Spotted

In exactly 26 days I will welcome a whole new group of 4-year-olds into my Pre-Kindergarten program.  In exactly 16 days I will be back to work preparing my classroom and writing lesson plans.  Which means I have a little over 2 weeks to enjoy these last, long days of freedom from schedules, doing my hair and make-up every day (something that is tiresome to me), and working on my tan.

During my summer vacation I refuse to even wear my watch.  I try that hard to not schedule my days.  Really, the kids are the only ones with things to do and places to go, and I’m ok with that.  I’d be happier if they liked to stay home as much as I do, but they don’t. I clearly remember those days of being a teenager in the summer and wanting to be out and about!  In order to be ready for school to start, I need to be working on stuff now, but trying to get my head in the game is really, really hard when the sun is shining and the pool is calling.

It’s easier for me to get excited about planning if I’m excited about my classroom theme.  In years past, I’ve done my classroom in various themes: Winnie-the-Pooh, monkeys, dogs, camping, outer space and owls.  I should probably start recycling themes as I tend to go a little overboard and by the end of the year end up with a full rubbermade tote of items.  But I get bored easily and using a theme I’ve already done is…well, boring.  This year I’ve decided to go with the theme of ladybugs!  There’s a lot of cute things I’ve already found.  I am kind of worried about the whole gender thing.  Are the boys going to be insulted?  I thought of calling them “ladies and gentle-bugs”  since I usually refer to my students as “ladies and gentlemen.” ( I say, speak it till you see it!)

I’ve spent hours online looking up ladybug stuff and, in my opinion, used great restraint when it’s come to purchasing some really cool things!  I did get one of these (I found it at the candy factory of all places!), and the dollar store has been a great source for cheap red stuff I can add black spots to.  The theme idea is something I actually stole borrowed from my SIL.  She and my brother did their brand, new baby girl’s nursery (my 1st niece!) in Ladybug stuff and in doing my classroom the same theme, I can think of her often even though I will miss her growing up (they live 12 long hours away.)  So, in a way this room is dedicated to this Little Ladybug, Allista Evelyn.  On a side note, I will get to meet her very soon!  We’re going to Philly to visit before school starts. I. Can’t. Wait.

Back to my classroom…you guys have often been a great source of ideas! Especially Kelly who has tons of fun ideas.   So far I have: “Ladybug Library: Buggy For Books”, “Busy Bugs” (for my job helpers), and “Birthday Bugs”.  I’m kind of stuck on what to do for my behavior board this year (or if I even want to have one.)  Each class as a whole is different, and last year’s group was the only group I’ve had in 8 years of teaching this curriculum that the green, yellow, red behavior board did not work. At all!  I was thinking of: B.U.G. (Being Unbelievably Good), or “Great Behavior Spotted” and having a green ladybug, a yellow, and a red, with the goal being to keep their “spot” on the green bug.  As for whole class behavior, I’ve always done a jar of some sort.  Last year I did “rock on with good behavior” and when they filled the jar with rocks, they got to choose a prize from the treasure chest.  I have two thoughts for this year: they start each day with a snack baggie with 5 ladybug “spots” (pom-poms) in their desk, and can add them to the jar as good behavior warrants, or I can hand out “bug bucks” for good behavior that weekly they can choose to turn in for prizes.  Both systems require work, I’m just not sure which one I want to use.

The other thing I have to decide on is show and tell.  It’s such a pain!  The kids love it though, and it’s really an educationally sound practice (the kids learn how to address a group, learn language skills as they describe what they brought to share, etc.)  However, when you have 15 kids in your class and you give them each 3 minutes, you do the math.  It’s longer than most of them can sit still!  I talked to a teacher recently who had one child do show and tell each day in a rotation.  I’m not sure I really like that idea though, and might just stick with the time-sucking old way.  Sigh.  Too many choices.

I could use your brain cells! Any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions on all things ladybug?

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Summer Projects

 Along with the rest of the nation, I’m thanking God for air conditioning, iced coffee, and swimming pools. This heat wave is ridiculous, but I’d take heat like this over cold, negative winter temps any day! I’m a summer type of girl.  Which explains another reason why I love my job so much…summers off!  I’ve probably got the best tan I’ve had since the days when I was a teenager and had nothing better to do than lay by my grandparent’s pool listening to a Depeche Mode tape on my boom box.  Actually, things are not all that different.  I watched Marissa float around the pool while listening to her itunes on the fancy, shmancy speaker thingy my husband got for us music freaks.  The only real difference is you know, I’m a grown up and I have stuff that has to get done (and we listen to happier tunes.) (Depeche Mode = Depress Mode…what was I thinking?!?)

This summer I had a mental list of projects I wanted to accomplish.  I say “mental” because I’m so commitment phobic that to actually write it down would mean it was real and thus if I didn’t accomplish the stuff on said list I would be a complete failure.  I have mentioned a few times that I’m a great candidate for therapy, right?  Well, I am.  And I would totally go if it weren’t so darned expensive.  Because besides being slightly OCD, and well, mental, I’m cheap frugal.  I can hear my husband scoffing at that sentence, but I AM.

In my frugality, I have certain methods to shopping.  IKEA is one of my favorite stores, and when shopping there, you definitely need to have a plan of attack.  We always start in the as-is area.  We’ve gotten some great stuff discounted simply because it was a floor model, or has a slight flaw, or whatever.  Like we’re not going to scratch stuff up anyway? Ha! We live in our home.  The last time we took a trip to IKEA they had some kids chairs in the as-is area.  The only problem with them is they were scuffed up a bit and missing their cushions.  My teacher brain immediately saw these chairs in my library center!  I scored those babies for $10 each.  Oh yeah!  I figured, how hard could it be to sew some cushions?  Turns out not that hard.  However, when it was all said and done, I only saved about $12 from purchasing the chairs brand new.  Although, then I would have had to put the frames together.  I’ll let you decide, but I think my fun fabric is way cuter than their beige cushion, and so I’m very proud of little ol’ me!  Next up…finishing the curtains for Bekah’s basement room, then I’ll finally reveal the summer-long project before and after pics.  I know, you can’t wait!

What projects have you been recently working on?  (if you look at my pics closely, you can see what theme I decided on for my classroom this year…more to come on that soon 😉

The finished product!

 

 

 

 

 

Making Friends at VBS

It’s that time of the year again.  VBS (vacation Bible school) is going on at churches all over the area.  We’ve been going to a new church for about a year now, and I felt ready to get involved, so I signed up to help with VBS.  I figured it would be a good way to make friends, right?  I mean, the kids who go to VBS come away with tons of new “bff’s”  I however forgot that as an adult it’s just not that easy. Oh, to be a kid again!  So here are 5 things I learned this week about making friends at VBS (the grown-up way.)

  1. Not the VBS of My Youth– Being in a church of 3,000-some people, even after a year of attending, I still feel like the “new kid”.  That means that when you sign up to help with an event like VBS they put you where they need help, not based upon your skills.  I was assigned kitchen duty (aka “snacks”.)  When I think of snacks from my VBS days, all I remember is playing outside and then coming in and magically there were animal crackers on a napkin and a carton of sugar, water, and yellow & red dye (orange ‘drink’…not to be confused with actual juice) at the tables. If it was an affluent church, you even got a straw to drink with and didn’t have to drink straight from the carton thus swallowing pieces of disintegrating paper. The church I attend is no slouch in the snacking department!  This year we served apples and caramel sauce (we cut up the apples), trail mix (the alternative gluten-free, nut-free, taste-free snacks were super-fun to keep track of), root bear floats (no comment), and pizza (hallelujah…they were delivery!)  Serving snack to some 400 kids and 200 workers was stressful, but at the same time, fun.
  2. The New Kid– The good thing about being assigned to work in the kitchen was that I was sure to be working with a lot of ladies with whom I hoped to make a friend or two.  Being the new kid is hard though. Many of them knew each other already, and the hierarchy was clearly in place.  It took the first two days of making suggestions to solve problems and being looked at like “and you are??” before I felt like I was working my way up the rungs of the service ladder.  We attended our previous church for 18 years. Everyone knew everything about me! This new group, they knew nothing.  I felt the need to prove that I did indeed have something to offer the snack team.  I’m happy to say by the end of the week, I no longer felt like an outsider, but a valuable part of the team!
  3. People, They Are Different– Being a little kid at VBS, you would sit next to another child you didn’t know and strike up a conversation something like this, “Hi, my name is Lisa. I like rainbows and ponies and the everything purple,” and instantly you were best friends, because THEY liked the same things!  As an adult, things are not so simple.  In trying to be sociable and make friends this past week, I inadvertently brought up numerous hot topics that ended up being quite controversial. Which leads me to point number 4…
  4. Subjects Best Avoided– The big 3 to avoid in most situations are politics (I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader), sports (um…it was a bunch of women), and religion (duh it was a church event), so these were not really an issue.  No, the big 3 when you are in a bunch of women (especially church women) are #1- food and diet, #2- homeschooling vs. other schooling , and #3- who’s in charge.  It’s kind of hard to avoid talking about food when that’s what you’re doing!  We were the snack people for goodness sakes. It was not my brightest idea to start counting calories again this week.  As the ladies were snacking on m&m’s, I looked on “my fitness pal” app to see how many I could eat.  I mentioned how many were in a serving, only to be told “it’s not about calories, it’s about what you put in your body!”,  “you really should eat organic”, and numerous other pieces of advice. Oy…I didn’t mean to open that can of worms! These ladies were sweet as could be, and I honestly think they just felt they were giving me knowledge to better myself, but that’s not how I roll.  You come at me with unsolicited advice and I tend to shut down. Same with the schooling thing…and I’m the worst. I send my kids to…gasp…public school. And not only that, we live in the second worst district in this area.  As for #3, well, the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” is never more applicable than when you have 12 ladies in a church kitchen.  Suffice it to say that we learned a lot about humility and being gracious and merciful this week.
  5.   The True Definition of a Friend– Recently one of the pastors spoke on the Art of Christian Friendship. It was a great message, and I one I need to listen to again.  I would take it one step further and say that true friendship can only come about when God is at the center of the equation.  I wasn’t wrong to think I could make some new friends this week, but it’s not something you can expect to happen just because.  I made a lot of acquaintances this week.  One’s I hope could mature into true friendship, but the fact is that it’s just not as easy as saying, “Hi, my name is Lisa and we have x,y, and z in common. Be my friend.”  For a long time now I’ve been praying that God would hook me up with a friend, a true friend.  The kind that you can “do” life with.  Someone who knows all about you and still loves you anyway.  Someone who loves you enough to hold you accountable to the things you’re working through in your life.  And someone you can do the same for.  I do believe that certain things need to be in play, like you live in the same area, attend the same church, those kind of things.  I have yet to speak to people who are friends like that saying they met on friendharmony.com.

I’m curious…do you have a true friend?  How did the relationship come about?

REAL Dishes

I’ve always known our family was a little quirky in the way we do things.  Throughout the years I’ve tried to conform to what I thought was “normal”, but for the most part it never took.  We’re just weird.  Or irresponsible. Depends on how you look at it.

When we got married (18 years ago) my husband was pretty much already set up in life. That’s one of the perks of marrying someone ten years older than you are.  He had a good job, a house, a car, and a motorcycle (that went as soon as the babies came.)  The only thing he didn’t have was dishes.  The man has always used paper plates.  When we first met, he was using empty margarine tubs for bowls (I suppose that recycling method balanced out his constant use of paper plates.)  Over the years we’ve had different sets of dishes that were rarely used.  One time we bought a set of dishes just so we could have people over for dinner.  Unfortunately I was not thinking clearly and bought ones that needed to be hand washed.  Needless to say, for everyday use they were not very practical, and due to our lack of being social over the past 5 or 6 years, they went to the Salvation Army. I also have my Grandmother’s china, but again, not for everyday use.

A few years ago friends of ours moved and in helping them pack they gave me some kitchen stuff they didn’t want to take with them.  I’m still using those 3 plates.  See, I’m particular about certain things (some would call it OCD.)  I don’t mind eating a sandwich on a paper plate, but spaghetti, not so much.  My family however will eat anything off of paper plates!  I’m the only one who uses the real dishes, which is ok since there are 5 of us, and we only have 3 plates.

All that to say I’ve decided that our carbon footprint is probably the size of Texas, and this family needs to learn to eat off of REAL plates.  I’ve started looking online at dinner ware, and there are some really fun patterns out there!  I’m thinking I’d rather go with something more “vanilla” though.  Of course, no matter what I choose it has to be microwave and dishwasher safe!  I kind of like this set and this one too.  I haven’t found the one I love yet.

I’m curious…what kind of quirks does you family have?  Do you eat off “real” dishes or can you match my Texas-sized footprint?

Reading, Rambling, & Roofs

It’s early. I figured I better get on here before the pounding begins.  Today we’re having a new roof put on our house.  Ah, the joys of home ownership!  It’s necessary, but I can think of a lot more fun ways to spend thousands of dollars.  Like a vacation to the beach!  From both my husband’s and the roofing guy’s assessment, this is something that cannot wait.  Which brings to mind all the other things that have sprung up this week: 2 of the girls need braces, and the dog needs his yearly exam and shots.  These are all expensive things.  Sigh.  While being a teacher is probably the most awesome gig ever (I get the summers off), I don’t get paid through the summer.  It’s all good. I’m not worried about it, just you know, I’d rather go to the beach 🙂

Since this post started out all rambly-like, I think I’ll go with that.  My husband actually read my last blog post.  Ok, I need to interrupt this thought to tell you that having people walking on your roof is VERY disconcerting!  Back to the blog…my husband read it.  He made the most hilarious statement to me, “You threw everyone under the bus…including yourself.”  I actually laughed out loud at that.  I didn’t think it came off like that, and really, I thought I was talking about wagons…not buses.  I have managed to cook edible meals a few times this week!

Oh wow…It sounds like these guys are going to fall right through the roof and onto my laptop!  Well, my concentration is shot.   I wonder if this is how people with ADHD feel?  My mind is kind of all over the place.  Remember when I said I had some goals for this summer?  I haven’t gotten very far in accomplishing those, however I have read 8 novels.  Reading is my vice.  And I say vice because it’s what I do when I want to avoid work, life, and thinking.  I’m currently reading the third book in Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn’s, Sullivan Crisp series, called “Healing Sands.”  The series is essentially about a therapist.  Great books! I’ve really enjoyed them, and honestly come away from the first two feeling like I was in some therapy sessions.  For the record, I think everyone could use a therapist (at least at one point or another in their lives.)

I’m really distracted now.  The sky is darkening and I fear it will rain.  If there’s lightning like there was in last night’s storm, these guys on my roof are in trouble!  Oh my goodness, the glasses in my cabinet that are touching are making a clinking sound, the house is shaking so much.  Ok, I’m done. I’ll not make you listen to my crazy thoughts any longer.

Tomorrow I’ll post before and after pics of the roof.  For now, I’ll sip my second cup of coffee and watch it rain shingles.