Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Work Hard for No Money!

Fortunately, this post title no longer pertains to us, but for what seemed like a very, very long time, sporadically between the months of September and May of last school year, Indy would come home from his student teaching and sing, "I work hard for no money! So hard for it, honey!"

While I was on my blogging break, and Indy and I were in the throes of living an entire year on one teacher's salary, I had the time to really analyze how difficult it is for a young adult to complete their student teaching experience and come out on top.  And by "on top" I don't necessarily mean with a job offer, I mean, finish the experience without having a nervous breakdown, giving up all together, or going into serious debt.

Tomorrow will be Indy's fourth week on the job as a full time, tenure-track, sixth grade ancient history teacher (I still get excited just typing it out!) and he's already had his fair share of burning the midnight oil, working through his lunch periods, contacting parents regarding student behavior and hosting back to school night.  Once our hell week was over, we actually found about 5 minutes to just sit with each other, and he turned to me and said, "I can't believe I was able to do all of this last year and not get paid one cent for it." 

The next day, Indy sent me a text with a picture of his very first check!

 All teachers, especially those who get paid on a 10-month plan as opposed to a 12-month plan (any other 10-monthers out there?!) know just how long and scary the summer months can be.  We’ve all heard the teacher-haters out there complain to us about how we get “summers off” and “three months of vacation.”  We all know how much we’d like to punch them all in the face, but we don’t, because we’re classy.  But watching Indy bravely quit his full-time, well-paying job to finish school, watching him go through his grueling un-paid student teaching experiences, and finally, getting to enjoy his complete and total excitement about receiving his very first paycheck as a full-time teacher, has been incredible. 

While the majority of passionate, great teachers- the kind who see it as a calling rather than a job- would be teaching regardless of the pay, I think we can all agree that for what we do, our profession is vastly underpaid.  I don’t think I could name one teacher I know who truly does have their entire summer off.  All of the teachers I know have at least one summer job, or even second year-round jobs, in order to make ends meet.  In fact, this school year, in addition to teaching full time and taking a graduate course, I’ve applied for three other stipend positions at my school.  If I get all of them, that means I’ll be doing three jobs this school year, in addition to teaching every day.

When you lay out all the details and do all of the math, especially if you’ve had a particularly rough week like Indy and I did last week, sometimes the sacrifices you make as a teacher don’t seem to add up.  There are days, weeks, months even where I feel like I’m climbing a slippery slope, and for every one step forward, I take two steps back.  There are days even now, with both of our incomes, where I come home singing to myself, “I work hard for no money, so hard for it honey!” because that’s how it feels. But at the end of the day, I love what I do and regardless of how much my paycheck says I’m worth, I know I’m worth more, and we’ll make it work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Looooong Week

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I've been barely surviving the longest week of my life.

This was the first full week of school, and while it's usually a rough week for all teachers, new and old, this one was by far the hardest of all my six years teaching.  With that said, allow me to clarify that actually teaching, and working with my students, was the easiest and most pleasant part of the longest week of my life.

Let me break it down for you:

Sunday, September 7th:

Indy and I joined his family for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer walk in New York City.  Every year we do "the walk" and end the celebration with brunch at a local restaurant.  This year, due to her  treatment, Indy's mom wasn't up for the actual walk, but we all met at the restaurant in our Walk Shirts and celebrated with friends and family.

We got home around three, got some work done for school, and by 6:30 I was out of the house, on my way to my *new* band practice from 7-9:00 pm, and got home around 10, 10:30.  By the time I got home, I was so beat that we didn't even watch the latest episode of The Leftovers, and went straight to bed.

Monday, September 8th:

Up around 5:45 am.  This was our second full day of school, so the day was spent repeating a lot of the same, "Welcome to class! These are the rules, and this is all the fun stuff we'll be doing this year..."  After not using my teaching voice for most of the summer, by the end of Monday I barely had a voice left, and was pretty drained.  In addition to all that, my school is implementing a very new, and very intimidating, electronic lesson planning format.  Over the weekend I sort of figured some of it out, and told my boss, who then asked me to present my findings to two departments at our next meeting on Wednesday.  You know, no pressure!  Mentally, I was preoccupied with that most of the day- trying to figure out the most simple/effective way to teach 40 less-than-enthused adults how to use another new computer program.

But there was no time for rest!  After school I drove to the university where I'm currently getting my masters and had my "Computer Art 1" class from 5 until around 8.  I was originally very excited about it, as I feel of all my art-making skills, computer-based art is my weakest.  However, I was disappointed with our first class as it was very "Computers 101" - you know, this is a jpeg file, this is how you expand your window, this is how you shut down your computer....*eye roll*.  On the way home I sat in a ton of traffic and didn't make it until around 9:30.  I helped Indy clean up the kitchen after he made dinner, got a few things done for school, and got to bed around 11.

Tuesday, September 9th:

Up bright an early for another full day of school.  My classes ran super smoothly and we got started on all of our first projects.  During my prep periods I fine-tuned my lesson for the lesson planning program.  I actually met, three times during the day, with a colleague in another department who was able to find even more effective/efficient tricks in the program.  I promptly then had to re-write my instructional sheets for my presentation.

I got home from school and Indy and I pretty much immediately left to sit in an hours worth of traffic headed into NYC, again.  This time, to visit with his Aunt and cousin who flew in from Greece and Florida for some important doctor appointments.  As they would only be here a short while, we kind of had to see them on Tuesday, despite it being a school night, and despite us both being pretty exhausted.  It was nice to visit with them, but we were both exhausted, and we ended up home around 11, which means in bed by 11:30ish.

Wednesday, September 10th:

School was lovely, the kids were great, but I was nervous, nervous, nervous about presenting my lesson planning lessons to the two departments.  We had *three* meetings after school, and while my lesson went over well, and a lot of my colleagues thanked me for clarification, by the end of it all I was exhausted! All that planning and anticipation did a number on me, for sure!  I got home around 5 and left for another band practice session around 6:30.  My hometown is near where I practice, so usually I stop by to see my adorable nephew for a half an hour or so before practice.  I sat in a bit of traffic and made it to my sister's house in time to have only about 15 minutes with the baby before I had to leave.  I fed him his night time bottle and he fell asleep on me.  It was short, but so sweet, and totally worth the traffic.  Practice was from 8-10:30, and I was home around 11, and in bed by 11:30.

Thursday, September 11th:

It was an early, emotional morning.  September 11th always hits me harder than I think it will, and after a teary-eyed ride into work, I taught classes all day and struggled to get my to-do list in manageable shape.  The day was long as with our rotating drop schedule, today was my "heaviest" day- I saw all 5 of my classes- and by the end I was wiped.  As Indy has his first Back To School Night tonight, and planned on staying at school until around 10 tonight, I planned on spending the afternoon with my nephew.  However, while en-route, my sister called to tell me to turn around, as he had a doctor's appointment and wouldn't be around to play. BUMMER!

I turned around, drove home and napped, which was really lovely!  Then I decided to tend to the blog.  Tonight might be the first night I'm in bed before 10:30 all week, and I can.not.wait!

Here's what the rest of the week looks like:

Friday, September 12th:

School, and since I'll have a few preps, I'll hopefully get some more work done on my lesson plans/SGO plans (key word being hopefully).  Then, come home and go for a RUN!  Today marks the first time I've gone four days IN A ROW without running.  I'm kind of scared to do it, but tomorrow should be really nice; a pleasant 75 degrees as opposed to the 85 and humidity that was today.

At night Indy and I will probably make dinner, finally get around to watching that episode of The Leftovers and make a plan for getting school and housework done over the next two days.

Saturday, September 13th:

Indy, two friends of ours and I will compete in the ROC Race!  So excited about this!  We'll probably be exhausted afterward, so maybe Indy and I will order in and relax a bit.  We'll try to get some work done for school as well.

Sunday, September 14th:

Sleeping in, and then....WORK, WORK, WORK! We've got so much house work to tend to, it's embarrassing, plus the school work that never goes away, plus some planning for the following weekend.

As I relax to night, eating some re-heated Domino's and watch my beloved Project Runway, I'm going to take Tim Gunn's sage advice to heart more than I do most weeks.

My new Tim Gunn mantras:

Make it work! 
Go, Go, GO. 
.....don't think too much.
Go to work.

Monday, September 8, 2014

You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated!

When it comes to organizing my supplies in the classroom, I'm a little OCD.  I like all of my supplies to have a nice, clean, clearly labeled, preferably alphabetized, home.  This is especially true of my drawing pencils:

Before I had these nifty, perfectly pencil sized cardboard boxes to store my drawing pencils, I kept all of the pencils in their original boxes.  This got old, real fast.  Having 125 kids open, close, rip, lose, throw out the pencil boxes meant there were lose, mixed up pencils all over the place and I couldn't take it anymore! I had to find a small, convenient container for each of my drawing pencils....And then, the planets aligned!

As I was unpacking my new supplies last year, I opened up a large box of Triarco Pencils:

On the inside it looked like this:

Now, I'd opened boxes just like this Triarco one before,  Typically I'd unload its contents and throw everything else into recycling, but something clicked last year.  I opened the box and realized that the answer to my pencil organization/containment was right in front of my face all along! 

I know it only shows four here, but Triarco ships their pencils and erasers in six, small, pencil sized cardboard boxes.  I can vividly remember opening my first box, seeing the smaller boxes inside and literally having a "Ah-HA!" moment. 

As you can imagine, I'm much less quick now to toss out the packaging my supplies come in.  This is Recycling, Reducing and Reusing in its most literal sense!  And whenever I see my perfectly pencil sized, labeled drawing pencils on my supplies table, I can't help but sing this to myself:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cellphone Jail and Flipping Out

In my last few years of teaching I adopted a sort-of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy when it comes to cellphone use in the classroom.  Many of you art teacher bloggers out there probably don't have as big an issue with it as most of you teach middle school/elementary art, but in high school, the phones are a BIG issue that don't seem to be going away any time soon.

Last year I collected a lot of information from different teachers, some in my department, some not, about how they dealt with cellphones in their classrooms.  Some teachers have very strict no tolerance policies, but they admitted that a good percentage of their classroom time was spent policing the students and their phone use, which I admire, but can't live up to.  When you have 24 different students working on 24 different projects, materials all over the place and clean-up, I can't be running around taking phones and writing students up.  It's too much work.

Over the summer I took some time to really revamp my classroom policies and rules to ensure I ran a tight, but fun and functional ship this year.  The first place I started was with cell phone use, and the first thing I got was this:


Yes, this is a real thing, and yes, I bought one.  For less than $8.00, how could I not? 

So the story here is just before we left for summer last year, my classroom neighbors, the foods teachers, showed me this little contraption.  One of them had purchased it for the other.  They had lots of cell phone issues last year, and even though it was sort of a gag-gift, I was totally into it.

With my cell lock-up in hand and my new policies ready, I created a poster for my classroom:

When I introduced the cell phone guidelines and the cell lock-up, the kids seemed pretty amused.  But it wasn't all fun and games.  I explained the order in which cellphone consequences occur:

1. If I see your cellphone is a distraction, I ask you to put it away, which is not on your lap on or on the desk.  Away means in your pocket or backpack.  It stays there until the end of the period.

2. If you take it out of your bag/pocket, or refuse to put it away when asked, it goes to jail, where it remains until the end of the day.  After school you can pick it up, but by then I've already emailed your parents, so going home will be sad.

3. If you are a complete psychopath and refuse to hand over your cellphone, school policy regards that as insubordination, which results in a suspension.  Additionally your parents have to come to school to retrieve your phone after a meeting with the principal and myself.  Awkward...

Once the rules were all done, I talked with the students about when and how to use the phone in class as a tool.  Part of my preparing this summer involved finding apps that would be useful for us. (I'm still collecting apps, by the way, so if any of you have found some, let me know!)  But this summer I fell in love with one app: Flipagram

Filpagram is an app that allows you to choose a ton of individual pictures from your phone and "stitch" them together in a short video.  You can even add music and a background if you want, but I'm not that fancy.

At the end of last year, I had one Fine Art 1 student show me a flipagram video she'd made for one of our projects.  Every day she took a picture of her artwork at the beginning of class and the end- by the time the project was over, she had a 15 second video of all of her progress and it was SO COOL!  I decided I had to do this next year with all of my classes and to see how it would work, I documented a painting I made this summer.  Here is what he painting looked like when I finished:

And here is the flipagram video:
I posted it to instagram, which is why it flips so fast, but you can slow it down.  I plan on showing my kids the flipagram video next week so they can understand the importance (and the fun) of documenting your work.

I'll have to update you all on my progress in the constant love-hate relationship I  have with cellphones in the classroom.  Anyone else have any cellphone management suggestions?  Apps I could use in the classroom?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Art Class Questionnaire

To get through the first half-day of school (today) with all my new students, I knew I had to do the typical first-day stuff: Go over the class syllabus and contract.  I like to make my classroom rules and expectations nice and clear before we begin any project.  However, I didn't want it to be all business and no fun, so I came up with an activity that kept the students busy, (sort of) quiet, was fun, and also helped me learn more about what I can expect from them this year.

I created an 11-question Art Class Questionnaire with some serious and some silly questions/answers that focused on what they already knew about art, what they wanted to learn about art, and also let me in what their personalities are like.

I copied it from word and pasted it here for your viewing pleasure:

Art Class Questionnaire

Name: ___________________________________________________________ Period: ________
Directions: You are about to complete a survey that will tell me all I need to know about you as a person.  Please answer the questions honestly as it will help us both decide if this is the right class for you.  You may only choose one answer for each question, so pick the one that fits you most.

1.      If I had to describe my artistic talents in terms of drawing, I would say I:
a.       Can sharpen pencils like nobody’s business.
b.      Am a stick-figure master.
c.       Can draw lollipop trees and a sun wearing sun glasses (which doesn’t even really make sense if you think about it).
d.      Am pretty good at copying cartoons and anime.
e.       Would like to get better at drawing realistic-looking objects.
f.       Have taken art classes before and pretty much know what I’m doing.

2.      If I had to describe how well I get along with others, I would say I’m most like the following Walking Dead character:
a.       Rick– I’m a natural leader, but have learned to take other’s opinions and abilities into consideration in order to help the group.
b.      Beth– I’m not a leader, but I work hard and contribute to the group.  Also, when things get sad, I sing songs.
c.       Michonne- I’ve learned how to work with others, but I’m totally good on my own.
d.      The Governor – I’m totally insane.
e.       Glenn– I’m everyone’s favorite person to be around because I’m optimistic and adorable.
f.       Daryl– I’m tough on the outside, but warm and fuzzy on the inside.  I have skills that are essential for the group’s survival, but I don’t flaunt it, because I’m just that cool.  Also, I don’t mind eating squirrel.  I’ll do what I have to in order to survive.
g.       If you don’t watch The Walking Dead, your life is incomplete.  Just choose the one that describes you best, then go home, get your life together, and start watching so you can catch up before season 5 starts in October.

3.      If I had to describe my artistic talents in terms of painting, I would say I:
a.       Have held a paint brush at least once before in my life, and I know which end to put the paint on.
b.      Am a finger painting master.
c.       Only paint-by-numbers.
d.      Am pretty good at copying cartoons and anime.
e.       Would like to get better at painting realistic-looking scenes.
f.       Have taken art classes before and pretty much know what I’m doing.

4.      If I had to identify with the characteristics of a Marvel Hero to describe how I plan on getting a passing grade in this class, it would be:
a.       Captain America (Steve Rodgers) – He’s honest, hard-working and always does what’s right to get the job done.
b.      Thor (God of Thunder) – He’s noble and perseveres. (Sidenote: Can we all just agree that including him as a Marvel Super Hero is totally ridiculous?  I still can’t buy into the whole “He’s a God” thing, but it is Chris Hemsworth, so I’ll keep seeing the movies if they keep making them.)
c.       Iron Man (Tony Stark) – He acts like he doesn’t care about anything, but in the end, everything works out, because he actually does care a little bit.
d.      Spiderman (Peter Parker) – He’s completely and totally obnoxious and will talk his way into passing.
e.       Wolverine (Logan) – It’s going to happen.  People might get hurt, but it’s going to happen.

5.      I am in this class because:
a.       I don’t know anything about art and want to give it a try.
b.      I would like to further the skill set I think I already have.
c.       I thought it might be a fun elective to take.
d.      I need the arts credits and this seemed easy.
e.       Guidance put me here.

6.      If I had to describe myself as a current female pop star, I think I identify most with:
a.       Taylor Swift – I’m sweet, well-organized and I try to be friends with everyone.
b.      Katy Perry – I’m kind of all over the place, but I don’t really care what other people think.
c.       Iggy Azalea – No one usually has any idea what I’m saying, but they all kind of seem into it anyway.
d.      BeyoncĂ© – Bow Down.
e.       Miley Cyrus – I constantly embarrass everyone who knows me.

7.      If I had to describe myself as a current male athlete, I think I identify most with:
a.       Eli Manning – I’m a leader, and work well under pressure.
b.      Derek Jeter – I’m a class act, and will go down as a legend.
c.       Carmelo Anthony – I do the best I can with what I’ve got to work with.
d.      Cristiano Ronaldo – Everyone loves my face.
e.       Alex Rodriguez – I constantly embarrass everyone who knows me.

8.      If I had to describe my policy with grades, it would be:
a.       A’s all the way.
b.      B’s are good for me.
c.       C’s get degrees.
d.      D’s make my mom sad.
e.       F’s…..why are you even here?

9.      For me, Art is:
a.       A way to express emotions
b.      A vessel for making important statements
c.       Relaxing
d.      A challenge.
e.       A necessary evil.

10.  Based on this survey, I think:
a.       I should put forth my best effort every day in order to really see results.
b.      I should have a good sense of humor, because my teacher is super sarcastic.
c.       I should be cooperative and pleasant.
d.      I should try new things, even when I think I’ll be bad at them.
e.       Drop the class.

11.  Take a minute to write down anything you might be interested in discussing the next time we meet.  This could be questions about the content, materials, my expectations, class rules, etc.  If you don’t have a question, you could write a statement, or draw me a picture.  Anything to show me your brain is still functioning:
       I was really happy to find that the majority of the kids enjoyed filling out the questionnaire.  There were a lot of giggles and whispers, and I think it helped them realize what kind of class they were about to take.

     Here are some of my favorite responses from the kids who are in an art class for the first time:

And here are responses from my Fine Art 3 kids- I had the majority of them for Fine Art 1 two years ago, and they were so excited to have me again- almost as excited as I am to have them back:

      I have to admit I was kind of frustrated after the first two professional development days we had Tuesday and Wedensday, but as always, after seeing the kids, everything felt so much better.

     They're going to make this year so great!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Moment of Silence

Today marks the first day of school.  We'll have back-to-school professional development for today and Wednesday, half a day with the students on Thursday and our first full day of school this Friday.

As I write this on Monday night, I'm taking a moment to appreciate the quiet.  While it isn't a moment of complete silence, it is a moment of calm, with the rhythmic swishing of the dishwasher, the hum of the air conditioner and Indy in the next room typing up his first full week of lesson plans.  After a fun-filled summer, this is the first moment of true calm I've had in a while, and it will probably be a while before it happens again.

This September marks my 6th year of teaching, which feels totally insane.  While I still get the back-to-school butterflies before the first few days, I'm not nearly as nervous or anxious as I was in years passed.  I so strongly feel that quiet confidence of no longer being a newbie teacher.  It's pretty great.

This year, like any other, will have its own unique set of challenges...some of which I know of already, and some will surely surprise me.  But I'm going into this year with a "live and let live" kind of mind set.  I'm going to go with the flow, roll with the punches, ride the waves as they come in and try my best to stay cool, calm and collected all school year.  I'll need to save up my energy to do the best teaching I can, and to come home after a long day and help Indy through his first year.

I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences with all of you.  Happy back-to-school, everyone!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Gift of Giving

I love making/finding the *perfect* gift for someone.  When so many people I know get stressed out or frustrated trying to come up with a gift idea for someone's wedding, birthday or baby shower, I get super pumped!  I actually cheered out loud last week when I got the invite to a good friend's baby shower, because I'd been thinking about all the cool gifts I wanted to get/make her for the last seven months.

I've found that the secret to giving really great gifts is to make them funny and/or personal.  If you can manage to get a gift that is both of those things, you're golden.

I'm at that age now where several of my friends are first-time or soon-to-be first-time parents.  While Indy has been kind of freaked out that all of his friends are taking the dive into parenthood (I don't know why he's so nervous, I've got a good five years before I can even entertain any of that!) I've been over-the-moon.  Baby gift giving is the absolute BEST!

Here is a list of a few baby gifts I've made/purchased/given to friends in recent months:

My good friend from school, the Dance Teacher (who is also a Yoga teacher), had a baby girl in June. Dance Teacher is Italian, and her husband is Indian, and her baby is GAWGEOUS!  When I got her baby shower invite, I spent a good week pulling from both of the parent's personalities to create the perfect baby gift basket.  My first stop? Amazon.  You can literally find anything on Amazon.

Knowing Dance Teacher's love for Yoga, Indian culture, and that the theme for the baby's room would be Elephants (Dance Teacher sent me some texts for color palette advice early on in her pregnancy) I came across an amazing brand of baby clothing on Amazon called Yoga Sprout.  I saw this set and I knew they HAD to have it:



In addition to some clothes, the teacher in me absolutely had to include a book.  When I found this one, I knew my search was complete:


The book is so cute, has a bit of culture to it, and when it finally arrived and I flipped through it, I was obsessed with the art.  I was actually kind of sad I had to give it away- even better, when Dance Teacher opened it, she was all, "OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS GUY!"  She knew of the author and was super excited I found this.

I found a cute plush elephant and a super soft elephant printed baby blanket, wrapped all of the above in a big 'ol basket, and I was done!

Just about a week later, good friends of Indy's had their second baby.  They have a 2 year old boy who became big brother to a little girl.  As soon as I heard they had a girl (they waited until she was born) I picked up another Yoga Sprout set, and set out to find the perfect "Big Brother" book.  I didn't have to look far:


Pirates Don't Change Diapers is actually a sequel to How I Became a Pirate, both written by Melinda Long and illustrated by one of my favorites, David Shannon.  In the first book, the little boy becomes a pirate when a ship picks him up from off the beach, but int he second book, he now has a baby sister, and she causes some issues for he and his pirate friends.  I thought it would be such a fun, cute way for our friend's little boy to discover what it's like to have a baby sister. (Don't worry, in the end, he learns to love her!)  

We stopped at Toys R Us to get him an extra little something (2 year olds don't always recognize the value of a good book right away) and we got him this:


Cute, right? It's a pirate's telescope, complete with a compass on the top and a map that flaps open when you hit a button.  He was super into it.  And I was super into keeping with my theme.  You know, us art teachers and our themes.

The baby shower I got my most recent invite to is in September and I am super excited.  This friend is also expecting a baby girl (must be something in the water!) but what I love about this mom-to-be is how she and her four sisters all grew up as tom-boys, playing competitive sports, loving the outdoors- they're a bunch of ladies who aren't afraid to rough and tumble, and I know that's what she wants for her little girl.

Part of the baby shower invite asked instead of a card, to bring a book for the new baby's library, and after about five seconds on Amazon I found the *perfect* book:


This book is everything! In fact, when the time comes, and if I have a little girl, I'm hoping I remember to get a copy.  It's all written in rhyme and it's about all the things a little girl can do, like "using power tools while wearing her best jewels."  

In addition to the book, a diaper bag from the mom-to-be's registry and a few personalized items off of Etsy, I made two gifts.  When I was a kid I was a "purple" girl all the way- no pink for me! So I kept both of my personalized gifts in the purple family. 

First, I knitted a 0-3 month baby bonnet from this *free* pattern I found on  I've actually made this once before, for my nephew, so it was a quick and easy job- I finished it in just one day.  Here is a nice, clear, professional shot of a completed bonnet from the ravelry site:

And here is a low-quality iphone photograph of my bonnet, being modeled by my stuffed Koala from Australia...I had no 0-3 month babies on hand to model for me:

I loved working with this fun, girly, but not PINK IN YOUR FACE yarn.  I especially like that there are some blue bits in there.  I hope it'll fit!

Finally, I made a "Sleeping Baby" sign for the new parents' door so that visitors and delivery men don't accidentally ring the doorbell and wake the baby.  I'd seen tons of these on Etsy for sale and I thought, "I think I could make that..." so I did!

I already had this wooden plaque from Michael's Arts & Crafts for a project long-forgotten about, so when I decided to make my own sign, it was partly because I knew I already had most of the materials.  I measured out where to drill the two holes for the ribbon loop, and drilled them.

Then, I primed it with two coats of white acrylic paint.

Next, two coats of the gray base color.

Then I fiddled around with some wording and different fonts in Photoshop, printed the template and used my  my beloved projector tracer to project the text onto the board, which I then traced out onto the plaque.

The text was the most difficult part, by far.  I had to use teeny tiny brushes and take my time.  Each letter took at least two coats, but I was so relieved to find that when I had to touch up some parts with the gray base color, it dried perfectly.  I was worried I'd have all these darker gray blotches everywhere, but I had no issues at all. (I used Liquitex Basics Acrylic paint).

After I painted in the letters, I used India ink pens to outline them and give the purple letters some drop shadow to make them easier to read.

Once the lettering was done, I decided the plaque looked too flat and painted two tones on the beveled edges- at first I had white on the bottom and purple in the middle, but it just didn't look right, so I took the risk and switched them- purple on the bottom and white in the middle, and it looked much better.

After lacquering the sign (so the weather wouldn't damage it if they hang it outside) I traced, cut and glued some gray felt to the back (so it won't scratch whatever door they hang it on.)  I was careful to remember not to block off the drill holes for the ribbon.

Finally I looped, knotted and cut the purple hanging ribbon.  I also used a match to "seal" off the ends of my ribbon so it wouldn't fray, but I couldn't take a picture of myself doing that...didn't want to risk a house fire!

Here is the completed sign, being modeled on my own front door:

In photos the purple text on gray background is a little tough to read, but in person it's much easier. It says, "Shhh! The baby is sleeping... (You wake her, you take her!)"

When I was all finished, and packing it away, Indy recommended I change the text color to pink as opposed to purple, and after I gave him the death stare, he corrected himself by saying, "It looks great! She's gonna love it!"