I know, I know. That’s really a Virginia thing. But yet, I didn’t just take a vacay to Virginia. So San Fran it is. 🙂
If you’ve spent time around here–either as a long-time blog reader or a new reader who’s been getting their feet wet–you have hopefully noticed that I am a reader. Books are kind of a big deal around here: at home and in my classroom. And so, it seems, books are a big deal for me on vacation, too.
We went to lots of fun places on our tour of San Francisco. Some places I can tell you about by the name of the neighborhood, and some I can tell you by the name of the books stores I visited while I was there. 🙂
I think in the end we found three cute little independent book stores, and bought something at all of them! Cuz what’s a better souvenir than a book. Or ten? LOL
The first place we ran into was The Book Passage, in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Besides being easy to get to, it had great views of the bay. We went here more than once, just because we could.
On one of our dinner adventures, Grant and I were walking around after our visit to Burma Superstar (YUM!) and came upon this little gem:
Besides being lovely and cute and small and independent, they also had a sale bin. :). Found many things I was excited for some good finds, but especially for the book about the Golden Gate Bridge I had seen in other stores at full price. Here it was over 50% off! WIN!!
The last one was so good we visited it twice: Browser Books.
On our first visit we ran into one of those “blind date with a book” sale boxes and bought almost the whole thing!
Do you have guesses for what those books might be? Are you dying right now? Should I show you what we ended up with? Oh, ok. :). Here’s what was inside of those packages. Be sure to leave me a comment to let me know if you guessed right. I actually did guess one of them correctly!
I think I mentioned that this was our first trip to this store? On the second trip I found two more great books (not on sale, but sooo great it didn’t matter) that I’m excited to incorporate into my classroom this year.
WHEW! What a great trip with such great little bookstore finds. What a special part of traveling–the bookstores come home in my heart and the books come home in my suitcase!
If you read my last post, then you know we were just on a family trip to San Francisco. Yesterday was a really long day of flying home (from San Fran to Burbank, then Burbank to Phoenix, and then Phoenix to St. Louis, because I know you were wondering 😉).
As I began each leg of the flight, I listened as the flight attendants (who are amazing group of people, I should add!) explained all of the safety protocols and what to do when and how and all of those essential things. It made me chuckle each time as they said the word “mask,” as I thought of how our understanding and use of that word has changed soooo much over the course of this last year and a half.
Yes, originally when that safety spiel was written, it referred to the yellow plastic cup with the rubber strap that I’m supposed to put on myself first and then on my child in case of a sudden drop in cabin pressure (which, thankfully I’ve never had to do!). I was further reminded during one presentation of the possible confusion when the attendant closest to me actually pulled down his fabric mask to demonstrate how you’d have an extra step now of removing one mask for the other mask to work appropriately.
Also there in my memory is how the word mask used to be relegated only to Halloween, something that I hated to wear a child because they were so hot (and you don’t really need one when you dress up as Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jem—shout out or anyone old enough to appreciate that reference 🤣), and that now I also know you’re not supposed to bring to school for the classroom parade but instead save for “real” trick-or-treating at home later that night.
Enter 2020 and COVID-19 and of course that word has a completely different definition and as well a different connotation depending on the wearer. (And no, dear reader, I am not going to spending time here on any political statements or judgments of right or wrong. I am simply going to tell stories about masks. Stories that I am sure will be highly entertaining, so I hope you stick around. 😉)
I remember the beginning of the pandemic when the whole idea of masks came up and my friend shared with me a tutorial on how to make one out of a dish towel or a t-shirt and how silly I thought that was. She was of course over-reacting, we were never going to need to know how to do that. Right?
Ha! Of course I was so very wrong. Let me stop a second here to show you how wrong I was. And when I say “wrong” I mean let me show you the first versions of masks we wore around my house, which were made of strips of fabric and ponytail holders. Please be kind as you enjoy this picture:
Instead of Halloween- or airplane-related, scarcely worn and foreign, mask is now a term that has become common place to all of us. But to me it’s also become an opportunity to express my creativity and also a bit of a fashion statement. Or at least an opportunity to match a new accessory to my clothes!
We went on like that with those strip-and-rubber-band masks for a bit.
Once we knew we were going to need more “official” masks, I had a choice to make. And since I’m definitely an “I’d-rather-make-it-than-buy-it” kind of person, I knew that meant I needed to figure out how to make some better fabric face coverings. Then I remembered the scrap fabric pile in the basement and decided we needed a little bit of an upgrade. The second iteration of the Bearden family mask stash was a little better than these, and at least has some sewn elements, thanks for a PLETHORA of YouTube videos on the subject. (I’m not kidding, check it out, I am pretty sure EVERYONE has posted a video on how to make a mask as home! When you find out how many there actually are, leave me a comment and tell me the number, will ya? 🙂 ). Eventually we had a small stash of masks that were at least presentable in public, but that were mostly adult sized. My husband was the only one leaving at this time, since we were all doing school at home and we decided it was best for the rest of use to stay in as much as we could. He and I shared these first masks, and of course washed them after each wearing. At that point no one besides him was even really needing them, so we had only a few through which we rotated.
This basically got us all the way through the summer, as we tried to steer clear of places where we’d even come in contact with people. Our kids stayed at home, and we really only went on short trips to the grocery store–as were most others, too. We even managed a beach vacation, where we stayed in our condo and played on the beach by ourselves and again only ventured out a couple of times to pack our fridge or sneak a quick ice cream treat from a stand nearby. It took me all the way to June to even find a picture in my albums of someone wearing one of those masks I sewed. Seems like by that time we at least were willing to venture out a bit, I think mostly because it was summer and we could be outside.
The big turn came when–gasp!–the decision was made to return to school in October. Now, not only did A and I need a mask for every day, we also needed ones that we were willing to be seen in. LOL.
That began my search for a better design as well as prints and fabrics that were more fun. I mean, hey, if you have to wear something you may as well enjoy it right? I think by now I’ve gotten this whole mask-making thing down to a science, and can hand-sew a mask in 25 minutes from 8″ X 8″ square to complete mask with straps and pleats–like these that I just added to the stash tonight:
As I’ve been working on this post, going back to find pictures to use, I’ve realized how FEW I actually have! Some of that, I think, is because of how little we actually left our house over the last year, hence we weren’t places where we’d both be wearing masks and taking pictures. The other thing is that when we were outside, we tried to stay away from others, therefore not wearing masks. But that makes our picture documentation of the pandemic and quarantine look a lot like others years–I wonder if that will be something I will miss in the future when I look back on 2020. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. 🙂
I mentioned earlier that the return to school meant that we all needed more masks, and so I needed to get busy. My first pile of additions were made with scrap fabric, but were inspired by some of our favorite colors, characters and prints.
Once my hubby finally went back to in-person school in January, he needed another set of new masks since he’d now need them every day of the week.
Eventually, we just started finding cute fabric and making more masks not because we needed them, but because they went with clothes we have, or just because they were cute.
Like I said, I’ve learned somethings that might be helpful if you’re making your own masks. There are many, many tutorials online–and heck, you could probably figure out how to do it on your own if you already know how to sew. I used several different versions. The first looked like this, with a filter pocket and long straps so that they could fit both me and my husband. We just tied slip knots in the ties if they needed to be a littler smaller.
The style I’ve landed on–both because they are easiest to make and also because they fit the best are basically like what you can find on this post by Diary of a Quilter. We use 8″ X 8″ squares a little bigger if they’re for my husband’s face or a little smaller if they’re for my daughter), scissors, needle and thread (for hand-sewing), and nylon stretchy loops like you made potholders with when you were a kid. I found this pack of 288 of them on Amazon and will have plenty for a long time to come. You cut them in half and use one for each mask. These have been our favorite straps by far because they are soooo comfy and soft on your ears. 🙂
Whew. Wow–who knew there were so many words to write about masks? I certainly didn’t. Especially last year when masks weren’t even things I even really ever wore. Now they are everywhere, and despite what you think about their health benefit, they definitely keep people from knowing if I have coffee breath in the morning or if I had onions on my salad at lunch. LOL And that, friends, is definitely a win-win in my book.
Some might say that my family and I are creatures of habit. I don’t know why….every Wednesday we order dinner from La Catrina (and most weeks the bag includes 2 chimichangas, a cheese quesadilla and an order of carnitas); every Thursday is raid-the-bakery-at-Russell’s day (although this may or may not happen now on any day that they are open, cuz it’s all so good!); Friday night is pizza-and-a-movie-or whatever-is-new-on-steaming night; and we’ve been to Disney World as a family close to 15 times. Some would say my family are creatures of habit. I think I’d just call it “searching for regular status.” Or maybe “people who wish to be regulars.” You know, like when you’ve been somewhere so many times they know what you want before get there to order it. Or like at Cheers, where everybody knows your name.
I’m sure that I’ve given some thought to the “why” of the whole thing tons of times; I am by nature a reflective person and probably ask “why” about far too many things.
One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that some of my fondness for familiar things comes from having so much change and uncertainty as a child. Without getting much into the details, we moved a lot and I went to several different schools, which made making solid friendships tricky. I often longed for the things I saw on TV (and then eventually in families around me)—big families, living in the same house you were born in, returning to the same beach for vacation with your cousins year after year. Don’t get me wrong (especially if you’re reading this, mom 😊)—I don’t have bad memories from my childhood, I just didn’t really form any memories. Or at least not the Hallmark-movie kind I had always wished for.
So as I got married, moved into adulthood and became a mom—and therefore in more control of my life—I made a decision to do some things differently.
Back to my question up there at the beginning….it seems that one of the major ways the whole “searching for regular status” manifests itself (besides that long list of dinner choices I mentioned before!) is in the way we vacation. I already mentioned our penchant for visiting Disney World; my oldest kiddo is 14 and has been there 11 times. When answering the questions of why we return over and over, it’s hard to nail down exactly one thing. I guess I could sum it up by saying it feels like home away from home (or insert the other oft-given answer of “Disney magic” 🥰). We know the way to get to all the things, we have our favorites, we know which parks to visit and when (and what restaurants to eat at when we get there)—there’s no map reading, wandering around with confused looks on our faces, no uncertainty about what to do or when or why to do it.
We do the same thing with our visits to the beach: same hotel/condo, same part of town, same ice cream shops same general daily routine. We know our favorite restaurants but are willing to branch out to new ones each time to add to the list.
Which brings us to now. As I write this, I’m standing in a longish, Sunday morning line for a yummy San Francisco breakfast spot. The restaurant is new, but the street I’m standing on is one we’ve walked over and over. It’s next to a park in which we’ve eaten dinner and dessert and smiled at all the cute dogs and babies. It’s on the way to Chinatown, to the bakery we’ve visited four times (and is on the list for today!), and is on the way to many of the other neighborhoods and hidden places we’ve been discovering for the last week. Since we’ve walked it over and over we know where many things are, which direction to head when we leave the hotel, and also what to expect up around the corner. We are by no means experts (of course 😉) after 8 days, but we’re familiar.
And so to answer my own question, I’m not sure out-of-towners can become regulars, but they can become familiar enough with a place that it feels like home, calling them back from wherever they may roam in the meantime. And that’s good enough for me.
Man, this must have been a busy week because I didn’t blog all week AND I have pictures from things that happened a week ago. MANY APOLOGIES! Goodness. I will try to do better this week. 🙂
But for now, I’ll share pics from our first Read With Your Roadrunner. We had so many family members representing, and I love that kiddos were willing to share their parents with other kids who didn’t have someone (even with my own kiddo who needed someone since I had to be teacher, not mom–thanks Nicholas!!). We had several siblings who came to join us, too, and believe me–RWYR is always a GREAT way to start the day! Can’t wait to see even more next time!
Mrs. Weststrate and Mrs. Dix came to join us!
Josiah had two visitors!
Nicholas let my Allie join his family for the morning!
Ms. Clay read with Mkahi and Makenna.
Bennett and Campbell shared a book together.
Mr. van Alstyne shared a book with Thomas and Avi and he has a SUPER reading voice!
Well, over Thanksgiving, while I was working on dessert with my own family, it seemed to just make sense that our Rm. 202 family needed to make, bake and ENJOY a pumpkin pie together. I mean, come on, right? PERFECT!!
And of course, true to 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher form, this story is going to SUPER LONG because I kept the whole story to myself until the very end. Apologies–I’ll try to save as many words as I can and instead use pictures and videos of my kiddos instead of lots of teacher words from me!
1.) We used the 3 Act Task that I had learned about a couple of weeks ago to start our thinking about what would be the best way to cut our pie and therefore how many we might need to bake to feed our class. I showed them these images and asked what they wondered…
They came up with these questions:
We decided to tackle the last one: Which is the best shape of pie to make for all of us? But even before we could figure out the answer, we had to determine what we meant by the word BEST. We agreed that it was the pie that fed the most people with the least amount of work and the biggest piece!
We worked in small groups to try out triangles and rectangles to see how we could make those shapes and sizes work.
We eventually agreed that triangles would give us a bigger piece of pie, as well as would be much easier to cut all the same way (so it would be fair for everyone), and so another group got busy working with the recipe. We used this one, from The Minimalist Baker. It’s vegan and so perfect for all of the allergy concerns we have in our room (and which was why I tried it for my Thanksgiving, too–everyone could eat it!!).
We did some quick multiplication and figured out we’d need to make 3 pies to get enough pieces for all of the kiddos plus two teachers, and so then we had to look at the amounts of each ingredient we’d need to have (that way I’d know if I had enough of everything at home already like I thought I did).
Once we had the details figured out, the kitchen ok’ed to use (thanks Ms. Barbara!!), and all the ingredients brought to school, we got busy! We carved out the morning to make and bake our pies so that then we could eat our pie for dessert after lunch. I have to say THANKS A MILLION to my Rm. 202 friend Rachel for taking care of pictures for us while we made pies, and man did she take a lot! I cannot decide which ones to share so I’ll just play a slideshow here so you can see her great work and the smiles on all the faces of the Rm. 202 bakers! Plus I love how things look so different when someone else takes the pictures instead of me. 🙂
We got a little surprise when we took our pies to the oven to be baked–Ms. Barbara gave us a tour of the kitchen! What a treat to see where the lunchtime magic takes place and it definitely gave us more of an appreciation for what those ladies do for us every day!
We cut our pie (using our super smart thinking from math earlier in the week!) and then plated it, topped it with whipped cream (well most of us did!) and then chowed down. Some kiddos were worried that they would not like the pie, so we agreed that they didn’t have to eat the whole thing, but just take a “thank-you bite,” which is a way to say you appreciate the time and energy it takes to make a great dessert. We got mixed reviews on the pie, but I think the thumbs-up have it with this one.
I’d say these three were the happiest about pie. Could have probably eaten the whole thing themselves! Love their smiles!!
Ok, I will be done now, and will leave you with this picture. It sums up what I wanted to happen at that old kitchen table in my classroom and kind of reminds me of what Thanksgiving looks like at home. Only this one was celebrated with my Rm. 202 family. 🙂 I am definitely thankful for them!
I love how our school takes an effort to include all parts of a kiddo and their family in our learning! One thing we do on a regular basis is to host Read With Your Roadrunner, where kiddos are invited to bring in their family (or friends!) to start the day sharing a great book together.
This time we had even MORE guests join us, including moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas and grandpas! What a blessed group of kiddos we have in Rm. 202 and I love how even the kiddos who didn’t have their own specific guests were included in the other “families.” Another reason this Robinson community is the best ever. 🙂
Thanks to the adults and siblings who made this day super special for us. And in case you didn’t get a chance to join us, here’s a little bit of what it was like:
Can’t wait ’til next time! Maybe you can join us! Mark your calendars for January 13th, 2017!
I am often inspired by things I see. It goes with the kind of learner I tend to be, too, as things make more sense when I see them in addition to hearing them. So let’s start with a picture. It’s what inspired this post:
If you have been around here for a while, you know that I am a thinker. Sometimes I think too much. Like I-can’t-get-to-sleep-for-a-long-time-at-night-because-my-brain-won’t-turn-off kind of thinking. Most often, though, I can use my overactive brain for good things.
I discovered this bracelet the other night in my jewelry box, after not having worn it for a while. I actually forgot I had it. It was a gift from a fabulous family I’ve had the pleasure of working with at school. I was lucky enough to have taught two of their children–one of them twice! As I looked down at the charm, I thought of how “Let Creativity Rule” could really be one of the phrases for my life. It seems to come up in so many places for me.
In my classroom, I try to be the kind of teacher who is a facilitator and a designer, rather than a dictator or an information-dumper (yeah, I just made that up, I think). I believe that knowledge is most powerful when you create it for yourself, and that connections kids make on their own mean much more than ones I make for them. I see my role as an educator as the one who helps create opportunities for my learners to figure things out, to put things together, to wonder and then discover answers for themselves. Don’t get me wrong–there are times when you have to lay it all out there, because yes, there are some things that kiddos would never just find out without guidance. But for the most part, I want my students to be in charge of their learning.
Alongside the opportunities, comes the freedom to make choices about how that learning will happen. There are very few things in my classroom that I have to have happen a certain way; labeling is one of the things I care deeply about, as well as coloring-coding certain things we use all the time, as a means of helping to keep things organized. Oh, and fonts. I love them. I collect them in fact, and usually have one as my “go-to” font for the year. And yes, I have been known to recreate forms and sheets that people share with me because I have to make them look a certain way. Hey–everyone has something like that right? But outside of those couple of things, my children are free to make decisions about what and how they learn things, as well as how they demonstrate that learning. I want my kiddos to have a variety of ways to show what they know; not everyone can best do this with pencil and paper as is typical in many classrooms. It is common for my students to show their understanding of a concept by building with Legos, using big wooden blocks, drawing a picture, acting it out, recording themselves talking about it, writing a story (or some other kind of explanation) and yes, sometimes by taking a test. The possibilities are endless, and one of the things I like the best is that sometimes kids come up with ideas that are even better than an option I could have given them. The point is showing me–as well as their classmates–that they understand what they’re learning.
I appreciate creativity in my life outside of school, as well. Part of what balances me in my work life is taking the time to “play” and do things that bring out my crafty side. I like to sew, to design, and to build things. While I would not say I am particularly gifted in any of those areas, it’s another way to use my brain, and I enjoy seeing the products of my handiwork (and just in case you’re interested, I think I even wrote about it a few years ago on this blog…)
The other thing I was thinking as I was looking at my hand (that sounds really funny, doesn’t it?) is how important my family is to me. My wedding rings remind me of my fabulous hubby and our amazing kids, and how lucky I am to have them. I don’t think I would be the teacher I am, actually, without them. I take so much of them to school with me, and they often help me think through struggles I’m having and help me solve problems (my son is really helping me this year since he was in 1st grade last year, I run a lot of ideas by him before I try them with my Rm. 202 kiddos!). My husband is a teacher, as well, and I know that while there is a LOT of shop talk at our house, I am so grateful to have a spouse who “gets” what I do. We have even taught the same grade levels at times, which makes for another layer of fun as we brainstorm classroom ideas together. I have been thinking lately how much being a mom helps me as a teacher, too. Don’t get me wrong, you can be a GREAT teacher without being a parent, but for me, there has been another level of understanding since I’ve had kids of my own. Oh, and now that my kids are in school, I have a much better understanding of what it means to give your baby over to the care of someone else. I am so blessed that the families I work with let me do that every day. Believe me–I do my best to do them proud and take good care of their little ones, as I would hope would happen for mine!
It’s funny how just seeing something can spark so many things in your brain. What image or picture have you been inspired by lately? What phrase would you say defines your life? How do you let your creativity rule? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment and tell me all about it! 🙂
On Friday we had our very first Read With Your Roadrunner event at our school. It was an opportunity for parents, grandparents, friends–anyone–to come and read with their Roadrunner for the start of our day. Enjoy some pics from a great event–in Rm. 202 and all of Robinson School! So excited for the next one. 🙂
Diego and his mom enjoy a story together!
JKB’s mom got to stay and share a story with he and Emily for a little while.
Briannia and Amelia are checking out her bookbox together.
Two more super-focused Roadrunners–Sara and Makayla–read together.
Some friends chose to read alone: Kylie is busy with a favorite story.
Evan, his mom and his baby sister are enjoying a new Captain Underpants book–another good find from our book fair!
JKB and Thomas checking out a non-fiction text about lions.
The group on the carpet got bigger!
Ella Marie reads quietly at her table to start the day.
Lauren brought her brother and her mom to read together with her!
I think that by the end of our time, Diego’s mom had read to most everyone in the room! What a great sport she was. 🙂
Love seeing friends sharing books together. 🙂
Even little Roadrunners can read together–C.J. and Landen are checking out a new book fair book–Bugs in My Hair!
(Ava, Millie and Charlie were also enjoying this time with their families in other parts of the building, so sorry–no pictures! 😦 )
What a great way to share a love of reading, time with our families and start our Friday off on a good foot!
What was your favorite part of Read With Your Roadrunner?
Ok, I’ll give you one guess as to where we went. Alright, you can have two or three guesses if you need them, but if you know me at all, or if you’ve spent any length of time here on this blog you already know the answer.:
This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!
We spent the first 10 days after school was out in our favorite place, which is the week we typically go because it’s not too hot yet, and the crowds aren’t as crazy as later on in the summer. This year’s weather was a little weird, though, because Tropical Storm Andrea decided to come for a visit at the same time as we did. It was rainier than normal (not the usual 3 o’clock shower that is over in 5 minutes) and cloudy most of the time we were there. But hey–we didn’t let that get us down! We’ve been to WDW many times, but we always find a way to make new memories. Two highlights from this trip were the Princess dinner we had at Akershus Royal Banquet hall–in Epcot’s Norway pavilion–for Allie (which we actually went to on Daddy’s birthday–HA!) as well as a Pirate cruise that Riley took with a small group around Crescent Lake near Epcot.
I was so surprised as how shy she was around the princesses. Those are pretty much the only two that she would talk to–when the others came around she was buried in my shoulder hiding her face! She did the same thing for Mickey and the others, too, which just surprised me because of how naturally outgoing she normally is! Our prince was not at all bothered by all the pretty ladies who came to our table, though, and he took pictures with them instead!
I don’t really have many good pics of Riley’s cruise, but that’s mostly because I wasn’t there! He took off in his pirate skipper with the tour guides and 5 or 6 other kiddos in search of Captain Stinkyfeet who had stolen the pirate treasure! I was so proud at his willingness to do that without us (he’s learning to let go 🙂 ) and he had a SUPER time. It was all he could talk about for days afterward!
The one other highlight of the trip was meeting up with some an old 5th grade friend and his family who happened to be there at the same time as we were:
What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents! Fun in the Florida sun! (Doesn’t Riley look like he could be related to all of them?)
Disney is usually our big excursion for the summer, but this summer we finally got around to going somewhere else in the world (which is honestly a BIG DEAL for our family!). So in July we packed up and headed east to Charlotte, NC to visit some friends who had moved there a few years ago. We spent a lovely weekend with their family (of which I have NO pictures–I realized this after we were home…) and then headed to Asheville for the next few days. We were excited to see the mountains, as well as enjoy Asheville’s food scene, which is focused on sustainable, local, fresh ingredients and is right up our alley!
Several days we went driving on the Blue Ridge parkway, which is the scenic route through the Blue Ridge mountains and afforded us some AMAZING views, along with tunnels and roadside overlook points to stop and check out. We went shopping, ate some fabulous food, and also visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center. While we’re definitely still lovers of all things Disney, this was a great time for our family and it’s the trip that Riley keeps going back to when he reminisces on his summer fun!
This one cracks me up! Just an example of the cool rocks we drove next to on the road–here we stopped to look at the water running down the walls. Obviously it was more interesting than smiling at me for the picture!
We also learned that Asheville is home to the highest point east of the Mississippi river–Mount Mitchell. So fun to trek to the top of it! Such beautiful views from way up there!
Doesn’t that picture just say it all? WE HAD FUN!!
What did you do this summer? What adventures did you go on? Where did you visit? Leave a comment and tell me all about it! Send me a picture, 5th grade friends, and I’ll add it to the blog! 🙂