Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Up and Out

The adjustment to super early school mornings is going to take a little longer.  It was all that I could do to get myself out of our cozy bed this morning.

Newsflash:  still not a morning person.

There will be a need for more coffee for the forseeable future.  That is all.

(Photo via song zhen.)

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day Of School

First day of school with Finding Nemo...

Out the door in a hurry this morning, I'm afraid. It's the first day of school, and our Peanut is set for her last year in elementary school. *sniffle*

They have to grow up sometime, I know, but does it have to go by in such a blur?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pushing Through

My bones are creaking this morning, from too many days in a row of getting up and down ladders and hefting books and heavy boxes and crawling around on my hands and knees picking up random detritus, all in an effort to get the school library ready for academic prime time.  It was a mess, and now it is much better, but my body is much worse for the wear this year.

After the last year and a half of breast cancer treatment, my muscle tone is shot and my body has, unfortunately, gotten used to a much lower level of activity.  My usual ability to push through is still there intellectually:  the spirit is definitely willing, but the body is way, way too weak for what my mind thinks that I can do.


The good news is that I could still get things done, and my room looks wonderful and is almost ready for students.  I still have some shelves to clean and books to reorganize, but overall it is looking really good at the moment.

Today will be a partial rest day.  There is laundry to do and kitchen cleaning to catch up on, although Mr. ReddHedd helped tremendously yesterday by doing dishes and a lot of laundry while The Peanut and I were at school working on my room.  The day to day doesn't stop while extra stuff gets piled on, but this year we have managed to muddle through it without too much impact at home.

We've begun making more healthy food choices in earnest, and I can feel it making a difference in me, even with the achy knees this morning.  So that's a good thing.  I have eaten more veggies this week than I have in a long while, and it has made a difference in mental sharpness, even though it hasn't shown up on the scales just yet.  Can't expect an overnight miracle, but I am happy with the direction we're going at the moment.

As in most things in life, the key appears to be pushing through whatever barrier decides to throw itself into your path on any given day. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, RIP

Oh Captain, my Captain...one of my favorite scenes from the brilliant, poignant and amazing Dead Poet's Society.

No idea why the loss of a man I never met has hit me so hard, but it has.  The laughter he brought through the years with his brilliant comedy, and the tears from the serious roles that seemed to open up his soul and pour it out...the loss of that is profoundly sad and bleak.

Requiescat in pace, Robin Williams. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back To School...Almost

It's going to be a whole week of getting my room ready for Open House on Friday and making sure that The Peanut is stocked up on school supplies.

Am behind my usual pace for this time of year, and feeling the time crunch as a result.  

Enjoy a little Huey Lewis and the News while I go cover myself in dusty grime...

Friday, August 8, 2014

More Fun With Library Signage

After several requests, it became clear to me that there was interest in more of the library signs I put together yesterday.  Above is the one with Katniss from The Hunger Games.  The rest of the signs will follow.

I like to mix these up over the course of the school year, so there is something fresh every couple of weeks as they come in to class and to check out a new book. 

For each of the ones featured here, if you click on the picture, it should take you to a larger size that you could print off for your own classroom.

As I make more of these for my library, I'll try to share them for other teachers to be able to use them as well.  Am trying to come up with signs that will work for a broad range of ages -- from preK-3 to 6th graders -- and will also catch their interest in reading. 

I would like to come up with more literary-related ideas as well, so if you have a book character you'd like to suggest, I'll see if I can put something fun together in terms of a reading promotion sign.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Having Fun With Library Signs

This morning, I've had some serious fun playing around with new ideas for library signs.  Every year, I like to add a little new spice to the mix, to keep things fun and fresh for the kids.

So far, I've created the one above with Anna and Elsa from Frozen, a minion going bananas for books from Despicable Me, a photo of Katniss being hungry for books from Hunger Games, and a "kneel, puny human, some of the best books are on the lower shelves!" Loki sign from the Thor and Avengers movies.  (Thank you, Pinterest!)

There will be more to come, I'm certain, but that's enough for one day.

My plan is to do more with children's book characters, when I can think of something pithy to make a pun or elicit a giggle.  Anything to interest the kids in reading more, right?

In any case, if you click on the sign above, you can get a full sized sign to print out for your own school library. 

Any ideas for future signs?  Please do share in the comments!  I promise I'll try to share what I make as I get new ones done.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Sometimes, you get a photograph you weren't expecting.  This was one of those times.  I thought I'd just be getting a regular landscape shot when, instead, what came back through the lens was something closer to one of those vintage postcard paintings of the Grand Canyon.

Love that nature is just so beautiful when you are looking at it with the right attitude.

Life is like that as well, isn't it?  Sometimes when you look at your own day to day through a different angle, it suddenly looks a whole lot better.  Trying to keep a positive outlook can be tough, especially under adverse circumstances or in the midst of a busy run-around time.  But it is important to try to do that for your own sake, as well as the folks around you.

At least that's what I'll be telling myself this week and next as the back to school season gears up at our house.

Predictably, things have gotten busy:  the library clean-up and reorganization has begun in earnest, in advance of an open house next week; lesson planning has also begun; and we're in the middle of a home re-organization as well, as I work toward where I want things to be before the start of school.
All of the vacation photos certainly bring back that feeling of calm relaxation that we had along the journey.  May have to put them up all over the house to keep that going.  It's time to refocus a bit, but not lose the importance of balance.

That's an awfully tough thing to manage sometimes, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I'm Supporting Natalie Tennant for United States Senate

Just a note to say that I'm supporting Natalie Tennant for United States Senate from the great state of West Virginia.

Natalie is a friend of the family and one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life.  But more than that, she sincerely cares about the people of our state and the issues that they face. 

Spent part of my afternoon today catching up with her at a campaign stop, and it was, as always, just wonderful to chat about the issues and about her hopes for the future of West Virginia. 

Wish all politicians were half as sincere and caring about their jobs as Natalie genuinely is.

When you get to election season this fall, please consider a vote for Natalie for US Senate.  I honestly believe she's the best choice for the job and that she will work her rear end off for regular folks here in my home state of West Virginia.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's Back To School Season

It is that time of year again.  School starts in a couple of weeks, which means lesson planning has become a rampant obsession and ideas for displays and bulletin boards are leaping off the Pinterest pages and into my brain.

All too soon, The Peanut and I will be browsing school supplies and wiping down the library shelves with abandon.

As I re-do the beginning of the year lesson plans, I'll try to update posting here for ideas for other folks.  

With an Open House scheduled at school in two weeks, it's time for me to get busy.  If you need me, I'll be the one with the Clorox wipes...

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Love Bill Murray

I love Bill Murray.

There. I said it.

I have loved Bill Murray since his Saturday Night Live days.  He is an irreverent hoot with a softer edge when he drives home the comedic knife, a deft touch with his word skills but not too snotty about his intelligence quotient being so much higher than yours that it is off-putting, and a master of the well placed lifted eyebrown of scorn.  How can you not love that in a comedian?

It grew to a deeper and abiding respect after his turn in The Razor's Edge. He is flat out brilliant in it.

This new movie, St. Vincent, looks similarly amazing.

Lainey says it was a role written with Jack Nicholson in mind, but handed over to Bill Murray with Jack's blessing.  This has Oscar bait written all over it, doesn't it?  Love, love, love Bill Murray and can't wait to see this with Melissa McCarthy, too.

This is a movie that is seriously calling my name.  Someone pass the popcorn...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carlsbad Caverns: Adventure 750 Feet Underground

Last year, I had the kids in my class do a research project on a National Park.  The Peanut selected Carlsbad Caverns as her park, and enjoyed learning all sorts of intriguing bits of information about this fascinating park.

So when we began planning our cross-country driving vacation, her one big request was that we stop at Carlsbad and go down into the cave and explore.  She wanted to see in person a number of things that she'd read about.

How can you say no to a child who wants to learn more about what she's already researched, right?

Even if it does involve spending an entire day 750 feet below the surface of the Earth, and leave you coming outside at dusk smelling like musty, damp cave.  Let me tell you:  the whole thing was amazing and I would go again in a heartbeat, especially because she was completely fascinated from start to finish, and got to talk with some wonderful National Park Service rangers along the way.

One thing we did that I highly recommend is to get a "self-guided tour" electronic guide stick:  it is triggered by a series of numbered electronic keys that you find all along the path, and it gives a pre-recorded informational tour of each one.  For The Peanut, it was a great boost to what she had already learned about the cave, and it gave a lot of historical background on discoveries and scientific information all along the initial cave entrance pathways as well as all along the Big Room walking tour that we did on our own. 

We also booked a ranger-guided tour of the King's Palace that we loved.  If you are going to book a guided tour, I recommend doing so online well before you get to the caverns -- several were sold out completely the day we toured, and we would have missed out had we waited.  I booked ours several weeks ahead of our trip, and I am very glad that I did.