Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm back. I hope.

I know it's been a long time, loyal blog followers.  I'm sorry.  But here are my excuses, whether you want to hear them or not.

We were in The Wizard of Oz last month!  It was AMAZING!  Everyone had so much fun, the girls were munchkins/lullaby league girls, and Drew was my official page turner as I played the piano for the pit band.  This was the first time PHS has put on a musical since I was in high school (over 20 years ago), and I feel so honored to be able to have been a part of it (both then and now).  I can't wait to see what the future holds!

My first year of Business Applications and Math class is finally coming to an end!  In April, I taught my students how to fill out a 1040EZ and we discussed taxpayer rights, where tax money goes, etc..  We looked at credit and loans after we finished learning about income tax, and then learned ALL about credit scores!  I had the kids work in groups to create a board game with the purpose of learning about/teaching others about credit scores.  The games were all quite different (out of 35 students, I ended up with 7 games), and the kids --once again-- surprised me with what they can come up with!
It's been great, but it's been a lot of work: researching topics to study, learning things so I can teach, writing tests and developing activities to keep the kids interested, but I did it!  8 days to go!  PHEW!

Prom was also in there, but I don't have any pictures.   Let's just say that I've become a bottle-tan fan.  And they mean it when they say go easy on the ankles and toes.  Um... yeah... orange-a-lish.... or not...

Now it's just a count down to the end of the school year!  8 more days!  My garden is planted and we are in the heart of Asparagus season!  Yum!  It's time to think about 4-H projects, but it's also time to R.E.L.A.X.!

Thanks for hanging in there, everyone!  Talk to you soon!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

You know you're a fair kid's MOM when...

My "fair friend" (really she's my always friend, but we know each other mostly through years of 4-H,) shared an article with me on Facebook, "You know you're a fair kid when..." and all of it rang true.

But it got me thinking about all the things that could be said about being a fair kid's mom.  Here goes:

Image result for 4h1.  If your name is on the stall card, it's your responsibility... but if the animals in the next stall over need something, or more specifically-- poop scooped, you do it.  Even if it isn't your animal.  It's called animal husbandry and common courtesy.

2.  You work hard to make sure your kids get at least one decent meal a day during fair week.  For us, this means community style lunches with some club friends-- tacos in a bag, barbecues, or sub sandwiches.  Even if it's just out of the back of my minivan, at least I know where it came from and whose hands touched it!  Also, if a fellow 4-Her is hungry, SHARE!  The 4-H motto:  "for my club, my community, and my world" rings loud and true during fair week!

3.  You know how to stay composed.  When my kids come in last place, I dig deep and always try to be a good example.  On me, this looks like congratulating and patting-on-the-back our fellow 4-Hers who won first in their class or took top place in showmanship.  The judge doesn't care that MY kid was out in the pasture everyday bottle feeding his animal.  He or she really doesn't care that my kid knows how to pull a calf, administer medicine, or spends most of his summer vacation working side by side his dad and grandpa on the farm.  His animal isn't the fluffiest, and yes it's crossbred.  That's what we do.

4.  You learned the politics early on.  But, you try and be the best YOU you can be, because the future of the program depends on the example you set for those who will one day have 4-Her's of their own.  At the end of the week, if we've had fun and spent quality time with our friends, then that is all that matters.  I don't remember the winning or losing from when I was a kid, I remember the good times and the friendships I made!

See where "Mom" is?  At the hind end, making sure everyone stays where they need to.  By the way, did you know that calves tend to kick?  Yeah, they do.  It hurts.  Also, it's not glitter and sprinkles that come out of that end...
5.  Crying at the auction is allowed.  But I have to admit that I get choked up LONG before sale day.  When we're leading the cattle up and down the road in the evenings, when the kids are brushing, washing, petting, and caring for their animals in general, it breaks my heart to know how much their hearts will hurt on Sunday when they have to load the trailer--and not OUR trailer, not headed for OUR farm.  It really doesn't get easier as the years pass, either.  It also brings tears of joy to my eyes to see their hard work pay off as they lead their animals around the show ring and again on sale day, when so many people come out support the 4-Hers and the program.  All in all, 4-H is "good people".

6.  And the clothes:  yes.  The clothes.  I wouldn't be caught dead in my workplace (or public, for that matter) wearing what I can usually be found wearing at the wash rack early in the morning of fair week.  But for those 5 days, it's a matter of getting the job done.  I figure that people see me at my "best" 360 days of the year, they'll forgive me my sopping wet overalls, bandanna and rubber boots.  As far as those show clothes:   my iron and ironing board see more action on the Sunday or Monday before the fair than it does all year.  It's the ONLY time (well maybe at Easter) that my kids get their shirts (and sometimes jeans) ironed!  I don't think that the average person understands how long those clothes STAY clean.  MAYBE 2 minutes.  Those nicely pressed shirts are slobbery/sweaty/dusty mere minutes after being donned.

So, in closing, please remember that behind every "fair kid" are dedicated, hard working, and tired parents.  Parents who sometimes believe more firmly in "making the best better" than is humanly possible.  But, at least we're trying?!?!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sewing Clinic!

Today I had the pleasure of taking Holly to a 4-H sewing clinic sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension.  Holly is signed up for Sewing 1, where her ultimate "project" will be either a pair of pajama pants, a skirt, a pair of shorts, or a 9-patch pillow.  I think she's leaning toward a pair of pajama pants as of right now.

First, the girls were given an introduction to the project judging day (which happens in July, a month or so before the actual fair), and were told what to expect at the "fashion revue", which is a fashion show in the afternoon, where they display their projects for an audience.

Learning the parts of a sewing machine...
Practicing sewing a straight line, turning, and sewing a curved line...
Then the girls split into groups and worked their way around 5 stations where they learned the different aspects of sewing and clothing construction.

Learning to cut out a pattern...
Taking measurements to correctly size a garment...
At the end of the stations, the girls then selected material and made a drawstring bag.  Holly loved every part of the day!

Working on the drawstring bag...

We both learned so much!  I can't wait for spring break when we have hours on end to play around with patterns, fabric, and the sewing machine!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Snow Day!

Last week at this time we were gearing up for what I feel was one of the best Super Bowls of ALL TIME!  I thought the halftime show was absolutely fantastic!  We stayed home that night and listened to the wind howl and the snow blow.  And then the MOST wonderful thing that could happen to a teacher on a Sunday night actually happened: school was cancelled the next day due to the weather!  (Actually, I was a little bummed because I am really looking forward to a nice long summer vacation.  Every day we are off in February equals a day we are NOT off in June...)

Anyway, the next morning dawned bright and beautiful...

unless you were a farm kid.

Yep, we were summoned out of our nice warm beds to shovel the feed bunks.

Only the bunks that had an easterly exposure had to be shoveled, and that was really only 2 1/2 feed yards worth.  (One feed lot is a little ways down the road, so the kids and I had to walk a bit.  My mitten got in the way, but I wish you could see my beautiful view of the quiet road and the fresh snow; it was magical!)

I felt bad for the cows (and I don't remember this from my shoveling days as a kid...) because as soon as we got the snow out of the bunks, the cattle were right up behind us licking up what was laying at the bottom, they were HUNGRY!

Breakfast for the cattle was a little late that morning, but as soon as the guys got the drives plowed and the snow scraped away from the bunks (what we had shoveled out), they started filling the feed wagon and by late morning, everybody was back at the bunk for seconds!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I set a goal of three posts per month for the bloggity blog.  Only 2 made it to January, but I'm going to work really hard on 4 for February.  That'll make up for it, right?

I've been accomplishing lots in place of the blog, if that's worth anything...

PHS hosted the 2nd annual Fresh-Soph Academic Bowl Invitational Tournament on the 22nd of January, and it was another great success!  Pec came in 2nd, which I am proud of, but I would have been more comfortable if we would have placed a little more mid-land.  Last year we were 4th out of 8th, which I felt good about.  2nd out of 10 this year was a little too, "Thanks for coming and letting us beat the pants off you."  We've just kind of lucked out with a strong team this year!  You just never know who knows what out there...

Anyway, after everyone left and the school was put back in order, I was tidying up my room and getting ready for the next day.  As I went to write the next day's "problem of the day" on the board, I saw this and had to chuckle:

How true, how true.  Gotta love nerdy kids!

In other news, I'm teaching a computer programming class this semester.  More like: I'm learning computer programming a little bit at a time and trying to teach the students what I know, but really they just take my nugget of information and run at lightening speed, looking up other stuff on the internet and using my one little resource book.  Last week I put them to work designing new name plates for the teachers' doors.  They learned to use a "for" loop to draw patterns.  The students each picked a name out of my Scooby Doo bucket, some swapped with other kids if they had a special relationship with a teacher.  EACH and EVERY one of the kids took so much ownership and FAR exceeded what I expected out of them.  I finally finished laminating them last Friday afternoon and the kids will hand-deliver them on Monday.  They are really looking forward to sharing their hard work!  I CANNOT begin to tell you how much I'm enjoying this class and group of kids!

Hope all is well!  What's new with you!?!?!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

An eggcelent start to any morning!

Sorry for the pun.

Awhile ago, I mentioned my new obsession with clean eating.  Here's my answer to breakfast clean eating:

I take a (microwave safe) bowl and crack one egg and add a splash of milk.  Whisk it together for a few seconds, then dump in a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese, a tablespoon of either diced ham or crumbled bacon (maybe not the cleanest...) and then chop up 3-4 spinach leaves.

Give it another quick mix and pop it in the microwave (covered loosely with plastic wrap or a plastic lid) and zap for 3 minutes.

Be careful, though!  The bowl will be HOT!  It's delicious and filling.  I eat around 6:50 am on school mornings (once the kids are on the bus), and I stay full until my lunchtime, after 5th period at 11:45 am.

When I used to eat a pop-tart or a bowl of cereal, I'd be ready to gnaw my arm off by the end of 3rd period, 10:15 am.  In fact, in the olden days (pre-November 2014) this would  be my daily trip to the soda machine in the teachers' workroom.  Now, I make it a point to drink more water each day and I don't feel nearly as exhausted by the end of 7th period (1:50 pm) (AKA sugar crash time).

I've even been known to throw one of these concoctions in a tightly-lidded dish and zap it up for lunch!  What do you eat in the morning that keeps you full til lunchtime?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy 2015!

Is your new year off to a great start?  Ours is, and I credit it to how well we welcomed in the new year!  On New Year's Eve, we had a fantastic time bowling and then hanging out at our friends' house.  This is the 4th year we've all gotten together (I think), and every year we ring in the new year with lots of good food and tons of laughs.  My arm was sore for a week from the bowling, though.

The first day of 2015 was spent relaxing, doing some crafts, watching movies, and playing Monopoly!  I even got up that morning and took down the Christmas tree.

Here's where it gets interesting:

I was taking the last ornament off the tree when it struck me: I hadn't taken 1 single picture of the first Christmas tree in our new home or that classic picture with our children in front of it!  What a mother-fail.  There will be no "Christmas 2014" page in the scrapbook. Ever.

Oh well.

Speaking of the new house, I did decorate the mantle of our beautiful fireplace.  I had enough foresight to take a picture of it:

And, then after everything was put away, I sat down at my sewing machine and whipped up this cute pennant banner thing to go in place of the garland.  (Incidentally, I had purposely glittered "Love" instead of "Peace" or "Joy" or "Noel" so that it could stay up well through Valentine's Day.)

I'm happy with the way it turned out and that I didn't have to buy anything to complete the project.  Everything was scrap from my sewing tub!

My next project is a sewing machine cover.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love Pinterest!?!?!