Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Here we go

Final week of school for the 2015/2016 year.  At times I thought I'd never make it and at times the year sped by.  Weird how that can happen.  Here's hoping for an uneventful day.

Monday, May 30, 2016

productive weekend

11 hours of grading this weekend and I still managed to get 5 quilts done.  I counted and there are 74 quilts hanging in the closet in my son's room.  He came home for a little bit this weekend and 'gently' reminded me that he would like his room back when he returns in 2 weeks.  There is no way I will have all 74 quilts quilted by the time he returns, but at least I know how many there are and have an idea of where I need to go to get them all done.  Once summer is here, I will have lots more time for quilting.

My daughter gave me her old iPhone 5 last week and I'm loving having so many things that I can do on my phone now.  I downloaded an app called Productive that lets me keep track of all of the things I want to do in a day.  Things like drink more water and take the dogs for a walk and read my Bible and do more quilting.  Some days I just want to sit on the couch and be lazy, like today, but getting a little reminder that there are things to be done helps get me off the couch and get some things done around the house.

I've decided it is really time to tackle the mess that is in the garage so I started in one corner and have actually thrown things away.  Today I threw away the banner I made for my oldest daughter's soccer team when she was about 7.  She is now 26.  If you could tell me why I still had it after all of these years, that would be great.  It had stars on it with all the names of the players painted on.  I have no idea who these girls ar.  It was covered with spider webs and falling apart, yet there it sat for the past 19 years, waiting for today.

I also threw away some things that had been ruined by moths and rats.  I once had visions of spinning my own yarn and came across some wool that was full of moths and bobbing that had been chewed by rats.  Into the trash they went.  I can actually see the floor in one corner of the garage and the garbage can is full.  Good thing we have two cans, so there is one for the house garbage.  Pick up day is Thursday.  Now, to keep motivated throughout the summer and hopefully get rid of half the stuff that is out there that hasn't been touched in the 11 years we've lived in this house.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

time warp?

Why is it time goes by so much faster on the weekend than during the week days?  Surely there is a time warp phenomenon going on.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

being productive

I did manage to get a couple of quilts done this week.  This is made with 3 1/2 inch strips.  Having the Accuquilt Strip dies is so handy for cutting up bits and pieces of leftover scraps.  I get a TON of scraps donated and sometimes they are such odd shapes and sizes and throwing them on the strip dies just makes the most sense.  Then, you just sew them end to end until you have a very long strip.  Decide on the width of the quilt and cut all of your strips that length.  Grab random strips and sew, sew, sew.  In a couple of hours, you have a top put together.

I love the randomness of quilts like this, but I'm sure you could pick a color scheme or cut the 3 1/2 inch strips into different lengths as well for a more planned look.

These quilts will be donated to the people of Fort McMurray once we get a bunch.  I'm hoping to have enough collected by July 15 to get a shipment sent up, but the date isn't set in stone.

Today I found time to start the great garage clean out.  I actually threw some things away rather than just moved things around.  One of my students is collecting kids books for her aunt who teaches in a low income school in Southern California.  I went through a couple of my buckets of kids books from when I taught first grade and picked out a box full.  I had probably 50 boxes of books at one time and now I'm down to about 4.  I'm saving all of the Dr. Seuss and Berenstain Bears because those are MY favorites.  I think I have every one in each series and maybe one day I will have grandkids to read the to.

What a week this has been

On Tuesday, my youngest had his band concert.  He plays the trumpet and was excited to be playing for the parents.  It was standing room only which is a good sign that music is alive and well in the elementary school.  He plans to continue playing next year in the middle school so may be following in his brother's footsteps.  All of my kids played an instrument in elementary school.

My oldest daughter played the clarinet, daughter #2 played clarinet, then switched to flute when she found out there were too many clarinet players.  My oldest son played trombone and then the youngest plays the trumpet.  Of course they couldn't all play the same instrument, that would just make too much sense.  When the girls got to the middle school, they gave up their instruments for other interests, but my son continued and still plays trombone in college.  He loves jazz music best and I've come to appreciate it after having to listen to it for so many years.  At first I thought it was just noise, but once it was explained to me year after year, I began to hear what others were hearing and now I actually enjoy most of it.  Sometimes when a soloist gets in their own zone and just goes off, I go back to those first days of thinking, what are they doing? But at least I understand what they are trying to do.

Then on Wednesday, this happened.

He was one of my students.  I have him in my 5th period class and they got him during 4th.  I found out later he was planning on jumping another student because of a belt.  Really?  You ruin your life over a belt?  He's a student I had concerns about at the very beginning of the year.  I asked for a parent meeting, the parent showed up and met with the other teachers but because I have a 7th period class, she couldn't wait the extra few minutes for me to finish class and just left.  I was the one who asked for the meeting and she told the counselor she had heard enough and knew what she needed to do to help her son.

We had another meeting a couple of months ago because he still wasn't doing well or passing any classes.  I left that meeting sad that things were not going to change.

The next morning I got an email from a different parent saying there was another student in a different class with a 'kill list'.  He's an odd student, very reserved who refuses to talk to anyone.  That parent thought it might have been this student who was finally acting out on his list.  I informed the administration who searched the student and didn't find anything.  There wasn't really anything they could do.

That same day I had to file a CPS report on a student who got in a fight with her stepfather and spent the previous day in juvenile hall.

Sheep dissection lab
Yesterday a student in another class fainted during a lab and the paramedics had to be called because she hit her head hard on the way down.  We have some co-teaching classes with the special ed department and the co-teacher decided she did not want to participate in the dissection so just didn't show up to class.  That was the class where the student fainted and left the teacher with a class full of students and no extra help.  He had to deal with a student passed out, no one to call for help and of course the kids all freaking out.

heart, lungs, trachea, liver, gall bladder
We've been fighting all year with the administration and special ed department about these co-teaching classes because of things like this where the co-teacher isn't doing what they are supposed to do.  Imagine if I just decided not to show up to my class one day!  I'm pretty sure I'd get in trouble.  But nothing ever happens when they don't show up, or come late or leave early and they get paid the same as the regular classroom teacher.

You have to get your hands dirty in this job.  The kids just love it!  Some of them decided a heart surgeon was not their calling.
We are getting some training this summer after I've complained almost daily this year and hopefully will have a meeting before school starts next year to lay some ground rules so this doesn't happen again.

 We have 4 days of school left this year, three of which are finals.  To say I'm excited is an understatement.  I have tons of grading to do this weekend and lots of cleaning up to do.  I feel like renting a big dumpster and just throwing everything away and starting over, but that would be too easy!  But, I'm in the mood to just start purging, which is a good thing.  I also need some serious quilting time to de-stress from this crazy week.  There are days when I wonder what on earth I got myself into by becoming a teacher and then there are moments like yesterday when my students realized it was the end of the year and started asking if they could be in my class again next year.

"Can you request me?"

I told them I have no pull with the counseling office.  If I did, I would hand pick my classes for only students with no drama.  But, what fun would that be?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

no idea

I have no idea where this quilt top came from.  Some of the seams were hand sewn and some were done by machine.  The hand sewn ones were very tiny stitches.  I would guess it was made a long time ago so has aged nicely and is now ready to be finished and gifted to a baby.  It will make a perfect car seat quilt.

Tiny Tumblers

My friend Nancy is the expert at the tumbler quilts.  She takes the smallest scraps that most people would just throw away and lays them out into eye pleasing designs.  She calls them A-B patterns.  She taught Kindergarten for a very long time and now teaches special ed.  These quilts are made with 17x17 blocks or 289 little scraps of fabric.  It's the ultimate recycling project.  These little quilts take a long time to sew together and yet she has the patience to make dozens of them.  She's also really good at the bigger ones, but I think these little ones give her a special kind of pleasure.

All quilters are a little on the crazy size-taking perfectly good fabric, cutting it up and sewing it back together again, but when you can take fabric that is destined for the landfill and turn it into something useful, it brings you back to the roots of quilting.  After all, isn't that the original purpose of a quilt?  To take something like old clothes that were worn out and cut out the parts that were still useable.  A piece from Dad's old jacket and mom's old dress and then sew those small pieces together to make a warm cover for the bed.  Now we just throw those useless things away and run to WalMart to get whatever new things we need.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dusting off the old quilting machine

If we hope to get 500 quilts to Canada by July, I had better get myself busy.  I have probably 100 quilt tops waiting to be quilted so if I can quilt double time, not only will I get quilts finished faster, but I will also clean out the closet for my son when he comes home from college in 3 weeks.  He asked me ever so nicely last weekend when he was home if I would pretty please get all of the quilts out of his room before he came home.  Why not quilt them all up instead of having to move them and then move them again?

Well, I probably won't get all 100 quilts done in 3 weeks, but if I can use both quilting machines at the same time, I can certainly make a bigger dent in the pile!  I had my old quilting machine set up in the living room for the past year or so, but haven't used it yet.  This quilt has been on the frame this whole time.  I have to admit, it is a bit awkward because things are somewhat cramped and I want to move some things around a bit to make some more room to maneuver, but it wasn't as bad as I had envisioned.

Of course, I had better start off slowly, because this machine isn't robotic and I have to push and pull it and I can already feel my shoulder starting to ache.  I don't want to throw it out on the first day.  So, for today, this will be the only quilt I do.  I may go in and try to move some things, or I may just wait until tomorrow to do the next quilt or any more heavy lifting.

9 more days of school and then I can quilt all day if I want to without the worry of injury and not being able to go to work.

And then life happened

O I had grand plans to quilt something every day this week and then life came along and kicked my butt.  Between a couple of migraines Thursday and Friday and grading papers for two hours Tuesday night to not sleeping well every night this week, the days seemed extra long for some reason.

This quilt has been on the machine all week because the thread broke with about 12 inches left of stitching and I just couldn't bring myself to rethread and finish it off.  Some days are like that.  You know a job will only take 5 minutes to complete, but the thought of starting the job is just too overwhelming to even make the first move.

There are only 9 days of school left and this morning I woke up with a newfound energy source and started the day off excited for the weekend.  My daughter sent me her old phone and I wanted to get it working.  I've had a non-smart phone for the longest time and recently it has stopped working half the time.  It won't let me know I have a call and then half the time won't let me make a call.  I know I've missed out on some calls for Binky Patrol so hopefully now that my 'new' phone is working, I won't be missing out anymore.  It's an iPhone 5c and there are a lot of things to learn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Does anyone know the secret?

So, I go to school yesterday all motivated to make a difference in the lives of children.  Ready to take on the world, educate, empower, inspire the next generation of leaders.

By the end of the day I was ready to throw in the towel.

7th period there was a student working very hard all period.  This is the same student who just last week spent the entire period impersonating Scooby Doo.  He does a really good job, which is a good thing because that may be his future career.  He hasn't worked a day all semester and enjoys getting other students off task.  I was curious as to why he was so focused and on task.  He had come to class 20 minutes late and said he had spent the time in the bathroom.  We have 14 days left in school and I guess he decided it was time to get to work.  His business had been taken care of and he was all cleaned out and now it was finally time to get to work.

At the end of the period, I saw him hand a stack of papers back to his neighbor and walk up to the box where everything gets turned in.  He had a stack of papers that he had copied from his friend and was planning on turning them in.  I let him know that he wasn't going to get credit for any of that work.

"Why don't you just pass me?  This isn't going to help my future!  What difference does it make if I do the work or just copy it!"

So, what is the secret to actually inspiring kids to want to learn?  I've been doing this a long time and have read every book and tried every strategy.  I'm really good at helping kids who want to learn, but I suck at teaching those who just don't care.  I keep them safe from 8-3, which may be all I can ask for, but some days that just doesn't feel like it's enough.

I know parents have a huge role in this whole education process and I have yet to figure out how to encourage them to care more.  I know that students who have parents with high expectations do much better than those who say they don't want to hear from me.  A D is acceptable means a D is what they will get.  Student with straight F's come with the latest I phone and the parents can't understand why their child isn't doing well in school.

13 more days and then we get to do this all over again next year :)