28 September 2006

Inexpensive petro

On Monday, we paid $1.95 per gallon. Nearing $2 used to be an abomination. It is now cause for celebration. Citgo was cheaper, but we are currently boycotting the Venezuelan government-owned subsidiary, so we very happily bought 12 gallons at a slightly higher rate.

On a lighter note, here is a street sign near our apartment. There is a huge Vietnamese population in Houston and in certain areas, the street signs are in both English and Vietnamese.

17 September 2006

"The Office" Party

To celebrate the much-anticipated release of the second season of our favorite television show, "The Office," we had a small get-together (read: the two of us).

We have been waiting months for this moment! (For you fairweather fans, the season premeire is Thursday)

In addition to our viewing marathon, we also had a menu of the finest Office cuisine. If you do not understand all of the allusions, this means you have a life and have not watched the first season 80+ times. Congratulations.

The earliest developmental stage of a ham and cheese sandwich, in honor of Jim Halpert of course. We also wanted to honor Pam Beesly as well, but forgot to buy Yoplait Mixed Berry yogurt. That will have to wait until Season Three.

Michael's favorite dessert was a must-have--ice cream cake (mint chocolate chip!). However, the $18.99 plus tax was a bit steep for our budgetary needs, so we improvised. Patrick is crushing Double Stuf Mint Oreos for the crust and mixing it with chocolate syrup.


The almost-finished product (whipped cream waited for the individual servings).

And finally, we couldn't forget the pilot's practical joke...

We were worried about "damage to company property" and being "put into custardy" but it was well worth the risk. Unfortunately, we got a little excited and took out the Jell-o far too early--the staple remover never really stood a chance. This is definitely an art form that requires grueling training.

08 September 2006

Welcome to Youngblood

Youngblood Intermediate School is where I spend the majority of my waking hours. There are six academies with 6-9 teachers each. I am located in Green Academy. The pawprint is reminding you that it is a great day to be a wildcat.

Here is my hall. I am in 422 while my partner is in 413. I teach my homeroom in the morning and then teach her homeroom in the afternoon.

Here is my door (or the lack thereof). Although we received walls, doors were not part of the package. This just means I can't tell if my kids are talking or if it is across the hall.

Student work--We designed Life Maps which explain important events in our lives. This one is pretty good.

"You're in my world now!"

As you enter Mrs. Ordinary's world, the first thing you will notice is my favorite time-saver. On the first day of school, my homeroom decorated library book pockets. Each morning as the students enter the classroom, they are required to look me in the eye, give me a (firm) handshake complete with Good Morning Mrs. Ordinary, and turn their popsicle stick around. At 8:30, I can quickly glance to see if there is still a red "Absent" stick showing and turn in my attendance. Very effective. The only problem I have is my non-English speaking student. It always turns into "Goomor Mish Huh." You win some, you lose some.

You will see a horseshoe setup. This is how I monitor my students without actually calling them out all the time. Moving closer seems to snap them back into work mode and the horseshoe lets me get to every student. I can also work with small groups on the floor in the middle of the classroom and still be close enough to the other students.

Learning parts of speech is never a blast (perhaps that is why my 5th graders still don't know the difference between a noun and a verb). I think these posters are a bit silly, but the kids seem to enjoy them.

And finally, my board. Yes, I know there is both a U.S. flag and a Texas flag. Yes, I know the posters next to them are not the same size (but they are necessary since we pledge allegiance to the U.S. and Texas every morning). Yes I know the overhead projector screen is not centered with the board (and neither is the U.S. map). Yes, I know the poster above the board doesn't match and is also uncentered. Unfortunately, most of these items are irreversible and/or required and the rest were gifts. Oh well. Hopefully I will have slightly more control next year. We shall see. Also, 10 points to whoever spots all 3 timers (2 stop watches and 1 regular timer), which I believe to be man's greatest invention for the teaching world.

Our Big Goal

The kids are so far behind in their reading levels, so I am working hard to get them motivated to raise their reading levels by two years. This means if they are reading like 5th graders (very unlikely), they will be reading like 7th graders by the end of the year. In all honesty, if I can get them reading like 5th graders by the end of 5th grade, that would be impressive.

Our Big Goal is in the front of the classroom. Although it may appear to be a beehive, it is actually a mountain where each portion represents .5 years growth. The HOW portion of 2 years growth is reading 2007 books in 2007. Oh, and the gravestones? Those are actually rocks and they are floating in the "River of Reason" where we occasionally add a new rock to show why reading is so critical in real life and not just in school.

Here is my reading corner, complete with chill chair. You may notice the gap in the wall on the right side of the photo. Youngblood just received a fourth wall in all of its classrooms. Unfortunately, they don't extend fully and I can look into the classrooms next to me (which explains the poorly placed filing cabinet). Even better, the entire hall knows when a teacher is angry.

This poster is strategically placed in my reading corner. Mr. Pigeon's 6th grade classroom challenged us to the proverbial read-off. We came back with "Meet me when you guarantee me it's going down. 2007 books in 2007. You best believe we're #1! Signed, Mrs. O and the H-Town Irresistibles."

Ah yes, the smell of defeat is evermore pungent. Not for me though.

03 September 2006

Labor Day Weekend

We decided to heed the advice of many-a-Texan and "Remember the Alamo!" Evidently, quite a few others took that same advice. It has been a long week, so we decided to drive to San Antonio for the day (about three hours west) and pay tribute to the Texas beacon of liberty and independence.

Upon arrival, we decided to eat at Rita's Icehouse on the River Walk where they serve ice cold drinks and good Texas food all day long. The enchiladas were great, but the fajitas? Not so much.

Here is Patrick looking very excited to eat his food. Clearly, the smile on his face shows he has not actually tasted it.

The San Antonio River runs through the city. Instead of building around it, the city built the River Walk around the 2.5 miles of river. There are shops and restaurants all along the river. There is even a stage and a small pavilion for a crowd to watch Flamenco dancers. Here we are on a tour of the area.


"La Villita" (little village) was the original center of town, but has since been replaced by the River Walk area. It is now a place where local artists sell their work.

Our last stop was El Mercado, or Historic Market Square. It is the largest Mexican Market outside of Mexico where you can buy crafts, ponchos, homemade gorditas, anything Mexican! Thanks to Tejano 107.5, there was also a lot of dancing in the street. It started off slow, but was pretty full by the time we left.

On Monday, we had a traditional Labor Day barbecue with a twist. I can already hear your lips smacking!