Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cool Stuff

Rally Jacksonville

Here in Jacksonville there is a really wonderful program that tries to encourage kids to read. It's called "Rally Jacksonville." Part of this initiative includes a FREE set of 12 "Mayor Peyton's Book Club" books given to all kids who turn 4. How cool to excite pre-schoolers about reading and ensure that every pre-schooler in Jacksonville has access to books! Today while at the library we picked up Em's set of books. I was amazed at the freebies that were part of this project:

Cool stuff!

Tote bag, shelf box holding the set of 12 books, a set of alphabet flashcards, a parent guide, coloring book, "Shh I'm Reading " doorknob hanger, bookmark, "Leading with Reading" kid-sized T-shirt, and fleece blanket. WOW!

Here is an example of one of the books in the set.

The free blanket.

Having taught at a school where many of the middle school students reported that there were not any books in their home to read, I am delighted by the idea of trying to "hook" kids into books and reading at an early age.

Also, my former principal's mother authored the books. I've met the principal's daughter who is one of the main characters in the book series. Very neat!

The Dress

Tonight we went to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa de Salas. As we were walking
to the restaurant, Emma stopped to stare in the store window next door. Her mouth was literally hanging open when she said, "Wow! Mommy would look beautiful in that dress!" HILARIOUS! Even if I were 100 pounds lighter, I do not have the gumption to wear a dress like this. I am WAAAY to modest for this type of attire. Too too funny!

Why is this "cool stuff?" Because my sweet daughter thinks of me as "beautiful." I also appreciate that she doesn't yet understand that my large derriere would not fit into the dress.

(On a sad note, our favorite waitress, Candy, told us she was glad that we ate there tonight, because it was her family's last night of business. Due to lack of income, they are closing the restaurant. Bummer!)

The Shriner's Circus

Last weekend we went to the Shriner's Circus. As we were approaching the ticket counter, the man ahead of us turned to ask us if we had already purchased tickets. When DH and I reported that we had not, he handed us 3 "complimentary passes." So we attended the circus for free!

It was low-key and not as elaborate as the Barnum & Bailey circus Em and I attended last year. However, it was great fun. I liked knowing that our souvenir and food purchases were contributing to a good cause (Shriner's burn unit needs). I wish I had a video recording of Emma watching a slapstick routine of a man "trying" to jump on a trampoline. He would take a running start and then run into the trampoline instead of climbing onto it, jump so high that he bounced off the trampoline, fall through the side of the trampoline, etc. It was a one-man 3-Stooges type act. Em was laughing out loud SO hard. DH and I were giggling more at her than at the trampoline act. A slapstick lover. Sighs. I think my daughter may have been blessed/cursed with my warped sense of humor. :)

After the circus, Em had her first ever pony ride.

She was SO tickled to be able to ride by herself. There were many babies and younger children whose parents had to walk beside them during the whole ride. Em said, I can hold on tight by myself, cause I'm 4!"

School Stuff

Yesterday after school, I met with one of my former co-workers. She is loaning me the Teacher's Edition and DVDs for a class I've been teaching this quarter and have NO materials (other than student workbooks) for. I'll get the materials back to her next week after I write lesson plans and worksheet ideas from the items she loaned me. I feel SO relieved knowing I no longer have to "wing it" when it comes to lesson planning. Yea!

A teacher at my school was arrested last weekend for DUI and having narcotics (allegedly cocaine) in his car. He was also one of our football coaches. This week at school has been rough, as he gave his resignation. My students have been upset at his leaving and disappointed in his arrest. In addition, our school has been all over the local news due to another teacher being suspended for 10 days due to comments he made to students about their attire. Sighs. The irony is this is an A-school and not usually in the news for negative reasons! I'm hoping that things will be more settled next week.

I think I had a "breakthrough" with one of my more difficult students, S.W. He is a football player and was especially upset about the aforementioned coach leaving. I had a 15 minute one-on-one conversation with S.W. about how I know he is going through a rough time, Teacher/Coach was really important to him, I'm proud of him for trying when I know he really struggles with reading, etc. He seemed surprised and pleased that I understand some of what he is going through. This is one of the students I've really been praying about...he comes from a home where he was abused and witnessed drug abuse (he is now living safely with his other parent.) Now if I can just find some common ground with my student R.L.

We had an in-school football game 2 weeks ago, during which time I volunteered my classroom as a "holding tank" for students who did not purchase tickets for the game. I only had 9 students in my room, so I was able to have 3 hours of work time while they played board games. I finally got the rest of the filing cabinet cleared out. Hooray! My classroom is officially 100% organized. I am SO pleased.

This week my principal, the district Read180 coordinator, district Scholastic coordinator, and district head of the Reading department all observed my classroom. I was thrilled when my principal forwarded me a copy of the "Sight Feedback Form" he received from the district regarding their visit. Notes included, "Both teachers observed were implementing program with fidelity and had a high level of student engagement..." also, "both teachers are organized and have a high regard for student success." YEA! Hooray for me (and Larry---the other reading teacher observed.) :)

Home Stuff

DH won't be running in the half marathon on Oct 4th. He was sick 2 weeks ago and on antibiotics for phlegm/chest congestion. This put his training schedule behind, as he didn't run/practice at all when he was feeling yucky. He has a new half marathon goal...I think it's at the end of November. I feel badly for him, but he seems to be taking yet another delay in his first major race with a someday-my-race-will-come kind of attitude.

A fence! A fence! A fence! Hooray! After living in our house for 6 years and having our dog for 5 1/2 years we are finally getting a fence. I am SO ecstatic about this. It will be great to be able to let Em play outside independently. It will be greater still to be able to let the dog potty independently---no more leash required. Em has already asked for a swingset for Christmas. I think it's a super idea. I am also going to get estimates to see how much it would cost to have a screen door(s) installed outside the french doors that open onto our deck. :)

Emmaisms of the week (9/23/08):
--On the clothing drive at her school for new clothing items to send to children in Haiti:
"We don't give them OUR underwear, we have to buy NEW underwear for the kids."

--Tonight while getting ready for bed:
Em: "I have a butt crack."
Mommy: "Who told you that?"
Em (turning around looking at bare butt): "When I turned around, I just saw it back there."

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