Saturday, December 31, 2005


A few days ago I read Oso's blog about a dream he had. I remember thinking at the time that I don't really tend to remember my dreams. But last night, I was reminded that I do have one dream that I remember - and it is not at all amusing, like Oso's was.

I have this recurring nightmare that involves the same 3 characters: myself, my daughter and her father. Her father and I are not together anymore. We were together for the first 13 months of her life and that was it. Since then, 6 years have past and we have thankfully heard not a peep from that man.

So here is the dream. The dream always starts out with us getting back together. My daughter is always around 2 or 3 in the dream - in need of day care and unable to tell me what is going on. In my dream I watch us doing regular family stuff like going to the park, eating ice cream, reading together, laughing and having fun. Somewhere along the line in the dream I think to myself - "How did I get sucked into this crap again?" All the old feelings of helplessness and anger start rushing back to me in my dreams. I am always taken back to that horrible place where I felt stuck in a relationship and don't know how to get out.

So then the dream moves on to a work day for me. I am on my way to work and my daughter is staying home with her daddy, who by this point in the dream is very close to the self desructive stage that he was in right before we split. I am nervous going to work because I don't know how safe things will be for her. I go anyway because I am the only one employed and what can I do? I call home several times during the day but do not get an answer. I know something is wrong but I feel trappeed to my work obligations and do not leave. By the time I get up the gumption to leave and frantically rush home - they are nowhere to be found. I have lost my baby to that man. It is clear that He has taken off with my baby. I then turn into a helpless, screaming and crying lunatic in my dream.

This is where I usually wake up in my dream. My heart is racing, I am taking very short breaths and I have to rush and turn the lights on and refocus and try to remember what the true reality is. I then rush over to my daughter's bed, kiss her, hug her and either jump in bed with her or carry her to my bed. I need to wrap my arms around her and remember that she is safe and close to me.

Why do I have this dream? I have taken care of custody paperwork a long time ago. Her father has not come close to trying to communicate with us, much less ask to spend time with us. If he were, I know he would have an extremely hard, if not impossible time of getting any custody back if he did come back into the picture at this point in her life. So what is the problem here? Is this dream really not about her father but my feelings of helplessness about not being able to protect my daughter from the dangers of the world?

As I sit here this morning at 5:14 am - I am hoping that writing this dream out will help me to remember that this dream was just that, a dream.

And now, I am going to go back to bed and hold my baby close and try and think pleasant thoughts.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Well, the time of year has come for New Year's Resolutions. Here are mine:

My Resolutions for:

1) Continue working out at least 4 days a week. So far I have been doing 6 days a week. Let's see if I can keep this up! If you see me sitting around on the couch - ask me if I have been to the gym yet. If not - PUSH ME OUT THE DOOR!
2) Continue to eat well. So far, I have been doing very well with this too. However, I could slip very easily. For those of you who see me on a regular basis PLEASE stop me if you see me anywhere near chips, candy or cheese. Offer me some celery sticks or something...
3) Read more non-fiction. I tend to gravitate to the light and easy reading material. I think I need to get a bit more serious about my reading material. I need some enlightenment....
4) Make some time for myself: I am always doing stuff for others - I need to have some fun too! :-)

Kelly and Sabi

For My Daughter:
1) Exercise: Make sure that she has plenty of fun and athletic opportunities as possible. This year she took gymnastics every Monday and then we added tumbling on Wednesdays and Fridays in the past two months. She will be starting swimming classes next Saturday. (shh - she still hasn't opened that Hanukkah present)
2) Academics: Do more extension activities based on what she is working on at school.
3) Quality Time: Read with her consistently at night - even if she doesn't want me to! :-)
4) Food: Make sure she eats those vegetables!
5) College Fund: See that she has one - Try and figure out a way to put more away than I already do each month.

For My Family:
1) Birthdays: Not forget Grandmother's Birthday! That was shameful!
2) Quality Time: Try and get everyone together more for dinner at the table.
3) Keep in Touch: Call my little brother Aaron more and see what is going on down in L.A.

My Friends:
1) Keep in touch: I need to go out to coffee with them more and call or e-mail more often than I do.
2) Go to S.F. to see Lisie. I don't even want to think when the last time I did that was because I know it was much too long than it should be. Sorry Lisie - Forgive me???

For My Pets:
1) Goldie: I will try and remember to feed clean your fishbowl out more often than I do. I will also make sure that Sagwa doesn't knock over your bowl this year and leave you flopping around on the bathroom floor like he did last month!


2) Sagwa:
I wil try not to step on you as much as I do now. I will also try and make sure that you have fresh water daily. I know that the water you have now is a little science-experimenty!Sorry!

For my Students:
1) Reading: Re-incorporate Guided Reading. Forget NCLB guidelines, Dataworks recommendations etc...I need to do what is best for the kids.
2) Challenge my high kids. I do this already but I need to keep it in mind at all times or I will forget about it.
3) Other: Do LOTS more art and P.E. We need to have fun and stay fit!

For my World:
1) Recycle all of my Diet Cherry Pepsi cans, Diet Lime Coke cans and water bottles. I have been very bad about this.

Ok - that is my list - let's see how many of these I can stick to this year...


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Work - UGH!

I went in to my classroom today to get a little bit of clean up done before the kids come back. Why did I do this? As usual, instead of focusing on the task that I set out to do - I thought I would put up a bulletin board that I have been meaning to get done for a while. What a chore it is to put up that paper! Getting it even while trying not to wrinkle it is a nightmare. It doesn't help that it is a HUGE space that I have been working on. Non-teachers have NO idea of how much work goes into classroom prep.

In the process of putting this bulletin board up I have managed to make even more of a mess than I started out with! I will have to come back - I am too tired to finish this stuff up!

Thank goodness for my CD player and New Edition CD - they keep me going....

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What kind of Chocolate Are You???

I found this on La Dolce Diva's site who found it from La Dolce Divas' site. Kind of fun ...enjoy! Click on the green link below to take the short quiz. Tell me what kind you are! Here's me:

You are Milk Chocolate

A total dreamer, you spend most of your time with your head in the clouds.
You often think of the future, and you are always working toward your ideal life.
Also nostelgic, you rarely forget a meaningful moment... even those from long ago.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I LOVE my iPod

My lovely but beat up iPod!

A year ago, I received an iPod as a gift from both my parents and my brother Nebur. I was so happy to get it because it just seemed like a cool gift. Now that I have had it for a year, I have come to truly appreciate it.

I have the 20 GB iPod. At first I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to put all of my music on it - WRONG! To date, I have used 4.03 GB of space. That translates into 1, 394 songs or 69 days straight of listening pleasure.

My iPod went on a journey this past May with my brother Nebur to Panama. He went on a road trip with his friend Scott and both my dad and Scott's dad. On his way out of town, Nebur asked me if they could take my iPod with me since the vehicles they were taking didn't have working CD players. I think they were not so pleased to see it dressed up in its pink case when I brought it to them! They were also probably less than thrilled when they saw some of the titles on there such as Shiny Happy People from the Sesame Street: Songs Fromthe Street CD or Move Like and Emu from the Wiggles Hoop Dee Doo CD. (I have also put all of Sabina's music on the iPod.)

I had quite a scare concerning my iPod back in October. My classroom was robbed of many things. The first thing I looked for was my iPod. I had left it in the classroom the day before. It was gone! The radio transmitter was gone and no iPOd. I was crushed! As my students and I cleaned up the mess the thieves left, one of the kids found my precious gem under some desks. The thieves either didn't know what it was, couldn't handle that it was pink or I just got lucky and it slipped out of their hands as they were taking everything else.

Since then, I always keep my iPod with me in my purse. It goes everywhere I go. I use it at school with the Radio Transmitter to play songs to dance to or sing to with my students. I play it occasionally in the car. It is much harder to use in the car though as I can't get clear enough staions. (I should invest in a higher quality transmitter, I guess) Mostly though, the iPod is my best friend at the gym. Thanks to the iPod, I can rock out while I am working out. It makes the time go by SO much quicker and it is fun. I do have to be careful though.... Sometimes I catch myself singing along with the music or dancing on the treadmill. OOPS!

Here are some of my favorite "Jams" that I listen to at the gym:

* Get Up Off of that Thing - James Brown (I always start with this one)
* Fin de Semana and Anabacoa - Oscar D'Leon
* Dale and El Kitikimbá - Vission Latina
* Fruta Fresca - Carlos Vives
* Caprichosa - Chayanne (for Mary!)
* No Creo En Brujeria - Samy y Sandra Sandoval (Cooking Diva and Nebur are probably
the only ones who know who they are!)
* Paid In Full - Erik B. and Rakim

* A Children's Story - Slick Rick
* Girls on Film - Duran Duran
* Love Shack - The B-52's
* Dancing Machine - Jackson 5
* I've Got it Made - Special Ed
* The Overweight Lover's in the House - Heavy D and the Boys
* A Quien Le Importa - Thalía
* Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
* La Negra Tiene Tumbao - Celia Cruz
* Check the Rhime and What? - A Tribe Called Quest
* Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band - The Beatles

and more...

I always end with Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman." It is corny, I know - but that's how it goes!

Thanks for the iPod y'all!

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Here are the recipes. I will post pictures of them as we make them! (and eat them)

Enchilada Soup

Enchilada Soup

1 T. vegetable oil 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ cup diced onion 1 clove minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth 1 cup Masa Harina
3 cups water, divided 1 cup enchilada sauce
1 lb. velveeta, cubed 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Shredded cheese tortilla chips

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Brown chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Shred and set aside. To the pot, add onions and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Pour in chicken broth. In a medium bowl combine masa harina with 2 cups of water and whisk until blended well. To the onions and garlic add the masa harina mixture, remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese, salt, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil; add shredded chicken. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, or until thickened.
Garnish with shredded cheese and crumbled tortilla chips, if desired.

Hot applesauce - Ready to eat!

Kelly’s Homemade Applesauce:

2 bags of Granny Smith Apples
Lemon juice – just a little bit to keep the applesauce from browning and to give it a little tang
Sugar (to taste)
Cinnamon (to taste)

Wash apples, cut in fourths and bring to a boil. When the apples are tender, drain the water and put the apples through a food mill. Squeeze lemon juice in and add sugar and cinnamon to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes
10 Grated Potatoes
1 Grated onion
1-2 eggs

Peel and grate potatoes. Drain the water from the potatoes. To the potatoes add enough flour and eggs to bind the potatoes together. Not too much! Add salt to your liking. Fry in oil until golden brown on both sides. Serve with applesauce, ketchup, sour cream etc…

Holiday Food and a Jolly Good Laugh!

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was really trying to watch what I eat. Now that the holidays are here - all bets are off! I will be indulging in some amazing food in the next few days.

Here is the plan:

Sunday afternoon (and evening) - Christmas with Grandmother:
- Enchilada Soup
- Cabbage Salad
- Grandmother's Famous Toffee and Cookies

Monday Evening: Second Night of Hanukkah
- Beef Brisket
- Potato Latkes
- Homemade Applesauce
- Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie

Tuesday Morning: Breakfast at Nebur's - (I haven't asked him yet but I'm hoping he'll go
for it)
- Nebur's famous build your own omelettes

In the spirit of my new blogging friend Melissa, the Cooking Diva, I will post the recipes for both the enchildada soup, potato latkes and applesauce soon. YUMMMMMMM...............

Now on to the funny stuff:
One of my all time favorite Christmas movies is A Christmas Story. I found the following spoof on someone's blog this month and want to share it with all of you. Enjoy:

Friday, December 23, 2005

I am Lucky

Funny Face Sabi and Mommy

I love my daughter dearly. She is the best thing to have ever happened to me. I love helping her with her homework, talking about things that happen at school, explaining questions that she has about the world in which we live, baking with her, playing games with her, being there for her when she is sick or hurt or just being there for her in general. I love being her mommy.

Yesterday something interesting happened. Sabi and I went out on the town to do some shopping. We had the best time. She made me laugh so hard I cried several times. Somewhere, in the middle of all of our silliness, Sabina stopped feeling as if she was my daughter. She seemed like she was one of my best friends.

I am lucky to have such a great daughter and friend!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


This week I have been feeling so good. I have been SUPER happy, I have been laughing a lot, and life, in general has just been wonderful. I was wondering what it could be the cause of this happy state and I just figured that it was due to the fact that I am on vacation and that Hanukkah is right around the corner. Wrong!

I figured out the reason - I lost 6 pounds this week! Woo-Hoo! I have been to the gym every day this week and last week. (with the exception of Sunday when they are closed) I have been very faithful with the cardio workout and the weights. In addition, I have been bringing carrots and celery sticks to work (and upstairs when I am at the computer) to munch on and I have somehow managed to stay away from all of the holiday goodies. (well - I did eat a few tamales!) I have also been drinking gallons of water daily.

I have to keep this trend up. Not only is it good for my health but just think of all the new clothes I'll have to buy! YIPPEE!!! :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Guest Bloggers and Last Day of School

Here are some of today's entries from our class journals. I left the spelling and grammar errors in - I am sure you will be able to understand them! The hard to read parts I translated in red!

Poinsettia -Flor de Nochebuena

Journal Prompt: Are you excited about winter vacation? What are you going to do? Tell me ALL about it.

Yes, are you? I am because I can read and play and learn when I do my homework. We will celebrate Chrastmas and eat tamales too. We will open presents and go to Modesto to see my Grampa.
On my vacation I am going to stay home and count my stickers and do homework. And help my mother do dinner, And then I will watch tv and play with my brother and sister. Then I will see how my parakeets are.
I’m excited of our vacation because we can ride (read) and play games. I like to ride Jack and Annie books. I like to play gams too and go to my cusins house to watch a DVD. He has the DVD of Meregesdar. (Madagascar!) I hope that we get lots of homework. I like the homework.
I am excited that I am going to be in vacation because you get to play or wach movies or you could just drawing a pitcher. You could just eat peanut butter and jele sandwiches and sit in front of the t.v. too.
I am excited about our vacation because I am going to go to the show. We are going to go to the mall to see Santa Claus. Then we will go to Fresno to see my mom.
I will go to the sno to play snoball four Krismas. We sled down the sno. It is fun I fell off my snobord. It is fun.
I am excited that vacation is coming so I could go to my cousins’ house. We could play this game called Smackdown on his Play Station. We could also play a game called Driver. My cousin always lets me borrow his movie called SkyHigh. It is about this kid who doesn’t have power but he is suppset (supposed) to have them. Both his parents are Superheroes. The movie begins when it’s the first day of high school. I hope that this is a very good vacation like the other one was.
The End!
Lo que quiero decir a mi maestra es que la quiero mucho. En La Navidad la voy a pasar muy bien.
Yo cuando llego a m casa voy a quedarme en mi cuarto encerrada con mis conejos. Voy a leer unos libros y luego voy hacer matematicas de menos y mas. Luego voy a escribir un poco y despues voy a jugar con mi hermanita. Vamos a ir a la casa de mi abuelita para celebrar la Navidad.
On my vacation I will color La Virgen de Guadalupe and hang her on my fridge close to a candle. I am excited of Chrtismas. On Christmas Day I will put the baby Jesus on the house of God. Then I will eat and play games. Merry Christmas!

We are done for the year and don't come back until January 4th. Hooray for vacation time. Let's see if I can actually keep myself away from my classroom during the break and actually enjoy the vacation...

Holiday Banners

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Feast or Famine - UPDATED


In my many years of teaching at my school I am always amazed at the party trend that I see here.

Whenever we have a BIG holiday coming up we have a classroom party. (my principal prefers that we call them "celebrations!") I can always predict what and how much will come to the party based upon the type of kids that I have. If I have an academically high group, I get very little food. I usually end up going out at lunch time to get more stuff for the party. If I have an academically low group overall, I have too much food - those kids can party!

Well, this year, my class is overall much higher than I have had in the past. What came in the door today for our party? Two bags of cookies! Never fails. :-) An hour after school started a mom came by and asked if I needed anything else and she brought in some Capri Suns. That will hold us. Really, the kids don't need to stuff themselves.

Hooray once again for my kiddos. I don't want to give them up at the end of the year...

Party Update: We had the best party ever this year. The kids didn't over eat since there was not too much food. We ate, practiced our songs for our Holiday Songfest tomorrow and then watched an awesome video about celebrating Las Posadas in Mexico. It was in Spanish. I have 1 student who doesn't speak Spanish but he loved it. He especially liked when he heard some of the songs that we will be singing tomorrow. He said " Hey Ms. V! They stole our songs!"

Gotta love it! :-)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Charter School Help


Hello Blogger Friends,
I am looking for information on Charter Schools. I really don't know too much about them. I am looking specifically for a definition of what charter schools are, who they can accept and deny in enrollment, what boundaries they have to state and national standards and regulations and what kind of accontability they have on a state and national level. (end of year testing and NCLB compliance)
Send me whatever you can.
¡Mil gracias! :-)

Uplifting News!

Well, I am over that memo that I wrote about in the last post. Why? Because I have brilliant students. I just got through with my monthly reading assessments. The results are as follows:

5 of my kids are reading above grade level.
7 are at grade level
5 are below but in this group 2 of them jumped 5 levels from last month's assessment.

Basically, 12 kids are where they need to be at this time of the year. For my school, and my group of kids, that is awesome. Last year I had 12 in a group but they were all below grade level at this time!

The best part of the morning though was sitting with one student in particular. This little kid was so eager to read to me. Now I have struggled to make school exciting for this child all year long. He needs to be entertained to learn and let me tell you - I have been tap dancing as hard as I can for him!!! Anyway, he started to read for me today and what a changed person he is. He read with good fluency, great expression and accuracy. He is a few levels below grade level but he is coming along. As soon as he was done reading he looked up at me with the BIGGEST smile ever. He was so proud of himself. He said "How was that Ms.V?" I wanted to cry I was so proud!!! I gave him a big hug and sent him to the office on a "good" visit to the principal. Yeah for progress!

Bah Humbug! Part 2

Today I received a BRIGHT RED memo in my cubby at work. It was from the Head Honcho of our school district. It essentially said that Christmas and New Year's are very important holidays in our town. They give us the time to focus on our families and be together. The letter thanked all of us employees for working in the district. The closing wished us a meaningful Christmas.

Gee - I am glad that my school district is so diverse and aware of all its employees! (NOT!)

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Grandfather

Lil' Chuck

Today would have been my Grandfather's 88th birthday. He is no longer physically with us but remains with us in our thoughts constantly. There are so many times that I have picked up the phone or thought "I want to tell Grandfather that" only to be reminded that he is not just a phone call away.

Charles Baker

Losing my Grandfather was rough. It was the first death of someone close to me that I ever had to deal with. I don't know what was worse - watching him suffer with Parkinson's before he died or dealing with losing him after he died. In his last days he was very feverish and was not communicating well. I remember grabbing his hand to try and attempt to comfort him. I was not even sure if he was aware that I was by his side. I was surprised and shocked when he grabbed my hand very tightly and for quite some time. He spoke no words but it felt as if he was saying goodbye to me and wishing all the best that life has to offer.

The Baker Family

My Grandfather was such a wonderful man. He was the best Grandfather I could ever ask for. I was so blessed to live close by him for most of my life. I am so happy that my daughter had the opportunity to get to know him and that he had the chance to know her. He called Sabina his "Little Sunshine."

Wedding Picture - Grandmother and Grandfather

One of the things my Grandfather used to always tell me was that he would dance at my wedding. (This coming from a man who I NEVER remember dancing! ) Well, I was not able to provide him with that opportunity. However, I know that if that opportunity ever presents itself in the future, he will be there in spirit.

Grandfather and Sabi

Today, I was looking frantically for a picture of the two of us together. I couldn't find any. I then realized that there probably were pictures of us but in slide form. I also remembered that Grandfather probably took most of the pictures so he wouldn't be in that many. I finally remembered that I did have one slide of the two of us made into a print a few years ago. It is very special to me. It is of Grandfather reading to me. Reading was one of his favorite things to do. It is also one of mine.

Grandfather and Me

I am thinking of you today Grandfather. I love you dearly. Thank you for loving me too.

Friday, December 16, 2005

One Big Happy Family

Class Portrait

I know that I have said this before but I LOVE MY STUDENTS! They are the best. This year I was blessed with some really hardworking and sweet children. They all bring something special to our group and it is such a pleasure to see them each and every day. They are really good for my ego too. It is not uncommon to hear "Ms. V. you are nice" or "Ms. V you are pretty." They even draw me like I am a cutie! Check out the above picture. I am skinny with pretty blue hair and a crown! Who could ask for more??? In the past few weeks I have been showered with gifts that included the class portrait above, flowers, tamales, pastel de tres leches, tacos TONS of pictures and MILLIONS of hugs. My students ROCK!!!

Today we did some art. We rarely do art in my class. Art is unfortunately frowned upon at school. However, with 4 days left until break, I am going to get in each day. Today we discussed Kwanzaa and made a Kinara, the candle holder used during Kwanzaa. Monday we will do a Hanukkah activity and Tuesday will be on Christmas. On Wednesday we are putting on a songfest of holiday songs for the parents. I can't wait!!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2005


My letter was published today in the paper. It was changed a bit.

Candlelight Vigil

On Sunday, while watching the news my daughter told me "If the governor doesn't let Tookie Williams go, when I become governor, I will do it."

I didn't have the heart to explain to her that Tookie Williams would not be let go, just not be executed. I also didn't explain the the deadline for his execution was the next day, not enough time for her to grow up and run for governorship. Instead I hugged her for having a big heart and we talked about what she would need to do to be governor. (college, running for office etc)

Monday came. Clemency was denied. Tuesday morning came. Tookie Williams was executed. I kept NPR off in the car and didn't turn on the TV in front of her. If she asks, I will do my best to explain. What will I say? I just don't know.

Sunday, December 11, 2005



Star and Dreidels


Star of David Cookie

Today my Sunday School class decorated cookies. I brought in colored frosting, sugar sprinkles, colored cookie spray and candies to decorate the cookies with. The cookies turned out beautifully. The kids were hyper. HMMM... I wonder why?

TOO MUCH DARN SUGAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hanukkah is Coming...

My Hanukkiah

Dreidel Hanukkiah

Mom's Hanukkiah

Mom's Hanukkiah

We got our pottery back that we painted on Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the vase that Sabina made for her teacher. It was beautiful. Sabina and I did a presentation on Hanukkah for her class and she gave it to the teacher as a present. I will have to ask the teacher if we can take a picture of it.

I tried to take pictures of all of our Hanukkiot today but the lighting was bad and I need to have a better backdrop. I will have to work on this.

This weekend we will start pulling out the Hanukkah stuff and decorating. It is still a bit early. Hanukkah starts on the eve of December 25 this year. We might even bake some cookies too!!!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Feliz Día de las Madres

Kelly, Mom y Conjunto Viva Panama

Mom, Me and Conjunto Viva Panamá

Today is Mother's Day in Panamá. Thanks to Melissa for reminding me!!! Check out her Mother's Day post here.
Happy Mother's Day to all Mommies!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Subtraction With Regrouping Update

Last week I wrote about teaching subtraction with regouping to my class. The kids really caught on quickly. They were so good at it that they were ready for the test on Monday. The test consisted of 16 mixed subtraction problems (some with regouping, some not) and 4 word problems where the kids have to use the same above mentioned skills. The results were the best ever. Our class average was 88%. I was just amazed. I have four kids who receive math resource support during the day and 2 of those did quite well. One of them told me "Ms. V., it is like a game, I get it now!" Well thank goodness!!!

The other two students who receive extra math support got a zero on the test because they sadly have not been able to unlock the door to the math world and numbers. I am going to keep working with those two but we will be working on one to one correspondance, number formation and basic math facts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One More Time


I know people are probably tired of hearing of this ongoing Christmas/Holiday debate. Oh well! Here is more:

The cartoon above shows just how out of hand this debate has gotten. Am I really offended when people say Christmas? Absolutely not! Am I offended when people act as if it is the only thing going on right now? A little bit. The cartoon above is quite interesting because it depicts a child getting in trouble for doing this. To tell you the truth, children, in my experience are the most open about the holiday season. I always teach the winter holidays to my students. The kids really want to learn about other customs and celebrations. I am reading a chapter book right now called Horrible Harry and the Holidaze. It is a nice little story about a 3rd grade class and the holidays that are celebrated in their room. It covers many winter celebrations such as 3 Kings Day, Korean New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. The kids are on pins and needles as I read each day and want to hear more. They go to the library each day during their recess to get more information on the holiday that they just heard about that day. When we wrote our pen pal letters today, one of the kids said "Ms. V., should we say Merry Christmas to them? What if they don't celebrate it?" Can you believe that? I promise - I had no influence on that end. The kids decided that they would say "Happy Holidays" so they "don't hurt anyone's feelings."

More on this subject...

In today's Modesto Bee, the following letter was submitted to the Editor.

Atheists also want to forbid happiness
No Merry Christmas? What kind of unhappy heathens are trying to dictate to us? What is next? No Happy New Year, no Good Friday, no Easter, no Happy Birthday, no Valentine's Day, no Mother's Day, no Father's Day, no Independence Day, no Labor Day, no Halloween, no Veterans' Day, no Thanksgiving Day? Will we no longer say, "happy days," "good morning" or "good night"? This would become a sad "Goodnight to America." These are part of our American heritage. If these ill-educated atheists do not like a "Merry Christmas," maybe they have no place in our society. Let them dwell in their own devil domain. Let's not let them take over our happy country. We can start by boycotting all these un-American pagans.

I don't usually write in but I did before I left for school this morning. We will see if it gets published. If it does, you read it here first! :-)

It saddened me to read (name omitted to protect the unenlightened!'s ) letter to the editor this morning. It is yet another hateful display of discrimination to all non-Christians living here in the U.S. Mr. _____ assumes that the only people who don't like the term "Merry Christmas" are Atheists. He then goes on to refer to Atheists as "un-Americans" who should "dwell in their own devil domain." Mr. _____: no one wants to take Merry Christmas away from you. There are many of us however that don't celebrate Christmas, not just Atheists. We celebrate Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Diwali, Hanukkah, other winter holidays or none at all. "Happy Holidays" seems to best encapsulate the spirit of the season.

Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bah Humbug!

I hate shopping at this time of the year because it makes me see how truly divided we really are in this country. At this time of the year it is all about X-Mas. Anywhere you go that you have to interact with a human you will hear "Merry Christmas" or "Have You Finished Your X-Mas Shopping Yet" etc. Too many people assume that the only celebration, if any at this time, is X-Mas.

Finding holiday items is a major chore. Can you believe that in this very big city that I live in only 2 stores carry Hanukkah items? TWO! Those 2 stores would be Party City and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The selection is very small but at least it is there. Actually, there is a third place - our synagogue gift shop.

Now my fellow Jews may argue with me and remind me that Hanukkah is not even a big holiday for us Jews. I know, I agree BUT - I have a 7 year old and I like the idea of a winter celebration of lights. It is a truly beautiful and wonderful time for the family to come together.

If I want Hanukkah stuff, I have to glean what little I like from the local stores and then go online to get the rest. How unfair is that?

I have started going in to stores, that I don't even shop at, and asked the sales people where the Hanukkah section is. The responses vary from "huh?" to "What" or to "I don't think so" or "we only carry X-mas stuff because it is more popular!" Cost Plus, one of my favorite stores used to carry a great supply of Hanukkah stuff. Since their remodel, they don't carry anything anymore. Today I asked the manager at Cost Plus why they don't carry it. She gave me some stupid answer.

I then realized that it was selfish of me to think that I was being deprived of Hanukkah stuff since I have seen absolutely no Kwanzaa, Diwali, Ramadan or other winter holiday stuff around. Why, in our very diverse city, in our very diverse state and in our very diverse country is this the case??? I WANT TO SPEND MY $ JUST LIKE THE NEXT PERSON!!!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Subtraction With Regrouping

One of the subjects that I absolutely hate to teach is subtraction with regrouping. (borrowing) It is somewhat confusing to kids to grasp the concept. It doesn't help that our book spends a lot of time trying to get the kids to internalize the process and idea of borrowing tens. I guess that the purpose for doing that is so kids can understand why they are regrouping. In my humble opinion, that only makes things worse. It can take weeks for the whole class to really master the art of double digit subtraction with regrouping.

This year, I took a different approch to teaching this subject. During Intersession, I pulled a few kids and taught them this subject ahead of time. When we tracked back on this week, I taught the rest of the group. I also decided to skip the whole explanation of place value and I merely taught them the process. Guess what? It worked!!! We have been working on this for 5 days and with the exception of 3 kids, they can do it. They can even do worksheets of mixed subtraction facts where some problems are to be regrouped and some are not! The 3 kids who can't do it are still having problems with identifying numbers and adding and subtracting basic facts. That is another story...

Yeah math! ! !

Thursday, December 01, 2005


It is a dreary and rainy day.

I think we should have "Rain Days" in school. On "Snow Days" kids don't have to go to school. We shouldn't have to come when it rains either. It is dangerous to drive in rain. It is dangerous for kids to walk in the rain. Kids have an EXTREMELY hard time concentrating when it rains.Basically, rainy days are a wash!

We did manage to get some things done today but that was during the part of the day that it didn't rain.

Why can't it only rain on the weekends when I can snuggle up with a good book in front of the fire?

Whine, whine, whine!!!