Friday, November 27, 2015

TURKEY BRINE for CHRISTMAS!!!!












Unless you have been under a rock for the past 20 years, you know this restaurant.  You know the family that you see through the window.  You know the reason that family is eating their Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant rather than enjoying a feast in the comforts of their home. 
Remember?  This scene? 
[the Bumpus hounds break in the house and raid the kitchen]
Mr. Parker: Holy smokes, the turkey!
[the old man arrives too late to see that the dogs already devoured the turkey]
Mr. Parker: Oh, my... God! You sons of - !
[the dogs leave out the back door]
Mr. Parker: [shouts, high-pitched] SONS OF BITCHES! BUMPUSES!
 
Remember how that turkey looked on the tile of that 1960’s tile kitchen floor.  Those hounds picked that bird down to the bone.  Nothing left.  Nada. 
 Even the dark meat was consumed!!!!!
So, the point of this post?   That’s how our turkey looked after our Thanksgiving feast.  That’s right - nothing left but the carcass!!!  We stripped that bird down to the marrow, folks.!
Sweet, baby James had to work and came late for dinner - his plate looked like chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant.  He put his gravy in a bowl in the center of his plate and surrounded it with turkey strips - dunking away in front of the Blue Bloods marathon!!!!!!  Dee - licious.
 
But I can take absolutely zero credit for this wonder of a bird - it’s all from my cooking heroine - The Pioneer Woman.  Click here for the most fabulous brine recipe EVER!!!!!  And, yes, there is whiskey involved.  Some of the reasons I love to cook - whiskey, bacon, butter. It’s called FLAVOR! 
 There’s a slightly different version on the Food network website.  The one I used is the 3rd one - Enjoy!!!
 Print it.
Plan for it for Christmas.
Prepare it the day before serving.
I promise - you won’t be disappointed!!!!!!





Saturday, October 17, 2015

I'm Fine.








God bless the teacher who posted that picture above on Facebook.  It has kept me giggling for 24 hours now.  

We’ve been in school 10 weeks.  These 10 weeks have been beautiful when I’m in my classroom with the door shut.  Beautiful weeks of helping kids discover what Robert Louis Stevenson meant when he said “Here we shall meet and remember the past.”  Beautiful moments when a nonreader says they are enjoying Hounds of the Baskervilles and recently watched RDJ’s epic-failure movie, Sherlock Holmes. 

Beautiful until you leave the classroom and the students.  I haven’t blogged.  I haven’t written much.  I haven’t been an active participant in anything except planning lessons for my kids and loving on them.  That’s hard if you know my personality. 

I still absolutely LOVE teaching.  I know that.  I believe that.  I feel that.  It’s just getting kicked that makes you feel destroyed and damaged. 

Last night was homecoming at our high school.  I love going to see my babies all grown up - playing football, singing their hearts out, cheering with the crowd, dressing up in their finest to stroll across the 50 yard line and hoping for that crown - just being a teenager.  Little do they know how uplifting that is to my heavy heart. 

I had SIX - yes, I counted!!! - SIX students come up and tell me how much they miss middle school, how much they love/hate high school, and how much……….


wait for it…….

they use their interactive notebook they made in my class.  SIX kids said they still refer to it when they are reading and writing.

 Wow. 


I have another reason to get up on Monday.  



Monday, July 6, 2015

A Dangling Modifier, Like, is a Bad Thing, Like, Right?!?!?!






I was cleaning out my photos in my phone and realized..

I MEANT TO BLOG ABOUT THIS!!!!!

Here’s a funny moment that happened at the end of the school year.  You know those few days before the BIG DAY - in our little world, it’s called the TCAP test.

You know those last days..the days when you come to the conclusion that based on review quizzes you have been giving to PROVE you have been teaching your heart out for a full year are only proving that you obviously showed the movie FROZEN every single day since August.  Those days when you question WHY you are a teacher.  Those days when your students give you that hairy eyeball look that means “If you give us one more test, one more assessment, one more review sheet, I swear I’m going to   )@%&)%&#TEGJNEY)&#)&735!!!!!!!”

You’ve all had enough.  You need this to be OVER
You need summer break.  You need to stop reviewing.  You need to stop stressing.  You need to stop stressing the kids out.  You need……………..

To review dangling modifiers ONE MORE TIME.

So here I go.  Making a PowerPoint.  Making a fun little review game.  Making a fun little group project.  Making a fun little quiz. 

Cue the hairy eyeball look from the “I’m sick of the cute stuff” group.



So, we are working, working, working.  I’m cheerfully encouraging the little angels to find the dangling modifier, find the split infinitive, find the misplaced prepositional phrase, find the.. find the.. find the..

When I hear THE VOICE.  The voice that you’ve grown to love to hear.  The voice that always has the right answers.  The voice that you don’t call on very often because you know THEY got it the first time you said it.  The voice that belongs to the girl whose life will end if her average drops below a 100% in ALL classes.  The voice of reason.  The voice of knowledge.  The voice of HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The voice that says AT THE END OF THE STINKING 8TH GRADE YEAR,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“So a dangling modifier, like, it’s, like, a BAD thing, right?  SO, like, we are looking for the, like, BAD sentence, right?  I mean, like, something called a, like, Dangling Participle is a BAD thing, like, right?”

Pardon my use of a foreign language here that is never used by a teacher ANYWHERE.

HOLY SHIT

So apparently, we just had an AHA moment in which the teacher discovered that these kids made it to the end of 8th grade without the understanding that

YES, Virginia!!!!!  A DANGLING MODIFIER IS A BAD THING SO PICK THE SENTENCE WITH THE BOO-BOO, you sweet little muffin of knowledge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cue -  two bottles of wine that night instead of the standard one plus the added bonus for my husband of crying on his shoulder an additional hour on top of the standard one hour.



Now, to the picture.  Our phenomenal gym teacher decided for each grade level to make posters to hang in the gym the week before tests.  Posters of encouragement or phrases we use to remember stuff or formulas that needed to be drilled and killed.  Your standard everyday offering to the testing gods via poster and markers.  We decided that one of our motivational pictures on our ELA poster must be in reference to the “Dangling Modifier is, like, a Bad Thing, like, right?” moment that almost took Mrs. Hensley’s life.  So my artist and his helper (aka the two boys who would do anything to skip related arts) decided to draw a cat named Modifier hanging dead in a tree. 

 Cue -  the emotional 14 year old girl who immediately bursts into tears and cannot be consoled until the……


Cat is changed to a cute little feline named Modifier who is simply dangling from a tree.




Which is a, like, a bad thing, like, right?  









Sunday, May 24, 2015




"Reading Journey"



I’ve reached that age……..you know..the one where you think to yourself……



I look better with a tan..It might hide “stuff”

I shouldn’t be in the sun at all - I’m too old!!!!



Usually I just get whatever tan I get from mowing or sitting on the back deck with a good book.  You must remember - I grew up in the days where everybody used baby oil and iodine!!!!!!  I love to be in the sunshine, soaking up some rays!!!!  So today, I enjoyed time on the back deck reading…………

Letters/Questionnaires from STUDENTS!!!!
Yep.  Still in teacher mode.


Here’s what I learned.

Here’s what amazed me.

Here’s what dazzled me.

Here’s what inspired me for next year!!!!!



Question 1:  What are you most proud of this year in regards to language arts?

Answer:  How much I read this year. 

Question 4:  What was the most challenging part of language arts this year?

Answer:  Reading and the book projects.

Question 6:  What helped you learn the most this year in language arts?

Answer:  Interactive Notebooks was the # 1 answer.  Reading novels was the # 2 answer!!!!!

AS A RESULT…………This READING JOURNEY that I made last year and tried my darndest to stick to will be revamped and reused and required!!!!


As I write in every student’s yearbook……..

Keep Reading!!!

Click HERE for more information!!!!





Friday, May 22, 2015

A Reason To Carry On







2014-2015 was one of the worst years of my teaching career.  But I won’t go into that!!!!

 However, on the very last day……..yesterday……..the last day with students……….it turned into a blessing and a life-changing moment.


We haven’t had any time outside this year.  Our schedules prohibited our exercise time for the first time in years.  The kids handled it pretty well after the first few months of groaning and moaning.   On the very last full day of school - yesterday- we took them outside to play and visit and simply hang out.  Of course, when you give them freedom, they tend to gather right under your feet..no matter the age - I teach 8th grade, BTW.

We four teachers were sitting closely together with students sitting around making airplanes and flying them off the bleachers onto the football field.  It was a bittersweet afternoon.  We were all happy to be out in the sunshine with no more worries of tests and grades and projects and report cards.  It was also melancholy to know that in a few short hours, they would be leaving middle school forever.  Simply put - it was a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us. 

One of our sweet girls who had worked so hard all year long and was such a great student looked up at us and said, “I’m going to miss you guys.  You are great teachers.”
Sweet words. 
Kind words. 
Thoughtful words. 
Appreciated words. 

But I took it a step further and asked this newbie high-schooler, “What makes a teacher great in your opinion?”

Without hesitation or consideration, she said…….

“You loved us like your own.”

Powerful words. 


From the mouths of babes…………a reason to carry on.  


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fun, Food, and Figurative Language: Happy Mother's Day

Fun, Food, and Figurative Language: Happy Mother's Day: My sister bought us a Blu-ray player for Christmas.  It was a blessing because Netflix was responsible for my sanity during the 473 ...







Happy Mother's Day




My sister bought us a Blu-ray player for Christmas.  It was a blessing because Netflix was responsible for my sanity during the 473 days off from school due to snow.  One of the series that has hooked us is Blue Bloods.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Tom Selleck was hanging on my wall as a teenager.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Tom Selleck has not changed ONE BIT since he was hanging on my wall as a teenager.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that although Danny Wahlburg is better looking and a better actor, there is just some kind of Bad Boy thing about Donnie.  I just absolutely love this show -  its morals and values, its premise, its message, its style of the Sunday family dinners, its Irish desire for a good glass of wine after a hard day of fighting for what is right, and particularly its love of God. 

So for Mother’s Day today, we sat down to continue our quest to watch all episodes of Blue Bloods before we turn 100.  We are on Season 2, episode 14.  By the end of this episode, Billy and I are both in tears because of the Mother’s Day message of this random episode we were meant to watch.

Erin Reagan is struggling as a single mother to raise her rebellious and fiery daughter.  She is constantly coming to daddy Frank for wisdom and guidance.  One evening she shows up with a container of “brown bread from mom’s recipe” and daddy Frank points out that mom never wrote it down.  She proceeds to inform him she did it from memory.  She butters the bread and takes a bite.  You expect there to be a moment of description from Erin and Frank about the delicious taste of the bread and how much it reminded them of mom/wife.  Nope.  It tastes terrible.  Really bad.  Not right………….and in the words of Erin, “Something’s missing.”


Billy’s mom had a recipe for Oatmeal cookies.  His sister has the recipe and gave him a copy.  We have made these cookies so many times.  They are delicious.  They are so good warm out of the oven.  I can eat a minimum of 14 at one time, and I know this fact because it has been tested.   Sometimes I make them.  Sometimes Billy makes them.  No matter the chef, he has stated every time……..that something is just not right…….something is missing.

We both have lost our mothers.  We went to the gravesides to pay our respects, to remember our moms, and to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to them.  I put roses on my mom’s and grandmother’s graves.  I smiled at memories that flooded my mind.  I laughed SO HARD at my dad as we drove him through Big Stone Gap and Norton trying to take him down memory road only to find out that the roads have been moved.  My sister and I told stories about our mom - stories that dad had never heard.  Stories about my mom that I tell my own kids and even my students.  We laughed over a brunch at The Flippin Egg (that’s a restaurant, folks).  But here’s what I learned.  Something was missing. 

Moms are tough on us.  They can make our life beautiful.  They can make our life hell.  They can be there when we need them and make us mad for just being there.  They have radar that boggles the minds of scientists.  They have a look that can penetrate Kevlar.  They have a touch that is so gentle as they rub Vick’s Vapor Rub on your chest.  They have a soothing breath as they blow on the cut knee as they apply Mercurochrome and a Band-Aid.  They have the gift of a bartender as they mix a “hot toddy” when you are 14 and suffering through the worst period cramps known to woman.  They have a temper that can’t be controlled when they appear at school to verify that you didn’t cheat on a test and demand to take the same test to prove they helped you study.  During church when you aren’t paying attention, they have a grip on the back-of-the-arm fat that would bring Arnold Schwarzenegger to his knees.  They have the job of instilling in you the love of the Lord, the knowledge of right from wrong, and the gift of having love in your heart.  Here’s something that I know, that Billy knows, and that the Reagans on Blue Bloods know………

when moms are gone, 

something sure is missing.



Happy Mother’s Day



Monday, March 2, 2015

Pinterest On a Snow Day!




School has been cancelled due to snow.
For a long time.
For a long, long time.
I’ve got time on my hands.
I clean closets.
I read.
I clean out drawers.
I clean out the refrigerator.
I mop the floor.
I read.
I shovel snow.
I cook.
I read.
I do laundry.
I read.
And…………………

I Pinterest.

I love Pinterest.It’s the greatest escape.From looking at crafts that I’m never going to be talented enough to create to looking at the outfits that look PERFECT on that screen but would look stupid on ME.I love the sarcastic E-cards, the beautiful quotes with the majestic nature scenes in the background.I love the pictures of babies with knitted booties and hats.I love the rock-hard bodies that are links to blogs that will motivate you to eat healthy and work out (Yeah, that’s helping)

But what I really love is the Teacher Stuff!!!

So I stumbled across this cute little picture of a display wall and it was such a Smack-Me-In-The-Head-Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That moment!!!!
It was so SIMPLE.
Drag out that pack of scrapbook paper that you are never going to use.
Whip out that Washi tape that you bought because it is just SOOOOO cool, and all the other teachers are using it for SOMETHING.
Dig in the laundry room to find some clothes pins that you never use because WHO HAS A CLOTHES LINE OUTSIDE ANYMORE EXCEPT MY DAD??????
Find the hot glue gun and you are in business!
And the best part is…………You won’t be needing THIS anymore.




No more changing out the paper on your bulletin board because it has more holes in it than Bonnie and Clyde’s getaway car.
No more deciding to use cute cloth on the bulletin board instead of paper - not the BEST idea.
No more jammed stapler that you TOTALLY blame your students for because they slam down on it too hard.
No more push pins.

You will totally meet the requirements of the Teacher Evaluation Rubric that requires you
Display student work 
- without any muss or fuss.








Taa-daa!!!!!
The neat and cute and totally trouble-free bulletin board.  I highly recommend it.

My recommendations:

·     The washi tape brand isn’t that great.
I prefer the Duct Tape brand - they have the same cute patterns and colors, and it sticks SOOOOOOO much better.
·     Staple along the edges of the paper - then the tape will cover the staples.




·     Glitter paper - although beautiful and blingy - makes a mess and tape is not glitter-friendly.However, I love the glitter board - I would do it again - just be warned.




·     Clothes pins alone look boring - Go to Michaels and buy some cute little do-dads to glue onto them.