Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old...

And in with the new! Yesterday I took down my Christmas decorations:Biscuit was very helpful (you can see) and supervised very nicely from his spot on the couch. My parents always make sure to take down the decorations before New Years because it is supposed to be bad luck to have the decorations up as you welcome the New Year. I have continued this tradition the past 4 years (it's kind of crazy to think this is the 4th year I've had my own tree! I'm really a grown-up I guess).

The only problem is now my living room looks empty. I moved the console table out of the bay window and onto the wall across from the couch to make room for the tree. But now I like the table where it is. So now I have a huge empty spot in front of the bay window. Any suggestions? I'm thinking two cute chairs would be nice, and add seating to my living room.

Happy New Year to you all! I'm celebrating tonight with friends and going out downtown. Hope everyone has a safe and happy new year and I will see you again in 2011!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Biscuit!! (I changed his name, Chip just didn't suit him. He is much more a Biscuit). He is adorable and sooooo sweet! Here is in chillin' in his crate with his lion:Here he is pulling on the leash not wanting to go for a walk:
Rolling around in the grass (aka, not wanting to walk on the leash):
Basking in the sunlight in the kitchen:
With his toys:
He blends in perfectly with my carpet!

What do you think?? He is so adorable and already making big progress. This morning after he ate, he barked so I took him outside and he peed! Small things like that just make me even more excited to have him. Can't wait to teach him fun tricks and go meet cute boys at the dog park ;)

Latest home purchase

Since I knew I was getting Biscuit (formerly know as Chip), I knew I would need to spruce up my home cleaning closet. I had a broom, Swiffer, and a few cleaning products. But anyone who has a dog that spends any time inside knows, that would not be enough. So I headed to my favorite place in the world to see what I could find.It's a little hard to see in the picture, but this is the Libman Freedom Spray mop. It is the coolest thing! You fill the reservoir with whatever cleaning product you would like (mine has regular Pine-Sol and water), then the trigger sprays it directly on the floor. It's like a Swiffer wet jet, but the pad is removable, reusable and washable AND you get to use whatever cleaner you want. So fun! I know, I sound like a total weird-o raving about this spray mop. But seriously, it is so easy to use and gets the job done.

This leads me back to sweet little Biscuit. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and was trying to go back to sleep when I was thinking "do I smell dog poo?" YUP. A bark and a few minutes later, I stumble downstairs to see that Biscuit has gotten himself out of his crate and pooped all over the place. I was sort of relieved because he hadn't pooped since he had gotten home and I was a little worried. But then that feeling was soon overtaken with a "what the f! how do I clean up all this poop?" feeling. Luckily I just whipped out my Libman spray mop and all is well! And I'm prepared for the next time. In the time being, Biscuit's crate has now been wired shut so he can't escape :)

**disclaimer: I was not contacted/compensated in anyway by Libman for this review

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My new baby

Is this little guy:His name is Chip. I found him on while we were out of school for snow days. Instantly, I fell in love. Isn't he precious??? He's a 10 lb. toy poodle. So adorable! He's coming on on Tuesday and I can't wait!!

This is where he'll stay:
He's all set up. Crate (with cozy bedding), food and water bowl. I didn't take a picture, but naturally I bought the cutest boy collar/leash available. Having a boy will definitely save me money- the boy dog clothes are not that great. This guy will be going au naturel!

Here's a close-up of his toy basket:
He's got a squeaky turtle, tug rope, some catch and release toy (it said it was good for bonding) and a squeaky lion. The lion is my favorite. Hopefully he'll love them!

I'll be crating Chip while I'm at school, then rushing home in the afternoon to take care of him. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I'm super excited. Do you all have any advice? I've been around dogs my whole life but this is my first venture into "parenting." I can definitely use your advice!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What flavor pop-tart?

Another super funny thing happened at school today, so of course I have to blog about it. I know you all love reading my crazy school stories. Admit it. It was a half day today because they are expecting ice/freezing rain/sleet later in the afternoon. Half days are usually crazy because they're long enough that the kids start getting crazy, but short enough that we don't really get anything done. I basically feel like I'm babysitting on half days. Today was really no different.

After brunch, I took my kids to the gym so they could run around for a bit. My friend and fellow teacher Hannah also brought her class. She teaches special ed, so has a much smaller class and my kids are very good with her kids. They were all running around, shooting baskets, having a great time. One of her kids, I'll call JJ, was hanging around us constantly saying "I want a pop tart! I want a pop tart!" Not in a whiny or demanding way, more of in a I'm playing a game with you way.

So I played along and said "I don't have a pop tart silly. Where would I get a pop-tart?" His response: "your nose."

umm, okay, why do I have a pop tart in my nose? Again, remember this kid has intellectual disabilities, but he knew he was being silly.

Still playing along, I pretended to give him a pop-tart (from my nose, ew) and gave it to him. "Yumm!" he says, "so good!" I then naturally ask what flavor it is.

His answer?


Wow, how was your monkey flavored pop-tart there JJ? Too funny!! Hannah and I both burst out laughing. It was so funny. Hopefully you find it funny too and not just strange. Maybe you had to be there, but trust me, it was hilarious!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do you use Ebates?

If you aren't using Ebates, you are losing money every time you shop online. This site is awesome! You sign up totally free, and then anytime you shop online just log on to Ebates first. You get a percentage of cash back for each purchase made, plus they list all the current online coupons. I saved my dad over $65 when he got a coat for my sister because I used 2 coupon codes from Ebates. So awesome! Check it out!

Simon & Garfunkel chicken

This is a favorite family recipe that I thought I would share with you. It gets its name because it has "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" in it (like the song, get it?!?). You start by marinating chicken in buttermilk. I like to poke some holes in the chicken to really help the milk soak in. You can do this a few hours before, but it is best several hours. I usually put the chicken in the buttermilk in the morning, throw it in the fridge, then it's ready to go when I get home. Then you mix together Italian breadcrumbs, add in some sage and rosemary. I like to also add some parmesan cheese to make it just a bit cheesy, then you also don't need salt. Coat the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, bake at 375 until done. Sorry I don't have a more definite time for you, but it totally depends on the size of your chicken (you can see from the picture, mine tonight is HUGE), the thickness, etc. You can tell its done when you press on the thickest part and it does not really go down a whole lot. Apparently it should feel like the palm of your hand, or something like that.

Enjoy! Like I said, this is a favorite recipe and one I make all the time. The leftovers are super yummy as well!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day!!!

This is what my driveway looked like at approximately 3:30pm:Since then, it has continued to snow! There's about 2 inches on the ground and school is cancelled for tomorrow!! Snow days are even more fun as a teacher, because you get paid to be at home. My plan for the day? Bake chocolate chip cookies, work-out (those 2 things don't necessarily go together, ha!), and work on my kids' christmas presents.

Is it snowing where you are? Don't forget to "follow" my blog so that you get updates on new blog posts!!

Happy Holidays!

This is the view from my living room couch. I would go outside and take a picture, so you can see how beautiful my tree looks from the outside, but it is currently 15 degrees outside. So you'll just have to take my word for it!

The tree went up promptly the day AFTER Thanksgiving. I don't believe in celebrating Christmas until all earlier holidays have passed. So that Friday morning, I woke up and eagerly pulled all my decorations out of the closet. Turns out, I have quite a stash! My house is looking quite cheery and bright these days. I've baked Christmas cookies, made some peppermint bark and have a good stock of homemade soup in the freezer. Martha Stewart would be so proud!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The secret to my success

We have had a rough couple of days at school. Nothing horrible, just the kids have been very "tattle-y", arguing over little things, and forgetting simple procedures. All of a sudden they stopped writing their names on papers. The rough days this year would have been good days last year. But this group of kids is so different, and for the most part things have been going along fabulously. So again, not horrible, but just not our usual greatness.

I remembered someone telling me, the secret to a well-run classroom is organization and planning. So I looked back at my plans. They weren't great. I had to take a step back and realize, ok Ms. H, the reason things are not going well is because I am not well planned. So I stayed a little later yesterday and got things in order. The result? A better day today!

I realized it doesn't take a magician to make us have a good day. All it takes is a little extra effort on my part and a little more planning. When the kids know what to do and how to do it, they behave. They want to do well. They want to succeed. And I want to help them do that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

snow day!!!

Okay, not really. But our city did get it's first "snow" of the season this weekend. It snowed on Sunday but did not really stick to the ground. But oh boy, were the kids talking about it Monday morning! Then during our morning work, one of my kids shouted out "Ms. H, it's snowing!" I thought, no way. It is not snowing. I rolled the shade up to prove that it was in fact, not snowing.

Insert foot in mouth HERE.

IT WAS SNOWING!! Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go out in the snow before lunch. I was praying all during lunch that it would keep going so the kids could go out in it. Luckily, my good snow thoughts paid off. We bundled up and headed out into the "snow."

Turns out the playground is even funner in the snow! We of course had to have a little mini-lesson on not picking up the snow, not eating the snow, and not making snow balls (not that there was enough, but I wanted to cover all the bases). It was so much fun to see the kids running around in the fluffy white stuff. You can see from the above picture that it melted under their feet, but it was still pretty fun. I guess it brings out the kid in all of us.
The slide is SUPER fast in the snow! Seriously, the kids were flying on this thing! They would come shooting off and land about 2 feet from the bottom. I was a little scared someone was going to get hurt but they just laughed and laughed. So sweet.

I hope it snows a little more so that we can make some snow angels and even a snowman. Those are educational, right? I mean, a snowman is make of spheres...

Last year, I discovered that snow days are even more fun as a teacher. You get paid to be at home, drink some hot chocolate, and lounge around in your p.j.s. But there can be too much of a good thing. Last year we had TOO MANY snow days and had to make them up by adding time to the end of the school day (7:45am-4:15pm is no fun with Kindergarten!). This year I'm hoping for exactly 5 snow days, the time our calendar has "built in". What would you do on a snow day??

Friday, December 3, 2010

A quick glimpse...

A quick glimpse inside my classroom right now and you would see 15 (2 are absent) children playing at their "centers." Some are playing with a marble track. Some are playing trains or puzzles, or are at home living. And some are playing with the same giant cardboard blocks that I played with as a child.

In just a second, the clean-up music will come on and they will clean-up; time to pack-up and go home. But for right now they are all playing sweetly. And it is awesome.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Back

Every year, my family goes to the mall and selects an angel off the Salvation Army Angel Tree. This is a great organization that collects gifts and necessities for needy children and families. My mom and I got 2 angels- a 5 year old girl and a 6 year old boy. I was praying that I didn't see any names I recognized while looking through the angels. These kids are my kids. I sent the flyer home from school about how families can sign up. It breaks my heart to know that some of my kids will not get Christmas. But I do what I can for them at school. Anyways, here's our load from Target:
We loaded up! Each kid got a new coat, pants and shirt. They also got 2-3 toys off their "wish list." It felt so good and it was so fun to pick out toys for these needy kids.

It felt so good that when I brought the goods back to the mall, I couldn't resist and got another angel! This time, a 9 month old little girl. Here's her stuff:
Again, so much fun to do the shopping. It took me a while because I had to make sure that everything matched, lol. I kept finding something just a little bit cuter than the last, and I would have to put things back. Eventually, I ended up with a good amount of stuff that both fulfilled her "needs" and her little "wish list".

Have you adopted an angel? Find your local Salvation Army, I'll bet they do it! And check out local grocery stores for ways to donate food for holiday meals for needy families. Happy giving!

Happy Crafty-days!

This is what my dining room looks like right now:It has been taken over by crafting. I love my house, but I don't really have a good space to keep my craft things out all the time. But since it's the holidays and holidays=crafting, my dining room has been transformed. Having 5 days off from school (dare I say it, I'm bored) has inspired me to do some crafting. Here's what I've been working on:
UK themed ornaments. They need to be glossed and have a ribbon hanger added, but they turned out pretty cute!
Holiday note cards

Close-up of my favorite cards. Maybe you'll get one in the mail!

My holiday decorations are up (yay!), pictures to come soon. What about you? Have the holidays gotten you into a crafty mood? I would love to see what you're working on!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

If this isn't Thanksgiving, I don't know what is!

This is actually a picture of the turkey I made for my Friends' Thanksgiving, but whatever. I'm in the process of cooking ANOTHER turkey right now, because I didn't have sufficient leftovers the first time :)

Our actual Thanksgiving day was very low-key. I woke up late (yay!) and put my breakfast casserole in the oven to take to a friend's house. We go over every year for the Boulevard Bolt and then have brunch after the race. Because of my back, I didn't race. But I have to say- sleeping in made up for the disappointment over not racing! Brunch was delicious as always, and it was great to see friends that we only see once a year.

After brunch, we headed down to Monteagle to my cousin's house. We had a nice relaxing dinner and spent some good quality time with family. I was back home in my p.j's by 6:30pm (which was great because a huge storm swept in!). Friday morning I went for a great hike at Radnor and then took my pretend brother and sister to go see the new Harry Potter movie.

All in all, it's been a great holiday long-weekend and it's only mid-day Saturday! Wonder what the rest of the weekend will bring?

Monday, November 22, 2010

SUPER thankful!

I got some news today that I have to share with you all. Maybe you know that last year my big brother Jay was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Exactly a year ago we were having Thanksgiving at a friend's house because we were all too preoccupied to think about cooking a huge dinner. Jay had to leave early because he had just had his first (of eight) rounds of chemotherapy.

But I'm super happy to report that Jay is CANCER FREE!!!! I got the news at school and totally teared up for a bit. It is crazy to think how exactly a year ago he was just getting sick and now he's back to (relative) normal. I am just so thankful that he was a true warrior and fought it like crazy. And I'm thankful that he inspired me to join Team in Training where I met several amazing people. I ran last year's Country Music Half Marathon in honor of Jay and all people who are fighting/have fought cancer.

So now this Thanksgiving I have something new to be thankful for! Love you Jay (even though you probably won't read this, and even if you do you'll make fun of me, but I guess that's what big brothers are for).
at his college graduation (2005)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Leaning Tower of Clare

This has become me. I am the "leaning tower of Clare" (thanks Mom for coming up with such a catchy catch phrase!). In case you're a little confused, here's the back story.

When I was five my doctor discovered that I had scoliosis, where the spine curves. In my case, my spine curves and causes my right shoulder to drop down. It is pretty rare for such a young child to have scoliosis, so further tests were done and it was determined that I have a brain abnormality that caused the scoliosis. Basically, my brain is too big and does not fit in my scull. Awesome. Luckily, this problem was fixed and I'm pretty much good to go. I can never go skydiving or play football, but my words to my doctor (at the age of 5) were: "But Dr. Smith, I'm a girl." As in, who cares if I can never play football?

So my brain is good. Big and it makes my neck a little weird in the back, but good otherwise. The scoliosis however, which is pretty much a secondary condition, is not so good. When I was younger I wore a back brace to prevent the curve from progressing. This worked for a while, but you can only wear it while you're growing. I wore it for 12 hours/day for 7-8 years. I stopped wearing it when I was 15 and for about 9-10 years my spine was stable.

Well, over the past year and a half, I have been having progressively worse back pain. At first it was just every once in a while, when I twisted in a weird way. Now it's pretty much non-stop, all the time, chronic pain. Not any fun. And it makes me act and live like an 80 year old. Not the way a fun, vibrant, 20-something should live. I went to the doctor 2 months ago and we found out that my curve has progressed. It is compressing my right lung and causing so much pain, so we decided surgery was the best option.

So, in May 2011 I will no longer be the "leaning tower of Clare." I will be the new and improved, straightened, hopefully an inch taller Clare. Of course I'm not looking forward to a week in the hospital (Children's hospital! but that's another post) or being out of commission for at least 6-8 weeks. But in the long run, this is a good thing and what has to be done.

I of course will be blogging as much as possible during my recuperation. And you should know that my kids are super cute about everything. When my back is hurting and I'm sitting down, they're like "you're sitting because you're back hurts?" or "You're not doing jumping jacks with us because your back hurts?" They are precious. I dread missing the last 2 weeks of school with them, but it is better than missing the beginning of next school year.

So there you go, my complicated medical history in a (somewhat) brief blog post. More to come later. Specifically, why I'll be at Children's hospital for the surgery and not the main hospital. It is an interesting story and will definitely be an interesting experience. Stay tuned!

Around the House

I've been a homeowner for almost a year and a half. And I've finally realized that since I'm living alone, there's no one else around to do the house work. It's all just me. Dishes still in the sink a week later? Dust gathering on every surface? No one around to blame but myself.

My friend Tara created a cleaning schedule for her and her fiance. They've decided to tackle one area of cleaning every day, sort of spreading the work out over the week. I'm not like that. Once I start cleaning, there is no stopping. It all has to get done all at the same time. I'm a frantic cleaner. Wonder where I get that...? (DAD)

Here are the things I don't really mind doing:
changing the sheets/making the bed
wiping countertops
cleaning the toilet (odd I know, but I don't mind it)

Here are the things I would rather have a root canal in exchange for:
mopping the floors
unloading the dishwasher

Looking at the list of undesirables, a funny thing stands out. This morning I was making my usual Sunday morning HC, but the dishwasher was full/clean. I got a mug out, put it in the micro for 2 min, then begrudgingly unloaded the dishwasher. I finished before the microwave beeped. It took less than 2 minutes! Why is something I hate to do so much take so little time? I realized, maybe it isn't so bad. Maybe I just need to get over it and make sure it gets done. And I can reward myself with a cup of hot chocolate after.

What household chores do you like/hate?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Look

Now that I've been blogging for a little while, I decided it was time for a facelift. I've upgraded from a template on to one I downloaded from the internet. What do you think? I'm still learning about all this blog stuff, but it's kind of fun to experiment. And this design definitely fits the kindergarten teacher theme I have going here.

Thoughts? Advice?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nap Time = Good time

My kids are ALL asleep right now. All 17 of them are sleeping soundly. We had our school dedication assembly today, which meant that I didn't get a lunch or planning break. The PE teacher came to sit with them while I took a small break. When I came back, they were all asleep. It's a miracle! Most of them usually sleep, but there's always a couple that just roll around. PE teacher said they fought it, but eventually just fell right to sleep.

It's so sweet. Makes me realize just how young they really are. And how much I love them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Proud Moment

I wanted to share with you a proud moment I just had in my classroom. During one of my reading groups today, my middle group was working on a new book. The new book doesn't have pictures above the words (rebus) so it is a little harder for the kids. They have to look at the first letter of the word and then try and figure out the word from looking at the picture. When I asked R how he figured out a word, this is what I got:

me: "R, how did you figure out that word?:

R: (looking at me like I'm an idiot for asking such a silly question) "Because I can read."

That's when I about fell on the floor. My kids are reading!!! It was so sweet and such a simple answer. Of course, what I was looking for was for him to say he was looking at the first letter, looking for picture clues, etc. I do want them to be aware that there are strategies they know and can use for reading. But for him to just know that he can read, made me a proud teacher :)

p.s. stay tuned for a post on my latest trip- New Orleans!! a post totally NOT about teaching! lol

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! (a few weeks early)

This is what my grocery cart looked like the other day. The woman at Kroger was like "you're getting ready for Thanksgiving early!" Actually, no, since the turkey is currently in the oven as I type.

My friends are coming over tonight to have a "friends' Thanksgiving." We wanted to get together to celebrate the holiday, but didn't want to interfere with anyone's family plans. So we're going to hang out tonight and stuff our faces. What more could we be thankful for?

In honor of the holiday, here are a few things I truly am thankful for:

my 17 precious students
all 600 students at my school
my family
my awesome friends
having a job
being in (reasonably) good health

What are you thankful for? Anyone have any special ways of celebrating Thanksgiving? I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Teach: Tony Danza

I just happened to be browsing through the TV guide a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon this. It's a reality/documentary series about Tony Danza and it chronicles his life as he begins teaching high school English in Philadelphia. Apparently he wanted to be a teacher while in college, but life took a different path (hello Hollywood!).

It is amazing! I would recommend it to all my teacher friends. It's very inspiring to watch, but also good to know that even someone as famous and successful as Tony Danza can struggle in the classroom. Sometimes I cringe while watching because I know he's making a mistake. Luckily he has a fabulous support system around him to help him out. It is very inspiring to watch and see how much he loves his kids. And I know he'll appreciate in a few years having his first year teaching documented for him.

That's part of why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. I wish I had started last year, so that I would have my first year of teaching on record. But at least I can have my second, right?? And maybe since last year was so tough, it's better to not remember everything ;)

Check out "Teach: Tony Danza"- it comes on Friday nights on A&E. And then try and tell me you're not inspired to help your local school.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bonjour Canada!

You might be thinking, Canada? How does that apply to teaching? It doesn't- this is a teaching-free post!! I know, can you believe it? I'm actually posting about something other than teaching. However, teaching does play into this because over Fall Break (a whole week off!!) I got to go visit my sister.

My sister is 3 years younger than I am, so she's fresh out of college. She went straight into grad school at McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec. To reference Glee, "she's the smart one. I'm the pretty and smart one." No, just kidding JC! I love you and you are both smart and pretty :)

It was a fabulous visit- we had great weather to walk around, tons of time to visit and catch up, and I got to see her in her "element." All in all, a great visit.

Me in front of the pretty fall foliage on campus

Olympic Park- this is the stadium and observatory tower from the 1976 Olympics

This is the view on the way up to the top of the tower

My lil sis at the cool farmer's market. We spent the afternoon wandering around and had the most delicious crepes for lunch- yum!

And then we had '80s night. Here we are in our '80s glory!

One of the coolest parts of the trip was the whole "bilingual country" thing. Everyone in Montreal speaks French AND English. I mean, I speak English and I studied French, but I can't switch between the two very easily. My mind either is thinking English or French. Well people in Montreal just switch back and forth mid sentence with each other. It is the coolest thing! I was trying really hard not to stare at a bunch of girls on the subway, but it was so fascinating!! If you don't speak French, you're ok because everyone that you would deal with (waiters, store people, etc.) speaks both and welcomes you with "Bonjour, hi!" So cool

Monday, November 1, 2010

warning: another funny teacher story!

I know I said I would blog about ALL the things in my life, not just teaching. But since teaching is 99% of my life, my blog posts are 99% about teaching! lol

I've blogged about the signs in my class bathroom before. Remember how it has explicit directions on how to use the restroom? Well, apparently the picture directions are not enough. Because they are still peeing on the seat!! Except that today, when a kid would go in and then come right back out because of pee on the seat, I made the previous child go in and clean it up. I had to shout...I mean, explain several times that if you make a mess in the bathroom, YOU have to clean it up.

In this explanation, I told the kids that nobody wants to see your pee on the toilet. Nobody likes that. And then here's where I went wrong. I then said that I use that bathroom and that I don't want to see your pee on the seat. Ooops. Wrong thing to tell the kiddos.

me: "I use that bathroom too. I don't want to see your pee on the seat."
child: "you go to the bathroom??"
me: "yes, I do."
child: "Do you stand up or sit down?"

Yikes. This is not the time to have a why do girls sit down, why do boys stand up conversation. Instead I just reiterated that NOBODY wants to see your pee and you need to clean it up. Hopefully this got the message across!! Time will only tell.

check back soon- I'll be posting about my trip to Montreal to see my sister! And if you're reading this post, PLEASE "follow" my blog. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cupcake Nirvana

Last week a bunch of my friends had a movie night at their house. We watched "Bednobs and Broomsticks"- a Disney classic starring Angela Lansbury. The movie was good (very '70s), but the best part of the night was the dessert.

My friend Tara posted about these cupcakes a few weeks ago. Since I read her blog, I knew I had to try these, I just needed an excuse to make them. And then I was invited to movie night. Perfect timing!

These are chocolate-chip cookie-dough cupcakes. You read that right. As in, everything you love about cookie dough in a cupcake form. You make cookie dough (but instead of eggs, use milk because they don't cook all the way) and freeze it into little balls like so:
Then you just mix up your favorite vanilla cake mix. Pour it 2/3 full into cupcake liners and add a little frozen ball of chocolate-chip goodness in the middle:
When they've finished baking, they look like this in the middle:
Can you say amazing?? This one doesn't have frosting because I was so excited I couldn't wait any longer. I decided to see what they looked like inside before I devoured this "sample". Below we have the final product, complete with cookie-dough buttercream (brown sugar and vanilla makes it taste like cookie dough!).
They were a huge hit! It made about 22 cupcakes, enough for me to take to movie night, leave some leftovers for the boys and still have leftovers for me (and my roomie). You can check out the blog where Tara got the recipe here. If you're even thinking about making them, stop thinking. Just go get 5 sticks of butter and dive right in! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sometimes, you just have to spell it out

I teach Kindergarten. Duh, you knew that. But I bet you didn't know how explicit I have to be when I give directions. As in, before you go to your seat, make sure you stand up. Simple things. Things that come naturally as an adult but have to be spelled out for 5 year olds. Take the bathroom for example.

I'm working in a beautiful new building. Everything in my room is beautiful and new and pristine. And I would like for it to stay that while for at least a little while. Including the bathroom. So on the wall in my bathroom is this:

The girls' sign is pretty straight forward. It just helps them remember to close the door and pull their pants up before they come out. (Which they forget all the time). But take a closer look at boy's step 4:
Apparently this is a hard step to master. They pee ALL OVER THE PLACE!! Like seriously, how hard is it to pee in the toilet? A few days ago during rest time a girl when in, then came right back out saying "Teacher, they're pee in the bathroom!" I went in, and sure enough, pee all over the place. Pee that could only have come from a boy. I immediately summoned all my boys to come to the bathroom, where I proceeded to give a lesson on how to use the toilet the correct way.

Hopefully now they get it. This was their 2nd bathroom lesson. They'll probably forget again. But at least they have nice step-by-step instructions to help them out if they forget!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What ever happened to fall?

I posted a little while ago about the lovely fall plants that I put out on my back patio. Beautiful orange and yellow mums that just scream "fall!" But I forgot to tell you what I saw when I walked into Home Depot that saturday morning in SEPTEMBER:
SEPTEMBER! It wasn't even October yet, and they already had Christmas stuff up. There was one small corner full of fall/Halloween stuff (which you can't see in the picture), but the rest of the "seasonal" area was covered in Christmas. I mean, hello! Why can't we celebrate the season that we're actually in? I am a firm believer in this.

I refused to put up Halloween decorations (not a ton, just a few little pumpkin things) until October. And promptly on November 1 they will all be put away. Christmas stuff cannot come out until the day AFTER Thanksgiving, and not a minute sooner. Am I the only one who does this? Because according to Home Depot, people are already decorating for Christmas.

This week I taught my students about fall colors by making paper chains. They had to pick 2 colors to make a A-B pattern with (integrating Social Studies and Math, go me!). We are enjoying learning about fall and will talk about the winter holidays when it actually is winter. Until then, we're celebrating Fall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

too funny not to post

I've posted about the funny things my kids say before. I hear it all the time. And I wish I could remember even a small amount of the funny things they say. I don't always remember but I did get a good one from today:

boy: "Can I go wash my hands?" (sure, this question seems harmless enough. read on.)
me: "It's rest time, why do you need to wash your hands?"
boy: " 'cause I digged in my nose and there was boogers."

This is an exact quote. I even wrote it down so I would remember. Too funny! These kids crack me up. I had to stop myself from laughing while I told him yes, please go wash your hands. And don't "dig" in your nose anymore!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy Fall Y'all!

It was officially the start of fall this past week. I love fall, for so many reasons. Sweaters, cold nights, peppermint hot chocolate @ Starbucks, the colors, I could keep going. It may be my favorite time of year (Spring is a close contender). The weather here has been FABULOUS, so I went to Home Depot last weekend to work on sprucing up my outdoor space.

Let me first say that I do have a back patio, but I don't really use it. I wish I did. I wish I was the kind of person to sit out there and read a book or have a nice meal. But I don't have the right patio furniture. I just haven't found anything that I love. So I have this table (in the picture) and that's about it.

But don't the mums look nice? They were on sale at Home Depot= score! And the window that you see in the picture is at my kitchen sink. So when I'm doing dishes, I can look outside and enjoy the pretty view. So happy fall y'all!

p.s. if you are reading this, please become a follower of my blog!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sometimes you just need to hear it

I love my job. As much as I can sometimes complain about it, as much as it saps every bit of energy out of me, and as much pain as it puts me in (physical pain from a bad back, but that's another story) I do love it. And I love my kids. I know that I'm doing a good job and making a difference in these kids' lives. But sometimes it is just good to hear that from other people.

This afternoon I was on my way out the building and popped my head in my principal's office, just to tell her a quick thing. That "quick thing" turned into a 25+ minute long conversation. But I didn't mind because part of that conversation centered around her telling me that she has noticed all the hard work (and it's been a lot!) and that she recognizes I am doing a good job. So much so that she wants another teacher to come watch and observe me. As in, learn from me. ME! A 2nd year teacher!

It just felt so good to hear that from my administrator. Teaching can be a very solitary profession, you're stuck in your room almost all day long with no other adults. But to know that she knows I'm doing a good job, it just made me feel good. And it makes all the long hours, hard work and effort much more worth it. Now I'm actually sad that I'm taking tomorrow off because that is a day missed with my kids. But I know that I'll be back on Wednesday...and it'll be great :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Kindergarten is like the ocean..."

Browsing through the tv channels tonight, I stumbled upon "Kindergarten Cop." This 1990 classic stars Arnold Schwartzeneggar as an undercover cop posing as a Kindergarten teacher.

I had forgotten how much I love this movie (for the ridiculous-ness of it, of course!). And now that I actually teach Kindergarten, I appreciate it on a whole new level.

Two minutes into watching, I hear this: "Kindergarten is like the ocean, you never want to turn your back on it." My fellow teacher friends, you can appreciate the accurateness of this quote :)

My new favorite place

Is this:
Can you say amazing?? Radnor Lake is only about 5-10 minutes from my house, but a world away. It has a nice easy walking trail that goes around the lake, and some more strenuous trails that go up in the hills. I have become obsessed and usually go twice a week (weekends) for a good workout. Since I had to stop running because of my back issues, this has become my new cardio routine. It is SO much better than walking on a treadmill or even around my neighborhood.

When I did Team in Training (for the half marathon), they told me that iPods were not allowed during training. WHAT?!?! I thought. No iPod? How do I distract myself from the boredom and pain of running 7+ miles? The reason they give is that running without music gives you time to think in your head, work through thoughts, etc. and you become stronger mentally.

Now I get it. Two weeks ago I went to Radnor and ended up walking/hiking for an hour and a half. By myself. With no music. And it was great! So much time to think through all the things going on in my life, time to enjoy the nature and the beautiful weather. My work week is so busy and chaotic dealing with my students, it was so nice to be alone and just think.

Oh, and I saw this:
It's hard to tell because I didn't want to get too close at the risk of being creepy, but it's the cutest old couple EVER!! They were so sweet going on their Sunday walk together and holding hands.

Are there any nature areas/hiking places where you are? Check them out, they are great!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not Your Usual Gas Station

Across the street from my church is this gas station. Back when gas cost $3.50+/gallon, they had a funny sign that read: "regular- arm, plus- leg, ultra- first born". Walking back to my car from getting frozen yogurt, I saw this sign. So simple, yet sometimes so hard.

My first thought was to apply this to my every day life. Everyone can stand to be a little bit kinder to everyone they meet. You never know when it is going to make someone's day.

My second thought was to apply this to my school life. Somedays it is VERY hard to be kind to my students. Not usually just one kid, but as a collective whole it is hard. Sometimes it is because I am in a bad mood (for whatever reason), often it is because they not doing what I want them to do. But seeing this sign made me think, what if I'm just a little bit kinder to them?

My kids come from a rough area. They don't have a lot of kindness in their life. I can change that. I can be a little bit kinder to them.

Think about the people in your life. Is there someone you can be a little bit kinder to? (and yes, I realize I ended the last sentence with a preposition. If my father the English major reads this, sorry Dad)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Donors Choose

When I first got a job as a public school teacher, my friend Hillary told me about It is an organization where teachers can create a "project" (sort of like writing a grant) and people can go online and donate money to help their classrooms.

Check out my donor's choose website! I have had several people donate to fund my project, but am still $164 away from my goal. The cool thing about Donors Choose is that people can search for projects by region. I have had several anonymous people donate simply because they wanted to help a school in Middle TN. It's an awesome organization and I have several friends that have benefitted from it.

So spread the word! Help my project get funded and help some super cute kids in the process!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Funny things kids say

People ask me all the time if my kids say funny things. Hello! Of course they do, they are 5 years old. They are hilarious! I can be so mad at something that has happened, and it only takes one little comment to turn everything around. There is no way I can remember all the funny comments, but here are some of my favorites:

"criss cross applesauce, spoons in your bowl" (meaning sit on the floor, hands in your lap)

"these are my white buttons, these are my green buttons, these are my funny white buttons" (during a sorting by color activity)

"it smells like hand sanitizer!" (upon receiving a good behavior certificate)

"Ms. Harbison, you ok?" (during rest time, totally out of the blue)

"that yo' mama?!?!?" (when my mom came and brought cupcakes for the first time)

"Ms. Harbison you look like a vampire" (this one may be the most random)

"Ms. Harbison, you sound like a real teacher." (Did I sound pretend before??)

I'm sure there will be more and I will add to the list as the year goes on. One of the reasons I'm blogging is so I can look back and remember this school year. So stay tuned for more hilarious kindergarten comments!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Teacher "perks"

We all know teachers are not in it for the money. If you want to be rich and never worry about finances, do not be a teacher. I (and all my colleagues) do not do it for the money, we do it because we love what we do. You have to love it to be surrounded by 15 whiny 5 year olds all day long and willingly go back for more. And I do seriously love it (sometimes I have to remind myself of it though!).

But there are some "perks" that come along with being a teacher. I've discovered there are many places that offer teacher discounts/benefits. Here's what I've found so far:

1. IRS- you can get a tax refund on school supplies that you buy. Last year I got $250 back!!
2. JCrew- 10% off, makes a bigger difference than you would think
3. Ann Taylor LOFT- 15% off if you join the "Loft Loves Teachers" club, and you get extra coupons throughout the year
4. various bookstores- range from 10-20% off, depending on the store. Most only off the discount on books for your class, but hey, a discount is a discount!
5. Sprint- not sure about other cell phone carriers, but Sprint gives you 15% off
6. YMCA- 20% off. It's actually cheaper for me to belong to all the Y's in my area now rather than just my center :)

Any other great discounts that you know about?? We teachers can use every extra penny!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When a teacher gets sick...

It's not a good thing. For the past 2 days, I have looked like this. You know you feel bad when people come up and go "you feeling okay?" Actually no, I feel like crap. Thanks for asking. I've been going in between feeling like my head is in a vice and being a balloon (like it's just floating above my head). My throat is on fire and my eyes hurt. The worst part is I don't have a fever so I can't in my head justify calling in a sub. So I've been at school. And it's been rough.

When you're a lawyer and you're sick, you can cancel meetings. You can sit in the darkness and people will realize you're sick and leave you alone. 5 year olds don't leave you alone. And every single thing they do that is even a little annoying when you're feeling 150%, is magnified times a million when you feel like doo-doo. I'm embarrassed to say that I lost it today with my kids (well, for me I lost it. Another teacher may not have even noticed, but I did). I was short with them. I know I was not as nice as I usually am. And I know the kids did not have as much fun.

The thing is, looking back over the day, it wasn't horrible. Sure, some kids were running around in the bathroom and some were talking in the hall. But overall, they were actually pretty good. It's me that was not so good. I wasn't feeling well but I don't need to take it out on the kids. This is a personal goal of mine. There are going to be days that I don't feel well, things are not going right, etc. But that is not the kids fault. I owe it to these sweet children to put aside how I'm feeling and focus on them. Because I love my job. Even when I feel like crap.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Arrington Vineyards

Saturday evening, a bunch of friends went out to Arrington Vineyards (owned by Kix Brooks, from Brooks and Dunn) to celebrate my friend Kelly's birthday. It was awesome!

the view- pretty spectacular!

We had a great time at the wine tasting and the just enjoyed sitting outside, listening to the music and hanging out. I brought along some brie and crackers (yum!) and a friend of Kelly's brought the birthday cake. It was a very fun civilized birthday party!

the awesome birthday girl

Kelly and I did the Music City 1/2 Marathon together with Team in Training. She is amazing! A year ago she was going through her first chemo treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and now a year later she is double fisting wine celebrating her 25th birthday! I am so glad I have gotten to know her over the past year. She has become a great friend and it was a great night out to celebrate her life. Love you Kelly!!

Shakespeare in the Park

Friday night my dad joined me for Shakespeare in the Park. The weather was FABULOUS (low 70's) and we had a great picnic dinner and enjoyed the play. It was "Love's Labor Lost", which I wasn't too familiar with. The play was alright, but the best part was just being outside enjoying the atmosphere. It's a pretty cool thing that the Nashville Shakespeare Festival puts on every year. Next year's production is "Romeo and Juliette"...already looking forward to that one! This year's show runs through Sept. 12, check it out!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Saturday Morning

I woke up this morning at 8:00am. Not too bad considering I usually wake up at 5:45, but I wish I could have slept a little later. Once I wake up, I am up. There is no going back to sleep. There is no dozing. I am either awake or asleep. So once I woke up this morning I was like "okay, now what?" I wasn't working out with my trainer until 11, so I had plenty of time for this:

Blueberry Pancakes!

I haven't had pancakes in forever, and let me tell you they were fabulous! Used the multi-grain pancake mix from Trader Joe's. Added some cinnamon (because who doesn't love cinnamon?) and fresh blueberries. It was a great morning to sit on the couch, eat my pancakes and catch up on my DVR. Gotta love Saturday mornings!!