Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Mrs. Bluebird, who is one of my favorite selections, tagged me for this meme.

Here's the rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

So let the fun begin!!

1) What was I doing 10 years ago? Well, I had just returned to work after 11 weeks of maternity leave. I was wondering how in the hell I was going to be able to be gone from my sweet baby girl every day and being wistful about being a stay-at-home-mom.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order): Well, seeing as how today is pretty much shot, I'll go with my to-do list for tomorrow.

1. finish correcting make-up tests for Spanish 1 class
2. copy quizzes
3. make lunch
4. get Lydia all prettied up for First Communion picture
5. start reading "Lottery" for book club

3) Snacks I enjoy: The list would be shorter if I included those snacks I DON'T enjoy, but here they are: popcorn, chips and dip, chips and salsa, guacamole, ice cream, chex mix....

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Pay off all debts, invest wisely, give to charity, not stress about money, and go shopping, duh!

5) Three of my bad habits:I'm so glad they limited it to 3, otherwise this would be a bit of a morale buster for me.

1. nervous eating
2. staying up too late because I don't want to miss out on anything
3. not staying on top of grading papers

6) 5 places I have lived:

1. Davenport, IA
2. Galesburg, IL
3. Cedar Falls, IA
4. Colima, Mexico
5. Council Bluffs, IA

7) 5 jobs I have had:

1. cashier, Walgreen's
2. Migrant Head-start teacher
3. bilingual Kindergarten teacher
4. Spanish teacher
5. quality-assurance coordinator/customer service trainer

8) 6 peeps I wanna know more about:

1. Happy Chyck-
my "old" blog buddy. I probably already know a lot about her, but she
tells a good tale.

2. Mrs. Chili- a newer
blog-friend. Definitely a kindred spirit.

3. Adeline New job, new house,
expecting a new baby. If she's got time for a meme, I'd love to
read her responses.

4. Professor J She's
probably up to her ears in papers to grade, but who doesn't love a

5. Sunshine a
fellow Iowan- she's hosting the Prom this week! It's crinoline free,
so check it out!

6. Dolce -her blog is a
delight to read. I'd love to hang out with her.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rollin', Rollin' on the River

So, a week and a half ago, we had this little earthquake. Guess what now? The Mighty Mississippi is expected to crest at 19.5 feet on Wednesday, flood stage is at 15 feet. Oh, it's a sight when that river leaves its banks. The above picture is from 2001- no baseball that spring. So far, the baseball stadium is dry- it's a bit soggy getting into the stadium, but they've got sandbags up. This weekend is prom for the school where I teach, which could be tricky, since it will be held on a riverboat. If the river is too high, I'm guessing they won't actually sail. Before you get all "Oh, how quaint" about having your prom on a riverboat, which I did, think about it. Sails at 9, comes back at 12. You're in the middle of the Mississippi for 3 hours. (a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour....) You are stuck on that boat for the entire time - there's no leaving early. And if you're late? They take off without you. There goes your prom- and my school only had Senior prom, none of this Junior/Senior stuff. The tradition was that the Junior class hosted the prom for the Seniors. And sea-sickness? A little bit- not hurl-over-the-railing sick, but definitely some queasiness. From a parent's point of view, the boat is awesome- you know where your kids are, they are safe and contained. From a kid's point of view, it's a tad claustrophobic.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

We're not Oprah

I've been part of a book group since 1995, or thereabouts. My original group has long since dissolved, but I'm now part of 2 others. One is very much a book clubby book club, in that we really talk about the books and don't just get together for too much wine and "me time" away from kids and bedtimes and household stuff. Not that I'm above that, because I'm totally not. My other one, with which I'm contemplating breaking up, is comprised of several women whose daughters all go to school together and they spend an inordinate amount of time bashing their kids' teachers and things at school. They are all very interesting women, many of them are very accomplished. We share similar political views, although I've come to realize that many of them who are in a much, much, higher income bracket than we are here at Casa de T, subscribe to more of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of philosophy. It's a little annoying and I sometimes privately refer to it as their WLG , or White Liberal Guilt.

But, I digress. My other book group, the more "bookish" one, is such a treasure to me. We meet every 4-6 weeks, depending on holidays and how big the book is, at 5pm on Sunday. We vary the time SOMETIMES, but not much, since the 5:00 time just seems to work best for everyone. I like that. In the other groups, we'd try to accommodate everyone, which is impossible and then people would cancel at the last minute and try to reschedule- a nightmare. The way we choose our books is to have a particular meeting dedicated to the choosing of the books. Everyone brings 2-3 possible choices to present to the group. Then, the group votes on them. Then, we assign a month for each person to host. No one is obligated to host at their home- we've met in pubs and coffee shops and parks. If you are unable to host during your month, we go ahead and meet anyway. Light snacks and beverages are the norm, but some really like to cook, so they make more. We've acquired several traditions- one is that every summer or early fall, we have a potluck picnic at this wonderful park overlooking the river. The other is that in December, we do not have a book meeting, but rather a potluck brunch with a gift exchange. Gift exchanges can be kind of dicey, but ours is always a success. People choose well - this year there was kind of a "green" theme, probably as a direct result of our reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Small Wonder". In addition to the gift exchange, we've added another element, which was to find the most awful Christmas sweater we could, and wear it to the brunch. The funniest was one woman's vest- made of Christmas calico, it even had bells or other tchockes sewn to it. She said her husband kind of liked it, which we all had a big laugh over. He didn't get that it was a joke.

So here are our picks for the year:

The Whole Truth, by David Baldacci I know nothing about this book, other than my perception of the author is that he's kind of John Grisham-y.

Little Heathens, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish This looks really good- about growing up on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression.

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, who also wrote 101 Dalmations
It's the story of a teenaged girl in England in the late 1940's, whose family lives in a decrepit castle. One of those coming-of-age kind of novels.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott Many of us have never read this classic! We feel we need to. Actually, Claire and I were reading it, and got stuck about halfway through it. I know what's coming, and Claire does not. I fear that Beth's death will hit her pretty hard.

Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett I mentioned this in my previous post- I just got it today- boy what a heavy book it is! I am considering taking it with me to Spain, but the weight of it concerns me.

The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian (sp?) He wrote Midwives, which I did not read, and Trans Sister Radio, which I listened to on tape- a very clever title, since one of the characters was undergoing gender reassignment surgery and the other worked in public radio. Get it? Anyway, I think he's a pretty good author.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro This is about students at a special school- it seems like a more complicated version of Lois Lowry's The Giver. The students are "told, but not told", as is the reader. I am very intrigued by this book.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genious, by David Eggers It is a memoir, which I've come to be very wary of. David Eggers tells his story of how he had to raise his 3 siblings after the sudden death of both their parents. I understand that Eggers is rather funny, so I hope that will make it less, well, heartbreaking.

Downriver, by John Hart According to Amazon, this book "settles once and for all, the question whether thrillers and mysteries can also be literature."

Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen I read this in the other book group and LOVED it, as I mentioned earlier. I highly recommend it.

Lottery, by Patricia Wood This is about a mentally challenged boy who wins the lottery. I predict it will be very Forest Gump-ish.

If I'm of a mind, I will post the runners up later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Earth Moved

First of all, many thanks to those who offered advice and suggestions regarding my upcoming travel, and to those who simply wished me well.

As for the bomb threat last week, nothing happened, but on Friday, we were all awakened at about 4:30 by a freak earthquake. I have all my necklaces hanging on this vanity in our bedroom and I woke up to them shaking, as if a cat had just jumped off of it. I looked over at it and saw no cats, thought that was odd and went back to sleep. It wasn't until later when someone asked if I'd felt the earthquake that morning that it dawned on me.

Want to know what you get on a Friday that starts with an earthquake, during a full moon, the day after a poorly written bomb threat? You get a whole lot of crazy. Boy was I glad to say goodbye to that week! I then spent a crazy amount of time correcting papers that had piled up- ugh.

In other news, I just read Water for Elephants and I am telling you all to go read this book. It has romance, mystery, love, murder, and it all takes place during the Great Depression- in a circus. What an amazing book- it hooked me right away- I read it in 3 days. My one book group chose books for the year- and I'm pretty excited about them. I'll post the list later- I'm too lazy to go downstairs and get the list right now. I will say that one of the books is Pillars of the Earth, which intrigues me to no end, especially after visiting incredible cathedrals in Toledo and Seville last summer. (Sadly we did not get to visit the cathedral in Segovia- only the Castle, which is really cool)

Spring has definitely sprung- the grass is finally green and we've finally rid ourselves of the oak leaves that have plagued our lawn since they finally fell at the beginning of December just in time for the first snowfall.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Well, after much much time spent on Orbitz, Priceline, Cheapoair, Expedia,Travelocity, I FINALLY got my ticket to Spain. I will leave Thurs. June 12 and fly to London; change planes in Heathrow, fly to Madrid. I ended up booking through Travelocity. On the way home, I will take the train from Cáceres to Madrid, then stay overnight at a small hotel , leave the next day for home. I fly Madrid to Zurich, Zurich to Chicago. I reserved my hotel room and next week I will book my train ticket- you can't reserve more than 62 days prior, for some reason. I will get to Chicago via airport shuttle from Moline, and I booked that yesterday. I am trying not to freak out about making my connections.

In other news, we had a bomb threat at school today. Some dipshit wrote in pencil on the boys' bathroom wall "I'm going to Blow Up this scholl Thurs. 4-18". How seriously do we take that? Hats off to our administration, though. They took it seriously enough without over-reacting. I think some kid thought we'd get to go home early if there was a bomb threat. I did like the email we got asking us to please look around our rooms for any suspicious looking packages. Does any other profession regularly have the Bomb Squad come and have a look-see?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


And I was doing so well! I kinda dropped the Blog 365 ball and have cut myself some slack. Some days, I just do not have a post. 3 months was pretty good- now I will just relax a bit. I was getting a little ocd about posting.

So, it looks like I'm going to Spain. I will be taking a graduate level course (or I will be taking a course for which I will receive graduate credit) that is designed for teachers of Spanish. I will live with a Spanish family and class will be held at the University of Extremadura. We just got word Monday evening that the class will run. So now I have the task of getting my plane ticket. I also need to take into consideration that the town where I'll be staying (Cáceres) is several hours away by train; so I'll then have to allow for travel time between the train station and airport, as well as being at the airport 3(is it 3 for international flights?) hours prior to departure time. I have to be in Madrid by 2:00 on June 13 and will leave Cáceres at any time on the 27th. I'm having a minor freak out. Does anyone have any advice on purchasing my ticket online? I've done it many times for domestic flights, but I'm a bit afraid that with all my time constraints, I may have to go the route of a travel agent. Help! (No Debby Downers, please. I'm looking for help, not "you'd get a cheaper price if you'd booked in January". )

Thursday, April 03, 2008

El Sucko

Today my colleague and fellow trip planner were talking to a student about our trip next summer to Mexico and Costa Rica. He asked what the exchange rate was and I said that for Mexico it was pretty good. We explained that we wouldn't be going to Spain because it would be soooooo expensive. I even cleverly, or so I thought, interjected that the value of the dollar vs. the Euro was "el sucko". He just looked at me. "El sucko?" he said. "Aren't you a teacher?"

Um yes, yes I am. I'm a teacher, but I'm NOT FREAKING DEAD! Now, be gone! And grow a sense of humor over the weekend!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Photo Meme

A fun meme I shamelessly stole from Happychyck Steal if you want. It's tres, tres fun.


1. Go to Photobucket .

2. Type in your answer in the search box.

3. Use a picture from the first page only.

4. Insert the picture into your blog.


1. What is your relationship status?

2. What is your current mood?

3. What is your favorite band/artist?

4. What is your favorite movie?

5. What kind of pet do you have?

6. Where do you live?

7. Where do you work?

8. What do you look like?

9. What do you drive?

10. What did you do last night?

11. What's your favorite television show?

12. Describe yourself.

13. What are you doing tomorrow?

14. What is your name?

15. What's your favorite candy?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Teacher Talk Tuesday: Second Language Acquisition

Recent events in my department that I won't bore you with here have caused me to examine my philosophy of learning/acquiring a second language. I did a bit of study in and love the field of language acquisition/language development. I understand that acquiring one's first or native language is different than acquiring subsequent languages, especially if the environment is "unnatural" (like a classroom). I do believe, however, that when learning a second language, that certain similarities from language acquisition of L1 exist. For example, receptive language develops earlier than expressive language. Over-generalization of grammar rules can lead to apparent regression with regard to speaking correctly (kids learn to say "ran", then subconsciously over-think it and then say "runned" before they get it all sorted out). I also believe that anyone learning a language should be ENcouraged and not DIScouraged by nitpicking. I am a stickler for detail, but I think it's a natural tendency to shut down if all you are met with is criticism, so I try and keep it at bay. Children learn to speak well from adults who model good pronunciation, good grammar, broad vocabulary and expressive speech. They learn from being read to. I think that transfers to the acquisition of a second language as well.