Friday, July 29, 2016

It's Just Around the Corner

My last set of grades are turned in, I have to meet someone to go over one last set of paperwork, and then I'll be officially retired at the end of August.  Forty-two years is a long time to teach, but I can remember clearly my first day as a teacher.  I think I had more butterflies than my future students that morning.  Something saved me, though.  This is that story.

My first teaching position was that of a fifth grade teacher for an entire rural town whose only big industry was a gravel pit.  The town was surrounded by farming country and it was 40 miles from where I lived.  Teaching jobs were hard to come by then as there was a surplus of teachers.  There were actually five of us making the commute, so I only had to drive one day of the week. The rides to school were usually quiet as we had to leave so early to get there by 7:30. We saw many a sunrise as we headed east out of town to our destination, and were always glad when we got to turn north so the sun was to our side instead of in our eyes.

I don't actually remember much about the ride to school that day.  I know I didn't drive as my day wasn't Monday.  We'd been coming the week before getting everything ready, and as you looked at the front of the two-story, red brick building built in the early 1890's, I occupied the upper right corner room.  Across the hall was the sixth grade, with the reading room, an empty classroom, the art room and the library on the same floor.  Grades K-4 were on the first floor and the basement held locker rooms complete with showers and a large gymnasium.  As most buildings of that age, it had originally been the town's high school.

The building was so old it had steam generated heat.  I'd chosen to put up colored burlap on the bulletin boards in fall colors, and had decorated the room with live flowers in pots on the large windowsills. I had geraniums, ferns and a cactus that actually bloomed each winter I taught there. The warmth and moisture from the heater was amazing.  Each desk had a 3-D name=tag attached as I anxiously awaited my students.

The night before the first day I could hardly eat or sleep.  My stomach was tied in knots with worrying about whether or not I could really be the teacher I wanted to be.  I knew I was going to have 32 fifth graders and I knew from one of the other teachers whose son I was to have that they had fired the fourth grade teacher from the year before for incompetence.  That was scary, but I really didn't realize all of the ramifications from that until the year got underway, but that's another story or two.

The town was quite hilly, and the school was actually built on top of one of the hills.  Thee were two sets of steps leading to the front door, and it was the town's tradition that the students lined up single file in the front of the door, which meant that the line snaked down all of the steps and continued down the hill along the sidewalk.  Even looking out the window right before the bell rang you couldn't see all of the kids.  The line just went on and on.

It was that line that saved me.  You see, I'm the oldest of five kids, so have always had younger ones in the family, and I took care of them and babysat for others a lot.  When I looked out that window, what I saw were "just kids."  That sight calmed the butterflies, I stood there gazing at the line and they just went away.  I've always been glad I had those fifteen minutes before my students entered the room.  They gave me the opportunity to cross the line in my head and heart taking me into my future as a teacher.

The last 32 years of my teaching career, I've been involved in teacher education.  Oftentimes when I work with student teachers I'll relate this story.  It's important to picture yourself in the role you've worked hard to acquire, and understanding that the students in your classroom are amazing individuals who will give you opportunities to grow as you in turn assist them as they learn and grow.  Visualize yourself as the teacher you want to be, and you'll be a step closer to becoming that person.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016!

It is so hard to believe it is the first day of a new year--and what a year it will be!  Retirement looms in the future this year, and that is such an exciting proposition!  Retirement also means moving from a place we've lived for 27 years closer to family, and that's really something I'm looking forward to!  It will be wonderful to watch the grands grow and have a bigger part in the things they are involved with.

The three granddaughters spent a few days with us between Christmas and New Year's.  Since the twins recently turned 8, they got to sew on a regular sewing machine for the first time, and a great time was had by all.  The first day they just practiced sewing straight lines by watching edge of the fabric along the edge of the presser foot.  Day 2 brought their first pillow making experience.  K said she couldn't understand how you could take something 2D and make it 3D.  (Yup, they cover that in second grade now)  She was so excited when she sewed the seams, then turned her pillow and poked stuffing down into it. Ditto for E.

Big sister V didn't have a chance to sew this time, but she found a skirt she wants to make for her newest American Girl doll.  That will be in the works in the near future.

I'm really looking forward to helping them develop the love of creating things.  That's a true gift to give!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


There are some really great things that happen in December, and a couple of not so great things.  We have a lot of family and friends'  birthdays this month including a new little great-nephew born today.  Throughout the month,  it is always heart-warming to get together to celebrate all of the wonderful traditions we've come to associate with December.

December is also the time when the semester ends, and as a teacher of 42 years, that can make it a really hectic time. Classes ended Friday and tomorrow marks finals week.  I also have to visit several of my students in their classrooms for one more official observation. That part I love.  It's such a gift to get to spend an hour or two in classrooms full of children.  I'm going to miss that next fall--the paperwork, not so much!

I'm a sunshine type of girl, and that means I find December's weather, and winter weather in general, to be something to be endured.

The pluses outweighs the minuses, though.  Bring it on!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Holiday Crafting Update

Well, the sweater from the last post has the back completed and the two sleeves are on the needles right now.  They are about half done.  I like knitting both at the same time as they will truly be the same!  I'm putting the front off until the end--haven't done intarsia before, but am going to attempt it.  In fact, the original design had a frog on it, but O likes dinosaurs better, so a brontosaurus he gets.  Had to get out my cross stitch software to draw one out and make sure it fits the front.  Hope he enjoys it.

I discovered Tunisian crochet last month.  Oh, my.  Blame Craftsy--they let met have a month of any classes I wanted to watch and I only had to pay $20 for the month.  Got to see some awesome things, but I got hooked (hee, hee) on Tunisian crochet.  Jennifer Hansen and Dora Ohrenstein both have amazing classes that I watched.  I actually have Addi crochet hooks that you can attach to the circular knitting needle lines, and away I went!  I got a spa cloth done, and now probably need to do a couple more for the girls.  Maybe we can do a spa day over the holidays.

Last, but not least, I also watched several crochet classes and decided V, E & K need new hats for Christmas.  The nice thing about crochet is that when you have to take something out, you just yank the yarn back to where you made the error. Tuesday I started a hat for Miss K, and finished crocheting on Saturday.  OK, so maybe there's something else I adore, like how quickly small projects go!  Anyway, I decided it needs some embellishment, so I see a flower or two on my hooks this week. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Time to Think About the Holidays!

Every year I have really good intentions about making most of the gifts I give.  Some years I actually do it and others maybe not so much.  This year I'll probably be somewhere in the middle.  You see, the trouble with making gifts is that you actually have to plan far enough ahead to get them done.  I keep thinking this will be the last year I'll have trouble doing  that, because come next fall I'll be retired, but people keep telling me I'll be busier than ever.  I hope not.  I've always said the first year I'm retired I'm going to live in my pajamas and do all of the things I haven't had time to do while working.  I'll only get dressed to visit family and go out to eat!  I'm sure you're grinning now.

I did start a sweater for my grandson this evening.  Got about 3" knit on the back.  He's small enough that I think I can actually get it done in time for him to wear and I'm making it on the big side so he can wear it two years.  It's easier than knitting socks on tiny needles, I can tell you that much.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks I have to finish the ribbing on my second sock so I can actually have a pair I've made.  Back to the holidays.  I have doll clothes knitted for two of the granddaughters, and just need to do one more.  I think I can get that done, too.  The daughters got shawls last year, so if I get that far for them it will be something smaller.

Hmmm, do you notice how I wander from topic to topic in this post?  That may actually be part of my problem in getting my projects completed.  I tend to wander from sewing to knitting to embroidery to cooking and even sometimes cleaning, but I always come back and eventually it gets done.  Just not all at once.  Maybe I should adopt the little engine that could's motto--I think I can, I think I can and I will.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stitches Texas 2015!

I had heard of Stitches for years, but really didn't know much about it except it was held in faraway places.  Well, last spring they announced a Stitches Texas event to be held at the Irving Convention Center, and since I've taken up knitting again the last couple of years, I decided to go.  I will say that the list of teachers was a big draw!  It was hard to decide what to take, and I finally decided to do the Peruvian knitting, Portuguese knitting (both taught by Andrea Wong) and a Flatter Yourself class with Melissa Leapman.  It was really hard, though, because there were so many other amazing instructors.  I really wanted to hear Anne Berk, Marly Bird, Lily Chin, Patty Lyons, Alasdair Post-Quinn and then when I got there I heard about other great classes, too.

So how did I decide what to take, you might ask.  I've been to Ecuador and saw the beautiful multi-colored knitting with rows of various designs there, and figured Peruvian knitting had to be close to the same, and right I was.  SO GLAD I chose that class.  I learned to do two-color work using the knitting pins I've come to love. Andrea Wong was also teaching Portuguese knitting, and I've been using that style(using the knitting pin) now for about a year, and I had some questions, so knew that I wanted that class.  Andrea answered my questions, and I got to show her the short row technique I have been using for socks. Since both those were full days, it left me with one slot.  I have a couple of Melissa Leapman's books, and her sweater designs are pretty darn flattering, so decided I needed to take her class as well.  That was a good choice as well, so now when I read Knitting the Perfect Fit, I'll have a better idea about the things she's sharing.

Then there was the market.  OH, MY!  There were over 100 vendors there and you could buy yarn and books and needles and patterns and all kinds of gadgets and hand cream and winders to create your own unique yarns and spinning wheels and lots of things I'm sure I haven't listed.  There were also informational tables about guilds and groups organized around sharing your knitting to keep people warm and booths from big name manufacturers of yarns and needles and so much more. Oh, my BIG find was a wooden yarn bowl--I've been on the lookout now for a year for one, and it is now sitting in my living room by my recliner where I sit to knit.  The best part, though, is that it has a dragon carved into it, and if you know me at all, you know I love the Anne MacCaffrey Pern series featuring, you guessed it, dragons.

I'm not sure if Stitches will be back here next year, but I sincerely hope they are!  I love to learn and this was a well-organized, full-of-information event!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I Remember How!

It's been a long time since I've had or taken the time to break out my embroidery software and get anything done!  This weekend I finally upgraded my PC, and after spending hours and hours getting it up and running, I decided to try out one of my embroidery programs to do a design hubby wanted done to put on the back of his Aussie hat.  It turned out pretty well.  I've also installed my cross stitch software programs and my Wild Ginger sewing programs so all is in order when I want to get some crafting done.  Love having them on a computer that runs quickly!