Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Thoughts (aka Reasons to be Thankful)

Truly, there are too many reasons to be thankful to possibly mention them all. These are just a few highlights (in no particular order)....

Reason #1: My family. Many of them are sick with various illnesses, but I can't help but think that I am blessed to have them in my life....better to have them in my life and be worried about their health than to not be graced with their presence.

Reason #2: This piece of writing that a student wrote at Thanksgiving: I am thankful for my teacher, Mrs. S because she is SO SO SO nice. I am lucky you are my teacher this year, and I can't wait to go back to school after Thanksgiving. You are the BEST! 1 + 1 = 2 just like me and you. Love, K." If that isn't reason enough to continue to teach than I don't know what is.

Reason #3: This note, from a parent, sent to me after report cards were delivered: " Dear Mrs. S, Thank you for the hard work you do every day in 3S! D loves coming to school and looks forward to learning something new everyday! Now that's ACHIEVEMENT! Gratefully, B." Again, if that isn't reason eough to continue to teach....

Reason #4: My husband. Words can't begin to describe how blessed I feel to have him in my life. We have been trying to conceive since August, and haven't managed to yet. Through my highs and my lows over the past few months, he has been my rock, my support, my soulmate and my love. I am astounded that I could love him any more than I did the day I married him, yet somehow I do.

There you have I said, there are many more....but here are some reasons why I am thankful as we come ever closer to a new year....

Monday, December 18, 2006

Our tree!

So here it is....our second tree as a married couple and our first as homeowners. I'm not really sure why the picture is so crooked, except thatI was taking it while simultaneously trying to reach for the phone that had just started ringing and keep the camera's strap from getting in the picture.
It should be noted that I didn't take a picture of the bottom of the tree--that's because here it is, only seven days until Christmas (I have a chorus of third graders who count it down for me every day so I'm well aware of the number of shopping days left!) and we just started our shopping. As in this past Friday and Saturday. Considering our tardiness (where did the time go!?!?) we managed to get quite a bit done, and even better, managed to get some really lovely gifts that we are rather excited to give.
I should also say that because we have been so busy with life, Russ and I both weren't feeling the Christmas spirit. But there's something about listening to holiday music, decorating a tree and drinking hot cocoa laced with a candy cane that very quickly gets you in the spirit.....that and braving the holiday crowds to elbow your way through crowded stores while debating the merits of each individual gift you are buying!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I'm not sure exactly when this happened....but lately I find myself expressing opinions that clearly indicate that I have become that person. That jaded and cynical person. Who am I? Where did this come from? I'm not really sure, but whoever she is, she seems to be popping out more and more lately.

Rather than explaining why I'm so jaded (a long and convoluted story) I decided instead to tell the story about why and how I became a teacher. It is a much better story after all. And far more suited to the season....

His name was Greg. He was what we now term special ed. but back then was called a far more unkind word--retarded. He was the boy that looked a little different, smelled a little off and acted a little weird. He would yell at the teachers. Not just yell, but YELL. And curse. Oh my, he would curse at the teachers. Me? I was shy and quiet. My nose always buried in a book, always willing to do ANYTHING to please the teachers. Never wanted to bother anyone.

And Greg had the biggest crush on me.

I have no idea why he picked me. Why he surveyed the crowd and decided to shower his affections on me, the girl who barely spoke is beyond reason or explanation. But he did. And when I say showered, I do mean it. He brought in chocolates. And balloons. And wrote me cards. And made me presents. And chased after me. And talked to me constantly. And did all the things that I would have loved as a single 21 year old (back when I was a single 21 year old) but absolutely hated as a painfully shy 8 year old.
Third graders being the way they are (some things never change), I got teased. Horribly teased. I remember crying-- a lot.

Her name was Mrs. L. She was my teacher, and a kinder, gentler soul definitely does not exist. There was a day when the affections were particulary vocal and the teasing was particularly horrible.... I remember it was a sunny day, but beyond that I can't recall any specifics. Mrs. L decided it was time to go outside, and rather than letting me run off crying (as I was about to do) she sat me down on a seat outside and taught me a lesson. Now, I don't remember her words, but her message was clear. Respect differences. Be kind to everyone, no matter what they look like or how others treat them. Don't let others form your opinions for you. In short, be a good person, always to everyone.

I don't know if it was that exact moment that it coalesced in me to become a teacher fact, I'm almost sure it wasn't. But I do know that by the time I was in fourth grade I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. And I never wavered from my conviction once. I knew, back then and even more so today, that if I could make a difference in just one child's life, the way Mrs. L made a difference in mine, then I would have lived a life worth living. And then I would have changed the world.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nothing like being put in your place

It is the start of a lesson, and as I sit down on my chair in front of my students (we do many of our lessons on the carpet) I let out a big sigh....
Me: Gosh, boys and girls, I'm really tired.
C (a male student): That's because you're old!
J (another male student): Doooh! C! You aren't supposed to SAY things like that!
C: (looking slightly confused....he is a foreigner and as of two years ago never spoke any English at all. Apparently he didn't know this social rule.) Huh? Why not?
Me: Besides, I'm not THAT old!
The rest of the class: breaks out into laughter and the start of the lesson is clearly lost.....

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tis the season

I recently spent time partaking in one of my favorite activities....browsing books. Not just any books, children's literature. It's the season--the book fair is in town!
There's something about book fairs that always bring me back to being a kid. Do you remember that excitement of knowing that soon you'd be let loose in a room full of books with money to spend and no one to tell you what you had to buy? I remember clutching my money tightly in hand, choosing more books than I could afford than agonizing over which ones to buy before finally narrowing it down to the one or two I could get. My, how I loved the book fair at school.

Now I get to watch my students go through this same process. It's still just as much fun for me too, because I get to create a teacher wish list, and am lucky enough that I often get many books purchased for me by my students. Of course, I also get to shop. This year I managed to buy books for Russ, my nieces and my student teacher.
There is a problem with the book fair....yes, there really is. Now they offer other items. Things that kids naturally gravitate towards. Things that teachers roll their eyes at and say "Why do they put these things at the book fair!?!" Yes, it's true, I am turning into one of those people who wishes that their students didn't buy erasers that look and sound like screwdrivers, pencil toppers that don't actually sit on the pencil, pens with fuzzy head tops that just get in the way....these are the things that I end up confiscating and hiding in my drawer.
So here is my message: Books! The book fair should be about books! Don't buy toys! Buy books!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Umm....WHAT did you say!?!?

Today my student teacher was in the midst of a spelling lesson on making words. The students had a bunch of letters in front of them and they were given directions to switch around, add and remove letters in order to make new words. Now that you know the background, here is what I overheard while working at my desk:

Student Teacher: OK boys and girls, now that you spelled city, take away the c and add a t.
I'll give you a minute to think about that....yup, that's right....
Student A: tity??
Student B: Tity! I got it, it's tity!
Student C: Tity!
Students D-I: Tity! Tity! Tity!
Me: Miss R, aren't there more directions?
Student Teacher: Umm yeah, boys and girls, take away one of the t's and add an n.
The word was supposed to be tiny.

I held my laughter in all the way down the stairs, and into the office. Where I promptly told the entire story to a colleague with tears running down my face.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Recently, at a school sponsored parent-teacher gathering, we ran into people we haven't seen in awhile---spouses. Actually, the last time we socialized with many of these spouses was at a wedding this past summer when we were in the throes of fixing up our house and every day was a new adventure. So it was basically all we talked about. And there was a lot to say. This summer it seemed like something new was happening every day. I remember when Russ and I would spend the evening checking off all the things we had accomplished that day.
Then work got in the way. Russ got a new job, school started, open house happened, then conferences....not to mention contract he's in the middle of report cards while I'm gearing up for them. Housework has stalled. (Stalled sounds so much more hopeful than stopped, don't you think? Stopped is Stalled means it will restart again. At some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later.) Anyways, you can guess what happened at the party Friday night. Everyone asked about the house. Here's how the conversations went: (yes, plural. This one conversation was repeated at least four times, with some variations.)

Friend: So, how's the housework going?
Russ or I: Well.......(long pause) it's going. (Instantly jump into a bit of a defensive mode) You know, we got so much done this summer, basically redid the whole kitchen, and now, with school and everything..... (voice trails off) Well, we haven't gotten much done lately.
Friend: (Aiding us in justifying the fact that there is an ever increasing list of work to do) It's so hard with school.
Russ or I: Exactly. He got the new job, and had to finish off the old, it was hard. And she's been so busy with the contract. And lately it's just been all about the leaves! (Launch into a side track about raking that lasts a minute.) We'll get to the work. We're thinking Thanksgiving will be a good time to get some work done.
Friend: That's a great idea. Then you'll have some days off.

You get the gist I'm sure.

We left the party feeling exhausted (of course, it was a Friday night after all) but also strangely motivated. No, we didn't rush home and pick up our screw driver and paint brush and get to work. But we did start talking about a serious plan to get moving on some of the projects. If the leaves would just stop falling, it might actually happen!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The great leaf debate

Last weekend, we attacked the leaves that have been collecting on our lawn. Well, actually, I attacked the leaves with some enthusiasm while Russ cursed. Everything. The leaves, the trees for having so many leaves, the wind for shaking down the leaves, the quarter acre lot our house sits on for collecting so many leaves.....(Keep in mind the poor man was sick, but he honestly wasn't outside for more than an hour, while I spent considerably more time raking and hauling. Actually, he only came outside after I started using his brand new blower. Presumably he was checking on me to see how it was going--it wasn't--and ended up taking over and using the leaf blower himself. Which I happily gave up for my good old fashioned, wooden rake.)
At one point while raking, in an effort to distract him, I started asking him his opinion on the leaf debate: do you rake a few weekends in a row, collecting the leaves that have fallen, or wait until all the leaves all fall before doing one huge raking session. He was too miserable and cold at that point to really participate though so I never got a clear cut answer. I brought the question up at school and half of my male colleagues (that would be two men, I do after all work in an elementary school!) thought you should rake a few weekends in a row.
After the ordeal we went through last weekend (there are, no joke, mountains of leaves threatening, with one swift gust of wind, to come through the barbed wire fence onto our yard again) I'm inclined to agree with them.
And the worst part is, we still aren't even halfway done with raking our yard, so we'll be out there again this weekend. Raking and hauling. Hauling and raking.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Yet another classic third grade moment...

Friday afternoon I'm sitting at my computer as my student teacher finishes up a lesson. She asks the class to line up, which they do. All except for A. Who, for unknown reasons, wanders over to me. Here's what she had to say:
A: "Mrs. S, you have a really long gray hair right there." (Pointing to my head.)
Me: "Thanks A, I've got a few of them....go line up please."
A: "Yeah, wait, I see some, two, three, four, five, six...."
Me: "Thanks A, you can stop counting now. Line up please."
A: "Why do you have so many gray hairs? Aren't you too young for them? My Mom doesn't even have that many."
Me: "A, line up now."
A: "What's the matter Mrs. S?"
Me: "Nothing, A....I'd just like you to line up now, it's time for gym."

Again, nothing like third graders to share their honesty with you....

Friday, October 27, 2006

A scene in a third grade classroom

Picture this: I am standing before a group of twenty three third graders. They are reasonably silent because they are munching on various snacks-- apples, doritos, yogurt...the usual. I am holding several new books that just came in from our new book order, eager to share them with my students. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: "So, boys and girls, this author also wrote Frindle, The School Story and Janitor's Boy...." I trail off as a hand shoots in the air. Thinking I am going to hear about one of the books I just mentioned (you may not know them but they are great books, and third graders love them!) I call on the student. "Yes, S?"
S: "Mrs. S, I think something's wrong with your neck, it's all red."
Me: "Hmmm, well, I don't know what's wrong, I'm sure it's fine. Back to this book, it says it's a mystery or two, which is making me wonder why the author...." I trail off again, as another hand shoots in the air. Thinking that this student might notice that I just used one of our more recent reading comprehension words and have something to add, I call on him.
M: "Mrs. S, I think you have a rash, your neck is splotchy."
Me: "Yes, S just said that, I don't know what it is, but I'm, anyways, as I was saying, if you enjoy mysteries, or this author, then you'll probably enjoy this new book. The next books are a series, do you know the Black Lagoon Series?" Several hands shoot in the air, as soon as I say that. I choose one.
K: "Mrs. S, your neck is red, are you OK?"
Me: AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! (That was in my head.) What I said was: "OK, boys and girls, I understand that my neck is red, I feel just fine, I don't know why it's red, but I'm sure it will go away."

Third graders.....

Friday, October 20, 2006

Working within the system

At one point in college I was about five minutes away from getting arrested. Shocking, right? Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not the getting arrested type. Well, we were staging a demonstration. A sit in to be precise. We walked into the Admissions office and sat ourselves down until someone listened to what we were saying. Interestingly, it wasn't the threat of arrest that drew us out of that building, but the threat of expulsion. Even then, crazy college kids that we were, we knew that in order to get things done we needed to work within the system. To a certain extent. And there is no way you can do that if you are kicked out of that system.
It might have been a hard won lesson, but it was a lesson learned nonetheless. But sometimes, the system is really really really frustrating. For the past seven months I've been involved with contract negotiations for our district. We recently had a meeting for mediation. A fifteen and a half hour long meeting. (Yes you read that right. It started at 4:00 and ended at 7:30 the next morning. The most amazing part is not that it lasted that long but that I made it through the whole meeting caffeine free!) And in the end we walked away. With, essentially, nothing. Why you ask? Well, simply put, we didn't like what they had to offer. And that's putting it mildly. We couldn't stage a sit in, but we sure could walk out. So that's what we did. Knowing that we had to start all over again. Knowing that our next step, arbitration, was a crapshoot. Knowing that in the end the people we represent won't be happy with what we end up with....we walked away. Sometimes, even when you are working within the system, you need to send a strong message.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Life, in a Nutshell

BareNaked Ladies, has a song titled Life, In a Nutshell. I'm not sure why this post, as it formulates in my head, makes me think of that song, but it does.
Awhile ago, Russ drove home with a brand new car. In the midst of driving around the block with him at 10:00 at night, it hit me, my god we've moved quickly. In three years we've met, gotten engaged, moved in together, gotten married, bought a house, and are now trying to start a family. As I write that, it sounds like a lot, but it all feels so natural. What amazes me is how each journey we take together is all so new. Meeting and getting married was so....big. Taking that step, knowing it was forever. It seems like everything else after that shouldn't feel as big as that moment (except for maybe giving birth). But somehow, looking for a new house, redoing a kitchen, buying a car....these all somehow feel like big moments too.
Sometimes I look at veteran colleagues and I wonder if they remember what it was like to be where we are now. Does it get any better than this? I can't imagine it could it? But then I think about three years ago, when we met, and I thought that way then. And two years ago when we got engaged and I was convinced that was the best feeling....then a year ago when we got married I figured that was it, I was on top of the world and no way could it get better. And somehow it does.
I started this post, not really knowing where it was going, but determined to follow it to its end and here I am. Amazed, once again, at how life marches on and somehow gets better and better the older you get....

Friday, September 22, 2006

Intrinsic motivation

Any teacher will tell you- one of the most difficult things to do is to motivate the unmotivated. What do you do with a student who just doesn't seem interested in doing their work? Or, even worse, who is capable of so much more, but just doesn't put in the effort? How do you motivate them to achieve to their potential?
Elementary teachers have a variety of tricks up their sleeves, but occasionally, you encounter that student where none of your tricks seem to work. You end up doing backflips and cartwheels, singing and dancing and doing just about anything you can think of. Sometimes you get lucky. And sometimes you just don't.
I've encountered a similar problem recently....not with a student, but with a student teacher. For the third year running, I was asked to host a student teacher in my classroom. It's probably no surprise that I take this job very seriously, after all, this person will be launched into the education world with the practical skills they gain under my guidance. And I do mean practical. You can read all the theory books in the world, but you learn more from your first few days of teaching than any amount of schooling. You have to do it, to learn it.
Despite my gentle encouraging to be an active participant in the learning process, my most recent charge spent much of her time sitting. Now, this is not something she learned from me. I'm lucky if I manage to sit down for five minutes during snack. Upon seeing this, I chatted, kindly, with her about conferencing with the students during reading and writing workshop. The next day, I was pleased to see her sitting next to a student and chatting. For twenty minutes. My pleasure was short lived, especially when the very next day she returned to sitting at her desk. The last straw was when she taught her second ever spelling lesson sitting behind my desk. I was speechless. I was shocked. I was in a state of disbelief. I didn't know what to do.
Recognizing this as an opportunity for professional growth (because I had to refrain from telling her what I really thought and instead find a way to make her understand that this was unacceptable and it better never happen again) I sought the advice of a veteran colleague. We talked, she gave me advice and I listened.
After a lengthy conversation with my student teacher that involved me pulling out every sneaky conversational trick in the book, she came to understand that sitting and teaching just isn't a good idea. I waited-anxiously-to see her next lesson. Relief. She was more organized, better planned and on her feet.
Thinking I had solved the problem I mentally patted myself on the back and life in my third grade classroom continued.
For the most part, my student teacher has improved. As she's taken on more responsibility (which I admit I have been passing off very reluctantly. Control freak? Absolutely. Especially when it comes to my students!) she has gained more confidence and I see her style developing. But my goodness it scares me when I ask her if she needs the book for the weekend to plan her lessons and she tells me no.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


So, I just posted something new, and checked on my blog to be sure it was there and it wasn't! At least, it wasn't right up on top....I had created this post so long ago that when I finally posted it, the blogging gods put the post where it belonged chronologically--which is two posts down. It's titled adjustments, and yes, it is newly finished, even though the date on it is August 23rd.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's been so long....

It's been so long since I've posted that I barely know where to begin. In an effort to organize some thoughts:
  1. School has begun again (hence the reason why I haven't posted in so long). Between a brand new year, being overcommitted (as usual), having two new teammates and a student teacher....well, lately I'm lucky if I make it home before 8 pm.
  2. Russ has been teaching this whole time at his old district. They held him to his contract for thirty days. Understandable since he did get his new job very late in the game.....but frustrating nonetheless. He has been handling it far better than I would have though. Monday he begins in the same district as I. I must admit I am beyond excited about this event and a little nervous. I can't help but wonder if he'll like it, if he'll be happy there....I hope so because I know I am so happy that he will be there with me.
  3. The anniversary of 9/11 has passed. I had a hard time watching the news that day and found, once again, that the best antidote to sorrow is to spend time with kids. Interestingly, or perhaps disturbing, my current students barely know about 9/11. They were three or four when it them, it will be something that they read about in a history book. For me? I remember everything about that day. How do you explain to a group of third graders what happened and why? What do you say when they ask you why people jumped? How do you make sense of the senseless and still try to protect them? Somehow, someway, I did it. I'm not sure I did the best job I could have but I sure tried to let them know that they, at least, were safe. That the world doesn't make sense, but that there are things they can count on. Like their teacher.

There is more to say....there always is, but at least this is a start. Hopefully I'll be blogging more regularly now that a schedule and routine are (somewhat) established......

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Beginnings

August is slowly ending....summer is drawing to a close and fall is quietly tiptoeing in behind it. Back to school commercials are rampant (and have been for quite awhile much to my dismay)! Staples and Wal-Mart are overrun with frustrated parents and students clutching their supply lists. And of course, teachers.
It's always interesting being a teacher and wandering the school supply aisles at this time of the year. I often get funny looks as I throw ten packs of glue sticks in my cart, or eight packs of markers. Of course, I get to overhear all sorts of interesting conversations between children and parents too, and I'm often left chuckling to myself at the things I hear children say to convince their parents they absolutely positively must have something for school.
I'll admit it though, I get caught up in the excitement too. Interestingly, the traditions my parents started with us as children are still followed, by me at least! Growing up, we always went back to school shopping. We bought a new outfit to wear on the first day and stocked our backpacks with shiny new notebooks, sharpened pencils and markers. Once I became a teacher, I decided that every year I would make sure I have something new to wear on the first day of school, be it a new skirt, a fun shirt or some funky accessories. And I fill my cart (and my classroom) with shiny new markers and glue sticks, tape dispensers and stickers.
As I reflect on this cycle of new beginnings I am going through for the seventh year running I can't help but consider myself lucky. It is fun and invigorating to get a fresh start every year. To wipe the slate clean (pardon the pun!) and start new--a new group of students, a new classroom arrangement and a whole new chance to make a difference in someone's life. So, as summer draws to a close, rather than being sad (OK, I am a little sad) I am re-energized.


It's funny how when you first move somewhere--be it apartment, condo or house--you have to make adjustments. I don't just mean getting used to the creaks and groans any home makes, or getting used to the night sounds, or figuring out all of the light switches....I mean other things. The details that make up living in a home.
I've had to make a few adjustments, and am still trying to remember them!, since we've moved in. For example, when you close our back door, the knob is set just close enough to the door jamb that if you aren't careful you scrap your knuckles. It's only in the last few days that I haven't actually banged my hand and ended up muttering angrily at myself for not remembering to hold the handle differently. Also, at that same door, the lock is backwards. Whichever way you normally unlock a door, well, it's the opposite. That still confuses me!
Another adjustment has been shaving. Now, I love my clawfoot tub, but it isn't the most convenient for shaving my legs. First of all the curtain sticks to various parts of your body, secondly, there is nowhere to put your foot up to shave. So I'm left fighting the curtain and hopping a bit while I balance the tip of my big toe on the edge of the tub. Our cat has had to get used to the tub too. At our apartment she'd always jump up on the flat part and peek her furry little head around the curtain to check out what we were doing. (If cats can think than I could only imagine what she'd be wondering....) Now, she sits on the ground--right where you need to step when you get out of the shower--and meows plaintively at you until you reappear.

Of course, as I sat on my lawn this past weekend, doing some work and looking out at our lake (yes, I am very possessive) I couldn't help but think how incredibly lucky I am to be in this gorgeous house.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A whirlwind

(Note: Long post covering the last several days ahead!)
The past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. I got back from my conference and kicked into high gear: you know what that is, when you frantically run around cleaning everything in sight, purchasing enough food to feed an army and alternating between extreme panic to relative calm over the fact that in just a few short days guests will be descending on your house for the first time ever. Luckily for us, my husband and I alternated those moments of panic, otherwise our household really wouldn't have been a pretty place in the days leading up to our first housewarming. The day (Saturday) dawned sunny and bright, some last minute cleaning was done (I must have been crazy to let my husband talk me into purchasing a white bath mat. That thing has been cleaned more than my counters I think!) and we were ready to go.
The housewarming was, if I do say so myself, quite a success. A nice blend of family, friends and neighbors, one extreme bocci game and tons of yummy food. All went well and my husband and I realized that we could really get into this whole party thing (especially when you have your Moms bring some of the yummy food!)
Monday, I met my sister for lunch, follwed by a brief (but successful!) trip into this store and ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. It was a wonderful afternoon and one I wish I could repeat at least a dozen more times before school begins again.
Tuesday morning I awoke to a frantic phone call from my nieces were sick, she was throwing up and she needed help. I threw on my clothes and dashed over to my mom's house to help care for two of the cutest little girls around. Spending time with these two, even when they are sick, is always fun and makes my heart fill to bursting with love for them so it was a day well spent.
Wednesday is when the trouble began.....I woke up early, feeling a little nauseous. Convinced I had caught whatever my nieces had I called my Mom. That's right, I'm a thirty year old married woman who calls her mom when she's sick. C'mon, you know you do it too! Well, she was convinced it was morning sickness, despite my protests.
(No, I'm not making an announcement right now!) I got myself dressed and headed to my meeting, opting to skip my usual tea and the plain english muffin I had toasted. Well. I threw up three times. The first two I kept quiet about, but the third one was in front of everyone (the bathroom was occupied, it's not like I wanted to be heaving my guts out in front of a committee of my colleagues). After the third time I went home and crawled into bed where I spent a miserable day alternately sweating and feeling chilled, painfully aching in all of my joints and throwing up all over the floor (which my husband cleaned up without complaint. If ever there was any doubt about his love for me, I think that pretty much clears it up!)
Thursday morning dawned and I felt (almost) human. It might have had something to do with the fact that I ate absolutely nothing the day before so there was nothing in my stomach to throw up. My husband had an interview in the same school district I teach in and I did manage, in my half asleep state, to wish him good luck. Oh wait, did I mention that Thursday was my birthday? That's right, the big 30. I was so out of it for most of the day I almost forgot! Russ had planned a large dinner party involving parents and siblings. By midafternoon they were dropping like flies.....everyone was sick. We went from a dinner party of 12 to a dinner party of 6. But, at the end of the day, we had a lovely time and I even managed to eat some of everything! Plus, midway through the preparations Russ got a call: he got the job!!! All in all, a pretty fantastic day. Here's hoping I'm back to my (old) self tomorrow in time for my last wedding of the season!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bragging rights

Check it out, my brother's photo is on!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I just spent the past two and a half days at a CEA (CT Education Association) sponsored Summer Leadership Conference learning about health insurance. I have a few thoughts....not so much about the topic I chose to learn because not only was I the youngest teacher in the room, I was also the least knowledgeable and much of what was said was so far above my head I could barely make sense of it. No, I have some thoughts about casinos in general and this event in particular.

Let's start with casinos: whoever decided not to put clocks in them was clearly brilliant. I arrived Monday morning and left Wednesday afternoon and I can tell you that nothing ever changed the entire time I was there. The lights never dimmed, the music never stopped, the staff were never absent and the guests were always, always, gambling. The whole experience was, frankly, a little surreal. Logically, I knew I went to bed-twice, and woke up-twice. But there was no other way for me to tell the passing of time. And no, I didn't gamble once. Partly because our schedule was pretty full and partly because I'm just not a gambler and mostly because we just bought a house.

On to this conference: now, I am a teacher, which means volumes to some people and very little to others. One of the things that teachers do not get are very long lunches. During this conference I had an hour to an hour and a half to eat lunch. This meant, since it was a room full of teachers, that most of us finished in about ten to fifteen minutes and then sat around chatting for the rest of our time. I couldn't help but wonder if this is how things are done "in the real world". Do people in business really get hour long lunches? If so, what in the world do you do with yourself every day?

Also, being a teacher, I've never been exposed to "panels". I guess in the business sector that is how things are done, but I spent the last two and a half days looking at a panel of experts and listening to them as they spoke from their chairs about the topic. The idea of sitting and instructing is completely foreign to me. I have a desk, yes, and I do sit at it--before school and after school. There is very little time to sit at it during school (read: when my students are in the room). The topic this weekend was interesting, but I couldn't get over the fact that these experts essentially sat in a chair and talked at us all day long. I also can't imagine attending professional development during the school year and having that be the manner of instruction. Again, is that really how it's done in the business sector and if so how in the world do you keep yourself focused and attentive?

All that aside, I did learn a few things, which is always good, and I did get to stay at Foxwoods for free, in a nice big room all by myself (my roommate never showed up) so all in all, it wasn't such a bad three days.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A losing battle

While still living in our apartment, I decided to plant seedlings. Recognizing that I was a bit ambitious to try to begin a garden in our first house when it needed so much work inside, I nevertheless embraced this opportunity to have my very own garden. I went into this endeavor with more enthusiasm than knowledge, and relied heavily on advice from parents to help.
Well, the seedlings started to grow, along with the dreams of harvesting my own veggies to bring to family and friends and, of course, use in my own cooking. Shortly after closing on our house, I planted the seedlings in our newly tilled garden. And this is when I met my first obstacle.
A woodchuck.
See him in that tree? Yeah, he looks cute and furry and friendly. But he's not. Minutes, that's right minutes after I had planted the seedlings in the ground, that cute furry woodchuck came and ATE them! My zucchini were reduced to bare stalks and my cucumbers....eaten down to nubs. Not to be beaten my furry foe, my husband and I went to Home Depot and got a fence. We quickly erected the fence and I breathed a sigh of relief as, day after day, my plants seemed safe.
I was convinced my cucumbers would not recover, and worried that the zucchini were also doomed, but after a few weeks things started to grow. Convinced that the new growth had something to do with my care and attention, I bragged when squash flowers showed up and practically cheered when the very first baby cucumber recently appeared.
Apparently, my joy was short lived...that's right, a new critter, a mysterious beast, has been chomping (that's right chomping) on my gloriously lush veggies. Again, the zucchini and the cucumbers seem to be the victims, with the tomatoes and lettuce untouched. The worst part is that I can't even figure out what is eating my plants. Curiously, the top leaves are eaten off, while the bottom ones are untouched. My husband is convinced we have deer, which is entirely possible I guess, but why now? And how are they getting past the fence that surrounds our property? I still refuse to admit defeat and am now continually peeking out the window to see if I can catch the culprit in the act. I'm also fervently hoping the two baby cucumbers survive. The zucchini....well, if those grow it really will be a miracle at this point.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I got tagged for the first time! Thanks KTP!

Five items in my freezer:
1) Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby and Fossil Fuel (they were on sale!)
2) The metal bowl to our ice cream maker, just in case we decide to stop painting and unpacking and make ice cream.
3) Grappa (a gift).
4) Dumplings. (My Mom generously filled my freezer for me upon our move, and she knows how much my husband loves dumplings.)
5) Ice cube trays. (Not very exciting, I know.)

Five items in the closet: (The funny thing is, we don't really have closets. We have a closet in one bedroom upstairs, but it is currently empty. No other closets. The house was built in 1921....not sure how that explains things but that's the only explanation I can come up with. So, I'll do five items in my pantry. Remember, we just did major work on our house and we are still unpacking and working.)
1) Nails from 1921. (They were too cool to throw away.)
2) Plastic forks, cups, spoons, knives and plates.
3) Left over bag of chips from a lunch we ordered in ages ago.
4) Contractor garbage bags.
5) A tupperware container filled with sawdust, random screws and two boards. Really must throw that out now that those workers are gone....and maybe unpack the box labeled food and put it away in the pantry.

Five items in my car:
1) Pattern blocks (used them for summer school)
2) A bag of clothes that needs to be taken to Goodwill.
3) My Ipod.
4) An extra pair of sunglasses.
5) Mix CD's. (See Kelli, I have those too!)

Five items in my backpack:
1) Post it notes-with lines.
2) Markers, crayons and a glue stick. (Hey, I teach third grade, those items are a necessity!)
3) My plan book.
4) Advil. (Also a necessity for any teacher.)
5) At least one (usually more) professional book that I use for planning, or that I'm planning on reading.

Five people I tag:
Ummm....seeing as how all the people I would have tagged have done this already, I'm going to say no one right now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Weighty questions

It is amazing how moving generates some weighty questions. Such as, is it bad luck to throw away silver heart champagne flutes with your wedding date engraved on it? (Why was I throwing them away? Because they looked like this.) Or, do we really need to keep the beer mugs an ex gave my husband when we have even nicer Tiffany ones? Or, where should the entertainment center, DVD holder, extra chair, coffee table etc. go? And do we really want to stack the boxes filled with random items in the house on our newly refinished floor or should we just put them in the garage thus leaving us with 1) more opportunities to ignore said boxes and 2) the need to carry them in ourselves in order to unpack them, which of course makes #1 far more likely to happen?
In addition to these weighty questions, my poor husband had to deal with movers who showed up early and a counter man who showed up without a phone call so he was left sitting in our driveway waiting for my husband to figure out the largest question of all: how can you possibly be in two places at once? (You would think movers showing up early is a good thing, get everything done sooner, right? See, I had to teach summer school in the morning, and everything was perfectly timed and coordinated. Movers were to show up between 11-2, thus giving them time to show up and start loading the truck before I arrived at the apartment from school. The counter guy was under explicit instructions to call my husband's cell phone, thus giving him, or I, the opporutunity to get to the house and let him in. Apparently those explicit instructions were never communicated to him, so he spent a good twenty minutes sitting in the heat of his car waiting for us.) Despite all of the weighty questions, and the stress Russ had to endure the day of, we did manage to actually move into our house!
Now the adventure truly begins....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

This is it!

Today is The Day.
Today we are moving into our first HOUSE!

Excited? Just a little. (OK, A LOT!)
Nervous? Ehhh....not so much.
Exhausted from staying up all night frantically packing even when we ran out of boxes because there must be just one more basket or laundry basket or garbage bag that we could use to put stuff in.....definitely.

I will be sans internet for a little while (Comcast has some crazy rule that if you don't have cable at the residence then they are going to tack on ANOTHER fee to give you internet. It doesn't matter that you were a customer for years, or that there will already be a service technician visiting your house to set up the cable.....nope, another fee, so we are waiting until our cable is installed and active before we get internet.) But as soon as I get internet I will be sure to publish pictures (and stories!) about the big day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Reaching a turning point....

Recently, several very exciting things have been happening....We got walls in our kitchen! And....I painted what we were referring to as our green room a lovely red color--all by myself!

Now the first event, walls in the kitchen, may not seem very exciting, until you see some before and after pictures. Here's a before:

Pretty scary, huh? Actually....if I was going to get technical about things, this picture is really a before:

I have no idea what my husband is doing here, but note the vinyl tiles (we ripped up three layers of flooring, what a pain in the ankle that was!) and the bubble gum pink counter. Those cabinets you see were the original ones, installed in 1921!

And here is what it looks like with walls and a new hardwood floor (that hasn't been sanded or refinished yet):

You can see why this is so exciting to me....

Now for a before and after of the green room.....

(That wallpaper you see is now gone and the room has been repainted a lovely mushroomy-light-beigy color.)

And an after:

Progress is definitely happening....

Some more pictures of a beautiful day...

And here are the gardens I mentioned in my previous post.....gorgeous, no?!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Worth a thousand words

Picture this:
A garden, lush with blooming flowers of all colors, arranged in symmetrical squares neatly intersected with walkways. Green grass surrounding you, trees overhead. In the distance--rolling grass and then the ocean stretching as far as you can see. Framed in an archway of stone: a bride, in a dress of homemade lace, clinging tightly to her father's hand....
This actually happened. This moment that is forever etched in my memory. I wish I had a picture of it, but seeing as how I was one of the bridesmaids, watching this moment happen through my watery eyes I didn't capture it.

The day began with the ladies spending a day at the spa. There might be better ways to spend a sunny Saturday than with some wonderful women getting pampered and enjoying the sunshine in between treatments but I sure can't think of any!

The boys enjoyed the sun in their own way: playing wiffle ball and bocci.

After a ride on the limo bus:

We arrived at the wedding location: Harkness Memorial Park.

We went to our bridal suite where we proceeded to keep the bride calm, finish getting our make up done by Lisa from Trish McEvoy, get dressed, and, of course, drink some champagne.

The evening ended with a fantastic party, including a very special dance by the bride and groom and an even better speech by the best men. New friends were made, old ones reaquainted and everyone had a great time.

Congratulations Beth and Scott. I love you both.

PS--More pictures to follow as soon as I figure out why Ms. Blog refuses to publish my photos.....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Because everyone needs a feather boa...

It's astonishing that I haven't written about this event yet....but a few weeks ago was my sister-in-law's bachelorette. Unfortunately, I left my camera at the hotel (ahem, The Ritz that is) but I got a few pictures at the start of the evening.
We began the night at our suite at The Ritz with chocolate covered strawberries, champagne and a feather boa (amongst other "naughty" toys that were gifted to the bride-to-be, which were really not naughty at all now that I think about it), and the night just kept getting better.

Dinner at an amazing restaurant called 28 Degrees where we were treated to yummy martinis, made with fresh crushed fruit! After eating we headed to a club for some dancing then headed back to the Ritz to chow on some Doritos before sacking out on the very comfy bed. All in all, a night to remember!
One of the things I'm discovering about bachelorettes is that they can be so different from each other, but that in the end, it's always about the same thing: spending time with someone you care about and celebrating--not the life they are "leaving" behind, but the journey they are beginning. How could that be anything but an amazing time?!?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Some things I've learned....

A few things I've learned (because although I actually have TONS of things to post about, I'm way too tired to actually create a whole post and I've ignored my blog for way too long so this is all I've got).....

1) Woodchucks don't eat wood alone. Nope, they eat cucumber plants. And zucchini plants. That you have lovingly grown and watered and cheered over when they actually sprouted. All that means nothing to a woodchuck.

2) Closing on a house is not NEARLY as scary as going to the bank to withdraw the money to pay for said closing.

3) Home Depot does NOT fill propane tanks. And UHaul closes at 7 pm.

4) Gardening shoes really do serve a very valuable purpose, and definitely should be worn while gardening, otherwise you will ruin your one good pair of sneakers with mud and dehydrated cow manure.

5) Vichyssoise--that's how you spell it.

6) Picking paint colors is HARD!

7) When you are peeling wallpaper you have to absolutely soak the paper with something to remove it. And I do mean SOAK.

8) The newest Superman is quite attractive, although the movie went a bit too far with the whole leaving-you-hanging-so-they-can-create-another-movie bit.

9) J.K. Rowling is going to kill off TWO main characters in the final installment of the Harry Potter series. (Any guesses as to who that may be!?!)

10) Having a picnic on the floor with your family on the day you close on your first house will be remembered as one of the happiest days of your life.

It has been quite a journey these last few days....I promise to post more, soon.......

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

At the end....

I'm sitting here, surrounded by the accoutrements of a classroom, all haphazardly piled around me. Stacks of playing cards, cartons of crayons, files galore, a metal gecko, stamps, some Fantastic, two CD's on the latest version of the standardized tests, dry erase markers. Desks with chairs on them, empty for the first time in ten months......This is one of the hardest parts of being a teacher. This emptiness.

It's such a strange feeling to spend ten months of your life with these children that you come to love, and then, with the shrill of a bell, to say goodbye to them for the rest of their lives. Oh sure, I'll see them again in a few months, and they'll stay at this school for two more years. But I'll never see them the way I did for the last ten months.....As mine. They are on to greater things and they are no longer mine to worry about and think about, to make plans for and set goals with. They are no longer mine to laugh with, hug when they cry and give high fives to when they get 100% on a test. They are no longer mine to watch when their faces light up because they Got It. They are no longer mine to show them exciting books or teach them new things.

This is always when I wonder what they'll think of me years down the road. You know you do that, you talk about the teacher you had every now and again, less and less as you get older, but there are always a few that you mention. The ones that inspired you. Or the ones that you hated with a passion. This is when I wonder....What will they think of me down the road? How will they describe their year with me? Will they say I was kind? Or that I loved to write? Will they mention that I turned them on to that great book that they couldn't get enough of? Or will they remember me as uninteresting and uninspiring? A year wasted?

But I always come back to the same thing. If I have touched even one child's life in a positive, meaningful way; then my life will have been a success.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nuggets of thoughts

Here are a few nuggets of thoughts, since I haven't had time to create a post in quite some time.

Let's start with numbers:
2 --that's the number of days of school left. Yes, that's right, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is burning brightly.

7--that's the number of days until we close on our house. We got the word from the nice man at Liberty Bank-- paperwork is all in order, the appointment is set and we are moving full steam ahead. The only thing left to do is go and empty out our savings account for the downpayment.

A few other thoughts:
I discovered that Stoli Raspberry and soda is NOT as good as Stoli Raspberry and 7Up. Others disagree, sorry Mel and Kelli, but it definitely wasn't fruity and yummy enough for me.

Apparently I didn't need to worry about my green thumb. The seedlings I started are all growing beautifully. I took a picture a few days ago to post because I really am that excited about it but have yet to get around to actually posting it. I will though....

Yesterday I got to cook with herbs that I grew in my little deck garden. I was so excited I sang all the way down the hall, and all the way back to the kitchen. (Luckily for my husband our apartment is small so it wasn't that much singing.) Then I promptly waved my freshly cut herbs in Russ' face so that he would be properly impressed. He was.

Whenever I visit my Nonnie and I ask her how she's doing, she tells me she was waiting for me. It makes me smile and it breaks my heart all at the same time.

A few days ago I got to sit in on my first interview for a paraprofessional. Because I'm me I was totally thrilled by the opportunity, even though all I really did was, literally, sit there. I went in to thank my principal for the opportunity and he promptly invited me to sit in on another one. I don't have a big role, but it still feels rather special.

I have a 10:00 am meeting in the town I teach in the DAY AFTER SCHOOL ENDS. I'm focusing on the fact that I always go back to school the next day anyway and so it doesn't really matter, rather than the fact that the meetings REALLY DON'T END in my district.

I promise to post more, and more often, soon.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another year older....

Today is a special day.....the day that my husband celebrates his birthday--the first one of his where we celebrate as husband and wife. Happy Birthday Russ!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Spa, Some Ring Pops and more than a few martinis....

This weekend I attended my first of three bachelorette many of you know I am fortunate enough to be a bridesmaid in three weddings this summer. The showers for said weddings are almost over (one left this weekend) and now we are embarking on the bachelorette season....

Saturday afternoon a group of bridesmaids (all but two) met at a lovely spa for a treatment of our choice. (I got a massage. It was a good massage for the most part, although the woman was just a bit abrupt with her movements and had me gasping a few times as she attacked the knots in my back.) We were treated to lunch, wine and tea while we were there (very fancy I know)! Then we headed over to Maggie McFly's where we met up with the other two bridesmaids. Ring pops were distributed, martinis were ordered and a deck of bachelorette cards was passed around (Thank goodness we got a good natured waiter, who was willing not only to put up with our antics, but to actually participate!)....I won't bore you with the details but I will say that by the end of the evening I had come to one conclusion:

I really miss hanging out with my girlfriends.

I adore my husband and I love being with fact there are times when I feel I don't see him nearly enough (especially during the week when meetings and Tae Kwon Do classes keep us apart until later on at night). I also really love the few times we've gone out with other couples, that is always fun!

But there is something to be said for a group of women hanging out and laughing together. There are conversations that can only be had with other women, things men just wouldn't how you have to watch what you eat as bikini season approaches, or what kind of kiss you should do on the alter, or how it makes you nuts that your boyfriend/fiance/husband does _____(fill in the blank) but how great it is that he does ____ (fill in this blank too). These are things men just don't think about or just don't get.

So, here's a toast to all of my soon to be married friends, and all of the amazing women I'm blessed to count as my wouldn't be the same without you!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Simple joys

This past weekend I had the joy of hanging out with my nieces....It was hot and muggy and Juliette was rather determined to run through the sprinkler (the pool is not up and running yet, otherwise I suspect she would have dove right in).

She began-predictably- by running close enough to get a few drops of water on her legs and then dashing quickly away exclaiming "It's cold Mommy!" After a few minutes of this, and some verbal encouragement from the onlookers, she finally decided to dash all the way through the sprinkler. At first she held tightly to my sister's hand, and always made sure that my sister was closer to the sprinkler. Finally, she was courageous enough, or wet enough, to run through on her own and even reached a point where she would run up to the sprinkler, pause with her hands outstretched to catch the water, then run away again. She became thoroughly soaked and, also predictably, would run up to her Mom or Dad or Nonna and give them a BIG wet hug on a regular basis. She also giggled throughout the entire experience.

One of the reasons I love kids so much is the way they find such joy in life. Do you remember....
the thrill of running through a sprinkler on a hot day....
how fun it was to see who could spit the watermelon seeds the farthest.....
playing flashlight tag in the dark, convinced that behind every shadow lay something so spooky your imagination couldn't visualize it.....
waiting for the bus with your brother or sister and the talks you would have....
mixing your ice cream up so that it turned into a soupy, gloopy mess and then slurping it down.....
making mud pies....
making forts....
playing kickball at recess and hoping hoping hoping you wouldn't be picked last....
watching cartoons on a Saturday morning....
how exciting Christmas Eve was....
believing in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause....
sledding until your cheeks turned rosy and your fingers froze....

I'm sure I could come up with tons more memories that ring of childhood and all it's joys, but I'm also sure that you get the idea.

Thank God for children, who remind us to keep a little bit of the wonder and mystery and sheer unadulterated joy of childhood.....

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Because it's important to remember what this day is really about, why it started and who we have to thank for the blessings we live with every day...
Memorial Day History.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Let's talk numbers

Let's talk some numbers:
That's the number of days until the school year ends. Of course there's a lot to do before that date, but that's another train of thought....
Here's another number:
Now that's an exciting number. That's the number of days until Russ and I close on our first ever house. That's right, 29 days and we will be--if all goes well--very happy homeowners.

We are so filled with eager anticipation over this event it's been hard to contain ourselves. We've already done several drive by's of our new house- and I swear we get a thrill of excitement every time we see the Sold! sign sitting on the front lawn that will soon be ours. Our conversations lately revolve around what we'll leave behind....all the parts of apartment living that are just a bit incovenient.

Like the speed bumps. To get to our current apartment you have to go over six speed bumps. We'll be happy to leave that behind. And the fact that to get rid of our garbage we have to put it in our car, drive over to the dumpster, walk around the mounds of furniture the inconsiderate tenants have left laying around despite rather large signs warning them not to do so, and throw--no heave--it into the dumpster. We won't miss that either.

Don't get me wrong, this apartment is actually quite nice. There are several positive features, including easy access to a bike path that I have recently enjoyed run/walking on....and it will hold a special spot in my heart. It is, after all, where I lived when I became a wife to an amazing man. But we are ready to move on...

This weekend, I got to do something to prepare for the upcoming move into our house. Something I've been itching to do for quite some time now. I planted seeds! Yes! I am going to start a garden! Actually, I've already started one, as evidenced by the seed starter pots that are currently strewn all across my postage stamp sized deck. I'm so excited about this activity I can barely stand it....I loved gardening with my Dad when I was a little girl and now have visions of digging and weeding, planting and pruning in the sunshine, surrounded by birds and crickets seranading me as I look out over the gorgeous lake that is part of our backyard.

So far I've planted tons of seeds: cucumbers, buttercrunch lettuce (my favorite and normally only available at my father's garden), romaine lettuce, parsley, zucchini, chili peppers (Russ' request), basil, thyme, cilantro....and a handful of different flowers-courtesy of my mother in law. Oh, and at my parent's house I have rosemary and tomatoes. Waiting in the wings are pepper plants and sugar snap peas, and maybe another variety of basil or some other kinds of lettuce. I might even get some sage from my Dad if he can swing it....I'm not sure what I'll do with all of these veggies, especially since my husband doesn't really like vegetables...but he does like salad and I definitely planted the vegetables needed for that! Admittedly, I was worried that things wouldn't actually grow--hence the desire to plant lots and lots of stuff. I figure my odds of actually growing something increase with the more I plant. If everything ends up growing-well, at least I'll learn how to thin out plants!

Here's hoping my green thumb prevails, and the lessons I learned gardening with my Dad as a little girl serve me well as I plant my own garden and watch it grow.....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A true reaction...

OK, I'm literally watching American Idol as I type this....please, we all know I was going to write about the finale, so I figured I might as well start typing while I watch! It's not like I have papers to correct, quizzes to grade or lessons to plan....
The guys just sang...I have to say I thought they did a great job....I still think Chris should have been standing up there on the top two. As for Elliott- personally I think he was the underdog that surprised everyone by winding up in the top three. I liked him-bad teeth and all. Any man who cries on National t.v. is alright by me. I liked his duet with Mary J. Blige but I felt that he didn't get to sing enough. I mean, I know it's Mary J. Blige, but she's already succeeded, let Elliott have some of the spotlight!
(As an aside, the commercial for Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest came on....which I'm very excited about because it's one of the few movies my husband has actually agreed to take me to. He's doing this whole, I-hate-going-to-the-movies thing that even his parents were trying to get him to break out of. I'm also excited-for the same reason- for the X-Men III movie. That's definitely Russ' influence!)

I like all the singing but c'mon already, get to the RESULTS! Here's my prediction--before they announce the winner. I think that Chris should win. OK, OK, I know, he got kicked off already. OK, out of the two left- Taylor and Kat--I think Taylor should win. Before you moan in protest (honestly I don't like him all that much, he's just a little silly to me) but Kat? Well, she's a dime a dozen. We've had several women just like Kat win already....time for a breath of fresh air. Someone new and different. Someone totally unique. Taylor. However, I think that America has a love affair with women with C/K- names (Kelly...Carrie...) so I predict Kat will win. We shall see....

Oh, goodness, get rid of the COWBOYS and tell us who won already!

Here it is....TAYLOR!!! Wow! I was wrong. Wow. Never thought that America would vote for Taylor. Way to go Taylor let's see if you stick around or go the route of Reuben......

Monday, May 15, 2006


As I mentioned in my previous post, Russ and I babysat Juliette and Cosette this past weekend. While we were there, I noticed that there is a definite gender difference in our ability to translate baby language. Cosette is at that age where she is perfectly capable of communicating what she wants-without words-as long as you can understand her body language and whines. Here's how the conversation went:

Juliette has made her way over to the piano, climbed up on the bench and began is, banging, on the keys.

Cosette: toddles over to Uncle Russ. (Did I mention she's walking now?!? It's AMAZING!) She looks up at him, lifts her arms a little and says "Unnnhhh". (As an aside, Cosette has a definite attachment to her Uncle Russ, and he, just as clearly, adores her. It makes my heart melt every time they are together.)

Uncle Russ: bends down and says, "Hi Cosette."

Cosette: louder this time: "Unnhhh" as she buries her face in Uncle Russ' shins.

Me: "Honey, she wants you to pick her up."

Russ: "Oh" He picks her up.

Cosette: leans her body towards the piano and again says "Unnhhhh", this time in a slightly higher pitched tone.

Russ: A look of confusion on his face. "What do you want Cosette?"

Me: "Cosette wants to go to the piano, where Juliette is."

Russ: brings Cosette over to the piano where Juliette is still happily banging away, and continues to hold her, far above the keys or the bench.

Cosette: Leans down towards the keys and says, "Unnnhhh" this time with a definite tone of frustration.

Me: (before he can even express confusion) "Sweetie, I think Cosette wants to sit next to Juliette."

Russ: puts her down on the bench.

Cosette: begins happily banging away on the piano keys along with her big sister.

See? Clearly, Cosette wanted to be somewhere, doing something, and she managed to communicate that wish to Uncle Russ. Luckily for her, Auntie Lisa was nearby and able to translate her wishes....

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What a Week! (or: Why I haven't posted in awhile)

This has been A Week...not a week. But A Week. Just to give you a snapshot of what's been happening in my life-here it is, a week in the life of a third grade teacher:

Monday: wait, what did I have Monday? Geez, that was so long ago I barely remember...wait... it's coming to me....oh yeah, meeting after school with the Superintendent and some Central Office staff followed by a short "emergency" meeting of the FEA Executive Board.

Tuesday: tutoring in the morning before school starts, an afternoon spent scoring writing prompts, followed by a meeting with my team, followed by a faculty meeting, followed by a meeting to review and revise the school handbook. I then drove to my Mom's house to pick up the supplies for my in school Mother's Day project. Then I finally got to go home.

Wednesday: meeting after school to discuss an upcoming bridal shower for a wedding I'm in. A meeting which lasted FOREVER.

Thursday: tutoring after school followed by a series of errands--to prepare for a baby shower I was partly responsible for that was happening on Friday and for my weekend activities.

Friday: baby shower in the morning (OK, OK, this was fun, but still something that took me away from getting work done). After school I drove to Cromwell for the CEA Representative Assembly. The assembly began at 7:30 and continued until 11. An overnight stay at the hotel and I was ready for...

Saturday: part two of the Representative Assembly. Starting at 9 and lasting until 3. (As an aside, I did win an award for a newsletter I created. Admittedly, it was just an honorable mention, but still, in the entire state of CT, a newsletter I created won an award. I still feel that is pretty cool. However, I didn't realize that this meant I'd have to sit AT the podium while all of the newsletter awards were presented. Directly behind the CEA President, Rosemary Coyle. With more than 500 delegates facing at me. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous.) Drove home, changed my clothes, relaxed for 15 minutes and then off to babysit my two lovely nieces.

Sunday: Mother's Day! Early morning church, brunch with my family, followed by a speedy rush through the grocery store, a mad scrub down of the apartment and a visit with my in-laws.

It is important to note that it has been raining all week long. This means little more than the inconvenience of carrying an umbrella for most of the world, but for a third grade teacher it means the dreaded INDOOR recess. Which means I have been dealing with a group of 19 third graders who are filled to bursting with energy with no where to put it. It's also important to note that our normally structured schedule was thrown off by several practices for the recording of a CD that our music teacher agreed to. Anyone who knows children knows that if you change their schedules and routines they are thrown off and go just a little bit crazy...Finally, also note that it's Spring. This is a good thing...for the most part. But it's also the season when traffic gets WAY worse. This means my morning and afternoon commute have lasted for a solid 45 minutes, and some days, closer to an hour. One day this week there was an awful accident on the Parkway so it took me an hour and twenty minutes to get to school.

In a nutshell: this week sucked. There were definitely highlights (seeing my two nieces Saturday night and my family--both sides of my family! Sunday) but overall, it was a week, and a weekend, where I barely stopped running long enough to catch my breath.

Looking ahead to next week it is more of the same: a meeting Monday before school and after, tutoring Tuesday morning and two meetings after school Tuesday, tutoring Wednesday after school and a potential meeting Thursday after school.
But Friday I'm free!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


OK, I'm sorry but I can't resist...WHAT was America THINKING when they voted Chris Daughtry off of the show tonight?!? Did you see the reaction of the audience? And even his? I think jaws dropped across the U.S.!
Honestly, I thought he'd be one of the top TWO! I thought he might even be The Next One- the Next American Idol!
Taylor Hicks?!? C'mon!!!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


My sister and Kelli both filled this out...I got it as an email awhile ago and decided to turn it into a post. Here goes:

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Clerk at Jordie's Hallmark
2. A worker in the student dance office at MHC
3. Assistant Teacher at a Montessori School
4. Camp Counselor

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Never Been Kissed (It's awful, I know but I do love it)
2. Pirates of the Caribbean
3. Top Gun (I still cry when Goose dies)
4. Love Actually
5. Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing (I know that's technically 7 but those last three get lumped together for some reason)

Four places I have lived:
1. Woodbridge, CT
2. Greenfield, MA
3. Allston, MA (outside of Boston)
4. Hamden, CT

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. House
2. American Idol
3. Law and Order SVU
4. Anything on the Food Network

Four of my favorite books:
1. Wally Lamb I Know this Much is True
2. Anything by Jodi Picoult (she's my newest favorite author, and I'd say so far My Sister's Keeper is my favorite book she's written)
3. Charlotte's Web by EB White (I do teach 3rd grade after all)
4. Wow, I really can't pick a fourth, this is WAY too hard.....

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. England
2. France
3. St. John
4. Key West, FL

Four websites I visit daily:
1. Varous blogs (
Tina's and Kelli's and PostSecret mainly, and a few others)
2. EdHelper (This might not be daily but it's close enough)
3. Burr Elementary School (To get my school email from home)
4. CNN or Comcast

Four of my favorite foods:
1. My Mom's sauce
2. Cheeseburger--medium rare
3. Chocolate
4. Sushi (at Jerry San's)

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. On my honeymoon all over again :)
2. In our new home
3. Anywhere sunny and warm
4. Visiting with friends and family

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Putting me in my place...

Today I began teaching a math lesson about using repeated subtraction to solve division problems. OK, OK, I know what you are thinking, "What?!? How do you use subtraction to solve a division problem?!? Lisa must be confused....that poor girl....and to think, she's a teacher!" Nope, it's true, you really can solve division problems using repeated subtraction. If you want me to show you how, my math class typically runs from 1:15-2:15, you are welcome anytime.

Anyway, I start my lesson, deliver my instruction and model a few examples. Then, one of my students, let's call him N, raises his hand and says, "Mrs. S. you aren't really teaching." (As an aside, N is a student who is a nowhere-near-the-box kid.....he'll say something that makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever, but if you give him a chance to explain it will either be really clever or so totally confusing that you'll feel like you just spun around in circles fifty times in a row and your head is dizzy. He's come out with some real gems this year--my personal favorite is "Writing is like karaoke." Yup, he really said that. And it actually made sense to me--once he explained it. I'm not sure if that's scary or good.)

My first reaction after he tells me I'm not teaching is to look at the special ed. teacher in my room at the time with a clear question on my face, "Wait a minute, I thought I was teaching? Aren't I teaching? What's going on here?" She looked back at me with a grin and mouthed the word "Breathe."
Which I did.
Then I asked N what he meant....his explanation? I wasn't teaching I was just giving them another trick for solving division problems.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Showers of Happiness

Yesterday was a very special day-my sister in law's shower. Being one of three who helped organize it I was actually pretty nervous going into the start of the day. I wanted to be sure that my newest sister, Beth, had a wonderfully happy day, and everything she had hoped for during her shower. I also wanted to be sure that I was properly fulfilling my role as one of her maids of honor (Technically I'm a matron of honor, but that sounds so.....oldish to me. So I call myself a maid of honor!) I'll let the pictures be the judge, but I'd say the day was a pretty fantastic one!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tonight, I picked someone up at a bar...

A sushi bar that is. That's right, Russ and I went out for sushi tonight to our all time favorite restaurant: Jerry San's Restaurant and DaikoSushi. While there, we befriended another couple over plates of raw fish. Interestingly enough, the rules of dating seemed to apply to meeting a future couple friend. Do we give them our number or wait until they give us theirs? This debate ended when she wrote her digits down on a busines card. On the way home, Russ and I even began wondering how long to wait until we email day? Two? What is the appropriate amount of time? The dating etiquette you figure out, once you've done it long enough...but this is a whole new ball game for us.

Of course, this is no ordinary couple....nope, these are not your basic, blue-blooded Connecticut natives. They were a blend of exotic (he's from New Zealand) and down South friendliness (she's from West Virginia and still has a clear accent). These unique individuals are also not your every day run of the mill wage workers either. They happen to hold relatively prestigious positions--he's an engineer for Sikorski and she is an attorney in Hartford. We knew we liked them when she told us that if she could do it all again, she'd be a teacher. Actually, that's when we knew we'd get their number. The conversation began with a discussion about redoing kitchens, and Russ and I realized we were out of our league when they mentioned they were spending $15,000 on cabinets alone. But talk continued and we discussed everything from American Idol (he actually likes Taylor Hicks, while she is a Chris Daughtry, Katharine McPhee fan) to the worst sushi they've ever had (monkfish liver) to the differences in our families (she's from a small close knit one, he's from...well, his family is in Australia). They even offered Russ a taste of some squid sushi. (He was brave and tried it, although he washed his mouth out once he got home.)

Here's to new friends....and a two day wait until we email them!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Today, April 26th, a very special little girl turns 3! To my favorite Juliette: Happy Birthday and lots of love!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Just a few reasons why life in a third grade classroom is *always* interesting...

Today was the first day back after a ten day vacation (including weekends). Typically third graders return in one of two states after a long vacation: either they are so well rested that they are hyper and chatty and filled with pent up energy, or they are exhausted from a less than normal schedule and return quiet and ready to resume the structures and routines of our classroom. This time they were chatty and hyper right off the bat. Of course, it might have had something to do with the donuts that were (I kid you not) twice the size of the Dunkin Donuts kind that a parent sent in to celebrate her daughter's birthday. Despite my explicitly stated rule that there are to be no food related treats to celebrate birthdays. Don't parents understand that even though I am trained to use an epipen I'd prefer not to when one of my students goes into an anaphalactic shock from eating something they are allergic to? Nope, apparently not.

But that isn't even what made life in our little classroom community so interesting. Today, in the middle of my math instruction, I intercepted a note passed by one of my little girls to one of my boys. I took it away and threw it in the trash, but my curiousity later won out and I retrieved it. (Before you are grossed out by that, it was at the top and nothing else had been thrown away.) The note read:
I saw A put his hands down his pants and touch his wiener.

So, of course, upon reading this note I did what any good teacher would do.
I showed it to as many of my colleagues as I could. (OK, OK, I also took some other, more appropriate, teacher action, but that is too boring to mention). The best reaction? My principal who indicated that I should have her correct her spelling. (Don't worry, he was kidding.)

But the day doesn't end there.... nope, it gets still more interesting! Today was also the first day of Reading Celebration week. My students got to write on a Graffitti wall (it was a VERY large piece of paper stretched around a VERY long bulletin board), and list their favorite book and draw a picture to match. Well, apparently, one of my boys drew a picture of Calvin and Hobbes. He drew a speech bubble coming out of Calvin's mouth with the words F*$! repeated several times. Nope, I didn't catch this at the time. Maybe I should have but the bulletin board is huge people, and my class was not clustered together, they were spread everywhere and we were under a time limit. So I didn't catch it at the time. But boy did I hear about it later. From one of my colleagues, and from the parent who had to correct the mistake. I'm sure I'll be hearing about it tomorrow too because apparently it caused quite a stir among another third grade class, and you all know how rumors fly....

At least I can't say I'm bored!

Friday, April 21, 2006


I am one of those fortunate few that managed to avoid all addictions. Never smoked (except for once when I took one puff and spent fifteen minutes coughing), never became much of a drinker, certainly never did drugs, never even got seriously addicted to any one T.V. show. Yes, there are shows I really like, and I'd be slightly disappointed if I didn't see them, but I was never obsessed with any one show. I have finally found my addiction. Blogging.
Since creating mine, I've spent countless hours checking it, adding links, reading comments and exploring others. I keep telling myself that once April break ends I will return to my normal busy schedule and will not have as much time to spend blogging. But I fear the addiction has set in and I'm hopelessly lost.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Home Depot vs. Lowe's

Since Russ and I are on vacation this week, we thought we'd take some time to try to accomplish some house related projects. We don't close until June and we don't move until mid-July but it seemed a good idea to get the ball rolling....We decided to tackle the biggest project first--redoing our kitchen. And it's a good thing we did! Little did we know this would be far more time consuming than we had originally thought. Who knew you couldn't just walk into a store and ask them for a quote on a new kitchen?!?

So we visited two stores so far--Home Depot and Lowe's. We went to Lowe's on the recommendation of my sister and brother in law (one of the perks of being a middle child is that someone has gone through it all before and you can learn from them). However, the kitchen designer they worked with no longer works there and the kitchen designer we chatted with seemed more interested in selling us stock and trotting out her resume than actually helping two very confused new homeowners. So off we went to Home Depot....the first time around we met with a nice gentleman who basically told us that all we had to do was give them some money and they'd send someone out to do the measurements......hmm.....Well, we had already made the call to try and get into the house to take our own measurements so we decided to call on Greg, my amazingly handy brother in law (who we will be calling on a lot in the coming months I suspect) to help us out. Which he did, happily I think. (Did I mention that he basically redid his whole entire house himself? OK, not quite all by himself, but close enough). Anyway, measurements taken we trotted ourselves back to Home Depot hoping that we had the right numbers. Success! The kind man at Home Depot was actually impressed with our numbers (after we explained what they were). Woo hoo! Let's start designing a kitchen! they need to plug the numbers into a snazzy computer program that will design it for us, then meet with us to talk about all the different possibilities, then comes choosing cabinets and styles and colors and counters and the kind of edge on the counter and.....long story short (I know, I know, too late!) the process has only just begun. And vacation is ending soon. But honestly--what's more fun than thinking about all of these possibilites for your house?!?!