Christmas in May

I have many summer projects on my to-do list.   One of the first things on the list is: getting rid of the clutter.  That’s right — reorganize the house to get rid of the junk (and in the process, make room for more junk).  Ha!

As I went through my old scrap space yesterday, I found Christmas photos buried under piles of stuff.  Yeah, mostly scrap stuff that I need to donate, give away, or sell.  I’ve never done a giveaway on the blog before, so perhaps I’ll organize my stash and do a giveaway here.

Anyway, as I was organizing my scrap stuff, I came across all of my Christmas embellishments and papers.  You know how some people are really into decorating for the holidays and they have a ton of boxes of decorations?  Well, I have very little holiday decor, but I have plenty of holiday scrapbooking supplies.  I have enough to put several December Daily books together without having to buy any more stuff.  Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Well, after a bit of cleaning, I settled in my scrap space (which is now a 6×8 section of our home) and made a layout using the Christmas photos that I uncovered earlier in the day. I used the December Green Tangerines Kit plus some fun embellishments from my Christmas stash.  I must say that the Green Tangerines kits are chock-full of supplies — I made some layouts in December and still have supplies left over for even more pages!

The following layout is based on the sketch 189 from Pencil Lines.  Thinking about entering it into their gallery …

Isn’t that ribbon awesome?

The button is from American Crafts and the merry & bright chipboard is from Scenic Route.

Stay tuned for some crafty projects …

Speaking of, I just wanted to let you know that Ali is accepting submissions for her Stories of Summer project.  Layouts, project, etc are due on June 9!  Check out the details on her blog.

Snapshot of the First Day of Summer Vacation

In my teens, sleeping in meant sound asleep until about 12 noon.  Then in my twenties, sleeping in meant not getting out of bed until about 10, maybe 11.  And now in my thirties, sleeping in means waking by 7 or 7:30.  And since it’s the first day of summer vacation,  you’d think I’d be able to sleep in later.  Nope.  Wide awake at 7:30.

I do my business in the bathroom, lace up my shoes, and head out for my usual morning run — except my usual morning run is at 5 during the school year.  I ran a slow, slow 4 miles, perfect for a first day of summer vacation run.

I take my time to enjoy breakfast, watch the news, smell the gardenias, and decide how I’m going to spend the rest of the day.  Again, I’m moving really slowly, enjoying each moment of my lazy, carefree summer vacation.

Our friend Cary said that he’d come over sometime in the morning to help us split wood, so while waiting for him, I settle on doing some yard work.  An hour goes by with no sign of Cary.  I decide that I’ve had enough yard work for the day and pack up my tools and close the gate.  (Now, our gate is broken so closing the gate is a big ordeal, especially when two large stumps of wood are used to hold it open.)  And as soon as I step foot into the house, guess who shows up hauling a big ass wood splitter behind his slow moving, oversized truck.  Yep, our good friend, Cary.

I spent the next three hours dragging tree stumps to the splitter  while Cary splits the wood.  As the pile of split wood grew increasing larger, I hauled it to the back with a wheelbarrow and stacked it in neat piles for the winter.  And in the middle of this, there was a freakin’ huge downpour.  Yeah, a downpour during my first day of summer vacation.  We carried on, despite the heavy shower from mother nature.

In the afternoon, I made an olalleiberry pie.

And for dinner, we invited our friends over for a little celebratory dinner.  We’re just all thrilled to be out of school!  We had rice + flank steak + salad + homemade vinaigrette + pie for dessert!

In the evening, I played around in my studio and made this simple layout using a combination of papers from the Green Tangerines Kits, which by the way is also on summer vacation.  The owner is putting the kit club on vacation for the summer as she works out the plans to reopen her store.  (Good luck, Kelly!) The contents on layout below came from this recent post.  By the way, I really love the Hambly woodgrain transparency.

Scrapbook Challenge : Then & Now

For your viewing pleasure, I am excited to share the layouts of our scrapbook challenge.

I used the GT April/May Kit.  (The papers in this kit are vibrant and perfect for your summer layouts.  More on kit contents later.)

I ended up with a lot of journaling so the picture flips open to reveal the story.

Journaling : 2001 : At 25 years old, I was a 1st year Teach for America teacher at Hollenbeck Middle School in East Los Angeles.  I was young, naïve, inexperienced, energetic, idealistic, and determined to reach every single student I came in contact with.  The 7th and 8th graders I taught in the first month of school carefully observed my moves and mannerisms and figured out that I was a new teacher.  They sensed my weaknesses and slowly ate me alive.

Due to an increase in 6th grade enrollment, my principal moved me down to 6th grade. Although I did not want to make the switch, the move turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I team-taught with Kelvey Stewart, also a first year TFA teacher.  Between the two of us, we had about 70 students.  I taught math and science while she taught reading and English.  We each had one ancient civilizations class.  We worked long hours, carefully planned each lesson to meet the needs of all of our students while maintaining our high expectations, dealt with a ton of behavior issues, tried various reward systems, and learned that teaching is way harder than it seems.

We struggled each day to keep the attention of squirrelly six graders and to be consistent in our discipline plan.  Our days were long and hard.  We became buddies with the night custodial staff because we were at school long after the dismissal bell.

Jose T. haunted my dreams that year (and many years after).  Although we experienced many challenges that first year, we also celebrated many successes.  We each established a classroom library filled with books of varying reading levels for our students.  We brought Ancient Civilizations to life with several Living History Days.

Together, we made a great team. We were the Dynamic Duo – relentless, idealistic, somewhat stubborn, and determined to motivate and inspire every student we taught.

During that year, I also became a NASA Ambassador teacher at Cal State LA.  I presented at the national NSTA conference in San Diego, CA and attended a plethora of workshops.  Teaching ruled my life.

2010 : Now, I’m 34 years old, getting ready to finish my 9th year of teaching!  With 9 years of experience under my belt, I am no longer as idealistic but more realistic.  I am now teaching 8th grade physical science in Elk Grove, CA.  I have a total of 220 students of varying abilities.  I no longer fear 8th graders; instead, they fear me.  I am strict and maintain an orderly classroom.  I still deal with typical student behavior issues but do not write as many referrals as I did my first year.  I am still energetic, enthusiastic about my subject, and inspired to make learning fun.  I do what I can to connect with my students but am not crushed if I don’t reach them all.  I am happy if I can turn kids onto science.  I am lucky if I can touch the life of one child.

I still work long hours but no longer spend endless hours at school.  I continue to improve my practice by attending workshops and conferences but I am more selective of the type of classes I sign up for.  I do more hands on activities and continue to build my repertoire, which now includes a Halloween Science Spooktacular Show.

Jose T. no longer haunts my dreams.  I am a good class manager and can get students to work.  I continue to create a safe and comfortable learning community within my classroom and provide memorable learning experiences for students to help them discovery the science that surrounds them.

When I joined TFA in 2001, I intended to teach for 2 years, 3 at the most.  Teaching once ruled my life.  After 9 years, I’m finally learning how to balance my teaching career with my personal life.  Aside from teaching, planning and grading papers, I now find time to enjoy my hobbies, exercise, read books, visit my family, and cook.

Love the design of Laura’s page — the awesome handwritten journaling along the side with letter stickers to emphasize her feelings toward her son’s 16th birthday and the strips of pattern paper beneath the photo with the bold heart.

Journaling : I know it sounds cliche but where has the time gone?  Each year on your birthday, I pause to remember your birth.  I was so scared!  I didn’t have experience with babies!  Look at you now.  Sixteen years old!  This tall young man that I use to rock to sleep in my arms!  Derek — I am so proud of the wonderful young man you have become and I look forward to all of the great adventures that lie ahead!  I love you!  -Mom

Love the orange/blue combination that Zarogina used in this layout.  Check out that precious photo of them on the right.  Love it!

Journaling : There are 29 years between one photo and the other. Carolina is my big sister. She always has taken care of me, since I can remember. She is very caring, protective and loving sister and despite the distance, we keep in touch on a daily basis. I admire my big sis, her strength and courage in times of adversity and all the difficulties life has put her through. I love her very much.  (Zarogina took the photo before she journaled.)

Here’s one from Emily in Australia.  I love the beige + pink + brown combination.

Journaling : At 18, I was still in year 12 at SOTE, self conscious and lacking in confidence in myself, worried about what other people thought of me.  At 31, I am happy and secure.  Loved.  In love.  A wife.  A teacher.  A step mum.

Emily is such an overachiever — instead of creating one layout for the challenge, she created two!  Love the scallop edges, bling + layering of the different pattern papers.

Journaling : Then : We were both still at uni.  We both had idealistic ides about what teaching would be like.  We were both single.  We both wanted to meet and fall in love with Mr Right.  We both lived in Brisbane.

Now : We are both experienced teachers (7 years in the job).  We both have high but realistic expectations of ourselves & our students.  We both met and married our Mr Right within months of each other.  You live in Warwick (my home town) & I live in Roma – 5 hours away.

I’m diggin’ the round doilies in Felicia’s layout.  (Felicia — is that a photo of you on your wedding day?)

Thanks ladies for participating in the challenge!  We look forward to having you join us again.  I’ll post the new challenge Monday (5/17) evening.