Monday, September 26, 2011

Pumped Up Kicks

Me and Trinity made up a dance to go with this song a few weeks ago.  As you can imagine, it involves a lot of kicking.

So Trinity came to my after-school tutoring session, and this song came on the radio.  Of course I blasted it, and Trinity got up and started doing our dance.  Another student, Joshua, got such a kick out of it (no pun intended) that he quickly joined her.  Then another student, Alicia, jumped in.  Pretty soon, almost my entire tutoring class was up in front of the classroom, bouncing and kicking like pros (and of course I had to join in, cuz it was MY dance, after all).

My door was propped open, so if anyone happened to walk passed room 405 while all of this was going on, I can assure you that the weird kicking/jumping/line dance thing we had going on was directly related to the language arts curriculum.  My tutoring methods may seem a little unorthodox, but they never fail.  Just don't ask me for details on that one.

On a side-note, strange lyrics for such a catchy song! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blondes Have More Fun? Pssh...

No time to write a detailed post, but I did say I would explain the bet that I lost, so here's the short version.  We held a canned food drive at my school, and homeroom classes competed against each other to try to collect the most cans.  I bet my students that I could bring in more cans than all of them combined.  If I won, they had to go up on the stage during the first five minutes of lunch and sing a "Mrs. P is awesome" song in front of the whole cafeteria.  If they won, I would come to school with pink hair.  I do similar bets every year to pump up the competition, but generally I don't lose.  This year my students creamed me!  They brought in over seven hundred cans!  Our class broke all previous records.  I'd love to write more about this, but I'm really crunched for time, so here's a quick pic of my hair today.

I sprayed the entire bottle in my hair and ran out before I could cover it all.

Okay, so it's probably pretty obvious that I upped the brightness/contrast of this second pic.  That was just for the fun of it.  ;-)  If I ever find this exact shade of pink in a bottle of permanent hair dye, I might be tempted to go for it.  Nevermind department meetings and parent-teacher conferences.

Today was fun and insane!  But in the interest of not being done celebrating, I'm signing out now!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Airplanes in the Night Sky

So I lost a bet and now I have to go to work this Friday with bright pink hair.  Coincidentally, Friday also happens to be my birthday, which means I get to enter my 33rd year of existence with lovely bright pink tresses.  I'll explain all of that in my next blog entry though, because it's sort of a long story.

This song below played tonight during a heart-warming scene from the season premiere of Biggest Loser.  I don't usually watch the show, but it happened to be on TV when I walked into the living room.  I'll admit, even though the scene was out of context for me since I had just tuned in, the combination of that sweet scene and this particular song made me feel all warm and mushy.  The video, on the other hand...well, it doesn't really compare.  But that's okay.  I've decided that even though the lead singer has sort of weak eyes that bother me, I still like the song.

One more, and then I'm off to bed.  So rap is generally not my preferred genre of music, but I do enjoy the occasional rap song when it has an actual melody and lyrics that I can connect with.  Although this next song is rap, it is just so sweet.  Sweet in the traditional sense; not sweet as in "dude, your new ride is sweet!"  I love the chorus the most.  "Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting starts?"  How adorable is that line?  It sort of brings you back to those childhood days when the world was full of possibility.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Teacher's Pet?

Look who wandered into my classroom!  Well technically she didn't come all the way in; she just meowed at my door, which happened to be open at the time.  And of course I had to whisk her up immediately before she got suffocated with hugs and squeals from insanely excited seventh graders. 

It took every inch of willpower I possess to NOT take her home. I already have three cats, and I'm pretty sure a fourth one would qualify me to be on the show Hoarders.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Parade, Shovels, and Unexpected Babysitting Jobs

Today has been such a whirlwind, but what an awesome day!  This morning my Builders Club students and I marched in our city's local parade.  It was SO much fun.  Here are about 35 of my kids (the club is up to 52 paid members). 

These kids are my pride and joy.  They're hard-workers, enthusiastic, and not afraid to roll up their (proverbial) sleeves and get a little dirty.  I just love them!  We also had a shovel decorating contest.  I'll post a few of my favorite shovels at the end of this post.

The parade ends each year at K-Mart, and at that point I had to wait about an hour and a half for all of the kids to get picked up.  It wasn't as bad as it sounds though, mainly because I had a partner in crime (a former RMS student who now attends college--I just adore her), and we kept each other and the group entertained.  Plus the kids find ways to keep themselves occupied.  Although we did accidentally bring down an entire sales rack of clothing.  That was awkward.  I like how the kids' shirts say "Builders Club...we don't monkey around," yet here they are...

(Photo published with parent's permission)
Once the last student was picked up, I met up with Clint and the kids at our city's local festival, and I had an enormous plate of carne asada nachos that I still can't stop thinking about because they were so friggen' good.  The kids and Clint were also in the parade with the martial arts group, and Clint had to stay at the festival to work one of the booths.  Somehow I ended up babysitting a cute little two- (or maybe three?) year-old for a couple of hours.  Still not quite sure how that happened.  The owner of the dojo was running the booth with his wife and his little itty-bitty son, and me and his wife were talking near the pond when she suddenly realized she had to leave for her friend's baby shower.  She told her son, "Here Ezra, go with Jodi!"  and took off.  It was pretty funny considering that this woman is barely an acquaintance of mine.  At any rate, my kids had taken off, and I had nothing better to do, so I took little Ezra to the playground, through all of the bounce houses, down a giant slide, and waded with him through the water.  People kept telling me, "Your son is so cute!" and if I had time, I'd explain that he wasn't mine, but it got to the point where it was easier just to say "Thanks!"  It was all fun and games until the worker running the giant inflatable slide said, "Awww, how old is your little boy?"  and I replied, "I have no idea."

So here is the club t-shirt that I created, with the help of my amazing t-shirt guy:

The students have the same exact images and lettering on their shirts, but their's are printed on light blue fabric, and are the standard crew neck style.

Now I'm finally home and I have to say, it feels GOOD to be indoors with air-conditioning!  I think I'll whip myself up another snack and wash it down with a nice big glass of iced-tea.  Here are some unorganized shovel pics (I can only seem to get them in one straight line).

I have a ton more, but Blogger is being a nightmare with my photos right now.  It won't let me move them anywhere I want, so if I keep posting more, I'll just end up with one very long, skinny line, and a lot of white space.  I haven't judged the shovels yet, but at the minimum, I think I"m going to give the monster one a "Creativity Award."  I'm leaning toward that farm house one as the grand prize's pretty detailed, considering that student's canvas was a shovel. It's a hard contest to judge, because they were all so cute!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rain and Spontaneous Hail

Today was one of those days that had a feeling of...un-normalcy to it.  It was pouring rain when I woke up, and that alone would have lent to a more interesting morning (something you understand if you have ever lived in the desert).  Just that indescribably fresh scent and rumbling thunder had me on a high.  Rain in the desert leads to flooded roads incredibly fast, but luckily I have a ridiculously short drive to work, so it wasn't a big deal.  I dropped my kids off at my mother-in-law's house this morning, and I had time to listen to exactly one song on my way to work.  I was laughing because the "one" song that played on the radio was "Tears and Rain" by James Blunt.  I swear radio stations do that on purpose, because it seems like every time it rains, I'm hearing songs about rain.  Although usually they pick more upbeat rain songs, like "It's Raining Men" or "Blame it on the Rain" (ooh, remember that one?).  I'm still in a festive, rainy mood, so maybe I'll post a rain song at the end of this post.

Anyway, later this morning, we had a code red drill.  Code red drills aren't anything out of the ordinary, but I thought the drill was going to be during third period, and it actually happened during second.  I hadn't prepped my second period kids for the drill at all, and we were all outside (rain had cleared) partner-reading when it began.  Normally I would never have my class outside during a code red drill.  What a pain.  But there we were, outside, when I heard the intercom give a loud click.  I actually said out-loud, "Oh no.  Don't you dare say code red!"  Of course, our vice principal's voice came on the loud-speaker, saying "Code red, code red, code red."  So I had to get thirty-four kids funneled inside of the classroom and crouched beneath their desks with the lights off and the doors locked before admin came around to perform their lock-down "tests."  Thankfully we pulled it off.

But the truly insane part of the day was the hailstorm this afternoon!  I've never seen anything like it before.  Again, we were partner-reading outside during 7th period, enjoying the beautiful partly-sunny weather, when the sky darkened.  The temperature cooled slightly, and lightening streaked across the sky.  The air became very still.  I got those inclement weather goosebumps and decided to escort my students back into the classroom.  They had just settled back into their seats when, with no warning and no gradual build-up whatsoever, it began to pour with hail.  It was so strange.  The temperature was way too warm for hail (somewhere in the low 80s, I'm guessing), yet there it was; dime-sized chunks of ice crashing down from the sky.  And we're not talking just a little bit; it was a torrential downpour.  Since the hailstorm was much more captivating than the Eleanor Roosevelt biography we were reading, I gave up on my lesson and propped my door open.  We spent the rest of the period watching the storm and writing journal entries about it.

Here's "Tears and Rain," but where the heck is the music video for this song?  Does it really not have one?  That seems tragic, because it has the potential to be a beautiful (albeit sad) video.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were You Ten Years Ago...

There are a lot of questions that start with those words.
          "Where were you when JFK was shot?"
          "Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked?"
But there is one big question that still shakes my generation to its core.  "Where were you the morning of September 11, 2001?"  We are once again faced with the irony that most of us can't conjure up an image of five days ago; the errands we ran, the thoughts we were thinking, the emotions we were feeling, and so on.  But when it comes to Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the setting unfurls painstakingly slow in the mind like some horrific scene from a movie, still as thick with color and pungent with details today as it was ten years ago.

Just like your own story, my September 11th narrative is something I could draw out for pages and pages.  But I will spare the reader all of that and just say that Clinton and I, along with the rest of the nation, were rattled that day.  I still remember a cold chill surging through my body when that second plane hit the towers; as the realization washed over America that this shocking tragedy was no accident.  I still remember watching all of the live footage.  With tears streaming down our faces, we watched as victims from the upper stories of the towers threw themselves out the windows, clawing at the air all the way down.  We cried in horror as the first tower collapsed to the ground, engulfing all of the firefighters and other victims within.  And then, with the rest of the nation, we watched in stunned silence as the last tower collapsed, taking with it any remaining hopes for a happy ending.

For Clint and I, the butterfly effect from that day still continues to shape our lives.  When the twin towers were struck, Clint was working for United Airlines.  As most people know, two of the airplanes hijacked were United Airlines jets.  Due to a newly instilled fear of terrorism on airlines, many Americans stopped flying.  This caused the airline industry to nearly collapse.  In October, 2001, United Airlines announced that they were furloughing every single aircraft mechanic who had been there five years or less.  And Clint, of course, was one of them. We lost his income, our medical insurance, the house we were in escrow for, and essentially, our livelihood.  But when you consider what others lost that day, and what the nation lost as a whole, we were definitely the lucky ones.  Irregardless, with no income, we had to leave our townhouse.  On December 19th, 2001, I took my last final for MATC, packed up a U-Haul, and headed back home to California.  I hung tinsel in our U-Haul since we wouldn't have a Christmas tree that year.  Trinity was twenty months old.

Now it is ten years later.  Every anniversary of 9/11, I show my seventh graders a poignant video called "America Remembers."  The first year that I showed the video, my students cried.  Though they were only eight years old in 2001, they still remembered that day.  They remembered the emotional shock wave that seemed to rattle through the entire nation.  They remember our country screeching to a halt.  They remember their parents being glued to the television screen.  They remember the sorrow, the anger, and the fear emanating from the grown-up's eyes.

Then I showed it the next year.  Now my students were only seven years old when 9/11 happened.  They still cried.  They still remembered.  But the memories were a little more blurry.

I showed it the next year.  Students were now six years old when 9/11 happened.  Some of them cried a little.  A few had hazy recollections of that day.

I showed it the next year.  Very few hazy recollections.  One or two teary eyes.  And so it continued.

Then I showed it last year.  Not one of them had any memories of September 11th, 2001.

Now, tomorrow, I will show the video to a group of students who were only two years old when September 11th occurred.  I wonder if there will be any tears at all?

In another two years, my students will have not even been born when the events from September 11th transpired.  And from that point on, 9/11 will be nothing more than a historical tidbit found within their social studies textbooks.  It feels strange to watch such an important memory whittle away to almost nothing.

But my generation remembers. And for the sake of the heroes that lost their lives that day, please, let's not ever forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

To Our Health (Clink!)

I just got home a few hours ago from the annual Woman of Faith conference in Anaheim.  Alana and I went together, and it was so much fun!  The speakers were witty, heart-warming, and hilarious.  We left yesterday morning at 6:30 a.m., and we have been going nonstop since then.  I feel like jello right now.  Neither one of us got enough sleep on Thursday night, and then last night, in lieu of sleeping (like all the other rational "women of faith" were doing), we partied at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney.  We got back to our hotel room around 2:30 a.m., and had to get up early this morning for Day 2 of the conference.  I'll write a more detailed post about our weekend later--I'm way too tired and loopy to do it right now.

Completely off-topic, but I have heard several reports now of studies revealing that moderate drinkers live longer than those who drink a whole bunch
and those who drink very little.  Obviously that former item doesn't surprise me, but the latter does.  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans"Drinking in moderation is defined as having no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men."  I get that this definition is not supposed to be applied as an overall average, but still, holy cow.  I can wash down my scrambled eggs every single day with a tumbler of tequila and not only get away with the title "moderate drinker," but actually live longer as well?  Wow.  Now given that I am a person who likes to maintain a healthy body, this is something that might be worth further investigation.  But I'm thinking that the one-drink-a-day-thing is a little too much of a commitment for me.  I wonder if a once-a-month drink binge will suffice instead?  Because I'm willing to squeeze that into my busy life.  I mean, for the sake of my health and all.    

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Honey I Blew up the Bunny

It's starting to become a running joke amongst our family and friends that we own a petting zoo.  Which is weird to me, because I honestly don't feel like we have a bunch of animals.  In fact, when you first walk into our house, you're pretty much greeted with a nice, relatively clean home with very little evidence of pets.  But if you start a deeper exploration, you'll eventually find:  Two dogs, three cats, two rats, one desert tortoise, one tarantula, one lizard, one sheep, and a pond full of fish.  This list doesn't include the intermittent bugs that Trinity raises, such as the two June bugs we housed last month, the basket full of praying mantises, and the tank full of slugs.  Yeah, I guess we have a few pets.  So I guess it shouldn't come to any kind of surprise that we picked up one more this weekend.

It all started a few weeks ago, when Trinity was reading her Kids National Geographic magazine, and she showed me a picture similar to this one:

Initially I thought that this must be some record-breaking freak-of-nature bunny.  But as I read the article, I discovered that this is just a normal breed of domesticated rabbit.  The rabbit above is called a "Flemish Giant," and they are ALL this big (google it and you'll see what I'm talking about).  For me, it was love at first sight.  I did some research and learned that they are very easy-going, lovable pets, and easily litter-box trained (never mind the fact that their litter box is the size of a car).  After extensive research, I decided I had to have one.  The logical side of me was screaming out "No, no, BAD idea!  What are you going to do with a giant rabbit?  You already have too many pets!"  But the child in me told it "Shut up, I'm getting that bunny."

So for the last few weeks, Clint and I have been on the hunt for a Flemish Giant.  As you can imagine, they are not easy to find.  We were thinking that we might even have to drive out of state to get one.  But then Clint's sister called us yesterday with the news that an online listing for two six-week-old does had suddenly showed up in Glendora.  We of course drove down there, and the rest is history.  Here's our new bunny (she's the one on the left):

She rode on Elijah's lap all the way home.  You can see that at six weeks old, she's already almost the size of a full-grown rabbit.  

When we got back up to the desert, we realized we had no supplies for a rabbit.  The pet stores were already closed, so we swung by K-Mart.  Having nowhere to put her, I took her right into the store with me.  It's a pretty cool social experiment to walk into K-Mart with a rabbit in your arms.  Most people were mildly curious about her (including the workers), but for the most part, didn't act overly surprised or concerned.

We don't have a cage for her yet, but she's already doing such a great job using her litter box, I don't think we'll ever bother with one.  Plus imagine the size of cage it would take to house her once she's full grown!  I took her to my mother-in-law's house this afternoon, and she rode right on my lap while I was driving.  She is such an adorable, sweet and docile little thing.  The only downfall is I don't care for her name.  I wanted to name her either Sunkist or Tabitha, but the kids and Clint voted on "Pumpkin."  I think Pumpkin is adorable, but I have reasons for not wanting it for our rabbit.  Unfortunately I was out-voted, so Pumpkin it is.  I'll be sure to post another update in eight months when I'm pulling my hair out because a monstrous Pumpkin is chewing up my laptop cords and terrorizing my house.

As far as rationalizing yet another pet, I'll just close with a quote I heard recently on How I Met Your Mother.  
"Some mistakes you just have to make."   

Friday, September 2, 2011

No Fire...but a Flood of Ants

This morning during first period, I opened up my desk drawer to grab some staples, but immediately gasped and jumped back because the entire drawer was coated with ants.  I'm not scared of ants, it's just that the sight of a gazillion of them flooding my desk took me by surprise.  Two of my students, being adorable chivalrous little guys, removed the entire drawer for me and spent the rest of the period cleaning off all of my supplies and getting rid of as many ants as possible.  But man were they everywhere.  Even on me.  I'm feeling pretty grateful for the three day weekend now.  Hopefully I'll return to an arthropod-free classroom.  Teaching is already challenging enough without having to swat at your arms and legs every five minutes because some little critter has decided to use you as an overpass.

Our fire alarm also went off today, but it only lasted for a few minutes.  For reasons I don't quite understand though, it takes the school a long time to turn off the alarm, even when it's been declared a "false alarm" (as I once mentioned in a past post).  So you end up having to cram your lecture into little ten second increments, between the obnoxious, jarring, ear-piercing beeps.  Between ants and fire alarms, I just about threw in the towel today as far as teaching was concerned.  The only standards my kids mastered were how to effectively cover their ears and squish stuff.

Builders Club is now back in full force.  I held an informational meeting last Thursday, and our first official meeting yesterday.  I had about 46 kids at the meeting, which was huge.  A ton of kids want to join the club, and I couldn't be more excited, especially since this year I actually know how to run it.  I designed our T-shirts last week and placed my order two days ago.  I love my T-shirt guy.  I worked with him last year too, and he is awesome and puts up with my constantly changing mind.  This year the kids voted on a monkey theme, so I came up with the catch phrase:  "Builders Club--We don't monkey around," and pieced together (from Google images) a goofy monkey carrying a toolbox.  I'll try to post a pic of the T-shirt once it's done.  Now that I think about it, I should post last year's too.  I don't think I ever did.

I was just thinking back on the fire alarm, and it was a little ironic, because we did actually have two fires burning here in the desert today.  The large plume of smoke could be seen from outside of our classrooms.  The smoke from one of the fires was thick enough at one point to close down the I-15 from both directions (on a holiday weekend, nonetheless).  It's still raging on.  So I guess the "No Fire" part of my title isn't completely accurate.