Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Speaking of Crafts...

...Andy, Jenn, Rachel, and I learned a new one yesterday afternoon.  There's a paint-your-own-pottery studio across the parking lot from Mom and Dad's office.  Mom pointed out that they also teach glass fusing and suggested we all give it a whirl.

They have a shelf full of different-shaped glass pieces sorted into a rainbow of squares.


You pick out a base, clip and lay out the various pieces to make a design, glue them in place, then wait two weeks for them to melt the whole thing together.

Here's Jenn in action, gluing the finishing touches on her owl-plate:

Here's Rachel's finished piece:

Andy's Van Gogh-inspired tree:

And mine:

I wound up making two small pendants instead of one big piece (I included a toothpick in the picture for scale), creating a base for each out of scraps instead of using a prepared setting. I'm not sure if that's allowed, and, counter to the instructions we received, I didn't make any borders either. We'll see if they turn out. You can see the layers of glass that make up the bottom one in this picture:


I enjoyed the process, and I'm always glad to know how to do a new craft. Plus, as Jenn, Andy, and I found out, glass noodles sound pretty when they're dropped on the floor all at once!


Christmas was marvelous this year, as always. We were all well and properly spoiled, and enjoyed a few days of the whole family being together again. My siblings all left for their homes this morning, while I get to hang out for a few more days. Mom, Dad, and I put the house back in order and they headed out to treat a few patients while I did laundry, made an appointment to fix my car, played the new Zelda game (a gift from Ben), and enjoyed the remarkable stillness of a house void of three dogs and a toddler.

I finished all the sewing I was alluding just in time on Christmas Eve.  While I made a few other gifts this year, the biggie was this:

I made Jack a doll-version of his family.  (If you're curious about who's who, you can try to match them up to this picture of my family and/or this picture of Jack's grandparents Mason.)  I used this pattern from Wee Wonderfuls to make the bodies, which was the more tedious part.  I enjoyed the creativity required to figure out how to render each person - the variety of wigs and clothes.  Still, like most projects, this took much longer than I had expected.  I need to remember that when I'm figuring out next year's Christmas projects.

To my relief, everyone seemed to like their respective dolls, although Jack seems mostly scared of them.  It occurred to me about halfway through the project that he might be too young for this sort of thing, but that certainly wasn't going to deter me.

A happy Christmas all around!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

80s Toys

Neatorama had a entry of 80s toys that brought back many a memory. I recommend this blog post for the quick version and this blog post to get the songs stuck in your head ("My Buddy! My Buddy! Wherever I go, he's gonna go..."). (Also - Popples! I totally forgot about those.)

P.S. Am having a grand time in Grand Junction. I've been sewing a ton, I've read three books, and I'm sleeping a full eight hours or more each night. It's bliss, and I can't wait for Rachel, Andy, and company to join us!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oh, Yeah

The faculty party last night was fun.  I do like the people I work with, and I didn't feel too bad when I started yawning around 9:00 because everyone else was yawning too.  Teachers!  We're such party animals!

Actually, we are.  I had forgotten that the competition for the cleverest white elephant gift was more among Utah friends/colleagues.  For the party last night I made a version of a gift my parents gave me a few years ago - an "automatic paper-grading box."  It's a little box with letter stamps in it (A, B, C, D, & F), along with an inkpad.  You shake up the box, select a letter at random, stamp the assignment, and move on.  For fun, I also threw in a harmonica ("To learn to play in all your new free time!").

My gift was one of the last opened (it was also the smallest, and the big packages always go first).  To my dismay, the husband of the counseling secretary was the one who picked it rather than one of the many teachers there.  He opened it up and took it apart looking mystified, while his wife exclaimed "What the **** is that?" (she was a bit tipsy by this point).

It did get traded later in the game - Jesse wanted the harmonica.  Some of the teachers there said that it was "clever," so I guess I met my goal.  Wrong crowd, though.  The gifts that were the most popular were the bottles of wine, the Belgian beer, the miniature version of Manneken Pis that pees liquor, the illustrated book of sexual positions, and the set of vibrators with various lotions.  Yeah, "clever" was not what I should have been going for.  (If you're wondering, I wound up with a book of Christmas-themed bumper stickers, which I gave to another teacher who admired it.)

After the party I had the pleasure of turning off my phone and all my alarms and sleeping in.  I mostly spent the day running Christmas errands.  The stores were crazy with lines winding all around the aisles.  When I got home I did several loads of laundry, cleaned out my fridge, wrapped presents, and started one of my big craft projects for the year while watching old episodes of Community and Doctor Who.  I'm thrilled that I have a whole week off before Christmas.  Rather than staying up for unreasonable hours sewing, I stopped at a good point and packed the project up to take to and work on in Grand Junction.  Luxury!

I'm off to finish packing now so I can depart soon after church tomorrow.  It looks like the weather is completely cooperative - it's supposed to be in the 40s in Vail tomorrow!  Yay for global warming!

Friday, December 16, 2011


I'm done, done, done!

(Insert dance of joy.)

We spread finals over two days, and the school board finally figured out that it's a waste of everyone's time to make students come to classes they've already completed; so, today was a half-day.  Yay!

I administered two finals this morning, neither of which took the entire 90-minute class period.  When everyone finished in first period (Adv. Drama), we played Dominion.  I have now created many Dominion fans.  In third period (Drama 1), they played Killer Bunnies (which I had taught them earlier and which will also be appearing on many Christmas wish lists) while I graded tests.  By the time school was dismissed at 11, I had all of my grades in and officially posted, comments and all.  Yay!

We had a quick faculty meeting, then I carpooled home.  I got to eat lunch at a normal person's pace (i.e. not in two minutes or less), and I got to linger over the book I was reading.  Yay!

Tonight is our staff Christmas party.  I'm going more out of a sense of obligation (not to my colleagues - to my social life.  I don't want to go, but I know that I should want to go, so I'm going to go), and I need to figure out a white elephant gift for it.  We all know there's an underlying competition to bring the cleverest white elephant gift, and I just don't have any ideas.  After I post this, I'll go rummage in my closets to see if I have any odds or ends from travels to wrap up.

Speaking of checking off obligations, I seized the opportunity of a rare free evening and attended ward temple night last night.  Despite the struggle I had to stay awake during it, I was glad I went.  Several women in Relief Society Sunday had raised their hands when they asked for a headcount of attendees.  Knowing that and knowing how sleepy I was, I almost didn't go.  I had promised myself I would go again before the end of the year, though, and once there I was surprised to find that the only other people from my ward that showed up were the Bishop, his wife, and two other people.  Yay for small sessions that take less time!

The weather's looking beautiful this weekend, so I'm planning on doing a bit more shopping tomorrow (after sleeping in - yay!), then driving out to GJ after church on Sunday.

I'm so excited that I get a two-week break from teaching and teenagers.  As much as I love my job and my students, I really need a break from all the drama (theater or otherwise).

It's Christmas time!  Yay!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where Have I Been?

A few weeks ago Rachel posted an entry about these visual travel logs. Never one to turn down a challenge (especially when it involves travel!), I finally got around to making my own maps:


Visited: 22 countries (9.77%)
(Boy, visiting Canada and Russia sure helps to make this look impressive!)

and America:

Visited: 41 states (82%)
(I feel a need to fill in those white spaces. They're taunting me, I tell you!)

Sigh. There's so much left to see!

It probably doesn't help my wanderlust that as I'm typing this I'm also chatting with Phra Sanjoy, one of my monk friends from Thailand. He's trying to talk me into visiting his hometown in Bangladesh. See?

Now, how do I resist an invitation like that?

P.S. I pass on the challenge to Jason. Tag! You're it!

Christmas Crafting

For gifts to my colleagues this year I've adapted this idea from Oh Happy Day.

Here are the ingredients...

Christmas Crafting

Which are all now tucked neatly away into these bags from Ikea:

Christmas Crafting

As my refrigerator says...

Christmas Crafting

Yay! Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Cute Little Suck-ups...

RANDY: Ms. W., are we actually going to learn anything in class next week?

ME: You know what?  Just for asking that, Randy, I'm going to make you write an essay every day next week explaining what you learn just by being in my presence.

Three Other STUDENTS: (simultaneously) You mean "How to be Awesome"?

A Weekend Off

My parents came to town this weekend for some pre-Christmas shopping/Jack-time.  We ate out; shopped at Edward's Meats, the Mills, and the 16th Street Mall; and even squeezed in a quick trip to the LoDo Tattered Cover.  I went hunting for Amelie Nothomb books, since I read Fear and Trembling this week and am now completely enamored with her writing.  Alas, there's only two of her books available on the Kindle in English (Fear and Trembling being one of those), and even more alas, Tattered Cover did not carry any of her books whatsoever.  I actually had to go on Amazon today and purchase three books that I now have to wait, like, an entire week to get instead of mere seconds.  And then I'll have to carry them around and physically turn the pages!  Buying paper books on!  What is this world coming to?

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my parents, as always, even though the preceding weeks so completely wiped me out that I fell asleep on Rachel's couch at 9:00 last night.  When the parents woke up me up as they were leaving, they insisted (wisely and kindly) on driving me home when I could neither stop yawning nor keep my eyes open for more than 30 seconds.

Remarkably, I did wake up in time for church today.  One of my friends there asked about the Paris trip saying, "I thought about you a lot that week, and, I will admit, it was with jealously." 

As little sense as it may make, I'm jealous of me too.  When I think back over the trip, I get jealous of two-weeks-ago me eating good food and seeing good art.  Spoiled girl!

I've almost finished my Christmas shopping, although I've barely started my Christmas crafting.  I'm eager to wrap up this semester so I can get cracking on my projects list.  The only after-school activity I have this week is the first musical rehearsal tomorrow, so I'm hoping I can do some of the preliminary crafting soon.  'Tis the season for unrealistic DIY project goals that I have no idea how to actually bring to fruition!  Ho, ho, ho!

Thursday, December 08, 2011


After a week of auditions, we've got a cast for the spring musical!  (Did I tell you yet that it's Beauty and the Beast?  I don't recall if I mentioned that.) 

I think Rachel, Jesse, and I have found our groove when it comes to the audition/casting process - things went smoothly and we were relatively quick in the decision-making.  Of course, it helped that Jesse and I were late getting to call-backs thanks to a lengthy faculty meeting and Jesse had an orchestra concert tonight he had to dash off to as soon as we had the major and minor leads settled.  Between those two events we were highly motivated to move the call-backs along at a brisk pace.

I'll post the cast list tomorrow and deal with the usual wave of emotions.  I'm also taking my Advanced Drama class to see "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" at the DCTC tomorrow, which means

1) I don't have to teach-teach (if you know what I mean) except for an hour at the start of the day!
2) I do have to make sub plans for my other two classes!
3) I get to see a play with my students!
4) I have to make double trips up and down the mountain!
5) We have to run up to grab lunch on the 16th Street Mall in less than 20 minutes after the show to get back to school in time for the kids to catch their buses!
6) This time none of my kids are in wheelchairs or on crutches, so there's a chance we can do that in the allotted time!

I'm also very excited because my parents are coming to town for the weekend for some Jack-time/Christmas shopping.  I haven't seen them since Labor Day, and I very much need a recharging weekend.  One that's spent in good company far, far away from speech meets sounds just right.  Plus, when it's over I only have 4.5 more days of school left before the break!

As you might be able to tell, my mood's improved since earlier this week.  I attribute this to
a) only having 4.5 days of school left,
b) finishing several major projects at work, and
c) decorating my home.

I took Jason's advice, you see, and set up a little Christmas pyramid to add a little holiday mood to my place:

Christmas Decor 2011

And then I figured while I was at it, I could hang up a wreath.  I didn't figure out a way to hang up a wreath without pounding a nail in my front door (probably verboten), so I hung up my mom's geese instead:

Christmas Decor 2011

But then I wanted my wooden back-lit German scene-thing (the proper name for it escapes me), so I bundled up and trekked across the parking lot to my garage to get another box of Christmas decorations.

I found it

Christmas Decor 2011

but I also found this

Christmas Decor 2011

which led to my fireplace mantle looking like this:

Christmas Decor 2011

The rest of that box was only filled with tree ornaments, which made me fret over where my creches were. So I bundled up and braved my ice-slick of a parking lot again to dig through my garage and find the other two boxes of Christmas decorations. There were my little creches:

Christmas Decor 2011

But also my bigger pyramid (plus some more little German creches):

Christmas Decor 2011

At that point in my "If you give a mouse a cookie" experience, I figured that as long as I had all of those tree decorations out...

So I donned my coat a third time and went to the garage to find the little tree Grandma Cook gave me back in college.

Christmas Decor 2011

And thus my home was decorated. Even if I am the only one to see it and it's only for a few days, it really does make me happier. I love white Christmas lights and candlelight. I also love that when I light candles, I get to put them out with the bejeweled candle-snuffer Jason gave me a few years ago:

Christmas Decor 2011

If only I had a long, flowing white nightgown in which I could drift about snuffing candles!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Up and Down and Up and Down

I'm sipping a cup of hot chocolate that's nice and foamy thanks to a frother (that's for you, Rachel) up in Mountain Town right now.  I had hoped to have a quiet Sunday at home - a chance to catch up on laundry and bills and life-business, but with 6-12 inches of snow forecasted for tonight and tomorrow, I instead did a super-fast load of laundry after church and packed up my things yet again.

I did not bring the cat.  It was a Sophie's choice - the guilt over leaving her behind yet again vs. the guilt of forcing her on a car ride and forcing her spend a night with Jack and Jem.  She ran for the closet when she saw me start packing, which I took to be sign that she favored Guilt Option #1.

Two-thirds of the cars I passed on the drive up here were heading down the mountain with pine-trees strapped to their roofs with bright red ropes.  I've been deliberating whether to decorate for Christmas this year.  I haven't for a couple of years now, since a) I'm rarely home in December and b) I'm the only one there to enjoy it.  Seeing Rachel's and Jason's decked-out homes makes me want to get a little tree of my own.  I just don't know when - the next time I'll have a free evening is Tuesday next week, and that's only a few days before I head home for Christmas.  It's hardly a motivating amount of time.

It's been a hard week.  I woke up with a headache this morning (never a good sign) and I spent quite some time trying to clean off the mascara under my eyes before I realized that nope, it's not makeup, it's just exhaustion (also never a good sign).  The speech meet yesterday was plagued by a snowstorm in the morning, a vomiting sophomore, a small group of adults-in-charge who just wouldn't make decisions, and a severe lack of judges that made the meet an interminable 14-hour affair.

The students have been grumpier than usual all week, too.  Not across the board and not severely so, but just enough to make sure someone was always complaining about something that was bothering them.  They're ready for a break, as are all of the teachers.

I'm sure some of that grumpiness is my own projection.  The jet lag made keeping spirits up harder than usual this week, plus I was fighting off some strong post-trip depression.  In the past year or so I've noticed how much harder it is for me to come home from a trip.  Not because of the travel itself or the exhausting go-go-go-ness of my preferred kind of vacation.  It's because after getting to spend so much time with people I love - Emily and company, my parents, Jason - when I come home to my life alone I feel so much more lonely.  I interact with people all day at school and at church and at outings, but even though I only had a couple of hours this week where I was awake and not working, the quiet and solitude of those hours were so much sharper after a week spent with good companionship.

I know the depression will pass.  It did after previous trips, and I get to spend a good chunk of time with my family in just a few weeks.  In the meantime, though, I'm trying to figure out a solution for the future.  I'm certainly not going to eliminate trips like those from my life, but how do I get to spend time with my favorite people without feeling the post-trip loneliness so keenly?

Fancy Tiger's Holiday Handmade Craft Fair

Rachel has been a fan of this fair since its inception, but it has always fallen on the same weekend as drama plays/speech meets so I have not been able to attend.

This year, though, I didn't schedule a Friday night performance, which meant I could go see this fair with Rachel. (Kermit arm waves) Yay!

I won't be going into too many details about the crafts themselves since there was a lot of Christmas shopping going on. I bought some things for others and, lacking Rachel's remarkable restraint, I bought some things for myself.

The facility itself was pretty, the crafts were fun (and occasionally creepy - who uses doll arms to make earrings?), and I loved getting to hang out with Rachel for a bit.

'Tis the holiday season! Yay!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

I Have Magical Powers

I can make it snow by scheduling a performance.

Then I can make the snow stop by canceling said performance.

I vow to use this power for good, not for evil.

Tonight was originally going to be the second Advanced Drama play of the term.  Because we had to push back their first play (Much Ado), we only had four weeks between show dates.  And that included Thanksgiving.

Despite their pleadings, I stood firm with the declaration that doing a play in three weeks just isn't possible (at least not while I'm also doing the Drama 1 play, auditions for the musical, and Speech).  We compromised, and decided to do a Film Festival instead.

The students divided into small groups and each group has made four short films in the last few weeks: a Shakespeare play in five minutes or less, a Sweded film, a commercial, and a music video.  They've turned out pretty well, and I've been pleased with the learning I've seen happen because of it, even though the kids are still complaining about not getting to do another play.

I tried to make things better by offering some dazzle for the festival - a red carpet, they get to come in black tie (i.e. last year's prom dresses), etc.  They asked if we could do awards.  Before I could even acquiesce they decided I should give out Waters - "you know, like the Oscars, but Waters since you're Waterhouse," they said.

I'm a sucker for ideas like that, so my TA and I braved the blizzard this morning to make these:


They're actually still full of water, too.  We also pulled out all of my star lights, white Christmas lights, Chinese lanterns, and a bunch of old film strips from the library to decorate the theater lobby.

And then we canceled the festival due to the snow that was coming down harder than ever.

And then I sent out all the necessary emails and letters and flyers to notify everyone.

And then the snow stopped and the sun came out.

Oh, well.  We rescheduled the festival for the only night the auditorium was available ('tis the season of concerts after all).  I'll have to stick around a bit after the musical audition workshops next Monday, but we'll start it by 6:00 if not earlier, so I should still be able to enjoy some time with Rachel, Ben, and Jack, who are all coming up to Mountain Town for the auditions as well.

It's a shame we didn't get a full snow day out of it.  I could have really used a snow day.