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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Painted doors

   Yesterday I spent some time blog hopping and I came across this blog article on the painted doors of Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. I would love to visit that in person. Can you imagine what character it would add to a community if each person had a piece of art on their door? Maybe this appeals to me so much because the upstairs neighbors just painted the front door of our house a disgusting purplish brown color. Anyway, it got me to thinking, wouldn't this be so cool if schools did this on all of the classroom doors?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer bucket list

     Today I sat down with the boys to write our summer reading goals and things we'd like to do.  Here's our grand list. We do not have to all of these, but these are things that would be fun. What are some things we missed?

Reading goals:
D- Read more than 20 minutes a day
T- Read at least 10 books off the Massachusetts Children's Book Awards for this year and write a report for each. (I really liked this goal. Last year he wanted to read the entire MCBA list... and got most of them but the reports were a struggle).

Summer "To do" list:
-Visit a museum
-Go somewhere touristy- like Cape Cod
-Have a picnic
-Make snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches. (Don't they look delicious? D is most excited about this)
-Go on a local bike trail (maybe this one, which we've never been to.)
-Make s'mores
- Go camping
- Have a firepit
- Go fishing
- Go deep sea fishing (boys have never been) or a whale watch
- Explore some of the local towns for a day. (We have lived here for a long time but it would be fun to examine where we live in a new way)
- Swim in a lake
-Swim in a lake
-Swim in a river
- Swim in a pool (Did I mention I HATE to swim? The kids obviously like it)
- Learn to surf (T)
- Do a puzzle
-Stay in a hotel
- Go to a different state (How about Wisconsin? ;) )
- Visit Dogtown
-  Eat at Woodmans (or get fresh seafood somewhere)
-Plan Quebec vacation  (Anyone reading from Quebec? Suggestions for us?)
- Try to learn some French for Quebec
- Invite friends for dinner
-Visit relatives
- Run around in the rain
- Visit a farmer's market (should be happening today)
-See The BFG
- Visit Pettingill Farm  (I have relatives that are Pettingills, I'm wondering if there are any relations.)
- Family tree research (Anyone into genealogy research? I'm stuck in a few places.)
-Watch fireworks
- Go to an outdoor concert.
- Play a board game

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Currently 6/28

It's been a while! Here's what I've been up to.
Watching: (Movies)
Last night my family saw Finding Dory. Here's the review from the kiddos:
David: Dory was so forgetful. You should really see the movie because it was fun, adventurous and funny at some parts. 
Tim: Finding Dory was really good, but it got really boring when good stuff happened then bad stuff happened again and again and again. Also, some of the voices they used and Dory's forgetting things got old very quickly. 
Me: I had higher hopes for Finding Dory. If you liked Finding Nemo, you will enjoy the movie but it was a little slow. A lot of the things that made Finding Nemo funny were also in this movie, but there wasn't anything really mind-blowing. I agree with Timmy that some things got old quick. I enjoyed Hank, the septapus.  
Yes, I know, I've already seen this- but my "kids" haven't... and by kids I mean my own children and many of my students. We visited the Boston Opera House to see the National Tour on Matilda last week. There were 35 of us in all. For a few students, it was their first time in the opera house or seeing a musical. If you've never seen the inside of the Boston Opera House, it's pretty cool.
Not too shabby, eh? 
It was a great show and we had a blast. David was a little tired by the end of it, but it was about 10:30 so I was expecting that. 

    We're also watching LOTS of baseball. The regular season is over. David's team came in 3rd but Tim's team won the Major Division. Both boys had wonderful coaches and they both learned a lot. Timmy is playing All-Stars now. So, more baseball :) I'm really enjoying watching him grow. 

     I'm currently reading Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson. It is the 2nd book of the 100 Cupboards series. I liked the first book but I'm finding the second book a lot more dark and less interesting. Maybe it is because it has been a while since I read the 1st one? Here's hoping I get more involved with the story as the book goes on. 
   I would like to tell you a little about the book I read before this though. It is called Guardian of the Gold Breathers by Elise Stephens.  This book is about a boy named Liam, who moves into his new step-father's house and learns that he might be the person to fulfill an ancient prophecy after discovering a dragon's egg. I liked this story a lot. (It reminded me of the first time I read The Secret Garden.)  Tim says "It is an intriguing book. I literally can't put it down." I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and the author wrote me a really sweet note in addition to signing my copy. Have I ever mentioned I love Goodreads giveaways? I probably would've never bought this book before reading, but I would definitely get something else by this author.
     Tim has been into dubstep lately. I usually turn it off because it's a bit too repetitive for me, but I found myself really fascinated by some of the hip-hop dancers at Tim's recital so I've let him listen a bit more.  Speaking of the tap recital. Timmy did well.  It turns out that he is the only boy in his class that is new to dance and not on the competition team. So, all things considered, I was really impressed by his progress. 

      Food! Both Matt and I enjoy cooking but he usually cooks during the school year since we used to have opposite schedules until recently. Summer break started this week so I've gotten more time to cook. The boys asked to prepare meals today. So, for lunch we had ham and cheese omelettes made by David. (Tim suggested a side of tortilla chips with guacamole... ok- anything to try to squeeze veggies in.) Timmy made Farfalle with zucchini and sweet Italian sausage for dinner. It was a modification of a Rachael Ray recipe. It was pretty tasty. It was also fascinating to see how differently the boys work while doing similar tasks. 

    I feel great. First of all, some of you may know I was dealing with some weird hives issue for over a month. We have figured it out and I've been hives free for a month. So, physically I fell 1000% better. Summer vacation has started. I have made progress on  some tasks I've been trying to get done. Other than our scheduled events, I'm trying to relax and not worry about a schedule. We go to bed when we're tired, eat when we're hungry, etc. It's kind of refreshing. I am appreciating the extra family time and the opportunity to be home more. Maybe it's just that I'm fully home. Many people think that being a teacher is easy and that we leave at 2. I am usually not home until at least 4 and, even then, there are many times where my mind is still at work or I have to finish things at home.  
      Over the next few days I would like to write a few letters, continue my progress around the house and come up with a "to do" list for the summer. 

     Feeling relaxed and balanced. There is very little that I "have to" do right now and that is quite nice. I'm not used to it. Don't get me wrong, I love working hard and I feel that I have great purpose but it's nice to recharge completely.

God bless! 


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

feeling better

     Despite the fact that I did not receive any sort of apology or acknowledgement of my response to the parent e-mail I got yesterday, I'm feeling a bit better.
     Tonight, my own son had a school concert. He plays trumpet in band, plays chimes and sings in the chorus. It was nice to relax and watch his hard work come to fruition. (It was not nice that we were surrounded by people who chatted through the whole concert.) I'm very proud of him.

Before bed rambling

    Today was a great day. Last night, I ended my "end of the year performances" with a concert of my select choir. The audience enjoyed it. The kids sang well. I was happy. After the concert, a few parents even helped clean up so I could get home earlier. (They did not ask, they just saw what I was doing and helped.)  Then, since I was out slightly earlier than I expected, I drove to the baseball field adjacent to the middle school and watched a little league game in my black, formal dress because a 7th grade boy asked if I would come to see him play sometime. I left my house at 6am and got home at 9:30 pm. I did not see my own children.
       This morning, my oldest son was having major allergy issues. He stayed home from school. I spent a little time with him and gave him some medicine before going off to work. I left at 6:45. On the way to work, I chatted with a colleague about some teaching candidates who would be in today. When I got to school, I helped a colleague with some photocopying because one of my classes was on a field trip. Then I had a prep period where I organized a field trip for my select choir- on a Wed night at 7:30- after arranging the carpool, collecting money, etc. My first class was wonderful. I have a few students who really need individual attention there and I answered a ton of questions, but it was rewarding to see them really understanding the materials.
      My 2nd class was 7th grade, who all turned in projects that seem like they worked hard on them. On top of that, I enjoyed talking baseball with the boys who thanked me for coming to their game and have gained a new respect for me now that they know I actually understand music AND baseball. I even made it through (mostly) unscathed when I was typing a list (that they were copying) on the SMARTboard and accidentally typed a swear when I mixed the word I was saying with the word I was typing. Thank God it was my 7th grade class. Only 2 kids caught it before I turned red, said "Nope, that's not what I meant," and fixed it.
     Next came 5th grade- 24 kids- 8 in line learning how to clap rhythms that they composed, 16 independently working on playing their composed rhythms on instruments and trying to put them together with other group members. 16 kids allowing me to work individually with 8 kids- 1 at a time- without me having to stop to fix behavior or get them back on track.
     My last class was another 6th grade class. This class is so polite and hard-working. They have a ton of personality and are just a delight to teach.
      Lastly, I had chorus. I wanted to tell them all the "last minute" information about the end of the year- how they will sing with the group that will be joining them next year at our next rehearsal and how the band teacher and I will be having an end of the year sundae party for them. Then I allowed them to go back to their advisory period, which is like a study. All but 2 stayed and volunteered to help out, sang, did homework or just hung out.
      After school I had a party for the group from last night. We talked about the concert, ate, and went through the end of the year info for them too. On the way out, a 7th grade girl said she had something for me and gave it to me as they left. It was a book of "poems" about me written by 4 of the girls. It was kind of a mix between a thank you note and a gift. It was very flattering, sweet and personal.
      I left school at 3:40. I got home at 4:30. David had to be at baseball at 4:45 and Tim at tap at 5. Got both boys where they needed to go, waited for Tim to get out and then watched David's game. I had some delightful conversation with another mom despite the fact that we were being bombarded by these disgusting beetle-like bugs.
      We got home at 7:30, had ice cream, relaxed and read. The boys went to bed at 8:30. It was a wonderful night and the earliest night in a very long time.  I corrected a bit, watched about 20 minutes of tv and then decided that I'd like to read a little extra before bed. So, I took my medicine and went to shut down the computer. Wait! Maybe I should check my work e-mail. So... I did- and found an "angry parent e-mail." 
     Long story short, I wrote a suggestion on a paper that was a rough draft for a project. The girl wasn't sure what I meant so she talked to me. The parent note was telling me that they were upset that I had accused their child of cheating (which I didn't), reprimanding me for tearing their child down instead of being an encouragement and then letting me know that they CCd their english teacher. I'm assuming this is because I'm a specialist, which means I'm not a "real teacher" and I couldn't possibly give any educational feedback about writing about something music related. Needless to say, I was furious. To make matters worse, I have had the girl in my class for 2 years and her older brother for 4, so they should know me by now. I e-mailed the parent back and worded it very diplomatically (also CCd the English teacher). Here's what I would like to say to all of my friends who do not work in education:
      Although my contractual hours are 7:50-2:20, I rarely work those hours. Being a specialist, I do not sit at my desk all day and play on the computer while students do worksheets. (I do not know any teacher at my school who does- in any subject). In fact, being a specialist, I never sit down because I'm running all over the class making sure each individual student 'gets it."  I usually hit my 10,000 steps on my Fitbit before 11am.
      There are many times when I am "at home" where I am here but working on school stuff. Timmy's last project was not well done because I was too busy helping your kids to prepare for our concert, their projects (in my classes and others), and talking to families at parent night. There are days where I don't see my kids because I'm doing something that YOUR kids needed or wanted. In my head, there is constantly a running list of due dates and to do lists.
     I worry about some of your children as much as my own. One parent last year told me that they figured out the math- I was the adult that saw their child the most on an average week. In fact, when they combined the time both parents saw the student- it was only 25% more time than I saw them by myself. I get to know your kids over 4 years- I learn a lot and see signs of warning and improvements. Often times, I have difficult conversations to let you know some of the things your children are dealing with/doing or send home messages to say "Great job! Keep it up!" to you and your children. There are many kids who pass through my class once a year (I have 750 a year) that I don't get to know well, but MANY that I do. (About 1/3 of those kids since for me so I know them very well)
     When you tell me you didn't meet a deadline because you "were busy;" I understand this. I am busy too. In fact, because you missed my deadline, I may miss 2 or 3 of my own to make up for the time that was just wasted on the thing that I could not do because I wasn't prepared since you didn't turn in your stuff.
      I work extremely hard to be a good role model for your children. I give of my own time/money/ effort/ strength to do my job well and to provide your child with a great education. I genuinely care about your child and, realistically, about your families too. So... when you send me hateful e-mail that insults me and questions my integrity- it hurts and it makes me forget all of the good things that happened in my day.  It keeps me awake at night and makes me question every interaction with your kid.  It makes me wonder why I teach.   Just as I attempt to try to treat you professionally, in every action I have with you- I would appreciate the minimal reciprocation of that respect and kindness.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

ICAD 3and 4

I'm having a lot of fun creating my ICAD cards. Day 3s prompt was Snoopy. I had never drawn Snoopy but after looking at a "How to Draw Snoopy" tutorial, I thought I'd take a risk. Here is my drawing and then Tim's and David's.Timmy took just a few minutes to draw his and I think it's very cute. I love that David included Charlie Brown. :) I am not giving them any ideas so it's super fun to see what they come up with.

 Prompt 4 was "typewriter." Now, I know I can't draw a typewriter. Next best thing to me was typed script. So.. I got a few ideas. I was feeling a little creative and detail oriented, so I made 3.

I struggle with uniformity of the size of my hand lettering so I was really happy with the last one. I like this style. I might use it on a few of my outgoing letters soon! (If I ever get to write them)

     I attended a Postcrossing meetup today. I will tell you about it in another post. We had a great time.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


It's that time again! June is the month where I participate in the Index Card a Day challenge, run by Tammy at Daisy Yellow. I have learned so much from participating in these challenges. If you've known me for a while, you have probably heard me say comments like "I'm really bad at visual things," "I can't draw," "Musically, I'm great with art- visually, not so much, " and the comments go on and on. Because I thought I was "bad," I just stopped creating altogether. Fortunately, I'm also a nerd who loves to learn at every opportunity. So, I have participated in this challenge for 3 years and have started to create art because I like it- and no other reason.
    Tammy gives a set of prompts at the beginning of each week. I will probably follow them because, let's face it, I'm a rule follower. :)  The prompt for 6/1 was mix tape. I wanted to just practice sketching. I struggle with symmetry so I will practice that a little this year.
Prompt #2 was pyramid. I made a little 3D pyramid with watercolors, and distress ink. T and D also jumped in and created with me. Tim's is on top "with amazing shadowing techniques, taught by my awesome art teacher, Mrs. Smith" and David's is a drawing colored with crayon.

   I will continue to share throughout June. Anyone who is popping over from my ICAD intro, feel free to share a link to your blog so people can look at your cards too. (Feel free to introduce yourself too!)