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29 May 2011

One good, one bad

I've read several books in the last week or so. Some good, some okay, some bad.

After reading the Alexis book, I read a book called The Summer I Lost It. The description says "Kat is just like other fourteen-year-old girls. Except this summer, she's spending four weeks at a Health Camp . . . otherwise known as fat camp. Can she lose the weight she needs to be able to do the things everyone else does? Or will she let her body control her?" Sounds okay, right? Yeah. It wasn't. First of all, she doesn't go to camp - her parents won't let her. She DOES start going to a gym and develops a crush on another kid who's going there. I feel like the fact that the description doesn't even tell the truth is probably not a good sign. And really, as I kept reading I kept getting more and more annoyed. I understand that children need to eat healthier and that we have a problem with obesity in our culture. However, the way this book handles things left me thinking about the impressionable kids I interact with daily. The ones who WILL starve themselves to be thin, the ones that I have had many conservations with about eating. This book focused on counting calories and working out daily and while that's all fine and everything, I could see it sending a message to the wrong group of kids. Plus, it was boring. I don't often feel bored, but I could have given up in the middle. I kept going hoping it would get better. It did not. 

After that, I had a bit of dread heading into my next book to review. This time I went with This Girl is Different. There wasn't anything about this one that I didn't like. It was well written, fast paced and interesting. The description is "What happens when a girl, homeschooled by her counterculture mother, decides to spend her senior year in public school? First friendship, first love—and first encounters with the complexities of authority and responsibility." I was impressed by the plot, the friendship, the relationships in this book.  This is a book that I would love to add a copy to my library for higher level readers, there is some mature content, but done in an "okay for the 13+" crowd way. The main character, Evie, grabs your attention from page one and it's hard to put the book (or kindle!) down until you've found out what happens to her during her first year in public school, her senior year of high school. 

I received review galleys from NetGalley for both of these books. This in no way influenced my opinion, other than introducing me to a couple new books. The links in this post connect to my Amazon Affiliate account, meaning I earn a few pennies if you buy through them.

13 May 2011

Hoping to Walk

Once again, this year I signed up to do the March of Dimes walk in two cities, both LA and the one closest to my home. Our walk is significantly smaller (but then again, so is our city!) than the LA walk and far less organized, but will still be fun.

Tomorrow, we walk for Maddie. And Aubrey and Annie. And now, I'm going to add two more little girls to my list of babies to walk for. A friend's little girl who was born at 34 weeks and 3lbs just over a week ago. She is doing amazingly well, and should come home from the hospital next week sometime.

I'm also walking for the baby who is the reason I had my job for the first half of the year. She was born six weeks early with numerous birth defects. Her problems were exasperated by poor medical care and doctor error, leading to five months in the hospital, numerous surgeries and various medical problems that will likely affect her for the rest of her life.

But she's alive. And that's what matters. She lived because of research. Her life has had a huge effect on mine as well as the students in my former class.

However, at this current moment there are three huge obstacles standing in my way, threatening to stop me from walking tomorrow.

First of all, the weather is supposed to be pretty bad. We had thunderstorms all afternoon today, and by tomorrow night there's a chance of snow.
Secondly, the shoes I wore in LA (the shoes that were advertised as for "walking" and with money going to March of Dimes for purchase) gave me a huge blister that is definitely not gone.
Third, the knee that I twisted/tweaked/sprained back in January and kept reinjuring because I insisted on playing basketball with the kids (NOT smart!) is hurting again. Probably doesn't help that it was aching a bit and then I played basketball again, I apparently will never learn.

If all goes well, I'll walk tomorrow. But, I'm afraid that I'm going to fail on my commitment. And that is incredibly frustrating.

03 May 2011

Little Things


My students are amazing. I am so blessed to have them in my life. Even if at times I lose sight of that.

Sometimes my students drive me crazy. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to make it through another day, much less five more weeks. Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to handle field trips and report cards and packing and leaving.

But then sometimes, sometimes they blow me away.

This morning my seventh graders were chatty and giggly and not very work-y. They hadn’t seen each other in a week. It was reasonable that they needed to catch up. I kind of sat back and let them go, while watching to see that at least some work got done. As long as they were working on their project, I didn’t care so much about the off task conversation.

Half way through class, one of the girls spoke up. “I LOVE this class”. Suddenly, everyone was quiet. And then the comments kept coming. I was floored. I knew that they were enjoying class, and that they liked the fact that when they said they wanted to do Shakespeare, I bought materials to make it happen, but I wouldn’t have guessed that anyone would claim “love”, much less this student. Sometimes I wonder how effective I am as a teacher. This class? Helps me to see that there is so much more to being a middle school teacher than simply teaching a unit.

And then, my sixth graders came in the door. Between now and next Friday they will have no time in my classroom due to various other school activities. The outrage at that surprised me. “Why can’t we ever have a sub?” “Why does this class get cancelled?” I pointed out that I have NEVER cancelled. But I guess it was a problem before.

This is the same class that has two students who will walk in and tell me “530”, meaning we have a baseball game at 530, please be there. Today, the first student walked in and asked me “are you going to be able to come to our game tonight?” I hesitated a bit, because I really don’t want to sit out in the cold. The second student walked in and simple said “530”. I wasn’t even facing his direction, and everyone laughed. I told them I would come as long as it’s not too cold, and one of them told me that I have to be there.

Little things make my day. Baseball takes up way more time than basketball and football and it’s harder to be there at every game. But it’s important to them, so I will do my best. 

02 May 2011

Vacation!

This weekend. Let me tell you about this weekend.

I drove to LA on Thursday in 7.5 hours. I should have taken that as a sign for what was to come. There was NO traffic for my entire drive. Well, except a bit on the 405, but really? Nothing I could handle. Traffic was not nearly as kind for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, I got to LA at 830pm. Magda and I were at In-N-Out by 930pm. We then left the house at 1030pm to drive an hour away to see Heather (and Annie!), Greis, Nanette and Jen (and Katelyn!). We joined Heather’s mom and cousin and stayed up all night.

We stayed up all night to watch the royal wedding. Say what you want, but it was every little girl’s fantasy. I’m glad I didn’t miss it. There were princes, a "commoner" and carriages on TV. There were blue ring pops, purple tiaras and silver rhinestones in the living room. There was much laughter from everyone. And many silly comments that got sillier as the night went on.


Friday, we slept in, kind of. We didn’t go anywhere until noon. We had lunch at the beach at 2. We then took some pictures at the ocean. It was only the second time that I’d been to the ocean in many, many years.

 Ladybug on a seashell.

Friday night, I went to baseball with my uncle. It took me 55 minutes to drive 18 miles. Nanette told me that wasn’t too bad for LA. I was thinking “in my world? 60 miles isn’t too bad in an hour...” I met up with my uncle and cousin and enjoyed a baseball game. My uncle apparently thought I was five. “Do you want peanuts?” “Do you need popcorn?” “Ice cream?” “Cotton candy?”

 3-1! (Who is now 2-9, but that's not the point!)

I enjoyed the game. It was nice to see another ballpark, and a pitcher who I knew from when he was an A was on the mound, which was fun. However, I was beyond tired. I made it until 10pm, the bottom of the eighth inning and decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I got back to Mariah’s house (by the way? Mariah rocks. Totally invited me to stay last minute. And then I was all kinds of busy and hardly even saw her) at about 11.   

Saturday morning, we were up early.

We drove to USC. We met up with wonderful friends.
 
We walked.
 
We walked for babies. We walked so that babies won’t be born early. We walked in memory of a little girl who was born too early. We walked with babies who were early and babies who were full term.


Babies made new friends.

 
Oliver didn’t appreciate Katelyn’s screaming.

We had lunch with the friends, at a table for many. The restaurant had an amazing dessert bar. Annabel was DEFINITELY interested. After breakfast/lunch, I said good-bye to the wonderful friends. I’ll be back next year. Maybe earlier.
 
I'll take one of each, please! 

I went to visit my cousin. We shopped. We ate Chick-Fil-A. We toured her college campus. We watched a movie.

And in the morning, we got up and drove to the beach for church. It was fun and I’m glad that I stayed instead of leaving early to head home.


 Point Dume, Malibu



Yesterday afternoon, I drove. And drove. For 8 hours I drove.

And then this morning, I woke up to go back to school. The end of a vacation is definitely less fun that the beginning.