School Days

We are settling back into the routine of school days.  Last week we had our 90th day of school.   We have been tracking the days as we count down to the 100th day of school.  I am over halfway finished with my first year of teaching!  It is hard to believe.

I’ve begun a pen pal project with a good friend from Oklahoma.  We grew up in the same little town, and he teaches 2nd grade in Oklahoma City.  (He has been teaching lots longer than I have.  I think maybe he had an easier time finding his calling than I did. :))  I am looking forward to our classes communicating back and forth.

My students are growing so much.  It’s inspiring to see how far they’ve come since the beginning of the year especially in their reading.   The vast majority of them began kindergarten speaking very little English so it’s just incredible to work with them and see how much they have learned.

My students are also a source of therapy for me.  For example, the other day the subject of my dad came up.  I don’t remember what started it.  It happens from time to time.

Students:  “Your dad died.”

Me:  “Yes he did.”

Students:  “What happened to him?”

Me:  “He had a heart attack.”

Students (one in particular who is the most curious little boy) :  “So his heart stopped pumping blood?”

Me:  “Yes, that’s right.”

Students: ” Do you miss him?”

Me:  “Yes.  Every single day.”

Students:  “Do you want your dad back?”

Me:  “I sure do.”

They are my talking therapy that I don’t do enough of.  I love them.

Herring Salad and Papa

It’s New Year’s Eve, and on every New Year’s Eve of my life, I have had herring salad.  I guess that’s not literally true.  I am not sure at what age I started eating it.  I do remember liking it though even when I was pretty small.

Herring Salad is a German dish and part of our New Year’s Eve tradition. The primary ingredients are potatoes, herring, beets, pickles and mayonnaise.  It’s very dark pink and as you might imagine, it smells a little fishy.

This year was the first time I had made herring salad without Papa.  Of course he has rarely been here with us physically on New Year’s Eve since we grew up, but  he was always very much a part of our herring salad preparations no matter where we were.

We’d almost always have an annual chat about the herring salad, and he always would ask me if I added an apple to it (that’s a secret ingredient).

Some years he asked me if we had added Spam because this is something we used to do when I was little.  This became kind of a joke because none of really eats Spam anymore.  (nor do most of us eat herring except for on New Year’s Eve – except for Papa. He did.)

After we all had digital cameras, phones, email and social media, we would share our pictures of herring salad with each other.

I was looking through old emails this morning and I found this one from Papa.  He wrote it on 12-31-12:

“This is very essential. Do not put Herring salad in a plastic bowl and do not eat with plastic fork or spoon. Happy New Year to all of you. Papa.”

(Papa never liked eating with or on plastic ever.  Just in case you thought the herring salad might cause the plastic to disintegrate – it does seem like it has that power).


This year I felt the comfort of tradition.  As I chopped up all the ingredients, I felt as though Papa was right there with me.  He knows that I added the apple, and that there is no Spam in the salad.  He’s happy that the tradition continues.  Happy New Year!

A Journal

I realized today that I haven’t blogged since two days before my dad died.  My world is now divided into before and after him dying.  On August 5th, I wrote a post and had no idea that two days later everything would change, and that it would be terrible.

But Papa enjoyed reading my blog, and he’d be glad that I was going to continue writing.  He’d love my stories about teaching.  I wish I could share them with him.

My mentor and friend told me that I should keep a journal about my teaching.  I am 50 days in now, and I haven’t written anything down.  I am going to try to be more diligent about writing.  Teaching keeps a person darn busy.

I am teaching 2nd grade at a school comprised of primarily Hispanic students.  Every one of my students are Hispanic and are English Language Learners.  They are the absolute best.  They are energetic and chatty, and man do they challenge my patience every single day.  But at the same time, they are so curious, loving and generous, and I could not be happier to be spending my days with them.

A couple of little stories: They like it when I play music for them, and lately their favorite song is “Country Roads Take Me Home” by John Denver.  I have no idea how they even know that song.  One student knew it I think, and he asked me to play it.  They all love it.  I’ve started ending the day with this song.

They bring me stuffed animals as gifts.  I say “are you sure you want to part with these”?  They insist and I display them on my former tv stand above my desk.  One day, a student brought me playdoh.  “I thought your son might like to play with this.”  These kids typically do not have a whole lot, but they share everything they have.  They love hearing about Davey too.  They want me to bring Davey, David and Buster to school so they can meet them.  I will make sure that happens.

I have a bracelet that Papa made me on his lathe, and I wear it every day now.  One of my students was so curious about how it was made.  He kept asking me when I was going to show them a video of how to do it.  I finally found a youtube video of a person making a bracelet on a lathe.  He loved watching it.

This is not an easy fall for me, but I am very thankful for these students.  I am glad I decided to start writing about them, because it reinforces to me just how lucky I am to be teaching them.










Blue Scarf

Last Christmas, I got some yarn to make David a scarf.  I began knitting on it here and there throughout the year since then, and I actually finished the scarf last week!  I made it with this amazing worsted weight squishy wool yarn which I am almost 100% sure is Madeleine Tosh (but which might be Malabrigo).   This is not a great picture, but you can kinda see what an awesome yarn this is.


I just did a basic 1×1 rib and slipped the first stitch of each row.  One of the very first things I ever knitted was a scarf in this pattern.  It was a basic Jared Flood pattern.  When I made that scarf back in 2008, I was brand new to kitting.  I read his pattern, and I had no idea what it meant to slip a stitch.  So – I emailed him and asked him.  He was kind enough to email me back and patiently explain to me what it meant to slip a stitch.  He wrote me an answer in which he did not at all suggest that this was probably the easiest thing on the planet to do in knitting.  You literally just move the stitch from the left needle to the right needle without knitting it.  You just move it.  I always thought that was just so nice of him to be so understanding of the cluelessness of an inexperienced knitter.  I have followed his knitting ever since (and his founding of his own American yarn company!).  He and several designers write the most beautiful patterns for Brooklyn Tweed.

Here’s another not great picture, but I got Davey to help me out:


This is a great pattern for a beginner (once you get the whole slip a stitch thing down), and it’s a great pattern for mindless (or maybe better put meditative) knitting.


The other day I posted a little about getting my classroom ready.  I had painted wooden letters spelling the word  – READ.



I finished them off by putting them on some Memo/Photo alligator clasps.  I love how this turned out.  It’s really simple.


I have it on the window sill in my classroom.  I tried to take a picture of it, but the sun was streaming in from behind and I couldn’t get a decent shot.

Work continues in getting my classroom ready.  I am happy as a clam doing it though so I don’t consider it work at all!

Back to the Blog

It’s time to get back to my blog.  This was my longest stretch in awhile of not blogging.  It has been a busy year of student teaching, substitute teaching and then a thankfully relatively brief hunt for a job.  In the meantime, I have still been knitting and now I hope to spend some time on my blog documenting both knitting, family and some my first year of teaching.

In September I will start teaching 2nd grade, and a good portion of my summer has been and will continue to be spent preparing my classroom.  There is so much to do.  But it’s good work, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

I am also doing some knitting this summer.  I made a Gaptastic Cowl recently with just one skein of worsted Shepherd’s Wool yarn.  It’s not overly long, but I can wrap it around my neck twice.  I am almost looking forward to cold weather so that I can wear it.  (Emphasis is on the almost looking forward to cold weather.)


I also have a bunch of cotton that I wanted to knit so I’ve been working on a market bag.  The pattern is called Ilene Bag.  It’s been great fun to knit.  I liked knitting the rectangular bottom and then picking up stitches to knit the side.  I kinda had it in my mind though that it was going to be a quick knit, but it seems like it is taking forever.  I have been working on the strap for what seems like weeks, and I still don’t think it’s quite long enough.


The bag is a combination of about 4 skeins of leftover cotton, but I am liking the look of it.

Part of the fun of getting ready for school is the opportunity to make stuff.  For example last weekend, I made some name sticks.  I have a teacher friend who used these and I just really liked them and decided to make my own for my class.


Now I just need to add the student names.

Davey and I painted some READ letters yesterday.  I like getting him involved, and he likes being involved.


I think I am going to put these on alligator photo clips and put them in my reading nook that I am slowly trying to create.

Next on the list, I want to get David back to school with me.  I have some plans for my walls, and he’s agreed to help me make some big ole posters.  I will look forward to sharing those as well!


Gnome Mitten: Completed

So almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post about how I was going to complete some projects. One of them was a mitten.

This is the picture I posted then:


So that was last March.  Today, I got the mitten out again.  Here is how it looked almost a year later:


Who knits almost an entire mitten and then puts it away, unfinished, for almost a year?

So today I finished the mitten.  I was supposed to do the thumb in a continuation of a gray and red pattern, but I decided that this was entirely too fiddly for me to want to accomplish with the thumb (This may have been the main reason it sat unfinished for so long now that I think about it).  I was really not enjoying it, so I took out the thumb, and I started again.  This time I knitted it all gray.


Yay!  I am not thrilled with the base of the thumb.  I am not thrilled with the color work on some of the gnomes.  I have some wonky eyes.  I have some wonky gnomes altogether. The mitten does fit pretty well, although it is a little snug across the widest part of my hand.

I am just happy that it is done.  Now the problem is that mittens come in pairs.  I really have no desire to knit the second one right now.  I enjoy color work, but some of the color work on this mitten involves handling three colors at once.  I am not a fan of managing three colors at all.  They get all tangly.

Maybe I will make the second one at some point.  I am a better knitter (I think) then I was a year ago, so it would probably turn out nicer.  Then though, the first one would look even wonkier.    Maybe I will see if it will work as an oven mitt.  There’s an idea.