Farewell to the Wallpaper

Well, this is hard to believe, but it seems that we have said good-bye to all of the wallpaper in our house.  Most of you know that when we moved into our house, almost all of the walls (and many ceilings) had wallpaper on them.  And while they say that wallpaper is making a comeback, I can guarantee you that this wallpaper is not.

I took some of it off myself, but soon wearied of the job and turned to other projects to fill my time.  So when Jason asked if I thought we should hire painters for the last two wall-papered rooms, I jumped at the chance.

We first did our bedroom, which ended up a beautiful dark brown color.  But those pictures will have to wait until another day because the "before" pictures are on the other computer.

However, I do have pictures of the computer room, which before looked like this:

Mmmm-Hmmm.  Love that blue wallpaper.
Here is the scrapbook area after I moved my desk out of the way and started pulling things out of the room.

The painters first painted over the wallpaper with an oil-based primer.  Then they sprayed texturing all over the walls, to make it look like all of our other walls:

Finally, they painted it my color of choice - green, of course.
Here are the after pics:

I'm planning on putting the closet doors back on again...

Needless to say, I love it.  Because it's green, and because it's pretty, and because...it's not blue anymore!


But There is Guilt in Blogland...

My good friend Sandra once said to me that "There is no guilt in Blogland."  My understanding is that she was told this by her friend Mike Cope.  The idea I suppose behind this is that your blog is something that you voluntarily give to the world, and that unless you are paid to do it, there should be no guilt in not doing it.

But alas, I do not find this to be true.  When I am away from my blog from long periods I do feel guilty.  Perhaps it's because we live so far away from our families, and due to my lack of communication with them in general, the blog is usually the best way for them to find out what is going on with us.  So perhaps (now that I think about it), the guilt has to do more with my general lackage of familial communications.  But now I'm off wondering if "familial" is an actual word, so I've moved on to other worries...

Guilt or no guilt, lots of things have happened here in the last few months, which I plan to write about in more detail in the next few days.  Here's quick rundown:

  • Jericho is now driving all over the place - but still only with one of us.
  • Jacob is now taller than me, and is - (which gives him no small sense of satisfaction) - taller than his older brother.
  • I finished the school year successfully, even with a lot of end-of-the-stress and the death of my classroom tree.
  • We said goodbye to the last of the wallpaper in our house.
  • I said goodbye to lots of scrapbooking items.
  • I found out that I needed to go out and get a full-time teaching job in order to pay for the schooling that would enable me to have a full-time teaching job.  If you ask me, something's wrong with that picture.
  • I also spent an hour downtown at the county Board of Education, the result of which was a receiving a paper that should turn out to be worth at least $15,000 to our family.  I didn't even mind paying downtown parking after that.
  • Plus lots of other little things.
So, perhaps I can make up for the blog lull by catching up over the next few weeks.  Starting tomorrow.


Yes, The Mosaic Timeline is Finished

I haven't said anything about it lately, but yes, the Timeline Mosaic is finished.  I cleaned a lot of grout from underneath my fingernails and ruined who knows how many rags, but yes, it is finished.

Right now the tiles look like this as they wait to be put on up the wall in the Children's Wing hallway:

But really, they look like this:

Timeline Mosaic Slideshow (I apologize ahead of time for any blurry pictures - just remember that you can come and see them in person anytime you wish, where they'll be as sharp and clear as your vision allows.)


Tasty Treats

Well, I didn't let the Little People eat any dog snacks today.  Which, as it turns out, was an improvement on yesterday.

It's not that I fed them dog snacks of course.  It just kind of...happened.

So it all went down like this.  We have been having a series of dogs visit our classroom this week and last.  All of these canine visits were supposed to happen last week when we had Pets week.  However, since it was raining three out of the four days we were in school last week, we had to postpone some of the visits.  This is because we hold all sanctioned (and non-sanctioned) pet visits outside on the grass in front of our room (since obviously we can't have dogs in the classroom).  We ask the pet owners to bring the dogs about 15 minutes before our school day is over and keep them out on the grass.  That way the Little People who want to visit with the dogs can, and those who don't can keep their distance.

For the most part, the Little People all wanted to visit with the dogs.  Even with the biggest one - a Bull Mastiff about as large as they were.

I did have one little boy who obviously was nervous about all of the dogs.  He would hardly come out of the classroom when the Bull Mastiff was there, and he wouldn't even get close to the little Yorkshire terriers.  However, he seemed intrigued by Timmy's poodle yesterday, and kept wanting to try and pet her.  He would get close...and then he'd back off...and then he'd get close...and then he'd back off.  He carefully watched her stand on her hind legs and dance around, and saw her get a treat from the owner.  

Then other kids started getting treats for the dog, too, and he was all over this idea.  "I want one," he said, daring to come quite close to get his.  I was a little worried about this sudden burst of confidence from him when before he wouldn't even come out on the grass.  "Um, you know that the treat is just for the dog, right?" I asked, imagining that he had abandoned all his dog fears in the hopes of picking up a little personal afternoon snack from Timmy's dad.

He nodded (perhaps in a crestfallen kind of way), and eventually ended up flinging it the dog's direction and fleeing with a holler as she approached him to take it.

The truth is that I was so concentrated on helping him have a chance to touch the poodle that I didn't even think to remind the other kids that these little bacon-looking morsels were just for the dog.   So I was surprised when I looked over and saw little Sally chewing little, tiny bites, a look of complete disgust on her face.

"Did you know that was just a treat for the dog, Sally?" I said only to her as we headed back into the room.  A look of  embarrassment, realization and a degree of relief came over her face as she put two and two together.  I'm not sure which feeling was more prevalent: embarrassment that she had tasted a dog snack,  or relief that Timmy's father wasn't really giving out the worst snacks ever.  She handed the treat to me, a tiny piece nibbled off of the corner.

Fortunately her dad was right there waiting to pick her up and had in fact watched the whole dog-visit scenario happen.  So I just let him know what had happened with the treat and he just laughed and it was all good.  Which was much easier that meeting him at the door after school and starting out, "Well, I need to tell you that Sally tasted a dog snack today..." which would have taken a whole lot more explaining than the first scenario.

So today was good.  No dog snacks tasted, no parents to talk specifically to after school.  Not even any dogs visiting.  Just a regular day at preschool.



I supposed it's not often that you might be sitting on your back porch and hear from the yard next door, "Oh, no.  Jesus lost an eyeball."  But that is the kind of thing that my neighbors get to hear - especially this week during Grouting Week.

Here are some of the mosaics all lined up on the back porch tables, waiting for grout.  Aren't they beautiful?

I almost wanted to leave them like this - like a big, glass quilt.

However, the grout was waiting, so the boys and I got all of the grouting tools ready and set to work.  I had them do the grout adhering/smearing, and I took responsibility for the removing.

I didn't take any pictures during the process because we were up to our elbows in grout and I couldn't touch anything without making a huge mess.  Actually, I really made a huge mess without really touching anything extra at all.

The boys worked so well and hard that I enthusiastically told them to just keep going - grout them all!

And they did, which was a big mistake.  I'm not sure if you know this, but you really have to wipe the excess grout off within a very specific time frame - or it hardens to basically concrete thickness.  And of course, in my wow-I-have-such-good-help-here-they-can-not-stop zeal, I had them grout way more than I could wipe off in the still-wipe-able time period.


I should have known better.

Just in case you ever want to try this, let me fill you in on the progression of wiping off grout as it progressively hardens:

First you wipe it gently off with a wet sponge, paper towel, or soft rag.
Then you kind of rub it off with a plastic tool like you use to scrape food off of dishes.
Then you start using a rough dishwashing sponge and apply some elbow grease.
Next you move to scraping it off with a screwdriver/small picks.
At the final, most desperate stage, you are using a hammer and screwdriver/chisel combination.

Not fun.  And then your husband will come in and find you stooped exhausted and weary-eyed over a pile of mosaic tiles and ask, "But why didn't you get help with these?"

To which you will respond tearfully, "But I l-l-love to grout!"

All of that is basically true except for the tearful part.  I really do love to grout - there is something really gratifying about discovering the beautiful glass pieces again after they've been covered up.

But not the screwdriving, chiseling, almost jack hammering part.  Nope, not so much.


And Then I Said...

And then I said, "Okay, so let me put the DMV in the GPS.  I know basically where it is, but I'm not sure what the cross streets are."

Then Jericho said, while looking at his phone: "I have it right here.  It's on such-and-such street."  (Naming a place way across town that was not at all where I expected to go.)

And that's when we discovered that a)there are several DMV offices where we live, and b)he had made his appointment at a far away one that we could not get to in the time we had allotted to get to the appointment.

So, he had to cancel his appointment via phone and make another one for today at the closer one.  Because the handy iPhone also told us that the non-appointment wait time at the closer one was 1 hour, 5 minutes.

So we will try again today.

But he's still not driving home.


To Which I Responded...

Today is the long-awaited day when Jericho can go and take his written driver's test.  He finished his online driving course several weeks ago, and has been waiting anxiously for the day that he could go and take the test which would begin the period in which he is able to begin driving with a grownup.  Unfortunately for him he was slowed down a bit by his father's request that he get a haircut before he went and the fact that the DMV is only open on weekdays and mainly during school hours.

But today is the day.  We're actually leaving to go there in about ten minutes.  Yesterday after he made his test appointment online, he happily said, "And then I can drive home from the DMV!"

To which I responded..."Ummm, no.  You who have only driven twice in your life, with both of those experiences being in a deserted parking lot.  You who most likely has no idea how to get anywhere in this town because you most often have your head down looking at your phone while I drive.   No, you're not driving home from the DMV."

Actually, I just said, "Ummm, no."

He seemed a little disappointed.  But I'm sure soon enough he'll be driving around everywhere - with and without me.


What I've Been Up To...

Well, perhaps if one read my blog the last few months it appears as if all I have been working on mosaics and occasionally blogging about the Little People.  However I've been doing some other things too.  First of all, I've been slowly working my way through the maze of the Higher Educational system here to figure out what I need to do to complete my other teaching credentials in California.  I've had to talk to several different schools, but now think I've found one that can help me get the classes I need to make myself more employable.  All of this despite the fact that I completely love my current, albeit part-time job.  However, since it seems that it would be best for the family to have a full time job, investigate I will.  (And, of course I want to say that last part in my best Yoda voice.)

Somehow in the midst of all of that happening I started playing around with making some digital teaching materials.  It turns out that are several sites out there (such as Teacher's Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers) that exist for the sole purpose of providing various teacher materials to teachers.  I decided to put my recently-learned Publisher skills (developed during the Luke curriculum) to use to make a few things and set up a shop.

Now, I have always joked (if only to myself) that if I ever opened any kind of online store I would call it Duly Noted.  This is because the thing I hear most often when I mention this type of business is that it never could possibly bring in any money.  And perhaps that is true, and thank you so much for your opinion that has now been Duly Noted.

However, I did not name my teacher stores that (at least out loud).  One is here, and one is here.  I've just listed a few items, but have a had a few sales - enough to make me want to list some more.  The nice part about it is that I make the items, I list them, and then I go about my business.  Then every so often I get an email that I've made a sale - hurray!  There's nothing to package up or send off.

As I was starting my stores, I decided I needed a blog that would mainly provide ideas and other information to back up my stores, so I copied a bunch of articles about the Little People and moved them here.

So, that's what I have been doing.  If you would like to hear more about the Little People and the details about what I have been doing with them, you can visit Teaching the Little People anytime you like.  Or you can just stay here and more general Little People reports and a few others things as well.


Worms and Eggs

With this the last week of school before Spring Break (and Easter occurring during at the end of the break), we have been talking a lot about Bunnies and Baskets this week.  Also about eggs, which go with baskets.

As a result, I got out the plastic eggs to play with on the playground.  Needless to say, the Little People were thrilled when I poured the big bag of them out on the ground, and they got to do what they wished with them.

I kind of thought they would hide them, but they did not.

The first thing they did was throw them.  It wasn't complete random throwing, but instead was attempting to throw them up on the tent/awning about the play structure (seen in the background of the picture below).    They figured out a few months ago that because of the slanted angle of the roof, if they threw balls up on the tent, they would roll off again and they could try and catch them.  Most of the time.  Sometimes the thrown object got stuck, and then we would let them problem solve about how to get it down.

As this is their custom, I wasn't surprised when the eggs started being launched up on the tent roof.    Actually, it proved to be quite a challenge to get them up there, since the eggs are so lightweight.  However, this same lightweightedness prevented them from harming anyone as they fell off.  We just called that area near the edge of the awning the "Danger Zone" so anyone playing there would be aware of the risks of falling plastic eggs.

The next step of play with the eggs was to fill them with things.  Some tried to find smaller eggs to put in the larger ones, but most just put wood chips in them.  And then some started digging up earth worms and putting them in the eggs.  I almost put a stop to this, but one of them charmed me with her clever analysis of the situation:  "Hey!  Birds like worms!  So we're just feeding them before they're hatched!"

However, I did have to put my foot down with the first two worm scenarios combined and they started launching wood-chip and worm-filled eggs on top of the awning.  Because all of the sudden we had an egg-launcher shrieking, 'There's a worm on the roof!  There's a worm on the roof!"  And sure enough, if you stood under the awning and looked up, you could see the silhouette of a poor little worm wriggling around on the roof.

I used my own problem-solving skills on that one by getting one of the playground balls and throwing it up under the awning, sending a shower of wood chips, egg parts, and one stranded worm on the nearby onlookers.

Then I banned putting worms into the eggs.

Today they launched the eggs on the awnings, they put wood chips on the eggs - they even sat on a few of them perhaps hoping they would hatch - but they did not (to my knowledge) put worms in them.  It might have upset the (hungry) unhatched baby birds, but I'm pretty sure it kept the worms happy.


A Sure-Fire Path to New Little People Appreciation

So, perhaps as a teacher you've reached a point in the school year when you're a little weary of your young students.  Perhaps the cumulative effects of the recent time change, multiple changes of weather and general spring fever has made your little ones a little harder to handle.  Perhaps you've heard "teacher, teacher, teacher" too many times after you've specifically talked about the best way to get the teacher's attention.  Or perhaps you're just a little tired.

I too have felt this way, and in fact have found a solution to this problem.  All you need to do is spend a morning in someone else's classroom substitute teaching their students, and suddenly you will develop a whole new appreciation for your own familiar Little People.

 It will be like when you're feeling like your house is really small and then you invite a whole bunch of people over for a long party.  When they leave - voila!  Your house is quite roomy again.

So it will be after a morning with the Unknown Little People.  Especially if you don't really know all of their names, how their daily routine goes, and what Weather song they sing.  When they don't really listen to you like they should, and you can't even silence them at Circle Time with The Look, because they don't know that The Look really means business.  Even more so after one of them pats your arm in a poking way at lunchtime and says, "Your arm is really flappy."

After this experience, when your own Little People arrive, you will just be happy.  And appreciative.  And all will be right in Preschool World again.


Rainbow Streamers, Continued

The Little People still are having lots of fun with the Rainbow Streamers.  Because they are made with shower curtain rings, you can open then and attach them to various things.  Once the kids figured this out, the decorating began.   For two days in a row they have used them to create the"party" shown above and below.  This kind of fun and creative play confirms two things to me.  First, that it was a good idea to keep the streamers at school as opposed to sending them home with the kids as we have done with some of our other projects.  Second, that an evening sitting in front of the TV making Rainbow Streamers was definitely worth it!


The End is Near...

...of the Mosaic Timeline Project, that is.  At this moment, I have only nine tiles here at the house to finish, and I would say those are already 50% completed.  My goal is to grout them this weekend and then hand them over to the people in charge of putting them up the first of this week.

Here are a few that were just finished:

Someone at the Girls' Night Out Mosaic party started this one, and then I finished it.  I loved how she put the little flecks of red in there for Naaman's sores.  I made the mouth of the friend on the left, but every time I look at it, I think, "Hey, Naaman, what's wrong, buddy? You look terrible.  But hey,enough about you -  look at my sparkling white teeth!"

The Ark of the Covenant, largely done by my friend Dee.

Solomon builds the temple.  Or rather, Solomon watches in his fancy clothes while the temple is built.


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