Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge!!

1. So, when did you last take a walk in the woods? A stroll along the beach? A drive going nowhere in particular in the car?
Last weekend, the hubby and I headed up to Lancaster PA to go puppy shopping: ) We randomly got lost in the area of Kinzers PA and enjoyed a leisurely drive through some farm area. It was just fun to see all of the horse and buggies on the road, and know we had no where we had to be.

2. Are you sending Christmas cards this year? About how many do you send? Photo card or something more traditional? How do you display the cards you receive?
Yes I am sending Christmas photo cards this year. Have I ordered them yet? So guess who will be paying a lot in shipping?? We are bringing home our new puppy this Saturday and I want him to be in our photo. Am I asking too much?
 We usually send out about 70. I display the cards ( Thanks to Pinterest) on ribbons running down each of our kitchen cabinets. We attach them with little mini clothespins. It is so festive and it decorates the kitchen so nicely for the holidays.

3. What's a word you've heard too much of in the past week?
Boys! Our county has become obsessed with them! We are changing all of our classes around to same sex classes, so the boys can do better. Apparently, we don't care about the girls anymore?! So much for wanting them to succeed in math and science. The pendulum has swung back to the other extreme. Why can't they just let me teach?

4. December 13th is National Cocoa Day-are you a fan? Plain or flavored? Marshmallows or no marshmallows?
My favorite--actually I have two: at the store I love the French Vanilla Cocoa from Swiss Miss and at Starbucks I like their White Hot Chocolate. Both with marshmallows and whipped cream. Yum!

5. What is something you do to help alleviate the hectic pace of the Christmas season?
Drink wine? No just teasing. I have learned not to overbook our weekends leading up to Christmas. I find it is okay to say no every now and then. People understand. Of course, I am the same girl who is getting an 8 week old puppy 10 days until Christmas, so see what I say next week : )

6. Besides jewelry, what's a favorite sparkly-glittery item in your home or closet?

I don't really have any sparkly items other than jewelry. Not even a shirt or dress. Hmmm...interesting. I guess I am going to have to go shopping soon. I will tell the hubby Joyce made me...tee hee!

7. Share a favorite line or two from any Christmas carol.

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I had a very accomplished day. I graded all of my papers and was looking forward to coming home and decorating the house with the hubby. I received an e-mail though from one of my close friends telling me she has thyroid cancer at the age of 40. She didn't want to talk about it.I am shocked. She has to have her thyroid removed next week. She is an amazing mother of three beautiful girls. She is so selfless and caring. In fact, she flew up here from Florida to take me to my last chemo treatment when I had cancer. Why is cancer hitting us so young? Please say a prayer for her.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge---Just in time for Turkey Day!

1. Turkey-love it or leave it? White meat or dark? What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?

Love it!!! White meat only please: ) I don't make anything fancy with leftover turkey. i do love turkey sandwiches and turkey and rice. My mom growing up would always make turkey and rice in a skillet. The only place I can get it now, off season that is, is at Cracker Barrel on Saturday nights. We don't have one near us unfortunately.

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do-run a 10K or climb a mountain?

I would rather run a 10K. My hubby and I do a Turkey Trot 5K the morning of Thanksgiving on Main Street in Laurel. So that puts us ahead of the game before the feast.

3. Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse? Explain.

Better I guess. I love connecting with old friends and students. Often as a teacher you never find out what happened to some of your favorite students, so social networking has allowed that, which is fabulous. Of course with that being said, I almost quit FB twice this year because of ignorance and political opinions. I'm all about free speech, but I am not about insulting others just because there is an outlet. No wonder schools have such issues with cyberbullying. Apple...tree... just sayin'.

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in your life?
Phew... this is a hard one Mrs. D.  I know I am grateful that I am able to have a roof over my head, a successful career, and a loving family. I still question this path I am on every day though. I know God has a plan for me, and I try to allow myself to be guided, but sometimes I don't understand how I got here. How did I end up a cancer survivor? How did I end up not able to have children? I know God would not give me anything that I can't handle, but I'm starting to think he has too high of expectations for me : )

5. In the US, the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed 'Black Friday'. Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person, or is it done more through the magic of the Internet? How do you feel about stores opening at midnight Thanksgiving night? Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday?
Growing up "Black Friday" was a tradition for all of the women in our family. So once of appropriate shopping age, I joined my aunt, mother, and grandmother for the craziness of shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Over the past three years though, it has become too much. I don't truly believe I am getting that much better of a deal, besides I've become an excellent summer Christmas shopper. Now with this nonsense of opening Thanksgiving night, goodness! Is there any gift that is really worth it? I will be out that morning though since I live across the street from Kohl's, Target, and Hobby Lobby. I will not be venturing to a mall. I will get my coffee and walk across the street. Will I buy anything? Probably. I usually get up early anyway to send my hubby off to his week of hunting. A hunter's widow I am this time of the year. He hunts, I shop!

6. Speaking of the color black-which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?
This is a very hard question. I think I have 2 favorites. I have a LBD that I love. i have had it for 10+ years, oh and it still fits : ) It is off the shoulder with a flirty ruffle around the bottom. I just love it. My second favorite, currently, is my black Dansko shoes. After 17 years of teaching, there is a lot to be said for a pair of supportive black shoes. I really don't want varicose veins in my legs from hours of standing in heels. I did have my time of wearing very cute heels to teach every day. Now is not that time however. I just had no idea how comfortable a pair of shoes could be. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is a teacher.

7. What do you appreciate about your life today?
I appreciate having a close family. We are so fortunate to live in the same state. I see my nephews all the time. My hubby and I see our parents once a week. Not only re we close geographically, but also in our relationship. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, everyone pitches in to help that person "survive." Although having cancer was horrific, it brought us even closer. We don't take a single day for granted.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I really miss my grandparents. I lost my grandmother and grandfather about 7-8 years ago. My grandmother never met my husband. I believe she would have really liked him. My grandfather did meet my hubby. I remember he said to me, "Is this guy finally the one? We have been waiting a long time for you to get married." Nothing like being blunt and to the point. He didn't make it to the wedding though. My grandparents loved to dance and play tennis. My grandmother was always dressed to the nines, and used to call me "Wendy-Doo." I don't know why but she always did. What i wouldn't give for one more Thanksgiving with both of them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pinterest Inpiration and a scare!

Is it possible for a website to change who you are or at least make you a little better? If so, Pinterest is my saving grace. As a teacher, I love Pinterest! This year my classroom took on a whole new level of color, creativity,  organization, and cuteness. I just had to share some of my Pinterest inspired products.First up---my teacher toolbox. I don't know why, but this box keeps me so organized, AND it keeps my desk drawers clean.

Next up, my adorable birthday balloons. My students get so excited just to pick out a balloon.
Also, bin ribbons. Seriously?? I have used bins like the one in this picture (dollar store) for years!! Never once did I think to run a ribbon through them.How simple?

The rest of the items are ones I actually found on Pinterest and printed off of another site. These are my favorite because I didn't do any of the work... tee hee. What is a teacher's motto? "Work smarter, not harder." (Took me a long time to learn this motto).
Voice level chart
Cute polka dot cards for my schedule.
These adorable sayings that I framed with $2.00 frames from Ikea.

On a more serious, and less classroom focused topic, two weeks ago I found another lump. Needless to say, I have been stressed beyond belief. I went last week to have it checked, especially since it was on my unlucky left side; the side that got me into this cancer mess in the first place. Of course I had to have two sonograms and a mammogram. Three hours later, no cancer! Just an oil cyst. Phew! I guess this is my "new normal" so to speak. There is a lot to be said for peace of mind. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We laughed, We cried ....

I never got around to posting about my night in the spotlight! My one and only time walking the runway. The event was quite spectacular! The night began with the audience watching a woman go through all the steps/stages you have to go through when you find a lump (mammogram, sonogram, biopsy), then the final stage diagnosis. It was very overwhelming, especially for those of us who experienced all of these stages. Then the two women who started this organization read letters from young cancer survivors that received help from the We Believe Foundation.

Then the fashion show started. All of our clothes were from South Moon Under. Paul  Wharton was our emcee for the evening. He was hysterical. A few models would walk the runway through a door. Then the door would close and the lights would go down. The TV screen would show a slide show to explain the survivor's story. Then the lights and music would come back on, the door would open, and the survivor would strut her stuff. It was an emotional roller coaster.

In the lobby, each survivor had their own door with a quote and pictures of those people that helped them through their journey. My quote that I chose was "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have." We were able to take our doors home, and mine looks amazing in our living room.

My hubby, My Mom and , My BFFS
The last part of the night was the auction. They asked people to "bid" $500 for chemo for a young cancer survivors who can't afford treatment. It was amazing to watch all of the paddles go up. I think they raised enough for at least 50 rounds of chemo! As we were leaving that night my amazing hubby shared that he bid on something.I was kind of surprised. He said he paid $250 for fertility preservation for a young cancer patient. I just started to sob. I love him so much.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge #2 for me!

My second week at Hodgepodge. Thank you Mrs. D for letting me join in. ( I can't call you by your first name like everyone else--Just doesn't seem right.)

1. Noah Webster was born this week back in 1758....besides the online version, do you own a dictionary? Do you ever use the hardback copy or is your hunt for a definition strictly online these days?
I own a few hardcover editions, but they are all in my classroom. At school I make my students use the hardcover dictionaries. they think it is fun! Oh the novelty of a book. At home, usually when I need to know the meaning of a word, I am reading my Kindle, so I just look it up on there.

2. Should public schools ban Halloween celebrations? What about other holiday celebrations currently under fire?
I think schools should not ban Halloween celebrations. My first school I taught in did it perfectly, and they still do : ) The last hour of the day was the Halloween parade. Students did not put their costumes on until then. How fun it was though to see everyone in their costumes from Kindergarten up to 5th. ( Don't tell anyone but even the teachers liked dressing up ).
I despise the fact that even Christmas is now under fire. I want to be able to put a mini tree in my room, or decorate my classroom with red and green. I still give personalized Christmas ornaments out to my students ( oh the horror!). I make sure I know the holidays that all of my students celebrate, and we honor them all. But why can't I celebrate my own holiday? Do we always have to be politically correct every day of the year? I am not preaching religion to my students, but I do use this holiday to help them understand the noncommercial side of Christmas.

3. What's your favorite 'dog' movie?
Homeward Bound

4. When were you last somewhere you'd describe as 'too quiet'?
The waiting room in the mammogram office. Need I say more?

5. Are you a neat cook or a messy cook? In other words do you clean as you go or make a big mess and then deal with it later?
I am a messy cook! My husband always says the messier the kitchen, the better the meal: ) Gosh, I love him ( especially when he cleans up afterwards).

6. Did you hear about Felix Baumgartner, the skydiver who broke the sound barrier via parachute? Was your first thought COOL! or was your first thought CRAZY! Are you adventurous?
My first thought was WHAT?! WHY?! HOW?!  I am terrified of heights so I am only adventurous to a certain point. To me though, he is crazy, but my students think he is way COOL!

7. What's not a word but should be?
STEMify---The new buzz at school is to take a lesson and add the elements of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). So I say we want the teachers to "stemify" their lessons. It is better than what the county says, "stemulate". That isn't a word either but I like my word better ; )

8.Only 3 days until I walk the runway to support cancer awareness in young adults (ages 18-39).
I received my orders from the hair and makeup team. Exfoliate tonight, moisturize 3 times a day until the day of the show. I did finally find a pair of shoes to walk the runway in:
Funny thing? I am borrowing them from my 5 ft tall oriental nail lady. She is so sweet! And believe it or not these shoes are comfortable!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge!!!

This is my first Wednesday Hodge podge!!! I hope I do okay!
1. In what ways do you indulge yourself?

I have lots of indulgences: ) Does this make me a bad person? First I get my nail and toes done every three weeks, my husband draws me a lavender and chamomile bath twice a week, and I just hired a maid( Don't tell the hubby.) You only live once right?

2. Have you ever taken a cooking class? Any interest? What type of class would you most like to try?

I have never taken a cooking class, but I have taken a cake decorating class. I loved it! Hence my cupcake obsession. I do watch Food Network all of the time, does that count? I would love to take a French cooking class if I had the choice. ..preferably French desserts. Of course, I want to take the class in Paris or Giverny--the best food I had in France, right outside Monet's house. Sounds like a girls trip to me!

3. What does it mean to be a good citizen?

I could give you the fifth grade teacher answer....but actually I think JFK said it best, "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." I think this speak volumes and can apply to so many situations.

4. 'Tis the season of the political these ads influence your vote?

Political ads have no effect on me because most of the time we are fast forwarding through them with our DVR. I spend all day teaching my students not to name call, gossip,  and bully, yet our potential national leaders do it for millions of dollars worth of ad time. Great job role models?!

5. What's something you see today that makes you wish you were a kid again?

This is a hard question. Today we were talking at our faculty meeting about how children these days ( How old do I sound??) don't have any time after school for imaginative play. They are either over scheduled with sports and classes, or they play video games as soon as their homework is done. We were discussing how when "we" were kids, the best toy we had was a box. We didn't come from a lot of money, so we didn't have Barbie dream houses. You had to make do with what you had, and usually a box was fantastic! I can still remember going to my Dad's work and going into his warehouse. He was the boss of a company that built custom kitchens. Talk about great boxes! My brother and I would spend hours building forts and caves out of refrigerator and stove boxes.The warehouse was perfect for an awesome game of Hide and Seek too. So to be able to play with a box without a care in the world, makes me wish I was a kid again.

6. What's your least favorite cliche?

I don't know if this is a true cliche, but people say it all the time and it drives me crazy.
"It is what it is"
Do people think this will solve your problem when they say it to you? If you are going to give advice, at least make it helpful or inspirational.

7. What percentage of your Christmas shopping has been completed? How does that make you feel?

25%!!! This is the most ahead of the game I have been in years! I think my iPhone has helped :) I put ideas in my notepad on my phone when I see them, and then I have been buying them little by little.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
My husband and I just finished our home study to adopt a child. Phew! What an extensive amount of work! Only in America do I need to submit my driver's record, fingerprints, doctor's report, take a 5 hour class, and have a fire and sanitation inspector come to my house, to make sure my hubby and I are fit to be parents. Wouldn't it be great if all parents before they became pregnant were held to such high standards of  hoops to jump through before they could get knocked up? I understand adopting a child is a serious matter, and I am in no ways making light of it, I just was surprised by the 43 pieces of documentation that had to be submitted before we were even put on the list. Let the waiting game begin : ) Average wait time for a domestic infant ( foreign countries will not allow me to adopt because I had cancer)... 4 years : (

Monday, October 8, 2012

Catwalks, Cupcakes, and Conduct

So it has been a while since I have posted. It is amazing how times flies and life just consumes you. Two weekends ago, I had my first (and last) Model Boot camp. We spent 4 hours walking in heels, strutting our stuff, and even carrying books on our heads. It was exhausting!
The next night my family and I had a private photo shoot by the water. It was so perfect. I can't wait to see the final pics that will be used the night of the fashion show.

I've been baking again. This time for my colleague who has taught 5th grade with me for 12 years. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a caramel drizzle. They were yummy!
Now that October is underway,we have been in school almost 2 months. The beginning of the year is a time for establishing routines and reviewing expectations. I have my students use their Countywide Code of Conduct to act out positive and negative scenarios. We then add these pictures to our Class Code of Conduct. They love it!
This is one of my favorites to show "No Bullying!"
This is what the final display looks like.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Model Perfect?!

So for the past year and a half, my breast cancer has been in remission. Since I've been diagnosed, I've had many opportunities to be honored as a survivor--from Race for the Cure events to being part of an NFL survivor ceremony on the field at a game  I even got to meet Martina McBride last year!  This year, I was planning on laying low and hanging up my pink threads, but then I got a call. There is an organization called the We Believe Foundation.

 It provides financial aid for young survivors who may need help paying for treatment if they don't have insurance.  They help pay for wigs, fertility preservation, and many other things. So every year they host a fundraising  event called "A Night of Pink Hope".  It is a fashion show! They have 25 models, 6 of which are young cancer survivors. Guess who gets to be a model? Now keep in mind I am 5'4" and no where close to being fabulous enough to be a model. Maybe when I was 20ish and in the best shape of my life, but definitely not as a 30 something in my after cancer body and with lymphedema.  I even have to attend Model Boot camp for 4 hours next weekend! Oh goodness! On the plus side,  I get to be fitted by a professional stylist and have my hair and makeup done. Paul Wharton (Real Housewives of DC) will be the emcee for the evening.

I haven't even told you the best part yet! Every year they have a theme for the event. This year's theme is "family". The foundation wants to send the message that it takes a village to help someone battle cancer, and caregivers are just as important as the person diagnosed with cancer. So I get to honor my wonderful mother, my best friend Jenn, and my amazing husband. We will have a professional photo shoot next week together, and then they will use those photos and my information, to retell my story and journey the night of the fashion show. I have never been able to truly thank those closest to me for all they did to help me through chemo, surgery and radiation, so I am tickled pink to be able to do this for them. (Can you tell I taught idioms at school today? Ha!) My best girlfriends are all buying tickets for the event to support me. I am the luckiest girl ever!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yes, I'm a Cupcake-aholic!

When I was battling cancer, I began baking. I took a cake decorating class and became hooked on cupcakes! Our last hurrah for the summer was my brother's annual Luau Labor Day party. I was quite excited for I got to try out a new cupcake recipe: Butterfinger Cupcakes!

1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
4 eggs
1 cup well mashed  ripe banana
2/3 cup buttermilk
12 fun size Butterfinger bars, cut in half

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt-- whisk together and set aside. In the bowl of a free standing mixer, use the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides when needed. Mix in the mashed banana until well combined. This is key. I did not do this too well, and you could tell. With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing only until just incorporated.Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full. Bake 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool 5  minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack. Before cupcakes cool push half of a Butterfinger bar into the top of each cupcake about 1/2 of an inch down. The bar will begin to melt. Then let cool completely.

For the frosting:
2-8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
 8  tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
 1 cup creamy peanut butter
 6 and 1/2  cups confectioners’ sugar
 2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a free standing mixer, use the paddle attachment,  combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended. Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.

modified from Annie's Eats

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School...whoo hoo!

My first blog post! This past week was our first week back to school. This year I have 24 students in my class, and I am in a brand new classroom. I am so excited! My room is so large and I feel like my students and I don't run into each other anymore. I even have empty cabinets, and that has never happened in my 16 years of teaching!
Here is a peek into my classroom:
Here is the front of my new room with my brand new Smart board! I feel so spoiled:)

My reading group area and cute curtains.
Our classroom library. I found these great baskets with chalkboard labels at Home Goods. Our Student of the Week gets to put his/her book pics for the week in the basket.
 My students are loving it!
Our homework board and computer station.
My favorite part of my new room...a place I call  "The Smith Laboratory." Yes I do have a fridge, microwave, two sinks, and an oven this year! (They moved fifth grade into the old kindergarten rooms).Which also means we have...
cubbies!!! Believe it or not, my students are digging the cubbies, and so am I because it takes them no time to find their things and get seated. Who knew Kindergarten rooms could be so perfect for fifth graders?

It has been good for me to get back into a schedule. My hubby like to joke that he does not care for "School Year Wendy" because she is stressed and always grading papers. He celebrates every year when "Summer Wendy" appears. "Summer Wendy" bakes, cleans more frequently, tries new recipes for dinner, etc. (You can see why he likes her so much ;)