Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Photo Form

Since I got a fancy new camera (an early Christmas gift from my dear husband) and we ended up with 203 different photos this weekend, I thought the best way to recap would be in photo form :)


I didn't have the fancy new camera yet so I borrowed these from my sister-in-law.

There was the coloring of the fireplace (next year there will be a real one):


There was much smiling and laughing:



There was food, and food, and food:



And the playing of the cards (I was reading Pride and Prejudice for the xteenth time):




There was the joy of the camera, and much taking of pictures

Keegan was a favorite subject:

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As were these flowers:

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There are also about 17 of a squirrel in a tree, and 15 of a hawk.  Much fun was had with the camera.

Saturday:  We moved locations, this time to my parents house.

There was much baking (sugar cookies, Chex Mix, chocolate peppermint cheesecake, fudge, Buckeyes and caramels):

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I'm afraid I can't give you the explanation behind this one.  It's a bit risque.

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Are you taking my picture?

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And there was attempting to fix an antenna:

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There was much snow:

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Ashlee likes the snow:

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And that's about it.  That's our weekend in picture form.  After we got home, I watched Pride and Prejudice, worked on lesson plans, and made some Christmas decorations.  That's pretty much been my day.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove of things this week--it's been way too long!  I can't believe I've only been at school one day in the last week and a half!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweet San Antonio

Thursday-Saturday I was in San Antonio--deep in the heart of Texas, they say.  It was an enjoyable time.  English teachers know how to rock the party, I guess.  I'll give you a brief rundown of each of our days in Texas.


Leave hours before sunrise.  Fly out before sunrise.  Land in Memphis.  Nearly miss our flight for lack of paying attention.  I begin to get involved in Twilight, much to my chagrin.  I so wanted to hold out and be the rebel that didn't become obsessive about this book.  Of course, obsessive is my middle name.  Land in San Antonio, take a taxi to our hotel.  Head out for lunch.  Decide on Mexican, because Hello!  We're in San Antonio!  Turns out we made a somewhat poor choice.  I got a drink spilled all over me, and when my colleague (the one the drink belonged to) asked if the waiter was going to replace what he spilled, he brought her a teeny tiny cup to replace the exact amount lost.  Most of the food was fair to not good.  The service was awful.  We were sorely disappointed.  We spent our afternoon doing some sightseeing (Remember the Alamo!  All five feet of it!) and then went back to the hotel to rest. 

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My roommate had been sick on Tuesday before we left, and got miserably ill Thursday afternoon.  I stayed clear and read my book that I was obsessive about.  That's how I finished it that afternoon.  That night, we went to dinner at the Houston Street Bistro.  It was hands down the best dining experience of the trip.  Every last one of us spent the meal raving about our food.  We didn't get over it for the rest of the trip.


My dear roomie and I went to Shipley donuts (hello, my love...that was THE best donut experience I have ever had).  I was thrilled.  We did some business that morning, checking out a few sessions and some poster exhibits, etc.  We stopped by the Chili's at the mall for lunch that day.  Poor roomie of mine got sick, again.  She was miserable.  We decided to spend the afternoon in a "special session" about vampires in Washington State.  It was time okay spent.  The session was a bit of a letdown, because it was pretty terribly acted.   The more I think about it though, I'd like to see that session again.  I might like it better the second time around.   Then we headed back to the hotel, because we were meeting a group of teachers from a neighboring school district that we are involved in an educational technology grant with.  That sounds kinda confusing, I know.  But we did our dinner thing with them, and called it quits for the night. 


Breakfast at Shipley donuts again.  Be still my aching heart, some day I will come back to you my donut love!  We hit a few more sessions, and learned some cool teacher tricks.  We had lunch at The Charter House, on top of the Tower of the Americas, which sort of looks like the Space Needle.  It was pretty sweet action. 

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Then we went back and wandered through the exhibit hall, picking up some free books and product ideas.  Then it was time to head to the airport and go home.  I bought the second Twilight book at the airport, and read it on our flight.  All in all, it was a pretty relaxed traveling evening.

One more picture, before I go.  These statues have no hands, and look sort of they might be poking fun a bit.  I really don't know, but I enjoyed them :)

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Just another Manic Monday

I have to say, my days know how to hit me in the gut in style.  I've been feeling on the verge of the stomach flu for a day or two, so I have sort of stopped eating.  I felt kind of sickly this morning, but not enough to justify taking the day off.

I wish I had.

But it's good that I didn't.

I got to school early (an hour and twenty minutes before the day started, early).  I had some serious photocopying to get done, and I didn't want to wait in line.  Of course, the copier wouldn't work for me.  As usual.  It kicked into gear later, but it was just enough to start me off feeling a little agitated.

Then my classes started.  And they were pretty rotten.  I have a lot of the same kids, but the mixing is really bad.  All of my classes are very talkative and pretty disrespectful.  I think I'm going to have to write several up early on to get things under control.

Then, during second period, my department chair ran over to let me know that she needed to see me right away.  It turns out, I hadn't posted my grades correctly (I only did the first half, not the second) and all of my grades were showing up as invalid.  So I had to go back and hand average the first six weeks, second six weeks and final exam grades for all of my kids and manually enter them.  When she told me that, I stood in her office and cried.  As she had a class in the room.  As I needed to walk back to my room and teach my own class.  So I spent my entire prep period (where there is another teacher teaching a class in my room) doing that.  Thankfully, at the exact moment I was starting to average the grades together, another teacher sent out an email with an Excel spreadsheet he had created that would do that for you, in case anyone wanted to double check their averages.  This saved me seriously hours of work.

The rest of the day was fairly mediocre.  The kids are upset because their class t-shirts haven't arrived yet.  I must admit, I'm upset too.  I placed the order in time, but the store is running behind.  They are supposed to be wearing them tomorrow, but they haven't come in yet.  I keep hoping they'll call me tomorrow, so I can pick them up and the kids can wear them Wednesday, on "red, white and blue" day.

So...yeah.  I had sort of a rough start to this short week.  Here's to hoping tomorrow gets better!

My most recent obsession

Hello, bandwagon.  It's time for me to jump on.

Since I have started teaching, the same book title kept reappearing over and over and over.  Twilight.  My girls were obsessed.  I didn't know much about it, so I asked a few questions--things like, "Girls, what is this about?"  When they answered, "Vampires," I answered, " not my idea of fun."

But it continued.  Of the 80 book presentations I heard last week, easily 20 were over one of the books in the Twilight saga.  Grown adults were enjoying this series...and I kept hearing the same thing over and over.  "It's so addictive."  "I couldn't stop reading it." "Oh my gosh, it was so good."  Kids were sneaking the book under their desk (no small feat, since they weigh in between 450-700ish pages each).  The boys were starting to read.  Some because their girlfriends insisted; others because they were curious.  I began to suspect that more of my students were reading Twilight than anything I had ever assigned for them to read. 

I continued to hold out.  Then Shannon wrote a blog post about her recent foray into the fictional Forks, Washington, and the addiction that ensued.  If there is anyone I will trust for a book recommendation, it's Shannon.

So I decided to give in.

I asked my students to bring me a copy of the first book.

No fewer than four copies showed up on my desk that next morning.

And so I took the first book in the Twilight series with me to San Antonio.  And finished it the day I began.



I was officially hooked.  I kept telling my colleague who was my roommate, "It's so not well-written.  But I can't stop."

I bought the second book at the airport Saturday, and finished after I arrived home in Indiana.  I picked up the third and fourth at Wal-Mart yesterday, and did nothing but read all Sunday afternoon, evening, and night.  And so, now, well under one week after beginning the series, I have finished it.  And I feel a little sad.  I kind of want to go back.  I'm not finished with these characters, not by a long shot.  This fictional world of vampires and werewolves (or shall I say 'shapeshifters') drew me in in a way that I haven't been drawn in for quite some time.  It's really sort of embarrassing, but I'm okay with it.  I'll probably re-read the series in the near future (perhaps over Christmas), just to get another taste. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What's an immoral pleasure seeker?

Last night, Andy and I ran across this little gem on YouTube. I made him play it ten times. It's too, too funny.

And now I'm off to Texas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Do Before Texas

Here is my to-do list for this week

Give finals-check

Grade finals-check

Lesson plans for sub-check

Seating chart for new trimester-check

Pack-almost check...I'm a lousy packer

Buy travel sized toiletries-check (thanks to Andy)

Laundry-almost check

Clean up house-check

Update and charge iPod-working on it

Groceries for Andy-check

Finish Spirit Week decorations-CHECK

As you can see...I'm almost ready for San Antonio!  Woohoo!

And I have a rash on my face

It's 12:10 in the morning.  And I'm still awake.  That's right.  Because I'm insane.  And because I just finished grading finals.  After my wonderful, oh-so-perfect weekend spent with sweet family and dear friends (in Indy and at home!), the reality of this week has set in.  I gave my students their finals on my Monday.  125 questions.  Multiply that by 96, and that's the number of questions I had to grade.  In addition to still teaching.  And planning lessons for Thursday and Friday.  And helping with last minute Spirit Week preparations.  And doing some tutoring.  And I have to have all of my grades finished and posted before I leave school tomorrow, because I leave for San Antonio at 4:30 Thursday morning. 

It's all fine, really, I'll get it done, with a little help from my sweet husband who let me nap on the sofa, bought me my carry on sized toiletries, and brought home dinner from Subway.  I heard a rumor he's thinking about getting me flowers when I get home Saturday too.  I requested the pretty flowers from the grocery store.

  None of that was really the point, though.  I'm sort of just rambling right now.  It's too late for me to up.  And five is going to come too early.  The real issue right now is that in the middle of all of this, my face broke out in a rash.  It's hysterical, really.  My entire face is covered with bumps and it itches.  I noticed it in the shower last night.  I had just taken a not non-drowsy Sudafed to help clear out my sinuses.  Of course, I forgot about that until after I took the Benadryl.  I slept real well last night.   

I had hoped that the rash would be gone this morning, but it wasn't.  In fact, as I was grading exams during my prep period this morning, my eyes started to burn and drain some sort of mucous-y stuff.  So I had a rash on my face, and sort of my neck, my nose was stuffed, and I had drainage seeping from my eye.  I was a sight to behold.  Give me a hunchback and I'll go on the road. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008


For the first time all week, I am most of the way through my to-do list. It's an exciting feeling. It feels a little like numb and sleep deprived, but we won't focus on that. I finally got my freshmen t-shirts ordered (a plus since spirit week is NEXT week). I am seven journals away from being finished grading (I offered 25 bonus points for turning them in early, so I had about a third before this week).

I think I have my lesson plans for next week pretty well ready. I just need to pack for the weekend and finish up the grading I have, and teach tomorrow, and go back to the t-shirt place...and then I'll be off! For a whole day in Indianapolis! We're having early Thanksgiving with some of Andy's family tomorrow night, and then Saturday I get to see my beautiful LAUREN AND MARGO!!!! I think the last time I saw the two of them together was last APRIL!?!?! That's insane to me. And, we get to try on our bridesmaid dresses for LAUREN'S WEDDING!!! Can you feel the EXCITEMENT? Do I need to CAPITALIZE MORE?

And then, we'll be back in time for LUNCH WITH THE HOFFMAN'S!!! It's been entirely too long since we've been to their house. I need me some sweet Bammy asking, "Hode me," in his sweet little voice...I don't even care if he's using me to get food off the counter :) And Andy and Trevie can rock out and sing together. Oh...bless my heart, I just can't wait!

O true Friday, hopefully thou wilt be quick!
(Loosely adapted from "O true apothecary, thy drugs are quick!")

Sunday, November 9, 2008

There's a lot swimming in my head right now

These next two weeks are about to get out of control.  This week, I collect student journals (96 journals times 12 entries each=a lot of reading for Mrs. Cook).  I am also trying to write my finals study guide (finals are next Monday) and figure out how to help my students study for their exam.  My kids are also giving presentations this week.  I won't be at school tomorrow because I have a grant meeting...then Tuesday is our Veteran's Day program, so I won't see my second period class until Wednesday, which also happens to be the day of my second observation.  It's also the week before Spirit Week, and I'm the freshman class I'm trying to help the class council get their decorations done, but they are having some serious DRAMA.  We'll be in Indy next weekend (which I am incredibly excited about--family time and girl time :)) Then next week we have have finals Monday, the end of the trimester Wednesday, and I leave for Texas bright and early Thursday morning.  I need to have all of my grades in when I leave the school building Wednesday.  Then I get back from Texas, have three days of school and it's Thanksgiving.  Woo.

That right there is the very reason we had a restful weekend at the Cook house.  I had myself fairly caught up before the weekend, so I took some time "off" and did some things I enjoy.  I did some serious crafting--I'm in the middle of about four projects right now.  I need to finish one before next weekend.  Some of the others can wait a little, but still should be done by Thanksgiving.  I finally got some pictures in some of my empty frames.  I still need three more frame-able pictures.  That's my goal for this holiday season.  I found some seriously cute lamps for WAY cheap in the Better Homes and Gardens collection at Wal-Mart.   A side note--I think the Better Homes and Gardens collection may be the best thing to ever happen at Wal-Mart.  I also may a darling piece of wall art using  I learned about this at an NCTE conference this summer, but had never really used it.  I typed in the fruits of the spirit, and some other words and randomized them until it came up with something I loved.  Then I printed it on cardstock and put it in a sweet frame (from the BHG collection at Wal-Mart).  As soon as it's on the wall, I'll take a picture and show you.  I'm not really allowed to hammer things right now.  I make too many holes.  Next weekend, I'll post pictures of everything I made this weekend.  That will work.  I want to do them all together, but I can't post everything right now...because there are some secrets.

And above all of this crazy stuff I'm rambling on and on the idea of sowing seeds of righteousness.  I was so blessed by the sermon at church this morning.  We have been studying the book of Hosea, and this morning our pastor was talking about the nation of Israel, and how they had forgotten God...and the ways that is true in our own lives.  But he urged each of us to begin sowing seeds of righteousness in our lives, so that we will stand strong in the Lord, like an oak tree.  I was reminded of Isaiah 61:3, which says, "  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

So now, I think I'm going to do a word study on righteousness, and figure out what it means to sow seeds of it.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You learn something new every day

Sometimes it's a good thing.

Sometimes it's a bad thing.

Today, there were a lot of bad things. But there was one pretty funny thing. Did you know that it's possible to burn something inside a crock pot? I had no idea. But I totally did it. I put three chicken breasts in to cook this morning...and I put them on high! I have no idea why I did that. But they were dried out and stuck to the bottom of the crock. Is that called a crock? That sounds, what a crock! Crock on! Crock out!

And that's why my students look at me funny and shake their heads on a daily basis. They have no idea what to do with such a quirky teacher.

Wait till I tell them to Crock On! tomorrow :)

EDITED TO ADD: I totally told my fifth period class to crock on. They told me I was a dork. Third period informed me that I burned my chicken to the pot, not the crock. Who knew? I was able to turn the whole story into a teaching moment--I retold them the story using all ten of their vocabulary words as a review before they took their quiz :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

And it started at 4:30

This time change business really messed me up.  I woke up at 4:30 this morning, completely unable to fall back to sleep.  So I got up, had my quiet time, cleaned the living room, and still had time before work.

Then I went to school, where I had a pretty all right day.  I finished up all of my grading, decided not to cut back on the things I grade this week, so I don't get overloaded again, and finished up my lesson plans for this trimester.  I had our student aide make some copies for basically, I am currently more organized than I have ever been this school year.  It's a good place to be.  I'm going to start writing my final tomorrow, so I can get that out of the way as well.

I had a few pretty bad things happen at school today, but I feel like I handled them like a real teacher.  I never lost my temper or got really angry.  I just handled it.  It was exciting.  I'm starting to hit my stride.

Then, after school, I went to the Christian bookstore and I got a few new devotional books.  I found a copy of "Streams in the Desert" for five dollars, and I've seen it recommended before, so I got it and put it in the bathroom.  It has perfect bathroom length devotionals.  I was actually looking for a small Bible for my desk at school.  I keep transporting mine back and forth from home, but I would love to have a little one to keep in my desk.  I found a sweet little brown leather ESV that I will probably go back for in the future.  It was just a little more than I wanted to spend today.

After dinner, Andy and I went for a walk, and it might have been one of the most perfect moments of our marriage.  It was getting dark quickly, and we just walked quietly through the park, holding hands.  It was just such a sweet moment of total bliss.  I couldn't stop smiling...I was just so darn excited.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Four Goals for November

This month is going to be a doozy. I updated my Google calendar the other night, and I almost fell over. In the spirit of the craziness that is about to ensue, I have decided to give myself a few goals that will hopefully make things flow a little easier.

1. Go back to waking up at 5. I think my quiet times were more productive and I got more done around the house when I woke up at five last year. I need that extra time, because I have no desire to do anything around the house when I get home in the evening.

2. Stick to my schedule. I have a calendar on the fridge that plots out a basic daily schedule that keeps me on top of most things, like housework, laundry, grading, and bill paying. In addition, each week I make a list of things that need to get done (sending out prescriptions, errands, phone calls, etc.), and post it on the fridge. Then I cross them off when they get done. I also have my weekly meal plan up, but it's pretty simple:
Monday: Fish, rice, green beans
Tuesday: Chicken, potatoes, broccoli
Wednesday: Salad, meal from freezer
Thursday: Crock Pot meal (usually soup)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday lunch: breakfast
Saturday dinner: homemade pizza
Sunday lunch: leftover pizza
Sunday dinner: stir fry

I like it this way, because I can vary things in the way I cook them, but I am buying mostly the same things at the grocery store. It simplifies my shopping.

3. Go for a walk every day. I've been feeling pretty yucky and lethargic lately, and I think it's from not taking care of myself. Andy and I have gone for a walk the last two days, and I've felt significantly better both times. Did I mention that I really want a treadmill for Christmas? I so do. It would be perfect for me to be able to walk/jog in the house while I'm doing something else (like watching Gilmore Girls or Jon and Kate Plus 8).

4. No more fried foods. I've realized how often I've been eating things like potato chips and french fries and it's making me a little sick. I went through four years of high school and four years of college rarely eating either, but in the last year, they've been a part of my weekly diet. Yuck. I told Andy that I'm slowly cutting the yuck out of my diet, and this is my first step.

I have a fifth too, but it doesn't quite count--I want to keep eating my Activia yogurt. That stuff is for's done more for my digestive health in a few weeks than the years of different medications and doctors appointments and yucky colonoscopy ever did. How I wish I had access to this my sophomore year of college. Life would have been a whole lot different that year :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I saw a turkey! It's November!

Andy and I went for a walk in the park today...and we saw eight turkeys! It was so exciting. They crossed the road one at a time right in front of us. It was so cool. We were walking, and we heard rustling in the leaves near us. Then we saw them moving around. At first, I thought it was like three--but there were totally eight!

It's also like peak color week here, so the park was in full glory. I'm hoping to go back tomorrow to get some pictures. It was stunning. There were the most beautiful oranges, golds, and reds..and a dark purple that looked almost black. As we were walking, I told Andy that it made me so excited to see the colors change....I feel like it's just an incredible display of God's glory--while we were walking, we saw colors and combinations and views that people spend years trying to imitate. No human could have dreamt that up. And that's just a tiny bit of something God has created. I was pretty darn excited about it.