Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Leftover Magic

I love Thanksgiving! The cooler weather, leaves falling, family, yummy smells from the kitchen, and of course- leftovers!

Before we moved back to Texas, we celebrated about 4 or 5 Thanksgivings with our dear neighbors and friends Liz and David. Liz owns Thanksgiving, and she also introduced me to the infamous "Turkey Wreath." And for that, I am eternally thankful. Now I look forward to the wreath just about as much as the actual Thanksgiving meal.

Here goes:

2 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 C. mayonnaise
2 T. honey Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
2 C. cooked turkey, chopped
1/2 C. celery, sliced
3 T. fresh parsley, snipped
1/2 C. dried cranberries
4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 egg, separated

Preheat oven to 375.

Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles. With wide ends of triangles toward the center. arrange 8 triangles in a circle on a baking stone. Make the corners of the wide ends will touch and points will extend over the baking stone.

Measure mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper into a bowl. Grate cheese into a bowl. Mix filling. Scoop filling over seams of dough, forming a circle.

Beginning in center, lift one dough triangle across mixture. Continue alternating with outer triangle, slightly overlapping to form wreath. Tuck last end under first.

Separate egg over bowl. Beat egg white lightly; brush over dough.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Viola! Turkey leftover Magic!

Gobble Gobble,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Well, I had to finish out the poem, eh?

Something borrowed -- during the move we borrowed LOTS- trucks, muscles, ladders, tools, paint brushes, referrals, and ideas. To everyone who helped...THANK YOU!

Some of the referrals we got were SO helpful, so I'll pass along the love:
Shout out to: VanPoole Properties
Metroplex Property Inspections 512-791-2920
Erik the Mover (seriously the best movers I've ever used) 469-583-5484
Carnival Painters/Jeff Murrey (so clean and professional!) 817-627-8848
KHovnanian Homes - come be our neighbor!
Pottery Barn Customer Service--for replacing our bed hardware (we lost it), and our bed footboard (we scratched it) for FREE!

Something blue -- Our bedroom! So my claim to fame is picking out the worst paint colors ever. HOWEVER, this time I think we hit the nail on the head. We love it. It's called Misty Morn by Behr Ultra.

Wish I had a pic to post....hint, hint, Santa.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something Old

Along with all my "something news" we are enjoying at our new place, discovering our "something olds" has been surprisingly pretty fun. Minus some heavy lifting, a broken item or two, and finding a few items that I have no idea how they survived 3 moves (i.e. Jared's 2 foot tall plastic Miller Lite bottle)...the unpacking process has been pretty great. Some of our stuff has been in storage for almost a year and a half!!! So this old stuff has been fun and also hilarious to unpack.

Here are some of my faves:

1. My recipe box! Ok, let's face it -- living with mom is practically like living with a human recipe box, which was pretty awesome. Nonetheless, I am super excited to have access to my favorite recipes whenever I want!

2. My wedding album. I mean, it's not like I look at it every day or anything, but it's fun to have it there just in case I want to.

3. My bread maker. Totally and absolutely forgot I owned one. Score!

2. My Anthropologie robe. For some reason this got packed away. It's just the most perfect robe, and I actually squealed when I unpacked it. I've worn it every night. I am wearing it right now.

1. Buddy's clothes. Don't judge. He loves them.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Something New

No, I'm not having another wedding, but I do have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Let's start with something new...because Jared and I are FINALLY in our new house! Big huge shout out to Mom and Pops for letting us crash at their place for...ummm 6 months...but we are so happy to have a brand new place of our own!

As we awaited and planned our big move (down the street), we made our list of things to buy as soon as we moved in. Here are my top 5 favorite "something news" in our home:

1. Yup, my door mat. I am such a nerd, but I couldn't wait to get our doormat, and the first thing we did when closed was put this thing down. I think it just signifies, "Hey, we live here! Come on in! And wipe your feet!" (of course, those of you who know Jared you know the wipe the feet thing is serious business!)

2. I love lamps and cringe at overhead lighting. And I'm a little obsessed with green right now. BAM! Perfect lamp. Of course, it's on sale now....

3. Ahhh, the Dyson. Ok people. Everyone I know with a Dyson has raged about it (OK, we're officially old), but I never really understood what the big deal was. I mean, I thought that I would rather have a cheap vacuum and buy something pretty. Like shoes. I guess I've come a long way because this thing is light as a feather, it can turn on a dime, and it even makes vacuuming fun! Ok, that's exaggerating a bit. Regardless, I'm a believer. Team Dyson!

4. Our fridge. I came by everyday in the final stages of our house being finished just to see if they had installed our fridge. I could NOT wait to see it. Again, I feel super old about how excited this made me. Who knew I would ever care about appliances? 10 years ago all I could make were chocolate chip pancakes. Well, here's the beauty:

5. During my days as a Pottery Barn associate, I spent a majority of my time shopping while I worked. I found great deals, decorated rooms for my future homes, and even helped a customer or two. I also had plenty of time to test out the most comfortable couches. This was always my fave. Years later, I am the proud owner of a PB Basic! Hooray! Come sit!

Since my camera died last week (hence the lame phone pics), hopefully my next something new will be a camera. And maybe some more cute throw pillows. And a TV. :) Suggestions??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Southbound 35

This week didn't turn out quite like we had planned. We were supposed to close on our home Friday and could not have been more excited! Much to our disappointment, the bank did not have their act together and had to push our closing to sometime this week. (Don't even get me started.)

After canceling the movers, painters, pottery barn delivery people and after countless tears, yelling, emails, phone calls, faxes, and signatures....Jared and I decided to get the heck out of dodge.

Instead of moving, unpacking, organizing, and cleaning our cute little Las Colinas home this weekend, we headed to Austin and did a little of this instead:

And drank some of this:

And ate some of this:

And we stayed at this adorable little B&B called Woodburn House in Hyde Park:

I guess moving can wait. What a lovely little blessing in disguise!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Conference Blues

Today was day one of two of a statewide literacy conference I am attending with my colleagues. I have been so excited to gain some new strategies to use with my students in the classroom. The speakers were amazing. Too amazing, in fact! Today I walked away with what I like to call the "Conference Blues."

I started off the day all fired up but about midway through started to feel, well....bluesy. I realized that I was obviously a crappy teacher because I could never find the time in a million years to do all these wonderful things with my students! They almost lost me until....

They shared a quote: "The individual relationship between the instructor and the struggling reader is crucial to the success of the reader."

If there's one thing I've got it's that my students know how much I care about their success, their learning, and their lives. I laugh with my students, I work hard for my students, I set high expectations for my students. Most of the time, they do the same for me.

Ya know, I think this can apply to a lot of things in life. Sometimes people just need to know you care. Be there. Laugh. Cry. Dream big.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Passing through the halls today....and saw these posters. If only elections were this easy!

Happy Election Day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Report: Blue Like Jazz

So I've heard about this book many different times and from many different people, but I never got around to reading it. I recently paid a visit to the mother of all Half Price Bookstores on Northwest Highway (shout out to Half Price books by the way...teachers get 10% off!), and I picked up Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller on CD.

I've been anti-books on CD since the Jackson/Twilight debacle 0f 2006, but I thought it might be fun to listen to on my little commute to work and back. I cannot tell you what a wonderful surprise of a blessing this book was!

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller shares aspects of his spiritual journey through a series of short essays. His essays are so raw and real, and they particularly appealed to me - a lover of Jesus who at times has a distrust of the institutional church. The best part was that Donald Miller read the book for the CD, so I felt like I had a buddy in the car with me all of the time -- an extremely intelligent, insightful, passionate, Christian buddy. I even found myself sitting in the driveway many times to finish a chapter before going inside.

Blue Like Jazz reminded me that it is important to ask questions, to search, and to discover the truths of the bible. The book is not preachy, but it challenges us to get to the heart of what we believe and live that everyday.

Read this book. That is all.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday 5....on Saturday

Better late than never!

5. Gloria's Gloria's Hallelujah!
One reason I love my job is that my classroom can be anywhere....even at one of my all time faves-Gloria's Mexican Restaurant. That's right...I got to take a student to lunch at Gloria's to teach social skills! I got to introduce my favorite 8 year old to none other than Gloria's bean dip. Love.

4. Pumpkin Guts
That's what we called the inside of the pumpkins growing up. This week, 3 of my students got to feel pumpkin guts for the first time when we carved pumpkins in my classroom. One of the students is 17 years old! It's amazing what some of my students have missed out on, and it's so much fun that I get to help them experience new things!

3. Oh. My. Gaw.
Yup, that's one of my preschool students' new favorite sayings. Even though I corrected him for saying it...I have to admit, it's pretty hilarious coming from his little mouth. And like he said, "It's not a bad word!"

2. Ninja Turtles
Yesterday an 8 year old asked me if I have ever heard of the Ninja Turtles. Seriously? Leonardo and I are BFF.

RANGERS WIN! And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Baylor to keep their lead against UT! Sic 'em!

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flu Shot

I am a huge fan of the flu shot. However, I've been extra busy lately and have failed to make the stop to get mine despite the fact that it has been on my to-do list for about a month. So, you can image my excitement when I saw the flu shot memo on the clinic door at my school. Score.

I was telling my student about the flu shot when he asked, "Mrs. Chambers, do people die from the flu?" I explained that most healthy people do not die from the flu but that the flu can be very dangerous for people that are either very sick already or that are old and frail.

"Old, Mrs. Chambers? Like...25?"

Well, I guess I left myself wide open for that one.

Hope that made you smile like it did me. Oh, and get your flu shot.


Monday, October 25, 2010

CURE ALS Golf Tournament 2010

On Friday, I shared with one of my elementary students that I was going to be very busy over the weekend with a golf tournament. Per the usual, he had many questions for me: Would I be playing? How many people would be there? How does the tournament work? Will you get paid? Luckily, I'm used to the reel of questions....I explained that I wasn't playing, I was organizing and helping, and that my family was holding the tournament to raise money for a really great cause.

"Oh, Mrs. for charity??" he asked. "Those are the best kind!"

Sometimes it's hard to tell if my little guy is 8 or 38.

Of course he was right. My family and some amazing friends have spent months planning for this tournament to raise money for our nonprofit, CURE ALS. My father was diagnosed with ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease a year ago, and we have made it our mission to raise money for research to find a treatment and a cure. Now, I know I haven't been a part of many golf tournaments, and I may be a little biased, but it seemed like this charity tournament WAS the best kind. :)

The weather was wonderful, the course was beautiful, and we raised a lot of money..but truly, the people, their generosity, and the camaraderie the event elicited made it perfect. Seeing my dad, my family, and such a huge network of people who care gave me a renewed sense of hope for the journey that awaits my family and all those affected by this nasty disease.

Thanks to all of you who came out and made the day such a success and so much fun.


Friday, October 15, 2010

White Cane Day

Today we celebrated the ever-so-popular holiday: White Cane Day. White cane, you ask? Yes, I would be referring to the long white canes that people who are blind or visually impaired use to travel. And YES, there happens to be a day to celebrate these things. But let me just tell you that the day was both eventful and meaningful in many ways. The eventfulness started early...

7:30 am
I set out on my morning commute to work, headed down I35. Suddenly, my dashboard started beeping at me, and my tire went flat. I was lucky enough to have exited in time, but what a helpless feeling! I was stuck. I don't even know how to change a tire. However, my sweet dad came to my rescue. Just in time for me to get to school for the field trip....

9:00 am
Yes, this would be the field trip celebration of White Cane Day at City Hall. My 8 year old student was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement. I humored him in his excitement but secretly doubted the amazingness that would be 100 blind people parading around City Hall and keeping my student on task during hours of speakers. Am I a horrible person for thinking this?

Maybe. Everything was nice. Teachers accompanied students on a walk around City Hall with many other blind people in the community. We enjoyed turkey sandwiches and prepared to listen to some speakers. Could this simply be just a nice break from the grind of the school day?

No. The speakers were amazing. Many of the speakers were members of the community with a visual impairment who are successful and fabulous and motivating. They encouraged the crowd to remember that a visual impairment may be a loss of eyesight but not a loss of "vision." I was encouraged to make a difference for my students and hoped my student was encouraged as well...Oh wait, I think my student is sleeping....

I guess I was wrong. As we returned to school and I prepared to send him back to class, my student asked if we could practice reading. Ummmmm, sure? He told me that he listened to the speakers talk about how he could do anything he put his mind to, and he wanted to get better at reading. He also told me that this celebration of the white cane made him think about how his white cane can remind him that he can do anything or go anywhere he wants to go. He told me that hearing the speakers and being around others who are blind reminded him that he is not the only one who can't see and that he must work hard to achieve his dreams.

As my little guy headed out for the weekend, I sat there dumbfounded. Man, he seriously never ceases to amaze me with his ability to humble me. And here is what I learned today:

1. Kids will surprise you. They just might be listening when you least expect it. You never know when they might actually hear something that will resonate within.

2. Maybe I can be more open to hearing those messages sometimes, too.

3. Feeling stranded with my flat was a temporary feeling. Nothing a quick call to roadside assistance and a really good dad can't fix. My students and the blind people in the community probably have that feeling much more often. And yes, I think we DO need to celebrate that white cane and all it signifies for these individuals.

4. A girl needs to be rescued by her Daddy every now and then. :)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Report: The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

Maybe one of the reasons I love teaching kids to read is because reading is one of my favorite things to do. Some of my earliest memories are going to the library with my mom, loading up our library bag (we were green even then!), and spending the day with my books.

I don't have as much time to read now it seems, but I love it just as much.

My latest read to "diskuss": The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson

After hearing SO much about this book, I finally decided to give it a whirl. It's not the typical book I read (I am much more into cute girly books or anything with a cute picture on the front), but it was super interesting, suspenseful, and intense. It was hard to put down (once I actually found the time to pick it up!)

Something interesting I have heard about Stieg Larsson's inspiration for writing is that he witnessed a gang rape as a teenager, and he felt a strong regret over never stepping up to help the girl. This girl's name was Lisbeth, which is the name of one of the main characters in this book. The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo (and the other 2 books in the Millennium Trilogy) are based on themes of sexual violence. What an important, relevant concept. Consequently, it also makes many scenes difficult to read. I even had to stop reading the book before bed to avoid nightmares.

The book is different for me because I didn't feel myself identifying with any of the characters, but I also found myself so interested in each of them for their unique qualities. The book has so many stories within the story that kept me on my toes, anticipating how the stories would eventually intertwine.

That being said, I would highly recommend reading this book! I can't wait to read the next one.

Have any of y'all read this book? What did you think?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday 5

3 work moments + 2 non-work moments = Friday 5

5. I asked one of my young students what he had for lunch yesterday. "Nothing," he said. "Nothing???" I asked. "Nope. Just Spaghetti," he said. He went on to explain to me that it had no meat; therefore, it did not count. This is REALLY funny to me because I have had the exact conversation with my husband, and it was actually the cause of our very first fight. :)

4. If you read my post from the other day, you know that I had a moment where I fell FLAT on my face in the hallway. One of my students has proceeded to ask me EVERY day since then if I remember when that happened. Obviously, he is not going to let me forget it!

3. Picture day! There is nothing more adorable than seeing all of the students all dressed up for picture day. One of my elementary students informed me that he even had his "dancing shoes" on! Love.

2. My little brother turned 23! We celebrated Jason this week, and it was so fun to be back in Texas and share the special day in person. We had a great family dinner at this great restaurant in downtown Grapevine:

1. The Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are ALL in the post season! It's been a week of nail biting, jersey wearing, and "bling" rubbing! Talk about a house divided!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shorty got low low low low

Ever think you should have a theme song for your day? Or maybe that Rachel Berry could come around the corner any minute and break out in song on her way to glee club practice with the New Directions? Today, I think FLO Rida could sing my theme song...."She Hit the Floor."

Yup, that's right...the floor and I had it out today. Here's why:

1. One of my blind students uses small cubes as manipulatives to solve math problems. Somewhere during hour 3 of administering a standardized math test to this student, he slowly counted "116, 117, 118....." BOOOM! His arm swept across the desk and small cubes flew everywhere. [Cue FLO Rida] "She hit the floor! Next thing you know!"

2. Somewhere during hour 5 of the testing, I realized that in the shuffle of students, I hadn't eaten anything yet and the coffee jitters were unbearable. Aha! I reached for my new favorite snack- a Lara Bar ...(check them out at bread, my favorite! Plop. [Cue FLO Rida] "Next thing you know! Shorty got low low low low!"

3. The day was almost over! We had all survived the testing. My student and I were laughing about something, relieved for the end of the day. Too bad about that small puddle outside of my classroom. I fell. Hard. Face First. Classic. FLO Rida, you got this.

Five minutes later my student says, "Mrs. Chambers, remember when you fell flat on the floor?" Got to love it.

Just thought I'd share because if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at right?
Here's to staying far from the floor tomorrow!


Monday, October 4, 2010

A Twinkle of Kindness

Last week, one of my little nuggets and I faced some challenges as we weaseled and worked our way through some proverbial red tape in order to get him placed in a new class.

Just for the record, sometimes I think this "red tape" has blinking flashing lights with my name on it along with a carnival man with a megaphone shouting "step right up!" I was still sticky with my last bought with the tape, but Little Nugget (LN) and I took on the challenge anyway. Thus, I was feeling worn down.

Enter Ms. C.

Ms. C. is LN's new teacher, and my own personal angel, I'm sure. Ms. C. reminded me this week that it's sometimes the little acts of kindness and care that make the biggest difference, for a frustrated teacher and a nervous LN.

Ms. C showed us little acts of kindness like teaching her class to sing LN a welcome song on his first day, like letting LN be her special helper all day long, like changing snack time to "right now" because LN just wasn't sure about his new class. And then today:
LN showed me how Ms. C. taught him to flash his fingers like twinkling stars. LN is blind; he has never seen the stars. But Ms. C. took the time to teach him this fact and explain to him this wonder.

This week, Ms. C. was my twinkling star during a week that felt dim and dull. And Ms. C. reminded me that a little twinkle can go a long way.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday 5

Considering it was a short week for students and teachers (making teacher inservice day and fair day numbers 1-5 on the work top 5 countdown this week), this week's top 5 will consist of the top 5 moments of my day trip to Canton with Mom.

For those of you who haven't been, Canton's "First Monday Trade Days" is the world's largest event of its kind. Think: 1 part antique, 1 part garage sale, 1 part flea market, 1 part art ...add in a little fair food... BOOM! You've got Canton.

Here goes... the top 5 favorite moments of the day:

5. Glass Bottle. Mom was on a hunt for some unique glass bottles for her homemade Sambuca and Limoncello. After some wheeling and dealing with the vendor, she scored a neat little glass bottle for next to nothing. Being a true salesman, the vendor tried to add on the sale by pointing our attention to an Elvis Christmas record. Sir, if you're out there, I appreciated your enthusiasm, and who doesn't love The King...but seriously? We've chuckled about it all day. Really, what shouts "Elvis Christmas" better than this?

4. Leg Lamp. One thing you should know is that Canton has everything. Mom and I had fun pointing out the most random of items. At one point, Mom says (through laughter), "Stace, do you need a Leg Lamp, like on Christmas Vacation?" I looked in the direction she was pointing. "Mom," I said, "That's not a leg lamp. That's an actual prosthetic leg."

3. Treasures. I'll post pics later of my two special finds that I discovered for Jared...they are still a surprise. It was so much fun finding little "treasures" that I know he will love. Something I bet you didn't know you could buy at Canton: Brownie Points.

2. Tables. I was on a hunt for some table legs for an inspired desk that Jared and I have in mind for our new house. I found something even better. Here are my two cute new tables that will soon be ends to a side-by-side desk, thanks to be handy-man husband!

1. Mom. Living in Texas means that I got the day off because of the Texas State Fair. Then I got to drive east with my mom for a full day with her! Antiques, haggling, treasures, tables, cornbread sandwiches, and fresh-squeezed lemonade...what a treat to spend a fun fall day with such a special lady.

Anyone free next First Monday?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ode to Fall

The high today is 76 degrees
It's beautiful, sunny, and there's even a breeze!

Oh, Fall, you are truly on your way
You make me crave apple cider and a pumpkin spiced latte!
( -- check out Clinton on the commercial)

In just a few weeks we'll be turning back the clock,
It's time for my favorite polish: "You don't know Jacque"

Fall, Fall, you are truly the best.
Football, cool weather, and Oktoberfest

A tell tale sign that fall is here:
Big Tex has arrived, along with fried beer!

Fall, fall, you started out right
A win for the Cowboys today and the Baylor Bears last night.

In fall I wear jeans, long sleeved tees, and a smile
Fall, glad you're here....please stay a while!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday 5

Drumroll, please....

5. Lame: One of my favorite words is lame, pronounced "Laaaame." I told my student I had something really fun planned for us, and he said, "Mrs. Chambers, is it really fun? Or laaaame?" Touche, kid. Touche.

4. Book on CD: For all of you teachers out there, this may be old news, but I had my student make his own book on CD. His obsessed with listening to his recorded voice, and I have never seen anyone more motivated to read! iPhone-ers out there, there is even a voice-recorder app to make your life easier. Check it out:

3. Co-Teach: My buddy Jordan from Vanderbilt also works for my district, and today she got to come spend the afternoon with me and my students. It was so fun to have her there. We decided we would be much better teachers if we could always teach together.

2. College week: This week was college week at the elementary schools. I got to tell several groups of students about the college(s) I went to and my college experience(s). Don't worry, I spared all of the dirty details. Best part - I got to decorate my door:

The kids made banners. My favorites:

1. Totally not work-related, but the #1 best thing of the week is that we found a house! We are (hopefully) signing a contract tomorrow!!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Different View

This week, my Blind Student #1 had the opportunity to meet my Blind Student #2. I was super excited about the intro but had no idea I would have the chance to overhear one of the sweetest conversations ever. The conversation is extra touching considering their sweet young age and naivety. It went a little something like this:

BS1: I've been blind my whole life.

BS2: Oh, I have only been blind for a couple of years.

BS1: Oh wow. You are so lucky....before you got blind you got to take a look around!

Seriously? Is that not the sweetest/most touching/saddest/most beautiful comment ever? YOU GOT TO TAKE A LOOK AROUND? As if BS1 would give anything for just one look.

How many "looks" do I get to take everyday that I take for granted? It certainly made me take a moment to realize all of the "looks" that I have had the opportunity to take, and how grateful I am for each one.

Here are a few of my faves:

A beach sunset.

Tennessee fall foliage.

Portofino, Italy

My husband-to-be as I walked down the aisle.

My beautiful sister on her wedding day.
A special dance.

True love.

Take a moment today and "look around." We have so much to be thankful for!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Fave

As a teacher, I believe that part of my job is to help students experience new things and open their minds to all that is here in the world around them. I try to live my life that way - seeking new opportunities to learn, trying something different, exploring my community, and experiencing life.

Lately, Jared and I have enjoyed discovering the wonderful world of North Oak Cliff. And now it's official...we are completely obsessed!

We love the neighborhoods.

We love the local shops and businesses.

We love the diversity and the true sense of community. We love that you can sit on a patio at the Belmont Hotel, have a drink, and look at this:

If you haven't been to Oak Cliff, you should go! But be just might fall in love, too!