Friday, December 29, 2006

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!

When I go back to school on the 8th, I will be on for 2 days and then I will have 3 days out of the classroom for AB466 math training. I will then have to be out of the classroom for 2 days the following week to finish off the training. I am SO unhappy about this for two reasons. The first reason is because I hate to miss school days for training. It is not easy to write sub plans. The kids are essentially on hold until I return. I hate that. The main reason that I am unhappy though is because the training is SO STUPID!!!! Here is a synopsis of what the training is:

AB466 Training

Participants study all components of the program and learn how each component of the program works together to create a complete, comprehensive program. In addition the participants learn scientific research behind the program as it relates to actual classroom practices.

Why is this dumb? It is dumb because we have been using our curriculum for the past 5 years already. WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING!!! We are also very close to a new adoption as it is. The least they can do is wait for our new adoption when learning about our curriculum might actually be meaningful.

I had to take the AB 466 training about 5 years ago for the language arts program that we currently use. I was really excited about the training prior to the event. I had piloted the new materials and had a good chance to familiraize myself with the program. I was anxious to go and have my questions answered and get more info. I soon found out that I was not going to learn one thing from the training. The trainers told us on the first day that they hadn't even used the materials...can you believe it? As it turned out, I knew much more than the trainers did. I ended up bringing a lot of my own teacher created materials to share with the group. What a waste of time.

This training that is coming up will most likely be a waste of time. Due to the fact that we are a Program Improvement school though, we are forced to take the training. Apparently the lawmakers in California think that we teachers are so useless and unskilled that we need to waste our time this way. We are also losing big chunks of money by having to take this training. It costs a lot of money to train an entire school. Why can't lawmakers see that the money spent is going in the wrong direction? If they want to help children in Program Improvement schools, they should pour money into after school tutoring programs and parent/family education programs.

New Year's Eve

I used to get all excited about New Year's Eve. Back then, it meant getting dressed up, going out and having a fun time with friends.

Now, New Year's Eve is not so exciting anymore. Last year my friend Yolanda and I decided that if we had no better offers, we would go out together and bring the New Year in. We both got all dressed up, went out to dinner at Chevy's and then got tired around 9:30. We both went home around then and I can't even remember if I stayed up to see 2006 roll in.

What are my plans for tomorrow night??? None. I haven't planned on anything. Maybe I will go back to Chevy's with Yola. Maybe I will stay home...who knows.

What exciting things are you doing? Let me live vicariously through you!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Vacation is pure bliss!

Aside from starting my vacation with a cold, I am having a fabulous time doing absolutely nothing. It is great. My morning starts with enjoying my novelas in bed ... yippee! From there I just do whatever suits my fancy. Today, Sabina and I went out to Color Me Mine and then we went on to the Mudroom to have more painting fun! Tomorrow I might go in to school to organize my room for a while but I think that will be fun because I am bringing Ms. Sabi with me. On Friday I am planning a trip to San Jose to the Children's Museum and maybe the BIG MALL!!! I have no New Year's plans as of yet. Anyone know of anything exciting??? Let me know.

I can't believe that I still have one more week after this week. What fun!!!

I am loving my vacation y'all!

Too Much Truth is Painful...

When I became a parent I decided that I needed to be truthful to my daughter and tell her everything that she wanted to know, no hiding stuff. (In an appropriate way, of course) I have kept true to my word. Sabi however is not so happy that I have. Let me explain...

Last Friday night, Sabi asked me where babies came from. Inside I thought "oh man! I don't want to do this!" On the outside however, I kept my composure and matter of factly told her all of the details. She was quiet and then said "You could have tweaked that a little bit for me mom....GROSSS!!! EWWW!!!! Did you have to tell me everything???" All I could do was laugh!

Yesterday, she overheard me talking to my mom about my scheduled mammogram. Later, in private, she asked me what a mammogram was. Again, I told her. She asked "Do you have to, um, take off your, um clothes to do that???" I told her yes. She again said "EWW!" Then she went on to say that being a grown up is gross!

So much for honesty! :-)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Enchilada Soup

Mom made Enchilada Soup yesterday. It was AWESOME!

YUMMY Enchilada Soup!

Here is the recipe:
1 T. Vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup masa harina
3 cups water
1 cup enchilada sauce
1 pound Velveeta, cubed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
shredded cheese
tortilla chips

Boil chicken in water. When cooked all the way through, drain water and shred. In a large pot, add oil, onions and garlic and sautee. Pour in chicken broth. In a medium bowl combine masa harina with 2 cups water and whick until blended. Add this to the large pot of chicken broth along with remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese, salt, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil and add shredded chicken. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened.

Garnish with shredded cheese, sliced veggies of your choice and tortilla chips.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

For All of You Teachers Out There!

I just found this Christmas Song on my 2nd Grade Message Board... Enjoy!

Sing to the tune of Winter Wonderland

Children scream, they're not listenin'
When they go, we don't miss em,
In all of this pain, we try to stay sane,
Workin' in an elementary school.

Christmas comes, they're excited,
Though our nerves, they've ignited,
They're off of the walls,
They run in the halls,
Workin' in an elementary school.

In the lunchroom we can hear them yellin'
And we know that they are really wound.
Someone hits, the other says, "I'm tellin'"
And that is when our heads begin to pound.

Pretty soon we'll be restin'
Cause our nerves, they've been testin'
We're happy it's clear
It just comes once a year
Christmas in an Elementary school.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Happy Hanukkah!

Classroom Brr!

This morning I walked in my classroom and started my morning routine. (Turn on the lights, turn on the computer and check the lesson plans. I turned the light switch on and then I pushedd the start button on the computer. It was about then that I realized that it was FREEZING cold in my room. I went straight over to the wall unit to see what was going on. The unit was not working. Then I looked realized that my lights and computer were not on. Apparently, someone thought it would be really funny to turn off the power to my classroom. I teach in a portable and due to fire safety regulations, there must be an accessible, unlocked switch to turn all power off in the classroom on the outside. This means that anyone can turn off the power to my room at any time! Anyway, my neighbor teacher restored my power but was unable to restore the heat to my room. The heating unit was off for so long that it froze. It was 30 degrees in the room!!!!!

The principal moved us to a nearby, vacant room. We were in the vacant room for 2 and a half hours. That was no fun because the heater in that room worked but not very well. It was also no fun to have to go back and forth for materials all morning long.

After morning recess we came back to our room. It was nice to be back "home" but I still haven't warmed up yet. I can't wait to get home and take a scalding hot bath. I am frozen down to my bones!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Countdown to Hanukkah...4 Days...

Today we are changing up the genre of music - Enjoy!!! (Ha!)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hanukkah Countdown...5 more days!

I have been to several big name stores this weekend looking for some Hanukkah items. I don't really have to have anything new for Hanukkah but I always like to add a new Hanukkiah to my collection each year. NONE of the stores I went to with the exception of Bed, Bath and Beyond carried any Hanukkah items. To make matters worse, Many of the employees looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign language when I asked where their Hanukkah section was. Where is all of the Hanukkah stuff??? I guess that I will have to trek back out to Berkeley to indulge myself.

Today's holiday spirit video is one of Sabina practicing the song "Chanukah."

Hanukkah Countdown...6 more days

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Solo Day

Today was Solo Day. Sabi played very well. The song that she played was the Chorus from Judah Macabbeus.

To see the video, click HERE!
Two notes about this video:

1) I need to use a tripod if I am to continue taking videos with my camera.

2) I need to find a better place to "capture the moment" would be nice to remove all of the backs of people's heads as possible!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy 90th!

Today, my amazing grandmother turns 90. Wow! She is in wonderful health and in very good shape. Last weekend the entire family celebrated her birthday together with her on the day after Thanksgiving. Today, we will take her out to the McHenry Mansion for "A Dickens Christmas" mansion tour. After that, we will come back to our house for some warm soup and check out some old family slides.

Happy Birthday Grandmother! May you have many more to come!!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006


I love Fridays.

Fridays mornings are teacher treat days. Different teachers take turns bringing in food for the entire staff. We all meet up in the lounge before we start the day and eat a bunch of goodies.

Fridays are fun teaching days. We wrap up and review what we have learned during the week. Fridays are almost always test days. (spelling, dictation, vocabulary, story tests, AR and sometimes, math tests) I know that sounds like a lot but it really isn't that bad. My students really love tests too. (go figure!) To add to our Friday fun, we also have music class on this day. On Friday afternoons, we end the week off on a fun note. We either spend the last 30 minutes of the day playing academic games or we watch a movie based on something related to our curriculum. Today, we saw a Reading Rainbow episode based on a story on Chinatown since we just finished reading about Chinatown in our textbook.

My favorite part about Fridays though is lunchtime. After I drop off my second graders I run back to my class and quickly eat my lunch. Then I eagerly await the arrival of my former students, now big and bad third graders, to come and help me collate and staple homework packets for my students for the following week. I really miss these former students of mine. They were so much fun, they have such a great sense of humor and really loved learning. They were probably the best group of kids I have taught thus far.

Anyway, today as we were working I asked my weekly question: "So, what are you learning about this week in third grade?" They then told me about the academics of the week. Then I went on to ask "Is third grade a lot harder than second grade?" One of the boys told me "not really, everything is easy for me." (He isn't lying either - he is SO gifted!) Then he remembered a particularly challenging moment of the week and said "Except yesterday. Yesterday we learned something new and it really made me think too hard. I got a headache Ms. V. I had to think too hard." I smiled at him and said "That is great! We haven't done our job if we don't make you think hard while you are at school."

He went right back at me with "Well, then all of you teachers aren't doing your jobs very well because yesterday was the only day I ever had to think in all of my time in school!"

Kids say the darndest things!

Monday, November 27, 2006

First Day Back and a Dumb T-shirt

My first day back was pretty good. Our track on days are always minimum days. Even though I planned for a shorter day, everything just flew by today. My student teacher had to stop me from teaching today because had she not stopped me I would have taught all the way through lunch! The kids were amazing today too. They were amazingly quiet and well behaved today. Even more impressive was their recall of two digit addition with regrouping. We only did about 4 days of this concept before we tracked off. Today, all but one student remembered it and remembered it well - wow!!! The other student sat back with me and figured it out before the day was through. I am looking forward to going back tomorrow and teaching a full day - yay!

Even though we are a uniform school, we still have a good handful of kids who don't wear uniforms. Instead of the beautiful uniform they opt for either Raider or BRATZ gear or stupid slogan t-shirts. Today, I saw a t-shirt that said "Be glad I'm not your kid!" Why in the HECK would someone by this for their kids much less allow them to wear it? Come on!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back to Work

Tomorrow I go back on track. The good thing is that December usually flies by very quickly and we get two more weeks off. The bad thing is that in December, it is hard to get kids to focus on schoolwork, especially during the last week of school. Usually, I try to combine all of the December holidays with second grade standards to try and jazz up interest in school. This year though I will not be doing that because I have a J.W. student who can not do the work. That is ok though... I will just have to get creative and figure out another way to teach and entertain the kiddos through this month.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Mom and Grandmother would be so proud!

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Fall Play In

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally uploaded by msabcmom.
This Thanksgiving seems as if it is a bit more relaxed than usual. My mom and I did some prep work before hand and there is really not much left to do today. Yeah! We are heading out for a long walk now to help take care of the extra goodies we will eat today because as the saying goes "No gobble til' you wobble!" (we will probably do this after the meal too!)

May you all have a wonderful day filled with food, family and love! Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Slumber Party

Growing up, my dad was very protective of me. There were a lot of things I couldn't do that all of my other friends could do. One of those things was go to slumber parties. I was always allowed to have slumber parties but it was rare for me to get to go to a slumber party unless it was to the house of friends (and their parents) that my parents knew well and trusted. I remember telling myself that when I was older and had children that I would let them spend the night at their friends' houses.

I was wrong. I TOTALLY understand why I was so carefully protected. I had the slumber party discussion with a friend of mine a few months ago and she too does not let her girls go to other homes for sleepovers. She told me many things during our discussion but the one thing that stuck with me is this question "Kelly, are you willing to sit down with these parents and have a serious talk about your child's safety? Are you willing to ask them if they have weapons or handguns in the home? If they say no, that they don't have weapons or handguns, will you believe it? " I didn't know what to say...

For now, I have made the decision to not allow Sabi to sleep over anyhwhere except with famiily. She isn't all that happy about it but I think she understands, to a degree, why I am making this decision.
Last night I came home to find a message from the mom of one of Sabina's friends on our machine. The mom called to tell me who she was and beg me to let Sabina attend her daughter's slumber party. Among the many things that this mom mentioned on the message were:
1) Sabina is only one of 4 girls that is invited.
2) She would let me come over to meet her and we could have coffee.
3) It is very important to her daughter that Sabina come.

My thoughts last night on this were:
1) Am I supposed to feel the pressure to let Sabina go because she is in this elite group of 4 kids?
2) What kind of parent does this lady think I am if she thinks that a quick visit to her house for coffee, (a complete stranger to me!) would make me change my mind and let Sabina stay the night. How can she possibly think that I can feel comfortable enough with only meeting her for a short while to entrust her with my most precious of all things in the world?
3) Just because it is important to her daughter, I am supposed sacrifice what I think is best?
4) I had not even seen an invitation. How was I supposed to even think about what to do without haveing any details?

Sabina came to me very excited this afternoon when I picked her up. She pulled out her invitation from her friend that she just received today. As she was giving it to me she told me how embarrassing it was to receive it because it was given to her in front of another friend of hers who wasn't invited. (darn kid parties!) Before I looked at it I reminded her that she was not allowed to sleep over but that I might let her go to the party. We then looked at it and I told her to look at the date. She looked at it and realized pretty quickly that it was a bad date. It is on a Friday night during the time that we go to services at the synagogue. Even worse though was that it is on the first night of Hanukkah. She didn't even ask if she couild attend the party because she knew the answer.

Luckily, this situation kind of worked itself out on its own. I called her friend's mom and said that we would not be able to make it due to the fact that it is on the first night. No big problem there. Sabina was ok with my decision because she wants to celebrate Hanukkah with us. (thank goodness!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Charlotte's Web Event!

Who: Charlotte's Web fans and other children's book lovers!

What: Read - In

When: Wednesday, December 13th; 12:00 pm EST

Where: Anywhere!

Why: To share this wonderful book and to set a new world record.

More information on this event here

What she wants for Hanukkah

Sabi is dying for an American Girl doll for Hanukkah. She wants a Just Like You Doll. The doll on this post is the doll that looks the most like her. It really isn't just like her though. There are many different doll choices but they really aren't all that different. It is essentially the same doll in different skin tones. The hair on all of the dolls is straight except for the doll pictured here.
How much does this "not really Just Like You doll" cost? $87!!! That is WAY more than I planned on spending. After you purchase the doll, you still have to buy all kinds of clothes and accessories. What a money pit! Poor Sabi keeps dropping hints to me about how much she would like this doll. I keep dropping hints about how much this doll doesn't look like her. (I also mention that she is much prettier than the doll!)
Will I get this doll for her. No. I just can't see spending that much money on the doll. What I will probably get her though are some of the Historical fiction related pieces for Josefina, one of my favorite American Girls.
Presents can be fun as well as interesting and educational, right???

Monday, November 20, 2006

I better brush up on my California Trivia!

Thanks Jenn!

You're totally like 63% California!
Hmmm... you have some definite memories of this place... maybe you were born here but moved away as a child. Or you live in Fontana. Whatever. Come back someday!

How California are You?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

You Go Boy!

The graduate
Originally uploaded by msabcmom.
First, he graduated. On Friday, he passed the Bar Exam.

Congratulations Lil' Lobo!

Friday, November 17, 2006

What's For Dinner?

A splash of color

What is your family cooking for Thanksgiving dinner? Do you eat a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal? Do you eat something else? Please comment on your Turkey Day menu and whether or not you will be preparing your meal or dining at someone else's house this year.

Dressing or Stuffing - What do you call it?

Our family gathers here for Thanksgiving. We eat Turkey that has either been BBQ'd or oven baked. (sometimes both!) We also dine on my mom's cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, Margie's excellent cranberry relish, salad and some type of cooked green veggie, usually peas. The sweets include pumpkin pie for most of the famiily and mince meat or a raisin and nut pie for Margie and myself! (ok...we share this pie with eveyone, we just don't touch the pumpkin pie!) We also have plenty of cranberry bread to go around.

Walnut Pie

Don't forget to comment on your Thanksgiving Day meals. Enquiring minds want to know...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Celebrity in the Family

This is my cousin! You can click here for English. Ok...he is actually a third cousin or something like that. We are still related though! Thanks S.B for the tip!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pure Madness!!!!!!!!

Today we ran over to Best Buy to look at dishwashers. (ours conked out on us and we need a new one...but that is another story!) As we were walking into the store we noticed about 20 people or so hanging out on the side of the front entrance to the store. The people had fold up chairs, sleeping bags and backpacks. My first thought was that the entrance to Best Buy is a really weird place to wait for the bus to pick you up to go on a camping trip. My next thought was that this group of 18-20-something year olds looked too old to be going on a group camping trip.

Then it clicked! These people were camping out in front of the store waiting for the release of something. As we walked through the doors, I asked the clerk at the entrance what the item is that is coming out tomorrow that these fools were waiting for. She rolled her eyes and said that it is the new Playstation 3 and that it is not coming out tomorrow, it is coming out on Friday!!!!!!! She also added that they have been there for 2 days already.

Playstation 3

Here is Amazon's info on the product:
It's the news you've all been waiting for!
Sony's long-awaited new console, the PlayStation 3, is now confirmed to ship November 17 of this year in two flavors. The core model will retail for $499 and contain a 20GB upgradeable hard drive, Blu-ray drive, HDMI port for high definition visuals, and Bluetooth wireless controllers. The premium model will retail for $599 and in addition to the features of the core model contains flash card readers, WiFi wireless networking, and silver exterior trim.
Aside from Hearts, Free Cell and Pinball, which came with our computers, we don't play video games. Even if I did though, I would never sit outside for 5 days to be rewarded the luxury of paying a minimum of $500 to waste my day away. Can you imagine the amount of books I could buy for $500?

Heck! I could buy that dishwasher that we need for that much money!

Friday, November 10, 2006

FLICKR Creepiness

I post most of the pictures I take on FLICKR. I really like the fact that I can access my pictures anywhere that I can get internet access. I usually make all of my pictures available to anyone who happens by the site. Some of the pictures of my students or family I have given limited access to because I want to keep those pictures confidential.

Two days ago, I had a FLICKR notice telling me that one of my pictures was tagged as a favorite of someone else. The picture was of a kindergarten Sabi on her first day of school in her uniform. I went to view that person and there was no profile or picture album available. That kind of creeped me out. I then went on to view this person's "Favorites Pictures file" and found another little girl in a uniform and the rest of the pictures, about 15 or so were of kids around the world going to the bathroom. Some of the kids were completely naked and two were of a teenage girl on the toilet. I was officially creeped out at this point. I immediately went to the picture of Sabi and flagged it so that only I had access to it. This took it off of the creepy stranger's "Favorites."

Since this incident, I am felling a little weirded out about posting pictures. I am not sure what to do. I like posting the pictures online and don't want to have to block all of my pictures. I am going to have to explore FLICKR a bit more and see what other options I have.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It doesn't feel like a vacation

I know that I have been talking about being on vacation in several of my recent posts but it really doesn't seem like I am on vacation because I have been working at another site. Today, I didn't go to work because I had a Coaches Meeting at the County Office of Ed. The meeting was over earlier than I expected so I decided to go shopping at Target before I picked Sabi up from school. I was shopping during what would be considered school hours if I were at work. The entire 20-30 minutes that I was shopping I was constantly looking over my shoulder. I kept feeling guilty for shopping like it was wrong to be there. I forgot that I was on vacation!

The sad part about this all is that vacation is over for me as soon as Thanksgiving weekend is over. It is quickly slipping away from me....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Testing Woes

As I mentioned before, I am working at another school this week administering primary language testing in Spanish. When a child is enrolled in a school here in California, their parents have to fill out a Home Language Survey. If the parent notes that the child either speaks Spanish or was spoken to in Spanish, the child needs to be tested in Spanish to assess primary language proficiency. The school that I am working at has a handful of newcomers from El Salvador and Mexico this year. They also have quite a few kids who have been there for several years but were never tested in Spanish. We are playing catch up with these kids.

For the most part, this job is great. I can set my hours, the work is easy and the kids are super. There are two things about this job though that make me sad.

1) Loss of Spanish:
A great number of students that I have tested have lost their Spanish. They have lost a lot of common words from their vocabulary. One girl that we tested today said that she comes from a home where both parents are Spanish speakers. She said that her mom knows just a little bit of English. This girl could barely communicate in Spanish. She has learned to adapt to the "American" way of life and use only English. (not very good English either) She has been on my mind since we tested her earlier today. How does she communicate at home with her parents? What is it like for her every day at school? Another boy that I tested lost almost all of his Spanish. He began speaking in Spanish and only started speaking English in Kindergarten. (he is a 4th grader now) He had to retell a story to me in one portion of the test. In addition to his sentences being extremely fragmented he made up words. He made up lloranding for crying and dreamianding for dreaming and dormer for dormir. (he had to act this one out for me because he could see that I had no clue as to what he was saying!)

2) The second thing that makes me sad, and bothers me the most, is the fact that the Spanish speakers at this school have to, to some degree, lose their identity. There are no teachers at this school who are Spanish speakers. I walked into many different rooms asking for kids pronouncing their names the way they should be pronounced. In one room, I asked for Sarai. (Sa-rah-ee) The teacher looked at me like I was crazy and then said..." Oh, you mean Suh-Rye" Then all of the kids started to giggle and they continued with the Suh-Rye business. I then went to pick up a little boy named Lervi. (Ler-vee) A different teacher said "who? Lur-vy?" This happened on several more occasions.

I know that it is hard for non Spanish speakers to correctly pronounce some sounds in Spanish but that is no excuse for trying to make an effort to correctly pronounce a student's name. I had to wonder if the teachers I mentioned even thought to ask what the correct pronunciation is. It also took me by surpriuse that when I came in and correctly said the name, the teachers tried to correct me!

When I was with the students one on one, I asked them how they say their names. They told me the same thing that I said. I asked them how they are called at home. They again said the same thing that I said. When I asked them how they feel about how they are addressed at school, they got kind of quiet. I dropped the discussion at this point. They obviously don't want to make waves and are just trying to blend in.

On a more positive note...

I have only been testing now for 4 days and today as I walked around campus, I had many of my new "friends" run up to me and give me hugs or yell out "Hi Spanish Teacher!" That was WAY cool!

I also ran into a former student of mine that I ADORED. She moved away suddenly towards the end of school two years ago. It was so wonderful to see her and talk with her teacher. As I left the school today I heard a girl yell "Bye Ms. V.!" I turned around and there was my precious friend waving frantically from the bus at me. That definitely made my day!

Voting Day

This morning I did something I have never done before. I went to vote early. I voted on my way to work. I will NEVER do this again.

There are two different precincts that vote at my polling place. I was bounced back and forth between the two precinct tables because they could not figure out which one I should have been voting at. When they finally figured that all out, it took about 5-10 minutes for me to check in and get my ballot. Did I mention that no one else was ahead of me? The FOUR ladies that were helping me were all confused. There were no booths available for me to vote privately in so I just sat on a chair with a clipboard next to the confused 4 and tried to vote in peace.

Voting today was WAY to stressful. I will never vote in the morning again. I will stick to the afternoon when the polling volunteers have figured out their system and I can come and do my civic duty in peace!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Celebrity Phone Calls

We are so popular!

Every day, for the last two weeks or so, we have received all kinds of phone calls from local big wigs as well as famous celebrities informing us of their endorsements for tomorrow's election. The phone has literally been ringing off the hook. In the time that it is taking me to write this post, we have received two calls! Thank goodness that I have a cordless phone because I might get a LITTLE bit upset if I had to run to where the phone is every few minutes!!!

I wonder if our new celebrity friends will remember us and call to chat after the election.....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What A Feeling!

Usually, I hate waking up on Sundays. Sunday mornings, to me, are usually the beginning of the end of my weekend. I have to rush out to teach Sunday School and then come home and worry about lesson planning and whatever other prep I need to do for the coming week at school.
This morning when I woke up I was immediately depressed about the fact that it was Sunday and I was back to my regular routine. About 5 minutes into my morning routine, I remembered that I am OFF TRACK! Woo-Hoo!!! The rest of the day has just gotten better and better since then. I have truly enjoyed today. Hooray for Sundays and Hooray for vacation!

Friday, November 03, 2006

A different kind of work

I am working at another school site for the first 6 days of my vacation. I am administering the Pre-LAS and LAS test to new students in Spanish to test their proficiency in their primary language. I am loving this work. It is very nice to have a relaxed and flexible schedule.

This morning I woke up and went through my morning routine but without the rush. (HOW NICE!) I enjoyed my coffee, reading the newspaper and I even got to watch almost all of Angela this morning before I left!

So far I have only worked with kindergarteners and first graders. They are adorable. They are so surprised to hear me speak to them in Spanish. It is hilarious. At first they have all been very shy with me. I start out by speaking to them in English. As soon as we exit their classrooms, I ask them "¿Cuantos años tienes?" (how old are you) and they have all given me the most surprised expressions. I think that at this school there is only one person who speaks Spanish, an aide. Many of them at this point start to talk like crazy in Spanish to me. They want to tell me their whole life stories. They are so cute! A few of them are worried because they really do not speak any Spanish at all. One student, a sweet little boy, was really shy on our walk to the testing room. He was my 15th kid of the day so I just went on about my routine and didn't really pay attention to his body language. When I looked at him and asked him the first test question, I realized that he was fighting back tears. Poor baby! He was afraid of me, a stranger! I then told him that I was a teacher and assured him that if he didn't want to stay he could leave. The tears fell but he wanted to stay. Within 5 minutes though he was laughing. The first test activity is to play Simon Says and he thought that was too funny!

The best part of the testing day was meeting Carlos. Carlos is a first grader from El Salvador. He was so bright eyed, happy and polite. He grabbed my hand when I picked him up and wanted to talk. Out of all the kids I tested to day, his Spanish was absolutely the best. It was amazing. What a smart boy! He told me that he has only been in the US for 2 months. His English was pretty good too for only having been here for 2 months. When I returned him to his classroom, I had to make sure that the teacher knew what a gem she had in Carlos. She just smiled and said that he is one of her best.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Panama's Independence Day: November 3, 2006


Viva Panamá


Panama Viejo

The other view


Do you you test for fluency? I don't. I have never liked fluency testing. I feel that as long as the child can read and understand what they read, it is fine. I understand the theories behind fluency but I personally opt to not push it in my classroom.

I have been forced to revisit the subject of fluency. Last year, my daughter started fluency testing in school. She was given kudos on her report card last year for being able to read 196 words per minute. 196 - that is just too many words! It just doesn't sound normal to me. It actually worries me. This year, fluency is also a big deal. Sabi just finished practicing her fluency passage with me. She had to try and beat her time of 149 wpm in 5 tries. Listening to her read was horrible. It was a race to her. The words were all strung together and it did not sound like natural speech. Surprisingly, she retained comprehension on the passage. Thankfully she does not transfer this method of reading in any other area except for when she is practicing her fluency passages.

Tell me teachers: What do you think about this topic???

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Track Off Day

It was definitely not a smart idea to track off of school on the day after Halloween. All of the students were either overly tired or extra hyped up today. It didn't help matters much that we had our Fall Carnival today after school. I was SO glad when I jumped in my car this afternoon. I need a BREAK!

I am looking forward to being off track. I will spend the next 8 days working at another school in Turlock doing primary language testing in Spanish. Fun! I will also try and spend time in Sabi's class volunteering. Other than that, my biggest plan is to rest. I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
What a long day! School was a waste of time today. The kids couldn't focus because they were too excited about Halloween. I was glad when the bell rang.

This evening, I took Sabi to the Mall for a Halloween Dance Party.
My Plum Fairy
We were really looking forward to it. Sadly, it was not at all what we expected. The even was held outside in a small area. It was cold and crowded. The kids ended up eating dinner in the food court and then we headed over to our house to Trick or Treat.

It is dark early now so we started Trick or Treating around 6:00. We went to about 15 houses or so and then called it a night. Sabina had some homework to do so we had to make sure that got done.

The best house we went to was our neighbor's house.
Creepy House
When she decorates for Halloween, she goes ALL OUT!!!
Lots of kids came here
She hasn't decorated in a few years so I was excited to go by and check her out tonight. IT is funny that she did decorate this year because I just wrote about something funny over on Xolo's blog that happened at her house a few years ago when she last decorated.

Here is the story from a few years ago:

I was taking my Sabi and her friend around the block trick or treating. The girls were too scared to stop at my neighbor's house because it was done up in a huge and scary way for Halloween. (music, grave stones, fog, life size witch at the front door) We actually had to cross the street because they didn't want to get too close.

Well, along came 3 or 4 high school boys WAY too old to be trick or treating. They were swearing and being loud and rude. We watched them walk up to the door of the scary looking house. They were talking trash all of the way up to the door about how the decorations weren't scary. Well, they arrived at the front door and started talking about the life size witch. To their surprise, (and mine) the life size witch was our neighbor! She cackled at them and these tough guys screamed so loudly and started to run. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen!!!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This one CRACKED me up!

Today was crazy hair day at school. I put my hair up in two pigtails.


Student: "Ms. V., you know who you look like with your hair like that?"

Me: "No, who"

Student: "You know on Mexican TV, the show where they have that is like a pretend school?"

Me: "What?"

Student: "You know, the one where the ladies have their hair like yours and they wear little, tiny skirts and little, tiny tank tops and they pretend that they are students?"

Me: (flabbergasted!) "Oh, yeah, that show"

Student: "So that is what you look like. Well, except you don't have the little, tiny skirt or the little tiny tank top."

I can't remember the name of that show as I have never watched it but I have seen the ad for that show about a gazillion times. I knew exactly what this little girl was talking about. It was all I could do to not laugh when she told me. Too funny...

btw...What is SHE doing watching that show???

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Parent Conferences

Parents conferences have gone well thus far. In all honesty though, I think that I have been overwhelming parents with so much paperwork at conference time that they haven't been able to process everything yet. Here are some of the highlights from the conferences so far:

Parent 1: After being told about the new grading system (more on that here) the parent told me "You mean to tell me that my son has to be above average in order to pass?

Me: "Yes"

Parent 1: "But that doesn't make any sense!"

Me: No it doesn't, does it?"

Parent #2 : This parent was very worried when she saw that her daughter was working below grade level and asked me about the possibility if her daughter having me again next year. (She was already planning on her being retained) I told her that her daughter would most likely not be retained and that our system in the U.S. is different from the system that she is accustomed to in Mexico where if you don't pass the end of year test you don't go on tho the next grade. She was astounded by that information and couldn't believe it.

She then went on to ask me why we don't group kids by classes according to their skill levels. She again, very humbly, told me that in her opinion grouping kids that way would be easier for us to teach and for kids to learn. ( I agree!)
On a lighter note...

ELD Jack 1

Here is a photo of a pumpkin that my ELD class decorated today as a group. Tomorrow we will interactively write a paragraph about how we made our Jack -o-Lantern using transition words. (first, next, then,last) FUN STUFF!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Count Down Begins...

I have 8 days left before I track off. I hope that I make it too! This is what is coming in the next 8 days:
1) 20 parent-teacher conferences: Each will be at least 20 minutes long. I have to review our new standards based report card, a parent teacher contract, class work and a special report card for all of my 17 English leaners. (A report on their proficiency in English) I also of course have to save time to answer any questions and concerns the parents might have. I am feeling sorry for the parents right no because I will be bombarding them with too much information as it is.

2) A Class Performance: 6 Kids will perform an adaptation of Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night and 7 will perform and adaptation of Frog and Toad Together. THe remaining 7 will do a Fall poetry reading.

3) Carnival: My grade level will be working 3 booths. This is occuring on the very last day that we track off. Who wants to work then?

4) A Buy Back Day - On SATURDAY too! :-(

5) Halloween Party: This should be fun and easy but I have to prepare the house for it!!!

6) Halloween: Sabina and her friends will meet at the mall for a Halloween dance celebration and then go out in the neighborhood to trick or treat.

Did I mention that Halloween is on a school day and that we track off on the following day? Two crazy kid days....Help!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

Corn Maze

The Maze

Last night Sabi and I met up with friends at the Funworks Corn Maze. We had a blast. First we ate and the kids played arcade games. Then we got lost in the HUGE maze.

Which Way do we go???

After about and hour of wandering we asked one of the maze workers to show us out. That maze was crazy!

Sabi and Kelly

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Important Info

This week my student teacher and I realized that not only do some of our students not know how to spell their last names, they don't even KNOW their last names! On top of that...they don't know important stuff like their birthdate, address and phone number.

How can this be? I had Sabi learn this info at 3 years old. I made up some hokey song with all of that info, she learned it and I felt better about her safety. It is EASY to do!

One of our class assignments for this coming week will be to study all of the above mentioned important personal info. I will turn it into a quiz for each student. I will keep giving the kids the test until they memorize and master ALL of that info. I can't let that just go untaught and unmastered. It is too important.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thanks Circle K!

Today I was suffering from a sweet tooth. I decided to treat my serious situation on my lunch break with a quick trip to Circle K. When I walked in to the store, I was greeted by all of the employees. Actually, I was ribbed by them. I used to be a frequent coffee purchasing, morning customer. I think I haven't been there in over a year.

The manager rung me up and asked if I was still a teacher. I said yes. He then asked how many students I have. I told him 20. He then told me to hang on and he went in his office to grab something. The "something" that he had for me was a big box of flourescent Circle K pencils that say "Because we care about your education." Wow! I told him that pencils were like gold in a classroom!

When I got back to class, I shared the pencils and story with my students. They were thrilled! We then went straight into an Interactive Writing lesson and wrote a letter of thanks to Circle K.

Yay pencils! Yay Circle K!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Is this acceptable to you?

Last night we dined at one of our favorite places to eat, The Macaroni Grill. Sabi was thoroughly enjoying the Kids Menu and all of the activities and jokes that were in it. Here is one of the jokes from the menu:

Q: Why does the Mexican weather report make you hungry?

A: It's "chili" today, Hot Tamale!

What do YOU think of this joke?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Grades Suck!

I am currently in the process of completing report cards for my students. I have to grade them on a 1-5 system that is equivalent to the end of year scoring on the state exam.

1=Far Below Basic
2=Below Basic

Here is the catch...the only two grades that are acceptable, or passing are a 4 or a 5. With NCLB you CAN'T BE AVERAGE! YOU HAVE TO BE ABOVE AVERAGE!!!

I have a BUNCH of kids who are hard working, average students. Their work is what is considered grade level average in the 70-79% range. Now, with this new report card, I have to mark them as not being at grade level. It sucks!

I am NOT looking forward to parent conferences. I can only imagine how the parents will react. Ugh!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Lil Lobo!

Happy Birthday Lil Lobo!

My baby brother is turning 28 tomorrow. Wow...

Happy Birthday little bro!

Kids Say the Darnedest Things!

Student: "Ms. V. I can't wait to get home!"

Me: "Why?"

Student: "My cousins are there."

Me: "Oh, are they visiting from somewhere?"

Student: "Yeah, from Idaho."

Me: "Really! Will they be visiting for a long time?"

Student: " aunt is going to stay until she gets her feet back on."
(back on her feet)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A New Twist to Columbus Day Teaching

Teaching Tolerance Magazine put out a CD/Song book a few years ago FOR FREE! One of the songs in the book is a song about Columbus. It is a much different perspective than what has been taught in schools in the past. See the lyrics here.

Order the CD/Songbook for FREE here.

Christopher Columbus Day Thoughts

I found this old SNL skit that touched on the subject of Christopher Columbus Day. It is funny! The video is kind of grainy and the Columbus Day part is at the very end but it is well worth the wait!
Posted By:jeff

Get this video and more at

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New Blogger

I am LOVING the new Beta Blogger. It is SO much easier to post and add things to your blog. I can also add labels to my posts and I can write private posts or set up passwords for my semi-private posts. How cool is that???

I am working on my "new blog look." Sabi's blog has had a face lift too!

Just what I needed... something else to keep me glued to the computer!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Tales From the Classroom...

One of my students is on a Daily Report. Daily Reports are for kids who need daily communication with parents due to behavioral challenges. Today, Daily Report student had an exceptionally amazing day. When school was over, she went behind my desk, found my daily report notebook and walked it over to me with a HUGE grin on her face. She knew that she would be getting a good note. This was our conversation:

"Teacher, you forgot to write my note. What are you going to write?"

I said "I don't know. What do YOU think I should write?"

She said "You should say _____ is a cute girl. She is very beautiful and her clothes are pretty too. She was the best kid in the whole of our school today. The end."

I said "What about if I say " ________ behaved wonderfully in class and at recess today. She completed all of her work on time, was respectful of herself and others and was a very good citizen. Good work ______!"

She said "I guess that is ok."

She took her note and walked out. About 30 seconds later she ran back, gave me a hug and said "Ms. V, you are the cutest teacher in the whole school!"

I love days like these!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Good Bye Rabbi Graudenz

Rabbi Graudenz

Yesterday morning, my Rabbi passed away. He has not actually been my Rabbi for many years since he retired a while back. I will always think of him as "my Rabbi" though. Rabbi Graudenz was such a wonderful man. He was the Rabbi at my synagogue when my family started our journey with Judaism. He never once pushed us or pressured us to convert. Instead, he embraced us as part of his family as if we had been there from the beginning. We shared many good times with Rabbi G.

Rabbi Graudenz left Modesto a few years back to live closer to his daughter. He developed Alzheimer's. My family and I kept talking about going up to visit Rabbi G but we never got around to it. On Wednesday afternoon I found out that Rabbi G had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. I knew that we had to leave at that moment to see him. When my brother and I arrived at the hospital, the Rabbi was not able to recognize us or interact with us. I was able to hold his hand though and feel some sort of connection. Then an amazing thing happened. Another friend from my synagogue was there. He started singing "David Melekh." The Rabbi joined in. I couldn't believe it. It was that familiar scratchy but vibrant voice from the past. I was singing once again with my Rabbi! During my visit, the Rabbi somehow sang a few more songs here and there. It was incredible. I am so happy to have had those last few moments with him.

He will be missed.

More on Rabbi Graudenz
here. (From Nebur's blog)

Friday, October 06, 2006

And now... A Public Health Announcement

We have been studying about Germs, Nutrition and Health this past month. One of my students was so inspired about the topic of germs that she went home and wrote up a little essay. I typed it up exactly as it was written.
Grems Story by AV

1rst Paragragh
Grems are everywhere. Grems are on the world. They can be even on you! Mucus is in youre moth, throt and in youre nose. Mucus caches grems. Mucus is sticky to catch grems.

2nd Paragragh
Befor you eat, wash youre hands. Because you have grems on youre hands. And plus use liquid soap to wash youre hands. The bare soup has a jerms on the bake.

3rd Paragragh
Grems are even in the bathroom. And in youre baby brothers and sisters diper. And in slober. If you wash your hands all the time you are healthy. Are you learning about germs?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Summer is OVER!

We went from hot weather to cool weather here in the valley in a flash. One day it was sunny and warm and the very next day - very cool! It was like it came out of nowhere. We had some rain too.

We had several events that we had to attend this weekend that required dressing up. I had to dig around in my closet to find my cold weather clothes. I went to do the same with Sabi and everything that I pulled out was too small. EVERYTHING! I ended up sending the poor child in a fancy pink sleeveless dress with a too tight white sweater and too small sandals with her toes hanging out.

As Dragon says "Time to go shopping!"

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Me Meme

Following in the footsteps of Chef Paz...

I am thinking about: A very important school board meeting that is coming up next week. If I am brave enough, I might write about it soon.

I said: Too much! I need to try to not talk as much as I do and try to listen more.

I want to: try and have more fun. Life for me is about what I have to do and get done not about what I want to do for fun.

I wish: that I would be more motivated about working out. I really do enjoy working out, I just need to get to the gym. I need a gym partner.

I hear: Sabi singing to The Cheetah Girls! She is so pre-teen!

I am: tired.

I dance: in private. I am too embarrassed to do it in public!

I sing: to my class every day. Poor kids...

I cry: every single time that I watch the The Color Purple (the part where Shug walks to church in her yellow dress) and The Joy Luck Club (when Jing Mei meets her sisters in China).

I am not: going to do any school work today. (So there!)

I am: going to hang out with Sabina and take her to a Fall Cake Decorating class today.

I write: poorly.

I confuse: where to put and not put accents when I write in Spanish. My mom keeps telling me it is so easy to learn but I really don't want to do that. I am lazy - I admit it!

I need to: stop eating out and eat healthier. I need to plan this out and work it into the schedule.

Have an excellent weekend.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Conversations I Never Planned on Having (At Least Not This Soon!)

Last weekend I ran into a former student. She was in Target's baby section looking for baby items. I, like a dummy, asked her what she was up to and she said "I am up to 5 months pregnant!" Then she introduced me to her husband. She went on to say that they have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and they were finally blessed with pregnancy.

I was in shock. This girl is about 20 years old. It is not abnormal for her to be pregnant at this age but it was just shocking to think of my former students at the "having sex age" and at the pregnancy stage. I have often thought about students that I would like to connect with again and things that I would like to ask and discuss with them. Pregnancy has never crossed my mind as one of those topics.

This entire week I have thought about the encounter with this former student and have been trying to come to terms with my aging. (I was more concerned about myself than the girl - I admit it!)

Today, I had another big surprise. I ran into another former student. She was coming to pick up her little second grade sister next door. I gave her a hug and asked her how she was doing. It had been 10 years since I had seen her, she looked so beautiful! She told me that she is now a senior in high school. I then noticed a little boy that she was pushing in a stroller. Like a dummy (again!) I asked who the little cutie was. She said "my son!" I choked and asked how old he was. This little boy was almost 2 years old. She had him as a sophomore. This time I was concerned but not for me. I was worried for the former student and the little boy. I know the statistics on teenage moms and kids of teenage moms. I really hope that they both make it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What is wrong with this picture?

The group of kids that I have this year is SO different than any other group I have ever had.

Here is the breakdown:

10 girls
10 boys
17 English Learners
14 of those E/L.'s are in the 1st or 2nd stage of English Acquisition (Beginners and Early Intermediates)

13 of them are still SIX YEARS OLD!

9 of them suck their thumbs! I am NOT joking!

I could go on and on with my list but the last item there, the thumb sucking is just killing me. I can't believe it.

The kids are all so trusting of me and they take me so literally. Yesterday, while getting ready to tell them a big surprise, I said "Ok, hold on to your seats now." ALL of the kids grabbed their chairs to hold on to their seats! I had to explain that it was a figure of speech. I then went on to tell them the surprise. About 5 minute later, I glanced over at a little girl and had to say "Let go of your chair _____." You don't really have to hold on to it.

How am I ever going to get these kids even close to being prepared for our state test?


Friday, September 22, 2006

The Air We Breathed

Today was our first Spare the Air Alert Day due to a fire, far away in Yolo County. The air was atrocious. It was smoky outside and breathing was just near impossible. The kids, and I, all arrived at school with horrible headaches and burning eyes. Around 9:45 we received an e-mail stating that an Orange Alert was issued by the County Air Board. We were advised to limit our time outside with our kids. Then, around 11:30, we were told that we had been upgraded to a Red Alert. Red alert means stay in side and no recess. Aside from the fact that the air was miserable, the wind was blowing pretty hard and dust was flying. My worst nightmare. I was sneezing, and coughing all day long.

To top it all off, we had a performance today. My class joined the 4th and 5th graders in a performance for Constitution Day. The kids were anxious about the performance and were extra crazy. The performance went well but it was a lot of work getting there.

Today was an exhausting teaching day. The kids were nuts and I didn't have the patience. It was all I could do to get home today. TGIF!

New Year's Greetings!

L'Shana Tovah!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oprah - part 2

HA! Someone else shares my views on Oprah. I am not the only one! Read more here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Why Oprah Gets on my Nerves

I have never understood the appeal of Oprah Winfrey. She has always rubbed me the wrong way. Ok - the one thing I like about Oprah is her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple. THAT's IT! Everything else about the woman gets on my nerves!

Here are some of my reasons:

1) Format:
Way back in the beginning, I didn't like her show because it was too weepy. Someone was always crying. I liked Donahue better.

2) Dieting:
What is up with the craziness about her back and forth weight loss? I mean, who wouldn't be able to lose weight when they have a personal chef, a personal trainer, no kids and a husband to look after and flexible work hours? Come on! If she REALLY wanted to try to impress me, she could lose the weight on a single mom's salary with a single mom's busy schedule and resources. Now that's a story!

3) Gayle!:
Can you believe that she showcases her best friend all the time like everyone wants to hear about her personal life? Where are the "issues?"

4) Flaunting Her Celebrity Status:
Remember her big Legends bash? The woman had a party and invited most of Hollywood and then films it for her show to show how wonderful she is. Ugh! I heard a rumor that Whoopi Goldberg was not invited to this event. I don't know if this is true but it certainly puts Whoopi up a few notches in my book!

5) Political Endorsement:
I was disgusted when she invited Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzennegger on her show when he was running for governor of CA. She of course did not invite all candidates, just that louse. Thanks Oprah!

6) Book Club:
I hate seeing the Oprah's Book Club stamp on books - like they are the only good books out there in the world. For you teachers out there, it reminds me of A.R. books. I hate labeling books to show if they are A.R. or not because the kids won't read them if they don't have that label on them because they must not be good and they get no points for them. That dumb Oprah stamp gives me the same feeling.

7)Today's Show:
Gayle and Oprah go on a road trip. I turned on the tv this afternoon to keep me company as I was preparing dinner. Apparently Oprah and her best girl Gayle were taking a road trip like "regular" folks. I caught them as they were pulling into Las Vegas. They walked into the Lobby of the hotel like regular people do. ( I think this was the point of the show - to do what normal people do) Of course, they aren't normal people and they had tons of people trying to paw over them. They were totally lost in the lobby because they didn't have a clue as to how to check in at a hotel. Oprah explained that she has "people" meet her at the door and whisk her away. Oprah and Gayle finally found the check in desk and had to wait 20 minutes (gasp!) for the whole check in procedure. Poor little Oprah! Finally these exhausted souls were escorted to their room which I have to say was not your run of the mill "regular folks" hotel room. At this point I was too disgusted to keep the tv on. Who knows what ended up happening on the rest of the show. I was too irritated once again with this woman's arrogance.

So you must be thinking, for someone who doesn't like Oprah, I sure know a lot about her. Really, I don't watch the show. I turn on the tv from time to time, watch a few minutes and then shut it off. It is enough time though for me to learn all of this info.

I need to spend less time in front of that tv. I REALLY need to remember to click away from her show. She brings out the worst in me!

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11 and Sabi the Activist

7:15 AM:
On our way to school this morning Sabi and I were listening to the radio. There was talk of 9/11 all over the place on the radio today. Sabi asked me about it so I told her about it. I told her what it was and where we were on that day.

On that tragic morning, I was making a mad dash to my dad's house to drop Sabi off on my way to school. I got to my dad's house around 6:30 or 7:00. When I arrived at my dad's house he asked me if I had been watching the news. I said no thinking to myself "who has time to do that?" My dad then directed my attention to the tv where I watched the re-play of the plane crashing into the first tower. I remember thinking that my dad must have been watching some crazy movie. It didn't make sense. I was speechless. I think I plopped down on my dad's couch around this time and stayed there transfixed on the tv, trying to make sense of the mayhem I was watching. I stayed in that spot for the next 2o minutes or so, completely forgetting about my morning rush. I then went on to school listening to the radio updates and getting internet updates for the remainder of the day.

Sabi told me that she of course didn't remember any of that. She wanted to know why I didn't tell her about it. I told her that at the time I didn't think she would be able to understand it and that I have never found the right time to explain it to her but that now seemed as good a time as any to inform her. She didn't have to much to say about it after that. Before I dropped her off at school, I just told her that it was important for us as citizens of the world to make sure that we respect each other and try to be good people to the best of our ability so that we can do our part to make sure that an incident like 9/11 never happens again. That was the best I could do during our ride together this morning.

4:45 PM:
When I picked up Sabi this afternoon she was VERY excited. Today, she and a friend decided that they want to take action at their school. In Social Studies Sabi has been learning about social action, letter writing and petitions. Sabi and her friend are very concerned about the horrible state of their bathrooms and the way their fellow classmates treat the bathrooms. They are also concerned that their janitor has to work harder because the kids don't clean up after themselves. Sabi and her friend brainstormed and came up with the following:
1) They would each draft a letter to the principal to inform her of the problem.
2) They want to ask the principal for an appointment to discuss the problem.
3) They will volunteer to talk to the entire school about the problem during their morning whole school opening.
4) They want to draft a student pledge in which the kids will sign their names on a piece of paper stating that they will do their part to keep the bathrooms clean.

Sabi was so excited and energized about this idea. She couldn't wait to get home and get started on her letter. I couldn't believe my eyes. Sabi sat down and whipped out 3 pages right away. The spelling needed a little help and the organization wasn't perfect but the content was great. Check it out on her blog here.

Now I don't know if my talk with Sabi about 9/11 had anything to do with Sabi's enthusiasm about making her school a better place today. It probably didn't. I have to say though that I hope that we have more and more kids who try and do what Sabi and her friend are doing. I also have to say that I felt extra proud of my little girl tonight.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Young A. F.

Why I might have to make the switch from Coke to Pepsi:
You have to watch it. Go play! Have a Coke and a smile.
Oops - make that a Pepsi!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pity Party!

Alejandro Fernandez

This weekend Alejandro Fernandez will be playing in Las Vegas for Mexico's Independence Day. While he is busy singing his heart out, I will be sitting in a crowded room with a bunch of teachers for a District Buy Back Day.

Needless to say - I am not happy. Where is the justice?

To those of you who read this blog and just happen to be in Vegas this weekend - tell El Potrillo that I said "HOLA!"

Monday, September 04, 2006

Book Thoughts

My new students are not in love with books. This is a strange thing for me. I can't quite understand it since to me, books bring so much joy to my life. As I have been getting to know my new group, I have heard a lot about the shows they watch on tv and the video games they play. I have heard not one thing about books. How sad!

The first two weeks of school I read picture books to my class. They thought that was fun but I didn't hook them. Last week I resolved to change all of that. I am going to read a bunch of series chapter books to the kids. I want to try and hook them on to a character in one of the books. My thought is that maybe, just maybe, this will draw them in. Our book for last week was Flat Stanley.

Flat Stanley

The kids thought that Stanley was hilarious. When we visited the library this week one of the kids asked for the Flat Stanley book and then almost passed out when he saw that there were many other Stanley books in the series. He then ran around to all of his classmates to share the amazing news. (GOTCHA!) All of the Stanley series books in the series were checked out of the library that day. It is starting... Next week we will read Horrible Harry.
Other Book Thoughts:

Situation #1
Student #1 dragged his mom to school one morning. She was a bit perturbed when I greeted her. She said " ______ said that he has to bring in money for the circus. What is that about?"

Me: "Circus? ________ what are you talking about?"

Student #1: "The circus. Like in the pages!"

Me: (dumbfounded) "I don't know what you are talking about." (pause...thinking...) "You mean in the book order?"

Student #1: "Yeah!"

Mom: (Whacking the kid on the head with his homework folder) "__________You don't need anymore books! You have too many books! You don't even read!"

Me: (pulling the kid away from mom and into the room) "Well have a nice day. BYE!"

As soon as mom was out of sight, I hugged little Student #1 who was teary eyed after his book dreams were sadly crushed. I ordered the book and will keep it for him at school.

Situation #2

Me: "You guys need to read more books and watch less video games!"

Group: "We love video games!"

Student #2: (raising her hand and asking in a very serious way) "I don't have books Ms. V. How can I read them?"

Me: I will get you some!

I am sending some home every night with her now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Don't Go Bananas Paula!

Paula Dean
On Saturday mornings Sabina and I like to lie in bed together and watch Paula Dean on the Food Network. We love Paula. She is as cute as a button and we can't get enough of her Southern accent and temptingly fattening and scrumptious looking meals. Every few words that Paula says, Sabina and I try to imitate and then we giggle at each other. A fun time is always had.

Yesterday however, Sabina and I stopped giggling and began to get grossed out. Paula's episode was all about recipes that had bananas in them. We like bananas but we just not feeling these dishes. One is particular was just horrendous. It was a Cheesy Ham and Banana Casserole. UGH! It sounds bad but you should have seen it put together. In a casserole dish you line the bottom with sliced white bread. You then cover the bread with sliced ham. After the ham goes a thick layer of sliced bananas. Then comes another layer of white bread. This is then topped off with shredded cheese, crushed potato chips, sliced bacon and then a mixture of eggs, fresh cream, nutmeg and black pepper. The combination of these items was just too much for Sabina and I to bear.

Do people actually eat that stuff???

Well that's about it.

As Paula would say, "Good night y'all!"