Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break Day 1

How do I love spring break? Let me count thy ways...

Today I took Em to preschool/daycare because I had some errands to run: I added Reading K-12 to my teaching certification (WOO-HOO!), scheduled professional carpet cleaners appt for Weds, I posed for a new Driver's License photo and renewed my license at the BMV, and I had lunch with an old teacher friend (Sarah---wonderful catching up with you!) I also had some "me time" at the bookstore...and ended up buying the "Twilight Director's Notebook" about how the "Twilight" film was made. Justified purchase because I know many of my students will be interested in the book....and hey, I can drool over Robert Pattinson during break, right? ;)

Then I picked Em up early. We went to the "Garden Center" at a store near her school and purchased some flowers. We spent the afternoon planting flowers in front of our house. Em was SOOOO excited by the whole process. She loved digging holes, loved patting the dirt around the flowers, loved watering, etc. It was great. A few pics are below. :)

The finished product...yellow Marigolds in front of bushes and pretty fuchsia (not sure what type flower) in boxes on porch railing.

My little helper

My fav pic of the day. Boots and gloves are from a few weeks ago at Target. Em LOVES them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Show and Tell--Interesting Tree Stump

I have not altered this photo, nor these trees in any way. I didn't post this last week, because I didn't want to take away from the seriousness of the location. However, as Em and I were leaving Kingsley Plantation, I spotted the tree above. Maybe I am a lunatic too perverted...but is it me, or does the stump on this tree look like a man whom is humping hugging the tree???? Really odd, yet cool.

Show and Tell
Click the box to the left to find out what others brought to Show & Tell this week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Wants to Smell Like a Princess?

Emma cracked DH and I up last night, so I had to share...

Em LOVES chapstick and lipgloss. Her favorites are any Disney Princess character chapsticks (especially the set Santa placed in her Christmas stocking.) Yesterday after putting on some chapstick, she came running into our room and said:
"This lipgloss smells like Ariel! Do I smell just like Ariel now?"

We found the fact that she thought the chapstick was "Ariel" scented/flavored instead of strawberry very humorous! (And a little bit we're trying not to think about it too much.)

Out of the mouths of babes...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wiped Out

My blahs have lead to a case of being wiped out. I am soooo tired. Whew! I am definitely chalking this up to being the end of 3rd quarter. This morning I didn't get out of bed until 8:10. Oops! Usually I am showered, dressed and packing my lunch by 8:10, and out the door by 8:30 at the latest. I'm having one of those I've-showered-but-not-hair-washed-and-makeup-free days. Sighs.

School: The bad--We've started a new grading program at school, which I detest. It is an online grading program. I love that my students and their parents are able to access their grades from home. However, I HATE the way teachers have to input grades. For one class with 24 students, I have 4 separate rosters... Though the students are in the SAME class, the system separates the ESE and ESOL students from the general ed students. Thus, I don't have all of my students together on one roster, which makes grading much more time consuming. (Yes, I can "copy" assignments from one roster to another, but I still have to click on each separate class to actually enter the grades.) In addition, the classes aren't labeled in a logical way, such as "3rd period," instead they all say "M/J Language Arts" or "M/J Intensive Reading" and I have to sort through them to determine which group of students are on the particular roster. And though you'd think they'd be in numerical order, my second period class is at the bottom of the list. ARGH! It is SO frustrating! I don't know what kind of total moron computer guru created this system, but I am guessing s/he is not a teacher! UGH!

School: The good-- The past 3 weeks I've been working on a Holocaust unit with my students. Today I found an amazing video in our school Media Center. It is a documentary called "One Survivor Remembers." The video chronicles the accounts of a Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein and includes her recollections of: the war, the last time she saw her family members, when she was taken to a work camp and when she was eventually forced to participate in a Death March. It ends with her description of when she was finally liberated by a German-American soldier (whom she eventually married!) I was thrilled that my students were really into the video, and honored it with seriousness. (I was worried they might not grasp the horror of the situation.) Included in the video kit were wonderful copies and replicas of artifacts to display to students: photos of the survivor and her family members, copies of Gerda's government certificate, maps showing the distance/routes of the many death marches, postcards between family members, a poster depicting the symbols that Jews and others were forced to wear (Jewish stars, triangles, etc.) My students seemed to really identify with Ms. Klein after seeing items from her real life and learning that she was their age when WWII started.

Tomorrow we are reading an excerpt from the "Life is Beautiful" screenplay, which is included in the 8th grade language arts book. Then on Thursday we'll watch the "Life is Beautiful" film. SUCH an amazing movie, I highly recommend it! I am ecstatic that my students are responding to this unit in a positive and appropriate way!

Home: The bad-- DH, whom I love and adore, had the stupidest idea ever a really bad idea. He was trying to be kind to our sweet dog, Viggo. His intent was great. The outcome was not. He let Viggo lick the dinner remnants off his plate. (Disposable plate, for anyone who is grossed out.) However, DH's dinner was SPICY THAI food. Can you predict what happened? Yup...I woke up to 5 doggie diarrhea piles splooshes on the living room carpet. "Resolved" them as best as I could. DEFINITELY having a professional carpet cleaner come to the house next week on spring break. Gross!

Home: The good-- In January during the few short weeks I was pregnant, I began to freak out about space. We live in a small 3-bedroom house. Our "extra" bedroom contains: a Gazelle (exercise machine, NOT animal!), all of my scrapbooks and scrapbooking materials, my acoustic guitar, DH's bass and electric guitars, and many, many books. Most of the items in the room are items I am not willing to depart with. We planned to move Emma into the "extra" room, as her current bedroom still has Baby-oriented wallpaper border...thus her current room would be the Baby room when #2 came along. Though no longer PG, we've started the process of moving Em to the other room. Part of me has been gently trying to nudge DH to consider moving to a larger house. For now, I agreed to wait until we find out what kind of home buying programs will be available once President Obama's "bailout" ideas are entirely in place.

Anyway, the "good" is that I'm moving on. I am staying (mostly) optimistic. Having Emma in the "extra" room will be ideal if I become pregnant again. We still haven't figured out where we'll store all of the stuff that's in the extra room. The Gazelle will go to the garage. The guitars and scrapbooking stuff will probably be stuffed into closets throughout the house. I'm looking at clearing the space as a positive move, whether it ends up being for a Baby, or to eventually sell the house. Yea, me!

The Blog: On a final note, I finally learned how to use the "strike through" feature. How silly fun! Now I can write my crazy and loony thoughts but censor them in an attempt to be humorous. HEHEHEHE! :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Show and Tell--Kingsley Plantation

ICLW: This is my first time participating in International Comment Leaving Week. It's only the first day, and it's already been a really neat way to meet other bloggers. :)

Show and Tell:
Two weekends ago, when DH had to work, Em and I visited Kingsley Plantation. Located on nearby Ft. George Island. The plantation is from the early 1800's and was the home of Zephaniah Kingsley, his wife Anna, and their children. I thought it was interesting that Anna was a slave whom Zephaniah ended up marrying. She had much envolvement in the management of the plantation. The primary crops grown here were cotton and sugar cane. It was neat to view this part of history. I'd love to bring my students here for African American History month next year. (Though with budget cuts, we'll likely not have many field trips next year...)

Front of the plantation home. I wish I took a photo of their amazing view. 100 feet from the front door is an amazing view of the Ft. George River

Rear of house

Remants of the slave quarters.

The wooded lane leading to the plantation home.

Show and Tell
Click the rectangle above to see what the rest of the "class" is bringing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Ooohwee. This is the time of year when I have the blahs.

Family: I miss my family. My parents and younger sister are in Ohio. I won't be able to see them again until this summer. This is the time of year that always goes by sloooowly as I anticipate seeing them again. My older sis will be moving from Seattle to New Jersey this summer. She recently finished her Ph.D program at UW and got a job at Drew University. (Go, Michelle!) I am hoping that her move will occur before my college "Girl Power" reunion in NYC, so that I can extend my visit a little and spend a day or 2 with her before returning to Florida. I hate being so far from everyone!

School: We learned at a faculty meeting this week that 5 teachers and 1 office assistant at our school will be surplussed next school year. The teachers will be notified by the end of this week. I am fairly certain this does not include me nor any of my reading department...but I am still crossing all fingers until we know for sure.

Friends: I've been making new mommy friends via Emma's weekly MyGym class. Last night we had our 2nd impromptu ice cream date with Monty and his Mom, Gillette (sp-?) after the gym. (Yea me! She was holding his tiny infant brother the whole time, and I wasn't even jealous! I wanted one of my own, but wasn't envious of her.) She is a stay-at-home mom and we talked about getting together for playdates when I'm home with Em this summer. I was also able to visit with Adrian's Mom, Stacye, while Adrian and Em were in class. It's always nice catching up with her.

Spring Break: Starts next weekend 3/'s almost a week until I can have some "ME" time and re-coop. Can't wait to get over the blahs! I'll have 2 "me days" and then will keep Emma home the rest of the week so we can go on outings and have some mommy-daughter bonding. I'm hoping DH will be off one of those days so he can join us.

Health/Emotions: My attempts at exercise have been feeble. I am tired and wiped out, and don't feel like doing anything. I just feel soooo run down. Not sure if it is the post-FCAT time of year, post-miscarriage (but it's been 2 I doubt it,) or if it's just that we are 3/4 of the way through the school year and I'm really tired/borderline burnt-out. Sighs.

Emmaisms: On a brighter note, some recent Emmaisms from my sweet girl...

3/16 Extremely excited: "Do you know what happens if you buy a Disney vacation package? Balloons pop out! Real balloons! And they look like Mickey Mouse!"
(Have you seen the Disney TV commercials where balloons fly out of Disney invitations people receive?)

3/15 After playing with two twin girls at the mall play yard for a while, she walked over to their father and said, "Is their mother dead?" (YIKES! Luckily, he laughed and said, "No, she's in the store right over there.")

3/14 Emma: "God's love is like a poomeray."
Me: "A what?"
Em: "A poomeray. When you give it away, it comes back to you."
Me: "Do you mean a 'boomerang?'"
Em: "I don't know. I was singing 'poomeray' at school."
(Apparently this is a song I've never heard before...)

Brady Bunch: Em has recently just started watching "Brady Bunch" reruns. Remember the episode where Alice goes on vacation and her cousin stays with the Brady Family for a week? The cousin is an ex-army soldier, who forces the Brady's to exercise every morning, be on time for "Chow," etc. Em was SOOO excited by this episode, which we learned was titled "Sergeant Emma," because---you guessed it--- Alice's cousin was named Emma!

Weather: This is the time of year that I love living in Florida. We've had weather in the 70's all week. It has been gorgeous! I love driving with my windows down and sunroof open. I love falling asleep with the window open a crack. I love the smell of blooming flowers that waft in through my kitchen window. One more week....then I can attempt to chase these blahs away at the beach!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patty's Day from our house to yours! :)

Emma turns 4 1/2 today!

There once was a Shamrock named Pat,
Who tripped on a root and went splat,
She ripped her best leaf,
And sobbed in her grief,
And ruined her favorite hat.
--Author Unknown

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Show and Tell--Zoo's New Asia Exhibit

This is my first time participating in Mel's Show and Tell: http:// (Ack! I can't get the link feature to work.)

Last weekend Em and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo for the grand opening of their Asia exhibit. The gardens and ponds in the Asia area are gorgeous! Thus far, they only have 2 komodo dragons, which were quite a hit. They hope to add tigers and pandas in the next year. Pictures of the beautiful Asia area are below...

At the main entrance to the Zoo

Em in front of one of the ponds in the Asia exhibit

Waterfall/pond area

Emma checks out the Koi fish

One of the Komodo Dragons

Em poses on a dragon statue

Beautiful bridge area. Emma said, "MOM! The bridge is GREEN! Your favorite color!"

Entrance to the Asia area of the zoo

By the end of the day, it was warm enough for Em to take off her long-sleeve shirt.
We had a great time!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Me: A to Z

Thought this looked fun.

Me: A to Z

A: Attached or Single? Happily attached to DH for 10 1/2 years now. :)

B: Best Friend? DH. He is my pal and confidant. I love that we still make each other laugh after all these years.

C: Cake or Pie? Hmmm....probably cake. Yellow cake with chocolate icing is my favorite.

D: Day of Choice? Saturday. No school. Family time.

E: Essential Item? I guess my computer. Between blogging, chronicaling photos, research, and creating lesson plans for school I love my laptop!

F: Favorite Color? Green

G: Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms? Aren't they the same thing, just different sizes? Guess I'll pick bears.

H: Hometown? Born and raised in Ohio. However, after 10+ years in Jacksonville, FL it's "home" too.

J: January or July? Definitely July. LOVE having summers to spend with Emma. Also, I have many fond July 4th memories spent with my family during both childhood and adulthood.

K: Kids? My sweet Emma...whom I am longing to have a sibling for one day.

L: Life isn't complete without? Family

M: Marriage Date? September 5, 1998

N: Number of brothers and sisters? 1 older sister, Michelle and 1 younger sister, Laurel. Both are wonderful, strong, and independent women whom I admire very much.

O: Oranges or apples? Apples. We had apple trees in the backyard of the house I grew up in. Mom's apple crisp each autumn...yummy!

P: Phobias? Heights. I am fine in airplanes or in tall buildings. However, when out in the open, or somewhere I feel like I might fall out, I freak. (My most recent incident was a few years ago in the St. Augustine Lighthouse with my Dad, sister, and DH. We climbed all the way to the top and the railing was only waist-high. Freaked me out!) Also, I run and scream when bees or wasps are around because I'm allergic.

Q: Quotes? "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." --Eleanor Roosevelt

R: Reasons to smile? Emma, warm sunny days, smelling cookies baking, when DH cracks me up, finishing a good book

S: Season of choice? Spring. Love the warm air, newly budding flowers, the "smell" of spring. (Though autumn is a close second!)

T: Tag 5 people? Not sure how long this has been going around, so I'll choose not to "tag" anyone, but to invite any readers to participate if they'd like.

U: Unknown fact about me? I've been in 43 of the 50 U.S. states.

V: Vegetable? Does this mean what veggie is my favorite? If so, I'll go with green beans. Yum!

W: Worst Habit? Sometimes I have too much self-doubt.

X: X-Ray or Ultrasound? Interesting question. I'd have to say ultrasound. I associate x-rays with broken bones and pain, but ultrasounds with pregnancy and joy.

Y: Your favorite food? Mexican! Yummy!

Z: Zodiac sign? Aries

Friday, March 13, 2009

School Stuff

Evaluation: Had meeting with my principal this week regarding my yearly evaluation. We already had a post-observation conference a few weeks ago. This week's meeting was to actually sign the paperwork that gets submitted to the county.

His comments included:--"Teacher conducts comprehension checks on a regular basis. Teacher provides goals and objectives to students on which they are assessed."
--"Knowledge of subject matter is extensive."
--"Teacher is sensitive to students' needs and willing to reteach. Classroom is neat and attractive and reflects teacher's organization. Teacher treats all students with utmost respect."
--"Teacher is proactive in communicating with parents."
--"Has done an outstanding job as department head."
--And FINALLY for the FIRST TIME...since I recently completed all of my necessary certification requirements, I finally qualify for performance pay! Yea! (Though sadly, this is mostly based on how my students score on the FCAT exam.)

Budget: We had a faculty meeting on Tuesday. The principal gave each teacher a list of the jobs/supplies/software/utilities, etc. which the school pays for each year. We were asked to "balance the budget" and submit our ideas to him. Our school is losing over $240,000 next school year. We have already been told we will lose at least one faculty member, as the district will no longer be funding the position.

Job Cuts: County-wide, many teaching jobs will be cut. Several teachers will be part of the "RIF" (reduction in force) process. With my 6 years, I should be able to stay at my current school. I have more seniority with the county than 2 of the 4 reading teachers here have. The scary thing is that if someone within the county has higher seniority than I do and is RIFed from their school, it is possible they could "bump" me from my position. Our principal has assured us he'll do all he can to keep this from happening. However, there are no guarantees.

FCAT: This week students completed the reading and math portions of the FCAT exam. Science FCAT will be this coming Monday. I am soooo ready for testing to be over. Between the full moon, beautiful weather (it's been unseasonably warm in the 80's here this week!), Friday the 13th, and near end of the quarter, my students are extremely wound up this week!

Overall, I am hanging in there...just really, really, really ready for Spring Break! March 30th - April 1st can't get here soon enough. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Moving On

School: The dreaded FCAT testing for students occurs this coming Tues 3/10 (reading), Weds 3/11 (math), and the following Mon 3/16 (science). I think my students are prepared. I have some concern due to my principal telling me the gains the reading students had last year were not as significant as he hoped. As I wasn't at this school last year, I am not certain how much "growth" he is expecting. I think there is a conflict because many of my students have already had a year or more lexile growth, as gauged by the Read180 software program used in my classroom. However, this growth may not be good enough for them to score well on the FCAT. The problem (as I see it) is when students are low level readers (I have some that began the year as low as a 1st or 2nd grade reading level,) then even if they make great strides, it is still not "enough" for them to pass a test that is written on an 8th grade level. Bleck! Blasted FCAT! I hate that there is so much emphasis on one test...I'll get off my soap-box now.

Online Community: Thanks in part to the Stirrup Queen's amazing list of miscarriage/infantloss/infertility/adoption etc. blogs, I have connected with many amazing women. I consider myself part of the "Secondary Infertility" group. I have soooo appreciated having women I can relate to. And while this blog is still MY outlet, and written mostly for ME, I have to be honest...comments are wonderful. It's great knowing there are people "checking in" with me. Thank you, dear readers. :)

Quick Update--Jury Duty: After being narrowed down from a group of 400 potential jurors to 50 to 35, I was NOT selected for the final jury of 7. I did enjoy my day of "jury duty," and actually ended up hoping I'd be selected for the trial, because the whole process was so interesting. Maybe next time...

Quick Update--Black History Month Choir: I participated in a "faculty choir" for my school's Black History Month presentation. It was great fun, and I even ended up with a solo. We sang Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie's "We Are the World." The students LOVED it. I had a blast! I sang in choirs from elementary school through college, but haven't really done anything (except an occasional karaoke) since graduating from college. It was fun!

Health: I took a sick day today and went to the doctor. Received a RX for nasal spray and an antibiotic. I'm glad I went, as I was diagnosed with sinusitis, but Dr said it would likely have turned into an ear infection if I had waited it out another day. (I had an ear infection last fall---NOT fun.)

Sighs...felt a little "ouch" when I had to complete the "# of pregnancies" and "# of live children" blanks on the admission paperwork. Prior to my miscarriage I never really thought about these items. How do people who have actually endured the DEATH of a child handle these type of situations? Is it sick that I felt a little grateful that I had "a miscarriage" and was not further along? Gulp.

Last week I had my first cycle since my January miscarriage. I guess this means my body is moving on??