Monday, August 27, 2012

Trips Lately

Yesterday, Matt and I took a trip to St. Louis to see The Lion King. It was amazing! I would definitely recommend it if you have time and it is near you. We first went to eat at Lorenzo's which is on the hill. It was delicious! 

The musical was at the Fabulous Fox theater which was huge and really beautiful inside. I still prefer my good ol' Tennessee Theatre, but ya know. 

A couple of weeks back, we went to Kansas City for the day to see what it was like. We walked around some shops, ate some barbeque, saw downtown, and headed home. It was fun and yummy! 

We've got a lot of things on the docket for this fall. Season tickets to the MU football games, tailgates, and some other shows. Wicked will be here in late December and we really want to see that as well! As always, I will keep you updated on all of our activities here in CoMo.

Strengths and Weaknesses

As promised, here are the photos from the strengths and weaknesses activity we did the first day of class. It is still up on the board and I enjoy looking at it every day :) Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2 days after year 2 begins: on being a teacher

Happy Weekend!

Hope you all are having a nice break from the busy week. The weather is going to be awesome here and I can't wait to spend a few hours outside relaxing. If only we had a hammock! (and someplace to put it, like a yard)

I had a lot of anxiety about going back to school. I tried to get back in the swing of things and spent several mornings at school prepping the classroom and thinking about how to organize the year. As each day passed and it got closer to students starting back, my nerves overwhelmed me. After leaving the school picnic on Tuesday, I made a comment on how I didn't want school to start back up and I would rather have meetings all day than students. Matt asked me "Why did I decide to be a teacher if that is how I feel?" I told him it isn't exactly like that and it is complicated. I said I wasn't ready to talk about it yet.

Friday night we went downtown to an Italian restaurant and I felt ready to talk to him about my complex emotions on the subject. Teaching feels like such a huge job. There are high expectations placed on us from all sorts of people and places, like the media, parents, students, and administration. We are supposed to meet the needs of all 150 students, and if we don't we are letting them down. We are educating them about how to be decent people while also trying to complete a whole list of standards that at times seem very arbitrary.

Leading up to the first few days of school there is a lot of anxiety. How will it go? Will I be able to handle the work load and the students? Will they support me as their teacher? Will they run over me and I will hate my job for a whole school year? The anticipation is harder than actually going through it, of course. There are things I don't like about teaching, but I get a lot of rewards from my job, which is what I do like about it. Every time there is a break though, it is really hard to go back it seems. Maybe that will get easier on me as the years go by. Does it, fellow teachers? It is no wonder that college grads teach an average of 4 years before quitting. Some days it just feels like too much to handle.

All of these photos come from my pinterest and you can see more of them here. I try to visit it to remind myself what excites me about teaching. So many days I feel inadequate at my job because what I really want my students to understand is how they can be better people and how they can help other people be better. On the first day of school I did a new activity about our strengths and weaknesses. On a large post-it I had the students write a strength of theirs, no name. On a small post-it they wrote a weakness. After walking around the class and seeing what people are good at, only focusing on the strengths, I had them put their post-its on a board. I explained that we are a community and everyone has something to offer. Everyone also has something to learn. We have to support each other and be willing to bring those around us up by being willing to help, to teach, and also not being too proud. I am going to leave it up as a reminder for a few weeks. It also looks pretty cool. I'll try to take a photo of it tomorrow.

Keep on keepin' on. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ten on Ten: August 2012

It was a busy day as ever over here. Found some time to take the photos though for the day :) Just got done having a nice chat with my sister, Alexis-a great way to end the day.

The weather here was heavenly and I took to time to get the dogs to the park. The cool breeze and low temperatures made me long for autumnal days which will be here before we know it. I hope you all had a nice day as well.

did some laundry

Listened to good tunes--thought of Dad

Visited Matt for his last full day at the office

rested with pooks

Finally hung up the outdoor windchime!

Ate some pizza

Flowers from the hubs

Saw The Dark Knight Rises

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer round up

Hi All,

Well, the end of summer is here. I can't believe school starts on Monday. I mean, really, where did the time go? I've enjoyed these last few days and will really miss the time with the pups. They are too sweet. Matt has had a good run at Shelter and will stay on there working a few hours a week. We are planning a trip to Costa Rica for spring break. It is our next big adventure! Of course, the next major event is Meghan and David's wedding in September. I still need to write my toast!! Eeeks.

We had a fun trip to Las Vegas for her bachelorette party. Matt also had a good time with David and his friends down in Texas for his party. We are gearing up for a busy year. We have season tickets to the home football games (Yeah, SEC!) and are going to try to go to some other big shows. Our latest new entertainment is dancing lessons! We started on Monday and learned six different basic moves. I am pretty excited. I always want to dance with Matt. I hope we live it up at the reception!

Have you all been watching the Olympics? I like that this year it started earlier than last time so I am getting to watch a lot more of it. Also, I didn't have a summer job in July, so that helped a lot. Matt and I both agree how cool it would have been if we were good enough to do that--I am sure everyone has those thoughts, right? While watching the other day I saw a great commercial.
It just about brought me to tears. Made me proud to be a woman and I can't wait to have a little girl who I will encourage to do whatever she wants and to always do her best.

I've been in the classroom all this week preparing and getting my mindset back into teaching mode. I don't feel as refreshed as I had wished, but I am getting ready to take on a new year. It is like going into battle. You just have to focus and run straight ahead and not look back. I hope you all are ready for a new school year and that you had an awesome summer! Tomorrow is 10 on 10 and I am ready for it! Be looking for my photos then.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

German Chocolate Cake

A month ago, my father-in-law traveled here to Missouri on his birthday. I spent the day baking a cake for him. It sure did taste good! We took the leftovers with us on vacation to the Current River and it did not take long for us to finish it.  This is a very difficult cake to make because there are a lot of steps. I hope some of you take a leap and decide to make the cake anyway!
Gather all of your materials 

Sour 1 cup of milk with 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Melt 1 package of German Chocolate and 1/2 c. of water on high for 1 minute in microwave.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 c. flour, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt.

Cream 2 sticks softened butter and 2 cups sugar.  

Add 4 egg yolks one at a time (keep the whites)

Blend in the chocolate mixture a 1 tsp vanilla. Then alternate adding the flour mixture and milk
until thoroughly mixed each time.  

Beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Gently stir into batter.

Pour into pans and bake for 30 min on 350 degrees. 

Lick the bowl clean--mm mm mm. 

Now to make the icing. Beat 4 egg yolks, 1 can eval milk and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla with whisk .
Add 1 1/2 c sugar and 3/4 c butter and cook on medium heat stirring constantly.
It needs to turn thick and golden brown ~12 minutes. 

Add 1 bag coconut and 1 bag chopped pecans. Let cool completely. 

Ice the cake

Enjoy! (Happy Birthday, Il Dolce) 

So, do any of you think you will attempt this cake? It is a good "I-can't-believe-school-is-back" cake. Have a nice Tuesday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Critical Analysis: Twilight & Fifty Shades of Grey

(For the purpose of this blog post, I am only going to talk about the first books in the series.)

A few years ago my husband picked up Twilight. I kind of giggled at him.  While reading, he became really affectionate and lovey-dovey, if you will. I giggled again, not really sure why.  Then he wanted me to read them, so I did, and I became lovey-dovey!

Recently, after having numerous people tell me I should read the Fifty Shades of Grey books, I decided to pick it up. I was going on a trip to Vegas and needed a good no-thinking book for the flights. And that is exactly what I got. This isn't the type of book I typically pick up, which is something you know if you know me at all or read my book reviews. I also have never really read any romance novels, so I am not sure if it is comparable.

I know that the Fifty series started as fan fiction for Twilight. I still wish that James would have been a bit more creative with her story line and character development. Both series keep you reading and are fast-paced, so they do have that going for them.

The similarities between the books are uncanny and quite frankly annoying. Stephanie Meyer's books is definitely better written from an English standpoint, but from a feminist one, I don't think I would want my daughter to read it. Let's start with some of the similarities. Ana and Bella are both clumsy, bite their lip, think that they are not beautiful, and have tons of guys falling over them but can't tell they are wanted, ie. naive. Christian is adopted, as are his brother and sister, like Edward and his family. Mia, Christian's sister, acts just like Alice, Edward's sister. Christian continually remarks about Ana's smell, which is what draws Edward to Bella.

Not only are the characters identical, but the situation is identical. Bella and Edward fall for each other, he tries to control her, she tries to still be her own person, then she leaves to get away from Washington (where James' book is also set, coincidentally) and goes to Florida (Georgia in the James book), and the boys follow the girls there, charming the pants off of the mother's. The list goes on and on.

One aspect to the Fifty book is the recurring theme of the dark and light, which is  a common aspect to literature. Ana constantly says she wants to bring Christian from the dark into the light. Edward literally lives in the dark, being a vampire. Christian also lives in the dark. Not only are his actions kept secret "in the dark" but he also does dark things that are seen by society as disturbing. He has never had a normal relationship with any girl, and neither has Edward. They don't let themselves like women.

Another interesting play James did was draw on classic British Literature.  Ana is an English major graduate who loves British Lit. She calls him Mr. Grey and he calls her Miss Steele. She is looking for that perfect gentlemen, similar to the protagonist in an Austin novel. Another similarity to those types of novels is that there is always something unsaid. The characters live by strict social boundaries that keep them from ever being fully honest with each other. Ana and Christian keep their true thoughts from each other, which frustrates the reader.

What attracts people to these books is the idea of the fairy tale and prince charming. Obviously, part of the attraction to the Fifty books is the sex scenes. Having a man control and take care of a woman seems desirable. A pampered lifestyle. Both Edward and Christian are very rich and want to provide completely for their women.  Edward, while completely overwhelming and controlling, somehow attracts girls to him. Same with Christian. Women want the fantasy.

What most upsets me about the books is that they are unrealistic and set up girls for unwarranted expectations. The women in the novels are weak. They let themselves be controlled and lose themselves in a man because of love. I believe that we need more than that, and to have a truly healthy relationship, we need to have other friends and outlets than just our spouses, for men and women.  Women have made it so far and are only getting stronger. What she should strive for is equality, not submission, even if that is what makes our husbands happy.

Agree? What did you think of the books?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July Book Reviews

Hi All! Sorry I've been gone for a few weeks. I took a break from blogging and traveled home where I was very busy doing all sorts of things, none of which involved a computer. I'll post again soon with my recent activities, promise.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

I read this book because a fellow English teacher recommended it to me. I was telling him that I gravitate towards the classics because I feel I know it will be good and it became a "classic" for a reason, right? Sometimes I do like to branch out to other types of books, but I am not always sure how. There are so many books to choose from that I get overwhelmed. He suggested looking at the NY Times top 10 for the year. So anyway, back to the book.

This book is so intriguing to me because it spans many years and experiences of different narrators for each chapter. They are all somehow connected, and you continue to learn about their "story" through mentions in the other chapters. Through one woman's eyes, another character looks and sound like a total jerk, and he is in some regard. But, when you read the chapter narrated by him, you see the whole thing completely differently and feel for him. This would be a great way to help students understand the importance of point of view and how it affects the reader's understanding. Also, this is just a really interesting novel. Pick it up sometime and let me know what you think!

Sidenote: If you get confused by various narrators and shifts in time, think twice before reading this book. Although lovely, it will baffle you at times.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

So many things to say about this novel! It is some post-apocalyptic time where the world has burned and a man and son are traveling South, still unsure of what they will find when they get there. What instantly caught my attention was the lack of chapters and punctuation. McCarthy does a great job of making the reader feel just how long the son and father's journey is by using this writing technique. I don't like suspenseful situations, so several times during the book I had to put it down and just go do something else for awhile to forget the tension. I liked the ending but it was heart-wrenching really. This book leaves you with several questions like how did this happen to the earth, how did this man and son survive, how long has it been since things went bad and they were on the road? There are no answers. It is the story of the two people and how they survive and their relationship that is explained through short conversations between the two. Again, I'd recommend this book, but get ready! I didn't actually cry, but it hurt my insides to read the book.

This month I also read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck and 50 Shades of Grey.  I plan to write up a comparison between this book and Twilight.