Preparing for my final slice of the year, I wasn't sure what to write about.
It has been an emotional week.
It has also been a stressful week.
In my last few posts, I've been trying to focus on positive things as I've tried to deal with my emotions and compartmentalize each thing so I could deal with it with the least amount of stress possible.
Last Wednesday, a friend committed suicide.
On Sunday, I learned out that an amazing coworker died.
They say that death comes in 'threes'.
I really hope that that isn't true this time.
I am scared that someone else will die.
On Wednesday, I grabbed my headphones and went to Mercy Park to run up and down some stairs.
Music and a good hard workout allowed me to think and process.
I'm off for now. Hoping for sunny skies and happy times next year.
Last year, I finished my Master's Degree.
Going in, I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn't realize how accomplished I would feel when it was all over.
It is just a piece of paper.
Most of my colleagues already have degree.
But working full time and actually finishing something so hard felt really really good.
Someday I would love to to take some Master's level art classes for fun. I can also see myself teaching at a university.
My degree is in Educational Administration, but that isn't where my passion is....I had one really great boss who inspired me to get into leadership. Another boss made a comment that has always stuck with me, she said that I was a leader and that other teachers look up to me.....she knew that I have an ability to organize and rally support and that my influence can have an impact on other attitudes. I think she told me that as a cautionary tale. She wanted me to be on her side. And I was.
Even thought I graduated over a year and a half ago, sometimes I look back and wonder how I possibly got through all of that homework and research. Whew. I am so glad that is over!!
The Spiva Sketchbook Project is a year-long project. I signed up last summer and got my sketchbook in September. The books are fairly small, just 8 1/2" X 5". The books cannot exceed 1" thick. I was nervous about signing up for the project, because I was afraid that I would not make it a priority and I would just quit. But I've actually been pushing myself to work in the sketchbook. I don't have to submit it until August, but I've got a fair amount of the book filled up.
The paper in this particular moleskin is quite thin. It isn't ideal for two sided images because whatever you put on one page shows through the page behind it. As a result, I have filled my book with special watercolor paper, thick collages and all sorts of things I have found in magazines over the last 6 months.
It has been fun to carry the book around and have it with me when I am in meetings and stuff. Knowing that there is a deadline means that I actually have to follow through with the little sketches and ideas that I usually just doodle on the edge of a handout and throw away later.
I am really glad that I signed up for the project and it has inspired me to keep a book every year. When I turn this one in, I really want to start another one.
This year, I made it my goal to try to inject a little fun for teachers into the year. I contacted a couple of people who had mentioned wanting to try to plan some fun stuff on the last day of school. We met in July and put a few things on the calendar. Some things were really successful, others never got off the ground.
Springfield Cardinals Baseball game---We had a big turn out, lots of teachers and staff went, and a few took their families to the teacher night. We got shirts and hats and it was a fun night out.
Back to School Night---Crystal hosted the teachers who brought snacks and beverages to her house for a little back to school 'tea' time. It was fun and great to see everyone, pretty big turn out!
Alabama Concert---I tried to get a group together to go to Downstream for the concert. It was a Friday during football season so lots of people could not go. But we went to the Eagle for burgers and fries first, and the small group that did go had a blast.
Football Tailgating----Never got off the ground. Needed someone to be in charge of planning. Maybe next year.
Book+Movie---Julie planned several movie and book nights throughout the year. The first one was The Girl on The train. We had about 9 people read the book and go to the movie.
RSVPaint---Wow! What a turn out! I wasn't sure if very many people would want to participate, but lots did. We had dinner at 609 (about 7 of us) and I think we had 13 actually show up to do the Snowman Painting. Lots of people have requested a repeat of this event. We definitely need to do another painting party.
Christmas Party---I had put the Christmas Party on the calendar in July so we could get a spot at Club 1201 during the busy party season. I think everyone enjoyed the atmosphere, the food and the opportunity to bring their spouses. Oh, and the gag gifts helped. It was really fun.
Bowling--we took up two lanes at the 4th street bowl. After school on a Friday. Great time of year and not too smokey. We started at 4 and were done by 6. We just bowled one game, but it was really fun! We also went to see the movie A Dog's Purpose after several of us had read the book.
Dessert and hot chocolate----Who knew we would have such an unseasonably warm month! It was too hot for hot chocolate and coffee, but Sarah hosted a night of visiting and fun anyway. We met after school and had a good time visiting. It was right after the summer school meeting so many teachers could go since they had just left the meeting.
Movie and a book---Wonder. We read the book in anticipation of the movie coming out. We didn't schedule any other outings with Spring Break and the school fundraiser, it is a short month and hard to fit in anything extra.
What should we plan for the end of the year? We are considering another RSVPaint night, another Springfield Cardinals game, and probably lunch on the last day of school.
Well I did it.
I worked over Spring Break.
Sunday, I went shopping for decorations for the baby shower I am throwing for a friend next month. I spray painted a bunch of stuff gold. Then drove to visit a friend in Coffeeville, KS.
Monday, I sort of took the day off. I spent most of the day driving back from Coffeeville and then taking a nap. After that, I worked on the seating arrangement and name tags for my women's retreat. I spent over an hour looking at the names and figuring out who could sit where. I also helped my husband reseed our yard. He did most of the hard stuff Sunday afternoon....but on Monday after he returned from work, I helped him rake and water the new seed and clean stuff up.
Tuesday, I had to drive my husband to work (after dropping his truck off to get the windshield replaced). Then I went up to school to hand some artwork. The anxiety and worry of having so much to do after spring break made me crazy. I hung an additional 4 classes of masks, and prepped another 5 classes. Since I had 2 classes up, I just have one more to prep, but I have 6 more to hang (out of 12). I'm halfway done and would've done more I needed to leave wall space for the fundraiser. Then I had to rush over and pick up my husband at work so he could pick up his truck at the windshield place. Then I had to be at home so the home security guy could come by, which he never did. My 4:00 hair appointment allowed me some time to figure out some details of the baby shower because my hair gal is helping with some stuff.
Wednesday, I woke up early and baked banana bread. I also packed for a camping trip. Then I went to the DMV to get my driver's license renewed. Then I ran a few errands for the camping trip, we needed a few last minute things. Since my husband was leaving work at 1:00, I had a little time to kill, so I made new seating charts for all 12 classes. Then we packed up and headed to Devil's Den.
Thursday, while we were at the campsite, I worked on finishing up decorating the name tags for the retreat and I also worked in my art journal. Fun stuff, but still sort of work as the art journal is for an archive at Spiva and some of the pages will be displayed, there is a deadline and a little pressure to do something cool. I also read an entire book and hiked 3 miles.
Friday, we packed up early from camping because it was going to storm. When we got home, we spent the afternoon unpacking all of our gear and putting it all away. There is always a lot of laundry after camping, so I washed several loads of that.
Saturday I removed the old screens from a bunch of screen print frames and put new clean white silk screen on them. I'm going to recreate some designs that just weren't working anymore. I also made crepes for the first time, worked on laundry and cleaning.
Sunday we spent the day planting our new bushes and getting ready for the new school week ahead.
Don't get me wrong, I took plenty of naps and watched an entire season of Parks and Recreation. All of the 'work' stuff was done at a leisurely pace. Some of the stuff that I consider 'work' is definitely not work to other people. But checking the items off my to-do list makes me feel like I accomplished something.
I would've rather gone out of town and done a little traveling, but it was a productive spring break and I am sorry it is over.
I am the morning person in the family. I do not like to waste the day away in bed on the weekends, I prefer to get up early and get stuff done. (Annoyingly, I was up early every single day of spring break).
My husband is the opposite. He likes to sleep in to the very last possibly moment.
But there are a few occasions which inspire him to get up early.
Family Rummage Sale Day.
Black Friday Shopping Day.
And a new one: Sutherlands Early Bird Saturday Sale.
You will notice that all of them involve shopping or selling stuff. He likes to think he is getting the best deal possible.
Saturday, we braved the crowds for the early bird sale at Sutherlands. We are working on some landscaping projects so the more we can save on bushes and plants, the more we can do to spruce up our yard.
I was so glad to have my hot coffee in a mug. I was also very glad to have worn a sweater over my long sleeved shirt.
It had rained early in the morning so I smartly wore my galoshes. I rarely have an occasion that necessitates wearing galoshes, but splashing through the greenhouse puddles made me very glad to have them on once we got inside the crowded store.
My strategy is to impulsively grab everything that looks pretty. My husband likes to do research on his phone while we stand in the aisles, making sure it is the perfect plant, the best price, and that it will do well in the sunny or lack of sunny area we plan to put it.
We loaded up a big flat bed shopping cart with 4 pencil holly bushes, a spike plant, 6 sweet potato plants, 4 geraniums, a hanging petunia plant, and a dwarf weeping spruce.
I have wanted a weeping spruce ever since we visited Victoria, Canada and the Fairmont Empress Hotel had them growing in front. They were quite lovely but we haven't had a spot or the money for one. But they actually had a few in the Sutherlands Early Bird Sale and we found a dwarf version that is very slow growing so it will be a lovely addition to our yard. HAPPY DAY!
It was a very successful trip, and I was glad to be there early.
We have a room in our house with 7 small windows. The room has 4 doors.
One door connects it to a bedroom. Another door opens to the stairway leading to the backyard. One small door is a utility closet. The last door isn't really a door. It is an entryway into the kitchen.
The room also has a built-in cupboard for an ironing board, and another cupboard that holds the electrical box for the house. The room is unlike any other rom in our house. It has wood paneling on the walls, and a lower ceiling.
It also has a large door to the attic that drops down from the ceiling. Because the room has attic and basement access, it often becomes a dumping ground. We pile up totes and tools, that need to be taken up one staircase or down another. The junk sits around for weeks until someone finally remembers to take it down and put it away.
One third of the room is taken up by an opening in the floor and a railing atop a narrow staircase to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs, you can either go into the garage, or to the room which contains the washer and dryer.
Because the stairs take up so much of the floor space, the number of windows and the fact that the room is quite small, we lived in the house for 8 years before we figured out what to do with the room.
We tried making it an office, but the desk seemed too big and cumbersome in such a small room. We also tried making it a sitting room, but the room was too small to actual feel inviting enough to sit in for any reason.
After we tore out the carpeting revealing the original hard wood floors, we painted the room an autumn orange with dark brown trim. The room started to feel a bit like an English Pub. But with all the windows, it was too bright to be an entertainment room.
We tried curtains, but it was just too much fabric everywhere. The windows are short, but paired up, they are quite wide. The windows wrap around the room, allowing LOTS of morning sun since most of them face the east. (Especially since a backyard neighbor cut down two huge oak trees last year, which gave us tons of shade on the back of our house, our entire back yard and house are now exposed to tons of sunlight).
Frustratingly, since the sun is only in the morning, the daylight does almost nothing to my potted plants. I bring them in during the winter and they fare poorly in the room.
Despite the fact that there are tons of windows, it always feels sort of dim, like the light is getting in, but its just not hitting the plants in any substantial way because they aren't positioned correctly along the walls, and never will be due to the position of the doors/stairway/cupboards/etc.
The plants make the room feel so cluttered and full, but it is the only room in the house that is bright enough to keep the plants alive in the winter.
The lighting at night is terrible. One dome light in the ceiling and another hanging pendant lamp we have recently added do little to make the room bright enough to read or engage in any activities.
One day, I had an idea. We could make the room a breakfast nook.
Our dining room is quite tiny.
Our kitchen even smaller.
We could create a coffee station, and add a book shelf for my cookbooks.
If we found just the right tall table and chairs, and the right rug, this might become our favorite room in the house.
After some searching, we found the right table and some dark wood mini blinds to match the trim and the dark stain on the floors. The blinds work to block out the harsh morning sun, while still allowing us to control the sun the rest of the time.
Now, on the weekends, I enjoy my coffee and biscotti perched at the tall table while I read email and check Facebook.
I have to be quiet not to wake my husband sleeping on the other side of the door to the bedroom.
The windows look out over 7 backyards and an ally that runs between my house and the neighbor to the south. The windows face the sunrise and the electrical poles. Squirrels jump and skip along the lines, and along the top of our fence and pergola. Sometimes a squirrel will land on the window sill and look in at me, as I look out at him.
Birds perch on the black cables running between the houses. Neighbors work in their little backyard flowerbeds and gardens. Kids sometimes jump on the trampoline that was delivered to the backyard right behind ours on Christmas.
The old man in the house to the southeast loads up his riding mower onto a trailer and takes it somewhere to mow bigger yards than he has.
I can just barely see the traffic on main street, several blocks over, between a couple of houses. Mostly, the backyards are quiet. No one is outside.
This room is now where I spend most of my days if I am making art or using my computer, the table is the perfect height to utilize the light from the windows and it doesn't feel like a cave any more.
This weekend, we are going to put the plants back on the screen porch and the winter clothes totes will finally get put back in the attic. The room will feel a little less cluttered.
Just in time for me to start using the screen porch for drinking my coffee and using my computer.....
I am having a bit of anxiety about going back to school next week.
For one thing, I have early morning duty the entire week. I am a morning person, but I need time to collect my thoughts in the mornings and prepare myself for the day. Starting out with duty messes with my ability to be as organized as I would like to be.
Several things happen in April that always bring me anxiety.
First, my art order is due. I have to submit a requisition (with 6-8 weeks left of school) and on the requisition, I have to plan out everything I could possibly need next year. It is very nerve wracking that I could forget some vital art supply and have to go the entire year without it. It is also scary that I might use up something that last 6 weeks and not realize that I should've ordered more for next year. The turn around time on the requisition is SO short. I usually have less than a week to do the whole thing so there isn't a lot of time to make mistakes.
Second, we are having a writing and art fair earlier than ever this year. Everyone else is really glad that it is earlier. Everyone except me. Having artwork on display for the entire school by the 2nd week of April is highly stressful. I would much rather do it at the end of April so that we could have a little more time to get up, and make it look great.
Third, the exact same week as the writing and art fair is the mall art show. I have to have between 10-20 pieces ready to hang (notes sent home informing students) and I have to actually take the artwork to the mall to hang it and take it down at the end of the show. I'm always worried I will spell the students name wrong on the tag and have to go back to the mall and fix it.
On top of all the school stuff, I am also hosting a women's crafting retreat for 45 women, planning a baby shower for a friend and organizing activities for my book club the first two weeks of April.
Did I mention that my birthday weekend is over Easter this year? That isn't stressful, but it certainly makes the month a lot busier since all the other stuff happens right before Easter weekend.
After this relaxing week off, I am not looking forward to the next two weeks.
Camping is like pretending you are homeless.
It is sort of like that. But it is a bunch of other things too. Things that make it worth going.
When my husband and I got married 10 years ago, we put a bunch of camping gear on our wedding registry. Tent, cooler, air mattress, picnic set, stuff like that.
We haven't gone every year, but the last few years we have gone camping much more frequently. We recently found that enjoy the Devil's Den campground in Northwest Arkansas.
We are sort of glampers. We like to have our vehicle nearby. We like to sleep on an air mattress. We like to have toilets within walking distance.
Camping in the woods, with no one around is something we have done, but it isn't our favorite. Once when camping near Roaring River (in the wood, with no one around), one of our friends was chopping fire wood. He accidentally hit himself in the leg with an axe. It was terrifying. He had to go to the ER immediately. He was okay, but I do not like being that far away from civilization after that.
Last year, we went camping for easter weekend. We roasted marshmallow peeps over the campfire and colored easter eggs at the campsite. It was so fun.
Last month, we went camping in February for the first time. The unseasonably warm weather was perfect for camping. I don't like to go when it gets too hot or too many bugs. I want to enjoy the outdoors when the sun is shining and it is nice enough to go for a hike.
What about you, do you like to go camping?
The 3rd sad story always follows the first two after a short pause and a moment to think.
I usually put a plastic bag from under the table. Students can't really see what is inside, but it is sort of a big bag so they know it is part of the last story.
When I was in 7th grade, not much older than you are now, I painted my first ever acrylic painting on a canvas. I will show it to you in a minute.
I had spent weeks perfecting the painting. Really, a lot of time went into it as I learned to use and mix the paint for the first time.
When I finally finished, I told my art teacher, "This is so terrible. I hate this painting." Partially because I was just sick of looking at it. Partially because I knew it wasn't a great painting. My students say that sort of thing all the time about their artwork, so I know why they say that....but it always makes me sad.
My art teacher was wise, he said, "Well, you don't have to hang it on your wall right away if you are tired of looking at it, you've spent the last few weeks staring at it, you are probably just bored with it. But it is a good painting. Take it home, put it in a portfolio or slide it behind a dresser so it doesn't get bent or crushed. Someday, you will be glad you saved this painting. It is special because it is the first thing you've made, and if you continue painting, someday you will be glad you kept it as it will show you how much you've grown."
So over the years, I transferred the old painting, and a couple of other things we made that year from portfolio to portfolio. As I continued making artwork through high school and college, I realized my old teacher was right. I did get better. I even won a couple of awards.
My best stuff I had had framed. I had all the good stuff from high school in expensive frames, it hung at my mom's house.
But then, the Joplin tornado destroyed my mom's house. All of the REALLY good stuff was gone. It was either ruined because of the wind and rain, or blown away.
"And now," I say, unwrapping the plastic from the old canvas, "All I have to show is this old painting. The one I hated when I was in 7th grade, now I love. It reminds me that my artwork is important and I am so glad I've saved it all these years because it is all I really have."
The painting is of a spider. One of those black and yellow garden spiders, with a big web over a dark green and blue background.
When the kids see the painting, they know that I once started out like them. I made childlike artwork too.
Hearing the 3 stories is a reminder that they should save a few keepsakes from childhood because it just might be special or meaningful someday to someone.
This is my 'slice of life' blog.
My Art Teacher Blog:
This Little Class of Mine