Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Nome, Alaska, United States
After getting burned out teaching high school in a tiny Alaskan town, I have moved on to being a child advocate in a small Alaskan town. The struggles are similar, but now I can buy milk at the store.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to take a shower in bush Alaska, in 84 steps or less. . .

While this post has a title implying it is about showering, it is about so much more. So let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1. Go to and order hair dye.
Step 2. Wait two to four weeks. (Take other showers in the meantime.)
Step 3. Be totally psyched about arrival of previously purchased hair dye.
Step 4. Wait for half an inch of roots show. Also, wait until after the portrait is taken for Mom for Christmas.

Step 5. Laugh when Mom says it’s a good picture because she can’t tell my hair is purple.
Step 6. Open package. Remember the chemical burns from last time. Find gloves.
Step 7. Mix blue powder and clear liquid, apply to brown parts of hair.
Step 8. Freak out a little big, because even though you have put gloves on, you still spilled bleach on your ear, and it burns a little.
Step 9. Take pictures of hair as it lightens.

Step 10. Take a shower, wash out bleach gunk.
Step 11. Take pictures of hair with blonde roots, and purple ends.

Step 12. Prepare purple dye.
Step 13. Answer door at 12:30 in the morning, to find two frozen little girls on your porch. Invite them in.
Step 14. Go back to preparations for applying dye.
Step 15. Get fed up of them begging for purple streaks, and tell them you have to hear the words from their mothers’ lips: "She can have a purple streak."
Step 16. Apply purple dye to all the new blonde parts.
Step 17. Listen to little girl ask permission, then hang up the phone before mom can tell me.
Step 18. Make girl call mom back.
Step 19. Tell small girls that if they can’t pick a spot, they can’t have any.
Step 20. Watch them both decide on bangs, which was your first suggestion.
Step 21. Finish dying your own hair.
Step 22. Make them get foil so it seems like they’re in the movies.
Step 23. Apply dye to two sets of bangs.
Step 24. Wait.
Step 25. Wait some more. Let girls play with iTunes.
Step 26. Take pictures of our hair.

Step 26.B: Realize the camera is dirty. It's not just a lack of glasses that's causing the soft glow.

Step 27. Give the girls the face cleanser that you shipped up to get the dye off their foreheads.
Step 28. Let girls put on mud masks. Laugh at the faces they make as it cracks.

Step 29. Agree to let girls eat BRAND NEW Chicken in a Biskit crackers that were a Christmas present.
Step 30. Tell little girls I will NOT ask my mother to send them each a box.
Step 31. Tell them to stop pigging down my crackers.
Step 32. Decide that whether the dye is set or not, it’s time for little girls to leave.
Step 33. Take them into the bathroom and rinse their hair.
 Step 34. Attempt to rinse my own hair. Hear the sputtering that means we’re out of water. And not eventually, but NOW.
Step 35. Wrap hair in a knot, and put on more clothes.
Step 36. Drag beautifully wrapped hose out into the blizzard that has kept me in the house all day.
Step 36 a. Use old coat, as new coat is too pretty to get hair dye on.
Step 37. Drag hose to school.
Step 38. Realize that someone URINATED on the side of the school.
Step 39. Use key to open door to water faucet.
Step 40. Hook up hose with less trouble than normal.
Step 41. Remember that the hose isn’t in the tank on the other end.
Step 42. Go back to house. Put hose in tank.
Step 43. Yell at girls about knocking over brand new Christmas presents, and throwing hair dye covered paper-towels on brand new WHITE toys.
Step 44. Try and use key to turn on water.
Step 45. Make it three rotations before the key refuses to move.
Step 46. Say something appropriate. (or inappropriate, depending on your point of view)
Step 47. Go home, kick girls out for serious this time.
Step 48. Realize school keys are no where to be seen.
Step 49. Borrow keys from neighbors, who are also still up at 1:45 am.
Step 50.Use keys to get into school to get heat gun.
Step 51. Find out the doors to the high school side are bolted shut. Go the long way around.
Step 52. Be unable to find heat gun, go to classroom, and call maintenance man.
Step 53. Be told he is asleep, and get reminded that this is the THIRD time I've asked him for help after 7pm in a week.
Step 54. Give the supply closet a closer look for heat gun.
Step 55. Decide on Monkey wrench when the heat gun can't be found.
Step 56. Try and use wrench to force key to turn. 
Step 57. Stop when the wrench starts to torque, instead of the key.
Step 58. Put everything back in the school.
Step 59. Go outside and realize that whatever moisture was in the hose has now puddled in the dips, and has frozen solid.
Step 60. Give neighbors keys back.
Step 61. Haul hose home. Stuff it in storage room because it's too frozen to roll. Kick it once for good measure.
Step 62. Write a blog post about how it's now 2:30 in the morning, my hair has finally thawed, and I am no closer to taking my shower than I was two hours ago.
Step 63. Wrap my head in saran wrap, and go to bed.
Step 64. Deal with this tomorrow.

UPDATE: Even though the Saran Wrap came off my head, my ivory colored sheets have retained their original color, because I laid a towel down over my pillows.

Also, it's now 6:30 at night, and I just found out it's Sunday. So that sort of sucks. Sorry church.

I took a shower at the school this afternoon, then came in to work on the senior store, which will be opening up in about an hour, I think. And then, because it's me, I took a picture:

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Couple Letters

I posted a letter on Facebook the other day, which garnered some random responses, so I thought I'd post it again here, along with a couple other ones I was thinking of. Warning: I was watching daytime television.

Dear Nebraska,
     If the best your tourism board can do is show people floating down a river in a used cattle trough, and then show people floating down the same river in rubber rafts, and then show people floating down the same river in a boat, you need to give up. That ad is not going to draw anyone to your state. Especially if you show this commercial in ALASKA. We have rivers. Tons of rivers. Please use your tourism dollars for a better purpose. Like letting the company making the commercial travel somewhere besides one boat dock.
-Colleen, Confused

Dear Humane Society,
    While I am not normally against you, I do have a bone I'd like to pick with you: Do not come into my house asking for $19 a month to sponsor a pet. 18 months ago, I TRIED to give you a hundred dollars for a pet, which I would then spend WAY MORE than $19 a month on. (School requires $20 a month for pets in the housing.) But you wouldn't give him to me. Because you said my Alaska job and money and love weren't good enough for you. So you don't get any of it now.
-Colleen, Irked

Dear Dreyer's,
    Your Drumstick ice cream may be the best ice cream I've ever had. It has real pieces of cone, dipped in chocolate in it. That way, they stay crunchy. Awesome.
-Colleen, Satisfied

Dear Whoever Felt the Need to Use My Classroom,
    Why is it that when I came home from being in Nome for a week, I found my classroom open, and people in it? Do you not have your own classroom? Table? Hallway? Why were there unsupervised teenagers in my room? Seriously?
-Colleen, Angry

Dear Microwave,
   I love you. Seriously man, L.O.V.E. love.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Today, at 12:38, I took a picture out my classroom window:

Yup, that's the sun, just coming up over the horizon. 

So now when my dad tells me I should get up at the crack of dawn and get busy, instead of sleeping in, I can whole-heartedly agree. I need those extra 40 minutes!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Down Under/ Up Over Project

My 7th hour "magic class" (Life skills, career skills, etc) has started a project with Australian students, where we take pictures and share them with each other.

I am completely stoked about this. I can't wait to see what my kids do.

The first project is a scavenger hunt of basic things. Where we get water, an elder, what we do for fun, something important to adults, etc.

I can see us turning this into a "The Best of Shishmaref" where we only display the nice, pretty, cultural parts of our village. I know our village is dirty, I know sometimes people can be mean. I just hope that we will be able to find a balance between us only showing Eskimo drummers, and what another group did, and only show the sad parts of the village.

On that note, I've decided to post some pictures first, and while there are no rusted out tractors in them, I find them to be accurate. So I've decided to share them here:

 Where my water comes from: (well, at least when the school had a glycol leak, and I melted snow)

Local Foods: (yes, it's pizza)

Local Clothing, as modeled by Aaka Huntington, and her son Rod:

Local tradition, Thanksgiving feast:

What we do for fun:

More local foods:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Hello friends and family.

Since Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, (vacation starts in 18 minutes) I've decided to make a list of things I am thankful for:

-Sharp scissors.

-Full bottles of glue.

-Unlimited Long Distance Service.



-Cranberry sauce.

-Packages in the mail.

-Finding my keys where I think I left them.

-Finding my glasses in the morning, not right before I go to bed.

-Television on DVD.


-Getting A's on my classes.

-Project Gutenberg, where I can get my books for free.

-My brand-new staple gun.

-Fuzzy scarves knit by grandmothers.

-People who comment on my blog,

-Other people who post blogs for me to read.

-Having enough food at home.

-Fresh from the dryer sheets.

-King sized bed.

-Books, books, and more books.

-2nd place cheer trophies.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shocked and Amazed

Today, while I was taking roll, the senior/junior class got to work. Three of them sat down with their laptops facing away from me. This is against class policy, but I thought I'd give them the benefit of the dobt (or I'm too lazy to confront them).

Then, one of them gets up and walks out of class. Huh.

Turns out he was looking up information for his research paper (whoo!), found a valid source (Double Whooo!!) and printed it off to highlight the important parts (TRIPLE WHOOO!!!)

Do I have some great kids or what?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cheer Camp

Well, It's official. I am a cheer coach. I know that for the first several years of being involved with the cheer program in the BSSD I maintained that I was simply a chaperone, and not to be trusted. And then, for a couple years, Mary and I did it together. And last year, I had girls throwing up the entire week of the competition, and just considered it a wash. But this year. This year things were a little different.

For starters, I had 22 girls show up to practice for the first half. After tryouts, I told the junior cheerleaders that I loved them, but we'd have to lay low on practices for a while. And the big girls and I focused on the routines. And we had a horrible go of it. But over this last week, everything clicked together, and we pulled it out.

That's enough writing. Time for pictures:

 Here is Kevin, "Chaperoning." Must be nice to be a guy. When a coach has no one wrestling, he and his squad can just sort of chill. Case in point: the next photo.
 Conversely, the cheer squad must sit at attention in a row, in full uniform, amongst rows of the other cheerleaders. If they get caught wandering around, they get sent back to their groups. They are not allowed to eat Mr. Freeze in my brand new uniforms. (And you thought this next picture was going to be about the wrestler. Silly reader, you should know me by now.)

 One of my cheerleaders from last year decided that she'd rather nap between matches, and left me to be a wrestler. I don't know where she placed, but I'll tell you this: When she got hit so hard she had to go to the clinic later, she lay on the floor for a minute, sobbing, but then got up, shook herself, and finished the match. THEN she went to the clinic where they tut-tutted at her, and told her to take it easy on her ribs for a while. I had no idea she was that tough.

Some of our boys, kicking butt and taking names:

 This ref and I bonded, as his rest chair was near my music chair. I even got my own sign that said "Reserved for the music lady" and someone colored the notes. The ref (who has a name and everything, I just don't know it) didn't even get a sign.

Look at these two just attack each other. It was an amazing match to watch:

 And in the end, we were victorious. (Okay, those two pictures may not have anything to do with each other, but I think they're the same kid. Looks like the same opponent)

Of course, it wasn't all matches and hanging out. We were in Unalakleet from lunch on Tuesday to 5pm on Friday. And that meant sleeping on the floor in a classroom. In classic middle-school fashion, this is how they looked in the morning:

And how they looked when we were trying to get them into bed at night:

I know what you've all been waiting for, so, with no further ado: CHEER STUFF

Asta, Jecca and I found this mount on Youtube. Good job YouTube. No one else did this one, I don't think. There were a lot of pony mounts, and shoulder sits (to be seen later).

I cropped this next one a bit, but can you see how much height Gussie has on this jump. During the workshop, we were told that all arms should be straight, and not in High-V like Gussie has here. Hmm, something to work on for next year.

The adorable ending for Sarah and Tara's routine. I was so proud of the two tiniest girls getting up to do a partner stunt routine together. Usually it's one experienced girl, and one small one (to be the flyer), but these two were great together. 

And what did that greatness get them? That's right. . . TROPHIES, Baby!! We got second place for partner stunts. (UNK got first)

During our big routine, The girls tossed Sarah into the air, and this is her coming down (See how Jecca is still smiling? Awesome):

And our grand-daddy pyramid that they did for their final stunt:

And what did that grand-daddy stunt help us get, you may be asking? Well, just this:

And for those of you with really good eyesight: You may be wondering what's going on in that picture on the plaque. After all, there are only cheerleaders up there getting the award. So why is the entire school on the plaque? Yeah, I have no idea either. We're gonna swap it out on Monday, for a picture of just the girls. In the mean-time, our 2nd place dance routine trophy has this picture in it:

Monday, November 1, 2010


Okay, none of these pictures are mine. Yup, I suck just that bad. However, one is of me, so that should count for something.

This is Molly. She teachers 4th grade. And yes, her wings are on upside down in this picture. But they were right side up when I saw her in the gym, so someone must have noticed. I was completely shocked and excited when all the certified teachers agreed to dress up together.

This is Heather (Orf?). She was an emergency room nurse for years, and is up in Shishmaref now. Her husband is the pastor. (People have just started referring to her as "pastors wife", and that's sort of minimizing all she's done in her life). She's wearing parts of my costume here, and has Baby Norman with her. Isn't he adorable too?

Bla bla bla. There I am. In my wings. I've decided: from now on, no one shorter than me is allowed to take pictures of me.

Amy in her costume. I picked that dress out for her this summer. Isn't it horrible wonderful? You don't get the full layer view in this picture, but she's in the parade with the pre-school kids, and they were a little overwhelmed by the parade.

That's Kiley on the left (for those of you who wanted pictures of her) and Kate on the right. They are both wearing long-sleeved t-shirts under old bridesmaids dresses. Well, Kate's has had a little work. Also, it's the one she picked out for her sisters. 

Just because I couldn't help myself: Here is Baby Norman, wearing an old costume of one of his sisters. It's too small for him, but he was just sleeping so soundly I couldn't help it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It has recently been brought to my attention that I don't blog enough about the other members of my staff. So here goes:

Bob: Mr. Robert Young, 45, is the math teacher. He is also my co-senior advisor. He is a kind, good, and decent man. He lives next door to Kiley and Kevin.

Amy: Amy is my roommate. She is wonderful. She teaches ECE, and is creative, funny, and hard-working. Sometimes, she hangs out with Kiley.

Kevin: Kev is a new teacher up here, but not new to teaching, which is nice. His biggest fault so far is that he made me watch some show on A&E where they let Tony Danza be an English teacher. Really A&E? Really?  Kev is also the wrestling coach, and is married to Kiley.

Bea and Sue: I know they're not a matched set, but it's quarter to 11 at night, and I'm getting tired. Not only have Bea and Sue been here longer than me, and know more about the village than I do, but they are willing to share that knowledge with me. Also, they were totally stoked about dressing up like fairys for Halloween! (okay, not Sue, but Kiley and I talked her into it, because she is a fun loving, and free-wheeling sort of girl.)

It feels like I'm missing someone. Oh, right Kiley:  Ki is my exercise buddy, the new sped teachers on the elementary side, a bottle blonde/brunette, one funny drunkard, pretty nice to 66% of the dogs in her house, brave, funny, clever, kind, caring, and all around wonderful.

(Okay Kiley, I'd like my $10 now.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

District News

Since the beginning of the school year, our district has had three suicides.  Two were students, one was the father of five students.

On Saturday, a bunch of kids down in Brevig Mission were playing Russian Roulette, and a 13-year-old boy shot himself in the head.

Dear Government,

I can't seem to find the line on your AYP form that asks for an accounting of how our kids are dealing with this. I see the line for attendance, test scores, and graduation. But nowhere on the list is there a place for us to mark down the strides we've made in compassion, understanding, or coping with all the horrors that take place in this district.

A Very Confused Teacher

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My grandmother recently posted on a picture of my from Facebook, where I had ridiculously short hair. And it's not new, it's very old. So I thought I'd give you all the final of my "I'm trying to grow my hair out" project.

This is the one Gramma saw. From last fall, when I cut Amy's hair, and decided to cut mine too. Look how short!! 

Umm, there's nothing wrong with the color, that was a Halloween costume. But look: My hair touches my shoulders again!

Last year, at UNK. Finally growing out enough to both be curly and touch my shoulders at the same time.

Begining of this school year. Just did the color. I guess it was long enough here to count as "long" but I didn't realize it.

Yeah!! Long hair again. Whoo!! And now my roots are growing out, and it's time to fix that, or something.

There is a point to what I'm showing you, and it's even school related: If all the kids who just took the HSGQE (state graduation test) pass all three parts, I'll shave my head. I've been telling them this all year.

They took the test last week. We don't have the results back yet. However, I happen to know that at least one kid didn't even show up for all three, so I guess I'm safe again. I'll cut the same deal for the spring test, which isn't a re-take, it's just the test for the year. Wish me luck. Or wish the kiddo's luck.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


For those of you who may think Shishmaref is small, I have one word of consolation: Wales.

Wales is our closest neighboring town. Yesterday, while flying from SHH to UNK (or Shishmaref to Unalakleet, for those of you who don't speak in airport codes), we dropped off a girl and picked up two leadership training people from Wales.

I was able to stick my laptop camera up to the window, and take a picture of THEIR ENTIRE VILLAGE. In one shot:

Yup, that's their whole town. And all 152 of them (at the 2000 census) fit into that handful of houses.

So the next time I complain about how far we have to walk to the snack-shack, or about how there are so many people in line at the student store, I just need to be reminded that at least I have people around me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's fun the first time

Okay, here are the pictures:

It's all gone now. We won't get anything serious until after Halloween, but that's not the point. The point is this: IT IS ONLY SEPTEMBER! I'm not even sure where my coat is yet. I am NOT ready for snow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Surprise, surprize

It may not have lasted very long, and it may not have been very hard, but today was our first day of snow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Actual Eskimo News

Today I was hanging out collaborating with some of the teachers on the elementary side. And I saw Mina Weyiouanna. Mina is an aide in one of the first grade classrooms. (That's right, we have two. It's the only class that has two, because there are so many of them.)

Several years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, I was sitting around with Mina, Bea, Sue, and several other people, at an establishment in Nome. I think we were there for Iditarod.

Susie started calling me "Sunshine," in that sing-song voice from Remember the Titans. So they decided it should be my Eskimo name. And Mina told me what it was in Inupiaq. Now, I wasn't drinking that night, but Inupiaq words are hard for me, so I tried to remember it the best I can, even though I knew my memory was wrong.

In my head, it was something like  Mussuq Ongtowasruk.  Now, I knew that was wrong, because Mussuq is warm cereal (usually oatmeal) and Ongtowasruk is a last name.

Today, while collaborating, I asked Mina to tell me again, and she did, but refused to write it down, as she didn't know the spelling. So I wrote: musuk twoq. Then, with the help of Uncle John, the bilingual teacher, I got the right spelling:

Mazaq tuaq.   Pronounced: Muu-zack Two-ack.

Officially, it means: It is sunny, because there is no translation for Sunshine. But, it's close enough, and it makes me feel special.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kids say. . .

Today, I ordered carnival prizes for an hour and a half. (That would be my lunch break, followed by my planning period.)  And then my cart showed up empty. So I started over.

While it may be fun to flip through catalogs, doing a complete order (approx. $1,700 worth) is mind-numbing after the first half hour.

And since I have nothing funny or insightful to say today, I've decided to share some of the funny things my kids/past kids/friends have said recently.  I started writing them down, because hey, they make me laugh:

-Zander, looking up at the board of research paper ideas: "Joey and Heroin, that's a bad mix."

-Tiffany, who graduated in '09, and who subbed one day at the school: I could go to college and be a teacher. Wait. I don't like kids. I'd probably end up crying in the bathroom during lunch."

-Gussie, one of my adorable cheerleaders, when she was in 5th grade: "Sweety changed at college. She got longer hair and better bangs."

-Elizabeth Guy, a BYU student, who was in Anchorage for the summer: Community colleges are like a high school and a university had a fling. And the high school was so very proud, and the university was so very ashamed.

This last one devolved into ALMOST EVERYTHING being the love-child of other things. IE "This lamp is like if a light and bad taste had a child. . . " 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Run down of the day:

I'm tired. Not just tired, but exhausted. And here is why:

7:30 Alarm clock goes off. Hit snooze.
7:40 Hit snooze again.
7:50 Hey Snooze button, you sure are looking good.
8:00 Think about getting up. Roll over.
8:10 Get up, find clothes to wear.
8:15 Amy comes in to make sure I'm awake. (Isn't she adorable?)
8:30 Clock in
8:45-12:30 Teach school. We seem to be missing a large chunk of our student body. Some are on a field trip, some are just gone.
12:30 Try to find a senior to work in the store. None will. Go have crackers and cheese in my room by myself.
1:00-3:00 Teach school.
3:00-3:30 Go with Bea's class to pick up garbage at the playground.
3:30 Be shocked by how much garbage we were able to pick up in such a short amount of time.
3:35 Help kids fill out volunteer hours. Try to figure out what to do with last 10 minutes of class.
3:38 Sucomb to begging. Let kids play Heads Up, Three Up for last 6 minutes of class. (There aren't enough for 7 to be a viable option. Even with only 3 or 4, most people end up being up front or chosen)
3:45 Reading meeting, in my classroom. Kevin (new) takes the blame for his kids. (Isn't he adorable?)
4:30-6:30 Cheer practice. And more cheer practice. And when that's done, Cheer practice.
INSERT: 4:50 The police officer calls me out of the gym. Because one of the kids I'm going to babysit was involved in an accident. (He was riding on the back of an ATV, when the driver hit someone.) Sit with child while he gives account to police.
6:30 Take babysittee's to their house. Cook them dinner while they do Read and Responds.
6:50 Re-cook the kids' meat because "It tastes like cow meat." Scorch it. They love it.
7:05 Sonny Barr comes looking for me, because we're supposed to be working the senior store.
7:14 Realize I gave Amy my keys, and now I'm locked out of the building.
7:15 Take kids to rec. Take smallest to Senior Store with me, as he's on Rec List. (No open gym)
8:10 Deal with Timary's lost tooth.
8:21 Finish this post. Get ready to clean up, so I can take the kids home.

Remember that place I'm paying rent to keep my stuff in? Right. My house. I miss that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Update on Life

I ended up not going to Nome this weekend. Partially because I was just there two weeks ago, and partially because I'm cheep.

Also, I've found that my hotmail account has been spamming people all weekend. If you are one of the recipients of that, I'm sorry. I'm trying to change passwords and things to fix it.

The camera on my laptop has been disabled, and I have no idea how to make it work again. So until I do, no more stupid pictures of my hair.

Yup, looks like this is the dumbest post I've ever done. Soon, I'll start posting cheerleading pictures. I know how much you all love those.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

School Supplies

I would like to start this post by saying: I don't judge your tastes and hobbies. Okay, I do. But I don't make fun of them in front of your face. So for those of you not into this, cut me some slack.

I don't know how most of you feel about school supplies. I happen to love them. Fresh paper, newly sharpened pencils, whiteboard markers that aren't dried out or smashed in. Oh, I'm giddy just thinking about it.

I've already received two boxes of school supplies. They were just the BORING school supplies. Shelf bins, white paper, magnetic clip for my board. (Yeah, umm, I got ONE clip for my board. I thought I'd ordered a dozen.)

Last night, on the other hand, I got in my fun boxes. Full of all sorts of wonderful and amazing things. Not just amazing, but bright and colorful too. And shiny. Some things were shiny. I'm a sucker for shiny objects.

Look how shiny!! I did not just buy this for the shine. I did buy it because last year we tried to put on carnival with push-pins and a hammer. And while I know I didn't pay for this myself, it only cost EIGHT DOLLARS!! I almost spent more than that on staples. I was so excited about this I carried it around this morning, for fear of someone else stealing it from me. 

When I opened it, I asked "Uncle" John Sinnok to use his Dremmel to put my name on it. And he did. Awesome! 

Look! A 24 pack of Sharpie's. Aren't they pretty? I gave away my 8 pack from before. Partially because it had become a 5 pack, and partly because two of those five were yellow. I'm not sure how that happened, it just did. So these are hiding behind my desk. I can't trust them in the general cupboards.

These are paint pens. They have a sponge of sorts under that round cap. And the best part is: I don't have to send kids to the bathrooms to wash paintbrushes.  Mary, the old math teacher (as in "former" not "elderly") bought several different kinds of paint, and this was my favorite, so I bought some more! Cheerleading, here I come!!

Colored paper for poster-making! I got both the brights and the pastels. I know, this post is entirely nerdy. I'm just such a sucker for bright colors. I always feel jealousy around the elementary teachers when they sit down and open boxes of brightly colored pom-poms, stencils, modeling clay, and all sorts of other bright and shiny things. So now I have my own colored paper. Whenever I make signs this year, they're going to be AWESOME!!

This is a fantastic resource book. If you can see the top corner, it says "Grades K-6" but I don't care. It's an entire book of 200+ Blackline Masters. That means I can copy them for my kids. This particular book is full of graphic organizers. I'm so EXCITED!! I know this is nerdy. I just can't contain myself.

And for those of you keeping track of my hair saga: