Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I am so tired!

I'm sure we're all in similar boats.  The post-Thanksgiving week here is, so far, cold (it was a balmy 18 degrees when I headed to work Monday morning), and for whatever reason, just exhausting.  Mick and I have a busy weekend coming up, with my in-laws coming into town to watch the kids so he and I can work in the storage unit and try to pack/unpack/find stuff.  Should be productive but ... wait for it ... exhausting!

I still haven't figured out the photos issue, and because I think I can get around having to pay for photo storage with Blogger, but because Mick's schedule and mine have not meshed well yet this week, I'm holding off on just paying for photo storage.  I assure you I will work on this and get our gazillions of photos uploaded as soon as possible.

I do have good no-photo-required news, though:

I got a letter from Maine saying, essentially, I was right and don't need all those hours of classes, etc. etc.  In fact, the letter said that the only thing they need from me is my PRAXIS scores.  Of course, those scores long-ago expired, but I DO have a hard copy of them.  So I'll send those along and see what the State says.  I'm taking this as good news, especially compared to where we were two weeks ago.

And now, my friends, I am heading to bed!

(Okay, you're right.  There's no way on earth I am going to bed at 6:30.  But I sure do want to!)


Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Wonderfully Busy Thanksgiving -- photos to come

[administrative note: I have a ton of photos I want to add to this post, but Blogger just informed me I hit my memory limit.  I want to figure out my options before I commit to anything, so I'll update this, and publish a few other posts that are waiting, in the coming days once I can add the photos again.  Sorry for the text-heavy post below.]

One of the advantages to moving back North was that we would be closer to family.  And by moving to Maine, we've had family practically in our backyard!  I even work with Mick's cousin, which is wonderful!   We see my in-laws every other weekend, and my parents have been able to come visit twice since we got here in August.  It's been nothing short of fabulous for family time.

Unfortunately, we haven't seen my sister, brother-in-law and nephew (and Godson!) in New Jersey, and so it was a wonderful surprise when they were able to come stay here for Thanksgiving.  I was thrilled and kept waiting for the phone call that the doctor had put the kibosh on the trip (my sister is pregnant and due in January, but my nephew was a preemie so this wouldn't be unreasonable, and we were crossing our collective fingers the trip would work out).

And it did!  My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are here!  WAHOO!!!!!

And boy-oh-boy, have we been busy.

Let's start at the beginning.  I didn't have to work Wednesday, but CAM had a half day of school.  (Translation: we still had to get up early!)  I dropped her off at the upper-school campus, came home and picked up Mick and WHM, and the three of us went to BJ's Club to start our day's grocery shopping.  I dropped Mick and the groceries off at home, took WHM with me back to CAM's school for mass (which was awesome, by the way, and I am so glad she's in Catholic school -- even if I was mortified that I completely forgot to bring any cash for the collection and even if, in the perfect moment of silence in the middle of mass, WHM asked at about 10,000 decibels, "Can we leave now, Mommy?!").

And then, my friends, the running began.  Ever have one of those days where you don't really have much to do but it all seems to take forever?  That's how Wednesday went -- it was slow-motion and fast-forward all at once!  Flu shots, Target, groceries, the drug store ... it was neither frantic nor stressful, but it just seemed to take ages.  The kids were absolute troopers. 

(Oh, and don't worry about the groceries issue; it's a tradition my youngest sister Courtney and I established.  The two of us had done Thanksgiving dinner together for the past 8 years, and every Wednesday-before, we'd go to Kroger and Publix and do a marathon shopping trip.  It started the first year by default but when we realized how easy it actually was, we made it our thing.  So I wanted to honor that tradition, even from afar.)

Mick was able to work a few hours on Wednesday, so when he got home and I was finally home, we fed the kids and then finally, after bedtime for the kiddos, he and I cleaned and prepped for Thursday.  I also made my very first graham cracker pie crust.  More on that one in another post ... it was a PW recipe. 

Thursday we were up decently early but -- blessing in disguise -- because we'd only been able to find a small turkey (less than 15 pounds), that meant it didn't need to go into the oven at 6 in the morning in order to eat at a decent time.  Hooray for the little things!  My in-laws arrived close to 10 and my sister and her fam arrrived around 1, and we ate right around 3:30.  It was a really perfect day both with family and with the weather, with the kids all playing together and making messes and tearing things apart, and enough food for 80 and just a lot of fun every which way you looked at it.

Thursday night we just hung out and ate 'til we could hang and eat no more.  I think that's about as American Thanksgiving as you can get, right?!

[I did not take a single photograph of the food spread!  Pretend there's one here.  If it helps you to envision the scenario, we had a grown-ups table and a kids' table.  Would you like the menu?  Happy to help.  Turkey.  Ham.  Sausage dressing.  Stuffing.  Cornbread.  Plenty o'gravy.   I forgot to make corn, but we had it, so count it if you like -- your call.  Applesauce.  Mashed potatoes.  Green bean casserole.  Sweet potato pie.  Cranberry sauce.  Olives.  Pumpkin cream pie.  Apple pie.  Regular pumpkin pie. Brussels sprouts from a new recipe.  And of course, apple cider and wine.]

Friday -- yesterday -- the only thing I really wanted to do was to hit a craft store, and there was absolutely no urgency to do that in the wee hours.  (It wasn't a big deal at all, really, except you know how they usually have 40% off coupons for one item?  It was 40% off your entire purchase.  Since we live a healthy distance away, that coupon saved me both time and gas, so I wanted to use it to get a bunch of stuff in one trip.  Not exactly your midnight madness shopper, no tenting out for me! And Mick was gracious to come along with me on my excursion.)

So, as has been the case the past four or five years, we skipped the "Black Friday" madness.

Side note:  are you big Black Friday shoppers?  My secret pride is that I am -- but for the usual gifts that inevitably wait -- completely done with Christmas shopping.  I've been done for a while.  Now I'm just in the "oh, that would be nice to add to so-and-so's gift" mode.  I inherited this from my mom, and it is nice to not be frantic this time of year.  Anyway, we used to still get up and go for the fun and adventure of it, but lately there's just not been anything worth braving the madness for... at least for us.  Or maybe that's old age.  Who knows.  But what about you?  Any wonderful shopping stories? 

Anyway. Back to my increasingly-long Thanksgiving story.

My in-laws headed home in the early afternoon (are you keeping up?  That was yesterday, which was Friday) and then my sister's family and ours headed to the local model railroading club for their Christmas event -- lots of Christmas decorations, crafts for the kids, raffles, and tons of layouts to play with.  When we'd exhausted that and the kids, we headed to Freeport to the LL Bean flagship store.  We shopped a little, meandered around town a little, took in the Christmas lights show, went to dinner, and had a generally nice and relaxing evening.  It was just cold enough to feel Christmas-y, and the lights show put us over the edge to feeling festive.

(We also marked a sad memorial yesterday, as it was the one-year anniversary of our friends' daughter's passing.  Although we had a fun and lighthearted day on the outside, on the inside Mick and I were somewhat somber.  It was a difficult day in many senses, and there were moments where one or the both of paused in thought or prayer or tears.  We were thankful and sad all at once, and I'd be remiss to not mention that here.)

Today, though, we were up early!  The Boothbay Railway Village that we know and love had a Christmas ride!

We rode in a heated coach, stopped for hot chocolate and cookies and a visit from Santa, and rode back around the village.  Then we went and checked out Bailey Island and Cook's Lobster for lunch, and then hit "Land's End" on Bailey Island for some awesome photos.  My sister is a photographer but we were all just being silly.  Tide was out.  :)

And now everyone's exhausted, Mick's at work, the kids are in bed, and I'm about to get our clothes ready for Monday and plan some lessons so that when tomorrow rolls around we can spend it as a family and I don't turn into a stress bucket around 3pm when Monday starts creeping up on me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am thankful for all of you, my friends who became readers and readers who became friends!  I hope you had as wonderful a few days as we've had!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today was a white day.  This means that I see my "everyday" kids for 80 minutes, my Geometry kids for 80 minutes, and then my honors Algebra 2 kids for 80 minutes.  It's a very full day because I have prep first period and then go straight through mostly without a break.  (I do have 25 minutes for lunch in the middle of Geometry.)

It's also the last day before Thanksgiving break and although yesterday was Monday, today was "Friday" of a vacation week.  To say the kids had energy was an understatement ... but it was good energy!

So ... in my everyday class, we called it a study hall. I had kids making up yesterday's work, yesterday's activity for the kids who had finished their tests and -- yes, I had an activity for today but no, they had no interest in doing it.  And I had no interest in fighting that battle, and it was a good mix of places where everyone was with make-ups and so forth, so we took the day as a study hall.  IT WAS WONDERFUL!  Everyone, to a person, was working on SOMETHING productive, even if not for my class.  I was amazed.

And then we had Geometry.

We played ... dum dum dummmmmm... MATHketball*!  Oh my goodness, it was the best day ever!

Here are the rules:

The room was set up with desks in groups of 4. Kids sat where they wanted and that became their team.  I put up a problem on the document camera.  I set my timer and teams had one minute to solve it and race to me to present their answer.  They had to rotate who presented the answer.  If they got it right it was worth one point, and then they could ball up their work and take a shot at our handy-dandy $3 basketball hoop.  If they made the shot, they got an additional 3 points.  The shooter and presenter had to rotate, and if you didn't present within the minute you didn't get to present.  Key fact:  whatever paper you did the problem on, that was what you had to ball up and throw for your shot.  So using scraps wasn't advantageous, because it was incredibly hard to make the basket.  And thus, every group had a pile of computer paper to use and most groups used it instead of notebook paper.

It was a race against the clock and also a competition, because to make it interesting I made the "prize" 5 bonus points on the test we took last class.  (I almost never do this, but since the class had already done well on the test by my first cursory glance, I decided to be generous and was comfortable giving the points.)

When we got down to about 6 questions left the game was neck-in-neck, so we made all the questions worth double the points:  2 for getting the question and 8 for making the free throw.

And then, to really up the ante, for the last question teams could elect to keep the 2 point/8 point deal, or take the 2 points on the question and then go "all in" when trying for their basket.

My $3 craigslist find Nerf over-the-door basketball hoop (I covered the backboard in white paper because it was hideous...)

The back wall of my classroom has this half-size chalkboard and I use it every day to list our agenda for each class.  The board's wrapped with blue Christmas lights because the school colors are blue and white.  I forgot to take a photo of it earlier in the day, so here it is as I was walking out the door, all erased and lights already unplugged, sadly.  The stuff to the right is a shoe bag with simple calculators in it, and beyond that on the wall is our word wall with math vocabulary.

MATHketball was AWESOME!  Soooooo much fun.  Not a single person in the room didn't play (they couldn't "not play," because their team couldn't turn in a problem if it was their turn and they didn't go).  We did a really good mix of "Mathercise" questions from some fantastic resource books I bought ages ago.  They ask a general mix of review and reasoning and spatial reasoning questions, which meant that although the kids were working legitimate problems, it was not a "geometry" review game per se, (translation: it was something still important, but different enough to be exciting) and sometimes mixing things up like that is just what we need to keep things interesting and engaging.  Every once in a while I had to go to the board to explain a question (a few ratio/proportion questions were stumbling blocks, for example) but otherwise they were appropriately difficult and let me tell you, it was the Best. Class. Ever.

I'm pretty psyched, can you tell?!

Here are some photos.  Sadly I didn't get any action shots of the free throws...  we'll just have to play again!

Wow, this looks boring.  But you can see the problem on the document camera and the kids almost all working on it.  You can't HEAR the competition, but I can assure you that holy cow was it competitive -- and not the least bit quiet!

See the kids standing?  The question was one about direction.  You're facing North, do an about-face, turn 90 degrees to your left, etc. etc.  They were doing it!
I have the biggest classroom I've ever had.  (I am not kidding, and every day I am thankful for that fact.  We get to do all sorts of cool stuff because of it.  And it sure beats the heck out of my super-narrow, single-wide, no-windows trailer I had my second and third years of teaching!)  We moved all our groups towards the front of the room to allow for lots of space in the back for traffic -- to and from my area with the document camera, and to and from the table you see on the left, which served as the "free throw line," because everyone knows you can only lean over a table so much, but you can realllllly lean over a line.  Or maybe just I know that because I teach high schoolers and they will nudge and inch and cheat (in a fun way, not a mean way) every way they can!

Two kids are on their way to show me their team's work/answer, and one kid is stretching to make his free throw.  Hilarious!


don't say it too many times or you'll sound like you have a speech impediment!  haha! 

Monday, November 19, 2012


There was an interesting article (okay, well, a blog post, really) in the New York Times yesterday about the phenomenon of "Hipsters."  A friend of mine who happens to be living in India shared the link on her Facebook page and it led to a small discussion, which was capped by the following comment (which made me laugh out loud and think was worthy of sharing here):

Many hipsters are struggling artists. Usually struggling with the talent bit.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


There is a coupon for my beloved Excedein in today's paper. 

I gasped with joy when I saw it.

Can this really bring the good tidings that Excedrin is back in stores?!?!?!

I am beside myself with excitement and anticipation.

Forget Christmas morning ... my elation will come when I turn into that aisle tomorrow and see those perfect little green, maroon, and white boxes. 

I just might buy them all!


Naps and Such

As I had hoped to do, I got to nap yesterday afternoon.

I also found a Kohl's coupon for $10 off anything, so after our Lowe's crafting we all went over to Kohl's.  The $10 combined with a 20% off email and some store sales allowed me to get WHM a three-pair set of gloves his size, CAM a new Fancy Nancy floor puzzle, and all of us a raspberry dark chocolate Godiva chocolate bar for a big whopping ninety-two cents.  I love Kohl's coupons!

Anyway, we also ran through Burger King and then we came home and I felt awful again.  Mick left for work and the kids were as close to perfect as is possible.  I got to nap, CAM snuggled next to met watching a movie, and WHM played in his room.  They were really super.

When Mick got home I stayed snuggled on the couch and he and I watched football and then I slept this morning until 11.  I am finally feeling better!  I have done no grading, but we have been moderately productive with cleaning and laundry, so I am calling this weekend a success.  Tomorrow I can start the Thanksgiving prep.  We are having a full house and one of my sisters is coming with her family.  The kids get to play with their cousin!  I am pretty psyched.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kids' Crafts: Lowe's versus Home Depot

I took the kids to Lowe's today for our first kids' craft session there.  Since we've only done the Home Depot kids' events in the past, I thought I'd let you know our take on the comparison.

The Lowe's set-up starts out impressively.  It's a big deal; you have to register online, they have a limited number of slots, you get a waiver/ticket that you must print and bring with you ... it seemed to be a lot more formal than the Home Depot "show up when you show up."

But that's about as impressive as it gets.  One of the nice things is that they hold workshops more frequently than Home Depot does, but (at least for today) I have to give the win to Home Depot.

Here's why:

Today's craft session was very crowded. 

They have exactly one kit per child, so if you mess up there are no extras to work with or to pilfer for parts.

To their credit, Lowe's had a TON of tables set up.  But because this was a very nailing-intensive project, we (and most others) ended up using the floor. 

The kits did not include extra nails, and for a very precision-reliant craft today, people were bending nails left and right, and the Lowe's folks couldn't provide us with spares.  Um, hello?  You are LOWE's.  Can you not go check down an aisle and open a box?  Call me crazy, but I found that to be a little silly.  Definitely the win goes to Home Depot here, which always has an over-abundance of supplies.

The kids get a certificate, just like they do at Home Depot, and similar to Home Depot, the kids get a badge (Home Depot gives them a pin; we can call this part a draw).  However, Lowe's was out of aprons.  Yes, you read that right:  they had no aprons to hand out at a craft day with 75+ families.  What?!?!  The staff was friendly about it -- they "hope" to have them by the next craft day.  But I thought that was kind-of ridiculous.  It's not as if they didn't know that they were running low last time, or that today's event was a surprise.  So I was not impressed there.

The parents all around us were all complaining about the kit today.  (And to be fair, many of them had kids with aprons with multiple parents, so these were parents who've done a few projects.)  That tells me that maybe today's tricky project was an anomaly.  The project had lots of pieces and lots of nailing, and although they did have pilot holes drilled, it was still a heavy parent-help-required project.  I suppose that will happen occasionally, so I don't really mark Lowe's down for that, necessarily.  (And to be totally fair, the Home Depot project we did two weeks ago was overly simple, so let's call this a draw.)

In the end, I think Home Depot's staff has just been more welcoming, and more relaxed, and by comparison today's experience at Lowe's was more rigid and somehow also more chaotic.  It was strange.  And if I didn't already stress this, it was CROWDED.  I'm not a big fan of crowded.  We're signed up for a few more sessions, so I'll let you know how they go.

In the meantime, here are CAM and WHM with their final products. 

WHM didn't want me to see his face ...

... and CAM told me she wanted to make a sad face.  I have no idea.

Oh, and one last thing -- maybe we've just not encountered it yet, but the Home Depot crafts don't tie into commercial stuff, and the Lowe's craft was a merchandising tie-in with the new movie The Guardians.  Win goes to Home Depot on that one; I prefer regular old crafts to merch opportunities (especially for a move I don't think I care for; a tattooed Santa?  Not a fan.)  But I'm wondering if that contributed to the crowd.

Bonus points, though:  on our way out, we spent a solid twenty minutes playing with all the Christmas stuff and that really put us all in a fantastic mood!


Friday, November 16, 2012

About This Week

I promise not to do this every week, but I am exhausted and am sitting here taking inventory of this crazy week.  So, I thought I'd share.  Besides, I subscribe to a math-teacher bloggers group (I'm not part of it; I merely read some of my favorites) and they've recently been doing "A day in the life" posts.  I thought I'd expand on that a little bit.

Monday:  No school.  Spent the day unpacking and stuff with Mick, and in the evening I graded a little bit.  CAM had ballet/tap at 4, so that chopped up the day in a convenient way.  When she and I got home, Mick headed into work for a few hours.  The kids and I took it easy and headed to a relatively early bedtime.

Tuesday: Up early for school.  Dropped off CAM, swung through McD's for my morning (or as I drink it, my all day) sweet tea, and headed in.  It's a blue day, so I teach first and second periods, and then have prep, then have a supported study hall.  During prep I run and get lunch with my neighbor and teammate, Victoria, and we bring it back and eat while we work through grading, planning, and so forth.  After school, I meet Mick and WHM at CAM's school and we have our very first parent-teacher conference as PARENTS.  (It went well.  CAM is doing fine.  More importantly, we got to ask about her report card and we feel good about it.)  CAM typically has baton but we've had to reschedule, so we end up with an unexpected uninterrupted family night.

Wednesday: Up even earlier than normal (5:20 instead of 5:35), because I have a parent conference at 7:15.  That lasts until 7:40 and then I have a prep period -- first period.  I have about ten million things to do, but while I'm in the math workroom running copies, a parent comes and knocks on the door.  She mistook her 7:50 parent conference for 7:50 a.m., not p.m.  I end up with an impromptu 30-minute meeting and lose a huge chunk of my prep.   I teach periods 2, 3, and 4 today and then immediately after school we have a 90-minute meeting about the math implementation of the Common Core.  When that debacle ends, Victoria and I dash out to grab dinner.  We have parent-teacher conferences until 9 tonight and we have approximately 90 minutes from one meeting 'til the evening starts.  It's rushed, but we make it back, lock our rooms, and eat while we clean and prep for tonight and tomorrow.  Mick takes CAM to baton and runs the household tonight.  By the time I get home, both kids are sound asleep.  I have officially not seen WHM (awake) for over twenty-four hours.

I get home after 9 and lay out all of our clothes for Thursday.  I don't even contemplate grading, but I take a de-griming shower, a shot of Nyquil, and crawl in bed.

Thursday: Up early again.  This time we have a team parent meeting at 7:15.  CAM didn't want to eat breakfast, so we compromise and run through the drive-through at Dunkin Donuts.  I drop her off and get to school by 7:05.  The parent meeting is in my room with my two teammates, and shortly after it ends, classes start for the day.  I teach periods 1 and 2 today. Period 1 we spend the first ten minutes talking about a few problems together, and then we do a full-class review activity.  I stole it from someone online.  It's called Speed Dating and it's fun, but it's a small class and we get through the entire activity with an awkward 20 minutes to spare.  The kids ask to play musical chairs, of all things, and we hash out a math version very quickly and spend about 15 minutes playing math musical chairs.  It's actually a lot of fun and hilarious, and the kids are doing problems and doing well.  Hooray!  Third period I have an appointment with the principal to have my post-observation conference.  I dash out and grab Taco Bell, race back, and eat it in ten minutes before I have to be at the meeting.  The principal gets jammed with a phone call with a disgruntled parent, though, so after 30 minutes of sitting in the office, his secretary and I decide to reschedule for Friday.  I go back to Victoria's room (mine is being used for another class) and we quickly organize our stuff and head upstairs to the library to laminate some stuff.  By the time we're done we have to go back to our respective rooms for our fourth period supported study halls.

After the dismissal bell, I have about 40 minutes to set up my room and grade, and then I hitch a ride with an assistant principal and we head to the district offices for a committee meeting.  That lasts about two hours and we head back just in time for me to start my parent teacher conferences at 5:30.   I have three parent conferences and then am finally able to pack up my room and head home.  When I get home we have a hodge-podge dinner and the kids go to bed... it's been nearly 48 hours without WHM, so it feels good to be home at a decent hour.  But I'm exhausted and I am giving two tests tomorrow.  I sketched out some of them today in the gap between the dismissal bell and my meeting, but I have a lot of prettying up and filling in.  I sit on the couch and realize I left half of the geometry test in my room.  I do as much as I can and go lay out our clothes for tomorrow.  I take a shot of Nyquil, and by 9:15, I'm in bed.  But Mick manages to find Grey's Anatomy and so I fight it and stay awake a little longer. 

WHM wakes up and comes in our room at 2-something in what is now technically Friday morning.  Mick deals with WHM, and at some point I realize I'm in the bed alone.  My alarm goes off at 5:15 because Mick and WHM are heading to NH today and they plan to leave when CAM and I leave, so I go out to the living room and ask Mick if he slept at all.  Not really.  He took care of WHM and then kept hearing a clicking sound, so he came to the living room to check it out.  It was my mac, and when he checked it out it appeared that the computer was fried.  He spent hours working on that and barely slept a wink.

Mick and I get showered and dressed and then get the kids showered and dressed.  The kids only want Hostess "Donuts" for breakfast, so they have a few and we're all out the door.

I do my usual run through McD's after I drop CAM off and realize that I have no cash for lunch today, which is a problem.  I get to work and immediately go to the pricnipal's secretary to see if we can move our 2pm meeting to 2:30.  CAM has a half-day today and I hate leaving her in after-care for longer than necessary, but I'm also nervous about how late the meeting will go.  If we move the meeting back I can run and pick her up from school and bring her back, and then not worry if our meeting runs late or long.  It actually works out well that way, so we plan on that.  Then, because there is another class in my room first period, I grab all my "stuff" and head to the workroom so that I can lock my door and leave before students start trickling in and I am obligated to stay until their teacher arrives.  I don't mind doing that, but I have tests to finish and to copy and Algebra 2 homework answer keys to make (graphing, so they are intense -- I have to do them, not just photocopy a key), notes sheets and a new homework to write, a powerpoint to write (just one problem to project, not "notes," -- I hate that!), and grading to do because I promised my Algebra 2 kids their quizzes back.

The guidance counselor sticks her head in the workroom to remind us that we have a 504-plan meeting this morning.  She assures us that "it should be quick."  We get there and it starts late and then runs long, so by the time we leave we have about fifteen minutes left in our prep period.  We leave the meeting and I realize I am suddenly in a very, very bad mood.  I frantically work on a to-do list in hopes that I don't forget anything else this morning and then I get to work on my Algebra 2 pile.

I give a test period 2 and work on the Algebra 2 stuff.  Out of eleven kids, four are absent, three turn in the test blank, one was absent the past two days so I excuse her from it and let her spend the period copying the notes and practice problems she's missed, and three actually do it.  Awesome.  These kids just don't WANT to pass.  I'm at my desk while half the kids are napping and the other half are theoretically testing, and in walks an unannounced walk-through evaluator.  I have no idea who she is, but I tell her we're testing.  She says not to worry, sits in a chair, and stays five minutes.  In that five minutes I continue to frantically work on Algebra 2 stuff.  Go ahead and say something negative; we'll deal with that little joy later.  On a higher note, I also get an email from another teacher who was in the 504-meeting and he's complimenting me on something I said.  That's a pleasant surprise and a nice treat on this rapidly-going-downhill day.

Third period is split by lunch.  Usually we do new material before lunch, and then we take our test in the time after lunch.  Today, though, I decide to finish our review from the other day.  This is in part because I am woefully unprepared for starting something new (especially when we'll meet only one moe time before a long Thanksgiving break) and in part because the other day we were doing impromptu student presentations and only got about 2/3 of the way through them. Although they were impromptu, they were great and I really want every kid to get to present and get this "extra" grade.  But that doesn't take the full first section of our class, so I give the kids free time to cram for their test.  I'm still frantically working on Algebra 2 stuff.  I've got the homework answers almost all done, the worksheets created and ready to copy, and the PowerPoint done.  When the lunch bell rings, I run to copy the Algebra 2 worksheets and then Victoria and I grab lunch in the lunchroom.  She spots me the $3.65 for my sandwich, sides, drink and chips.  But by the time we get to sit and eat it's time to go back to my room.  Stupid!  My sides are carrots and chips so I can't eat them in the silence of a test!  I try to finish grading those darn Algebra 2 quizzes, but before I know it I am out of time.

Algebra 2 comes in and they are boisterous, as always.  Can't blame them on the last class of a Friday!  I'm all excited about our table-tent homework-answer-checking activity, but I ask who did their homework from Wednesday and I get an honest showing of hands: about half the kids did it.  This is not good because although this is an "honors" Algebra 2 class, it's a class very weak on skills.  I'm not pleased, though, not as much for that (they make their own beds) but because it throws a wicked wrench in my plans for the kids to rotate around the room checking their work...  what will the kids who didn't even TRY it do?  I tell them to pick a station and work the relevant problems.  No fewer than three of my solutions are wrong -- this is what I get for all my frantic multi-tasking, and it's infuriating.  These kids are too needy and soemtimes, too snarky, for me to have stupid mess-ups, and I am too Type A to let it not bug me.  We go over one (lengthy, with fractions) problem as a class and twice in that span I have to stop and lecture about behavior and attitude.  I'm grumpy and don't want to take it out on the kids, but my patience is nil.  Then we start a new problem (hooray for my powerpoint!) and I have to rein in the kids again.  It's long but going well -- until I sketch without a grid and make my two lines too sloppy.  We fix the rough graph to get the problem right, but the class is toast and so am I.  We don't finish nearly enough of the notes, so I tell them to TRY their homework.  I don't expect good things on Tuesday -- the last day before Thanksgiving.  We are falling more and more behind for behavior issues and I am staring down midterm exams and Christmas ... we meet only every other day and I already know we're going to lose one class period to ASVAB results.  I'm stressed and can't deal with this tonight.  The dismissal bell rings and I pull two kids aside to discuss behavior and expectations (they are bright and conscientious and WAY ahead of their classmates -- but don't always express it appropriately so it's contributing to a poor overall tone).

They leave and I race in my heels across the building and out to my car and rush to get CAM from her after-care program.  She and I race back to the school, I bring her to Victoria's room, and I head back to the office for my post-observation conference.

Finally, something goes well today.  The observation and conference were both great and I feel good about that as I leave.

At 3:20 I head back and get CAM from Victoria's room and the three of us walk to our cars together.

CAM and I get three minutes from the school and I notice I've missed a call from Mick.  I call him back and he tells me his uncle is in the hospital for a replacement stent, and so CAM and I turn around and head to the hospital to visit with Uncle Bud.  I'm pretty psyched that I can actually navigate my way to the hospital by myself.  Okay, that's a lie.  With a little help from Mick, who told me how to go.  In any case, CAM and I stay with Uncle Bud -- who looks great and feels great, by the way -- about an hour and a half, maybe a little less, and then Mick calls.  Uncle Bud has talked us into checking out a local restaurant and Mick has already said he is starving, so we call him when we leave and tell him where we think we should go.  He and WHM agree to meet us there. 

As I am writing this it is 7:30.  We are home from dinner and snuggled on the couch.  I am exhausted.  But I am lucky:  I have both kids (and Mick) here, we ate well.  I'm in jammies and have a tissue wedged in my nose (attractive, I know, but it's true!) and I have a friend who's going to be on Undercover Boss right now, and then two friends from law school who are going to be on Shark Tank in an hour!  (Check out, by the way!)  Tomorrow, we get to sleep 'til a whopping 8am and then the kids have a craft project at Lowe's.

And then, my friends, I plan to come home and nap.  Grading, cleaning, and unpacking will all still be there on Sunday.


COMIC SANS?!?!?!?!?

I hate comic sans. 

I find it unprofessional, tired, and ugly.

Mostly unprofessional and tired and ugly.

And a little more unprofessional, tired, and ugly.

And I find it condescending and obnoxious when, just because something is distributed through or from a school, that the default font is Comic Sans. 

I hate it. 

I will read whatever it is with an extra-critical eye and I will not take the author or the content seriously.

Anyone who ever does anything typed anywhere should have to read this and sign it.  More importantly, people should KNOW this, but they don't.  Someone should be teaching it.  I take on that challenge whenever possible.


I. Hate. Comic. Sans.

I subscribe to Facebook groups and blogs about hating Comic Sans.  I really do.

So I about had a coronary just now when, for the first time in ages, I accessed this blog from my netbook instead of my now-deceased (play the funeral music here) Mac...

... and the heading is in Comic Sans.

Mother-bad-word-er, I need to figure out how the heck to fix this, and now!

But seriously:  did any of you notice this?  Or is this the latest little temporary blogger quirk?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Update on the "Main"e Drama in My Life

I sent a lengthy, detailed, and not snarky (I promise) email to my principal on Saturday when I got the letter from Maine regarding my teaching certificate.  He read it and forwarded it, as I had hoped he would, to the district level, and today I heard back from the person who handles all this kind of stuff.  Here's an excerpt of the good part:

No need for you to try and contact the State of Maine.  Here's what you need to do.  Contact the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Ask them for a letter stating that "you completed an approved secondary math program for teaching high school math".  This letter must be on official letterhead stationary and signed by the Dean or whoever oversees their advanced math programs. 

I believe that once this is done, the worst that could happen is that you would need to take the "Exceptionality course" and the the Praxis II.  Thanks.

Oh my goodness, what a huge burden lifted!

I still need to track down the Exceptionality course they say I need but which I took (and which, to be fair, is not apparent from my transcripts), and show the State that my Praxis scores are so old they've been purged by ETS.  But all the work I was already putting in motion -- getting my undergrad transcript, requesting course descriptions for the engineering courses that contained math, etc. etc., has been put aside for now.


I knew rational me was right.  I just couldn't hear her through the panic.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Vendor Show Wisdom

CAM's school held their 7th Annual Christmas Festival this past Saturday.  If you don't know, I quietly sell for a direct sales company on the side.  (Cliche?  Oh yes.  And I hate that.  But I wanted the kit and then I didn't want to just quit.  Trust me, a sales guru I am distinctly not.)  Because the show benefited CAM's school, I decided to try my very first vendor show.

It went okay.  It was 6 hours out of our Saturday, and Mick was not pleased to be there with me.  Both kids were very, very well behaved, but it was still a long day for them, too.  I sold two things outright, took a bunch of contact info, and I think -- as of this morning -- have one, if not two, people who plan to sign on under me.  (I don't really get all that into the "recruiting," because although there's money to be made by growing a team, it really only works if you are also selling, and as I already mentioned, I don't exactly sell.)  But in any case, by my standards the show was a success, and if it grows my business even just enough that it pays for itself, that would be pretty cool.  Right now I pay the monthly web site fees and other stuff just for hah-hahs to see if this goes anywhere... it would be nice to sell just enough to cover those costs.  Then everything else would be gravy. 

(Why, you ask?  Well, here's the kicker:  I made a mistake (?) of offering a discount coupon in CAM's school calendar.  This means that although I spent the past month thinking I'd be perfectly content to just go back to being a customer, the truth is that I would feel really guilty letting my little venture just fade away and leaving people hanging.  Especially since it's not just anything, it's CAM's school calendar.  So, yes, getting some customers and getting my name out there on Saturday was quite a good thing.)

In any case, everyone who stopped by my little table loved what they saw and all said that my little company was new to them.  And at one point, an older lady with an oxygen tank stopped by and asked about something and was chatting about it.  And I mentioned that the item she was holding would "last forever." 

To which she responded in a perfect Maine accent, "Honey, forever isn't that long."


And that's about how my weekend went!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

PW: Beer-Braised Beef with Onions

Oh my goodness.

This was fantastic.

I think it had to do with cooking with a hearty beer and not my usual "whatever-we-have-on-hand-so-probably-Corona-Light" style... thank goodness for Fall Sam Adams brews!

PW: Beer-Braised Beef with Onions

Verdict:  Delicious, delicious, delicious.
Cook it again:  Yes.  Sooner than later.
Cost Factor:  Surprisingly inexpensive, especially if you have beer on hand.

Consider this a heartened-up pot roast.  Don't let that turn you away.  Everyone needs a heartened-up pot roast, and this is a particularly good choice.

Brown a pot-roast steak on all sides with salt and pepper.

While it's cooking, chop some onions and garlic.

Prepare three beers.  Drink one, and have two for the recipe.

Remove the browned steak and brown the onions and garlic. 

Add two bottles of beer, a whole slew of spices (I know the photo looks awful.  Ground thyme is hideous, no?), and some broth.

Cook off the alcohol for a few minutes.

The Rolling Rock bottle in the background is not the drinking beer.  It's a pepper shaker we inherited.  I have no idea how.
Cook low and slow in the oven for as long as you possibly can.

When it's been at least two hours and/or you can no longer stand it, take it out, cut it up (or pull it apart, as the case likely is), and devour.

PW says not to undersalt.  Don't take her too literally.  We over-salted because in the past we've found her recipes to be, in fact, under-salted, so we took her warning as a sign of trouble.  In the future we'll skip the salt other than our usual dose and rely on the saltiness from the broth and the butter.

We took this out after only about 2 hours because we were starving and it was getting late, and even though it was only just Mick and I doing the bulk of the eating, when I went back up for thirds there was nothing left.

Serve this also with mashed potatoes or possibly the PW crash potatoes -- or heck, even broccoli (which we did) and some other starch.  Just make sure you have some good, crusty bread available to sop up the amazing gravy.  We only used garlic toast but in the future some crusty loaf of bread will be a required ingredient for this recipe.

I'm pretty sure this recipe was enhanced because we used a nice, rich beer.  You can't taste the alcohol, but I somehow don't believe that a lager would have done this justice.

My only suggestion is that you don't rush this recipe.  It's a fabulous weeknight dinner, but if you plan to eat this on a weeknight make sure that the minute you walk in the door in the afternoon/evening, prepping this is the first thing you do.  Then do all your other stuff once this is in the oven.  We ate it sooner than we'd have preferred just because it was encroaching on bath time and bedtime for the kids, but even another hour would have made this even more tender and amazing.  We just ran out of time.

I assure you that if you make this, you won't regret it.  It was delicious.


PW: Peach Whiskey Chicken

I'm late to the party on posting this, as it's already November 11, and this was an October recipe.  But we did cook this in October. Or I think we did.  It may have slipped in on November 1.  I don't remember.  (Which is sad in and of itself, that I can't remember 10 days ago.  But that's another worry!)

This was actually my pick, and when I learned it was my month to pick, I flipped through our two Pioneer Woman cookbooks and realized that we've really cooked up a storm this past year!  I wanted to pick an entree rather than a side or dessert, because entrees help me force the issue for me to cook real meals when I really otherwise might want to be lazy and either do something pitiful or something we cook all the time.

But I also realized that I've tended to pick chicken recipes, and this was of course no exception.  Bummer.  I need to branch out to the PW blog more often, I suspect.

In any event, here's the scoop:

PW: Peach Whiskey Chicken

Verdict:  Yummy!  Not earth-shatteringly so, but still a nice step up for a weekday meal.
Cook it again: Probably.  This time, with a side.
Cost factor:  It added up, because of the peach preserves, the whiskey and the unreasonably expensive chicken prices around here lately.  But under normal circumstances, pretty inexpensive.
I have to admit a few things:

(1)  I don't know the differences between whiskey, scotch, and bourbon.  I have looked it up and tried to commit it to memory about a million times, but I can't get my brain around it.  Labels that say "bourbon whiskey" don't help me.  Since this was all I could find in our house (that didn't clearly say it was bourbon or scotch, that is), I went with it.  Mick said it was bourbon.  Oh well.

(2) Pioneer Woman has a tendency, I think, to add lots of ingredients that I am not convinced that I can taste.  I had hoped for some awesome flavor here but although the sauce was tasty and I could taste the peach flavor, I really couldn't taste the whiskey.  Maybe that's because I inhaled so much of it (no, I mean literally!  I wasn't drinking.  I poured it into the pot and about choked on the vapors!) that I was scarred?  Mick said he could taste the tones of peach and the bourbon/whiskey.  Maybe if I had this side-by-side with a similar recipe without these ingredients I would be able to tell the difference?

In any event, this recipe is amazingly simple to pull together and could very easily be made in a slow cooker if you wanted.

You brown up some chicken:

I provided Mick with what I thought was a detailed grocery list.  Sometimes my level of detail is actually more confusing to him, but this time I think the confusion was all his own.  I said we needed 10-12 chicken legs.  He came home with thighs.  I said, "I didn't realize I told you thighs... the picture shows drumsticks."  He answered, "No, you didn't.  Your list said chicken legs. I didn't know what part of the leg.  So I went with thighs, because I like them better."

I panicked for a moment, until I re-read the recipe and saw where PW says an excellent and tasty substitution is to use thighs instead of drumsticks.  Phew.

Still, thighs take up more space, so it took me a little longer and a few rounds to get them all browned.  Then I took them out of the pot and added some chopped onions to the hot oil.

Then I added the peach preserves, the bourbon/whiskey, and some barbeque sauce and Worcestershire.  (I didn't specify what I wanted for barbeque sauce and although the recipe says "use your favorite," I don't have one.  So Mick bought the generic stuff.  It worked just fine.)

And that's it.  You let it simmer in the oven for a few hours, take it out, and serve it over mashed potatoes or noodles.  I kind-of forgot to make a side, so we whipped something up quickly -- but I don't even remember what we did.

Oh well.  That's what I get for failing to post this in a timely manner!

Ultimately, this was yummy, flavorful, and easy.  I don't know that I'd cook it for company because I don't tend to cook stuff like this for company.  But there's no other reason not to, and I think it would be a hit.

Just don't forget the mashed potatoes.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Really, Maine?

If you know me, you know that back in August (when I was already kicking and screaming about applying for a teaching position), I ran into all sorts of issues regarding my actual application.  There were tons of documents that were required that I not only did not have at the ready, but which in some cases, I couldn't easily get (they were in Georgia and I was in Maine).  I did, however, do the research for transferring my teaching certificate from Alabama to Maine.  It's not really a transfer, per se, but rather that Maine honors reciprocity.

Or so they say.  Consider it a lie, friends, an outright lie.

At the time, I about hyperventilated with all they wanted me to do, but then I got hired and things seemed to fall into place and all the crazy state requirements went unmentioned.

Until today.

Today, I got in the mail a "we deny your teaching certificate application" letter.  Once again, I hyperventilated.

This time, Maine wants me to:

1.  Take every possible Praxis exam related to math, including the "pre-professional" exam. 
2.  Take 9 graduate credit hours of math.
3.  Take 6 graduate credit hours of "methods," including 3 hours of special education methods and 3 hours of math teaching.
4.  Complete a student teaching assignment.

Now, rational me knows that I can't do a darned thing about this on a Saturday night, and I can't even do anything about it until Tuesday, since Monday's a holiday.  I should write an appeals letter, call it a night, and not worry about it.

Yeah, right.

Regular me, though, is having fits.  I've already run through the anger/fury/fear/belligerence cycle.  Now I'm just sick over it.  What will it mean?  Will I take a pay cut?  (HAH!  As if it were possible to earn less money!)  Will the school system, acting in accord with some nonsense from the state, say I owe them money for "overpayments" I've received thus far?  Will I have to jump through bullsh-- hoops for a "provisional" certificate while I "work on" these requirements?

Let's say I actually have to do these things.  First of all, I won't.  But second, they're essentially requiring me to go back to school for a semester.  FOR STUFF I ALREADY DID.


I'm sick to my stomach.  It's a mix of nerves and fury.  And Alabama football's on in the background and they are stinking it up big-time right now, and that's not helping me, not one little bit.

In any event, I need a job.

Anyone hiring?

I'm a member of the bar in Alabama ...

p.s.  the irony of it all is that I actually am enjoying teaching this year, and regularly find myself thinking about things I plan to do in Year 2...

Friday, November 9, 2012

What a week!

I can't believe that the past three weeks, I've only managed to eke out a post on Thursday -- and worse, that every time, it's been to say something similar to, "I know I owe some posts, I've been busy, I promise more soon."

Let me tell you.  This is not one of those posts!

I do, of course, have more to say than I can fit in this post.  But I'm going to show you a photographic taste of our week, and then hopefully take advantage of this three-day weekend to post some cooking club stuff and other rants, tirades, stories and fun stuff.  We've been busy, I assure you.  I've just not been posting about it all!

Side note:  I also got a new phone a few weeks ago.  Despite switching from one Android phone to another, there's still a learning curve.  I'm all thrown off with blog reading as well, since my reader app is not giving me alerts the way it used to on my old phone.  Oh, such first world problems, I know -- but they are my problems, however sad they may be!   So, if you have been wondering where I have been as far as commenting on your blog, I am catching up in that arena as well.  I apologize for my general slackerness!

So, let's go back to the beginning of the week.  Last Saturday, the kids and I woke up early and took Mick down to Portland, where he hopped on the Amtrak Noreaster to head into Boston, where he took the T to Logan Airport, and took a plane to Atlanta.  (I told him I was only sad that he didn't take a ferry anywhere.  Next time.  Ferries and helicopters.)

We got to watch a gorgeous sunrise and, although the kids were still in their jammies, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts and I ran in and got us some Munchkins.

We ate them at home in and watched Angelina Ballerina.  Then we hopped in the bath, got dressed in our Alabama game day gear, and headed out.

Cool fact:  CAM is wearing a t-shirt I designed for a summer enrichment program... in 1984.  I love that.

First, we stopped for our Home Depot craft.  This month it was napkin holders.  Pretty basic craft, but the kids loved it.

The first Saturday of every month, there's a free kids' craft at Home Depot.  We've been doing them since this summer.  I learned this week that they also do stuff at Lowe's.  We all love it!  And every month the kids get a new pin for their aprons.  It's fun, and they get to hammer and glue and paint ... what's not to love?!

Then we stopped at the treasure hunt store.  No pictures.  We bought piles of books, though.  And I mean it: piles.

Then we remembered there was a train show in town, so we went there.

Then we came home.  I did a ton of chores around the house, CAM played and WHM, little guy, fell asleep.

I didn't pose this whatsoever.  I think it's just about a perfect picture!

Around 4, we headed up to Augusta to run some errands (a girl's gotta hit her not-so-local ULTA, we needed stuff at Target, and when were were in Portland it was still too early in the morning to shop!)  We watched the sunset from the parking lot.  This picture doesn't do it justice; it was gorgeous.

We headed home and watched Alabama almost lose to LSU.  I graded papers like a madwoman, since the quarter closed Friday and grades were due Tuesday morning.

On Sunday, Gram came up from Mass. to help us because Mick was out of town.  She didn't get to town 'til evening, though, so the kids and I stayed in and did laundry and graded papers and played and cooked all day.  We left the house only to get the newspaper and run to Kinko's to copy some rubrics for me to finish my grading marathon. We all went to bed decently early.

CAM and I had our usual Munchkin Monday.

They have peppermint hot chocolate again!  All day I kept thinking how delicious it was and wondering why I wasn't feeling rosy-cheeked.  Then I remembered this was the Rumplemintz-free version.  Sigh.  Oh well.  It was still pretty darn good.

It was ferociously cold on Tuesday.

After school, CAM had baton, so I picked her up, "we" voted (easy-peasy), we ran an errand, and headed to baton.  We didn't get home until right around 6.  (If you're playing along at home, that's a 12-hour day for CAM from wake-up 'til home, and that doesn't include bathtime, dinnertime, or general unwinding.  Tuesdays are long days.)  In any event, Gram left when we got home, and then Mick got in around 9:30.  I'd had a headache all day.  I must have looked as awful as I felt, because one of my students left me this sweet note at the end of the day.

I had a meeting after school on Wednesday and nasty weather was starting to come in.   We stayed in as a family, cooked a nice dinner, and then after the kids went to bed, I decided to make some table signs for my classroom for a fun activity I plan to do.  I wasn't sure if I would get to do it this week, so I wanted to have these ready, just in case.  I got the table stands free, but they all had the brand of a liquor on the bottom.  Not quite appropriate for school, so I Mod-Podged!  Let me tell you, it felt so good to dig out some of my craft stuff and just sit at the table and play.  It was ferociously cold out and they were calling for bad weather -- a "wintery mix," as they call it.  Anyway, it was a perfect night for crafting, even if it was only Mod Podge.  I got a little carried away and also did some magnets and bookends.  More on this soon, because I want to tell you all about the activity with the table stands, but I won't get to actually DO it 'til Wednesday.  I'll take pictures and show you the full scoop after.

It snowed Wednesday night!

Thursday morning we woke up to the sounds of plow trucks.  (They were driving by approximately 30 minutes before my morning alarm went off.  Grrrrrrr.)  The kids were beside themselves.  It was a fun morning, even if there was no delayed start of school.  (Turned out we didn't need it anyway, and Thursday was such a great day at work I was glad to not have it cancelled.)

Oh, and the sweats?  That's just because it's gym day.  Otherwise she has a much cuter uniform/dress code.

See those short sleeves on CAM's jacket?  I'd been in denial all Fall so far, but Thursday after school we all headed -- in the cold miserable rain, I might add -- over to LL Bean to get the kids new jackets and snow boots.  In fairness, we kind-of knew we needed these last year, but it was so warm at Christmas (and we were living in Atlanta, after all) that we did not get new stuff because we didn't know what, if anything, we'd need this year -- where we'd be living, what sizes we'd need, and so on.  In any case, last night was the first real chance we had to go over to Freeport -- and the first night where we realized we really couldn't stall any longer.  We ended up getting both kids snow boots and CAM got a new jacket.  I forgot to take a picture of her, but I will ... she was very picky about needing a pink jacket with fur, and we did pretty well meeting her demands needs.  We also went to a nice family dinner at Wooby Toosday, as WHM calls it.  It was a fun, not-too-late night, but with it getting dark around here close to 4 pm, it felt a lot later than it was. 

Today's Friday.  Occasionally, my room is used after hours for events and classes.  I came in to work this morning to find this fabulous little note on my desk. 

Since I started today with my prep period, I tooked up "D Nadeau" on our email system and sent her a quick note to say thank you.  She wrote back with even more kind words about my room -- and it turns out she's an administrator at another school in the system.  What a great way to start a Friday, and what a wonderful way to start the last day of what had been a long week! It's always nice to feel like you're doing something right.

So -- are you exhausted yet?  I really could have gone to bed at 6:30 tonight.  (I didn't. I sat here and typed this out for you, dear readers, because I really do know what a slacker I have been!)

Up next: Now that Mick's officially done with the Georgia house and all our stuff is here, even if we don't quite know where, we are going to be unpacking and packing and sorting over the next few weekends.  We are desperately trying to figure out what's where, what's in storage, find the things we've been missing ... and generally start living instead of living out of boxes.

In the meantime, we also have been cooking and baking and I really do know that I have got to get this blog current! 


p.s.  this post took me over an hour to write and WHM just grabbed a blanket and pillow and tucked himself in on the couch.  Time for bed, kiddos!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Week

I've been busy.  We're all busy, so that's not an excuse, but as I've mentioned in the past, I am not doing a very good job of balancing it all.  I'm working on it.  I promise.

In any event, I have a lot of stuff to catch you all up on, and I have to sit down and carve out some time -- and upload some pictures -- and included in that, of course, is all our Halloween scoop!

But in the meantime, I wanted to pause, take a deep breath, and share CAM's costume.

Keep in mind that I made it without any plans or pattern.  On October 30.  When I should have been in bed.  Also, in related news:  I want a serger for Christmas, if you feel like shopping for me.  (Hint, hint.  Also a steamer.  My beloved steamer died a terrible death a few months ago.  We didn't buy a new one because it would have been "one more thing to move," but I miss it terribly.)

Okay, so who cares.  I know, I know.  I'm with you.  I still want the serger and steamer, though.  But I know that's not why you're here.  So, here's the scoop:

Tuesdays are baton days.  CAM and I go over to Bates for her lesson and about half the time we stop at Taco Bell/KFC for a yummy-unhealthy-but-so-good-and-not-to-be-undervalued-fast dinner on our way home.  This Tuesday was no exception, except that I had yet to sew a single stitch on our costumes.  So, after dinner the kids went promptly to bed.  (No, really.  Monday night had been a late one so they didn't even fight me on the early bedtime.  It's the small blessings, right?!)  Shortly after 7:00 pm I was able to start planning, cutting, and sewing.

By 8:30-ish I had the bodice cut and pinned and one of these ready (and also realized I had not purchased enough of the lace to cuff the sleeves.  Whoops.  Such are the perils of last-minute late-night sewing!  I will fix that this weekend.):

By 11, I had this:

Not bad for making it up as I went along, right?  I would totally change some stuff next time, but I don't think it's half bad!

Of course, I was wiiiide awake at 11 -- and I still had three costumes to make (albeit much, MUCH simpler ones).  But my alarm goes off at 5:20.  So I called it a night.  I'll write more about the other costumes in another post.

In the meantime, here's our little Merida. 

This was completely spontaneous.  I promise.

This one, on the other hand, was supposedly posed. 
I'm not exactly ready for the custom-costume business as a career.  In reality there are a million little things I'd change (like puffing out the elbow parts and fixing the collar -- which you can't really see here because the dress is twisted the way CAM is standing -- it matches the "real" one but I ran low on the lace and had to be less generous than I'd intended).  But I'm still pretty pleased, and even the best designers do test runs, right?  And best of all, now CAM has a new dress-up dress, too!