Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lion in Winter... Opening Weekend

Here are some pictures from The Lion in Winter.  We had a great opening weekend.  I can hardly put into words how much I love playing Eleanor of Aquitaine.  She's all these little snippets of my actual personality and how I wish I could be if I wasn't worried about what anyone thought of me.  I guess that's an advantage to being Queen of England.  More later on the experience, but this gives you a little taste...

Queen Eleanor and her boys.  "What a greedy little trinity you are.  King, king, king.  Two of you must learn to live with disappointment."

Queen Eleanor with her favorite son, Richard.  "War agrees with you.  I keep informed.  I follow all your slaughters at a distance." 

Prince John and Prince Richard.  Daddy's favorite and Mummy's favorite.  Can't you just smell the tension?

King Phillip of France comes to Christmas Court at Chinon.  Big fireworks to come.

Completely psycho picture of Queen Eleanor tormenting King Henry.  "What kind of spindly, rickett-ridden, milky, wizened, dim-eyed, gammy-handed, limpy line of things will you beget?"

King Phillip and Prince Richard.  They're close.  ;)

Queen Eleanor and King Henry tormenting each other, as usual.  "A little peace?  Why so modest?  How about eternal peace?  Now, there's a thought."

Prince Geoffrey, King Phillip, and Prince John.  More plotting.

I can't believe three performances are over.  It's going too fast!!!!  Tracy came over this weekend for opening night, and I was so proud to have her here.  We also had a good time just hanging out, watching the Christmas lighting ceremony on the square, and doing a little shopping.  It was a short visit, but I'm not complaining at all.  I love seeing her whenever I can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


A few years ago, a thick book appeared in the hands of many of my students. It had a black cover featuring pale white hands holding a scarlet apple. I wasn't interested. It looked like the typical teen angst book to me... not my style. I had no desire whatsoever to read Twilight. It came out right at a time when some more risque books were making waves in young adult fiction, and in my mind, I guess I lumped them all together. The more students recommended it to me, the less I wanted to read it. Then I found out it was about vampires! Definitely not my thing. Other than Harry Potter, I'm not into fantasy books at all, and V.C. Andrews books when I was 14 are about as close as I ever got to the horror genre.

Well, this year I caved. I did it partly because my Delta Kappa Gamma book club decided to read it, but I also was curious to see what all the hype was about. I'm glad I gave in. I was delightfully surprised. It hooked me almost instantly. I almost forgot it was about vampires. I just really got into the story and the characters. I like it when books surprise me, and this one definitely did.

I know people are analyzing the series... it's written by a Mormon author named Stephanie Meyer. I've heard people say the message is abstinence. I've heard people worry that it conveys the message that women should be subservient to men. I've heard of conservative Christian parents not letting their kids read it. I've heard it all. I don't know what the author intended, but personally, I just found it an entertaining read. Despite it being a really thick book, it reads so quickly. It was also surprisingly tame. The writing was so accessible that even just a kiss between Edward and Bella (and that's as far as it ever goes) quickened my pulse a bit. It took me back to being a teenager and those feelings of first love, but it's definitely PG. I expected a vampire romance book to be a lot more graphic. It just wasn't. And as a teacher, I love it when kids get excited about reading. It's hard to pry these books out of the kids' hands.

Now, I'm reading the third book in the series, and like all my students, I can't wait to see the movie. When you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There is Life Outside Your Apartment

This looked fun... if you want to try, be sure to leave me a comment.  I'd love to see how others turn out, but I'm not going to specifically tag anyone...

1. Put Your iTunes on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write down the name of the song no matter how silly it sounds!
4. Put any comments in brackets after the song name.
5. Tag at least 10 friends.
6. Anyone tagged has to do the same, because fun pointlessness spreads like a virus.
(I'm gonna put the artist just so you know I'm not lying)

If someone says, “Is this okay?” You say?
Go Tell It On the Mountain (The Blenders Christmas Collection)

How Would You Describe Yourself?
Don't Come Around Again (Rooney, Calling the World)

What Do You Like in a girl/guy?
Money, Money, Money (Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia)
[I can't believe that came up!!!  (:I)]

What is Your Life's Purpose?
Popular (Kristin Chenowith, Wicked)
[Do I sound completely materialistic in this game, or what???]

What is Your Life Motto?
Friendship (Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway, Sibling Revelry)
[That's better!]

What Do Your Friends Think of You?
Can't Buy Me Love (The Beatles, 1)
[hm... again]

What Do You Think of Your Parents?
Another National Anthem (Marc Kudisch and Mario Cantone, Assassins 2004 Revival Cast)
[not sure what to make of that one]

What Do You Often Find Yourself Thinking About?
Infinite Joy (Liz Callaway, Infinite Joy - The Songs of William Fin...)

What is 2+2?
Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes)
[those days of playing this song for my kindergarteners while they played Musical Bumps are coming back to haunt me]

What Do You Think of Your Best Friend?
The Ladies Who Lunch (Elaine Stritch, My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies)
[another brilliant zinger... I'll drink to that!]

What Do You Think of the Person You Like?
The First Goodbye (Cast, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee)
[that's a little depressing]

What Is Your Life Story?
Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer (Kim Carnes and Kenny Rogers)
[Whoa.  That's scary.]

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Old Friends, Part II (Amy Ryder, Adam Heller, and Malcolm Gets, Merrily We Roll Along - York Theatre)

What do you think of when you see the person you like?
Silent Night (Boyz II Men, Ultimate Christmas)
[well, I do clam up a bit... ;)]

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Big Man in Town (Cast, Jersey Boys)
[I don't think so.]

What will they play at your funeral?
Sex and the City Movie Theme (Pfeifer Broz Orchestra, Sex and the City Soundtrack)
[that would definitely set a mood...]

What is your hobby/interest?
One Moment in Time (Whitney Houston, The Greatest Hits)
[hm... again]

What is your biggest fear?
The One that You Love (Air Supply, The Definitive Collection)
[there's something to analyze there...]

What is your biggest secret?
Sarah Brown Eyes (Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Ragtime - The Musical)
[Hm.  That sounds mysterious...]

What do you think of your friends?
Yummy (Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape)
[they ARE yummy!  ;)]

What will you post this as?
There is Life Outside Your Apartment (Original Broadway Cast, Avenue Q)
[and I did... FUN!]

Blessings for Today

1.  Diet Mountain Dew.  I seriously would not have survived today without it.

2.  The most amazing caramel dip for apples that I've ever eaten in my life.  A fellow teacher brought it for our Wednesday afternoon social today.  SO GOOD!  

Here's the recipe (it's all spread out on a big platter like a layered dip) (Thanks, Angela!):  
Bottom- Mix 1 package-cream cheese, brown sugar (enough to change to a brownish color), and vanilla(1 tsp).
Middle- Spread on Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel
Top- Sprinkle on toffee chips
This isn't a recipe that you can mess up. Just mix, spread, sprinkle....and dip!

You will not be sorry if you try this... the toffee chips are like little bursts of wonderful.  And, yes, I'm fully aware that PMS and the upcoming opening of a show might make food just a little more of a priority right now, but I'm not kidding.  This is some GOOD STUFF!!!

3.  My students.  They say things that completely crack me up.  Here are two that happened this week.

Girl:  "I don't have ADHD.  I have ADOS..." 
Me:  "What's that?"
Girl:  "Attention Deficit... Oooooh, Shiny!"

I had just finished talking to some students about staying on task and using their time wisely.  I didn't lose my temper, but I definitely made my point.  Another boy in this class had been listening and said, "You remind me of those waitresses at Applebee's.  They say it with a smile, but you sense tension."

Never a dull moment in middle school.  :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

My friends and I would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, compliments of JibJab.  :)

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Jeff, Duane, President-Elect Barack Obama, and I would like to again wish you a Happy Thanksgiving...

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And, finally, more Thanksgiving wishes from my California cousins and me.  

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I just couldn't help myself.  It was way too much fun!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Random Word Associations

Just a little glimpse into the how things work in my head.  This is not premeditated.  I'm just going for it.

Green apple
A Year Down Yonder
Jefferson County Park
Dr. Larson
Wabash Arts Camp
wood pile
morel mushrooms
Grandpa Sutherlin

Now, the explanation...

I'm  drinking a Green apple Izze soda which is
A pecan is something in tarts 
which reminds me of the book A Year Down Yonder.
I think my friend Diana would be perfect if that book were made into a play.
Diana hosts a radio show with Therese
who works in the nature center
at Jefferson County Park
where I like to take Avery for walks.
Jeff, Duane, Avery, and I walked there when they were here for Mandie's wedding,
and I took a lot of pictures with my camera.
That weekend I got bronchitis
and had to see Dr. Larson
which reminded me of when I threw my back out and he prescribed me Vicodin.
That made seeing Spamalot in Des Moines a whole new adventure.
That was the weekend I left for my second summer at Wabash Arts Camp
in Shenandoah.
The Wabash Trace trail goes through there, but it starts in Council Bluffs,
and Tracy and I 
went on a walk there this summer.
There are horses on the trail, and Tracy is hoping they help her get over her fear.
This reminded me of my pony, Jenny, that I got for my fourth birthday.
But before I had her, I would take a big log from the woodpile
and saddle it up, pretending I was riding.
I always had a huge imagination,
and I would pretend everywhere, even in the car, steering and pushing my "brake
when Dad did.
For my eighth birthday, he got me my own motorcycle.
I have a scar on my knee
from a wipeout during a race with my stepsister Melanie.
I crashed on the gravel road,
and I didn't have a helmet on, which was totally against my dad's rules.
This all made me think of Dad's farm
and playing out in the pasture
and watching my dog Trinket follow my dad out in the field, even when she got old 
and my dad's tears when she died... the first time I saw him ever cry.
I've looked about everywhere on the farm for morel mushrooms,
which always makes me think of my Grandpa Sutherlin... I wish I'd known him.
I'm blessed with a wonderful family.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Hawkeye Mornin' Crew

I'm sitting here supervising Saturday school (which, thankfully, is going great... the 2 kids are working hard and are pleasant and respectful), thinking of my Mornin' Crew tailgating group at their last home game of the year. My show opens in two weeks, and I just really didn't want to miss rehearsal today. Heather's high school football team is playing in the state finals, so she wanted to see them play. We sold our tickets to our principal, who was a Hawkeye player himself in the early nineties. I remember seeing him play during my one year at Iowa. That was also a Rose Bowl year. He's a Fairfield boy, come home to raise his family. And today, he and his son are honorary Mornin' Crew members, Lord help them. ;)

The Mornin' Crew is a perfect example of my crazy, messed-up, wonderful family. I'd say for me, the tailgating group hinges around my stepbrothers, Tim & Travis. They are massive Hawkeye fans, and that's probably one reason why my mom fit in so well with their family! Even though my mom was only married to my stepdad, Mike, for about 2 1/2 months before she died, all the boys (and their wives) have worked hard to make sure Matt and I still feel like part of their family. That means so much to me.

I've had Iowa season football tickets for several years... it must be going on 10 or something like that. When Tim & Travis and their Uncle Dennis (married to Mike's sister, LuAnn) decided to get season tickets, I moved over to sit with them. We usually tailgated together anyway, so now it's even more fun to sit with them during the games.

We've made a ton of great memories over the years tailgating and going to bowl games, but the very best memory I have is the Capital One Bowl in Orlando where the Hawks beat LSU at the very end of the game. "The Catch" happened pretty much right across from us, and I'll never forget it. The whole trip was a blast. We even rang in the New Year at Universal Studios.

In our crew, everyone has nicknames. My Mornin' Crew nickname is Rapper because I can perform the entire "Clap your hands, everybody. Everybody clap your hands..." rap from the end of Revenge of the Nerds. One of my many hidden talents. ;) Other members that I can remember offhand include Tippy, Bluto, Flounder, Scrapper, Hoover, Panther, Miss LuAnn, and Pepper, Clark, & Ellen. Wild bunch.

Well, as I write this, the whole crew is cheering from section 213, and I'm following the score online. Looks like we missed an extra point. Hope that doesn't come back to bite us in the butt. This game and the upcoming Minnesota game will decide which bowl game the Crew will be attending. I probably won't go... nothing will ever match the Capital One bowl in my memory or heart.

For more information on the Hawkeye Mornin' Crew and all they stand for, see our website... I know you all have a burning desire. GO HAWKS!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blessings for Today

1.  a $50 corduroy jacket that I've been eyeing since summer marked down to $24.99

2.  an afternoon of networking with other talented/gifted teachers, swapping ideas and strategies

3.  looking forward to a night with friends on Friday, taking a 5-year old Tinkerbell addict to see Peter Pan

4.  a great part in a great play to sink my chops into

5.  book club after school tomorrow

6.  a good/silly idea for this year's FMS talent show

7.  only having to be in charge of In School Suspension one period a day, 2 days a week, max

8.  extra money for being in charge of Saturday School this weekend

9.  still being on Cloud 9 from the Hawkeyes kicking some Penn St. butt

10.  the love of friends and family, laughter, music, communication, and 30 Rock

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love First, Baby

I have not written publicly about Proposition 8.  Maybe out of cowardice, I don't know.  I have many dear, loved and loving family members who read this blog who are so conservative, with views so opposite of mine, that we choose to not discuss issues rather than to raise our blood pressures.  I try only to rile them up when I'm feeling especially passive aggressive.  HA.  But today, two things came across my path, and they couldn't sum up my own personal feelings more perfectly.  

The first is part of a blog that I have on my list on the right hand side of this page by Margaret and Helen.  You can click on it to the right if you feel like reading the whole thing, but this part really spoke to me.  

"If you want to protect Holy Wedlock, by all means padlock the door whenever guys who love Judy Garland come a knocking. But if you want to protect marriage push for a constitutional amendment to ban divorce.

But let’s step away from the church and state argument for a second. I posted yesterday that love is about the heart not the body. Trust me, if it was about the body a lot of us would be in a world of trouble. You can’t legislate love between two consenting adults. You just can’t no matter how hard you try. If you want to save marriage, marry someone you love."

My parents have 5 marriages between them.  Don't get me wrong... I'm very happy to be here writing this, and without their first marriage, I wouldn't be.  But think of how seriously people would take marriage if there were a constitutional amendment to ban divorce.  Hm.

The second thing was brought to my attention on Facebook by my friend (Facebook friend... I only WISH she could be my real life friend!!!), Broadway Diva Donna Lynne Champlin, who came to Fairfield last December for the Opening Gala of the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.  She had this clip linked to her status, and when I watched it, I knew I had to spread it too.

One of my speeches in The Lion in Winter includes this... "For the love of God, can't we love each other just a little?  That's how peace begins.  We have so much to love each other for.  We have so many possibilities, my children.  We can change the world."

To quote my friend Kris, "Love first."  

And to quote Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Blogging World

Sometimes when I'm bored (or procrastinating), I click the "next blog" button at the top of the page.  The blogging world is certainly an interesting one.  I've seen blogs from all countries in all sorts of languages.  

I've noticed that lots of new young families blog, probably to update families and friends across the miles.  They document pregnancies from week to week, share baby pictures, tell funny kid stories, etc.  Many of those new young families post links to other new young families, and I've peeped in on adorable babies, kids on the first day of school, birthday parties, wedding receptions, and family reunions.  Sometimes they get to me a little because I wish I had my own new family to blog about.  When I'm in a pity party mood, I try to steer clear of the "next blog" button unless I'm feeling like a total glutton for punishment.  

I've noticed that many LDS families blog.  I find that interesting.  I've also noticed that many private photography studios have a blog.  I love those... looking in on senior pictures, engagement pictures, baby pictures.  I've come across blogs that I like to check in on from time to time... like this blog by a United Methodist pastor.  I've also come across blogs that are a little scary and that I hope to never find again.  Some blogs totally tick me off... tons of right-wing Conservative Christians have blogs.  I don't know why some suck me in, but they do, and they raise my blood pressure every time.  

Some blogs are forgettable, but some blogs have really affected me.  I'm thinking of one in particular that moved me so much.  Maybe I'll write about it on here someday, but the experience that lead up to me finding that blog was incredibly emotional and fairly upsetting, so it's still too fresh at this point.  But, anyway, I have been surprised to realize that blogging could connect me on such an emotional level to complete strangers.

I've linked my friends' blogs to mine, and people have reconnected with them through me.  I've also connected with blogs through theirs.  I find more friends all the time who blog.  It's kind of amazing.

There are all different styles of blogging.  Mine is honest but not too honest.  In other words, I blog about the day-to-day stuff in my life.  I share joys and concerns... a lot of stuff that I used to journal about.  However, I don't blog about the dark places.  Nobody needs to be reading about that.  ;)  I share personal experiences and things that I find entertaining.  

Blogging is a weird world.  I mean that in a good way, for the most part.  I wonder how many people actually blog.  And I wonder if anyone else peeks in on my blog the way I peek in on others.  There is probably some social experiment there.  I wonder what anthropologists of the future will think of blogging.  Hm.  I think I better go to bed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

John Williams Tribute

A Facebook friend of mine - Heather - posted this link.  It is so awesome... I had to share.  All you John Williams fans/Star Wars nerds out there, ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Cried

I had no idea I'd cry so much tonight.  
I cried when I realized it was possible.  
I cried when the networks projected a winner.  

I cried when John McCain spoke. 
So eloquent.  
So gracious.  
So classy.  
I hurt for him.  
He truly is a hero who has sacrificed more 
than I ever knew I had.

I cried when I saw Barack Obama speak to more than 
a million people.  
I cried because I was happy.  
I cried because I was scared.  
I cried because I was relieved.  

I cried because our country has taken another step.  
A step toward growing up.  
When Geraldine Ferraro said in 1984 that 
"America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us," 
it wasn't really true.  
I cried tonight because now it is, 
or at least we're a lot closer to where that is.  

I cried because the hope is so big 
it feels like it's going to burst through my chest.  
The hope that we can be respected again in the world.  
The hope that we can have peace.  
The hope that we can all just get along and be proud Americans, 
no matter what our beliefs or philosophies.  
The hope that we can have differing opinions 
but still respect each other and work together.  

I cried when Barack Obama talked about his grandmother.  
I miss mine, 
and I know how it feels to have wonderful things happen 
and to wish the people you love the most were 
there by your side.

I cried because I'm proud.  
I'm proud to be an American.
I'm grateful to live in a country where I have the right
to speak
to teach
to debate
to vote
to dream

to hope.

Hope and gratitude.
Important words in my life.
I'm so filled to the brim, they spilled out.

I cried.

What a Way to Start the Day

Could there be any better way to start the day than exercising our right to vote? I waited in line for 25 minutes today before school, and it was worth every second. I love voting. This is the 5th Presidential election I've voted in, and it's exciting to me every single time.
My prayer for today is that the people who are elected, from the President all the way down to our County Supervisors, take their responsibilities seriously, ask for guidance, listen to their constituents, and strive to do what is right.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blessings for Today

I was just sitting here having a little pity party, so before it sinks any deeper, I'm going to focus on my blessings for today.  Welcome to my cheap therapy.

1.  What a beautiful day.  It was so beautiful, it was almost unreal.  I took Avery out to Jefferson County Park after school and we hiked over to the swinging bridge.  It cracks me up seeing him cross.  He's OK until about halfway across when it really starts bouncing.  Please don't turn me in to the Humane Society, but it's really funny.

2.  Day 1 of ITBS testing is done... only 2 more to go for me this week.  I can only focus on one week at a time when it comes to this, but for this week, I'm almost halfway done.

3.  I'm so excited to vote tomorrow.  I can't help it.  I love voting.  Elections and voting are blessings I try to never take for granted.  We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to elect our leaders.

4.  Last night I got to walk at Chautauqua Park with Suzanne, Jack, & Emma, and then we had pizza for supper.  It was beautiful yesterday too... we have to get out and enjoy these days while they last.

5.  My dad stood up in church yesterday and offered up our Saturday trip to Des Moines and my National Board Certification as a celebration.  That meant a lot to me because it showed me he really does get how important it was to me.

OK.  I feel better.  Complete meltdown averted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Random Shots from Terrace Hill

The Governor's mansion was a really beautiful place.  Here are some parts that I thought were especially interesting...

The Ceremony at Terrace Hill

Yesterday was the celebration in Des Moines at Terrace Hill, the Iowa Governor's mansion, for the teachers who earned National Board Certification in 2007.  I'd never been to Terrace Hill before, so that was a new experience.  It was beautiful, and Tracy told me that it was designed by the same architect that did the Dodge House in Council Bluffs.  I'd never noticed the similarities until she said that.

We toured the house, and then there was a reception of hors d'oeuvres and beverages.  A representative from the Department of Education spoke, and then we were on our way.  Short and sweet.  I'm glad I went, but I have to be honest though.   I really thought I was going to be meeting the Governor.  Here's what the invitation said:  "Governor Chet Culver & First Lady Mari Culver invite you and three guests to Terrace Hill to celebrate your recent National Board Certification.  We are proud to welcome Iowa's greatest teachers to the Governor's mansion for an afternoon celebration."  Am I just taking that wrong, or does it sound like the Governor and his wife were planning on being there?  I was a little disappointed, but it was still a very nice honor.  The day was beautiful, and we did get to see the Governor's mansion.  Dad and Alice and I went out for a late lunch afterward, and we had a pleasant drive up and back.  Good conversation, lovely fall colors, and quality time spent together.  I was proud to have them with me.

The Nelsons

Dad and I on the front steps of the mansion

The three teachers from Fairfield who earned National Board Certification last year: Diane Goudy, Jennifer Mangler, and me... there are now 563 Nationally Board Certified teachers in the state of Iowa.  36 of us were certified in 2007.
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