Monday, April 07, 2014


Sam had a great first day shadowing in Lowell.  He's definitely going to come home with a lot of stories.  He beat us home again today, which I love.  It looks like most of the facilities provide him with lunch which is also great, after 15 years of peanut butter and jelly. :)

Sunday, April 06, 2014


1.  Sam finished his first week of DYS training.  He will spend this week shadowing various teachers at five different facilities in the NE area.  His hours won't be quite as good as they were this past week with him working only 15 minutes away, but they will still get him home earlier than a commute from Boston.

2.  Over spring vacation, I worked on perfecting a lemon drop martini at home.  It took a few tries, but I got it.  I haven't made one since, because really who has the time, but at least I can.

3.  I finished reading Plainsong.  It was a book that my grandmother had checked out of the library and I thought it looked good.  It was ok, not great.

4.  Right now I am reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.  I'm really liking it and his take on our perceptions.

5.  I finished Season 6 of Mad Men in two days.  It was released last weekend on Netflix.  I didn't think it was very good and I think it is time for the series to end.  Apparently, the producers agree, because Season 7 will be the final season.  I'm going to watch Season 7 with Jenny as it airs each week.

6.  Call the Midwife has started up again.  I don't love it, but I definitely like it.  I think if I concentrated on watching it a bit more while it is playing, I would like it more.  I always seem to be folding mountains of laundry or doing computer work while it is on.

7.  I am doing well with my apprenticeship hours, up to about 50 at this point so I'm on track to finish in two years which is my goal.  I will be attending two faculty meetings this week there.

8.  I attended the Blackstone Valley Education Foundation Forum last week after school.  It was neat to see all of the schools represented and how the BVCC is working with schools, but it was geared primarily to the high school student range, so not very beneficial for me.

9.  Lucy went on a field trip to Mechanic's Hall last week where she listened to a special concert performed for students.  She enjoyed dressing up and getting to leave school.  This weekend she went to a birthday sleepover with 11 girls.  I could never do such a thing as a parent, but she had a great time alternating between the hot tub and the trampoline.

10.  The weather is finally nice.  We had all the windows open today and the kids spent a few hours in the woods working on a fort they are building.  All they have left to do "is put down the pine needle carpet".  Amelia also spent over an hour riding her bike at Rocketland with Sam.  She came down dressed in her Red Sox sweatshirt and baseball cap this morning.  She was barely indoors today.

11.  The OT came to observe Toby this week during PE class.  She noticed his hyper-flexibility.  He sits in a W shape on the ground with his legs bent in back of him, etc.  She thinks he is weak and needs to build up his muscles.  The academic observation takes place tomorrow.  He has been having Barton tutoring twice a week for about two months now and I've noticed a big improvement in his spelling.  He is more confident with spelling words and is working on remembering the various spelling rules he has learned.

12.  We enjoyed going to see Toby's artwork in Art in the Valley on Friday night.  We especially enjoyed Lowell and Barbara coming for a visit!

13.  April 2 was my class' Read-In Day.  We came in our pajamas to school and brought our favorite blankets and bedding, along with books, and spent the whole day reading.  It was a lot of fun.  I made it halfway through Blink on that day.  Now to figure out how we could have a day like that weekly!

14.  I was in charge of April Fool's Day at the school.  I planned for the elementary teachers to switch classrooms at 8:10 in the morning and tell the new class that they were going to be their teacher for the rest of the year.  At 8:20 our principal was going to announce "April Fool's" over the intercom.  At 8:10 I headed out of my class and went down the hall to the Kindergarten class that I was supposed to be "teaching".  There were no students in there!  I assumed that the teacher was playing a trick on me and had hidden them, so I looked in various closets, etc. in the room.  Nothing.  I decided they must be next door in the Preschool room, so I looked in there, but the Preschool teacher was just reading to her class on the rug.  I looked around the classroom some more and looked outside (based on a teacher's suggestion) and then went back into the Preschool room.  I was looking out there windows (thinking the teacher might have hid them outside around the building) when finally the Preschool teacher said, "They are right here!"  They were the children on the rug.  I didn't recognize them because the Kindergarten teacher had them dress up for Book Character Day so no one looked like themselves.  The Kindergarten teacher had planned it with the parents and was very excited about tricking me.  It was the first time I've ever been tricked on April Fool's Day and it was great!  I won't mention the DD coffee I was given that was actually cold chocolate milk or the fake cockroach that was put on top of a box of munchkins.  It was quite a day!

15.  Lucy starts a quilting class after school this week and I start teaching a "Games Galore" class after school on Wednesdays.

16.  In very exciting news it has been worked out that I will be a 3rd grade teacher next year, continuing my Active Learning classroom and keeping the same 2nd grade students that I have now.  Rachel J.  is going to do an Active Learning classroom in 2nd grade, so the program is expanding!  We are meeting this week with our principal to set up the parent meeting and finalize things.


Toby's artwork that was displayed at Art in the Valley.

Pippin, enjoying the sunny couch.

I made maple syrup today.  Started off with three gallons at 10:30.

This is the three gallons.

This is two hours in, about halfway down.  You can see the evaporation line.

This is 3.5 hours in.

This was 4.5 hours of boiling.  It probably could have gone longer to be thicker, but I was afraid it would all be gone!

The final result - We are going to boil more in class on Thursday, but I wanted to try it out today to see how it all works.  We are going to make pancakes in class on Friday and use our syrup, but I might have to supplement. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Read-In Day!

Today we are having a Read-In Day at school.  All of my students finished the read-a-thon and this was their reward.  We came to school in pajamas, we brought snacks, sleeping bags and pillows, and books!  I'm almost half-way through Blink.  We will watch James and the Giant Peach in the afternoon.

It's been so relaxing.  I wish I could do this every day.

It's also April Fool's Day.  I have never been tricked before and I've already been tricked twice today, once by a co-worker and once by a student, but more about that later...

Monday, March 31, 2014

First Day of Work!

Today Sam entered the world of teaching and training.  It started off with an unexpected hiccup when I went to drive to work and there was power steering fluid all over the driveway.  Sam ended up driving the kids and I to school and still made it to his first day of training, and was the first one there.

This week he is training with DYS.  It started an hour later than planned, ended 45 minutes early, and he had an hour lunch break.  He did enjoy the training and found it to be helpful preparation.

For me, it was strange to have him come to the school in the afternoon dressed in professional clothes and have him done work earlier than I was.  Sam has been working construction for 18 years, which means we were quite used to that schedule.  I'm sure someday this was all seem normal, but for right now I'm going to enjoy the novelty and benefits of this new career.

As for the van, turns out it was a loose clamp (thankfully!) so Sam fixed it and put in new fluid and we are good to go tomorrow, which is a little disappointing to me because I enjoyed driving to work together today and getting picked up.  I didn't enjoy three children squished into a small backseat and the ways they chose to interact with each other.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Warren Sugarhouse

Trying out the yoke at Warren Sugarhouse in N. Brookfield. We had a
great field trip there and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lengthy Update

We have been on vacation for this past week. 

Toby spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday having his testing done through our local public school.  He was a very good sport about it.  The speech pathologist suggested we have a hearing test done due to the way he sounds like he is chronically congested when he speaks.  I took him for a full hearing test and it showed fluid on one of his ears, so now we have an ENT appointment on Tuesday and will go from there.  We’ve already received his OT report back and everything is average or above which is what we expected, due to the public schools not wanting to spend the money unless they have to.  His handwriting and gross motor did get mentioned and some accommodations were listed, such as learning to type, which we will be doing this summer.  The rest of the reports should come in soon and then we will have a team meeting.  I’m assuming he will not receive any services through the public school system, but we will have the testing and accommodations to tailor his education at WCS. 

Thursday afternoon we headed to the Cape.  We stayed at the Cape Codder for the night.  The kids enjoyed the wave pool.  We drove to Woods Hole on Friday and went to the Aquarium.  It was a nice time away.

I’ve downloaded a meditation app which I’m looking forward to trying out, when I get some time. J

We watched Frozen for the first time this week and I finally heard “Let it Go”.  It seems to be everywhere, but I’ve never actually heard it before.

I spent Tuesday and Thursday doing my apprenticeship.  It was the first week of MCAS so I was able to be a part of the process from the administrative side, and what a process it is.  Everything is done with very high security, paperwork, and checking systems to make sure there are not any opportunities for cheating.  The principal I am with is very organized and has a good system in place, so she was great to learn from.

I finished watching Seasons 1-5 of Mad Men and it is a relief.  It seemed to take forever and it was constantly in my mind to try to finish.  Now I have a week off before Season 6 comes out on Netflix.  This also meant that I could get back to reading again.  Right now I am reading Free to Learn.  It is written by a man who lives in Shrewsbury and sent his child to Sudbury Valley School.  He’s also a professor at Boston College.  It is very interesting and I think it would impossible to teach at a public school if you believe as he does.  It even makes it difficult to teach at a private school.  Thankfully, I am at a school where I have quite a bit of freedom and am encouraged to pursue what I believe are best practices.  This article also mentions Peter Gray.  The Overprotected Child  What a fabulous playground.  I’d love to be able to bring my children there.

The first weekend of vacation my brother and sister came home.  I spent the weekend at my parents’ house with them.  I got all of my paperwork done that I had been planning on doing over the week and got to spend time with everyone.  It was very nice.

I’ve read Glennon’s book and I follow her blog, but she recently posted this excerpt on her blog and I love it.  Every Child is Gifted and Talented.  Every Single One.  We all know that our children have strengths and gifts and as much as we would love them to be recognized at school, sometimes they are not. 

Sam and I watched Catching Fire this week.  I enjoyed it.  I’ve heard Divergent is better, so I guess I’ll have to read it and see it.

Toby has been spending a lot of time this week building original creations with Legos.  It has been nice to see him branching out on his own.

Lucy has spent most of the week sleeping in, reading, and babysitting. 

Amelia has been spending the week being as ornery as possible.  She is constantly sabotaging herself to make some point to us, a strategy that doesn’t work very well.  She has been reading Roald Dahl books with Sam and right now they are reading Matilda. 

Toby finished up hockey practices.  He’ll join a team in October, but is done until then.  Lucy just started Level 6 swimming lessons, which is the highest level offered.  Amelia starts soccer in a few weeks.

We now have a bunny.  It is very cute.  We’ve litter trained it and whenever we are home the cage is open and it spends it time hopping around the first floor.  We waited awhile to name it because we don’t know if it is a boy or girl, but we’re going with Pippin.  It feels very much like having a kitten and we are all enjoying it.  I get a little nervous that we are going to step on it at some point, but since its back paws are huge, I’m sure it will be the size of a cat before long.  It loves to play the kids’ piano but I have yet to be able to capture it on video.

Toby was selected for Art in the Valley this year for his tree silhouette painting.  Only 15 elementary students were chosen from our school.  Lucy was chosen last year, this year is Toby’s turn.

We had Corned Beef (minus cabbage because they were sold out) on St. Patrick’s Day.  All of the kids like it which is great.  I bought four others for us to eat later on.  Other than that, I can’t think of what I have been cooking, regular things, taco, lasagna, etc.

Sam has his next post-op visit on Monday.  He definitely seems to be in less pain and is able to do most normal activities with it.  We’ll see what the surgeon says.  It is supposed to be another month until he is back to normal.

I attended my first EdCamp today in Grafton.  EdCamp is a professional development opportunity for teachers where you create the sessions together, as you go.  When we entered people hung up things they wanted to learn more about or knew quite a bit about.  Then you head off to the sessions that interest you.  Lots of discussion and new things to learn about.  I really enjoyed it, along with the free bag with goodies and food.  I’ve already set up an account with Class Dojo  which looks like a fun and interactive classroom management tool.  I always love the opportunity to interact with other educators. 

I’ve saved the biggest news for last so hopefully you made it down to here.  Last week Sam had an interview with The Collaborative.  They are a company that is contracted with DYS to provide education to juveniles in detention programs.  We have a friend who teaches there and Sam has applied before for various teaching positions.  Last week he was called for an interview and yesterday they called to offer him a job.  As long as his references and CORI check are acceptable, they are offering him a contract on March 31st.  He’ll teach until the end of the school year and then start up again in the fall.  He’ll be an itinerant teacher, which means he will travel to various facilities, teaching a variety of subjects, covering for other teachers who need administrative leave time or who are absent for some reason.  It seems like a perfect position for him, especially due to his lack of experience in the classroom.  This is a great way for him to develop as a teacher.  We are excited and a little nervous.  I’ve already been working on the budget, but we both agree that even if we have to live on mac and cheese for awhile, the long term benefits are great.  Paid vacation, health insurance, etc.  Sam has always enjoyed working doing construction projects and it has been a good job for all of these years, but he is excited about the change and the chance to use his degree.  So unless Sam has a criminal background that I don’t know about, he’ll be dressing in khakis and a button down next Monday to head to work. J


 Field trip to the Museum of Science - STEM project - create a trampoline

 Our new bunny, Pippin
 Toby's hockey medal

 Cape Codder Resort
 Amelia went down the water slide and then no one caught her and she almost drowned, but thankfully the lifeguard noticed.
 Woods Hole Aquarium

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Target and the Bank

I thought I had escaped the Target/Bank Card fiasco, but last week, WBS Weblearn started taking small sums of money out of my account.  When I called the bank they said it was set up as a recurring daily withdrawal, lovely.  I got a new bank card, called the number associated with Weblearn (which didn't even ring) and now I'm working to get my money back, only 20 dollars total, but still!


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Catching Up

I was going to put this all into a few separate posts throughout the week, but I'm not.

I’m now on Episode 51 of Mad Men.  As much as I’m enjoying it, it will be a relief when I have watched them all.  Of course, then I have to start streaming the current season.

Toby has one more hockey class.  Today he scored the only goal for his team in a scrimmage.  We just received the information about the House League and that is what he will be doing in the fall.  Season runs from October-March, with practices on Saturdays and games on Sundays, and it all takes place at the Auburn rink.

I have not read a book in a long time, for many reasons, Mad Men being one of them. I used to get every book I wanted from the library right away, but now I’ve been sending them back because they are due before I read them, so now I have a written list instead.

I had read somewhere that stand mixers are very good at shredding chicken, so the other day I tried it out.  I normally shred chicken with two forks and it is annoying.  The mixer did it quickly and uniformly!

On the school front, I feel like I’ve been living there recently.  With Sam available to pick up the kids more, I have been spending many more hours there at night.  On Thursday, Sam came to get Amelia, and Lucy and Toby were at a rehearsal for their concert, so I left school at 4:15.  While in the car, I called Sam and said I felt giddy.  It had been so long since I had been in a car in daylight.  Then I went to my parents and watched an episode of Mad Men.  It felt like vacation!

My class went on a field trip to a rest home and to the local food pantry.  Now we are heading to the Museum of Science on Monday.  We’ve also had some family members visit, an electrician to launch our electricity unit.  Sam came in to help tap trees for maple sugaring, and we have a father coming in to talk about his teenage years on a maple sugar farm in Canada.  Now I’m looking for a final culminating field trip.  I’m planning on an overnight trip, either at a museum or perhaps camping out at the school.

I really enjoyed this article. The Disturbring Transformation of Kindergarten  Follows along with my views on education perfectly.  Tests, worksheets, paper in Kindergarten?  Completely unnecessary.

My apprenticeship is going well, but that is another reason why I have been spending so much time in Whitinsville.  I’ve been attending meetings at the school (including my first PTA meeting) and meeting with the principal weekly.  Next week we are on school vacation, but the public schools are not, so I am going to spend a day there, watching the MCAS process.  I’m really enjoying learning more about being a principal and all that is current with the public school system, but it does make me feel like I would be better in a private school administrative role.  More freedom, and more opportunity to follow my own educational philosophy.

We are waiting to get a date from the APS for testing for Toby.  We’ll also go on and do the neuropsych to see if we can get a diagnosis for his learning issues, so that he will be able to have accommodations as needed.  Luckily, he is an extremely good reader with great comprehension, so he just needs help with writing and spelling.  I’m planning on having him learn to type this summer so he can use a laptop or ipad to help him with writing.

I have a new student in my class.  He was previously home-schooled and has started at the school now because his mother read about my class, and he wanted to try school.  My class continues to be wonderful for me, and parents seem very pleased.  The most exciting thing to me is watching the students’ progress, especially in math. I have more than a few 2nd grade students working on 3rd or 4th grade math skills, including one who just tackled and learned prime factorization!  I had to do a refresher in order to help him!  Next year is still up in the air as far as what grade I will be teaching and whether the program will be expanding, but we should know soon.  Rachel, the other 2nd grade teacher, will not be returning next year due to her husband’s job.  I consider her a friend and we are always opening our doors to talk to each other, I will definitely miss her.  I can’t quite imagine teaching there without her.

Two nights ago was the first night that Sam slept through the night without groaning.  It was lovely for both of us.  He worked four days last week with reduced hours, which is good.  He said that it feels better when he moves it.  His next doctor’s appointment is March 24.

In August, Sam and I are going away for a week without our children.  The longest we’ve been away since having children has been two nights, and I think we just had Lucy then.  Lucy and Toby will be at camp.  Amelia will be at WOL with my parents.  Sam and I are heading to Arizona and the Grand Canyon!  My aunt got us a condo from her timeshare which will be perfect.  Sam is busy looking up places to climb and things to do.

We have next week off for Spring Break.  We don’t have any plans, but Lucy really wants to go somewhere, so maybe we will find a place to go for a night.  I’m planning on relaxing.  Hopefully I’ll be done Mad Men by then and I can get some reading done.

Lucy, Amelia and I went to the Worcester Farmer’s Market today.  I have been meaning to go all winter, but today was the day.  It’s small, but has everything that you would need – meat, eggs, honey, maple syrup, plus extras.  We enjoyed it.  Lucy bought tea bags.  Amelia got a giant brownie, and I bought some bread and ravioli.  Hopefully we can make it a regular event, especially as summer produce begins.

Speaking of summer, it was 55 degrees here today and what a difference it makes in your outlook on life.  We enjoyed open windows and walking without coats.  Of course, we also lose an hour of sleep tonight, due to Daylight Savings.

Suzuki Concert 2014

Monday, March 03, 2014


Sam is subbing as the PE teacher tomorrow.  You know, the one-handed PE teacher.  It's a 1/2 day, so he'll take the kids home when school is over.

I have professional development meetings until 3, principal apprenticeship meetings until 5, planning for next week, and working for my father.  Late night for me.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Toby's Birthday Party

Today Toby had his birthday party at 5Wits in Foxboro.  We did the Espionage adventure.  It was a family party and he invited one friend.  It was fun.  Toby said it was his best birthday ever.  I'm not sure how adults go to 5Wits and enjoy it, but it was perfect for a birthday party for a child.

 Toby doesn't like cake or cupcakes so we went with fill a bowl with a variety of candy.

 We walked along the cranberry bog in back of Bass Pro Shops.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Toby's 9th Birthday

The day started with with breakfast in bed and presents.  Toby was worried Sam wouldn't be able to make his famous pancake letters, but Sam came through.

Sam brought him to school a little late and went on our field trip with us to the Hanover Theater to see Peter and the Wolf.  It was Sam's first field trip ever, which was nice for Toby and I.

Sam picked Toby up after school and he went home where he spent a lot of time playing Plants vs. Zombies which is what we got him for his birthday.

He chose tacos and couscous for dinner, followed by ice cream for dessert.

He's having a family party at 5 Wits on Saturday.

 Lucy and Amelia gave him an alarm clock that projects onto his ceiling.

Don't mind the Gatorade mustache.  It's been there all day even with scrubbing.

I can't believe he is 9.  His last year in single digits.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


 On Friday, my parents brought Toby his birthday presents and took him out to see the Lego movie.

Lego Hero Factory

 Lego Minifigures

For my birthday, my sister got me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated.  Two of them arrived this week!

This is the first Sunday night in over three weeks where I feel like things are getting to be somewhat normal.  Everything is caught up at home.  I've watched enough episodes of Mad Men to feel like I will someday reach the end.  I read most of the magazines I was behind on.  I prioritized the twelve library books I have to read.  I made a meal for a family at school.  

Sam is going to work tomorrow.  He's going to see how it goes.  The plan is for him to work Monday and Tuesday this week.  Wednesday he will go on a field trip with us, and it's Toby birthday, so that will be special.  Thursday he is going to do my brakes which need to be replaced.  Friday he's going to come to school to drill maple trees for our maple sugaring unit.  He's also getting a new rim and tire tomorrow for his car because he hit a pothole this morning on they way to church.  The roads are awful around here!

I have something every afternoon/evening after school this week, so it's good that I feel organized right now!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Sam filled out an application today to sub at WCS.  I think I'll have to take a few days off next week. :)

Questions and Answers

I'm copying my sister-in-law because it's an easy way to blog and you definitely need to know more about me. 

What are you wearing today?
Brown pants, purple shirt, cardigan with paisleys

What are you listening to right now?
My husband talking to his brother on the phone.

Do you like the beach?
Not especially.  I like the idea of the beach, but when I get there I hate the salt water and the sand.

What is something you really want right now?
Sam to be magically healed, or perhaps I should say miraculously.
Who was the last person you added to your contacts?
 I fixed up some multiple contacts that were overlapping.

Do you have any piercings? 
I have double ears, but only wear one, and I have a one in my cartilage but haven't worn anything in it in over 10 years.
What are your favorite stores?
Anthropologie, Pier 1, Sur la Table, anything with nice kitchen things

Favorite nail polish brand?
OPI, not that I paint my nails

Ever failed a test?
I failed my first driver's licence test because I was speeding and I went through a "Do not enter".
Do you prefer shorts or skirts?

Favorite social media?
Is Feedly social media?  It's my favorite.
Do you play any sports?
Long or short hair?
Shoulder Length, but would be quite a bit longer if straight

Favorite quote?
 The long matrimonial haul was accomplished in cycles.  One cycle of bad breath, one cycle of renewed desire, a third cycle of breakdown and small avoidances, still another of plays and dinners that spurred a conversation between them late at night that reminded her of their like minds and the pleasure they took in each other's talk.  And then back to hating him for not taking out the garbage on Wednesday.  That was the struggle.

-The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
What color is your room?
Are you outgoing or shy?
What was the last text message you sent?
"Yikes!" to my Aunt Jen
Have you ever won a competition?
  I feel like much of life is a competition of some sort and I'm pretty happy with my results.
How many pillows do you sleep with?
One, gorgeous super firm memory foam that my mom gave me for my birthday.
Who was the first person you talked to today?
How many hoodies do you have?
What should you be doing?
Exactly what I am doing, except I should be doing it in bed and not at the dining room table.
Can you keep your shoes clean?
Strange question, but no, my shoes are in awful condition
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I love my name and pretty much always have.
Do you prefer milk, dark or white chocolate?
Open a book closest to you and turn to page 13 what does the first line say on that page?
I left Knob Creek with a heavy heart and a slow foot, still hoping that Pa would stop and turn back and say that he'd changed his mind.
- My Brother Abe by Harry Mazer
Do you still watch Disney films?
If I'm going to the theater with my children
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Do you have any pets?
5 chickens, 1 fish, 1 bird, 1 guinea pig, but really I only consider the chickens to be my pets, and I don't do any upkeep on any of the animals.
What's your favorite holiday?


Tonight Sam cooked our first meal in three weeks that wasn't made by someone else. 

 For three weeks we have been given meals and food by family, friends, and the school community.  Pretty amazing!  I've never been given meals before and it made such a big difference, stress-wise and financially.

Thank you to all of you!

Butter Braids

Lucy and Toby are selling Butter Braids.  They are 12 dollars each.  If you are interested I can tell you flavors.  Don't feel like you need to buy one.  I'm not worried about fundraising, but these actually are fabulous.  We always buy two and have one for Easter breakfast and one for Christmas breakfast.

Monday, February 17, 2014

First Post-Op

Sam went for his first post op appointment today.  Tomorrow will be two weeks since surgery.

The surgeon was impressed with the healing of the incision and his range of motion.

He said that Sam shouldn't go back to work for three months and should wear the sling for another month.

Not great news, or even good news.

Obviously, Sam will be going back to work before three months are up.

Snow (and more snow)

It just keeps falling.  More to come tomorrow.  Winter wasn't a good time for Sam to break his collarbone.

Amelia in her under the picnic table bed

 Eating Icicles