Saturday, December 31, 2011

Leaving 2011 and On to 2012

The Best of?
A Look Back?
A Year of "New"?

Whatever I call it, it's how I'm spending New Year's Eve. Everyone else is off at parties and I am lucky enough to be able to spend the night here at the computer, remembering/recounting, listening to my Pandora greats, and simultaneously babysitting a sleeping little guy. This has all the makings of a great New Year's Eve!!!! Seriously.
In no particular order I give you 2011 in a nutshell.

Books -- I decided to record those books that I've really thought about, brought great discussion at Book Groups, or just came to mind tonight. It was fun to look back through posts this year and read some reviews. Lots of good reading memories, that's for sure.
le for this year were...
Left Neglected by Lis
a Genova
A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
One of Ours by Willa Cather
The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
Aunt Dimity by Na
ncy Atherton
Once a Spy by Keith
Major Pettigrew's Last S
tand by Helen Simonson
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel
Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne BarrowsArizona;100 Years Grand by Lisa Schnebly Heidinger
(The OneBook, One Arizona title of the year as we celebrate our centennial. Better yet, this is my High School BFF and our daughter and her husband
are on page 34!! No wonder it made it to the top of the list!! Truly it is a gorgeous book! Well done, Lis!)
Uglies by Scot
t Westerfeld
I was quite surprised that with all of the YA books I read that only Uglies made it onto my favorites/memorable books of the year list. I added it because it has swept through our family and it brings up lots of great discussion. Wh
at more could a book want?!?!

I'm so glad for Book Groups that prompted me to read and discuss some of these lovelies. Thank you, Jenn, for leading me to a few more
and tempting me with still more.

Favorite NEW Authors - - Lisa Genova and Hel
en Simonson were so much fun to hear at the Tucson Book Festival. Hearing them read and discuss their books was a treasure. As a matter of fact, it totally changed my opinion of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, I realized I had been reading it all wrong. Shame on me. I love meeting and hearing author's speak. I really enjoyed going to The Poisoned Pen several times to hear new-to-me authors. I also LOVE the Tucson Book Festival. It is a highlight every year. FAVORITE.

Favorite NEW Drink - - I call it 'Black Gold My style'. 1/2 Diet Dr. Pepper and 1/2 Diet Coke. Of course it is best at 7 am fresh from QT on my way to school. YUM!

NEW Book Group - - Classical Chicks, I love ya! What
a fun group of women. I love meeting with them. I love the conversation, stretching, and the stimulation. Thanks for letting me crash the group and join in. My 'other' neighborhood book group has been meeting for about 12 years now. I am blessed to be able to be involved with these 2 groups!! Wahoo!

NEW Cities Discovered - - San Antonio, Denver and Biloxi, Mississippi! Each trip was a highlight and we loved seeing new places. What an amaz
ing country we live in. Great foods, terrific people, gorgeous sites to see and history to share. Wow!~
NEW Job - - New grade, new school, new friends, new love of teaching!! Awesomeness.

NEW Clothes - - I exceeded my goal weight and now have lost 45 pounds and have NEW CLOTHES!! I love shopping. I can hardly be
lieve I am writing this, but it feels like such an accomplishment that I wanted to see it in writing. I love buying small things!

NEW Favorite Blogs - - Kittlingbooks and Pinterest
. Do you know you can find anything there?!?!

NEW TVs $$$$ - - TWO!! Not my favorite way to spend my $$ but I do love my sports on the BIG 55" screen!

So I guess this was the year of NEW....

It was actually my goal last year to "Be Happy"; to find happiness in all the small things. It was a resounding success! When the year started I was still reeling from the death of my dad, hard things at work and personal feelings. I ha
d my doubts about the goal I was setting, but "Happy" found me. It wasn't 'over the rainbow" but right where I was!!I just needed to become the child to find it.
"The mind of a child is fascinating, for it looks on old things with new eyes."
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

My kiddos are all employed and doing so well
!!! (Blessings) They have new careers and addresses. New houses. Good health. New opportunities that I could have never imagined or foreseen. I am so short-sighted. It's a good thing I'm NOT an author. I couldn't have written this happy ending to this year. Thank you 2011. I will miss you.

I am so excited to welcome you as well. Won't it be fun?!?!

Have a blessing-filled New Year!

Happy New Year from the Vater-staches 9/2011
(Drew & Beth in Mississippi send their 'mustachioed' greetings as well!)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vacation or Where I Put off Any Kind of Work I Can

How do you spell relief??? I spell it V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N and Reading!! So in honor of this 'holy week' between Christmas and the New Year I am doing both~!~! Lest you think I am a total slug, I have limited my computer time to just under an hour and have actually unearthed the top of the side table and the island in the kitchen! I know, shocking, isn't it?? I can't spend all of my energy in one day, so I limit myself to one major chore a day. Tomorrow I might look at the floor downstairs or vacuum the stairs. Ack! I promise not to overdo it.

I did read another book and really enjoyed pretending I was a cat; curled up in the sunlight with my book in hand. I have also been exercising madly - drinking water and sodas is hard work. I know that lifting those cups is a vicious exercise workout.

A Library Lover's Mystery was the cozy answer for today: Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay. I don't know what it is about reading about reading. It pulls me in every time. Lindsey is a small town library director in Briar Creek when murder comes her way. So much for the usual library antics or overdue fees, this time someone is going to get the "book thrown at them." The book was no Proust, no though provoker, but it created a sense of place and diversion and it was an amusing way to spend the afternoon.

(Thanks to Lesa at Lesa's Book Critiques and Cathy at for the recommendation! You ladies rock!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cornelia and Christmas

Eleven year old Cornelia Street considers herself a wordsmith. She'd rather curl up with a good book than socialize with her classmates. Words and books become her castle-wall to hide behind and insulate herself. At the end of the school day, she heads home to her apartment building in Greenwich Village, where members of the household staff await her - but where her mother rarely stays.

Cornelia's parents are both world-famous pianists. Most people would envy that fame and that talent, but not Cornelia. She has no desire to play piano herself and wishes that her jet-setting mother were home more often. Her father is not in the picture; Cornelia has never known him. Though she has every (material) thing she could need, Cornelia is lonely.

That is, until new neighbors move in across the hall. Who would have thought that an elderly woman would become a little girl's best friend? The dazzling Virginia Somerset shares Cornelia's love for stories and big words. The self-proclaimed Scheherazade tells Cornelia amazing tales that star Virginia and her three sisters as they travel all over the world, meeting famous artists and leaders.

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume is charming. Yet I am reading it through the lens of an adult and not the middle grade reader it is marketed to. As a 4th grade teacher I tried to imagine my students falling in love with this book in a sea of high adventure, fantasy or bubble gum books....think Diary of a Wimpy Kid! That might be a hard sell, unless it was to the right child at the right time!

The stories told by Virginia beg to be read aloud to a child, cuddled up next to someone, the language and vocabulary sucked on and dribbled down the chin!! A read aloud in class or a Literature Circle with some of my students would be a better fit as some of the 'escapades' seemed aimed at adults and not children both in 'tone and topic.' But...this was a book I think I would have loved as a child. I remember loving From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.J. Konigsberg as a child, which also featured an 11 year old girl who felt misunderstood by her parents and friends. (Don't get me wrong, I wasn't that child myself, I just enjoyed reading about them.) I was a bookworm through and through and this book would have appealed to that part of me right off the bat!!

Favorite passages...

"She watched Cornelia for a second. "When I first met you, many moths ago, you were sucha closed book, Cornelia," she said. "You wove yourself into a maze of longer and longer words so nobody could find you. And now you use words as bread crumbs through that maze. When I first met you, you used dictionaries as fortresses, Now you;re beginning to understand that the words in those heavy books are also about the stories those words compose. And, like I've always told you, stories exist to be retold and shared with others."
"Not that I', not impressed that you know such long words," Virginia continued. "But sometimes I think that the simplest language is the best language. Listen to this."
She pulled an old book out from under the sheets. Cornelia could not see it's cover.
"This is a conversation that takes place between two friends," Virginia explained. "One friend has just saved the others life. And the one who saved the other one is telling him why she helped him in the first place." She began to read:
" ' Why did you do all this for me?' (the first friend asked). 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.'
" ' You have been my friend.' replied (the second friend). 'That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die...By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.' " pgs. 2

This is our book group read for January and I feel only a tad bit smug at being finished early!!! Wahoo!

On a Christmas note - -the holiday was spectacular, as usual!! We are so very blessed. Family, friends, great food, gifts of presents and presence!! Perfect!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sunday Edition

Outside my window: It's a gorgeous Sunday morning. Sun, clouds, and recovery from a rainy start. I hope that it clouds up again and brings us more of the wet stuff!! Gotta love a rainy Sunday. Bring it on. EDIT - It DID!! It rained all afternoon and the clouds were awesome!!!!

I am listening to: Christmas music and Jenny Oakes Baker violin. Wow!

Favorite Things of the Week: An author visit by my wonderfully talented friend. Arizona 100 Years Grand is a terrific accomplishment and a beautiful book. So proud to see my daughter and her husband on page 34 as well!!!)Book Group fun, a Christmas ballet recital to see two of the cutest ballerinas ever, when my sweetie took care of making and ordering the Christmas cards all by himself - love that man, great lessons in class - I may get this stuff down yet, clouds, clouds, and more clouds, great PD day at work - I feel inspired!

I am thinking: about how much I love my family, miss playing and just relaxing and reading, and love the possibilities of the upcoming break. CAN'T wait.

I am grateful for: Inspiration. Good friends. New friends. Commonalities. Motivation. Accomplishments. Awesome kids. Family. Dropwords. Blogging friends. I could go on and on.

I am reading: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and two or three others. Yum.

I am listing: Christmas to-do lists, grades, and errands

I am creating: A snow-globe with a grandson. Don't read this if you are his daddy.

Some of my favorite things: Football. Music. Popcorn. Eegee's fries with a side of ranch. Rain. Good books. When my grandson asked, "Does Jesus wear underwear?"

Plans for the week: Hot Cocoa with a friend, Christmas crafting with my class, cleaning the house, laundry, shopping, nesting, resting, sucking on cough drops, wrapping, Christmas-movie watching, doesn't it sound fantastic?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I'm not really ready

Look what my better half is up to.
He's creating a trailer in the garage...right in front of the cupboards that house "Christmas!"
Now....I'm putting it to the test.
Does Christmas require lights and decorations or will it come anyway?

So for the meantime ...
  • I am grading papers, working on school projects, report cards and the busy-ness of this school year
  • I have read two Christmas books to substitute for my lack of ambiance and preparedness
  • I have made a few Christmas lists, made a few Christmas trips and shopped for a few Christmas gifts
Yep, just like in Who-ville.
Christmas will come without boxes or bags, without decorated trees or lights...
Just hope I get ready sooner rather than later!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful Thoughts & Blessings

Thanksgiving was fabulous....I love counting my blessings. So, here is what I am grateful for this week:
  • texts, emails and phone calls from my kiddos
  • an awesome class of students
  • hugs from my grandbugs
  • great friends
  • shopping, talking, and planning with my daughter
  • emails from mom
  • Honeycrisp apples
  • going out to eat
  • amazingly talented, gifted kids
  • Rosa's green salsa and salad
  • my Shelli-dog - how I miss you girl!
  • my new school
  • new friendships
  • the smell of a bookstore
  • new smaller jeans
  • my siblings and their spouses
  • books in the mail
  • Diet Coke & Diet Dr. Pepper
  • Book Groups
  • my waterbed
  • in-laws
  • football season
  • Eegee's fries with a side of ranch
  • the BIG TV
  • Christmas catalogs
  • our car
  • my parents
  • a great family
  • goldfish crackers
  • old friends
  • memories...
  • family pictures
  • water
  • back scratches
  • a good night's sleep
  • days with no responsibilities
  • The Poisoned Pen & Changing Hands
  • the warmth of the sun
  • the day off - heck, DAYS off!
  • laughter
  • my books
  • Pandora One radio
  • trips with Rich - anywhere!!
and, last but not least, my partner in crime, my bff, my eternal companion and total bud--Rich!!

I love November and the feeling of gratitude.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Paper Bag Christmas
by Kevin Alan Milne

It's that time of year again...when I pull out a feel-good holiday book.
This one definitely fit that bill AND it's an upcoming Book Group read.
(Two birds with one stone - wahoo!!)
Okay, the book was a tiny bit cheesy in places but it was worth it!! It's a book you can read while cuddling up with a cup of cocoa or while waiting at school for your husband!!
I'm not upset at all...
(It was great to have this little story tucked in amongst my papers to grade.)
The story moved quickly and added a few new twists on the traditional Christmas-feel-good.

Brothers Aaron and Molar are understandably preoccupied with the material side of Christmas, until they meet Dr. Ringle, a shopping mall Santa who is also a doctor at a local children's cancer ward. Dr. Ringle encourages them to volunteer at the ward from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and especially encourages their friendship with two children: recalcitrant and angry Katrina, whose postsurgical scarring leaves her afraid to be seen without a paper bag on her head, and effusively optimistic Madhu, who does not understand the story of Christmas. The story is unexpectedly heartwarming, and Milne mostly avoids sap while delivering his warm fuzzies and dashes of Christmas hope and magic.
(Publisher's Weekly)

Try'll like it! make it through tomorrow at school and then we're off...
to spend Thanksgiving with the whole family!!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire

Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire:
The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56
by Rafe Esquith

When one of my colleagues at the district shared this book recently I headed off to the library to check it out. I thought the author stole my title, I've been telling people that I feel like I'm "running with my hair on fire" since I moved to a new school and a new grade, but this author really DOES teach WITH his hair on fire!!

Rafe Esquith teaches in Los Angeles in an inner city school where poverty affects 95% of his school and class (me too!) He teaches immigrant children in 5th grade and has them performing Shakespeare, Vivaldi, and algebra - around the world! Mr Esquith has been the recipient of numerous awards and has been awarded the President's National Medal of Arts. Wow!!

Mr. Esquith pours himself into his job with passion. School instruction starts for him at 6:30 am when students arrive for extra-curricular work and help. The day doesn't end until late afternoon - Shakespeare class, history and civics account for after-school hours. Yet it's this passion for teaching that engaged me from the start. Every moment was a teaching moment and I was able to spark new ideas for my classroom as I read about his. Rafe Esquith seemed to be hoping for such a thing to happen as he refers to his book as "a cookbook for teaching in an urban classroom." Now that's the way I like to cook - read about it, change up the ingredients and personalize it a little!

This book is highly readable, full of practical ideas and even parenting skills, because teachers know that a good portion of teaching is parenting too!! (Or at least teaching the parents!)

I really enjoyed the preface where Mr. Esquith commented on how he came up with the title for his book...

"I was fortunate to have a ridiculous moment in the classroom that literally lit my way out of the darkness. Years ago, feeling tired and frustrated, I spent a few weeks searching my soul and did something I rarely do—I questioned whether teaching was worth it anymore. A combination of the aforementioned demons had beaten me down, and I was practically down for the count.

But for some reason, when I was guilty of feeling sorry for myself, I spent a day paying extra attention to a kid in class whom I liked very much. She was one of those kids who always seem to be the last one picked for the team, a quiet girl who appeared to have accepted the idea that she could never be special. I was determined to convince her that she was wrong.

I was teaching a chemistry lesson, and the students were excited about working with alcohol lamps. But the girl couldn't get her wick to burn. The rest of the class wanted to move on with their projects, but I told everyone to wait. I was not going to leave her behind, even after she told me to continue with the others and not worry about her.

Normally I do not interfere with science projects, because failure can be part of the learning process. Yet this was simply a matter of faulty equipment; it had nothing to do with the chemical principle we were exploring that morning. I needed to step in. The girl had tears in her eyes, and I felt ashamed of myself for ever having felt like giving up. Suddenly her sadness was all that mattered.

Athletes often refer to getting "into the zone" when they forget about the crowd and the pressure and see only the ball. It can happen in other fields too. For that one moment, the only thing that mattered to me was that this girl should have a successful experiment. She was going to go home that day with a smile on her face. I bent closely over the wick of her alcohol lamp. For some reason the wick was not as long as it should have been—I could barely see it. I leaned as close as I could, and with a long kitchen match tried to reach it. I was so close to the match that I could feel the flame as I tried to ignite the lamp. I was determined to get the lamp working. And it started working! The wick caught fire, and I looked up triumphantly to see the smile I expected on the girl's face.

Instead, she took one look at me and began screaming in fear. Other kids started yelling as well. I did not understand why they were all pointing at me, until I realized that while I was lighting the lamp, the flame had touched my hair; it was now smoldering and scaring the hell out of the children. Several of them ran to me and swiped at my head. Talk about a dream come true—they got to hit their teacher on the head and say they were trying to help him.

A few minutes later, all was well and the experiment pro-ceeded. I felt (and looked) like an idiot. And yet for the first time in weeks, I felt great about being a teacher. I had been able to ignore the crap that all teachers on the front lines face. I had done everything I could to help someone. I didn't do it particularly well, but the effort was there. I thought to myself that if I could care so much about teaching that I didn't even realize my hair was burning, I was moving in the right direction. From that moment, I resolved to always teach like my hair was on fire."

Inspiration. Ideas. Encouragement. I liked it so much I went out and bought my own copy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Motto .... for the weeks ahead!

I started accepting the inevitable. The fact that the holidays are just around the corner. In light of them and the upcoming chaos that is school, report cards and Christmas I've decided to adopt this motto!! It shall be my mantra....

Breathe in, breathe out,
grade a little.
Breathe in, breathe out,
shop a little.
Breathe in, breathe out,
grade a little,
Breathe in, breathe out,
shop a little.

You get the picture.
Of course I left out decorate, bake, wrap, mail, etc...

Gosh, maybe I should just adopt this motto -

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You!

Thank You!!!

To all those who served and serve still....
Thank you for your sacrifice and service.

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~Cynthia Ozick

How true!
thank yo
thank you, Dad,
thank you, Dean,
thank you, son #2
thank you, Air
man (son #3)

I firmly believe that "s
ilent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." So I'm saying a BIG thank you!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week in Review and a little Halloween Madness

My week in review........MEETINGS, classes, workshops, Book Group, Halloween parties and costume-making, Halloween Parades and LOADS of work! Yep, that's a glimpse. Of course I'm leaving out the details of the day I left my plan book at home and had to go back. Or the day I left my.... No. I'll save you the gory details. Instead I'll share a few photos. (I promise NOT to include photos of multiple meetings, workshops or me worrying!)

Twitter and her Mobile Hotspot!!
(note Darth Vader watching....)

Yep, those are feathers on her eyelashes!!

Jase is impressed that she is a BIRD!!
(I don't think he understands Twitter - neither do I!)

Halloween Parades are a tradition at my new school.
They last forever and are miles long. Parents and little
ones lined the streets to wave and take photos.
We held it first thing in the morning so
we had SOME learning time!

Trying to inspire the kiddos I am
"Totally Rad, College Grad"
Yep, I AM a SUPER-Hero!

Halloween Parade Day 2011

Favorite photo of the week....
Happy-meal size and Super-size!!

In the midst of all this madness I decided to be a bit creative for
my Boo-Buddy at work.
Stop the madness...

Outside my window: It's a gorgeous Sunday morning. The temperature is supposed to be around 90 today but it will be in the 80s the rest of the week. I think they call this Indian Summer.....we call it Arizona fall!

I am listening to: The Star Wars theme. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Darth Vader is getting his inspiration this morning.

Favorite Things of the Week: Book Group laughter.

I am thinking: about a million things!! I have a TON of planning to do for the upcoming week. I am trying not to get overwhelmed, but I can feel it approaching the back of my throat. Yikes.

I am grateful for: Reaching my goal weight!! Yippee!! It's gone - 37 pounds! Take that, Halloween candy! Now, on to the next goal.

I am reading: Still tackling A State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and tiptoeing into An American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

I am listing: Lesson plans. Observation plans. Meeting notes. Holiday Plans. Plans....

I am creating: Plans. See a trend here???

Some of my favorite things: Football. Fall. Popcorn.

Plans for the week: Too many to continue worrying about. Halloween will be celebrated on our front driveway with the burn barrel and family. Jase is more excited to dress up and stay and hand out goodies to all the other spooks and goblins. We'll have a BBQ and enjoy the cool night. After that, let the week bring what it may!

Plans for now....... a shower!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend in a Blink@

Outside my window: It's dark and delightful. Of course that could be because it's almost MIDNIGHT!! Go to bed already!

I am listening to: Silence. It's been a full day. It feels like a full-belly....

Favorite Things of the Week: Vacationing. Finding my own bed. Conferencing. (I know it's surprising, but I love meeting the parents of my students. I was tired but it was exciting.)

I am thinking: about organization. I was NOT in that line when we were given gifts for this life in Heaven. I wish I was the kind of person who was inherently organized. It is my goal!

I am grateful for: My job. I am falling in love with teaching all over again. I am grateful for apples. I had an apple this week that was bigger than a baby's head!!! It was incredible AND delicious!

I am reading: A State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Phantom Tollbooth for my 4th graders.

I am listing: Lesson plans. Projects. Costume ideas - for ME!

I am creating: A Halloween thank you gift for a friend who translated 7 of my conferences and she was great. Putting together a little something for her has satisfied that urge to create that rears it's head around this time of year.

Some of my favorite things: Bracelets. Coke Zero.

Plans for the week: Church with a few of my kiddos tomorrow. Teach Science. Prepare a Halloween Costume for ME!! At my new school it seems like Halloween is a National Holiday. I have to think of something clever for the parade on Friday. I am thinking of going as the Paper Bag Princess (Jennie did it this week and said that it was fun and clever AND key word - EASY!!

Plans for NOW : SLEEP!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Quick Update

I'm in the middle of a LONG week of Parent -Teacher conferences.
13 hour days ....
33 students ..... lots of parents!
It's fun to 'connect-the-dots" when I meet everyone.
It's been a hectic week, but it's sure going fast AND making me realize how great Fall Break was. So what am I doing up so late?!?!?
Ahhh, yes, I wanted to show-off a little of where we've been and what we've been doing.

Just a short glimpse back at a few photos from our trip to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama!! You can't see it well, but we had Gator on the menu at the Seafood Market a block away from our son's house! I was a "chicken" that day and opted for something a bit tamer....
(I did try Sushi later that night and loved it!!! I'm such an adventurer.)

Two tired men after paddling in the Gulf for an hour!!
They look cocky but they were worn out!!

The beach was beautiful and always uncrowded. You'd think they were all in school or at work or something! Hurricane Katrina wreaked such havoc in the coastal cities of Biloxi and Gulfport. It's apparent everywhere. All that green in the background used to be hotels and restaurants. Now there are miles of abandoned homes or vacant lots. The Air Force Base, however, was rebuilt and is beautiful. That's one real benefit for our Airman and his wife!

We ended our week-long stay in the south by returning to New Orleans. Our fun journeys took us through the French Quarter and to this bookstore, Faulkner House Books, where William Faulkner lived and wrote. We explored several old and used bookstores in the Quarter and seemed to run into the same people as we tramped from place to place. It was great fun. We drove through the Garden District and explored the Riverwalk and decided that vacations are great things.

I loved it that one of my students made ME a reading log for the break. I took great advantage of it and finally finished a book. Of course I came home with an extra suitcase full as well....oops!

And here's my book companion for the trip.

"Lauren Belfer's panoramic new novel is a love story wrapped around a spy story with a pivotal medical breakthrough at its center. ( I love that sentence!!) A Fierce Radiance begins days after the attack on Pearl Harbor propels the United States into World War II. Claire Shipley, a savvy Life magazine photographer, has been assigned a photo essay on a young father whose life might be saved by the new miracle antibiotic, penicillin. The divorced Claire has a particular interest in the case, both because she is still mourning the death of her 3-year-old daughter from blood poisoning, which the drug might have cured, and because she is drawn to James Stanton, the doctor overseeing its clinical trials." (

This was a chunskter at over 500 pages, but it read like a breeze. I swear I learned something new on every page and I never wanted to put it down. I thought I was reading Historical fiction when all of the sudden, on page 250, it turned into a mystery! Wow, I didn't see that coming. The plot shifted and my take on the book had to change. I was totally invested in this book and loved most everything about it EXCEPT.... the ending!! Thanks to Jenn for passing along this addicting read.

Yep, Fall Break is over, bring on Halloween!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Out from Under a Rock....

It's hard, but I think I can say that I've finally
crawled out from under these rocks and can see the sky again!!
Life has been more than hectic...

I LOVE Fall Break.
I've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting....

Report cards are done and put to bed. Parent-Teacher conferences await.
I have officially survived the first 9 weeks at my new school, in my new grade
so have the students!

NOW, it's off to New Orleans and Mississippi.

One of my students made a Reading Log for me so I'm taking it on the trip.
First up:

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
(So far it's fantastic!)


When She Woke by Hillary Jordan


Whatever takes my fancy!
I intend to visit bookstores in New Orleans and get my type of souvenir!!

In the meantime....

Outside my window: It's dark and cool. I think this is Arizona's version of Fall! We have actually worn long sleeves and sweaters in the mornings. Be still my heart.

I am listening to: Silence. The clock is ticking, but everything else is asleep. It feels peaceful tonight. Ahhh...

Favorite Things of the Week: Discovering Charming Charlies. Shopping with Jenn. Instructional Rounds at work. Differentiated class. Hearing my students whisper, "She has the nicest clothes!" "She always matches!" They made me smile all day.

I am thinking: About all of the things that need to get done tomorrow. It's not stressful, I am on vacation, yet I still want to make sure I cover all the bases before we leave. I can sleep in and take my time. Doesn't that sound wonderful?!?! I think so.

I am grateful for: Family. They are the best. I'm excited that I got to talk to #1 son in England, that #2 son got hired on with a permanent job, that I got to see #3 son at Keesler AFB this week, that #4 son is working so much and doing so well in school, that darling-daughter, otherwise known as #5, is a wonderful auntie and is a great example for me. I feel blessed to have darling grandbabes and an amazing DIL who is a kid-whisperer!! I try to be like her! How lucky I am that my kiddos are healthy, happy, and married to wonderful people that I adore. AND last but not least I just am still so in love with my handsome hubby. Our vacations together are a blast. This will be a fun week.

I am reading: A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer. Science Journals, Brain Based Research books, and Teaching Math by Marilyn Burns.

I am listing: Things to pack, do and plan....

I am creating: Organized notebooks for my classroom. I've collected lots of great ideas, now to organize them so they can be right at my fingertips. I hope it works. I organized some things in my new classroom at the first of the year and I STILL can't find them.

Some of my favorite things: Cool mornings. Thunderstorms. Sweaters. New clothes. Half-Priced Books Teacher Days! Clouds. 1/2 Days at school. Date nights. Fall Break!!!!!!!!

Plans for the week: Vacation in New Orleans and Mississippi!!!! Hug my Airman and his wife, stroll the beach, read and just have fun.

I know the rocks will pull me under a bit when I return, but my calendar looks wonderful this week. So until then.....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Update

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It's a GREAT weekend!!

We've been furniture shopping this weekend for our Home Library...Wow, creating this little retreat looks like it will be a bit more expensive than a paperback book but it will sure be awesome!! Scottsdale has some pricey but fancy stores and it was fun to dream a little. I'm afraid I'm a little more humble in my decorating approach but whatever we decide it may not come to fruition for a bit longer. Who knew this would be so complicated?!?!

In the meantime, I've squeezed in lesson planning, movies, curriculum redirection, popcorn, yard work (that was Rich, not me), Math RTi, SmartBoard lessons, football, lunch with a friend, and the library and WalMart with Jase. Tonight we are off to the PoisonedPen to listen to a new author and then pizza for dinner. Yep, this is a packed weekend, but it is full of things on MY schedule and on MY terms. After 10 days of no recess I was ready for some weekend....

I am surrounded by my lovely books and really have only been reading school-tomes. I am actually thrilled to be doing it though. I feel the same satisfaction from doing some science prep that I usually get from a good novel. How weird. A friend says that when she follows her passion, she feels the same way. Should I admit that right now my passion is science?? Ack! Don't tell a soul. My books might get jealous.

I have started the Newbery Award winner, Moon Over Manifest, by Claire Vanderpool and it is delightful so far. What a great sense of voice and character. I'm reading slowly to enjoy it all. I also started James Rollins' new book, The Devil's Colony, and it already seems like this is his best work yet. Some of his passages are delicious. His word crafting is truly improving. I'm reading this along with my Airman in Mississippi. He is much farther along than I am, but then again he is in the midst of Tropical Storm Lee and is getting 15 inches of rain with no chance to go anywhere. Don't ya wish you had some rainy days to read in?!?!

Labor Day has always been one of my favorite holidays...time to put away the white shoes, fold up the beach towels and ready my mind for fall. After the heat of the last two weeks I am ready to feel a nip in the air and smell the crispness of fall. It may not happen for a long time yet, but I am ready! Happy Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Days

Oh, these first days of school are killers!!
(How do I forget so quickly?)
33 kiddos
Classroom set-up
Meetings, meetings, meetings...
Piles of papers
Routines and Procedures
Classroom rules
Sleepless nights
Folders, notebooks, pencils, glue
Bulletin Boards
Word Walls
More meetings....
Homework folders
Data on everything!!
Textbooks galore
New Team, New committees, New grade, New curriculum
Meet the Teacher Night
Open House
Dibels-Next Testing
Still MORE Meetings....
33 kiddos


I will read a non-teaching book, I will read a non-teaching book, I WILL...........