Monday, March 29, 2010

Grandparent Time

We made a quickie visit to Utah--going up Saturday and returning Sunday--for a family event. Our newest granddaughter was blessed with her name in church. Then we all went over to their house for a nice brunch. We had all of our grandchildren in one spot, and I guess I flunk Grandma school, I didn't take a picture of them all together or even one of each kid. I took several of their parents, and did not manage to photograph each of the progeny. Doh.

But it was a pleasant trip. The weather was excellent during our driving and while we were there. All the people we visited with were casual and cheerful. It was very nice.

On Tuesday night I'm going to fly out to Maryland to visit some old friends and to celebrate the birthday of our son who lives there. Then Saturday, I'll come back and get ready for a visit from our daughter and her kids who are coming to spend their Spring Break in the sun. Plus, her husband has to be out of town, so she can relax with the new baby and Grandpa CoolGuy will entertain the troops. Grandma will be teaching all day. But I'll hurry home so I can be part of the fun, too. Sandbox, swimming pool, bunny bread--it'll be a good time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Last night our PTO held a fundraiser by showing a movie in the big room. The school pays for a license to Disney Corp. and we are allowed to show any of their movies on DVD to an audience for pay or just for fun--but since it isn't a "home" viewing, we need the license.

Anyway this Movie-Night has been a tradition at our school for several years and last night was also a huge success. They sell about 250 tickets for $2 each. Children must be accompanied by adults, and you are to bring your own blanket or lawn chair. There are snacks sold, so no outside food or drinks are allowed. My friend and I were in charge of the popcorn machine. Next year I'll know to start popping an hour ahead of time...But we managed to sell popcorn, bags of cookies, candy bars and juice boxes at 50 cents each, and the $2 tickets, for the grand total of $750. Pretty dang good fundraiser I'd say.

People had a fun time, too. We had the students vote from a list of movies which one we should show and "G-Force" won. In case you don't know it, it is about a group of guinea pigs who have been trained to be secret agents. It stars computer animated guinea pigs, mice, and a mole, plus live humans who are such awesome actors that they didn't roll their eyes everytime they uttered unbelievable cliches and dopey lines. was perfect fare for the young set we were targeting. Actually, I laughed several times. Plus, they reminded me of the little Ratties who were my daughter's pets for years and years. Here's the best line of the movie:

"Well, where did you get us then?" asked a Guinea pig of their human handler (whose project had been shut down by the nefarious group leader who, naturally, was actually leading another group to take over the world with an evil plan).

"You were all pet shop purchases."

"Oh...I'd hoped you were going to say you'd rescued us from a roadside tapas stand in the Pyrennes."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heating Up

Today was the first official day of Turning on the Car Air Conditioner. I went out at 12:30 to drive home and get my lunch -- because I'd lingered in bed too long and didn't have time to pack it -- and it was hot! So, I rolled down the windows, but that didn't help at all. So, I decided I'd cross my fingers and hope that the air conditioning still worked...Yes!

The high today was 75 fabulous degrees. Yeah, baby. Honest, I really don't like 45. Soon the pool will be warm enough to dive in. Yes, I know it will reach 100 every day for 3 months. But that is really just okay by me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Marvelous Night

I spent eight hours at school today, Saturday, because I had procrastinated so much work that I needed to spend that much time catching up: correcting papers and writing report card comments. It was awful. Next semester, I promise, I won't procrastinate like that. (uh, huh...)

Anyway I got home and CoolGuy was playing Van Morrison on the surround sound system. It was so terrific and relaxing and energizing and refreshing. I almost completely recovered. I was peeling and cutting up vegetables to cook in the broth from the corned beef I'd cooked last night so that we could have an Irish meal tonight.

I mean, could this have been more appropriate? Playing Van Morrison while cooking an Irish dinner? And you cannot hear Moondance without dancing, can you? I like to cook and dance. No one is watching, except for the cat, and she doesn't ridicule, and you can hum along and do little steps and sashay back and forth. I felt revived from my day of report card-cramming.

So, I tried to find some music on YouTube to link to on this blog, but the only videos were odd people with delusions of grandeur filming themselves while playing his songs. Oh, all right, they weren't all that bad. But no one is as good as the real Van Morrison singing "Brown-Eyed Girl" or "Into the Mystic" or "Have I Told You Lately?" Perhaps it is because these are all musical memories of my teen years and early marriage years, but all of these songs evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and joy whenever I listen. Please go to Rapsody or somewhere and give him a listen, if you don't know what I'm babbling about. He is special and addictive and his songs are fine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Someone asked me recently where I'd come from to Las Vegas, since every third person who works for the school district moved here from somewhere else. So, I went into the list...Maryland, then California, before that Wyoming. Yes, I have moved quite a bit. Is this the last place? I don't know.

The very first time I moved (and by that I mean really packed myself and left for a new home, not just college for a semester) was a choice I made because I was looking for adventure. Plus, I had a chance to go live by the ocean. I'd only seen the ocean for the first time the year before, and I was hooked. I knew one person in that city and she turned out to be fairly unreliable. But I figured out how to live there and, even though I had no job skills and was a really naive farm girl, it worked out. (God watches over the stupid evidently.) But all the other moves were the result of CoolGuy's job, except for this one to Las Vegas, which I initiated.

I've been thinking about it and I guess I'm just a nomad. My mom and her mother both lived nearly their entire lives in one place. They loved it there, and they had no desire to leave. My mom wasn't even comfortable being a snowbird. She liked her house and she liked the part of the world where it was located and that was that. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to see the other side of the mountain--literally and figuratively.

I could no more have spent my life living in one place than she could have lived her life moving around like the gypsies we must have seemed like to her. I've just always been curious about the next place. Not every town we lived in was just wonderful. Some of them we left quite happily. But I was always ready to see the next place and the next place. We managed to change ecosystems and regions with each move, too. So I've had a chance to learn a new culture, see new plants and animals and experience a wide variety of weather. Again, not all terrific, but certainly different from that to which I'd been accustomed.

Anyway, curiosity still piques me, now and then, so that when CoolGuy makes noises about moving to Israel for a couple of years, or northern California, or wherever...I consider the possibilities and think, "Hmmm, I'll wonder if they need teachers there?" and start contemplating what I'd pack and what I'd haul to the thrift store. We should just buy some camels and a big tent.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

It's A Beautiful Day

Really, it was a gorgeous day today! The sky was blue, the mountains on the west side were glittering with snow. I didn't have to wear a coat. We kept our students up on the playground at the end of recess to do some teambuilding games for 15 minutes before we took them off to class again. It has just been such a topsy-turvy week that they are out of sorts and acting out. So we did a couple of running and screaming games. It was great! Everyone got lots of vitamin D and fresh air.

It stays light until almost 6:30 now and I'm going to plant radishes and tomatoes this weekend. It's time to trim all of our trees and the lawn is starting to grow again. This is a glorious time of year!! Yeah!! Soon, we'll be eating dinner at the patio table. It is just so lovely to spend time outside when it is like this. I saw little trees that are covered in pink blossoms, others have that pale green aura of buds that are nearly ready to explode into leaves. Kitty Cat runs in through the open door and gallops laps around the house and then charges back outside again to roll in the warm dirt. We're all happy to be able to revel in nature. Sigh. Spring is just a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Testing, Testing

This week and next week, our lives at school are turned up-side down to accommodate our BIG TEST schedules. We have numerous small group configurations to fulfill various mandates and allow for specific accommodations. And our school works really hard to put some of our students into small groups just so that they can be monitored and encouraged personally. We are not allowed to read anything to these students or give them hints or anything. But we are allowed to say, "You're doing well! Keep it up!" or "Stand up and walk around for a minute." or "Here, pause for a snack." All of these special, personal touches in a very small group (2 - 4 students) really helps them to stay alert, and not get discouraged and give up, and just start filling in bubbles randomly. We have a whole cadre of staff members who are assisting with these little groups. And it pays off--these kids stay on their game and finish the tests and their scores reflect that they were thinking and reading and trying.

But it wreaks havoc on the rest of us..None of us teachers can believe how slowly this week is progressing. By Tuesday afternoon it felt like it must be at least Thursday. We have to keep track of who is where, and we've all changed our lunch and specials times (P.E., music, art, etc.). As a result, the students are very off-balance during the part of the day that we're not testing. I'm trying to do a science unit during the 3 hour window that I have whichever class is not testing for math or reading. But, I don't have an entire class, because 6 or 7 of them are in small groups; maybe 11 are being tested by the ELL facilitator because the directions can be read aloud (in English) to them. (Also, the entire math test.) So, I have a mixture of several classes and they don't know one another well, so there is turmoil there too. Plus every two days, the groups change. But we have set the goal to be rated "High Achieving*" and we've done after-school tutoring, Saturday test-prep "camp" and just our everyday fabulous job of being great teachers. So, we're trying to create an situation where every student can do the very best job.

*High Achieving Schools: These schools must
meet one of the two criteria established by Nevada’s
No Child Left Behind standards. These schools either
have a significantly higher percentage of students
in each subgroup that are proficient than the state
target or have significantly reduced the percentage of
non-proficient students by more than 10%.

I know I'm whining here. But I'm exhausted and there are 5 more days to go before we can get back to normal. The only good thing: Our principal will exhale after next week. is also the end of the second trimester. That means ten more weeks and it is summer vacation. (Actually eleven because we also have Spring Break coming at the end of March.)

Someone is reading this thinking, "You baby-face teachers, always complaining. And you get all that time off!" Yup, and as a result of that time off, we can face another year of teaching kids and administering tests and we manage to restrain ourselves from strangling anyone in our classroom. My professional goal each year: do not commit a felony. So far, so good.