Friday, March 21, 2008

Okay, I think I can....

"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.... "

Famous words by that little engine are going to be my motto. I am being pulled into my first reading challenge and when I wonder if I can do it I will just murmur "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." What I am really worried is doing all of the little computer -technology things with it. Truly; linking to something, attaching photos and all that jazz seem to be what holds me back more than anything else. But I am going to try!

Here's what I am starting the Quest I with:

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

Blood and Memory, the Quickening Book Two by Fiona McIntosh

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim (ok, so this one is a nonfiction book but it is all about the meaning and importance of fairy tales and is considered a handbook for those in education and those concerned with child development. I did some research on it in college and now can really take the time to read it. I guess that's a round about way of making it work!)

I pulled all of these off my bookshelf today!! I guess I could count that on another challenge if I was a double-dipping kind of girl!I don't seem to have any mythology books so I can add another book if something along the way crops up! I love it that I can grow, read a few more books off the shelf and stretch!! Here is the link to Carl's blog .

I have loved reading other blogs and their ideas and challenge books. Here's to trying something new and "stretching"! I knew my word of the year would find it's way in here!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Relaxing - the reading way!

I'm in heaven - yep, no schedule, no to-do list and a lot of good books. Throw in Easter candy and NCAA basketball playoffs and yes, this is great!

I finished a mystery book, Sheeps_clothing by Josie S. Kilpack yesterday. I have been reading mysteries for my book group and I saw this book on the Whitney Award nominees website. It was nominated for an award and I thought I would give it a try. Disclaimer here: I typically do not like LDS fiction. But I want to! I have had many people tell me that it has changed and the the writing is so much better than it used to be. So all that aside, I want to say I liked it, I really do. But I really feel ambivalent about it. The plot seemed hopeful, a 15 year old is targeted by an Internet predator. I had visions of the movie The Net (with Sandra Bullock.) But no such luck. The story is every parent's fear, I will give it that, yet the back story was distracting and the full plot takes forever to come to the forefront.

Another real detractor was the language, the vocabulary, the lingo if you have it. It makes this book feel very "clique-y"! I don't feel that I could give this to anyone who wasn't LDS. They just wouldn't seem to understand it. I find that both aggravating and distracting. I am certainly not advocating lowering of standards or anything of that nature, but just be careful of verbage that leaves readers out. I felt like that the author now limited her audience who can only see things from her perspective, those who share her same background. I'm sure that is not what she intended but I felt it nonetheless.

I did read it all the way through to the end. I wanted it to grab me and get better, instead I got frustrated. No, the ending wasn't a happily-ever-after, sappy kind, but it still felt like air, rather than satisfying and rich. 3.0/5

I am not going to be discouraged though, I have another one in the wings, Hearts in Hiding by Betsy Brannon Green. At least the first few pages hold promise. My goal is to read another 2 books before I head back to school on Monday - of course I have to finish report cards, throw Easter together, attend a church dinner, work on a SS lesson, have a granddaughter slumber party and a date night! No problemo! Gosh, where did my time all go?!?

Rich and I are going to a free Flamenco guitar event at our local bookstore tomorrow night. It is my turn for the date idea. Boy, two great things in one location. We have been attending free cooking classes each week as well and it's been a blast. I enjoy our evenings of learning and time just together. There are some benefits as my little nest empties. Last night we attended a cinnamon roll/dinner roll class. We both came away full ,happy, and smart! We are trying to really curtail spending so we can squirrel away $$ for some fun things and travel. We loved last year's vacation so much and we are going on a cruise in a few weeks. We just want to be able to continue to do more like that. If we have to give up a little now to play and serve later then that's a-ok with me. Our goal is to also be healthier in our diets and build our storage and talents. That it's fun at the same time is such a great benefit!

I've spent time on the internet this week looking at kindergarten ideas. It seems that it is a real distinct possibility that I will be teaching a K/1 combo next year of all ELL kiddos. Yikes!!!! Not an easy combo grade at all. I just think of the age differences and talent varieties - from those who barely know colors and letters to those who may already be reading, just impeded by the lack of language! I wonder what I will learn this next year??

Here's hoping that the book reading is bliss....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Break - Wahoo!

It's here! Spring break in all of it's glory! Today the day is crisp and clear and gorgeous spring clouds float by, it's picture perfect...from the inside. I have decided to stay at home and pretend I can't go anywhere and it feels great. I have watched the movie, Emma (a Jane Austin movie with Gweneth Paltrow), read some, stitched some (Bent Creek - Liberty,) cleaned some and made bread. Yep, I have a good start to this Spring Break week. I just don't want it to go too fast!

Unfortunately Rich got the flu this weekend so we all laid low. We had planned on several outside projects but although I felt so bad for him I wasn't too sad to kick back and relax. I managed to spend some time with a book and finished Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. It was a fun Saturday diversion that made me hungry for Italian food and football. It seemed a wide reach from his legalistic tomes but I enjoyed the escape. I would give it a 3.5/5. Now I am trying to decide which mystery to start for the March Mystery Madness that we are doing for book group. I have several calling my name, and one literally called from the library. The automatic reservation called and told me that Murder on the Rocks is in. Great timing!

Work news is a little unsettling. It seems that the budget cuts the district must undergo ($20 million this next year) combined with the new ELD law that Arizona must institute means that I may be the candidate chosen to teach a K/1 combo of non English speaking students. Wow! I do love working with the ELL kiddos but I never dreamed of having to do a combo class again much less a K/1 combo! And I thought that it was a jump to come from 5th grade to 1st grade. Now this! yikes. I do love 1st grade and I know that after 3 years there I am making a difference and getting good at it. It seems that my career is taking more twists and turns than I ever thought possible. It looks like LOTS of changes! I look back on my choice of word for the year - Stretch - in a different way now. Is it self-fulfilling prophecy?!?! I sure will be stretching! The only Kinder experience I have is raising my own little ones and the experience that I have had in church!Boy, all those years of service in primary, scouts, and young women sure has paid off in big dividends. I am so very grateful for a job though - remind of this later!

Our cruise is just around the corner. Rather than getting excited I seem to be getting a little anxious with all of the things to do. Sub plans, home plans, packing, trip arrangements and taxes all need to be done before we head off. I also need to get some cruise clothes that will work in equatorial weather as well as dress up stuff. Woe is me... shopping. Poor thing! Aren't life experiences grand? It's amazing to think back to what I was doing last year at this time. Being involved with the trial was an everyday experience, emotions were bottled up and I worked on the trial right through Spring Break. It was so emotional, difficult and isolating - I felt like I was stuck in a CSI episode. I am so grateful to be enjoying this madness and miracle of March instead!!Gosh I can almost hear the ocean now - oops, that's just the washing machine!

My UA Wildcats have made it through the selection process of the NCAA March Madness. I really didn't even think it would happen after a pretty dismal year. Thank heavens for a tough schedule. It always makes March fun to think of playoff basketball. I think I will get out the NCAA game when we won the championship just to remind me how fun it can be!! Go Wildcats!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

National Panic Day

My husband sent me an email reminder to celebrate this "holiday" of sorts - I think it was created in my honor. I may look like I can deal with it on the surface, but underneath I am dying to get rid of the stress and just flat out PANIC!

"GET ready to celebrate. March 9th marks the holiday.... National Panic Day!
Panic Day, the day when you're encouraged to run around and tell everybody you can't take it anymore. We love this holiday, because it gives us permission to freak out and express the panic that lurks under the facade of calm self-control that we present to the world."

It's good to know that there's a reason for the anxiety I can feel building up. Not that grad school classes, final projects and end of quarter report cards and grading to do at school have anything to do with it! No nothing like that. I am relieved to have the college class wrapped up and finished. I actually submitted the final project a day early. Yippee! I know I need to get going and register for the next one but I think I may wait until we get back from our cruise. That will keep me from missing any assignments in the 10 days that we will be gone. Report cards are another matter. I feel for these little first graders. We have been testing our little brains out. I know that they will be ready for Spring Break!

The cruise is proving to be a little complicated as well. This is our first venture onto the waters of cruisingness and I thought it was just pay and go. Oh no, there are many decisions to be made and it seems I may have missed deadlines to do so. Argh! At this point it feels like one more mountain to climb. I sure hope that we love it!

The family is all getting together this Thursday to celebrate the guys birthdays! I look forward to having all of the family! Gifts were easy this year. Drew wanted Triple AAA membership and Paul wanted $$ for eye surgery!! Throw in a few books and things get real simple. Jenn is bringing the great Peanut Butter/chocolate cake. I'll pull all the rest together. I'll put Rich in charge of getting another group photo!

We went to a fun cooking class this week at a local kitchen accessory store. It featured Hearty Soups and Bread bowls and wow (!) was the food scrumptious! This week they are featuring an Easter dinner and we will learn how to use a pressure cooker to make it all! It's fun to do together - wish that we could get the instructor to come to our home and cook it all for us! Well, one can dream.

I went to the library this weekend and got several books that look promising. This month is March Mystery Madness at Book Group and I am on the hunt for the perfect mystery. Susan, at bloggin'aboutbooks suggested one that she likes but my branch didn't have it in so I "branched" out with a few other titles. The nightstand is now on the verge of teetering over and injuring a small child!!

I am laughing at The Year of Living Biblically by A.J.Jacobs! It is a real conversation starter too. I am also reading The Secret of the Monarchs by Allison DuBois. (Not really much to it but it's fast and I am always looking for something to pass on to my brother and sister in law since they lost their son almost 4 years ago.) Allison DuBois is the woman who the character the TV show "Medium" is based on. Book choices continue and the downstairs book is still Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. I have got to be able to multi-task better or at least use my 2 eyes to read two different books! So much for getting any needlework done! I did find a few recommended titles too, Keturah and Lord Death, Blind Submission, and the Bread Machine Cookbook! That last one will go straight to my hips! I'm excited that it Spring Break is coming up. I think I'll lock the computer and just fall into a book!

I saw an idea on a blog recently that suggested un-plugging yourself for a day each week. In other words, anything that plugs in is off limits. We used to have "cold turkey week" the first week of every month when the boys were young. It was great. We turned off the TV and read, played games, and entertained ourselves in other ways. It went on for years but somewhere along the line we stopped doing it. I am thinking that it might be something we could tweak and try again around here. So many people with intriguing ideas, goals and desires for growth out in the blogosphere. I am so impressed with the quality of people I discover! I am humbled!

There now, the panic has subsided. I can breath again. Whew! But I'm sure that I'll be ready to celebrate again next year!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Miracle of March

I love the miracle of March! In first grade it seems that finally everyone can read!!We've been working hard all year and now it seems to totally pay off. It happens every year without fail but every year (without fail) I am amazed, surprised and ever so pleased! Even my little ELL students are catching on, can do things all on their own and we seem to own the day!! Hooray!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! We will celebrate with The Cat in the Hat tomorrow, make bookmarks and enjoy making our own version of 1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I just wish there was more time to play first grade but CRTs are coming up in 7 weeks and now we are on a great roll - - - I don't want to lose our momentum!

I am reading The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs to my husband as we car pool each day. What a crack up! We are really enjoying it. Mr. Jacobs took on a year project of taking the Bible literally and living almost all of the 700 rules he found in the Old and New Testaments. Some are laugh aloud funny while others are introspective. The wonderful part has been his growth and belief in himself and the spiritual journey it takes him on. Nosey ol' me loves memoirs and personal "rides" through life. Beyond that I am still reading Playing for Pizza, blogging, completing chores, working and avoiding my final project for my ELL endorsement class. It seems to be the last thing I want to do each day. I still must have a bad case of Spring Fever.

I did go in to work for several hours on Saturday and got a lot done, never enough but it felt terrific. I didn't begrudge the time and actually felt so relieved to get ahead in some areas when no one else was around. I now feel like I will be ready for report cards this next week as well as for the State visit tomorrow. Again, the miracle of March also brings hectic schedules!! Spring Training is also here and on these pretty days it makes anyone want to sit in some bleachers and watch Spring ball. We are planning a weekend at the Ostrich Festival this next weekend and the Renaissance Fair the weekend after that, wahoo!! Spring fun! Before you know it we will be to Easter and April. Wow! How can the days go so fast?

Happy Birthday to you tomorrow, Paul. I am so glad to see you happy, healthy and enjoying your life. I love you beyond measure and love the man that you have become. Thank you for being my son and for being a great example to me of loyalty and dedication and love. You are great!!

Yeah March!