Saturday, June 17, 2017

Still Here, Sort Of

A blog break?  A sick leave?  A stress leave?  I have recently had to take a step back from blogging due to just too many things on my plate and not having the wherewithal to keep up with it.  I've been sick (and exhausted because of it) for about 3 months now and have just (yesterday) wrapped up the most stressful end-of-school-year I've had in a long time.  I've had things I've wanted to write about and comments I've wanted to make when I visit others, but nodding off to sleep anytime I'm not working has been a common occurrence and doesn't lend itself to keeping up with things.  I just wanted to post that I'm still here and still visiting your sites, even if I haven't been communicating.  School is thankfully over with until August, but I'm headed out of the country tomorrow.  I will catch up on writing when I return!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saturday 9

Allergies have kicked my butt this spring and I've been down for the count for a couple of weeks  now. A Saturday is about all I can muster up this weekend. This week's inspiration is Blondie's The Tide is High.  

1) This song was originally performed in 1966 by a Jamaican band called The Paragons. Jamaica is the most popular vacation destination in the Caribbean. What's your ideal vacation? My favorite traveling is to visit new places and really explore.  I don't mind a tour here and there, but I prefer to just wander with a map and my camera.  And I like to be in a place for multiple days, not rushing off to the next after only a few hours.  While I do love the ocean, tropical locations are not my cup of tea.  It's too hot and humid, plus I can only do beach "activities" for about 15 minutes before my skin starts to sizzle.  I prefer the cooler ocean life, further away from the equator.
(2) In this song, Debbie Harry sings that she's not the kind of girl who gives up easily. How about you? Do you hang on stubbornly? Or do you know when to say "when?" Oh, I'm pretty stubborn and can hang on for a long time.  However, I am also quite self aware and know when its not getting me anywhere.  When it's time to tap out, I tap out.
3) Blondie is a group that took it's name from the lead singer's most identifiable characteristic, her hair. If your band was named after your hair, what would it be called?  Hmmmm, Blondie?
4) Before her career as a singer took off, Debbie supported herself as a waitress. She even served drinks while wearing bunny ears and tail at The Playboy Club. Have you ever worked in food service?  Yes, hostess, waitress, and bartender.  Tending bar was one of my favorite jobs ever!
5) Debbie points to David Bowie as a major influence on her music and career. What's your favorite Bowie song?   "The Man Who Sold the World" and "Ziggy Stardust"
6) In 1980, when this song was popular, the best selling issue of Rolling Stone featured Robert Redford on the cover. Who is your all-time favorite actor?  Oh, I don't know.  It's not Robert Redford though.
7) In 1980, Ted Turner revolutionized how we watch TV when he introduced CNN. Do you have any subscriptions services in addition to cable -- like Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix?   I have Amazon and Netflix.  The streaming service from Amazon is an added "bonus" as I pay for Prime for the free 2 day shipping and the the free books.  I don't watch it too much, but there are a couple of shows "Bosch" and "Catastrophe" I looked forward to returning each April.
8) John Lennon was murdered in 1980. Today there's a specially landscaped section of Central Park called Strawberry Fields in his honor. If you had a day to spend in New York, what would you want to see?  I'd want to go to Canal Street for some handbag shopping, nearby Little Italy for a nice meal, and then a show, maybe Hamilton. :)  Of course that's a fantasy because you can't get tickets to Hamilton in NYC without taking out a second mortgage on your house.  However, I friend of mine just texted me last night that we have tickets to see Hamilton when it comes to LA in September!! 
9) We're going shopping! Which do you need to add to your wardrobe: underwear, shoes or a swimsuit? Shoes, I always NEED shoes.
Happy Saturday!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Some Changes

Before Spring Break, the students in my class had kind of lost their minds.  Between some new students starting with us in mid January (which takes up a lot of my time) and new administration (who doesn't seem to have the same behavior management philosophy as the previous admin did), small behavior problems kept creeping up and the procedures I had in place were no longer working.  As it got closer to spring break (and report cards and parent teacher conferences) I didn't have the time or the energy to change the situation as I was merely crawling to the Spring Break finish line at that point.  I knew, however, that over break I needed to figure out some new procedures and gimmicks to solve some of these small behavior issues in order to make it until the end of the school year.
Both new students arrived in mid January, bringing a lot of baggage and drama with them.  It's impossible to wrap one's mind around how a seven year old can bring baggage and drama to a second grade classroom, but it happened, times two, and my class of sweet kiddos had turned into bratty teenagers before my eyes.  Fortunately for us, one of the student's family issues caused them to move again (sadly, for the third time this school year), which has helped some, but one thing we've worked on since returning to school last week is some classroom community building.  The tattling and blaming and not taking responsibility for one's actions had gotten out of control and coming together as a class to work on this was a must.  We spent the week learning about being a "Bucket Filler" and not a "Bucket Dipper", which are cute ways of reminding everyone to be kind.  We've also started a community circle each afternoon which is a time when we get a chance to share positive thoughts about each other.  It's amazing the change that has made in the room, even after just one week!
The other behavior issue I've been struggling with it the shouting out and talking during instruction.  In my relatively short (17 years) teaching career, this is a behavior that has been getting worse and worse each new school year.  Kids, by nature, are self-centered and impatient.  It's our job to teach them to wait their turn and learn how to be respectful when they aren't the center of attention.  In my observations, many kids aren't required to do that anymore at home.  Their parents cater to their child's whim, rather than the other way around.  And rather than a child be made to sit quietly and be patient, so often they are handed an electronic device to keep them busy, and quiet.  In my opinion, this has done a disservice to kids.  They no longer know how to just "be" and also do not know how to wait their turn.  In addition, with the change in curriculum to the Common Core and the need for student discourse, kids are talking all the time.  My group this year is mostly quite bright and very excited about learning.  Unfortunately, because of that, they think that they can talk out or with others anytime they feel like it.  I've struggled this year with not wanting to stifle this excitement for learning and not having multiple students shouting out at me at any given time.  After some research on some of the teacher blogs and using children's literature, I came up with a plan that I enacted last Monday morning.
The kids listened to the story My Mouth is a Volcano, which is about a boy who can not keep his thoughts to himself and interrupts everyone in his life.  Then one day some other students interrupt him when he's talking to the class, and he doesn't like it one bit.  Then we did some role playing where during discussions I interrupted whoever was speaking.  No one liked that very much, which was powerful.  The kids also did some writing on how they were going to keep their volcano mouth under control.  Lastly, I introduced "Blurt Beans".
Each student starts the day with 3 beans.  Anytime they blurt out/interrupt while someone else is talking or turn and talk to a neighbor during instruction, they have to return a bean to the blurt bean container.  At the end of the day, anyone who still has beans left (one, two, or all three) get to put them in the reward jar.  When the beans reach a certain level, they earn that reward.  It's been in place for about a week now, and so far the results have been favorable.  There are still the repeat offenders who just "can't help it", but after losing one bean (and the rest of the class being disappointed) they are able to keep things under control.  Using peer pressure for good is always quite helpful!  
I am a huge proponent of classroom management and feel that if kids aren't behaving, learning is going to be a challenge for them, as well as their classmates.  I spend a large portion of the new school year on classroom management, trying to invest in it heavily early on in order to reap the benefits of it for the rest of the year.  That usually is the case.  Sometimes though, there is a need to change things up,  As hard as it can be, I'm more than willing to give up some academic instruction time to nip poor behavior in the bud.  Everyone is always happier in the long run, especially the teacher!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

"Super" Bloom

Even though Southern California is essentially a desert, wildflowers typically bloom beautifully in the spring.  For the last 3 or 4 years however, springtime blooms have mostly eluded us.  The yearly poppy (and other flower) viewing visits have been planned but not carried out because the spring bloom has been fleeting, at best.  Due to all the rain we (finally) had this winter, this year's spring bloom has been newsworthy.
My mom came into town for a few days at the start of my spring break, and we took a drive to see what was blooming.  We first headed to Lebec/Fort Tejon.  The drive itself up the 5 freeway through the Grapevine and the Tejon Pass was worth the trip alone.  It's been so long since we've seen anything green growing on our mountains, so the scenery was spectacular.  The shades of green might even give Ireland a run for its money.  Unfortunately, the elevation in Lebec is about 3,500 feet and as we got closer to the areas with blooms reported we were socked in with fog and mist.  The flowers were all closed for business.  After waiting about an hour to see if it would burn off, it didn't we headed back down the mountain and took a little detour into Gorman which was just beginning to flower.
 It was quite pretty, but I'm sure by now the entire hillsides have exploded.  We were just a tad early.
After that. we continued to head south until we hit the 138/Lancaster Freeway and cut across to the Antelope Valley which is where the Poppy Reserve is, our next stop.  Both my mom and I like to take pictures so the quick drive was slower because we kept pulling off to the side of the road for photo ops.
The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a state protected reserve which highlights our state flower.  Although we were again a tad early to see them in all their glory, what we did see was beautiful.
 On a side note, with the publicizing that has been done on the news and social media about the "Super Bloom", people are coming in droves to see them.  That is a good thing, but it has led to some poor behavior.  This was a section adjacent to the reserve.  I'm not sure if it's part of their property or not, but it's made very clear all over the grounds to stay on the trail, the poppies are protected, no dogs, and rattlesnakes live in the poppies.  In this section however, people were sitting in them, walking on them, one car even drove through the area.  There were two dogs playing in them.  Being such a rule follower, I had to walk away because the whole scene irritated the heck out of me.
There have been news reports of this poor behavior - destroyed flowers, rattlesnake bites, and altercations with rangers.  Gah!!!!  I had planned on going back up the Tejon Pass this past week, but then heard that due to this, the Fort has closed off viewing times and visitors can only come in by appointment only.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Dream, A Chuckle

As I think I've mentioned before, I don't dream (or remember my dreams) very often.  However I woke from one on Saturday morning, my first day of spring break, that made me laugh.  I'm not sure of the context, which is usually the case when I dream, but for what seemed like several minutes I listened to someone say, "business" over and over and over again.  But rather than annunciate the three syllables in the word it was said emphasizing the many "s" sounds in the word.  It was more like, "bisssss nisssss, bisssss nisssss".  I remember thinking, "Why do they keep saying that?" feeling irritated.  Then I woke myself up, and it was only about 6:00 am.  That's when I remembered that my bedroom window was open, and I heard a bird whistling in the same two beats the "person" was saying "business" in my dream.  With eyes still closed, I got up, closed the window and fell back into bed.  I wasn't going to let this bird interrupt my sleep or invade my dreams that early on the first day of break.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday 9

This week's song link is Asia's Heat of the Moment...
1) What's something you did or said "in the heat of the moment?"   Most of my life “mouth” has gotten me in a bit of trouble in all sorts of moments.  Now that I’m old older, it’s no longer worth the aggravation that it causes me vs. the point I’m trying to make.  C’est la vie
2) Asia's founder and bass player, John Wetton, passed away in January. One of his bandmates remembered him as a reliable performer who made everyone around him look better. Do you enjoy being the center of attention? Or would you, like Mr. Wetton, prefer to play a supporting role?  No, I do not like being the center of attention and would prefer to play a supporting role.
3)  When were you in the car for than an hour?  Most of my hour car rides are for a drive that is, by mileage, quite short.  The traffic here is atrocious most of the time, so none of my hour car rides are exciting adventures...just trying to get from one side of town to the other usually.  Today, we are going wild flower hunting though.  So we will probably be in the car for a longer, adventurous drive!
4) The song refers to disco hot spots, which apparently, by 1982, no one wanted to go to anymore. Let's make that negative into a positive. Describe your perfect night out with friends. Where would you go?  These days, my living room’s couch sounds like a nice place to hang out with friends.  But if we’re feeling motivated, I evening out to the theater or one of the museums for an interesting speaker.  Add in a nice meal, and it sounds like a fun evening to me!
5) In 1982, the year this song was popular, someone laced bottles of Tylenol with cyanide. That's why we now have tamper-proof caps on many products. Have you used anything in a tamper-proof bottle yet today?  I remember the Tylenol scare as a kid!  I have not.  It’s the first day of spring break so there are NO aches and pains.
6) In 1982, Time Magazine's Person of the Year wasn't a person at all, it was "the computer." What do you use your computer for most often?  There is very little these days I DON’T use the computer for. 
7) 1982 also saw the premiere of The Weather Channel. Where do you learn the day's weather forecast? (Watching the local news on TV, checking your phone, looking out the window ...)  The Weather Bug and Accu Weather apps on my phone. Although, my phone has phantom photos on it that are taking up storage but aren’t actually there.  I have had to delete a whole bunch of apps, just to use my phone until I can hook it up to the computer and wipe those photos from it. 
8) In 1982, Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie, Conan the Barbarian, was a hit in theaters. When you settle down to watch a movie, is it usually a fantasy, like Conan? Or do you prefer another genre?  My preferred genre of movie/show is drama/suspense/thriller and if its about detectives or spies that’s even better.  I also like comedy, if not too slapticky, romance comedy, if not too sappy, and action if there is some semblance of a realistic story in it.  Fantasy or pretend is not a genre I tend to watch at all, but I have seen all the X-Men/Wolverine films, and do like those! 
9) Random question: What is something you try to avoid?  Mayonnaise (listening to it, seeing it, or eating it) and having my picture taken.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Treasure. A Benign Post.

My level of frustration with our federal government's new administration is on red alert, and if I were blogging about that, I'd have plenty to say.  Trying to bite my tongue and stay away from posting about politics has felt a little stifling which has led to me not really wanting to write about anything.  Writing benign posts feels mostly uninspiring...but I think I've got one today!  :)
My dad spent part of the 60s in the navy.
Part of his enlisted time was spent in Korea and the rest he spent in Japan.
Growing up, I vividly remember a tea set that he had brought back from his time in Japan for his mom (my grandma), who then gave it to my mom.  The delicate pot and tiny cups were white, decorated with a red and gold dragon.  I have vivid memories of getting this tea set out every-so-often and playing with it, because what made it so special and fun to a little kid was that when the tea cups were tipped up towards the light, there was a shadow of a Geisha.  You would have no idea it was there unless it was in the right light.  I found them so fascinating.
The set was housed in my mom's china hutch.  But sadly, in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, that china hutch fell over and most items in it were destroyed, including the tea set.  We don't have a lot of family treasures or mementos, but I would have considered that one so it was sad when it was gone.
Fast forward to earlier this year.  I was visiting with family at my aunt's (dad's sister) house.  Before I left, she told me she had something for me.  She went behind the bar and came out with a bag.  Inside the bag was a Japanese saki set with the same red and gold dragon design.  Come to find out, my dad had also brought back this saki set for my aunt and uncle.  My mom and aunt had somehow touched on the subject of it the last time they were together, and my mom mentioned how special I found the tea set.  My aunt decided to give me the saki set.  That just warmed my heart and made me sentimental over it.  The best part of the set...the little cups also have the geisha shadow in it.
Since I'm even less of a saki drinker than I am a tea drink - I rarely drink tea - this set is residing in  my sideboard which is much less top heavy than a hutch.  Hopefully, it will remain safe there.