Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Everyone!
The wings got finished last night. Now I know why all the wings that we have had in the past have been purchased! Kind of a pain. . . and they turned out kind of wonky. But overall my girls looked fantastic and very beautiful.
We went to Tradition, a nearby neighborhood/shopping area. They had live music, food, hay rides, trick-or-treating. We met our friend Michelle and her daughter Rachel there and walked arond for a couple of hours. It was fun and the weather was absolutely fabulous. It was around 72 and breezy. It has been (relatively) cold here with lows in the 40s for the past couple of days, setting cold temp records. So it warmed up some today with highs back in the 70s.

Aren't they stunning?

Here are Kenzie, Rachel and Rebecca posing at Tradition Town Hall. Cute, huh?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wings Done (well, almost!)

Okay, so they are not quite done. But the wings are sewn and I just need to thread some wire through the seam allowances around the edge. I think that they're going to look so cool! Nothing like waiting for the last minute.

The girls don't have school tomorrow, but I have a teacher workday. This is the first scheduled workday since before school started and it is desperately needed. We only had three days before school started to get ready and one full day was taken in Kagan training. There was another day of team meetings, department meetings, attendance procedures, etc. leaving only one day to prep for the year. Crazy. . . We've had several days for professional development this year. Too many I think. I'd rather have work days to spend in my classroom creating bulletin boards, filing, cleaning my desk off! It gets messy fast because you really can't take the time to put things away properly when you're trying to teach and supervise large classes. It amazes me sometimes how many things I can do at one time. I catch myself having conversations with two or three kids at a time while pointing to another kid and tapping on a desk to redirect a lazy student all at the same time!

The girls carved their pumpkins tonight and Mike carved a coconut. Long story. . . I'll have to tell it another time. It's late, I have wings to finish, and a bed that sounds very inviting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skirt is Done!!

Whew! Two and a half hours of ripping, cutting, sewing and fitting and Kenzie's skirt is done. It looks really, really cool. It's row after row of ripped strips of fabric. I was going for an organic type of look- - Think Puck or Titania from "Midsummer Night's Dream." I can't recall ever seeing any wood nymph costumes, so I was on my own with this one with just McKenzie's and my visions to guide us. It's after 10 or I would have made her try it all one. But tomorrow is a school day, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow. Darn.

Tomorrow night will be Wing Creation Night. Wood nymphs and golden fairies have to have wings right?

So the girls and I left school at 6 and picked up food at the Golden Chopsticks and got home around 6:30 to find a note on our door from Animal Control. Something about a call about our dog barking. Now our dog can be a pest; she licks, she jumps on you, she occasionally whines if you don't play with her. But she rarely barks, like hardly ever. Maybe if she sees a lizard, or a balloon. She has a thing about balloons. But enough for a phone call? So our back fence neighbor came over to say that she thinks that our next-door neighbor (the only folks in the neighborhood w/o dogs) called to complain about her dogs and our dog. Now the neighbor, Gloritha, has four Yorkies, and I will admit, they can be very obnoxious and yappy. But they're only out of the house for a few minutes here or there. They bark like crazy when they see Sophie and they yap and run like crazy along the fence, so I can kind of see why the neighbor would call about that. But Sophie is out for 8-10 hours per day with not a peep. Why complain about her? Of the twelve closest neighbors, eleven have dogs, so we are pretty sure it is the one family that doesn't have dogs that called to complain. I hope it doesn't go any further. I'm not really sure what options we would have. I can't fathom leaving Sophie inside all day. Or leaving her in a crate inside. Never.

Well my grading is done. Finally. I'm sure that I will have a little make-up work turned in tomorrow, but the bulk is taken care of, and progress reports are printed. Yeah! Tomorrow is an early release day set aside for professional development. Our team has a specialist coming in to talk about hearing impaired children, since one of our students has lost his hearing (from an ear infection!). It's hard to even comprehend the emotional side effects. He's a trooper and handling it very well so far.

Well, time to shower and hit the hay. Have you ever thought about actually sleeping on a straw tick? I'm very spoiled and I really love my pillowtop mattress!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Quick update.

Kenzie went to the orthodontist today and got new wires and new bands (orange and silver). Then we went back to school so I could grade papers. I did that for two hours and the kids worked on homework. Then we met some friends for a quick meal at Bob Evans. So we got home at 8 o'clock.

Last night I did get a lot done, but never got around to working on the costumes and didn't get through all my grading. But I did get a load of laundry done so that was a bonus! McKenzie also told us that, surprise, she has a big project due on Wednesday! She has to write a 3-5 minute speech supportin John McCain and Sarah Palin and create a campaign poster. Great. Cuz we're not busy or anything. So last night she wrote the speech and now, after a quick shower, she is making the poster. For the most part, Kenzie can take care of projects on her own. I just hate how she waits until the last moment. She has had two weeks to work on this!

So back to grading (definitely one of the downsides of middle school teaching and a roster of 120 students). . . and hopefully I will not poop out before getting a little sewing done.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Update on Costumes: I finished McKenzie's top. Yeah! Still need to do skirt and wings for both girls. Am I crazy or what? For some reason, I just cannot fathom buying costumes. It's become such an important tradition and I really love the creative part of it. I just wish it wasn't so time consuming!

Normal day at work. My students have been busy evaluating the validity of sources this past week, not an easy skill for eighth grade. We were comparing different biographies of Edgar Allan Poe and noting inconsistencies and then determining how we could figure out which story got it right. It is so hard to get eighth graders to think for themselves. Typically, they just want to know "what do I write in the box?" And I am trying so hard to get them on the path toward critical thinking! It's tough. For those of you who are not familiar with my position, I teach reading. I have no curriculum, meaning no textbook to teach from. I have a list of 47 essential skills to teach, but it is entirely up to me how to teach them. I like the total control but it in overwhelming to find everything on your own. It takes tons of planning and prep time.

The quarter ends on Wednesday so it's time to catch up on all the grading, etc. Of course today is when the district's server went down, so we had no access to our electronic gradebook. Ugh! Tonight I need to grade a stack of papers (and hope the server is up in the morning so I can input grades), write lesson plans for the rest of the week, create and print the schedule for student book talks, and develop the rubric for next week's in-class project (writing an obituary for Edgar Allan Poe). And oh yeah. . . finish two costumes, feed two children, and clean the kitchen. My life is crazy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend News

So what are we up to this weekend? A lot of nothing much.

Friday, after school, McKenzie had her drawing class at the Community Center. She has been doing that for two months now and she really enjoys it. She is very, very good. If I remember, I'll have to scan some of her drawings. The first month she was taught how to use colored pencils and how to blend them. This month they have been working on blending with charcoal pencils. McKenzie did a very lovely drawing of sailboats last week and this week it was a pear, I think. The community center was crazy busy with hardly any parking because of early voting. I think that's a good sign that there will be a big voter turnout this year. Mike and I have absentee ballots so that we don't have to fight the crowds on Election Day.

After drawing class, the girls and I went to Kohl's and Michael's and stopped at Taco Bell for dinner, a rare treat for Becca. TB is one of Becca's faves, but not high on the list for Kenzie and me. At Kohl's we had $30 in Kohl's Bucks from our shoe shopping trip last week that had to get spent this week, so we picked out some hand towels and a candle (Spiced Plum. . . yum!). At Michael's we picked up some supplies for Becca's school project -- a poster advertising a favorite book. Rebecca chose the book "Dragonfly and the Web of Dreams." So she has decided to create a huge rainbow web for a background and we needed poster board and some clear glue. Glitter and paint we have gobs of! I'll post a photo when she is finished.

After dinner we headed to Joann's Fabrics to pick out supplies for Halloween costumes. We are getting a VERY late start this year. And of course the girls have picked out very ambitious costumes for me to sew. Rebecca wants to be a golden fairy and McKenzie a wood nymph, both inspired by "Anne of Green Gables" that I read to the girls in September. Of course there are no wood nymphs in "Anne of Green Gables", but that never stops Anne from imagining that there are wood nymphs cavorting around the Lake of Shining Waters in the moonlight and golden Fairies sitting in the trees along the White Way of Delight. Again, I'll post when I am done. . .

So we got home at 8:30 or so and there was a very happy and excited dog waiting for us. Sophie absolutely loves running out to the car to greet us when we get home. She runs full out and falls all over us, licking us and jumping around. I would say that it is very annoying, but how can you be upset when there is someone in the world that is soooo excited to see you??? She loves with such intensity. I think that is a trait unique to dogs. I've seen a cat glad to have me home, but nothing like the display Sophie puts on.

Saturday I spent the day sewing. and sewing. and sewing some more. Well, technically I spent the morning cutting out the fabric and helping Becca start her school project. Then I started sewing. I sewed until 9 when I went to bed! So exciting. Rebecca's underdress and vest are done, with wings still to go. With the pale gold color scheme she chose, she looks a lot like an angel. The girls and I had ordered a DVD from Netflix of "Anne of Avonlea." It's a 1975 version done by the BBC, and we were so excited to watch it, but it was a flop. Nothing like the 1985 version with Megan Follows. So much for that.

Today, I read for a bit this morning and looked at the morning paper and then we all went to lunch and took Mike's car to the car wash. He is still driving a 1999 Chrysler Concorde. It has 145,000 miles on it. We are thankful for every month it keeps running. It is blessedly paid for and it is nice to only have one car payment. Keep your fingers crossed that it continues to run until mine is paid for. Well, that might be pushing it. . . I have about 3 years to go on mine still.

After lunch I started on McKenzie's costume. I had to create hers from scratch because she is an odd size right now. Too big for the children's costume patterns and too small for the misses patterns. So I modified Rebecca's pattern and had to lengthen it and then do some major darting, etc. Kind of fun, doing the tricky stuff. If I had a dress form I could totally pretend I am a contestant on Project Runway! So her vest is halfway done with the skirt and wings yet to be started. It's gonna be a rush to get it all done, but I'm sure it will. Probably on Thursday night at 11:30!

Well, I have had my break and the sewing machine is calling to me to get my butt back in gear.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rebecca Hispanic Heritage Celebration

Rebecca and Kacey both volunteered to be a part of the Hispanic Heritage Night at school. The third grade performed the Macarena. So cute! Becca concentrates so hard on doing everything perfectly that she forgets to have fun!! But she did a great job and she sure looked cute.

Kenzie October Student of the Month

Top 100 Children's Books

Educators' Top 100 Children's Books
The following list was compiled from an online survey by NEA (National Education Association) in 2007. Parents and teachers will find it useful in selecting quality literature for children.

The ones in italics I have read:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Oh! The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Crunching Carrots, Not Candy by Judy Slack
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willlems
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Tacky the Penquin by Helen Lester
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type Doreen Cronin
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Olivia by Ian Falconer
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
Bunnicula by James Howe
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Frindle by Andrew Clements
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
No David! by David Shannon
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop
The Giver by Lois Lowr
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book by Keith Faulkner

Top 100 Books

Okay Carolee, I'm stealing your stolen idea. I'm not sure where you found the 100 books (I didn't find the list at the Big Read website) but I think this is a great list of books! The ones that I have read are in bold.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen****

2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34. Emma - Jane Austen

35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery ****

47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52. Dune - Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72.Dracula - Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses - James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal - Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte's Web - EB White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94. Watership Down - Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo