Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Books and School

Did I mention that this school year has been completely ridiculous with regards to student behavior? Two issues are currently driving me bonkers--
1. Our district county policy was amended this year to allow students SEVEN tardies PER quarter PER teacher. In other words, a student can be late to my class seven times EACH quarter before I am allowed to write a referral. In addition, since we have 7 periods a day, a student can be late TWENTY-EIGHT times total each quarter with no major repercussions. What the hell? Seriously? What message is this sending to our kids? What employer in the world allows a person to be late SEVEN times without major consequences? UNREAL!

2. There was another HUGE fight and near 'code yellow' status yesterday. The short version--a student was running through the hallways, broke a glass cabinet in a science classroom, hit 2 students, 1 teacher, and 1 police officer before being arrested. What the heck is happening at my school? It's like the inmates are running the asylum. Administration alleges they will be "cracking down" starting today....we'll see if change occurs. With only 14 school days left, I think it is too little, too late. Sighs.

(I HAVE been managing to read lots! It keeps me sane and helps me "escape" from the chaos at work!) :)

Invisible Id: Written by my hubby! He finally allowed me to read an entire novel from cover to cover. Such a great read! I hope, hope, hope he gets agent representation one of these days...

The Kingdom Keepers Series by Ridley Pearson. These cool books take place at Disney World! I received the 4th book "Power Play" for my birthday, so re-read the first 3 before delving into the newest book. Great book for younger readers! Premise is about teenagers who are recorded to be hologram tour guides at the Disney Parks. Turns out they can swap places with their holograms while sleeping. Disney villains from Disney film lore are trying to take over the parks.... I don't want to do any plot spoilers so will stop there. :)

Juliet by Anne Fortier LOVED this book! Premise: After her aunt dies, a woman follows her will on a treasure hunt of sorts...and ends up exploring Italy when she learns she is related to the "real" Juliet, upon whom Shakespeare based his play. Part romance; part Da Vinci code-ish in her clue seeking; part "Water for Elephants" in the chapters switching between past and present. Wonderful read!

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer. Another birthday gift which I read cover-to-cover. Fun read for any "Twilight" series fan. My favorite part was reading Meyer's descriptions of her writing process and her thoughts/ideas for the background history of her characters. I will say that the encyclopedia-type format made this a book I couldn't read in long intervals...I read bits and pieces between reading other books.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. LOVED this book!!!! It is about racism in the 1960's. The neat part is it describes African American woman who worked as maids/nannies for white families. Talks about how they grow to love the children they care for and the children in turn love them...only to grow up and be expected to hire black folks as the laborers in their own households. Beautifully shares the perspective of 2 different maids and one white woman who tries to take a stand for equality.

What have you been reading? Anything you've really enjoyed that you recommend?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Checking In

I've been away from Blogland for a while. The short version: I am struggling internally to figure out where I "fit" in both the Blog universe and the IF/SIF world...

...I hope that one of these days I'll be able to blog more details. For now I'm not ready to "share all" just yet. Thus, I'm just going to update on the basics:


-First a WAY belated thank you to those who voted for me in the limerick contest! I was tickled to earn 2nd place in my round of voting. (And I loved the winning limerick, so can't complain a bit.) :)

-Emma turned 6 1/2 on St. Patrick's Day. I continue to be awed as a parent. Her growth and eagerness to explore and learn new things are wonderful . (And holy crap how can her kindergarten year be nearly over?!)

-My bro-in-law and his family visited Jacksonville during their spring break. It was great to see them. Em was especially thrilled to have an entire "cousin day" at the beach and Nana's house while our relatives kindly babysat Emma when I worked during a teacher's planning day. Kicking myself, because I didn't take any pics during their visit. Doh!

-For the first time in several years, my younger sister Laurel had the same spring break as Emma and I. She traveled from Ohio and spent the week with us. Unfortunately, we had rain everyday of her visit except for one. We still managed to have a great time, but with less fun-in-the-sun than we anticipated.

Here are some highlights from our adventures during her visit:

We visited the Jacksonville Fire Museum:

Em and Auntie Laurel pose on the antique fire truck.

Em and I "climbing" the fire pole.

We went to the Jacksonville Zoo to view the special "Dino Alive" exhibit. The exhibit was neat---we walked along a pathway in the forest looking at life-like dinosaur robotics.

Em enjoyed climbing on this bamboo hut structure we passed along the way...


Auntie Laurel and Emma

2 of my favorite gals on the bridge in the Asian section of the zoo:

Of course a zoo-day isn't complete without a carousel ride!


The highlight of Laurel's visit was her last was finally SUNNY and beautiful the entire day! DH was able to be off of work to spend the day with Laurel, Em, and I. We went to St. Augustine where we explored St. George Street, rode on a Sightseeing Train, and visited the Pirate and Treasure museum. It was a wonderful day!

--At the end of March, DH (finally) allowed me to read the 5th draft of his novel!! I thought it was super. Per his request I offered some editing suggestions. The story is creative and though sci-fi-ish which isn't my usual #1 choice, I think it has great selling-potential. DH has made revisions and is again seeking agent representation to be published. I SO hope for him that things work out. I admire him sticking with it... He has a co-worker who recently self-published a book. I applaud DH for following his instinct and seeking an agent, as he has seen how his co-worker's self-publishing is not the format he hopes to become published with.

-The transmission in my car went ka-put. Argh. $3,000. My car is a 2002 Honda Civic and though we hated to fork out the $$$, I liked hearing confirmation from the mechanic that Hondas are "great cars" and there are still "plenty of good years" left in mine.

-DH and I celebrated our 36th and his 37th. I received some books from my reading wish list, a dinner out, and surprise cake from Em and DH. We didn't splurge much this year due to the previously mentioned car transmission.

-At the end of the month I chaperoned Em's class field trip to the zoo---SOOOO fun! All my pics were taken on my phone...and I am having difficulty getting them to post, so maybe another time??

-I was able to speak with Emma's teacher, Ms. H about a few things:
1. Ms. H is referring Em to the school psychologist to have her tested for "gifted" placement for next school year.
2. Ms. H spoke about how Emma and Bryce are a "great match" as friends. They are kind to one another, have supportive home lives, and play really well together. At the beginning of the year Em had a few play dates with a girl in her class, Vianna. DH and I noticed in mid-November that Em rarely mentioned Vianna anymore, but mentioned Bryce quite frequently. The teacher reported that Vianna tends to be wishy-washy with her friendships and a bit of a "drama queen" about things...said it was smart of Em to steer away from Vianna when she did. During our zoo field trip I was able to see Em and Bryce in action. I was particularly pleased to watch them when a class bully was saying rude things to them... Bryce leaned in, and whispered something to Emma. Then the 2 of them giggled and walked away from the bully. Priceless! :)

-Easter weekend I had a bit of a stomach bug. My in-laws kindly picked up Em so she could accompany them to the family feast at my sis-in-law's house. These blurry pics are the only pics I took this year.

-The U.S. was finally able to locate Osama Bin Laden. I am grateful he was found. I have mixed emotions about my own feelings and those portrayed in the media---it seems so weird to be joyful over the death of someone. Nonetheless, I am thankful Bin Laden's reign over terrorists has ended. Though like many others I have concerns for the retaliation his followers might plan.

My extremely tough school year continues....
-On Thursday my school was in a "Code Yellow" emergency status for 4 1/2 hours. This means all classroom doors are locked and no one is permitted to enter or leave any rooms without receiving an "all clear" from the office. Short version: some students from a nearby high school threatened to bring a gun on campus to attack one of the 8th grade students at my school. After school, we ended up releasing bus-riders only 2 buses at a time. (Usually when the end of day bell rings, all students are dismissed. Then all busses are dismissed 10 minutes later.) We were still locked in our classrooms 45 minutes AFTER school was dismissed. Luckily, no weapons were discovered, all students were able to leave safely, and NO ONE was hurt. The letter sent home with students by our principal and the interview she gave on the local news report stated that we were in Code Yellow status due to "rumors."

-We are in the final stretch now. The last day of school for students is June 10th. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

-I've continued my pursuit of online masters degree programs. I think I have it narrowed down to 4 programs. My biggest issue is trying to decide which would be best long-term: a degree in educational leadership, or a masters in reading. It's difficult because with budget cuts and the havoc in the education system, I no longer "know" that I will retire in the education field. While I have no current plans to leave teaching, I no longer feel this is a "permanent" career. I guess only time will tell.

WHEW! I think that is the latest... I hope you've been well, Dear Readers.