Sunday, March 26, 2006

Top Ten List: Spring Break 2006

So, Spring Break is officially over. My reality check has set in, and I return to 130 students at Lee High School tomorrow. Deep sigh... This has been the 1st Spring Break since 8th grade that I have not been beach-bound. That's 13 beach trips in a row until this year. A big chunk of my Spring Break has been spent getting over being sick and looking over research rough drafts. I did have a little bit of fun, and here's my top ten list:

10. March Madness: Although my teams (Duke and UNC) fell out in an untimely manner, it has been nice to watch some good basketball. This tournament has been full of upsets and Cinderella stories, and that always adds excitement, but it's safe to say that most brackets are messed up at this point. I jumped on the Memphis bandwagon for awhile, but with their loss last night and UConn's today, I'm out. I guess my SEC loyalties kick in at this point, and all I can say is "Geaux Tigers" and "Get 'em Gators."

9. My Space-- The first weekend of my Spring Break I spent couchbound as I was still coughing with every breath, and I succumbed to the My Space pressure. I caged my interest with wanting to connect with Landmark kids, but I was quickly sucked into the abysmal plethora of searching for old friends, music groups, etc. It is hilarious to laugh at what people will put out there. My most intriguing friends at this point are Moana from the Bachelor, Imogen Heap, and two of my students, A Dwelling Place for Demons and the Urban Purkfektionist. Yes, scary, I know. After a weekend of OD-ing, my interest has tapered off, but my good friend Ashley Mills keeps sparking my interest with her cool page! FYI: I heard that employers are searching MySpace to search about potential employees, so be careful...

8. Cooking and Cleaning: After a long hiatus, I am trying to regain my identity as a functioning wife. No more take-out, no more mess. I deep cleaned the house and cooked two good meals for Patrick and me. Man, I hope it takes this time as I enter the real world again tomorrow.

7. Movie Catch-up: I finally watched "Walk the Line" and the new "Pride and Prejudice." Both were excellent and come with a high recommendation from me.

6. Reading for Pleasure: Most of my reading is "Reading to teach" as I prepare for school and "Reading to Learn" as I read my Bible and spiritual literature. This week I decided to read for me. I read Judith McNaught's new book which was a suspence/romance/escape book. I also read my Southern Living, Reader's Digest, and Marriage magazines, caught up on the newspapers, and caught up on everyone's blogs.

5. The Flea Market: Nashville has the best flea market that I've ever been to. I was very thrilled be in town for the monthly event and to go with the expert, my mom. I found great deals and purchased several baby gifts, goodies for me, and Lindsay's birthday present.

4. Nashville Restaurants: While visiting the fam, I dined at some of my favorites: Green Hills Grille (has the best spinach dip and fruit tea ever), Merede's (in Franklin square, yummy chicken salad), Rotiers (West End by my dad's office, greasy cheeseburgers on french bread and the best milkshakes ever), and the Puffy Muffin (a girl favorite).

3. Grey's Anatomy: Mom bought the first season, and we watched it in its entirety in between basketball games. I, personally, got hooked into the show during the second season, but the first season is excellent and makes me anxious to keep watching. My favorite part is the Felicity-like narration by Meredith and the quotes/proverbs that she reflects on.

2. Going Home: It had been 2 and a half months since I had been home to visit my family. It felt so good. It made me miss them even more though, and it made me strongly consider wanting to make the move north in future years. While home, I got to spend some good time with Mom, Lindsay, Dad, Daniel, and Sadie. I also got to eat a pre flea market breakfast with Grandmama and Aunt J. I planned on visiting with Lia and Kelly and Katie, but with my lingering cough and low energy level, I laid low.

1. Going to Church: Today was my first time in church doors in 3 weeks. I didn't even realize it until this morning as I was flipping through my note-taking journal. I haven't not been to church on purpose (although many of you who know me know that I have been struggling with buying in to "church" and "organized religion" as we've made it)--it was out-of-town trips, Patrick being sick, me being sick, Jesse's wedding, etc. At first, I got discouraged because despite my lack of interest, I know that being a part of God's family is integral to my spiritual growth as well as my contribution to the kingdom. I was also sad to realize that my lack of church attendance has really paralleled my lack of worship of God in my personal life. I stopped and asked myself, how have I been praising God in my life? I needed to reflect on that. I needed to praise God this morning because He is amazing. This morning my attitude was better. I really believe that God has worked through my church break to change my heart, to take away some bitterness, and to remind me of my purpose on this earth. It felt good.

If you made it all the way through this, thanks for reading. Have a great week!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good Music

My closest friend from Tuscaloosa days, Sarah Cornelson Greer, is married to a Campus Minister/musician, David Greer, who is putting the finishing touches on his first CD. If you need some spiritual encouragement and good listening go here . My personal favorite is "This Story."

Friday, March 17, 2006

In honor of St. Patrick's Day...

and my Patrick (ha!), I thought this was a fun one...

You Are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

The Agony of Research Papers...

Thank goodness for Spring Break! ...although I'll be spending much of mine grading research paper rough drafts. Grr...

Today was the deadline for my 93 seniors to turn in their rough drafts for their research papers. This rough draft counts as a major test grade as it is an integral part of the writing process and shows a month's worth of work. RIGHT! Guess how many of them actually turned in something? 56. So that means that 37 of them took a big fat zero for a test grade. Of the 56 papers that were turned in, only about half of them were complete. In fact, they were about the worst group of papers I have ever seen. Here are a couple of the worst, but funniest, ones:

(Don't know if this should make me laugh or cry or scream... So far it's made me laugh and explode into coughing fits.)

Example #1: As I'm perusing a girl's paper who I knew had not done squat for her research, I found a hilarious pattern of nonsense. For each time she used the pronoun "I" (which is extremely faux pas in formal writing), the computer inserted, "You are a pathetic loser" in her paper. I highlighted all of the times it was mentioned (12), and began showing my friends. We looked it up on Google for one of those spoof sites where you think you are cleverly stealing someone's essay, but there are all kinds of subliminal messages throughout the paper. No finds. Then we start hypothesizing, "Is she calling ME a pathetic loser?" or "Does she know that SHE is pathetic loser for not working harder on her paper?" (Picture me and my friends turning red in the face, doubled over, me coughing because we are laughing so hysterically.) Finally, the librarian shed some light that a computer has been malfunctioning, and it has been programmed to automatically insert this phrase. Honestly, I was kind of disappointed because I was looking forward to writing this girl an office referral. I can't wait to see the look on her face when I ask for an explanation. Proofread, what?

Example #2: OK, plagiarism at its worst: A student who skipped school today (Today is Senior Skip Day.) drops her paper off this afternoon because she has been "working on her paper all day." Right. However, I notice an interesting shading throughout her paper. Direct copy and paste from a website. She didn't even take the time to reformat it into something that looked like a paper. It was arial font, single spaced, no indentions, citations, works cited. I plugged it into Google and found the direct website. She'll receive a Zero and an interesting note from me.

These seniors are killing me. They will not do work to save their lives. I remember feeling the Senior Slide. In fact, after the research paper, I had planned on backing off somewhat. Now, it looks like I am going to have to keep giving them work and tests so they can bring their grades up to graduate. I tell you what!

I hope this brought you some laughs... I hope I keep laughing... P.S. And if you are one of my students who happens by this blog, DO YOUR RESEARCH PAPER!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Jesse's wedding

The wedding this weekend turned out beautifully. It felt so good to celebrate a couple full of love and commitment that you just KNOW are right for each other, and it was such an honor to be a part of it all. Jesse's uniqueness and talent showed through in every aspect of her special day, but my favorite part of the wedding was the song for the processional: Coldplay's "Fix You." I cried every time I saw the slideshow, every time I heard the song, and especially when her dad, who is in a wheelchair, walked her down the aisle... Definitely have listened to the song a million times since! I also echo what my co-matron of honor said about marriage and just renewing my own commitment to Patrick. Here are a couple of pictures, and I'll post more soon--once I get them: One of our traditions at Auburn weddings is to take an Auburn picture of all of our friends and family who are there.

Lindsay was at the wedding too. One of Jesse's unique ideas was collecting her bouquet from special friends and family as she walked down the aisle. She had each of them sitting in an aisle seat, and at the end of the aisle, her mom tied her flowers together. Lindsay was a special friend/flower girl, and it was a great bonus for Patrick and me to get to spend some time with her and Daniel (as well as Brad, Ben, and Lori--the other flower people) and the rest of the wedding party. It was also wonderful to get to spend some time with the Brinkerhoffs this weekend. Made me miss Auburn. I think I've even got Patrick ready to go for a day during my Spring Break. He loves the Brinks too. I want to post some more pictures of the beautiful bride when I get them, so check back soon!

Jesse and Nick, hope you're having a blast in Hawaii! Love you!


In respect to my obsession, I thought I would pay tribute to TV's best drama, 24. The following is from an email I just received. Here's to you Jack Bauer:

Some random facts about Jack Bauer:

1) If you wake up in the morning, it's because Jack Bauer spared your life.
2) If Jack Bauer was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Nina Meyers, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he'd shoot Nina twice.
3) Upon hearing that he was played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland. Jack Bauer gets played by no man.
4) Jack Bauer's favorite color is severe terror alert red. His second favorite color is violet, but just because it sounds like violent.
5) Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.
6) Jack Bauer got Hellen Keller to talk.
7) Jack Bauer killed 93 people in just 4 days time. Wait, that is a real fact.
8) Jack Bauer was never addicted to heroin. Heroin was addicted to Jack Bauer.
9) 1.6 billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight.
10) Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas.
11) Jack Bauer doesn't miss. If he didn't hit you it's because he was shooting at another terrorist twelve miles away.
12) Lets get one thing straight, the only reason you are conscious right now is because Jack Bauer does not feel like carrying you.
13) When you open a can of whoop-ass, Jack Bauer jumps out.
14) If Jack says "I just want to talk to him/her" and that him/her is you... well amigo, you're screwed.
15) Killing Jack Bauer doesn't make him dead. It just makes him angry.
16) When life gave Jack Bauer lemons, he used them to kill terrorists. Jack Bauer hates lemonade.
17) In grade school, a little boy punched Kimberly Bauer, and Kimberly ran home to tell her dad. That little boy's name? Stephen Hawking.
18) Jack Bauer does not sleep. The only rest he needs is what he gets when he's knocked out or temporarily killed.
19) No man has ever used the phrase, "Jack Bauer is a wuss" in a sentence and lived to tell
20) In kindergarten, Jack Bauer killed a terrorist for Show and Tell.
21) Jack Bauer literally died for his country, and lived to tell about it.
22) As a child, Jack Bauer's first words were "There's no time!"
23) Jack Bauer's family threw him a surprise birthday party when he was a child. Once.
24) If you are still conscious, it is because Jack Bauer doesn't want to carry you.
25) Guns dont kill people, Jack Bauer kills people.
26) Everytime Jack Bauer yells "NOW!" at the end of a sentence, a terrorist dies.
27) If you send someone to kill Jack Bauer, the only thing you accomplish is supplying him a fresh set of weapons to kill you with.
28) Jack Bauer could get off the Lost island in 24 hours.

Tune in tonight to Fox at 8 p.m. for more excitement!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some recent thoughts

This is going to be a doozy...

1. GRADUATION EXAMS: The last couple of weeks at work I have been consumed with the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, a test that all students must pass to graduate high school. This test is made on an 11th-grade academic level and has 5 parts: Reading, Language, Science, Social Studies, and Math. Students begin this testing in the Spring of their 10th grade years and can repeat specific parts during the Spring of their 11th grade year, the summer before their Senior year, and 3 times during their Senior year. 92 of my 130 students are Seniors, and this week is their last opportunity to pass in time for graduation. I love my Seniors. I have 11 students who have not passed the Language part and several more who are still retaking the Reading part, and I have spent all of my free moments tutoring them lately. It is so difficult to teach subject-verb agreement to a 12th-grader who has not experienced it in his or her previous English classes; it is even more difficult to teach "main idea" and "supporting details" to students who have never read on their own because everything has always been read to them. It has heightened my frustration of public education in Alabama, but it has given me purpose as a teacher--which is good considering I've been having those, "I don't know how much longer I can do this..." types of feelings lately. I have a lot invested in these students who are testing this week. I truly love them and want them to beat the odds and have the bright future that is just beyond their grasp of reality. I will be devestated for those that do not pass, and I just pray that they will not give up on themselves.

2. MY SPACE, FACEBOOK, AND THE LIKE: So I like to surf the internet. So I'm not doing anything harmful while I'm on the computer. So I probably waste some good sweet precious time online. So, I lose out on good intentions sometime... Well, there are lots of people, more than I even want to acknowledge that exist, that are on the computer with BAD intentions. I think that there are many cool aspects to Facebook and Myspace--networking, keeping in touch, laughing at the funny/stupid stuff people put out there, but lately Patrick and, in turn, I have been made aware by some friends of some extremely dangerous things some of our youth group girls are putting out there. Skimpily clad, "liking to party," soft porn images, and CELL PHONE NUMBERS, emails, contacts. Whoa! Could we be any more ignorant, naive, stupid? I have been thinking and praying about how to make the internet a venue for good positive things for these teens. I like what Jamin and Buster have done with their teen websites--linking it to their blogs and other cool places to visit... Because teens are going to be on the computer. That's it. Any good ideas, pass them along. Patrick and I would be grateful.

3. WEDDINGS: This weekend a very dear friend of mine is getting married. Cool story, even cooler girl. Very lucky guy! This is the first wedding that I'll have been in since mine, 4 and a half months ago. Very fun and a little strange. I remember how stressed out I was about being stressed out. Because it is fun, or at least, it is supposed to be. I was never all that into "being the bride" as some people say. It took me a long time to decide that I was ready to get married, and then I was just GET MARRIED. Now, looking back, I really loved my wedding. I loved everything, everyone about it. Don't get me wrong, I loved and appreciated it in the moment too, but in a way, I was just ready for it to be over. I am excited about getting to be a part of a wonderful, family and friend-filled, and more importantly, God-filled, wedding celebration. Sure I wish that I'd lost some of my holiday weight and that my dress wasn't so tight and that I didn't get so fried at the tanning bed last Saturday (There's a story--ask me!), but I'm just excited and want to help the bride soak it all in and enjoy it. After all, it is the day little girls are supposed to dream about all of their lives...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ok, just one more...

and I love these results!

You Are New York

Cosmopolitan and sophisticated, you enjoy the newest in food, art, and culture.
You also appreciate a good amount of grit - and very little shocks you.
You're competitive, driven, and very likely to succeed.

Famous people from New York: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tupac Shakur, Woody Allen

Lindsay will be proud

or at least she used-to-would-have-been

You Are Dr. Pepper
You're very unique and funky, yet you still have a bit of traditionalism to you.People who like you think they have great taste... and they usually do.
Your best soda match: Root Beer
Stay away from: 7 Up
What Kind of Soda Are You?

My "Book Nook"

In my classroom I have an area with a bookshelf/magazine rack (the kind that you'd find in the back of Books-A-Million) filled with all sorts of books, magazines, comic books for my students to read (an idea that I got from my friend across the hall, Jen). I have a rug with a bean bag and floor pillow, a table with two chairs tucked away in a comfortable area of my room--all as an effort to create a mood that subtly encourages my students to WANT to read. (Some days this effort is met with more success than others.) Throughout my teaching career, I have frequented thrift stores, yard sales, and second-hand bookstores to find suitable books of interest for my diverse students. I have become addicted to "Young adult Literature," and I want to provide my students with the opportunity to read ANYTHING. Recently, I've noticed that my book supply is dwindling... We have a check out system similar to the library, but the popular books are being passed around so fast that I'm losing track. I never know whether to be frustrated by my disappearing books or kind of excited that my kids are actually reading them and wanting them.

If you happen to have any extra books lying around, stashed away in trunks or attics, please consider donating them to Lee High School, room 107 (my classroom). Here is a small sampling of my wish list as well as another great place to look for book reviews. Let me know if you are interested! Thanks for the support.

Whose face do you have? or... Who has your face?

I got this link off of my friend Jen's blog, and it is great, so I thought I'd pass it along. Go here:
my heritage to see what celebrity face structures match with yours. I got Judy Garland, Kirsten Dunst, and Cameron Diaz. I wish! I'm about to check Patrick, Mom, Dad, Lindsay, and Daniel. Go there, and see who you resemble. It's addictive!