Saturday, March 8, 2014
Excuse me while I fill my brain up with mathematics.
Lesson planning takes a lot of time. Don't ever let anyone tell you that teachers aren't hard workers, because I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is never a time when you are not working, thinking, or thinking about what other work you need to do.
This week's challenge: moving from multiplication and division into decimals, fractions, and parenthetical equations, and more.
Having a School of Rock moment this morning.
Jack Black rocks my world in this scene. More of him in movies, please. Watch and have a giggle on me.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Although we are not in New Orleans today (alas!), we will be celebrating Mardi Gras nonetheless, regardless of all the snow and ice still hanging around outside.
Or perhaps because of it. We desperately need a little more Mardi Gras in our systems at this point in the relentless winter storm-o-rama we have dealt with this year.
Life has been insanely busy for me this week. Lesson planning, curriculum revisions, hand-out revamping: all of the above has been taking up my entire weekend and beyond. It will be worth it when we get going, but the recent snow days have just been extending my obsessive need to get this exactly right.
So, time to stop for a little while. It is break time to think about something more delicious: which New Orleans style meal do I want to make for dinner tonight in honor of Mardi Gras?
So many delicious choices.
As I sit here planning what I'm going to make for dinner this evening, I thought everyone else might benefit from some delicious Mardi Gras meal ideas and recipes as well.
So here goes:
Friday, February 28, 2014
With the winter cold and nasty weather forecast still dragging onward, my need to garden is going gangbusters at the moment. Seed catalogs have arrived in abundance at our house, and all the glossy, colorful photos are making me long to get out into the yard and prepare giant beds for all these lovely possibilities.
It is like sunshine captured in a catalog.
Last year, I threw myself into prepping our little veggie garden and weeded like a mad woman to get the flowers into decent shape as early as possible, because I knew that I had surgery and chemo and all sorts of other breast cancer treatments coming close on my heels. I did too much, too early, and then everything languished as treatment, especially chemo, brought me to a standstill for far too many days in a row.
This year, I am trying to be a bit smarter about my planning.
For the veggie plot, I am going to stick to things I know we will use pretty much daily and that are healthy choices: fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, a couple of larger tomato plants (these didn't do well for me last year at all, although the cherry tomatoes grew like crazy, so I'd love suggestions of what is working for everyone for slicing tomatoes these days!), Swiss chard, some early lettuce, and onion sets. If I get the chance, a couple of zucchini plants will go in by the front porch, with their sculptural leaves providing a nice, green complement while their prolific squash grow discreetly underneath.
But not much more than that: overdoing it does me no good this year, so I am desperately trying to keep it simple this year. At least in my mind, that is the current plan.
With the flowers, it will be mostly pots of annuals, and a few more perennials added to the mix in our beds, and that is about it. I want to focus on weeding more regularly this year: it got away from me entirely last year, because I didn't feel like getting out day to day for obvious reasons, and I fear that this will be the summer that I am forced to reclaim most of my beds from thistles and all sorts of other nasty interlopers that sneaked in while I wasn't able to keep them out.
If I can accomplish most of that this year, I will consider it a success.
What are your garden plans? Any good gardening books to recommend, especially the sort with glossy, lovely pictures? We have some more snowy, nasty days ahead, and I know I'll be dragging out the seed catalogs and books again soon.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The latest bit of news from our house:
As of next Monday, I will be taking over the 5th grade class at my daughter's school for the remainder of the school year. It also happens to be our daughter's class, so that should be both interesting and fun for everyone concerned. (At least, I hope so. The kids have told me they are already coming up for a nickname they can all use so it won't be confusing for The Peanut.)
Their current teacher got another job offer and will be finishing on Friday this week, so I will be taking over the class on Monday at a point that is most of the way through the year.
The kids have really enjoyed having Mrs. Carr as their teacher: she's been fun and bubbly, which is just what you want when you are a pre-teen. The thought was having someone with whom they are already familiar -- since I've had them in library for the last 3 years, and have known them all since they were tiny together in kindergarten -- might make the transition to a new teacher mid-year a wee bit smoother for them. I certainly hope that will prove true.
School was called off today due to yet another bout of snow. I'll be spending the day finishing the grading of my Library class papers, working on my first classroom newsletter and scouting for some fun things that we can do for Roald Dahl's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a read-aloud in class at some point before the end of the year.
Along the way, I'll be scouring pinned gems for other ideas for other subjects as well, as a supplement to what we'll be doing in the textbooks in the weeks ahead. Bless you, Pinterest, and all the fun ideas that you bring to my teaching table.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 9:01 AM
Sunday, February 23, 2014
The local squirrel population is eating me out of house and home. At the very least, they are chowing through a LOT of birdseed from the feeders, stuffing their face pouches to the brim and mocking me through the sun room windows all the while.
Our westie, Roxie, is about to lose her mind.
Especially with the one squirrel who likes to hang off the edge of our large feeder with his back paws while chewing on a peanut and waving a front paw at her through the large sun room windows. That one is pure, delighted evil and he knows it.
Having tried any number of feeder devices through the years to baffle or thwart the furry little fiends, I have found nothing that actually works. Perhaps it is the cost of doing business with birdfeeding that you pay your daily protection bounty to the marauding hordes, but it irks me that I have yet to find a solution.
Has anyone had any success in keeping the squirrels our of their feeders? Even the wire mesh feeders do no good here, because the savvy local squirrels just climb onto the feeders and gently rock them to and fro until seeds fall out for collection from the ground below.
Any hints on what has worked for you would be much appreciated. Or, in the alternative, if nothing has ever worked for you, please say so -- acceptance of the way things are is the first step to getting better, I hear.
(Photo via Jyrki Salmi.)
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 10:29 AM
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Today will be a day filled with checking off to do list projects and crafty goodness. The key will be mixing the tedious -- re-grouting some tile in the bathroom that has come loose -- with the super fun -- making some truffula trees for the library at school for Dr. Seuss' birthday on March 2.
In between there, somewhere, some cleaning and laundry needs to be done, and it is going to take a family effort to get everything moving in the right direction.
Right now, though? The sun is shining and it is calling all of our names to just sit and soak in a little brightness because it has been a long, dreary winter inside this year.
It is going to be a tug of war to see whether the to do list or the sunshine wins out today.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 9:24 AM
Friday, February 21, 2014
This morning I saw a hopeful sign of winter's demise: the goldfinches are starting to plume out in their bright spring best coats.
Thus far, it is just a hint of the golden yellow peeking through winter's drab. But it is enough to see it, just round the head and chest feathers at this point, even if it is not yet a fully fledged switch.
It is as if the goldfinches are saying, "Take hope, warmer weather is coming along with the sunshine. Have a peek."
(Photo via matthew jumpingspider.)
Thursday, February 20, 2014
When I mentioned the other day that we were forcing some tulip bulbs in a vase, there was a lot of interest from several snowbound readers on how we were doing this. I wish that I could say that I am just the sort of person who planned ahead and thoughtfully put this together weeks in advance, choosing just the right vase and bulbs and everything else, knowing that in the midst of a difficult winter some springtime cheer would be needed at just the right time.
But...not so much.
Truth is that I just happened to luck into finding a vase with bulbs already begun when I was at the grocery store the other day, running around and stocking up in between snowstorms. Tulip bulbs have to be chilled for a while before they will sprout and bloom -- several weeks, in fact -- and it just wasn't on my radar screen back in November when I would have had to start this.
There are, however, bulbs that will sprout without this very long chilling period. Those you could start this week if you are also in desperate need of Spring as we were.
As you can see above, the tulips are absolutely gorgeous.
Here are a few links to tutorials that talk about how to do it yourself:
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 9:16 AM
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Dear Summer Sunshine,
Please visit soon. Warmth is in short supply these days, and we could all do with a break from the drab, cold and dreary.
Warm breezes, the scent of flowers, the sunshine -- I could use a little more of all of the above, thank you very much. It is too bad we haven't invented weather we can just dial up as the mood suits us.
Please hurry back, summer sunshine, you are missed.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 7:52 AM
Monday, February 17, 2014
It is cold and icy and snow-covered here, but that doesn't keep me from jonesing for springtime. The first of the seed catalogs arrived in the mail this week, with their colorful flower porn that will get longingly stared at over and over again in the next few weeks as I plan something new for the yard.
Oh warmth, where art thou?
The best thing we've done in a long time was to find some bulbs in a vase with a plastic frog in the bottom of it. We're forcing the blooms in the sun room, and they are gloriously, riotously pink. The Peanut and I are loving them, and even Mr. ReddHedd has glanced their way a time or two in this cold, barren place we've gotten to this winter.
A little blooming life amid the frozen wasteland is a blessing, indeed.
Here's to warmer days ahead, filled with sunshine and flowers and a chance to go outdoors without bundling yourself into oblivion. Come on springtime.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 8:33 AM
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Well, this has all the markings of a road trip to NYC for me, doesn't it?
Sting has a show coming to Broadway. That's enough for me to buy tickets, all by itself.
This preview show airs on PBS the evening of February 21st. Set yer DVRs.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 8:15 AM
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Another day, another snow storm, another big line at the newly refilled bird feeders.
The neighborhood groundhogs had better keep on hibernating. Because they are on my list at the moment.
If you need me, I'll be staying inside warm and cozy and off the icy roads. It is nasty out there today, folks. Stay safe.
More birdies below the fold:
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 10:06 AM