Monday, March 30, 2009

Bunny Buddies

My Super Stars love to spend time with their Fifth Grade Buddies! For Easter they made "bunny buddies," first tracing their feet, and then their buddies'. They carefully cut out their foot shape, and then used the scrap paper to cut out ears. Pink, white, and black construction paper was used for the ear and nose details, fluffy tail, and whiskers. Yes, many of them resemble mice or tall-eared cats, but they are cute nonetheless!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weather's Dr. Jekyl and Mister Hyde

Our weekend:


...and Saturday:

Quite the difference, eh?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Don't mind me, I just *had* to have my Journey fix today:

Are you dancing? I am!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Odd Day, Merit Pay, Chocolate HEY

Odd day. Not bad, but not "usual" either.

~ Dear Daughter's school was evacuated today after a bomb threat was received and a suspicious backpack was discovered. Interesting that we've been here less than a year and her school has had three big "situations," compared to last year when she was attending a junior high in Texas that five years prior had been *the* drug and gang school to fear... which didn't have a single issue for us to complain about other than 1) rude audience behavior at band concerts and 2) the TAKS.

Her school will be back in session tomorrow with "heightened security measures" in place.

~ Class photos were sent home today with students, and I'm not in them. The picture was taken the day my truck was stolen, so I'll have to set up a date and time that I can have someone play photographer/paparazzi during recess to get a photo of us all together. They won't be my students for much longer- only forty days left in this school year. Thankfully they'll always be my Super Stars.

~ The pre-schooler said "stop it" today for the first time. Up until now, it's been "top it." He *loves* his new class and his teacher's pet iguana, Lizzy.

~ I have "merit pay" whirling around in my head thanks to other teachers' recent blog posts. I've read and thought about many of the details and just can't find a good balance between the "feel-good reward goals" of the proposition and the reality of all of the abuses that will happen if and when a slipshod evaluation "system" is put into place that frankly, won't evaluate *teachers* at all. Test scores will be evaluated. Contrary to popular belief, test scores aren't students. Popularity is an issue in every workplace: will who-you-know translate into how you're evaluated?

Education isn't the great equalizer. It's a business, pure and simple. Thanks a lot, NCLB, the propaganda worked. Some states now require that kindergarten students be assessed with fill-in-the-bubble tests. It's inappropriate and appalling, not "necessary" as many politicians and curriculum publishers would have you believe. Still far too many parents passively allow this abuse to happen, probably buying the hype that the tests hold their child's teacher accountable...the tests guarantee that a child has a quality teacher, and that children will somehow be "better prepared" for school. The Merit Pay Plan tries to appeal to teachers by dangling money under our noses (it's a tempting carrot after all, we have bills to pay too) and to parents by offering an emotional sense of security by implying teachers are now being evaluated by someone capable and inclined to critique us on the actual skills required of us to do our jobs- which can't be the case if test scores end up being the only proof-positive that learning has or hasn't taken place.

As good teachers continue to argue against the abuses of NCLB and its mediocre, in some cases, horrific results, spin doctors immediately go on the offensive, insinuating that if teachers can't "prove" their teaching prowess via documented student gains, then my, my, my, perhaps those teachers really shouldn't continue to be employed by their districts. And do parents do the number crunching when it comes to evaluating all of the numbers, scores, rubrics, gains, and areas of need? No. Do they question the data reported in newspapers, magazines, in blogs or news broadcasts? No. They take it as fact, usually oblivious that while "figures don't lie, liars certainly can figure." Data can be manipulated, tweaked, fabricated. Good data can be misrepresented, under-represented, or even buried in order to further the goals of the Education-as-Business Machine.

It's the opinions of psychologists, sociologists, and behaviorists that interest me...why we as members of society always insist on wheeling and dealing, undercutting, depriving, lying, misrepresenting, damaging so much and so many in our paths on the way to rake in the almighty dollar, all the while claiming to be doing it all for the common good.

I need some chocolate.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bunny Details for Kari and the Rest of You Wonderful Readers

Here are some more photos of the papers/shapes my Stars used to make their construction paper "egg" bunnies:

I traced around an egg-shaped wall decoration on a piece of light brown construction paper (9X12 inches) and had enough scrap left over to cut out the bottom foot/feet piece. You'll also need two long rectangles in brown and two thin strips of pink...I had my students "round" the corners of those pieces as they assembled their bunnies. The "coveralls" were cut out as a template from another egg shape so they'd fit perfectly, but you'll want to help your students fit them over the bunny's body-they *can* get lopsided. Pretty scraps of printed paper were used as the patch on the coveralls, and students used a black marker or crayon for the face details and "stitching lines" on each side of the patch.

Hoppy (er, Happy) Easter!
Many thanks to Sheryl over at Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds~ she made my day today when she shared the following Friendship Award with me:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbon of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to those bloggers who must choose at least five more and include this cleverly written text into the body of their award."

Sheryl's blog makes me smile every time she posts! As a fan of developmentally appropriate practice and the teachers who make early childhood education the experience it *should be*, I was thrilled to discover her blog. One of her favorite quotes? "Teach what you know and continue to grow." Please visit Sheryl often (and remember she's over in my blogroll under Early Childhood)!

I'll be passing the award on this weekend-check back!


Sunday, March 22, 2009


Have you been spring cleaning?

The urge to straighten up, rearrange, sort, clean, and rethink my spaces has been a fleeting motivator this week. Clean up the house, check. Then I'm off to read or crochet. Excavate my desk, check. Report cards are then finished. Click through the blogroll pruning dead links, tossing out the old to make way for the new, check...then you can find me outside enjoying some nice bulb-sprouting weather. Put away all of the heavy winter clothes and coats, I want to go downstairs and craft to my heart's content.

Seems this new system is what works for me. It's not like my old system however- I'd start a big task such as "spring cleaning" and not stop until the entire home was finished, spotless, top to bottom. Unpacking after a move? Living out of boxes for weeks like some families is not an option for me us. I'd get every box distributed to the correct room, and then unpack *everything*, putting each item away in its new spot. I like things "just so." I like them "just so" SOONER rather than LATER. Apparently now I'm willing to allow some "just so-ness" to take place in stages, over time.



Back to the blogroll: I've checked most of the sites and made sure the links to friends are working properly now. I've added some foodie blogs under the header "Snacktime/Lunch", friends can be found under "Recess with the Girls," and I'll check through my "Nationwide PLC" this afternoon.


Personal and professional tidbits:

~ I have my truck back. She's running fine but still smells of cigarette smoke. I've drafted a letter to the police departments involved in her recovery outlining the details they missed in their investigation of the theft. No, it won't help prosecute the truck-nabber, but perhaps some constructive criticism and feedback will clue detectives in to the fact that paying attention, seeking relevance, and asking pertinent questions are all appropriate investigative techniques, ALL OF THE TIME. Or not. They should be glad I'm not in charge of writing their performance reviews or professional improvement plans.

~ The second of my bi-annual teacher evaluations is over. I'll be a teacher on "probationary" status for three years if I remain at this location. Odd being "probationary" in the last three districts I've worked. I haven't been in one long enough to achieve tenure. This nation-hopping is getting a bit old, considering I'd like to retire *sometime* in my life.

~ Spring break can't come quickly enough. Dear Daughter's ends today, so come April, I'll have the house all to myself for a week. No teen angst, no boundless pre-school energy, just a sleepy cat occasionally underfoot. Time to try new recipes for dinner (Dear Husband will be glad he won't have to cook), spring clean in earnest and prepare for our first yard sale of the year, and drive to explore antique stores in peace. I'm such a rebel.

~ Found a quote this week that gives me direction: "Gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty." I'm working on it.


Hooray for Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Egg-Ceptional Eggs

This morning my students enjoyed Reschenka's Eggs, by Patricia Polacco during storytime:

The beautiful psanky eggs captured their imagination, but several students expressed apprehension about their ability to make "pretty eggs" in our art center, or when journaling. I quickly cut out tagboard egg shapes, and showed my Stars how to trace them on paper, with some eggs "hiding" behind others:

Take a look at what they created:


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not-Quite-Wordless Wednesday:Spring Classroom Decor

"Not-quite wordless" because... I've either found the person who stole my truck, or a person who knows who did. On Facebook.

Remember how I said MY cd's were found in my truck by the police? They weren't my cd's. They belonged to someone else, and one was labeled with a name, while others had band names and "mix" titles scribbled on the fronts. A bag of salon fliers was also found in my truck, with contact info (phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses) included, because apparently the driver/thief was going to distribute them.

So I looked up the e-mail address on Facebook. Found a salon employee. Checked out her "friends," and found a contact of hers whose name matches the name on the cd's found. I checked his profile (which is public...dumb, dumb, dumb), and under his "fave bands" category, *guess* which bands are listed?

Yep. The same bands that are on the cd's.

Will someone kindly tell me why I don't get to collect a day's salary equivalent to a police detective's? How difficult was this investigation, really?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wearin' the Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope you remembered to wear green nails and shoes will prevent any *pinches* from coming my way:


~Since I'm all green-eggs-and-ham'd *out* from Dr. Seuss' birthday earlier this month, I think I'll try The Pioneer Woman's potato and corn mash...

~ Parents, teachers...if you haven't been to Lookybook, go *now*.


Here's Eric Herman's "My Lucky Day" (watch to the very end!):

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday Fun-day

Yesterday I had the following on my to-do list:

~laundry ~iron clothes ~take kids to the park ~clean house

~buy groceries ~make banners ~blog ~bake muffins and cookies

~prep the pre-schooler's supplies for his first day of...PRE-SCHOOL!

I managed to get it ALL done (and paint my nails an interesting shade of green for St. Patrick's Day) after drinking a "nutty Irishman mocha" on the way to the park:

The kids had fun while I snapped photos~ such a nice way to spend a Sunday!


~Head over to for links, links,and more links in an Irish Medley for St. Patrick's Day...

~Nina shares beyond-incredible bracelets at Ornamental~ her creations are so tactile, dimensional, earthy and each piece seems full of history and stories to tell. I never tire of visiting her site, though I'll admit I've only ever been a lurker, quietly reading and taking in all of the visual details. Her blog often serves as my "quiet place."

~Calling all classroom moms (or teachers looking to score mondo-brownie-points in the teachers' lounge): Head to The Pioneer Woman Cooks, click on all of the links to Bakerella, and be inspired. **So** inspired that you'll actually *make* Cupcake Bites... please!

~Want to make something quick and easy before tackling the cupcake bites? Buy some butterscotch chips, crunchy chow mein noodles, candy Easter eggs (or jelly beans!) and peanut butter, and then head over to Whimsy Love for her Haystack tutorial!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

...and Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging~ Hopefully

It's been two weeks of sporadic posting, have you noticed? The theft and subsequent recovery of my truck (the local Ford dealership is taking good care of it right now~ I hope to be "back in the saddle" on Wednesday), the family's sniffles, coughs, and general we-feel-yucky-ness, and a full schedule at work have left me exhausted and ready to snooze as soon as I walk through our door each afternoon. Surprise visitors, this non-self-cleaning house, and my time lag thanks to springing forward didn't help my energy level either. Have you ever had a week where you just felt off?

Here's to fresh starts~

Despite my exhaustion, I still found blog inspiration everywhere this week. I've got some posts formulating in my mind regarding die cuts, end-of-the-year classroom preparation for the upcoming school year, my itty-bitty banners (not just the bitty ones), an essential starter kit of must-have items for the beginning of the school year (and no, I'm not talking bulletin board trimmers and sharpened pencils) that I'd recommend to new teachers, questions regarding merit pay for teachers (and you thought this blog was all cuteness and fluff!), and of course, links to other bloggy goodness that you might want to go and enjoy for yourself.

Keep your fingers crossed, I hope to enjoy several chunks of sitting-down-at-the-computer time today, posting entries into the queue before my impending fuller-than-full schedule knocks on my door this afternoon.

(And really, how many dashes-between-words CAN I use today?)



This will keep my energy up this week:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Truck Has Been Recovered, the Poor Baby

My truck has been found, far enough *away* from home that perhaps we'll be lucky enough to not have to worry about a repeat visit from the thieves:

A woman was arrested driving it, but she "doesn't know who gave it to her."

Uh, yeah.

She, or the ghost-entity that "gave" her my truck decided to drive it hard, knocking it out of alignment, tearing the tonneau cover off, scratching/scraping something along the inside of the bed (adding some dings as well), while adding hundreds of miles to the odometer. She, or the anonymous truck-giver also attempted to add some window tint, "attempted" being the operative word.

Miss-Happy-to-Drive-a-Truck-that-She-KNOWS-Isn't-Hers has a thing for cheesy puff treats, McDonald's and chain smoking:

Blech. And while the car seat, my iPod Nano, our GARMIN, and my house keys were ditched, my 80's compilation c.d.'s were on heavy rotation in my cd player.

Great, the truck thieves like 80's pop and hair bands just like I do.


Our local Ford dealership is babying my truck this week, replacing the windshield and rear bumper, detoxing (er, "using odor neutralizer on") the interior, repairing all the paint, my rear-view mirror, getting the truck back into alignment, doing an oil change, and detailing the interior. New plates are being sent, and I'm on the look-out for another Nano and GARMIN (so I'm predictable loyal, sue me), and hopefully sometime next week I'll be back to driving **~MY~** truck.

I'll be chucking the cd's. Sure, I'll make new ones, but I need some symbolic sense of closure.

Sorry Sony CD-Rewritable disks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two G's: GREEN and GIVEAWAY Winner!

Despite the roller coaster weather we've had here in Oz, there's green to be found:

Patterns of green on the dining room table...

Sparkly green on the windowsill...

... and twiggy green on the door...


Congratulations to **~Katie~**, my 500th Blog Post Giveaway WINNER!


~ Little Birdie Secrets shares a leprechaun's visit (go look, it's CUTE and your kids will LOVE it!)

~ Miss Fancy Pants posted a great tutorial for a wonderful March Display art piece...

~ Make and Takes shows you how to make an awesome pot of gold and rainbow (think crafty goodness with paint, chocolate and chenille stems a.k.a. "pipe cleaners")...

~ and while totally NOT leprechaun-ish in any way, I LOVE these recycled glasses from soda bottles shared by Haute Nature...hey, recycled...that's "going green," right?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Don't Mind Me...

Don't mind me, I'm just playing with paper today...

Such springy colors!


~ AllSorts shares a "bounding bunnypin" pattern that may lure me away from the paper for some other Easter crafting...

~ A Little Loveliness is tempting the snacker in me with a recipe for spinach and artichoke dip...

~ Little Birdie Secrets shares dress up patterns for young wanna-be wild wild west cowboys (check out the mustache- I'm thinking Shauna needs to make these for her boys!)...

~...and ShabbyFufu has me looking forward to what the Easter Bunny will bring next month- how could he resist "Blissful Bird Baskets?"

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I'm Just Bakin' Bacon Cookies...

A colleague mentioned that a former principal used to make "Breakfast Bacon Cookies" for the staff from time to time~yes, I HAD to find a recipe (and I'm baking a double batch right now!):

* 1/2 lb. bacon
* 1/2 cup butter
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 cup of flour
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 cups of multi-grain flakes or corn flakes
* 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Combine flour and baking soda; stir into butter mixture. Stir in bacon(I'm using pre-cooked bacon!), cornflakes and raisins.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Space 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove to rack to cool–about 2 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet.

So far, so good. It smells like ba-dum-dum-*ching*... BREAKFAST in here!

I've lost the light, so no photos of this batch, but since I'll be in the kitchen this weekend for an upcoming bake sale, I'll try the recipe again and post pictures for you.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lucy and Peter at Lulu's Petals

I fingerpaint. I help students stamp their handprints on keepsake artwork. I usually color inside the lines. I'm more apt to purchase an art canvas to cover with fabric for a home decor project than to attempt painting on it.

Thankfully, there are people out there like Lucy and her husband Peter:

Color. Check. Black. Check. Swirls and curves. Check-check. A hand-painted bright spot that will greet me each morning and say goodnight to me each evening as I sit down at or leave my desk. CHECK.

Beautiful. Bold. Eye-catching. Just the way I like my art.

Thank you, thank you Lucy and Peter! Check out some more wonderful art at Lulu's Petals.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Terrific Tuesday

Evening isn't really my time to blog: busy days followed by household chores, and the pre-schooler wired for sound once it's home time aren't conducive to my writing flow. Tonight is no different, but it's been such an amazing day that I just can't wait until the quiet of tomorrow morning.

~Super Star Student E's leukemia screen came back...negative. Hopes answered, joyous relief for her incredible family- the most precious and exuberant smiles across her face today. The sun was actually shining brighter, truly.

~Writing my son's message for his yearbook page, it struck me that he'll be graduating from high school in May, off to start the cliché "next chapter in his life." Only it's not so cliché. It's exciting, and I'm proud.

~Artwork I won during OWOH has arrived from dear Lucy (her husband painted it!) at Lulu's Petals~ I'll show it to you in all its glory tomorrow, but take a peek, it's behind my new Brighton key fob...

~Now that I have a new key fob (because my truck was stolen last Tuesday), Murphy's Law kicked in: my truck has been found! Several misunderstandings, odd and inaccurate documentation and multiple confusing situations between two police departments and a city tow lot resulted in my truck finally being identified, though it won't be returned to us for a bit longer. Yes, a suspect was caught~ apparently she has a thing for McDonald's and Cheesy Puff treats~ the back seat can attest to that. My truck was also driven hard, possibly over 500 miles, with the cover torn off, so who knows what was transported in the bed...and to where it was taken. The engine starts, but there's a rough sound coming from the front end, and the truck is filthy. Miss Truck Thief and/or her cronies also tried to add window tint...I guess they're big on vehicle disguises or makeovers. Poor truck. We'll have the police dogs go through it once or twice too if we're allowed to take possession of it- who knows what substances might be hiding beneath the Cheesy Puff debris... Yes, oh yes, we'll be pressing charges. Fair is fair. Consequences happen. Hell hath no fury like the the ticked off mood of a kindergarten teacher/mommy.

~My home has smelled divine for the past few days. It's my week for lounge duty at school, so my baking hasn't gone to waste (or to my WAIST). Tonight it's banana pecan muffins with a caramel flavored crunchy topping...and some butter toffee cookies. I'll take some natural sugar tomorrow as well...fresh green grapes. Simple, grab and go.

~I've made new friends via BlogLand this week: a-w-e-s-o-m-e!

~Finally...I'm four posts away from my 500th Blog Post! Anyone interested in a giveaway?

Monday, March 02, 2009

It's March: Time for Shamrock Milkshakes!

Here's a Shamrock Milkshake recipe for two:


3 cups vanilla ice cream

1 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

10 drops of green food coloring


Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pot of Gold Bulletin Board Project/Snuggle Sunday

Here's another pattern Jessica shared with me a few years back! For the large bulletin board accent, I folded a large piece of black construction paper in half and free-cut a cauldron/pot shape; cut a cloud shape out of a large piece of white, and cut two inch wide strips of red, orange, blue, green and purple for the rainbow connected between the two. Five yellow circles are the "gold" and I added some die cut shamrocks, some pre-printed leprechauns peeking out here and there, and "March" for fun! The students' projects include their answers to the prompt "If I caught a leprechaun..." along with some gold glitter on the "coins."

Make sure the rainbow stripes are glued down securely to the back of both the pot and the cloud, and add the coins, glitter and quote details to the front:


It's a snuggly kind of Sunday...the pre-schooler has adopted his sister's Hello Kitty pillow and Harley blankie and is curled up on the floor next to me as I blog. Something tells me it's time to head to the couch for some serious snuggling while Dear Husband makes pancakes for breakfast!