Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I glanced at my site statistics this morning and noticed the counter at 1972. I'm not going to comment on what the visit numbers actually mean. That's probably a low number in terms of visits, but really, does it matter? Probably not. In the grand scheme of things definitely not. But still... I wish I got a few more comments or a bit more traffic. Realistically though this blog is not about comments or traffic. I write for myself because I actually enjoy writing. I write for my family and friends because it's one way we keep in touch. I'm not up there in terms of numbers thus the 1972. To me 1972 is a year.

It is the year I turned six, a golden year of neighborhoods (Darcey Drive) and best friends (Kathleen Sullivan) . It is the year I discovered the joy of learning. It is the year I had Mrs. Madigan for first grade and the first time I literally swooned over a teacher--she was indeed a Cinderella figure. During parent night she told me to show my Mom and Dad how I "worked" with readers during the school day. Don't I have the same hair cut? Lucky for me those collars went out of fashion though. I sure loved Mrs. Madigan and I'm sure even as I write this that she is one reason I fell quickly into love with school.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mountain Climbing

Collin went rock climbing with my Mom this week. She took him twice and the second time took some of his friends too. How cool is that? She even sent me pictures! Being a working mother is sometimes like climbing mountains. I do a lot of reaching out and holding on.

This week (and most of next) I'm out of town working--writing for Plugged-In to Reading. How lucky am I to have Mom do things with Collin? And cool things to boot. How lucky am I to have a safe and loving place for him to go when I need a hand? She is my tether, my safety harness; she holds me up, smiles and says "you can do it." My parents didn't have that when I was growing up. Many of the students I teach don't have that either.

I often think about what life would be like were I not so supported and blessed by my parents , my husband, and my friends. Whenever I need or want to work, they are there to take time with Collin. They help me to do the work that I love. They encourage me and set me free to do it. I'm sure I don't tell them enough, but that's a big deal in my world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Skyping with Christine

While working on the computer today, I got a Skype notice saying that Christine wanted to share contact data with me. I figured, heck if she wants my contact data, she must have just downloaded skype, I'm going to call her!

So I did. She didn't realize you could take pictures (screen shots) in skype. I did by using the Prnt Scrn button up near F12 on the keyboard and pasting the screen picture into Photoshop. I cropped the image so that just the skype window was showing and *walla* here we are!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On the High Seas

I've been having a difficult time getting this video to post correctly. I posted it on flickr, but the ending didn't make it online; it got cut off. Not sure wherein the difficulty lies, but now I just want to get it right. So, I've compressed the file size. We'll see if that works.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ahh....Art Day

Today is art day! Hooray! So what is art day? It's a day that I spend, almost exclusively, in my office/studio creating. Jennifer Gonzales comes over with her boys, Jack and Robert. We let the boys run wild while we paint, collage, scrap and chat. Two weeks ago I made bird and angel collages for all of the Plugged-In to Reading writers. I tore pages about learning and learning theory from an old psychology textbook and included border paper that mimicked standardized testing answer sheets and paired Wendy Ryan's angel images with various birds I had. While I worked away at them metaphors for the work we were about to do spun through my mind: Give your ideas wings. Let your ideas take flight. We are reading angels. Let your talent shine. Think beyond the test. Clich├ęd perhaps, but it brought me peace of mind and focus for the work ahead that week.

I'm not sure what I'll make today, but really it's not about the thing, the piece or the product. Art day is about being.

Every child is an artist. The problem is
how to remain an artist once we grow up.
~Pablo Picasso
Here's 1 of 6 more animal collage from today's art day creations:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Collin & Rick's Camping & Fishing Adventure

Collin and Rick adventured while I was away for work recently. Thought we'd put together a short video about it! We made the video yesterday, but Rick correct my fish names, so I had to put up the correct version. For some reason Blogger resisted the video re-posting, so I put it up on flickr.

What delighted me about making this video was that Collin did some of the audio by himself. I have been trying to show him how to record and edit using Audacity. Usually when we make a video together, I do most of the editing with him watching. I also question him and record his responses. Sometimes his voice is expressionless when we record that way. So, yesterday I explained expression and showed him (again) how to record/edit. Then I left the room. That was the magic ingredient. When I came back, he'd recorded a bit about fishing with his Dad and he was editing out the "ums" and quiet parts he told me. He got it! How awesome is that?

Kids and the Computer

I've been working on a Rick and Collin's vacation video this morning--trying to cut it down to a post-able size. While I'm doing that, Collin's been playing with Pixie. I love this picture he created, so I just had to post it. Plus it got me thinking about kids and computer use. My girlfriend, Kristin, in Tallahassee recently got a computer at home and she was saying the other day how her daughter is obsessed with Webkinz. I know from experience and from what little I've read about children and the Internet, that their first forays online are game oriented. It certainly has been with Collin. I have been trying to steer him away from gaming online lately and towards more creative or instructive sites (though gaming certainly is instructional or can be). He enjoys learning about keyboarding here and I've given him the Flip video camera to explore, but so far we haven't gotten to far with editing or compiling video. I loved that he wanted to draw on the computer this morning and created such a cool picture.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Portable Teacher

I've moved. Yes, I'm changing schools this year. Going from University High to Cypress Creek High School. Who knew I had collected so much stuff in my 10 years at University? The room looked so bare once we got everything on the truck. I'm looking forward to the change, but last night I had my first teaching dream. Something like, the students arrived and I hadn't unpacked and couldn't find a thing. I have a lot to unpack. We filled a 14 foot Uhaul! But it all fit into my new home: Portable 29.

Soon, I'm going to launch a new teaching blog called Portable Teacher. I will be teaching in a portable next year and ideas are portable and I sort of like the idea of a Portable Teacher, ideas you can take along with you--so me and a few friends are going to get together online and start writing. It should be fun. I'm excited to get it started, but I have started the header art yet? Of course not, this evening when I had a few moments, I Stumbled instead and came across Mr. Picasso Head! Which was certainly more fun than moving and nearly as much fun as creating my own Jackson Pollock.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th

What is 4th of July to most Americans? Swimming, the beach, hamburgers , hotdogs, the heat and sizzle of fireworks. Surely, it is all of those, but so much more. I woke up this morning thinking about all of the men and women who serve in our military. Regardless on my "position" on the war, those folks, those soldiers are overseas working day in and day out often in hazardous conditions. That's lysoled language isn't it? It's difficult to write and think about the war in real terms, but really? What's happening? Americans are dying in the war with Iraq. Isn't it close to 5,000 Americans lost now? And for what? Ultimately, for us. For you and me and children and families. So that my students in class can have desks and textbooks and teachers. So that Collin can have a childhood and play outside. When I was growing up, I always thought that I could enlist if I needed to in order to pay for my own college education. To me that was an option, work for the government, enlist and go to college on the G.I. Bill. Of course we weren't at war then. I didn't do it, obviously, but I thought about it a lot as a junior in high school. Many of my own students plan on enlisting. Some have been taking ROTC courses in high school, some haven't. Today, I can't help but think of one of my softball players from a decade ago at Winter Park High: little Jean McCurry. Fabulous player, smart girl, dark irish with freckles across her nose. I remember how surprised I was to see her picture in the Sentinel with a paragraph about her serving overseas. She was one of those ROTC students I had. So, today, I'm sending up a prayer and a big thank you for Jean and all of my students who have gone on to serve our country. I think of you all more often than you know. Be safe and Godspeed home.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Love the Bean

Just thought I'd post one of my favorite things about working on Sanibel: The Bean. It's a morning must especially with our writing camp schedule! I love their salt bagels. They make a mean cappuccino too. For the drive home Lee and I stopped there. She got a breakfast sandwich (complete with hash brown and fresh fruit) and I enjoyed their fresh-squeeze lemonade! Yum! It was just the thing to go with the ice cream cones we picked up at Pinnochios to enjoy as we left the island.