July 2013 | Teaching in the Tongass

Friday, July 26, 2013

Shut the front door...

I just reached 100 followers on my Teachers Pay Teachers store! This calls for a celebration! Since I don't have any virtual wine to offer up, how about a sale? Thank you so much for all of your encouragement these last few months, I really, really appreciate it!

Everything in my store is 20% off this weekend! I hope you can take advantage and enjoy!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Class Pet or No?

I'm having some thoughts about getting a "real" classroom pet this next year. I'm thinking chameleon, mainly because they are just so darn cool and cute with their eyeballs roamin around in different directions, but also because every teacher's idol, THE Mrs.Frizz, had one. We have a "no fur, no feathers" policy, so that sort of eliminates something like a guinea pig (which are sooo cute, but man, I do not want to clean that kind of a cage). We had stickbugs last year, but they ended up dying off by the time the end of the year rolled around....but we had a blasty blast at the beginning! Leave me a comment! I'd love to hear about your experience! What are your thoughts on class pets? Yay or nay? Reasons? Specific types that are hgh maintenance (not my style) or super-easy (sooo me)? Do tell.

Here's my Throwback Thursday in case you weren't a follower...(you probably weren't, because it was my first post EVER!):
Original Post from 2/15/2013

Ladies and gents....we have STICKBUGS!!! The kiddos were so excited to get class pets! There was a lady looking to get rid of some (she had over 100 of the lil buggers) and I jumped at the opportunity to take a few for the class.  Talk about the easiest class pet EVER. You "water" them by making sure they have a drop of water to suck on, and feed them a leaf (good thing we have a salad bar at school!).  Other than that, there's not much else. EEAZY PEEZY. I already have a family who will take them over the summer and give them back in the fall. YES! So, of course we had to name them. I decided this would be a great opportunity to learn a little more about majority rules. We brainstormed as many name themes we could (after shooting down regular names like Chloe and Chase, which were oddly popular?). In the end, it came down to Star Wars, Looney Tunes, or Disney characters.  It was a close call and I know you're on the edge of your seat right now wondering which one they chose...so it was Looney Tunes! Without further adieu, welcome Sylvester, Tweety, Bugs Bunny (name pun...my fave!), Wile E. Coyote, Roadrunner, Daffy, Speedy Gonzalez and Elmer Fudd!

And how to turn this into a literacy activity you ask? Of course we had to write friendly letters (something we've been working on this winter) welcoming them! I stuck them in a binder to keep next to them.  The letters are so stinkin' cute! Here are some of the highlights from a few letters-

"We will say hello to you guys every day.  We will welcome you. Maybe I will bring letis (lettuce) for you guys.  You are the second class pets I have had and I want to keep it that way. What noise do you make? Do you make babys all the time? Do you like the stickbug song? Do you like songs at all?"

Another-"I like you because you are the cute one. At this perticular school we have srten rules. Like no chewing gum or be quite in the hallways. In my class it's really nice. Sun somtimes comes through the windows. Daffy your the best bug ie've ever known."

And one more- "I am glad that you are here! I ben expeting a class pet at the beging of the year and finaly got one."

Too funny.  So, with all fun things in a classroom comes setting up some expectations....the rules of course.  We brainstormed some ways to be respectful, responsible, safe and kind.  Here's what we came up with:
Also this week was Valentine's Day (we were in parent teacher conferences for it, so we celebrated a day before).  I did Valentine Portraits last year and thought it was such a cool way to personalize them and make them special.  I made one  for each kid using a template I found (a student that used it to do his classmate's). Here's what they look like after you draw noses, eyes, ears, hair and accessories and color it all in (I use colored pencils):
And too cute not to share is my own funny Valentine! Come on...don't you just want to just peeeench his cheeks (which is how he earned the nickname, Cheeks)!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Giveaway and Feet Your Teach Your Two's Day!

But first....it's been beautiful here in Juneau! My brother and I went and played photographer for an hour and took some fun pics of fireweed flowers with the Mendenhall Glacier in the background.  It's supposed to rain for the rest of the week, so cross your fingers for me that it won't!
 On with the giveaway, but first, a background story! I am in shock. A couple of years ago, I ordered this cute tee shirt from cafepress.com.

I loved it so much, I decided to order a hooded sweatshirt with the same design.  I ordered a Large, but it was too big. I went to try to exchange it for a medium, and this is the response:
Can you believe that kind of customer service? Seriously (a $38 value!). Amazing. Pretty much unheard of these days.  But, it still doesn't fit and I didn't know what to do with it....sooooo....who teaches 2nd grade and wants a free sweatshirt? Anyone? Anyone? It's grey, a size large (Hanes 42-44) and looks exactly like this:

So, without further adieu, I give you....

Enter to win (by following my blog and Facebook page) and I will pay to ship it to you!  Good luck!


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Sushmashmborgashborg

Love this linky. Random is always right up my alley. Plus, there's no limit so I could ramble, or be super quick with this post...let's see where it takes me, shall we?!

Smorgie #1-I recently went to a ladies night, oh yes it's ladies night (sing it girl!) with some gal pals (hate that term, had to use it).  I decided to make my "famous" brie en croute (aka apple cheese pie as I call it).  Can o'apple pie fillin, check. Cheap wheel o'brie, check. Crescent roll dough, check. Super cool pottery pie pan, check. Here's how it looks before it goes in the oven, minus the dough I put on top to seal it up (whatever the directions on the crescent roll dough are, but bake it something like 20 minutes instead).
And wah lah you have yourself a fancy schmancy item for a partay (I know it's spelled voila, but I always read that as "voy-la" in my head so I thought I'd American-ize it for ya since I don't speak French, yer velcome!).

Smorgie #2-Teacher sockies! Reusable water bottle! Found these bad boys hiding out at JoAnn's so I threw them into my cart like a crazy teacher who's worried someone will see her buying dorky socks. Not someone I know named JoAnn, but the fabric store silly!  Although, if I did know her, I'd have to say we were already besties. Like we have our own handshake and text eachother past 9 p.m. Don't be jelly, you can be friends with JoAnn also, I'm not a friend hoarder, promise. Plus, I used the JoAnn app, which for some reason NOBODY TOLD ME ABOUT until a few weeks ago.  I have the teacher discount card, but for the life of me could never remember to grab my coupons from home.  Perfect app for me. I love JoAnn's with all my wallet heart and will be wearing my new sockies on the first day of school.

Smorgie #3: I just got my first iPhone for a birthday present this April.  So far, I've tried out 2 covers. Glittery chevron and mint, and chalkboard LOVE (both from Etsy). Both are super cute and I love them, however, I have a toddler who is prone to sticking things in the toilet at the moment and I must sacrifice pretty for functional for a few more years.

So, I splurged and bought a Lifeproof case (boring old black for me), which was supposed to be $80, but somehow the guy at my cable/internet/cell business got down to $63! Yipppeee! If you are in the dark ages like me, a Lifeproof case completely encases your phone, making it waterproof, dustproof....toddler proof. Maybe in the near future they will make some with cute designs...

Smorgie #4:I bought this cute hemlock vase (a splurge at $25) and loooove her.  I promptly popped some ferns and forget-me-nots (Alaska's state flower btdubs) from the front yard in her. Dreamy, no?
Smorgie #5:Found these cute pjs (check out the trap door bottom!) that also happen to sport his nickname! Here he is playing on his new toddler bed (he just learned how to climb down by turning backwards so this up and down from the bed is a good 30 minutes of entertainment!).


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Check, Check, 1, 2

My ENTIRE TpT Store will be on sale this weekend! Go check out some cute lil items and get your wishlist ready for Saturday and Sunday!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Throw-that ball over those mountains in '88-back Thursday!

I figured this would be a great time to pop in a Throwback Thursday since I'm being all gushy about home this week (don't ask me in October about living here or I'll throw a SAD light at you in a moment of sheer "rain-fever") and I've already written a post about it anyway. Throwin it back in 3, 2, 1...

Originally posted 4/20/2013

Alaska. Home. My great great grandparents arrived in Skagway, Southeast Alaska during the Gold Rush.  My great great grandfather made his living running a pack train (leading mules with people's luggage and supplies) on the Chilkoot Trail.  They eventually made their way to Juneau (not far away) and my family has been here ever since.
I work in an elementary school in the middle of a valley know as the Mendenhall Valley, which was carved by the Mendenhall Glacier.  This is one of the best views of the glacier...check out those beautiful fireweed flowers in the foreground.
And here is a pic my brother took of the northern lights above the same  glacier (different viewpoint) last week...it was at 1:00 in the morning, I was sound asleep :)
If you want a little more live action, check out these webcams

A few misconceptions I should address sooner rather than later:
We do not live in igloos. We do not use dog sleds for transportation.  We accept the dollar.  Alaska is part of the United States, not a territory, but a STATE. It is connected to the rest of the continent and not in a little box next to Hawaii as your map might lead you to believe.  It is HUGE. Bigger than Texas.  If you know someone in Barrow and ask me if I know them, I might ask you if you know someone on the other side of the country. Yes, our population is small (Juneau is about 30k), but we are spread out on a large scale.

The funny thing about our state, is that in addition to being shown as small on a map, it is never shown in the correct location.  Every year, students LIVING IN JUNEAU, think that we are an island off the coast of California (this is usually how a map displays Alaska).  Here's a little Alaska humor showing how crazy it would be if we just showed inaccurate maps everywhere:
Can you tell I have had some interesting conversations with tourists off the cruise ships every summer?  There are many very different regions of AK, and Southeast AK is along the coast...ocean, gigantic mountains everywhere, glaciers, spruce trees, the works.  Northern AK (Anchorage and beyond) is where you might picture tundra, moose, Eskimo, Iditarod....Juneau is very far way from that area and in fact, land-locked (travel in and out only by ferry or airplane).  I cannot count the number of times I have been talking to a customer service agent for a company that tells me "There is a store in Anchorage, you could go there."  Not likely, buddy. 

Weather: We are in a rainforest, which means it rains. All. The. Time. Seriously. An average of 62 inches a year. But...on the bright side, when it's sunny, you are reminded how lucky and fortunate you are to live in a tourist destination.
 It snows on and off from about November to March, rains on and off throughout the other months.  May, June and July are our summer season months.  It is light out until about 10 or 11 pm in the summer, and is only dark for a few hours before the sun rises again....a complete trip when you are camping and the birds are singing in the middle of the night because it is getting light at 3!
So, if you ever decide to take a trip to Alaska, first, make sure it's May-July if you want a good chance of sunshine, then make sure you stop in Juneau and at least say hello to me! Seriously, I'd love to meet any of my followers!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Where everybody knows your name...

No, not the bar, my sillies. Home! This last week has been filled with some pretty neat nature-y things. We had a thunderstorm over the weekend (I think this is the 3rd one this summer, and this is a big deal because thunderstorms are incredibly rare here), and then the sky cleared up within an hour and it was a beautiful blue day after weeks of pouring rain!  Hallelujah!

My family does family dinner night once a month, and we decided to go up "the tram" and eat at the restaurant up there.  We waited for a gorgeous day, and Sunday was perfect! So, up the mountain we went! I was beyond ecstatic when I saw all of the vegetarian options on the menu (octo-lavo in case you were wonderin).  I ordered the, well it's easier to cut and paste straight from their online menu...

Gardein Strips with Broccoli, and Cashew Stir Fry Beefless strips, broccoli, and cashews sautéed in sunflower oil with red onions, red wine vinegar, and soy sauce. Served on top of steamed rice.

I didn't take a picture because, well, to be honest, I still feel like a major (or "may-jah" as Posh Spice would say) dork taking pictures of food (especially in front of my family who would most certainly make fun of me!).  It was the best restaurant meal I've had in a long time, no joke.  We will be going up and eating at the restaurant again before the tourist season ends and it closes....that's when they have the sales "dontchaknow" (in the most annoying Sarah Palin-blegh-voice ever, btw not a fan!).
Here's the view looking straight down and to the right is downtown Juneau.
 Cheeks and Mr.Tongass looking at an eagle...or a "Bird! Bird! Bird!"
 The view to the left.
 The "docking station"
 And this was new to me! You can't really tell unless you look carefully, but it's a tree stump with pennies on it (thrown from the lookout up above). A wishing stump! Adorbs.

 I also hit up the gift shop because well, even though I'm not a tourist, I still like to shop and can't resist. I found the cutest little Tlingit doll and had to adopt her for my classroom asap. She looks about the age of a second grader, no?
Then, a few hours after we all got home, I was working on blog/tpt stuff when I heard through the grapevine (translation: Facebook) that the Northern Lights were out. I woke up Mr.Tongass and we stood in the yard in our jammies staring at the sky. If we built another story above our house, we would be able to see them right above the glacier. Maybe in the future after all the other remodeling is done....


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Smorgie Time!

I spent way to much money buying Alaska books for my class. I already have 2 tubs of Alaska books at school, but when I went into our local bookstore....ruh roh. "I don't have this, I have to get it (tuck under arm). I don't have this one either, plus it's paperback so it's cheaper (tuck under arm). Oooh, this one is cute, better get it (tuck under arm)...Better just make a stack on this table here." Dangit. I'd ask you to raise your hand if this happens to you, but chances are you can't since your arms are full of teacher crap too!  I've been doing really good not spending my own money, but it's so hard in the summer when you come across something you *have* to have. Anyway, here are my recent goodies.

We celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary on the 10th {love!}.  On the 10th of every month (yes, every), Mr.Tongass brings home flowers. I know, I know, I'm spoiled.  I won't go into how lucky I am, or you might end up hating me or worse, stealing him! Plus, I'm not a bragainer (source: Liz Lemon via 30 Rock...bragging in the form of explaining).  I have a few lovely vases from my favorite pottery brand (Campbell Pottery) and the flowers always look beautiful in them.  Anyway, the last 3 years have gone by so fast! I hope life slows down (yeah, right, I know) and I can soak it all up :)
Smorgie #4: Remember the yellow/grey laundry hamper from Target I told you about?
Well it arrived, and after putting it together in 1 minute, I realized it was waaaaay too small. As in 17 inches tall. As in, what kinda hamper is 17 inches tall? As Mr.Tongass said, "What is this? A hamper for ants?!" (in his best Zoolander voice).  The dimensions weren't on their website when I ordered it (I went back and checked even), so I had no idea. And the dang thing was $50 ($40 +$10 shipping), which means I will be returning it as it clearly is not worth it if I can't use it.  At this point, I think I'll be just getting a plain old white hamper for the room...or maybe spray paint somethin I find...stay tuned for that!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Freebie, Summer Goals, and a HUGE Giveaway!

I don't know about you, but New Years comes and goes every year and I usually don't have the brain power to come up with a resolution. So, I save the growth and change for when I have time: SUMMER!  My summer goals have been to:
  • learn how to do a great french manicure *on the cheap* (Instagram followers...I'm getting better, right?!).
  • read a few books (David Sedaris is my new favorite author and yay...has several books I have read and more to read later....check!). 
  • get rid of some crap that's cluttering up our house and work on Cheeks' future bedroom (grey and yellow!).
  • go check out our indoor turf field. Have I mentioned how often it rains here in Juneau?! This indoor field is the coolest thing!  They have a toddlers-only time once a week, and since Cheeks basically only says one word, "Ball," I guessed he was ready for it all! 
  • take Cheeks swimming during the babies only swim time (he's part fish and I'm so mean for keeping him out of water for so long!). This is his "hurry-up-and-put-your-phone-away-Mom!" face.
And finally, a giveaway to celebrate YOU (my readers!) helping me reach my 100 Follower goal! I LOVE this bloggy community!  Here are just a few of the FANTASTIC items the winner will get in a giveaway pack!

The giveaway pack features different products from these FAB teacher stores (click to check out their stores!):

Cahill's Creations
Once Upon a Classroom
Life Over C's
Differentiation Station
The Brown Bag Teacher
The Math Maniac
Lovin Lit
Haley O'Connor
Kayleigh Almarez
Kamp Kindergarten
The Skating Teacher
Class of Kinders
Karen Hester
Christine Maxwell
I Dream of First Grade
Schroeder's Stars
A Burst of First
Amber Carlson


Sunday, July 7, 2013

I love lamp. well, not really.

It's about time I post about a little home project I've just finished working on.  I figured this would be a good place to show the progress "we've" made in the last 3 years. Bare with me...
So, as some of you may know, I live in a house built in the 1960s.  It is old. We've finished unwallpapering 3 entire bedrooms (I now hate wallpaper with a passion), smoothing the walls (they had a little texture, no good says the hubby), painting, adding crown molding, adding chair rails and trim, replacing old brown doors with new white ones, adding electrical to the ceiling for lights (so we didn't have to use floor lamps), remodeling the entire master bathroom, ripping up carpet and replacing it with cherry wood laminate, ripping up the kitchen counters and replacing with granite-looking laminate, adding matching backsplash to the kitchen walls, replacing a dishwasher, throwing away a trash compactor and trading it in for a wine-fridge (yes!), laying tile in the entryway...and a ton of energy saving fixes as well.  I say "we" knowing that you realize it is Mr.Tongass doing most of the work.  Here are a few before/after photos so you can appreciate all of Mr.Tongass' hard work (and my styling!):
 And we forgot to take a before photo of the master bathroom, but picture a green toilet, green tile, brown and green cabinet/sink and a mirror (blegh).  Here's what it looks like now though:
The grey room, which will be Cheeks' future room when we have another kid (not an announcement!), is going to be grey and yellow themed. Here's the before and after:
I found a yellow and grey laundry hamper that would match perfectly. I ordered one and it should be here today!  
A few days ago I bought a custom blanket and matching pillowcase from Etsy to go in his new room. Cute, eh? I scoured the site and decided all of the quilts were amazing, but too spendy.  Maybe I should learn how to quilt and become a millionaire....all those millionaire quilters out there...I could be one of them!  Luckily, this cotton one was reasonably priced and just perfect with it's black, yellow, white and grey. 
Then I bought matching sheets in grey chevron!
 I also ordered this valance from Etsy (after searching in town with no luck).
 So, after a few stops around town (Fred Meyer, Home Depot, Walmart), I surmised that there is not one single yellow lamp/lampshade here to buy.  SOOO FRUSTRATING.  I looked online, and though I was impressed with a lamp I found at Target, I just can't pay for shipping AGAIN (their free shipping doesn't apply to Alaska) after I just ordered 2 separate things (the rug and then the laundry hamper I found a few days later online).  Those of you who live anywhere near a department store, Target, dollar store, Hobby Lobby...be glad you don't have to order pretty much everything! So, after learning I could spray paint a lamp shade, I went out and bought a lamp shade and base.  I taped off 3 rings and sprayed 1 coat of light yellow (this is the color I bought to paint a toddler rocking chair I bought for $2 at a garage sale....that I'm eventually going to get to...).
Then, I realized that the little metal attachment thingy wasn't there. So, back to the store I went. I bought the attachment thingy (which I learned is called a "harp"). I was quite pleased with myself, until I realized the bottom of the harp was not there. So, since my mom was headed to Home Depot anyway, I asked her to look for the bottom piece.  She didn't find one, but ended up bringing back a whole harp and it's bottom piece.  This is the thing I'm talking about:
So, after scratching my head and figuring out that there is no possible way to get the bottom piece on the lamp base without rewiring it (the harp directions didn't match the lamp...we would have to cut wire), I took yet another trip to the store (this time at 10:45 pm in my sweatpants...which had dried peanut butter smeared on them). After a closer look, I saw lamp bases with the harp bottom pieces on them! I grabbed one of those (AND IT WAS CHEAPER!) and avoided rewiring.  Here's the different base and the finished shade:
I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. I wish I was talented enough to add some shapes or something to it. Ah well, on to the next project!


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