Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday

Remember how excited we used to get for birthdays? Not just ours, but our siblings', our parents', our friends'. Birthdays for a child mean presents, sweets, games, time with friends and family we don't get to see all the time. Countdowns to birthdays were tradition with the reminder to everyone around us that there are just "16 days till my birthday!"

I don't think that excitement goes away, we just control it better as adults. This birthday is going to be an emotional one. It isn't sad, because today is going to be a wonderful celebration of my grandmother. Her service starts at 3 pm and I know her church will be filled with all who love her and want to remember.

The worst birthday I ever had was in high school. I think I was 14 or so and like every other birthday when I was growing up, I waited anxiously for the family part to start. Our tradition was always that the birthday person got to choose what we'd have for dinner that night. We got to eat off the red plate (the plate of honor in our house), then we'd have gifts and finally cake. Though everyone wished you well in the morning and was nice to you all day, our birthday didn't really start until dinner.

That year, I came home from school and started waiting. And waiting. And waiting. My mom was working for Head Start at the time and often came home late, but I was surprised she would be late that day. I think she finally got home around 8 pm. No presents had been wrapped. No special dinner. Instead we had KFC. I didn't complain, but most of you know I hate KFC. (I don't think my folks know that, but whatever.)

Anyway, as birthdays go around the world, I would hardly say that that qualifies as a "bad birthday" but I still feel the sting of missing out on our tradition that year.

This year, we went to watch the Paperboys with my sister and our good friends. We had dinner at Henry's Tavern, which was truly a bizarre experience because there was a boil order on the water because of an E-Coli outbreak in the local reservoir. No salads, no water, no drinks with ice, no soup. But great conversation with my favorite people in the world. We trooped off to the concert and as usual, the Paperboys did not disappoint. Got their new CD and my sister convinced me to have one of the band members sign it. Believe it or not, I'm very shy and needed a lot of encouragement to approach the band member.

And now, my darling hubs is making BLTs for breakfast. It smells fantastic! Nothing could be more delightful on a birthday than bacon. (Mmmmm, bacon. My greasy lover. Jim Gaffigan. Click that link. You won't be disappointed. It is my birthday gift to you.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two posts left!!

Can you believe it? 30 posts in 30 days and only today and tomorrow to go! I'm very proud of myself because barring any natural disaster or kidnapping, it appears I'm going to make my goal. Of all the blogs I read, many of experienced bloggers, only one even came close, missing only one day. Either this means I'm awesome, or I need to find some better blogs to read!

The blogs I enjoy the most are not those of professional bloggers but rather the ones by friends and family who update me on their children and pets and the events of their lives. I used to think that in order to post I needed to have something profound or humorous to say, but really, the people that read this blog are probably like me in that they enjoy some of the day-to-day stuff too. So though I won't continue the daily posts, I will post more frequently than the rare and sudden burst of create genius that hit me and inspire posts.

I hope you have enjoyed my month of ramblings. Most of you are lurkers and I encourage you to comment now and again. Makes me feel less like I'm posting this stuff on some cyber bathroom wall.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Loving Memory

Marjorie Elizabeth Feighenne Nolan
July 10, 1923 - November 25, 2009

Marjorie "Marge" Feighenne spent her childhood in Maryland.

She married George Nolan in 1943 and
become the mother of three children: Elaine, Judy and David.
She had 9 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
She lived in Oregon most of her adult life and was a
devoted member of her church and local community.

She loved dolls and owned over 2000 in her collection.
She also collected spoons, plates and clocks.
She loved coffee and a good margarita.

She loved gardening, music and watching ice skating.
Every cat was a friend.
She loved to sing and was a member of her church choir for many years.
Her heart had no limits when it came to animals, her family, and her friends.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I don't remember growing older

(Be sure to sing the title to the tune of Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof.)

Well kids, here it is, 10 pm, and I haven't finished my blog post yet. We had friends over for tacos so it was a late night for us. (Bill rocked the crock pot again! The pork for the tacos was absolutely delicious!) It is my week to clean up and for some reason, standing doing the dishes just about did me in. My back is killing me and I'm ready for bed. I don't remember ever being much of a night owl but after about 9:30 I start shutting down. We're going to a concert tomorrow and I'm a little concerned about staying up that late.

Our friends were visiting from Texas and we were chatting about feeling old. I wonder where the line is between, "I'm young! I'm awesome!" and "Why WOULDN'T I put my pajamas on at 5:30pm? No sense changing clothes twice." Her babysitter (the one who watches her son, not that she has a baby sitter) is in her early twenties and listens to retro music stations that play 80's music. Oy.

My colleague just turned 40 and was telling me how great it is. She said that something happened overnight between 39 and 40 that made her look at the world differently. Her new answer to everything is, "Why not? I'm 40!" Positive outlook and attitude about everything, she says this decade is better than any of the rest of them. I think that is amazing. Why shouldn't you feel fabulous at 40? Better yet, why do we have to wait till 40 to feel that way?

My birthday is approaching and rather than feeling depressed that I'm another year older, what if I tried really hard to change my outlook? I should wake up and say, "Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm 34!" I don't know if I could do anything crazy, like take a pole dancing class, but maybe I could stay up later than 9:45.

I should start out small like that and then work my up to braver things. Let's try a few on for size.

  • Should I go to Albertsons instead of Safeway? "Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm 34!"
  • Should I order something other than the Oriental Chicken Salad at Applebees? "Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm 34!"
  • Should I wear shoes other than clogs or sneakers? "Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm 34!" (Note, I won't do this one because other shoes can really hurt my feet and I don't want to spend the next day hobbling around. I may be awesome but I still have good sense.)
  • Should I wear a patterned shirt instead of a solid? "Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm 34!"
  • Should we go out to dinner at a restaurant that doesn't offer a coupon AND eat after 7pm? "Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm 34!"
This gives me a lot to think about. A lot to strive for. I'm excited about the changes this new attitude is going to bring. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go take some antacids because my tummy's a little upset. Maybe I'll have some warm milk before bed too. Maybe I'll do both! What the heck? Why not? I'm young! I'm awesome! I'm not 34! Yet.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Long Day

This morning I woke up at 5:45 out of habit and rather than going back to sleep I thought I would get up and get my appetizers going. Pigs-in-blankets with homemade sauce (tradition), homemade hummus with unhomemade pita bread and veggies, and guacamole. I was very proud that my appetizers were all appropriate for my brother-in-law, who can't tolerate dairy. I wasn't thrilled with the hummus - not smooth enough. I made enough for an army and Bill doesn't like it so . . . hummus, anyone?

It was a very long day. We didn't get home till 10:30, but it was delightful. My sister did most of the meal and what a feast it was! Mom got a much deserved break and spent a good chunk of the afternoon going through pictures for my grandma's memorial service. Bill got an uninterrupted nap while Teddy frolicked around the yard and house, getting pets and snacks everywhere he went. I even dropped a raw potato on the floor on accident and he snatched it up and happily gnawed on it in the other room. (I threw most of it away, but he had a good time.)

We played an energetic game of Quelf, to my mother, sister and my delight and the tolerance of the menfolk. The highlight was my sister and I singing sad songs while acting like weeping willow trees while my dad yelled out, "Serves you right, Captain Poopy Pants" whenever anyone had to go back spaces on the board. If you haven't played Quelf, come over sometime. It's a hoot.

Hope everyone enjoyed their days with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Still thankful

I intended this post to be another list of things that I'm thankful for but this day turned out a lot differently than expected. During lunch, we found out that my grandma passed away this morning. In a flash they had subs for us and we were walking out the door, heading home and to my parents to offer whatever support we could.

I'm going to write a post for my grandma, and I wish I was Wonder Woman and could do it this evening, but at 9:30 pm, just home with a list of things left to do before tomorrow, I think it will have to wait for another day.

But let me assure you, I have much to say. About what a wonderful woman Grandma was, about what saints my parents are, and about how much family and friends mean to me not just at this time of year, but every day. I'm just having trouble seeing straight.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Countdown to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. All the love and family and turkey goodness and none of the stress and hoopla. I'm so irritated with the madness associated with Christmas because every strand of lights hung in November, every Christmas carol played in a sushi restaurant a week before Thanksgiving (true story) takes away from what it really is all about. There really isn't that much consumerism with Thanksgiving.

This year we get to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We alternate years with my family and Bill's and my sister and hubs are on the same schedule with her in-laws. Lots to be thankful for this year so what better place than this blog to publicly declare all the reasons my heart is full this season!

1. Competent student teachers. Mine starts her work sample next Monday but is teaching a big chunk of the lesson tomorrow. Though I don't get to hang out in the staff room eating muffins and drinking coffee, I do feel like I get some down time. I'm observing and evaluating her, but it isn't the same as standing up in front of kids all day.

2. Decaffeinated coffee. To know me is to know that coffee and I are the dearest of friends. But I was easily drinking 3 cups every morning between my morning cup and my travel mug. Not very good for me so I've made the switch to decaf. Tastes just as delicious, which proves that it is the drink I love, not the caffeine, and I know I'm doing something better for myself. I didn't even have headaches!

3. Wizards. I'm listening to Harry Potter on CD and really enjoying myself. I watched the movies but the books are so detailed and it is delightful to get lost in such a wonderful story.

4. Amazon MP3 deals of the day. Bill and I have been downloading music from Amazon for next to nothing with their daily deals and other offers we've found on the web. Very fun!

5. Eggos. It was an impulse buy at the store the other day but I bought a package of Eggo frozen waffles. They remind me of my childhood when we usually had them in the freezer. I still eat them the same way: double toasted till they're dark, little bit of butter, just enough syrup to cover the top waffle. Then I turn it over so the syrup can drip onto the other waffle. My sister used to painstakingly fill each tiny waffle dent with a drop of syrup. Shocking I would have another quirky food story about my sis and I!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh my, such problems.

Bill has asked me what I would like for my birthday. He is going shopping tomorrow and needs ideas and I have absolutely no idea what to tell him. The few things that we want for the house are way too expensive and the few things I need are not really appropriate for birthday gifts, like heat resistant spatulas.

How incredibly lucky I am!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

She's here, she's here, she's here!

My sister and her husband arrived from Ohio today for the Thanksgiving holiday. They will be here till Friday. We picked them up from the airport and went out to lunch. It is so good to see her! The last time they were here was May which is too long. I'm looking forward to Thursday (my favorite holiday!) and good food, time with family, and some R and R!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My how things have changed

It is hard to remember what I used to do with my time 8 years ago before I was with Bill. I KNOW for certain that it didn't look like this:

1. I wore a UO t-shirt on my date with Melissa today.

2. I rushed home so I wouldn't miss the start of the game.

3. I missed the beginning, but I listened to it on the radio in the car. And I knew which station it was on.

4. When I walked in, Bill said, "I'll give you a kiss after this drive." I wasn't annoyed at all AND I was kind of glad because I wanted to watch the drive.

5. I can't think of a better way to spend Saturday night than snuggled on the couch watching Duck football with my man.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Friday

A couple of weeks ago I completed an online survey about Spanish textbooks. I forgot all about it until today when I got a letter in my mailbox. It was a letter thanking me for participating in the survey along with a $25 Borders gift card! Woo hoo! What a way to start the weekend!

In addition to that, a student pointed to a picture of Bill I had on my wall and asked if he is my husband. When I looked he said, "Is that your ma-an?" with a roll of his head. Hilarious. I told him he made my day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How health food becomes junk food

Recipe: Healthy Salad

1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 tomato, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

To serve:
Place generous handful of vegetables on plate.

Sliced chicken breast
Handful of bacon bits
palmful of blue cheese crumbles
large scoop of chopped avocado
generous squirt of ranch dressing


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Okay, that is so . . .

. . . romantic.
My dear husband brought me a dozen red rozes last week when I was having my "sick and tired" day. I was totally surprised and touched. They are still absolutely gorgeous almost a week and half later. So sweet.

. . . creepy.
I was at the grocery store this afternoon and had just run my card through the scanner. While the checker and I were waiting, the guy behind me started inching closer, with his money out as if he were going to hand the checker his money for my groceries. I looked back at him confused, because it was kind of awkward, and he just inched a little closer. As I grabbed my receipt and turned to leave, he was only a foot away from me.

. . . spicy.
Bill said he wanted spicy stir fry for dinner. I love making stir fry so I happily whipped up shrimp stir fry with noodles. It was so blasted spicy I could barely enjoy my glass of wine. Barely.

. . . awesome.
The student I chose for Student of the Month came to the breakfast a little bleary-eyed this morning. He'd been out until 12:30am with his dad at his first concert. His dad took him to Kiss, which was also his first concert. His dad, mom, grandma and brother all showed up for the breakfast. I've been doing Student of the Month breakfasts since I started 9 years ago and this is the only student who has ever asked for a picture with me.

. . . cheesy.
First duet on Glee tonight? Endless Love. 'Nuff said.

. . . magical.
I picked up the entire Harry Potter series on CD from the library this afternoon.

. . . surprising.
I was eavesdropping on two women at Subway the other day. (They were talking pretty loud, so it isn't like I was being weird or anything.) They were talking about ski jumping. Apparently, ski jumping is the only olympic sport that is not available to women. Like them, I did NOT know that. (Please note that I have done absolutely no research on this topic and not about to interrupt Glee to do so. My facts from the women at Subway may not be accurate.)

. . . adorable.
Teddy is laying on his pillow snoring right now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Classic Teddy

It is impossible to look at these pictures and not smile.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Take a Chill Pill

Bill went to the Duck game on Saturday with his friend. I stayed home for two very important reasons. First, I had a first birthday party to attend and it was AWESOME!! Second, I didn’t want to go this time. Late night November games means that it is cold and usually rainy. I’m a fair weather fan.

It was a really late game too. Kick off was 7:20 which means that the game wasn’t over until after 10:30. Add an hour to get back to your car and get out of the parking lot plus a two hour drive and that equals Bill not expected home until after 1:30 in the morning.

Normal people would have gone to bed. I’m not normal, so I knew that it was going to be a late night.

A lot of people asked me if I couldn’t sleep because Bill was gone. That isn’t exactly the problem. If Bill had been staying all night in Eugene, I would have been fine: bed at 10:30, sleep till 7. But knowing he would be coming home, I couldn’t relax. I went to bed, but I kept needing to check the clock. I tried to sleep, I really did, but I was too anxious. If I dozed for a little bit, I’d wake and my heart would start racing.

It isn’t that I’m worried about being home alone. I have deadbolts, an alarm system and a perfectly intimidating golden retriever fast asleep in his crate. I’m just nervous about Bill. I am an expert at playing the “What If?” game and driving home in the middle of the night after a football game is loaded with what ifs.

Luckily, little sleep for both of us meant nothing more than a lazy Sunday. But it was annoying. Annoying because I worried myself sleepless and more annoying because I knew it was going to happen.

Phantom Post

It was a valiant effort. My goal to post every day for the month of November was not achieved, and I’m really disappointed about it. But...

I really thought I posted yesterday! I composed the post in my mind, went over it, made changes, the whole bit. The only thing I forgot to do was write it out and post it. If you’d asked me yesterday if I posted, I think I would have said yes. Does that count for anything?

Since none of you all voted (did you notice I took the poll down? Anyone?) then I suppose my missed post really only matters to me. I’m a very forgiving person, so I believe I will post twice today, say three Hail Marys, and all will be forgiven. It will be as if the missed November 15th post never really happened.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Let me set the record straight

My sister's eating habits are a thing of legend in my family. She doesn't mind talking about her neurosis but if someone criticizes, she flips. She's always been picky so I think it really surprises her when people who have known her a long time are surprised by what she doesn't like to eat. She NEVER makes a big deal about it if she doesn't like something so it really irritates her when someone else makes it a big deal.

On the other hand, I'm known for my lack of pickiness. I mentioned to friends that I was going to blog about our eating habits and someone commented that we were opposite ends of the spectrum. I would like to take this forum to let everyone know that my non-pickiness is a huge misconception. I'm actually quite picky and though I'm going to catch hell for saying this, I'm far more creative about it than my sister.

If you want the full story regarding my sister's eating habits, you can find a very thorough explanation here. Kate is a very talented writer and I could never do it justice, but if you are short on time, I'll sum it up for you. Don't mix things and don't mess with texture. Pretty straightforward, if you ask me. Where people get surprised is when they forget that these rules apply to common foods. Sandwiches, for example. Pretty significant mixing goes on in a sandwich and the textures don't match.

Whether you agree with her or not, Kate is very consistent. With only a couple of exceptions, her rules are very clear. Everything about my pickiness is about exceptions. That is why I am more creative.

I love crackers. I love cereal. I love ice cream. But I refuse to eat these things under certain circumstances. I will not eat broken crackers. I will not eat cereal if it is from the bottom quarter of the box. I will not eat the last serving of ice cream. (Unless someone serves it for me and I don't know that it is the last serving.)

I don't like dried fruit. Particularly raisins. Ugh. Everyone who knows me knows I can't stand raisins. But I love broccoli salad. You know, the one with bacon, cashews, sweet dressing, and raisins. I could eat bowls of that.

Fruit should not be baked into muffins, cakes, cookies or scones. But cranberry scones are my favorite.

Hot tea is delicious, iced tea is yucky.

Yogurt is not tasty. Yogurt on top of hot oatmeal is heavenly.

Chocolate chips? Good. Ice cream? Good. Chocolate chip ice cream? Yuck.

I don't eat potato chips unless they are barbeque flavor or dipped in ketchup. I would still put ketchup in a baked potato if it didn't gross out everyone around me.

I pick croutons off my salad. Croutons are too crunchy. Croutons are only okay if they've been soaking in the salad dressing long enough to get soggy.

It is okay to mix cottage cheese and pudding. It makes the pudding less sweet and sweetens the cottage cheese. (My parents used to put sugar on cottage cheese. I bet my sister still eats it this way.)

Cauliflower and honeydew melon are always left on their respective trays. There is a reason for that.

I could probably think of some more but I think you get the idea. As you can clearly see, my sister does not have the monopoly on pickiness. Oh, and goofiness is apparently a shared family trait.

(By the way now that you've read all this, I'm sure you're SUPER excited to go out to dinner with my sister and me.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Move over Dracula

Seriously, folks, what is UP with vampires lately?

I'll admit, I've gotten sucked (HAHAHA) into the genre myself, but I don't really understand how it happened. I remember when it happened, but now how. Last year, around October or so, my book club suggested Twilight so I read it. Fluffy teen vampire romance, hardly any substance, next thing I know, I'm borrowing the other three in the series and waiting impatiently for the movie.

The movie is ridiculous, by the way. One of the worst I've ever seen. But did you KNOW the second movie is coming out next week? I'm going to see it with the same book club friend I saw Twilight with and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm embarrassed, but not enough to stop.

I'm also addicted to Vampire Diaries, the CW series about teenage vampires. Kind of like Dracula meets Dawson's Creek. Awesome. I love it. I started this post while watching this week's episode.

Bill will be a little miffed that I'm sharing this tidbit, but there is a vampire show we watch together. We quickly flew through the first season of True Blood, the HBO series and are awaiting the next season to come out on Netflix so we can continue. Now, the HBO series is really more about boobs and blood than anything else, which is why it is okay for guys to watch it, but it is still vampire drama just like the rest of it. So WHY!?!?

Before last year, I had no information about vampires or the dramas that come along with them. I watched Interview with a Vampire but I don't think it fits the genre exactly. So that means the only knowledge base I have is from the previously mentioned sources: Twilight, Vampire Diaries and True Blood. I'm sure vampires are choking on their O negative right now.

According to my sources, vampires have a really rough life. Ridiculously attractive, sunlight issues, extreme strength, and the annoying propensity to fall into deep, tragic, all consuming love with some weak, albeit fascinating woman. Each woman involved doesn't fall under his spell but rather sees deep into his soul to the true "person" that he really is. All hero vampires find other means of survival than human blood, but must constantly fight the urge to kill his beloved.

So tragic, so intense. So necessary for all true romances. Danger, intrigue, impossibility. No wonder middle schoolers love it. To think that when no one understands you, there is someone strong, handsome, refined and mysterious who not only gets you, is all consumed by you. Merely an inconvenience that he is tortured by an intense desire to drain you which he is able to overcome because he just loves you so much.

Working in a middle school, I witness firsthand the frenzy created in adolescent girls by the Twilight saga. Pledging allegiance to vampire Edward or werewolf Jacob, each teen imagines being the object of either devotion. What Twilight does so well is capture true teenage angst when it comes to first love. Vampire Diaries has the best story, in my opinion. I actually got confused as I was watching tonight, though I place most of the blame in my desire for a well-worded blog than a complicated storyline.

True Blood, as I said before, is just about sex and gore. Not sure I buy the intensity suggested in the relationship between Sookie and Bill, but just when I'm starting to doubt it, someone ends up with blood all over her skin tight white T-shirt.

I'm not really sure how to end this post, so I'll end it with a couple of vampire jokes.

From the internet:
Why did the vampire's lunch give him heartburn?

It was a stake sandwich.

From Bill:
What's the difference between the 12 year-old that watches Twilight and the 30 year-old that watches Twilight?

The 12 year-old doesn't know any better.

He swears he made that up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day

We went out to dinner with one of our favorite veterans this evening and his family. Very good times, as usual. We tried a new place and when we walked in, we had to ask the waitress if there was a place minors could be, and she directed us to the back. Pretty rustic! But the chicken was good and the company was fantastic.

Happy Veterans' Day to all our vets. I am grateful to you for your service and sacrifice. This country is so lucky to have dedicated men and women who serve.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mini golf and waffle guy

I was looking through my photos for inspiration for my blog post and I found these. The first I posted because it is so funny to me. We were in Orlando for Bill's family reunion and played mini golf. As you can see from the blaring sign, it was a pirate themed mini golf course. I thought pirates made you walk the plank. I didn't know they put you in the stocks. Another stereotype distinguished.

This picture comes from the hotel lobby. The subject is not a member of Bill's family, but he is sitting across from 2 of Bill's aunts who aren't in the shot. One of his aunts was giggling uncontrollably because this gentlemen, who we didn't know, just kept talking and talking and talking to them. They kept looking at the group of us standing behind him with these desperate looks on their faces but they are both too polite and sweet to excuse themselves from the one sided conversation.

The other funny thing about this gentleman is that he lives in Orlando but takes a week long vacation every year at this particular hotel, also in Orlando. He helps out the kitchen staff and makes guests waffles during the continental breakfast. Very, very nice man.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sick (and Tired!) Day

I'm taking a sick (and tired!) day tomorrow. Here are the top three reasons why:

1. While assigning homework today, I wrote on the board that the students needed to write a story using the following vocabulary: por fin, no sabe nada, piensa que and gana. A kid in every class asked me if they were to do the assignment in English or Spanish.

2. I wrote a story about a boy who likes to read books. He especially likes to read books about Superman and James Bong. Kids kept asking if I meant James Bond. Try answering that with a straight face.

3. I posted grades today. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Waterlogged in Centralia

Every year around the holidays myself and some friends from college meet in Centralia for lunch. Three come from Seattle area and 3 of us are from Portland. Last year, we decided to take the train up and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so this year we booked again. Unfortunately, one of my friends had to cancel so it was just two of us.

Long story short, we missed the train. We would have made it but the parking lot was full. They closed the gate as we were running up. I've never missed anything before so I was very disappointed in myself. My parents are notoriously late to everything, and not just by minutes but hours. It drives me absolutely crazy so I make a big effort to never be late.

It all worked out. Amtrak refunded our tickets (thank goodness) and we jumped in the car and drove. It was fine, but it rained the ENTIRE way up and the ENTIRE way back. Sheets of rain that left rivers in the ruts of the freeway that I hydroplaned through. Yuck. But the trip was delightful and it was great to see friends.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hey, is she Jewish?

"Yesh zeev. Ha zeev rotseh tsipoor. Hu rotseh l'chol tsipoor. Yesh tsipoor katan. Ha tsipoor roeh et ha dag. Ha tsipoor rotseh et ha dag. Ha zeev lo roeh et ha tsipoor. Hu rotseh l'chol tsipoor. Ha tsipoor lokeach et ha dag. Ha zeev ha gadol roeh et ha tsipoor ha katan. Ha zeev ratz le et ha tsipoor. Ha tsipoor bocheh. Batman roeh et ha zeev. Batman oler "O lo!" Batman ratz le et ha zeev. Ha zeev roeh et Batman ve ratz. Ha zeev bocheh. Ha tsipoor notem et ha dag le Batman."

I attended a conference yesterday hoping that I would feel refreshed and rejuvenated so that I would start feeling better about work. I was not disappointed and the story written above is proof of that. After about 60 minutes of instruction, I was able to tell a story out loud, in HEBREW! Not only that, this morning, without looking at notes or anything, I wrote that 95 word story in HEBREW! HEBREW! Pretty amazing.

What's more, I'm confident that my story makes perfect sense and is free of grammatical and/or spelling errors. Pretty good for 60 minutes, if I do say so myself.

I already knew that the teaching method I use is powerful and the very best thing for my students, but I love coming back from a conference feeling so validated. And motivated. And excited to return to school to do my very best.

Some other important information I got from my workshop:

1. It takes more cognitive ability to process mathematical functions than it does to process language. Yet when adults say casually, "I took Spanish for 3 years in high school and I don't remember any of it", no one bats an eye. Would it be okay if that same adult said "I took math for 3 years and I can't add or subtract"? I think not. Yet many language teachers continue to use the same methods that don't work.

2. Laughing oxygenates the brain. A good chuckle can relieve you from DBS. Deflated Brain Syndrome.

3. No one teaches their children with direct grammar instruction. Yet children grow up and speak with near perfect grammar.

4. The affective filter correlates directly to success in second language acquisition. In other words, the better a student feels, the better the chances the student will acquire language in a classroom. Encourage success. Set them up to feel successful. Celebrate success. They will learn.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Friday night at Grocery Outlet

My friend and I started out our Friday night by meeting for pedicures after work. I had a conference so it didn't really feel like work, but I was really happy for a little TLC on my tootsies. After the pedis we decided to grab some pizza and head over to her house for a true girls' night out. While waiting for the pizza, we went to Grocery Outlet. I know what you're thinking. "How could this Friday night get any more exciting?" Two ladies at Grocery Outlet? Cutting edge.

Well don't knock Friday night at Grocery Outlet till you've tried it. Do you know they do wine tasting? Not just wine tasting, but cheese and crackers and chocolate and wine tasting. What garden of Eden had we stumbled upon? We were intrigued by wine tasting and decided to investigate. Now, GO is is very legit outfit for sampling fine vintages. Our IDs were checked and we were given a tasting sheet. All was good until I noticed the sign hanging on the tasting table and on the various displays of wine. "3 Taste Limit per Wine" Three taste limit isn't unreasonable, if they mean 3 tastes period. But no, GO limits not the number of wines you taste but rather the number of times you can taste each individual wine. This wouldn't be so funny if there were 3 or 4 wines. But people, there were at least 12 wines available for tasting.

Don't stress out, I'll take care of the math for you. GO limits you to roughly 36 tastes of their fine wines. 36! Let's just say that the tastes are a half an ounce. If you drink 36-half ounce tastes, that is 18 ounces of wine. A 4 ounce glass is the standard serving size which means you could haul yourself over to GO on a Friday night and walk out having consumed four and a half glasses of wine!

Now, I don't think very many people would do that. My friend and I had one taste of 4 or 5 wines. But while I was deciding whether or not to try a rosé or a pinot gris, I heard a young lady of about 75 years young approach the table and ask for a second taste of a particular wine. She was really getting her money's worth!

After our tasting, we decided to buy a couple and went looking for a grocery cart. After all, why wouldn't you put the wine you want to purchase at Grocery Outlet in a grocery cart? I parked my cart next to the display of pickles and corn chips and we put our selections inside. Making several generic, inappropriate jokes about consuming all our purchases before the kids go to school on Monday, we purchased our wine and on our way out the door, I couldn't help but realize that anyone could dress in their favorite sweats, throw on some flip flops and head down to GO for some frozen pizza and wine tasting. Sure beats Happy Hour on a Friday night!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Please, sir, can you quit giving me more?

I was late arriving to my hair appointment last night (of course I called!) so that meant I was late leaving my hair appointment. I couldn't be in Hillsboro (60 minutes from home) without stopping in to see my parents and my grandma. So, an already late night became a really late night as I rolled into the driveway at 9:15 still needing to eat dinner.

The highlight of the evening was when I was kissing my grandma goodbye and she said, "Leaving already? Bummer." This came sleepily from deep in her bed, so tiny, but with a gleam in her blue eyes. I wish I didn't live so far away and could visit more often.

I left feeling pretty defeated, despite the much needed hugs from all three of them, after hearing the continued challenges my grandma has and the fatigue in my parents' voices and on their faces. Just when I think they can't possibly handle any more on their plate, I stop by for a visit or answer the phone and realize that they already are handling more. Very brave, very tough, very impressive people.

Why I'm crazy.

Reason #17:

I am crazy because I will drive for one hour after working a full day at work, out to Hillsboro to get my hair done. It takes 2 hours to get my hair done. This means I don't get home until around 8pm.

Why don't I schedule my hair appointments on the weekend?

I don't want to waste my weekend getting my hair done.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Funny Things Middle Schoolers Say

Here is a partial list of the many things middle schoolers say. Please to enjoy.

1. "Almost." This is what a middle schooler says when interrupted from his or her conversation with a neighbor by the annoying question, "Are you done with your warmup?"
Translation: No.

2. "Sure." This is the response a middle schooler gives to any question that is posed in front of his or her peers in which the answer could be potentially embarrassing. For example, "Do you like pepperoni pizza?"
Translation: I don't want to play your silly game.

3. "Do we do this in English or Spanish?" This question comes when presented with any task in Spanish class. The instructions on the board will say, "Write a story about a monkey in Spanish." Someone will still ask.

4. "What if . . . ?" This is a special one. It can come at anytime. It is always posed after a direct instruction or if anything is suggested to be a rule. You are not allowed to spray paint your hair. "What if it is washable spray paint?" You need to use blue or black ink or pencil. "What if you use purple?" Maddening.

5. "Did we do anything important while I was gone?" Students like to ask this one if they have missed any number of days of school. What do they think I'm going to say? No, we didn't do anything important for the 5 days of school you missed. We never do anything important.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Can she do it?

I boldly made my decision yesterday to post every day for the month of November. November 1st will be the only one I miss because I didn't get my brilliant idea until today. I think I have a pretty good shot at completing my quest but what do you think? Can I do this? Do I have enough senseless drivel rolling around in my head to fill a month of blog posts?

Let me know what you think by completing the poll!

Happy Birthday

Dear Readers,

My blog was officially one year old on October 25! Thank you for all the cards and gifts. Just kidding - the day came and went and I didn't even realize.

I'm going to let you off the hook for forgetting such an important gift by instead giving you one. I am giving you the gift of my charm, wit and way with words. You're so lucky!

That's right! I'm going to post something to my blog every day for the entire month of November. Apparently this is a very blog-y thing to do during November and I'm extremely intimidated about it, but also excited about the challenge.

Wish me luck, dear Readers!

La Maestra