Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are you good to go?

One of the things Ricky and I have been trying to do is reuse as much as possible. This means we buy used furniture, reuse plastic bags, have reusable grocery bags, and find new uses for just about anything we can. It's partly a money saver - lets face it, buying used or finding something you already own that can be used in a new way is a lot cheaper than buying new - and partly an earth saver.

Recently I had the realization that I've been using a lot of plasticware. I usually eat lunch and snacks at school, and often breakfast as well, so that's a lot of time spent using utensils. I decided I wasn't down with all the plasticware I was putting into the landfills, so I tried to switch to flatware from home. However, I am the world's worst when it comes to remembering to bring home dishes and flatware, so my taking them to work meant the forks and spoons never came home, causing Ricky to ask if we had gnomes stealing our silverware! Thus, when I got an email from EcoSteal about To-GoWare, I immediately looked into it.

The utensils are made of bamboo, a natural and very renewable product. They are stain and heat resistant, and are coated with a natural, food grade oil for smoothness. The set comes with a knife, fork, spoon and chopsticks. I got the set that comes in the WEAVE holder, made by women on the Thai-Burma border, helping to support their efforts to become more empowered and advanced in their society.

Since I ordered mine, To-Go Ware has come out with a new set. The utensils are the same but the holder is called the RePEaT because it is made out of recycled PET plastic. In other words, yesterday's Coke bottle became today's utensil holder!

I haven't had a chance to use the knife yet so I'm not sure how well it works (and I doubt it would cut through steak) but the fork, spoon and chopsticks are awesome. I keep them in the holder on my desk so I always have utensils handy, and they wash up really easily after use. In fact, I like them so much I'm thinking of getting a second set to keep in the car for times when we get takeout.

So, if you're like me and take lots of food to work that requires utensils, I highly recommend you look into one of these sets!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Plant an umbrella in your yard for schools

If you've been reading this blog long, you know that the school district in which I teach is in major financial trouble. Not only are we in trouble because of decisions made by our higher ups, but now we have added problems as the state of Oregon has announced they will be cutting funding to education for the 2009-2010 school year. This means that the cuts we made this year are not enough; the cuts we had planned on for next year won't even be enough. The newest list of cuts includes, but is not limited to the following.
  • Outdoor school - at this time it has been cut completely. The district is investigating a day program as opposed to an overnight camp.
  • Counselors - high school to lose 3, each middle school to lose 1, elementaries to all have 1 half time counselor rather than one full time.
  • No PE teachers at the elementary level
  • No music teachers at the elementary level
  • Librarians to be cut (to some degree) from elementary and middle schools
  • Class sizes for K-2 to be 30:1; 3-12 will be 35:1

This means that, in my building alone, we are looking at potentially losing 10-17 teachers. Out of 50. Yeah, that's a pretty huge percentage.

A couple of the music teachers in our district, teachers who will be out of a job at the end of the year because they teach elementary music, put this video together. I think it really speaks to the sad reality that is our district.

If you don't have the time to watch the video all the way through, I will tell you this - at the end, there is a statement imploring those who would like to see our state dip into the rainy day fund to help fund education for next year to put an umbrella in their yard. Please, put an umbrella in your yard to show your support for education, the arts, the library and physical education. Our kids, need something to look forward to. Reading is hard, math is hard, science is hard. Important, yes, but difficult for so many kids. To have a class that allows them the time to be creative, think outside the box, and to use their brains in different ways is to allow them a chance to rest from the other subjects, rejuvenate themselves, and get ready to face the difficult tasks once again. Studies have shown repeatedly that participation in performance arts, including music, theatre and dance, lead to better disciplined students with higher grades. Why would anyone want to take that away from a child?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Holiday Food Habits

As I've been sitting here devouring Cadbury Eggs like they'll disappear any day now (oh wait, they will!), I got to thinking about various holidays and holday foods and how odd some of my habits and preferences are surrounding those. So, I made a comprehensive list for your reading pleasure.

  • Peeps: Love them, but prefer them stale. Must be the chicks, can't stand the bunnies. Also won't eat Peeps made for other holidays, like the trees and such at Christmas.
  • Cadbury Eggs: Adore them, but prefer them when the inside is runny. And I've always wondered how they keep the yellow from mixing with the white to make the whole thing a pale yellow.


  • Yams: I don't care if they are yams or sweet potatoes, but they must be fresh and baked with butter and brown sugar. No marshmallows* allowed!
  • Fruit Salad: This is where the marshmallows* go! That and the maraschino cherries. Yum!
  • Turkey: Totally a day after Thanksgiving food for me. I load my plate with all the side dishes the day off, then eat turkey sandwiches made with white meat on white bread with real mayo and some salt, sprinkled into my hand first, then dusted over the turkey, after that.
  • Dressing: Totally unnecessary. Yuck.
  • Pie: Only like the filling, hate the crust. Not a huge fan of pumpkin, either.


  • Candy Canes: Not a big fan. Not sure why, they're just not my favorite.
  • Marshmallow* Santas: Yum! Only one kind will do, though - the Russell Stover ones in the green package.
  • Fudge: Love it, nuts or no nuts, makes no difference to me!
  • Divinity: Again, love it, but no nuts, ever.
  • Sugar Cookies: I know everyone loves to make the sugar cookies and roll them out and decorate them, and I do too...but I don't really care to eat them when they're decorated. If I'm going to eat sugar cookies, I want them plain. Mostly 'cause I just don't like frosting.
  • Bottom of the Stocking: Ok, this is kind of an odd one, but in my family (as in a lot of families, I think), Santa always leaves an orange in the bottom of the stocking. One small problem - I don't like oranges. So, Santa leaves a grapefruit.

Yes, I know I have some quirky eating habits. Put Ricky and I together and it gets really weird. I hate pie, he only likes storebought pumpkin pie (weirdo). Someday I'll have to block about his weird habits too!

*I will never forget how to spell the word marshmallow. Mrs Bolen, my 2nd grade teacher, misspelled it as "marshmellow" on my special spelling list and Mom had to correct her. Since then, the correct spelling has stuck with me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'll give you something to cry about!

Ricky told me this story today and it made me laugh so hard. Hopefully others will laugh too, instead of deciding that Ricky is a jerk.

Our nephew is apparently just like his mother. Now, I didn't know J when she was a baby, but since she's 6 years younger than Ricky he has a pretty good memory of what she was like as an infant and toddler. She was one of those kids who does the fake cry in order to get attention and whatever else she wants. Her child is the exact same way.

Ricky's telling me this story, and then he says, "Of course, I made him cry for real the other day."

Me: What? Why'd you do that?!

Ricky: I took away his Cheerios.

Me: Jerk! What'd you do that for?

Ricky: He was eating them and doing that stupid fake cry, so I said, "Here, I'll give you something to cry about!" and swiped his Cheerios.

At this point I died in laughter. I think the fact that we both thought this was hilarious means it's good we're not planning on having kids, right?

That's what she said...

As long as I'm posting funny stories about students, I thought I'd post one of my favorites that has been going on for weeks now.

I don't really watch The Office (gasp! I know a few people who suddenly have cut me from their lives) but I know that one of the jokes from the show is "that's what she said." The idea is that you add it to the end of a sentence when someone says something remotely sexual. You know, like so:

Person A: How was the meeting?
Person B: Shorter than normal.
Person A: That's what she said!

So I have this student who loves to use "that's what she said," but he never, ever gets it right. In fact, it's become this running joke where after class I run to another teacher and tell him the latest wrong use of "that's what she said." Examples of late include:

Me: Take out a piece of paper.
Student: That's what she said!

Other Student: Hey, can I borrow a pencil?
Student: That's what she said!

Yet Another Student: Dude, you just stepped on my lunchbox!
Student: That's what she said!

Yeah, he never, ever gets it right. Until today, that is.

Fourth Student: I have a headache.
Student: That's what she said!

Who do I look like?

This guy??
I had the most bizarre experience at school today. I have a student who is a super nice kid, but really doesn't seem to understand boundaries. He's the kid who blurts out random stuff in the middle of instructions. The kid who, when I ask "does anyone have questions about XYZ?" raises his hand and asks me some completely unrelated question. He is the kid, and I kid you not, who tears his test into small squares so he can make paper airplanes and fly them in class.

So today, with about 3 minutes left, I allowed the kids to have a little free time. They'd learned a lot of new material and had earned a well deserved break. We'd finished everything we needed to accomplish, so I gave them the time to just chill. I was standing near a group of boys, watching to be sure everything was copasetic - you never know what can happen when a group of 12 and 13 year old boys have some free time! - when the aforementioned student got up to get something from another part of the room. As he passed me, he reached out with his pointer finger, poked me in the belly and said, "Boop!"

Buh?! Really, who does that to their teacher??? Of course I scolded him, but I was completely at a loss for how to compute what had just happened. I still am, I think. Perhaps I should get this shirt and wear it to school:

And now, in the interest of entertainment, I'd like to hear how my readers would have reacted. Wittiest answer wins!

One in six

That is an approximation of how many teachers, counselors, administrators and other staff our district will be losing between this year and next due to budget cuts. We're not the only ones, either. My college roommate's district is cutting $50 million from their budget, which could result in more than 100 teachers being cut. Teachers, not staff. Other districts are putting the purchase of new textbooks on hold, not filling the positions of those who retire, and asking teachers to take a paycut. The unemployment rate in Oregon went up over 12% today; once all these districts get finished laying people off we'll see it go quite a bit higher.

I don't know yet if I'm going to lose my job for sure. Of course I'm worried - I teach an elective, which is "expendable" in the minds of most, and I'm only in my second year in the district. Sadly, cuts are made based on seniority, not ability. In the meantime, I'm busy looking for jobs outside of education (because there aren't likely to be any education jobs available) and updating my resume. It's a scary, scary time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Hoppy" Easter

...From the Easter "Punny."

I figured I better get this one in while it was still officially Easter. Credit to Candace for the witty saying.