Thursday, May 23, 2013

Collage Frame DIY

Here's a joke for you: What's the difference between a regular frame and a collage frame?  Around $40.  Ha ha!

Tootie Pie needs a collage frame for one of her Daisy projects.  I told my husband that I could make one, but he decided to try to find one.  After around three hours, he called me and asked if I could make one.  No problem.

Actually, it really is easy.  All it requires is a bit of measuring and a square, plus a sharp X-Acto blade or, what I used, carpet cutter.  I used a spare piece of cardstock that was slightly too small for the frame, so I backed it with a piece of cardboard from Tootie Pie's Tinkerbell Tea Set she received for her birthday.  I cut the holes in the cardstock, then glued it to the backing, leaving the top part open to slide the pictures in.  It only took around one hours to complete, and I have a custom frame for a fraction of the price.  Sweet!

Teachable Moments? The Stupid Ish Kids Say

Remember when a
cartoon child was
Common Core, Danielson, and higher order thinking.  I've been trying it.  The problem with higher level thinking is, you need the basics before you can synthesize information into an opinion.  This week, we created a stem-and-leaf plot from the ages of Presidents' deaths.  One of the questions was to analyze why not all of the presidents were listed.  What this has to do with math, I don't know, but many children could not work out why President Obama was not listed under "Dead Presidents".  Hmmmm...

This led to a ridiculous solicitation about living presidents, since they were all gathered recently for the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  Some students were vaguely aware of the existence of a President Bush (did they know there were two?  No.), none knew about President Clinton, and Carter?  Who's he?  Here's my interaction with my classes on the subject of Jimmy Carter, along with other little gems of wisdom over the years.
  • Who was president in between Ford and Reagan?  The last name starts with a "C", and the first name is Jimmy."  "Jimmy Neutron!"  (Jimi Hendrix was also guessed, but Jimmy Carter was not).  Setting aside the fact that neither name starts with a "C", how many different ways is this incorrect?  At least Jimi Hendrix was an actual person!  Jimmy Neutron?
  • "I be tired", a student tells me.   "I am tired", I say, trying to fix the subject-verb agreement.  Obviously mistaking my rephrasing for a statement of commiseration, he replies, "yeah, but you're old."
  • What day was Wednesday?
  • I had a student talk to his mother about how he does not do his homework.  He put her on hold and said to me "My mother wants to know why I don't do homework".  I swear this true. 
Any off the wall wisdom from your classroom to share?  Let's compile them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Anecdotal Evidence There is Too Much Testing

Our state tests finished up a couple of weeks ago.  That took six days total.  After that, two out of my three classes took the NYSELAT, a test for ELL's (English Language Learners) for three more days.  Now, we are doing mock science and social studies, and mock Regent's, to practice for the real tests later. 

Since the results of the state tests will not be ready in time to make promotional decisions (and, isn't that the point of these tests?), we have been told to give past year's level ones and twos a Portfolio assessment.  If a student scored a level 1 or two on either math or ELA, they have to take this assessment.  In my school of 2400, 2000 scored at least one level 1 or 2, so essentially the entire school is taking this test.  Also, we have to give a final.  And a Performance Series test.  On top of all of that, the individual departments still have two post tests and one pretest to give students.  Oh, and we are giving certain students in extended day assessments for inquiry.

Does that sound like too much testing?  Because it does to me.  Let me bullet these tests for you:

  • ELA state test - 3 days
  • Math state test - 3 days
  • NYSELAT - 3 days
  • mock science state test - 2 days (written and lab)
  • mock social studies state test - 1 day
  • mock Regent's - up to four days
  • actual science state test - 2 days (written and lab)
  • actual social studies state test - 1 day
  • actual Regent's - up to 4 days
  • Portfolio assessment math - 2 days
  • Portfolio assessment ELA - 2 days
  • Performance series math - 2 days
  • Performance series ELA - 2 days
  • Final math - 1 day
  • Final ELA - 1 day
  • Final social studies - 1 day
  • Final science - 1 day
  • Post tests math - 2 days
  • Post tests ELA - 2 days
  • Post tests social studies - 2 days
  • Post tests science - 2 day
  • Pre test math - 1 day
  • Pre tests ELA - 1 day
  • Pre tests social studies - 1 day
  • Pre tests science - 1 day
  • Extended day assessments - 1 day
This list doesn't include other subjects pre- and post tests.  Now does it sound like too much testing?  Has anyone experienced anything similar?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Another test to add to the list: field tests.  These tests are to test the test-makers test questions.  For real.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to Make Exceptionally Unnatural Looking Miniature Grass from Foam Rubber

It may be grass,
or miniature
primordial ooze.
I took a before picture to
wow you with the
amazing results
Another don't from moi.  I thought one item my Undersized Urbanite entry was lacking that others had was landscaping.  I would like to add this to my Spring Fling build.  So, I followed some instructions on eHow using foam rubber, since I had some on hand.  I measured the paint perfectly, so I didn't need to drain any extra out.  However!  I failed to take into account the whiteness of the foam rubber, and my spring green lighted to neon alien skin color.  So, I'm chalking this up to a learning experience.  Next time, I will mix my paint much darker so that when it blends with the green, it will actually look like grass.  Oh, well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vote for My Spring Fling Design

Can you believe such a place exists?
I have some choices to make. I'd like to make a fairy house, but Tootie Pie came up with an inspired idea: she wants a Hello Kitty home.  I'd still like to try a castle. So, we'll need your help. Vote above for your favorite.
Is there such a thing as
too sparkly?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Educating Dzhokhar

Oh, yeah, he's dreamy, alright
I am disgusted by the girls who idolize the surviving Boston Marathon bomber.  Girls, if you think he's so cute, get a load of him in the hospital.  He looks so cute with his hook nose, his affected
hipster soul patch and self-inflicted shrapnel wounds, doesn't he?  Ladies, there's a well-known phenomenom where people put up profile pictures that are out-of-date.  Those pictures of hunky, cute Dzhokhar are from two or three years ago.  The current pictures of him above show him as the ugly troll that he is, with his flared nostrils, too-close set eyes, and fuzzy hair.  I am also sickened that our country helped pay for him and his mental family.  We took them in, we gave them over $100,000 in benefits, and they turned around and blew up innocent people and Americans.  They bilked the system.  They stole.  They killed their former friends.  Gross.  Just disgusting.
The pictures you choose make a difference

As for those of you who think this dreamboat is too cute to perpetrate such atrocities, or that it is some sort of conspiracy so that the Obama administration can, um, what would the point of this be again?  To push his liberal agenda banning the use of pressure cooker bombs?  If good guys carried a pressure cooker bomb, then the bad guys couldn't, uh, how would that help?  I get the distrust of our government, I really do, but these losers are shown in video surveillance putting the bags down.  This case is so clear cut that the defense attorney's only goal is to avoid the death penalty.  Good grief.

Frankly, I think it is way beyond time to reconsider our immigration and asylum policy.  Now, I live in NYC, and most of my friends are immigrants, so I am not anti-immigration by any means.  However!  I have seen one too many a lady in a grocery store with 24 karat gold earrings the size of wallets, twenty to thirty gold bangles and ruby nose rings using WIC checks.  I have seen too many immigrant children who come to school without basic supplies, but outfitted with a smartphone, airbrushed nail art and Air Jordans.  We let in too many people with misplaced priorities.  If you're coming here to work, great.  If not, no dice, I'm sorry.  Maybe you could even bring a skill with you, instead of just way too many children to feed, clothe and house.  You need to assimilate to our culture.  Wear whatever thing you want on your head, praise any god you like, but for the love of God, will you please learn English and convert your Third World manners that are offensive here?  If one more student tells me "I'm Columbian" or "I'm Egyptian" or talks about "my country", I'm going to puke.  If America is good enough to suck all the wonderful benefits from, then consider yourself American.  Frankly, I don't think any immigrant, for any reason, should receive assistance, until they've paid into the system for a set amount of time.   I'm sure I'm not being PC here, but I think PC has gotten us into this mess and it's time we say enough's enough.  Sorry.  No more Tsarnaev's.  Not having the first one would have been even better.  Yuck!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Folly or Garage?

I am fresh off the fun of one miniature contest and I'm already looking at joining another.  Should I?  It is Greenleaf's Spring Fling, and the kit is $20 including shipping.  I have been wanting to make a castle, especially since we have very posh Petite Princess furniture, and I've been eyeing the egg carton brick technique and carved foam for a while.  Should I make an architectural folly, or a garage?

As I'm writing this, I already know the answer.  Yes, a garage is practical, and I could have an organized and clean garage, if only in miniature.  But it is no fun.  A folly: even the name is fun and cute.  I think I will fashion a princess tower, with turrets and spires and passageways.  I'm getting excited just thinking about it.
A two-legged tree house? Because "one leg is dangerous, and three are too stable and boring". Love it! Okay, I'm in!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Princess Tootie Pie Is Six!

Princess Tootie Pie's new silky
Why, oh why, were light up
Cinderella slippers not
available when I was six?
Our formal celebration will be this Saturday, but we went shopping yesterday and she opened her presents from me.  She said she wanted to shop at "The Sparkle Store".  I needed to ask a few questions about that. She wanted to buy sparkles, so of course, that would necessitate a trip to the Sparkle Store. Duh, Mom! She wanted to buy jewels, and after a bit of investigative work on my part, and some internet sleuthing, it seemed like a big "Bucket of Bling" was in order.  We went to Michaels, and got a bag of jewels, some Crayola Pip Squeak glitter glue, a crown, and some markers that blend three colors together.  Thank goodness for those 40% off coupons, because bling ain't cheap, people.

My princess
Today, I took her to school to celebrate with brownie cupcakes from Costco, personalized with homemade frosting and pink edible sand.  I got to stay for circle time and sang some songs featuring the "ell" and "unch" family of words.  Laura got to use the pointer for her classmates.  I walked out of her school with such a huge smile on my face, and I had a nicer demeanor to my own students, and the good mood still is with me as I write this. 

Surrounded by her besties, who were brought
to the rug by the hand.  They are inspecting the
crown, but of course.

My six-year old!

Tootie Pie is my joy, my world, my life.  I love her never-ending tall tales, her infectious giggle, her amazing curiosity and intellect, and her songs that she creates on the fly and tries to pass off as a known hit.  We have developed such a bond that I can reason with her through her little bêtises (like letting one friend know about another friend's party that she wasn't invited to, or loading a school toilet with too much toilet paper) and she listens.  Goodness knows that a child that listens is every parents' dream.  She doesn't always mind me, but she does learn and improve every day.  And she started out good.  Imagine the woman she will become!  She will rule the world, I tell you!
How does one not leave this bunch with a smile?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Do Your Civic Duty: Vote!

I did it!  I made the deadline, mostly.  From what I can tell, not everyone who participated made the deadline.  I would have liked to make shades for each room, and I didn't get the lighting working (aside from the capiz shell chandelier), and I didn't even try to finish the rug.  That's been "in progress" for a year.  The contest took a backseat to the latest project, Tootie Pie's sixth birthday party.  But, I'm not embarrassed by my entry.  It is not up to the standards of Brae at Otterine (seriously!), but one day I may be a her level.  One day in the distant future.  Or, a parallel universe.  But, I'm still proud of myself.
Trying to make a mold of the one
original, large window that came
with the house.  The mold release is
critical, folks.  I almost removed a
finger trying to get my original out
of the mold.
Voting ends in less than a week.  You may place your vote here, and a synopsis of the finalists is here.  I'm still going through all the entries myself.  Big thank yous to Christina of Little Victorian for starting the contest.

My goal, as I stated in the beginning, was not to win, but to learn and network.  So, I've already reached my goal.  Another goal will be to not come in last place.  I'm reaching for the stars here, I know, since, if I'm honest, my entry is nowhere near as good as most of the others.  But, I did my best.  I'm proud how it turned out. 

I had a great time trying my hand at so many different disciplines.  I suffered a punctured finger, spray painted my face (luckily I was wearing my glasses), I knotted my hair up in the electric drill, and got more hot glue burns than I could count.   Seriously, I had a great time.  I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Undersized Urbanite Final Reveal


"Befores" on Left
"Afters" on Right

The master bedroom
The bathroom
The kitchen

The kid's room
 The living room
The dining room

There is a tutu-clad giant outside the window
and door.  Still working on the lights, held
up with tape.
The laptop is browsing "The Hardway"
We've come a long way, baby.  I bought this dollhouse on a whim, seeking mini furniture for the dollhouse I built for my daughter two Christmases ago.  I actually did not want it at all, since it is large, but the estate sale organizer negotiated it down to $10 for the furniture and house, so I wasn't going to leave it there.  A bout of cancer, a dental emergency, and an intrusive party to be planned all conspired to prevent me from participating in this event, but I perservered.  If anything, Undersized Urbanite kept me from totally losing it.  Please let the cancer influence your vote, also!

If you'd like more details on the progress, check out all of my posts here.

Capiz chandelier, Chinoiserie wall art, Nelson
ball clock in a corner of the dining room.

A transformed corner of  the master bedroom

A corner of the kid's room.

Always dishes to be done.

My cute cape!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fondant Kitty

Hello! Kitty!  Squeal!  She's so cute.  I made her out of marshmallow fondant.  Cake topper for next week.  Her dress is still a little marbled, but do you think anyone will notice.  No!  I think they will be in shock from her adorableness.

Alright, I have so much fun planning these parties.  It is a ton of work, but so creative and I love every minute of it!  It's a great release of stress and tension of the real world.  Here's hoping I get my reveal done for the Undersized Urbanite contest.  It's due tonight!  Of course it is!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kitty Pinata in Her Full Regalia and a Flower Craft

I finally attached Hello Kitty's bow and crown.  Here she is in her completed state.  Also, I am attaching a project for the craft area of the party: make your own flowers from construction paper.  I need to make two more finger food dishes this weekend, and make the marshmellow fondant decorations.  I am going to buy a premade cake.  Then, the day of the party I make the fruit pops and P&B sushi, and hopefully kick back and enjoy the day!

Door Frames AND Window Frames

My to-do list for the Undersized Urbanite is reduced to three items: working lamps, Moroccan rug, and the newly added item of window shades.  The deadline is in a week and a day.  I can't believe that I am so nearly done.  Of course, dollhouses are never "done", and I will be changing things up after the deadline I'm sure.

I wanted to make door frames to hide the edges of the wallpaper.  I forgot to frame the front door!  But, the inner door frames are now trimmed, and, since I realized how nice this finishing touch looked, I then made window trim.  The pictures below also show a new corner bookcase in the master bedroom, as well as the Chinoiserie plaster sakura wall art in the dining room.


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