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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The wintery weather is definitely getting to me. You'd think I'd just be grateful for the two snow days (count 'em, two!) last week...but no. My students are a little crazy since being off school for 4 days in a row (and with the President's Day holiday on Monday, we had school a total of two days last week). Really, second semester is always rough. For the first half of the year, I really feel like I know what I'm doing...I'm a great teacher. Then, we come back from Christmas break and the behavior has taken a gigantic step backwards. Sigh. Still not better, and soon we'll have Easter break and after that all the kids will focus on is the end of the year.

I'm really struggling to get my mood up so I'm not a total hag at school. We've been doing a lot of movement activities to try and make up a little for the fact that it's been too cold for recess forever. I'm considering getting a yoga for kids type of dvd and incorporating some of that in the classroom too. We'll see. In the meantime, I could use all of the good wishes and positive thoughts you have!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Writing my book...

I've been hard at work on my second "book"...photo book, that is. I made Jeff an alphabet book of places we've been together for Christmas, and it turned out really well. I did it through blurb.com, in which I should have bought stock before I showed my book around school. I think half of my workplace now has some kind of photo book in mind now! The book did turn out really well, mostly because of the site. They have all of the templates...you just plug your photos and text into them.

Well, now I'm working on a book of the two-week camping trip we took out west in 2005. Our pictures have been sitting on CDs, few of them printed or even looked at, and I decided it was the perfect trip for my next project. Blurb is my scrapbook replacement. I don't have anywhere to leave out my scrapbooking things while I'm mid-project...probably why I still haven't scrapbooked our 2001 trip to Florida. By doing it on the computer, I can do it at my pace...and our digital photos will finally see the light of day!

It's definitely going to be a monster project though; we took over 1,000 pictures on the trip, and that's not counting the ones we're getting from his sisters. Luckily, I kept a journal of all the places and noteworthy events of the trip; otherwise, I'd have to go to some trouble to remember the names of some of the smaller sites we visited. I'm excited to have it finished. It'll be a while, though...I'm on day 4 and page 43!!

Another thing I want to make is kind of a yearbook for each year we've been together. We've taken a lot of trips together and with the boys, not to mention all of the games, school performances, family barbecues, and birthdays...and just pictures taken at home. I think it'll be a neat record of our lives for the kids to share with their own children some day. I'm planning on starting 2008 now and just keeping up as the year goes by. Hopefully I'll get to past years and other vacations by and by.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Book review: Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden

I listened to the abriged audio version of this book, and I think my understanding of the book suffered from the editing. It seemed a little choppy, and it was sometimes difficult to keep the people straight in my mind without being able to refer back to a page in a book. One more disappointment with the audio version was with the enhanced CD features. I expected to see some pictures of the hostages or clips from news features of the time, but all that was included were two PDF maps and a 10-minute clip from a longer documentary that you can buy.

All that said, the book was very interesting and disturbing. It's hard to imagine living through such an ordeal and very sad to realize that the 1979-1980 hostage crisis was both an opening salvo of and small potatoes to the "war on terror" which is ongoing. While being held for over a year in solitary conditions and constant fear would be beyond awful, today's beheadings, kidnappings, and suicide attacks are a terrible escalation.

I was struck by the self-rightousness of the student captors and their worldview. The author made mention that, while many of the students were well-educated in math or science (at least on of them was educated in American, spoke fluent, unaccented English, and went on to become a Vice President of Iran), their knowledge of history and politics was based on the teachings of the religious leaders of the day.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Getting greener...

A friend at another online site blogged about what her family does to be green, and I thought I'd share what we do.

  • Recycle all plastics, glass, and paper products possible. Sometimes I even take home our plastics and some of the paper products if we eat at McDonald's so that I can recycle them at home. (My husband thinks I'm weird)
  • Wash all laundry in cold water.
  • Gas dryer (hang some clothes outside in the summer)
  • We rarely use bottled water, and when we do we repeatedly wash and reuse the bottles.
  • Pack lunches in reusable containers. When we use plastic baggies, we wash and reuse them unless they've held raw meat.
  • Compost vegetable and fruit waste.
  • Buy as much as possible at yard sales and thrift stores.
  • Have a small garden in our yard.
  • Donate or yard sale items we no longer need/use.
  • When camping, we only rarely use paper products. We pack plastic dishes and silverware to wash and reuse.
  • I've been reading up on and implementing different ways to use vinegar in cleaning instead of the harsher chemical products.
  • When we're out hiking, we take a grocery bag and collect trash along the trails. Anything that's recyclable gets recycled when we get home.
  • We spend a lot of time camping and hiking, hopefully instilling a sense of appreication and stewardship for the outdoors in our kids.
  • Until we remember to take our tote bags to the grocery store, we recycle or reuse the (few) plastic bags we get (lunch bag, trash bag, etc.) and reuse the paper bags.

Things we're considering ...

I drive about 40 minutes each way to work. We're planning on buying a hybrid car to replace mine in another year or two. I'm also seriously looking at applying at the local schools because I feel bad about using so much gas.

Definitely will be replacing our windows with more energy-efficient ones in the next 1-2 years.

I've started researching geothermal heating/cooling, but it looks pretty costly to start out, so that's something a long way off if we ever do it.

Solar panels would be a nearer possibility, but I'm not sure how feasible that would be because we have quite a few trees around us.

I keep meaning to use some of the tote bags I have laying around the house as grocery bags, but I can't seem to remember to do so.

Organic food (I've been reading What to Eat by Marion Nestle, and she makes a strong argument for why you should buy organic from an environmental standpoint).

Community supported agriculture. I've been looking into buying shares in a community farm. Not sure if this is going to happen because I may get some opposition from Jeff (not to mention the kids who aren't interested in anything that brings more vegetables into the house!!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Trip to Chicago

I had the best time last week! For the first time in 15 years, I had no responsibility for children or spouse...just got to be in charge of me! I went with some co-workers to Chicago for a conference for work. The conference was basically useless, but the week was a blast.

I got to hang out with 3 other girls from school, one of whom I know fairly well, and the others I got to know a lot better. We had a great time hanging out, making fun of the speakers (teachers are the WORST audience possible), and going out together afterwards. I even got to work out every day at the hotel fitness center. Between that and all of the walking we did in downtown Chicago, I probably worked off all of the calories I drank! It was just like being back in high school and hanging out with your girlfriends and not being responsible for anyone else.

Can you tell I had fun?? :)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sick, too

Argh...now I'm sick, too. I hope Jacob doesn't feel this bad! Hoping to get past this pretty quickly, as I'm leaving for Chicago for a workshop on Tues. and would prefer not to feel miserable during the first time I've spent 4 days away from all of my family (been without the husband OR the kids, but never both) in 15 years!!

I'm planning on spending most of the day in bed, but first we have Nathan's basketball game today. They're playing in their regional championship, so I couldn't miss that. It will most likely be their last game, as the team they're playing has beat them all 4 times they've played this year...but what a rush it will be if we DO win!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Poor baby!

Sick jacob

Or...how I spent my snow day! Left work early yesterday since the weather was getting bad (and we actually got all of the forecast 9 inches of snow they expected). I hadn't been on the road long when I got a call from Jacob's day care: "He's running a fever."

Poor guy...looked pretty miserable when I picked him up (though still participating in the afternoon snack...whipped cream on graham crackers??!...food options at school/day care being a topic for another blog). Luckily, my school cancelled because of the snow, otherwise I'd be taking the day off, anyway.

And don't worry...in between doses of Motrin, he did get to play outside in the snow!