Monday, August 31, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

No more butterflies in the sky... Reading Rainbow is ending. Click here for a nice NPR article on the show's end.

I first started watching Reading Rainbow when I student taught for Mary Jo Salem-Lochner's 2nd grade class at Whittier Elementary in Sioux City, IA. She showed Reading Rainbow every week. I fell in love with the show. Like the NPR article says, it wasn't about HOW to read, it was about WHY to read. I continued Mary Jo's tradition, and I showed Reading Rainbow every week to my kindergarten classes at the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School in Fort Worth, TX. Even after I left the world of elementary school, I'd still pause whenever I surfed past the show on PBS. LeVar Burton was completely in his element. He was great on this show. I'll miss Reading Rainbow, and so will tons of other people, kids and adults alike. But you don't have to take my word for it. ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yep, I'm Procrastinating

OK. I'm at school, and I should be working on getting my classroom in order. Instead, I'm going to blog to cool myself down a little, metaphorically speaking. I spent about 6-7 hours on Friday hanging posters, meticulously rolling hundreds of loops of masking tape. It's not the most fun job, but it's fun to see the room come together. The first roll I used was from last year's supplies. I still had one left. I noticed it was pretty crappy. It kept sticking together, and sometimes it would stick in the center. So, instead of getting a 2 inch strip of tape, I'd have 2 thin, ripped 2 inch pieces of tape... not good for making tape rolls. I had a tape ball the size of my fist on the desk by the end of the roll. A big waste. Tape brand: School Smart (with the A in smart written in red like "A+"... annoying)

I opened a new roll from this year's school supplies. I had complained too soon. This roll definitely didn't stick to itself. In fact, it was nearly impossible to even make a tape ring because the tape absolutely would not stick to itself at all. Mysteriously, it would stick to the backs of my laminated posters, so I hoped for the best. Tape brand: School Smart, still with the annoying "A+." I'd give it a D at best. Evidently, they changed their formula when teachers griped about it being too sticky. Now it doesn't stick to much at all.

Now, I am not skimpy with my masking tape. I COVER the backs of the posters, because, well, I've learned the hard way. So, imagine my frustration when I come in today and HALF MY POSTERS ARE ON THE FREAKING FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!! Ugh. I whipped out my wad of blue ticky-tack stuff and put band-aid on the situation. But, there is no way I'm in any mood to retape every one of those posters. Not going to happen.

To further explain the feelings here, let me describe my weekend. Friday night was nice. Andrew and I had dinner at a local Fairfield establishment which will remain nameless (I do love this place, and I'm hoping the following was a one-time event). We had a very nice evening. My stomach was feeling a little weird, so I took a couple of Tums before I went to bed. *** graphic description alert... if you have a weak stomach, skip ahead *** At about 1:00 in the morning, I woke up to massive, gut-wrenching, gripping, burning stomach pain. No doubt about it, I was going to hurl. I made it to the bathroom and threw up about 5 times. Every single thing I'd eaten at supper came up and out. I puked so hard I had tears and snot streaming, and I (totally embarrassing) even wet my pants. I'm not ashamed to say it. That's how hard I retched. I prayed for death as I rested my head against the cool porcelain of the toilet bowl. I finally managed to stop throwing up and brushed my teeth and got a drink of water. I slept fitfully. When I woke up in the morning, I ached so badly, I felt like I'd been run over by a steamroller. It hurt to sit, to breathe, to think. I had to cancel my pedicure with Suzanne, which seriously ticked me off. I lay in bed pretty much all day and couldn't eat a thing except a little lime jello water at noon. By Saturday night, I did manage to keep down a little supper at Gay's, but I was not much for company. I slept on the couch after supper while Gay, Tom, Heather, Alicia, Kevin, & Andrew played cards. I should have been working in my classroom Saturday, but that's hard to do when you need to be horizontal.

Today, I feel like a new person. Much better. Andrew made me pancakes this morning, and they tasted delicious. Now I'm at school, trying to get a lot done. Let's just say that I didn't need the whole tape/poster fiasco on top of my pukester weekend.

On a good note, in my achy horizontalness, I did finish Julie & Julia, and it was a seriously entertaining read. I love Love LOVED it. Julie Powell writes in a voice very similar to my own. I loved it in an entirely different way than I loved the movie. They are two completely different pieces. You have to love them on their own, and you can't compare them.

Now, I'm listening to Spring Awakening (very good soundtrack when you're feeling rebellious and cranky about crappy masking tape and a bout with food poisoning), and I'm going to attack this classroom with a vengeance. Charge!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Land of the Midnight Sun

I'm finally posting about my Alaska trip! It's not every detail, but the pics below show some of the wonderful highlights.

I started writing every detail of the trip, and honestly, it made me sad. It made me miss all of my Alaska cousins! So, here's the shortened version. Pics and memories of a fantastic Alaska adventure...

Sleeping Lady on the night I arrived in Alaska

Lauren, Jonas, Ahnna, Kathy, & friend

Sherri and the big birthday boy, Jonas

Out for coffee... Ahnna & Jonas

Shopping in downtown Anchorage... I was worried this might be the only moose I'd see!

With Kathy, shopping in downtown Anchorage...

Jon & me before my first ride in a float plane...

The view of the Spit from Jon's plane... the tide was out, and everything was bright & glittery.

Flying over Eagle Glacier

A little closer to Eagle Glacier...

I love this picture. We got down pretty close to the glacier. These chasms are huge, even though they look small. A person would seriously be a dot on them!

Uncle Bob & Aunt Darlene

Lovely dinner with the fam... (starting left & going clockwise around the table) Heath, William, Jon, Kathy, Aunt Darlene, Uncle Bob, Sherri

Me with Captain Cook

While William was at Civil Air Patrol, I drank in the scenery...

I think I could have stood and looked at this view for hours!

On the way to Seward... driving the route I had flown with Jon just days before. It was hazy like this all throughout the trip, but it gave the scenery this mystical, magical feeling. Gorgeous!

On the way to Seward... the water in the rivers & streams is this beautiful bright greenish blue from the glaciers. The picture hardly captures the color. It's beautiful!

On the way to Seward...

The drive to Seward...

The view from the Marine Life Center in Seward. Breathtaking... I could have stood there all day!

Sea Otters playing in the water

Exit Glacier

Kathy & Tena at Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier & Me

This sums it up. My whole trip was pure joy. I could hardly contain it in my body!

Jumping for JOY at Exit Glacier

Having fun hiking back from Exit Glacier. Ahnna & Tiny Tena!

Kathy & Tiny Ahnna!

Hiking back from Exit Glacier

Hiking back from Exit Glacier

Driving back from Exit Glacier

The drive back from Seward was stunning. This must have been about 11:30 or so at night. Everything was shades of blue gray with a peachy horizon. I took this by sticking my arm out the window as we were speeding along... that's the antenna of the truck in the middle.

After seeing two sets of moose mamas & babies, I was satisfied... then, along comes a big bull, just walking along the side of the road!

I couldn't believe my eyes... it was coming right toward us!

Close enough to touch as it walked by the vehicle!

Sunset in Anchorage. This must have been about midnight or so... the sun dips under for a few hours, but it never gets totally dark.

Ahnna & I coming in from an awesome canoe adventure. The loons swam so close to us... one even swam right under the front of the canoe. It was so amazing... it took my breath away!

Tena, Kathy, Ahnna, & William after canoeing at Otter Lake

Monday, August 17, 2009

Iowa State Fair, 2009

Tracy, Olivia, & I had a great time at the Iowa State Fair. Even though Olivia went to the Fair when she was just a few months old, this was her first official visit. Tracy and I saw the Fair in a different way this year, but it was fun to see it through the eyes of a 5-year-old! Here are some highlights:

Mmm... cherry lemonade! I had 1 cherry and 4 regulars during the 2009 Fair.

My new food on a stick this year was the "Carmello." It was 4 marshmallows dipped in hot caramel. Delicious and cheap... only $1!

Tracy and "Fairfield," the State Fair mascot

Tracy as a crazed FFA girl leading her calf to the show ring...

our hotel shuttle

Olivia's pig impression... she LOVED seeing those baby pigs!

We rode the skylift several times. This was the final time, and by then, Olivia had pretty much had enough of the Fair! ;)

Olivia and all her tattoos from the Varied Industries building

Tracy's photo of the Pottawattamie County Courthouse was selected to be displayed at the Photo Salon. This is the first year she entered the competition. Out of over 5000 entries, only 900 were chosen to be displayed. YEA!!!

The State Fair officially signals the end of summer for me. I'm headed to school this afternoon to start working in my classroom. I hope they have the floors done so I can get to my room. I'm ready to get back to school though. I always love the beginning of the school year. Goodbye, summer! It's been fun!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Blessings for today...

* Had lunch with Shannon and got to hear all about the Interlochen experience. It made me wish I'd done something like that in high school.

* I can't wait to see the State Fair through Olivia's eyes this weekend. I can't wait for Tracy & I to continue our State Fair tradition. I can't wait to taste the lemonade, to ride the skylift, to people watch... all that good stuff. This Iowa girl loves her Fair!

* I'm excited for school to start. This might seem like a weird blessing, but I hope I'm always excited at the beginning of the year. If I get to the point where I completely dread school starting, I need to get out of teaching.

* My Kindle. I love my Harrison Ford. I LOVE my Kindle. It's been my constant companion this summer. It's my current favorite invention. I love owning books... physically having my books. So, I wasn't sure I'd get into a Kindle. What I discovered is that I actually love my relationship with books... my thoughts, my connections, etc. Now, not only do I have ALL my books with me at all times, I have all the documentation of my thoughts, reactions, comments, etc. with me at all times. Heaven.

* This summer. I'm thankful for this wonderful, cool, busy, joyful summer. It's been wonderful, top to bottom, beginning to end. This kind of summer makes me love my job even more... a job that I love that gives me 2 1/2 months off to play. It doesn't get any better than that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Self-Absorbed? Maybe... But...

Within two days, I've heard of 3 fellow bloggers being called "self-absorbed" for blogging. I find this bizarre. Are these haters jealous? Are they ignorant? Do they have self-acceptance issues? Do they have ulterior motives? Are they just evil? And, if they think blogging is self-absorbed, WHY THE HECK ARE THEY READING PEOPLE'S BLOGS AT ALL?????

Why do I blog?

* Documentation. I like looking back on what was going on at certain points of my life. It's like an online journal for me.

* Connection. I have relatives and friends that use my blog to see what's going on in my life. They feel connected to me, even though we're miles (sometimes even continents) apart. I like reading others' blogs too for the same reason.

* Fun. Yes, maybe that's weird, but I think blogging is fun!

I know blogging isn't for everyone. Some people are private and just don't want the whole world knowing their business. Anyone who knows me knows that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I put it out there in life. Most everyone knows my business. I guess blogging is natural for people like me. Is it self-absorbed? Maybe. But, the last time I checked, no one was being forced to read it!

I don't enjoy amusement park water rides, but if you want to ride one, be my guest! I'll be waiting for you at the exit. And if you don't enjoy blogs, do us a favor... keep off the Raging Blog River. My fellow bloggers and I will meet up with you later!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rest in Peace, John Hughes

I would not be the person I am today without the films of John Hughes. They shaped and molded my teen years. I quote them frequently and still love watching them. Children of the 80's all over the world are mourning the loss of the genius that was John Hughes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Midnight Assassin

Just had a book discussion at Virginia's. There were 10 or 12 of us, I think... great turnout. We discussed the book Midnight Assassin by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf. It's a nonfiction book about a murder that happened in Iowa in 1900. More interesting to me than the actual murder though was the documentation of the hardships of being a farm wife in the late 1800's and early 1900's in this country. Our discussion was spirited and fun. We also read a one-act play written by the reporter that covered the murder trial. Many facts were changed, but it was obviously based on and built up from what happened during the Hossack trial. I liked the book because it really didn't lead you in one way or another. The wife of the victim was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Her second trial led to a hung jury, and she went free. It was a good summer read. It wasn't something I'd normally pick up for myself, which is why I love book discusion groups. We all need to read out of our comfort zones to continue to grow as readers. For more on the murder and the book, check out this website. Thanks for hosting and suggesting the book, Virginia!
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