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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

My Classroom

 We've been having fun with these chants...I say the beginning, they finish them.

 This is our Creative Design board, we have quite a few new choices this year - Marble Runs, Sewing, Construction

A teacher was throwing these out and I took them.  They are faded, but the students love them because now they can keep their free reading book with them during the day.  The students pick their own seats each day so this lets them make the spot their own for day.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


The beheading of another journalist makes me feel sick inside.  I would never want to be the President.  There is no way to win in this situation.  We can feel so powerful but there is a big world out there, outside of our borders.

The Bright Spot

But the bright spot in this day was that at the end of the day, a mom walked into my room and told me she had dinner for my family so I didn't have to cook tonight.  Wow!  That was pretty incredible and very appreciated.


I was going to say I survived today at school with this heat, but really, I didn't.  I spent the whole day concentrating on the fact that at 4:00 I would be in my air-conditioned bedroom (which I am).  We went to the library for an hour this morning and did math.  Then I had the great plan to use a middle school room because they are away on a retreat, but just because it is a new room doesn't mean it has ac, turns out.

I had sweat pouring down my face and body all day.  I don't think I can go back tomorrow...although I did say I was going to wear my bathing suit and bring my own hose.

Books and IEPS

I've finished two books this week.

1. The Invention of Wings - This is by the same author as The Secret Life of Bees, which I didn't like at all.  This book was excellent though and I highly recommend it.  The story of a slave and her owner, and where life takes them on their paths as women.

2.  Allegiant - This is the third book in the Divergent series and I'm sad to report that it is definitely the last because of the ending the author chose.  It was an unexpected ending and I guess I should be happy she did something unusual, but really it is just depressing.

On a completely different note, Toby is supposed to be receiving speech services twice a week through the Auburn school system.  At the end of last year, I communicated with the speech therapist trying to get a time at the end of the day so that I could maybe work something out with my work schedule.  I emailed her again this weekend and the email bounced back.  Turns out she has gone to a new district, so I have a new speech therapist to try to work everything out with, and the team chair (who I really like) has gone back into the classroom, so we now have a new team chair.

Monday, September 01, 2014

School Lunches

Here is the plan I am trying this year.  One week in, and it's ok...I don't love it, but it's working.  After I grocery shop on Sunday I fill out the form, put it in the dry erase sleeve and hang it on the refrigerator for the week.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Festivals and Events

Festival season is upon us.  Here's a list of the ones we are going to try to go to:

September 7 - Blackstone Canal Fest - Worcester

September 8 - Revolutionary War in Worcester

September 14 - Boston Local Food Festival

September 21 - stART on the Street

September 26/27 - WCS's First Homecoming

September 12-28 - The Big E

Sam and the usual family team of Plumbs will be competing in the Greenway Challenge on September 27.

Amelia starts soccer twice a week next week, and Toby starts hockey in two weeks.  Amelia's games will be on Saturdays.  Toby's games will be on Sundays.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Today is a great day, much needed relaxation.  Sam took our van for inspection this morning and it passed!!!!  Second year in a row of hassle free inspections.  What a relief.  It has 206,000 miles and it's still doing well.

The rest of us woke up various time throughout the morning, had some breakfast, and then headed back to bed to read or sleep.  We finally used some  of the ice brewed Keurig cups I received as a gift.  I'm making peach crisp and zucchini bread, using peaches and zucchini from a friend's garden/orchard.  A load of laundry is in, I'm about to make the meal plan for the week.

I'm feeling better this morning.  I felt awful last night, but today is definitely better.

All in all, this day is just what we needed.

P.S.  Sam's day probably wasn't quite as good...he's working today and the bunny bit through his headphones last night...try not to mention it to him. ;)

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Stamp Act

We are doing a lengthy unit on the American Revolution and I wanted to start it off in a way that would grab the students' attention, so I left the room for a second and came back in with a sheet of stickers, an empty jar, and told them I was the POTUS.  I said the school doesn't have enough money and that from now on the students were going to be required to buy a sticker for 5 cents to put on all papers that they turned in.  I said they would also need to buy a sticker to go to the bathroom, get a drink, go outside to recess, etc.  They also had to use their own money because their parents were paying enough to the school already.  At this point they are looking at each other, not sure what to believe.  They began talking to each other about it.  One student shouted out, "This is NOT fair!"  I gave a silent cheer inside my head.  Perfect student response.  We talked about how it would all work a bit more.  One student was getting more and more angry.  Finally he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "If this is real, then I am not going to this school anymore!  I have been saving MY money for a long time for something special!"

At that point, I stopped the scenario and said, "Exactly.  This is how the colonists felt when King George III decided that the 13 colonies should start paying taxes on paper goods.  I went on to explain the Stamp Act and other taxes that were demanded...

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Last night my throat started hurting.  Today at school two children in my class were diagnosed with strep.  One child was out sick, I don't know if she has strep.  Toby was complaining of a sore throat this afternoon.

Elizabeth told me about the Minute Clinic.  Normally I go to the after hours clinic with Reliant, but this was my late night in Whitinsville so I headed to the Uxbridge CVS.  Website said they closed at 7:00.  It was 6:15.  I got there.  I was the only one there.  Everything went well, until she found out that I just got off antibiotics for an ear infection 10 days ago, so she said a rapid strep would be negative.  She did the one you send away and I should have results in a day or two.  I also have a slight fever.

Regardless of whether it is strep or not, I am feeling pretty awful.  Heading to work at my dad's now and then home.  Thankful tomorrow is Friday.

Articles and More

Here are some interesting articles I've read lately:

The Learning Myth by Sal Khan

Massachusetts Drivers' Licenses Not Up to Snuff

Which Digital Teacher Are You?

Serial Stowaway Arrested

Bullets and Burgers  - Without getting into any gun control debates, I can't even believe there is a place like Bullets and Burgers, AND that they let 9 year old children shoot machine guns.

Dan Beerens tweeted this article from The Banner, The Case for Christian Schools. I thought it was quite good, especially the part below.  I think WCS does a great job engaging the culture and providing direction, which is just one of the many reasons I love the school and the Christian Reformed views of the world belonging to God.

  Some parents believe that sending their kids to a Christian school will protect them from these competing stories. But it will not. A Christian school that does not engage the culture in which students live does its children and parents a disservice. Rather, Christian schools are to equip students with the tools to identify and respond to the idols of our time.

I've also just finished reading Divergent and Insurgent.  I started the series after watching the movie.  Divergent was remarkably like the movie and I enjoyed it although it wasn't great because I already knew the plot.  Insurgent was boring at first, but got better as I continued.  Now I'm waiting for the third book to come in from the library.  While I'm waiting, I'm starting The Invention of Wings.  I've heard it is fabulous, but I didn't love The Secret Life of Bees, so we'll see.

Sam and I started watching the movie "Her" the other night but shut it off because it was awful on every level.

Lucy and I went to see The Giver on Sunday.  It was excellent, and the ending didn't leave you hanging like the book does.

And I'm currently enjoying listening to 5 Seconds of Summer's "She Looks So Perfect".  I know, I know...

And if you are looking for something to do, take thirty-three 3 oz. Dixie cups and see how tall of a tower you can build.  The highest in my class was 68cm.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Eric Metaxas just retweeted one of my tweets.  Yes, it was about one of his interviews, but it is very exciting to me!  And I wrote it in January...

Stimulating interview with plenty of laughs. Gladwell: David and Goliath @Gladwell#davidandgoliath #metaxas

My Classroom

 This year I added a few new jobs - Technology Assistant, this person plugs in all of the computers and ipads each day.  Timeline Creator.  We are going to be reading The Story of the World, Volume 1 this year to learn about Ancient History.  This person will be filling out a map and writing a summary of the day's chapter.  Story Painter is another new job, this person draws a picture of our current read aloud while I am reading it.

One of our new Creative Design centers is going to be sewing.  We've had parents provide fabric, needles and thread.  We also have everything needed to make sock puppets.

We are concentrating on World Geography this year, specifically the countries of the world.  This is our new bulletin board and we will fill in the countries as we learn them.

These are individual blank maps that the students can use as they learn the countries.