Sunday, November 29, 2009


Last December I made snowflakes with two groups of my students. They turned out really nice, and a few of you asked me for directions.

Well...Miss Procrastinator here has finally gotten her act together and I just spent a little bit of time making a snowflake and taking pictures so that you could see how easy it really is.

First, you need to have paper (I just used regular printer paper), a ruler, a pencil, scissors, and a glue stick (or glue...or even a stapler if that's all you have). Marina insisted on getting in the picture, and the flowers were from Patty, Tim, and Holly when my grandma passed away recently.

The next thing you need to do is make the paper square. When I did this with the kids, we used 4" x 4" squares, but for demonstration here, I cut them to 8 1/2" squares. You will need a total of six square sheets per snowflake.

Take one sheet, and fold it in half diagonally. (For those of you who are teachers, this can tie in several state math least it does here in Ohio!)

Then you will fold the triangle in half again.

Now you need to get ready to cut. It is extremely important that you cut in the right place, or it won't work out right. I put notes where each edge is supposed to be.

I also used a ruler to draw lines for the kids. The lines are parallel to the 4 edged side AND you cut from the folded side. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE END. You need to get fairly close. It is important that you make THREE cuts. This will all make sense in a minute.

After making the three cuts, open up the paper. It needs to look like this. If, for some reason, it doesn't, then you will need to try again, making sure that you cut from the proper edge (the fold), and parallel to the correct side (the 4 edged side).

Okay, here is where it can start to get tricky. You will take the center most pair of cuts and roll them into the center, gluing them. I use a pencil or something else round so that I don't press too hard and flatten this section. When doing this with 4" x 4" squares, a pencil fits in there just right. In this example, it's obviously too big, but at least I was able to apply pressure for a few seconds while the glue set up, without flattening the roll.

This is how it will look when you are finished:

Now, turn the paper over, so that the roll is underneath.

You will need to pull the next pair of cut sections together and glue them.

Once that second pair is glued together, turn the paper back over, so that the first curl is facing up.

Now you will glue together the third pair of cuts to make another curl.

Turn the paper over yet again, then glue the fourth and final curl together.

If you've done everything properly, this is what your paper will look like. It doesn't look much like a snowflake yet, but it will, so don't worry!

NOW....comes the fun part! Make five more.

Yes, that's right. You need a total of six of these. Remember, snowflakes have six sides!
Okay, now that you have SIX of these made, we're going to work with three at a time. It is extremely important that you line them up facing the same direction. In this photo, the one on the far right is backwards. If you look closely, you can see that the outermost curl is on the left side, whereas with the other two, the outermost curl is on the right side. (Also it may be noted that Marina vacated her position on the table and Pepina is now taking her turn at watching me.)

In this shot, I simply turned the sheet on the far right over, so that it is now facing the proper way. Now we're ready to start putting things together.

Pull the tips all together and glue them. They will look like this:

Gluing them at the bottom points will not provide enough stability, so you will also need to glue them together at their midpoint. At first it will seem as though they are pulling, but that is what makes the snowflake hold its shape.

Now you'll have half of the snowflake put together and it will look like this:

It's time to do the same thing with the other three pieces.

Now you'll have two halves.

Now you'll glue the two halves together attaching them at the mid-point of each half.

We're almost finished...

Glue the two halves together at the other end, using the midpoints again.

NOW, you'll see how the middle of the snowflake just sort of meets, and you will need to glue the two halves together at the center.

And when you're finished....this is what you'll have!

This makes a fairly large snowflake. If you're doing it at school, it would be difficult for the kids to get this home without it getting crushed.

By using the 4" x 4" pieces, the snowflakes we made last year just barely fit into a gallon size Ziploc bag. Once we got the snowflakes in, I blew into the bags so that each one was sort of like a pillow. I told the kids that they had to be very careful and they all told me the next day that their snowflakes made it home just fine.
Another thing we did with them was to spray glitter on them. I punched a hole in the top and put an opened paperclip through it. Then I put a box on its side and made a little hole in the top so that the paperclip could go up and through. That way, as I sprayed the glitter on, the mess was contained to the inside of the box.

This year I may just use either gold or silver spray paint instead of glitter. The glitter seemed to come off rather easy.

So there you have it...from start to finish with this sample, it probably took me 12-15 minutes. Of course I've had a lot of experience, and that makes a huge difference. With a group of kids it took a LOT longer, because I didn't want to go on with the next step until everyone was caught up.

If you decide to make the snowflakes, please let me know how they turn out and take pictures if you can!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holidays, Part One

As most people, I enjoy the holiday season. Thanksgiving is my favorite, though, because it's mostly about family...well, food too, of course...but for me, I enjoy the family aspect most of all. Christmas creates a lot of pressure, but I've already delved into that subject in Christmases past (and probably will again, sigh).

We have always spent Thanksgiving Day with "my" family, but several years ago I decided that we needed to celebrate this holiday with Ted's family, and thus began our new tradition of gathering together the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

We've hosted the festivities here, but this year, because I'd spent so much of the previous four weeks or so SICK, I bowed out. Fortunately, and unbeknownst to me, Ted's sister, Peg, was planning on hosting this year's gathering. Peg and Mac just recently moved into their beautiful new home right next door to us, so at least we didn't have to travel far.

(note to self: Peg really needs to look at her end table situation, hehehe)

Mac makes a wonderful, tasty turkey!

And Peg sets a very nice table. Heck, I don't bother getting out the china...maybe because I don't have any?

Holly, our niece, Patty and Tim, our sister-in-law and Ted's brother, are ready for dinner!

Peg is like me...after eating, I just can't deal with clearing off the table, so we just sit there and talk for a while.

We had a wonderful meal and an even more wonderful time.

Our niece Kelly and her son Michael "share" a piece of pie. I think Kelly got about 2 bites and that was it!

Our niece Holly lives and works in the Cleveland area, but was able to make it down to help us celebrate the holiday.

See this GORGEOUS cabinet??? Isn't Christmas coming up soon? you see this Ted??? (hint, hint)

We all spent the day together, but one of our family was absent... Alex was away at college. We missed him, but still had a great time.

Michael is two and a half, and definitely provided the entertainment for the day! He has more energy in his little finger than I have altogether!

On Thanksgiving Day, my family was here. We had a nice time, although I really seemed to struggle in the cooking department.

Most years I'm totally "ON" with my cooking, but this year, I was definitely "OFF." I couldn't get the dressing to taste quite right, and ended up adding too much liquid. Then I added too much salt to soak up the broth and butter. It was okay, but definitely not fantastic.

Then I struggled with trying to get a pot of chicken broth to come to a boil, so that I could cook the noodles. After 20 minutes of frustration and repeatedly saying "a watched pot never boils," I gave up. Everything else was ready to be served and the broth hadn't even come to a boil yet, and then we would have to wait an additional 20 minutes while the noodles cooked. I had simply had enough and made the executive decision to cross noodles off the menu.

Everything else went pretty well. The mashed potatoes always seem to be a hit (for which I am very grateful) and they consist of only three ingredients: potatoes, butter, and whipping cream. There were NO leftover mashed potatoes, so I take that as a good sign.

My Aunt D, the world traveler, was there.

Aunt D was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer and, due to that, had to cancel a three week long trip to Argentina. Fortunately she had trip insurance and will be able to get her money back.

She has been through her first chemo treatment and has another one coming up next week. She will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-6, then a month or so off to build her strength back up, then surgery to remove the tumor, followed by more chemo.

Aunt D is trying to get her point across in a discussion. I think she succeeded!

She is absolutely AMAZING! She has a fabulous attitude, and is taking this all in stride. She has had minor side effects to the chemo so far, and is really doing well.

Aunt D and my mom are sisters, but I don't think they look at all alike.

My cousin Damon and his fiancee Cathy make such a darling couple. Damon has an ornery streak though, so don't be charmed by his good looks. During dinner he kept refilling my mom's glass with Asti Spumante when she wasn't looking...and she just kept drinking it. But that's okay, in addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, we were also celebrating my parents' 54th wedding anniversary.

Aren't they adorable? And Cathy has the most beautiful eyes.

My cousin Davene and her husband Rick were also here. Rick and I trade barbs back and forth all the time, but I really do like him. I guess. Since he's part of the family, I don't have much of a choice, but to get along with him. He's just lucky that Davene puts up with him, hahaha!

Hey Rick...looks like a little Grecian Formula may be in your near future.

Just as my parents were getting ready to leave, I told them I wanted to take a picture. My father, the impatient man that he can be, basically said that if I was going to take a picture, I'd better hurry up because he was heading out the door. I had Joe and Alex get in the shot with him and my mom. Alex always has to add a little something to the mix when he's in a photo, as you can see by his facial expression. Apparently my dad and Joe didn't get the memo about smiling for the camera. My dad has gloves on....and not because he was cold. He'd been playing with Pepina and didn't want his hands to get all scratched up, so he wore protective gear...I still get a chuckle out of that.

Sure wish I could get everyone to smile at the same time.

All in all, it was a great beginning to the holiday season. Family and food...does it get much better?

Sad News

About a month ago I posted about my grandmother turning 99.

A couple of weeks ago, she fell while trying to get out of bed, even though she knew she wasn't supposed to even attempt that without anyone there to help her. She ended up in the hospital for a short overnight stay, then when she returned home, she just wasn't quite the same.

She had trouble communicating and was a little bit disoriented. Very quickly that turned into not recognizing my dad, and then calling out to her family members who had already passed on.

A week ago, my aunt and cousin happened to be with her as she passed away quietly and peacefully.

This has been extremely difficult for my aunt, as she was my grandma's caregiver for many years. Now my aunt is all alone in her home. I'm sure she'll adjust in time, but it will never be the same.

Rest in peace Grandma.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This afternoon I was working with a second grader. Joshua was having some trouble understanding the math concept of adding two two digit numbers with regrouping.

(That's "carrying" for those of us in the 40+ age group.)

I worked with him for about 15 minutes, and it was hit and miss. He wasn't consistent and my gut feeling was that he was doing a lot of guessing.

Suddenly he looked at the dry erase board he was doing the problems on, then looked at me.

I saw it in his eyes. They sparkled. He smiled really big.

"Josh, did something just click for you?"


He got it. We did five more problems and he breezed through them with no issues at all.

That smile and sparkle was so exciting to see.

And THAT is why I became a teacher. I wanted to see that.

I didn't become a teacher to do constant paperwork (but I know we have to do it). I didn't become a teacher to teach to "the test" (but again, I know we really don't have much of a choice). I didn't become a teacher so I could spend all day at work, then some evenings until 8:00 pm, or later (even though it's sometimes necessary).

I became a teacher because I wanted to see that "a-HA" and gleam in a child's eyes and a big grin when they "get it."

I love what I do.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Time For New Chairs

The recliners in our living room are three and a half years old.

However, it's time to replace them.

We ordered them, along with a bunch of other new furniture, when we were building the house. All the new furniture was delivered two days before we officially moved in.

A couple months after that move, we got Pepina. A year later we got Marina. A year after that, Oliver showed up.

Our cats absolutely love to claw on our chairs.

And we let them.

It's a trade-off...the pleasure that our felines have brought us is well worth them scratching at the chairs a little bit.

The other night Ted said, "Have you looked at these chairs??? We can't have people here for Thanksgiving with chairs looking like this!"

Well. That was all I needed to plan a trip to the furniture store.

We have a certain furniture store that we just love. It took four trips there to select and order our new furniture during the winter of 2005-2006. We ended up getting new bedroom furniture for both of our sons (bed, dresser, desk/bookshelf, and nightstand), bedroom furniture for us (we were still using the furniture that my parents bought for me when I was in 6th grade), two new couches, a chair, two recliners, three end tables and a coffee table....not to mention three new mattresses and springs.

Our salesman is so fabulous that he even came here when it was all delivered, and told the deliverymen which room each item went into. AND...he ran the sweeper over the new carpet in the boys' bedrooms. He even brought coffee and doughnuts for me and the deliverymen!

Anyway, our chairs are in rather sad shape.
We spent a couple of hours at the furniture store this past weekend and selected two chairs. One is in stock, and the other one was ordered. I've done a little research and hope I've figured out a plan to prevent the cats from scratching the new chairs.

We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ride 'Em Cowboy

Is this not the CUTEST cowboy you've ever seen??

Our great nephew Michael came trick or treating. As his great aunt and uncle, it is our DUTY (and privilege) to give him candy and sugar and get him all wound up!

We did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself!