Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Berry Picking

Went berry picking today at Pappy's with Mom and Collin and I got to thinking about how people are a lot like strawberries--more on that later though. Posted a few pictures to flickr if you want to see more of the beautious berries!

Now, I'm wondering if I have the guts to tackle making jam. Do you? Make jam that is? Someone once told me that "freezer jam" is easy to make. I have no idea what freezer jam is, but I went ahead and bought a package of Sure Jell and some mason jars today thinking it might be a fun cooking adventure. Of course, it's all fun and games until someone gets botulism and throws up, right? Just kidding, I'll boil the jars!

In fact that might be a fun project to do while Collin and I wait for friends to arrive. My girlfriend Kristin and her kids are driving down from Tallahassee. We're going to have a good old-fashioned game night with the kids (complete with basket of prizes from the dollar bins at Michael's)! Then fire up the fire pit, sit outside under the stars and make smores as we ring in the New Year! I have spent more time with old friends and family this school vacation than I have in a long time and I have to say it sure feels good. What about you? How are you ringing in the New Year?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Wishes

Christmas is wish time isn't it? I'm wishing you peace this holiday season--peace and the still contentment that comes with it. Isn't this a gorgeous snowflake? My friend Jennifer has them hanging from the German chandelier she has over her dining room table. When she had kids over for a cookie decorating party, I couldn't resist snapping a few shots of the chandelier. I love how her chandelier defines her home--she and Hector got it as a wedding gift from her parents. They'd lived in Germany and this was a piece of that growing up that she and Hector could take into their lives together. When Jenn moved this past summer she told me that no matter where they live or where they move, the chandelier is the first thing to get unpacked and hung up. I just love that and I love sparkle of the tear drop crystals in the afternoon sun. Those sparkles are what laughter and love is made of--the sounds of kids laughing and playing--grandparents visiting and feasts cooking. Our holidays have sparkled just like that this year--thought I'd post a few of the pictures.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Circuitous Morning

This morning I came across this video that twitter friend, Alec Couros posted, Fifty, People, One Question: Where would you like to wake up in the morning? Reminding me of the Your 3 Words piece, this video captures peoples' dreams and something of their essence in the way it was shot--the videographer must have a great lens.

Fifty People, One Question: Brooklyn from Crush & Lovely on Vimeo.

The video led me courosa's twitter page which led me to headmutha's which led me to Mothers Fighting for Others (MFFO). I love early morning discoveries like this one. From an innocuous video I take a circuitous route and find an organization of Mom's working to change the world--made my day and made think about how I'm using my time. Collin and I will be heading out to buy underwear this morning to send off to the MFFO's Underwear for Africa project. All we have to do is send unopened underwear to:

MFFO Underwear For Africa
27943 Seco Canyon RD #533
Santa Clarita, CA 91350

I'm ever mindful of getting Collin involved in service. He is too young to volunteer with me at Give Kids the World, but I think he's getting to be old enough to understand the needs of the world. Underwear is certainly something he understands. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Dancing

Couldn't resist posting the Larke Family elf dance. Though I just mailed my Christmas cards and I haven't finished my shopping, I found time to play around today--it's good to be on school vacation!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Project 4 Awesome

Project 4 Awesome is the brain child of Hank and John Green. John Green being the award winning young adult novelist--author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and his latest, set in Winter Park, Paper Towns. Hank Green being the Eco Geek and my former student. I didn't put the two together until I read the acknowledgments at the end of Paper Towns. When Lee, Christine and I were at the ALAN reception at NCTE, I took a picture of John for Lee. She mentioned he was from Winter Park and asked if I'd taught him. I couldn't imagine forgetting a student, much less one that became a writer I look forward to reading, so I just said I hadn't taught him and kept on going.

Then I finished Paper Towns and when I read John's thank you to Hank, I had a light bulb moment. I could see Hank's writing in my homemade yearbook from my last year at WPHS. I texted my friend, Lee, John Green fan that she is. She texted me back. The back and forth continued. I found the yearbook the next day in my classroom and indeed, it was Hank. The Hank I remembered from my senior gifted English class; I was a 5th year teacher when I had him. I was the age he is now. I am such a different teacher now and of course, the first thought I had was had I done him justice?

My old yearbook led me to looking him up online. Lee had mentioned the Vlogbrothers, so I looked them up and found Project for Awesome. What a thing he and John have created in Project for Awesome. What a team and a coming together--it truly is getting the fish to swim in the same direction, if just for a moment. Powerful. For one day, their Nerdfighters and other followers, rate, favorite and comment like crazy on videos posted about charities. They comment tirelessly in order to take over YouTube's most discussed list. Finding Hank Internet famous and doing swimmingly made me want to participate in his Project Awesome. I shared the story with my current students and we decided to pull together our pictures from volunteering at Give Kids the World. We pulled the video and sound together and posted it to YouTube.

The brothers took turns live on pointing the people to videos. Comments swarmed. Literally, a few of the videos I participated in would move from 100 or so comments to 4,000 in less than an hour. It reminded me of how Crichton wrote about flock and swarm behavior in Prey. Amazing. In the process I looked Hank up on Skype. Sure enough, found him.

Project for Awesome took over the most discussed list on YouTube at 9:06-- quite a phenomena. I learned a lot today. Definitely a pink stone day. That and I got to skype chat with Hank--pink stone all the way. Strong work, Hank and John, strong work.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snapshots from NCTE

If I were a better blogger, I would have captured my thinking during NCTE. I did, but it's trapped in my journal or stuck in bits and pieces in my twitter stream. I've been processing. Mulling things over. I haven't wanted to rush to write this time.

I didn't, however, want to let another week go by without posting pictures. Pictures of friends and the sites we saw in between and after the daily sessions.