Sunday, November 30, 2008

25 Days of Christmas

I'm not sure where the "12 Days of Christmas" came from, but for me it's more like 25+ days of Christmas. I loooooooooooove Christmas. As far as I'm concerned, when October hits, Christmas music is fair game, and the day after Thanksgiving... well, it's ON! I dragged down all of the Christmas decorations on Friday and spent two days getting things just like I wanted them. I moved things around, I tried decorations in three or four different places, I spent two and a half hours at Hobby Lobby. Yes, I did. And I loved it.

As December continues, I'm sure I'll share many more things I love about Christmas. But for now.... "On the 25th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A weekend full of decorating and an afternoon at Hobby Lobby."

(My favorite ornament - a glue/glitter yarn blob I made in preschool)


Friday, November 21, 2008

Nerd Alert!

I'm in nerd heaven!!! I'm in San Antonio at the National Council of Teachers of English Convention for four days! It's all teaching, all the time. I've only been here for a day and a half, but I've already had a few blog-worthy experiences. I've boiled down each experience into two words or less in case you're in a hurry. But if you've got the time, you will be rewarded with the full story!

Convention Overall: LOVE IT
I love learning about teaching more than the average person should. I walk around on a mission with my convention program all highlighted and dog-eared and I have pored over my schedule for hours to make sure I'm making the most of my time and attending every session possible. There are over 1,000 sessions available, so it's a bit overwhelming. But I love it. I mean, if they gave us homework, I'd probably do it.

San Antonio Riverwalk: OVER IT
Over it, over it, over it!!!!! ...And have been for quite some time. I'm not sure if it's the fact that I've been to San Antonio more than 10 times or the fact that ALL of the hotels (except mine - The Valencia) and restaurants SUCK, but San Antonio has definitely lost it's allure. As I was eating my tasteless shrimp fajitas with watery salsa on rubbery tortillas, I longed for REAL Mexican food in Houston. Yes, I'm a food snob, but seriously.... the food here is overpriced and not even remotely good. And by the way, there's only so many times one can hear "La Cucaracha" or "Guantanamera" sung by a cheezed-out mariachi band before wanting to harm oneself or others. And don't even get me started on the smell of the "river".

Traveling Solo: WEIRD / REFRESHING
I'm here in San Antonio all by myself. It's been a long time since I've been this by myself! No one from my school wanted to come, so I came anyway. The perks: a nice hotel room all to myself, eating wherever and whenever I want, some peace and quiet, and some time to disconnect. The downfalls: eating dinner by myself, not being able to sleep since I'm used to Brent, and getting a little lonely. Overall, it's been nice to get away and learn about what I love on my own terms. It's a little freeing. However, I've had two nights of eating alone at restaurants, and I'm a little over that. I may get room service tomorrow. On the bright side, since technically I've been on two dates with myself, I have to say that I am really cool.

Convention Friends: OVERRATED
Since I'm here by myself, I resolved to meet some people. At least we already have ONE thing in common. How hard can it be? Well, it's not hard to meet people, but it is hard to meet people I like. (again, I'm a snob) I'm constantly looking for young people to sit next to, but it's kind of slim pickings. Conventions attract large older women who wear fanny packs, orthopedic shoes, and bedazzled denim shirts. Anyway, I met this one lady the first night. She was old, but she was relatively cool. We talked for about 15 minutes. I felt good about myself. Today, I saw her in the exhibit hall. We recognized each other, and a short conversation ensued:

Me: Hi! We talked yesterday, remember? How is your day?
Her: Oh, it's great. Hey... I didn't notice yesterday that you are expecting! How exciting!
Me: I'm not expecting.
Her: Oh. Maybe it's just your clothes?
Me: Yeah, maybe. (I said some other things after "Yeah, maybe" to her in my head, but I will censor those comments since this is a family-friendly blog.)

Most Convention Sessions: STAR STRUCK
I'm obsessed with "famous" teachers. I've read all their books and use all their ideas. They are all at this convention! So far I've gone to sessions by Teri Lessene, Kelly Gallagher, Jeff Anderson, Carl Anderson, Amiee Buckner, Jacqueline Woodson, and Barry Lane! If you don't know who those people are, it's just because you are not as nerdy as me. I have loved hearing these people speak. They have reinforced that I'm headed in the right direction in my classroom and given me lots of good ideas.

One Convention Session: PAINFUL
All the sessions have been good except one. Oh. My. Gosh. Imagine a 70 year old lady talking in a monotone voice while writing on an overhead projector and talking about a ridiculously ancient reading strategy circa the early 1980s. Now, I'm no expert, but the stuff she was talking about was in my certification program before I even started teaching and it was useless, so I never applied it in an actual classroom. Painful. I sat through 30 minutes trying to tune her out and read something else, but finally a little piece of me died, and I could take it no more. In the middle of the presentation, I got up and walked out. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. But here's the funny part: When I got up and left, everyone else thought to themselves, "What?! We can leave?" and (no joke) 25 people got up and followed me out!! For a second, I felt bad for the old lady, but then I remembered the 30 minutes of my life that I could never get back. When we all got out of the conference room and into the hall, we shared a laugh and several "WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?" looks and went our separate ways. I felt strangely like a leader.

I still have 2 more days, so I'm sure I'll have more stories to come! You're my BFF if you just read this whole post. I guess I just needed someone to talk to! Back to my solitude...


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Spot of Tea

Yesterday we did a fun activity with our class. We had a "Character Tea Party". The kids just finished reading novels in literature circle groups, so they each chose one character to become for the tea party. At the tea party, students dressed like their character (or brought a prop), talked like the character, thought like the character, and acted like the character. They introduced themselves, asked questions, and discussed issues in the novel all while portraying their character. It was really fun! The kids had a great time and enjoyed seeing our classroom set up for the "party". The tea was lemonade and the scones were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The kids left our class hyped up on sugar, but at least they were doing some good practice with point of view and characterization! The only thing that wasn't fun was the fact that I was sick the whole time and went home right after it was over. I'm home sick today, but I thought I'd share some of the pictures of our party with you!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Brent's New Favorite

Tonight I made Brent's new fave: Spicy Shrimp Cakes with Corn and Avocado Salsa from Cooking Light. I made it over the summer and now he begs for it just about every week! I gotta admit it's a bit involved for a weeknight. It's not hard to make - just a lot of chopping. But... it's totally worth it. These babies are DELICIOUS! It's like a crab cake but with shrimp! You should try it!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

As If!

Today while standing in line (for a LONG time) at the grocery store, I noticed a few magazine headlines that caught my eye. The only magazines I subscribe to these days are food and cooking magazines since I am an old lady and became disillusioned with everything else a while ago. Today I found myself channeling Cher from Clueless and saying, "AS IF!" as I scanned the magazine racks. Here are the ridiculous headlines that I recorded on my grocery list since I had nothing better to do:

From "TV Guide"...
110 Shows You LOVE! (Does anyone really have time to watch 110 shows?!)

From a magazine called "Storage" (seriously)...
Store More, Stress Less - 263 Ways to Make Your Life Easier. (Here's a thought... throw all that crap away!!!)

From "Complete Woman"...
Jessica Simpson - Her Secret to TRUE Happiness (Please. Is Jessica Simpson really our happiness role model?)

From "OK"...
Jennifer Aniston Turns 40: Her exclusive to-do list (I finally know what to do with my life now that I have Jennifer Aniston's To-Do list!)

From "People"...
What Kind of Dog Should Malia and Sahsa Get? (Yes. All of our country's problems will be solved when Obama's children get the puppy of their dreams.)

You should try it next time you're standing in line. Quite amusing! Now I'm going to go read a book :-)


Sunday, November 2, 2008


Traditionally, Sunday is not my favorite day of the week. Yes, it is the day of the Lord, and I do love Sunday mornings, but inevitably, Sunday afternoon rolls around. Around 3 pm I feel a sense of dread set in as I remember everything I intentionally forgot about for the last two days - grading papers, writing lessons, doing laundry, and going to the grocery store. I've never really liked Sundays.

But, lately, I've found a redeeming quality of Sunday. Sunday evening is a great time to make a nice meal. There's no hurry, no rush, and no getting home late. There is something ridiculously comforting about a Sunday evening with football in the background and something cooking slowly in the oven. I get a little more ambitious with my cooking on Sundays since I feel like I have time to get creative. Today Brent & I were both craving comfort food. We settled on homemade macaroni & cheese, some sort of chicken involving bacon, and green beans.

What we ended up with was a winner. I found an amazing macaroni & cheese recipe in Real Simple and I improvised a pretty freaking delicious chicken. I butterflied chicken breasts, stuffed them with Stove Top stuffing, and wrapped them in bacon. Yum. It made Sunday a little bit better. And just in case you're wondering... no, I didn't finish my other work, and no, I'm not planning to. :-)
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