Sunday, August 28, 2005

Camp Esperanza Revisited

I returned home from the Camp Esperanza teen retreat today. This was a weekend to see some teens I havne't seen since last year (or longer), to get to know some new teens, and of course to see the ones I just saw last month.

Camp E. campers graduate from camp at age 15. They get to come to teen retreat until they are 17. So, we had another graduation last night of the 17 year olds. Two of them were in my cabin my first year at camp in 2002. How amazing to have seen them grow up from awkward, near bald 14 year olds to beautiful, confident, amazing 17 year olds! The hard part is knowing I will never see them again, unless I randomly run into them in at the mall or something.

As I watched the bus drive up the driveway this morning, I could only hope that the next year holds wonderful things for these awesome kids. I hope that the girl with the heavy class load does well and doesn't burn out, so that her dream of going to a top private college may be realized. I hope that the girl I've seen go from a shy, socially immature girl continues to shine. I hope that the beautiful girl who is still bald from the chemo continues to do well after her bone marrow transplant. I hope the sweet girl whose days on this earth are numbered continues to live each day she has left to the fullest. I hope that the sweetness and sparkle all of these kids have continues to touch others and make them shine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another Day...

Nothing profound or deep to report. Today was chalk-full of activity, but not before my Monday ended w/ a thud.
My electricity went out last night right around when I fell asleep. It was out for about 4 hours, as it was over most of my city (so they told me). It's hard to sleep when all is dead silent. No air circulating, no humming of appliances. It was surreal. Why is it that when all goes silent I wake up with a start, yet when I have 4 alarm clocks blasting for 1/2 an hour, I'm barely conscious? I didn't get much sleep last night...I think the funny part was me using my atomic clock as a flashlight when I couldn't find one that had batteries (note to self: find flashlights and replace batteries!) I kept pushing the button that lights the LED screen as I walked around my house. was also a bit crazy, as always. I worked until 8 (over a 12 hour day) and still feel like I need another 10 to get caught up! Hopefully I'll catch up someday soon!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Monday, Monday

Well, Tilly survived her weekend living with the dogs! I think she was really beginning to get used to them.

I had a ton of stuff to do after school, as always. But, I need to get back into my Monday night habit of being at Children's Medical Center. Working long hours lately has pushed this commitment aside, but I was determined to show back up tonight so I left the building at 4:05.
About 20 minutes later, while on the phone w/ my mom and heading S. on the Dallas North Tollway, I heard a very loud noise. I realized it was ME! My SUV, rather. Turns out one of the back tires blew out. A nice driver let me over and right after a toll booth, I pulled over and called the 1-800# that is part of my warranty. About 1 hr 45 minutes later, they showed up. Did I mention it was 100 degrees today with a heat index of around 105? Yeah, so my car was running, but I was scorching!

So, I didn't make it to volunteer once again. I feel horrible-though I know this was beyond my control. I want this routine back in my life--other people have children, significant others, etc. to distract them from the business of work. I have this and I need to get it back to the forefront! Maybe next week....

I kept thinking that a police or HiPo would come by, or someone would stop to offer help but it never happened. I even had my hood raised (to keep my engine from getting as hot) but I guess I didn't look helpless enough!

After this ordeal, I decided I deserved a pedicure. I needed it as well. I came home to eat a grilled cheese (standing up in the kitchen while reading a workbook) and now I'm heading off to the gym to swim some laps. Then I'll be home to start doing the numerous work related things that I really need to get done!

Ciao for now!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Here's Tilly!

In the first picture, you can see Harley checking her out. His head is bigger than her whole self!
The 2nd is her vegging out at school.
The third is her under her security blanket. She likes to maneuver herself to be completely in it sometimes.
The last one is when I let her out earlier today. My chairs kept getting in the way of me catching her! Harley dog and I were actually sitting in the floor quietly while she checked out the surroundings. Peanut dog was outside.

Saturday Thoughts

Posting from word—Blogger now has a MS Word add-in so I’m testing it out!Tilly is doing well. I could have left her in my classroom over the weekend, but I thought that was cruel. It may have been cruel to bring her home so she could be terrorized by my dogs as well, but she seems to be handling it well!

Work this week has been emotionally exhausting! I had one of my self-contained students bite a sub, scratch us both, and throw an all-out tantrum. I had never seen anything like it. That was a trying experience. Fortunately, since that day she has been easy to redirect and generally happy.

I got 2 new cookbooks today at Half-Price Books. One is called Tarts by Sarah Banbery. It has beautiful pictures. Some recipes I look forward to trying are Artichoke & Pancetta Tartlets, Feta & Spinach Tartlets, Squash, Sage, & Gorgonzola Tart, Toffee Apple Tart, and a White Chocolate & Cardamom Tart.
The other cookbook is Simple Recipes for All Seasons: Soups by Elsa Petersen-Schepellern. There is a recipe for a Thai Spicy Beef Soup that is making me look forward to cool weather! I’m definitely going to have to try the Coconut Laksa as well. Chilled Mango Soup with Champagne and Ginger also looks intriguing.

That is all for now. I’ll try and post some better pics of Tilly soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And Her Name Is

Chantilly but we will call her Tilly for short.
We may also change our mind tomorrow. :)

More to come...I was at school until almost 10 tonight so I'm beat!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Name That Rabbit!

So, my classroom now has a class pet. It is a dwarf rabbit, a bit over a year old, and is very sweet and cuddly! My district has a science learning center that has many animals to loan to classrooms--snakes, mice, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs (my mentee teacher got one of these for her room), tarantulas, hedge hogs, ferrets, etc. These are all animals that were once pets and are no more for whatever reason.
This cute little rabbit was in a kindergarten room last year, so it very gentle and used to kids. My kids are middle-schoolers but are severely cognitively impaired. I plan to use the rabbit in a calming therapeutic way for my students when they need it, as well as help them take part in a feeding and cleaning routine. I hope it works out well!
My plea to anyone reading this is name suggestions! What would you call the little girl?

Close up

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dinner Tonight: Veggies Galore

I have an abundance of veggies that I need to get busy on!
None of this 'goes' together, it's a pretty haphazard menu but I'm single so I can do what I want.

On the menu:
Zucchini Oven Chips from Cooking Light, Marinated Eggplant with Mint, and lemon-garlic green beans.

True to form, I did make some subs with the eggplant. I only had a tiny bit of mint, thanks to an overeager lawn guy. So, I used it and some basil from a pot on my front porch. I also didn't have red wine vinegar, but did use some California Fig Balsamic.

All was good. Not sure I'd repeat the eggplant or zucchini though. I'm new to eggplant and I think I have a texture problem with it. The zucchini was fine, but didn't wow me.

The green beans were good, and this is my standard way of making them. They are a recent acquisition to my cooking repertoire. I used to not touch them; now I love them.

That's all for now.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I'm done!

Well, today was graduation day! OK, I didn't attend (been there, done that). In a few weeks, I will receive my diploma for my M. Ed. in Special Education! I started this program June 1, 2004 and finished when I handed that last paper in on Thursday night (August 11). What a huge relief!

I also got my first ever 4.0--this is my 4th degree (A.A., B.S., M.S., M. Ed.), and I got this one while working FT. I'm just glad it's over....though I think I may go back in a year and get a Diagnostician's certificate. We'll see.

Now I can focus 100% of my time on teaching my students!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'm Such a Rookie

Yeah, so I have one whole year of teaching under my belt. Sure, I have more experience dealing w/ those with more severe cognitive disabilities. That is more my calling, I think.

This year, I am teaching a reading/language arts series (2 class periods) to 7th & 8th graders. These are kids who are primarily LD, ADD. No major disabilities...they are just behind and need more individualized instruction to catch up.

I taught reading last year, but those kids were developmentally delayed. Behaviorally, they were pretty easy.

This year--not so. Oh, this does seem like a pretty good group of kids. But...there are 7 of them. And they are all boys. And I may be getting 2 more. Some are ADD, they like to talk, and can be rather inquisitive. They are going to need some reining in. Whereas last year, my class was very businesslike--everyone came in and knew exactly what to do by their schedule and got to work (whether I was in the room yet or not), this year is going to be more of a 3 ring circus unless I get things in gear now! I'm a little intimidated by this. This is not my forte--as I said, the kids w/ more significant needs are. I know I need to set my foot down now and let them know who is boss, right? So, I am proud to say that I assigned my first detention today, on only the 3rd day. :)

We talked about classroom rules on Monday. Someone said, "No writing on desks." I replied that at their age, they shouldn't need to be reminded of that on a sheet of rules but that if anyone did write on desks, they could stay after and clean all the desks. So, 2 feet in front of me, a student was doodling on his desk. He's lucky-it's only lunch detention (hey, it's MY lunch too!) as I have to leave early tomorrow for class. He's going to eat his food very fast and then clean all of the desks. I doubt he marks on the desk again.

I have one other student who I think may be more of a problem. He plays football, and so far the threat of staying after school with me has kicked him into gear a few times. He doesn't want to do ANY work. I give him the choice of doing work during class with me, or after school with me. He makes the right choice.

So, such is the life of a 2nd-year-but-still-learning-alot teacher! Everyone says this year will be easier, but I just don't think it will. I think I'll learn more this year than last. A copy of one of Jim Fay's Love & Logic books might be coming home with me this weekend.
I'm ready for the challenge!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wonderful New Recipe!

Today was fun. I made slime. I then taught my students how to make it. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, me or them!

50/50 Glue: Mixture of Elmer's Glue and water
Saturated Borax Solution: Mix borax into a small amount of hot water. Do until not all of the borax dissolves--this is when the solution becomes saturated.

Recipe for Classic Slime

Measure about 2 Tablespoons of 50/50 glue into a paper cup or some other vessel

Add 1 or 2 drops of food coloring if you want and mix it with the 50/50 glue

Stir in about 2 teaspoons of saturated borax solution

When the slime has mostly formed, reach in and take it out of the cup

Knead the slime to make it a consistent texture.

If the slime is too sticky, you can add a little more borax
If it is way too slippery you can add more 50/50 glue

School is going great. . .I'll share more later!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Dinner Tonight: Cooking Light

Tonight I made some Spiced Blueberry Muffins to take to school tomorrow to share w/ my team for breakfast. I ate one and it was very yummy! I used extra blueberries and the only other deviation from the recipe was to use LF cream cheese rather than the disgusting FF variety. I love the contrast of the spices with the sweet and juicy blueberries!

I also made Pork with Mushroom Ragout. Both recipes are from Cooking Light. I wanted something easy and low maintenance, and I had some portobellos that needed to be used. I got a free pork tenderloin at Central Market yesterday so used that instead of the pork loin called for. It also called for 3 kinds of mushrooms. I just loaded up with the portobellos! The juices were very flavorful and helped add some flavor to the quinoa pilaf I had. I got this in the bulk section of Central Market. It just called for adding the pilaf to boiling water. I did add some celery for flavor, and s&p but it was still pretty bland.

So, I know have lunch for two days this week and dinner for one. I also froze one portion for later use.

A Couple More Quotes

This is one I forgot about but really like.

In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.
~Lee Iacocca

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
~Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead--I used to want to be like her! When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I read a biography about her and her times in Samoa. I decided then that I wanted to be an anthropologist. At some point, I changed my mind and wanted to be an ethologist . I think this desire was the result of watching some sort of National Geographic show on TV. Of course, there were times when I wanted to be a circus acrobat, a doctor who helped cure cancer, a nurse, and a fire prevention engineer (thanks to my dad's influence as a firefighter). Never did I dream about being a teacher. Or a statistician/analyst (what I was in my previous career).

I guess my point to all this is regarding the various influences we encounter and how they guide us through life. Granted, the earlier influence of reading a Margaret Mead bio didn't guide me far, but it did plant some seeds of curiosity. What ultimately influenced me to become a special education teacher started with my nephew Dakota. He was the most powerful and influential reason for me to take the path I have. This path started with him, but also passed through the lives of many children with exceptionalities through Children's Medical Center of Dallas, at Camp Esperanza, and at Night OWLS , a family health ministry for families with children that have exceptional needs. These kids have just reached out and grabbed my heart. They are so special and at times I think they teach me more than I teach them! I don't think I ever would have found this way had it not been for sweet Dakota and all of the other kids I met on this path that began with him, so to them all I am forever grateful.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Back to School!

In less than 48 hours, I begin my 2nd year of my 2nd career as a Special Education teacher to middle school students. I suppose my next few entries will be education related (hopefully with some food stuff thrown in-I have to eat).

For tonight, here are some quotes related to teachers and education. Feel free to add any you know to the comments section.

"Awaken people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds, do not overload them. Put there just a spark." - Anatole France

"A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary." - Thomas Carruthers

" A teacher who is attempting to teach, without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron." - Horace Mann (1796-1859)

"Education costs money, but then so does ignorance." - Sir Claus Moser

" a painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning,... by praise, but above all -- by example." - John Ruskin

"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." - Malcolm Forbes

"Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime." - Chinese Proverb

"Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers." - Josef Albers

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I discovered a gem of a restaurant today. Jorg's Cafe Vienna. My teacher in-service was held at the Courtyard Theatre in old downtown Plano. We walked downtown for lunch and landed in this delightful little place. We were early-thankfully, as it got fairly crowded quickly. Our waiter was a friendly Plano East HS grad. He brought us a sample of their cucumber salad (similar to one I've eaten at my Supper Club) to satisfy our curiousity. He was very knowledgable of the menu and offered many suggestions. I had the Gitti’s Lacknergasse Schnitzel-->Gitti’s Cuisine, sautéed Pork or Chicken Cutlet served with a Cream Sauce infused with a hint of Curry, with Austrian Spätzle and Red Cabbage. The spatzle was the best I've had (not that I've tried alot, but this was tops). Now, with the curry flavor, I have no idea if this is authentic or not. It was wonderful and something I'd get again. My 3 dining partners all had something different, and we all left pleased--and dreaded sitting through another 3 hours of lectures! I will go back here--maybe some night after school where I can have some good beer!
For any Dallas area diners, this place is a Guidelive Guide Pick.

On other news, this has just been the longest week! I went back to work Monday (teacher in-service) and have been up until 3, 2, 1, & 3 the last 4 nights getting homework done. I get up at 6. I did take a nice (ha!) nap in my car this afternoon before my 4:00 class. Even with the AC on full, the 100 degree temperature made it a bit uncomfortable. One more class to more paper to go...and I'll have my M. Ed. in Special Education! Woohoo! And I fully intend to have this paper done sooner than 12 hours before that last class! Sheesh. I've become a slacker lately.
Tomorrow is a teacher work day so I can finally get my classroom set up. Saturday morning is a CPR certification and AED training--part of my cheerleading sponsor duties, and then I'll have a few more hours of classroom set up. Monday I have kids! It's amazing-it seems like we just sent them out the door, all eager for summer.

I'm a mentor to a new teacher this year, which is kind of humorous given that it's only my 2nd year to teach and I still feel pretty new myself! At least I have a lot of fresh stuff in my memory that I wish someone would have told me. I intend to type her up a checklist tonight. In fact, I need to end this and get busy on it. Until next time...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Blueberry Cinnamon-Crumble with vanilla bean ice cream