Wednesday, November 25, 2015


As I haven't been very much inspired to write recently, I thought Mama's Losing It's Thankful prompt would help me out until getting my blogging mojo back...
1. Name a color you are thankful for. Red is usually my go-to color, but recently I've been obsessed with aqua and/or turquoise.  
2. Something your spouse does that you are thankful for.  I'm thankful that these prompts don't assume one is married, oh wait...
3. Something your kids do that you are thankful for. My students come to school every day with the intention of learning.  Sometimes their life gets in the way, but the intention is always there.
4. A food you are thankful for.  This time of year, after eating my millionth apple, I am thankful for summer fruit.  It is so good for quite a long time here, but once summer fruit is out of season all we've got left are apples.  It's fine for a bit, but I'm sick of apples.  I think I'm also thankful for pizza.  
5. What recent good news are you thankful for? When I first read this, my mind immediately went to media-news, and good media-news is hard to come by these days.  I read this story late last week. With all the fear/hate being reported on over the last week, this is a very nice story, reminding us that however afraid we are of a terrorist attack, I don't think our fear can even come close to what these people are going through. It's nice to see a positive story about helping them.  
On a more personal note, a very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer - one of the most aggressive kinds - about two months ago.  Certainly very scary news.  Two weeks ago, after undergoing one round of aggressive chemo, the tumor had shrunk in size.  Last week after two rounds, the doctor could almost not even find the tumor to measure.  While certainly not in the clear, I would say that was the best news I've heard in a very long time.  
6. Name a drink you are thankful for. Starbucks' holiday drinks are back!  The chestnut praline latte is like a hug in a cup on a cold morning.  
7. Name a restaurant you are thankful for.  Hmmm, we have a lot of good restaurants here, so it's hard to pick just one.  A good Mexican or Italian place tend to be my go-to places.
8. Talk about an animal you are thankful for. Of course, my Rigby-dog.
9. Name a beauty product you are thankful for. Gel nail polish is the best beauty invention ever.  Runner-up is Kiehls' Creme de Corp body moisturizer
10. Name a cleaning product you are thankful for. There are a lot of good cleaning products out there, but the be all, end all is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  It'll clean pretty much anything all other cleaning products DON'T clean and has been a lifesaver with the tan interior of my new car - which shows EVERYTHING.  
11. What social media platform are you thankful for? I'm going to sound 100 years old, but I'm not thankful for any of them.  While I understand that social media has its pluses, it has a ton of negatives and I think it's making us dumber.  When serious issues are being discussed in 140 characters or less, and serious, important people are passive aggressive in their posts, and large quantities of news reporting is spent on who tweeted/facebooked what,  and every thought one has ever had is posted for all to see, well it could possibly be the demise of the human race.  
12. Tell us why you are thankful for the last person who texted you.  My gay work husband takes great care of me but without the inconvenience of having a real husband.  :)
13. Name a candy you are thankful for. Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, and I'm also thankful they only come out for about a month each year.  
14. Name an app on your phone that you are thankful for. The Chase Bank app is wonderful.  I haven't had to go to the bank in person in over two years!15. What are you looking forward to that you are thankful for? My mom will be in town for about a week over Christmas.  I haven't seen her since July!
Thanksgiving is a holiday that causes me some inner turmoil.  The Thanksgiving "story" so-to-speak is such a white-washed version of what actually happened (and possibly even mostly made up).   It's a difficult holiday to teach about, but the message is still a good one.  And I think that applies to our celebrations with family and friends as well.  While I no longer go to Thanksgiving dinner celebrating the "Pilgrims and Indians" and their bountiful harvest, it is nice to have a reminder that we need to be thankful for what we do have, including those friends and family (even the ones that drive you crazy).   

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes - At Least They Are Learning Something

Teachers go through most days wondering if anyone is actually listening to anything they say.
So when something does actually sink in, it's such a good feeling.  
Each year, I teach the kids several math games that they can play individually or in pairs.  These games are essentially just skills practice (addition/subtraction/place value/number sense), but skills practice that is far more fun than problems on a worksheet.  When I'm working with students who need extra help or pulling small groups, students who finish their independent math assignments can fill any leftover time by playing a math game.  To get these game centers working well, the first month or so are spent building the procedures and basic game play rules.  I spend a lot of time wandering around, monitoring behavior, and answering questions when they arise with the hopes that after that time the kids will be independent and I can begin working with students who need a bit (or a lot) more time to grasp a concept after it is taught.  Not having "stuff" for the early finishers to do is a death sentence to behavior management, so these games are a life saver for me.  During that set up month, I hear the the same cheer after winning a game, "Miss Delight!  I won Maria (or fill in the losing student's name)!"   We have MANY discussions that go a little like this, "You can say you won the game or you beat Maria at the game.  If you win Maria, you get to take her home as a prize."  And they roll around on the floor giggling at that thought.  A day or so later, I will hear the same cheer and this time ask, "You're taking Maria home as prize?"  "Nooooooo," they laugh.  And the confusion between winning a game and a person continues for quite some time.  
Then, just today, two of my fast finishers (we'll call them Danny and Lucas) finished up a dice game.  Danny called out, "I won you!" to Lucas.  I was working with a small group so decided to ignore it for the time being when I saw the boy sitting next to them lean over and say, "You didn't win Lucas, you aren't taking him home as a prize.  You won the game, not Lucas."  A smile spread across my face and I made an imaginary "Yes!" fist pump.  It's the little things that get you through the days - especially when there are still two days until Thanksgiving break.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

So Much Fun

So, I'm going on week 5 of this never-ending illness that seems to be going around.  Just last Thursday night I responded to a friend's text stating that yes, I was feeling on the mend and ready to partake in activities that weekend after a long bout of bronchitis...and then woke up Friday morning with a head cold! My classroom is like a petrie dish right now - germs are just being passed around.  Since it is harder to call in sick and prepare for a sub than it is just to go to work sick, the last few weeks I've been absolutely worthless when I get home from school.  Week 1, Rigby dealt with it.  She's usually pretty understanding when I'm under the weather.  By week two, she was having none of it!  I wasn't getting up early to walk her because I felt so rotten when I woke in the morning, and by the time I got home from work the only thing I had energy for was crawling into bed.  Rigby wasn't a fan.  Feeling neglectful, I took her to pet store and we found some toys - toys that were so expensive I went home and bought them on Amazon.  Just two days later, they were delivered, and I had one happy puppy!
One of the toys is a tennis ball wrapped in rubber stripes.  It is very bouncy and gets her jumping around while chasing after it.  I also finally got a "Chuck It".  I've seen this toy around a lot, but I worried that my yard was just not big enough for its long throwing arm.  At the pet store, I noticed there are actually different sized arms which was great news.  The medium one is far better for the size of the yard, and it let's me be a bit lazy by not having to bend down and pick up the ball every time.  The last toy is by far the best one though.  It's also made by the "Chuck It" people, but it's called a Kick Fetch Ball.  The ball is about the size of a soccer ball, but it has deep, wide ridges that allow her to grab it with her teeth and bring it back to me.  She LOVES it.
 We've had an old soccer ball in the backyard for the last several years.  She popped it so was able to get a hold of it, but it's not all that easy to kick a flat soccer ball.  I was usually more tired after playing than she was.  This ball makes her work.  Not only does it go farther when I kick it, she also has to figure out how to carry it back.  She spins it with her feet, bumps it with her nose, all the while turning it over and over looking for a good place to grasp.  It looks like she's actually playing soccer.
 She wears out quicker than I do now.
For the last few mornings, we've gone on some short walks - stopping just before coughing up a lung.  Even so, she greets me at the door when I get home from work with this ball in her mouth.  She runs around me with it for about 5 minutes, growling, before she drops it at my feet and is ready to play.  She's such a moose, bounding around the backyard - looks a little like this...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Review

When Bridge of Spies previewed a few months ago, I was on the fence over seeing it.  Stories about spies are usually exciting and engaging, but Tom Hanks in that role didn't really appeal to me.  I like Hanks in funny roles.  He always plays endearing characters, some of my favorites being You've Got Mail, A League of Their Own, Charlie Wilson's War, or Saving Mr. Banks.  For some reason though, because of the characters in those films I have a hard time seeing him in more dramatic roles, especially a spy, and I was downright disappointed in his casting/performance of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon character.
With that being said, there isn't too much out at the theaters right now, so I did go see Bridge of Spies this past weekend.  
And I LOVED it!  It was an outstanding film.  Based on the true story of lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) who defended a captured Soviet KGB spy at his trials in the US in 1960.  After pleading the spy's case, Donavan got him a life sentence instead of the electric chair on the grounds that he might be useful in negotiations if a US spy was ever captured by the Soviets.  
During this same time, a US pilot flying a U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union was shot down and captured.  This began a negotiations with the Soviets (and the East Germans) just like Donovan had predicted.  He was taken to East Germany by the CIA, tasked to handle the negotiations.  
This was not a story that I was familiar with, and I didn't know of James B. Donovan at all.  But I do think Tom Hanks did a wonderful job portraying this character.  He had the seriousness of a lawyer and someone in his position, but was quite endearing with a good sense of humor about the craziness of the affair.  
My opinion of Hanks in a dramatic role was proved incorrect in this film.  It's hard to believe he was once a Bosom Buddy.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Bad Week For Freeway Signs

Normally, freeway signs don't even cross our minds in day-to-day life, even if we're on the freeway.  This past week, however they were in the news not just once, but two times - once for a silly reason and once for a tragic one.
Firstly, freeway signs are being updated here along the 5 Freeway.  The Interstate 5 Freeway runs the entire West Coast, including a large portion of Los Angeles.  Early last week, the Los Feliz  Boulevard exit sign was changed out for a new, more reflective one.  Unfortunately, the new sign somehow got past officials, engineers, and CalTrans workers and was installed with incorrect spelling.  For about 30 minutes, travelers exited Los Fezil Blvd. instead of Los Feliz.
It's a story that makes me chuckle because that neighborhood is quite affluent and "hipster".  There are regular arguments over how to properly say the name correctly, and the answer can depend on how pretentious the arguer is.  I'd imagine one of the residents would pay good money buy that botched sign and hang it in their home.
Sadly, later in the week, a freeway sign and the 5 Freeway were in the news again.  This time for a terrible accident that ended in a death.  A 20 year old driver in a Ford Focus, who was driving at high rates of speeds without a seatbelt on the RIGHT SHOULDER, veered into the left lane hitting a pick up truck.  His car rolled multiple times and he was ejected from his car.  If that weren't awful enough, he was ejected upwards of 20 feet ONTO the ledge of a Colorado St. freeway sign.  The pictures of the sheet covered body on a freeway sign are pretty surreal.   Thankfully, his reckless driving didn't hurt or kill anyone else - that's not usually the case around here.