10 Things To Expect & Not Expect Your First Year of Teaching


My first year, just like mostly every new teacher, was sooooooo hard. Mostly because I didn’t know what to expect. These are tips that would have helped me when I was beginning my first year of school.

  1. Expect to be overwhelmed. Teaching is such a big job. You only find out how big those shoes are once you step into them.
  2. Expect to feel out of sorts. Even if  you have experience student teaching, being in charge is a horse of a different color. This is a new experience. Any new experience can make you feel this way.
  3. Expect to feel overwhelmed. Teaching is such a big responsibility. Until you assume control over a class, you never know just how overwhelming it is. You never know just how many lesson plans there are to make, change, and implement; how to decorate the classroom; how to take advantage of a teachable moment @ any point and time. It’s so much I can’t list them all.
  4. Try to stay on top of the lesson plans. Be very diligent with keeping up with the lesson plans. Your day becomes a lot longer when there’s nothing to do. Hopefully, you’re not in school. If so, good luck with that.
  5. Don’t expect a lot of support. If you have it fine, if not fine. Fellow teachers will be your biggest supporters. Find out who the biggest, baddest teacher is and arrange to have your students spend their time-out there.
  6. Don’t expect everything to be easy. If they are, super-dee-duper-fantastic. If not, welcome to the real world.
  7. Expect the students to challenge you. Believe me when I say they will. They have to.
  8. Do not expect to leave @ 2:40. Are you kidding? Expect to have to put in overtime copying, cleaning the classroom, getting ready for the next day, etc…
  9. Expect to want to quit at least once a week, maybe more.
  10. Finally, expect a steep learning curve. Being the teacher of record is totally different from student teaching. It is so much more to it. I don’t care how prepared you think you are, there’s always more to learn.

Good-Bye Reading Rainbow (The End Of An Era)


The last episode aired Friday, August 28, 2009 on PBS. It’s the end of an era. Reading Rainbowreadingrainbow_lavar is gone.

The theme song I’ll always remember:

Butterfly in the sky, I can fly twice as high, Take a look, It’s in a book, The Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow aired from 1983-2009, with the last original episodes being taped in 2006. The winner of a Peabody award and 26 Emmy awards, ten of which were in the “Outstanding Children’s Series” category. It was the third longest running program on PBS, after Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood & Sesame Street.

It was the home of fantastic book reviews by kids for kids, the celebrity guests reading greatly beloved stories, and LeVar Burton’s melodic voice telling viewers “But you don’t have to take my word for it,” & “I’ll see you next time.”…ALL GONE.

Why is it gone. It’s gone because PBS decided that it was in children’s best interest to teach them how to read instead of teaching them how to love reading. That’s what Reading Rainbow did. It taught the love of reading.

What do you think dear readers? Was that a good choice that PBS made?

I say no, no, no…a thousand times no. There are many shows that teach children how to read. However, Reading Rainbow was the after. What happens after someone learns to read? Once a child learns to read, will they continue to do it? or Will it fall by the wayside like so many forgotten hobbies? Reading Rainbow made a big difference in my children’s lives and the lives of countless others. I’d like to know where I can catch old episodes in reruns or on DVD. I am not ready to say good-bye to Reading Rainbow just yet.

Once again, shame on you PBS!

A.P.L.E. news!


Anyone signed up for A.P.L.E. will be happy to hear this news regarding A.P.L.E. payments. Someone just left a comment on my page regarding payment. They finally got it. I’m happy to hear that. I was starting to get nervous because I will start getting payments next year. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t. I’m happy to hear that people are getting their money. That means $19,000 for me. Thank God.

Hot Me!


I cannot believe this heat. It is too hot. I am sitting under the fan. I want to turn on my air conditioner, but don’t want to see the bill. Last time, it was over $500, when it’s usually about $350. For now, the fan’s good enough. I can’t even imagine being up in La Cañada with the fires. That is not a good situation! My prayers are with those people up there.

25 Books To Read The First Weeks Of School


Dear Readers,

Just thought I’d share this. Even though this list is 4 years old, it’s still the list I choose from. Enjoy!

Here is a complete list of my pick of 25 books to read the first few weeks of school. Enjoy!

  1. A Very Full Morning by Eva Montanari
  2. Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  3. Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann
  4. I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
  5. Just Like Sisters by Angela McAllister
  6. Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell
  7. Secret of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
  8. Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna
  9. The Color of Us by Karen Katz
  10. A Child is a Child by Brigitte Weninger
  11. Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler & Kevin O’Malley
  12. Is There Really a Human Race by Jamie Lee Curtis
  13. Take a Kiss to School by Angela McAllister
  14. Tightrope Poppy the High-Wire Pig by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  15. I Hate to Read by Rita Marshall
  16. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  17. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
  18. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  19. Listen Buddy by Helen Lester
  20. David Goes to School by David Shannon
  21. Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
  22. A Fire Engine for Ruthie by Leslea Newman
  23. Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Muncsh
  24. When I Was Little (A 4 Year old’s Memoirs of Her Youth) by Jamie Lee Curtis
  25. I’m Gonna’ Like Me (Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem) by Jamie Lee Curtis

If you’re not seeing this from my blog, here are the individual links:

  1. here (Books 1-5)
  2. here (Books 6-10)
  3. here (Books 11-15)
  4. here (Books 16-20)
  5. and here Books 21-25).

Books To Read The Fifth Week Of School, Part 5


Here is the end of the list. I read to my class everyday. I highly suggest that you read to yours everyday. Your students will greatly benefit from it.

Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, is one of my favorite books ever. It celebrates one of my favorite subjects of imagination. This is the true story of the author’s mother and aunt’s play world in Yuma, AZ during the Depression. Money and toys were scarce, so they used their imagination and created a little town they called Roxaboxen, complete with a sheriff and a jail. This is the cutest little story. Read it. Your class will love it.

A Fire Engine for Ruthie, by Lesléa Newman, is a must read, especially for little girls. I’d have to a-fire-enginefor-ruthie.jpgsay this book is especially good for tomboys. The little girl in the book, Ruthie, goes to visit her grandma who has many activities all planned out for them; girly activities, that is. As it turns out, Ruthie isn’t interested in any of that. What Ruthie’s interested in are things that boys are traditionally interested in- fire trucks, silver ladders, blue trains, and a little red caboose and wheels that go chucka-chucka, chucka-chucka and a whistle that goes toot! toot! Although Nana doesn’t understand, she lets Ruthie be who she is. This book is about being true to yourself. Great story!

Stephanie’s Ponytail, by Robert Munsch, is so funny. The first time I read this, I kept laughing. It’s so silly. And you know, if you’ve been reading my blog, that I love anything silly. Stephanie, the title character, loves her ponytail. But she doesn’t want it to be like anyone else’s. She asks her mom to put her ponytail on top of her head where it looks like a waterfall. Initially her mother protests, but she does it anyway. A little girl tells Stephanie it’s ugly, ugly, very ugly. However, the next day, when Stephanie comes to school, everyone has their hair like that. Even the teacher. The story continues like that, until Stephanie teaches them all a lesson about being themselves. Although this book is silly, it still has a clear message- Be yourself; don’t copy anyone.

When I Was Little (A 4 Year Old’s Memories of Her Youth), by Jamie Lee Curtis is too cute. I would recommend this book for no older than 1st grade. My daughter loved this when she was in Kindergarten. She liked how the little girl was like her. She pointed out that she spilled things a lot like the little girl in the book, that she rode in a car seat, that she took a nap and made up songs. The part I like is the last page:

When I was little, I didn’t know what a family was.

When I was little, I didn’t know what dreams were.

When I was little, I didn’t know who I was.

Now I do!

This is just a cute little book. There’s no real big message here. The kids may be able to identify with the little girl and they might get a chuckle or two out of it. I think it’s for adults more than children, but it’s still cute.

I’m Gonna Like Me (Letting off a little self-esteem), by Jamie Lee Curtis, is good for up to 5th grade. I read it to my students (that ranged in age from 7-12) and they still thought it was cute. Of course, as the title states, it’s about self-esteem. The little girl in the story tells about how she’s going to like herself when she jumps out of bed, when she grins, when she looses her teeth, etc.

Books To Read The Fourth Week of School, Part 4


ChrysanthemumChrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, is about being proud of your unusual name. Before Chrysanthemum goes to school, her parents dote on her. They tell her how perfect she is and how they love her name; that it’s simply the best name EVER. The trouble begins when she goes to school and someone makes fun of her name. Why would someone say that her name is not perfect? Of course it is. Isn’t it? Chrysanthemum begins to have doubts. Now, she doesn’t want to go to school. Poor Chrysanthemum. Not even her parents can convince her that her unusual name is beautiful. Finally someone comes along and tells Chrysanthemum that her name is one of the loveliest names she’s ever heard of. This gives her her confidence back. A lovely little book.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for KindergartenMiss Bindergarten is a book I’d recommend for, what else?… beginning Kindergarten. It’s too cute. I love the heroine Miss Bindergarten. In case you haven’t heard of it, there’s a series of books with Miss Bindergarten and her class. Most famously, Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of School. In this book, Miss Bindergarten prepares for the first day of Kindergarten.

Alexander and the Terrible

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, is about the worst day ever. It’s just one of them days! Everyone has them. This book captures that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day perfectly. It is such a cute little book. It all centers on Alexander who is having one of the worst days of his young life. It actually began the night before when he fell sleep with gum in his mouth; now there’s gum in his hair. He tripped on his skateboard and dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. From then, he could tell that it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. His best friend is no longer his best friend, and his mom even forgets to pack his dessert in his lunch. He thinks that he’s going to move to Australia! The day just keeps getting worse and worse as it spirals out of control. The book ends with his mom telling him that some days are just like that, even in Australia.

listen_buddyListen Buddy, by Helen Lester, is about a little rabbit, named Buddy, who just doesn’t listen. He simply does not pay attention. This ends up getting him in trouble. Buddy’s mother sends him on different errands. This book teaches how to follow directions.

David Goes to School, by David Shannon, is one of my favorite books. TheDavid goes to school title is self-explanatory. It’s about the little boy, David, who goes to school. The author, David Shannon, wrote his first book when he was 5, called No, David, No! Those were basically the only words he knew how to spell, no, and his own name. This book picks up where the other one left off. It’s very good for pre-K or Kindergarten. It teaches about misbehavior & its consequences as young David misbehaves the whole day and makes a series of excuses as to why he’s misbehaving. At the end of the book we see David washing all the desks until they sparkle. However, all is not lost as David is given a pat on the head and a gold star. Even though we love David, we still see that there are consequences for misbehavior.

Books To Read The First Weeks Of School, Part 3


Miss MalarkeyMiss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind, by Judy Finchler, is a book I could have written myself. It’s about a teacher who loves to read trying to inspire the same desire in her students. The exciting part begins when the school enters a contest to read 1,000 books. However, Miss Malarkey doesn’t just want the students to read for the contest, she wants them to actually appreciate the joy of reading. The problem begins when four boys refuse to cooperate. One by one, Miss Malarkey finds three of them books they love. They now find themselves reading books instead of playing video games. Finally, Miss Malarkey finds a book for the last one. He wants to be the one to read the 1,000th book.

human race

Is There Really a Human Race?, by Jamie Lee Curtis, is a good book. (I’m running out of synonyms here!). I read it to my class to help them understand that, even though we look different, we’re all the same.

take a kiss to school

Take a Kiss to School, by Angela McAllister, will help those children who don’t want to go to school because they’re afraid their moms will miss them too much. So, the mom in the story comes up with a way to reassure her daughter that she’ll be okay while she’s at school. She fills her daughter’s pockets full of kisses so she can take them out and use them when she needs it. Somehow the mom manages to make it through the day without her daughter. It kinda’ reminds me of my separation anxiety from Phillise when she went to school. Cute! Very cute!

tightrope poppyTIGHTROPE POPPY the High-Wire Pig, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, was a sweet little book about following your dreams. This book is a must read for anyone who dreams of a career path out of the ordinary. Poppy wants to be a tightrope artist. Even though this is not the typical thing that a pig does, she decides to leave home and follow her dreams. The circus owner welcomes her aboard and tells her to practice. She tells him that she doesn’t need practice. When her big day comes, she falls in front of everyone. She is so embarrassed that she wants to quit but she doesn’t. She takes the owner’s advice and practices. When she gets her chance again, she is the hit of the show. All of her practice and perseverance pays off. The message- You can do anything you want to do. Live your dream.

I Hate to Read by Rita Marshall,I hate to read was a book I received straight from the publisher to review in advance. I liked it. In the book the title character, Victor, is a good kid, but he was a victim of the “I Hate to Read” syndrome. He hates to read. That is until he meets the crocodile in the white coat who introduces him to the many adventures he can experience in a book. Trust me, your students will love it. By the time you finish reading the book, some of your students may very well learn to love reading. Check it out!

Inspired Me!


I am so inspired. I got a dose of inspiration from last weekend’s Los Angeles Black Book Expo. There were many authors & wanna-be authors there. I am one of them. One of the key things that inspired me was this psychologist/writer/publisher from Texas (I cannot remember her name right now). She gave a workshop on finding your true writing style based on your personality. I have to say that it was spot on. She basically told me about myself, books I like to read and write, and how I write them from the personality inventory I filled out.

SHUT UP!! She even told me that I was a procrastinator. I am! And one thing, in particular, that I’ve been procrastinating on is getting my book published that I wrote 2 years ago. I wanted it to be a picture book, but it’s more suited for a young adult novel.

First of all, the story that I want to publish, began as an essay for one of my classes @ APU. My professor loved it. Once I thought about it, I loved it too. It was a pretty great little story to have been written in two days. It was quite good. Good enough to be published. I’ve let others read the story and they’ve agreed also. However, I’ve been so nonchalant about polishing it off and getting Dakota to illustrate it, since he’s such a fantastic artist.

So, I spoke with the publisher about my lack of inspiration in getting it published. Since she’s a psychologist also, I asked her why I do that. She told me. So, now I’m trying to get up the inspiration to get the story together and send it off to the publisher.

Sam & Dakota are out the house, so it’s kinda’ peaceful. I might start tonight. How ’bout that? How ’bout now?

Books To Read The Second Week Of School, Part 2


stand_tallStand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon, by Patty Lovell, is a great book about self-esteem. Molly Lou Mellon has teeth nearly as big as her head, she sounds like a bull frog, and she’s the shortest kid in her class. However, none of that stops her from believing in herself. She learned it from her dear old grandma-LOVE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT! Some students will identify with Molly, who’s the underdog who triumphs in the end.

Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, was a fantastic book. peaceful warriorMy students loved it. One of my students even asked if I could buy him one (I did!). He wanted to earn it. Why did my students love it so much? Well, the book deals with bullying, friendship, and turning negatives into positives. The book begins as the title character, Danny, meets an older gentleman by the name of Socrates while he’s running from a bully. It’s kinda’ like a Karate kid book. Socrates teaches Danny about the peaceful warrior. A contradiction? I know. Read it and you’ll understand.

peabodyMr. Peabody’s Apples, by Madonna, was quite impressive. This led me to wonder if she wrote it, herself, or if she had someone ghost write it for it. Anyway!I loved this book. It deals with gossiping and its harmful effects. I read it to my students because of all the gossiping my students were doing. In the book, Mr. Peabody is the victim of vicious gossip. He teaches the perpetrator a lesson he’ll never forget.

The Color Of Us, by Karen Katz, is a book to read eventhe color of us in a homogeneous environment (I don’t know where that exists). Itcelebrates the different colors of everyone. It shows us how we’re alike, and how we’re different.

a child is a childA Child is a Child, by Brigitte Weninger, is a wonderful book to build a sense of community. It shows that you can love someone who doesn’t look like you. My students loved it. They almost didn’t get the point I was trying to make, at first. At the time I read this book, there was a lot of name calling going on in my classroom. Once I finished the book, the students were really quiet. I asked them if they thought the idea of a mouse, who’s gray, raising frogs that are green was silly. Initially they answered yes. However, after a discussion, they agreed that it didn’t matter what color everyone was, as long as the animals (kids) were taken care of.

Mission Impossible Assignment # 3: School Shopping On A Budget


Okay, all you shoppers out there. Boy, do I have an assignment for you: School Shopping on a budget. Should you choose to accept this assignment, you may encounter a store full of shoppers, some rude, some not. You may also stop and park @ several locations looking for the perfect deal. Well, lucky for you I know where to shop for uniforms, so look no further. I’ve found the perfect place; at least it’s the perfect place to get school uniforms at unheard of prices.

Listen up. Here’s how the mission began and ended in one place. During the summer I received a notice from Phillise’s school stating that uniforms are now mandatory. The only requirement, a navy blue or white shirt with any color bottom. Yeah! That means waaaaay less money I have to spend.

Since I knew I had a nearly impossible mission (less than $200 for 2 children) and funds are low, I decided to run to FALLAS PAREDES’ warehouse. I knew I’d find great deals there. I always do.

Was I right fellow shoppers? Yep, I sure was. I got the same deal as last year: a grey jumper & a burgundy jumper for $1 each. Yep, you read right- $1 for the jumpers. So, I got her 2 grey ones, 1 burgundy one, a navy blue skort (@ $6.99), and 3 white uniform shirts @ $1.99 each, for a grand total (after taxes) of $17.52.

@ Target, I bought 20 pairs of underwear, 6 camis & 20 pairs of socks for a grand total of $26.32. @ Old Navy, 2 weeks ago, I bought some white sneakers with black polka dots for $10.97.

So, for Phillise’s sneakers, uniforms, underwear & socks, I paid a grand total of:

$17.52 + $10.97 + $26.32= $54.81

Having only 2 children to buy school clothes is so much easier since they both wear uniforms. David even has some from last school year. I will recycle @ least 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants. So, fellow shoppers, did I accomplish my impossible assignment of school shopping for 2 children for $200 or less? Well, that remains to be seen since I still have to buy David’s shoes, uniform pants, and shirts. However, last year, I simply went to Big 5 for the shoes. Looks like I’ll be going there again this year. I will keep you posted.

If you’d like to visit the warehouse, here’s the information.

FALLAS PAREDES Warehouse

15001 S. Figueroa St.

Gardena, CA 92048

(310)965-0379

http://www.fallasparedes.com

Don’t believe it, check it out for yourself.

P.S.- I am seriously going to take pics of Phillise in her uniforms and I will scan my receipt from Fallas Paredes.

Classroom Discipline 101


I am very excited. I just found an excellent Classroom management blog. The author is a 20 year veteran of some of L.A.U.S.D.’s toughest schools. I have not purchased this book yet, as funds are low. But, I will purchase it as soon as I can. It looks very promising. I will let you know if it’s worth a purchase or not. Or, if you buy it before I do, let me know. Drop me a comment. For now, here’s the website: Classroom Discipline 101

Books To Read The First Week Of School, Part 1


I’ve compiled a list of 25 books that would be great to read the first week of school. Initially I only intended to make one list, but it got so hard to narrow it down to only one week. Since I read to my students everyday, I thought it would be nice to give some one, who is maybe unfamiliar with picture books, a helping hand. So, here is a list of books to read to the students the first week of school, with a list to follow each day this week. Except for this list, which I consider the best, these books are in no particular order. Enjoy!

first day of school

A VERY FULL MORNING, by Eva Montanari, is a book I reviewed last year ’cause I thought it was too cute. It’s the first day of school and the title character, Little Tooth, doesn’t want to go. She’s scared and doesn’t want to go to class. She procrastinates by taking the long way to school. She gets to school just in time. There’s only one seat left. She nervously walks in and takes it. As she quietly slips in, she decides she needs to say a quick hello to the class.

“Hello, class,” she says. This is my first day of school as well. I’m your new teacher.

Thank_You_Mr_Faulkner

Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco, is one of my favorite books. When I first read this book, I thought it had to be the most beautiful book I’d ever read. It’s the author’s own story of her battle learning to read, which she didn’t do until she was 9 years old. This book has special meaning for special education students who are in 3rd grade or higher and don’t know how to read. When I read it to my students, they were tearing up. So was I, and my assistants. This book deals with learning disabilities and bullying. Do yourself a favor and read this on the first day. Especially if you’re a special education teacher.

rubyRuby the Copycat , by Peggy Rathmann, teaches about knowing who you are; about being an individual. Ruby copies everything her classmate does. That is until Ruby’s teacher helps her find her own niche, so she won’t have to copy anyone. A good read.

I Like Myself, by Karen Beaumont, is one of the cutest books ever. i like myselfI love this book because it teaches self-esteem. When I first read the book, it reminded me of my little girl, Phillise. There’s this picture in the book where the little girl in the book gets her hair washed and it’s sticking straight up. Kinda’ scary looking. It so reminded me of Phillise’s hair when I wash it. Although I love that the little girl is brown, your audience doesn’t have to be. The message is loud & clear- love yourself no matter what you look like.

just like sistersJust Like Sisters, by Angela McAllister, is the perfect book for fostering a sense of community. Even though the heroines of the book are completely different, they love each other like they’re family.

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Black Book Expo


Yesterday’s LABBX was fantastic. I made a couple of connections. I met author L.A. Banks, author of The Vampire Huntress Legends series.

Most notable was meeting E.P. McKnight, actress & author of Words ‘n’ Action- Inspiration for the Human Spirit for valley moments in life. Her book was so powerful. I was low on funds, so I had no intention on buying it. I’d just planned to browse. So, I picked it up, just to browse through it. I opened right to her poem entitled, The Examination. I read the first two lines and started tearing up.

“What is going on here?” I thought to myself. This is so unlike me. I don’t like crying in public. So, I laid the book down and wiped my tears away.

“Let’s try this again,” I said. So, I opened the book and started tearing up again.

“Are you serious,” asked the author.

Yes, I am. This poem is beautiful. I can’t believe it touched me so deeply. This is not like me to cry in public. I’m so embarrassed.

“It’s okay,” she said. Let me give you a hug. So, she came around to give me  hug. By this time, I’m tearing up so bad that I’m very nearly crying. I asked her how much the book was, I paid her and left.

She gave me her contact information and asked me if there was anything she could do for me. Even though it was a little embarrassing, it was a great experience. I am so happy to have met her and bought her book.

Just Like Sisters by Angela McAllister


Just Like Sisters (2005), written by Angela McAllister andjust like sistersillustrated by Sophie Fatus, is a nice little read aloud. I first came across this book when I had to review a series of books for my Children’s Literature class. For the assignment, I had to review 25 books, write a review on them, and make a page on them. My professor loved it so much, she gave me a 350/300. She said that it was the best picture book she’d ever seen. For this one, I photocopied the cover in color, cut it out, and embellished it. I cut little pieces of yellow yarn for the little girl’s hair, made a bow for the alligator’s hair, and cut teeth for her. It was too cute.

When I reviewed this book two years ago, I did not purchase it. Now, I’m happy to say that this book is part of my collection. I recently purchased this book from Food 4 Less for $5. Boy was I happy when I saw the price.

I chose this book because I liked the outside. It was so interesting it made me want to read the inside. From the cover I kinda’ guessed what the inside was about. I was right. This is a story about friendship, being different, and acceptance. I would recommend this book for anyone 4-40. So, on to the review.

This way a cute, little story with charming illustrations about a little girl, Nancy, & her friend, Ally, an alligator. Nancy & Ally are penpals. They have been writing to each other for a long time. They know each other so well.They read and re-read each other’s letters so much. Finally, Ally writes to Nancy to tell her that her plane arrives on Saturday morning. Nancy couldn’t be more excited.

Just like clockwork, Ally’s plane is right on time. They hug. Ally tells Nancy she’s exactly as she imagined.

“So are you,” said Nancy.

The got out and paint the town red. They have a fantastic time. They get to Nancy’s home and go right to Nancy’s room where they continue talking and sharing photos. Later, they try on her mom’s lipstick, watch videos, and finish two cartons of ice cream.

The next day they go shopping and buy exactly the same thing. They wonder if people will mistake them for twins. Finally, it’s time to go home. What do you think happens when it’s time for Ally to leave?

Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself. It’s a cute little story. Check it out!

The Marshmallow Incident by Judi Barrett


The Marshmallow Incident (2009), written & illustrated by husband and wife team Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett, was a cute little book. It wasn’t hilarious. It was more of a thought provoking book. It’s an underlying theme of prejudice and silly feuds (a la The Hatfields & The McCoys). Star Trek's BlackWhitesneetchesThis book kinda’ reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s  The Sneetches & that Star Trek (original) episode where the black/white  and white/black people were feuding. In Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches, the sneetches are feuding because some of them have stars on their bellies, while some do not. On the Star Trek episode, Enterprise finds itself in the middle of a civil war. Captain Kirk inquires as to what the two peoples are fighting about. To which he responds,”Why, can’t you see, Captain? I’m black on the left side and he’s black on the right side.

marshmallow-incident

Silly, right? Well, that’s like this book (and life). Only this time, it’s as simple as being left-handed and being right-handed. The Town of Left and the Town of Right are separated by a dotted yellow line, and no one on either side can remember how things got to be this way! Everyone in the Town of Right thinks that everything Right is the best. While everyone in the Town of Left think that everything Left is the best.

“How, oh, how did things get this way,” someone wonders. But, no one can answer that, so they go on with life as usual. Only separated by a big, yellow dotted line. They live side-by-side, yet totally separate. That is, until one day, an unlucky citizen crosses the line–and so begins the Marshmallow Incident, a tale of Left and Right, and Right and Wrong. (This is where the marshmallows come into play).

Okay, those marshmallows. What about those marshmallows? 50,000 cases of marshmallows! Where did they come from? Someone won them awhile back. Imagine that? What are they going to do with all those marshmallows? What do the marshmallows have to do with the feud and the yellow dotted line? Well,  I guess you’re just going to have to read it and find out for yourself.

I’ve also reviewed one of Barrett’s other books, Things That are Most in the World. BTW, she is also the author of the book (and upcoming movie) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I read it a long time ago, but never thought to review it. I guess that’ll be my next review. Check it out!

It’s All About Who You Know!


I haven’t so many things on plate, I don’t know where to begin. However, this one problem has been the most pressing because it deals with my being able to get and keep a job. Well, God is working it out for me. At the beginning of summer, boredom was one of my biggest problems. I wish that was the extent of it now. Let’s see, where do I begin?

  • Well, I have four Incompletes. Yep, you read right. Four.
  • I need to take a class that’s only offered in the Fall (for which I can’t register).
  • I need to find a new job.
  • I need an extension on my Intern permit (which LMU is dragging its ass on).
  • I am discouraged.

So, I’ll begin by saying that God really takes care of me. I had a meeting with the dean yesterday, which was kinda’ weird in itself. I made the appointment last week with the dean’s assistant, yet, she had no record of it. However, the dean being the compassionate person that she is, made time for me anyway. I just had to wait 10 minutes.

So, I get into the dean’s office, she asks me about the incompletes; why there are so many. To which I respond by bursting into tears. I didn’t mean to. It just happened. I was so embarrassed. Even worse, I couldn’t stop. I guess the stress of the past couple of years just got to me. My guard was down. N-e way, I composed myself and spoke with her. We made a plan to clear my incompletes. The only problem was that I need to take a class that’s only offered in the Fall. But, I can’t register because I owe the university money (which I don’t have right now). That’s when she suggested that I take the semester off, clear the incompletes, and do what’s called a private tutorial. I’ll explain that at a later date. I didn’t even know this option existed. It’s exactly what I need. I don’t have to attend a traditional class, plus I still get the credit. It’s all about what you know and who you know.

Needless to say I left the meeting feeling a renewed sense of confidence. I completed my incomplete petitions and left feeling on top of the world. God really takes care of me.

The Day I Saw My Mother-in-Law’s vagina!


worst-weekAh, the day I saw my mother-in-law’s vagina. What a catchy title? You just have to read this post now, don’t you? Trust me, this post is not going to be what you thought it was going to be about. This post is about a couple of things. Like to hear them, here they are:

  1. Why I don’t play classical music anymore.
  2. Why does, “Aha, aha…,” mean?
  3. Why I don’t share my blog address with many people.
  4. How I came up with the title, “The Day I Saw My Mother-in-Law’s Vagina”

I know, with a title like that, I have a lot of explaining to do, so here goes: When I first started at my site last year, I used to play classical music to calm the students down. However, one time the Principal came into my room and instructed me to turn it off. She said that it was too distracting. So, I had to stop. Even though it was working, I had to stop. That’s why I stopped playing classical music in my classroom.

Now, that leads me to my second point of “Aha!…Aha!…” In the movie Princess Bride, Billy Crystal’s character would make these silly little points that had absolutely no point. Once someone would question him about the meaningless “points”, he would hold up his finger and respond, “Aha!…Aha!…” The questioner would be left with a blank look wondering why in the world he thought he’d proven a point when he absolutely did not. That wraps up my second point and brings me to my third point of why I don’t share my blog address with many people at my work site.

Well, the main reason that I don’t share my blog address with many at my work site is because a couple of them are scared of Special Education. They remember how the students used to be before I came. Some of them still choose to see them like that even though they’re not like that anymore. They just have a hard time changing their way of thinking about special ed. Everything was fine until Nu. Now, this lends credence to what people were saying, “See! I told you how those Special Ed kids are!”

Well, the problem is that recently I decided to share my blog address with a couple of teachers @ school. So, right now, I’m not sure who’s reading this. But, since I don’t work at that job site anymore, it’s not all that important. Let’s move on!

Lastly, to wrap this up, I used to watch this great (recently cancelled) show, “Worst Week”? Well, what does this show, seeing my mother-in-law’s vagina, not playing classical music anymore, why I don’t share my blog address with a lot of people, and “Aha, aha…,” have to do with anything? Okay, well, just wait a little bit longer and I’ll bring it back around.

On the show, “Worst Week,” the main character, Brian, who’s a writer, is always doing stupidly destructive things. All kinds of crazy, out-of-the-ordinary kinds of things happen to him. He’s like an accident magnet- accidents are so drawn to him.

Well, Brian tells the story of how, in a quirky twist of fate, he saw his mother-in-law’s vagina. In the show, Brian and his fiancée are making an appointment to see the gynecologist because, unbeknownst to the family, his fiancée, Mel, is pregnant. What they don’t know is that his M-I-L is also going to the gynecologist. But she’s old school so she doesn’t talk about stuff like that.

When it’s Sam & Mel’s turn to go in, he’s busy doing something else, so he doesn’t go in with her. Now he doesn’t know which room she’s in. In order to find out which room she’s in, he gives the nurse the last name and the nurse tells him the room number. Or so he thinks!

Anyway, to shorten the story and keep it moving, suffice it to say that Sam ends up seeing his M-I-L’s vagina. He tells the guys about it and it somehow makes its way back to the boss who tells him to write about it. He does and as usual, some mishap occurs. His M-I-L ends up with the story. He wanted to write it to get it out, but didn’t want to publish it. That’s what predicament I find myself in.
I have this fantastic story to tell but I can’t tell it. So, learning from Brian’s mistake I won’t even publish that story. I will simply be content and settle for telling it to my husband, my sister and Traci.

It’s funny how somethings can be seemingly unrelated, yet they conspire to bring about a revelation that most people (those who aren’t odd & quirky like me) wouldn’t connect. I know. It took a long time to bring it around, but it was kinda’ funny. What I’m basically trying to say is that I have this really funny story to tell that I cannot tell for various reasons.

On a final note, I could totally have written for Seinfeld. I’m just saying!

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry by Bebe Moore Campbell


sometmes my mommy gets angrySometimes My Mommy Gets Angry (2003), written by the late Bebe Moore Campbell and illustrated by E.B. Lewis, is a wonderful book. As you know, if you’ve read a couple of my reviews, I am a great believer in bibliotherapy. This book is perfect for that. The author had personal experience dealing with mental illness with her daughter, actress Maia Campbell of In The House fame. Campbell says that she wrote this book for all the young children who have parents who battle mental illness. She, very much wanted this book to be used as an opportunity to develop resilience by introducing and/or reinforcing coping strategies.  This book is perfect for child psychologists, parents, guardians & teachers to read and share with any child who has a parent, caretaker, or family member who suffers from a mental illness. Shortly after this book, she wrote 72 Hour Hold, the story of a mother struggling to help her 18-year-old daughter, a victim of bipolar disorder. I love that Campbell wrote this book. I read how, in one interview, she discussed how the Black community  doesn’t like to talk about mental illness as if it’s a shame. It’s not. It’s just like any other illness. If you need to take medication to make yourself well, that’s what you do. That’s why I appreciated this book so much. Finally, someone willing to write a children’s book about it. I also wrote another review for a children’s book dealing with depression also, called Monster Mama.I wish that more people would see it for what it is- an illness- not something to be ashamed of.

maiaN-e way, on to the review.

I would recommend this book for someone as young as 4 years old. Even though this is a heavy subject, if someone that young is dealing with this scenario, then they need to know they are not alone. As the main character in the book, Annie, has to deal with her mother’s mental illness. As the book begins, Annie’s mother is in a manic state. She fixes her pancakes, helps her get dressed for school, and gives her a kiss and a big smile. She’s happy because she says sometimes her mommy doesn’t smile at all.

In class, she draws a picture of her and her mommy with pancakes and sunshine all around them. As she gets home, she knocks excitedly on the door as she tries to show her mommy her picture. However, her mommy comes to the door (in a depressed state) and tells her to, “STOP ALL THAT SCREAMING,” & “GET IN THIS HOUSE NOW!”

“Her morning smile has disappeared like the sun,” says Annie.

So, she calls her support system, her grandmother. She tells her grandmother what’s going on and her grandmother assures her that she didn’t do anything wrong, that her mother has problems, but hasn’t gotten the help she needs. Annie doesn’t think it’s fair that she has to take care of herself whenever her mother has “problems”. Her grandmother tells her that she knows it’s not fair, but congratulates her on remembering what to do when her mom has “problems”. She has Annie explain what to do. In an emergency, Annie is to: call her grandmother, go next door to the neighbor’s house, get her secret snack, and think happy thoughts.

I have to tell you that this book made me cry. As always, I won’t tell you how the book ends. You’re going to have to read it for yourself to find out. But, suffice it to say that it does not insult you with an unrealistic, syrupy ending. On the back cover, it simply says, Some days are good. Some days are not. I’d say that sums up the life of someone suffering from mental illness, as well as those close to them. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, as well as some Kleenex. You’ll need it.

If you would like to learn more about Bebe Moore Campbell, click here.

An Interesting Discussion With Phillise


I just had an interesting discussion with Phillise. As I was writing a book review that E.B. Lewis illustrated, Phillise noticed his name and said,

I love my hair

“Hey, that’s the same person who illustrated “I Love My Hair.”

“You are absolutely right,” I said. I missed it. Good job of catching that. Give me a high five. I was so proud of my little girl. Only seven years old and she recognizes illustrators and authors. I’m proud of myself for training her well. I can remember explaining the difference between authors and illustrators when she was four years old. She wondered why I had more than one book by the author. At this point I discussed authors and illustrators with her, we researched their background and how they came to be in their present career. I told her that once I liked an author’s style, that I wanted to read more of their works and find out more about them. She found this information interesting. So, now when she finds a book she likes, she wants to know more about them.

But, that’s not what we had the discussion about. We discussed how she thought Judith Viorst’s book judith viorst“MY MAMA SAYS THERE AREN’T ANY ZOMBIES, GHOSTS, VAMPIRES, CREATURES, DEMONS, MONSTERS, FIENDS, GOBLINS, OR THINGS,” would be better titled “Sometimes, even mamas make mistake”. So, not being one to pass up a teachable moment, I had her re-read the book to me, then we looked at what was going on in the story, how many times monsters were mentioned and how many times his mama made a mistake. I then asked her why she thought that. She actually gave me a pretty good reason. As it turned out, the mother making mistakes and monsters being mentioned was actually pretty even. There were as many instances of monsters as the mother making a mistake. However, I asked her which one did she think was a catchier title; which one would sell more. We agreed it was the current one and ended the discussion. It was a pretty good discussion to have with her. Afterwards, she went in her room to make a book of her own. She asked me to help her bind it. I love my beautiful, smart & creative little girl. I hope to have many more conversations like this with her.

The Big Elephant In The Room by Lane Smith


big elephant” Well? What is it? Is it the big elephant in the room?,” one friend asks another.

I loved this book. I thought it was cute. However, others…not so much! I read other reviews where the reviewers did not care for this book. I understand there’s an underlying theme in regard to one friend not sticking up for the other, but I liked it nonetheless. If the children pick up on that particular element, we’ll discuss it. If not, it will be just another silly Lane Smith book I’ll read to my students. N-e way, on to the review.

The Big Elephant in the Room (2009), written & illustrated by Lane Smith is a book I would recommend for children as young as 4-5. It’s a cute, silly little book. the book stars two donkey friends, one geeky and one cool.  The cool one keeps listing all these mean things that he thinks the geek is upset with him about. This is the part the other reviewers were not particularly fond of. The cool donkey rattles off a list of things he thinks the geeky donkey will be offended about. It turns out the cool donkey has “done” quite a few things to the geeky donkey. So, what is it? What could be the big elephant in the room? I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself.

Fretful David!


My little boy, David, frets so much. I just received his CST scores and he performed exceedingly well. He was 8 points away from Advanced in Language Arts, and 11 points away from Advanced in Math. Yet, he was still upset.

“I didn’t get Advanced, mom?” he asked with a whimper.

David, forget about it. You worry too much. You did a great job. Sometimes you just get tired of taking the test and mark anything. You’ll get Advanced next year. Just chill out.

ZOOM by Diane Adams


zoomZoom (2006), written by Diane Adams, and illustrated by Kevin Luthardt is a fun, rollercoaster ride of a book.

I actually meet this author. She’s a friend of my Children’s Literature teacher, Katherine, from APU. So, Katherine got her to come to the class, read the story aloud, and share her experience with us. That night in class was very laid back and relaxed. It was a welcome break from the intensity of the program. She was really nice and down to earth. I liked the book. The illustrations are colorful and the text is full of great rhymes. There were a lot of colorful little back stories. In fact, according to Diane, the illustrator actually put himself in the book. He’s the dad. Well, enough about that, on to the review.

The little boy in the story is finally tall enough to ride the DINO COASTER. He’s nervous but excited while he stands in line. He bravely climbs aboard and fastens his seatbelt. He’s a little scared, but his dad assures him that he’ll be fine.

“All aboard,” the crewman cries.

I lock my seatbelt, close my eyes.

The book describes what a child’s first rollercoaster ride would be like. The text fits together perfectly describing the ride. After reading this to my daughter (which the author personally autographed for her), she was curious about rollercoasters. If your little one is curious about rollercoasters and would like to see how it ends, you’re just going to have to read it for yourself. It’s a cute little book. You’l like it.

Reflections…


Now that I’ve had a couple week’s downtime, I feel that I am sufficiently rested to be able to reflect upon the school year so far with a clear mind. I cannot believe how overwhelming this thing called teaching can be.

This year and last year, I have alternated between feeling on top of the world to feeling like a mediocre mess to feeling like one of the biggest slackers in the world. I know that I am not a slacker. I do indeed have my plate full. But I know that if I was a little bit more organized that I could get a little more done. Time is winding down though. In only 6 month’s time, I will have earned my Master’s degree and my preliminary teaching credential. My plate will be less full. Thank you Jesus and Hallelujah!

Although I have had an amazing year despite all the hardships and obstacles to overcome, I would not recommend this course to anyone else. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I simply cannot believe that I have made it this far with my sanity intact. At times I couldn’t even think straight. I am already forgetful, but with all of the pressure, I have misplaced and lost so many things that are essential to my teaching and my daily life it’s ridiculous. I’ve typed out my lesson plans and lost them. I’ve lost my keys, my cell phone (for 2 weeks-it was in the back of my car), my T.E.’s, copies, etc.

I am soooo happy that I am almost finished school. Even though I wouldn’t recommend earning your teaching credential while teaching to anyone (if I had it to do all over again this way, I sure wouldn’t),I have to admit that I have learned so much. This is the kind of knowledge that you only get from experience.

I have had many experiences that I do not care to repeat in the past year, but they have made me the better person for it.

It Has To Land Sometime! RIGHT!


The plane has to land sometime; especially when it’s in a holding pattern and has been that way for quite a long time. I feel like my life is perpetually on hold or in a holding pattern. I’m not moving forward. I think this means that there is still a lesson that I need to learn. It is something that I’m missing that I need to get so I can move on. What is it? I need to find out so I can get on with the business of living.

Carnival Of The Animals by John Lithgow


Carnival of the Animals (2004), written by John Lithgow and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, was quite a treat. It even has a music CD in the back of the book. The New York City Ballet choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, wanted to create a new ballet based on Camille Saint-Saëns’s orchestral suite Carnival of the Animals. He asked John Lithgow to help him turn it into a children’s story with rhyming narration. Did it work? Yes, it did.

This was my latest purchase from the .99¢ store believe it or not. I got three to give away as presents for the Book Club. I’ve never seen the musical, but I did like the book. Now, on to the review.

carnival of the animals

As the book begins, we see young Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third, a mischievous imp of a lad as he stows away in the Natural History Museum. As he sleeps, once familiar folks become animals and invade his dreams.

For example, the students who went to his school

Were hyenas, determined to break every rule.

And in shabby brown tweeds with an old yellow tie on,

Professor McByrd was turned into a lion!

In his dreams exist the most dreaded of all species, The Greater New York younger sibling. Next are the twins, Aspidistra & Myrtle, who went to the park every Sunday where they’d sit and they’d stare. Recalling their years with the Follies Bergère. The book goes on to tell the story of Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third’s exploits in the museum. Wanna’ know how it ends? I guess you’re going to have to read it. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Bartholomew & The Oobleck by Dr. Seuss


bartholomew and the oobleckBartholomew & the Oobleck (1949), written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, was a nice read. I don’t know how I never ending up reading this book, but I never did until this May. I read it to my class. We were supposed to make the oobleck but ended up running out of time. That’s okay ’cause I will make this one of my first science experiments when I return to work. I would recommend this book for children as young as 4 years old. Now, on to the review.

The story begins:

They still talk about it in the Kingdom of Didd as The-Year-the-King-Got-Angry-with-the-Sky. And they still talk about the page boy, Bartholomew Cubbins. If it hadn’t been for Bartholomew Cubbins, that King and that Sky would have wrecked that little Kingdom.

As usual, stories are about silly rulers who shouldn’t be rulers at all. The same holds true for this story. The king is so silly, he’s growling @ the sky. He’s actually mad about what comes down from the sky.

In the springtime when rain came down, he growled.

In the summer time when the sun shined, he growled at that.

In autumn when the fog came down, he growled at that.

In winter, when the snow came down, he became furious. So mad was he at those same four things that he commissioned his Royal magicians to create something NEW.

Does he really know what he’s asking for? Do the Royal Magicians create something new?

Of course they do. It’s called Oobleck.

What is Oobleck? This is oobleck (click here).

What happens with the oobleck is for me to know and you to find out. Go pick it up @ your local library or bookstore if you wanna’ find out.

How To Make Oobleck!


I read this book to my students and was supposed to make the Oobleck, but ran out of time. I will make this one of my first science experiments when I return to work. I love to connect literature with everything. My students loved this book.

What is Oobleck? Oobleck was the name given to a type of slime in a Dr. Seuss book that was capable of gumming up a whole kingdom. The oobleck that you can make for a science project isn’t gummy, but it does have interesting properties of both solids and liquids. It normally behaves like a liquid or jelly, but if you squeeze it in your hand, it will seem like a solid.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 10-15 minutes

Here’s How:

Mix 1 part water with 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch. You may wish to start with one cup of water and one and a half cups of cornstarch, then work in more cornstarch if you want a more ‘solid’ oobleck. It will take about 10 minutes of mixing to get nice homogeneous oobleck.

Mix in a few drops of food coloring if you want colored oobleck.

Tips:

Oobleck is a type of non-Newtonian fluid called a dilatant.

If you slowly lower your hand into oobleck, it will sink, but it is difficult to quickly remove your hand (without taking all the oobleck and its container with you).

If you squeeze or punch the oobleck, the starch particles will not move out of the way quickly, so the oobleck will feel solid.

Oobleck can be molded in a container, but when the mold is removed, the oobleck will lose its shape.

What You Need:

water

corn starch

food coloring (optional)

Purposeless Me!


I don’t know how I never really made the connection of deep depression in the summer. I have always valued my summers because I had the chance to do absolutely nothing. I could also sleep and read as much as I wanted to. However, I’ve run into a snag this summer. I didn’t have anything planned or for that matter, any money to do anything with. So, therein lies my problem. I have nothing to do. I get up in the morning and have no destination. There is only so many times I can go to the library; so many times I can go to the mall; so many times I can read, etc… What everything boils down to is that I have no purpose to my day. I am actually looking forward to returning to work. I don’t remember too many times that I wanted to return to work rather than do nothing. However, now is one of those times. The one bright spot I have to look forward to is the Los Angeles Black Book Expo. That’s 1 1/2 weeks away though. I guess I’ll have to find something to do until then. What?…. I don’t know.

In The Money Me!


That’s right people, I am in the money. Joe Ryan, from the Career Ladder called me and informed me that the Career Ladder owed me a scholarship payment of (drum roll!!!) $1,500. You could not tell how excited I was from how calm I remained on the phone. Inside I was screaming… Yes, yes, OMG, yes! Finally, something’s going right. I mailed the required paperwork yesterday. I should be receiving that scholarship check @ the end of the month. Hallelujah and Thank you Jesus!

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau


quiltmaker's giftThe Quiltmaker’s Gift (2000), written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail de Marcken, was a wonderful book. I plan on purchasing this and reading it to my class. As I sat in the bookstore, in the middle of the aisle, so engrossed was I in the story, I didn’t realize that I was blocking the way for other patrons.

I saw the front cover and just had to know what the inside held. This book is good for ages 3 yrs. -jr. high school. This book would be good for parents who have children who are having problems sharing or who like to hoard things, and it would also be good as a read-aloud for a classroom teacher. It would have to be over a couple of days ’cause it’s a little long.

Now, on to the review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The illustrations are wonderful. They are very colorful and full of life. The illustrations alone will capture your attention and make you want to purchase the book before even reading it. The text will let you know for sure you need to purchase this book. The message is priceless.

Here’s how the story begins. A quiltmaker, who happens to live in the clouds, makes beautiful quilts that she does not sell. She only gives them away to the poor & needy. This should not present a problem. However, it does because the king is a greedy man who expects everyone to give him gifts. The problem is he hoards the gifts he receives. He does not want to share. He has so many gifts, they are everywhere.

The king asks the quiltmaker for one of her beautiful quilts. She denies him, telling him that she only gives them to the poor & needy. Do you think that stops him? Of course it doesn’t. He’s the king. Furthermore, the quiltmaker tells the king that she’ll give him one of her quilts if he gives away the gifts he’s been hoarding.

“NO WAY,” says the king.

“Well, no way,” says the quiltmaker.

Through a series of situations in which the king tries to force the quiltmaker to give him a quilt, the king learns one of life’s most valuable lessons. What is it??? Well, I guess you’re just going to have to buy it at your local bookstore or borrow it @ your local library. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!