Monday, January 21, 2013

Lessons for Teacher- Not Matter

I've been learning a lot lately.

Sometimes, it's ridiculous vocabulary.  For instance, my crimebusters team went into competition and asked me the scientific name for taking a fingerprint.  Knowing that 'fingerprinting' wasn't what the judges were looking for, I googled it.  Turns out, the correct way to say that you're studying fingerprints is to say that you're looking at someone's dermatoglyphics.  If you break the word down, it makes perfect's just not part of our daily vocabulary.

I've been working with kids that are similarly or less affluent than my current population for the past 3 years, and I'm still routinely surprised at their lack of experiential knowledge.  It's not their fault- they simply haven't had the opportunities and exposure that make learning so much easier when you are able to leave the county you were born into or you're exposed to the news.  Regardless, watching their "whoa" faces as you explain something like their home state (South Carolina) bordering the Atlantic Ocean and describe what the ocean looks like, what a beach looks and feels and smells like, because they have no's sad.

As someone who's not a writing teacher (even though we write in Science and Social Studies regularly), my writing topics are not geared toward student opinions.  I get less time with my kids individually than I'd like- I get around to all the tables during their group or individual work, but there's very little time to talk to my kiddos about anything other than the task at hand.  Even our class changes are so short, there's time for a kid to start telling me something but rarely time to finish it.  I miss that more connectedness that I had in my smaller school.

During my after school tutoring time, we were working on matter versus not matter- what we'd been working on in class the day before.  One of my girls and I worked together on our lists, and eventually I had her write so that all the ideas on it were 100% hers and not a combination of our ideas.

Here's her list:

We discussed that feelings are a great example of something that is 'not matter,' but her feelings really tug at your heart strings.  I wonder how many of those feelings would be echoed by the rest of my kids.  This one really made me step back and think Friday afternoon.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Monday

Last year, I had a student file my lesson plans for me.  I had them grouped by weeks and had her put them all into a large binder.... as I was flipping through last years' plans, I found this hidden note. :)  Sweet girl had lunch detention and was still this thoughtful!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I've written a few times about my food journey in the past year or so.  I used to think that reduced fat and fat free and lean cuisine, etc. were good options to help prevent weight gain.  I quickly ruled out freezer meals- they're so full of sodium, they don't fill you up OR keep you full, and if you look at the ingredients list, I'm not a good enough reader to pronounce the names of all the ingredients.  Unless it's some sort of ethnic food, I operate under the assumption that if I can't say it, I shouldn't eat it.

Anyway, the past year has been a time when I've finally started to learn how to cook beyond "survival mode."  You know, the college age kid that just cooks the same few staples- spaghetti, grilled chicken, family meal deals from Bi-Lo, veggies from a can or bag, etc.  It's been a lot of fun for me.  It's gotten increasingly more fun as I learn more about what I'm actually putting into my body, what the nutrients are, different ways to prepare the same staple ingredients, and striving to eat real food.  For those of you that don't have to listen to me talk about food on a regular basis, "real food" is non-processed, non-GMO, organic when possible, and local if at all possible food.  I could go into all sorts of explanations about why I chose this lifestyle, but basically, I've done a lot of research, tried a lot of things, and this is what works best for me- for my health and the way I feel.

I'm totally not a "cream of ____ soup" person, but with the holidays lately, I've done the green bean casserole and a few other dishes that require "cream of" soups.  In reading the ingredients, I decided it was time to see if there's a suitable, taste-comprable substitute out there.  I found some powdered substitutes where you add water when you're ready to use them, but most of them had more processed/ sketchy ingredients than the canned soup has.

So, from the Campbell's website, this is their cream of mushroom soup.  I'd really like to know what "flavorings" are.

At my inexpensive grocery store, a 10.75 oz can of cream of mushroom runs 2/$3 pretty regularly, and occasionally, you can get it 10/$10 at CVS.  So, at best, about a dollar for the 10.75 oz can.

Today, I made 5 pints.  My ingredients were:

~a handful of diced organic mushrooms (mega clearance, the whole carton was only 99 cents) so, maybe 45 cents of mushrooms
~4 cups of organic milk ($2.69/gallon) = 67 cents
~3/4 cup butter ($2.29/ 2 c.) = 86 cents
~1 cup of unbleached, whole wheat flour  = roughly 50 cents
~2 cups of homemade chicken stock)= negligible cost of 2 cups water, and give it electricity for about an hour- time to make the stock and then the soup.

Even if you budget electricity and water at 1.00, the total cost is still about 3.48.  It literally involved less than 5 total minutes of prep, one minute of stirring, and about 15 minutes of waiting for the soup to thicken.  So easy, and cheap.

Oh, and I made 5 pints worth, or almost 7.5 cans of store bought soup.  One's missing because I used it to make dinner. :)  At best price, you'd pay 7.50 for this amount of soup in the grocery store, so this is at least 50% savings.    I highly recommend it- one dish only, not time or labor intensive, and so much healthier for you and yours.

PS- You can freeze it!

Friday, January 4, 2013

52 Week Money Challenge

Anybody with a facebook has probably already seen this floating around in cyberspace, but I'm determined to try this challenge.  Basically, all it involves is setting aside the same number of dollars as the week it is in the calendar year. Example- this week, $1 because it's the first week of the year.  Next week, $2 because it's the second week of the year.  I'm modifying the plan because I'm a teacher and that's what we do.... or because if I alternate from the front and the back of the calendar year, it will be a balanced amount to pull out of my account every month.  I've already started a new savings account, nicknamed "52 Week Challenge" and all of my deposits for January are complete.  I only get paid once a month (at the end), so it's honestly easiest for me to deposit as soon as I'm paid.  The bummer of this modification is that it takes the thrill out of making a deposit every week.  This is truly going to be a challenge for me because it will be much more of my income than people generally tithe going into this savings account.

Which reminds me... I need to get back to reading The Peaceful Mom's blog.  You can read about the beginnings of her family of 6's journey to live on $28,000 a year on this link.

Here's an image of the 52 week challenge:

Again, I'm pulling weeks from the front and back.  For the month of January, I've done Week 1, Week 52, Week 2, Week 51.  I'm also crossing them off on a printed copy of this that's in my planner, but I'm attached to my planner and you may not be.  Regardless, I think this is a great, fun, and disciplined way to save myself a nice hunk of change. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wisdom, Power, Faith, Hope, Love

These 5 little words are guiding words of my sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma.  They are reminders for all of us as we journey through life.  I'm lucky enough to advise a chapter of the sorority now that I'm an alum, so these words appear regularly in my interactions with the chapter members.  Last year (2012), some of my friends taught me that instead of making a resolution, (which, let's be honest....nobody is ever capable of sticking to) we could pick a word to guide our coming year.  My guiding word for 2013 is faith. I'm not talking about my faith in God- that's rock solid, though there's always room to grow and learn in my faith.  I'm still really hoping to find a good bible study to join (that doesn't meet at 10 o'clock on a school night.  The last group of ladies was great, but the meeting time was a little less than perfect for me.)
My 'baby' brother and his friends as angels in the living nativity Christmas Eve.
The faith that I'm talking about is faith in my surroundings.  Faith in myself, my coworkers, in my family and friends, and faith in all the people that I interact with on a daily basis.  This faith incorporates forgiveness and living in the present, rather than holding others (and myself!) accountable for past actions.  I particularly enjoy definition 4 below.

Faith and confidence in my abilities
 and my new masters!
(Gotta love Clemson's purple and orange.


confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesiswould be substantiated by fact.
belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religionthe firmfaith of the Pilgrims.
belief in anything, as a code of ethicsstandards of merit, etc.:to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

faith in learning and new knowledge... at all levels,
whether it's learning to play with
matchbox cars or learning calculus.

And, most importantly, faith that 2013 will be a year that I can reflect back on and find abundant sweet spots.  We're already off to a great start

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


It's 2013! Happy New Year!!!  It's a blessing to be starting 2013 off in such a blessed way.

I'm linking up with Farley for currently January.

For some crazy reason, the one I saved with my responses isn't loading, so....

Listening: Modern Family, Season 1

Loving: A break from school with my family

Thinking: About my new word of the year, faith

Wanting: A food processor

Needing: Nothing, except a little caffeine. So blessed!

OLW: trust... in others. Something I'm working on this year.  I trust myself, but the world around me... not so much.