Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Deal

The kids went back to school today in my neck of the woods, and the girls and I are back into the swing of things.

I'm telling you, today kicked my butt.

I'm pretty sure that it's because I worked manically all weekend in preparation for today and only got four hours of fitful sleep last night. Wah, wah. Listen to me whine.

I'll have to remember to label this post as a whining post. I know people are just dying to listen to me whine.

Tonight isn't looking too good as far as my bed time goes, but I think I'm going to sleep like a baby. No, strike that. I'm going to sleep like a rock.

I'm extra crazy busy right now because I've changed schools and I know nothing. I rush around before and after school, looking for teachers I can pepper with my never ending questions.

"You mean I just let the kids walk by themselves to the assembly? They don't have to be in a straight line and I don't have to keep them from wiping their boogers on the walls?"

Then I go home and work on my computer that always works, because they don't always work at school, into the wee hours of the morning getting ready for the next day. Tonight I spent my time updating my Procedures Power Point for Middle School. Not surprisingly, I deleted a lot of slides because they don't apply to this age group.

I'm a little worried about myself saying this, but it feels good to give up a little bit of the control. For example, I'm rethinking my whole "No airborne objects" policy in the classroom and considering having Air Traffic Control sometimes give flight clearance in the No-Fly Zone. Sometimes.

I'm giving my girls a little more control too. This year I didn't double and triple check their supplies, or even label anything. I told them to do it, and if they didn't, what I don't know can't hurt me, right?

This is my attempt at preparing lunches in advance. I desperately need to eat healthier this year. I gained ten plus pounds last year just because I was stressed out, not meal planning and cooking, and eating out too much. I ate so many frozen lunches, I get an involuntary urge to vomit when I walk by the freezer case at the grocery store.

I'm back to meal planning and cooking so we eat better at home, and now I have leftovers for lunch that I can get excited about. And I do.

I'm just living the life here. Living the life.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Classroom Tour 2012

I can't even tell you how happy I am to report that my classroom is mostly ready for the students to show up a week from tomorrow. I don't think I've ever had my classroom ready this early. I'm always cutting it right down to the wire and falling into bed exhausted the night before school starts.

But I've worked hard these past two weeks with a goal of finishing my classroom before I have to report back to school tomorrow, so that I am free to harass other teachers and incessantly ask them questions. I'm brand new at this school and I have a lot to learn, so I just hope I don't annoy the other teachers too much. But I'm not going to let that stop me. There's information to be had.

Several times I didn't know if I was going to meet my goal, but Wednesday I sealed the deal and made arrangements with Glitter Man to come and take pictures of my classroom on Friday morning. Ready or not. And yes, I did go in to school early Friday morning to wrap things up and subsequently slid into my 11:00 a.m. deadline ten minutes late. Sweaty and panting. But I was done. Mostly.

Now, shall we take a look at those pictures? If you want a closer look at any of the pictures, just click on one and you'll be taken to a screen of just the pictures in a larger view.

This is my desk and work area. This is where I will collapse in exhaustion once the students leave and I have yet to grade papers and prepare for the next day's lessons.

There's the chair that Stinkerbell put together for me. It's very . . . firm. And I have lots of junk in the trunk, so that's really saying something about the chair. It's from IKEA, but I don't think that's why it's not cushy. It's not cushy because it didn't cost me $250.

I just got that little fridge there. Isn't it adorable? I look at it, and I want to stock it with refreshments, but I'm afraid to plug it in this early on account of the district's Energy Police might arrest me for wasting energy. I'm a chicken butt like that.

My loverly office supply shrine is like a beacon in the night, isn't it? And I love my Skippy JJ and Cookie Monster. We're pretty tight. I don't really care if they're too juvenile for middle school.

If loving them is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

This little bookcase is right by the door to my room. Glitter Man is touring us clockwise around the room and I basically just gypped you out of seeing the front of the room, because I've piled loads of textbooks on the floor that I'm offloading to another teacher tomorrow. It's an unsightly pile, and I want to pretend that it isn't messing with the Juju in my Feng Shui.

Girl Genius helped me put the bulletin board paper and borders up. She's really anal like I am, so we make a great team.

The board is divided into five sections, so we just kept it that way and covered each board individually.

Except the black board used to be orange, but I changed it. Girl Genius and I had words about it. I only hope that she can forgive me, but it was making me twitchy.

I bet you've already spied my IKEA magazine files too, haven't you? I'm going to use them to store math notebooks.  I'm hoping they all fit.

I found the cheapo calendars at Walmart and I'm going to write the daily assignments on them for absent students to reference when they need to get their missed work.

I'm so in love with the polka dotty bulletin board letters. They match my curtains perfectly.

And check this out. This is why I decided to go with curtains. The bookshelves were particle board covered in a 70s wood grain laminate that was peeling off, and lots of places are exposed like this. I tried covering the between sections here with colorful duct tape, but it wouldn't stay on.

Then I had a stroke of genius and came up with this.

My polka dotty bulletin border, that coordinates with my letters, that goes so perfectly awesome with my monsters, is a perfect match for the fabric of my curtains.

So I borrowed Peanut Head's staple gun and Pow! Pow! Pow! It was so much fun, and I love how it turned out.

I found these colorful crates at Walmart (on sale for $3.67 each or something like that), and I'm using them to store student work. I'll put numbered hanging file folders in them and be able to reuse the same folders every year. I so wanted to splurge on the very pretty, very colorful hanging file folders from The Container Store, but it would have cost me $150. For hanging file folders! I have an office supply obsession, but apparently there is a line which I won't cross.

But I'm still sniffling about it. :(

This is the back of my classroom and I have two more white boards back here. I know. I'm so lucky. I forgot to take a picture of my new bottle of Expo cleaner too. It's the gallon size.

I like my boards to be sparkly clean at the end of every day, so I go through a wee bit of Expo cleaner. Like a maniac.

I also have a slight obsession with the markers. I have them in every color and sometimes I write the agenda in alternating colors. Because I can.

Color makes me happy.

My heart sings every time I look at my paper lanterns and poms. They actually serve a purpose besides the cuteness factor too. They have table group signs hanging from them. I like to do group work and these will serve as a reference points for my students to move their desks to.

Love, love, love my vinyl quotes on canvas.

Can you see my number line at the tippy top of that wall? It was sceeeery putting that thing up.

I had to use the "Danger! Danger" Don't step on this step!" step.

A closer look at my favorite quote.

Glitter Man snapped off a shot of me too. At least my sweat has dried by the time he got to me, so you can't see it.

So, funny thing about last week. My side of the hall was being painted early last week, and Wednesday I arrived to find this Wall 'O Plastic in front of my room. I wrestled my way underneath only to find that my door was also plasticized and taped shut. After a brief moment of a suffocating, plastic encased panic, I decided to just go home and take the day off. It was a nice day off too.

Thursday morning I came back with a utility knife and I cut my way in. Then, because I'm a chicken butt, I taped the plastic back down and re masked everything so that I could open and shut my door. I was locked in my room for a couple hours during which I had to pee mightily, but I outlasted the paint job and emerged from my cocoon triumphant.

So tomorrow I report to work officially, and I feel like I've got a jump on things. Bring on the curriculum and planning, baby!

Now my room is painted! Check out my 2013 tour here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

IKEA Magazine Files Decorated

Do you remember last week when I was complaining about the fact that I wasn't looking forward to decorating my IKEA magazine files?

These magazine files.

Well, I'm pleased to report that they weren't so bad after all. I gave them a couple coats of black spray paint, of which two cans was not enough. Three was the magic number.

Spray paint dries quickly, so soon after painting I was able to apply some pretty school themed scrapbook paper on the spines of the files. I applied the paper with Mod Podge, and then I gave it two more coats of Mod Podge over the top and that was it.


I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that I'm probably going to label them with Post-It notes to start. I don't want to commit to using them for what I had planned because so often my brilliant ideas don't pan out the way I think they should.

So, if they work, I'll go ahead and make some pretty labels worthy of the cuteness. Until then, Shabby Town.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm In!

I spent some time in my classroom last week after I dropped by and found this awesome sign on my classroom door. It's the symbolic green light for me to start setting up my room and decorating.

The first thing I did was put my desk where I wanted it, and then I set about hooking up my computer. It took me an hour and a half of maneuvering to get the tangled mess somewhat organized. I was sweating like a pig and contorting my body in unattractive positions to get all the wires connected properly and free of the furniture it was entangled with.

Criminy, it was a lot of cordage to deal with.

The colorful spiral doodads are cord wranglers I found at The Container Store. That's not their real name, but I like it.

I can't for the life of me figure out why some cords were long enough to encircle the entire school. Really?

I tamed them with some command hooks, masking tape, and a few pretty rubber bands. It's not pretty, but at least my students and I won't be tripping over them.

Meanwhile Stinkerbell set about putting my new desk chair together. 

I spent a wee bit of my week in that exact same pose.

This picture was taken relatively early in my unpacking process. My room is not looking as hideous as I remembered it being at the beginning of the summer.

Perhaps because I've spent my summer building up the hideousness in my head, so that now it's not as bad, and I can actually see the potential that's there.

Although my desk is still a disaster, I have just one box left to unpack.

I'm hoping to finish with the decorating in the next few days. This is my favorite part.

You may remember that I had quite a bit of vinyl on the walls of my last classroom. I've ordered a couple of my favorites, but I couldn't bear to put them on my walls where I would have to leave them if I have to move classrooms down the road.

So I bought a couple canvases at Michael's, and brushed them with a quick color wash of acrylic paint, then slapped my vinyl on top of that.

Now they are colorful and I can take them with me wherever I go.

I can't wait to hang these up in my classroom.

I ordered my Work Hard vinyl here, and the Christopher Robin quote here if you want one for yourself.

I'm hoping to put my virtual classroom tour up in the next week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New and Improved Hall Pass

I'm so excited right now, I'm just giddy. Janae from Thoughts in Vinyl just finished the vinyl for my new hall pass, and this pass is Middle School sized. I love how Janae varied the font size so that it looks like Subway Art. I tell you, she is a Magician. I tell her what I want my vinyl to say, pick a font and a color, and she works it up that way and another way using her own expertise. Her own expertise always seems to turn out better than how I saw it in my mind.

Tell me how that happens, will you? Every single project I embark on starts with a vision, and never ends up looking anything like that vision. Some people have the gift, I guess.

If you are dying for a hall pass like this, Janae has it on her website now, for your shopping convenience. She has it in two sizes--15" x 12" or the 22" x 17" obnoxious size that I chose. Let's see you hide this pass behind your back, Kiddos. Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

Anyway, you can find the vinyl to make this most excellent hall pass by clicking here.

I rarely post pictures of myself because of my extra chinnage and my drooping eyes, but I realized that you still haven't seen my new do, and I've been wearing it for over three months now. When I first got it, I got some interesting reactions from the people in my life who supposedly love me.

Peanut Head grabbed the top of his head with both hands and violently torqued his scalp down to one side.

I did laugh.

Zoe Bug took one look and said "Your hair is weird, Mom."

Most of my students reacted positively, perhaps to spare my feelings, but one of my charges who has personality squared, gave me her opinion straight up when she saw it. She took me aside at recess, so as not to cause me further pain, and said in a whisper voice, "Mrs. Scott, I do not like your hair. It's weird."

My feelings were not hurt though. I agree, it is weird, but it's also fun and that's why I did it. In fact, I think I'm going to keep it for a spell.

Mind you, right now it's kind of screaming MLil' Pony! but that's on account of I got my color touched up yesterday and it's always "Whoo! Rainbow Girl" like this for the first few days. Then it calms down and doesn't alarm people quite so much.

When I first got this style I alarmed myself when I stepped out of the shower and saw Rotund Draco Malfoy in my bathroom, but then I realized it was just my bangs in the mirror.

That was a close call.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Call me crazy, but I've spent my entire summer in a relaxed state of anxiety. Oxymoron that this state is, it's a result of knowing that I have an entire classroom, one that is in dire need of cutification, to set up and a new curriculum to plan for. The curriculum part is not really stressing me out, but the classroom cutification is.

It's stressing me out because I can't do anything about it until a) I can get into my classroom, and b) my classroom has been cleaned by the district Maintenance Engineers. I'm hoping that this will all change on Monday when the school secretaries report back to work. Crossing fingers.

Everyone knows that the school Secretary is the one with all the power, and above all, the person who must be slathered with respect, love, affection, and appreciation. Next to the Secretary is the Maintenance Engineer aka Custodian. These are the people who make things happen.

Since I've been locked out of my classroom all summer, I virtually decorate it in my mind all day long and even when I'm sleeping. It's a special kind of purgatory which is constant and pulsating. Teacher friends, am I right here, or am I crazy?

Okay, I am crazy, I'll give you that, but right too. Right? Validate me, please.

In my relaxed state of anxiety I shop. And craft.

And create large messes.

While trolling for classroom treasures, I scored this excellent bookcase. It was buried in my Mama Llama's garage and being used to house a small family of creepy spiders.

I quickly evicted the multi legged arachnids, and loaded this baby into my van. Let me tell you, it barely fit. I had to pack everything else I acquired on our trip to California (yes, our second trip this summer) into all the nooks and crannies and atop the bookcase. Plus our luggage.

With the help of all of this, the bookcase went from the picture above . . .

to this . . .

and finally to this. I love, love, love it.  The best part for me is that binders fit perfectly on the bottom three shelves, leaving the top shelf for doodads.  I have some serious binder love going on in my classroom, so this is going to come in very handy.

The background pattern I used is simply scrapbook paper that I adhered with Mod Podge and then coated with four or five more coats over the top. I tried very hard to find a pattern that I liked and that repeated, so that the paper would match up. Each section took three 12x12 sheets of scrapbook paper, and the pattern doesn't line up perfectly, but I don't think it's too obvious.

Either that or I'm just blind.

This is one of the spoils of my shopping. It's a 31 bag and I got the idea from Tiffany over at the Nest Effect. Girlfriend has some awesome ideas, let me tell you. 

I didn't get my bag until the last week of school, so it's not completely set up the way I'm going to use it, but it does have pretty colored hanging files in it. My favorite part.

Rainbow vomit and I are super tight.

On my last trip to California I got to go to IKEA twice. In the same week. How cool is that? I bought these awesome wood magazine files, two per pack. I'm afraid that my two cans of spray paint might not completely cover them.

The plan is to paint them black, then Mod Podge some colorful scrapbook paper onto the spines and some labels. I'll keep you posted on that.

I've been going through the Mod Podge like crazy lately, and the memory of my faux pas haunts me. After two years, I still cannot reconcile it in my head.

Anyway, the plan is cutify, I said C-U-T-I-F-Y, Auto-Correct. Leave it.

As I was saying, I will cuteify them, and use them to hold math journals. I can't wait until this project is done because I'm going to loathe every minute of it, I'm sure.