Friday, October 31, 2008

"tellin' it" through the eyes of a 3rd grader...

For the past month we've been talking about the upcoming election in school. It's surprised me, quite a bit, how much the kids are into the discussions we've had about the election.

What is MOST surprising to me is that they are quite vocal about their opinion and telling the other kids all about it!

We did a "Thinking Map" the other day for after we read articles about both of the candidates. Half the class was assigned to create a Bubble Map about McCain, and the other half of the class was assigned to make one for Obama. I just randomly split the class in half and told them which candidate they would do the activity for. Of course, I knew that if the kids didn't get assigned who THEY like that they'd be in an uproar. In an effort to eliminate any furry about possibly getting the "bad" candidate (according to them) I told them that they didn't have to like who I assigned them to...they simply had to do the project.

After they turned them, and I was looking through them, I stumbled across this one (and a few others like it)...I just laughed. Boy, was she all about TELLIN' IT like it is:)

Be sure to take a close look at this (especially the middle of the circle:) ha!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

a comforting thought...in light of the politics...

Alright....

SO, there have been times when I've entertained the idea of writing something political on a note, but then I've refrained. Mostly because I know that politics can get people fairly worked up, and working people up, via an online network is not the best idea to me....now getting people worked up in person, that's different :)

But, I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming election and a huge time this is for the person who will be given the permission to "herd" us in the "right" direction as a country. Whoever it is that will be elected as the next President has a huge job, and to think that one man (whether it is OBAMA or McCain) holds that responsibility, is quite frankly, scary.

It's not scary because this is the first time we've ever had a President, or because I think that our country will be worse off than it is now...but it's scary because a human...an earthly man...will be, to many people, THE one that they follow, trust, and praise as our leader. Again, it's not that we've never had a President before, but I think these thoughts are at the forefront of my mind because a change is going to be taking place so soon.

So where am I going with this? While it seems crazy that one single man will hold such a huge responsibility, there is also a great sense of peace that I have because the Lord is the one who will ultimately "herd" our country...I was reading in Ezekiel 34 recently and I am just going to share a few snippets of the Chapter with you...and as a preface, this Chapter is talking about the relationship of a Shepherd and Sheep (Lord and his followers)

"For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness...

....I will tend them in a good pasture...I MYSELF will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays...I will shepherd the flock with JUSTICE...

....I will make a covenant of pace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests of safety....

....They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God...."


It's really awesome to know that despite the craziness of our country right now, and even of the world...although there is so much darkness and pain...that the Lord is willing to Shepherd us; to take care of us, protect us, provide for us, and care for us.

So yeah, a new man will take the role of President...and while I can't even imagine the responsibility that must be, I am feeling even more confident in this transitional time because I am one of the sheep of the Lord's pasture!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

a case of the GiGgLeS...

One of my favorite parts of my job is reading to the kids. It's the ONE time in the day when every single student's attention is captured and there is pure silence. I love it because they get so enthralled in what I'm reading and they would sit and listen for hours...literally.

I've been reading them a book called, "Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger" which is a part of the Wayside School series. These books are funny not only for kids, but also for adults. I often times find myself chuckling at the story or characters for other reasons than why the kids are laughing. It's a win-win situation...I enjoy the book, they enjoy the book, we're all happy campers.

The whole idea of this book series is that these kids go to school at this wacky school where lots of weird things happen...the students are goofy, the teachers are goofy, the building is goofy...you get the idea.

I read a chapter yesterday called "Something Different About Mrs. Jewls" which was about how their teacher was acting strange. One of the boys noticed that she seemed "fat" and another noticed that Mrs. Jewls was crying at random things. Long story short, it turns out that this teacher, Mrs. Jewls, is going to have a baby.

The chapter goes on to a big discussion about what she will name the baby...the kids, of course, asked if they could help her pick out a name. Here are a few excepts from the book (bare with me...):

"What are you going to name your baby?" asked Allison. "I don't know yet," said Mrs. Jewls, "What do you think?"..."Well, if she's a girl," said Allison, "I think you should name her Rainbow Sunshine."

As soon as I said RAINBOW SUNSHINE the kids busted out laughing. It was pretty funny, but the calmed down after a minute or two of snickering. I kept reading...

"And what if it's a boy?"..."Bucket Head," said Allison. She didn't like boys."

Again, there was hooting and hollering from the kids because they thought 'Bucket Head' was such a funny idea. One of my little girls is extremely awkward and can't control her laughing...and it also sounds really forced...so even though most of the kids were laughing for a bit, Maddie kept FORCE laughing and all eyes were on her. Ok, so I continued on, and this is where I lost control....

"...And what if it's a girl?" said Mrs. Jewls. "Cootie Face," said Joe...

And with that said, I started giggling because, come on...Cootie Face?! That is pretty funny...even for a 25 year old to say:) And then my kids started BELLY laughing. I mean not just haha...that was funny...it was like they were rolling around on the ground laughing.

I already thought it was funny, and then with them just laughing uncontrollably, it made me laugh even harder. We kept laughing...and laughing...and laughing. I would said, "OK...1..2..3...stop laughing so I can finish reading..." and we would all take a deep breath, stop laughing and before I could read the next word in the book, someone would crack up again...which made me crack up....it was never ending. There was one point where I had to cover my mouth because I just couldn't control it...they looked like a bunch of wind up toys all cackling at the same time--heads tipped back, hand slapping the knee, holding the belly. Wow.

The more I watched them, the more I laughed. It got so extreme that I was laughing so hard I was crying. I finally pulled myself together, we all took a cleansing breath, and I just rushed through the last 3 paragraphs of the book because I knew if I thought about it too much, I'd laugh again.

What a fun story time:) It surely wasn't silent yesterday while I read, but sometimes a good case of the giggles is just what you need! It was perfect:)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Speedy Delivery...

Remember watching Mister Rogers' with the "Speedy Delivery" guy (Mr. McFeely)? If not, check out this awesome PBS link to jog your memory:

http://pbskids.org/rogers/R_house/speedydelivery/speedy.html

In any case, that phrase, "Speedy Delivery," hasn't come to mind since the days when I used to watch the show. That is, until today.

Our lead facilities guy came into my classroom today with 6 large boxes saying that he had a delivery for me. I was shocked, because just the day before I had placed an order through Corporate Express (which is an office/school supply type company). Talk about one SPEEDY delivery.

Actually, the point of this note is not to talk about how fast my supplies were delivered (although that was commendable), but to talk about the contents of the delivery. I had 5 boxes of construction paper and one more box of clipboards that I had ordered for my class.



Now, this might seem like a really insignificant, and possibly even boring delivery...but let me tell you, whenever I get an order/delivery like this, I am more excited to open and go through the boxes than when I have an online clothing shopping spree. Honestly, there is nothing quite as exciting as ordering school supplies. I'm not sure if it's the weird, quirky teacher-dork inside of me, or if everyone loves getting boxes full of colored paper, but it's just awesome!

I was so excited, I actually told the kids to take out their books and do silent reading so I could sort through the boxes...ok, ok, the silent reading deal was already planned into the day, and thankfully it just happened to come at the right time so I could explore my boxes of goodies.

Included on my "to do list" placed on my desk via a post-it note, are...

1. Finish observation lesson plans
2. Correct Crayfish papers
3. Organize and coordinate construction paper

Oh, it's a beautiful thing:)



So, the moral of the story is this....construction paper is fun, cheery, inexpensive, and wonderfully useful. I am tempted to spread out my paper order throughout the year so I get one package every week...especially since it's such a SPEEDY DELIVERY:)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ladyBUGS...nothing lady-like about them...

SO I have yet to figure out why ladyBUGS are called LADY bugs...there is nothing lady-like about these little bugs. I mean, the only thing I can associate between a lady-bug and a lady-lady is that the bugs have polka dots, and some ladies like polka dots?! That's REEEEALLY stretching it and so I'm just gonna go with my original theory that it is silly that they are called Lady Bugs.



In any case, Lady Bugs are gross on a multitude of levels...

1. The have shells and when they hit against something hard, you can here the clinking of the shells. BLA.

2. They don't just come one at a time, but in swarms. If you see one lady bug, you see many. BLA.

3. They smell. Most bugs don't have noticeable smell, but lady bugs definitely do. And it's not a pleasant one. BLA.

4. They show up dead everywhere...and I mean EVERYWHERE. One time I found a dead lady bug in between the sheets of my bed. What the heck? I surely didn't leave my sheets out to dry on the cloths line, and I surely didn't leave my bed out on the front lawn. They are found dead EVERYWHERE! BLA

5. They linger...it's not that they are flying around slowly because they are dying...it's just that they are so lame, that they can't fly any faster. So they linger in the air and make a landing that lasts about 10 minutes....they just get in the way. BLA



Ok, I could go on...but I will spare you. I was out in Eden Prairie this weekend and the lady bugs were ALL over the place. I could barely walk 2 inches without hearing the clink of the shell against the wall, or on the sidewalk. I also had quite a few land and make themselves comfortable in my hair. Not to mention jumping on more than I count while on the trampoline (the jumping on those things was not a pretty site....)

I will admit there was a time when I was a little bit "scared" of lady bugs. Ok....I wasn't scared for my life...but I was scared that they would some how crawl into my shoes and I would squish them with my toes...or that they would crawl up my nose while I was sleeping...or that they would fly into my mouth while talking...you know, the normal reasons why someone would be scared of a lady bug.

But good news people...I think I'm over my fear of lady bugs and moved into the "I think they're just plain dumb" phase. Which, they really are! I think it's about time that the name gets switched from "Lady Bugs" to "Gross Bugs"...much more fitting!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I know...how can one place be so gorgeous?!

Normally, I don't like to brag about things....but I just can't help but brag about the beauty that is Minnesota, especially in the fall.

This is what I see when I walk out my door...



And down the street....




I've lived in Minnesota for about 6 years now (HOLY COW) and I have YET to tire of looking at the leaves around this time of the year. Most days all I want to do is skip work, go to the lakes, and walk around and around soaking in all the beautiful colors.

They are so vibrant...so rich...so bold...and so perfectly created. I can't get over how beautiful it is (and trust me, I've seen plenty of falls before...but none quite like the falls here)...and what a small, yet amazing, glimpse of God's touch on creation!

So...take a look at these pictures, and feel free to tell me that Minnesota fall are indeed the best around:)





Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I wish my bedtime was 8:30....

I'm trying to remember the last time I got into bed by 8:30...I have no idea when that was. The only thing that comes close to going to be that early is realizing how much work I have to do and taking a nap around 8:30, only to wake back up by 9:00 to keep working.

But in any case, wouldn't it be lovely if by the time 8:30 rolled around, and most of my students are getting ready for bed, I would also be getting ready for bed? That would be super to get a good 9 hours of sleep...But as awesome as that sounds, I wonder if I would even be able to fall asleep. I am guessing that I would probably lay in bed thinking about the pile of papers that need to be graded....or the lesson I need to prepare a bit more....or the strawberry pie that's in the fridge and needs to be eaten...or the gym that needs to be visited.

Sometimes I wish life could slow down just long enough to have one night where I hop into bed, and fall asleep to a good book, waking up the next morning realizing that I'm totally refreshed. Unfortunately that's rarely, if ever the case these days.

Props to those of you who are diligent in getting a decent night of sleep...I'll make it a goal to get into bed, one of these days, earlier than 10 pm...little steps is the way to go. Then before I know it, I'll be getting into bed and going to sleep for the night the minute I walk in the door from work:)

am i THAT convincing?!

I never realized it before I became a teacher, but I can be pretty convincing...ok, I take that back...ONLY because I'm a teacher to 8 year old children, am I convincing. It's amazing the things you can convince children of, with very little effort.

Every day our school announcements are played via a video clip and at the end of the announcements, there is a "Tip of the Day"...

Sometimes the tip is "Give your teacher a high-five" or "Say hi to a new friend"...well, earlier this week, the tip of the day was "Bring your teacher an apple..." At the finish of the announcements, I decided I would see if I could work my magic and convince these little darlings to bring me not only an APPLE....but a CARAMEL apple to school:) I went to the front of the room after we turned the video off and got really dramatic (as you often have to with kids) and made a big deal about how I love apples....and how I try to eat an apple a day....to keep the doctor away...Ok, you know, gave them that whole speech.

Then at the end I said, "But you know what I love even more than a really tasty apple? A caramel apple....those are my favorite treats during the fall..." and on and on I went about how much I like them, and why.

And sure enough, today one of my kids pulled out a caramel apple, from Kowalski's no less, for me and said, "I knew you'd like this treat, Ms. Ventura....hope you enjoy it!!" What a little precious boy (even if he is one of the stinker's in my class...any child with a caramel apple in hand is precious:)).

During our class meeting/check-in time when it came to my turn to tell the class how I was feeling today I said, "I am feeling thankful because Cael was kind enough to bring me a delicious caramel apple....that was so thoughtful...." Maybe that second little caramel apple reference will get another apple or two tomorrow:)

I need to try that convincing out a bit more....I surely could use a new watch, a trip to Hawaii, and tickets to the Coldplay concert, among many other things:)



Take a look at that caramel apple...I would gladly eat one that big if ever given the opportunity!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday afternoon, Dominoes, Pie, and Tea...a great combo!

That might sound like an interesting combination of things to occur on a Sunday afternoon, but boy did it turn out to be a perfectly balanced combo and way to spend my day.

Yesterday Laurie and I went to visit our neighbors, Pearl and Walter, who live 2 houses down on the corner. We met them when we first moved in and since then have visited on several occasions...learning about their lives, hearing plenty of jokes, and even spending time praying with them (it turns out that Walter is a retired Pastor and is quite the prayer warrior). Almost every time we go over there we talk about how we need to play Dominoes as it is a favorite game at their house. We just haven't had the chance to make the schedules jive to sit down and play a few games.

Well during our visit yesterday, I mentioned that I was going to be making a strawberry pie and asked if they would be around if I brought some by Sunday afternoon. Of course their social and business calendar always seems to be quite full, but they said they'd be back from a Church Board meeting by around 3:30. So as we were leaving, we confirmed our 3:30 pie date with Pearl and Walter and I was extremely excited!

I don't know how old Pearl and Walter are, but I would say that they are in their late 80s maybe? Either way, they've lived a while, which always accounts for great stories and times. Pearl is this little lady (shorter than me, even!) who is just a spitfire! She gets up on ladders to clear her windows, works in her garden, and goes to get her hair done (and by done, I mean curled) weekly. Walter is not quite as spry on his feet, but he sure does has a sharp brain. He is constantly thinking of jokes and stories he's heard, and always joking around. He is also ALWAYS asking us about our boyfriends...which we have to always remind him, are non-existent :) In either case, they are just a hoot and are so entertaining to be around.



We showed up this afternoon, pie in hand, and we were welcomed by Pearl who had a bright red turtleneck sweater and earrings that were almost bigger than her entire ear lobe. Precious. We walked in further and there was Walter, laying on the couch totally knocked out with his feet elevated as to help with his heart. I was worried we would wake him and Pearl screams, "Walter...get up...the girls are here..." I thought maybe we should let him sleep but she said, "Oh no...he's had his 20 minutes...he can get up..." Boy, she's a stickler :)

I set the pie down and they suggested that we get out the dominoes. So, we all walk towards the dinning room table and gather around the table covered in a beautiful green table cloth, topped with another lacy cloth, and then completed by a clear plastic covering as to make for easy clean up! We got the dominoes out and we were ready to go. We got through one game and enjoyed chatting and snickering back and forth about the game...who was winning...who needed to win a round, etc. Some of our domino banter included things like...

"Oh she is sneaky isn't she...."

"She would do that, wouldn't she...."

"Hey now Walter, it's my turn...no cheating...."

"She's a sharp one...those teachers, you've got to watch out for them...."

After a very close game, Walter won the first game, but it was close. At that time we decided to go ahead and serve up the pie. I asked if I could borrow some plates because I hadn't brought any and Pearl's little ears totally perked up and said, "Oh of course...I will bring out the special china...we don't use this often, but for special occasions..." So out came the beautifully crafted white plates trimmed with gold. It reminded me much of the beautiful china that I would see on special occasions at my own Grandma's house. Not only did we get the special china, but she pulled out a gorgeous tea set for us too! So we sipped tea and ate strawberry pie while hearing more about their lives, hearing more stories, and laughing quite a bit!

One of my favorite stories was when Pearl was in the kitchen and Walter was telling us about an unfortunate event that happened to him at a young age. Apparently one time he was outside in his "night gown" (their words...not mine!) and chasing around some chickens...no a rooster. Walter said, "I was out in my night gown, all naked underneath, and all the sudden the rooster started pecking at my.....buttocks...." At this point he gets this big grin on his face and starts cracking up. I had to cover my mouth so my food wouldn't fall out, and Laurie just about spit the tea from her mouth.

We played one more game of dominoes, although at that time I felt like the "elderly" of the group because I was so tired. How can these two have so much energy, and be a good 60 years older than me?! I had a piece of pie, and a cup of warm tea in my stomach and the temperature was set to about 70...just warm enough to put me into a Sunday afternoon snooze. But, I stuck it out and made it through the second game, losing once again. This time, Pearl won!

Walter gave us a gift that he thought our boyfriends would enjoy...and we had to gently remind him that no, we do not have boyfriends right now...but we took it anyway. He was so excited to give us 4 copies of the Salvation Army magazine from his church that featured the Johnny Cash story. He loved talking about the story and reassured us that it would be a great article to read.

Not only did they bless me with their company, and thoughtful magazine gift, but through prayer too! Both times I was at their house this weekend, Walter prayed with/for us and it was just an amazing blessing. He prayed for protection for us...for blessings upon us...and a prayer for thanksgiving for the fellowship we've been able to share together. THIS is what I call real community, and because of it I am completely blessed. Wow.

So I could have spent my afternoon getting ready for work, or going to the gym...but I think that dominoes, pie, tea, and Pearl and Walter was the best combination ever!