want to spend a lot on graduation gifts every spring.  I decided to make Class of 2012 necklaces for the girl graduates.

I used the following materials to make the pendant:


-a piece of white cardstock with Class of 2012 printed on it in our school color (maroon.)
-a glass disc
-a medium sized bail
-E-6000 adhesive
-an X-Acto knife


E-6000 is a very strong adhesive gel that is available at
many retailers, including WalMart (about $3.00).

Text printed on cardstock.

Bail
Glass Disc
Squirt some of the E-6000 on the back of the glass disc.



Press the glass disc down on top of the cardstock and center it over the text.
You will need to apply pressure every so often to make sure there are no air bubbles between the glass and cardstock.

When it dries, use the X-Acto knife to trim the paper around the disc.  Turn it over and glue the bail on the back.  Make sure it is centered where you want it.

I put it on an organza ribbon cord necklace and added a couple of coordinating beads.

Here is a similar idea...

I did the same process but used a wallet size picture of my son rather than the printed cardstock.
It worked just fine to use the E-6000 adhesive right on the picture.  Again, I had to apply pressure to get all the air bubbles out as it was drying.  I think it turned out pretty cute!


You can get the supplies from this Etsy shop, Willow Run Crafts. This shop has very reasonable prices and they ship out very quickly.   I have also gotten similar necklace making supplies at Hobby Lobby.  The beads I added to the graduate pendant were purchased at Hobby Lobby.


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*Don't forget to click HERE to register for our giveaway!

Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget to click HERE to sign up for our giveaway.  We are giving away this beautiful headband from Ruffles & Fringe...

Adult Headband in Chocolate Brown, Shabby Chic Flower for Girls and Women

Giveaway drawing will be Wednesday, February 29.
Good Luck!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Myths About the Teaching Profession

I thought I would take advantage of the fact that I have my own blog and use this opportunity to shout to the world (or at least my 61 followers) some truths about the teaching profession.  These facts are based on my situation in my position and in my state.  Circumstances may differ depending on where you live and teach.  The following is a list of common misconceptions and clarifications from me...



1.  Teachers have their summers off.  While we only work with students in our classrooms, September through June, it is not accurate to say we have our summers off.  Teachers are required by law to take classes and continue their education.  Depending on which state you live in, teachers must complete a certain number of credits continuously throughout their career to stay certified.  These classes must be done on our own time with our own money.  For many of us, the only time we feel we have to dedicate to continuing our education is during the summer months.  In addition to completing credits, many (or most) of us attend conferences and receive additional training during the summer months.  Sometimes we are required to do this by our school district, sometimes we do it on our own to better ourselves as educators.  We spend summer months working on curriculum and getting materials ready for fall.  (FYI - Many districts in the country now have year-round school.)

After the school year is completed in the spring, most teachers can still be found in their classroom finishing up grades, report cards, and adding information to student files.  Most of us clean our classrooms and pack away our things (so our classrooms can be cleaned) after students leave in the spring. We are also in our classrooms many days, sometimes weeks before we are required to be in the late summer getting our classrooms set up and materials ready for our new students.

As teachers, many of us do not get to choose what we teach so many of us face multiple position changes throughout our careers.  When this happens...say you go from teaching 3rd grade to teaching 8th grade mathematics.... the summers are used for familiarizing yourself with the curriculum and getting a new classroom ready for students.  If you see a mother on the beach with her own children on a hot July day and she is laying on her beach blanket while her kids build sandcastles and she is reading  Algebra:  Concepts & Applications it is probably not her first choice for a beach read, but she feels she must spend her time preparing for fall and her new group of students.

2.  Teachers get paid in the summer even though they don't work in the summer.  Wrong! When I hear people say this it makes me so angry.  No, we do not get paid in the summer even though we have summers off.  We each have a contract we sign at the beginning of the school year.  The contract states how many days we agree to work.  For me, at our school our contract says we will work 181 days.  Our salary is for 181 days.  Now some teachers receive a paycheck during the summer, but they aren't being paid for that time.  We can choose to have our pay be spread out so we can receive paychecks during the summer months, or we can opt to just receive the same salary divided by the number of paychecks received from September to June.

3.  Teachers work from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Nope!  Not the case at all.  I am in my 13th year of teaching and the only time I ever leave at 3:00 is when one of my children has an appointment for us to get to quickly after school. Many teachers arrive early and stay late.  We may be "required" to be in our classrooms or school building from a specific start time to a specific finish time, but we always have more to do than the hours of the school day allow, especially if we have no plan time during the school day.  Many of us teach multiple subjects and need to have lessons prepared for each subject, every minute of the day. 

Teaching is not a job that allows you to "punch out" and go home at the end of the day, leaving your work behind.  I do not know any teachers who get to "punch out."  Even if we are not in the classroom, we are making phone calls to parents or answering emails.  Just the other night, I locked myself in my bedroom to stay away from the loudness of my own home so I could talk to a parent on the phone.  It was about 7:00 p.m. - long past my "punch out" time.  We are often working on lesson plans, correcting papers, or researching on our own time.  Some teachers can be found cutting out ladybugs for a math lesson or reading through a pile of 6th grade essays in front of the television late at night.  Sometimes I need to run to the store to pick up pipe cleaners or plastic cups or googly eyes for a project I plan to do the next day.  Our students, our lessons, our school are CONSTANTLY on our minds. My mother who is a retired high school teacher still has dreams about school every August.  And many, if not most, elementary teachers have bad dreams about kids missing the bus!  (And by the way, the pipe cleaners, plastic cups, and googly eyes are coming out of my own pocket - there is not usually much of a budget to buy supplies with so teachers spend a great deal of their own money on school supplies.)

4. Teachers have so much fun playing or babysitting all day. We do not "play" all day and we are not "babysitters."  We are called "teachers" but there's so much more to it than even that.  A teacher wears many hats;  an educator, a nurse, a referee, a mom or dad, a psychologist, an entertainer, a lawyer, a zookeeper, a dental assistant (ask any 1st grade teacher), an editor, engineer, handwriting specialist, emergency management technician, career counselor, an accountant (lunch money, field trip money, book order money), a coach and sometimes a cop. We are story tellers, singers, detectives, translators, computer experts, historians, authors, disciplinarians, character builders, protectors, scientists, copy machine repair experts, magicians, and advocates. 

If a student comes to school without having eaten breakfast, a teacher will give the child something from his or her lunch (I have done this before.) When I taught kindergarten, I found myself keeping track of the number of ear infections a couple of the children were getting and wondered if they needed to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. I have made referrals for students to get tested for speech, physical therapy, and occupational therapy services. I have also been the sounding board for parents who were upset with an ex-spouse. Unfortunately, many teachers get called to testify in custody disputes.

We must demonstrate patience, compassion, acceptance, tolerance, and empathy.  EVERY SINGLE DAY we must be energetic, enthusiastic, calm, thoughtful, open-minded, and willing to take risks. We must see the potential in every child.  We must identify each child's strengths and challenge them further.  We must identify each child's struggles and provide interventions and extra support to get them where they need to be. We must be aware of everything and not miss a thing.

There are many days when teaching is fun!  There are days when you get hugs, visits from former students, and birthday treats from kids.  There are days when you finish a lesson and know that your students really got it!  There are days when you hear your own voice in your students' discussions and know they have been listening.  It feels good to have a parent notice when you've gone above and beyond for their child.  To be a teacher does not just mean you are enlightening little people with your fountain of knowledge nor does it mean you are babysitting.  Teaching is a career that is all-encompassing.  It is the career that makes all other careers possible. 

Teaching is a very challenging career that is sometimes frustrating.  You sometimes wonder if you are getting anywhere or making a difference. Recently I had a parent tell me that her daughter who graduated from high school last year was talking about the people who made a difference in her life.  I was one of them.  She said she remembered when she was in my class that I recognized she was capable of doing more challenging math skills than the third grade curriculum was requiring.  In addition to her regular math lessons, I created beginning algebra worksheets for her and worked with her one-on-one so she could be a bit more challenged.  I remember that and remember, as a nine year old, how excited she was to try something new.  She graduated from high school with honors and is now finishing her first year at a big university.  I'm proud of her and feel privileged to have had a positive impact on her educational journey.  THAT is rewarding and makes it all worth it. 

Teaching is very hard work.  The pay is not super, the hours can be long, and our "customers" are extremely demanding.  I haven't truly had every summer off between school years, I work each day from at least 7:30 to 4:30, and I'm definitely not a babysitter.  But I do believe teaching is a calling, and those of us who have been called to do it keep going because we realize we can make a difference.  I realized when I was 16 years old that whatever I did in my life, I had to work with children.  I recognize that God has led me to the place I am now, and every July while lying on the beach with my three children playing nearby, I pray and ask God to send me the students who need me that school year.  In doing this I know that despite the challenges and the misconceptions some have about teachers, I am right where I need to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tulle Rosette Wreath

With Valentine's Day behind us, I needed some spring decor to brighten things up around here!  I decided to use tulle and make small rosettes to pin on a wreath.  I had never done this before and wasn't sure what it would look like.



I began by using a straw wreath and left the plastic wrap on it.



I cut tulle into strips, about 10 inches long.  I then wrapped the tulle around my finger, tucked the end up inside the bottom of the rose, and used a straight pin to attach it to the straw wreath.  I used straight pins that had a pearl at the end and I like how it looked.  The pearl peaking out of the middle of each rosette looks just like the middle of a real flower. I used several colors: green, white, hot pink, light pink, lilac, and a second type of lilac tulle that had sparkles in it. The colors all together do look very springish!





The rosettes look like spring flowers or even Easter eggs.

There are 188 rosettes on this wreath.  I enjoyed the project - I worked on it a little bit on several different nights.  I would get the kids in bed then spend a few minutes watching TV with my husband while I worked on it a little at a time.  It was a rather relaxing process.



I ended up hanging it on the back of the white rocking chair on our front porch.  I love how it looks there.  It is really a bright spring welcome for guests approaching our front door.  This part of the porch is covered so I think the wreath will be safe from weather.

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fashion for Moms and a Giveaway

My husband never understands why I spend so much time wondering what to wear or why I get "dolled up" just to go to the grocery store.   He says "You like fine" and "Nobody cares what you look like!"  Well, I DO! That's the part he doesn't get...I care what I look like.  When I put some thought and effort into what I'm wearing,  (even if it is just to run an errand) I feel better about myself.  Starting my day feeling pretty good about myself puts me in a better mood and gives me a more positive, upbeat attitude.  I don't dress up and add accessories for anyone but myself. Here are some easy, yet fashionable "mom" outfits that would be comfortable enough to wear to run errands, chaperone a field trip, or cheer from the sidelines at a soccer game. (Of course, dressed in these outfits, you would be the envy of the other soccer moms!)
Each of these outfits came from Pinterest so if you follow me on Pinterest, my apologies, you're seeing my favorites again! You can click on the pictures and you will be taken to the Polyvore website where you can see where to shop for these pieces and the cost of each.

 Pinned Image

I don't usually gravitate toward purple but the regular old blue jeans with the grey sweater and then the touches of purple for accessories really is something I like.  I am always drawn to grey sweaters.  Grey is so versatile and can be used as a canvas for many other colors.  The hat would work good for days when your hair is a bit fly-away and the flats are perfect for chasing after toddlers and loading and unloading kids!


Pinned Image

I LOVE this look.  I love the neutral color of the shirt with the little sparks of green in the accessories.  I like the look of dressing up a plain pair of jeans.  It is still casual but steps it all up a notch.  And, again, the flats would be perfect for a busy mom.

Pinned Image

And your basic black!  Who doesn't just love basic black?  I especially like the scarf to dress things up a bit and the striped flats.  I just read that stripes are going to be a very "in" thing this spring - on shoes, clothing, hand bags...anything! All of the items in this look are available either at http://www.oldnavy.gap.com/ or http://www.jcrew.com/.


When my sister became a mother for the first time I got her a handbag - much larger than the cute little purse she had always carried.  I told her that moms need more room!  These three handbags are so cute and would hold the hand sanitizer, Kleenex, suckers, and handful of stray Cheerios perfectly in style!

Pinned Image

In my recent "fashion research," I found that pastels are big this spring.  I found lots of mint and peach. I love this bag!  It is from Neiman Marcus and, well, okay it is $6,690.00...a bit pricey for holding my loose Cheerios but, nevertheless, I love it!  I will be sure to keep my eye out for something similar but a bit more soccer-mom friendly!  


Dooney Handbags
OOPS!!  I don't know where I found this one!  I'm sorry!!  But isn't it nice?  Classy, roomy, and I love the textured look. Oh, look!  There is a side pocket.  It would probably hold a baby bottle just right!  :)

  
Jason Wu for Target® Blue Stripe Tote.Opens in a new window

This is from Target, the Jason Wu collection and only $39.99! See, stripes again!! 
It looks fresh and fun and ready for spring!




Pinterest also had this floating around...
Pinned Image  bun05 15 Easy Hair Bun Alternatives for Mom Hair
15 Easy Alternatives for the "mom hair" bun!  Many of the styles look very glamorous but are supposedly simple to recreate and great for in a hurry, dirty hair...you know, all the mom issues! :) This site has tutorials with clear step-by-step pictures on how to create each style.

And speaking of mom hair...

Sister-Dipity is having another
GIVEAWAY....

Adult Headband in Chocolate Brown, Shabby Chic Flower for Girls and Women

Nicole, from the Etsy shop Ruffles and Fringe, is sponsoring our next giveaway for this beautiful headband from her shop!  Ruffles and Fringe has many different styles and colors of headbands.  I have two of her headbands and always get compliments on them!  Plus, it makes for an easy hair day...I just run a brush through my hair and stick on one of Nicole's glamorous headbands and off I go! Wouldn't you love to win this? 

 Here's what you need to do...

1. You must be a Sister-Dipity follower.  If you are not yet, click on the blue "Join this site" button to the right. 

Then...
2. Visit Ruffles and Fringe and leave a comment telling us what item(s) you love!


Bonus Entry:

1. Favorite Ruffles and Fringe on Etsy and leave a comment letting us know you added it as a favorite!

So you have 2 chances to win!  This giveaway will end on Wednesday, February 29th. Please make sure to check back to see if you were a winner so we will be able to get your address to mail the prize!!


*The winner will be chosen randomly by

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Girl Day


Claire and I had a "girl day" together last weekend.  We had wanted to have our special day on Saturday but we had a bit of a winter storm and the roads were very slippery.  We decided it would be better if we rescheduled.  Claire was so disappointed but we did our nails instead.  That made her happy.  We were able to go on our girl day on Sunday instead.


We did a little shopping and tried on Sunglasses. 
Claire and her baby doll, Rosabelle Elizabeth, got matching purses and matching pajamas.

Claire specifically requested a trip to Barnes & Noble on her special day.  The picture above is her and Rosabelle Elizabeth sitting in the children's reading area.  We bought a Strawberry Shortcake sticker/storybook which was our entertainment while we waited for lunch...

Claire said she wanted noodles for her special girl day lunch.  I took that to mean Olive Garden, of course.
Claire and Rosabelle were very patient waiting for a table.
Here they are with their new matching purses.

Claire was in charge of  the light-up buzzer while we waited.  She loved that job.


We got raspberry lemonade.  Claire LOVED having pink lemonade!


Our favorite stop was the children's museum.  Claire couldn't get there fast enough!


She milked the cow.


And she was super excited to see the wall of glasses in the optometrist area of the museum!



Water play is always a hit!  Here she is in the big bubble!



And the piano, of course...


She called me "darling" all day!  She was so sweet and happy the whole day.  Shopping, Barnes & Noble, Olive Garden, and the children's museum...everything you need for a special mama/daughter day together.
We also listened to Pinkalicious stories on CD on the way there and on the way home. 
At the end of the day she said "I had the best, best time today, mama! I love, love, love being with you!" She is such a sweetheart! Sometimes I still can't believe God picked me to be her mama! :)

Now I have a couple of little boys who are wondering when we are having our special mama/son days. 
 I guess I need to plan the next adventure! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Snowshoeing - Winter Fun for Families


I am one of those people that has a hard time during the winter months.  The dark, cold, gloomy days of winter can really get to me.  I've learned that I need something to look forward to after the hoopla of Christmas is behind us. 

A few years ago I bought snowshoes for Ryan and Hugh for Christmas.  I ordered them from L.L. Bean.  Find them HERE. The snowshoes were a big hit!  A few days after Christmas Ryan went shopping and came home with a pair of snowshoes for ME too!  I was really surprised and excited. It turns out, snowshoeing has been something I really look forward to in the winter now.  It helps keep me cheery in these dark, wintry months. 


Unfortunately (or fortunately??  I can't decide) this winter has been unusual - very little snow and definitely not enough to snowshoe on our wooded property.  This past weekend, though, we finally got some accumulation,  and I hear another storm is predicted for this weekend. 


Hugh really looks forward to winter days with enough snow to go snowshoeing!


Snowshoeing has been a great winter activity for our family.  We bundle up, strap on the snowshoes and head out into the winter air.  The fresh air, the quiet of winter in the woods, and the winter sunshine is so refreshing. 


Ryan and I have gone alone sometimes, without the kids.  It is actually one of my favorite "dates" with my husband .  (And this is coming from a fancy hotel, wine with dinner kind of gal!) Sometimes we pack a warm lunch  - a thermos of hot chocolate and a thermos of chicken noodle soup.  We put our picnic blanket down in the snow and have a winter picnic right there in the woods!





The woods seem so quiet and still in the winter.  We often see signs of activity though.  Here are fresh squirrel tracks.  Many times we have spotted deer who were surprised to see people out and about on their territory.  Winter bird watching is fun.  They, too, sometimes seem surprised to see people invading their woods!

Hugh (8) took this picture.

It has been said that snowshoeing can burn up to 600 calories an hour!  Wow!  Fresh air, wildlife, and serious exercise all at once!  I'm telling you - you should try it!  L.L. Bean has snowshoes in sizes toddler to adult.  You can also purchase snowshoe poles to make your hike easier or to ward off ferocious wild animals, depending where you hike!  :)  Plus, you just look cool with the snowshoe poles! I have some!


In addition to hiking our own property, we have gone snowshoeing on my parent's farm, at state parks, and at lodges.

 
Give it a try and let me know about your adventures!
Click HERE to be transferred to a "first timer's guide to snowshoeing" site.