Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato, Chicken and Quinoa Soup

Last week I made this for dinner.  I put extra broth and extra black beans.  I also put it on at 6:30am on low and left it for 7 hours.  It switched to "keep it warm" after that for another 4.5 hours, and it was fine, but that's why I always put extra broth.

Everyone seemed to like it.  They all wanted in their lunches the next day which means it's a hit.  I didn't actually have any because I got home late, but it definitely made enough for me to freeze it for another meal.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Freedom Trail

Last week we went on a field trip to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail.  The weather was perfect, the parents who chaperoned were great, and all went very well!  We parked our four cars at the Boston Common Garage and met at the visitor center.  We walked the trail to Old North Church and then walked back.  We were able to see the Clydesdale exhibit at City Hall also, which was exciting to some people. ;)  To me, they are horses.  We had a picnic lunch at Faneuil Hall.  The pictures aren't the best because all of the good ones have students in them.
 Samuel Adams' Grave

 Paul Revere's Grave

 Old South Meeting House - We went in here and had a look around.

 They wouldn't let us in as a group in here because I hadn't reserved in advance.

 Paul Revere's House - We did the tour here and it was excellent.

 Park Street Church - This is where My Country 'Tis of Thee was first sung.  The students stood on the steps and sang it.

 Old State House - Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony here.  The balcony is under construction right now. :)

 Old North Church - "One if by land, two if by sea"

The Legend of Hercules

Sam and I watched this a couple of nights ago.  I'd love to tell you how I enjoyed it and I had high hopes as I made it through the first 45 minutes or so, but that was it.  Sam was kind enough to tell me that I was snoring loudly.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

I made these to bring to work on Thursday.  They were delicious, if you don't mind the 3.5 sticks of butter.  (I doubled the recipe.)  They weren't a lot of work, per se, but they did make quite a mess with dishes, due to the four layers.  I think I will make them for a Thanksgiving dessert.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Saturday Amelia was coughing quite a bit.  Saturday night she (and I) were up most of the night with her coughing and wheezing.  Sunday I brought her to Urgent Care.  They did a chest x-ray and diagnosed pneumonia.  They also did two nebulizer treatments to try to open up her lungs.  They sent me home with antibiotics and an inhaler.  Monday she went back to the doctor to check on progress.  He didn't like that she was stilling wheezing and having rapid breathing, so he put her on prednisone and gave us a nebulizer to bring home.

So she's spent the week on a nebulizer 3 times a day, steroids, and antibiotics.  She's been very full of energy due to the steroids and on an emotional roller coaster.  She's still not 100%, hopefully she'll get a chance to rest more this weekend.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bloomin' Baked Apples

After our trip to the orchard on Monday, I've been busy making apple recipes.  I made applesauce on Monday, no recipe, of course.

On Tuesday I made Bloomin' Baked Apples  Sam, Lucy and I ate them.  Toby and Amelia just ate the extra caramels.  I ate two and thought they were ok.  They tasted like baked apples, fancy that.  Sam said they tasted like an apple dumpling, minus the dumpling, which in my opinion isn't very good.  Lucy seemed to enjoy them the most and had them for breakfast the next morning.

Wednesday night I made breakfast in the slow cooker.  This is what I followed from pinterest.  It didn't have a link, just these words:

Want breakfast tomorrow without lifting a finger? Place 2 sliced apples, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, pinch salt in the bottom of the crock pot. Pour in 2 cups of oatmeal, 2 cups of milk and 2 cups water. Do NOT stir. Cook overnight for 8 - 9 hours on low.

I doubled it.  I woke up throughout the night for various reasons anticipating the smell of cinnamon and apples and never smelled it.  Thursday morning when I got up, Sam had already left with his.  I was not impressed with what I saw.  It was soupy and mushy looking.  I gave it to the kids.  Amelia and Toby didn't have any (and I forgot to give them something else!)  Amelia's teacher said to me at lunchtime, "She seems very hungry today."  Oops!  Lucy ate a little of it.  I put the rest into two containers and Sam can have it for breakfast.  Definitely not worth making.

I did make one delicious recipe that I will share soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creative Design

A student in my class painted this during Creative Design.  I thought it was very cute. I love CD time because the students are given the opportunity to create anything they want with the materials we have in the classroom, and this happens every day!  I have quite a few students who are sewing various things and quite a few who are working in the woodworking area.  I love to see the typical gender roles being reversed also.  The majority of our sewing team was male at one point and the females definitely use the woodworking center the most.

"This bear is lost, he's lost I say.
His parents died on the 8th of May.
My parents died in the mall,
Now all that's left on the shelf is me, that's all."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Clothes

Amelia has been blessed by the generosity of a friend who is providing her with clothing.  She has received so many things these past two weeks that her drawers/baskets are overflowing.  Some of the things have been very exciting to her, cowboy boots, blingy hoodies, and fancy dresses.  I am thankful that the only thing I needed to buy her for fall/winter is a couple pairs of leggings.

She's worn the cowboy boots to school a few times and is planning on being a cowgirl for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Applecrest 2014

Yesterday we went to the apple orchard with the Bowler family.  This is their Columbus Day tradition that they have been doing for many years.  I joined in about 17 years ago and we've only missed a couple (when we were in China).  We all look forward to this day and getting to see grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

I forgot my camera this year, but I had my cellphone so was able to get some pictures.  When we came home, we made applesauce and I have various other apple things I will be making this week.

 It looks like the sheep is dead. :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Pictures with Gramps

Lucy went over my parents' house on Sunday afternoon on her way to a birthday party.  They explored the new bridge and took a few pictures.  :)

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Boston Tea Party Museum and The Chaperone

Time to be honest...I'm not going to blog about the Museum.  I just don't feel like it.  Suffice it to say, that it is a fabulous museum, well worth the money.  If you are bringing children it would be good if they knew at least some of the rough details of the Tea Party.  Phew, now I can cross it off of my list.

I finished reading The Chaperone this weekend.  I really enjoyed it, well-written fiction.  I took away two quotes that I liked.

I'm not intimidated by anyone.  Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach, and a head.  Just think about that. - Josephine Baker

Of course my mind immediately begins thinking, that no, everyone isn't made with those things, but I like the idea behind it.

Under her hands, under the layers of Raymond's fine suit and shirtwaist, were the same freckled shoulders she had seen that awful day she though her life was over - and when she was sure this decent, beloved man was her enemy.

She was grateful life could be long.

I love that one.  The older I get, the more I realize how little I once knew, and how little I know now.  Life brings change and thankfully, most of us will be blessed with a long life where we are able to look back and see the changes in ourselves.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Pumpkin Dump Cake

So many pumpkin recipes are showing up in Facebook and in Pinterest.  Tuesday evening I felt like baking, so I picked this recipe forPumpkin Dump Cake.  I brought it to work the next day and it was almost gone by the end of the day.  I thought it was pretty good, a little bland.  I'd add more pumpkin pie spice next time.  The only change I made was that I used graham crack crumbs instead of coarsely chopping graham crackers.  I also probably used more heath toffee bits. :)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Monday nights are the only night in the week when we are all home and I am feeling energized enough in the afternoon/evening to make a new recipe, so this Monday I made Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas.

I followed the directions exactly as she has them, except that I used a larger can of enchilada sauce and a larger can of diced tomatoes with chilies.  Oops, and I didn't use whole wheat tortillas and I used more cheese than that. :)

Anyway, Sam hates butternut squash so he didn't love them.  The kids didn't like them.  BUT I thoroughly enjoyed them and I'm looking forward to having the leftovers tomorrow for lunch.  If you have less picky family members and you like butternut squash, this is a great meal.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Team Manager

I've taken on a new role in my life.  Yes, the last thing I needed was a new role, but when no one else was volunteering and the coach said that you had to have good communication and organizational skills, I went for it.  I am the official team manager of the Lidco Electric hockey team.  The biggest plus is that you don't have to know anything about hockey!

I send emails, coordinate events, and do any other paperwork things that need to be done.  So far it's manageable...and I feel like an official sports person. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Greenway Challenge 2014

Here are some pictures from the big event, the Greenway Challenge  Here's a link to this year's course.  Sam's team had a great race, finishing 8th in their division.

 Liam starting the race off.

 Sam transitioning from kayaking to mountain biking.

 Matt finishing his run.

 Sam kayaking again.

 Rachel getting the bracelet from Liam.

 The end of the race!

 Plumb, CPA, 8th place!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Citizen Wine Bar

When my cousin Katherine came to visit last week, I was looking for a place for us to go out to eat.  I have a list of restaurants I want to try in Worcester and The People's Kitchen was on there.  After looking over the website, I saw that this place is divided into three different food spots.  The People's Kitchen is upstairs.  The Citizen Wine Bar is on the ground floor and Still & Stir is next to The Citizen.  I decided to go with The Citizen because they had a reuben :) and the drinks looked good.  I made reservations for 8:30 on a Friday night.

When we arrived we couldn't find parking so we used the complimentary valet parking which was great.  We were seated and then waited for our waiter.  He took a little while to come over, but once he did he was great for the rest of the evening.

Most items on the menu looked delicious.  We chose three cheeses to start with.  When they arrived, they came with a small loaf of bread, a fig and honey spread, and roasted salted almonds.  I ordered the Reuben for my dinner and Katherine ordered the Aristocrat Burger.  Katherine's burger was delicious, my Reuben was good, but it had dijon mustard on it which I greatly dislike.

For drinks, I can't remember what we had, except that I had a French 75.  All the drinks were delicious.

I really enjoyed the evening, the restaurant, food, and company.  I've crossed it off my list, but I would definitely go back.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A+ Spelling Test

This year I just started using this app in my class and with Toby.  A+ Spelling Test  I am loving it for both purposes.

In my classroom each child has their own spelling list each week with words pulled from their misspelled words.  Last year I had three parents who came in on Wednesday mornings and administered the tests individually.  This year I'm using this app.  I have one parent who inputs the lists into the ipad, one list for each child.  The words are put so that the child can see the word AND hear it.  On Wednesday mornings, the child puts on some headphones, chooses their spelling list, touches "Test", and the words are read to them.  They type them in.  It gives instant feedback at the end of the test using red and green circles.  I screenshot the test screen and put it in the child's electronic portfolio so the parents can see it.  It works very well.  The students complete it quickly and independently.

For Toby I input his list so he can see it and hear it and then throughout the week (every morning and night) he does one of the activity choices with his words.  He starts with Unscramble because that is the easiest and then progresses to taking the test on Thursday nights and Friday mornings, so that he is ready for his actual paper test on Friday at school.  This seems to be working very well for him.  He complains about the typing of the words so if I have time I will give him a test on paper just to give him a break, but this is a quick way for him to study daily without me having to be involved in the moment, and I can see his results.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I am showered with affirmation from my students, one student in particular.  I found this in his writing binder yesterday.  I always thought 2nd Grade was the best because they love their teacher, turns out they still love you in 3rd Grade.  I wonder what year the notes and pictures stop.

Friday, September 26, 2014


1.  I have discovered I am allergic to my hair dye.  This is very unfortunate as I would rather not go gray quite yet.  My face and neck and random spots on my body break out in this crusty bumpy mess that lasts for two to three weeks.  Apparently the chemical PPD is the culprit and it is difficult to find non-PPD dyes...that's what I'm on a search for now.

2.  Amelia was singing a part of the Charlie's Angels song and she asked me, "Is Charlie another name for God?" 

3.  She was very upset last night and we had a good talk about what was upsetting her.  Turns out they switched seats at school and she now had a little chair.  She said a lot of people had little chairs, so I couldn't figure out what the issue was, until she said, "But I'm the littlest person in my class!"  So she didn't feel like she could reach her desk.  We took care of it this morning with her teacher.  She's also the only girl at a table with three boys but I told her she will have to live with that until the next change.

4.  This weekend is WCS's first homecoming.  It's also the Greenway Challenge.  Sam is kayaking twice and mountain biking.  His bike is currently broken with the part due to arrive tomorrow, hope it does.  

5.  I received this email today from a parent. "Just thought you'd be amused to know that instead of playing Star Wars fighting this afternoon, A, G and K fought the British.  Paul Revere rode through the family room, alerting everyone, and then the shot heard round the world sounded, and then the British were defeated. :) I believe a "helping health gun" was also invented to aid the "wounded".  See, learning in action!  They really do come home and talk about what they are learning at school.  :) Thanks for inspiring an afternoon of fun!

6.  I received the self-study report from the school I will be visiting for NEASC in October.  I'm excited to go.  Middle Eastern restaurant the first night and what looks to be a great school to find out more about.

7.  The school in China that I would like to teach at someday just posted jobs for next year.  The application process is quite daunting.

8.  I have to switch all the clothes over this weekend which takes many hours because shorts can't be worn at school anymore starting on October 1st.  This is when it would be nice to live in a one season place.

9.  Lucy is spending the afternoon/evening tomorrow at a volleyball clinic sponsored by homecoming, so we'll be spending our afternoon/evening at the school also since she has to have a parent with her for the JV and Varsity game.  I'm looking forward to it, have my blue and white (and jeans) ready.  I'm calling a jeans day tomorrow at work...

10.  I've started using this fabulous spelling app so that my students can give themselves their own spelling tests.  I'll talk more about it later, you know, when I talk about the Boston Tea Party Museum and The Citizen...it is on my list.

11.  We received Toby's hockey information now that he has finished the evaluations.  We also received his schedule through November, every Saturday and Sunday.  His coach seems great so far in the communication we have received and we will meet him at the first practice on Saturday evening.

12.  I am a teacher who doesn't believe in grades and doesn't have to give any grades in this program I have set up, but our school has an app and that app provides me with constant real-time access to my own children's grades and boy, I spend a lot of time checking that app.  It's just so handy.  "Lucy, why does this say such and such is missing?"  It's especially good because I have gone completely hands-off with Lucy and her schoolwork this year.  I just can't manage her classes, teachers, and workload, along with mine and Toby's and Amelia's, so I'm not.  She's doing well so far with some adjustments being made as she navigates her way through this world of Middle School.

13.  Chick-Fil-A opened about 30 minutes from us.  Maybe we will try to go next week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Box Girl

I finished reading Box Girl: My Part Time Job as an Art Installation this week.  It's a memoir and it was ok.  I enjoyed reading it, but it would never make any top lists for me.  I did read one quote that I've been thinking about.  The quote is by Joan Didion.

“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.”

Scary thought, if true, and I suppose on some level, it is true.  Every choice (no matter how small) leads to a different choice.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


This has seemed like a long week in many ways, but there were also many positives.

My cousin Katherine visited from Missouri with her children.  We enjoyed playing at the playground with them, a sleepover on Friday night, and trying out a new restaurant, The Citizen's Wine Bar.  I'll talk more about that in a few days.

I was able to resolve a work situation that I had blown up to be bigger than it was, actually it turns out there was no situation at all.

I started my mentorship again with the NPS principal.  We met on Thursday and created a plan.

I met with a student and parents to discuss an issue and it seems to be all set now, which is a relief.

I talked to another parent on the phone about an issue and we'll see where that ends up.

I talk to parents every day, many different parents, and we communicate through texts, emails, in person conversations, etc., but those are the fun communications, the ones where we are excited about their child's accomplishments or talking about what we are having for dinner.  There are also times I have to communicate things that aren't fun to talk about, and there seemed to be more than normal this week.

I went on a field trip to the Boston Tea Party Museum and it was incredible.  More about that one later also.
My co-worker, Rachel, finally announced that she is pregnant, and I'm saying finally because I feel like I've known for a long time.  Sad for me because I will miss her, but I'm so excited for her and her new BABY!

On Friday I got in my car along with my three children and the three other children I bring to school, and the steering wheel wouldn't turn.  All the power steering fluid was on the driveway.  The other mom came and got the six kids and brought them to school.  Sam had to turn around (he was almost at work) and come pick me up and bring me to school.  I was only five minutes late.  Friday night he reattached the hose and refilled the fluid.  I'm thankful that was all that was the problem.

Saturday morning there was a fox trying to get in the chicken coop.  There was one chicken down below and she was going crazy, flinging herself around the coop as the fox danced around the outside.  Sam scared the fox away and let the chicken out to try to calm her down.  She ended up going up into a nesting box and staying there for 3.5 hours, making clucking noises.  She was terrified, but seems to have recovered now.  I guess it's true, chickens aren't very smart, because there are many places she could have gone inside the coop to escape the fox, not that he could even get her.

Toby has the last of his 4 day hockey evaluations today.   He will be playing in a scrimmage.  Sam has been very impressed with how well he has been doing.  I went to Amelia's soccer today and it was a perfect day to be outside.

We went to a cookout at my Aunt Paige's Saturday afternoon.  One last chance to see Katherine, Rory, and Andrew, along with delicious food, and a chance to see Paige and Carter.

Today we are going to START on the Street which is one of my favorite festivals!  Then we'll head to watch the scrimmage.

And then let another week begin!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

I made this soup on Monday night.  Everyone liked it and it was quick and easy.  I used sweet Italian sausage and added in a can of cannellini beans.  I also used a large package of tortellini.

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

Friday, September 19, 2014

Boston Local Food Festival

I have had this festival on my calendar for about 10 months.  I was excited to go.  Unfortunately, I didn't think it was that great, but we had a fun time in Boston with family, walking around.  The pictures make it out to be Millie day.

 Happy she got the beanbag  in!

 Uncle Matt

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lucy's Birthday Finale

We wrapped up Lucy's birthday week with a Plumb family party, a day in Boston, and presents with Grammy and Grandpa in Boston.

 Making origami fish

 Playing a creative game of chess with Liam

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Here are the last of the pictures I took before school started.  I'll have to get some new ones soon.  Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to the Boston Tea Party Museum!

 Our tool bag for woodworking

 This year instead of having them just play with the legos during Creative Design, I found these Lego Quests for them to accomplish each week.  Legos used to be one of my top centers.  This year since I introduced the Lego Quests, they haven't been used once!  Oops!  I think the quests are fabulous.  Here's a link:  Lego Quests

This bulletin board was a Pinterest find and I thought it was great, but we aren't using it at all yet because I can't seem to make it work.  You are supposed to put a topic/person and the students write questions where that topic/person is the answer.  It might work better for people, but I can't seem to make it work for a topic, such as the Revolutionary War.  Sure, there are a few questions they could ask, but not that many...I might need to utilize this space in a different way.

These are our class rules this year.  We read them every morning and we customized Class Dojo (our classroom management website) to coordinate with these.  Let's be honest, we don't read them every morning, but we're going to start now because I think that's a great idea.  And the Class Dojo implementing of these rules didn't work that well because positive behaviors were easy, but for some of these rules it is difficult to come up with the "needs work" behavior.  What's the opposite of "We have fun", we don't have fun?  Seems like a strange thing to get penalized for, so we tweaked it and added back some of our old
Class Dojo behaviors from last year.

Let's call this post, awesome classroom ideas that failed. :)