Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Midwinter Break

Back in November, a few friends decided it would be totally awesome to take a trip to Vermont to ski and explore the winter. They thought it would be really cool to see a "real" winter with lots of snow, need to bundle up, and have some chilly adventures.

I laughed at them.

(You know I hate the cold.)

However, with some convincing and promises of awesome friends and some good beer, I consented to venture to the great white North(east).

Then we had this winter.

Which was brutally cold, with plenty of single-digit temperatures and several feet of snow total.

Nonetheless, we packed our bags full of long socks and borrowed snow gear, and drove up to Stowe, VT for a long weekend.

We rented this big beautiful house about a half hour outside of Stowe with 7 other friends (which brought us to 9 total, 4 couples and a 9th wheel). Since it was the off season and we were far enough from the ski resort, we scored a great deal and there were beds and bathrooms aplenty for nine adults who are all used to their own space.

Oh yeah, it was on a lake. Complete with ice fishing huts.

My snow angel.

The boys, of course, had to wrestle on the ice.

My snow angel/fighter won. 

We visited some awesome restaurants, drank some delicious beer, and toured Ben & Jerry's. Yum!

Ben & Jerry's was having their Winter Fest the weekend we were there, so there was lots of fun...and a cow!

Hail, hail, it's the whole gang!

On Sunday, most of the gang went to Stowe's ski resort. Dan and I, however, decided to take our lives in our hands and try snowmobiling, something that was on both of our bucket lists.

It was slightly terrifying, but super awesome.

We also cooked together, watched movies, ate popcorn, and played many rounds of Bananagrams. It was a pretty sweet weekend, largely due to the fabulous crowd. I highly recommend.

How are you holding up with the winter? Any fun midwinter trips to break the monotony?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Innie Love

I've written before about the strange phenomenon surrounding introverts vs. extroverts, but a Beth Woolsey over at Five Is A Lot of Kids wrote such a lovely piece about the topic that really resonated with me.

You should probably go read it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Day in the Life

There are so many things I love about working in an elementary school. Even though at the moment I'm aide-ing instead of teaching, it's still my absolute ideal place to work. Most days, even though it's always a wrench to get up in the morning, I'm genuinely happy to walk into school. I have amazing coworkers, and my school has a fantastic, upbeat atmosphere.

My days are usually full of energetic kids, challenging situations, lessons to be taught, shoes to be tied, and reminders and supports to be offered.

And every so often (read: something unexpected happens. Something that reminds me that the title "teacher" covers so much more than instructing in arithmetic and reading.

Here are a few things that may or may not happen during the course of my day, serving students from ages 5 to 11, and working with the various staff members required to keep a school functioning:

Remind students to go the bathroom. And wash their hands. Three times a day. Every day.

Jump, with cat-like reflexes, away from sneezes, coughs, and flying boogers. (Yes, they fly.)

Wash my own hands four million times a day.

Discuss the merits of bringing oxen vs. mules on your imaginary ship to your new pretend colony. Inform the students that oxen weigh more and eat more, but are stronger and good for pulling plows, but mules are more nimble and smaller. Wonder why you retained this random piece of information from Little House on the Prairie.

Receive anywhere from 2 to 20 hugs from 1st graders.

Make copies, cut things out, laminate the things, and then cut them out again...all while staying out of the office administrator's way because her to-do list is fourteen times as long as mine (or so she says).

Be offered a chocolate bar the week after Valentine's Day. Eat it anyway, because chocolate.

Switch gears from kindergarten morning meeting to third grade math (holy word problems, Batman) in the blink of an eye and frustrate countless students by needing to actually read the problem before offering solutions.

Be ignored by the lunch ladies (I will kill them with kindness, dammit).

Unclog sinks, toilets, and water fountains.

Wipe boogey noses, apply band-aids, feel foreheads, and solve most "medical" crises with either wet paper towels, hand washing, or a drink of water.

Tie four thousand shoelaces.

March down the hallway singing the ABC's and leading kindergarteners in rhyming word patterns.

Laugh, smile, and be reminded every single day that this is, without a doubt, the best job in the world and you wouldn't trade it for a million dollars.

Which is good, because you'll never make a million dollars. And you'll never care, because this is the best job ever.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crafts for Kiddos

Since I'm kind of a glutton for punishment, I decided to lead a craft club for my school's after-school program. It was only 5 weeks, and I kept the crafts simple and fun. It turned out to be a total blast, and a great way to get to know a few students (16, in fact) better outside of class.

(As an aide, I get to move all around the school and thus know about half of our ~500 students by name, but I don't know many of them very well, so this was a golden opportunity.)

After scouring Pinterest, as well as getting some input from my 2nd-grade babysittee, I came up with five awesome, age appropriate crafts for 5-8 year olds.

Since we started in January, I wanted something seasonal and cute. I also wanted to make pretty much all of my crafts things that would actually functional or decorative, rather than just fun to make. This was our first shot:


Then we made hang-able monograms, simply by cutting foam sheets into letters and decorating them. I failed to take pictures of that, but they were super simple and cute. My babysittee has hers hanging on the basement door of her home. Heh.

Next, we tackled exotic birds, made out of terra cotta pots. Add pom-pom heads, googly eyes, and feathers, and you've got...

My mom made something like this at a craft class when she worked at Michaels.

My little flock!

I love seeing their unique ideas and creativity!

Our last week together (one week got snowed out) we made a Valentine-y sort of craft. Add together some wax paper, tissue paper, and Modge Podge for some adorable little lovey-dovey stained "glass."

The hardest part for my kindergarten students? Cutting out those hearts. I tried to keep it simple
by folding black paper in half and having them cut out two question-mark shapes, one inside the
other. Even with very careful, slow instructions I had to help a couple of them.


Best part? For 16 students, and four weeks of crafts, I came in just under $50. That was my prescribed budget, so I had a little help from my own craft stash (some feathers, paintbrushes, glue) and some really old supplies that my supervising teacher donated (paint, and she let us use her scissors). I was pretty pleased overall.