Monday, December 22, 2008

Favorite Ornaments

Every year I love unpacking my Christmas ornaments and rediscovering my favorites. Many of them bring back memories of Christmases past.

Our Starbucks ornaments are definitely a favorite.

This beautiful ornament was given to me by a student my first year of teaching. It's a little hard to see, but it has a crocheted star hanging inside it.

When I did my student teaching a mom had all the students sign this wooden apple for me.

We had to have a monkey on the tree, so I was excited when I found this ornament a couple of years ago.

We got a few of these golden ornaments at a Christmas bazaar in Belgium.

Here's another special one from Belgium.

My family has had these reindeer and bears for as long as I can remember.

A new favorite, in honor of Kirk's favorite football team.

I look forward to seeing what gets added to the collection in the future...

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Yes, Christmas break is finally here! I makes me so happy to be at home all day, especially since it's been snowing all afternoon. Even time spent doing laundry and cleaning doesn't seem too bad when you look out the window and see such a beautiful blanket of snow. It's been accumulating little by little, which has been fun to watch. Let's hope it will stay for Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a ... Little Like Christmas

Between the usual craziness for me at work and Kirk being sick, we haven't gotten much Christmas decorating and such done. We finally made it out to a local tree farm yesterday to get our Christmas tree. We spent quite a while searching, then found a tree that we liked but the tag had no price on it. We decided to keep looking and come back to that one if we didn't find anything better. After more looking, we were just about to head back to that tree when I spotted one that I really liked. It was small and skinny, but looked good. Finally, two trees down, we found the winner that got cut down and loaded on our Suburban. So far it only has lights on it, but at least I got it that far. Pictures to come soon.

Photo from

Another Christmasy thing I did last night was bake a batch of Gooey Coconut Dream Bars. I saw them on Martha on Friday and they really are delicious! Plus, they're rich enough that you only need a couple of little bites. Just don't plan on cutting them too soon after you take them out of the oven.

On a totally different note, I sat down to watch one of my favorite shows when I got home from work and got a great surprise. I love watching The Amazing Race and last night was the season finale. The teams were in Moscow and were instructed to fly back to the States, to their final destination of Portland. From there, they had to find Camp Tilikum, where I worked for two summers. It was so cool. Part of the reason I like The Amazing Race is because I'm always hoping that they will go somewhere I have been. I always figured it would be a European destination, though, and not where I went to college. They didn't show much of the camp or anyone that I knew, but it was fun nonetheless, especially since it was so unexpected.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from South Africa

A student from our school is in South Africa right now visiting her mom's family. Last Wednesday they were at a wildlife preserve that has a live feed you can watch online ( They arranged to be there at 9:00am our time so that our school could have an assembly and see them there. They made a big poster wishing us a happy Thanksgiving. It worked out perfectly and was very cool to watch.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Multicultural Museum

On Wednesday my partner teacher and I both brought the souvenirs, crafts, clothing items, and such that we have from around the world to school and made a "museum" for our students. We had small groups of them come walk around and enjoy our collection. Some of them were really fascinated. Our principal was quite impressed with our combined collection. Thank you to those of you who have brought me items from many different places!

Friday, November 28, 2008

"Multicultural Solids"

At this time of year in my class we are studying geometry and doing our "Many Cultures" unit. Last year my partner teacher and I came up with an idea to blend the two with our "Multicultural Solids" project. It was a hit last year and went over very well this year too. Here are a few examples of what my students came up with:

It's always fun to see which countries they choose and how creative they get. Several parents have even commented on how much they enjoyed working on this project. Even better is watching the students share their work with others. We invited the kindergarten and first grade students to visit us. Each students has a buddy or two and loved sharing their creations.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Many Cultures

For our Many Cultures unit at school, we have had guests from several countries visit us. It's great fun to watch the students discover new things about other places. Some of the presentations are in English, and others are in Spanish, which provides another layer of learning.

Luis is a Spanish professor at our local college. He is from Spain and showed the students hats and clothing for several Spanish regions. He was hilarious and everyone loved him.

Sharon lived in Yemen for 13 years but she is from Ireland. She showed us lots of pictures of life in the Middle East. She also dressed up, of course. She even brought frankincense and myrrh for the students to smell.

Martha, our secretary is from Mexico. She taught us about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. She showed the students some words in their language.

Rosa is our health assistant and is also from Mexico. She showed the students how she makes homemade tortillas with her grandmother's tortilla press.

Still to come, we will have visitors from Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and a Native American.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The End of Another Week

It's finally Friday, which makes me very happy. This was kind of a strange week because Colorado students have the day off for Election Day so that schools can be used as poling places. Of course teachers don't have the day off, but it was a good opportunity to get some stuff done. Our school never has students on Fridays, so Tuesday really felt like Friday and we all felt weird coming back to teach the next day. After getting a lot of work done on Tuesday I figured I would actually leave around noon today, which is when our contract time is up (but we never leave by then). One thing lead to another and at 4:30, I finally walked out the door and headed home. Oh well!

Since Tuesday was also my birthday, it was nice to have a more relaxed day than I would have had with all my students there. My coworkers were very kind and I got lots of birthday wishes and some beautiful flowers. My student teacher made me a great artichoke dip to enjoy at lunch. After work, my partner teacher and I went out for tea. We spend so much time talking about school stuff that it's nice to have a chance to talk about life outside of school. I also redeemed my coupon for a free cup of birthday ice cream at Cold Stone (go to their web site to register for yours!). Since Kirk had to work until 8:00pm that evening, we went out to dinner with some friends on Sunday night to celebrate. I think I'll continue celebrating this weekend by going shopping and spending some of my birthday money. Yay!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Our Halloween tradition in second grade is to have a multicultural day. Our current thematic unit is called "Many Cultures," so it's a good opportunity to incorporate some learning into a crazy day. The students were supposed to dress up as someone from any country or culture. It's always fun to see what they come up with. One mom made her daughter a beautiful geisha outfit, a girl who was born in China wore a traditional Chinese blouse, another represented her family's favorite Mexican soccer team, we even had a Southern Belle. Of course there were also football players, a soldier, a firefighter, a cat, a cheerleader, and such. Two of the girls in my class do traditional Mexican dancing, so they gave us a little demonstration. The students really enjoyed watching their classmates perform.

(Sorry for the terrible picture. I have some really good ones, but since these are not my own children, I figure I shouldn't post their pictures online.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Report Cards, Coferences, and Sickness

I can't even believe how long it's been since I've posted. The last few weeks have been consumed with work as usual and getting first quarter report cards done for all 44 of my students. We had parent-teacher conferences last Wednesday and Thursday, and had to give report cards to parents at that time. The meetings with families went well. We had to have a few tough conversations as usual, but they all went smoothly. Although it's a lot for my partner teacher and me to meet with all 44 families, it's nice to have someone else there with you to back you up if needed. A couple of years ago she was out of the country during conferences and I had to meet with everyone by myself. That was no fun! I sure made them short, sweet, and to the point. That makes "normal" conferences look good! This year was sort of weird because we had 27 appointments on Wednesday. It was pretty crazy and we went non-stop from 1:20 to 8:00. Thursday felt nice, though.

What made conferences tough was that I was starting to get sick. I had been feeling slightly feverish and my throat was hurting. When I got home on Thursday night and sat down on the couch, I was fully sick. After spending all of Friday and Saturday on the couch or in bed with a fever, I was pretty sure I had strep throat. By Sunday it was clear that I would not be making it to work on Monday, so I got a sub and wrote a plan (which makes being sick even more miserable by creating extra work). I was able to get in to see the doctor yesterday who confirmed my diagnosis. She told me that I should wait to go back to work until tomorrow. I'm glad she did because I would not have made it through the day today. Both tomorrow and Thursday will be busy days at school, so I'm trusting for strength.

I will have a lot of catching up to do this weekend, which I'm not looking forward to, but hopefully the weekend will bring some fun as well. I doubt we'll have any trick-or-treaters on Friday since we have a dark and mostly kid-less neighborhood. I should probably get some candy anyway. Who knows, this could be the year that some kids decide to come by. I'm sure I could just eat it myself if no one shows up!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Football Sunday

Kirk and I are enjoying a relaxing Sunday afternoon watching football. After another 50+ hour week at work, it's especially nice to lay down on the couch for a while and rest. The dogs were quite happy about it as well. It's gotten much colder in the last two days, so we'll have to turn the heat on soon, which I'm not looking forward to doing. For now, a blanket will do. It's about time to get the long sleeved shirts and sweaters out too.

Kirk's Jaguars beat the local favorites, the Broncos, which was pretty fun. I had to follow the Packers online, but was happy that they beat the Seahawks. We played each other today in our fantasy league, so we were following that as well. In our last match up a few weeks ago, I won. The predicted scores had me ahead this time as well, but as the games progressed, my chances of winning dwindled quickly.

I was able to get quite a bit done on my report cards this weekend, which is great. I'll finish them next weekend and then give them to parents at conferences in a week and a half. It will be a relief when that's all done. I'm sure that conferences will go well, but there's just to much work to do to get ready for them and then two eleven hour days of talking.

Another thing I've been working on lately is reading our ridiculously long state ballot information booklet. Colorado has 14 amendments to the state constitution on the ballot this year and four referendum questions. Some of them I'm clearly for or against, but others are so hard to figure out and not as black or white. Plus there are a bunch of judges to decide whether to retain or not and several local ballot issues to consider. That's not even including all the candidates in the national, state, and local races! As Kirk and I were discussing some of this yesterday, I told him that we had better plan on having quite a bit of time when we go to cast our votes. We are certainly blessed to live in a free country where we have the right and freedom to vote, but I wonder how many people in Colorado (and I'm sure many other states) will not take the time to vote on some of these amendments, referendums, and judges because it takes so long to figure them out. I think that I will try to go vote early, because I really don't want to spend my birthday (which coincides with election day this year) thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Feeling Like Fall

The weather changed quite a bit this last weekend and made it feel much more like fall.  It was cool, overcast, and very rainy.  I took advantage of the weather to light the candles in the living room and enjoy their soft light.  I also baked some rolls stuffed with turkey pepperoni and cheese for dinner.  

Kirk spent the weekend in the mountains at a men's camp.  He said that the fall colors were beautiful up there.  It was much colder and actually snowed on them.  

I spent the weekend working on projects at home.  I decided to get a head start on my report cards that are due for parent-teacher conferences in two weeks.  Unfortunately I only have about an eighth of the work done, but at least they're started, so the next two weekends will bring much of the same.  I spent quite a few hours making games for my students as well.  My partner teacher and I have been developing lots of learning games to use in our classrooms.  Some are based on ideas that we have gotten from books and others we have just made up.  It's something that we both enjoy, so it's fun to get to school on Monday and share what we've each created.  We were asked to share our games and ideas with the rest of our staff this Friday, so we're trying to have some good ones ready.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Color Sunday

Today was "Color Sunday" on the Grand Mesa.  They run the ski lifts at Powderhorn ski resort so people can ride up and enjoy the turning of the aspen leaves.  A couple of friends and I drove up there to see the colors, but didn't go to Powderhorn.  We went up to Mesa Lakes where we had had a picnic this summer.  It was absolutely beautiful.  We just drove around and stopped here and there to take pictures.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Busy Weeks

I have been working a lot the last couple of weeks, which puts a serious damper on blogging. It pretty much puts a damper on anything worth blogging about, too.

Things are going fairly well at school. It's been a rough couple of weeks with my students and there has been quite a bit of lost recess, but we'll make it through. My student teacher is with me two full days a week and I have an instructional assistant in the mornings, which makes a big difference. Sometimes I wonder how I used to do it all on my own.

We had some excitement yesterday during our lunch hour. The Blue Angels are in town for our local airshow this weekend and were practicing over our school. It was pretty fun to watch. I was glad they only flew over a few times though, because their continued practice would have put a serious damper on any learning.

On the home front, Bono is adjusting well to his new home and becoming more friendly. In fact, he's running around on the couch next to me as I type. The dogs are fascinated by him and just can't seem to figure out what he is.

I'm trusting that I'll be able to spend the weekend catching up on some TV shows that I've recorded and doing some things around the house. We might find a place in town to watch the airshow as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Something to Brighten Your Day

It's been a long and busy week filled with crazy students (the weather has been changing and getting stormy, which we could have predicted just by the behavior at school).  Two things brightened my day so I thought I would share them.  

The first is this cute picture of hedgie- who has now officially been named Bono.  He was peaking out of his yogurt-container-home this morning as I was getting ready to leave for work.  He usually faces in, thinking that we won't be able to see him that way.  His furrowed brow is because he was not liking having the camera in his face.

The other thing that brightened my day was something that my partner teacher shared with me after school (and may only be funny to us).  Yesterday she had a group of students making dioramas of Grand Junction with paper, boxes, and other recycled materials.  She gave them some strips of paper to make signs for their buildings.  Some of them knew how to spell the names of the places they were representing, and others simply made their best guess as we teach them to do (although I'm not so sure some of these were a best guess).  Here were some of the gems of the latter group of signs.  See if you can figure them out.  :)

Mick donlses                                = McDonald's
Ice sating ringk                            = Ice Skating Rink
Move thater                                 = Movie theater
Joini coios                                    = Johnny Carinos
Siri Marquet                                = City Market
chaquichis                                    = Chuck E Cheese
famis Daves                                 = Famous Dave's
Banca Gran Fargo                      = Banco Wells Fargo
Almurgesa                                   = Hamburguesa (hamburger)

She also said that one student correctly wrote "Mall" on his team's sign.  His teammates, however, were not buying it that "Mall" was the correct spelling of the word.  He was trying to convince them that he had indeed seen it written that way on a sign.  They finally had to ask her and she was able to confirm that he was correct, much to his delight.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Peach Season Is Finally Upon Us...

... and I've been busy!  I got home last night and our neighbor came out to give me some peaches from his parents' orchard.  We now have two boxes of sweet, juicy, fragrant, all natural Palisade peaches.  As soon as I got up this morning, I made a pie crust, cut up some fruit, and made a batch of freezer jam.  Yum!

I've been enjoying making galettes lately because they're so much faster than making a pie.  Maybe not as pretty, but just as tasty.

Here's hedgie sleeping next to a peach.