Sunday, April 6, 2014

Incriminating Evidence

Hmmm… what's that? Maybe lime green Kool-Aid? Or a can of diet soda? 

I often think the college coed forgets we have access to her pictures on a very popular social networking site. Yesterday she posted pics of herself and her friends, with alcoholic beverages in their hands, out in front of the bars/nightclubs in her college town. It's not the first time she has done it and I know it won't be the last, either.

If I started rambling about how terrible this is, then I would be a total hypocrite. I did some of the same stuff back in my college days, though thankfully that was before the advent of cell phones and websites that are able to provide all sorts of graphic proof about your underage drinking and bar hopping. No evidence I ever had to be rolled home in a shopping cart after taking shots on an empty stomach. Nope - never happened. 

After I chuckled a bit about their duck faces and goofy poses, I found myself reflecting on how all of this is part of the process of growing up and testing the waters. After living in Europe for 2.5 yrs, it's not as if our almost 19-yr-old was an alcohol virgin. The gift of choice for most birthday celebrations of her acquaintances was a bottle of alcohol. Now she's back in a country which won't allow her to drink legally until 2016. So they buy fake IDs, get all dolled up and bat their big eyes at the bouncers of the local watering holes to get past the rope because they're pretty young things. 

So you pray a lot and hope that one of the many talking-tos we gave her about the dangers of alcohol poisoning, getting taken advantage of when you're drunk and the arrest record that will follow you now that you're an adult are still there lurking in the back of our daughter's conscience as she makes decisions which are outside our parental realm of control. Smart or stupid. Sober or drunk. It's worrisome, but you just have to trust there will be no Piggly Wiggly shopping cart rides in her future. Or that her friends will at least roll her all the way back to her dorm and see her in safely. And that she'll suffer the devil of a hangover the next morning which will have her rethinking her drinking habits in the future.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Convenient

My internal monologue (teacher voice inside my head): Wow, Chile had an 8.2 magnitude earthquake earlier this evening. That's great. What about a tsunami? Yesss - what a lucky break for me. Eh, it was only a six foot wave that struck. Dang, that's not gonna impress the students. But a higher reading of 8.2 on the Richter scale sure beats that crappy little quake California had last week. A couple folks died from heart attacks while three were crushed to death. That pales in comparison to the Indonesian quake of 2004. Danged quake proof buildings.

You know you're a hard core educator (and maybe hard hearted, too) when you read about Chile suffering a major earthquake and then gleefully begin figuring out how to include it in 6th gr science class the next day. In a meaningful way, of course, since we're currently studying plate tectonics. There were only three folks crushed to death, so probably no gory body pics to show. That would certainly make an impression. Probably enough to have an official reprimand placed in my personnel file after some angry calls to the principal once parents heard the graphic details over supper that evening. But honestly… heckuva learning opportunity to include current events in the curriculum. Beats the hell outta boring old worksheets.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Trim

It seems spring weather has finally arrived and plans to stay. Which is a good thing since it's almost April. It was time for Ollie to get a trim since we had been letting his coat grow out since the fall to keep him warm through winter. 

And boy howdy did the groomer go to town on him with the clippers. He looks so different without his longer shaggy coat, more a shorn sheep than a Cairn. But he'll appreciate the shorter hair as the temps continue to climb 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Break 2014

We had a BLAST for spring break. The traveling to and fro was a nuisance, but the resort experience made the commute well worth it.

In search of a Caribbean location with no drunken college kids or hordes of cruise ship passengers, our travel agent recommended the Turks and Caicos Islands. Settling on Providenciales, we stayed at a resort right on Grace Bay. 

Above is the husband relaxing on the lounger of our lanai, enjoying the mild temps and ocean sounds. It was really expensive, but really beautiful. 

They did indeed have cheeseburgers on the menu in our little bit of Caribbean paradise, but we opted to sample the local conch fritters. 

One of our favorite activities was a full day excursion on a catamaran for some snorkeling, shelling and just general chillaxin'.

We also visited Iguana Island. The college coed leaned in for the National Geographic shots…

…while the 7th grader practically climbed her daddy when one of the resident iguanas cast his eye her way.

Here are two videos of the girls, the younger one snorkeling and the older one cutting a rug with the locals running our tour.



And a few final pictures of paradise. We had such a great time that we're thinking we need to give another Caribbean location a try for spring break next year. I think we could all grow accustomed to an annual dose of island time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A History of History Certification

Twenty-five years ago, mother told me multiple times that I should get my teacher certification. I was majoring in history and minoring in English at the time, working multiple jobs to pay my way through a BA. The thing is, I just couldn't figure out how I could student teach, work a job, get sufficient sleep and keep my sanity all at the same time. Plus, I knew I didn't want to teach my beloved history to a bunch of ingrate public school varmints who wouldn't appreciate the subject matter as much as I always did.

Fast forward to this afternoon when I received a passing score on my state certification test for history - yippee! At this stage in my teaching career, I know I could give the kids a run for their money in class and no doubt have them thinking history is not a total snooze. And maybe I'll get the chance to prove that in the near future as our district transitions 6th graders from elementary to middle school. I'm now certified to teach reading, English, ESL, special ed and, finally, my precious history. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Everything they say about Texas weather is true

Winter is doing its usual psycho trip on Texas. Bipolar, multiple personalities or something along those lines. Last weekend we were hunkered down after an icy, school cancellation Friday, with highs in the 30s. Today the temp hovered around 80 and I was running around in a pair of flip flops outside by the pool. It's something of a joke in Texas when certain school districts cancel classes for a few patches of ice. Other than a slick driveway and pool area, this was about the only other sign of winter I noticed in the backyard - some icicles on this one shrub outside my kitchen window.

Compared to our back yard in England last year, this was a bit of a let down. It makes for pretty pictures, but is a pain in the patootie to drive in when the Brits are no better prepared to clear roads than their Texas counterparts.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snow Day, Slow Day

We don't get them very often here in Texas. And it's not really snow, but rather icy road day. Whatever - I'll stay at home from school and be a slug. I got the call a bit after 5:00 am that I didn't need to get up and come to school because it's cancelled for the day. Ironic, eh? I get a call that wakes me up and tells me I don't need to wake up for work.

I'm still puttering around in my robe. It dawned on me I probably needed to download pics from my phone to the computer since I hadn't done that since the fall. I just added a post to my school blog and figured my old personal blog could use an update, too.

So what's new? Teaching still consumes the bulk of my time, trying to stay one step ahead of the students as I figure out the curriculum. The content is fine - it's the labs that are a pain in the tookus. Every new unit kicks my search into high gear. It's all about finding an appropriate germ of a lab idea, expanding it to create a workable lesson for 11-12 yr olds, purchasing the things required for the lab, doing any necessary prep work and then giving it a go with the kids. Sometimes they're fabulous… and sometimes I wish I had just shot myself in the foot for all the learning that occurred. Oh well, it's all about my education this year, too.

In the fall, I got desperate one Sunday afternoon and enlisted the assistance of my husband and 7th grader with the lab prep of sorting beads into baggies. My students enjoyed creating basic 2 and 3D atomic model structures, so that makes all of the work worth it for me.

In other miscellaneous and completely unrelated news, we went to the local bowl game over the Christmas break. Our team didn't win, but I always enjoy the spectacle of a major sporting event. Like most Texans, we believe football reigns supreme. At least the college teams. I don't give a fig about the pros. Here are a few of my pics from the best parts of the whole rigamarole - the pre game stuff and half time show.

Admit it - dontcha love it when the band spells out stuff on the field, even when it's upside down to all of us fans on the other side. And throw in some flags, too. God bless America and Texas!