Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Keep Smiling...

Ok.  I'm not going to lie.  Teaching can be extremely difficult.  The lesson planning is completely time consuming--seriously!  But on the up note, one of my classes was switched so I dropped a lesson prep and now I feel like I can at least see light!  Before the change with that additional prep, it was pitch black.

Anyway, I have learned a valuable lesson these past few days.  There are some kids/ situations that I have been struggling with.  But I glue a smile on my face and fake that I'm happy.  I keep that fake smile glued on until I realize it has transformed from fake to real.  And honestly the next thing I know, my bubbly personality is back.

So... question: do you remember Dori from "Finding Nemo?"  She would always say, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming."  I feel like that could be my motto, "just keep smiling, just keep smiling!"  It honestly works!! :D  If you are having a crummy day, don't have air conditioning, have to deal with an extremely large class with overly talkative students, etc., then just keep smiling.
P.S. My air conditioning was turned on in one of my rooms today.  Oh my goodness.  It was the best thing ever!  The kids were better behaved.  I could focus during my prep hour and work. It was fantastic! :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Edible Cookie Dough

First of all, let me just say that this recipe is NOT healthy so for everyone following this blog for healthy living tips, close your eyes.  I did not make any changes to the recipe because I wanted to figure out if it would work for teaching my foods class.  I will likely in the future try making it sugar free/ fat free/ etc but we will see how it ends up when I try to remake it into healthy.

So the reason for this recipe.  I needed something to demo to my students on how to measure ingredients and I have heard over and over to always make recipes at home first--even if it seems simple.  Since it is crazy hot at my school--my honest guess is 90* plus--the ovens are out.  I have a south facing classroom with the entire wall filled with windows.  So making cookies to bake is not an option because my room would only get hotter.  I'm not turning the oven on in there and neither are my students until it cools off.  The next reason I decided to make edible cookie dough is because all of my students were begging to be allowed to lick beaters when we cooked and I laid down the law of NO.  Hopefully they will enjoy this instead without all the hazards with raw eggs.

Plus this recipe is awesome for teaching all the different measuring techniques.  (Pack brown sugar, spoon & level flour, scoop & level chocolate chips, liquid measuring cups, measuring spoons--yup, it has everything!)  In some of my past cooking classes, I have seen Peanut Butter Playdough as the measuring technique demonstration.  But I didn't like the sounds of that because I was nervous about them using it as Playdough.

Anyway, allow me just to say that this tastes just like real cookie dough.  You would have NO idea that there are not eggs in it.  And as a warning it is slightly addicting.  Also note, this recipe really is for cookie dough!  It can NOT be baked into cookies!!  There is nothing to hold it together/ emulsify it in the oven and it would literally just turn into a melted gooey mess.

Note: this stuff is addicting... this is only about half of the original amount.
But just so everyone knows, we did give lots away in ziplock bags...

1 c. margarine, softened--the real recipe called for butter but margarine worked great! :)
¾ c. brown sugar
1 box (3 oz.) instant vanilla pudding--I used french vanilla
¼ c. milk
½ T. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
3 c. flour
1-2 c. chocolate chips

In a large bowl (Kitchen Aid) cream softened margarine and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in dry pudding mix.  Add milk, vanilla, flour and baking soda.  On low, mix until smooth.  Dough will be slightly sticky.  Stir in chocolate chips and chill.  DO NOT BAKE!

Can shape into balls and freeze.  Then dip the balls into melted chocolate and then refreeze to make cookie dough truffles.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So I am not kidding when I say I wish everyday could be like today.  That probably sounds slightly strange considering it is only the second day of school and the only thing I have taught for two days now is my disclosure.  I am sick of it and I am sure the kids are sick of them too.  Meeting all brand new kids today (my school is on block schedule) has been interesting as well--there are SO many names to remember...  Um... how?!  But anyway, despite the kids thinking I'm crazy because I make them practice procedures like entering and exiting my room and having to talk super loud because my microphone only works if I stand in one corner of the room, it has been an absolutely AMAZING day!

Let me back up to yesterday.  I was making Thai food for dinner last night.  I was cutting chicken and my hands were slimy when my sweetheart came home.  He was a little later than normal which was kind of odd but then again, he took the car instead of the bus/ train so I just assumed he got stuck in traffic.  No big deal.  Well, in walks my honey bunny with an arm behind his back.  He then surprised me with...
...simply to say congratulations on finishing my first first day.  I love flowers so this thoughtful gesture obviously made me squeal with delight and jump into his arms--being really careful not to get raw chicken juice everywhere.

Then this morning, I caught Casey writing on our white board.  He left a note stating that the flowers are not 'forget-me-nots' but rather 'remember me's, remember us.'  This has deeper meaning than most will understand.  I have not seen Casey since a little before 7 am this morning.  He won't come home until probably around 9 pm.  He has a refresher math course that goes well into the evening.  The timing of this was slightly hard for me to deal with because today was only my second day of school and I have no one to chatter non-stop to.  My best friend is gone and won't be coming home until near bed time.  But the flowers are 'remember me's, remember us.'  And although nothing can replace my hubby, the sweet flowers and note are a great reminder of his love.

I arrive at school and my classes were fabulous.  Seriously love the 7th graders because they are so willing to do everything I ask.  The upper grades take more effort on my part but everything seems to be off to a good start.  Well, during the middle of my second period today, a girl with a hall pass on, enters my room carrying flowers.  I was at first slightly irritated and was going to make whatever girl they were for put them away--where away was, I hadn't thought of yet--for the period.  There had already been so many distractions and this was just one more.  But surprise, surprise these flowers were for me.  I couldn't stop grinning.  Who these flowers are from, I had no idea.  The note attached said "From: the Teacher Fairy.  Happy first week of school!"  I don't recognize the handwriting and I know it is not my hubby's nor mom's.
So now I feel like a super lucky girl because I have flowers at home and at school.  I sure wish this could happen everyday... LoL!  But if it did, then they wouldn't be so special.

And, my day keeps getting better.  I was able to talk to Casey on the phone for a few minutes during lunch! :D  This was the first time I talked to him from my work to his work.  For the rest of lunch, I went to the Teacher's Room and talked with some other teachers.  I like feeling like I am beginning to make friends at work!  And then I found a cute little love note hidden in my bag from Casey.  I am willing to guess that that love note had been in the bag for awhile but I just happened to find it today.  Plus, the tech specialist came in and helped me rearrange my computer/ document camera/ etc and then install everything so it would work.  My room is way more user friendly now for me! :)

When I finally got home, instead of finding an empty house (remember Casey is at the math refresher course?), I found a party!
Party hats and candy and all!  It is ADORABLE!!!  I kept laughing/ grinning when I saw it.  Our teddy bears were apparently eating some of the candy because there are wrappers and spilled M&Ms but they also made sure to save some for me! :)  And they are holding a note saying they want to celebrate with me for completing my first day of school with all my classes.

Yup, I'm pretty sure if everyday was filled with as many surprises as today that I would be grinning from ear to ear all the time.  Unfortunately, we live in the real world and I won't get flowers and personal parties everyday... but I can keep smiling no matter what I face! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Finished Day One & FACS Display Case

Last night I had an extremely hard time calming down and falling asleep.  I ended up camping out on the couch and at least got some shut eye.  My fears showed through my dreams though so the night was not exactly comfortable.  But luckily none of my nightmares came true!

It was a great first day of school.  And tomorrow, I will be rearranging my computer/ document camera/ etc.  Tripping over the cords and temporarily crashing it today was enough to make me rethink the layout.  Plus, by rearranging, it will make it so one computer can be used for the projector always and I can use the other to do things I need to.  It is a win-win situation--after I get the rearranging done!

Anyway, I thought I would show off my display case.  Can I just say that I love it?  Walking by it every morning brings a smile to my face.  Even if all the kids don't appreciate it, all the time I spent with it won't be for waste because it helps me remember why I love what I am doing.
The sign in the top left says "the facts about..." with "FACS" dangling below.
Then each of the different parts are labeled with the FACS section they represent.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dragon Slayer

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess.  Most people wouldn't recognize her as a princess because she did not wear big fluffy dresses everyday and she did not live in a castle.  But she was still a princess--royal by birth.

The princess loves cooking and interior design and preschool and sewing.  She also loves teaching.  So the princess decided to combine all of her talents and become a teacher--not a regular "princess" job but it is what she loved so she followed her dreams.

This teacher princess spent many hours getting ready for school to start--even on non-contract teacher days.  She cleaned her classroom and wrote lesson plans and rearranged furniture and wrote lesson plans and made bulletin boards and wrote lesson plans and designed a cute display case.  Oh and did I mention that the princess wrote lesson plans?  Because she did. ;)

On Thursday the princess met about half of her students for the first time.  It was 7th grade day so instead of having to teach in her classroom, the princess followed the school schedule for the day and taught the kiddos how to open lockers, where the bathroom was, how to go to lunch, what to do if there is a fire drill, etc.  You know.  All the important stuff that a 7th grader really needs to know.

Yesterday was a non-contract day and technically the last day of summer for the princess.  But can you guess where the princess was?  Yup.  For almost 11 hours the princess was making photo copies, rewriting lesson plans and eventually printing them, and so many other things that the princess can't even remember what she did--all in attempts for trying to have her classroom ready on Monday: the first real day of school.

The princess started to feel overwhelmed.  She wanted to go home but couldn't because there was still things that have to be done before the kids show up bright and early in their brand new outfits Monday morning.  The princess told her knight in shining armor that she wasn't going to be coming home any time soon because she was so busy and stressed and on the verge of tears.  So the knight came to the dungeon to slay the dragons and free his princess.

The knight gave the princess a huge kiss and tight hug and that helped everything seem a little better.  He worked on organizing and making a seating chart template.  The knight slayed the dragons and the princess was freed.  The knight in shining armor took his princess out to eat and then to the movies.  And the princess decided that anything is possible as long as she has her knight by her side. <3

P.S.  Today is Saturday.  Teachers are NOT supposed to work on Saturdays.  But this princess still has to finish making seating charts, make procedure guidelines for desired student behavior charts, print some pictures and make a getting to know the princess box for her students, and go shopping--like required shopping so her students can start on labs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Day of School

I figured the first day of school as a teacher is a momentous occassion.  And one that deserves a picture!  But first of all, school went really well.  I *LOVED* my Dansko Shoes.  Amazing.  My feet weren't even tired after wandering around everywhere today.  Today had more walking than most days will because it was 7th grade only.  And the day consisted of taking them on tours, helping them open their lockers (I felt like a broken record explaining how to turn it to the right then back past the number to the left and back to the right), learning the school rules, a fire drill, etc.  And, the shoes held up.  I hope I can keep saying this all year, everyday--but my feet were not even tired today!

And, school also went well because while the Tech Specialist was in my room helping me get my printer to work correctly (it took a while!), she commented on how impressed she was with the level of control I had.  I wouldn't let the kids leave for the fire drill until all of their chairs were tucked in and they were in a single file line.  She was amazed.  I thought that was a good sign.  My philosophy is you can always be nicer (more nice?) but you can never be stricter (more strict?).  So even though it was just 7th grade day--super laid back and easy, I was going to require the student to follow procedures from the beginning.

Ok.  So I think it is a time for a picture.  Are you ready for a HUGE surprise?!  Like seriously, I'm talking big here folks. :)
Yup.  I cut my hair.  Like major time!  I needed a change.  And I also figured there had to be more to life than wet ponytails because I'm pretty sure that is all my students would see me with.  And here is some trivia for you.  (First of all, ignore the blurred stuff on my shirt.  I smeared the name of my school so it couldn't be read.)  But anyway, this shirt is THE size I had always hoped to be able to wear.  When I started my weight loss journey, I always wanted to get to this T-Shirt size.  It was kind of crazy that it fits now. :)

And here is a side view shot of my hair to show the cute details a little better.  It is different.  It is taking some getting use to.  But I really like it! :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School {pause}. Me Time {play}.

Recently, I have found my whole life is SCHOOL.  Little did I know that I would be spending way more time now than I ever did when I was in college.  I thought I graduated so I could be done with homework.  Ha!  I don't think that philosophy applies to teachers.

I have been attending meetings at least 2-3 times a week this entire month.  I'm really looking forward to when those will minimize!  These meetings take up all sorts of time.  And, to be fair, I am learning and they are needed but still, I have plenty of other things to do.

And slowly, my several page to-do list is being crossed off.

  • Make bulletin boards -- check.
  • Arrange desks -- check.
  • Decorate display case -- almost check. (I just need to print out some labels!)
  • Learn how to log in to my computer, use gradebook, check my e-mail -- check, check, check.
  • Clean my room.  Throw away cupboards FILLED with stuff from the old teacher.  Make room for me.  -- check (although this will probably be a work in progress.)
  • Make Scope and Sequences -- check.
  • Work on lesson plans -- check, for at least the first couple of days.

  • Learn how to use my printer, copy all of my disclosures and worksheets, go shopping for needed supplies, lesson plan for longer than a couple of days, make seating charts, order things from the district, color code my aprons/ kitchen lab, finish my display case, continue dejunking my rooms, sign up for insurance, ETC. -- UNCHECK.  There is still SO much to do!  But the kiddos will come whether my list is complete or not though. So here is to making the best of the situation with my unchecked list. :)

On the up note.  I did win a free i-pod at one of my long teacher meetings.  That was pretty sweet!  It is currently in the process of being "refurbished" though so hopefully it will be usable.  Who knows.  It may never even turn on.  But it still felt cool winning.
P.S.  I (1) miss blogging.  It is a creative outlet/ stress reducer for me.  And (2) I miss eating healthy.  I'm seeing a trend--I get stressed from being so busy then I start having more sleeping problems and then I start eating more (not-so-healthy) options.  Luckily, I can choose to change both! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stepping Forward!

Remember my post from about 1 week ago about attempting to Fight the Plateau I was facing?  Well, I'm pleased to announce a step forward in my journey!! :)  Nearly all summer, I have seen the same number in the 10s place.  Yesterday, I finally saw 1 digit lower!  It was a super exciting moment for me and one that I have worked really hard to achieve.

Current weight loss: -87 Pounds

And I know everyone is going to want to see pictures.  I will work on that but no guarantees as to how soon.  My life is so busy these days trying to establish my classroom and work on lesson plans.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guess: Where was I sitting?

Just thought you might want a glimpse into my busy life (and the reason I haven't been writing as much on here recently).

I will give you one try.  Guess where I was sitting?!  ;)
I have always studied like this.  When I was in high school or college working on papers or studying for tests, my "space" would look exactly the same.  I love sitting on the floor and then spreading everything I need in a circle around me gradually as I use it.  I even have my own desk now (which I'm pretty sure my hubby was hoping I would use for lesson planning) and I still preferred the floor/ spread out method.

Lesson plans are coming slowly.  My goal is to be 1 week ahead of where I'm teaching.  It will be less stressful that way.  Ultimately, it would be nice to be an entire section ahead but seeing how that was not working, I decided to make a reasonable goal instead.

I still have A LOT (like I'm not even kidding about the term A LOT) of organizing, cleaning, bulletin board making, etc work I need to get done in my classroom.  It is going to be a busy next few weeks before school starts! :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fighting the Plateau

I know I voted myself off the island.  Or maybe the correct term here would be ranch since I was playing "The Biggest Loser" and not "Survivor."  Anyhow...

For awhile, it seemed I forgot the whole point of loosing weight.  It was all of the sudden becoming an obsession and I felt all sorts of pressure.  I know.  I know.  The ONLY thing every single one of you has shown me has been nothing but love.  But having bad weeks was hard enough for me to face and then it became worse as I had to admit it on here.  And writing about it every single week was only making my obsession become stronger.  I was scared I was becoming pre-anorexic.  I had to do something to change because the whole reason I was doing this was to be healthy.  And all of the sudden, the healthy destination was the last thing I was thinking about.

I needed time to sort through my feelings and motivation.  And to reevaluate my lifestyle.  Why was I willing to work so hard to begin with?  Am I now willing to give that all up?  How can I be happy and healthy?  These questions and several others began to fill my mind and I had to figure them out.  But in the process of sorting, I hit a major plateau.  Honestly, I was ok with that.  It was hard to face but the time was good.  And it allowed my body to adjust to the new me.  Additionally, we were moving during this plateau time.  Eating out became more common because all of the kitchen stuff was packed and exercising was limited.  This definitely played a part in all the questions I began to sort in my mind.

And now.  Now, life is happy again.  I think I have figured out all my questions.  I feel confident and beautiful.  That is big--me feeling it.  I am keeping my focus on living healthy--not just being skinny.  Plus, I am hoping I conquered my plateau.  Next week can only tell.  I still haven't decided if I will start posting weekly updates again or not.  We'll see.  I know several people enjoy reading them--I just don't want to fuel an obsession again.

Thanks for all of your love and patience!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Taste of School

It is back to school time.  I can't believe summer has come and went so fast!!  I was trying to figure out what happened and where it went.  And I remember.  Moving.

Needless to say, today was my first taste of school.  I would say it is more like dipping my toe in a super deep pool.  There is SO much to do between now and say a few weeks from now when the kiddos come bouncing back.  7th grade day is only a couple weeks away.  Um, yikes!

All of the first year teachers had an orientation today.  We went on a tour.  We learned the school rules and behaviors and procedures and how to work the copy machine and how to teach vocab and etc, etc, etc.  I can't remember most of what we covered.  But I got the important things down.  We can wear (school) t-shirts and JEANS on Wednesdays, always fan a new ream of paper before you put it in the copy machine, the door on my lock is stiff and you have to jiggle it a lot while using two hands to get in.  Oh.  And I have to have pretty bulletin boards.  But most importantly, I know my principal is extremely supportive and kind.  And I know there is a fabulous teacher right across the hall that I can send my problem children to/ ask for help.  And lastly, I know (well, at least hope) that the new PE teacher and I will be great friends as well--and lucky for me, the gym is also SUPER close to my classroom!  Yup.  The things that matter most--I'm set. :)  Hopefully the rest comes back to me as I study my scribbles and packets.