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!