Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zucchini

I wanted a pic of zucchini and a zucchini blossom and here's where I found this pic. In recent years, I have become a big fan of zucchini. I don't know what happened. Just all of a sudden, I became big on zucchini. It helped that at my first year at the private school, the hubs and I (who weren't hubs and wife yet) were asked to house sit for one of the families in my class. They had a gorgeous house with an amazing garden and backyard. Not only was there fresh zucchini to be picked but blueberries and strawberries to be eaten too! That was also the year I decided to try my hand at apartment gardening. I planted tomatoes, basil, and bell peppers. How I miss having a garden!
The hubs and I still look at houses-not very actively but I still get a daily email of updates. One of the major selling points for me (aside from a garage to stash all my teaching stuff!) is a backyard with enough space for a garden. One day. :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday's crafty diversion!

I realized today (after coming back from CVS to pick up a prescription we thought the eye doctor's office had already called in) that I forgot to purchase a birthday card that is supposed to go out tomorrow. Since I forgot to get one, I had to make one. :)
And then I realized that there's another birthday coming up so why not kill two birds with one stone?
All my card making stuff is in the closet of my knitting room/music/meditation room. The hubs was hanging out on his laptop and then he left. He came back when he heard 80's music coming out of the room. He took a picture of my pea soup which was still on the floor blocking-even though it was already dry for a few days now!
Then I realized he could take a pic of me modeling it (instead of me waiting for my sister to come model for me!).
He wanted to do a side view. I requested a classic full view of the back. It's by far the best picture taken ever.
He believes this is my best shawl to date though I disagree.
Here is progress on that beauty that was unfolding a few days ago. I am nearly halfway finished with it. You can't see much of the detail (shame on you red for being difficult to photograph!) but it is quite intricate! Maybe when it's blocked you *might* get to see it's true beauty. It's really an amazing pattern.

Y is for Yogurt

Like many, my eyes have been bombarded with commercials about various types of yogurt, specifically the greek kind. After about a week or two of greek yogurt commercial overload, I was on a mission to purchase some greek yogurt. We found the Greek Gods version at FoodsCo. We ended up getting the honey flavored stuff because the hubs knew what a weakling I was in regards to sour yogurt. This stuff was super rich. It was good but I could only have a couple of spoonfuls at a time. Once we finished that one (they only carried them in the pint version), I was ready to try other brands. At our local Safeway, they had nearly every greek yogurt under the sun available to me! I picked up some chobani, some dannon greek, some fage, and I think that's it. The chobani was good. The dannon greek, I think I haven't eaten yet but I could be mistaken. The fage I didn't like at all. I opted for the version that comes with fruit (not realizing that when you get a yogurt that has the fruit in a separate compartment, it's most likely going to be of a jam consistency). It was gross.
Do I prefer greek yogurt to regular yogurt? The jury is still out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xylitol

Picture taken from here but I used to see this stuff here and here.
The last school I worked at in LA was a private school with a few new agey families. There was one family who I came to love and I adored their daughter who was in my class my first year with the school. She had a dentist appointment and despite the fact that the girl ate the healthiest food on earth (dried seaweed, nuts, dried berries, annie's organic bunnies, etc), her teeth were prone to tooth decay! I remember her mom asking us if it would be okay that she had a little bit of the above pictured gum after she had snack! We didn't mind at all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Walking Sticks

My class pets are walking sticks. Since we got two weeks off for Spring Vacation, I thought I ought to take the suckers home with me. I didn't want to have to go by the school every few days to make sure they had food. We got our first batch of them from one of the other teachers at school. She has a whole 5 gallon tank of them!
Here's a close up of at least three of them. Two are hanging straight up (one on the left and one on the right) and the third one has its legs extended.
Here's another shot of some other ones in the tank. We started out with 9 but as the vacation has progressed, I have lost two of them (at least!). Not sure what is causing them to die. They've got food. They're not lonely..who knows. I just hope I still have the rest of them when school starts back up again!
When we first got walking sticks for our class, we hadn't set up a habitat for them. They were just in the fish tank with scraps of newspaper at the base. Each week, we would clean out the tank. The kids (who liked holding the walking sticks!) would take a stick, play with it, etc. while I cleaned out all the poop. We have since created a cool little habitat for them so we haven't been cleaning out the tank as much since there is now soil and I just kind of let nature take its toll.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Victory!

(Gotta love Johnny Drama!)
I did it! I have been able to come up with an alphabetical topic to post for each A to Z day during the month of April. Granted today's post is V but what you didn't know is I have already written my posts for W, X, Y and Z! I couldn't come up with anything initially for V until after I completed the other letters. Things I learned for next year (should I attempt this again): 
*coming up with post topics early (if possible) makes things SO much easier
*this challenge can be draining
*it is so worth it in the end
Congratulations to everyone else who made it to the end. I appreciate those of you that made time to comment on my A to Z posts too! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Unfold

 I have been busy knitting up a storm over the last day or two. This afternoon, my U for today came to me. :) First here's a finished though blocking shot of my pea soup.
I probably added two more pattern repeats to make up for the laceweight yarn I decided to use. I love the ruffle. :) I love all things that ruffle.
This morning, I used this:
to cast on for
a close up:

The pattern is damask by Kitman Figueroa. I have been very skittish of all her patterns. The reason being, I don't like casting on 100+ stitches. It causes me great stress. I'm just not good at it. I either end up with too much on my long tail cast on or not enough. Am I bad at estimating certain things? Definitely. Hence the reason why I am not so great at casting on 100+ stitches. It typically takes me two tries. The perfectionist in me might even go for a third because the second try I usually end up having too much leftover. Here's to hoping I don't run out of yarn! The one good thing about starting with so many stitches, is eventually the stitch count decreases. Yowza. I just looked at the last page of the pattern and I have to get through 126 rows before I reach completion. I'm about to begin row 15. Sigh.
Now here's where Unfold comes in! As I was looking at the written pattern (the chart and I just weren't jiving too well), I thought about how knitters start with a pattern (pictured above) and then what unfolds is this amazing beauty. Granted my beauty is still in her baby stages but she is surely shaping up to be something special. Next on my list will be an aphrodite.  The hubs and I already took a look at the beads at the local Beverly's. When I get closer to casting on, I will probably take my yarn with me so I can match it up to some pretty beads. I'm excited to knit my first project with beads! I've been looking for something inspiring.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for TV Teaching

I originally was going to post about my love for tv but then thought of two other great T's-tea and teaching. Well, if you read my P is for Psychology post, you now know that I decided to head in the direction of teaching around the time I graduated with my Bachelor's degree but then my story skips to the present where you find me teaching Kindergarten in my hometown. So I'm going to try to fill in the blanks.
After I graduated, I was told I had a month (maybe more) to find a job or else I'd have to move back home (the horror!!!!!!!!!).  I wasn't really sure how I could go about finding a teaching job. At the time I was living in a house with three other gals, also students at SFSU. One of them we referred to as 'Mom' because she was the married one out of the three of us. I asked her if it would be lame to just start calling places up from the phone book and she said not at all. So I gave it a go and that's how I landed some of first interviews. Since I had some experience in a head start facility, I figured I would give preschool a try. I think I went on two interviews and it was the second one I knew I wanted. I ended up starting in March of 1998 (having graduated in January of that same year). It wasn't much but it was better than nothing. I absolutely loved teaching preschool. I worked with the 3 and a half year olds at the time. The teacher I had taken over for had gone on maternity leave but she would be returning at the start of the following school year. Fortunately for me, the school ended up losing another teacher to maternity leave so I officially had a position working with the 4 year olds for the next school year.
Preschool was SO much fun. It was way more fun that Kindergarten has been that's for sure. I spent two years at that particular preschool. I think around the start of my second year, that was when I decided if I could handle preschool, I could definitely tackle elementary school so I began making the preparations to apply to grad school and take all the required exams. I applied to one and only one school. Friends asked what would I do if I didn't get in and my response was that I'd just apply again. At the time, I was also entertaining the idea of doing school psychology. The only good program was in San Diego and I wasn't quite ready to move 'that far' away just yet.
I was accepted to the one and only school I applied to and then began my teaching credential program (and Master's program) in 2000. It was a two year program. By the time 2002 came around, I was burnt out. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was teach!! I took about 6 months off and was rejuvenated again and was ready to get back into teaching. My first stop? Preschool. I knew the only way I could find my way back into it was to start from when I first fell in love. I did 6 months of preschool and during that time I decided I was going to pack up, move to LA, and find a teaching job there. And guess what? That's pretty much how it happened except I found a job before moving and packing everything up for LA. It was a different time then.
Teaching isn't something that just anyone can do. This I know. In my 'many' years of teaching, I have come across many different teachers. The ones I dislike encountering are the ones who are only in it for the money (what money??!). They do exist though. Unfortunately, the kids see right through them and that is where the lack of respect begins in a classroom setting.
I have always been a teacher who treats all students with respect. To me, it is the only way they are going to give it back to you. Parents respond to teachers who treat their children with respect. By treating the families we serve with respect, we are showing them that we care. Teaching is a caring profession whether people want to admit to it or not.  You can't be heartless and be a successful teacher. It doesn't work that way. Teachers are not the only teachers in a child's life either. Sure we have degrees and have to attend professional development seminars, but parents are every child's first teacher. We just take over when the parents need a break!

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Sleep

In the last year or two I have lost an inordinate amount of sleep. I know I won't ever get it back but I do like to think about what life would be if I just got two more extra hours each day (which only happens when I am off from school!). I also think about how different things would be if the day just began two hours later than usual. Granted it would end two hours later but I'd have so much more energy at the start!
I don't always nap to make up for the sleep lost. Who has time? I used to make time everyday around 5 or so for a little nap. For me 20-30 minutes is quite enough.
Do I try to go to bed earlier to make up for the loss of sleep? Ha. You'd think I would have the sense to do that but I don't. Once in an while I will but for the most part, I am in bed at about 11, 11:30, sometimes midnight if I'm watching something or working on a project!
I can tell you that I am more mindful of my need for more sleep.  I am also trying not to screw up my sleep patterns too badly while I am on break from school. I have been going to bed at about the same time as I normally would if it were a work day. The only difference is I don't have to get up at 6:30 to get ready. I naturally wake up around 9AM sans an alarm clock. The drawback to getting an extra two hours of sleep, is everything just starts later. I get ready for the day later and I'm more lazy.
I've noticed that I don't recall any of my dreams now that I haven't been getting nearly enough sleep. It makes me wonder if that's typical. Not that I've always remembered my dreams, but I at least used to think that I had some!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for..Respect

As a classroom teacher, I sort of expect my students to have respect for themselves and for others. It is my belief and understanding that respect is something that is taught/learned. I hope (expect really) that most parents/adults have taken the time out to teach or at least model for their children what respect is.
In the last few years, I have noticed an increasing decline in the level of respect children have towards their elders (not just in the classroom).  Are grown-ups slacking off in the respect department? What's going on?
I suppose in a classroom, the lack of respect isn't as bad as it is in normal everyday life. A prime example are the children that living in our apartment fortress (which consists of three separate buildings, hence the term fortress!). They will run up and down the stairs and the hallways. They will loiter out in front of our apt. They don't hang out inside their homes, they have to be in the hallway, sitting their, blocking the walkway. Really?? The hubs has yelled at them a few times. He has even chased a few before! When he has asked them to leave and go home, they just stare at him blankly as if they don't speak the language. We've decided that these are the types of things they have learned from their parents. It is widespread here. The entire community could use a training in respect. Part of it has to do with the fact that a lot of the young children in this community (up to elementary age) have parents who are not that much older. That is where the cycle begins.
It used to be that, children knew to say please and thank you or even excuse me. To me, manners sort of go hand in hand with respect. Is it because our values have changed in the last 10 to 15 years? Now it seems there's more focus on children being technologically savvy or able to read than to know to wait their turn to speak or even wait until a person is making eye contact with them to know when to speak. All of these things (to me) encompass respect.
I spend my days, reminding children to wait their turn to speak or how to notice the social cues/even pick up on body language when they want to speak. Sometimes it makes me wonder if when they are at home, if they just start talking while their grown-up multi-tasks (which we are all guilty of). I am trying to teach them to make eye contact with a person when they are speaking to someone. I am also trying to create a foundation of empathy within each little soul that enters my class. They're not going to just pick it up from drinking the water. Everything is learned. It's a tough job. There's a lot of disconnect going on that I am not happy with at all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for..Quilts

I have been wanting to learn to sew for years now because I eventually wanted to learn to make my own quilts. I love the beauty and intricacies of them. I learned to knit before I learned to quilt. Knowing how to quilt requires knowing how to use a sewing machine. The hubs purchased a mini-sewing machine for me two Christmases ago but I honestly have no idea how to use it. Plus I'm scared I'm going to sew my fingers onto something. lol. There are sewing classes at our local fabric store but I just have yet to take the plunge. It is definitely fear-fear that I'm going to be horrible at it. When will I overcome that fear? Who knows but it better be soon. I've got a mini sewing machine calling my name!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for..Psychology

I was a Psychology major when I did my two and a half years of undergrad studies at San Francisco State University. My first two years of higher learning were spent at the local junior college (not by choice). I was given a car instead of a ticket out of here.  I wasn't a fan of Sociology or of Anthropology. I knew I wouldn't make a good English major. I got by in Math. History? Meh. Art? Meh. Sciences? Ha! So Psychology it was because it encompassed so many things for me. One of my favorite things to do in high school while hanging out with friends was people watch and try to figure people out. I still like doing that! So I'm going along taking all my classes that I need to graduate with a Psych degree when about a year before I was going to graduate, a friend of mine who was about to graduate with a Psych degree said to me, "You can't DO anything with just a Psych degree!!!!!!!!" She freaked me out.
It was then that I had to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. Here I was about to graduate and I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I began to ask myself what comes naturally to me? The answer? I didn't want to face it but it was inevitably going to be my destiny. Being with children came naturally to me. Next step was to double check that this wasn't just some crazy notion. I started looking into preschools. I started volunteering at a Head Start facility in the TL district. Being that I was a college student, I didn't go every day that I was supposed to (I had to be there by 8 AM!) but when I did go, I had fun. I was amazed by the whole Head Start phenomenon. I began thinking that maybe I could get started at a Head Start and eventually work my way behind the scenes.
This was also the time I decided that I could probably get a minor in something while I figure out my next steps so I opted to minor in Special Education. My favorite class of all was Intro to Atypical Infant Development. I wanted to BE my professor (I still kinda do!). My second favorite class was Human Communicative Development & Disorders. Granted the subject matter was not one for everyone but I was enthralled. I was beginning to open the door (and my mind) to the idea of Speech Pathology. It didn't hurt that there was a really cute boy in the Speech Path program that I got to admire everytime I had Atypical Infant Development!
In my eyes, it was too late to go back and take all the necessary courses for Speech Pathology. I was going to school on the parents' dime. They would have killed me. So I had to settle for the next best thing, a Bachelor's in Psychology with a Minor in Special Education.
Here I am, 13 years later and I currently teach Kindergarten. Do I get to use my Psych degree in the classroom? I should say yes. Yet one of my parents who just recently found out I had a Psych degree had the audacity to say to me,"So what happened?" The nerve! Do I wish I could go back and do Speech Pathology? A thousand times yes but I keep thinking it's too late to do.

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Ojo

Yesterday, I wasn't feeling so great. I woke up and then I had the runs. I went at least 4 or 5 times before the hubs went off to work. Before he went off to work though, he had cuddled with me in bed and was just looking at me and he was crying! I asked him why but he didn't answer.
Flash forward to the rest of my day, I felt horrible. The runs finally subsided and I thought I was okay but I knew what I was in for next. The chills came! I was eating crackers and having Sun Drop (the closest thing here to 7-Up!). But I wasn't eating much. I tried to go into the living room for a little bit but didn't last for very long out there (I was too cold!). I went back to bed, but just laid on top of the bed and waited for the hubs to get home. Once home, I was completely burning up (101 degree fever) and he decided he had given me ojo which might've occurred while his tears were falling on me.
The video is all in Spanish but basically they're talking about the superstitition, what the belief is, and they show how to rid the person of it. The hubs pretty much rubbed an egg over most of me-though  not on my bare skin. I started to feel better but here's the weird thing I noticed. He only rubbed the egg on my upper torso (that's where he focused) and he only rubbed it a bit on my legs. SO, the upper part of me felt okay but everything was in my legs. The belief is the egg absorbs all the evil spirits and once done rubbing the egg all over the infected person, you crack it into a cup with water and place it underneath where the infected person sleeps (preferably right below their head) and wait to check it the next day.
The top picture isn't my particular egg (I can't ever get a good pic of them when he does it-this is the second time), but it's exactly how my egg looked this morning. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

N is for..Not Enough Hours in a Day

Wouldn't you agree? There are so many things I wish I could get done during the course of a day but work seems to get in the way. lol. Thankfully, my spring break is approaching quickly. Two glorious weeks of not having to wake up and go to work! I can't wait for summer. :)
My inbox is backed up. I'm starting to develop a pile of letters. I'm getting burnt out on cooking. I have bookshelves I want to move and some redecorating to do since the sil and the kid are finally and completely OUT. I have tidying to do because now there's space for all of my teaching stuff to be hid in closets instead of out on our porch. We just might be able to use our porch as an actual porch. Too bad we face the north (no sun!). I don't even have enough time (really energy) to sit and knit or read. Thank goodness for Spring Break.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Michael J. Fox

My second celebrity crush growing up was on Michael J. Fox. It was so much more intense than my first celebrity crush (Luke Skywalker circa Return of the Jedi) that I even went so far as to write a fan letter. I remember receiving an autographed photo of him (which I'm sure I no longer have). I tried looking for it on google but can't seem to find it (or I just can't remember what it looks like). This one comes sort of close. Though I remember him being in more denim?
I just admitted to the hubs the crush I once had on Michael J. Fox. I told him it lasted up through Bright Lights, Big City and after that, I was over him. I couldn't tell you who I had moved on to--possible Corey Haim by then? I get to relive those youthful days by watching reruns on The Hub. For the most part, the programming on the Hub is for children but in the evenings, it's all reruns from my childhood-from Happy Days to Doogie Howser, M.D. lol.  TV from my childhood is probably one of the few happy memories I have from that time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Love

It's a bad picture but that is the front of our thank you cards from our wedding two years ago.  It took me 34 years to find the love of my life. I am a big believer in both fate and things happening for a reason. I met my husband at a tint shop down the street from my LA apt. Little did I know at that moment that he was going to end up being my husband. We talked for a couple hours and I left thinking I had made a cool new friend. After our first date, which was at least a week after we met (I had help following the single girl dating protocol from my then engaged coworker that I carpooled with!), I already knew that this relationship in particular was going to be a big one. The last thing I wanted to do was screw it up which is something I am was pretty good at.
It has been through this relationship that I realized I wasn't ever in love before I met my husband. What I thought was love was something unlike what I feel now.
Love is unconditional. Love is knowing what the other is thinking without them even voicing it. Love is knowing exactly what the other needs. Love is knowing exactly how the other feels when things go well or even when things go poorly. I can only hope that the people who I love are able to experience this kind of profound love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Knitting (too!)

I have to admit that with some letters, I can easily come up with a topic and I can just schedule the post to magically appear. After I typed up my entry for Kindergarten, I took a shower and realized there is another very important K that is a bit dearer to my heart (it's true!) and that is knitting.
I first began to knit the summer of 2004. I had already been in LA for about a year. It took me three tries to figure out how to knit. The first person to try to teach me (if I remember correctly!) was my ex-roommate's younger sister. Then I remember going away for a professional development excursion (a week long training, most expenses paid to San Luis Obispo) and one of the other teachers from my school tried to teach me too. If anything, I got more confused when my coworker (who eventually became one of my best friends at the time) tried to show me. lol. Upon my return, a new friend that I had met through MySpace knew how to knit and offered to teach me. We met up, and it finally clicked for me!! The difference was that my final teacher took into consideration that I was a lefty and had me mirror what she did. It worked! I have been knitting ever since.
Here's my first scarf ever.
It was made out of Lion Brand Boucle. It was before I developed an air of snobbiness or at least before my fingers met the likes of malabrigo. I mostly made scarves that first year of knitting. Then I moved onto baby stuff and hats. After hats, I got real brave and made my first pair of socks.
They're hideous (blame the yarn) but they were my first pair! It took me a couple more attempts to finally get it 'right.' After socks, I went onto dishcloths and fingerless mitts. Nowadays it's lace and cowls.

Knitting keeps me grounded. I haven't knit a stitch since early last week and it's starting to show. I'm crankier than usual and my temper is short. Must. Knit! I knit only for a small handful of people. No one gets how special it is to receive a hand knit item (aside from a fellow knitter/crocheter). The hubs appreciates all the knitted items he now has in his possession and my sister has warmed up to the idea of having a sister who knits.

K is for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is nothing like what it used to be. For a while, I thought that preschool was the new Kindergarten but I have to tell you that is no longer true. Kindergarteners are now expected to be reading (at least by the end of the year). When I taught first grade a few years ago, my expectation was that my first graders were reading by the end of the year. How quickly things change!
In order for Kindergarteners to be reading by the end of their Kindergarten year, preschools (at least state mandated ones like Head Start) are focusing more on academics. It's a shame. When are kids supposed to have fun? When are they allowed to explore?
My Kindergarten class is deemed as a developmentally appropriate K class. Though I have to tell you that I do feel the stress of needing to whip out readers by the end of the school year. How can one not let this expectation bother you?? I feel as though I am doing a dis-service to my students if I am not teaching them to learn how to read. But you know what? About half of them aren't developmentally ready to learn how to read so why push? That's how I look at it. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that it isn't my fault if so and so just doesn't quite get it yet. He's just not there yet and it's okay.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Jam (or Jelly)

As a child, I was a big fan of Concord's grape jelly. I didn't like strawberry jam because I didn't like the huge clumps of strawberries. I didn't like orange marmalade because it tasted funny. Somewhere down the line (probably at a breakfast place), I discovered blackberry jam. Blackberry jam is now my go to jam, specifically Knott's Pure Blackberry Preserves. Yum!
I especially love it on Komissbrot bread from this bakery toasted with a dab of butter. The sour and tart go very well together! :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for...I can't keep up!!

With this A to Z challenge, my blog reading world has opened up to about a thousand awesome, fantastic, and stupendous new blogs. My google reader is up to the 100s! I can't keep up with everyone's posts! Usually I try to catch up on blogs over the weekend but this weekend was different. I spent a majority of my time moving stuff, cleaning, etc. Thank goodness for spring break which begins this Friday 4pm, pacific standard time! And I get two entire weeks off!!
My original I post was going to be I for Individuality. I am a person who doesn't tend to follow the crowd. I used to make sure I didn't do things that everyone else did. I haven't seen any of the Harry Potter movies (no interest). I am not on Facebook (definitely NO interest at all!). I don't have an iphone (nor do I want one). I just recently began texting (like in the last year). Is it that I don't like change? No, that has very little to do with it. There is just no draw for me to the aforementioned things. With texting, I still believe talking on the phone is better but a few of my friends work in an office and spend the entire day answering phones. They are the ones who I will text.
I am definitely trying to teach my students that there is nothing wrong with being different or not going along with the crowd. There is one particular student who has a difficult time transitioning and rather than call all the attention to him, I let him come over when he's ready (unless it's taking him longer than usual!). They are used to this. We have a student at our school who has cerebral palsy and in the beginning of the year, she came to talk to our class about why she has a walker and why she walks the way she walks. Whether or not this lesson taught will be with them for the rest of their lives, is solely dependent on the individual.