Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A few thoughts on Sandy Hook

Dear Readers,

As a nation, as a people, as a world, we mourn for what happened in Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday. There are no words that can satisfy my heart or help me to wrap my head around what has transpired. I read the stories of the beautiful children, gone before they even had a chance to live, and of the brave adults who dedicated their lives to the kids in that school. A principal and psychologist making a desperate charge to take down the shooter. A teacher dying as she shielded her children. A music teacher holding a closet door shut as the shooter tried to get in. Sparks of hope in a dark tragedy. There are no words that I can say that are deep enough, comforting enough, wise enough to make the pain go away.

I am a substitute teacher who spends her time with kids of all ages. My favorite days have to be my days when I am with the young ones, the precious boys and girls who are just learning how to live, who are relatively free of the pain and scars living in a sinful world leaves. They live in a world where best friends are made in an instant, where boo-boos can be kissed away, and everything can be created in beautiful bright colors. They don't all color in the lines. They occasionally throw tantrums. Sometimes they don't listen to the directions you've given them 500 times but they're learning. Have you ever been hugged by a line of fifteen six year olds? I have. It's pretty awesome. I struggle with imagining someone who could want to hurt them.

I have spent the last three weeks teaching high school art which often feels like an exercise in futility. Yesterday, however, I started my new long term (meaning a few weeks) position teaching middle school chorus. Middle school kids are a kind unto themselves. They are testing their wings, often thrashing against authority. Their hormones are going crazy. They often talk too much. They can be cruel to each other and to adults. But they are also funny (sometimes without intending to be so) and sometimes sweet and vulnerable. They drive me crazy more than half the time, but man do I love them.

I read through my code blue drills in my new classroom today and spent several minutes looking around the room wondering, “How will I protect them? How will I keep them calm?” And still worse, in a classroom where the positioning of the windows and door is the worst for trying to keep kids out of harms way, how do I shield them all if the worst happens? I don't know.

Many of my friends know that I don't especially enjoy my job some days. Being a sub is hard because I am usually in a different classroom every day. These two long term jobs have had there own difficulty. As an educator, their safety is my number one priority. They come first. All of them. And I hope that I am one of those teachers who stands up and protects my kids over myself because that is my duty. If that is not something you are willing to do, this is the wrong profession.

I am going to tell a story from about ten days ago while I was teaching high school art. I had assigned my kids the task of creating origami projects and some were very creative and made beautiful projects while others did the bare minimum or skipped it all together in favor of a zero. One student however decided that in lieu of making origami, he was going to take the black construction paper and make a gun. Many of the students thought it was cool. Even before recent events, I completely flipped out on him. I informed him he had 30 seconds destroy it unless he wanted a referral.

I wasn't very old when the Columbine shooting occurred but I do remember it on some level. I was in elementary school at the time. The VT shootings happened when I was in high school so this young man was pretty young when it happened. They don't understand the horror of even seeing the events on TV. They don't understand the fear of it happening in your town. I am willing to bet that if the creator of said paper gun pulled it out today, it would be seen as a threat because we are so scared.

I'm not writing this post to make a point about gun control or the school systems or even mental health awareness. I'm writing to address a few issues near and dear to my heart, issues about faith in times of crisis and the problem of suffering in the world. I hate that we are so cynical that we assume that just because bad things happen in the world, God can't exist. I assure you that he does.

The question many people ask is how God can allow bad things to happen, how he allowed that man (I do not wish to remember his name) was allowed into an elementary school and was allowed to take the lives of innocent children, shattering our hearts. I think God allowed it because he had to.

When God created man kind, he created mankind with free will. With free will, unfortunately, comes sin, the root of all our problems. God does not force us to obey his laws, as much as he desperately wants us to. I like to think of God as the parent of an adult child. No matter how well you raise your kids, they are going to make mistakes, probably lots of them, and probably bigger mistakes as they get older.

We are addicted to sin like some people are addicted to heroin. We know it's bad for us but we can't stop. We are like adult children. No matter how much our loving parents beg us to stop, they cannot make us do so. They cannot shield us from the consequences of our own actions, just like God cannot shield us from the results of our own sin. If he gave us our free will, he can't selectively take it away to save us from the consequences. For those of you who are parents, have you ever let your child make a mistake so they would understand the consequences, even though it hurt your heart? It's like that.

I have no doubt that God mourns for what happened in Connecticut even more than we do. He is able to love more completely than us; and he knows each of them more completely than anyone else. He knows who each of those beautiful children could have become and His heart is broken that they never got a chance to be those people. But those children are now with God, safe in his arms, and we are the ones we ought to feel sorry for. We must continue to live our lives in a world of sin.

I said the following on facebook on Monday:

"People ask where God was on Friday when all those children died. I can tell you where. God was in Sandy Hook School on Friday. He was there escorting each of the little children to heaven, and he was there with the teachers who kept their children calm in the chaos. He was there with the parents that learned that their child would never come home. He was in Sandy Hook, invited or not, as he is in every school."

I hold tightly to every word of that statement. On Friday, when the world was busy asking where he was, God was with the children of Sandy Hook, those who lost their lives and those who have to live in the aftermath. He held each tiny hand, calmed fluttering hearts, and whispered calming words in the ears of terrified children. Do you know how hard it is to keep a first grader quiet, even when there isn't anything going on? God was with those children.

God was with the principal and the school counselor making a desperate attempted to take the shooter out. They gave up their lives for those kids. He was also there with the teachers that had to protect their kids and keep a level head in chaos.

God was there in the aftermath, with the first responders. He was with the husbands and children who learned that their wife or mother had given up their lives. He was with the parents who learned that their child would never come home from school. I cannot even imagine.

As a country, we have decided that God is not invited into our public schools. I think God is kind of like that friend of a friend who always comes along when you make plans, invited or no. He doesn't particularly care that he isn't invited; he's coming in anyway. I believe that God is with us always. Always. God doesn't escort us into a school building and wait at the door.

We have seen a lot of tragedy through the years and a lot of difficulty this year. Hurricane Sandy rocked our country. But the difference was that we felt like there was something we could do. There was a cause to donate to, there were tangible needs to fill, and physical damage to repair. There is none of that in this case. We can only pray. While many think it's like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound but it's not. Gaping wounds take time to heal and they often have to be healed from the inside out. Prayer is like a salve. Applied daily, it helps heal the wound but it takes time.

I hope my words, inadequate as they are, might bring comfort to you. Comment, if you would like, but any posts meant to inspire arguments will be deleted.   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Placemat Tutorial

Hello my dear crafters! This post was originally to Sugar Bee Crafts as part of Mandy's Holiday Guest posting extravaganza.  To see the original, please look there, but this one contains updated photos.  

Materials Needed:

1 yard each of four different coordinating fabric
2 yards of a coordinating fabric for the back side of the placemats and runner
Interfacing, iron on or sewn in (I used about 5 yards since it is only 20 inches wide)
6 packs of ½ inch double fold bias tape
Sewing machine
adjustable binding foot like THIS
Or, alternatively, patience in attaching binding without one

Step One

Pick out a pile of gorgeous fabrics from your local store. I suggest four for the top of your place mats and then one for the backing. I purchased one yard of each of the top fabrics and two yards of my backing fabric.

The bottom fabric is my backing and the top four I used on the top

Step Two

Pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabrics. Then trim your selvedge edges.

Step Three

Let's talk math. My place mats are 14 by 18 inches. This pattern uses quarter inch seam allowances so the strips are cut to 3 ½ x 14 inches to allow for seam allowances. I decided to make six place mats and a table runner that is five feet long. You need fourteen 14 x 3 ½ inch strips of each of the four “top” fabrics to make what is shown.

Note Here: In a perfect world, everyone who have a cutting mat, rotary cutter, and quilting ruler. Mine is currently in the mail so I completed this using a yardstick, scissors, and a carpenters square.

Step Four

Press each piece and place the pieces in the order they will be sewn together. I then grouped them so I had six pieces for each place mat and twenty pieces for my runner.

My fabrics nice and cut, ironed, and organized. 

Step Five

Start pinning. I prefer to pin all of my seams together for each place mat and then sew everything at once, rather than pinning as I go. Pin wrong side to wrong side, going in a row as shown below.

Place your second piece on top of your first, wrongsides out.  Pin along top.

Open up the fabric

Pin piece three to piece two and repeat the process until all pieces are pinned.  

Step Six

Stitch each seam, removing pins as you go and then press all the seams and if you, like me, were less than perfect with your measuring and cutting, trim the edges so they are all even.

My seams, some pressed and others waiting for my nice hot iron

Step Seven

Cut your interfacing and fuse to place mat according to package directions 

The wrong side of my place mat with interfacing fused on.  Word to the wise:  Make sure the side with all the little dots is facing your fabric.  I almost fused this to my iron...

Step Eight

Cut backing fabric to match and then pin all layers together. At this point, use safety pins in the middles of your rectangles since you are going to be quilting soon. 

See all my layers just waiting to be sewed together?  So close to finished!  

Step Nine

Attach your binding.  There are many tutorials that explain this much better than I can.  THIS one explains how to use a binding foot and THIS tells you how to attach double fold binding tape using a standard presser foot.  It takes patience.  

Step Ten

"Quilt" your place mats. I chose to do a simple outline of each block. 

Ain't it purty?  

Bonus:  Step Eleven

If you like the detailed edge finish of my final place mat, I achieved this look by using one of the embroidery functions on my sewing machine.  I have a Singer Confidence.  

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will visit me at my blog Songbird Takes Flight.  If you like the "snowballs" in the centerpiece, there is a tutorial to make them and faux mercury glass ornaments in my blog.  

~ Caitlin

P.S.  Special Thanks to Mandy for the opportunity to share this tutorial with all of you.  :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

so About that...

So I'm sorry I've been AWOL lately.  The reason?  I'm crazy.

No seriously.

I took a long term sub job teaching high school art.  It's... interesting.  And also a huge time suck since I have to write my own lesson plans and grade my own papers so I get stuck at school for a long time afterward.  Such is life.  It's money, right?

so I've had to come up with art projects to do with teenagers.  Sadly, they don't respond too well to crafts... That and I don't have the ability to requisition supplies...   Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to add more stuff soon...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Recipe: The Best Blueberry Topping Ever

I know.  It's kind of an inflammatory title.  There is going to be someone out there who disagrees.  But Whatever.  This is my blog so I am calling the shots.  I made this topping to go on my white chocolate cheesecake that I am making for my big family thanksgiving.  Cheesecake is my specialty and I am fairly sure that failure to bring one to Thanksgiving would result in my removal from the family.  This topping would also be delicious on ice cream or yogurt or oatmeal or anything else that blueberry goes well with.  So here you go.

The Best Blueberry Topping Ever
Time:  20 minutes
Makes enough to top one cheesecake

1 bag frozen blueberries
1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

1.  Pour half the bag of blueberries into a small saucepan.  Add all other ingredients, reserving the other half of the blueberries.  

Reserved about this much
2.  Stir over medium heat.  When mixture comes to a boil, reduce to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.  

I love the way the lemon zest contrasts with the blueberries.  Not that you actually see the zest when it is fully cooked and ready to go.  

3.  Add the rest of the blueberries to the saucepan.  Stir.  Allow to warm over low heat for 5 minutes.  
4.  Remove from heat and enjoy.  

Jealous of my family for tomorrow?  This is one of three delicious desserts.  

In other news, sorry for not posting in so horribly long but you know  Life is life and I'm also writing a novel and getting ready to decorate for Christmas.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An ode to butter

Hello Dear friends.  If you have been lurking for a while, reading my posts, you probably already realize that I am (more than) slightly off my rocker.  If you are visiting for the first time, you are soon to discover that...  To further prove that, I give to you...

So like 90% of American women, I am on a "diet."  By diet, I mean I am making a concerted effort to control the amount of calories I eat and eat healthy foods, not follow a particular "plan."  As you can imagine, regular consumption of butter is not part of keeping my waist line small(er).  That being said...


The other morning, I had a treat for breakfast:  whole wheat toast with butter.  In a previous life, that would just be a normal breakfast.  Now it is a delicious treat for special mornings.  We keep our butter in a glass dish on the counter so it stays soft and spreadable and oh so tempting.  On Saturday morning, I got up and toasted my whole wheat bread and spread each piece with a generous pat of butter.  Though the temptation to enjoy the deliciousness leaning up against the counter was great, I resisted and instead put the toast on my plate and sat down at the kitchen table with my toast and coffee.  Those few moments allowed the the melting butter to seep into the bed.

Man was it delicious.

I could just feel the saturated fats enveloping my heart in warmth and deliciousness... or alternatively hardening my arteries, but you know, same difference.  Butter is good... just not good for you.

My favorite way to enjoy butter is simply spread on toast or a biscuit but its also fabulous within a recipe... Like butter sugar cookies or in a garlic sauce.  Or melted and ready for my to dip my artichokes or snow crab claws into.  That's good too.

Leave a comment on how you enjoy butter :)  Do you do straight up butter or are you more of a margarine person?

PS.  Tune in Next Week for my Ode to Cheese

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tutorial: Decorative Snowballs

Greetings my darling readers.  If you are reading for the first time, welcome to my crazy life.  All of you should feel free to follow me.  I have a fair number of tutorials coming up, a lot of which are for Christmas.  Today, I will start with my tutorial on making decorative Snowballs.

Materials Needed:

Epsom salts
Mod Podge 
3" Styrofoam balls (or whatever size you like)
Small paint brush 
Paper plate or other shallow dish 
Bamboo skewers 

Step One

Begin by covering your work surface with wax paper or some other waterproof guard.  I will explain why later.  

Step Two

Pour a cup or so of epsom salts onto your paper plate.

I added a few tablespoons of table salt to my epsom salts

Step Three

Skewer your Styrofoam balls onto your bamboo skewers so they are secure and you essentially have giant lollipops.

Step Four

Paint the outside of your ball in mod podge and roll in your epsom salts.  Helpful Hint: If you want to cover the whole ball in one shot, sprinkle pinches of the salt over the hard to cover areas and gently press.

sorry for the low Q.  Took all photos on my cell phone.  

Again, sorry for the low Q, but you get the idea, right?

A close up of my finished ball... 

Step Five

Put your skewers snowballs into a vase or other container and allow to dry over your protected surface.

I even put them in a nice festive vase...

Important Project Note

The reason it is so important that you cover your surface with something waterproof is because these balls will drip water while drying.  The epsom salts will leech some of the water from the glue and drip onto the table.  It will not affect the finish of the snowballs but it will cause a mess if you aren't careful.

See my drips on my wax paper?  Some how I don't think my Mom would be happy with that  on her antique hardwood table... 

Step Six

When your snowballs are completely dry, remove the skewers from the ball.  If the little holes in the balls bother you, add a small dab of glue and sprinkle on more epsom salts to hide the hole.  

See?  Doesn't the texture look like ice?  As the epsom salts are exposed to air, they will lose some sparkle but the texture still looks lovely and snow-like.  

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  It's pretty simple and I'm sure you could've figured it out yourselves but I thought I would share with you my latest projects.  :)  Tell me what you think in a comment!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Things To Come

This is a recent picture of my dining room table with most of the chaos just pushed off to the side to stage an image for my guest post at Sugarbee Crafts.  Beauty amidst chaos, I suppose.  The tutorial on my snowball centerpiece will be up tomorrow and my guest post on my table runner and placemats will be unveiled on December 7th.

Happy Monday everybody!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Substitute Teachers, Part Three: Suggestions for Regular Teachers to have good days with subs.

Hello my friends and welcome back to Songbird Takes Flight.  I am your resident substitute teacher Caitlin.  This is Day Three of my four-part series on Substitute teaching.  I have already outlined how to become and sub, and listed some of the pros and cons of the job.  Today's post is aimed at any teachers who read this blog and how you can prepare for a sub to come in.

Tip #1:  Give a lot of detail in your plans

Here's a rule of thumb:  Write your plans with enough detail that you think a toddler could understand it, and then double the amount of details you include.  A lot of things that are obvious to you are not necessarily obvious to a substitute coming in.  I once caused mass chaos because I was not informed that I should only allow two boys in the bathroom at a time on bathroom break.  The younger your kids are, the more details need to be included in the plans.

Tip #2:  Include your classroom rules and behavior expectations in your plans

Behavioral expectations vary between age groups.  I neither want to let things slide with a group of older kids nor be way too harsh with a group of kindergarteners.  If you don't allow kids out of your classroom for anything less than an absolute emergency, say so.  If you have a behavior chart system, five details on how that works.  Are kids given warnings before being told to flip their card/move their pin/whatever?

Tip #3:  Give details on how you expect discipline problems to be handled

Should I leave a list of names for when you return?  Should I call the teacher next door if I have a problem?  What is the number for the main office and the name of the principal?  Should I assign a detention that you will serve when you return?

Tip #4:  Prepare your kids ahead of time for the sub and/or write a letter to be read to the class

One of the BEST sub days I had happened when the regular teacher gave me a letter to read to the class at the beginning of the day to remind them what the expectations were.  Honestly, part of the reason this is effective is because it means the students know that I the sub know what the expectations are and they cannot take any advantage of my assumed ignorance.  Tell the kids what will happen if they misbehave.

Tip #5:  Leave more work than you think they will actually accomplish

I've had teachers leave work and be fully convinced it would take the entire class...only to have all the kids finish with twenty minutes to spare.  Leave an extra worksheet or a chapter to review or something to read or homework they can get started on.  Also, leave a list of acceptable activities if they finish that.  If the only thing you allow them to do is read, say so.  If you really don't care what they do as long as they are silent, say so.

Tip #6:  Leave the information you would want if you were working in an unfamiliar place

Tell subs where the bathroom is, where the teacher's lounge is, and how much lunch costs.  If you are lucky, you will have subs who have worked in the school a million times but sometimes you won't.  If the sub is responsible for taking the kids to the gym, tell them how to get to the gym.  When you only have twenty minutes for lunch, you don't want to spend five of them trying to figure out where the bathroom is.

These six will help your kids have a great day when you aren't able to be there.  There are premade sub folders that have places to fill in all this information.  I suggest filling in even the things you find painfully obvious.

I hope you enjoyed my series on substitute teaching.  If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will be happy to answer as best as I am able.  :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Substitute Teachers, Part Two: The Pros and Cons

Welcome back to another day in my life and my experiences as a substitute teacher.  On Thursday, I discussed how becoming a substitute teacher works and gave a few tips for preparing yourself to be a sub.  Today, I will discuss some of the pros and cons of working as a sub.

Pro #1:  Getting to work with children

For me, getting to hang out with a group of kids is really fun.  For others, this may be an exercise in torture.  I will say that if you absolutely HATE kids, don't be a sub.

Con #1:  Getting to work with Teenagers

I honestly do not know how the teachers who teach high school kids every single day do it.  They are snarky, rude, and usually think they know anything.  These days, getting them detached from their cell phones for the school day is very hard.  Administering discipline is also harder in the high school because a time out is no longer a threat to them.

Pro #2:  Never having to work a weekend

I can make plans for Saturdays and Sundays with confidence because I know that I will not be called in to work.  I am also off by 3:00 on Fridays that I work so I have plenty of time to travel if I need to.

Con #2:  Not having a regular, guaranteed schedule

My older brother works in retail and gets his schedule three weeks in advance.  I have found out I was working 20 minutes before I needed to be there.

Pro #3:  The Good Days

There are two kinds of good days, for me: the days when I have a lot to do but have fun doing it.  The kids are well behaved and friendly.  Most elementary days are like this.  You rarely meet meet a malicious six year old who calls you fat and threatens to sue you (true story...).

The second type of good days are the passive good days.  Those are the days when you basically don't have to do anything.  These mostly are days in high school when the kids are old enough to be given independent work for the entire class period and all you have to do is sit there, read a book and occasionally check to make sure no one is cheating/texting/going to kill each other.

Con #3:  The Bad Days

I wish I could say they were few and far between but they aren't.  These are the days when the kids won't listen, you hear nothing but back talk, one of the kids has a mental breakdown in your class, you have to call an administrator into the room, there is a fight you have to break up, you get ten minutes for lunch because there is a random duty they need you to cover, and the staff members around you are not helpful.  Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is all I can say.

Pro #4:  Getting of Early

The absolute latest I get off is 3:00.  Then I go home, drink my coffee, and do whatever I want.

Con #4:  Getting up Early

I am not a morning person and many days I am up and watching kids before I am ready to be out of bed, much less trying to keep a group of high schools from killing each other.

There are many more things I could say about what I do, about the things I enjoy and the things I hate.  I could give you stories of my triumphs and failures, the days I love it and the says I'm ready to give it up to work at McDonald's.  You should also know that every sub experience is unique and you may have lots and lots of good days with few bad days.  Good for you.

For tomorrow:  Substitute Teachers, Part Three:  Suggestions for Regular Teachers to have good days with subs.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Substitute Teachers, Part one: Preparing to be a Sub

So for those of you who are not aware, I am a substitute teacher in two different local school districts.  For the record (in case anyone from said school districts reads this), I will not be referencing the name of said schools, teachers, support staff members, or students.  I will be making generalizations about my experience as a substitute teacher.

Each state has different requirements for hiring substitute teachers.  Many states require that you be a certified educator in order to work as a sub.  That is not a requirement where I live, though there is a tiered pay system depending on the level of education you have achieved.  If you are interested in being a sub, check with your local school district to determine hiring requirements.

If you pass the education requirements of your local district, there are still more hoops to jump through.  The information you need will likely be at the school district office but call to make sure.  The application is often quite lengthy and includes many steps other than just filling out paperwork.  In order to work with children, I can virtually guarantee the following will be included:

1.  A physical and TB screening
2.  Fingerprinting and a background check through state and federal systems
3.  A Child Abuse registry check

Yes, this means your fingerprints are now in the system so if you are planning on pursuing a life of crime in substitute teaching doesn't work out, then this is not the career path for you.  My experience was that it took about a week to have all of the paperwork, background checks, and physical taken care of, as these things take a bit to process.  In my state, the background check cost $75 and the physical and TB screening were covered under my health insurance.  The child abuse registry check was as simple as providing my information to the school district who sent my information off to the state.

In the probably lengthy application packet you will get, there will usually be instructions about when and how to bring your materials in when everything is completed.  In most cases, you must schedule an appointment to meet with the sub coordinator.  Even if they don't require an appointment, it is advisable to call ahead, lest you arrive just as that person is stepping out to lunch.

As I'm sure most of you are smart enough to know, dress nicely when you go meet with the sub coordinator.  He or she is now your boss, and depending on the district, he or she may be fully in charge of how often you work and whether or not you get the good classes.  Always be nice to this person.  Also the secretary of each school you are subbing for.

So let's imagine you've filled in all your paperwork and have been hired.  Yay!  I work for two different school districts.  In one of them, the sub coordinator calls me to see if I am available on a given day.  In the other, it is an automated system that allows me to go online to look for jobs or call the phone system to look.  said phone system also has a robot call me if I am being called in last minute.

As much as humanly possible, districts will try to schedule you in advanced.  These kind of jobs happen when teachers have meetings or training or a dentist appointment they scheduled six months ago.  Keep a calendar of all of these.  I have three of them:  my phone calendar, my purse calendar, and my calendar on the automatic sub system.  Why three, you ask?  The automatic sub system allows me to black out days I know I am working else where.  The phone calendar will remind me in case I forgot I agreed to go in, and the pocket calendar allows me to check availability if I am out of the house when my boss calls me to ask if I can work.

Unfortunately, the majority of jobs will not come to you having been scheduled two weeks (or longer in advance).  The majority of calls come either the night before or the morning of the job they need you for.  I am always thankful when they call the night before because it gives me a chance to make my plans and ensure that I have all that I need.  Early mornings happen though and you can only pray the call comes at six and not 6:45, giving you ten minutes to get dressed and out the door.  So let me suggest a few things to help with the early mornings.

1.  If you, like me, are a creature of habit, try to go to bed and get up at around the same time, whether you're working or not.  Those 5:30am phone calls will feel like death if you're staying up until two in the morning.

2.  If you, like me, cannot think particularly well in the morning, pick out your clothes the night before.  I always have a work appropriate outfit hanging on the hook on the back of my bedroom door so that I don't have to think about it when I get up.

3.  Either start showering in the evening or invest in dry shampoo.  You may be thinking "it only takes me five minutes to shower in the morning.  I don't need to do that."  Trust me.  There will be a day that you get called fifteen minutes before you have to leave.  Can you shower, get dressed, put on make up, eat breakfast, and pack a lunch if you get called with that little time?  I can't.  If you can, you are super woman and I applaud you.

4.  Consider your lunch options.  I always pack because the lines in the cafeteria are often long.  On days I get called the morning I need to go in, I usually pack leftovers.  It is also worth it to have some prepacked snacks around the house so you can throw lunch together in record time.

5.  If you already have a lot of stuff planned for the day, don't be afraid to say no.  Seriously.  If you are incredibly busy that day, just say no.

Thanks for Reading :) Tune in tomorrow for Part Two:  The Pros and Cons of being a Substitute teacher.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hobby Lobby is an addiction...

So happy 23rd birthday to me!  "How are you going to celebrate?" the 11 people who looked at my blog in October may ask.  Well let me tell you.

Unlike a lot of my wild and crazy peers, I am boring.  No, seriously.  Following Hurricane Sandy, my sub job yesterday was cancelled and I held my breath and prayed I wouldn't get called today (I didn't) so I could go to Hobby Lobby and Michael's in honor of surviving 23 years--which would've been a feat in the 17th century or so.  Granted, back then I also would be married and have several children by now...

So the birthday plans:

1.  Baked oatmeal muffins for breakfast (check)
2.  Drink copious amount of coffee (check)
3.  Read a lot on my kindle (check)
4.  Go to the craft stores and use those 40% off coupons
5.  Dinner at Olive Garden with my parents
6.  ...Go to bed at 10pm because I work tomorrow

The biggest debate now is what I should have for lunch...  hmmm...  what I really want is some chic-fil-a but that involves a) driving half an hour and b) paying money for it.  So I suppose I'll eat something from the massive quantity of food that is already in the house...

So, here is my question:  what do y'all do for your birthdays (especially the grown ups)?  Are you tame like me or crazy like Ke$ha?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Frankinstorm and My Craft Addiction

For those of you who live under a rock (or in the Midwest, outside of the US, or the south)  Hurricane Sandy and her little friends who she is converging with are are going to hammer the daylights out of the Mid Atlantic. It's already raining here with some blowing breezes so I am safe and sound and warm in the house, looking at fabrics and anticipating the arrival of the sewing machine I am getting for my birthday.  In the meantime, I am fantasizing about all the amazing thins I am going to make with this sewing machine.

Like maybe THIS cell phone/computer travel carrying Case.  

(Image Source:  http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/  No copyright infringement intended)

I would probably choose a laminated cotton like THIS Amy Butler pattern.  So cute, no?

(Image Source:  http://www.fabric.com/  Amy Butler licensed pattern.  No copyright infringement intended)

While I'm at it, how about a matching purse like THIS one.  Ignore the horrible fabric in the picture.  I my Amy Butler fabric.  I can just picture it with pink piping.  

(Image Source:  http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/  No copyright infringement intended)

My Ultimate Project, however, is that I eventually want to make myself a new rennaisance faire dress.  A truly fantastic one.  Complete with resplendent fabrics and a steel boned bodice. 

In the mean time, before I start buying up all those patterns and fabrics, I have two quilting projects.  One is an actual quilt and one of them is a set of Christmas placemats and a table runner that will be up on Sugar Bee Crafts as part of the guest posting extravaganza.  My date is December 7th.  I have a pretty pile of fabrics that I just spent far too much money on.  Coming up:  a tutorial on making decorative snowballs.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ana White, You are my hero

In case you were wondering, I am one of twenty somethings who flew the nest and then immediately moved home post-college. There were a number of reasons for this, the biggest one being that my mother is ill.

That and the free rent.

There are certain other advantages to living at home, however. One of them is that in my Dad has a workshop in the garage and a large quantity of tools that I can borrow. So in preparation for soon moving out, I want to build stuff. So several weeks ago I stumbled across ana-white.com. And have since been in love. So let me share a few plans I am lusting over.

(Image source:  http://ana-white.com/)

It looks pretty straight forward and will help contain the huge piles of laundry that I produce. No seriously. I hate folding laundry so I just won't do it.

(Image Source:  http://ana-white.com/)

I love this. I think it looks so cool, though what I would really love to do is use the idea to make a head/foot board...

(Image Source:  http://ana-white.com/)

I am envisioning two of them flanking a nice bench on a patio.

(Image Source: http://ana-white.com/)

I am envisioning these in white with a nice teal seat cushion. So cute!

(Image Source:  http://ana-white.com/)

Lord only knows where I would wind up putting this but I can just picture it with an antiqued white finish.

So hopefully I will actually build some of this stuff. Ana White has so many awesome plans. You should totally check out her blog.

P.S. I'm not being paid to say any of this. If someone were, the money would immediately go into purchasing lumber...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Under Construction?

Honing my mad graphics skills to work on a new blog design for my revamped blog.  This started out as a travel adventure blog when I went to England and now...  well, we'll see.  :)  Crafts, sewing, cooking, decor, and my crazy life.  Maybe some photoshop for babies tutorials?  

So an introduction for anyone who actually decides to read this:  

I am Caitlin, a not quite 23 year old substitute teacher with a degree in music, a crazy life, a degree in music, and a love for Jesus.  I'm not your typical mommy-type craft blogger, but don't be too scared.  I am pretty tame, unless the fact that I spend my weekends watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, occasionally visiting the hunky-hunky boyfriend at college, and trying to convince myself that no, I don't need to go to Hobby Lobby AGAIN.  

Welcome to this little corner of my life.  :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Innocent Devil

The problem with Satan is that he uses people as a force of destruction, people who have no idea that they are being used.  They are fighting their own battles and may not even notice that in swinging their sword around, they struck a blow to someone nearby.

I have been haunted for six years by the ghost of a man who had no idea what he did to me.  He was a trusted teacher who never realized that his careless flinging of words cut slashes in my heart.  He was fighting his own demons, ones slashing at his throat, trying to defeat him.  And he became my demon.

He has been the voice in my head saying "you can't do this" in the softest whisper that is somehow so deafening that shouts of reassurance are deadened by the soft hiss of a whisper.  "Do something else."

The sharpest insults are hidden inside compliments, disguised as advice, and said only once but are permanently engraved in my mind.  So deeply engraved that the weathering of so many storms has only softened but not erased the words.  I hope I forget.

The hardest part is to not take up the knife myself, to cut the weather, faded words into the rock afresh, to remind myself that they are lies.  Some days it takes the hand of someone else to pry the carving knife from my fingers and some days someone will hand me the knife, not knowing what I will be tempted to do with it, the temptation to be my own demon and destroy myself bit by bit, carving words again with a knife.

I need the hands of others, and more importantly, the hands of God, to pull me away and let the words wear away with time.  I cannot do it alone.  I have let his face fade into memory, lost in six years of life's trials and triumphs.

Until that face is in front of me again and it's just like I am 16 and want to please my voice teacher again.  He is nothing but complimentary but I hardly believe him because suddenly, I know.

I know the words I've cut back into the stone were said by a man who never knew what he was saying, who never knew what he was doing and was so caught up in his own battle, he thought it was okay.  He was weak, as I am, easily made a demon through distraction, innocent and not innocent all at once, like a child tricked into uttering swear words.

So I will allow him to be proud of me because he has no idea the pain I've endured.  I realize now the words he said have no power in themselves, only in the power I give them.  And I will not be my own demon

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the--well, actually they just change. A lot.

So my last post (some 2 months ago...) with semi-veiled references to a boy I flirt with?  Said boy is my boyfriend now.  Worst timing eve considering it happened two weeks before I graduated from college but whatever.  Life is weird.

Oh that's right... I also graduated from college.  If there actually is someone reading this (which I mostly doubt), I have spent the last four years at Eastern University, a small Christian liberal arts college in suburban Philadelphia, studying music performance.  I also did a brief sojourn in Oxford, UK, and the original purpose of this blog was to document my time there and all that led up to that time.

I also hacked off my hair recently into what is basically a long bob that is a deep auburn.  I did it two days prior to graduation so the overpriced graduation photos show it, plus the ones my parents took.

So with all of these changes (some minor, some significant), the strangest for me is that I am now living at home with my parents and older brother.  Since I've worked summers with Sodexo, I haven't lived at home for more than four weeks at a time in more than two years.  Trying to find a job for the summer, and planning on substitute teaching come fall while applying for my long list of graduate schools.  I just need to find something part time for the summer so I can, you know, put gas in my car and do stuff like that (*cough*creditcard*cough*).  I don't want full time for this summer because there is an unexpectedly large amount of things I need to do before I can apply to graduate school.  More than I was initially thinking.

In other news, in another money making scheme, I am thinking of opening an etsy shop and peddling my crafty wares, giving myself an excuse to create (*cough*buyasewingmachine*cough*).  If I'm going to sell it, it means I can try absolutely everything I find on pinterest, right?



Monday, April 2, 2012

1 is the least safe number

There is a certain safety in knowing that if anyone actually reads what I write, no one says anything. That's okay. I'll write to the air.

There are things that I dare not confess here, lest there is someone actually reading, actually waiting to know the things I hide. There is someone who makes me feel very safe. We flirt. A lot. This is dangerous. Oh so very dangerous...

Friday, March 9, 2012

No one reads this anyway, so why not?

At home for spring break and i have procrastinated on a lot of things. Today, I remembered a trick that I saw on Pinterest for removing yellow pit stains from clothes. The original post can be found here:

The basic premise is this:
1 part dawn dish soap
2 parts hydrogen peroxide

mix, pour on stain, scrub it in, and then allow to sit for an hour or so.

I decided to try it on two of my worst stained items of clothing: my cream camisole, and my 'little miss bossy' tee shirt, both of which I've had a long time and have worn frequently, often in the summer months. I failed to take a picture of them before putting the solution on so here you see them with the solution on them:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Can you hear me now?

Dear World,

Are you listening?

I feel like I'm speaking into a void sometimes, like the only person who hears me is myself. People just don't seem to understand me these days—if ever, to be perfectly honest. I'm in a strange place, I think. I am not sure there is a way for people to understand what's going on in my head without having gone through this themselves—and I would not wish that on anyone. My shoes aren't exactly comfortable to walk in for a mile these days. I have to make adult decisions now, decisions that don't just affect me but the people I love in this world.

My life has changed so much in the last year, in ways I never thought it would—or at least hoped it wouldn't. I think about things differently than I did a year ago. A year ago I would have prayed that a guy would come in and sweep me off my feet. Now, as much as that would be lovely, I'm a little more cautious about what falling in love would do to my life. The good and the bad things. So much to consider, I guess...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time to breathe in and let everything out

There are some days when getting out of bed feels like it is going to be the biggest challenged I have ever faced. My bed seems to get more comfortable every day, like the springs are gradually conforming to my body shape and I am perfectly nested in my cocoon of blankets. It doesn't help, of course, that I know there are plenty of this facing me once I exit the warm confines of my sheets. Some challenges are small (what do I eat for lunch today?) and some are bigger (what am I going to do with my life?). Knowing they are coming certainly does NOT help me get out of bed.

But up I must get and get a move on because usually by the time I have gotten up, I am running late. And I HATE to be late. This, I think, it what got me in trouble today. I was grumpy because we were running late to church and I think those with me were grumpy with me for being grumpy. Granted, I was upset about a few other things that had happened earlier in the weekend and was acting rather waspish, as tends to happen when I am upset. That is when I am snapping just to avoid the whole crying thing that I have any annoying tendency toward. Its unfortunate because people tend to be upset with me. I suppose that's life though.

I am not sure if there is actually a moral to the story in this blog post, other than the fact that I am at my most bitchy when I feel like crying. And I am well aware of this unfortunate fact but there is little to be done about it, as I'll take that over bursting into tears. Lately I've just been tired and burned out even though we are only two weeks into the semester. I just want a week off and—be warned that I am about to sound like a five year old—I want my mommy. I guess not in the normal sense of a child wanting mommy. I want time with her.

Time has become the enemy. I am afraid of how much or how little I have left with my mom. Months? Years? Decades? Will she get to help me plan my wedding someday or hold my children. The painful truth is that the answer is probably no. Time is so precious and it is so hard to be away.

All of this to say, as usual, I ought to be sleeping right now.

Friday, January 27, 2012

You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust

So I've been a little distracted by life lately and therefore haven't been thinking too much about my blog until this evening when a friend mentioned his blog. I've been thinking about/reexamining my life as I prepare to enter a new phase: the dreaded post graduation phase. There are a lot of things to consider now that I hadn't thought about before and for better or worse, my life is much different from how it was a year ago. I don't know whether I ought to be terrified or excited.

I am not particularly sure if anybody actually reads my blog these days. I was far more interesting when I was living across the Atlantic and I certainly didn't update often enough for the casual observer to be apprised of my goings on. And most of my posts were boring descriptions of my daily life rather than witty commentaries on Britain, anyway. Oh well. That was more than a year ago now. I am back to being just boring old music major Caitlin with the overwhelming life and the propensity to raise her hand to answer almost every question a teacher poses. So in case there is someone out there who cares to read the musings of a 22 year old college kid, let us begin.

There are fewer than 100 days until I graduate from college and... something. Move home, for one. The plan is to take a class this summer and become a CNA (certified nursing assistant) and teach some private voice lessons. Learn French. Take the GRE's. Win the lottery. Become wildly successful. You know, normal kinds of things. Oh yes, and never take free laundry for granted again. Man do I miss being able to just wash something if I needed it, not wait until the basket is completely overflowing and threatening to encroach upon the hallway floor.

Speaking of hallways, I live in an apartment, not a dorm. Oh, do I adore living in an apartment. With a bathtub and a kitchen (not in the same place of course). And three other college girl roommates (and one additional male that doesn't technically live here but spends the bulk of his time here). But no washer and dryer of our own.

...Also, its now 1AM and I should be sleeping so this small ramble will have to do!