Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mitts and More Mitts

Here's what I've been knitting this past week or so.


These are "child" size mitts, not meant for adult hands. They are knit of Mode Dea Sassy Stripes -- 2 pairs from one skein, with some left over, on size 5 dpns. The pattern is by Amanda Gill at Gaea Creations.

They join the larger family of previously knitted Princess Mitts:


A Couple of Things That Make It Worthwhile

I've been having a tough year so far at school, and some days I've been really wondering why I do the work I do. I was reminded today, on two different occasions, why I love my job, at least most of the time.

I have an open-door after school work/help session policy with my students. I invite kids to spend time with me after school to work on homework, get help, etc whenever they (or their parents) need to stay. I've made arrangements with one parent that her student will stay with me on Mondays. Student is not happy about it. While Student is very bright, and quite capable, school is not at the top of Student's list of priorities, and therefore instead of great grades, Student receives the dreaded average grade and the "not working to capacity" comment. Student is not concerned, but Parent is, and I too know Student could do better. So Student stays reluctantly. Yesterday I received one of those terrific notes from parents -the ones that don't come as often as we like. The parent thanked me for making this time available, and for continuing to push Student to excel. It's a rare treat lately for parents to commend us -- we've really been berated a lot lately for a number of things (that frankly are beyond our individual control). So that was the reminder #1 of why we do what we do.

The second reminder brought me to tears. A student from last year arrived in my room after school yesterday as I was feverishly trying to clean up, and I was also trying to get sub plans done since I will be at workshop on Monday. He was a student I really enjoyed having, and he usually stops by my room to say hi a couple of times a week. On this occasion he came in and started pouring his heart out to me. He was nervous about the holiday since it was the first big one since his parents' divorce. He shared with me that he'd been in therapy since the middle of last year (something I knew, but he didn't know I knew) and that although he hated going, he knew it was helping him a lot. He went on to tell me about all the things he liked about my classes, and told me that even though reading/language arts was not a subject he liked, I had made it interesting and fun, and "you picked good books for me to read." It was one of those conversations that make you know that you had really connected with a student. As I said, the tears were right there, and again, it was one of those rare moments where you know you've made a difference.

These moments go a very long way to help alleviate all the down sides of our jobs as teachers. And fortunately, these reminders come when I most need them. I am grateful for them!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Closing in on 100 --- #95 and #96

All Mortal Flesh: A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery All Mortal Flesh: A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another gripping read! And a zinger of an ending. I may have to break down and buy the hardcover of the next one because I don't think I want to wait for the paperback to be published.

View all my reviews.

And the second book I just finished is:

The Land of the Silver Apples The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a sequel to The Sea of Trolls, and it continues the story of Jack, an apprentice bard. This time his sister Lucy is kidnapped by the elves, and Jack's task is to rescue her. He meets some new allies -among them a Pict and some hobgoblins, and he discovers some startling truths about himself and his family. While I enjoyed this book, I liked the first one more. I will read the final installment when it's published, next spring, I believe.

View all my reviews.

Mix, blend, stir, and shake!

A timely Friday Five from the RevGalPal blog.

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?

I have a Cuisinart food processor which I really like. I use it fairly frequently -- when I'm in a cooking mood. My life is so busy that we use many more "ready-to-go" so I don't need to use the processor as much.

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)

I use several of the discs and blades. I used the shredder blade for cole slaw and to shred carrots, and I use the large blade for general processing.

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?

I have a Kitchen Aid standing mixer. I use it very frequently. I chose the brick red color. I even have the meat grinding attachment but I've never used that feature. It was free.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?

I don't have a blender anymore. It died. I did buy a handheld Oster puree machine which I like for soups.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?
I use my pastry cutter a lot, and I also use my whisk several times a week.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?

I use a cookie press at Christmas for "spritz" cookies.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book #94

Someone asked me how I find time to read so many books. Well, I read everyday, even it's only for a few minutes. Since I eat breakfast alone, that's my prime reading time most days. I do read quickly, so as long as it's a novel, I can usually read a chapter with my coffee and breakfast. I also keep a book in the car. My husband and I go to our local wellness center three times a week. He meets me at school between 4:15 and 4:30, so about 4:15 I head out to my car and wait for him. That's another reading time. Sometimes I get to read during reading class too --- when I do reading workshop with the kids, I'll pull out my own book for 5-10 minutes, before I start conferencing with individuals.

Anyway, here's book # 94

To Darkness and to Death (A Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery) To Darkness and to Death by Julia Spencer-Fleming

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, so far, but I found this one to be the most gripping. The overall tone of the book feels a little darker in some ways, and yet some of the plot twists seemed almost farcical. the love affair between Rev. Claire and Russ is becoming more open, too, with a startling declaration at the end of the book. . . .

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Needed This

Today was Veterans' Day, and we had no school. I needed today. I spend all weekend working --- about 7 hours on Saturday, and another 5 hours on Sunday. I had some grading to do, and a lot of prepping for my science classes. I also had to modify some spelling units for my IEP kids. And of course there was the business bookkeeping. That takes me about 10-15 hours a month, and of course, always coincides with my busy school weekends. Needless to say, I never got any down time this past weekend.

So today, I devoted to rest and recuperation. I played some Pathwords and Scramble on Facebook, I did some reading, I did a little laundry, and I did some knitting. I read a couple of wonderful blogs postings and articles about Veterans' Day too.

Here are two knitting projects. The first are the Princess Mitts from Clara Parkes' Book of Yarn. I used some Nashua Creative Focus Superwash.


The second project that I'm still working on is the Rainy Day scarf and I'm using Fiesta Swoon. That's a wool/silk blend, and it's really luxurious feeling.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Finished Object

sylvan pleated scarf
Originally uploaded by dswgr6
I finished this scarf recently. It's a pattern from Green Mountain Spinnery done in their Sylvan Spirit. It was fun to knit, and I love the way it pleats.

sylvan pleated scarf

Friday, November 7, 2008

Book #92 ( I think)

Stalking Ivory: A Jade Del Cameron Mystery (Jade del Cameron Mysteries) Stalking Ivory: A Jade Del Cameron Mystery by Suzanne Arruda

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the series. I enjoyed it as much as the first. Jade Del Cameron is not your average travel writer and mystery solver. It's the 1920's and she's a former American WWI ambulance driver living at present in Africa. In this novel, Jade is attempting to photograph elephants in the wild, when she stumbles into ivory poachers and a plot to overthrow the Abyssinian government. Sam Featherstone, an American would-be movie maker, and former pilot, becomes her ally and potential romantic interest. Suzanne Arruda knows her time period, and evokes post-war Africa quite well.

View all my reviews.

A Not-So-Wonderful-Week

Just some of the week's notable moments:

**Two parents publicly bashing our team in general, and some individual teachers specifically, saying we don't do enough for their children

**Recording an awful lot of D's and F's on report cards - due to the fact that some of our students refuse to do any work either in school or out of school

**Ten students (out of 19) not putting their names on their paper

**Only 30% of a class completed a reading assignment (10 pages in 2 nights)

**A student erased a note in his planner that Mom never saw

These are the kind of weeks that make me question whether or not I can make it another 5 years.

It kind of overshadowed the excitement and joy of the election.