Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Day After Thanksgiving

We have been busy! My husband is the Grand-Master Dickens Village creator. Here's the process:

Take down the "Cabin by the Lake" print and put up the Dickens Village painting.
Add the wood base and boards for height.

Add quilt batting and begin placing houses, roads, bridges.

Lighted houses means lots of cords!

T adding the characters, lamps, trees.

A sparkling Dickens Village complete with snow, ready for Christmas.

I love Blythe Pond

The Watch-maker and The Old Curiosity Shop are our favorites.

The Village Church next to Ebnezer's house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It's the night before Thanksgiving... and we've been busy. Tomorrow morning is the Turkey Bowl, the annual kids' football game that our son has hosted since his son was three. Lots of little children get out in the yard and play football for an hour, then we all eat breakfast together. Totally fun, although this year our son suggested calling it the Gravy Bowl since the rain has made the yard into a mud hole. But that won't stop the action tomorrow... no sir-ee! And we can't wait! I'm so thankful to be able to enjoy this time with our children and grandchildren.

School was only a half-day. I left within 30 minutes of the last bell. Couldn't wait. Went to Trader Joe's for a case of spiced cider then to Costco for several other things. Since I went when I did, it wasn't a horrible experience. Got home and have had a great evening, working on making our home more enjoyable for the little ones who are coming to stay.

We've been converting my husband's office into our grandchildren's bedroom and playroom and we are close to finished. Here's the latest:

Toys, Books, Fun for Little Ones

Dollhouse for Gracie and her cousins to enjoy

Eliott's bed, complete with the baby quilt my husband used as a baby.

Gracie's bed, with a sweet white teddy bear

We are so excited to have these sweet children come stay with us for six weeks. What fun we will have together! They arrive in 27 days - but who's counting; you bet I am! I am so grateful for my family, so blessed that we love each other and want to be together. There are far too many families who do not. Yep, I am living in a state of gratitude.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting Ready!

December 20th, one month from today, our son, daughter-in-law, and two adorable grandchildren will arrive from France to stay with us for six weeks! Hooray! We have been changing furniture in various rooms and picking up things that we think we will need. Friday, the church that has been meeting at our school prepared for a 'moving party' as they leave our school for a budget-wise transitional place before moving into their new building. Among the freebies: a high chair, a dinosaur rug, a little tykes play table with drawers, a large doll house with all kinds of accessories, a big (as in laundry basket size) bin of duplos, a toddler race car set, books and other miscellaneous toys. And yes, all these things have a new home in our home.

Saturday, I sanded, stained and sealed the old crib that I found on Craig's List. Today I asked my hubby to stop at Target so I could pick up some crib bedding. I finished quickly and was ready to head out when he mentioned wanting to check out the toys. Guess who's almost finished with Christmas shopping?! Amazing! This is so much fun!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Prove it

Have you ever read something about teaching and come away feeling really satisfied because you got there on your own? That's how I feel about this. I've been teaching my writing through literature this way for quite some time. The assigned essays always come from the literature students are reading, and students must always prove it, whatever it is. Right now I have students who have chosen, The Land, The Giver, The Same Stuff as Stars, Archer's Quest, and White Fang. One of their essays involves showing the effect society has on the character of the protagonist. Another deals with the ending of a book, that it ought to conclude, not simply stop abruptly. We always look back to A Wrinkle in Time when we talk about this essay because that was the number one complaint students had of this book. There are always a few students who get it. They realize I'm allowing them to express their opinion. But there is one way I go after this, and I repeat it with every essay. I say, "So this is your opinion. Is your opinion right or wrong? Neither, it's your opinion. Do I have to agree? No, but what do you have to do? Right... you have to prove it. Prove your point with evidence from the novel or other sources." And some of them do it, while others just write a summary of the plot (irritating) and receive a C- at best. But that's okay; they are getting exposed to this manner of writing, and I am hopeful that they will eventually catch on. I always ask the students to bring in their essays early. I put them in groups and have them edit and discuss their writing. Often I extend the deadline after this experience. It depends on what I see happening in the group. Anyway, I love what I get from about 70 percent of my classes. It's a good thing to know they can prove it!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A New Blog

My daughter-in-law was born and raised in the Middle East. One of her best friends married a few years ago and recently moved to Niger. They are a great young couple, and I have been following their blog. Really rich reading; I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Finished, I hope

I am hoping and praying that my students have finally finished all their Halloween candy and will be somewhat normal on Monday. Last week was really a ridiculous week. Having Halloween on a Monday night is just about one of the worst things that can happen to junior high students and therefore, to their teachers! By Friday, I was so tired. About 11 o'clock in the morning, I called my hubby, the high school principal, and gave him some suggestions about what he could do with my students. It was that bad. They were simply not capable of calming down. After school, I came home, sat in a recliner for about an hour, then fixed taco salads for dinner. Quick and easy. I then went back to the recliner and didn't move again until bedtime.

Today was another tiring day but for a completely different reason. A couple weeks ago, my mother's dishwasher went on the blink and ruined a section of her hardwood floors. Mom's house dates from the late 1940's and the dining room floors were amazing. She decided to pull up all the carpets and have them refinished. A really smart move. They are gorgeous. She's been in a hotel for four nights (she wouldn't stay with us, didn't want to disturb us) and I helped her get back home today. But we couldn't walk on the floors until after 1 o'clock this afternoon so first we raked leaves in her front yard. After that we went to her church for their annual bazaar. Lots of handmade goodies, toys, and such. We each spent less than $20. Not bad. Then we went across the street to Lincoln Elementary for their annual toys and books sale. I got a box of books and several nice toys for $20! The books were a steal, nearly all hardback picture books for my little ones who are coming in a few weeks. Have you priced little kids' books these days? They are so expensive. I think I bought close to $150 worth for that 20 dollar bill! After lunch and a quick trip to the store, Mother and I went back to her house. We dusted walls and doors, got the pictures back up, rehung the drapes, and created enough room in each bedroom so she could watch TV in one and sleep in the other. We can't put furniture back in her living and dining rooms until Sunday evening and may wait until Monday after school. We'll see. She's just so glad to be back home.

Another good thing is that today/tomorrow is Fall Back! I love adding an hour of sleep to my day and of all times to do it, this week is perfect.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


When my friend, Shannon, posted that she was ready to begin her 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo, part of me wanted to cry! I am not ready to write, even though I love it. Not ready to blog faithfully, even though I did it last year. That was last year and things have changed! We are doing pretty well these days. T is healing, face is nicely healed, leg is fine... that wrist still screams at him from time to time, but he is so much better. First quarter ended yesterday and I uploaded grades last night. Started with a clean slate today and some of my students were grateful for the new opportunity. I have a week and a half until conferences. I'll say nothing of those.... nothing... my mother always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I love my mother. And she is right.

My 8th graders are back in novels of their choice, and the 7th graders are working through parts of speech. My writer's workshop kids are tearing things up! They love writing and I love that they love it! I can't wait to do "monikers" tomorrow. It's a fun little exercise with names. Yesterday we talked about puns and they each came up with five. Some were hilarious and others were quite painful. My favorite assignment that I have them write is the letter to themselves - 15 years from now. But they won't get that assignment for a few weeks, after Thanksgiving. January is going to be poetry, every day, from the beginning of the month to the end of the 2nd quarter. I found a sample unit online from NYC that I am hoping to apply to some of the projects I have used in the past.

The big news is that those two little kids pictured in my previous post are going to have a baby brother or sister in May. Yeah... can you say three under three? My kids can! And I can't wait!