Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 68

I know, I know. I apologize. A lost USB cord was the reason for the blogging hiatus. Kaelon just couldn't live any more without reading my updates, so he sent me a replacement. Thanks, Kaelon! :)

Today's photo captures the concentration of the second graders working on their PowerPoints. They did such a great job today!

Now that I think about it, I should have taken a photo of me standing through my sunroof trying to change the lightbulb in my garage door opener... That was a sight to see!!

Day 67

Wow! A professional meeting has never been so fun! Thanks to Maureen and Jan for the cake! It was soooo good!

Day 66

We celebrated the premiere of Alice In Wonderland with a reading from Robert Sabuda's book. This is a shot of Alice falling down the pop-up rabbit hole.

Day 65

A mini road trip to Sharon, PA included an intense walk through of Kraynaks (what a store!) as well as some good wings at the original Quaker Steak and Lube. It was a fun way to spend the first almost warm day of 2010!

Day 64

Mt. Lebanon Girls AND Boys WPIAL champs!

It was a great day (Home Show and dinner at Kaya), but it was fun cheering on the gang.

Dori is an awesome coach and deserves the honor! Great work, girls!

Day 63

Ok, so no photo for today, but Mojoe Bistro in Belleview, PA deserves a shout-out. The night was spent celebrating with some of my nearest and dearest friends and had some great food. I had lobster ravioli...mmm. Check it out sometime.

Day 62

This was a feeble attempt for a picture of stripes as per the directions on The Daily Shoot. MiPhone camera is blurry these days and a student or two were tugging on my arm to help them find a book.

Regardless, it's still a photo from our school book fair. I got to hang out and help kids find books and got a few donations for the library, too.

The best part of Book Fair Week was the special delivery. :) Thanks!

Day 61

I think this might have been from Tuesday, but since I'm doing this 10 days later, I can't be sure. It will work, though...

Tonight I had the privilege to watch the Mt. Lebanon Girl's Basketball team in the WPIAL semi-finals. They are ranked 10th nationally and boy are they tough! It was fun to see the big win!

Day 60

Today was Read Across America Day because it was Dr. Seuss's birthday. That also means it was Dress-Up Like Your Favorite Storybook Character Day. The kids were so excited to come to school all dressed up!

Some of my favorite costumes were Skippyjon Jones (girl waving), Amelia Bedelia (girl in front) and in the morning class, an adorable bunny-in-a-box from the story Not a Box. Cute.

Day 58

Well, since my photo didn't turn out, I had to borrow this one.

Today I said good-bye to an old friend, the local watering hole, The Rhythm House in Bridgeville, PA. I spent a lot of time listening to live music there-everyone from Donora (actually I think I also Jake when he was with Eye C Snakes), Dancing Queen, and of course, Velveeta. Velveeta was always a good show, albeit a little cheesy. :)

I will also always remember the times Jason and I decided to go out to dinner on a random nice evening during the week where we could sit out on the deck or the times we would all huddle on the deck and listen to music because it was smokey inside (the smoking ban took care of that in recent years).

Good-bye, old friend! GetGo will never replace you!

Day 57

The Winter Olympics sparked the Pittsburgh Curling Club to host a series of learn-to-curl sessions. After a great lunch at Tessarro's (congrats to mom's win on The Amazing Race), Kevin and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and headed to the Robert Morris Sports Center for our lesson. We were shocked at the line we stood in just to pay (more than 3o minutes before the start time), but were more impressed with the number of people (about 500) still in line when we were all done.

Our lesson was fun (I had one good throw), but definitely plan on going back when it's not so crowded. We need practice!

Day 56

Another Friday, another major snowstorm. A trip that typically takes me 35 minutes took almost an hour and a half. The snow just plummeted the roads and I made sure there was a car in front of me at all times so I could see where I was going. Where is that groundhog??

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55--Wow.

Wow. That's just about all I can say.

Last night, I was nestled all snug in my bed when my phone rang at 10:30. When I saw it was Chris Stengel, my Tech Director extraordinaire, I did a double take. He doesn't use the "real" phone too often. He and some other Mt. Lebanon reps were at PETE&C--the prestigious PA educational technology conference in Hershey. I figured he was calling to rub it in my face that they were having so much fun without me (it's the first time in four years that I missed the entire weekend). He wasn't.

He and Kaelon were gracious enough to let me know that I won the 2010 Outstanding Teacher Award from the PA Educational Council of Technology. When I saw the photo, I laughed and asked him how he Photoshopped my name in there. It was a few seconds before I actually believed him.

I'm disappointed that I missed the banquet...only to thank everyone who believed in me enough to make that declaration. I hope they know how humbled I feel. However, it's a bonus that I also get to go to the national conference, ISTE, in June to "compete" at the national level. I have no idea what this means, but just to spend some time learning with my colleagues at the greatest conference ever is just fine with me.

Wow. It's such an honor. I really don't feel deserving of it, though. I don't do anything more than I expect most teachers do. Besides, there are so many other people that enable me to be successful in and out of the classroom, but it's my students who make or break a teaching job. The award should go to them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 54

It was time for some good 'ol American food, so what's more American than Damon's for chicken salad and trivia? Even though it was Skillz that dominated the trivia competition, I held my own...barely!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53

3:30am is obscenely early to wake up (and eat the cheese sandwiches they gave us for our "boxed breakfast"). That aside, it was a great day to travel home.

This is a volcano we passed over in Central America on the way home. I've never seen a real one that recently erupted like that.

15 hours later, I am home. It was such a great trip and I'm so happy I had the opportunity to go. It was a feast for the mind, body and soul. (This gray Pittsburgh weather seems much more drastic, though. I actually gasped at the whiteness as we emerged from the clouds before we landed!)

Day 52

DISCLAIMER: While I spent a TON of time trying to pack my "good" Nikon in my suitcase, find the filter, and wrap the lenses tightly so it could travel well. I love that camera and was so excited to take pictures with it in Costa Rica. However, when I went to use it, I realized that the battery stayed in the charger on my chair (see Day 48)...Sooo, these pictures are only mediocre and I'm not excited about any of them. :-(

That said, this is as good as my shots got on the river cruise. We saw tons of monkeys--white faced and howler monkeys (which are really loud!), dozens of crocodiles and beautiful birds. The monkeys were all just "hanging out" in the trees, but when they move, it's amazing to see how their arms can stretch across the branches. I liked seeing the Kapok trees, too.

After the cruise, we had a traditional Costa Rican lunch with rice, beans, chicken, chips, veggies and rice pudding. Then we cruised around Liberia...the second largest city in the country. I was surprised that it was hardly a city...One supermarket, one light and the church being the center of town.

A huge "gracias" goes to our awesome tour guide, Mayer, who even detoured us back into Liberia so I could find a cache...and three of us went and found it at the local hotel. Mayer even gave me Spanish lessons while we sat together on the bus.

Day 51

Paradise, Day 3
Even work is a lot of fun here. This morning we had our meetings and it was a great way to talk and brainstorm with each other. DSA also announced even more trips for next year...including a tempting trip to London and Paris for spring break (but I have some time to think about it).

In the afternoon, we got to sit by the pool and browse some of the local handiwork on the beach. These pottery pieces were some of my favorites.

For the evening, we explored the town Tamarindo. It's a large surfing area with tons of small shops. My favorite part was dinner at La Beach Club...a perfect little on-the-sand restaurant with lights hanging from the trees and some tables that were like beds. It made me really wish I lived by the beach!

Day 50

Ugh! What picture to post? A photo of the ziplines? One of the hot spring? One in the river where we were covered in lava mud? The one of the cashew fruit? I just couldn't decide!

I "settled" on this one because it's a great reminder of the landscape in Costa Rica...very dry during this time of year, but the palm trees are still beautiful and the volcanoes make the skyline amazing. We rode by horseback up the side of a volcano and ziplined down. I was only super nervous on the first three! It's quite enjoyable after you forget about the fact you're dozens of feet in the air only hanging by a wire over the canopy of the forest!

After our adventure portion of the day, we got to soak in the geothermal waters and ate lunch. I had the best tilapia EVER...I think they just reached in the ocean, seasoned it, and stuck it on my plate. The dragonfruit drinks were unbelievable too.

Dinner at the resort consisted of octopus (blah!), tons of fruit, and all kinds of fish I couldn't name. Life is good. :)

Day 49

It was a looong travel day...After a 4am wake up, 3 hour flight to Houston, 8 hour layover, 4 hours to Liberia and an hour ride to the hotel, I finally arrived at the Barcelo Langosta Resort in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The "welcome drinks" were definitely appreciated! I am so excited to spend a long weekend with some dynamic teachers learning and having some amazing experiences!

Day 48

To pack is to charge... Ahh...the beauty of simultaneous chargings.

Day 47

Mardis Gras! It's no Bourbon Street (and there was way too much snow), but the hurricanes were a-flowing. Happy Fat Tuesday!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 46

What is this new and foreign white stuff? The stuff that turned my 17 minute commute into 50?

Yep...six more inches on top of the 30+ inches we already had...

Blame it on the groundhog.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 45

Happy Valentine's Day. I'm not going to get all mushy and gushy on this very Hallmark holiday, but I will say that it was a perfect day. I got to spend it with all of my Valentines... I'm a lucky girl!

I hope everyone had a great day! Hugs to all!

Day 44

Going once. Going twice. Sold. (Not to me!)

Kevin and I went do a pretty huge art/antique auction this morning in the Shadyside-ish area (near Construction Junction). Now, I've only been to two other estate auctions, but this one was something to see. There were probably 50 people in the seats, but dozens and dozens more were tuning in from eBay and IM. To my left, a row of laptops were set up with people calling out the bids from the absentees.

The most interesting bids were on a short mink coat (two online bidders waged a war with the winner coming out with a coat and almost $2000 short). There were also tiles that we thought would go for about $50, but they ended up going for almost $2,000....probably etched with unicorn blood or something! Crazy!!!

We did "win" a vase, but it kind of doesn't count since we weren't there to raise our number, but it will still look nice. :)

Day 43

Data. There was a reason I wasn't a math major. Today was in-service and it was all about...yep, data. Students' math scores, reading scores, the percentage they'll score a Proficient on the PSSAs, their Lexile level, their rate of improvement, their chances of growing to be 5'11 or taller, blah, blah, blah.

Now, I get the importance of SOME of these numbers, however, after studying all of these scores for 300 students, they don't tell a lot more than I already know. I know the good readers. I know this lower level readers. But, we all want the kids to learn how to learn and to show improvement. So, for this, I will analyze this data and use it to plan my lessons...until we get new data and we'll start all over again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 42--Snow Day #4

Snow Day #4. Wow. I have to admit that I'm still not bored, but it was good to get out of the house today. I was lucky to get to go and visit my new little cousin and my uncle while they kept an eye on each other.

Aiden gave me one look and started to cry, but a minute later he was fun and all smiles. We played, read books and chatted (and babbled) all afternoon. He is too cute! It was a great way to spend a snow day! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41--Snow Day 3

Today's 365: We all have some sort of hobby or favorite activity. Make a photo that shows something you enjoy doing.

Well, I was torn between reading and geocaching, but the outdoor elements made me choose reading. This is a smaaaaal sampling of the books on my entertainment center. Just there, I have about 200 books and have 4 other book shelves in my house. I can't think of a better decoration.

This is an accurate sample of the books I like to read...Beginning with red: Memoirs, professional non-fiction, contemporary/funky non-fiction, chick lit, poetry, and YA. "Regular" fiction should be in there too.

Right now, I'm reading The Help, a book about two maids during the civil rights movement in Mississippi. I highly recommend it...and I'm only 100 pages in! Hopefully I can finish it today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 40-Snow Day 2

Snow Day 2
I'm not complaining. This is nice.

Since not too much happened today (other than a 45 minute terrifying trip to Giant Eagle), I decided to consult the 365 Challenge.

Today's Challenge: Franz Kafka said "Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old." Make a photo of something beautiful today.

Since snow photos are overdone these days, I decided to "make a photo" of the six roses that still grace my end table. Their first birthday is on Saturday. They are beautiful in everything they represent...mainly because I never thought they would make it to their first birthday.

Day 39--Snow Day 1

What's a better way to spend a snow day than with some Racko (and Diet Canada Dry)? This is my favorite game of all time and as soon as I got to my parents, I was begging SOMEone to play. My mom ignored the first few requests, my brother claimed he had work to do since he left the office early, and my sister went to the gym. I'm sure my dad would have played if he didn't have to go to the Pitt game. My mom finally caved for a tournament and she became the Racko Champion of the Universe. There. I said it.

(Sometimes you just have to let people win so they'll play with you again.) Kidding, Mom. ;-)

Day 38

More shoveling and snow blowing (photo) happened at my house on Sunday. Kevin and I trekked to the South Hills even though the interstates were completely ice covered and I still had no power or heat. It was back out to the North Hills when we were done...3 hours later...

Day 37

By noon on Saturday, 23 inches fell.

The day by the numbers:
Hours shoveling: Almost 5
Driveways shoveled: 2 (plus one on Sunday)
Socks worn: 8
Advil taken: 4
Hours of sleep needed by the end of the day: 11

When's spring?

Day 36

Friday night: 10:00ish

The snow started falling like snowballs. There were probably 4 or 5 inches at that time. Little did Pittsburghers know what they were going to wake up to in the morning...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34

Book Blogz! Today was the fourth graders' introduction to writing their own blog posts. Until now, they've only been able to comment on posts written by teachers. I think they got the hang of writing their book reviews and commenting on others' posts. I expect they'll get better, but here's an excerpt from one of my favorites (that was posted in the final 5 minutes of class):

This book (14 Cows for America) is amazing I am so suprised that it didn't get picked for the caldicot gold medal or at least the silver one. my favorite part in this book is when the illustrator painted those shoes when he returns to his home town.

Comment 1: I was very disappointed when it didn't win. It' s a really great book that has amazing pictures and has an amazing story to it.

Comment 2: Same here, I was very surprised.

Comment 3: I like the book too, good job.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 33

Before we started our tutoring session today, Avery had to show me the battlefield he set up in the few minutes between when he got home from school and when I got there. I was surprised at the detail of Marble vs. White Coat armies. Notice the two marbles by each cannon and the "White Coats" in the boats across the "river." He really wanted a photo of it, so I let him take the picture for today.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 32

It's going to get a little tricky now that January is over... I can't just go by what the date is!

Anyway, I snapped this photo on my way into the grocery store tonight. Not only was the sky a beautiful color (One girl in front of me said, "Ooo...the sky is beeetiful. It looks like a volcano."), but it's also the first time since October that I've been home after work while it's light out. With only one tutoring session and a grocery stop, the sky was still lightish at 6:05 when I got home. It's getting better every day. Nice.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 31

Borders Part II

If you didn't read Part I of the Borders saga, I recommend doing so before reading Part II!

So, after receiving some donation money this week, I "had" to make a trip to the bookstore to buy some books. Now, this is usually a very fun thing to do, however, knowing that Border's was the only bookstore that was anywhere near me today, I had to go back (even though I said I wouldn't).

You can probably guess the first shelf I checked out... and yep, right there neatly tucked between Harper and Henkes was the infamous Princess Hyacinth book. Two copies, of course, right where they should be. My instinct is that these books were in the supposed non-existent "back" because I"m pretty sure they weren't strewn all though the other shelves. Keep track of your books, people! That's all I'm going to say.

Oh, ok, one more rant about Borders is that it's starting to look like a toy store in the children's department. Srsly! Why so many toys in a BOOK STORE? Ugh!!!! Does anyone else find this totally disturbing??

Day 30

525,600 minutes... How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches? In miles? In laughter? In strife? In 525,600 minutes...

For all of you "muggles" out there, if you haven't figured it out yet, the title of my blog comes from the lyrics of one of my favorite songs in my favorite musical of all time, RENT. I have seen RENT 8 or 9 times...I've lost count...Twice on Broadway in New York and several CLO performances here in Pittsburgh, but every time I see it, I see it in a different way. It's a very alternative kind of show, but the music is stellar.

Last night (after a delicious dinner at Sonoma Grille), Katie, Tim, Kevin and I saw a smaller non-Broadway cast that performed at the Byham Theater, but it still wasn't disappointing. While we all agreed that Mimi's part was a little lackluster, the other characters were energetic and had such great voices. The character of Maureen is usually shadowed by Mimi, but I have a whole new appreciation for her.

So, eight times. Did I still cry at the part when Angel dies? Yes. Did I mouth the words to almost every song? Of course. I will never forget the first time I saw the show in the New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square when I REALLy cried when Angel dies, but RENT still reminds me how to spend those 525,600 minutes and live like there's "no day but today."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 29

Lights. Camera. Action? Even though this isn't MY photo from today (h/t Chris Stengel), I figured I should use it to document the day.

Datum, the company that manufactures our laptop carts wanted to do a photo shoot and get some video testimonials about the ease of maneuvering the carts and how the students use them in school. It was a fun shoot and the images of the cart in the library are awesome. (I'll let you see the brochure when it's done.)

Lesson learned: I am much more comfortable behind the camera. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27

Book Buck Store Day! Today was Day 1 of our book store and second grade and fourth grade got to "buy" one of the brand new books. They actually "bought" the right to be the first one to check it out. I made dedication stickers with their names on it to put inside and when they are done the students will do a book talk project to get others to check it out too. These second graders will make PowerPoints to share with their class.

The students love Book Store Day because they "finally" get to see the new books and have one with their name in it, but I love it because the kids get so into it. The sharing and the discussions are just what every librarian wants. What's even better is that I saw one of THE most reluctant second grade boys carrying around his book all day and his nose was buried in it when I walked by him after school. Awesome.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26

My sister had a book growing up called The Valentine's Day Grump. Now, I'm no grump, but I think it's a totally overrated holiday. However, what's even more annoying is the amount of Peanuts paraphernalia that pops up around this time of year. Who made the Peanuts the national spokespersons of Valentine's Day? What is cute about a dog on a pointy dog house? Or a boy with a dirty blanket?

I snapped this picture of the card section while I waited for the nice lady to blow up the mylar balloons I need for my lesson tomorrow. There are only six cards in this shot, but believe me, there were DOZENS more Peanuts cards in the isle. I'd say at least 30. 50 maybe.

Perhaps I should go into the card making business...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25

Today's 365 Challenge focused on intersecting lines, so I decided to photograph these tiles hanging in my dining room. I acquired them at the antique flea market in Washington County a few years ago. It comes around the last Sunday of the month from May-November. I love going to this seller because he has hundreds of tiles and they are all so interesting. Even though my style is much more contemporary, I love these and think they are worth every penny I paid (even though I have to straighten them every time I use the garage door opener...which is every day...).

I recommend clicking on the picture to get the real view...the 12 megapixel view...especially to see the middle tile.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24

Over 120 Foster family members gathered at Carnegie Music Hall to see Jeff Kinney, author and illustrator of the Diary of A Wimpy Kid books. There were crafts, snacks, book sales and book signings. It was a whole day of celebrating reading and my heart was bursting! I couldn't believe the families that stuck around to have their books signed because their kids HAD to collect signed books!

Thanks, Mr. Kinney, for helping to build readers--especially out of the reluctant ones!

Day 23

This is not the shot I wanted to get for today, but to prevent a massive u-turn at The Waterfront, it was the best I could do.

The smokestacks that welcome visitors to The Waterfront are always eye-catching. Of course, what was not so appealing was our hour-long wait at Rock seating isn't so effective in that situation. The Titan Toothpicks made up for it, though.

Day 22

This post is dedicated to Stampy!

For his birthday, a lot of us went to Lidia's for dinner. If you haven't been there, it's highly recommended. This photo is a close-up of the chandelier inside. It's amazing.

We also went to The Firehouse and Embury in the basement of The Firehouse. They make "hand-crafted" cocktails all from scratch. It was an intimate space and everything was delicious. Check out the web site!

Day 21

I tutor a LOT of students in the school neighborhood. It takes up a lot of time, but it's always worth it. It was especially worth it at Caroline's because in third grade, she received a lot of D's in she is in fifth grade and got all A's this nine weeks. She even asked me if she thought she could qualify for honors math!! This was a snapshot of our work this week...and yes, I let her use a calculator to check her work!! :-)

Day 20

The 365 post for Wednesday was to have a camera in the photo. Well, during lunch the fifth graders and I Skyped our friend, Kaylee, who recently moved to Maryland. I just happened to snap the photo while she was showing us some of the effects on here computer!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19

Today's 365 challenge was to take a picture of a mode of transportation. I decided to take a photo of the LOSER who tailed me (I mean our bumpers were almost touching) the entire way from Mt. Lebanon to Bridgeville. Does anyone recognize this red jeep?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18

Last week I read a story about hibernation to the kindergarten classes. One of the animals it mentioned was the ladybug. Under my breath I said, "I think all of the ladybugs are hibernating in MY house." The girl in the front screamed out, "You must be the luckiest person in the world! Ladybugs are lucky!" No doubt I'm lucky in a lot of ways, but NO ONE wants to be THIS "lucky."

The 365 challenge today was to take an interesting picture from a minimalist perspective. This is one of the dozen or so ladybugs gracing me with its luck. The bad news is that it looks like this bug doesn't have good luck at it seems to be eating one of its legs...

Anyone know of a good way to get rid of these Asian Lady Beetles?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17

First of all, thank you all for your concerned comments and emails. The end of the world didn't come on Friday...I just got lazy and didn't post over the weekend...I took the pictures, though, so now you can be all caught up with my life! :-)

Today I spent some time painting with my little two year old buddy, Liam. While I cringed when he mixed the yellow brush with all of the other colors (I have always been VERY careful not to mix colors!), the new colors are pretty cool. I think our work turned out well!

Day 16

L.L. Bean is an inspiring store. I always feel so ambitious and want to kayak and camp and snowshoe that same day. The feeling subsides as soon as I leave, though. I didn't buy new hiking/geocaching boots like I wanted to, but this is the giant signature boot outside of the store. It's just what I want to look at while I'm eating at The Cheesecake Factory right across the walkway.

Day 15

After some careful thought, I decided I should TRY to incorporate some of the "real" rules of the 365 challenge when possible, so here is a good example. I grabbed this shot of converging lines while one of the second graders was enjoying a book at the end of one of the aisles in the library.