Sunday, April 29, 2012

Busy Hands

A glimpse of what my busy hands have been up to these days. I made one chevron blanket (seen below) and it was simply ghastly. There were bulges here and there, the lines weren't straight, and the bottom was MUCH wider than the top. 

I was attempting to learn three different, new (to me) kinds of stitches, while also counting stitches. This was my first project ever in which I actually had to count stitches and that was certainly hard to get used to! It's incredibly hard to count stitches while holding a conversation, running to grab a ringing cell phone, or attempting to get every last detail out of what's on the screen. My impatient, "I'll-fix-it- later" attitude wanted to plow forward and that's very apparent in the blanket. Let's be real- there is no way to fix it later in knitting!

Here's the start of my second chevron blanket and it's looking to be much more successful. I've learned how to count stitches without having to back-track, and I've learned enough about the ssk, k2tog, and kfb, to be able to identify just where I left off the last time. Hopefully I can keep this up for the duration of this blanket. Watching the news, movies, and TV shows is so much more fun with something to do with your hands!

I also had some fun making a faux-aboriginal drawing of a lizard on a card. Very simple and mind-numbing after a day of work.

Who'd like some mail? Post the first comment and it's yours, if you want it :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Soap Box: "Bored"

I've never been bored. It's true. I cannot think of a time when those words actually came out of my mouth or have even welled-up in my head. No, there's always something to do, make, clean, learn, read, etc.

And, as a teacher, it drives me crazy to hear the words "I'm bored" come out of a student's mouth. All of my mental power, energy, strength, and passion go into creating meaningful activities for the students. At any one time there are always options for students to do after they have finished another task. "I'm bored" really has no place in my classroom or in my life.

I think I actually, unconsciously, chose the teaching profession because it is an occupation in which you can never be idle, bored, or complacent. It just really doesn't lend itself to a profession where details can go by the wayside... there's always something the prepare, rethink, dissect, and scrap. Not to mention all of the accommodations, differentiated lessons, and meetings that you also have to squeeze into the limited time in your day. Let me tell you, this can also be very draining for this somewhat anal perfectionist. This is why I firmly believe that teachers need their summers.

I once heard that women's minds work almost like a computer screen. We can keep many "windows" open at once and it is hard for us to ex-out of them and focus on one, at any one time. When I heard that, I immediately connected with this metaphor. Yes, how do you keep only one window open?

Last weekend Jim and I drove to see my dad's children's musical, Belle Prater's Boy, and I had a conversation with someone who had an aortic artery dissection. He's a family friend and wanted to chat and compare notes about our similar situations. His, obviously, was much more serious than my own, but we certainly had some similarities. My favorite part of the conversation was when he jested about being told to "take a break," "relax," and "go rest." With a huge smile and a jovial laugh, he explained that it's "tough" to be told to go lie down and take it easy. "Oh, alright. If you say so..." It's too true.

For someone who's used to moving, doing, and scampering all over the place, it's been a huge adjustment for me to take it easy. Jim left for class today (yes, on a Saturday) and asked what I would be doing while he was gone. I responded, "I suppose I'll knit, watch a few of Kelly's movies, grade some quizzes, and play fetch with Leif." But I could also do the breakfast dishes, wash the laundry, mop the kitchen, clean my desk, lesson plan for next week, call a few friends and family members, make an itinerary for our road trip, go to the pharmacy, etc.

Where's the time to be "bored?" I don't get it.

With the rain pelting the roof, I almost feel like it's a sign to just sit, relax, and take it easy. But I don't consider sitting and relaxing to be the same thing as being bored. I almost enjoy this season of my life when I can appreciate sitting back. And I will attempt to keep only one or two windows open, while I'm at it :)

On Tuesday my INR was, once again, too low (1.8). So my dose has been increased to the maximum amount of 15 mg/day and I'll go back on Tuesday, May 1st, to see if the level has improved. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tardy Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day and so I decided to do a little activity with my students about items and how long it takes them to biodegrade. Some of the things were quite shocking to them and to me, even though I've seen these stats year after year.

Before revealing how long it takes for diapers, I asked the students if any of them have siblings who are still in diapers. Many raised their hands and then I asked them how many diapers they go through in a day. Their answers varied from five, ten, twenty, and two packs... somehow I don't think that all of these answers are quite correct.

Well, it takes 450 years for a diaper to biodegrade! WHAT!? HOLY COW! That's a scary and nightmarish thing to ponder.

I am certainly seeing cloth diapers in my future.

Things we attempt to do:
- compost
- carpool
- recycle
- reuse materials for household items/organization
- purchase items that come in recyclable materials
- drive fairly efficient cars
- plan our outings carefully, to avoid extra trips/gas usage
- turn off the lights when they aren't necessary
- reusable tupperware for lunches, etc.

Things that need work:
- my long, hot showers
- making/using homemade, good-for-the-environment cleaners

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Belle Prater's Boy: Novel Turned Musical!

We've just returned from a great weekend in Paris, VA. A monumental weekend, really. My dad, John Krumich, has been working for the last 6-7 years to write a musical on the Newberry Honor novel Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White.

Yesterday we watched it staged as a reading of excerpts, with songs from the musical. Our hearts swelled as we listened to the beautiful music of SCORE (Strings Choral Orff & Recorder Ensemble - see previous post), and then heard, for the first time, the story and music of his musical.

It was an emotional day for everyone included, especially Dad, & Jim and I were thrilled to be a part of it! We are so proud of the work and sweat he's put into this project. It was yesterday that he finally got to see it come alive in front of an audience!
Jim, Dad, Mom, Willem, & Me
I sat with a steady (err... pretty steady) hand and flip-videoed the entire performance. I hope to show parts of it to my students because we read this novel earlier this year. They LOVED the book because they could relate to the rural, Appalachian town, and some could relate to the heartache and loss exhibited throughout the novel.

If you haven't read this novel, you should! It's beautifully written with solemn themes but it's livened-up by great story-telling and jokes, too. It's a classic.

We wish we could see the full reading this Saturday, but we'll look forward to hearing about it from afar. If you're in the Loudoun County area, check it out this weekend at Franklin Park Arts Center on Saturday!

Health update: I had a doctor's appointment last week and we discovered that my INR was too low. I have an increased dose and I will go back for some lab work on Tuesday. The headaches are fairly light, though ever-present in the evenings. It's fairly strong right now. My neck pain is still present, too. Jim chauffeured me this weekend because I am still not supposed to drive long distances. Knitting still proves to be my therapy in the evenings :)

Our road trip to Maine is officially happening!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Time Well-Used

This has been an absolutely beautiful weekend! The weather has been warm enough to wear sandals, shorts, and tshirts, while also being cool enough to enjoy just sitting outside. Just plain beautiful!

After a crazy morning of errand-running, forgetting cards, basketball (Jim), back-tracking, way-to-much-driving, entering grades, etc., we spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening outside. Jim studied in the hammock, while I knitted in the adirondack chair and Leif meandered around the yard.

In the evening we sat around the campfire and ate mountain pies, while researching and dreaming about our road trip to Maine this summer. Then Mike and Lindsay came over to relax and chat late into the night.

Today's been about the same. Both of my cousins who blog, amazingly enough, wrote about doing "nothing" this weekend (in the best, productive sense of the word). They wrote about ditching the to-do list and just doing what they wanted, when they wanted to do them. It appears that we are on the same wave-length this weekend, even though the many miles separate us.

This injury, though annoying and painful, has really helped me to put the "to-dos" into perspective. I no longer stay at work until 5 PM (2.5 hours after school gets out) to grade, plan, and organize. I make my planning periods REALLY productive, and I've learned to delegate responsibilities to instructional aids and students in the classroom. It's amazing just how many things can be adapted, when you realize your limitations.

I'm reminded of a cross-stitch my parents have at The Pinery (our summer cabin) that reads: "Time is precious, waste it wisely." Too true.

Lots of rounds of fetch make Leif a happy pup!

I hope your weekend has been beautiful and revitalizing, too. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Normally I go crazy dying eggs for Easter! This year I boiled the eggs, I purchased the egg-dying kit, and then I left them both to sit as my creative side couldn't stop in the middle of different project.

For about four weeks now I have slowly, but surely, been working on a baby quilt. Initially the quilt was going to be tiny, with just a few squares. That soon changed when I spoke with my cousin Marianne (of Kasch Blog) who has a 1.5 year old child. She suggested that I make the baby blanket bigger because its period of use for the child and the parent is relatively short if it is small. In fact, she recently sewed a few of Annaliese's baby quilts together so that they could still enjoy them.

Well, I took her advice and added another two weeks of work to my project... thanks Marianne! But I am so grateful that I did because we love the finished project. The gestational period was about four to five weeks, but it was worth it.

I think that this is the biggest, longest craft project I have ever completed. It couldn't have come at a better time...

During these days, when all I can do is sit and relax at the end of a long day or on the weekend, I needed something to do. I often can't/don't feel like reading because my headache is stronger at the end of the day, so I watch TV on the internet.

Quite quickly I realized that I needed something productive to DO while I watched show after show; my therapy came in the form of knitting.
The basic stitch is about all I know, even though I've been taught to purl, so I decided to knit a bunch of squares (15 x 15 stitches). At first my goal was to use up all of the yarn in my craft supply and, fortunately enough, all of the yarn was the same size and type. After speaking with my cousin, I needed to get a few more reams in order to make the blanket bigger. And, once all of the squares were done, I decided that the blanket needed to have a border.

As you can see and tell,
I did not start with a clear picture
in mind and so this blanket is pretty country-bumpkin, but we love it.

So, this blanket has been my relief over the past few weeks. Each day I looked forward to coming home and knitting- it's been a blessing.

Family & friends have asked who will be receiving the blanket and each time I reply that I wouldn't feel comfortable giving the blanket to someone else because it is so rag-tagly put together. But the main reason is that Jim has fallen in love with this blanket and wants to keep it for the future.

So instead of dying eggs, I sewed the squares together and snipped all of the loose strands of yarn until 10 PM last night. We'll still enjoy the eggs, they just won't be decorated today or maybe at all this year.

We hope that you and yours have had a wonderful Easter! For us it's been a day of hope, friendship, and peace.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


So many metaphors about our current lives could be stated for this quote. That is all for today :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's That Time of the Year!

Yep, it's that time of the year again. It's a time of balance in the classroom. I've known the students long enough to recognize their limits and push them just a little farther. One look or flick of my fingers or hand can change their actions or behaviors. For some, I know the right words to say to push them to the edge, but also keep them productive and safe.

I love this time of the year. All of the work and effort from fall and winter are finally beginning to bud to display the fruits of the labor. While reading, students stop me to point out the similes & metaphors, or examples of alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, etc. It's wonderful to have these discussions through the authentic experience of just reading a book together. Sometimes the discussions turn into debates about symbolism and themes... it's incredible.

And it's now that I can finally let down my hair. While reading I sometimes stop and have students fill in the word that comes next on the page (to make sure they're with me & earn silent speedball points). Yesterday I stopped after the word "artificial" and the students were to fill in the word "light." Well, one student wasn't paying attention and said "flavoring!" It was hilarious and I broke into one of those laughs where you begin to cry it's so funny. Whereas earlier in the year I may have skimmed over it and moved on, this time I let the students see my genuine joy at the humor of the situation.

Then today, we had a good laugh when a student was wracking his brain for a word we talked about yesterday- "haunches." When I told him the word he said, "OH YEAH, HAUNCHES!" And two students proceeded to beg me to again show the class how we squat on our "haunches." Once again the class broke into laughter at the fact that kids all around the room were squatting on their haunches.

It's been a joyous time.

Moments that earlier in the year would have taken minutes to get students back on track, now last a short period of time and the students are ready to persevere through the next page, activity, or assignment.

It's this time of the year that I look forward to in August & September. Each year we make it through and then we begin all over again. I think I would enjoy teaching in a school where teachers follow their students throughout a few of the grades. By the time I get to know my students, their passions and risk areas, I have to bid them farewell and start all over again.

For now I'll savor each day because, after all, it is that time of the year!


Jim is home, safe and sound. He had a great time in Honduras! Pictures will be posted eventually. Right now they are all on his computer and he is at a night class from 5:15-9:30 PM. Hello Block 8(board review block)!

Still have soreness in my neck and a light headache; I feel like a broken record. That's why I don't write about it much anymore :)

Have I mentioned that summer starts at the end of May?! Yay!