Monday, October 19, 2009

A Math Lesson Gone Wrong

Last year I did a math lesson about probability and the likelihood of an event happening. At the end of the lesson the students had to write down two examples of things they were sure would not happen. One particular student's first example was, "I will not go to Thornton Creek today." I could have argued that maybe his parents were going to stop by Thornton Creek on the way home from school, but overall it was an okay answer. His second example was much more, well, let's say...colorful. (Especially since it was the first month of school.)

There must be something about this lesson. I did it again a couple weeks ago and one student wrote, "How likely is it that a fish will jump out of the water and pimp slap me in the face with his tail?" Great image, disturbing language. I might have to reconsider doing this lesson in the future!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Been a Long, Long Week

As I said in the title of this posting, this week has been a long one. Part of the problem is the five indoor recesses we've had this week (loved 'em as a kid, hate them as an teacher).

The other problem is my class. Or at least a handful of kids in my class. In addition to the disturbing conversation we had about revenge on Tuesday,(, I've also had to deal with a variety of behavior problems. The main focus of my attention this week has been directed at "the new kid" (I'll come up with a better nickname for him later. My brain power is severely limited right now and it seems as if the creative thinking part is totally on hiatus). Anyway, in just the past four days I've had to deal with the following: "the new kid" wearing a fake, gold grill (with fake diamonds, of course) to school, him talking about "pimp slapping" someone, him bringing his DS game to school and losing one of the game cartridges underneath the trophy case in the hallway, him somersaulting into our carpet area and kicking someone in the face, him jumping into a photo last minute and accidentally kicking a plastic storage bin and smashing a huge hole in it, and him using a piece of masking tape to roll a pretend joint and "smoke" it in the middle of class. This is in addition to his "regular" behaviors: calling out, throwing his paper on the floor, moonwalking across the room, tattling on others, getting into his classmates' personal space, drawing while I'm talking, not listening to directions or looking at the board, laying down while I'm reading a story on the carpet, him "accidentally" falling out of his chair, standing over shorter classmates in a threatening way, spinning/jumping/sliding/crawling/sitting down/yelling/and a whole lot more in line, getting out of his seat to get a drink while I'm teaching, whistling when it's quiet, etc, etc, etc. This is not the sort of behavior we usually see at our school, so it really stands out.

I know a lot of the negative behaviors come from the fact that he's at least a year and a half behind in reading, writing, and math and that he'd rather have people laugh at him for being a clown, than for not being able to do the work. It doesn't help that his mom didn't show up for the special meeting we had before school on Tuesday and that no one seems to check his folder or help him with his homework.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disturbing Discussion

I recently had some lying and stealing and cheating going on in my third grade classroom, so I enlisted the librarian's help on finding some picture books about those topics. Today I read A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. In this story Frances' friend Thelma tricks Frances into buying Thelma's used, plastic tea set. Frances had been saving her money for a fancy China tea set with blue painting on it, but she is convinced by Thelma that they don't make those tea sets anymore. Frances buys Thelma's old, used tea set, takes it home, gets teased by her little sister about her ugly, plastic tea set, and realizes that she's been tricked. Thelma of course takes the money from Frances and immediately runs to the local candy store and buys herself a fancy China tea set with blue painting on it. When Frances learns about Thelma's new tea set, Frances devises a plan to teach Thelma a lesson and get the fabulous China tea set she wanted in the first place.

So why am I telling you Frances' tale?

...Because of the disturbing discussion I had with my students afterwards, that's why!

First we discussed why Thelma lied to Francis. Then we talked about how Francis felt when her sister made fun of the plastic tea set. Finally, I brought up the question of whether it was a good idea for Frances to teach Thelma a lesson and trick her. I was quite surprised when one of my students said it was fine for Frances to trick Thelma back..."That's called revenge." A group of three or four students then went on to list the reasons why revenge is okay. As one student so plainly put it, "It makes it even."

A few of the kids did say it's not nice to play tricks on people and that you shouldn't do things back to people who bug you, but the pro-revenge group was quite vocal with their ideas. I'm kind of at a lost for what to do next...I thought we had been making progress on our classroom climate, but after today's discussion, I see that I was totally wrong.

Suggestions? Lesson ideas? Cool, kid-friendly websites? Girlie martini recipes for me? :)

-Pigtailed Teacher

PS...I forgot to mention that one of my students rolled up some paper today and pretended to smoke a joint. Oy vay, it's going to be a long year!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day Whatever...I've Already Lost Track!

This is from a beginning of the year, classroom rules, brainstorming activity I did with my third graders a few years back. I'm glad "Be nice," made the top five...even if it's after no blood sucking!
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day Ten...Biggest Tool in the Shed

Today we had a special guest speaker come to our school to talk about the importance of working hard, setting goals, and staying in school...all the usual motivational stuff. He's a football player at a local university (hint: I live in Seattle) and I'm guessing this was his first time speaking to a large group of small children...and I'm hoping it's his last.

In addition to saying "you guys," and "awesome" about a hundred times during his 20 minute "presentation," he also had a few words of wisdom for the kids...

(these are not direct quotes, but you'll get the idea)
  • You know how when you workout you want to get big muscles? Well maybe not the girls, but they want to look good. (Ya, 'cause the only reason women workout is to look good.)

  • You know how when you play sports you've got to be mean? (Oh, is he going to talk about sportsmanship? Nope. He really is going to talk about being mean.)

  • You know when you're playing a game and you want to punch someone in the face? Or you want to call them butthead? Uh, you shouldn't do that. (Did he really just say "butthead" in front of almost 400 elementary students?!?)

In addition to these pearls of wisdom, the speaker also thought it would be a good idea to have the kids scream out THREE separate times...once to show how they cheer at a game, once to shout out what sports they like, and the third time to yell out what video game system they like to play. Video games? Oy vay.

When one kid asked "What did you study in school?," he danced around the question, mumbling a few sentences about studying and then moved onto the next question. Apparently in college he learned how to b.s., but unfortunately for us, he's not very good at it!

At the very end of the assembly, one of the teachers asked him what his plan was after college. His reply? Applying to med school. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cute Kid Quotes

In order to get to know my students better, last week I had them fill out a questionnaire. On the last question they had to complete the following sentences:
  • Happiness is...
  • If only...
  • Friendliness is...
  • To care is...

Here are some of my favorite responses (with limited editing):

  • Happiness is climing trees.
  • To care is to halp peapole cros the stret.
  • Happiness is eating my moms pudding.
  • If only I could make my moms pudding.
  • Happiness is a cat.
  • If only my family went camping more often.
  • Happiness is extra recess.
  • If only I could do a roundof backhandspring.
  • Friendliness is to defend someone and to play with someone.
  • Happiness is rice.
  • If only I could get out of math.
  • Happiness is done my homework on time.
  • To care is easy.
  • Happiness is eating chocolate in belgium!
  • If only I could have the key to the house.
  • Happiness is like the sun.
  • To care is to love.

Happy Monday Everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Missing in Action

Yesterday was the first day I missed a posting since school started...but I had a great reason!

As soon as I got home from school, I met up with my mom and two of my closest friends and we went downtown for happy hour and to see the musical Wicked! It was fabulous, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to others, especially if you're a fan of The Wizard of Oz! I must admit though, I did think of work occasionally during the show....parents I needed to call, the e-mail I forgot to return, the family letter I wanted to send out, etc.

How do you stop thinking about work? I'd love to hear suggestions!
Pigtailed Teacher

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day Four and Five

The last two days have been strange.

Yesterday was "sad day." A co-worker had to put her cat to sleep. I learned two people I know have brain tumors. And Patrick Swayze died.

Today seems to be "weird and creepy day". A co-worker shared with me a disturbing letter one of her elementary students wrote today. It was about the different types of guns and explosives he knows how to make. Then, as I made my way across the teachers' parking lot to go home, I noticed two adults (possibly parents) getting very comfortable in the grassy area behind the school. I suppose they were just relaxing and enjoying the sunshine, but it seemed a little out of place on school grounds. And while I was at a happy hour/curriculum planning session, my co-worker got a phone call from her very pregnant sister, telling her that a presumable crazy man had just yelled at her on the street, demanded money, and told her he'd be back. How scary!

I'm hoping that tomorrow's theme for the day is one of good luck and happy surprises. I can't take any more of these downer days!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Summer Flashback: Houston vs. Seattle

During my trip to Texas this summer, I noticed a lot of differences between Houston and Seattle (and I'm not just talking about the weather!).

In Texas, a lot of Mexican food involves CCQ (Chili Con Queso). Ugh. It's a Velveeta-like substance that seems to accompany most dishes at Mexican restaurants. Sometimes as a dip, sometimes as a sauce, and sometimes as a filler, but always, Chili Con Queso.

Churches and over-sized crosses seem more common in Houston, as do Taco Cabana's and oversized trucks.

In Houston, few people seem to know what recycling is. We only saw it two places, the airport and the aquarium, and I think it was only newspaper recycling. Here are a couple pictures from the aquarium:

People in Houston love their buffets. A lot. We went to a buffet at least once every three days. (That averages out to ten buffets a month!) There were Asian buffets, Mexican buffets, Greek & Mediterranean buffets. Here's a picture of the "famous" macaroni and cheese pizza from CiCi's Pizza Buffet (It's only famous to us, not to anyone else):

After this trip I know I will forever be a Northwesterner!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day Three...Three Kids Sent to the Principal's Office

Not a good sign that I had three kids pulled out of class today to talk with the principal. Two had had a disagreement of some sort and one child got whacked (Accidentally? On purpose? Who knows?) The third child had to go to the office because at recess he was playing way too rough with another kid and they had been disrespectful to the playground teacher that tried to intervene.

On the positive side of teaching, I got three really nice notes today. One was a note included the line, "You are the smartest teacher in the school." (It's good that someone has finally recognized my brilliance, dammit!) Another one was a picture of me. The artist handed it to me and said, "Here's a really bad picture of you." (I know she meant her drawing was bad, not that I looked bad, but it sure didn't come across that way). And the third note was a head-to-toe drawing of me, and boy, I've got quite the figure in it! (See below)

Not bad for the first Friday of the school year. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day Two...Feet Feel Swollen Twice Their Size

The nice thing about the beginning of the school year is that you don't really have to plan a lot.

Really, you don't.

That's because every activity takes twice as long as you expect.

You have to teach about a bazillion procedures to go with each activity...where to get a clipboard from, where to put your home folder, how to walk in the hallway in a straightish line, how to make a lunch choice, where to put finished papers, when to sharpen pencils, what to do when you're finished with your work, etc. The list goes on and on.

In the end though this may be the one time of year I don't feel pressured to have the kids produce work and be on task 100% of the time.

That starts next week. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day One...To an Interesting Year

Let's see, the first day was fine. Exceptions to this statement include one girl calling the new boy an a-hole, the new kid cartwheeling into line (twice), the new kid deciding he should sit in the teacher's chair when we came into the assembly, and the new kid chewing on colored beads during the assembly and then trying to roll me when I told to spit them out ("Both of them," I said.) I'm sure there will be lots more stories to come...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Tomorrow is the first day of school. I think I'm finally to a place where I'm physically ready for the kids to come; meaning I've got the classroom set-up and most of the materials prepped.

Today was a long day because it was the Back-to-School BBQ. As a kid I never knew teachers didn't want to go to after school activities. Now though, I think I only know of one or two teachers who actually look forward to evening activities (and those are teachers who have been teaching too long to know better anymore!).

I just finished my first day letter and a glass of white Zinfandel. The letter is short and sweet, and it only took me a few minutes to update it since I was able to find the original on my computer.

I think I'm going to challenge myself to blog every night of this school year. It sounds like a daunting task when I reread my blog out loud, but I know I can do it. It might just be one sentence, but I want to make writing a daily habit and I already see it falling by the wayside now that I've returned to the classroom. So all of you out there, if I don't post something one day, write me, ask me where the post is, make me feel guilty...I'll put it to good use, I promise!


The Pigtailed Teacher
PS...Here's my "To Do" list from last week. What wasn't finished on the list has been transferred (and downsized) to a Post-It note on my desk. Let the games begin!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Educational Buzz Words

Just three official days back and I'm already tired of educational buzz words. Some of the most frequent ones I heard last week were: transparency, protocol, and community of learners. There was even mention of some sort of "guide to probing." Sounds vaguely naughty, but it's not.
I also had a PTA board meeting a few weeks ago and they had their own set of annoying catch phrases. The two that really stuck out to me were "e-mail blast" and "off line." Maybe I should have had some of the beer or wine that was flowing around me...then I might not have noticed how often those phrases were used. :)

What sort of educational jargon have you been saturated with recently?
-Pigtailed Teacher

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Practical Teacher Tip...What Works for Me

After lots of trail and error, this is what I've found that works best for me for classroom jobs. I bought these little pockets at the teacher store and labeled each one with a different job. I believe that since it's "Our" classroom, each person should have a designated job each week. I made labels with the students' names and put them onto Popsicle sticks (Use the large ones!). I secured the labels with clear tape. Every week I rotate the sticks one job to the right, so eventually each child gets to do each job.

To all the elementary teachers out there, what is your favorite method for assigning classroom jobs?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mother Nature B*&%h Slapped Me Yesterday

Yesterday I was convinced by my boyfriend that going on a little day hike would be a good activity for a group of us. I wasn't too enthused about the prospect of huffin' and puffin' my way up a mountainside, but he assured me I would be okay, that it was only 4 miles round trip, that it would be fun.

I'm not sure if fun is the right word.

As soon as we started up the trail at Little Si ( I knew I was in trouble. Mother Nature greeted me with a super steep incline that made me stop every few minutes to catch my breath. I thought about crying and cursed myself for letting me get this out of shape.

As we made our way to a more leveled area of the trail I was able to check out my surroundings and actually appreciate the landscape around me. My lungs recovered, my legs stopped yelling at me, and I was lulled into a false sense of okayness. That is, until we hit the final leg of the trail...

The final portion Little Si requires finding your way up another, even steeper, switchback area. By now my legs were announcing that they were done for the day (You wish, stupid legs!) and my slightly negative attitude returned. Somehow though, I made it to the top.

Right now you're probably thinking, "Yay for you, Pigtailed Teacher!" The problem with that is I was only halfway done with the 4.4 mile loop...I still had to make my way back down the mountain! Oy vay.

Remember that section of super steep, switchback trail I just went up? Now I had to go down it. It's about this time that my knees started screaming at me, "We're not made to carry an extra 60 lbs of weight! We hate you, we hate you, we hate you!" My calves chime in, as did my lungs, my heart, and the toes on my left foot. Unfortunately for all of us though, there was nothing I could do, but slowly work my way back to the bottom of the mountain and promise myself (and all of my angry body parts) that I will do something about this situation I've gotten us into. See this goal and many others at:

All in all though, I'm glad I went. It was a beautiful day, and I was with supportive, fun people I like to be around. Next time, I just hope Mother Nature won't have to slap me so hard to knock some sense into me!

The View from the Top (and How Dirty I Got!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Check Out My Updated Good Intentions!

Check out the progress I've made on my goals and good intentions page.
I've completed one goal this summer and worked on a few others. Let me know if you have any suggestions for completing the others.
Thanks, Pigtailed Teacher

PS.....Sorry for the weird spacing on the Pigtailed Teacher Goals page. I fix things just how I like them, and even though I click "save," they don't show up on the published page. Have any of you had the same problem?

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Back-to School Dream

They don't tell you in college that when you become a teacher, you will probably have back-to-school dreams every year (or should I say nightmares?)

This year I had my first back-to-school dream on August 1st. It of course involved me not being prepared for the first day. I knew I could wing it, but I was frantically trying to figure out what to do first. I was doing okay until a certain student, let's call him Kenny, started acting up. I had been told by his previous teacher that I just needed to be super strict with him for the first few days and then he would just fall into line. Let's just say, it wasn't working. And that was the end of the dream.

It wasn't a particularly bad dream, but it did make my stomach tense up a bit.

In related news, when I went into my school this week, I received an updated copy of my class roster. Who's not on the list...Kenny! I wonder who I should dream about next...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Photo of the Week

Something We Don't See in Seattle...

This Just in...Classroom Teachers Hoard Furniture!

It's a little known fact to those outside the world of education that teachers have a tendency to hoard classroom furniture. That's because it takes so long to get an order from surplus, you've who knows when you'll get another one.

I think I put my first request in for two small book cases last May. I've been told that our district's new policy is to wait to send an order until a school has a moderate amount of stuff on hold. That sounds good in theory, since the school has to pay for each separate order. The only problem is that whatever is still left on the request form is now deleted from their system.

According to this new policy, since I did not receive my two small bookcases in the June delivery, my request was deleted. Luckily I heard about this new policy in time and was able to put in a new request for the next delivery. This time I put in for two small bookcases and two large bookcases. I figured that I'd have better odds of getting something if I put in for extra.

When I went to school last week (First Day Back) I asked the new secretary about the status of the surplus delivery. She said that due to school closures the surplus department had put a hold on all deliveries until August 15th...a little over three weeks before school starting. I knew there was little chance of me receiving even one bookcase at this point.

Before I went into my room yesterday I said out loud to S. ..."I'm going to set-up my room witho ut the bookcases. I can't plan around something I'm probably not going to get. " I walk into my classroom, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but two small bookcases!

For over four hours I pushed old bookshelves into new locations, put new bookshelves on the opposite wall, drug 6 ft long work tables across the room and back again, until finally, I was satisfied. I could see it all coming together. My vision was coming into focus.

Just then, well actually, a half an hour before I left for the day, a delivery man strolls into my room. "I've got a bookcase for you," he says. "Actually, two of them." What else can I do but feign a smile and try to figure out where the hell I'm going to put two more bookcases.

Thanks Mr. Murphy's Law. I owe you one. :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Goals

There are a few goals I wanted to accomplish this summer, and with my vacation quickly coming to a close, today I decided to focus on what could be considered one of the biggest tasks at the den closet. This includes organizing my "stuff-it" shelf and going through all of the papers in my filing box.

Below are the Before and After shots of my the shelf makeover. This comes after many hours, two episodes of The Gilmore Girls, one episode of Project Runway All-Stars, and two raspberry vodka/7-up/pomegranate juice adult cocktails. I still have a few things to file tomorrow, but I think I've come to a good place to stop for the night.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Square Lotus....and Some Not so Vegertarian Food.

Last Thursday I met my Auntie N. and Cousin A. for lunch at a vegetarian friendly place in Bellevue, Wa. All three of us are differing levels of vegetarian and enjoy trying new restaurants. Auntie N. knew of this particular restaurant, Square Lotus, and my cousin and I were excited to try it. To start our meal we ordered "pork" skewers, "chicken" egg rolls, and some "chicken" summer rolls. All three were very yummy, although the skewers had a surprising gingerbread taste to them at first. Our entrees were just as delicious. In fact, my leftover sesame "beef" didn't even make it to the fridge.

Three of the most sane women in our family together for good food and good conversation...a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

Later that day a couple of us took urbanite mommy ( out of the house for baby's first happy hour. We went to a new place called The Signature. It boasted happy hour food and drink specials from $2-$5. Our waitress was a bit flaky, especially when it came to announcing last call for happy hour (shame on you waitress lady!), but overall our experience was a positive one. The garlic fries were grubbin' and the orange juice and vodka didn't give me a headache.

The funniest moment of the entire day came at the end of our happy hour experience. I was casually looking over the menu choices, reflecting on what I might blog about in the future, when I noticed the fine print listed under the garlic fries...."Deep fries saute with green onion, garlic and chicken powder." Chicken Powder?!?!?! Who's ever heard of putting chicken powder on garlic fries?!?!? I thought french fries would automatically be vegetarian?!?! No wonder I was licking the plate (and my fingers) clean?!?!

Oh well. At least it was funny. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Exercising and Blogging

Why is it that good habits are so much harder to keep up than bad habits? For example, I mean to exercise daily, but if the littlest thing interferes with my regular schedule, I'm totally off the healthy wagon and embracing the sedentary lifestyle. The same seems to be true for blogging. I want to write at least a little each day, and honestly wake up each morning intending to do it, but just one day without writing sends me down the winding road of procrastination...I suppose that's why it's 11:17 pm and I'm just now sitting down to write. I know it will only get worse once school starts. Ugh. Anyone have any suggestions?
Pigtailed Teacher

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Day Back

I finally broke down and went into my classroom for the first time since June. I deliberately planned on making it a short visit, just enough time to move around a few desks and make a mental checklist of what to get at the teacher store.

Our closest all-encompassing teacher store, Lakeshore Learning, is less than 10 miles away, but with traffic the commute could take up to an hour each way. Since I was heading that direction to have a yummy, vegetarian lunch with my cousin and aunt (tomorrow's blog perhaps?), I decided to make my once a year pilgrimage to the teacher store. Under normal circumstances the aisles would be crowed (it's a pretty small store), but with less than three weeks before the first official bell of the 2009-2010 school year, the store was like the Atlanta airport the day before Thanksgiving.

During my hour and a half visit to Lakeshore Learning I overheard several fun conversations: teachers talking about buying handheld "Stop" signs and using them in inappropriate ways, others debating which name tags are better "the frogs or the fish," and a couple teachers commenting on not buying too much at the beginning of the year. I almost had a "gag me with a spoon" reaction to two uber cute...I'm talking complimentary, knee-length, subtle floral print skirts and bright-eyed enthusiasm of second year, probably kindergarten, teachers who were discussing which scratch n' sniff stickers to get for the first day of school. Ugh. Just give them another year or two and I bet their apple-scented stickers become a lower priority on their shopping list.

After loading up my cart with several important consumable products (birthday crowns, star student posters, you know, the basics) and a few impulse buys (the writing traits poster pack and the giant "look what we did" bulletin board letters), I made it out of the store for under $100...pretty good by my standards! Now if only I could get someone else to do the rest of my prep for me. Any takers? :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sangria and Washable Markers

Well, I'm back from two weeks in Texas (lots of stories to come!) and it seems that no matter how hard I try to deny it, my summer is officially coming to a close. Not only did I have a coworker call me last week to pick out a date for a mandatory, all-day, math training, but I have also started back-to-school shopping for me, and for my classroom. I'm fine with me part...that included a two hour shopping trip to Kohl's to comb the clearance racks. It's the classroom part that has inspired me to breakout the bottle of sangria in our fridge (a tasty birthday present from Baldy the Urban Geriatric Mom at:
While at Target today I noticed a clearance sign above the Rose Art 10 pack of washable markers...only $0.55 a pack! Wide or fine tip! After a bit of hesitation (again, I was trying to deny that my summer is less than two weeks long at this point), I put 15 packs of each type of marker in my cart, along with 15 packs of colored pencils and a super cute notebook for keeping all my "important" teacher papers corralled. I'm usually a Crayola fan, but at $0.55 a pack, my students can use Rose Art projects just fine. I know I bought pencils at Staples earlier in the summer, but since I only payed $0.25 for 25 packs, I didn't really count it as back-to-school shopping. But with this most current trip to Target (and later on in the day, another trip to Staples for $0.25 composition books), I have definitely crossed the line into the school zone. Aahhh!!!!! Where's my glass of sangria? Sigh.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Missing in Action

Actually, I'm not missing in action, I'm busy frolicking around Houston, Texas. Due to limited computer access my postings have been a bit sporadic, but don't you worry. I'm taking a plethora of photos and making lots of notes about the world around me...strange as it is sometimes. (Did you know that some people still don't recycle...weird) I'll share more of my travel insights when I get home next week.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Hot Sweaty Mess...Part Three

I finally settled back into my makeshift bed and fell asleep.

About an hour later I was suddenly jolted awake by a tremendous, window-shaking "boooooommmmm", mingled with a women's scream. My eyes flew open, just in time to see the darkened livingroom be illuminated by a small shower of sparks in the sky. (I am amazed with how fast our bodies react to a situation before we even consciously know what is happening). S. and I hurried to the windows and parted the mini blinds, expecting to see the worst. Instead, we saw nothing.

Yup, nothing but a regular ol' street at 2:00 in the was dark and a few cars were parked on the street. We noticed one of the street lights seemed a little dark, but even that wasn't very noticeable. A few minutes later people from the different apartment buildings in the area slowly filtered onto the street. The first out there were two women, both with cell phones in hand. As a few other concerned citizens made their way street level, S. and noticed that they seemed to be looking up at one of the street lights/power lines and congregating around a parked car that had a small amount of debris on it. (From our fourth floor apartment, it seemed as if one of the neighbors that took to the street was a large, bald, army boot wearing man, with a shotgun slung over his shoulder. Obviously my point of view must have seriously skewed this man's appearance, because those on the street didn't seem the bit troubled by his presence...Thank god.) :-)

So what else happened? A police car zoomed by with its lights on (but no siren) and didn't stop, everyone went back into their respective buildings, one neighbor from across the street came back outside with his camera and took pictures of the power pole and the car below it, another cop car came by, but this time it was using its search light on the opposite side of the street, and the electric company showed up in their big, yellow monster of a truck. They got out, shined their uber powerful flashlight on the darkened street lamp, got back inside their vehicle, consulted some sort of giant manual, and left.

See you later electrical guys...see you the next time we have a hot sweaty mess!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Hot Sweaty Mess...Part Two

And what to my wondrous eyes should appear...but a five person work crew using the world's largest blow torches (or at least really, really big blow torches) to seal the newly painted bike symbol on the asphalt. What sounded like the beginning stages of a full blown tropical storm...blowing and hissing and whirring, was over in less than five minutes! And I was left wide awake for the next hour...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Hot Sweaty Mess...Part One

Seattle as a whole was a hot, sweaty mess yesterday. At 11:30 last night the local weatherman was still running around outside with his giant thermometer to report that it was still 84 degrees outside. Ugh. Most Seattlites are not meant for hot weather, and neither are our apartments. Even though we had on the ceiling fan, an oscillating fan, a stationary fan, a window fan, and an air conditioner (not the right type for our window, so you'll have to visualize some cardboard and duct tape to make it "fit" into the window) all setup in our livingroom, it was still the same temperature inside as it was outside.

It was getting close to bedtime, so I decided to jimmy-rig some "walls" to close-off the kitchen and hallway in hopes of creating an arctic oasis in the livingroom. I not so daintily climbed up on the kitchen stool and hung up an old sheet and a hand-decorated, elephant shower curtain (one of my many unfinished art projects) . It looked a little ghetto, but seemed to help. I was worried that I would have to keep chasing one of our cats, Mookie, away from the sheet. I knew that through her little kitty eyes it looked like the world's largest (and most comfy) kitty hammock. I then brought out every extra blanket in the place to create a "mattress" for myself in the middle of the floor and settled into channel surfing to pass the time. Finally, around 12:30 am, I set the timer on the TV and draped a small corner of a light-weight blanket across my rear end, and closed my eyes. (I can't fall asleep without a blanket on my tush. I don't know if this is something my mom did as part of my bedtime routine during my early, formative years, or just something weird I've picked-up along the way...anyone else have the same issue?) Anyway, I took a couple deep breaths and tried to sink into sleepy time, but somewhere in the distance I heard strange noises. I tried to ignore them, but finally decided that either I was going crazy or there was something going on outside...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Soy hot dogs and cucumbers

In anticipation of going on vacation later this week, I am now playing my own version of Survivor. Whatever food is in the house, needs to be either eaten or thrown away by Thursday morning. This explains why I just ate a soy hot dog, cucumber, and sunflower seed salad...topped with ripped up, day-old french bread and non-fat ranch spray. My drink of choice? Slightly flat Diet Pepsi. Mmm, now doesn't that just sound delicious? I can't wait to see what I cook up for dinner. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009


To Move or Not to Move? ...That is the question.

Our lease is up at the end of August, but we have to let the apartment manager know by August 11th if we want to move. Here's the pro/con list so far:

Possible pros for moving:
Cheaper rent, hopefully no smokers on either side of us, healthier (I've developed allergies since living here), no more stupid Essex apartment managers, better control of apartment temperature, and less ghetto neighbors (our place doesn't look ghetto, but the actions of some of the people who live here make it seem ghetto-like).

Possible cons for moving:
We have to spend time hunting for a new place, lots of packing and moving of boxes (right before school starts!), changing our address on everything, higher parking fees and/or no parking, painting, possible less desirable location, and the whole first-last-and-deposit thing.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Skinny Clothes

I recently went through two boxes of what I often refer to as my "skinny clothes." These clothes have not seen the light of day since we moved into our apartment about three years ago. I still like most of these clothes, but due to a sudden reduction of storage space in our apartment (we got rid of our bed stilts), I decided it was time to purge some of the boxes usually stored under the bed.

It didn't take long for me to go through the two boxes of once beloved, smaller-sized clothes...corduroy skirts, hoochie tops, logo embellished t-shirts, you name it, I had it.

In the end I kept a few things, including four pairs of skinny jeans. At 5'2", it's worth keeping pants a few sizes too small if they are the right length. (My waist can get smaller, but my legs won't get any longer!) I also kept what I consider the cutest and hippest clothes (although I don't know how they can still be considered hip three-plus years off the assembly line!).

I thought going through my skinny clothes would be depressing, but it felt good to get rid of some of the excess "things' in our place. Also, this purging of clothes was like a walk down memory lane..."I remember when I wore those red, velvet pants out dancing," and "Oh, I think I wore that t-shirt on our road trip to Yellowstone." I knew Baldy (from would go through my Goodwill-bound clothes and snag up a few of the gems and make them her own, further easing any hesitation I had with getting rid of these clothes.

In the end I put all the clothes I was keeping into one small box and found a spot for it on my closet shelf. Instead of feeling sad, I felt almost enthused; looking forward to the day I would be wearing them again. With working out four days a week this summer, I'm hoping that by the time the school bells start ringing in September, I'll be fitting into at least a few of my keepers.
I'll keep you posted on that! :)


Friday, July 24, 2009

Feedback Please! :)

I've got my blog to the point that I'm ready to share it with the world...or at least my friends and family. I figure once school is back in session the posts will be more education/teaching/kids-are-weird-related, but for now I'm writing about whatever is on my mind. Please send any suggestions, compliments, or questions to: You can also follow my adventures on Twitter at:

Thanks so much!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Blog Page!

Check out my newest posting. It's all about my goals and good intentions. You'll find it on my blog page at:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The "A" Word

I recently received an e-mail from a co-worker describing her amazing trip to Corona was her water, and that she was in such a remote area that her cell phone didn't get reception and most people around her didn't speak English.

In the midst of her light-hearted e-mail, while throwing out dates for exploring the best wine to drink with hot, gooey smores, she used the A word...the vile, angst ridden A word...August. She apologized for putting it out there, but nevertheless, she still did it.

Most people outside of field of education don't realize that August is like the Sunday night of the work week. August means the end of relaxation and the beginning of meetings, and forms, and setting up the classroom, and making alphabetized lists of your new students, and making a new birthday calendar, and writing your students' names on little popsicle sticks, and getting back into teaching mode.

Please don't ask a teacher when school starts. We know you mean well, but we don't' want to think about it.

Yet. : )

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of My Childhood

spray paint fumes
the sewing machine
days of our lives
bottle caps with picture puzzles on them
deep fried mushrooms with hot grease still inside
the washing machine
cool whip instead of frosting
a warm washcloth on my face
burgers from the "tiger's den"
a dry towel wrapped around my cold, bathing suit clad body
new underwear at christmas
the painting with the heart carved into the tree
an orange, brown, and green knitted blanket with tassels on the end
fresh cut wood from the hardware store
smelly markers
being barefoot on the grass
hot clothes from the dryer


Monday, July 20, 2009

"It's Never too Late to Adopt a 40 year old!"

When most people think of adoption they think of cute, cuddly, little babies or maybe they might think of adopting an older child maybe a 6 year old, maybe a 12 year old. Unfortunately teenagers are commonly over looked when it comes to being placed with new parents. I'm Baldy and I am sad to say that my biological mom passed away when I was young. But a few years ago I was adopted by my best friend's girlfriend, you may know her as The Pigtailed Teacher. This wonderfully witty school teacher already had a tight knit group of girlfriends, but never failed to make me feel right at home in her presence, but a little over a year things took a turn for the better, she, a super busy social sassy, ask me to participate in a mini-triathlon with her, I was honored that she wanted to train for an event with such an ass backward, athletic slacker, such as myself, so I jumped at the opportunity. Shortly after committing to this event I found out that I was pregnant, and being the physical fitness flake that I am, was looking to bail on this whole triathlon thing, but not wanting to let P.T. down, I waited for her to give me an out, by telling me that it was ok if we didn't do the triathlon. P.T. did not, instead she rousted me onto a proper training schedule, she endured endless hours of my whining and complaining, coached me through open water neurosis, and opted to walk with me when I bitched about being too 'pregnant' to run. We completed the triathlon! dead last, but we finished! All because she never gave up on me, and it didn't stop there, being 4 months pregnant I was just moving into the "Oh Shit" I'm going to be a mom mode, which meant 1/2 of my brain shut down and the other 1/2 simply shifted into denial mode, focusing on nothing more than "what color shall I paint the nursery?" This is when the official adoption took place P.T. bought me maternity clothes, made me register for baby stuffs, trained to be my doula, bought the baby throngs of clothing and toys, sat with me in my house when I was to pregnant to waddle about town, called to check on my condition daily, planned my baby shower, and was there perfectly clad in her pink Mock Doula outfit, ready to hold my hand when the big day
came. That was 7 months ago today, now her and her boyfriend (my friend that brought her into my life) are not only the most fabulous pseudo parents to this semi-crazy 40 year old mom but they have become the best co-parents to Little Muffin that I and my partner could have ever dreamt of. So the moral of my long winded story is, that is never too late for adoption, us old kids need love too! So for all of you out there with extra love to spare, think of the cast of characters you call friends and adopt one today!
If they are over 18, they probably aren't tax deductible though. sorry


A friend of mine recently had a baby and I have been there for the entire ride...from discussions on pregnancy constipation to actually being handed the video camera in the delivery room and told to keep rolling. I've seen the exhausted look in Mommy's eyes and heard the coos from Baby that make it all worth it. I've had spit-up on my knee, and my shirt, and my hand. I've even see photos of Baby's first solid poo (I'm not too upset that I wasn't there to see the real thing. The photo is good enough!)

My friend has started her own blog, to help others realize what goes on in a new mom's life and to share the fun and real adventures of being a first time, older mom. It's called, Baldy the Urban Geriatric Mom and you can find it at

Baldy said I should write about being a co-parent to Little Miss Thing, but I think I'm no where near co-parenting status. I'm more like a super cool support person. I don't have to do nighttime, wake-up several times, feed me now, and change me duty. I won't have to deal with Baby when she starts teething or when she has her first case of strep throat. And when she's crying, she doesn't want me. She wants her mommy (or daddy, if mommy is not around). And I'm okay with that because I still get loves, and kisses, and I play fun games like peek-a-boo and get-the-waving-hand. Babies are pretty cool and I'm glad I get to be there for this one. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Experiement Number 1, Later on Day 4

Well, it happened...sort of. Someone cleaned up the detergent in the elevator, or at least they tried to. I got into the elevator Friday evening and was sad to see a majority of the the powdery substance was gone. I fear though, I may have tainted the experiment earlier in the day. You see, I was getting my mail from the front of the building and overheard one of my neighbors talking to her friends about our elevator. I interjected that it's not a very clean elevator and then we briefly discussed the mysterious white substance (I of course, relaying the past dog-pee situation). I'm afraid that the manager-type person that was sitting in the nearby office with the door open, may have heard our conversation and went to checkout the dirty elevator. No worries though, I'm sure I'll have another experiment around here soon enough...maybe I could document how many days the apartment manager parks in one of the handicapped spaces in our garage? I'm sure the Essex company would love to know one of their managers does that on a daily basis. Hmm...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Experiement Number 1, Day 4

Just checked the elevator. Still detergent on the floor. Since it's Friday, I'm not guessing it won't get cleaned up until next week, that is, if it gets cleaned up.

Here's some background information for you about the origin of this experiment. A couple months ago a dog peed (I hope it was a dog!) in our elevator and two and a half days went by before I saw one of the apartment managers. I casually let her know that it reeked of urine in the elevator. There was another suit-like company person sitting in her itty, bitty office, so the apartment manager acted surprised, said she didn't know anything about it, and promised she'd get the maintenance person right on it. Liar! She knew about it! She lives in the building and parks her car in the garage and rides the elevator up and down to her apartment on the second floor! Lying bitch, you knew about the nasty puddle in the elevator and didn't want to clean it up yourself.

I'm pretty sure the detergent will just be left to grind itself into the stained carpet.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shout out to Staples!

I had to stop by an office supply store yesterday to purchase something for a special project I'm working on at home, and while I was there I got sucked into buying back-to-school supplies. I went to Staples first since last year I joined their "Teacher Reward Program" and I really liked their customer service...and I liked the good deals they gave to teachers! You know how most of those places have a 1 cent special each week to draw people in? Well, usually you can only buy one or two of those items at the discounted price. But at Staples, if you sign-up for their teacher rewards program you can get a class set (25) at that price. For example, yesterday I got 25 packages of pencils for a penny each. That works out to 300 pencils for 25 cents! I was worried that since the economy is in the crapper this year that maybe Staples would cut back on their rewards program, but they didn't. So thanks Staples! Those pencils will definitely come in handy in my classroom. :)

Experiement Number 1, Day 3

No real changes. Losing the "mountain fresh" scent. New, small, unidentifiable stain off to the right.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Experiement Number 1, Day 2

I know a lot of us do unscientific experiments on those around seeing how long will it take So-and-So to call you back, whether sitting on the aisle seat on the bus will keep the window seat unoccupied just a little bit longer, etc. Here's my latest observational experiment: Yesterday someone in my apartment building spilled powdered laundry detergent in the elevator and didn't clean it up. I'm wondering how long it for the management to do something about it. I say at least five days, so Friday at the earliest. If it isn't cleaned up by Friday, then you know it will be there until at least Monday...god forbid the management do anything over the weekend.

I Didn't Have to Do My Best

While lying in my warm and cozy bed, at the god forsaken summer vacation hour of 6:00 am, I had a debate with myself. After two hits of the snooze button, I finally decided that if I went to my dance aerobics class this morning that I wouldn't have to do my best there. I decided that just getting out of bed and fighting the demons of excuses that kept coming to me would be a victory in itself. Who cares if my kicks were a little lower today or that my pony steps lacked a little pizazz? At least I was there. And the great thing is, is that it's only 10:00 now and if I still want to crawl back into bed, I can. In fact, I think it's mandatory that I take an afternoon nap at least twice a week during the summer, don't you?
-PT (Pigtailed Teacher)

P.S. Did I mention the teacher decided that today would be a good day to tryout her "all Irish" cd? Who's ever heard of working out to Irish music?
Oy vay!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Niche?

What should my niche be? Teaching and art? Teaching and stress? Teaching and yummy girly drinks with little umbrellas in them?

Or should I do something with art? Art and my family? My students? Myself? Simple art projects everyone can do?

What kind of project could I take on that would keep people interested and coming back to this blog? One on weight loss? On my potential flossing habit? One blog I saw recently had a woman's list of her new year resolutions and people could view her progress on them so far. (They could also see photos of her hair growing.)

What kind of weekly or daily item could I add to the blog that would draw people in? Perhaps a question of the day, or a photo, or an entry from my cats?

What about a section for free/cheap things, coupons, etc?

Maybe my focus could be on children's books? A weekly review? Curriculum ideas? Maybe a place to buy used children's books?

What do you think?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday Nights

I really love summertime. The candy-filled parades, cheesy, local festivals, and the return of the vitamin D producing sun! I love all of it. But what I really enjoy is the lack of stress I feel on Sunday nights.

During the school year I often get the Sunday-night-back-to-school-blues. That means I'm a little crabbier, I might have to write off doing something fun with friends in order to face the schoolwork I brought home, and if it's a particularly bad case of the blues, I might end up with either an upset stomach and/or mind that won't shut off at bedtime.

But all of that changes during the summer. Mondays are just an extension of the weekend (and a return of one of my guilty pleasures, reruns of The Gilmore Girls.) No upset stomach. No last minute prep. No alarm clock going off at 6 am (unless I want it to, dammit!).

Now I just need to figure out how to make my summer last the other ten months of the year. : )

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bad Habits

Why is it that bad habits are hard to break and good ones hard to start? I wonder if bad habits are naturally tied into some instinct of doing things the easy way, perhaps taking the past of least resistance? For example, I have a habit of cracking my neck. Some would consider this a bad habit. With a simple rotation of my chin to the left, and then the right, my neck often gives off a cracking sound. I usually do it without even thinking about it. Maybe it's because it's so quick and easy that the habit lives on.

Now let's look at a good habit, like flossing. It keeps our teeth strong, helps head off bad breath, and some say it's linked to improving the condition of the heart. But does that mean I jump out of bed every morning and run to the bathroom and grab my little container of Crest Glide (mint flavored, of course) and floss my way to a healthier me? Of course not. Why not? It's simple, easy, and cost effective. But it does take time and effort...and I have to make it a priority when I'm at home. Since it's summertime and I have very few excuses for not flossing (although I can come up with excuses at the drop of a hat!), I am making a half-hearted attempt to floss at least three days a week. That's every other day for heaven's sake; I should be able to do that!

The same goes for exercise. I can make up some lame excuses for not going to the gym, but since I have the time right now, I'm trying to go at least four days a week. So far I've been more successful in reaching this goal than the flossing one. This week I've taken yoga with a deep voiced, gangly hippy, done dance aerobics to 50's doo wop music (I felt like I was "Sweating to the Oldies"with Richard Simmons"), and I went to water aerobics at the nearby community center. (I thought I had read the schedule wrong and maybe walked in on a senior citizen aerobics class, there were so many gray-hairs there!) Since I started working out two weeks ago I have had less neck pain and headaches, so maybe this exercising is worth following through on this time. :) I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Let Me Introduce Myself

I am a recovering, stressed-out third grade teacher in Seattle, Washington. I say recovering, not because I have quit teaching, but because I am on summer vacation right now. I'm slowing beginning to forget about the million little things that make teaching a less rewarding job than I thought it would be...the nasty parent notes, the endless forms from the principal, the time consuming assessments we are required to give, the tense staff meetings, the endless correcting of assignments, etc.

I have been teaching for about eight years now; seven years as a classroom teacher and about a year as a substitute. I have worked mainly in public schools, but I did have the opportunity to work in a small private school for a few months. Most of my time has been spent with second and third grade students, but I have experience with preschool through high school aged kids. In addition to being a classroom teacher, I have also taught art and enrichment (a catchall term that meant I had to run around and be a flexible, art, drama, movement, creative writing, recess duty, reading specialist, please cover my class at the last minute, sort of position).

So why am I starting this blog? Here are the basic reasons:

1. To share with others the highs and lows of teaching.

2. To have fun and try something new.

3. To practice my writing skills. (Because one day, when I grow up, I want to write children's books!)

I hope you check my blog often. I plan on posting almost daily, to share with you fun stories, random insights, and other interesting bits of information.


Pigtailed Teacher