Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homework, Mosquitoes and Smelly Feet

 Is there anyone else out there who cannot stand helping their own kid with homework???  I try to, I swear I do, but she just wants to argue and whine and cry and we don't get very far.  Now that my daughter is in third grade, I guess she is expected to keep up with current events.  Her assignment tonight was to read and summarize a current event.  So, we get on the computer, and I was looking at the top AOL headlines and realized that they were all completely inappropriate and on top of that, way above her comprehension level.  Next I googled for sites that had current events appropriate for students and stumbled across www.dogonews.com.  We were able to find an article that was quite interesting.  Click here to view.  Apparently, scientists have discovered that mosquitoes are drawn to stinky feet.  Which explains why you get more mosquito bites on your legs.  So, I guess what we learned tonight was:
1) Take a bath or the mosquitoes will carry you off in your sleep.
2) Unless my daughter would like her current event to be about some weird science study, she should leave me out of it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Make-Up and Deserted Islands

Are you a make-up person?  My reflex would be to answer no, but then come to think about it, one of the items I would have to have with me on a deserted island would be eyeliner for sure!
It's funny because my mom doesn't wear make-up either.  Once in a while she will put on some tinted lip gloss, but only if she is really dolling herself up for something special! 
So, one problem that I have with make-up is that I never learned how to put it on.  I went to a make-up counter once or twice when I was around 19 or 20, but I always seemed to walk away 60 bucks poorer and not having any idea how to achieve the desired effect with that make-up ever again.
The only piece of make-up that I know and love is my eyeliner.  Ahh, eyeliner!
Oh, and if you are wondering what my other deserted island must haves are, I will leave you with a picture:
Yup, John Cusack and eyeliner.  That's all I need.

What is your favorite make-up product that you cannot live without?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Survival Kit

Batten the hatches- here it comes!
What's in my hurricane survival kit:

Candle and lighter

Can opener

Deck of cards


Gallon of water- fill bathtub with water

Movies- for when you have electricity but no cable

Bottle of wine

Cooler filled with ice

Book light or head lamps- you can clip to a book or to your kids


I have been through many hurricanes having lived in Florida since I was a kid.  The worst part is being without electricity and the flooding.  The best part is unplugging and spending time bonding with family and friends.  
Good luck and prayers to all, and for goodness sakes- stay INSIDE! : )
What is in your hurricane survival kit???

Can you describe your life in just 6 words?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shoes, Dogs and Best Friends

Do you have a best friend?  I do.  I have known her since we were kids- know everything about each other- have been there for each other through many hard times as well as many good times!
They say that man's best friend is a dog.  I get that. Dogs are loyal and always happy to see you.
They say that diamonds are a girl's best friend.  I don't know how I feel about that, because diamonds are cold, hard and very expensive.  
I have also heard it said that shoes are a girl's best friend.  I can also tell you that my shoes are definitely not my best friend right now!  Shoes are more like my frenemies- those people who act like friends, but secretly wish you harm.  Both seem all sweet and nice at first, but hang around them long enough and they can hurt you!  This summer, I got these great hiking shoes.  I wore them walking on the treadmill and all around my school to break them in ahead of time.  When we took our big hike, by the walk out on the third day, my feet were full of blisters, and I had two toenails that were damaged and (OMG!) later fell off!  Thanks, hundred dollar hiking shoes!
My feet always hurt by the end of the day at school because as a teacher, I never sit down and am constantly walking in circles between the desks.  So, I thought I would treat myself to a pair of Danskos for back to school.  They were so cute and comfortable to wear- until the end of the day when they had rubbed blisters on the skin on the tops of my feet!
It seems as if no matter what type of shoe I buy, nothing compares to my best friends:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School

Remember when you were a kid preparing for the new school year to start?
 You got your new shoes.
You got your back to school haircut.
You sharpened all of your pencils, organized your new school supplies and put them in your cool new backpack.

You had your picture taken either in front of your classroom or on your front porch.  
The night before school starts, I used to always lay in bed and worry.  Would I make friends?  Would I get lost?  Would my teacher be nice?  Would I make it through the day without embarrassing myself?
 Teachers, as well as kids, go through these same preparations and feelings!  We hope we will get a good class.  We hope the kids (and other teachers) will like us.  We hope to make it through the day without embarrassing ourselves!

This school year was the best I have had yet!  I did not get all nervous, I have a great group of kids and got through the day without embarrassing myself (not that it won't happen at some point in the year!)  It didn't even rain! 

What is your best back to school memory?  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saving Puppies

I found a stuffed animal puppy in the parking lot at my school the other day.  He was all wet and dirty and sad.  I brought him home, washed and dried him and he is adorable!  
 While I was saving this cute toy puppy dog, I started thinking about my best friend, Michelle.  She just moved to Puerto Rico, and helps run a non-profit there called "Island Dog".  She does what I did only with real dogs- they are amazing!
Basically, the dog population in Puerto Rico is out of control, so they are trying to educate the people there to vaccinate, spay and neuter their dogs.  They also find these poor, sad, starving puppies, clean them up and find homes for them.  Even Selena Gomez is involved with Island Dog.  Check out this video:
For more information, or, if you want to rescue a real puppy, you can visit their website: www.islanddog.org!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Are You Ready?!?

Ready or not, here they come!

I spent the entire week decorating my classroom and preparing for Open House last night and the first day of school next week.  I think I am ready!

Can you describe your life in just 6 words?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Electricity, Fish and Mistaken Identities

 I have mentioned before that I have an aquarium with cichlids in it.  I love my fish, but they keep having babies and the tank is too small for them all.  I rounded up some of the baby fish to sell to the pet store but they only wanted to give me a few dollars for them, because they are just silver colored.  The father fish is a beautiful color, but the mother is small and silver- nothing to look at.  Well, the father fish is a little aggressive.  He is always shaking his tail at the other fish, trying to make more babies and chasing them around the tank.  So, I decided that to solve the overcrowded tank problem I would sell him to the pet store.   
Well, as my daughter and I were trying to capture him, we were getting shocked by the tank!  

 Turns out, the light was getting wet and giving a charge to the water in the fish tank.  So, we unplugged the light, made a huge mess trying to get this fish, finally catch him and get him in a bucket to take him to the fish store.  Guess what happened when we got all the way there!  Yup, we had the WRONG fish!  I have a feeling those fish are all sitting in there laughing at me.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Halloween Already?!

Remember when you were a kid riding in the backseat of the car and would try to see how many trucks you could get to honk?  Or you would wave to people in other cars and see if you could get them to wave back?  
Yesterday, my friend and I ran out to grab a quick lunch. We were stopped at a light, and happened to glance over at the car next to us.  We noticed that there was a little girl hanging out the window wearing this:
Well, we both started cracking up, which made the girl want to impress us even more, so she started dancing and we started laughing even harder!  That little girl made our day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Empty Classroom

Believe it or not, most teachers get nervous and excited about the first day of school!  We even have two of them to get through- our first teacher day back, and then the first day back for students. 
Walking into a quiet empty classroom can cause different teachers to have different emotions.  Some are overwhelmed while some can't wait to decorate and cover it all over with posters.  Some teachers are ready to come back from summer, some come back dragging their feet and still others come back kicking and screaming clinging to summer! 
When I walked into my room today, I was excited to be back and to decorate in my new theme: Frogs!  It is a little overwhelming being back though- so much to do in so little time!  I get nervous and excited to meet my new students and their parents.  
The good thing about teaching is that each year is a chance to start new, to try different things and to tweak the old things to make them even better!  How do you feel about the new school year? 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Swimming With the Sharks, Dolphins and Shark Week

 I am not one of those people who freak out about sharks while I'm swimming.  I am more concerned about doing the stingray shuffle! (see video below)  I was not scared by the movie, Jaws.  I can identify most types of sharks, and have even seen sharks while surfing and diving and not been terrified.  Did you know that sharks rarely kill people?  If a shark does bite a person, they don't like the taste, that is why you only hear about shark bites.  All this said, this weekend I was snorkeling with my daughter on a coral-y beach and when we were getting out, we noticed there were some fins in the water.  Some people sitting beside us on the beach said that they were dolphins, and had been playing out there for a couple hours.  Well, I have seen dolphins and I was not real sure that they were actually dolphins and not sharks.  First of all, there were only two and the fins were very small.  Where were their dolphin parents???  And second, I have never seen such small dolphins before.  So, I think there is a good chance that my daughter and I may have had our own personal "shark week" at the beach this weekend!  How do you feel about sharks?  
Dolphin Fins

Shark Fins

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the Keys, the dock and special places

Do you have a special place?  A place where you feel most calm and peaceful?  A place where you can go or envision yourself when the world becomes too busy and crazy?  When I took Lamaze class years ago, they had us envision our peaceful place (instead I opted to meet with the anesthesiologist!)  When I took yoga class years ago, they had us meditate on our calm place (I was just trying my best not to get tied up in knots!).  But I do know where my special place is.  Back before I had my daughter, I used to visit the Florida Keys two or three times every year with my family and friends.  Those were some of my favorite times!  But, I always remember starting out our mornings having coffee on the dock and planning out our day.  And then in the afternoons, sitting out there waiting for the boats to come in to see what everyone caught.  Finally, later at night having dinner and telling stories out there until we got tired and drifted off to bed.  

This dock has seen some sights!  If you ask any one of my friends, they would be glad to tell you about the time that we had been out catching lobsters ALL DAY LONG, and when we finally got back, I jumped off the boat, and straight off the dock- right into the water- in front of everyone!  They will also tell you about the time that my brother saw some ducks "fighting" on the dock.  (Yeah, it was a boy and girl duck and they were so NOT fighting!)  After not being able to make it down to the Keys for nearly 9 years, I got to have my coffee on the dock yesterday morning.  

And this time, it was with my daughter! 

Welcome to my special place!


6 word Saturday

Just like swimming in an aquarium!

Snorkeling Grecian Rocks off Key Largo!
We had such a fun trip!

Can you describe your life in just 6 words?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tropical Tilapia Recipe

Do you have a go-to recipe that you make when you are trying to impress people?  Here is one of my favorite recipes to cook when I am showing off a bit:
Tropical Tilapia 
Lay out aluminum foil and if available, lay a banana leaf on top of the foil.  Place a tilapia filet on the leaf.
Top the fish with diced tomatoes, diced nectarine, peach or mango, season with salt (I used something called Florida Sunshine) and add a tiny pinch of brown sugar.  
 Wrap the fish up and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350.  I usually serve this dish with couscous.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Are You A Complainer?

pos·i·tiv·i·ty [poz-i-tiv-i-tee]
1. the state of being positive: accepting the world as it is.
I have been participating in a study called "Cultivating Contentment" by Thomas Nelson. This is a great book that talks about how you can be more content with your life.  Last week the topic was "complaining" and as I talked with the group, we all agreed that for the most part people seem to either be "positive people" or "complainers".  The chapter that we read discussed reasons why people complain- as a form of small talk, because they compare themselves to others, because they lose sight what is really important in life. The book suggested everyone take home a package of Sweet Tarts and to eat one whenever we catch ourselves complaining this week.  The Sweet Tarts were to remind us to be sweet and not tart!  I consider myself to be a pretty positive person, and thought that this would be a good experiment to see how often I complain.  I caught myself only twice- once was a really big complaint!
The ways the book suggested and that our group came up with to be more positive were, first, to not compare yourself to others.  I once read that when you compare yourself to someone else, you could be comparing yourself on your worst day to them on their best day, besides you never know what someone else is going through! Second, whenever you feel like things are not going your way, instead of opening up your mouth to complain, count your blessings!  When you think about how much you are blessed with, it makes it hard to complain.  And third, things are not always perfect in this imperfect world- have a sense of humor and know that you will have good times and bad times, and hopefully in the end, we will all be in a perfect place with only perfect times!
How do you stay positive?

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6 word Saturday

Only 1 more vacation this summer!
Can you guess where we are going?

Can you describe your life in just 6 words?

Friday, August 5, 2011

UGH, my mom's trying to teach me!

The number one reason why kids struggle with math is because they do not know their times tables. Next year, my daughter is going into the third grade, and you know what that means???  She will learn her times tables and cursive writing this year.  I usually try to leave my daughter alone as far as schoolwork goes- she does her own homework and I stay out of it as long as she is doing a good job.  I am not one of those moms who feels the need to teach my kid to read at 3, but teaching her the times tables is very important to me, because I see what a difference it makes!  
 Remember the magnetic chalkboard wall that I slaved over?  I have been putting it to good use.

Also, I printed out multiplication flashcards and each day I give my daughter a new set of them to write the answers on, color and add on to a clip.

I found some fun worksheets for her to work on.

I also recommend the games from www.multiplication.com for practice.

Kids love it when you quiz them in the car! (Actually, they don't, but do it anyway!)
I also have a shake it up egg carton multiplication game, and a ball with problems on it that you catch and then shout out the answer where your thumb lands.
 Do you have any other creative ideas for teaching times tables?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Delicious Onion Recipe

Even though I have been known to complain about my daughter being a picky eater, I have to confess that I can be a picky eater too!  I am not a fan of onions, although I do like the flavor of foods cooked in onions.  I have even been known to order french onion soup and scoop around all of the onions!  Whether you are a fan of onions or not, you will love these!  We call them "Camping Onions" because they are fun to make over a campfire, but you can cook them in the oven too. These onions are so soft and flavorful, I can't believe I ate an entire onion yesterday!  

"Camping Onions"
Cut a sweet onion or Vidalia onion in half.  Peel off the skin.
Use a melon baller or spoon to hollow out a small hole in the middle of the onion
 Place 1 beef bullion cube and a tiny bit of butter in the hole, wrap up in foil and cook for 30-45 minutes!
Delicious when served with bread!  Enjoy!

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