Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A struggle with students

Whew.....I'm having a hard time leaving work at work. There are a few students in my class right now that simply drain me. Advice from other staff has been "let 'em go, can't save them all." But I'm having a hard time just "letting 'em go."

How do you work with a defiant student? How do you reach someone who completely comes across as "I don't care"?

I've run out of magic wands. As bad as I don't want to just 'park em in the corner,' I don't know what else to do to save my sanity. My classroom is set up in cooperative groups, and I feel terrible when these students leave me no option other than to pull them from the group setting because they simply won't work and want to constantly talk off-task and distract the others.

So, my fellow teachers......what advice do you have when you have defiant students who refuse to do any work?

Oh, and my administrator....psht. Being sent to the Principal's office isn't what it used to be. Not an option I care to use.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Raven Stars Quilt along - participant updates?

Ellen at Little Jewel Quilts participated in the Raven Stars quilt along, using green instead of purple. Her rendition has been named Lucky Stars (lovely appropriate name for those greens) :0)

Ann Marie at 16 Muddy Feet is working away on hers too. Thanks ANN!

Any other participants willing to share your results or updates on your progress? Leave a comment :0)

A proud day for a parent!

Cassie's Destination Imagination (DI) Regional tournament was yesterday; pictured here is her team (she's 2nd from right). They have been preparing for their challenge this year (Mythology Mission) by researching all places "mythological", and creatures of mythological time, etc... They were the only team from our school this year that chose this challenge (in my opinion one of the harder ones, since they needed to perform 'impromptu' in front of judges.) A few moments before they perform, they ended up drawing the creature Anagan (yeah, no idea who/what that is either), and drew Modern Arctic North America and they elected to use a mop, a walking stick, and a pot as their allowed props from those available. The skit ended up being a bit humorous once they came across their "unexpected challenge" (that they have no idea about until they pick up the piece of paper from the floor that states the problem).

Overall, they must have wowed the judges over the other 8 elementary teams, because they took 1st and will be moving on to the State competition in two weeks.

Watching the faces of the team during awards was a snapshot worthy moment. TOO BAD I didn't have my camera at that time. The MC only read the top three teams, starting with third. When they weren't announced at third, I kept my eyes glued on the group.........when 2nd was announced, there was such diappointment on all of their faces. NO ONE was really expecting 1st, so they figured 'it was over.' Then, as the team "passport #" was being announced (a crazy long number that no one remembers), a little bit of recognition hit one of the 5th grade boys, and then.....when the Team name was announced, I don't know who was more elated and surprised: the team or the section of team parents! It was a moment! ;0)

We also celebrated Caitlyn's birthday last night even though her birthday isn't until April 5. My parents and sister (BIL) came to visit and watch Cassie, so we made a weekend of it all.

Doesn't that cake look YUMMMMMMY? OMGoodness! The icing-----YUM! And the chocolate cake underneath-----sooooo moist! Yes, it IS delicious!

Oh! And that little guy she's holding: it was the last present she opened and it was from Candace. Instant love-at-first-sight.

Another present that was a HUGE HIT: her Packer Jersey from the grandparents.

Stocked up on some shoes too. (The toothless grin is get more holes!)

So, the day is beginning around here slowly. Off to make some breakfast.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RRCB Step #7 progress

Since I didn't bring home any school work, I really didn't have much of anything to do other than sew and clean today for the snow day. Cleaning needed to be done because the parents are coming up tomorrow for the weekend.

I didn't have anything much in mind when I headed downstairs; I SURELY didn't have RRCB on the mind. BUT... finishing up the color blocks from step #7 just kinda happened today, and the top is finally coming together, nearing completion.

The batteries in the camera died, so I snapped these pics with my phone camera; most definitely not the best quality. Speaking of pics---I didn't think of taking a picture of the Winter Wonderland that we have outside again. 10.5" of new snow when just yesterday just about all the brown grass was clear of it.

Back to quilting. I grabbed these 6.5" blocks and pieced them together as leaders-enders today. I'll be donating this to my Mom's church for their baptismal quilts.

Yikes---terrible picture; the pinks are very light and those purpley squares are actually a very light blue with polkadots.

Alright; I'm off to read before heading off to bed. Still working through Harry Potter, but have slowed a bit. Book #4 is taking me a bit longer to "get into it" ({{But, I suppose it doesn't help that I watched the movie already after having my arm twisted by my family, so the suspense is already gone}})

Happy Wednesday

Linda's dream came true!

Linda's "This is Spring?" post worked. With the record snowfall we've had this winter season, we FINALLLLLLLLY have our first snow day.

NOT that I want more snow.....ugh! SOOOOOOOOooooooo ready for the snow to be GONE; the sun to SHINE its beautiful shine; the temperatures to WARM! Oh yeah....very much ready for warmer, sunnier weather.

BUT, I'll take the snow day ;0)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm 35! This is a joke, right?!?!?


Combing away this morning and putting it up into some clips.....




The FIRST gray hair....

So, what'd I do?? RIPPPPPPPPPPED it out, of course! I didn't want it to affect the others!

My life will never be the same again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two and a half finishes with a Stash Report

Ugh. BOY, I've been in a slump lately and have allowed myself to play the victim instead of making the best of it and moving forward with a few different things at work. This slump has migrated its way to my quilting life; not having much of any motivation to do anything.

WELL! What a poooooooh way to live, huh?

So, this AM while catching up on blogs, I read Bonnie's "A Heart for Japan" post where she was requested to get the word out for assistance on sending quilts to Japan. Putting everything into perspective, my life is no where NEAR as bad as what it could be, so ..... I shook out of my whiny-victim mood and said....."stop sulking and get busy Amy!"

Having been two weeks since I really spent any real time quilting, I started with the quilt that was on my floor---Maltese Star (QOV Mystery #24). The final borders needed to be pieced onto it. 20 minutes later, measuring at 64"x80"----top done :0). It has been set aside because it IS meant for donation to QOV, but I wanted to get busy on some Japan donation quilts.

While I was finishing up Maltese Star, I started doing some brainstorming on how to finish up my Red Blossoms quilt that STILL was displayed on my design wall. I thought it would be a perfect quilt to finish up and donate!

A small 1" light inner border was added, in addition to the pinwheel extensions to the top/bottom, and one final 5" red border, finishing this quilt at 66"x76".

Find fabric for a backing wasn't super easy, but I think I pieced it together well enough to accomplish its job. This is yet another project showing the symmetric nature to just about everything I create. 180 degree rotational symmetry, slightly off-balance, shown here. The larger red pieces are a hand-dyed fabric that was in one of my many storage boxes.

I didn't change out my pantograph at all---still using my 4.5" Chinese Crescents, a perfect "loose" pantograph.

While I was quilting Red Blossoms, I needed a small break, so I pulled my Blue Ridge Beauty off my 'waiting table' to trim off the excess batting/backing from quilting it a few weeks back. Then took a few moments to prepare some binding and zooooooomed away, finishing off this quilt at 68"x80".

As much as I really was looking forward to having this join me upstairs as my new snuggle-quilt, it is needed much more over seas. So, off to Japan it will go!

I'm pretty tuckered out, but rather pleased with my day's progress. Another hour of binding is needed and I'll be able to check Red Blossoms off my list, too.

I mentioned a few weeks back that the girls and myself have been doing some puzzling; DH caught us in the act last weekend (it was a PJ day for sure!)

Stash Report: March 7-20
Used/week: 6.07 yds
Purch/week: 5.0 yds (backing for Raven Stars)

Used/year: 42.75 yds
Purch/year: 11.0 yds

Net Used: 31.75 yds

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quiet on the quilting front...

First, let me thank ALL of you who left a supportive comment regarding my volleyball resignation last Friday. I have been quite decided already for a couple of months, but going through the official submission was more difficult that what I had expected. So, forward I move....

Second.....I canNOT believe I didn't drop you all a note YESTERDAY!!! For those of you in the mathematical world-----yesterday (March 14....ahem....3/14.....) was an international mathematical holiday! It was PI Day!!!! As usual, I celebrated in style with my classes; doing an activity where the students discover how close they can actual calculate PI by dividing the circumference by the diameter of various circular objects.

My quilting time is on pause; a small (needed?) break. Allow me to give you an update on my Harry Potter reading. With reading levels equivalent to 5.3, 5.9 and 5.9 for the first three books, the reading has been quite quick and relaxing. This past weekend, be it the gloom-n-doom from my momentous decision on Friday, I didn't have much ambition to do anything that involved any amount of energy. Friday night, I finished book #2. And, this is the first weekend in MONTHS where I spend LESS than 30 minutes quilting. 20 minutes on Sunday were devoted....but then.....I had had enough. No interest. SO.....out came book #3; I had started it Saturday and finished it Sunday afternoon. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with them, but it DO enjoy just sitting back, being lazy, because they DO keep me quite entertained and wondering "how is Harry going to be in danger this time?"

Also, I have been treating myself (more-so, my family) to the movies as I finish up the books. Candace is actually watching #3 again as I'm typing right now. I will admit, though......#3 is quite dark and quite scary for someone Candace's age. Today in school, a few of the students said that they get "darker" as Harry ages......hmmm.

Anyway---book 4. My first thought----"okay, it's quite a bit thicker!" ;0)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some decisions of life...

...are never easy.

I am typically not one to hide (or able to hide) my emotions. Through a blog, it is easy to hold back, but in real-life, if you knew me, my emotions are almost always on my sleeve in full view. There are times when I wish I could keep my emotions bottled up because they get in the way with certain situations; be it sadness or anger. Remaining calm is a virtue I am still constantly struggling with and working on.

Yesterday, I drafted, signed and delivered my official letter of resignation as the varsity volleyball coach. Over the past few months, I have needed to have my PRO and CON shoulders battle with each other, mulling over what the position and the girls I work with mean to me. This was not an easy internal battle to fight and thankfully I didn't need to completely keep it bottled up and go through it alone. Naturally, DH was supportive of my resignation but he also understood the difficulty of this decision for me; he also had a stake in this position having spent a fair amount of days working with the team. A very dear coworker, who also happens to be a former varsity coach that I coached under for 8 years, has also been very supportive and an amazing ear for me.

As I was leaving the Administrative office having delivered my letter, one of my team captains was walking by. In very few words I asked her to see me sometime next week when she and the other team captain had some time together. I needed to be brief because I was already feeling the sadness of the decision that was made. I absolutely love these girls.

When I returned to my room a few minutes later, my two captains were there. As joking as I could be, I said..."Wow. That was fast!" In summary, the 10-minute meeting was difficult and emotional.

The guilt I feel is so incredible that it is eating me up. I am upset that this decision needed to be made, but bottom line, I know that my plate is (going to be) full and I won't have the strength or time to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished, and all at a level that is satisfactory to me. I always set my bar high; anything less is simply too difficult for me to accept.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quilt-along: Raven Stars - Step 5: Blocks -n- Borders

The final step

Layout all units and piece into rows. A good amount of chain-piecing occurred with this step once I stacked all the units together and zooooomed away.

Press the top/bottom rows towards the white squares and press the center unit away from the nine-patch center.

Piece the rows together to finish the block, pressing seams in the same direction.

Quilt center
Using all 42 blocks, piece into 7 rows of 6 blocks each.

Recall that I had not included fabric requirements for any border treatments. I elected to add three nested borders to finish off this quilt. I've included the fabric requirements now in the event you choose to finish off this quilt the same.
Black: 17.5" -- Cut (7) 2.5" strips.
White: 10.5" -- Cut (7) 1.5" strips.
Purple: 21" -- Cut (7) 3" strips.

When I piece borders, I no longer measure and cut to a specific length. For many of my first quilts, I did this....and since I hadn't perfected the 1/4" seam quilt centers and border strips RARELY matched up. I also no longer do the "just sew along without pinning and cut off the excess once I get to the end" method. I now realize the error I made for so many years which lead to the "wavy border syndrome." NOR do I do the "measure through the center/measure each end and find the average" method. BLAH! I'm all for math ((duh! Math teacher here)) but.....that's just a bit overkill for me.

NOW, I follow Bonnie Hunter's border tips-n-tricks completely! For those of you who have never questioned the importance of having square borders, here's one deelio to think about...
If your edges have ANY (or MANY depending on your quilt center) seams, those seams can and will stretch. The edges of your quilt are not a good guide to know how long to cut your borders because of this stretch.

Therefore, I now sew all of my border strips together in one continuous strip (much like sewing binding strips). I then use my quilt as my measuring tool----why mess with those blasted measuring tapes??? As Bonnie suggests.....
a) simply spread your quilt out and lay your border strip through the center of your quilt (I typically follow one of my center seams)
b) trim to match the length/width of your quilt
c) PIN PIN PIN your border strip at each end and middle and here-n-there along the length.

Trust me! I never used to pin! Anything that slowed me down was annoying, and pinning was one of them! Not to go too far off on a tangent here, but....I couldn't stand pressing when I first was starting out either! Gahhh.....I'm now a changed quilter forever because I understand that (in the long run), pressing and pinning saves time.

Anyway, since I have been attaching my borders with this method:
** I have not had a single "wavy border" problem. For those of you who don't have a quilting frame and use your DSM for quilting, this 'wavy border' problem probably isn't that much OF a problem. But, if you took a gander at Bonnie's border page, you'll see the disaster that some non-square borders create on a quilting frame.
** I no longer stress over finding a way to measure out 74.5" of border fabric like I did when I first began quilting using patterns

Raven Stars (70" x 81")

If you've followed along and participated, I would love to see your final product. Be sure to drop me a comment or email to share your progress!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

O Warm weather, warm weather! Wherefore are thou warm weather?

O Warm-weather, Warm-weather! Wherefore are thou Warm-weather?
Deny thy Mother-nature and refuse thy chill.
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my weather,
And I'll no longer be a whining runner.

Okay, I'm no Shakespearian, but, I'm sure you understand me (????). Winter running in Wisconsin (and other northern states) brings with it its own challenges. And, let's face it: many of you, my dear followers, know my absolute loathsome attitude towards the ever dreadful "DREADMILL!"

Yesterday; Teens/low 20's and 2" snow. NOT my cup-o-tea for running!
Today: 50s! (Let the heavens open up and hear the angels sing!)
Tomorrow: 2-6" of MORE SNOW!!!!! *UGH*

Yes, I utilized the GLORIOUS temperatures today and ran. Only 1.8 miles, but I ran :0)

I suppose SOME scattered running is better than none. Yes????

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Not much action today...

I was downstairs by 7:30, making progress on Maltese star - Mystery 24. I didn't lay out any border treatments, I simply saw a picture in my head and went for it. Here's the current status (pictured sideways); I still want to add a final wider blue border, but I don't have enough of any one blue fabric (that I can find, anyway). There may be a gem or two that I can find in one of the donation boxes, but I didn't feel like digging in to the boxes today.

Therefore, I finished up piecing the 20 string blocks of RRCB part #7 and 6 more of the pieced blocks from part #7. I didn't take a picture before heading upstairs for lunch, nor have I been back downstairs since.

DH is down-n-out with some form of bug. Psht! He even is giving us the sympathy-craving-vomit routine. {{ewwww}}. So, rather than heading back downstairs, I've remained up here, cleaning and rearranging the living room.

And now, all of us girls are kicking back, watching Ice Age and having an afternoon snack.

Harry Potter update
Yeah, yeah....I wouldn't say I'm obsessed as some, but it IS quick reading so far. I'm on page 208 and will probably spend the next hour or so with my feet up, reading.

Stash Report: Feb. 28 - Mar. 6
Used/week: 1.75 yds
Purch/week: 0.0 yds

Used/year: 36.68 yds
Purch/year: 6.0 yds

Net Used: 30.68 yds

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blue Ridge Beauty, Raven Stars, Maltese Star and a Tooth!

Blue Ridge Beauty was the first task-at-hand this morning and the quilting was completed shortly after 9:00. I had some difficulty and am a bit unclear as to what the problem was exactly. My bobbin thread had run out; so I tied off a new start......and then........a bit of tugging here-n-there and SNAP! Bobbin thread breakage. That's a first! I actually had to rip out the little bit of section I attempted to sew. Then retried after reinserting the bobbin case....SNAP again! Hmmmm........ After ripping out the small section again, I decided to give the machine a quick cleaning, rethread the upper thread AND change bobbins. **shrug** One of them worked, because I was off-n-runnin' again.

I unpinned the quilt from the frame, but it still remains hung over the bars. I didn't have floor space open to lay it out for trimming. Rather, the center of Raven Stars was still claiming the floor. Therefore, that was my next project to tackle....

and by lunch time, all the borders were added. For those of you who have been participating in the Quilt along, the final step will be posted on Wednesday (Block piecing, top piecing and borders).

Then, I pulled the remaining Maltese Star - Mystery 24 blocks so that I could piece together the final rows into a completed top. The mystery did not include any borders, but I am electing to add some. This is the stage it currently is in. An hour ago, I came upstairs to make a cup of tea. While waiting for the water to heat up, I pulled out my Harry Potter book (I started reading it last night before bed and only managed a few pages before my eyes couldn't remain open any longer), and have been reading ever since. I don't know if I'll get back downstairs anymore today/tonight. I figure I accomplished enough to consider it a full sewing day, so I'll be perfectly fine if I don't get back downstairs.

Cailtyn had a great day on Wednesday at school! I received an email from her teacher early in the day saying that she had a really loose tooth. (Psht---NO CLUE that it was even loose!). And then, right around 1:00, another email came in that said "It's out!" This is her first lost tooth, and now.....the other big tooth and two bottom teeth are all loose.

Okay....back to my reading ;0)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Another "it's FRIDAY" post!

Good golly -n- poopers! Time is a'flying and even though this is the more quiet and subdued time of my school year......I'm amazed at how breathless and pooped out I am at the end of days, and CERTAINLY at the end of weeks.

Today was actually a joyful day that was a bit out of my norm; I had an all-day meeting with a small group of individuals. Our goal was to create a draft of our School District's Technology Plan, a LARGE task at-hand. We were successful at creating an extremely rough draft and had just enough time to start performing an edit on the first quarter of the draft. I have been dubbed the committee's secretary; merely because years ago I would bring my laptop to every meeting to jot down notes for myself, which then turned into 'why don't you fancy them up to be the minutes for the committee' which then advanced to a full-blown secretary title. No biggy. I don't mind being the laptop schlepping, minute-writing individual. ;0)

Anyway----tonight dinner consists of a very lazy "mom" meal (that most kids love). Frozen pizza and pizza rolls. Dessert: left-over caramel corn that was made last night.

Plans for the weekend: SEW, SEW, SEW :0) I will also have to fit in some time to grade the assessments that I had my students take today while I was out of the classroom.

Also, I finally bit the bullet and checked-out the first Harry Potter book from my school's library. I guess I'll see if I get obsessed into them as so many others have.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Quilt-along: Raven Stars - Step 4: Star Points

Today, we piece the 168 star points! Refer back to Step 1: Cutting directions if you haven't already cut the pieces for this step.

Layout the units so you are certain how the white pieces match up.

Now that little notch that we so pain-stakingly trimmed off will have a purpose! I started with the right white REC. Notice that the white will not match black corner-to-corner. Instead, you will be fitting the white REC to match up with the EDGES of the black TRI, not merely with the corner.

Piece and press. This is a unit that doesn't follow the "press-to-the-darker-fabric" rule. I pressed towards the white.

Now repeat with the left REC piece. Again, you will be using that notch to line up along the edge of the black TRI unit.

Piece and press (towards the white again).

Do not panic that those little black corners are showing! Truly! Once pieced into the final block, they will result in PERFECT corners!! :0) You shouldn't need to trim up anything; just cut off the little dog-ears that were created from pressing. 2.5" (almost) on the spot!

And to finish up this step, using HALF of the star points (84) and all of the remaining 2.5" white squares (168), attach a white square to either side of 84 star point units. Press towards 2.5" white square.

Yeah----next week: Step 5: Putting blocks together!!! :0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A political post - I really don't like 'em either!

I have not spoken on my blog about much of the political issues going on around our wonderful state of Wisconsin.
Governor Walker is addressing the public as I type to share his Budget Address for the next two years {short term}, NOT about his Budget Repair Bill {longterm} that has made national news. Although, he has brought it (Budget Repair bill) up many times already in the first 10 minutes of his Address.

Many states are in budget problems; many states have made drastic cuts to education; it is very frustrating for both sides of this sad issue regardless of where you/we live! I have never been a teacher to complain about my income because I understood the added "income" that came in the form of benefits. But bottom line: I became a teacher because ...... I was meant to BE a teacher!

Let me be the first to say from the absolute bottom of my heart----I have NEVER liked the "politics" about politics. Yeah---kinda ironic, but I'm sure many of you know what I mean. Things are said, but actions don't always follow. Actions are performed, but don't always agree with what had been said.

Some of Walker's quotes....
** "We have a diverse set of beliefs"

** "Each (person) has a vision to better Wisconsin"

** "We all want Wisconsin to be the very best."

** "People of Wisconsin will always come first."

** "Despite budget cuts, the longterm funds will allow more money and resources to be made available in the classrooms.....". ???? Hmmm.....I'm optimistic, but I'm also a skeptical mathematician who also happens to be a teacher.

** "This budget delivers true tax breaks to home owners..."

** "3rd Grade basic Literacy assessment will be established"

I really don't like politics. I don't like controversy. I see little things on both sides of this political fence. I have not made much of a voice on either side, although, naturally, I am supporting most of what is sent my way via my District's head negotiator.


Why can't life just be simpler?