Sunday, January 31, 2010

Photo #31: Octopus

Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

I spent a nice afternoon hanging out with my sister at Barnes and Noble, but I didn't like either of the pictures that I took there. I decided to use this one. I took it yesterday in the fish market at The Waterfront in West Des Moines, when I was there for lunch. Is that really an octopus in there? I don't think I'll be buying any.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Photo #30: Gourd Basket

Goard Basket
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today was a day of friendship, and enjoying the company of some of my very dearest and closest friends. I met Nancy at the Waterfront for lunch. I really miss her now that she has moved out of town. We had a delicious lunch with nonstop conversation. We did a lot of catching up, but finally had to leave after taking up a table for two hours. After that, I spent the afternoon hanging out with Chris while she was holding an open house at her massage business.

Both used to work with me. Nancy is still a counselor, but has moved to a new school district, and Chris has retired from teaching, and begun a whole new career. I really miss seeing them both every day. I have gone months without seeing either or them, because I have been so busy. Today was a reminder of what is really important in life: the people in our lives. The beautiful basket that you see here, was made by Chris. She carved it from a gourd. I love the textures and vivid colors. I am awed by her talent.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Photo #29: Homework

Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

It's Friday and I'm home, but I sure brought a lot of school with me. There are so many things I didn't even bother to bring home, because I knew I wouldn't do them. So often, I cart things home, and then cart them back to school, without ever taking them out of the bag. That may be true for this weekend, because I am really exhausted.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Photo #28: Dissecting Owl Pellets

Dissecting Owl Pellets
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

I have written before about how much my students love science. Today was one of the most exciting days of the school year, because it was the day we dissect owl pellets. Kids come into 4th grade knowing that at some point during the year, they get to participate in this lesson. There is a tremendous amount of excitement, anticipation and curiosity as they open the pellet to reveal the miniature parts of the skeleton within. When they first unwrap the pellet there is lots of giggling and some squeamishness, but soon their curiosity takes over. The room is loud and chaotic, and overflowing with the joy of learning.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Photo #27: Information Overload

Information Overload
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

This is a sculpture in the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in downtown Des Moines. This is just one of an entire collection of sculptures that were donated by the Pappajohn family, and they were just installed this past summer. The sculptures take up an entire city block, and they use to be in the Pappajohn's yard. I'm glad I don't have to mow that yard! I didn't actually take the picture today. I took it on my birthday, and I've been saving it for the right day. I don't know the real name of this sculpture, but it reminds me of how I feel on days like today. Overwhelmed! Overwhelmed by too much data, too much information, too much stuff, and too many demands. I am on information overload!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Photo #26: White Board Hearts

White Board Hearts
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Earlier this month we had a few days of outside recess, but after an ice storm last week, and blizzard conditions yesterday, we are back to inside recess. Over the years, I have accumulated quite a few playthings for the recess cabinet, so it's kind of interesting to see what the kids choose. A few people play games, but for the most part, the boys like to build, either with legos, K-nex or dominoes. The girls seem to like to draw. Some choose paper, but the little white boards we use for math, are by far the most popular.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Photo #25: Storm Damage

We are in the middle of yet another Iowa snow storm with strong winds, and blowing snow. However much I complain, I'm happy to say that at least this is not my car underneath this tree. It does, however, belong to a neighbor on the street behind me. This is storm damage from the ice storm last week. The tree split in half, and came down on the car. Before they have even had a chance to clean that up, we are now experiencing another blizzard. It's not as bad here in town, but the roads outside of the city are terrible. They have closed Interstate 35 between Ames and Clear Lake. I sent my student teacher home at 2:00, because he needed to drive 25 miles north to Iowa State in Ames. This is the worst winter we have had in a long time. I am hoping that we do not have another snow day tomorrow. We already have 6 days to make up.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Photo #24: Bailey's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Little Bailey went to the groomer on Friday. He hadn't been for a long time, and he was very matted, so I knew they would have to cut his hair short. I told the groomer that I just wanted him to be comfortable. I should be more careful about how I word directions. As a teacher, I should know this. Bailey's hair wasn't just cut short, he was shaved! As my son, Michael, said, "It wasn't even a cute shave." In fact there are areas that are almost bald and others that have tufts of hair sticking up. This may be due to lack of cooperation on Bailey's part, but I had expected him to look much better than that. Bailey was so upset and angry that when he got home he just howled at me.

Poor little Bailey has no hair left to keep him warm in this frigid Iowa weather, so my son has him all covered up here on the couch. On top of everything else, his ears hurt. The groomer told me that she thinks he has an ear infection. So now Bailey needs to go to another one of his "favorite" places -- the vet. Bailey definitely had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and he's never going back to that groomer again!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Photo #23: Let There Be Light

This is one of the light fixtures at Palmer's Deli on Ingersol. Jacci and I had lunch there today, on the way to the Des Moines Art Center. This light fixture is a work of art in itself, as are the salads at Palmer's. I hang out with Jacci while she does her homework. She is an art history major. Besides the fact that I love to spend time with my sister, by doing this I have also had the opportunity to go to some great places to see some fantastic art. We have been to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, and the Des Moines Art Center. Our next planned field trip is to Minneapolis.

I go to the Des Moines Art Center every year with my class. In fact we are scheduled to go this next Friday. It is nice to be able to go without supervising 24 kids. I grew up in Omaha, and I remember visiting the Joslyn Art Museum for field trips. I am still thrilled when I get a chance to go back there. I particularly enjoy more traditional paintings from the eighteenth and nineteen centuries, which Joslyn has many of. I am not a big fan of modern art, so I am often disappointed when I visit the Des Moines Art Center. It was even more frustrating this time, because two of the galleries were closed for renovations, and several pieces of art were stored away.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Photo #22: Our Flag

My friend's husband, arrived home from Iraq last night. He was supposed to come in on Wednesday, but the ice storm delayed him in Chicago. This is the flag in my classroom, and I took this photo in honor of their family. It is also a reminder to me of how fortunate I am to live where I do, and to have the freedoms that I do, and I have all that because of the people who, through the years, have been willing to serve and protect this country. I know through personal experience that it is the entire family who serves, even if it is only one member of the family who goes overseas. So often during this time that Jerry has been in Iraq, I have been reminded of the year that my father spent in Viet Nam. So thank you, Jerry, Carrie and girls. I'm glad you are together and safe.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Photo #21: My New Camera

Yesterday was the day that people were supposed to take a picture of their camera, but I didn't have this camera yet. Today we were out of school again. There were five schools in our school district without power today. My son did have school, however, so I had to venture out to get him to class. When I got back I attempted to take a picture of my front yard, which is strewn with downed branches. Once again, my camera did not work. This has been happening almost every day, and it is extremely frustrating. I might get a shot or two, and then it will shut down, and I am not able to get it to turn back on again.

This is actually a problem that I have been having for more than a year, but up until I started this 365 Photo Project, I only used my camera sporadically. Using it daily has made me more and more frustrated with its limitations. So on this day away from school I decided I was getting myself a new camera for my birthday/Christmas. I am so excited! My new camera is a Nikon Coolpix S570. It has 12 megapixels, a 5x telephoto lens, and a rechargeable battery. Just in saved batteries alone, it should pay for itself. I am so excited to learn how to use it, and being involved in this photo project should spur that along.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photo #20: Iced Castle

Iced Castle
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today was our fifth snow day of the school year. To be more precise, this is really an ice day. I was awakened around 3 a.m. by the freezing rain hitting against the windows. Now the entire house is encased in 1/4 inch sheet of ice. Every tree branch, every twig is encased in ice. It was beautiful! Then as the hours passed, the weight of the ice and the wind, caused branches to break and crash to the ground. Now my front yard is littered with the broken limbs. They will stay there for awhile. I have not set foot out of the house today, nor have I gotten dressed, and it's going to stay that way. In my 23 years of teaching, I do not remember a year where we have missed this many days of school because of weather. While I love staying home, each day must be made up. Our school year has now been extended to June 14th.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Photo #19: A Frosty Morning at School

A Frosty Morning at School
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

On the drive to school this morning, I was noticing the hoarfrost on all the trees. That is a vocabulary word that was introduced to us by our principal just a week ago. So my initial plan was to capture the lacy look of the frost encrusted trees. I was going to park behind the building and photograph the arboretum, until I saw the warm glow of the light from the school windows. I like the way the building wakes up as teachers arrive and one by one light their classrooms. This is a great school!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Photo #18: Out to Lunch

Out to Lunch
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The kids had the day off. For the teachers it was a work day in the morning and professional development in the afternoon. There are two highlights of our days without kids. 1) We are able to wear jeans, because we are not allowed to when the kids are here. 2) We get to go out to lunch. Today we didn't have a lot of time, so we headed to one of my favorite places to eat, Jimmy John's. Notice the smiling faces. We had more than 30 minutes to eat, no cafeteria food, and no recess duty. It was a great day! I finished my report cards in the morning, and was able to have everything ready for the week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Photo #17: Shopping

Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today was supposed to be my work day, since I spent most of yesterday celebrating my birthday. I did do some laundry, and worked on report cards very briefly, and then I went shopping. I suppose I could blame it on my dear sister, because she gave me a gift certificate to Kohl's for my birthday. I can always find something I like at Kohl's. I ended up with clothes, but not until after I enjoyed spending time in the housewares. I love the colorful dishes, towels, and linens. These bright cheery placemats, really caught my eye.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Photo #16: My Birthday at The Waterfront

The Waterfront
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today was my birthday, and I've had a great day. It was hard to decide what part of the day to represent in a photo. I enjoyed my morning here at home. I love leisurely mornings, sipping my tea or cappuccino. After a busy week, being able to turn off the alarm and get up when I want, is a gift in itself. It was a bright sunshiny day in the thirties, so in the afternoon I went downtown to explore the new Pappajohn Sculpture Park. I have driven past it many times, since its installation last summer, but this was my first time to walk around and explore. The Pappajohns have given a fantastic gift of all of the citizens of Des Moines. After that I spent some time hanging out at Starbucks. The highlight of my day, was being taken out to dinner by my sister. Jacci picked me up at 6 and took me to The Waterfront in Ankeny. Along with the restaurant, there is a fish market, and sushi bar. We had a delicious salmon dinner. I am so lucky to have such a great sister, and it has been a fantastic birthday!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Photo #15: Take a Closer Look

Take a Closer Look
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

We are still working on science, and as you can see the kids are very into it. This picture cracks me up. The boys are examining mineral samples. Today we were trying to determine which rock samples contain calcite. Did you know that calcite reacts to acid by foaming and bubbling? The acid we are using is vinegar, so our classroom reeks of vinegar right now. That would be my least favorite part of the lesson. I hate the smell of vinegar! Some of the kids were with me on that one.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photo #14: Lockers

Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

These are the lockers in our third floor hall after the kids have left for the day. Everything has been put back in place. I've been thinking about photographing them all week. I like the vertical pattern of locker doors and handles, and the lines of perspective as your view moves down the hall. More than that, I like the order and calm. It is in stark contrast to the way they look during the day, stuffed with coats and backpacks to the point that scarves and corners of jackets bulge out the edges of the doors. Sometimes these old lockers fight back, and refuse to give up their contents, Then our custodian has to attack the latch with a screwdriver in order to liberate a child's belongings.

This is why I like to stay late after school. After the excitement, after the chaos, after the cocophony of voices, the lockers and I savor the silence. We reorganize and prepare for another day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photo #13: Varigated Leaves

Varigated Leaves
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

The picture I was planning to use for today is on my computer at school, so I decided to use this one instead. I took it on my trip to the Des Moines Botanical Center on Sunday. I love the colors in the leaves. Looking at the dark green foliage is calming after a difficult after school meeting.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Photo #12: Young Geologists

Young Geologists
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

My kids just love science! I wish I enjoyed teaching it more than I do. I love that they are so enthusiastic and interested. I just wish I had more space to store all the materials, and more time to set up for a lesson. Whatever we are doing, be it Earth Materials, the Human Body, or Electricity and Magnetism, they are absolutely thrilled with every lesson. They love handling the materials, using the magnifiers to get a close up look, and conducting their experiments. They are truly scientists in the making.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Photo #11: Temptation Mountain

Temptation Mtn 3
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

We have had 35 inches of snow over the past few weeks, followed by frigid temperatures, so very little of the snow has had a chance to melt. This huge mountain of snow is piled in the parking lot at the grocery store near my house. With each subsequent snowfall the mountain has grown into a mountain range, because there is no other place to put all the snow. Signs are posted to keep off. I know when I was a kid, I would not have been able to resist the temptation to climb to the top and slide back down.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Photo #10: Oasis

Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

I woke up this morning thinking about where I could go to take today's photo. I decided it was a good day to visit the Des Moines Botanical Center. After the frigid temperatures and 35 inches of snow that we have experienced here in Iowa, the idea of going somewhere that is warm and humid was very appealing. The Botanical Center is like an oasis in a frozen tundra. From the morning news, I learned that today was the first of a series of concerts, "Blues at the Botanical Center", so the deal was sealed, because I am a big fan of Blues. It turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Photo #9: Gong Fu Tea

Measuring Tea
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

I had a difficult time choosing my picture for today. It was not because I didn't have one, but rather because I had to decide between several. I spent time in three of my favorite places today: the library, Gong Fu Tea, and Costco, so it was hard to make a choice between them. I chose Gong Fu, because I am really enjoying the luxury of a delicious cup of steaming tea these days. I enjoy sampling new flavors, and as you can see by the tins lining the wall, there are many to try. Not only do I enjoy the tea, I like the ceremony and the paraphernalia that goes with it. I like watching the clerks climb the ladder to lift down the precious tins. They carefully weigh and scoop the tea into the bags. I love the shape and line of the teapots that stand on the shelves. There are special spoons to stir the tea, cups to brew the tea, fancy tins to store it in, and teapots of all sizes. It's a pleasure to savor the rich aroma of the tea as it steeps. And finally to anticipate the comforting warmth and flavor of the tea as I grasp the cup in my hand, and sip slowly..

Friday, January 8, 2010

Photo #8: Soup and Wifi

Soup and Wifi
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

We are only eight days into the 365 Photo Challenge, and I'm already beginning to see a theme emerge. This is the second time that my little Acer Aspire Netbook has made it into the picture. I have only had a netbook since last March, but having one really has changed the way I spend my leisure time. Now, instead of being parked in front of the television, I am in front of this little computer screen. I frequent coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants that have free wireless internet available. When the wireless internet at home goes down, that is cause for alarm.

This time spent on the internet has broadened my horizons, putting me in touch with people from all over the world. It has changed the topics that I talk about, and read about. It has transformed the way that I teach. It has altered the way that I look toward the future. And now there is this new blogging thing. We have already had four snow days this school year. Much of that time, and the two weeks I had off for winter vacation have been spent reading and now writing blogs. Writing! The return to an old love! Who would have thought it? And the soup was good, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Photo #7: Another Iowa Snow Day

It was another snow day for us here in Iowa. We have now had about 36 inches of snow this winter, and very little of that has melted. We added just five inches of snow today, but the snow was accompanied by high winds. I love snow days, even though I know that I have to eventually make them up. Today I had already taken a shower, and was in the process of getting dressed before I heard the announcement. I wonder who gets more excited about snow days, the kids or the teachers? I really like my job, but nevertheless, I shout and cheer when I hear that school has been cancelled for the day. I never completely believe my good luck, until I see the words confirmed multiple times: DES MOINES PUBLIC SCHOOLS: CANCELLED!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Photo #6 of 365: Cookies

Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today was an early dismissal day, so that teachers could participate in professional development. Fortunately for us, our principal always provides us with some sort of snack to get through the afternoon. This is a great benefit, because she is a fantastic cook. We enter the library to sign in, and there next to the agendas, is this beautiful plate of iced cookies. This was definately a two cookie PD, so the platter was completely empty by the time we left at 3:15.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Photo #5 of 365: Inside Recess

Black Domino Run
Originally uploaded by BarbaraLN

Today was another day of inside recess. For the fourth day in a row we woke up to below zero temperatures. I know the children need their exercise, but sometimes I like inside recess, and the kids seem to like it too. On days like today, I enjoy watching them play. This group really has fun together, and they seldom bicker. They like to work with Legos and Connects. Dominoes are another favorite activity. I doubt any of them have actually ever played a game of dominoes. They like to build with them, and they especially like to create domino runs. They will spend their entire recess planning and patiently setting them up. At the end of recess, we all gather around in suspense waiting to see if the dominoes will fall correctly. Successful domino drops are greeted with cheers and applause.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to School

After 16 days off, it was back to school for all of us today. We woke up to bitter cold temperatures of twelve degrees below zero. The Kids came in, bundled up in coats, hats, and mittens. Many were sporting new clothes and shoes, which they had received as gifts for Christmas. Most were happy to be back, and all were excited to see each other. It was a time for reviewing and waking up our brains.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cold and Snowy Iowa

I have lived in the midwest most of my life. I was born here in Des Moines and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. So I should be used to the cold and the snow. I like the change of seasons, but I've already had enough of winter for this year. We had record breaking snows during the month of December, followed by cold. Even the trees are cold. This tree is located in my neighbor's yard. He looks happier in summer.

Despite the cold, it has been a productive day. I have had a great winter vacation, and it's back to school tomorrow. Today I started thinking school. I finally got around to doing some of the school projects I brought home. It was also a day to get Christmas packed away. I love the Christmas lights, but after a while I start to feel cramped and crowded, so it was good to pack away the tree and let in the light.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hanging Out At Barnes & Noble

It is time to begin thinking about school again. Although I brought home a whole stack of work, I have not touched it. So today, I started out my day working in my craft room, making thank you cards and bookmarks for my students. This flurry of creativity prompted a blog post on my other blog. In the afternoon I headed to Barnes and Noble with the intent of working on my American Revolution webquest, but as you can see by the pile of books, blogging was on my mind. I love hanging out with my little netbook at Caribou Coffee, or Starbucks at Barnes & Noble. When my sister joins me, even better!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Edtech 365/2010 Photo Project

I just learned about the Edtech 365/2010 project. The object is to take a photo each day of the year and then share it on Flickr. I really didn't know where to start until Natalie Wojinski sent me a link to her blog. I was intrigued and decided I would like to give it a try. I have always been interested in photography and I am a scrapbooker, but rather than a collection of great photography, I want this blog to serve as a journal of my year. As much as a record, it will no doubt, prove to be an exploration of the things that are most important to me. It will be one more step in my journey of self discovery. I will be including the silly and the serious. It will record work as well as play. I have no idea how it will all turn out. I will try to post on a weekly rather than daily basis. I have an older camera, though I'm thinking this will be the perfect excuse to buy a new camera sometime during this year. Since I have a habit of forgetting my camera, many shots will probably be taken with my cell phone camera. This will be another adventure for a new decade. I can hardly wait to find out what happens!

January 1, 2010 -- New Year's Day

We have not ventured out of the house at all today. My doggie friends and I have just rested and enjoyed our freedom. Here is beautiful Zoe. Zoe is a German Shorthair/Springer Spaniel Mix. I held her when she was only a few days old. I was paged to the office at school. This was about eleven years ago. I was trying to grade papers, and I was annoyed about being interrupted. When I got there, this two week old puppy was placed in my hands. My disposition improved immediately, and it was love at first sight. Unfortunately I must admit that if Zoe were an elementary school student, she would probably be placed on a behavior chart. She makes bad choices, like eating food off the kitchen counter, and chewing up items not meant for her. In spite of her bad habits, we love her very much.