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Wordle

I just discovered this really cool website called Wordle. I put my whole live journal into Wordle and it created a word cloud of my most frequently used words. Here take a look:

World Fantasy 2009 Con Report


This was my very first World Fantasy, which was a lot of fun, and held in the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California. The weather was simply beautiful - during the day it was around seventy degrees - I even got to spend some time by the pool on Friday. On Thursday we spent most of the day traveling to get there - 6 hours on a plane plus a couple hours-layover in Dallas. After we arrived and checked in, we started setting up my hubby's dealer's table and going through all the freebie books. I can't believe how many books were included in the bag we were given, at registration. (This was almost as good as getting free books from ALA or BEA!) That evening we ate dinner at Peggy Sue's Diner, and while for the most part the food was okay, the cheeseburger was pretty awesome. (Sean's stomach agrees!) It was a cheap-looking diner, probably a college-kid's hangout. The next day we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Ouch! Can we say very very very expensive? However, the eggs benedict was fantastic, and was the highlight of the meal. But they overcharged for all drinks and sides. ($5 orange juice!) Conversations were quite fun and entertaining, with Sean Markey and Skipper Richotte, two friends of Sean's.

The rest of the day I spent exploring and relaxing by the outdoor swimming pool. I walked to the San Jose University campus, and discovered a gorgeous library, which I believe serves as both a public library and the university's library. It was an eight-floor building. The children's room was huge and beautiful, with lots of new books; wonderful shelving options; and a built-in storytime circle. When I got back to the hotel, I went to the pool. Unfortunately the water was a little too cold to actually swim in, but it was lovely to sit in the sun and read.

That evening we ate at McCormick and Schmick's, with Neil Clarke and Josh Hayes. It was all very wonderful, both conversation and food. The latter was also expensive, but incredible seafood and steak. I had a filet mignon and stuffed shrimp. Sean had a crab cake and parmesan-encrusted tilapia. We ate outside, but needed the heat lamps later in the evening. We finished up by trying out dessert, a flan, and a Twice Baked Apple Upside Down Pie. (Oh so yummy!)

The next day I braved the bus to find the Winchester Mystery House, leaving Sean in the dealer's room. The house was really intriguing, particularly its history. The original owner, Sarah Winchester, kept the house constantly under construction. There were all kinds of weird things like a staircase that leads into a ceiling. And a room with one way in and three ways out! They were offering a flashlight tour that evening, which sounded really cool, but it was sold-out.

That night we ate at the Pagoda Restaurant, which was the chinese restaurant in the hotel. It was way too expensive and the food was not that great, with limited choices on the menu. We tried the cashew chicken in a white oyster sauce, but I wasn't all that impressed. The serving size was not practical for sharing either. (It was closer to a children's-sized portion! And if you know Sean and I, you know that we love a lot of food on our plate!)

On Sunday I dressed up so we could go to the World Fantasy Awards ceremony. My hubby and his friends, Neil Clarke and Nick Mamatas, were up for the Non-Professional category, for editing an online zine by the name of Clarkesworld Magazine. Sadly they did not win, but the award went to another friend . . . so it was all good. Afterwards it was time to pack up the Dealers Room, which was totally a PITA. We had like fourteen boxes to send back home. (Hopefully my hubby will learn from this and pack less books next time!)

That evening we said our goodbyes to most people, and went out to dinner at Sonoma Chicken Coop. That was one of my favorite meals of the trip. I had Chicken Parm, and for dessert I had a dark chocolate fondue! Yumminess! (Sean had the garlic chicken alfredo, and for dessert bread pudding.)

That night it was time for packing and a luxurious bath. I admit I will miss the lovely view of the mountains from our 15th-floor room. Our flight the next morning was at 7:30am, and we didn't arrive at home until 9pm! Between the traveling and the time changes, I am still exhausted, but I am already dreaming about a return to California . . .

Back to School


 
Monday August 31 was the first day of school. It has been quite exhausting starting a new school year. So many things to remember and to prepare.

I started seeing classes in the Media Center on Tuesday. I feel bad because I am not allowing the classes to check out books this week. The kids are not too happy about that! I just knew that I did not want to deal with the confusion of trying to check out books when we have new students registering and kids being assigned to different teachers. Last year we had to reprint the class barcode lists multiple times during the first two weeks of school. I would love it if I could wait till the 2nd week of school before seeing classes in the Media Center. There are just so many things to do, and some of them I can't start till after the kids come back to school. I realize that the teachers are expected to be ready to teach on the first day, but I think an exception should be made for the Media Specialist. I am at a school that really likes the fixed schedules. I am trying to move towards a flexible schedule. This year I asked to try an A week / B week schedule. A weeks we are fixed media center (teachers don't have to stay). B weeks are flexible, with teachers having to stay with their classes and having to meet with me before hand to plan what we are doing. My Principal did not want to go very flexible with that B week, so I have classes tentatively scheduled for the same time slots they have during A week. I will take what I can get, and hope that the teachers are better about planning collaboratively this year.

If you are a Media Specialist, Do you see classes the first week of school? Do you have a fixed schedule or a flexible schedule? If you are flexible and especially if you are newly flexible, how did you convince your staff to try a flex schedule ... and what tips do you have for collaborating?

Valentine's Day



Today is all the classroom Valentine's Day Parties at my school. All the kids were hopped up on sugar when they arrived this morning. I can't wait to see what they look like at the end of their parties! It's hard enough getting them to concentrate in the computer lab on a normal day of school.

The families at this school take parties seriously. We have two big parties every year, one for Valentine's Day and one for Halloween. Parents come in and set up parties in each classroom. There are games, food, and of course valentines. I remember creating valentine boxes out of shoeboxes. And the fun of delivering all the little valentines to your classmates.

And tomorrow I am going to go see Avenue Q at the Warner Theater in DC! Yay!

I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend!

Fairy Tale Day

Since today was the last day of school before the Holidays, I decided to have a Fairy Tale Day in my library. My husband and I dressed up in our Renn Fest costumes. We were supposed to be a prince and princess. I definitely need to get us some cute crowns. I talked to the teachers of Kindergarten, First, and Second grades, and tried to arrange for them to all come in for about 30 minutes. We read three fairy tale type stories, including The Foggy Foggy Forest, Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, and The Paperbag Princess. After the stories I had printed out some fairy tale coloring pictures and word searches. We only ended up seeing three of the classes because school closed early. We closed 2.5 hours early because there was a major water main break in Bethesda. This caused water and power outages at a lot of schools in the lower part of our county. I was so surprised that they closed the whole county early! What a wonderful Christmas surprise! But now I have the feeling that the classes that didn't get to have fairy tale day will be bugging me about it in January.

Now I need to get home and finish packing, as we fly to Orlando at 7am! Yay, warm weather! :) We will be gone a week, visting my husband's family and seeing Universal Studios.

Elections

This is the first time in my life when I have felt this strongly about a Presidential Election. I have watched every debate and even watched CNN and MSNBC in the evenings. My husband, who wasn't even registered to vote before, has gotten really excited about this election too.

I hope everyone is planning to get out and vote on Novemeber 4! It is so very important!

I am horrified by some of the character attacks going on in this campaign! It reminds me of five year olds fighting on the playground. It just makes a certain candidate look really bad. It seems obvious to me who should be elected to the white house this november. But then so many people are planning to vote the other way and it just seems so wrong to me.

Oh well. Do your research. Make your own choice. And get out and vote!!!!

Hurray for Thunderstorms!

On Wednesday afternoon we had a really bad thunderstorm roll through the county where I live and work. It was a little intimidating because it struck just at the end of dismissal time at my school. I was outside helping with walker dismissal and had to hurry the remaining students inside when I saw lightning. And just after we entered the building the power went out and a torrential downpour began.

I waited inside for about 20 or 30 minutes till it let up a little before I drove home. My drive was a bit scary cause every other traffic light was out. And it seems that no one understands that you are supposed to treat it as a 4 way stop. But I managed to make it to my husband's office in one piece. But slightly damp.

We were fortunate that our power was on when we got home. Because it turns out that a lot of people were without power. In fact so much so, that they closed the schools in my county on thursday due to power outtages. It was weird to be home when the weather was bright and sunny. But it was also really nice to have an extra day for cleaning up our apartment, because my Mother-In-Law is visiting this weekend! My husband is picking her up at the airport this morning. And then we will entertain her all weekend. Should be interesting but also exhausting.

Update

It has been a long time since I last updated my journal. Things have been pretty busy but not very exciting. Over Spring Break, my husband and I went to NYC and saw Wicked! Which was totally incredible! I absolutely loved it! I cried several times too. My husband even said he would be willing to see it again, which means it must have been really good!

My parents sold their house. And moved into an apartment in the same town. My hubby and I helped them for two weekends. And we got a really good meal at Friendly Farms out of the deal. Yum!

It is almost summer! I can't wait to experience my first summer off of work! I am hoping to get some work done on my scrapbook projects and do some swimming and excercising. Hopefully I can manage my time somewhat effectively.

I am going to Madison Wisconsin in two weeks. My husband has a convention there and I am tagging along. I hope to get some reading and walking and relaxing done that weekend.

Spring Break

It is almost Spring Break! Spring Break starts a week from today. Yippee Yahoo! I am not sure who needs this break more, the teachers or the kids. But I rather think it is the teachers. We need the break especially badly since we only got one snow day this year. :(
I am looking forward to the break, because I am going to NYC to see Wicked on Broadway! I am so excited. I have been wanting to see Wicked for several years now.

Variety Show

A few weeks ago we had our school variety show. It was called Broadway at B____. All the kids had to choose songs from musicals. The staff did a song as well. We chose "So Long Farewell" from The Sound of Music. It was so much fun. I have to admit that the costumes and choreography of some of the skits were incredible. These families put in a lot of money and effort to put together this show. The kids were practicing and preparing for the show back in November. Some of the teachers compared the variety show to Jon Benet Ramsey. And I have to admit some of the girls were so overdone with make-up and fancy costumes. I think this was more elaborate then the ballet recitals I had to go to for my little sisters. I did enjoy myself a lot, even if I did think it was overdone. The kids were adorable. I especially loved the acts that included Kindergarteners. One group of Kindergarteners did the song "Let's Hear it for the Boy" and it included about 6 little girls dancing around one little boy sitting on a stool. It was so precious.