Friday, December 30, 2011

Run, run as fast as you wait, walk! You're in school!

The Gingerbread of my favorite units to teach each year.  We spend the week reading the different versions of the story, completing gingerbread man projects, and this year, we even sent paper gingerbread men to family and friends throughout the U.S. and received postcards back from our traveling cookies!

But the most important part of the gingerbread man unit, is the hunt at the end of the week.  Now my friend, Mr. G, has been hanging out in my classroom one week in December for three years now.  And each year he manages to sneak away and leave behind clues throughout the school that lead my class and I on an unforgettable hunt.  These clues say things like, "Run, run as fast as you can.  Go to room 13 + 3, that's where I am!" or "Run, run as fast as you can.  Go to where you eat, that's where I am!"

We travel to classrooms, offices, even the cafeteria, before we finally find him hidden in my ceramic apple where class treats are kept.  And so the story goes...

It was Friday afternoon.  Due to rainy weather during an unseasonably warm December, my class was having indoor recess.  If not for the piles of papers that get organized, desk that reappears, hallway window that gets redecorated, or papers that get corrected, indoor recess would be despised by me and my colleagues.  Let 'em play in the rain!  There is never enough space, never enough toys and games, never a proper clean up, and noise to make your head pound til dinner time.  This indoor recess soon became the noisiest yet.  Emma came up to me with a brown strip of paper in hand and said, "Mrs. Bushey, I like this note you put where the gingerbread man was."  Looking confused, I asked, "What's this?"  I read it and asked where she had found the curious rhyme.  She pointed to the pocket where our friend, the gingerbread man, had been sitting earlier and was now gone.  I turned off the lights and made an announcement to the class that our little friend was missing and that he had left behind some sort of clue.  I had Emma read the clue aloud.  Cue children screaming!  Bodies bounced like Pop Rocks!  I reminded the class that we had a Mystery Reader joining us after recess and the hunt would just have to wait.  No excitement diminished at this announcement.  I've never seen my class so eager for recess to end. 

Clean up consisted of hopping, skipping, hand holding, screeching, and a promptness that had yet to be seen.  The Mystery Reader arrived.  I must say, my class kept their composure well through the stories that were read.  Even amidst the excitement of an upcoming hunt, the magic of picture books can capture children's attention.

The hunt began by deciphering the first clue.  Room 13 + 3?  What could this mean?  To first graders, just beginning their exploration of addition, discovering the answer took some time.  Room 16 it was, but a few behavior reminders before we all poured out into the silent hallways.  "If we are too loud, the gingerbread man will hear us.  He could run away again.  Make sure you are very quiet and sneaky."  I tiptoed out of the room, with 21 tiny toes following suit.  In Room 16 we found yet another clue.  This one led us to the office where a clue had been left on the secretary's desk.  Then the nurses office.  The nurse had been so busy that she saw something brown quickly run through, but had no time to stop.  Band aids and thermometers trumped a tricky cookie.  We then made our way to the reading teachers' room.  A stuffed snowman held the clue for our ginger guy.  He was getting friends in on the act!  Upon reading, we made our way to the cafeteria.  Uh oh!  The recently mopped floor, left me to be the one to find what would be our last clue from Mr. G.  The clue that would lead us right back to where we began.  Our classroom and the candy-filled apple on my desk!  As I lifted the apple, it suddenly jumped from my hands and I screamed!  This in turn caused the children in the room to scream as well.  The apple mysteriously moved again and I tightened my grip.  When I was sure that all 21 kids had a view of the apple's lid, I removed it and inside we found our gingerbread man.  Of course a gingerbread cookie would have a sweet tooth!
The DumDums were gone, but inside he had left each child there very own gingerbread man cookie to celebrate the successful unriddling of clues.  Naughty but nice!  This cookie knew a cookie jar when he saw one.  Our new-found friend was passed around for hugs and then placed back into his pocket for safe-keeping.  This time we would keep our eyes on him!

That weekend, while perusing the children's section of Barnes and Noble, I came across a book entitled, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School.  In this story, the students bake a gingerbread man at school then leave him to cool during recess.  Our main character is not so happy to be left behind by his friends and sets out to find the kids who made him.  Adorable!  This book had to be read to my class!  I bought it and brought it to school the next week.  Our gingerbread man was visiting the first grade class across the hall.  He was becoming a very popular guy in our elementary school.  And wouldn't you know it, he led Mrs. Glover's class on a similar hunt!  Bradley talked about it the rest of the day!  He could be heard down the hall after dismissal, telling his dad about his friend, the gingerbread man, and the day he ran away.  Creating school cookie at a time!

<3- Sarah

Thursday, December 29, 2011

walking the dog

Walking the dog.......lots of people do it.  For some it is a necessity due to nature calling, high energy pups, or daily routine.  For others it is pure pleasure.  Peace of mind.  A time to gather thoughts and bond with the one or two creatures (or more....I mean have you met my sister) who love you most.  For me, it is necessity one day and pleasure the next.  Usually depending on the weather, the motivation, or just the mood of the day. 

Lincoln started out as a puppy who just wouldn't walk.  When he joined our family in July, he was almost 3 months old, and hadn't seen much of a leash in his short life.  He came from a breeder in Manchester, VT, where he ran with his brother, Milkshake (love it!), in the back yard of a family with a half a dozen children.  Free to roam with a pair of eyes to watch at all times.  Those first few weeks, a walk with Lincoln would last less than a minute before he would be belly down, usually in the shadiest spot he could find. 

Now being a 20-something girl, who really wanted a baby but settled for a puppy, I bought The Dog Whisperer's book, How To Raise the Perfect Dog.  From the time Lincoln, formerly known as Charlie, came home from the breeder, Andrew and I followed everthing The Whisperer told us to do.  We even chose him from the two puppies who were left the way the book told us to.  We were told not to choose a puppy with high energy or the pack leader, because these types of dogs would be harder to train and less likely to be "calm, submissive."  Well...we only had two to choose from, so Charlie it was.  We asked many questions and it sounded like Milkshake, who broke out of the pen first and laid Charlie flat in the grass while playing, was not the one for us.  Good ole Charlie, calm, submissive, crying the entire ride home! 

Anyway...Charlie became Lincoln.  Named after our road and his very first home away from home.  The Whisperer made it very clear two walks everyday were important in the bonding, training, and tiring out of our pup.  But I just couldn't seem to find a solution in this book for a dog who literally wouldn't walk.  Apparently he may be uncomfortable with the area.  So we took little walks at first, very frustrating little walks.  After about a month of walking the same road over and over, I knew this was no longer the case.  There isn't much that changes on roads out in the Creek.  He had to be getting used to it.  I began bringing cat food, his most favorite thing on the planet, and tempting him to move ahead with it.  Swiping it in front of his nose til he caught the scent and jumped up toward me.  As he got used to the swipe and move forward routine, I started to just use my hand without the cat food and that seemed to keep him going a tad bit longer.  To say the least....the first walks with Lincoln included no peace of mind, birds chirping, thoughts running free kind of feelings.  I was just glad it was summer and I was home from work to.....yes.....TEACH this dog how to take a walk. 

Fall came and Lincoln got bigger, much bigger!  And, I can't tell you when or how it happened, but that dog, he started walking.  We would go farther and farther on Waites Hill.  He did find some things along the way that would make us have to turn back every now and then.  For example, cars, cows, ducks, road signs, pieces of plastic laying on the side of the know....very frightening things!  He seems to gain energy (in other words pulling-power)  as we get closer and closer to home.  There's many a time when Andrew or I end up running with him the last few yards to the house.  There's no place like home.

Today, Lincoln loves a good walk with his two favorite people in the world.  We are able to take different routes, with very frightening things along the way, and our calm, submissive boy fights through and keeps trudging on.  He still loves the walk home more than venturing out and picks up speed as the scent of the farmhouse draws him near.  On walks with Lincoln I have learned more about my surroundings, grown closer to my husband, gained patience, ran into family traveling back roads, met my neighbors and learned their dog stories, cleared my mind, written parts of songs that will probably never be finished, taken pictures of farmlife and small town happenings, watched snow sparkle like glitter as it fell, listened to favorite tunes, and bonded with my dog.

Lincoln and I are due for a walk later....but to Tractory Supply with my dad first.

Happy feelings!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On and On

Two years ago, on Christmas morning, my husband proposed to me. 

As stated before, I am truly a Christmas spirit and have always begun celebrating the holiday long before my parents (as a child) or husband (as an adult) would want to hear Bing Crosby ringing through the car stereos.  I remember one year, as I placed a Christmas tape in the car's tape player, my dad saying, "Aw, come on, it's way too early for this."  My response was, "NOOO, Halloween is over, it's Christmas time!"  To say the least, an engagement on Christmas morning made perfect sense for this girl.

Our tree that Christmas....the scrapbook page is propped to the right.

That Christmas Eve, my husband had stayed up much later than me....wrapping presents and setting up the TV I had asked for in the kitchen.  When we woke up the next morning, I was not surprised to see the TV there.  I was surprised that it had been completely hooked up and was turned on.  I thought to myself, "I really made out well this year!"  We opened our other gifts and took a breather on the couch before the day of  being bounced around from family to family began...or in other words "family foosball."

This is where my morning becomes something like a scene from A Christmas Story.  My husband said, "Hey, what's that up there on the bookcase?"  Was it an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle?  No...I'd shoot my eye out!  It was a wrapped gift, looking much like the shape of a calendar, something that just happened to be on my list every year.  I grabbed the gift and brought it back to the couch to open it.  As I pulled the paper away, my breath was caught in my chest.  It was a scrapbook page...THAT MY HUSBAND HAD MADE!  Now after dating a guy for 11 years...this can really only mean one thing.  While I am an avid scrapbooker, my husband was not one to craft.  This page had two pictures on it, one of us from our high school graduation and another from our college years.  There was a poem written in his handwriting that he had copied from a page I had made of the two of us years before.  And at the bottom of the page, there was a little pocket that had letter stickers written out to say, "Will you marry me"  He had forgotten the question mark, but hey let's give the man some credit...he was scrapbooking!  Inside the pocket was my engagement ring, tied to a piece of gray yarn.  This is where the hands begin to shake and all breath is gone.  Andrew got down on one knee and put the ring on my finger.  Then he said, "Sooo?"  And I said, "Yes!"  I hugged him, kissed him, and tears came. 

My hands shook for the remainder of the morning.  Shaking as I called and texted everyone, who already knew and were waiting anxiously!!!  Shaking as I finished up craft gifts for his parents.  Shaking as I got myself ready to show off that ring.  Christmas morning will always be even more special to me....I didn't think that was possible.

Now 4 days ago, on December 22nd, my sister's boyfriend proposed to her.  Similar to my husband and I, they were at home.  Her boyfriend pulled out a yellow box that had been hidden behind their tiny apartment-sized Christmas tree.  He got down on one knee and the rest is history.  I am so happy for the two of them and I know they will share years of happiness together.  The large box of wedding magazines that I had been hoarding for years now, has been passed along to my little sister.  It doesn't make me sad to pass them along.  When asked how I felt after my wedding, was I sad or happy it was over?  I felt neither.  It felt perfect...I didn't want to plan anymore, but I hadn't felt overwhelmed by the experience.  I am hoping this same feeling for Shannon as she plans and eventually ties the knot.  I am hoping she will pass these magazines onto some other new bride-to-be with joy some day.  She deserves it.

Shannon and Nick at my wedding.

We can go on and on
Won't ever feel too long
I'll always call you home
And we'll go on and on
-Miranda Lambert

Hoping your Christmas was as full of love as ours.

<3- Sarah

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cake batter @ 6 am...

Your 20''s a decade full of many life changes.  You start out as a college student, concerned mostly with yourself, your classes, your friends, your parties, your way-too-far-away 21st birthday.  This usually leads into a career of sorts....possibly not the one that college degree wes supposed to get for you, but a job none-the-less.  As the years continue on, bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers begin to dictate your summer weekends.  You tend to see less of your friends and more of your family.  In my gets better with each passing day. 

Saturdays evolve from gatorade and hangovers to coffee and quiet to cereal and cartoons.  This Saturday, I woke up at 6 am and began baking cupcakes for my husband and sister-in-law's birthday party that night.  Licking Funfetti batter from a rubber spatula and wrapping gifts, so meticulously, as if the wrapping was the gift itself.  The funny thing about your late 20's is that, in the same weekend,  Saturday morning might involve an early rise for baking and wrapping and Sunday morning you're sleeping-in to recover from a late-night birthday bash!  At the same party, one friend may be taking their 2nd shot while another friend is showing you pictures of their son's 2nd birthday party.  You are stuck somewhere between bars and bibs. 

I believe there really is no other decade quite like your 20's.  It seems that everything your life once was and everything your life will become, collides.  You move on, leaving behind some passtimes and replacing them with others.  "Settling down" they often call it. 

As our wild weekends begin to slow down, the activities I get most excited about have changed.  I enjoy sitting on the couch with Lincoln and getting his hugs.  I enjoy a cup of coffee or tea early in the morning and sometimes at night too.  I enjoy watching a movie with Andrew, while GrayC curls up on me.  I enjoy a clean I didn't say cleaning the house....just a clean house!  I enjoy baking.  I enjoy reading novels and Country Sampler magazine.  I enjoy seeing my friends' babies, admiring at what amazing mothers they have become and how adorable those kids are.  I still enjoy nights out with friends, drinks, dancing, wild nights.  Probably always will...I'd just rather spend MOST of my time doing those other things I've come to enjoy. 

I always get the first photo with the babies!

<3- Sarah

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

livin on love

Tomorrow is pay day....yay!  Unfortunately....tis the season to be completely broke!  Checks are currently in the mail to pay bills that will pretty much equal most of my not-yet-received pay check.  My 27-year-old husband is turning 28 on Saturday so gifts, dinner, drinks are in the works....not to mention the fact that he's a twin, which means I also have a sister-in-law with a birthday on Saturday as well!  Can't wait, going to be tons of fun celebrating in Saratoga Springs but these things cost money...ya know?  Oh boy...don't remind me that Christmas is in 18 days and not all of my gifts have been purchased. 

While emptying the dishwasher earlier with my birthday boy husband I said "I hate being broke!  But I love being broke with YOU!"  If there were anyone I had to live paycheck to paycheck with it would most definitely be Andrew Bushey.  I could have a husband who panics and stresses and takes it all out on me with a negative attitude about our current (not permenant....we are still young and making our way in this big ol' world) situation, but I don't.  I have a husband who calms me down, smiles, focuses on the moment, cooks dinner, and moves on.  This is exactly what I need....remember that first husband type I described...well unfortunately that persona matches my own much closer than my even-headed husband's.  I am a worrier.  A trait passed down from generation to generation on my mother's side of the family.  It does seem to lessen as the offspring carry it on....maybe my future children have some hope at a rational-minded existence.  But they will always have their worrisome mother there to remind them of all the possibilities in every situation. :)

As my husband and I create a family of our own, there will be hard times ahead financially (especially in the month of December!), but the chance to live out this dream with him is something I would never pass up.  Not for all the money in the world!  I would much rather be "Livin on love!"

Livin on Love
Alan Jackson

Two young people without a thing
Say some vows and spread their wings
Settle down with just what they need
Livin on love

She don't care bout what's in style
She just likes the way he smiles
It takes more than marble and tile
Livin on love

Livin on love, buyin on time
Without somebody nothin aint worth dime
Just like an old fashioned storybook rhyme
Livin on love
It sounds simple, that's what you're thinkin
But love can walk through fire without blinkin
It doesn't take much when you get enough
Livin on love

If you know this song by Alan Jackson, you know that there is another verse about "two old people."  One day, this next verse will be true for me.  Maybe we will have a little more money, but it doesn't matter whether we do or we don't, we'll still be livin on love. <3  That will be enough.

<3- Sarah

Monday, December 5, 2011

While visions of sugar plums...

Working in a school 3 weeks before Christmas can be a bittersweet experience.  There are a number of ways I am reminded, daily, of the upcoming holiday and I love it because I am, and always have been, a true Christmas spirit!  There is a daily announcement email that is sent out each morning, reminding us teachers of the school events that will occur within the next month (most of which are holiday related), the windows of each classroom decorated with lights, trees, paper crafts created by small hands, and snow made out of anything from cotton balls to silver glitter, picture books being read aloud within the classrooms, full of characters such as The Gingerbread Man, snowmen of all sorts, and the all important, Santa Clause, faculty and staff decked out in their best Christmas sweaters, sweatshirts, socks, and pins, and students on a school bus asking the driver, "Hey Joe, is today a Christmas music day?"  Only the beginning of the many sights and sounds of the season I will embark upon throughout my work days this December!

As I walked my first grade class out to the buses this afternoon, while passing by a fellow teacher, she gave me that, "Oh my goodness!" look in response to the energy level streaming down the hallways of our rural school building.  I replied with, "Christmas is coming!" and I heard her quiet voice (she is always very quiet when she speaks....sometimes wish I could be the same way) come back with, "Visions of sugarplums!"  This reference to the classic poem, The Night Before Christmas, could be the very best way I have heard a teacher describe the anticipation felt by these little guys.  Even 180 years after it was written, these words still explain the pure joy felt by little ones at Christmas time, with simple sentiment.

Now you may be wondering where the "bitter" part comes in b/c everything I have written so far sounds quite sweet!?  Well...unfortunately December does not get to be all about our friends, The Gingerbread Man (one of my favorite units to teach all year b/c of our Gingerbread Man hunt...more about that later in the week), snowmen, and our old friend Mr. Clause in first grade.  There are still assessments to be completed, homework assignments, administration observations, etc.  (Man...talking about the sweet part was sooo much sweeter!)  It is not so easy to get 6-year-olds to think about spelling words when all those sugarplums are doing "The Twist" in their noggins. 

There are times when a teacher needs to sit back and let the excitement fill the room.  Rules, routines, lessons aside....children are what make the season magical and alive.  While adults are bustling around with shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping, cursing the fact that they waited til the last minute, children are making sure they watch plenty of Christmas movies, see the lights (I mean they really stop and admire the lights), savor candy canes, slowly and gently hang tree ornaments, and read and reread their lists for Santa as many times as possible.  Their little eyes grow 2x bigger between the months of October and January, there is sooo much to take in.  Over these next few weeks, watch a child enjoying Christmas and join in.  We can all re-learn something that we once knew and have now forgotten about the joy of the season. 

                        Love how the lights reflect in all directions through the top of this jar and the window behind it.

While I write this, in my living room full of twinkle lights (but no tree just yet)...I'm enjoying the TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a holiday tradition for many families.  I've seen it every year since I can remember!  This teacher is enjoying being a kid for the evening.  SHE THINKS I'M CUTE!!!

Lincoln and GrayC getting along....Tis the Season <3

<3 - Sarah

Friday, December 2, 2011

a little bit of life

When I first began my blog back in July, I had been inspired by so many educational blogs and the ideas that they were filled with.  I had known blogs were out there, but I had never really read anyone's blog until, searching for teaching ideas, I stumbled upon teacher blogs.  Now that I have been blogging (kinda...funny how teaching tends to get in the way of my teacher blog) for about 4 months and I have stumbled upon some blogs that don't relate to teaching, I'm motivated to begin adding some other life happenings into my blog. 

Teaching is an enormous part of my everyday thinking...escpecially b/c I don't yet have any babies of my own.  So it will make an appearance for sure, but with so many other wonderful things happening in this 27-year-old's life, I'm wondering, "Why not?"  Why not share a little more of what Mrs. Bushey is all about?  For example, I loove crafting!  After finding Pinterest and etsy, two crafter's dream sites, I've wanted to craft more than ever.  I just finished my first hooked rug and I'm looking forward to starting to knit my second baby blanket within the next couple weeks.  With my sister being a mommy-to-be, there are sooo many ideas, hopes, and dreams running through this head.  These are things I feel like sharing in my blog each day....soooo...why not?   I became a cat person in my college years, after rescuing a barn kitten that was left behind by her mother and littermates.  I now have two cats, the barn kitten, GrayC, and a chubby gray and white cuddler named Annabelle.  My husband and I got a Golden Retriever puppy this summer and named him Lincoln as a tribute to our first home together which resides on Lincoln Hill Road.  These lovies give me something to write about nearly why not?

GrayC's version of Facebook

Santa Paws brought a cat scratcher covered in catnip for Christmas!

The first time Lincoln ever laid in his crate by choice...we were thrilled!  It broke our hearts to hear his cries at night, but it all turned out always does. :)

My life is filled with things, good and bad, to share, to talk about, to get out of my head.  So this is me saying, that this blog may transition into something more than just a teacher blog.  There is this other part of my life where I am not Mrs. Bushey...I am just Sarah.  That part of my life is wonderful and worth sharing also.  So, why not?

<3 - Sarah, the blogger formerly known as Mrs. Bushey :)