Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I was called to the principal's office today.

He had finally gone through all the TCAP scores from last spring.

He started out with, "I know you had a pretty rough year last year..."

Uh oh. What's coming?

"But I couldn't wait until Friday to share this with you. All those parents who gave you such a hard time... Here is your vindication."

And he put the printout in front of me.

And although I don't yet have a copy of it, so I can't tell you exactly what the results were, I rocked it. For reading, writing, and math, I only had two or three students not make a year's worth of growth. I had about half make a year, and some make two.

"I knew instinctively that this was going to happen before it did... But I want you to know that there's no way you can chalk this up to 'relationships with kids.' This is instruction. This is good instruction. If everyone did this, our school would be in the top 10 percent. This is phenomenal."


People don't use that word very often.

Lately I've been contemplating my career. I really enjoy what I do. I've always felt that I was good at it.  Two years ago I was working at a school that was on a probationary period due to low test scores. We brought that school up to Performance Level. I left after that year, so I don't know how those students did specifically, but because fifth grade is such a pivotal year for testing, I knew I'd taught those kiddos well.

Today I got my proof.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yellow Trail (aka Thomas Trail)

There were a lot of great things about the hike we took last week.

Like the water.

And the adorable pooch.

And the attitude reflected in this sign.

And some really weird nature.

But I think the best part was the wild raspberry bushes (thank you, bears!)

We couldn't hold them all! So we ate them.

Haircut and a Shave

He decided he wanted his head shaved.
I cut most of it with scissors, and then Ariel finished it up with the razor.


It was a LOT of hair.

And now everyone likes to rub his head.

But, he says, it's a win-win. They like to feel his short hair, and he gets a head massage.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Before and Afters - Outdoor Spaces

One of the things I really wanted to change about my house when I moved in was the two dirt patches which adorned both sides of the stairs up to the front porch (see the lovely top picture, below). So we headed to Home Depot one day to get some ideas. Ideas only. But as we were walking into HD we passed a pallet of pavers (see the bottom photo, below) that had been used and returned. So they had some glue on them, but they were also only $50. For the entire pallet. We originally passed it up and headed to the garden department. For ideas. Until A said, "You know, if you're thinking about those, we need to go back and get them. Now. Or someone else will." You know the end of the story. What you don't know is that the $50 dollar pallet was over 3,000 lbs. of pavers and, as we later calculated, worth over $500. I have some flowers on order, so I can't fill the beds yet, but look at the improvement!

 The entire porch got an overhaul, and probably cost about as much as those pavers. I painted the loveseat a darker brown and covered those hideous cushions with covers I found at the thrift store. Also from the thrift store are the bamboo vases, the curtain, and the few items you can see on the wall on the right in the top right photo. The hanging planters are from Ikea and the teal table is a recent sale find from World Market.
(I feel like I'm going to cave in on myself, looking at these two pictures (above). I really don't know how they ended up tilted in opposite directions like that, but I'm too lazy to do anything about it).

Finally, a quick shot of what the upper deck looks like as well. Quite different from when I bought the place. Of course, summer and full, green trees help a bit, too. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Glimpse of Chicago

It was fun.

It was beautiful.

There was water (always a plus).

It was interesting.

It was amusing.

It was different.

But the best part about it was his family. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014


There's something about a lake.

The calm waters, surrounded by shoreline. 
The sound of soft waves lapping against the shore.


The sight of boats floating, sailing, crusing,
or tied at an old wooden dock. 

Everything about it is so calming and peaceful...

It could put one to sleep.