Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Year Ending...

I can't believe that this is the end of my 4th year of teaching.  It feels like yesterday that I was a brand new, fresh-faced, scared like crazy, brand new teacher.  Each year, I love my job more and more, and feel that I learn so much about what it means to be a great teacher.

Today I gave out class awards.  Our school has an awards ceremony for 3rd through 6th grades, but I like to have a little classroom award ceremony with my second graders each year.  I make up an award for each student, depending on their personalities and accomplishments that year.  Some are silly and some are serious, but it always seems to make an impact on my students.  The awards include things like "Author of the Year", "Creativity Award", "Boy/Girl Supercitizen", "Outstanding Athlete", "Wiggle Worm Award", and "Daydreamer Award".  The kids get so anxious to see what award they will win!

Today, after I handed out the awards, we were talking about what a great year we had had, and I was telling the kiddos how proud I was of all the things they have learned this year.  One little girl raised her hand and said "I have something to say!"  Then she proceeded to tell me that she thought I was the best teacher she had ever had.  (Yes, she's a bit of a teacher's pet....) Well, after that, they all wanted to "say something".  So, we went around the room and I let the kids say what they wanted seemed like they needed to get it off their chests.  My favorite was "Mrs. Shinabargar, you are a good teacher because you always listen to what we have to say and you like us for who we are."  Oh, leave it to second graders to make you feel like you've found your purpose in life. :)  By the end of it, half of us were in tears...then they kept hugging me for the rest of the day!

I started thinking about how this can really be a hard time of transition for some children...after all, I probably spend more time with these kids Monday through Friday than their parents do.  We do form a really special bond, and it is hard for an eight-year-old to realize that she won't see me everyday anymore.  Yet, as they get older, they form relationships with new teachers.....and I wonder how many of them will remember their second grade teacher when they look back some day.  Teaching is a unique profession.  I can't imagine another job where you invest as much of your heart and soul into shaping and molding a bunch of little people...helping them along their way to becoming themselves, guiding them towards what they were destined to be. 

Even on the days that I feel I want to pull my hair out, or when a child lies, or makes a bad choice, or forgets their homework, or won't shut up, or (like today) stabs their best friend in the hand with a pencil... I LOVE BEING A TEACHER! 

And now...1/2 days until Happy Summer!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Well, I'm home today with a sinus infection and laryngitis.  Not exactly convenient when you do what I do -- teaching is just impossible without a voice!  Am now on some antibiotics and hoping they will help soon! **fingers crossed**

This weekend, my friend Jenn and I went antiquing, and stumbled upon some great finds!  We kept an eye out for antique keys....and I turned mine into this:

The key cost $4 at River Market Antiques, and I purchased the chain and beads from JoAnn's for an additional $8.  So, for $12, I have a really unique and beautiful necklace!  I also found some antique chandelier crystals that I hope to make into necklaces as well...
Stay tuned to see what I do with an old antique window that I picked up for $15....

Have you ever turned something old into something new??  Do you love browsing through antique shops and thrift stores for items with hidden potential?  It's quickly becoming a new obsession for me.

One last cute is he??
My nephew is four years old!  I can't belive it!

My two favorite boys playing arcade games. :)  Mark picked out Nick's birthday present -- I got NO opinion about it, I just got to wrap it.  Well, I guess Mark did a good job because Nick's reaction when he opened the gift was priceless.  He ripped of the paper and gasped: "Ohhhhh.....GOLLY!"  *melt*  So cute!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Well, the chair makeover is finally complete!  I learned a lot with  my first experience with upholstery, and am happy with the final result.  Drumroll please.................

Do you remember what it looked like before, in its brown and gold glory??

Parts of it were very easy, and parts of it proved to be a bit more difficult...however, I thought it wasn't a bad process for a beginner like me.  Here's how I (and my sidekick husband) made it work:
1.  Remove all old fabric -- including staples.  I used some needlenose pliers for this and it worked fine.  On this particular chair, the bottom cushion was attached to wood that sits inside of the chair frame, so I pulled that out, then removed the back cushion.
2.  Next, we decided to remove the wicker side panels.  At first, I thought I'd paint them, but then I envisioned globs of "beach white" paint stuck in all the crevices -- which would inevitably end with tears of frustration.  So...out with the wicker.
3.  Sand the whole thing really good.  I used my hubby's handy-dandy Craftsman "multi-tool" with the sanding attachment.  It was so easy!  Here's a pic of the stripped and sanded chair:

Those are wet puppy prints on the floor :)

4.  Next, the chair is ready to be primed.  We used Kilz oil-based primer in a rattle can.  I'm not "allowed" to use spray paint because Mark is convinced that I can't do it right.  No matter...that means I got to relax on the couch while he inhaled the primer fumes in the garage.  I guess the trick (that I am apparently incapable of) is spraying evenly and lightly to avoid runs.
5.  After the priming, I sanded any imperfections again so I'd have a nice smooth surface for my paint.
6.  I chose Behr "Beach White" for the color -- a nice off-white creamy color.  Brushed it on with a 1" brush, nice and light!  That way, there's no globs, runs, etc.  It takes a little patience to paint everything slowly and smoothly, but the result is worth it.
7.  Upholstery next.  The bottom cushion was easy.  I used the existing cushion, stretched the fabric over the top, and stapled it on the bottom.  Just make sure that you pull the fabric really tight!  Here's what it looks like on the bottom:

8.  The back cushion was the hardest part of this project.  The cushion is sort of balaced between two pieces of fabric, then stapled into the sides of the frame of the chair.  There was no wood back to staple the fabric to -- you can see in the above picture how the back is open.  After much frustration, and major help from my "sidekick", we managed to get it in place.
9.  Last, I hot glued the trim around the edge of the back cushion.  Voila!!

I'm proud of how it turned out. :)

Now, I just need a living room makeover to match my new chair!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Field Trip! Plus, a preview...

This week, we took a really great fieldtrip to the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, Missouri.  It was a bit of a long bus ride, but the kids had SO much fun.  We hiked down to a creek to look for fossils!  We do a big unit on fossils in second grade, so this trip paired perfectly with what we'd been learning in the classroom. 
Our guide, Miss Sue, was wonderful!  She told the kids lots about different plants on a our way down the she was telling them how they can recognize poison ivy.  Good information to know!
Here is the whole crew down by the was a little treacherous getting here.  It was very muddy on the trail from all the rain we've been having around here lately.  Luckily, we all made it down to the creek in one piece.  I had seven parent volunteers there to help -- all dads!  Most of the kids LOVED getting in the mud, and we were prepared with long pants and old tennis shoes.  There was only one minor snafu, which I will recant quickly:

Earlier that morning:
Me:  Boys and girls, we need to get all of things together for the fieldtrip to put on the bus.  When I call your group, please put your lunch in this bag over here, and your change of clean clothes in this bag over here.
(Insert complete chaos)
Me:  Now, has everyone put their lunch and clothes in the bag?  If you forgot something at home, now is the time to tell me so we can do something about it!
Second graders:  We didn't forget anything!  We're ready! (Yes, that's paraphrasing...)
Three hours later during lunch time in Liberty -- 1 hour from school
Second grader:  Mrs. Shinabargar, I can't find my lunch.
Me:  What do you mean you can't find it?  Did you put in the bag this morning?
Second grader:  I think maybe I didn't hear you say to put it in the bag.  I think maybe I left my lunch at school in my back pack.
Me:  *sigh*  I'll share my lunch with you.

Oh, the joy of being a teacher. :)  At least this was the worst that happened on this day -- I had nightmares of children being washed down the creek, sinking in the mud, or being bitten by snakes.  I can deal with a forgotten lunch.

Anyway....isn't it beautiful down there?  It was nice and quiet too...well...that is, until 65 second graders showed up and disrupted the peace of the "sanctuary". 

Looking for fossils.  They actually found quite a few.  The little one above in stripes found one and showed it to Miss Sue, who exclaimed "Holy Cow!  You found a crinoid!  The Missouri State Fossil!"  She made such a big fuss about it -- you should have seen this little girl grinning from ear to ear.  I think Miss Sue definitely made her day. :)

Okay, totally unrelated....but I was very excited to post this find.  I found this old chair today at an antique store for $25!  Yay!  I've been looking for a fixer-upper chair like this for a while now...and as soon as I saw this one (and the price tag on it) I knew I had to have it!  I've already taken it apart and gotten it sanded.  Mark primed it for me (because I'm not allowed to use spray paint cans...something about "you're not doing it right"...whatever).  I got the cushions recovered today also.  I should be able to post the final product very soon -- with instructions and more step-by-step pics.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Here's the halter on a body -- yes, I cropped my head out of the picture.  Anyone else hate having their picture taken??  Plus, husband was taking the pictures....yeah....'nuf said.
You can wear it over a t-shirt, or by itself.  Mine turned out a tad too big...but hey, I'm new to this "sewing for myself" thing!  In fact, most of my projects end up being a gift for someone else.  Such as these notecards that I made for my mom for Mother's Day.

This is a good way to use up scraps, and you know I'll use any excuse to get out my Cricut!  Of course, anything wrapped up with a sweet little bow makes me smile.  Mom liked them too. :)

Okay, now that I have spent over and hour browsing Etsy and blogging, time to sign off and grade the huge stack of papers in my bag.  I keep bringing home the same stack each night, and each morning they go back to school with me ungraded.  No more excuses!

Hope you are having a great week -- thanks for reading. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sewing Projects

While on a shopping excursion with my momma this weekend, I ran across some great Amy Butler patterns and fabrics at a craft/quilt store.  I enjoy sewing, but usually only dig out the sewing machine to whip up new curtains or a quick pillow.  I've made Halloween costumes for my niece, but haven't sewn clothing for myself since I took home economics in the 8th grade.  Well, I came across an easy pattern, and I just could NOT resist the Amy Butler fabrics in the store...all lined up with their bold, bright colors calling my name!

I picked out this pattern, called Sun and Surf Halter.  Thought it would be perfect for our trip to Florida next month.
I bought this beautiful fabric.  I couldn't walk away from the bright purple and turqoise...such a striking combination.

Even with my rusty sewing skills, I think I invested about 4 hours in this project.  Spent a little time one evening washing the fabric and cutting out the pieces.  Then, the next day spent less than 2 hours constructing the actual halter.  Tonight, I quickly finished up the tie and the hemming.  I am so happy with how it turned out!  Here's a picture of it lying on my craft counter...wasn't feeling up for modeling it tonight, but will post a picture soon.  SO tired tonight, and though the hubby assured me that I didn't have dark circles under my eyes, I decided to wait for a less gloomy day to take some pictures wearing my new creation.

I checked out Amy Butler's website and she even has FREE patterns on there!  Lots for quilts (which I am hoping to attempt this summer), but also patterns for some other cute things as well.  I want to try this necklace:

Isn't it cute?!?!  Must try...soon.  Her patterns are SO easy to follow, even if you are a beginner!

Okay, one last's my sisters and I with our mommy for Mother's Day.  We spent Saturday shopping at Briarcliff village, had a yummy lunch, and had fun visiting and chatting...just us girls!

We love our Mom!

Hope you all had a good Monday -- it was a gloomy, rainy day.  I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight, and perhaps another craft post later in the week.  I'm off for a week before I start my next set of classes.  13 more days until SUMMER!  Hands down, the best thing about my job. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playing HOOKy

Today was a beautiful day....I just had no choice except to play hooky with my honey.  Literally.  We decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head out to Olathe Lake for some fishing.

We hit Walmart for our fishing licenses and some worms, packed up our poles, chairs, and a picnic lunch and headed off on our adventure!  When we got to the lake, we found a little dock that we had to ourselves for the next 3 hours.  It was a beautiful place to spend a Wednesday afternoon.  What is it about a day off work that feels so much sweeter than a regular old Saturday??

I haven't been fishing since I was a dad used to take us to the lake on the weekends when we were little.  My sister Katie and I would eagerly spend the day before practice casting our fishing poles in the driveway, while dad coached up to keep our poles away from tree branches and anything else we might get caught up on.  The next day, we'd sit in my dad's little green fishing boat (that he still has!), clad in bright orange life jackets and old tennis shoes (never flip-flops!  Dad said those were too dangerous!) and try for hours to get a bite on the end of the line.  And, oh, when I reeled in a fish.... I don't know who smiled bigger -- me, or my proud daddy. :)

Today, it took me awhile to get the feel of the cast again.  My poor husband had to attend to me as I broke the fishing line, got my hook caught on a tree branch, and various other interuptions to his own fishing experience.  With the patience of a saint, he changed my baits at request and showed me how to cast the open-faced reel.  Now I know how my dad felt... 

Sadly, I did not catch a fish. :(  However, this proud boy did!

Yes, the fish is tiny, but it was still a victory.  It did not come without challenge, however.  Mark played a game of cat and mouse with this little stinker for almost an hour.  The little guy was hanging out by the dock, and was able to eat nearly 20 worms off the hook before he finally lost the battle.  He was quick-witted and a fast-swimmer, so he'd nibble the worm off and manage to escape while Mark frantically whipped his pole up in the air to catch him on the hook.  We both tried for awhile to catch him, and I lost interest and decided to take a little snooze in the sunshine.  Mark persevered and finally was successful. That's my man!

Here's some pictures of me fishing.  The first one was taken shortly after we arrived:

Here's the next one:

Yes, that's me pretending to catch a fish.  All I caught was a couple of sticks...

I don't know why I didn't think to put on sunscreen....I was ready to get out into the sun because I am SOOO pale and need some summer color!  However, that didn't go quite as planned....

This is the extent of my sun exposure...and yes, it is only on this arm.  Cute, huh?  I told Mark that I'll have to wear longer sleeves to work tomorrow so I won't have to explain my one-armed sunburn.  I should have at least worn a tank top so I wouldn't have this t-shirt line....lesson learned.  Why do sunburns get more red and hurt more after you are out of the sun?  My arm just kept getting redder and redder on the way home.  After dinner, Mark finally got tired of my whining and went to the store to get me some aloe.

Okay, considering that I originally took this day off to work on my action research project, I guess I better get back to it.  Don't judge -- you know you'd choose to be in the sunshine instead of chained to the computer all day. 

Hope I inspired YOU to play hooky some day soon!  You deserve it!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I love the weekend...

Today was a great start to my weekend!

I was up at 7 for a 5K at school -- they have the annual "Dragon Dash" to raise money for the school.  I was happy with my time: 42 minutes.  I felt great!  My students were all excited to see me there.  I still think it is so funny how they act when they see you outside of the classroom, doing something other than teaching.  I remember one of my favorite books when I was a kid was My Teacher Sleeps At School.  All the kids in the class thought that she lived at school, and imagined where she would sleep (under her desk), where she would eat (in the "kitchen" center), and what she would do with her free time (play piano and read books).  Now I am that teacher, and my kiddos are caught a little off guard when they see me somewhere in "public". 

After the race, I headed home and Mark and I decided to go get flowers to plant in our pots out front.  We got some geraniums, vinca vine, and some little yellow flowers that I can't remember the name of... :)

Then, we couldn't resist these pots for the backyard...they were so colorful and cheery on the shelf at Home Depot, I just had to have them!  They look really cute around the patio in the backyard.

We planted some begonias and coleus in these planters -- happy flowers!

Yard work was followed by a hot shower and a nap.....oh, yes.  *heaven*

I finished my evening with some crafting -- can't share pics yet, as they are a gift for a certain mommy for a certain holiday that's coming up next weekend.

Hope you all had a beautiful Saturday!