Thursday, December 30, 2010
It was kind of an interesting experience getting everything ready. We didn't have much in the way of Christmas decorations, and with finals and end of term grading, we didn't really have time to get a tree until mid-December.
We honestly just couldn't justify spending tons of money on Christmas ornaments, but I think our frugal tree turned out very nicely. My family usually strings popcorn and cranberries, so we started there. Then, we got out the lovely dove ornaments that Valli and Dave gave us as a wedding gift, and a few hand-me-down ornaments from my mom.. And then... we went to the dollar store! Here's the finished product:
It was a good reminder that things don't have to be expensive to be nice. I'm really proud of the tree skirt. Thanks to Mike's understanding of geometry and patience with my inability to distinguish radius and diameter, we were able to make it ourselves. Here's a close up:Without gushing too much, I really just want to say that I'm so glad to have this special time of year where people focus on faith and goodness. And, I am extra grateful that I have such a good person to spend it with.
And, if you know anything about Julia Child, it's probably that she doesn't mess around when it comes to food. Luckily, this recipe ended up being a lot easier than I thought it would be. And, it didn't hurt that my mom agreed to help me get started.
The recipe is for Cantuccini, which is an Italian cookie usually referred to as biscotti (apparently all Italian cookies are called biscotti), and is found on page 313 of the book. These cookies are baked twice, so they are very hard and crunchy, and are meant for dipping. They are delicious! I'm including a paraphrased version of the recipe, but there are a lot of good tips in the book that I'm leaving out.
The ingredients are:
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. unblanched, whole almonds
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Then, stir in the almonds.
3. Whisk eggs and vanilla in a small bowl. Then, stir them into the flour mixture. The dough will be very dry.
4. Place on a lightly floured table or board and knead until smooth(-ish).
5. Divide the dough in half, and and form two 12-inch-long logs. They should be 2 inches wide and 1 inch high.
6. 1st Baking-Place the logs on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until they have risen a little bit and are firm to the touch. Then remove and let them cool completely (at least 30 minutes).
7. 2nd Baking- With a serrated knife, cut the logs diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Place them on the parchment lined pan, and then bake for 10-15 minutes, until they are crisp and golden. Let them cool on the pans.It was a pretty time-intensive recipe, but it really wasn't all that hard. The cookies will last for a month if you keep them in an air-tight container, but ours didn't last nearly that long. I'm really glad that I tried this recipe. It was definitely a good way to start off my edible experiments!
For the conference that I attended over the summer, I designed (and am now carrying out) a classroom research project. I'm having my 10th grade class set up personal blogs. They have to choose a topic, do research on that topic, and post weekly. As far as rationale, a blog (when topic-driven) naturally leads one through the entire writing process. My hypothesis is that allowing students to write and learn about a topic they are interested in, with a real audience to consider, will make writing more enjoyable for them. We'll see how it goes, but so far, so good.
In an effort to be a good teacher, I'm setting up a blog for this project too. It's called Edible Experiments. For this blog, I'm going to try one new recipe every week, and post the recipe/pictures/reactions about it. Really, this is part of me achieving my goal of learning more about cooking. Because we're using the blogs for class, it is private, but I thought it would probably be a good idea to post them here too. Maybe it will help me to write more regularly.
That being said, I will stress that I am not a food blogger. I'm not a talented cook. I'm just trying to learn something new, and I'm pretty excited about it!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
- Mike! He's amazing, and he makes me happy every single day.
- My family- my immediate family, my in-laws, and especially my little family with Mike.
- For the steal of a deal we're getting on our apartment. Life would be hard if we had to pay exorbitant rent like some of my friends do.
- That my job is no longer miserable. Things have gotten much better.
- That I got to meet (and talk to!) Jeff Wilhelm. He has really inspired me and given me a lot of direction in my career.
- That Martina won Miss Rodeo Utah. It was amazing to watch someone I care about so much achieve something that meant so much to them.
- For my book club. I've made some wonderful friends, and I feel like it's been a good source of personal growth.
- That I've been able to travel so much in the last year: Alaska, San Francisco, L.A., and Park City (less glamorous, I know) a few times.
- For old friends who I know will always be around. I realized when I saw a friend today just how many times I run into someone and introduce them to Mike as someone I've been friends with forever. Thanks for sticking around.
- That Mike agrees that watching Jurassic Park at Thanksgiving should be a family tradition.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Mike is busy, busy, busy with school. He's doing really great with it though, and is being a very dedicated student.
As for me. Well, so far this year I've had:
- kids chewing tobacco in class
- a student so incensed that I would have the audacity to take her phone away (after 2 warnings to put it away) that she walked out
- a student who, when I asked him why he wasn't doing his work, told me he would do enough assignments/activities to get by, just not any of the "stupid" ones
- a mouthy Justin Bieber look alike
- an excellent view of the shed where kids go to smoke while they skip class
- a major curriculum change, oh, 2 days before school started.
So, there's definitely a low to be expected. But, I'm a bit concerned, because my year started out more like this:
I guess the good thing is that there's an upward trend. I think the 12th graders are just being too cool for school. Things seem to be getting better. I just keep reminding myself to embrace the chaos and just do my best to be happy. Things may be kind of scary and hard, but that's no reason not to be happy.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The Mother Tongue is all about the English language, but also talks about the linguistic characteristics of other languages too. It's super interesting. I've been reading it for awhile (non-fiction always seems to take longer), and I am constantly telling Mike about all the things I'm learning from it. And now, I present them to you.
- English is the only language that has (or needs) a thesaurus (14).
- There are more people studying English in China than there are people in the United States (13).
- There are approximately 2,700 languages in the world... but that is only a best guess (37).
- All languages evolve, but Icelandic, for some reason hasn't really evolved much. Bryson claims that if Leif Ericson reappeared, he could communicate without too many problems (37).
- Spelling was pretty much anyone's best guess, until the printing press was invented. Perhaps unfortunately, the printing press was invented during a pretty tumultuous time for the English language. That's partially why there are some unusual spellings- a lot of our spellings reflect pronunciation of the 1400s (126).
- Relatedly, silent letters (like the "k" in knight and knees or "g" in gnat) were once pronounced (128).
- If you think texting abbreviations are irritating, you might be surprised to find that in the early 1900s the Simplified Spelling Board (supported by Andrew Carnegie and Theodore Roosevelt, among others) lobbied for the simplified spellings of certain words. They won a few battles, giving dignity to the shorter version of words that have two spellings (ax/axe, judgment/judgement, catalog/catalogue, program/programme, etc.). They also had a lot of support behind words like live, tho, thru, wisht, gard, giv, hav, and ar. But, they pushed their luck on words like tuf, def, yu, and filosophy. That, and the advent of World War I stopped their efforts (130).
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
1. Publish a hit novel.
2. Be a professional blogger.
I got a tiny bit closer to the second of those goals this week. I was invited to attend a webinar based on Troy Hicks' book, The Digital Writing Workshop. The district content leader invited me because I'm working on a research project for the last conference I went to about blogs in the classroom. For the final product, I wrote a rationale and a basic outline of implementing blogs as a tool for helping students internalize the writing process and improve their writing. And, in a few weeks, I'll be getting a check for that.
Getting paid to write about blogging is almost like getting paid to blog, right?
Also... I got two free books, and a huge vote of confidence from my district content leaders. So, even though my heart is somewhat dismayed about school starting again, I feel like I can do it. :)
Monday, August 16, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I'm totally contributing to the professional conversation.
In other career news: I have about 5 lesson plans left before I complete my goal of being planned ahead for one month in each of my classes. I'm very excited about this.
Friday, July 30, 2010
There are a lot of things I could say right now. I could give you a run down of the whole week. Or talk about how much work went into getting to this point. Or tell you about the emotional highs and lows along the way.
All I really have to say is this very important lesson that I learned from my little sister (and best friend):
If you dream about something, and you put your heart into it and work at it as hard as you can, your dream will come true.
Monday, July 12, 2010
2. Emailed some teaching stuff to my book club friend, Kat.
I have one more productive thing planned:
3. Drive to the high school. Hang up all my cool new posters. Try to be excited and not dismayed by the abundance of sinks in my classroom. I have two. I don't even need one. Meh.
Anyway, that's about as good as it gets for today. To find the documents for Kat, I had to dig through some old documents, and I found some interesting things I wrote forever ago. The following is an excerpt from a research paper I wrote in 11th grade. I'm posting it here because I was so incredibly passionate about this topic. I think that's amazing. We all need more passion in our lives.
Millions of people across the nation are seeking after the elusive, yet
ever-present “American Dream.” While there are many ways to define the
American Dream, there is one prescribed way to achieve it: hard work. It
is also estimated that there are nearly three million homeless people in the
United States. Although they are often seen as indolent good for nothings,
the fact is that nearly 2.8 million of them have jobs. These people are
referred to as the “working poor.” Nearly one third of the homeless
population is families with children. The typical image of a lazy,
middle-aged man sitting on a street corner is simply not true. In fact,
homeless people are sometimes called the “invisible poor” because it’s often
hard to tell that someone is homeless. This is because they may lead
seemingly normal lives. Americans use the stereotypical images of the
homeless to shift the failure from society as a whole to individual
Many people complain of the homeless expecting handouts and getting aid that
they have not earned. Unfortunately, many homeless people who have at
least one job miss out on government programs that should benefit them. It
is not unusual for a person to make a fractional amount too much to receive
government aid. The question then arises, if today’s society is only
willing to help those who help themselves, why don’t they? This moralistic
stinginess will not help those who are doing all in their power to provide for
Homelessness strikes without discrimination to race, age, sex, or of marital, or
familial status. So, it is completely incredulous to associate
homelessness with any particular group of people. Assumptions about who
the homeless build walls that keep people from understanding each
other. Many people insist that they see only alcoholics, drug users, and
mentally ill people at the root of homelessness. It is unfortunate that
they fail to see the children who sleep in corners of dark alleys, the mother
who works two or more full-time jobs, or the man who must go without so that his
family may eat. These are the
The fact is most of society sees the homeless as the blotch on America’s nearly
perfect complexion. Isn’t homelessness, after all, the simple, yet
undeniable, proof that the American Dream has not been realized? Americans
do not want to believe that hard work cannot amount to success.
Homelessness goes against the grain of American morals and ideals. Cheryl
Gorder, author of Homeless!, said “A home means we accept the mainstream values
of American life. It says that we are acceptable. To be without a
home makes people question your very right to exist. To be without a home
is unacceptable.” Indeed, it seems that homelessness is downright
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The description:"From birds of prey to leopards, learn what some of the animals are having for breakfast at the Zoo while you enjoy your own breakfast. Meet some animal friends up close and make a treat for an animal friend."
The reality: We arrived at the Edzoocation Center all ready for our day at the zoo, and for breakfast. There were mostly kids there, but we had expected that. Our zoo-ranger-tour guide introduced herself and invited us to get our breakfasts and get ready for the first presentation. Hooray!
And then we got to the table. Good thing we don't have some diabetes or something, because all they had were (not at all good) sugary little pastries, apples, juice, and like 10 slices of cantaloupe. It was too early for that much sugar. "But, hey," we thought, "we're really here for the predator coolness."
I still think predators are probably pretty cool. But you know what's not the coolest way to learn about them? PowerPoints. Not that exciting.
Luckily, we got to make treats for an animal friend during PowerPoint time. But not zoo friends. At home animal friends. And we don't have any of those, so I made Mike a bracelet. "Still," we reassured each other, "there's still the animal feeding part. That will be worth it."
It was finally time to go see a real life predator eat it's real life breakfast. At exactly this point, the zoo ranger mentions that our tickets did not include entry to the zoo (which we had naturally assumed) except for the animal feeding. Nowhere had this been mentioned before. Not on the website, the tickets, the first part of the breakfast. And we paid a lot of money for that. We were grumpy, to say the least, as we trudged along to the wolf den.
While we were there we got to see two wolves eat some liver out of a box. It was pretty cool. Not voraciously awesome or anything. More like, a big dog happily eating a treat cool. But, hey, wolves eating raw liver was something.
One of my favorite stops was to see the elephants. We caught the end of a little training show and then we got to see the baby elephant. It was adorable.
These drinking fountains give me the biggest kick. Best idea ever.
... it ended up being a really fun day!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Why, why, why would so many of the "professionals" attending this conference be messing around on Facebook, browsing all the different models of phones, and talking to each other about inane things during the presentation?
I hope that their students do that kind of stuff to them.
Oh, world... what will become of you?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I've had a lot of conflicting feelings about what to do with myself. This hasn't been a problem for me for a long time. Here's what I've done the past few summers:
2006- School. I took all the pre-requisites for my major so I could apply the fall of my sophomore year. That would include: British Literary History (to 1500), American Literary History, Introduction to English Language (a linguistics class), and Fundamentals of Literary Interpretation. You know, the light stuff. I used to have this goal of graduating from college in 3 years. I can't remember why. I did it in 4, but it was a 5 year program, so I still feel good about that.
2007-A whole lot of working. After so much school the year before, I, for some reason, thought it would be very refreshing to work 10 hour days at the library and then get Friday off. Yay, three day weekends every week! Nope. 10 hours is a very, very long time at a library. (Luckily, I worked with awesome people- hey guys, thanks for reading!)
So, in conclusion, I am usually extra busy during the summer. I was planning on keeping very busy this year too. But, after having spent the last 9 months in high alert panic mode, I have been thinking about taking a break. It is new for me. It is a little strange and uncomfortable. But, I'm going to try it. I'm really not that good at it yet.
Before you judge, please know:
*I still get paid- yay!
*I have plenty of things to do. Like get ready for a big conference in Park City :) And help my sister get ready for MRU. And use the sewing machine my adorable husband bought me. And read books.
Okay. Now judge.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
1. I am setting an example.
In the middle of a presentation on some literary period a student raises their hand.
That was kind of an odd exchange. But, it made me feel good that they're getting something positive from me. Also, I feel like I should attribute the title of this post to Dr. K. Matthews- my rad American Modernism professor- I think it's funny.
2. Make friends. You need them.
You need to be able to rant, to get second opinions, to share ideas, to borrow Diet Coke money, to sit next to someone during pep assemblies... it's important.
3. Parents May Be Adults, But That Doesn't Mean They're Mature
At a point pretty square in the middle of the year, I got a pretty nasty email from a parent about the grade I had given her daughter on her essay. She went so far as to pass the essay along to a former English teacher and quote his response that strongly implied that I wasn't intelligent enough to recognize her daughter's genius. It hurt a whole lot.
I took it to my department head, showed her my rubric and the essay. And, she was outraged by the immature things the parent wrote. Turns out we all pretty solidly agree that even if your kid is a genius, her essay (about legalizing marijuana- a topic geniuses do tend to dwell on) still needs to meet the essay requirements. And, if you're mean to me, Mrs. R. might maim you. From this one I learned to stick to my guns and not take anything some coddling parent says too much to heart.
4. Reading Makes People Happy!
Hamlet rocked the 12th graders' world (The "Homelet" (Hamlet + omelet) Party didn't hurt either). And, 9th grade girls cried when Romeo and Juliet end their lives. A couple of 10th graders read books in their entirety for the first time in their lives... and they liked them. And, even the surly 11th graders felt good about The Princess Bride.
5. Your Attitude Will Make or Break You
I would be lying if I said I was a ray of sunshine every day... really, really lying. But, I saw very clearly that whatever my attitude was would be the attitude I got back from my classes. When I was excited and happy, my students were too. When I was exasperated and exhausted and overwhelmed they tended to become exasperating, exhausting, and overwhelming. Let's just say, there were good days and bad days, but I want to change the ratio. Because really, why do it if it doesn't make you happy?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I'd maybe even risk one good swear, but I'm going to be on my best behavior for awhile. I did a bunch of checking up on a research paper last night that was totally just the regurgitation of a conspiracy theory, and it might have gotten me put on a watch list.
17 days. 2 hours. 18 minutes.
Monday, May 10, 2010
If you're ever low on tomatoes, but would really like to express your dislike of someone, I'm pretty positive that sloshing leftover spaghetti sauce that is way past its prime would do the trick too.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
I'm staying at the same school, so you'd think that wouldn't have been much of an issue... but you'd be wrong. Since I only had a one year contract I had to reapply for my job. Besides the other hundred people who applied, there were two other provisional teachers. The three of us were going for two jobs. And, of course, the rumors were flying. One week there was no hope, and the next week there was no reason to worry. It was exhausting.
Finally knowing that Mike and I will not need to move in to my parent's basement or a set up a tent under an overpass or something is nice. So is the fact that we now have some security. Unlike last year, I actually get a full contract this year. All teachers with less than three years are provisional, but this means that I have the job until I don't want it any more, or if something catastrophically bad happens.
Another perk is that I will no longer be teaching all four grades. In case it's not immediately apparent- that's not super easy. To illustrate... My district has a New Teacher Academy every other month. A woman I from my home stake (a very cool English teacher from Lehi) is one of the people in charge. She came over to give me a hug and say hi. When I told her what I was teaching, she grabbed my hand in an encouraging squeeze and said, "Oh, honey. I'll pray for you." So, the change is I will only be teaching 9th (2 classes), 10th (1 class), and 12th (3 classes). Not a huge change, but it will dramatically reduce my workload.
Perk number three is that I will be teaching mostly 12th grade classes. I love my 12th grade class! I'm hoping I've just found my niche and this isn't just a good mix, but I've had a lot of success with them. At the beginning of the year it was tough to keep them awake, but now they argue over who gets to read parts in class. We just finished Hamlet, and as they requested we had a Hamlet Omelet party on the day they did their presentations. It was so fun! And, they did such a good job! Like, it made me tear up a little bit because I was so proud of them. Yeah... I get like that sometimes.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Plagarized Research Papers: Three. One may be accidental. All fully documented. Thanks Google.
Punishment/Course of Action for Plagarized Papers: Not yet decided. (Yes, should have already been decided... but still not.)
Apartment: Messy. But, the papers are graded.
Curtains: We have some in the living room now!
Car: Oil changed. Even with discounts I got suckered into paying $70. But, no more lectures from my concerned father.
Other car: Rescued from accidental abandonment at the park and ride.
Sleep: Far above weekly average.
Harry Potter Series: Finally finished. It is perhaps a small miracle that no one (including those chatty 7th graders) gave away the ending before I could finish it. Not sure why it took so long to get the motivation to finish it.
Husband: Adorable. And late for work. ;)
Self: Happy, happy, happy.
Number of Hours Until Mini-Vacation: 1.5. Cannot wait!
Monday, March 22, 2010
- I don't even hear the alarm clock anymore.
- Those American culture research papers will continue sitting on my front room floor until I get real motivated... which won't happen until I get some sleep.
- My tolerance for a certain 10th grade girl who alternately colors in coloring books and braids friendship bracelets during class is no longer existent. I may ask her to leave. Maybe she can go hang out in the daycare where her talents would be appreciated.
- I want to make more curtains!
- I need to finish reading the 7th Harry Potter book...
- The real reason I went to work today was because the English department bought me Costco chocolate cake for my birthday.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I was living alone in a strange little garage apartment, and I liked that... until February. That was not a good month. I hate February always, but that one was particularly bad. Lauren was out of the country... and I missed her. I was too busy to hang out with friends... or they were too busy to hang out with me... it's unclear and unimportant at this point. Of course, there were lots of wonderful people who were around and supportive. Susie and I had some bad day student teaching stories to share, because, by February, the honeymoon period was definitely over with the 7th graders. By February, I was, you know, getting kids suspended (yeah, I'm hardcore). In order to stave away the gloom, I started reading lots of blogs, including my now sister-in-law's. Which is really what led to this February being so much better, because that's what threw Mike back into my life.
I'm living in a cute little apartment with my best friend in the whole world. And, I'm going to make us some adorable curtains... eventually. I don't have time to get bored since I'm teaching the entire spectrum of high school English (if I missed anything in my own high school education, I've learned it this year).
This February, I got to enjoy the true spirit of Valentine's day... meaning I wanted to buy Mike everything in the world and make him cookies with little heart sprinkles. He, by the way, is the king of doing adorable things.
First off, we started things on Friday night by exchanging gifts and going to see The Lightning Thief. I got him an iPod cover and some tie hangers, and he got me a book and some chocolate (which is, you know, perfect). Saturday we spent a lot of our gift card money, which was very fun. And, Sunday was great. For breakfast, Mike made me heart-shaped M&M pancakes and I made him some tasty potatoes (thanks Lauren!). Then, we snuggled up and listened to a good chunk of Catching Fire. We went to church (yay for church), and then we came home and he showed off his culinary skills some more with...
Yeah. He doesn't mess around with the being romantic stuff.
And it doesn't end on Valentine's day. This very week, he sweetly agreed to come with me to my 3 day professional development conference in July... at the Utah Shakespearean Festival! Hooray!
I never would have guessed last year how much better this February would be, but it's a pretty significant improvement. I'm pretty excited about it all.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
And he bought her lovely jewelry (the kind she had always wanted).
And took her to nice places to wear her new jewelry (and which also delighted the knight, who loves a good prime rib dinner).