Monday, February 27, 2006

A goal.

A friend of mine told me several years ago about a list she had of the 100 things she wanted to do before she died. She had things on her list like...learn to play another instrument, get married, have children, bungee jump, learn another language, live overseas for a while...things like that. I thought it was interesting because I had never thought about what I would like to accomplish before I die. I just did life and I liked it that way. But I thought there had to be some goal that would be fun to try to accomplish. So I thought and thought. I still couldn't come up with anything that I really felt like I wanted to do before I die. Then I thought of something. I love to read. But not just any old books will do. I am a huge fan of children's literature. I decided that I would read all of the Newberry Award winning books and the honor books from 1922 (the first year it was awarded) to the present. That should take some time considering there are 365 of them through 2006 and every year they add a few more. So I printed off the list and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had already read some of them. In the 1930's and 40's several of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder made the list. I had read those several times. Beverly Cleary had written books that received the award as well. I had read everything by her when I was a kid. And there were several books that were required reading in school that were on the list. So I went to our school library with the list in hand and marked all the ones that they had, checked out several and started reading. As of today I have read 108 of the titles on the list. I have really learned a lot because of the many different subjects written about. Some of my favorites have been Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo(which is now a movie), The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Onion John by Joseph Krumgold, and The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois. I also really enjoyed Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. I had never read it and had never been interested in reading it but was pleasantly surprised at how good it was....of course, it won an award! I do keep looking at the books on the list like An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, and Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens and wonder how they could be good...but they won the award or an honor so they must be worth it. So that is my goal. Instead of 100 different things to do...365 books to read...with more being added every year. And if I die before I get through the entire list...then I'm done! God has called me home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

School Evaluation Time!

I realize that this blog entry is dated Feb. 14 however that is when it was started. I saved my draft and finished it on February 25 not realizing it would keep the original draft date. So for those of you who are wondering about the time frame for all of this. Feb. 14 was day 2 of the inspection/evaluation. Then I decided to wait for it to be over so I could give a more complete post.

For the last two weeks our family has had lots of fun participating in our school's evaluation. Brian watched kids during recess, worked the front desk and did various other jobs as they were needed. I took turns with two others substituting in third grade. Where were the regular teachers and office employees you ask? Sitting at home wishing they could be at school! Because we are an international school we were subjected to two full weeks of visitors in the school. The teachers who already had their work permits were allowed to be there and do their normal job...as well as various other jobs! The teachers who were still waiting for their work permits to be approved shouldn't really be teaching yet so they had to "hide". They could have come to the school as substitutes or volunteers but the school administration thought that it might be better for them to not be on campus at all. Because the teachers all raise support they are really all volunteers anyway. A few of them do receive a small stipend but not enough to write home about! While I was subbing in third grade I was evaluated. The man watching me did not know English so he had our assistant principal translate. After my lesson was over he asked the kids several questions. One of his questions had to do with their knowledge of Turkey. I had only been there for 4 days and had not mentioned Turkey at all. The kids did a great job talking about the capital, other important cities, Ataturk, and different cultural points. They made me look like a great teacher! The evaluator never asked who I was or where the regular teacher was.
The teachers were asked to do lots of strange things like make sure the desks were all in rows...not in table form. The room that had been the teacher's lounge last year was changed to the music room this year and they made them change it back. Evidently they had to submit a form and get approval to change the teacher's lounge. Also one of the science labs was being used as a computer lab and they made the computer teacher break down all the computers because that wasn't allowed. The funny thing is we only have one science teacher and 3 science lab rooms. Two of them were sitting empty because he only needs one! As parents we were also asked to fill out some forms that were sent home about how well our children's teachers were doing. Here is a small sampling of what we were asked.

1. Imparting students the conscious in love and respect Ataturk and National values.
2. Trying children in solving their personal problems
3. Addressing children with their names.
4. Giving importance to fix a class announcement in the classroom.

These have to be marked with
1-I don't agree
2-I agree less
3-I agree
4-I agree much
5-I agree completely

I wondered who translated their forms into English for them! I would like to evaluate that person! So there you have it! The last two weeks in a nutshell. We should find out how well our school performed this week. On Friday the teachers and those of us helping all breathed a sigh of relief because it was finally over! We HOPE...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I'm dreaming of a pappadeaux's experience!

Now that we are thinking about and planning our time home in the states I am having strange dreams! The one type of food that I crave the most is seafood. We can get fresh fish here but nothing like what we are used to in the states. They don't eat bottom feeders like shrimp, lobster, clams, or crabs here so of course that is what I am craving. Recently I began having dreams about Pappadeauxs. In my dream everyone kept inviting our family over for dinner and of course we went. I was excited about seeing everyone but what I really wanted was to go out to eat. For the first two weeks we were back we never had the chance to go and I woke up angry that I missed eating fried shrimp and soft shell crab. In another dream I invited a friend from here to go with me to Pappadeauxs so she could try it. She couldn't decide what to eat so I ordered the soft shell crab and she ordered fried shrimp and we decided we would share. She liked it so much that she ate almost all of it herself and so I missed having it again! Brian is also counting down the days until he can have the crawfish platter which is a combination of fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee. Only 4 months to go and we will be back in the states for 7 months of seafood heaven! What is your favorite seafood? Is there something that we should put on the list to try when we are there? Let us know! We are open to suggestions!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Let it snow!

Standing on our balcony this is what we see!

So we decided to start a blog! I know...sounds exciting! Now since we are basically snowed in we have time for all kinds of things. The kids have had 4 snow days in the last two weeks and we are expecting snow several days this week as well. That means lots of games, TV, and some playing in the snow. And one of the cats even got in on the action the other night. Deciding to jump from our balcony to the windowsill while it was covered with snow wasn't such a smart idea. We noticed her missing and noticed the marks on the windowsill that looked like something tried to make the jump but slipped off. Also there was a windowsill a couple of floors below ours that had a nice indention in the snow where it looked like it had been hit by something. I went downstairs expecting to find a hurt or dead cat and she was sitting by the front door of our building waiting for someone to let her in. I guess the snow was soft enough and deep enough to keep her from getting hurt. With more snow expected hopefully the 30 snowplows that our city brags about can keep up with the work! And the temperatures you ask? Well the low was -4F the other day. It was really cold! I do have some warmer weather on order!