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 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. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Trash Bags and Spelling Tests

 We bought our usual box of generic kitchen trash bags from Shaws about a month ago.  Then we started using them.  Many of the bags were open at both ends.  This is very inconvenient feature in a trash bag.  You'd pour the dirty guinea pig shavings in and they would come out the other end.  Finally I had enough and I called the company.  Today we received coupons to buy three more boxes of the trash bags.  Let's hope that's a good thing!

Toby got a 100% on his spelling test last week.  This is a huge accomplishment for him.  He is doing great in 4th grade, good grades, and seems to be enjoying it as much as a 9 year old boy is ever going to enjoy school.  I'm using the A+ Spelling Test app with him to practice his words.  I'm also using it in my classroom for the students to give themselves their spelling tests.  It's great.  I highly recommend it. A+ Spelling App  You can get it for android also and it's free.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lucy's Birthday Continued

 We had a visit with Granny and Lucy received an apron made by her great-great grandmother.

 Granny also gave her everything needed to make her own cards, including a stamp that says "Created by Lucy".  Lucy loves it!

Friday night Lucy had a sleepover (using my parent's house) with 6 of her friends.  They had a great time, lots of playing outside, food, and general 12 year old behavior.

Friday, September 12, 2014


One of our new Creative Design stations is Sewing.  One student has spent the past week working on a bag and she did a nice job, and was very proud of it.  She took it home the afternoon that she finished.  The next morning I came into school and it was on my desk with a note.  I tried to give it back, but she really wanted me to have it.  Very sweet, now I need to find a good use for it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lucy's 12th Birthday

Lucy turned 12 yesterday.  The celebrations began with a Butter Braid breakfast in bed.  She picked tacos for dinner.  Toby made brownies for our brownie sundaes and she opened her gifts.  Unfortunately, two of them have not arrived yet (through Etsy) but hopefully soon.  She'll have a sleepover with some friends this weekend, a little party on Saturday night with family, and then see her Boston grandparents on Sunday.

I read this blog post today from Momastery and thought it was very good, and timely. Watching Him Walk Away...

 9 months old

 Breakfast in Bed

 Book from her siblings

 Birthday ring

 New clothes

New Coat

Monday, September 08, 2014

Ray Rice

I'm not sure how I didn't hear about him in February, probably because it had to do with football, and probably because it wasn't made into a big deal.  How else could they just have given him a two game suspension?

I'm in agreement with this headline, Ravens, NFL get it right after they had no other choice.  I'm glad the right decision was made now, but they really didn't have a choice.  I also hope his wife isn't with him tonight, I can't imagine he's in a very good mood.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Weekend (Saturday)

Today Sam got our new car inspected, which means it's all set for us now.  I filled it up for the first time today and it costs $40 to fill it.  It's a hybrid and it got the same number of miles on a fill-up as the van, but the tank is half the size.  Fabulous!

Sam worked construction today and didn't get home until 8 due to working late and getting stuck on some streets where trees had blown down in the storm.

We didn't get a storm here, unfortunately.  It was very very hot all day.  We started the day at Amelia's first soccer practice of the season.  She's on the navy blue team this season.  Her coach is great.  Amelia goes to school with one of the girls and knows another from last season, so she was happy to be out there.  At the end, her face was beet red and beaded with sweat.

I spent the rest of the day baking.  A friend at work gave me a giant club of zucchini.  I made two loaves of bread and 24 muffins (which I froze).  I gave the rest to the chickens.  I also made a loaf of white bread and made the dough for 5 minute artisan bread.  Artisan Bread in Five  I had received a loaf of this bread as a teacher gift and it was delicious.  I'm hoping mine turns out just as well.

I also made peanut bars which a co-worker had brought to work on Saturday.  I made a mistake in the order I did things, but they are still delicious.  We are going to make another pan of them tomorrow though, the right way.

Tonight I took the kids to Chipotle where we used their free meal coupons from the library summer reading program.  We all had meals for free and paid 2 dollars for a drink.  Of course, it's next to Trader Joe's so then we went there and spent the money we had saved.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be going to the Worcester Revolution.  I'm only going if it is cooler...

Friday, September 05, 2014

My Classroom

 Our Revolutionary War section of the room

 This is where the students are creating marble runs out of cardboard tubes and painter's tape.  Unfortunately, pictures are harder to get this year because Toby is not in my room and I'm not going to put other students on my blog, but there is an exciting marble run already built after the first week.

 I love this poster I found on Pinterest and bought off of Teachers Pay Teachers

 This year I came up with the ingenious plan of counting down the days of school.  Really it is incredibly lazy because it meant that at the end of last year I didn't take down all of 180 of those people that are high up on my walls (in the pictures below).  Now this year, I just take down one each day and the students take away a stick each day and by the end of the year I'll be all set to do it the right way the next year! :)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Lucy's New Windows

Lucy has 8 windows in her new bedroom and they were old, broken, and pretty much useless.  We bought 4 new ones and Sam put them in this weekend.  The plan is to get the other 4 before winter.  I didn't get very good pictures of the old windows...but some were missing panes, they were taped in many places, and bugs were getting in.  All of the worst ones are gone now.

 My parents got a new car and gave us their old Honda.  Sam is getting it on the road this week.  It's a hybrid which is great for gas mileage and it is a relief to know that we have a spare car (the red one) when one of these goes.  We have definitely been blessed with cars and generous relatives.

 Old window with tape in the corners

3 out of the 4 new windows