Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Place Value Picnic *Freebie!

One of the first units I always do in math is place value. If kids don't have a good foundation in place value, all operations are pretty much impossible! So this year I put a lot of work into developing some fun activities, games, and stations for students to practice place value in fun ways. I was able to use my adorable KPM Doodles clipart to make it so undeniably adorable. (I love her.)

It's fifty pages of cuter than cute picnic-themed place value stuff, through the hundred thousands place. Students build, write, name, find the values, and compare numbers. Pick it up at TPT or Teacher's Notebook!

AND there's a super sale running now at my TPT store, through tomorrow! 

I'm going to run this product as a giveaway from August 8 - August 10 on Teacher's Notebook for their Back to School Bonanza! Check it out and be sure to enter on August 8th! Then check out my store until August 13 for a Back to School Sale!

And grab this two-page freebie at Teachers Pay Teachers, too! 

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Day Jitters!

I have spent the last several weeks on the seesaw of guilt. That's what Fernie calls it. One minute I'm perfectly happy and excited about next year, and the next, I swing into the different direction. I'm guilty and terrified.


I'm leaving my school. My beloved school. I wouldn't do this for just any job. I was offered a literacy lead position, working for an excellent administrator (just about the only one I would work for, aside from the one I'm already working for!) and doing exactly what I love to do: working with struggling kids, and working with grade 3-5 teachers in reading and writing.

It's a dream job in a struggling school. I had to take it, right? I'm incredibly excited to provide training and planning support to teachers in a new campus and to learn a new position.

But I still feel guilty. These are the the things I feel guilty about:
1. I had to leave my kids. My babies were a lot of work and I had some kids who really struggled in school and hadn't had the best school experiences. I was supposed to loop up with them, but now I can't. I feel absolutely terrible about this, even though I know they are in good hands with my colleagues.

2. I have to leave my colleagues. I love these people. I've worked with them for a long time and we know each other well enough to help each other through difficult times. We are not only colleagues; we are friends outside of work as well. 

3. I have to leave my administrator. I have been blessed to work for someone who trusts me to make the decisions I need to make and supports me in everything I do. Those are rare.
As you can see, all my guilt stems from being the abandon-er in this situation.

So, to help me deal with my guilt and anxiety, I decided to link up with the blog hop at Fierce in Fourth (which is what I would have been next year if I stayed at my school.) for their First Day Jitters bBog Hop.

So Fierce in Fourth has asked us to write about three worries- three things we are jittery about. That should be easy. I may actually have to cut the list down.

1. I'm going to be out of the classroom. I've been a classroom teacher for nine years, and I love my job. 
I'm nervous because I'll be occupying my time very differently and I hope I'm prepared for that. I think I'm really going to miss having kids.  I'm also afraid about not having kids because I won't have a class of my own to try things out. I'm worried that I'm going to be out of practice with kids. It seems very common that people out of the classroom lose a sense of what's reasonable for kids at different levels. I hope that doesn't happen. I'm also not going to be teaching math or science anymore. I don't think I'll miss science much, but I do enjoy teaching math. 

2. I'll be at a new school. I won't know anyone. I'll eat lunch all by myself. I'm certain that I'll never make any friends. I know I sound like a child now, but I don't care. lol.

3. I've never done this job before. I've worked with teachers and trained in reading and writing, but I've never been a campus lead before. That's terrifying.

So basically, I'm nuts. I know it will be all right in the long run, but anything can set off the seesaw of guilt and send me shooting up into the guilty stratosphere.  Just know that I'm going to be running things by you, lovely anonymous readers, before I run them by my teachers so I can get the blog stamp of approval!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

More about me?!

Is it even possible for you to know more about me? I'm not exactly a closed book. I tend to overshare. With a capital O. 

But when I say Mrs. Lemons was having a Tell Me More linky party, I had to link up. I never turn down a chance to share more tales out of school.

1. I have a weird thing for copies of this book.

I don't know why. I stole the first one. It was an accident. Or actually, not, but sort of. Let me explain: I had to read this book in the 8th grade for English class. My teacher's name was Mrs. Elliot. Except everyone called her Mad Dog Elliot because she was pretty ferocious. She even called herself Mad Dog Elliot. Scary.

I read part of the book, and then I ran out of time. My mother, in her wisdom, told me to read the first paragraph of each remaining chapter. Nope. Not good advice.

I bombed the test (not like me at all) and then I kept the book because I was too ashamed to return it to her. So I still have it. Sorry, Mrs. Elliot. If it makes you feel better, I inadvertently 'donate' dozens of books to my kids' personal libraries at home when they don't return them either. Plus that copy was falling apart.

2. I've gotten migraines since I was in the seventh grade, but I think I grew out of them! It's been a while since I had one, so I'm going to hope I'm done with them. yay.

3. I have three rotten brothers: John, Ben, and Mat. They call me second-string mom because when my mom's unavailable, they call me. That was a lot of work growing up. I attended practices, parent-teacher conferences, participated in fund raisers, and made lots of dinners. It was good training and it made us very close.

My dad, my mom, John, sis-in-law Stephanie, me, Ben, and Matt.

4. I want kids. But I'm 31. And we're not married yet.

The countdown has begun and I want some little smushy baby boos of my own. In order to accomplish this, I am doing the only thing I know how. Nagging. It sounds like this.

"Hunny, you know that after 35, you're considered a high-risk pregnancy, no matter what."
"Hunny, don't you want your own little baby bun?"
"Hunny, I love you so much. I want a little Fernie just like you."

But we have to get married first. And although I was present for a lovely proposal on the cruise ship, I was not the one being proposed to. So I'm waiting for a ring, and then for a wedding, and then I'll share pictures of my cute little mini me. Or mini Fernie. Or whatever it ends up being.

5. I get seasick, carsick, and sometimes, if my eyes move too fast, I make myself nauseous.

6. I have some weird quirk where if I see a bright light out of the corner of my right eye, I have to turn my head to see it on the other side too. Which makes me look a little like some sort of bird sometimes.

7. I'm a sucker for four-legged buddies. I've inherited all of my animals - not one of them did I go looking for. And now I have two cats and...wait for it... THREE dogs! I know! My newest little buddy is Steve, and he's a hand-me-down from my mom. Her dogs were not being nice to him, and my dogs are very nice, so he's happier here. And he's such a sweet, scruffy little guy.

I gave him a bath and I brushed him, and still he looks like a ragamuffin I found on the street. He's pretty cute.

8. I attended my A.C.T.S. retreat last year in April. It moved me and helped me share with others in a way that I never have before. It was a beautiful experience and grew my soul tremendously. On rough days, I imagine myself back in the meeting room, quiet and cool and very content. It helped me be thankful for what I have and to appreciate people in a whole new way. 

I am Catholic, but the retreat is non-denominational. It includes a few Catholic components, but the retreat was attended by many people who weren't Catholic and they were accommodated. I recommend it to everyone who would like to grow their soul.

8. I am leaving my school of nine years to be a literacy lead at another school and it's so hard and sad and exciting at the same time. I am going to miss the people there more than I can say, especially my buddy who I've taught with for nine years.

I met some of my closest friends at my school.

Lisa and I in Atlanta at Aunt Pittypat's Porch for an IRA convention several years ago. 

But I have to have faith that I am going where I'm supposed to go, and that God will provide me with the tools I need to help. 

So that's me. In case you wondered. Go link up yourself and overshare!

Don't forget:

Super 200 follower giveaway at Carried Away in Kindergarten! Check it out for a chance to win great prizes from some super bloggers (including me!)

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Magical Day: Movie Review

Yesterday I joined my friends for a special, magical day. A time of bonding. Of sharing what it means to be a woman. Of drooling over Channing Tatum dressed in various inappropriate costumes.

Yes, we went to see Magic Mike.

If you're a regular reader, you may recall that I am not much of a swoon-er. I'm not big on celebrities. They're not real people. They don't know about me or care about me or make me tacos for dinner. So who cares about them?

But Channing Tatum is different. I learned this when I went to see 21 Jump Street and wrote about it here. It's a short post. All it really says is, "Wow. Channing Tatum is pretty."

So when my friends requested that we all go see Magic Mike, even though I knew it wouldn't have much of a plot and the writing couldn't possibly be superior to some of the stuff my fourth graders churn out (or watch on shows like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody), I decided it was something I should participate in. Because Channing Tatum is hot stuff.

So my girlfriends and I got together to have our minds blown by the literary masterpiece that was sure to be Magic Mike. I mean come one -there's alliteration in the title! What else could you ask for?

Lisa, Missy, Denise, and I (Chrissy - thus completing the list of very stripper-ish names) met at the theater. These girls make up about half our our book club. This book club isn't what book clubs are meant to be. The last book we 'read' was this one.

I read it. Laura read it. Judy read it.
I think that's it.
Lisa started it and then gave up, saying, "I can tell something awful is gonna happen, so I'm going to pretend that I read it."

Denise had read it before. She reread it and said, "I forgot how sad it was. Why did we choose this book?"
She's the one who chose it.

Missy my have forgotten we were reading a book at all.

So we're not exactly dealing with exacting tastes here.

We walked into the theater and found seats immediately. Lisa said, "Lots of empty spaces. Look," she gestured toward the only pair of young ladies already seated. "More Bad Girls. Like us. Here to drool over hot men."

Let's get real, here. That's the only reason to go. Slowly, the theater filled up about halfway with bad girls. Lisa began to sing, "Bad girls. Talking bout the sad girls. Toot - toot. Yeah."
I chimed in. "Beep beep!"

We were bad girls. As bad as you can be while munching on butter drenched popcorn, sitting in a public place.

The movie started. Channing Tatum ran around doing hot things. He started dancing in ways that I have never seen men dance. I leaned over to Lisa and said, "Wow. He's a really good dancer."I sat back and drooled.
Minutes later, Lisa leaned over to me and said, "Close your mouth," as she took her hand and raised my lower jaw from where it had dropped several minutes before.

Don't judge. It was pretty impressive. He's like a pretty angel dancing man with a sense of humor.

And then he put on glasses. Oh, my goodness. Glasses? Are they trying to kill me?! So now he's a pretty angel dancing man with a sense of humor and he reads? Because that's the inference I make from glasses. He reads.

At one point, I heard Missy giggle, "I just want to brush his hair."

From what I remember very foggily, Magic Mike consisted of two types of scenes.

1. Scenes where Channing Tatum retains his pants.

These seemed to include things like a beach party, a girl, and lots of money. I don't really remember a lot of these scenes. They were great, though, because they were spread throughout the movie, and provided frequent bathroom breaks. 

2. Scenes where Channing Tatum removes his pants.

These included things like gyrating, thrusting, and what Matthew McConaughey called "sticking it". Fortunately, these made up most of the movie (I think) and were highly enjoyable. We giggled through them all because it's not possible to take such sexy sexiness seriously. None of us knows any men like that.

Once a scene started out as #1, and I thought maybe it had the chance to become #2, but it didn't. Boo.

Guess which kind of scene this was.

In case you won't see this movie because 
1. you feel guilty, 
2. your hunny won't let you, or 
3. you don't have bad girl friends to go with and make you feel less ashamed about it, 

I will summarize it for you.

Channing Tatum is hot. Then he meets some girls who notice how hot he is. Then he goes and dances in a raincoat and then he dances out of a raincoat. When he's done, some other guys dance in and out of raincoats. After that, some boring stuff happens involving non-strippers, and then Channing Tatum dances in a hip-hop outfit. Then some non-stripping events happened and then Channing Tatum danced in an army uniform. Then he danced out of it, and after that he cried a little and then he stopped. 

I could probably edit this film down to 22 minutes of awesomeness if we just took out all of the waste-of-time non-stripper stuff.

I only had one complaint. The movie ends suddenly (I thought). You still think you have another opportunity to see Channing take his clothes off or at least dance around like he might take his clothes off. But you don't. So I suggest running a ticker across the bottom of the screen during the last stripping scene. It should read, "THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE. HE WILL NOT DO THIS AGAIN. DON'T BLINK."

Also in the news: a super 200 follower giveaway at Carried Away in Kindergarten! Check it out for a chance to win great prizes from some super bloggers (including me!)

Another great giveaway to enter is Teaching Maddeness' 500 follower giveaway! Check it out for an Amazon giftcard!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Land, ho!

We stopped in three ports. The amount of fun I had in these ports can be represents on a graph in a bit of a parabola shape, if I remember what a parabola looks like. It's a U, right?


Yes, I googled it and it is a U. Yay for my high school calculus teacher. Thank you, Mr. Allison. You were right. Calculus is useful in daily life.
This means: 
Jamaica: FUN!
Cayman Islands: Ok
Cozumel: FUN!
Jamaica was a neat place. We docked in Montego Bay and it was clear it was a struggling city. I completely enjoyed myself, though. My recollections of Jamaica are probably very stereotypical of people who visit Jamaica.
We piled in the bus, after being directed by a fairly annoyed Jamaican. He waved the bus driver on as you would wave to your younger brother who was antagonizing you. "Hurry up, already," his hands said. 

So we did. We scooted along the road. The driver told us, "Don't worry if we get to close. If someone gets too close to us, just say, "No problem, mon!" Some of the passengers on the bus embraced this practice. I did not. If someone got to close to us, I looked the other way and pretended we were abiding by safety regulations in the US. The rest of the bus chorused, "No problem, mon!" 
We finally arrived at a gorgeous beach. I rarely use the word 'gorgeous'. I used it a lot in Jamaica. The sand was a light beige, and if you stepped into the water, you could see slightly larger pieces of sand that were clearly shells broken down. It was like watching the weathering process. The water was various colors of blue and green and your feet were completely visible at the bottom because it was completely clear. It was pretty amazing.

We established ourselves on two lounge chairs with a large umbrella and I hastily sprayed myself with spray-on sunscreen while Fernie changed in the changing rooms. Big mistake. A smart girl would have waited until her hunny came out of the room and made him lather on the tube of sunscreen she had purchased. But I didn't. Spray-spray-spray-good enough- into the water. Five hours and one absolutely terrible sunburn later, I regretted my actions. 
Aside from the sunburn, everything was great. 
There was a cool guy playing steel drums and they served jerk pork for lunch. They also served barbecue chicken which is was I had because I saw bristles, as in bristles from the pig or hog or whatever, on some of the jerk pork, and I do not eat foods that still have bristles on them. Or feathers, in case you wondered. They also had an array of fruits that I don't know what they were but they were super tasty. 
There was another cool guy who directed all the entertainment. By this, I mean he simultaneously announced the open bar and encouraged people to visit it, explained about other fun things to do in Jamaica, and played volleyball with the teams he put together himself, while shouting "No pressure, no problem, mon!" and wearing a rasta hat.
A big piece of me couldn't really stomach this. I kept thinking about what would happen if someone came to visit El Paso. Would I have to wear a sombrero and shout, "Arriba! Arriba! Andale, andale!" so people would give me tips? I would like to believe that the Jamaica guy was a cool guy with a sincere accent (I actually believe this part is true) and a love of stereotypical phrases. But I can't help but think that I wouldn't like to spend the day shouting, "Yeehah! Everything's bigger in Texas!" and waving my dueling pistols while sporting a ten-gallon hat and boots.

The Cayman Islands were not as fun. Mostly because they were a Jamiaca repeat. And I was burned pretty badly. Not only that, I had this horrible pain where my chubby little thighs had rubbed together in Jamaica, so I couldn't wear my swimsuit. I sat on a lounge chair under a giant umbrella. I then realized I had two coupons for a free drink. Why two? Cause we each got one, and my hunny isn't much of a drinker. I immediately marched myself over to the bar and ordered a rum punch for each hand. I finished half of one walking back to my chair and drank the rest as if they were Hawaiian Punch. 
Then I realized that two rum punches have a lot of rum in them. I giggled through my hamburger lunch and did unreasonable things that I thought were completely reasonable, such as balancing my head on my fork with my teeth. It was easier than holding it up myself. I am sharing his incredibly embarrassing video with you to demonstrate just how nuts I was after 2 rum punches. 

See my stupid grin? I'm sloshed.

 After lunch, we hitched a ride on a bus going back nearish the ship and fell asleep for hours.
The last port, Cozumel, was amazing. We didn't actually spend the day in Cozumel; we took a barfy boat to the mainland. Fernie called is the SS Barfalot. And it was. No one actually did, but lots of us wanted to. I leaned my head forward against the seat in front of me and put pressure on my forehead. Finally, we arrived at the Playa del Carmen port and took a bus to Tulum. All the way there, we were informed and educated and prepared by our tour guide, Carlos, who sounded exactly like King Julian from Madagascar. 
He was fond of saying things like, "You don't have to look very far." He managed to use this in a variety of situations. 
"You don't have to look very far to find the ancestors of the Mayans. They're here. They're the people who live in the Yucatan."
"You don't have to look very far to see that the Yucatan is always hot."
"You don't have to look very far to find the bathroom. It's in the back of the bus."
At the end of the bus ride, King Julian explained that we would be given a small snack after our tour through the ruins. This was received with great expectation by many of the starving orphans perfectly healthy individuals on the bus.
King Julian tour guide took us on a very sweaty and drippy walk up some stairs and through lush vegetation. It was at this point that a very Mort-like child made his appearance. He peppered our walk with all the things we were thinking, but couldn't say as adults, all spoken in a delightfully squeaky voice with an Indian accent. Things like, "Will this long walk be worth it when we get there?" and "Why are we still going up stairs?" and "I am very sweaty." Me too, kid. Me too.

We finally reached the end of our march and reached a narrow tunnel. Walking through the tunnel and out into the sun, we were met by the most gorgeous ruins I've ever seen. Tulum was beautiful, and my words will be pathetic, so I'll share pictures.

I know we look like we shouldn't be let out without supervision in this picture.
It was really hot.
We look better in this one.

Then I saw a BOA! Not in a cage, either. It was just sitting there, curled up next to a rock wall and wrapped around a big iguana that he was crushing to death. How cool, right?! I got as close as I dared - I figured he was busy, and took some pictures. It was just too neat to pass up.

The tour guide who was channeling King Julian explained to us about the history of the Mayans and Tulum, and then said we would have some time to explore ourselves. After this, we would meet him back at the bus. He would be waiting under a nice umbrella. At this point, a loud American in a purple shirt (I am so embarrassed by my people sometimes) declared in a large voice, "We're not gonna let this guy leave without that snack he promised us, are we?"
I'm sorry, sir, but are you referring to the moon pie? Really? This is what you're worried about? A moon pie? How sugar deprived are you? The cruise ship is full of tasty delights. You'll be fine.
Never fear, dear reader. On our return to the bus, we were greeted with an ice-cold towel (heaven) and an ice-cold water bottle, and an ice-cold moon pie, with a large picture of a mammoth on the front. It was called "Mamut." I can only imagine that our purple-shirted friend was satisfied.
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why I gained ten pounds

I'm not exactly sure if I gained ten pounds. I'm not going to weigh myself until I'm sure that I have lost what I gained. I don't want to give myself a heart attack when I'm the most susceptible to heart attack.

There was food everywhere. Everywhere. Breakfast was served from some hour before I woke up until 11:00. Lunch was served from 11:30 until 4:30. If you wanted a hamburger, you could get one at any hour of the day or night. Dinner was served between 6:00 and 9:30. And then there were late-night snacks, midnight buffets, and hot chocolate and popcorn available at all hours. 

And I ate most of it. My hunny ate what was left.

I'm not huge on buffets for meals. But dessert buffets - that was a different story. There were constant desserts to choose from, and I'm indecisive. I walked to the front of the line and said, "One of each, please." I figured this was the best way to get the cruise experience. On the last day of the trip (the day before my birthday), I went to get my plate from the feeding trough. A woman walked by me and I glanced at her plate's contents. I excitedly explained to my hunny, "She had something round covered in chocolate with a stick in it! There's a chocolate fountain somewhere!!" Oh, yes. Holmes got nothin on me. 

He gestured patiently to a sign above our heads which read "Chocolate Fountain." 

Oh! "So it's true, then!" I declared triumphantly.

I covered many things in chocolate and ate them.

A few evenings, we ate in the dining hall. We had requested the "Open seating" so we could have dinner anytime in the evening. This resulted in some interesting pairings. The first night, we were seated next to a couple of very young people. They were married, but if the little woman was older then 19, she looked amazing. The only comments they shared with us were when the boy commented that he had filled the bottom half of his tea glass with sugar. We laughed. The girl said she was going to go to her room to take some 'germamine'. I'm sure she meant dramamine. 

The next night, we were seated next to an Indian couple who refused to speak except to notify me that I was  allowed to order two entrees if one was not enough to 'fill me up.' Gee, thanks. Clearly I require two entrees to fill myself up. Especially since his birdwife had just eaten a meal of fruit, salad, and a small plate of pasta. 

So the third night, I completely expected to be seated next to a pair of mimes with frowny faces painted on. I imagined us all gesturing toward our food and toward our mouths, sharing the experience of pretending to eat. 

Imagine my ridiculous expression when, as I was seated next to a young couple, I overheard the woman say, "And I was in fourth grade this year, but next year I'll be in second."

WHAT?! A teacher?! Too good to be true. My goofy face belied my inner thoughts. I could tell because her husband looked at me as you look at a child who has 'exciting news' to share. Yes? his face said. And what do you have to say?

"I taught fourth grade for eight years! Next year I'm gonna be a literacy lead and I'm totally freaking out!"
Those were the words that escaped my mouth. Needless to say, because she was a teacher and used to people having ridiculous statements stumble out of their mouths without proper greetings or manners, she go over it, and we had a lovely conversation about teaching, STAAR, and state funding for districts.

The last night of the cruise, I was surprised with an engagement! 

No, it was not mine. It was somebody else's.

That night, we had dinner in a fancy place. 

It was called Cucina del Capitano and the staff was full of beautiful Croatian people. Every one was prettier than the last. (I took a picture of two of the pretty men dancing. It was hard, because I was drooling so much.)

We enjoyed a very large dinner of very tasty Italian food. Then my hunny got up to go to the restroom. 

I was sitting by myself, staring out the window into the black water, when I suddenly realized a table near mine had excitedly begun taking pictures of a young couple seated right across from me. 

"Again! Again! Do it again!" the table shouted, as the young couple kissed for the camera.

That's weird. Why are they so excited that they're kissing? 

After a minute, though, (please remember my delayed reaction time with the magician and juggler) I realized the man had just proposed to the woman and the neighboring table was erupting with applause because now these people were forever shackled together. The guy had put a ring in the girl's cannoli. Unfortunately, when she was ordering dessert, she didn't want the cannoli. She wanted something else. The waitress spent several minutes praising the cannoli and explaining how, in an Italian restaurant, you gotta try the cannoli. So she did and she found a ring in it. 
When Fernie returned to the table, he found me, sitting alone and looking at him grouchily. 

"Proposing on a cruise ship is expected, hunny. It's boring."
We'll see what amazing plan he has in store for me. Hopefully it will involve a magician and a juggler.
It's probably for the best. The way I was eating on that cruise, I would probably have gulped the ring down and not even noticed it.

And anyway, since it was my birthday, I got a tasty dessert (ringless cannoli, I think they're called) and the handsome waiters sang Happy Birthday. Waaaay better than a ring.

On our way back to our room, after such a romantic evening of someone else's romance, I was serenaded by children racing around to get frozen yogurt on the last night they would be able to eat all night long for 'free'. They raced past Fernie and I, and the frontrunner shouted back to the caboose to "HURRY UP"! The boy in the rear indignantly shouted back, "I'm trying to eat my FRO YO!"

Ah, youth.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Afros, the magician, and the juggler

The ship was full of pleasant diversions

I'm not sure why I sound like an ad for Carnival written in Japan
and we actually did enjoy some of them. We attended several shows. The first show was a great 70s review show. I know that sounds pretty terrible (and I'm not going to lie. A couple of the songs were, actually) but it was actually pretty great. I spent the entire time admiring this one singer's enormous afro and wishing for one of my own. I've always kind of wanted one. I could wear awesome scarves on it and I would look perpetually cool. I think.

The next show we saw was...wait for it...a magician.

I know.

I'm always kind of anxious attending shows like that. I'm terrified that the 'magician' will pull me out of the audience to help me with one of his tricks.
Illusions, Michael.

And I don't want to help. I am a completely non-participating spectator. I clap and occasionally cheer, but I will not shout out answers to trivia questions, or even simple questions such as, "So where are you from?" I don't want to participate. It's not my job. I'm the audience. Aud = listen. That's what I do.

So I was hesitant to go. But when I got there, I quickly realized it was not that kind of magician.

Have you seen Arrested Development? Please say yes. The visual will be about 900 times better if you have. If you haven't, it's still pretty funny.
This is not the ship magician. This is Gob Bluth. Or Will Arnett.
The stage filled with dramatic smoke. And continued to fill with smoke for about two minutes. Then it was filled with people in weird costumes with wigs and hats.

At first, I thought, "How many magicians are there in this show?" They just kept coming out, dancing around and doing vaguely magic-y things. Waving scarves in the air, bending backwards and walking on all fours, and pretending to be dolls. Then my brain said, "Oh. None of those things are magic.
They're just creepy," and the real magician finally came out.

This was Gob. Gob with hair.

He was extravagantly dramatic. He moved his body in a snake-y way, weaving in and out of the fake dancing magicians and actually doing magic. I know it's illusions, but it was magic-ier than what the other fake magicians were doing.

Awesome songs were sung live, reminiscent of "Final Countdown" without actually being Final Countdown. Halfway through there was a terrific laser show. Except that, when push comes to shove, it was really just lights programmed by a computer to point in various directions. But when taken collectively, it was very lasery.

The magician's best trick (I think) was when he pretended to cut a lady into parts. He stuffed a tiny lady into a box with three sections: head, torso, and legs. the Legs.

"It's the Legs, hunny!" I jabbed him in the side. "You know? Like Gob? The Legs?"

"Yes, hunny" he said. "The Legs."

He did some magic-y stuff and spun her 'head' around. After he spun it around twice, (he eventually did it about eight times) it became pretty clear that the hair in the back of her head, which spun around to the front, wasn't actually attached to her head. I leaned over to my hunny, in case his brain didn't catch this very subtle distinction. "It's a wig in the box, hunny," I whispered cleverly. But in the back of my brain, I heard Gob's voice say, "Sure, but where'd the wig come from."

I chuckled. Out loud. And my hunny patted my head, because he knows that I'm nuts.

At the end of the show, the magician did some tricks - illusions, Michael, - and then the lights went down for a second. And this is the moment I realized that I am a small-town girl at heart, and not to be left alone in the big city.

The lights came back up and a voice shouted, "AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!" I confusedly stared at the stage, wondering what was going on and why was the audience shouting so loudly? Then the magician ziplined toward the stage from the back of the theater, where he had been when he shouted Aargh. I had not even realized that the magician wasn't on the stage. I couldn't find him. Everyone else was looking toward where the Aargh came from (except that it came from the speakers, because he was wearing a headset) and I was still blankly staring at the stage. It's a good thing I have my hunny around to tell me what's going on, because something is missing from the way my brain works.

The third show was saw was a juggler. I've already forgotten his name. He was very very funny and juggled a little but told a lot of funny stories and jokes. One of the best parts was when he made fun of the magician. The lights went out and he disappeared from the stage. He shouted, "AAARRGGH!" and when the lights came on again, he was standing in the back of the theater. The audience laughed and cheered as he raced toward the stage, mocking the magician's zipline.

It was at this point that I realized the juggler was no longer on the stage and must be somewhere else in the theater. As everyone else was moving their eyes, following the juggler from the back of the theater to the front, I was moving my eyes from the stage to the juggler, now almost already back on the stage. I didn't even get the magician reference until Fernie delightedly shouted, as is his way when he laughs, "Haha! He made fun of the magician!"


I am worried about early onset Alzheimer's. 
See the confused look on my face? 
Anyway, the most awesome feat was when the juggler (I googled the words "Carnival Magic Juggler" but nothing came up, so I'm sorry but I don't have a name for you) got on a bedazzled seven foot high unicycle and juggled these flaming knife-torches while zipping around the stage and wearing a helmet with a lit firecracker on top. I giggled convulsively. It was the firecracker that did me in. It kept shooting off like a sparkler and it was just so deliciously silly.

I spent the rest of the evening ruminating on my slow response time. Oh, well, I thought. Fill up my souvenir glass with the tasty 'drink of the day' and let's all get over it.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Ship

woo fancy
One of the first things you do on the ship is to visit your muster station. During this time, the people responsible for your life tell you what your responsibilities are in case of an emergency. Fortunately, the extent of your responsibilities are 1. show up with your life vest. 2. shut up.

That's all you need to know. The rest is somebody else's job. If you haven't read it, Tina Fey's account (Bossypants)of terror on a cruise ship is about the funniest thing to read on the subject. It's also the worst thing to read when you're actually on a cruise ship. I had read it before, but I was foolish enough to think it would make a great reread for the boat.

Anyway, we visited our muster station and I tried to listen seriously. They are talking about life and death, after all. Such as what to do when the buzzer sounds - go to the muster station- and what to do when they tell you to go down the stairs - go down the stairs - and how to put on your life vest - like a normal vest, but with a belt.

It wasn't too complicated. I amused myself by being exceedingly literal. On the life vest video, it explained that the vests included a whistle and a light to use to attract attention. I irreverently wondered what would happen in I put the life vest on immediately, and used the whistle and light to attract attention throughout the trip. 

*whistle!* I need a drink! 
*flash flash* Can you help me put on more sunscreen?
*whistle!* It is very hot and I would like you to fan me.

I was unable to actually try it out, though, because Fernie thought it wouldn't be a good idea. It might work for a while, but after people realized that getting me a new margarita wasn't an emergency, it might backfire and guarantee me a place on the first ship home.

The second thing you should do on the ship is buy the souvenir drink glass. 
It's actually plastic.
Once you have the souvenir drink glass (it comes with the 'drink of the day' in it) ordering a drink is easy as pie. You just wave your glass in the direction of a guy with an apron. They can be anywhere on the ship. *wave-wave* and poof, there's a guy to ask what you want. You just say, "Whatever goes in here today," and hold out your glass. The waiter guy promptly brings you your tasty drink. You drink it all and keep your glass to have it refilled tomorrow - or later - with whatever tasty drink is tomorrow's drink of the day! It's a great system. 
Once you get your drink glass, you will look like me. Happy and stupid.
On the day before my birthday, which was the last day of the trip, I had four drinks. I counted them because that's important. Starting at noon, I had a free drink. My free drink came as a coupon on the bottom of one of the many sheets of paper I received in my stateroom. It was because I was a repeat cruiser. I had been named a "VIP", apparently because I took a cruise before and survived to take another. This coupon had to be used on this trip, and only in the main dining room during breakfast or lunch. I'd already missed breakfast, and I was determined to get my drink during lunch. I didn't want to actually eat lunch. Just drink it.

I searched and searched for the right location to pick up my free drink. This required several trips across the ship. I went to the Northern Lights dining hall. It was closed. I went upstairs to the other Northern Lights dining hall. It was also closed. I went to the guest services and waved my little coupon in the air. "I'd like to know where to get this," I asked. She examined the coupon and told me to go to the Southern Lights dining hall. To do this, I had to go up three floors, across the ship, and down three floors. In effect, I was on the same floor, but I was on it across the ship. I read the sign on the entrance. "Open seating for lunch at 12:00". 

It was 11:00. I had an hour to wait. But wait I did. I was determined to get my free drink. I was going to get something free on this ship. I waited an hour, reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and occasionally getting out of my seat to check the clock on the other side of the hall. When the doors finally opened, I went inside and cheerfully requested a margarita. After ten minutes, my new best friend, the waiter, brought it to me. It was as good as I expected it to be. Even better, because it was 'free'. 

Our stateroom wasn't fancy fancy - it had no porthole, no balcony, no way to see out. But that's okay, because that means that even if we slept till 9:00, no disruptive sunshine came through the glass and woke us up. It's small but large enough. It's really only to shower and sleep. And to be ridiculous in.

The first night we were there, we were pretty worn out from the drive. So we just laid around and watched whatever we could find on TV once we'd been mustered (if that's a verb in that way). I fell asleep, exhausted, and woke up throughout the night. My legs were so cold! I was on a cruise in the middle of July that was not an Alaskan cruise and my legs were freezing! It was very cold.
This was all forgotten in the sunshine of the next day. It was not until the next evening, as I got ready for bed, that I realized again that our stateroom was freezing! "It's really cold in here!" I told my hunny. "Really?" he said. "I'm fine."

"Well,"I I said, "I'm not! It's supercold." I traded my tank top for a sweater I had fortunately brought, and my shorts were replaced with jeans. I lay in bed, with socks on, covered with blankets and shivered. "Brrr." I said. My hunny continued to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 on TV. "Isn't crazy how realistic the cartoons are now?" he asked. I stared at the screen and giggled convulsively. A crane and a tiger spoke with a giant panda as they tried to defeat some sort of bird in a battle with dragon cannons. "Ummm, no" I said, to be difficult. It was just SO COLD.

About half an hour later, I said, "You know, I'm surprised that there's no way to control the air in here. It's really cold." 
"Oh!" said my hunny. "There is! It's right there. The thermostat's on the wall there." I stared at him blankly. "You mean I've sat here for two hours shivering in the bed, covered with blankets and wearing a sweater because it's too cold to sleep on a CARIBBEAN CRUISE AND IT'S BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT THE AIR ON?!"

He grinned sheepishly and adjusted the thermostat. "Yes," he said, in a very small voice.

I slept better after that.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Me.

I am back from my 7 day cruise in the Caribbean. Not surprisingly, I had a very exciting time. I saw a lot of exciting things: a naked man washing his shorts in the river in Jamaica, a juggler who had a firework popping on top of his head, and a Mexican moon pie called "Mamut." These are all equally considered as adventures by me.

On returning to my home, I was greeted by my brother, who took care of my pets for me. Opening the car door and stepping onto the sidewalk, I waved happily at Ben. Ben waved back and shouted, "Wow. You got really sunburned."

I did. But not where you can see it. 

I am a crispy brown color on my arms and shoulders (and face, except for my nose: my nose is a brown triangle with red undertones. Or overtones. Or maybe it will all peel off tomorrow. I don't know.)

My legs are only slightly brown-er than they were when I left, which was pretty pale. My stomach and upper thighs are still transparent and fishy looking. In the right light, you are able to see through my skin and bask in the blue glow of my veins. 

But the best shade of the fifty shades is a rectangle of red on my back. Not a complete rectangle - the place where y bathing suit top tied at mu neck is completely white, but the rest is a solid red block, courtesy of Montego Bay in Jamaica. Yesterday it started to peel off. It was pretty gross. Fernie amused himself by peeling off chunks like tape. They even sounded like tape when he did it. I don't think it was a good idea, because it's still itchy and I expect to lose several more layers, as if I received a complimentary microderm abrasion while sitting in the shallow water of the beach. 

The burn actually emanates heat. In the winter, I would be a valuable friend. I could keep you warm just by proximity to the burn. 

I wrote down lots of things to blog about. I had to charge my phone for the sole purpose of using the 'notes' section to record frantically spelled recollections of the day. Things like, "Cayman two rum punches" and "crack guy on barfy boat" will undoubtedly take shape as I begin to wrote about them. I can only hope so, because why go on vacation if you can't come back and blog about it sarcastically?

The next several days will document my trip. I don't know if you're interested to read it, as I know my lovely friend Lisa will be, or if you're bitter to read it, as I know my lovely friend Rachel will be. Either way, I will empathize with and welcome your comments: friendly or sourpuss. 

*I accidentally posted this at midnight last night, so I fixed it up and am re-posting! oops!
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest blogger: Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

I am hopefully returning from my cruise, safely. My hunny doesn't know how to swim, so it's possible that I dumped him off the side of the ship in a moment of frustration  - "But I WANT to go to the captain's party!" and am returning home alone.

But then, who would help me drive all the way back from Galveston? It is about 13 hours. Nah, I'd better bundle him up in floaties so he won't sink if I DO dump him off the ship.

Hey there! I'm Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad, a teacher checking out 3rd grade for the first time this year. It's only my 2nd year in my own classroom, after 2 years as an interventionist.

While I was an interventionist, I sometimes had to assess kids using DIBELS NWF (Nonsense Word Fluency). I always found it a little frustrating, because you teaching kids to think about what word makes sense as they decode... and then you give them a test of completely made-up words. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard a kid sound it out correctly, and then read it to me as a real word with similar sounds... well, I'd be eating at Olive Garden tonight.

Mmmm, breadsticks.

*ahem* Anyway.

Most teachers don't use nonsense words beyond 1st grade, and that makes sense. A kid doesn't need to sound out "kog"! But when kids know that the words aren't real, nonsense words can actually be a really fun teaching tool- even in the older grades.

In 2nd grade, I used nonsense words pretty often. I still used them to work on decoding, but it looked a little different in 2nd grade (which you can read about here).

The best way to use nonsense words, though?


So many times when I teach context clues, a few of my kids already know the word and don't really get the practice. Well, when you make up words, no one can know what it means already! (And, choosing words that are funny to say makes the kids a lot more engaged.)

You can combine it with some decoding practice, too.

I also like to use it to prepare kids for the times when they happen across a new proper noun. Teaching them to do their best to decode, and use context recognize what kind of proper noun it is (name of a character, name of a place, etc...) helps them persevere while reading. If I had a dollar for every time a kid just shut down when they got to a tough proper noun during a test, I'd probably be taking some pasta e fagioli home with me.

And breadsticks.

...Yes, I'm hungry. And, quite possibly, addicted to breadsticks.

A fun game to play with nonsense words is called "Scubba." My husband is an improv comedian, and this is actually a game his troupe performs onstage. I'm not near as clever as he is at coming up with things on the fly (although teachers do develop a *little* knack for that!), so I usually write them ahead.

You can use Scubba Stories to practice context clues, work with multiple meaning words, parts of speech, vocabulary words, and so much more. Best of all, they are silly and fun, and you can even challenge kids to be creative and write their own!

Here's what a Scubba Story might be like:

I went to Fazoli's last night, and I had the most delicious pizza for dinner! It was so scubba that it kept making these long strings from the pizza to my mouth. I got a little embarrassed, though- while we were in the restaurant, my dad started singing a love song to my mom! I guess it was sweet, but I thought it was a little scubba to sing the song from Lady and the Tramp while they were eating scubba baked spaghetti.

Okay... can you guess?

What word goes in place of "scubba"?

I've posted more about using nonsense words in the upper grades over at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad. Hop on over for a nonsense words freebie- and to see if you figured out the "scubba!"

Thanks, Chrissy, for letting me guest blog here today and reveal my love of Italian food! Hope you are having a BLAST on your cruise!

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