What Makes It Worth It {A Moment in the Life of a Teacher}

Occasionally, my students surprise me.

Like when they exclaim in June, after a year of calling me Mrs., “You’re married?!”

Or, when they announce, “My feet smell good today.” (They definitely did not smell good that day.) I say, “Oh?” and they say, “Yeah, I put perfume on them this morning.”

Or, when given permission to go rinse out their mouth because they have been hacking incessantly, they head to the hand sanitizer machine, and then wonder why I am shouting STOP across the room in horror.

Each time one of these things happen, I am officially no longer shocked by one more piece of the mysterious and highly erratic adolescent brain.

But sometimes, I am caught off-guard in an ever-so-sweet way by those same adolescent brains. Like when this note greeted me the day after I was out sick…


…and when a note like this showed up on my desk, just because.

DSC_1211Those corny videos she mentions? They began with this one.

Neither of the two students who left those notes “look good” on paper. On paper, those two students will probably make me, in the eyes of the state of New York, look like a teacher “in need of improvement.” They entered their 7th grade year with impossible deficits in reading and writing, and 42 minutes five days a week can only move so much of a mountain, if I am being completely honest with myself.

This is not to say I don’t bring my biggest, baddest shovel with me every day.

But I now have, in my permanent possession, proof of them on paper that means so much more than their test scores.

Those two kids may struggle to discern an author’s tone, and analyze the meter of a poem, and correctly combine two sentences to create a subordinate clause…but those two kids can make their English teacher thank God for sending sweet reminders of why she chose this career in the first place. And they kind of make her get all mushy and smile-y in the process.

They make it worth it. Every. single. day.


Rick Reupholsters a Chair, Again

Sometimes, Rick does crazy things.

One time, he jumped off the back of a moving truck, thinking he could outrun it. (He couldn’t.)

One time, he wrote the following in an email: “I’m sure anything you cook will be delicious.” (hahahaaa yeah right.)

One time, he decided he wanted to reupholster a chair for the second time. (And he did.)

chair reupholstery

The first time he reupholstered this chair was three years ago. It had been abandoned in our old apartment and covered in an unfortunate specimen of gold velour and crusty pizza sauce, so we thought, hey, why not put it out of its misery?


I picked out black and ivory zebra print for it at the time, thinking black and white would be timeless, neutral and could go anywhere, including under a cat.

DSC00074Gingerbread before she decided it would be a good idea to go on the see-food diet.

Such a good think-aheader, I was.

decor pictures 001

Buuuut then I grew up a little bit and learned that zebra print is not really neutral, even in black and white. And that it’s also not really my thing, at least not on large pieces of furniture…or on old ladies with fake tans who still shop at Hollister.

Anyway, since we moved almost two years ago, we have had the chair sitting around with no room to put it in, so Rick finally decided he wanted to redo it. Off we traipsed to Joann’s, where I picked out some actually neutral red tag upholstery fabric for $6 a yard. The rest is history.

neutral reupholstery fabric

At one point during this process, Rick stated that when he retires, he would like to reupholster chairs. I told him no need to wait until he retires, that I’d be glad to fulfill his dreams immediately by purchasing a slew of hideous used furniture that he could immediately reupholster to his little heart’s content. He thanked me for being such a thoughtful wife.


Is it perfect? No. Does it work? Yes. Did it cost way less than a new chair? Yes. With the money we saved, I think I’ll buy Rick reupholstery classes. (You think I’m kidding. And so does he.)

chair reupholstery

What are some crazy things you or your husband have decided to do? Anyone have a chair they’d like to mail to Rick in the name of making his wishes come true?


Butterfly Explosion Thingy Wall Art (and Things I Am Bad At)

The following is a brief compilation of things I am bad at.

  1. Video games. My eye-hand coordination rivals that of a dust mite.
  2. Cooking. I once dumped an entire bag of flour into a pan of alfredo sauce. It was an accident, but still.
  3. Athletics. See #1. Dust mites once beat me in a game of dodgeball.
  4. Mingling. Social butterfly I am not.
  5. Geography. Don’t ask me where a foreign country is located on a globe. I have family members (coughmomcoughbrother) who have the world memorized, or something. I sit by and try to look intelligent. And clean up stray dust mites.
  6. Hanging things on walls. I have the HARDEST TIME figuring out what to fill empty space with. Dust mites don’t count. Take this exploding butterfly cut-out thingy, for example. (And add “Aptly and cleverly naming new projects” as #7 on the list of things I am bad at.)


Its predecessor, this Mayan relic, hung sideways on the living room wall for a good 6 weeks before I replaced it with the above butterfly explosion thingy. Family members who know things about geography questioned my decision-making and added “eyesight” to their mental lists of skill sets I am lacking.


The process of actually replacing the Mayan relic was simple once I figured out what to do. I used my Cricut and Sure Cuts a Lot to cut out a bunch of butterflies in varying shapes and sizes and colors, then glued them all down in an exploding-ish pattern.


The frame itself was $20 at Goodwill. I know how expensive large frames can be, so I bought two. The other one is hanging on the other side of the living room. Yes, it is also sideways, and yes, it also features desert pottery. I read somewhere that desert pottery looks better sideways. And now you read it somewhere, too, so it’s definitely a fact.



This whole project was inspired by this sculpture I found while browsing Pinterest. The butterflies are made out of recycled beer cans, people.


I’d have made mine out of beer cans myself but, whaddya know, we were fresh out of beer cans. And tin-smithing is #8 on the list of things I am bad at.

What are your self-professed non-talents? Any great ideas for what to fill the other frame with? Can you think of a better name for this project?

Linking up to the Pinterest Challenge with Megan (The Remodeled Life), Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love) and Michelle (Decor and the Dog).


Simple Centerpiece: Citrus & Pinecones

The best things in life are furry. The second best things are edible. The third best things are free. My simple five-second citrus and pinecone centerpiece has the potential to be all of these things.

citrus centerpiece

It was basically free (best thing #3). Also, much of it is edible (best thing #2), although 9.81/10 people reported duodenal discomfort following the consumption of pinecones and glass. Furthermore, eating said centerpiece will obviously compromise its status as a centerpiece. But we’re going with it.

pinecone centerpiece

And as far as best thing #1: it will be furry if the clementines sit there long enough. It shall grow mold, and then I shall discover a new bacteria in it, and then I shall become famous and change the world, and then I shall win a Nobel Prize for my work and gads of important people shall throw around words like staphylococci and lysozome in my presence and I shall know exactly what they are talking about.

easy centerpiece

Has that already been done?

simple centerpiece

If so, here’s something that won’t win any awards but is furry.


No smart comments about whether I meant the cat or the comforter. I clearly meant the comforter. ;)

What are some the best things in life to you? Who thinks Alexander Fleming probably discovered penicillin when a forgotten centerpiece he blogged about went awry? Yeah, me too.

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