Friday, September 21, 2012

Bernardston Parade

On Saturday, September 22, 2012, I have been invited to be lead clown for the Bernardston, MA parade!  I am so excited!  I have all kinds of fun sight gags planned to entertain the crowd.  After the parade I'll be making bubbles and balloons.  There may be some pocket magic and general clowning around!  I hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Continuing to Downsize

In my ongoing effort to streamline my life and reach my ultimate goal of becoming a published author, I've decided to condense this blog.  Writing three blogs each week has become overwhelming for me this year due to my day job as a fourth grade teacher.  Because we have more teaching to the MCAS, including an additional teaching block called RTI, I have more correcting than I've ever had before.  I really think my last two illnesses were a result of me being run down.  Something had to change and that's the current format of this blog.

So, I'll continue to update my activities and the joke of the week.  I'd like to write more about clowning skills.  If there's anything you've ever wanted to know about clowning, just ask.  And if you spot me clowning around, leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Downsizing Your Life

I’ve been working towards being a famous writer when I grow up for almost two years now. I realized (duh) recently that some of my activities have veered me off of that path. Although I love being an Aqua Zumba instructor, I have decided to give that up. That actually benefits me in a few ways.

The first and most important advantage is that I’ll have more time to write. I’ll also save $30 a month on my Zumba Instructor Network membership fee. Granted, I will have less income since I won’t be teaching but that’s okay. The end result, getting published, will be worth it!

While I have dropped my Zumba certification, I will maintain my certifications as a personal fitness trainer as well as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. This knowledge helps keep my husband and me healthy and active.

I will continue to clown around. I still enjoy being Peppermint Patti although lately the behaviors of the children have become obnoxious to the point where I am thinking of retiring from that. At a recent party I was harassed by a three year old and his mom called me a rude clown. This was after he ran into the room; karate chopped the birthday cake, screamed nonstop, and was grabbing at the balloons as I was trying to twist them. We were all relieved when he was removed from the party.

Anyway, I’m downsizing. Instead of four careers, I’m now down to three. It feels good. I’m going to start sleeping a little later, too. I’ll set the alarm for 5 AM rather than my current 4:30 AM!

Do you have many “irons in the fire?” How do you manage? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Woodland Elementary Book Fair

Our school held a book fair at Barnes and Noble Friday last night. It was so much fun! Many families attended along with our principals and teachers. The staff at Barnes and Noble was amazed! They had never experienced such a successful book fair before. Especially noteworthy was the number of teachers participating. Woodland is a wonderful school and we take pride in what we do.

One of the activities of the evening was the awarding of the “Million Words” certificates. We have several students who have read over a million words so far this school year! We track them through a web-based program called Accelerated Reader (AR). Our PTO helps fund AR and provided many prizes for our voracious readers!

As part of the celebration, our principal Mrs. Saso and several teachers read stories to the audience. Friday night is story time at Barnes and Noble, apparently, and this Friday was no exception. The big surprise was yours truly! Peppermint Patti was in the house, er, store.

My current favorite children’s book is “Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Stein. Not only is it a hilarious story, the illustrations are fabulous as well. The Caldecott Honor Medal on the cover is well deserved!

After reading it twice—once in the far end of the store and the other in the children’s section, I got a huge surprise: Madeline asked me to read her book, “Madeline.” Now the pressure was on! As I hadn’t read that book in ages, it was definitely what is called a “cold reading.” I did the best I could and when we were done everybody clapped and Madeline gave out hugs.

I love reading and especially reading aloud to children. It’s fun!

Do you love to read aloud to children? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

East Coast Face Painting Convention 2012

Even though I’ve been face painting for over thirty years, or maybe because I’ve been face painting for over thirty years, I thought it was time to take a refresher course. Well, actually 13 classes at the 8th Annual East Coast Face Painting Convention in Manchester, Connecticut.

To save money, I commuted each day for four days. Driving in on Thursday and Friday mornings wasn’t bad—I missed the Hartford rush hour traffic. (Thank goodness!) Driving home those evenings I wasn’t so lucky, especially Friday where three lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, came to a screeching halt on Route 91 North just inside the Massachusetts state line. Traffic on Saturday and Sunday was very light so the commute was a breeze.

Another money saving strategy I used was to pack my own beverages, lunch, and snacks. That way I wouldn’t be tempted to stop and pick something up. My frequent mini meals kept me going throughout the day. Sitting through three to four classes per day was pretty intense. That’s a lot of information going into the brain in a short amount of time.  I took pages of notes and took about 500 photos.

So when I went into the vendors’ room to shop, I didn’t feel guilty. I got a “face” to practice on. It’s the front half of a human looking head. If I’m going to do full faces at some point, I figured I better work on a surface with a nose and eyes. I could practice on my own face but my skin doesn’t need that much wear and tear.

I learned so much! I’ve been trying to teach myself using various face painting books but I didn’t understand all of the terminology. Now I know what a chisel brush is and the proper brushes for getting those gorgeous outlines. Split palettes are now in my vocabulary as well as my paint kit.

Some designs, while amazing, just are not meant to be in my repertoire. I have about 45 seconds per child to get a cute and well-crafted picture on their face. I’m working on drawing various designs on card stock for the children to choose from. I’ll laminate them and put them on a binder ring. While I’m painting the birthday child, the rest can flip through the pictures and make their choice. I’m hoping that will speed things up.

The two things that I did not participate in were the additional pay-per-classes ($75 each for a three-hour, hands-on, small group session) and the nightly jam sessions. I would have to stay overnight in order for that to be doable.

There’s always next year! I’ve got a convention fund set up just in case!

Have you learned anything new lately?  Leave me a comment!  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Responsible Pet Owners

Now that we have a big picture window in our former-kitchen-now-dining room, we have a front row seat for the miserable life of the dog next door.  I’m not sure why a family would pay $1,000 for a dog and then basically ignore it.

He is a gorgeous (when he's clean) German shepherd with a matted, muddy coat of long fur.  Good thing he's got that very long fur coat because this dog is outside 24/7.  He has a big stall-like roofed enclosure and a separate small dog house.  However, when he is out on his run the cable is so short he can’t reach his dog house and the enclosure is too big and airy to provide any real protection from the cold.  His family rarely plays with him and they haven’t taken him for a walk in over a year.

When the mercury dips below 10 degrees and my dog, Benny, is curled up on the futon next to the pellet stove, I wonder if he feels lucky to be a member of our family.  Benny is a mixed breed that we adopted from the pound.  He was found roaming the streets of Holyoke, fending for himself.

Now he lives a life of luxury.  We play with him and take him for walks—sometimes two a day.  He sits on our laps, well, most of him anyway.  He has such a long body we call him a “lap-and-a-half-dog”!  There is certainly a huge disparity between Benny’s life and that of the dog next door.  Benny is part of our family and we’re his pack.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you think?  Should dogs stay outside 24/7 when the weather is bad?  Do you treat your dog like a member of your family?  Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I actually get two fresh starts every year. The first one happens in September when I get my new batch of students. It’s the official start of the school year and so full of hope and promise. And yes, my calendars should all begin in September, not January, because that’s how my mind works: September to June as the “regular” year with July and August being somewhat of a limbo time. A time for rejuvenating, resting, and recharging.

Everyone who goes by the solar calendar gets a new beginning on the first of January as most of the world welcomes the New Year. Many people use this as an opportunity to set goals as they resolve to improve in some way. The most common resolutions involve healthier lifestyles via diet and exercise and for some, quitting smoking.

Many Asian friends celebrate their New Year according to the lunar calendar which, for Vietnamese people, falls on February 3, 2012 to start the Year of the Dragon. The Chinese year 4710 begins on Jan. 23, 2012. I just learned that the Japanese adopted the solar calendar and their New Year is January 1. The Indian New Year is popularly known as the festival of Deepawali or Diwali. It will be celebrated on November 13, 2012.

Whatever New Year you celebrate, I hope it is filled with good health and happiness. What are you going to do with your fresh start? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!