Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Than You Wanted To Know

I've been tagged by Kim for this meme. It's like I'm in the Secret Club. So excited.

1. Tell 12 things about yourself
2. Answer the 12 questions from your tagger
3. Create 12 questions and pass it on to 12 bloggers

*** I have a personal blog that I've been writing for six years. It's really boring and noone reads it.
*** I have run four half marathons and one full. My last half was in Disneyland last September and I haven't run since.
*** My oldest daughter is in college. That makes me.... really old.
*** I have been teaching for thirteen years (see above).
*** I taught first grade one year. No offense but I didn't like it. I also taught a K - 1 combo one year. I liked that a little better. All other years have been all K, all the time.
*** For awhile I was really into raw food and occasionally will eat mostly raw, usually in the summer.
*** I am obsessed with bentos and have been known to buy Japanese bento books I cannot read.
*** I have a BA in art and taught middle school art for one year about two lifetimes ago. I got in trouble for letting the kids play Bingo.
*** I have my own room. I love my husband but I don't want our stuff to touch.
*** My favorite clothing is from Lucky Brand and I spend wayyyy too much at that store.
*** I am a Leo sun and a Scorpio rising. (Yeah.)
*** My controlling nature and perfectionist tendencies make me the best. teacher. ever. (See above)

OK now I will answer questions from Growing Up Teaching.

1. What is the last book you read for fun? A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
2. What is your favorite teaching book? The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong.
3.What reading and math series do you use, if any? Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt, respectively. We haven't adopted anything new for about six years. (insert eyeroll)
4. What was the worst thing that ever happened in your classroom? Sometimes rats escape. But I haven't lost one yet.
5. What's the one thing you can't live without? My horse.
6. If given the chance to skip a day, what would you do? Sleep, blog, and eat cookie dough.
7. What's the craziest thing you have ever done? Skinny dipped in the ocean under a full moon.
8. What is your favorite spot on earth? Hawaii.
9. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning.
10. What was your favorite game to play as a child? Twister.
11. What super power would you love to have? X ray vision.
12. What are you doing for Groundhog's Day? At school we will be tracing our shadows in chalk outside on the playground with a partner.

And now twelve questions:

1) Milk chocolate or dark?
2) What do you drive?
3) Pets?
4) Do you like your principal? Why/why not?
5) What is your favorite clothing brand?
6) How do you de - stress?
7) What is your favorite go - to easy dinner?
8) What is the first thing you do when you get home from school?
9) On average, how many hours per week do you put in at school during non - school hours?
10) What's the biggest challenge for you in the classroom?
11) If you weren't a teacher, what profession would you choose?
12) What's your favorite part about teaching?

Here's who I'm tagging:

Kinder Friendly
Fairy Dust Teaching
Conversations in Literacy
Journey of a Substitute Teacher
Spotlight on Kindergarten
Learning is a Journey
Mrs. Ayala

Yee Haw!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Going Nuts

As indicated above, our school has a no nuts policy (specifically no peanuts) and this is a BIG deal. Last year there was a Little Darlin' with a severe allergy that could cause serious complications if exposed to peanuts. This year there are THREE such students, including one that has an extremely "high profile" parent. This is a Mom who, at Open House last year (her allergic daughter was not yet attending our school) freaked out because my rat's food had a peanut in it. (Who knew? Uh yeah. I do. Now.)

So this year there has been some scandal concerning this policy. Little Allergic Girl was sitting next to another student who was eating a NUTTER BUTTER COOKIE. A serious infraction of the rules. Luckily a parent noticed and whisked the offender away (not without tears I might add - he really WANTED that cookie) and notified the staff. Somehow L.A.G.'s Mom (rat food lady) found out and became hysterical. Etc., etc.

Big Boss Lady fired out an email to us teachers pronto instructing us to remind our whole parent population of the policy, stat, cc her, take no prisoners. I complied immediately because I know that Big Boss Lady likes prompt compliance. (Yeah.) In my letter I reminded parents to remind anyone that might be assembling their student's lunch of the policy (since I noticed the offender had been picked up by a different caregiver lately - you know - it happens.) Then I sat back until the smoke cleared.

Well it wasn't long before a parent (not in my class) took offense of this situation and made a big deal out of the fact that we should NOT be telling him what his child can or cannot eat. That people with allergies should learn to take personal responsibility without setting limits on others. That denying peanut butter to low income families was a tax on them personally since peanut butter is a cheap and easy source of protein for them. (!) And that he was protesting the policy through his pocketbook: he would not be making his yearly donation towards the big Fund Raiser, at considerable cost to our district. And he encouraged other parents to do this as well, if they felt the same way.


Does your school have a no nut policy? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When the Going Gets Rough


Do you dread Mondays? Are you dragging your boots on Sunday afternoon, wishing you had just a little more time to brace yourself refresh and renew before you go back to face your class again? Have the Magical Moments of Learning become something more akin to Why Wasn't I a Business Major?

It's OK, admitting it is the first step.

I've created a little list of tips for teachers that I've been using these past weeks and it's putting a little more spring in my step when teaching. I adapted this list from Anne Voskamp's 10+ Real Helps for Really Busy Moms and I highly recommend her book and her website also.

10 Tips for Worn Out Teachers

1. Teaching is not an emergency. It's not an emergency if a couple kids don't get it today. Slow down and hug them anyway.

2. Wake up and look around. There are wonderful things happening in your classroom if you are noticing.

3. Going slower may actually get things done faster in the long run. Think of all those mistakes you won't make.

4. Laugh at least as much as your students do. Research shows most Kindergarteners laugh around 300 times a day. Do you?

5. Never forget that being a teacher is an incredible GIFT. Children are amazing and so are you.

6. Classrooms are about learning, not perfection. A perfect classroom is the one that is "animated, creative, authentic" and probably loud and messy.

7. Believe that you have what it takes to be a great teacher. And if you need help, ask for it.

8. Stop hurrying. Make adjustments in your schedule so you can slow down. The demands on our time at school can be overwhelming but as Ann says, "Hurry hurts kids."

9. Work on patience. Breathe before you speak. Practice being gentle with words and touch.

10. Celebrate a good day, and on a bad day, celebrate twice.

Good luck tomorrow!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

70 Degrees and Snowing

Did you make paper plate snowmen with your class this week? If not, you should. These guys are fun, and fun is good. (Thanks, Dr. Suess.)

Did you cut paper snowflakes with your class this week? Oh yeah, it's 70 degrees but it's snowing in Room KE! Be sure to use coffee filters to make your snowflakes. They are thin, light and easy to cut. They are already round and so, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

We have been reading all the snowy classics this month... Snowy Day, The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, Snowballs and more. My little California kids were laughing and having a great time making it snow. They were begging to make more and more! So... cool.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Centers Today

Independent Center: cut, match, glue and color the hats on the snowmen. This worksheet is older than dirt, I had to go over it with a black pen in some places and add the large print instructions on the top. I think it might have originally been a ditto! Raise your hand if YOU are older than dirt and therefore remember dittos... particularly the smell.

Here's one I made up myself. Alphabet beads, pieces of pipe cleaner, and a simple worksheet: read, string, write. The beads are really tiny so good for fine motor. Also reinforces directionality and matching lower to upper case letters since the beads are capitals. Is that cool? Or confusing? The jury is still out but they did seem to be having fun.

Snowmen Counting Book, because we can't get enough number writing practice! Find this darling book here.

Snowman poem on a chart, here we practice tracking print. Again we track on our own poem on paper and then do a listening exercise, circling certain words in certain colors, then illustrate. Turned out cute!

And on the pocket chart, an easy book to review the sight word "can" (think assessments!) and to make it a little more challenging I sliced up the last word in each sentence and helped them re - assemble it, dealing the letters out like a hot game of Texas Hold 'Em.

That's all I got... and a pretty good poker face.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Choice is Yours

In my last post I admitted to having Choice Time most days. This happens after lunch and it is a beloved time. Research shows that young children develop socially and emotionally during classroom activities that are NOT teacher directed. They need time to interact without me telling them what to think or do. They need autonomy and a feeling of environmental control and we gain these all these things during Choice Time.

This chart is about 300 years old and some of these labels date to my first years of teaching. I have many many more and depending on the class I use about a third each year. Not pictured: things like sand, rice table, water, beads, take apart, magnetic letters, science, art center, junk art, music center and every kind of block known to man. The children simply put their name cards next to the choice they prefer and are held accountable for being there. The rule is four people per choice unless otherwise indicated. Sometimes for very popular choices I ring the bell halfway and declare "time to switch"; I was recently reminded of the all - important Waiting List which I have also tried in the distant past (a clipboard nearby the choice for people to sign up if they are waiting for a turn). There is no such thing as "no choice" and I encourage the languishers to choose Library so they can just have some nice chilled out down time with a book and a big pillow.

I got this Ryan's World dollhouse from our annual fundraising auction about six years ago. I was always a lover of dollhouses and I wanted Small Cowgirl to be also. I spent several hundred dollars on all the furniture, accessories, people, pets, even the barn and a couple horses. About one hundred dollars for every two minutes she played with it. So I brought it to school and it is lovingly trashed enjoyed by both boys and girls. Small Cowgirl, it seems, prefers to play in the dirt.

A parent last year gave me this ginormous box of Legos. It is beyond a doubt the best assortment I have ever seen. Does anyone remember Legos when you just got a box of pieces and had to use your imagination to assemble things you thought of yourself? Ahem. Anyway there are sooooo many Legos that after cleanup time and the Little Darlin's have left if I find any Lego pieces on the floor I throw them away. Yes you read that right. And I actually told my students that I do that, and guess what? They clean up MUCH better now. This also prevents hiding special projects that they don't want to destroy by throwing into the box with all the rest of the pieces. Because, heartless as I am, I throw away those too. Its enough to give a five year old Lego addict nightmares I tell you. Best to just toss it in, son.

I didn't really know if my buckaroos would "get" Lincoln Logs but as the Kindergarten Cowgirl they are dear to my heart, so I threw them in the mix this year. They love them! However they do like them best if I allow them to have the animal basket alongside. Makes perfect sense I suppose, what's a barn without animals? Regardless of the fact there are not a lot of pieces left in this box (see the Lego section above) they still have a good old timey time with these.

And just in case you think I'm off my developmental rocker my principal is reading this, I have recently introduced journal writing BEFORE we go to Choice each day. This gives the Little Darlin's an incentive after they've shed blood, sweat and tears to get something somewhat decodable down under their sweet little pictures. And then we can have our choice, guilt free.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cookies and Classrooms

Is it bad that I made an big pan of lemon bars yesterday.... and this morning they are almost all gone?! Granted my teenager is home this weekend but I must admit here that I have a hard time moderating when it comes to sweets, especially really good cookies. And let me tell you those lemon bars were good. Hmn maybe I'll have that last one for breakfast.

Just for a comparison, here are some pictures of the regular Kindergarten that was right next door to the TK I observed last week. Again the class was small (under 20) and I must say seemed just a little more lively than the littler ones.

The first thing I notice is they had the rug that I need. I NEED THIS RUG! It has my groups'COLORS!! How incredibly awesome. And the squares are nice and big and there are THIRTY of them. The heartbreak came when I told my co worker about it and she said there had been the exact rug left on the stage at the beginning of the year (do all schools use the stage as a dumping area? Maybe because the curtain can hide all the mess??) and because it was really really dirty she was pretty sure they had thrown it out. At which point I went home and cried into my pillow.

Now please forgive me if this looks like your room but I think this is too much. I'm all for a print rich environment but there seems like a lot going on here with calendar, centers chart, language arts, math and rules all mixed up on one section of the wall. Maybe some rolling pocket charts would help this situation? I have two and I use both sides of both.

At the teacher directed center they were using magnets to form cvc words. I like the way she made squares on the cookie sheets for this. I do this right on the table with my buckaroos because I am lazy. I think since you are working flat anyway you could make a laminated mat of some sort with the squares. But then again the squares could complicate things if you are doing longer "challenge" words at the end of the lesson like I do. Hmn.

I love this alphabet that is made with stuff that begins with each letter! I did this long ago and each student made their own. A perfect beginning of the year project.

This school requires teachers to post the standards used next to projects on their bulletin boards. Mine doesn't. Does yours?

Here there are dots on the letters to show where to start! Genius.

Here all the writing stuff is isolated to one spot. Again with the standards posted. I always like to see what other teachers are using to get the kids writing. Helps me remember how behind I am this year. Dang.

So basically the regular Kindergarten had way more print in the room. The centers were more structured but I did notice they still had a dramatic play area. I didn't see any building stuff but maybe it just wasn't obvious. The noise level was higher and there seemed to be more "happening" in the thirty minutes that I observed than in the TK.

The lovely woman who conducted the tour was very professional and had answers for every question. The main difference, she kept repeating, was that Transitional Kindergarten was based on developmental needs ESPECIALLY social and emotional needs. Evidently in her opinion all the emotional and social development was going to happen in TK and then when they went on to regular K there would be less need for discipline. Hmn. The only question that stumped her was when I brought up the idea of a combination TK / regular K class, which is what I am anticipating. We have a teeny tiny district (just two schools) and nowhere near enough Little Darlin's with a September - or - up birthday to qualify for an entire TK class. The lovely professional woman kind of shifted and rolled her eyes around and hmned and hawed and said er, yeah that would be hard.


Again I feel like HEY I've been teaching these young kids all along and YEAH I think all Kindergarteners need emotional and social development, even those a few months older than the others. That's why I have Choice Time most days. So more thinking needed. Any opinions??

Though now I think we better start journal writing before Choice. Hmn.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Transitional Kindergarten

Last Thursday I went to observe a Transitional Kindergarten model about on hour from my school. This district was selected to pilot the program and has done a great job of promoting it. They received a grant from Packard to fund it. I arrived with several other teachers from a district near mine and we were led through a formal meeting and observation complete with handouts and a question - answer session. I was mainly interested in comparing the TK classroom with the regular Kindergarten next door. The TK I observed had 18 nicely behaved students. I noticed there were wayyyyy more boys than girls. The teacher had come out of retirement to head up this class. What an angel. No doubt she was excited about teaching Kindergarten in a way she was most familiar with - developmentally!

Here are some highlights of the room:

This simple reading corner did not see any action during my visit. They had some wireless headsets for listening. Jealous.

Here's the daily schedule. I like how she has used actual pictures of the class for each section of the day. Lots of visuals in this room.

Super simple word wall with just pictures of the kids holding their own names. Notice: no words! The teacher did do some shared writing while I was there and the focus was mainly on beginning sounds. She also did Dr. Jean's "Who Let the Letters Out?" and it reminded me to do it with my class the next day... they loved it.

Building Center with lots of blocks etc. I've got these in my room too (though not so nicely labeled) It seems this teacher had to post expectations and explanations next to everything. That must have been exhausting! And frustrating when you would have rather been doing other more creative things.

I played this game with a couple of the kids. They were so sweet and friendly. Several of them had chosen this activity for Centers which were very loose; I didn't see any formal kind of chart, they just knew what their choices were and wandered over to where they wanted to be in pairs. Computers were the most popular of course.

I liked this My Family project that was hanging over the Dramatic Play area. Under the faces there were actual pictures of each family, so cute and I'm sure made these little students feel at home.

Sand and water play! Out of this picture to the left were troughs for water and eye droppers, funnels etc. Enough to give my Big Boss a heart attack right here.

Elaborate hands - on Science table! I wish.

Books, all nicely organized by theme. Far out of reach of the children I noticed.

Well that wraps up the Open House. Tomorrow I'll show you a little of the regular Kindergarten room and do a little compare / contrast.

Does the Transitional Kindergarten look anything like your room? What do you see the same / different?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More Kindergarten Art

Today I actually got a break from the Little Darlin's and got to observe at another school. Dang, I needed that!

We are researching the Transitional Kindergarten model and I was sent to check out a class about an hour from my school. I observed and snapped lots of pictures at the TK and then got to compare it with the regular K room right next door.

I have mixed feelings about TK. It's wonderful that they are creating this model to serve the "in-between" students in a more developmental way. But frankly I've been teaching these kids all along and if my school makes TK a "combo" class with regular Kindergarten then I can't figure out how the program is going to look all that different.

I do jump at the chance to get on my Developmental Soap Box though, and look forward to showing you all the hands - on, play - based activities I saw evidence of today.

And of course we just can't get enough Kinder Art now can we! BTW most of these projects came out of the book Art Really Teaches.

Looks like rainy day recess tomorrow. Dang.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Centers Today

Inspired by this post. My centers are *not* as cute and inspired as Cindy's, but I'm working on it!

Also working on taking pictures with the iPhone that are NOT blurry.

I run five LA centers on Mondays and Wednesdays. This requires three parents. The parents here are VERY helpful and involved. Kindergarten parents are especially enthusiastic! But I have to train them intensively.

Five centers, 15 minutes each. No downtime for transitions, get up and move it on down the trail. This class can NOT sit around waiting for things to happen.

With me, we read a A Snowy Day. A good book for California kinders since at the end she finds out there is no snow... all melted lol I like to cut up the sentences and have them re - constuct them on the pocket chart. This is a Scholastic Seasonal Mini Books item. There are little books to color and practice independently.

For our independent center, good old sight words on a chalkboard. I used to give them donated mismatched socks to use as chalkboard erasers but no matter how clean or new they looked, I would always get "EEEEWWWWWW" like they were old and stinky so now I give them squares of felt. Um yeah. This will go into my book entitled Typical yet Unanticipated Reactions of Five Year Olds.

Stamping capital letters to match lower case. A freebie from Fran that I must have pulled off of Pinterest. Thanks Fran : ) I'm gonna get me a copy of Pete the Cat reeeeeal soon.

Number writing practice. We did this after completing a little book from our Math series, 5 Birds. OK confession: I cut and pasted this worksheet. So very, very much to learn in the technology area people. BUT please keep in mind that in college I wrote all my term papers on a typewriter.

And a little writing for MLK. A simple little worksheet about our personal dreams for the world. For after all let us not forget we are teaching the future.

Bless those little nose pickers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Day On The Ranch

OK technically I am usually wearing boots but hey. Linking up from here.

6:00 Alarm goes off. Hit the 10 minute snooze. Knock a cat or two off the bed.
6:10 Get up and do yoga. (Don't stress. The mat is right next to my bed.) Return to bed, read bible and pray / meditate.
6:20: Put water on for coffee. Turn on country music station. Hear Cowboy Dad groan because he knows another riveting day has begun. Make lunches for myself and Small Cowgirl. Pour coffee. Take a cup to Cowboy Dad who immediately cheers up.
6:45: Bring Small Cowgirl her clothes and wake her up with some kind of cheerful anecdote about what the day will bring ("It's a P.E. day!" Or on Fridays: "Donut Day!!!") She groans and begs for five more minutes.
6:46: Get dressed. Contemplate wearing something other than jeans. Laugh and put on one of ten pairs. Do something with my hair, usually this. Apply makeup. Wish I had better light to put on makeup. Every time.
7:00: Pour Small Cowgirl some cereal and fill her to go cup with hot chocolate. Pack my backpack. Start the car and crank up the heater.
7:15: Leave for school. Wave goodbye to the horses. Two miles on the dirt road and a left on the pavement. Highlights of the trip:

Yes that is the ocean beyond the trees. I have a 25 minute commute but I rarely see another car and that suits me just fine.

I also see the ocean from my playground. But I digress...

7:45 Arrive at school. Kiss Small Cowgirl goodbye as she leaves for the Big Kids Playground. Open my classroom and flick on one bank of lights because I can't stand them both... feels like I'm in the operating room.

Scan the room, do whatever prep work I was too lazy to do didn't have time for yesterday. Pour coffee from my to go mug into my school mug. Chat up the P.E. teacher, my K partner, and whomever else crosses my path (my classroom is right next to the staff room *love*) Check email. Depending on what animals I have at school at the time I 1) change the rabbit's litter box 2) take the rat out for a little play time and/or 3) stick some romaine lettuce in the tortoise's cage.

8:20 Little Darlin's arrive at the door. Take deep cleansing breath. Plaster a smile and throw the barn door open wide.

Morning routine, then calendar, story and LA work time. T Th are Developmental P.E. days and I get a 30 minute prep which feels like 30 seconds. Chat up the parent helpers and roll my eyes a lot. M W we do Centers.

10:00 Snack recess. Remind Little Darlin's to only take ONE thing out of their lunch for snack. Watch the ones with Lunchables try to choose. Wish I could ban Lunchables.

10:15 Story and Math work time. Try hard not to compare this class with other years. Pray I can finish all 12 chapters by June.

11:00 The Bane of my Existence, i.e. Sharing. (I exaggerate. Kind of.) Then we either run laps (on non P.E. days) or have "Quiet" Reading Time. My school is VERY big on fitness (we have virtually no obese students) and there is a yearly Jogathon so running laps is encouraged. I LOVE THIS.

11:50 LUNCH. I always pack a great lunch so this is the highlight of my day. I. love. food.

12:25 Back to class for Choice Time, or on W we do calendar, jogging and Sharing. Two days a week the two kinder classes switch for Art and Music, then Science and Social Studies. In theory. We haven't really started that yet.

During Choice I pull students for extra help or to finish up work. Choice is strictly developmental i.e., they get to play. sshh.

1:15: Clean up, pack up, review our day. Kiss the Little Darlin's buh bye.

Run around like a maniac getting ready for the next day. Attend meetings (IEP, SST, CTA, etc.) Run around some more. Check email, make lists, run copies, blah blah blah. Small Cowgirl shows up at 2:45 and starts her homework plays Club Penguin.

4:00: Head for home. Stop for provisions as needed (just one store up here and I'm bound to run into a student or ten so I try not to need.) Jump into shower to wash off the children relax and unwind. Do the dishes from yesterday.

5:00 Feed horses: push five flakes of hay and a bucket of grain up the hill to the horse pen. Scoop poop. Check water. Feed chickens and change water. Collect eggs. Feed bunnies and sweep bunny pellets off the deck. Smack some firewood and start the woodstove (our only heat). Start dinner. Help Small Cowgirl with homework. She feeds the dogs.

6:00 Small Cowgirl and I eat dinner. Blog. Read blogs. Facebook. Think about reading some of the books I brought home about teaching. Read more blogs.

7:30 Cowboy Dad gets home and I reheat dinner and we chat. Fill up hot water bottles and throw more wood on the fire... it's suddenly Winter. No TV on weekdays so it's off to bed by 8 to read until my eyes droop.... usually by 8:06.

Well that's it... my exciting life. Stay tuned for more of the same.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blogger Buffet

Next to eating, my favorite thing to do is TALK and BLOG so this weekend it was the best of all worlds. Saturday evening I made a pilgrimage to the California Kindergarten Association's annual conference to meet up with all my NEW BBFF's... Blogging Best Friends Forever (so says Dr. Jean!)

From the left: that's Cindy from For The Love Of Kindergarten. Cindy is smart and thoughtful with many great insights about Kindergarten students. Next is Stacey and she doesn't blog but claims she is a Blog Stalker so we loved her immediately. That's me in the red sleeves next to Jennifer who is just darling and obviously loves her job teaching K at a private Catholic school (oh! the flexibility!) Next is Camille from An Open Door. Camille is currently teaching a K - 1 combo so of course I have overwhelming respect for her. We had a good time not listening chatting together at the last session on TK. Do you recognize that sparkly lady in the blue dress?! None other than Fran Kramer and it was so amazing to meet her. She made me feel so welcome and let me tell you people she is FUNNY and smart and magnetic. (Insert blogger envy icon here.) Last but not least another celebrity, Heidi from Heidisongs kept us impressed with tales of teaching, blogging, doing family stuff and running her own business. Wow! She's got it all.

We ate and talked and LAUGHED and ATE and LAUGHED and then the waiter brought us gratis doughnuts (!!!) and we talked some more. It was an unforgettable night and I am forever grateful that I am a part of this Kindergarten blogger world.

Today's agenda includes scooping horse poop and reading up on some new Math center ideas. Yeah it's just one glamorous day after another.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pretty As A Picture

Just got back from the California Kindergarten Association Conference. So much fun: met some bloggers (more on this later!), shopped, scored prizes at the Silent Auction, learned more than I wanted to know about Transitional Kindergarten (eek!), and got tons of ideas from the fabulous Kinder Art Display that wound itself through the San Jose Convention Center.

Here is some art to inspire you on this coldish grey day. Enjoy!