Monday, December 28, 2009
Ironically enough, JC and I decided to start restricting carbohydrates in our diet just a few months later to see if the hype about low-carbs diets is true. It is, by the way (at least for us). But oh, do we miss our bread! Anyway, we have been looking forward to Christmas because we decided we were going eat bread as one of our Christmas presents. And of course, if you only get to eat bread at Christmas, it HAS to be the good kind. So we made our Christmas bread and it was thoroughly enjoyed, if not terribly long-lived. And yes, it tasted as wonderful as we remembered. We thanked the geniuses who first took flour, water and yeast and made this fabulous creation. We sang our praises to gluten. And we ate the whole loaf in one day. Now we have to get back on the bandwagon, so we are a little depressed. However, we have decided that this will be our new yearly tradition and now look forward to that great loaf of bread that we will devour next Christmas.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
This morning we ran the Christmas 10K for the Women and Infant's Hospital and although it was a little cold we thought it was worth getting out and supporting the cause!!!!! It was in Newport and it was a gorgeous run. Next time we do this we will take a small camera because we got to run for 6 miles along the coastline and it was really beautiful, even if it is wintertime!!! Afterwards we drank hot chocolate and ate the obligatory New England clam chowder, a necessary part of every New England event. I am not sure where the race coordinators get their volunteers but they had a bunch of teenaged girls screaming and cheering at different points in the race, and it was very helpful, especially on the hills! I will also say that cold water can still hit the spot, even if it is cold outside. But it's Newport, after all, so it wasn't THAT cold.
We didn't finish first, but neither did we finish last! (And yes, I was worried that we would be dead last. JC said I wouldn't have to be last because he would let me finish before him. What a sweetie!) We made it home and stretched and now I have to go get ready to do a show tonight in Boston.
Here we are, tired and sweaty but feeling very festive!!!
Now it's back to memorizing my music--my brain keeps spitting out random lyrics to holiday music, which is good when they are in order and set to the correct tune. Unfortunately they are mostly not at this point. :-)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Pops toast the season with glee, tradition - The Boston Globe
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Monday, December 07, 2009
It was all working out to be a great trip. However, Evie (my assistant coach) and I noticed that on the metro map there was a closer train station than the one we had planned on using to get back. So, when we were done at the museum, we asked the museum guide how to get to the closer train station. Well, he sent us in the OPPOSITE direction from the station. I knew we were lost when we started wandering around the Wentworth Institute of Technology. So we started back towards the museum and asked some people on the street how to get to Ruggles Station. Do you know every single person gave us different directions? Oh, yes, and right about now it started snowing. Finally we found a street map and located the general vicinity of the station. At this point we were close to missing our train and had to make a mad dash across the campus of Northeastern to finally find the right road. I am sure we looked like some kind of weird running team with backpacks. But find it we did! Unfortunately we arrived at the train station seven minutes after the train had already left. We had an hour and a half before the next train so we hung out in the Northeastern student center and drank hot chocolate and had some dinner/snacks. We DID make the next train and the evening ended well. The team is mostly boys this year and they are extremely chill so it actually made things more fun to have time to sit around and chat.
Anyway, the moral of the story is stick with your plan because trying to make things faster doesn't always make things faster and sometimes makes things much slower! Here is a picture of everyone at Betty's before we changed from the Wheeler Academic Decathlon team to the Wheeler Night-time Track Team:
The novel the kids are reading for the competition is Tale of Two Cities and after our experience we decided that our motto for the year should be:
"It was mostly the worst of times."
Do I have a fun job or what?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I have mentioned before how extremely lucky I was to marry JC, for just about every reason imaginable. But one thing I have always admired and envied is his motivation to work and to set aside what he wants in order to do what needs to be done. I don't think I have ever had to ask him to do anything, he just gets things done. There are only two people that I have seen work like JC works, and one of them is his mother. So I guess he comes by it naturally. At times I can get in a mood and complain about how much work I have, but then I just look at Juan Carlos and it makes me shut up immediately.
Juan Carlos is in Spain right now doing a presentation for a university that has an exchange program with Stonehill, and when he arrived they surprised him with a newspaper interview. He was pretty nervous but it turned out to be a good experience for him.
This has been such a trial for him and such a ghastly amount of work, but something that has helped him grow and develop as a scholar and a writer. I am not going to say I am in any hurry for him to start another book, but I appreciate what an accomplishment this is for him. And I am very proud to be his wife.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
It has been fun to watch the kids as they reenact the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda, discuss and propose resolutions to world issues, and deal with legal issues involved in international dispute. They even have sessions where they wake them up at 1 in the morning and they have to go deal with crisis situations, like wars breaking out or political assassinations and their aftermath. I have never been remotely interested in politics, domestic or otherwise, but I have to admit that it's great to see that there are young people around who are. And now I know why when kids get back from the Model UN trips they are always totally dead in class. Well, we are going home tomorrow and at least there are only two days before Thanksgiving break.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I have been listening to some pieces lately that have really touched me emotionally over the years and are very healing music. The first is O Magnum Mysterium, a Christmas piece by Morten Lauridsen that I sang in college. No matter how terrible I feel, this piece always makes me feel better, and usually more peaceful. This version is the Brussels Chamber Choir and they do a lovely job for such a small group.
O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
The second is called The blue bird, by Mary E. Coleridge and C.V. Stanford. The choir at my school is learning this one right now and we always hear them practicing during my Spanish 3 class. It is particularly nice to listen to while taking a quiz! This version is the Boys Air Choir. This song is gorgeous and boys' voices just add another dimension of ethereality. The words are not life-changing or sentimental, but the combination of voice and words is very calming.
"The blue bird"
Mary Coleridge (1861-1907)
The lake lay blue below the hill,
O'er it, as I looked, there flew
Across the waters, cold and still,
A bird whose wings were palest blue.
The sky above was blue at last,
The sky beneath me blue in blue,
A moment, ere the bird had passed,
It caught his image as he flew.
Be aware that neither of these pieces are going to motivate you to get up and go run a marathon or change the world, but they may bring you a sense of peace and tranquility for a few minutes, as they do me. And these days I really need it.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Anyway, back to the assignment. When you teach school you do get to know the kids pretty well, but you do only have them for 50 minutes a day, and there is a lot that goes on in their lives that you are not a part of (and that is generally a good thing!) So today I learned some things about my students that really expanded my vision of who they are as people, and not just as students.
1. One student talked about going to the baseball game where the Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series after 86 years. He talked about sitting and cheering with his dad and how everyone went out into the streets afterwards and were hugging and kissing each other. We asked if he kissed anyone and he laughed and said "posiblemente".
2. Another student talked about visiting Israel and climbing the plateau to visit Masada. She talked about how much it meant to her to be in Israel and to explore her Jewish heritage. She mentioned how difficult the climb was and what a spectacular view it was from the top and how it was an experience that would affect her whole life.
3. One girl shared her experience of writing and directing a Christmas Eve play for her church and how it was so hard for her because she is not a playwright or a director and how she did not have a lot of support. She wanted to do something nice for the children of the congregation and so she took the initiative to write and put on this play, which was very well received and will be repeated this year.
4. Another of my students is a very gifted musician and he talked about giving his first full piano concert at the Blithewold mansion in Bristol. He talked about how nervous he was and shared the worst thing that happened that night--a piano duet in which his partner turned two pages of the score at once and so they had a little bit of a crash and burn. It was such a success, however, that he has done repeat concerts every subsequent year.
5. A girl talked about a time when she was younger when she and her mother and three brothers left Rhode Island to go on vacation to Florida. She knew something was off about it and sure enough they stayed in Florida for two years. She talked about living in a one-bedroom apartment with her three brothers and mom because living in Rhode Island was too expensive. She talked about how she did not feel the economic difference and never thought twice about wearing the same clothes over and over again. The climate in Florida was not good for her health, though, and eventually things improved enough so that they could rejoin her dad in Rhode Island. I think this was something that a lot of people didn't know about her.
These are just a few of the experiences I heard about today. Now, I can complain a lot about teaching and sometimes I think I chose a very difficult career path. And some days I feel like I should have gone into a field of work that doesn't take over your life so totally. But on days like today I look at who these young people are and who they are becoming and I am, frankly, enchanted.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Well folks, it is confirmed, I just love 13 and 14 year olds, which is weird because my mother swears 13 is the year she wanted to slit her wrists with all of us when we were growing up. It must also be said it was not the best year to live through, however, I remember being a much bigger brat at 15.
Anyway, the first day in class we go over tips for doing well in class, and number one is always "Lose your fear!" The biggest challenge for a language teacher is to actually get the students to speak voluntarily. The first few days are awkward and I swear they all think I'm a lunatic with all the playacting I do in the first few days, but after a couple of weeks everyone gets into the swing of things. After all, if the teacher is acting like an idiot, then it must be ok, right?
Going back to 13....do you remember being 13? How awkward, how uncertain, how hyper-conscious you were about what everybody thought about you? I do. Think back...if a teacher had told you "Lose your fear!", you probably would have thought, "this teacher is obviously psychotic"; at least, I know I would have, just before collapsing into a pile of tormented social anxiety on the floor.
That's why I love them.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Since I have had 10 weeks of no teaching, I should be excited and anticipating the new year with alacrity, yes?
Today as I was wildly putting together AP binders and student-parent contracts and syllabi I wondered where on earth my summer went. It was supposed to be the first summer I didn't do any major travel, so it was going to be nice and relaxing. At least that was the plan.
June 9th-June16th: I went to Cincinnati, OH and graded about 800 AP Spanish tests. Ok, maybe not 800, but it felt like that many, at least. Eight hours a day of grading for 7 straight days. Now and then some very funny stuff, but mostly listening to bad Spanish and rethinking my career choice!
June 17th-30th: I found out that a colleague and I received a grant from the Rhode Island teacher's association to create a teaching unit. So we started creating forms, setting up interviews, begging for equipment and mapping out the plan project.
July 7th-14th: Lovely trip to North Carolina to visit friends and see if it is really as wonderful as I remember. It is.
July 15th-21st: Non-stop filming for teaching unit project.
July 22-August 4th: Visit from my mother and four sisters from out west. We had a great time and gallivanted all over New England. Made the vow that I will never drive through Boston again.
August 5th-14th: Catch up interviews and review of footage for project. Realization that our primary interview footage is totally unusable and that we need a new video camera to redo some of the interviews.
August 19th-23rd: My first performance at Tanglewood. I went to rehearsal Thursday and drove back 2.5 hours to meet Juan Carlos, who had been in Spain for the previous month. Spent Friday the 21st together, then I drove back 2.5 hours again to Tanglewood for the orchestra rehearsal and performance on Sunday.
August 25th: Went back to school for pre-year meetings.
So it turned out not to be the summer I had envisioned, and I face the school year a little less rested than I had hoped. Since I am trying to focus on the positive, though, I just look forward to next summer and tell myself it's not as far away as I think.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
What does my dog have to do with all of this? Well, she is around all day, wondering why she is not getting the walks that she usually does and why we are not giving her the attention that we usually do. I have a great dog. A really great dog. The other day a Verizon repairman stood on our doorstep with the door open to the street for an hour (while we were simultaneously trying to listen to him, eat dinner, feed the dog and get ready to go to a church activity) and she just sat there, cool as you please, for the whole hour, not even thinking about jumping on him or running out the door. My dog also sleeps most of the time (awesome) and never chews on ANYTHING except her chew toys. She never gets up on furniture unless invited, even when we are not around. She stays in her bed in the morning until we are good and ready to get up and take her out (it must be said we are almost always ready before she is). She is always eager to meet another person or dog, and generally is happy all the time. So you can see why we might feel like she deserves a lot more time and attention than we are able to give her in May and selective other times during the year.
We have tried really hard to do everything dog-related ourselves in order to save money and not turn into those crazy dog people that treat their dogs like people, but we finally gave in and took Luna to a doggie day care this week, because she does have needs that we were obviously not taking care of.
The day care is in Attleboro, MA, where we lived for a year. We were not too happy in Attleboro when we lived there, but then we moved to Pawtucket and now we WISH we could move back to Attleboro. It is a little out of the way for us, but well worth it. The staff is wonderful and they even carry the hard-to-find dog food that we give Luna. That alone is worth the price. They have an indoor and an outdoor play area and a large dog and small dog enclosure. And the best thing of all is that they have a streaming webcam so you can check on your dog any time. (Maybe I should say the worst thing, because who would want to do work when they can watch a room full of dogs playing?)
Yesterday was Luna's first day and when she came home she lay down and conked out for the rest of the day. Astonishing! Once I finished my 11pm dishwashing she finally looked at me like, "What are we doing still up? It's bedtime!" So I finally feel like even though we had a crazy busy day, so did she, and hers was considerably more fun than mine!!!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Anyway, I decided to try out for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which is the chorus that sings with the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops. It was a crazy drive into Boston, but JC kept his cool and we got there in time. As I was listening to the other auditionees I was wondering what I had gotten myself into, because it was obvious these were serious singers. All I had to do was sing the song I had prepared--which is easy compared to the Motab audition! But it has been three years since I did any real singing so I still had plenty of nerves, and those of you who know me know my nerves are of gargantuan proportions when I am singing solo. I chose a Brahms for my audition and I felt like it went well, although I am not sure how good my German is! Afterwards John Oliver (the conductor) started asking me questions about the song and he said he had played it before and how it was one of his favorites of Brahms. I hoped that was a good sign. But still, it's the Boston Symphony! So I didn't really expect to get in.
Well, yesterday I found out that I DID!!!! It's a little unbelieveable at this point but I am sure the rehearsal schedule will bring me back to reality soon. The summer season was just published and looks wonderful. I seriously can't believe it. I am excited to get back to singing. And while it's no Motab, I think it will be a close second!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Aren't they awesome? I was so thrilled to get these miniature opera posters in the mail--all I had to do was frame them! I would never have found anything as perfect--I can't even find sheet music in this area so I wouldn't have even dreamed something like this was possible. Anyway, Lara wins a prize even though this was not for the nothing wall. Lara--watch your inbox for your fabulous prize....
Now I bet you are all REALLY hoping I pick your idea for the Nothing Wall!!!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Anyway, here is the problem. I have no idea what to put on walls in the first place, so I copied things from other people's houses that I like and so far, so good. But I have one big, empty wall and no idea what to do with it. More sconces? Pictures? Paintings? Leave it empty? Hang a plant? Something more creative? This is where I am a total incompetent. I just don't know. And if I don't do something, it will be Christmastime again before I make a decision. (And don't think I don't know how much like my Mom that makes me!)
Monday, February 09, 2009
Juan Carlos promptly said:
"Look! The Wipe-It!"
Monday, January 26, 2009
I was so surprised because I know my blog is pretty boring most of the time--I don't have cute kids or interesting hobbies that I write about. So I feel very proud, especially since Lara is the blog meister. Anyway, with this award I have to talk about 5 things that I love and tag 5 other blogs that I love. So here goes:
1. Middle school literature. I love love love it. Maybe it's the freshness and open possibilities, but I just can't get enough.
2. Science fiction/Fantasy movies or books. Again, can't get enough. Maybe I have problems with reality.
3. My 13 nieces and nephews. I continually harrass my brothers and sisters for photos.
4. Fleece. I am really and truly obsessed.
5. My job, where I get to act like a total idiot every day and get paid for it. (Except for when grades are due, and then I hate it passionately)
I am bequeathing this award to the following blogs:
1. Daily Symphony by Erin Leithead. I met Erin in North Carolina and she was such a good friend to me. She moved back to Utah and I was very bummed. It turned out great for her, but not so great for me! Erin has so many interesting things that she posts about, from life with her two adorable little girls to programs that she finds online or recipes that she recommends. I love her blog and I wish she didn't live in SEATTLE. (Honestly, can you GET farther away from Rhode Island?)
2. Gorgeous Georges by Susanna George. Sue does the best in my family at posting pictures of the kids. She also has like 1 million friends so the comment section on her blog is always packed with fun responses. I check every day to see how my little niece and nephews are doing.
3. Gobblin Market by Emma Forsyth. I am giving Emma this award as an encouragement because she has been EXTREMELY lax about posting in the last year and I am in revolt. I loved reading about the books she is reading and the scrum-diddly-umptious recipes that she would prepare, describe and demonstrate oh-so-mouthwateringly! Not to mention that she now has a Berner to take pictures of. Get posting already!
4. Witness to Insanity by Stephanie Birkinshaw. Stephanie was one of my companions on my mission in France who literally saved my sanity. She has three adorable boys and I love reading about her adjustment to life with her baby-boy twins Alex and Brady.
5. Give me a few words for a woman to sing by Rachel Porcaro. I don't think I have ever met anyone more real than Rachel. We lived close when we were in North Carolina at graduate school but those darn jobs took us to different states. I miss her and love keeping up by reading her blog.
Okay everyone--go out there and love some blogs!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
At least it´s French 1.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Anyway, JC was talking to the dog today, telling her what a good life she had because she doesn't do anything except eat, beg for food and sleep. And I realized that while I have a need to do more than those three things, there were a few things I could learn from my dog's approach to life. So here goes.
1. I will be happy with my life the way it is and not concentrate on all the things that it is not. I know Luna does not sit around thinking, "I wish I had a better life" or "I wish we lived in a bigger house". She is delighted to eat, drink, run, greet, sit and sleep, or watch TV. Whatever people are doing, that's what she wants to do. (although I do suspect she wishes passionately for something to fall on the ground while I am cooking)
2. I will stop worrying about what will or will not happen and live in the moment. Luna doesn't worry about whether she will be fed every day. She is very happy to be fed, but if she misses a meal she doesn't crash down into despair. She moves on and starts scavenging off the floor or out in the park. Disgusting but practical.
3. I will pay more attention to JC. Luna has her eyes on JC every moment. (Mostly because he feeds her contraband but also because he is the center of the universe for her) We are both very independent people , but JC is always taking care of everyone else and I need to be better at taking care of him, especially now that his book is being published and he will be working on his manuscript in addition to his regular teaching. I have seen him make himself sick from exhaustion and I do not want that to happen to him. I had a very bad year last year and JC got me through it. Now it is my turn to get him through a tough year. I never forget how seriously lucky I got when I married him.
So there it is. This life is what I have and it is enough and I am grateful. I guess dogs do have a few things to teach their owners.