My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home


Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦


Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

d083866d40c9b1d4315dacd55ecae882   20160826_104926.jpg

Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!


The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.


I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 


A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.


Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.


This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.


Weekend Projects – Successes & Failures

It never fails. I go to the project stores and get super stoked about getting projects completed from my to do list yet, alas, something that I’ve bought doesn’t work out. For example, the sliding back door lock decided it was going to break. I’d worked on it before and the latch was sticking and I managed to fix that but this time it wasn’t to be fixed. So I bought a new kit. Who would have thought that the stupid holes wouldn’t have matched up with the steel door? Figures. That’ll have to go back. Strike 1.


The door with off-center holes.

I know it’s February but I hadn’t turned on the two gas fireplaces yet. The upstairs one worked fine once I figured out how to turn on the pilot light again. The downstairs one has an issue with the pilot light and the flames seeping out in the wrong direction. Not good as this will require a visit from a technician. That will have to wait now. Strike 2. Bummer, as we really needed the extra heat downstairs. And my Dad has a blower that will fit in ours after they redid their fireplace!


At least one works!

Next up, ceiling fan. One weekend it randomly decided to drop from the ceiling. Upon further inspection, the entire METAL bracket had split and it was hanging by 3 of the 4 wires.  Yikes! The rest of the fan worked just fine and I really didn’t want to have to replace the entire thing. Luckily, I found just the bracket for $4.97 at Menard’s (11% rebate, too! Score!) It’s been driving me batty walking through the living room with loose wires and a gaping hole. . . Figuring out the wires with the 2 circuits was a new experience but I learned something new and the fan and light now works again. Yippee!


This is what our 13 year-old fan decided to do one Sunday morning.


The new bracket.

Our gable vent has had several mishaps over the years with children.  Who would have thought that a baseball could get lodged in it?  Or a lacrosse ball could wipe out an entire piece?  I finally bought a new one ($45 at Menard’s with 11% rebate) and used some left-over house paint that the builders must have left many, many years ago.  Now all I have to do is climb in the attic and get it attached. Hate the way it looks at the front of the house with the gaping, missing sections. The new one will look so much better!

  20160130_092302           20160205_175606.jpg                                                    Painting the new vent.  Our old vent, with missing slats. 😦

So I managed to get some projects worked on last weekend, which makes me happy. I also managed to do 2 short runs, help my son buy a car, watch a church service, clean the house, grocery shop, and clean the garage. The one thing I didn’t do this weekend? School work! A successful weekend, if I do say so myself, regardless of a couple of setbacks with the projects!

Home Improvement Rush!

In refinancing my mortgage I’ve had to make a mad dash to get things fixed around the house due to an upcoming appraisal. I am not the handiest of women doing these but I did manage to get some things off my to do list before the inspector came this week.  It might have helped that I explained to the appraiser that my teenage son had his bedroom door taken away from him. That’s still on my to do list, cut it out and mount it.  When he earns it back, that is! (Maybe I’ll give an invoice for the costs, too, while I’m at it!)

Ah, teenage temper tantrums.

Ah, teenage temper tantrums.

These closet doors were the easiest to fix, once I figured out where the hardware went! My dad helped me get them level. Set-back $120 from Menard’s. I did, however, get an 11% rebate that I promptly mailed off for.

Next up, holes in the wall and ceiling, also due to teenage temper tantrums.  I had searched on Pinterest how to fix some of these and it wasn’t as hard as I thought.  Not a professional job, by any means, but it’s fixed!

This hole was created when my 13 year old got mad and flung his chair across the room.

This hole was created when my 13 year old got mad and flung his chair across the room.

I used this to help fill the hole - about $2.80 from Lowe's.

I used this to help fill the hole – about $2.80 from Lowe’s.

Cross fingers - I hope this works!

Cross fingers – I hope this works!

So far, so good! I sanded it down and repainted the wall with leftover paint and it's looks fabulous. So proud of myself!

So far, so good! I sanded it down and repainted the wall with leftover paint and it’s looks fabulous. So proud of myself!

This hole was created by the 18 year old when he got mad going down the stairs. That one section where the slope is before you get to the basement? Yep, that's where it was. My eyes went to it every.single.time I went down the stairs.

This hole was created by the 18 year old when he got mad going down the stairs. That one section where the slope is before you get to the basement? Yep, that’s where it was. My eyes went to it every.single.time I went down the stairs.

Hmm, will this work on popcorn ceilings? Guess I'll find out!

Hmm, will this work on popcorn ceilings? Guess I’ll find out!

I used this leftover stuff from fixing the hole in the bathroom ceiling and then I did the Kilz paint.

I used this leftover stuff from fixing the hole in the bathroom ceiling and then I did the Kilz paint.

After - not too bad! The color is a little off but my eyes aren't drawn to it now.

After – not too bad! The color is a little off but my eyes aren’t drawn to it now.

Other than the doors, I’ve been staining the deck and have bought the materials to rebuild the screens for the downstairs windows.  I’m wanting to do some fun stuff this winter like replacing the bathroom faucets, redecorating the master bath, and (cross fingers!) redoing the kitchen.  I’m super excited that my mortgage is only for 15 years and I got a wonderful rate. It definitely pays to have good credit!

Gaping Holes & Popcorn Ceilings

WOW – I found this in my draft box from last summer! I’m still working on many, many other projects around the house but thought I’d go ahead and post this one since I had it ready.  Just keep in mind it was from 2014!

Yeah, these two don’t mix.  Back in November of 2012 we had a leak from our upstairs bathroom into the downstairs bathroom. It started with a drip from the ceiling.  Then, it was GUSHING through the air vent and even the fan.  My Dad helped us out by cutting out a part of the ceiling to locate the leak (from the shower) but unfortunately the fix required a plumber, pronto.

Several hundred dollars later, we were left with an even bigger hole.  It was patched up with extra sheet rock and left.  I had originally planned on having someone come in and either fix it or take down the horrible popcorn ceiling and make it nice and smooth but not only was this repair expensive but other stuff came up that just made financially impossible. Besides, I wanted to try and fix it myself without a huge cost. This may or may not be a big mistake but you don’t learn if you don’t try, right?

Yucky ceiling.

Can you picture this wide open showing the pipes? Yucky ceiling!

I had planned on fixing it that summer when I was off from school but lo and behold, I spent my summer recuperating from surgery on my broken foot instead. Soooo . . . it made my summer chore list this summer as well.  I did my research online on how to fix a popcorn ceiling by yourself and the feedback wasn’t very positive.  Mainly it said to use the spray can but it’s terribly messy, takes a looooonnnnngggggg time and really, it’s better to leave it to the professionals.  Yeah, right.  After all, this was a teenage bathroom. Out of sight, out of mind and he certainly didn’t care if the ceiling matched or not.

I bought something new from Lowe’s this last  summer to try.  It was less than $5 with my Lowe’s card so I figured if it works, great, if not, it was only $5. Earlier in the summer when I was doing another paint job I primed the area and yesterday I finally got around to getting on the ladder and attacking the job.  It seemed easy enough.  Stir and apply with a soft-bristled brush from the outside in. It looked like a grayish cottage cheese. Yuck.

Will this work?

Will this work?

I started with the smallest section in case it didn’t work and I gave up, starting outside and working in per the directions. You could definitely see a difference in the color but the texture seemed to match quite well. I used a knife to get in the cracks between the added sheet rock and the existing ceiling. I had to laugh, though, when my son came in and asked what I was doing.  When I replied “Fixing the ceiling” he said, “Why? What’s wrong with it?”.  Seriously?!  Hmmmm, refer back to what I said about him not caring or noticing . . .

Here goes nothing!

Here goes nothing!

First section complete!

First section complete!

All done!

All done!

It didn’t take me long at all to do – maybe 30 minutes – and the application was incredibly easy. Now I’m waiting for it to dry and I already have some touch-up spray ceiling paint if need be. I’ll be painting and thoroughly cleaning this bathroom next week when the teenage son is at camp. Cross fingers!

I checked it throughout the evening to see how it was drying. Fortunately the color went lighter but it still didn’t seem to match the rest of the ceiling with some patches on it.  I applied a second coat.  Did I mention that it’s hard on your neck and arm to be reaching up for so long? Well, it does!  I know I’ll have to paint over it but overall it looks like it’s going to work well enough to not have to redo the entire ceiling. Whew! (Update 2015 – I was very pleased with this product and it blended in very nicely with little color difference after it was really, truly dry!)


Ms. Independent

My significant other used to complain that I wouldn’t “relax” on the weekends. I usually have a to-do list a mile long and I actually enjoy accomplishing these things and marking things off my list. Since I’m the one that enjoys doing this, it also means that I’m usually doing this on my own. Hmm, Ms. Independent!  Well, this weekend was no exception. And even better? It was a three-day weekend due to a Conference Release Day! Too bad my body didn’t know how to actually sleep in on days that my alarm wasn’t going to be going off!

Friday consisted of an orthodontist appointment for my son, prepping for a painting job in my daughter’s room , a quick run on the treadmill at the Y (thanks to the thunderstorms in the area), cleaning the basement, prepping my vegetable garden (after the rain), and helping weed the front flower bed in our neighborhood before heading out for a night with my favorite girlfriends.


Saturday – WOW – it was a go, go, go day. I started early finishing the prep work on my daughter’s room and painting. I hadn’t anticipated it taking as long as it did but it required 2 coats and moving the loft bed back and forth and back and forth wasn’t easy. And the high ceilings meant up and down, up and down the ladder. No wonder I’m sore this morning! Not to worry, though, I still had time to do some shopping with my mother at Gordman’s, attend church, have dinner at Doc Green’s, clean the kids’ bathrooms, and yes, even though it was late, added new knobs to my bathroom cabinets.  I might add that I am so proud of myself using the drill and not screwing things up! I now do all of these jobs on my own and I’m learning so much.  Now I can say that I am no longer afraid of this tool!

I'm so happy with the way these knobs look! Good deal, too, $8.08 on clearance for a 10-pack from Target, with an additional 5% off for using my Red Card. Score!

I’m so happy with the way these knobs look! Good deal, too, $8.08 on clearance for a 10-pack from Target, with an additional 5% off for using my Red Card. Score!

Sunday was a catch up day to somewhat relax considering how sore I was but I still started a new cross stitch ornament, made some cookies, and ran 8 1/2 miles. (It should have been 11 miles but shhhhh, I struggled and *gasp* even walked a bit! I had to listen to my body, though, and let it go. After all, next week is another week of training.) The rest of the day has been kind of blah as I’m quite tired so I’m going to finish my day flipping through some magazines, sipping my hot green tea, and putting my feet up. Not to worry, though, as I can still feel that sense of accomplishment by checking off the items on my to do list! 😉

DIY Photo Canvas = Gorgeous Pic!

I am fortunate that there is talent in our family for photography. When I first saw this picture of my children and one of our dogs, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I had originally posted something similar to my Facebook wall but then, alas, I took my whole account down. Boy was I glad to find something on Pinterest! I checked out this post here to learn how to do it “professionally”. I didn’t have much luck with that part of it, but that’s okay.

So, some black paint ($0.60), a 2-pack of canvases (>$3.00 on sale) and some Mod Podge later (already had), I was all done. It didn’t take very much time at all although I spread it across a couple of days to be sure the mod podge was adequately dried. I added some chevron ribbon that came on a gift ($0) and since I couldn’t find the glue for my hot glue gun, I used my staple gun to attach it. The 5×7 print was approximately $0.78 Site to Store from Walmart so this entire project cost less than $5 (I used my Michael’s coupon as well as my teacher discount.). I then hung it on my bedroom wall. Love, love, love it!! Can’t wait to do it again with another print!

My three children and Cooper.

My three children and Cooper.

It All Came Crashing Down

Yes, I AM a fighter!

Yes, I AM a fighter!

The weekend following my first full marathon and my last blog entry, my life as I knew it came crashing down. It wasn’t something I had envisioned happening EVER. I was blindsided and the emotional roller coaster I have been enduring since October 19th has been no less than brutal. But I’m not one to quit anything I’ve started. Never have been and never will be. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one that had a say in the matter.

So true.

So true.

I have been adjusting to a different way of life with my focus on my precious Lord and Savior and an incredible support system of the best family and friends a woman could ever hope, not to mention my wonderful children and fur babies. I’m making my life simpler – by canceling my Facebook account, limiting who are my true “friends” are on other social media (I love the pics that people post on Instagram), decluttering and (hoping) to do better at not being so materialistic – and finding new inspiration or building on what truly matters (quality time with my children & finding time to do what I enjoy like home improvement, crafts, reading, for example). I had thought about taking down my blog but decided on a hiatus instead. That and I enjoy going back and looking through my posts. Maybe someone else out there may like them. If not, I’ll enjoy this little bit of selfishness 😉

One of my many favorite Bible verses that helps keep me going in this crazy place of a world.

One of my many favorite Bible verses that helps keep me going in this crazy place of a world.

Oh, and P.S. I prefer not to be too personal in this blog post so I have not divulged any specifics. Please don’t ask. Feel free to infer if you must, just know that I’m human and doing my best to cope in this new life that was not of my choosing. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you manage it the best way that you know how. This is my way of handling it. Oh, and I’m covered with meds & counseling, thanks 😉