Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Midweek Confessions

I've been following Elizabeth at E, Myself, and I for quite some time. Here are my midweek confessions. . .

So to start off this week I totally messed up my check book balance. How I could forget about writing two pretty large checks is beyond me. It doesn't help that we spend money like we're millionaires. Now we have to keep things pretty tight to the belt for the next couple of weeks. Not a nice way to begin summer vacation.

Monday night or Tuesday morning take your pick, the cat,  Sebastien, started making hackinguphairball sounds. Typically he doesn't hack up hairballs; he pukes up his food instead. We think it's because he's such a HOG and eats too fast. So I heard the heaves and ran out of the bedroom to find him. Mind you everyone else in the house was asleep. I found Sebastien in the living room so I tried to grab him and take him into the kitchen. It's easier to clean cat puke off a linoleum floor. He evaded me and ran right into Michael's bedroom and under the bed. As I tried quietly to coax him out, he puked. Did I clean it up? No. I was not about to go under the bed and clean cat puke up and wake Michael in the process. It's still there. I figure it's easier to clean it up once it's dried. I'm such the housekeeper. I am not my mother in this regard.

In my last post, here, I told you about MomMom's fountain and how we placed it in our back flower bed. Well, Matt used a metal spike pounded into the ground to help support the back of the fountain to keep it from falling over on that side. After the boys left for football conditioning I painted the goose (also mentioned here). Then when Penelope the goose was finished I sat in my chair and listened to the sounds of my beautiful fountain. While I sat there I noticed that the bowl of the fountain wasn't even on all sides. Being the perfectionist that I am, I went over to the fountain and moved the bowl so it was centered on the pedestal. Unfortunately since I moved the bowl it no longer rested on the metal spike that was supporting it. My husband noticed it the next day. So far the fountain hasn't tipped over, but I just can't seem to leave well enough alone. Matt is just waiting to say "I told you so."

This week is finals week. My honors class had their final on last Friday and it was an essay exam. Your basic read the article and right a five paragraph position essay. They had all week to prepare and they could use their notes, an outline, and the article. They just had to do the writing in class. When I should have been grading their essays this weekend, I spent my time catching up on my reading - all the blogs that I follow - as well as writing on my blog. Where are my priorities?

Lastly, I procrastinated again. It seems to be a theme for this past week. I missed a whole week of GH so I sat and watched five episodes in a row. Matt had to work that morning and wouldn't be home until two-ish. I told him I'd have the messy kitchen cleaned by the time he got home so we could have our cookout. At one I finally moved from the couch and began cleaning up in the kitchen. I had to move fast. I turned on Pandora radio to some 80s music and jammed while I rocked out the kitchen. Music always makes me get things done faster and it makes chores a little more fun. When Matt got home he thought I spent the entire morning cleaning the kitchen. I'm good.

What are you confessing this week?

Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bringing Home Memories

If you recall, I told you that I received MomMom's fountain. This fountain has been around since 1969 according to the stamp on the bottom of the bowl. MomMom and PaPa sold these fountains at their floral shop, Switzer's Holiday House. 

This fountain sat in a place of honor in the center of MomMom's formal garden in the backyard. Since MomMom passed it's been living in the shed in the backyard. Until last summer when I helped PaPa put it together and place it in the front flower bed. At that time he reminded me that one day this fountain would grace my flower bed. He just wasn't ready to give it up yet because it reminded him of MomMom. About a month ago, the fountain came home with me.

Two weekends ago Matt and I set up the fountain to make sure it works. We had a difficult time getting the bowl to balance in the pedestal. It seems that an animal, maybe a raccoon or squirrel may have clawed up the bottom of the bowl making it a little tipsy. We placed it on the concrete stoop just outside of the garage. Matt used several shims to get it level. But at least it works.

Matt and I cleaned the fountain up as best we could. I began with Soft Scrub. That didn't work at all. Then I went to Magic Eraser. The Magic Erasers lasted all of five minutes each. They did take off some of the gunk. Mostly the plastic material of the fountain was covered in rust stains. Probably from the well water at MomMom and PaPa's house. 

We purchased spray paint and decided to give it a fresh coat. I chose an off white. We sprayed two coats on each piece, the pedestal, the bowl, and the cupid. (At least I think it might be cupid. He is carrying a quiver at his side, but he doesn't seem to have any wings.)

Ta-dah! Doesn't he look fantastic?! We ended up purchasing a stone slab to help the fountain balance. I learned how to use a level. WOOT! We ran electric out to the back flowerbed and filled it up with water.

We sat and listened to the gentle splish splash of the water as it poured from the leaf Cupid holds in his hands. We sat back in our chairs to admire our beautiful fountain. While we were sitting there all tranquil, Jack our black lab went up to the fountain to get a drink. Grrrrrr. If he thinks this is his new water bowl, he has another think coming. This dog has a mind of his own. 

Do you remember the other new addition to our family? This is the goose that used to sit on MomMom and PaPa's front porch greeting everyone who came for a visit. She used to dress in the most outlandish outfits depending on the holiday. My family used to joke about what the goose was wearing whenever we got together. MomMom and PaPa purchased her somewhere up here by the lake on one of their many Sunday drives around Catawba and Marblehead. 

Matt used Scotch Brite pad to sand off the old dusty paint. This was definitely not a job for me because of my asthma. Dust drives my allergies and lungs crazy. Sorry I didn't get any photos of Matt sanding.

This is the goose after the second coat of white spray paint. She used to be a tan color, and I thought white would really brighten her up. I'm thinking of coloring the edges of her feathers with a touch of grey. Paint not the Grateful Dead song. Although I love that song and that band. So sad Jerry's been gone for ages. It's just not the same. I ramble.

Yesterday after we finished the fountain Matt and Michael went off to football conditioning. I decided to paint the finishing touches on my goose. I gave her a yellow bill with matching yellow webbed feet. I painted her eyes blue like MomMom's eyes. Next weekend I'm going to paint the base either a green to match the grass or a grey as if she's sitting on a rock. Still pondering that one.

The goose's name is Penelope after a character in the book called The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. The story is set in modern day and flashes back to WWII. The story reminded me of the time when MomMom and PaPa were young. MomMom stayed home with her newborn baby (my mother) while PaPa went off to fight in the Battle of the Bulge.

Now Penelope sits in the grass just outside of our back door greeting us as we come home each day.

What have you been working on in your neck of the woods?

Follow on Bloglovin

Monday's Musings

Here are my Monday Musings for the week. Enjoy.

What I'm thinking: That I'm missing my MomMom and PaPa. This Memorial Day is the first one that PaPa hasn't been here to celebrate. He was a WWII veteran with the 99th Infantry at the Battle of the Bulge. I miss him and my grandma too. 

What I'm reading: Reading from some of my favorite blogs: attic 24, e,myself, and I, A Life in Ordinary, ...

What I'm listening to: A whole week's worth of GH is in the background as I write this.

What we're learning: I'm learning I need a routine in my life in order to get everything accomplished. I think I'll do some research on how to get myself organized so I can keep up with my house.

What I'm watching: Since I'm listening to GH I must be watching GH as well. I have a whole week's worth of GH to catch up on. I love taping my show, or do I say DVRing, and watching all of them in one afternoon. I can zip, zip, zip through the commercials. Do you know there's about 35 minutes of show and the rest are commercials.

What's cooking: We're cooking out this afternoon when Matt gets home from work, hotdogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips and salsa, . . . YUM!

What I'm buying:  We went to Wildbird's Unlimited yesterday and bought bird seed because our birds are eating us out of house and home. We also bought a new hummingbird feeder, and I made hummingbird juice before hanging the new feeder in the backyard. We also went grocery shopping. YIPPEE! Groceries.

What I'm thankful for: I'm thankful for all those people who gave their life so that our country can remain free. Thank you to all of you who serve in the military. I'm also thankful for my church family. Thank you for making the spaghetti dinner possible.

What I'm creating: I finished painting my grandma's goose. She has new white feathers, yellow bill, and yellow feet. It's been awhile since she's had a facial. I've named her Penelope. I still need to paint the base green.

What I'm planning: I'm planning on going to Fostoria this weekend to help my aunt with my grandfather's house before the auction takes place on June 8. That will be a sad day. Watching all of my grandparents worldly possessions go to other people. 

What we did this last weekend: Matt and I went for a bike ride. We rode to the beach and around town. We've NEVER been bike riding together before. We went again today when we went to the Memorial Day Parade. Michael marched in the junior high band. He plays the drum. We also finished putting my grandmother's fountain together and placed it in the back flowerbed. I love it!

What I'm looking forward to: I'm looking forward to this Friday to celebrate the beginning of summer with colleagues and friends.

A picture to share: 

Matt and Michael riding home from the Memorial Day Parade.

What are your musings this Monday?

Follow on Bloglovin


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On a Wing and a Prayer: My Students WILL Get to Take Their Exam in the Blue Exam Booklets Like I Promised

I came home early from school today in the pouring down rain and boy did the temperature drop. Chilly and damp. I'm NOT complaining because my flowers so needed a drink and a break from the heat. But then so did I. My classroom can get quite stuffy and stinky with sweaty freshmen boys who just came from gym class. Eeeeewwww.

Anyway, I texted Michael to bring in the mail so it didn't get soaked by the rain. See, we haven't replaced the old mailbox yet (it's been almost two years since the siding was done on the house, and the mailbox was removed at that time) and when it rains the mail tends to drown to the point where I have to get out the blowdryer. You get the picture. My point is that I was expecting a package from Amazon, and I didn't want it to get wet.

Michael brought the mail in, and when I got home he brought the package to me. It was a thin tan envelope. I thought to myself: How in the world did Amazon fit 25 Blue Book Exam booklets in that thin little envelope. Well, they didn't. I opened the envelope to find not 25 booklets, but ONE. One. Booklet. I have 25 students in my Honors English class. 25. They cannot share ONE booklet.

This is the second time I have placed this order. The first time the booklets came the pages were grids. I donated them to the math teacher on my team. I figured he could always use graph paper. He kindly thanked me for my contribution.

Panic squeezed my throat. My kiddos have been preparing for the essay exam this whole week, and I told them they would be writing them in Blue Exam Books like students use at the college level. Their exam is TOMORROW. It was now 4 p.m. Where was I going to find Blue Books by tomorrow morning?

Google. I googled Blue Exam booklets and found them all over the internet, but I would have to order them and have them shipped. I needed a store. A place I could drive to and purchase exam booklets for tomorrow. Staples. No. Office Depot. No. Walmart. No. No. No. No. There wasn't one store that carried them. I had to order them from the online version of the store. I sat there staring at my computer screen wracking my brain for an answer.

Then it hit me. The bookstore at Bowling Green State University Fireland's campus that is located in Huron. Just 12 miles down the road. It was now 4:35. I called the bookstore before heading out. The young lady said yes they did have the Blue Exam booklets. I asked if she had 25 booklets. She said yes. I asked her what the hours were for today. She said the bookstore closed at 5 p.m. I told her I was leaving now from Vermilion and coming there to purchase 25 of the exam booklets. I thought I could make it.

I grabbed my purse and keys and ran out the door yelling to Michael over my shoulder that I was heading to BGSU and would be right back. At 4:42 I pulled out of my driveway. Once I got to Route 2, I literally flew down the highway. I asked God to send an angel to make sure I made it there in time, safely, and without getting picked up. It was still pouring down rain as I frantically drove the 12 miles to Huron. I also asked God to send an angel to the bookstore to make sure it was open when I arrived.

At 4:58 I pulled into a parking place, shut off the car, popped open my umbrella, and made a mad dash in my red dress and white high heeled sandals for the bookstore. When I got to the main door I pulled it open and thrust my umbrella through. Right. I didn't even put the umbrella down.

The girl, a college student by the looks of her, stood just inside the doors of the bookstore speaking with someone. I ran to the doors finally putting my umbrella down. The young lady behind the counter said "Can I help you?" Huffing and puffing I told her I was the woman who called about the exam booklets. She said "Oh. Yes. They're right over here." She led me to the shelf and asked me if I wanted the smaller version or the larger. I chose the larger.

We walked back to the counter. My breathing began to quiet. She told me she hoped I hadn't rushed too much. She said, "After you called I decided to keep the store open for a few extra minutes to make sure you got the booklets you needed."

"Bless your heart!" I beamed at her.

God answered my prayer getting me safely to the bookstore in time and without getting a ticket. He also answered my prayers in the form of a lovely young lady who was kind enough to give me some extra time. Talk about wonderful customer service. I'm writing a letter to BGSU to thank whoever hired this young woman and sing her praises.

I walked out of the bookstore with my orange BGSU bag filled with 25 exam booklets in hand. Unlocking the car door, I placed the bag on the passenger seat, put my umbrella down, and sat behind the wheel. I thanked God over and over again. When I turned the key in the ignition the low fuel light came on. I hadn't even realized how low I was on gas. I couldn't tell you if it was on while I was driving to the bookstore or not. A sense of calm came over me, and I just sat and breathed in and out. Smiling from ear to ear.

Thanks to God and this young lady, my students will get to take their exam in the Blue Exam booklets I've been telling them about.

I just had to share this with all of you because usually you hear people complain about poor customer service. Not this time. What a nice surprise.

When's the last time you received great customer service? Please share.

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Midweek Confessions

I'm linking up with Elizabeth for her midweek confessions on her blog E, Myself, and I.

As a mother and a teacher I can't get ANY grading done at home, so I stay after school sometimes for two to three hours depending on how big the pile of papers has grown on my desk. Yesterday I caught up with my grading early, but stayed in my classroom anyway and wrote a blog post while my husband and son patiently waited for me to come home for dinner.

My back was killing me at school today. Not sure why. Maybe it's the flip flops I've been wearing. Anyway during my planning time I laid on the floor in my classroom to stretch my back. While I laid there on the cool floor in front of my fan (it was extremely hot in my room today) I closed my eyes just for a minute. I forgot to close the door. Little did I know that students kept walking past my door peaking in at me. Finally one of my freshmen girls came in and asked if I was dead. 

I'm a carbohydrate junkie. My husband fixed spaghetti tonight for supper. Being the good girl I only took one helping. But, as I sit here in my back yard writing my confessions the pan of spaghetti sitting in my fridge is calling my name. I'll even eat it cold. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reader's Notebook Turned Blog - A Teaching Moment

Back at the beginning of the school year, I wrote about The Book Whisperer and The Reading Zone. Both books inspired me to incorporate more reading into my classroom. Reading books that students chose as opposed to teacher or curriculum selected books. If you recall, my students read for 10 minutes a day, five days a week which adds up to 50 minutes a week. Not bad for high school. Side note: their reading scores improved! YEAH! More on that later.

They also created Reader's Notebooks. You can see the post on Reader's Notebook here. In their notebooks they listed the books that they were reading or had finished, including the name of the author, date finished, genre, and if it was easy, just right, or challenging. They abandoned books that they didn't like. Yes. They didn't have to stick with a book that they hated. The notebook also contained a section for someday books where students listed books that sounded interesting. Another section contained notes on genres, and the final section housed the letters they wrote to me about their books. Now that I've summed that up, let's move on.

Here at Perkins we're a pretty techie district. Students in grades six through twelve have their own laptops. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate technology into their curriculum maps. With that said, the Reader's Notebooks have been sitting in my classroom in their designated crates on top of my bookshelf, taking up much needed space. I decided to try blogging the Reader's Notebook. My honors English class was more than happy to play the guinea pigs if they received extra credit. Go figure.

Each student, voluntarily, created a personal blog through our school gmail account and blogger. They created a theme, personal profiles, cute animal widgets, number of hits, . . . - the whole nine yards. The home page was designated for posts like the letters they wrote to me about their books. They also created pages to house the Reader's Log, Someday Books, and Genre Notes. I gave them a week to create their blogs and write their final book review (letter) to post. Wow! . . . Wow!

Many of their blogs were something else! Plus their writing improved, immensely. You know why? Because anyone in the world could read their book review. Oh my gosh! How excited were they when they checked their stats and found out someone from Germany had visited their blog.

They decided that I just HAD to have next year's freshmen keep their Reader's Notebook on a blog. But not only that, they want me to have students write more of their assignments on the blog rather than turn them in the "old fashioned" way, typed. I was a little hesitant so they reassured me and suggested they post their final paper, a memoir, on their blog. Strictly voluntary, only those people who want to since writing a memoir is so personal.

We went back over the idea of how a blog is public.  We also spoke again about the power of words and that once we write them and send them out into the wide world of the internet, we can't get them back before someone reads them. No problem. We can handle it. And they did.

I'm so pleased with their enthusiasm for the blogs,  and the writing of their memoirs. With a "real" audience (I guess I'm chopped liver) they took extra care to make sure everything was perfect. You should have heard the conversations on revision and editing going on in this room. I wish I could share their blogs with you. Maybe some will say yes and I can post their links in the near future.

I'M THRILLED to say the least! Definitely a HAPPY teaching moment!

Have you used blogs in your classroom? If so please share what you've done and how it worked for you. Thanks! Have a blessed day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings

Monday Musings is not my idea. I borrowed it from another blogger. Her blog is called Stop and Smell the Chocolates. I really want to try to write more often so I thought this might help me out, especially on those frantic Mondays.

What I'm thinking: That today was the last Monday before school's out for Summer!

What I'm reading: Reading Blogger Behave: Make your blog benefit your life, so you can love both by Laura Booz. 

What I'm listening to: The whirring of my window fan. It went from winter to summer here in Ohio. It's hot in this house.

What we're learning:  I learned that sometimes I have to give more than one second chance. 

What I'm watching: I'm watching a ton of documentaries lately. We have apple TV and I never realized how many movies, TV shows, documentaries, etc are out there. Free! I'm also watching "Boy in the Striped Pajamas" with my freshmen. We read Night by Elie Wiesel which we loved. Sadly there isn't a movie. Although we did watch the Oprah interview with Elie at Auschwitz. I can't believe he was able to go back there. I don't think I could do it. Anyway we're watching "Boy in the Striped Pajamas." It gives my kiddos a different perspective about the Holocaust since it's about a little boy whose father is a Nazi officer in charge of one of the concentration camps. If your interested have tissues handy.

What's cooking: Matt fixed Boca burgers with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo along with tater tots. YUM! I can't wait for fresh veges for our "burgers".

What I'm buying:  We spent a ton of money this weekend on our yard. We bought boards to make our garden boxes (more on that later), paint for the goose and the fountain, a trellis for the climbing rose bush, bird seed, a new pole system for the bird feeder since ours bent, and flexible tube like things for the downspouts.

What I'm thankful for: I'm thankful for my friend Danielle who is so encouraging, creative, and always has my back. 

What I'm creating: A final exam to give to my adorable freshmen.

What I'm planning: I'm planning on writing in my blog more often. 

What we did this last weekend: Running around the stores for all the stuff we purchased and working in the yard to build the garden boxes, paint the fountain and goose, weed the flower beds, and sit quietly sipping iced tea and watching the birds.

What I'm looking forward to: Summer. I love my students. They've been such a wonderful bunch of kids this year. But I'm ready for a break before I begin planning for next year. I never seem to teach the same thing in the same way from year to year. I'm always changing to find what works best with the kiddos I have for that particular year. I'm looking forward to lazy days on the beach with a good book, weeding in my garden, riding our bikes, and riding the rides at Cedar Point.

A picture to share: 

I can't wait!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunshiny Days in the Yard

It was so lovely to get outside and enjoy some sunshine working in my flower gardens.

This is MomMom's goose. She used to sit on MomMom's front porch greeting everyone with her seasonal outfits. Now she sits next to my back porch welcoming us home or bidding us good-bye each day. I love having her to remember my grandmother. She's going to be receiving a new coat of paint in the very near future.

We took a trip to the garden center to pick up some bags of mulch for the flower beds. Matt figured we needed 16 bags of brown mulch. Who would've guessed that Lowe's was having a sale on mulch, four bags for $10. Yippee! We bought our 16 bags, and I backed the car up to where some helpful employees loaded it up. These bags were huge! It's a good thing Michael decided to stay home and play otherwise he would be riding on the roof. The trunk was packed to the gills as was the back seat. I couldn't see out the back window so I let Matt drive home. We took the back way along the lakeshore instead of the freeway. It was slow-going. Our poor car, we really should get a truck for as much hauling as we do.

We started with the largest of the flower beds under Michael's "moon window" in the front of the house. Michael loves marigolds so before mulching we added some to the front corner in front of the boxwood. I love the smell of boxwood. It reminds me of Williamsburg.

Pansies are a perfect spring-time flower. This purply one looks like she's got a little face peeking out at us.

This is Peter Rabbit. He's a new addition to the front flower bed. He also came to our house from MomMom. I hope he likes his new home.

Sadly I had a jasmine bush where this Southern Comfort plant nows sits. I forgot to bring the jasmine in before winter. Ooops. Jasmine doesn't fare well in northern Ohio, especially in the winter.  I don't much care for the beverage Southern Comfort (that's another story), but I do love the color of this plant.

This is the end result of the front flower bed. Ta-dah! I still need to add some annuals for more color. But we're going to wait because the weather hasn't been cooperating around here.

Next came the second of the front flower beds. This one I'm nervous about. Jack, my black lab who never listens, likes to walk in this particular bed and wrap his lead around my Bluebeard bush. That would be the rather twiggy looking thing to the left. Over this past year I have found numerous pieces and parts left laying in the yard or caught in Jack's lead. I would rather tie him out back, but Matt doesn't want Jack's poop where we spend most of our time. I guess the poor mailman doesn't rank and therefor must maneuver through the landmines in our front yard. A new chore for Michael, scooping the poop! Sorry Michael, but somebody has to do it, and I know I scooped my fair share growing up. Then I used a shovel. Now they have actual scoopers with claws that grabs it up. I wonder if Lowe's carries pooper scoopers? I digress. I hope my Bluebeard bush rallies.

We continued our mulching down the side of the house where my lovely rosebushes reside.

On around the corner to the back stoop where Mr. Toad lives under the Hastas.

I love this goose planter. Matt found it in the rafters of the garage when we first moved to our little blue cottage of a house.

Isabella was a huge help today. She kept me company while I dug in the dirt, planted flowers, and spread mulch. We used my little red wagon to haul the flowers from bed to bed.

My little red wagon was tucked away in the garage at MomMom and PaPa's house. My aunt found it for me. Yes. It's old. At least 45 years old because PaPa used to pull me around in it behind the tractor while he mowed the lawn. I used to squeal with delight when he turned a corner. I couldn't wait to drive the tractor myself. Once he did teach me, I mowed the lawn any chance I got. Yea, I know. I'm weird. I would ride around for the two hours it took to mow listening to music on my walkman and singing at the top of my lungs. I don't think the neighbors appreciated that much.

While we were working the first sun tea of the season was brewing. When we finished we poured ourselves a tall glass of tea over ice and walked around the yard admiring all of our hard work.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ups and Downs

This past year has been one of ups and downs, much like the BlueStreak at Cedar Point. To get back into my blog I'm going hi lite a few of the ups and downs.

Before leaving for Syracuse,
 I went to a stylist
 for my new professional haircut.
Up - In September I found myself training to be a coach for the Literacy Design Collaborative. This collaborative has been established by a grant from the Gate's Foundation. It's to help educators who teach in the common core, math, science, and social studies, to cover the literacy standards.  Basically taking the pressure off the English teachers to cover ALL of the literacy standards for EVERY core subject, plus all of our other standards. Not only does it help cover the literacy standards, but more importantly it benefits students to learn different content reading and writing. If students are reading and writing in ALL core subjects then their reading and writing will improve across the board. Being an LDC coach takes me to new places like Syracuse, New York to work with elementary and high school teachers. I must say I have an energetic group of teachers that I'm coaching. They are quite passionate about teaching and have tremendous ideas. I also work with other coaches from the Columbus, Ohio area. These teachers are a wealth of information and support. I've enjoyed sharing in their passion and enthusiasm for teaching. I was already a strong proponent of kids reading and writing, and now I can share that with my colleagues and teachers across states. This brings me to number two on the list of ups and downs.

PaPa heading into the press box to
keep time for the football game. The
pressbox was named in his honor;
between his father and him they have
100 years of keeping time for the school.
Down - Sadly PaPa became really ill just after Christmas. Actually, right around Thanksgiving he began eating less and less. PaPa told me he was afraid he'd choke. My family watched helplessly as he gradually became thinner. We told him every day that he needed to eat three meals a day at the very least, but there's no telling PaPa what to do. Since I'm more than an hour away from him, I wasn't able to be with him nearly as much as I wanted. My aunt spent time with him every day, helping by driving him to numerous appointments, cleaning the house, mowing the yard, trying to get him to eat, ... In January PaPa complained that his foot hurt him. The doctor said he had gout and prescribed gout medicine. It seemed to help temporarily. By February PaPa rode in the ambulance to the hospital. There we were told his foot didn't have gout, but that the medicine he had been taking caused his kidneys to worsen. From the hospital he was sent to a nursing home for rehabilitation. We thought he would be home within a month. PaPa told all of us he couldn't wait to go home. He wanted to be ready for officiating high school track. Within weeks he was gone. We were shocked. I am glad that I was with him in his final minutes on earth. I held his hand while my aunt and mom held his other hand. He was surrounded by his family. SInce the funeral we have been spending every weekend going through PaPa's house. Last weekend we finished. Now it's time to get ready for the auction. I don't know how I'll hold up watching MomMom and PaPa's belongings sold to the highest bidder.

My Reader's Notebook.
Each student kept a notebook
and read every day this year.
Up - Remember I read the Book Whisperer by Donalen Miller? Because of that book and Nancy Atwell's The Reading Zone I had my students keep Reading Notebooks this year. I devoted ten minutes to reading for fun for each class, each day of the week. That totals 50 minutes a week for reading, if my math is correct. I tested my students in reading at the beginning of the year to get a baseline. I then tested them at the end of the first nine weeks and repeated this process for each consecutive nine weeks.  I HAPPY to report that the majority of my students' reading scores have improved, some by five grade levels since we first began in the fall. ASTONISHING! I can't wait to see the results at the end of the year. I wanted to collect data, test results, to prove to myself and my administrators that reading for fun can improve a child's fluency and comprehension, thus improving their grade level reading. Some of my ninth graders were reading at a fourth grade level. Now many of them read at a ninth grade reading level. I hope the next teachers my students encounter will continue with reading for fun. I would love to see them graduate reading at a college level.

The Eifel Tower from a trip
I took with my best friend
as her French students.
Down-Up - Our school like many across the state must pass an operating levy next week. If the levy doesn't pass more teachers will lose their jobs. Earlier numerous teachers were RIFed in order to save money. One of those teachers was my best friend. The board and our superintendent decided to eliminate her program. She teaches French at the high school and middle school. When word got out that the French program was going to be cut, students cam out in mass to support her one of the board meetings. In fact so many people showed up that they had to relocate the meeting to the cafeteria. Students and parents spoke about why the French program was so important and what my best friend meant to them as a teacher. It's a good thing I brought tissues. Parents and students also inundated the superintendent and board members with emails and phone calls. Happily, as a result of the outpouring of support, the superintendent and the board are keeping the program in place, at least for now.

Much more happened since I last wrote in September, but that brings us up to speed. I've missed blogging. It's good to be back.