Sunday, December 30, 2007

Seven Things About Me (Meme)

Let's see...

1. I make the worst pancakes on the planet.

2. I won an essay contest when I was in 8th grade.

3. I still enjoy lounging in my pajamas and watching cartoons on Saturdays.

4. I go into my backyard about three times a year. For all I know, there could be other people living back there.

5. I own a cat even though I am mildy allergic to them. My doctor has learned to accept it.

6. I am extremely unorganized and anti-social, despite all of my calendars, organizers, and social events. I have found that the best way to hide it is to fake it.

7. I function best with nine hours of sleep. Needless to say, very few people have ever seen me at my best.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Themed Reading Challenge

I couldn't resist this one. It turned out to be more difficult to come up with a list than I thought it would be. My theme will be "getting back in the game". Here's my booklist:

1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
2. Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert (this one will be a second reading)
3. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
4. An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

I will update this post with an alternate list at a later time.

Young Adult Challenge 2008

Okay, it is true, I didn't get very far in the Armchair Traveler Challenge. I like the idea of book challenges, (They will definitely help with one item on my '08 To Do List.) so I'm giving it another try. Here is my booklist for the Young Adult Challenge 2008:

1. *2/08 Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester
2. *7/08 The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams
3. Cut by Patricia McCormick
4. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
5. *2/08 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
6. Bounce by Natasha Friend
7. *7/08 Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
8. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
9. Something from the Artemis Fowl Series
10. *7/08 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path
11. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
12. *7/08 Messenger by Lois Lowery

*4/08 Deadline by Chris Crutcher
*6/08 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

* indicates the book has been finished.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My 2008 "To Do" List

1. read more
2. write more (includes more blog posting)
3. cook more
4. increase gym time to more than three days a week
5. keep up with grading
6. challenge my students more without frustrating them
7. keep my home neater
8. finish my home improvement projects
9. start new home improvement projects
10. finish #9
11. work with my mother to finish Conversations With My Mother journal
12. relax more
13. find time to do #1-12

Ahh...The Good Life!

My mother and I went to see The Color Purple today. The play was okay and so was our dinner. To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the book or they movie. My mother said she wanted to go (friends of hers had seen it and raved about it). Two days before the show I found out my mom did not care for the book or the movie either. Needless to say, that set the stage for disappointment with the play. For dinner,we drove back to the IE and went to Le Bellissimo French Bistro. I was a little disappointed because I love French food and was expecting more of a gastric delight than I got. Perhaps I ordered the wrong thing. I will give it one more try but not until spring or summer break. A good friend is teaching me that it is okay to enjoy some of the finer things in life (i.e. good food, good wine, and good entertainment); however, I try to spread out my "money is no object" evenings. Otherwise, money actually becomes more than an becomes a problem.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It Has Been a While

This has been a wild year. Hip replacement surgery. Spiritual overhaul (still in progress). Adding a social life to my repertoire. Allowing another person to take up more of my thought process than a passing fancy. Rekindling my love affair with teaching (not easy to do under the cloud of NCLB). Bottom line -- LIVING!

To say it has been overwhelming at times would be an understatement, but I would not trade what I have or who I am. This new me is happy and more at peace.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thirteen Things I'm Thankful For

1. My body, which is fearfully and wonderfully made
2. New relationships
3. Experience gained from old relationships
4. Family
5. Rest
6. The scents of lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus
7. Cats
8. Toddlers
9. Pecan Pie
10. Cookbooks
11. Long Overcast Days
12. A Loving God
13. Friends

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pleasant Surprise

Puerto Vallarta, 2007

After entering my posts yesterday, I was overtaken by a tsunami of depression. It’s appearance was an unpleasant surprise that I did not see coming. What brought on this deluge? Lesson plans and papers to grade? Yes, but also my perusal of our benchmark assessment results. Believe me, I love what I do, I just wish that changes, interruptions, and asinine demands weren’t so frequent. Then, perhaps I would have the appropriate energy level for the things that are necessary like grading, planning, and teaching. Add to this the smoke-filled skies all over southern California, and it’s easy to see why I was blue.

My mood was on the upswing when I was pleasantly surprised by my students’ effort in class today. After a review (complete with graphs) of how we did on the first benchmark assessment and an outline of how what we would be doing the rest of the week, there was plenty of participation in our examination of how the plot was influenced by the setting in “The Fun They Had”, by Isaac Asimov. It was not that this was a fun story. We now had more than a purpose for reading – We had a goal!

Later in the day, I made a discovery that changed my mood again. I thought the benchmark sub-committee meeting I agreed to cover for a colleague was occurring during school hours tomorrow. I put in for my sub weeks ago, went over expected behavior with my students today, and stayed late putting everything in place for her. Just as I was confirming the location of the meeting, I discovered that it convenes after school hours. How could I have made such a mistake? Needless to say, I cancelled the sub. It’s hard justify being out on school business when there is none being conducted.

Tonight, as I think of my students’ reaction to the prospect of a sub, I wonder if my appearance at school will be a pleasant surprise for them.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-Thomas A. Edison

Yesterday, I attended the Promising Practices conference in San Diego. My district wouldn't cover it, but I needed refreshing so badly I was willing to cover the costs out of my own pocket. The presentations were informative, but the thing I needed most actually came from one of the keynote speakers, Alan Sitomer. I attended a workshop he conducted about five years ago and found him just at refreshing yesterday as he was then. He is a speaker and sometimes that's what you really need. You do not need a packet. You do not wish to share with your "neighbor". You just need a pep talk from someone who is going through it and knows October is rough. I'm glad I went.

I spent the rest of the day resting. Now, I have grading, planning, and housework to do. Restoration has its price.

A Life in Progress

Crushed, bruised, red roses
Under callosed, bleeding feet.
Light, fragrant scents
Waifting to and through the heart.
Clouds of change travese gently overhead.
Clearing briefly.
Warming rays of light caress the soul.
Covered again by gray cottonball masses
Which darken the spirit.
Press through the darkness
To where?
To Life
To Love
To Hope

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Unpretentious Assemblage

I recently attended a church's tenth anniversary celebration. I typically shy away from these things because they can be more than a bit pretentious; however, I am good friends with the pastors, so I ventured forth on a Friday night, after a long work week.

It turned out better than I cynically thought it would. There was only one hat in the whole building and fewer sequins than I usually see at such events. There was one thing that was just as I expected it would be. "The Table", that special table reserved for pastors, was just as socially elevated as ever.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for giving honor to others, but when friends cannot approach you to say hello, and you have make a restroom trip to get up from the table and say hello to a friend you haven't seen in years, something is wrong.

I am so glad I can talk to God at any time. I don't have to wait until He passes enroute elsewhere. Now there's something to celebrate.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

In Need of a Vaction

The cares of life weigh heavy. At times like this, it's best to retreat and regroup. I tried the retreating part last weekend; however, my relaxing writing retreat weekend was not enough. The massage I got yesterday was not enough. I need an actual vacation. Thanksgiving break is too far away. Hmmm...away. Yes, I will run away for a weekend. No papers to grade. No litter box to clean. No clothes to wash. No bills to pay. Just fresh linens and chocolate on my pillow. On second thought, I have too many responsibilities to run away. Instead, I will spend the weekend lost (a form of away) in a good book. Yes, in my pajamas, it just might work. Now let's see, I think I'll pencil that in for three weeks from now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


What a difference a day makes.

1) After some web surfing and emailing, I found out that our social studies curriculum publisher offers a downloadable Spanish translation of the student book (in PDF format). Needless to say our district did not purchase this component, but I have already sent out emails regarding the legality of this matter and how easily it can be resolved.

2)Despite my tirade, I cooked a big Saturday breakfast; so yes, my kitchen needs cleaning again. This woman's work is never done because she always manages to create more.

3)The cat plan worked -- no surprises in the night.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Between grading papers, planning lessons, meetings, parent contact, dealing with major household tasks (e.g. blind installation and freezer repairs), continuing physical therapy, household cleaning chores, and pet neglect. I have finally seized a moment to enjoy a glass (or two)of wine. As I begin to unwind several thoughts come to mind.

1) Why are stores glad you have career when selling you something, but unwilling to accommodate you work schedule when they have to come out and repair something?

2) Goodbye Sears! Thank you for taking care of me Frigidaire! Hello Pacific Sales! (stems from comment #1)

3) Thank again to the young man (Yes, I am that old.) who installed the blinds that FINALLY arrived. They look great. Dare I say, they were worth the wait?

4) Did anyone think of me when they put an ELD 1 student (Spanish speaking only) in my classroom, a translator every other day, and no curriculum materials in Spanish. Allegedly, I was chosen because I would make a sincere effort to teach her. This child really wants to learn, but the system is doing a mediocre job of helping her. Needless to say, I am scrounging together material for her and we are both frustrated. At least she appreciates my attempts to translate (as time permits) when the aid is not there. She is the only child at our school (currently) who speaks no English, and they cannot create a class for one student. (Creating a nightmare for one teacher, however, is right up their alley.) Part of my plan this weekend is to use my translator software to translate the class notes into Spanish. Hopefully, she understands the dialect my software uses. (I can't figure out if this is a vent or a rant. Let's say both.)

5.Why don't the other adults on campus understand my disdain for classroom interruptions. I thought teaching was the priority, not ASB campaign speeches,dance announcements, constant request for students to come to the counselors office, and phone calls from the office requesting I send students. Apparently, the phone must not be ignored in hopes that they will quietly have a note delivered (which would prevent disturbing the whole class). I have learned that if I do not answer the phone, they make an announcement, asking me to call the office, which disturbs the entire school.

6) Why do parents who admit to only seeing their children during breakfast and on weekends (The rest of their time is spent commuting and working.)insist that I am failing to meet their child's needs.

7) I am considering no longer cooking. Every time I get the kitchen thoroughly cleaned, I cook and have to start all over again. The best solution appears to be no more cooking.

8) My overweight tabby cat has decided the best way get more attention is to wake me up in the middle of the night. I spent time this afternoon playing hide (He tries to hide, I pretend not to see him for a while, and then act surprised when I "find" him. Really!!) in hopes of sleeping through the night tonight.

9) What caused my peaceful life to turn upside down? Could it be #1-8? Oh well, can't answer now, time for that second glass of wine!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Memory Lane

Yesterday, I was listening to a song, Butterfly, by Corinne Bailey Rae. The song lyrics begin, "In my mother's house there's a photograph". These words reminded me of a song by Minnie Riperton, Memory Lane, which contains the words, "Stumbled on a photograph. Kinda made me laugh. It took me way back. Back down memory lane". The year that album came out (I was 13), it was the thing I wanted most for Christmas, and my little brother (who was 10 at the time) saved and bargained to make sure I got it. On his allowance it wasn't cheap.

Today, I took the time to call him, remind him of that Christmas, and thank him for being such a great brother. Amazingly, that is a memory that stands out for him too. Before I could name the song, he named it (and he wasn't that crazy about the album or the artist).

Even though we don't talk as much as we perhaps should or as much as my mother would like, we love each other. The love between siblings is something to be treasured. It is not the kind of treasure that you hide away. It should be dusted and shown off on the mantle or some other place where others can see it.

FYI: It took me all afternoon to get this put together because I stopped to find and buy another copy of the Minnie Riperton LP. Mine was lost during a move.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Restroom Pass

Today, I had a restroom confrontation with a parent. Her child asked for a pass to the restroom at the beginning of the period. He was told no and went back to his seat. During the remainder of that period and the following one, he never mentioned it again. He participated in all classroom activities and laughed at jokes other students and I made. He even stayed after class, asked me about pre-approval of a book for his book report (the due date for book approval is next Wednesday), and discussed the reasons why I should disregard my better judgment (and the time frame for the assignment) and approve his novel. He waited for me to help a student who had to catch the bus and a girl who was in front of him in line. According to his mother, when he got in the car, he told her his stomach was hurting because I would not allow him to go to the restroom. Typically, when a student asks for a pass during that period I initially do not allow them to go because another group is at lunch during that time. (There have been problems with students going to hang out with friends rather than going to the restroom.)However, if they ask later on, or they tell me they really need to go I allow them to. Neither of those things happened today. The parent was livid and did not calm down until I had relayed the course of events twice and made it clear that her child was not being singled out. I also told her that I do allow students to go to the restroom, and her son has been allowed to go.
I have only had this happen one other time during the eleven years I have been teaching. The secretary asked if this was a quiet student that might have afraid to ask again. Considering his defense of his book choice and participation in classroom discussion, the answer is no.

I hope this is not about me not approving the book, or him upsetting her because he asked to stop at a restroom during the drive home.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sign of the Times? Scary

During my shift to becoming a no sleep person (This is what happens when a night person starts getting up early in hopes of becoming a morning person.), I came across this article about a Swiss deportation proposal. This scares me on many levels beginning with the poster itself, and moving on to the proposal and low level of negative response to it. I understand the need to address problems in society, but generalizations and the racism that results from them are not the appropriate way to bring about positive societal change.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Book Challenge

I've decided to join a book challenge. I am starting a little late, but I figure six books by December 31 can be done. I can take ample time to read inspite of all of the grading, planning, and reading I already have to do. Besides I will have Thanksgiving and Christmas break to catch up if I fall behind.

My six books will be:

Three Bags Full (Ireland)
Brick Lane (London, England)
Dinner with Persephone (Greece)
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure (India)
The Constant Princess (England and Spain)

I may add alternative books as I get further into this.
This looks like it's going to be fun!

P.S. I am having trouble connecting a link to the image for this book challenge, but here is the URL for the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge. Hopefully, I can get the problem corrected this weekend.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cathartic Tears

I was just watching the final innings of the Little League World Championship and was brought to tears by the sportsmanship demonstrated by those young men. Upon winning and without prompting from adults, the team from Warner Robbins, Georgia walked over and hugged the opposing team from Japan. Yes, that's right, hugging not handshaking. You could hear them telling the other team, "Good job!" as they went from one player to another. I couldn't help but cry as I watched two young men from the opposing teams in a tight embrace and crying together. Other's had to go around them because they were clearly overtaken by this emotional moment. This is media coverage that demonstrates we have advanced as a society.

Requiem for Bat Boy or Us?

The August 27th issue of TIME magazine included an essay, Requiem for Bat Boy: Why the world's greatest fake newspaper is disappearing by Joel Stein, which caught my attention. He attributed the demise of the Weekly World News with the maturing of our society. He states, "It is actually a sign of progress for a society to go from inventing gods and monsters to seeking catharsis in the real life of Paris Hilton." I wonder about that. I think I would see more sanity in a society that believes in the plausibility of Bat Boy, UFOs, and the Loch Ness monster over one that finds "catharsis" in the drunk driving antics of the rich young ladies who put real life, hard working people in harms way. Don't get me wrong; I won't miss Weekly World News and never believed in Bat Boy (looking at the photo always left me with a strange feeling best described in the words of Scooby Doo..."Er???" However, their stories were more entertaining than the misdeeds of Paris and friends which are just plain scary.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Time with Mom

The dynamics between mothers and daughters sparks many discussions and lots of research, but their relationships are well worth every emotional moment.

After a totally exhausting week, I planned to stay in today. I woke up with a pounding headache. While waiting for the Motrin to kick in, the phone rang and, to make a long story shorter, I found myself racing to get dressed and meet my mother for lunch. It was a forty-five minute drive to the restaurant. I got there thirty minutes late (due to traffic and a poor sense of direction), but we had a great time eating and window shopping. The box of work I brought home was still in dining room when I got back (Just as I suspected it would be). I have learned that family is an important part of sustaining/maintained my balance as a teacher. The work will get done and I will be lot less stressed. Thanks Mom.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thirteen Things on My Desk

1. A laptop
2. A mug filled with pens and pencils
3. An answering machine
4. A printer
5. A telephone
6. A marble coaster
7. A small box of kitty litter deodorizer...???
8. Jewelery (earrings, watch, bracelet)
9. Dust
10. A shelf filled with books
11. A lamp
12. Batteries
12. A bottle of hair remover...???
13. White out

Clearly this is my desk at home, and perhaps it is even more apparent that I need to clean it.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Totally Exhausted!!!

First day back with students. When it came to walking, I over did it. This was my first day back since the last spring. The young people in my classes seem great and the day went smoothly; I just need to ease back into the physical aspects of the job. I am going to skip tonight's workout (Technically, I have already had one!) and try to get into the gym later in the week.

It was interesting to see colleagues at varying levels of preparedness. Some seemed to be flying by the seat of their pants, while others had elaborate plans which included diving right into the curriculum. During the first few days, I find team building is extremely important and has rewards that last all year long. Beginning of the year assessments also help to inform my instruction when it comes to meeting individual student needs.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I've been experiencing a huge computer problem since my last post. After 2 1/2 hours on the phone with various technicians, it is finally resolved, and I can my focus on being ready for the start of school in two days. For the past three days I have put in endless hours working on things for the first week and getting the necessary files, folders and websites updated in my classroom. It was rough not being able to do any of the computer stuff from home. People who are not educators will never understand all of the work that takes place in teaching when the students aren't there. There is no such thing as time off.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Just when you begin to feel life is a okay, along comes a reminder of how challenging it really is. Foreclosures, problems with children, eating disorders. Does life boil down to the choices we make? (How do you convince a friend the choices they make are bad?) Yes, life is about choices, but we should not throw this around in such a carefree way. Making choices requires maturity, clarity of mind, and often a support system. Life is more than okay, it is a blessing when viewed and executed properly. I pray for my friend who is going through all of this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Fifteen

Friday Fifteen

Yesterday I skipped the Thursday Thirteen so, as my consequence, I present the Friday Fifteen.

Fifteen Household Chores That Remain Undone

1. Remove dandelions from lawn...There aren't that many, but to sustain peace with my neighbors it must be done.

2. Weed back flower bed...If I do this,I think I will be happier pulling into the back driveway.

3. Paint molding in dining room...There is nothing more unsightly than an unfinished DIY home improvement project.

4. Finish cleaning out the garage...According, to the manual not one but two cars are supposed to fit "easily".

5. Shampoo upstairs carpet...Perhaps, I should add getting shampooer upstairs to the chore list.

6. Bathe the cat...He enjoys it, I don't.

7. Clean the aquarium...The fish are alive, and that in itself is an accomplishment.

8. Organize the closet...If for no other reason than to find out what is taking up all the room in there. I "don't have a thing to wear" so it can't be clothes.

9. Paint fence in the backyard...Where is my inner Tom Sawyer when I need it?

10. Purge files in home office...Will I be less important if I have fewer files?

11. Clean and organize home office... Contrary to popular belief, I think things will be harder to find if I remove them from the piles and stacks all over the room.

12. Shred unwanted documents...This is a never ending battle because I want very few of the "important documents" I receive in the mail.

13. Dust knickknacks...I am leaning heavily towards throwing away all knickknacks.

14. Wash the car...Even though it works perfectly fine without doing this?

15. Be mindful of how many chores could have been done during the making of this list.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


noisy, active
doing, speaking, investigating
intelligence, instinct, opinion, research
wondering, questioning, learning
eager, anxious

This poem describes my expectations and influences regarding the coming school year. I wonder what expectations and influences my students will bring to our classroom.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Getting Active and Mainitaining Balance

With my new hip, it is important to stay active. I never realized how much time I spend sitting down. Computer time, reading, planning lessons, eating, brushing the cat -- all done sitting down.

For the past two weeks, I gone to a yoga class once a week and a water aerobics class once a week. The other days I take my usual walk or try other things. Next week, I start going to yoga twice a week. After the first yoga class, every part of my body, except my right earlobe, was sore. It is getting better, but I still can't flow from one position to the next and have to avoid some all together. It is getting better though.

I have vowed not to spend all of my time in the gym because I do have other areas of my life that are equally as important. Balance. It is a word that guides everything I do. I learned some time ago that it is better, for my emotional health, to strive for balance as opposed to perfection. It is the decision that separates me from some of the other "Type A" people I hang out with. I have too many different roles in life to pursue perfection in every area. Instead I seek to appropriately balance the time, energy, and effort spent on each role. How does that fit in with being a Christian? Many of my Christian friends feel that I should clearly spend the bulk of my time and energy on things related to spirituality. I am still working through that, but I believe that when I read through the Bible, especially the book of Proverbs, I see balance demonstrated over and over again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thirteen Things about care020
1. I'm a teacher.
2. I am a Christian.
3. I am a wanna be gardener.
4. I have an overweight cat.
5. I love chocolate.
6. I enjoy the beach and the mountains.
7. My favorite movies are: The Sound of Music and Out of Africa.
8. My favorite books are: The Time Traveler's Wife, The Alchemist, and A Fine Balance.
9. I love to read.
10. I'm very unorganized.
11. My favorite color combination is sage and lavender.
12. My favorite poets are: Nikki Giovanni, Jill Scott, Langston Hughes, and Emily Dickinson.
13. I love ice cream.
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Making Things Better

While re-reading an old journal of mine (2002). I came across the following entry:

"What one thing can I do that, if I did it on a regular basis, would make a positive difference in my personal life? Meet new people."

"What one thing in my professional/business life would bring similar results? Planning/organizing"

The first answer has changed since '02. Getting out and doing things I enjoy would be my current answer. I have found that when I am having a good time I invariably meet new people. No one wants to be around a depressed or negative person.

The second answer still holds true. I fear that getting organized may prove to be a life long pursuit.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Things I Now Know

Just a few things I have recently accepted.

1. The self-cleaning litter box that cost me $164.00: A BIG WASTE OF MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Not only do I teach any child the public sends to me, but I also cannot expect the things I say and do to be protected from public scrutiny. My pastor was right...The words we speak and the things we do have incredible power and reach; therefore, we should govern ourselves accordingly.

3. The end of a close friendship can be like the end of an intimate relationship: Sometimes you have to do some housekeeping and get rid of traces of the person in order to move on.

4. Friendships: The "best" friends are the ones you can travel with. It really is a heads up regarding how well you get along.

5. The human body: It's amazing! As I am recovering from surgery, I am amazed at how various systems are related and how they react to and recover after trauma

One More Try

I stepped away from blogging for quite some time. The responsibility of updating on a regular basis, and the rejection of not getting comments were just too much. However, I recently posted a comment on another blog, and in return, my blog was referenced. There is nothing like being exposed to make you step up to the plate.

Since my trip to Ghana life was pretty leveled. No extreme highs or lows, until the past April. I had hip replacement surgery. I was unable to finish out the school year. For someone who hates to be out of the classroom, this was a hard blow. My recovery gave me plenty of time to read. Listed below are some of the books I have read so far this summer:

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory
Night by Elie Wiesel
How the Brain Learns by David Sousa
Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
How to Grade for Learning by Ken O'Connor

I also took a short trip to Puerto Vallarta. It might not have been noteworthy had it not been for the fact I was still in the early stages of recovery. Despite the best planned efforts of friends and resort staff to keep me safe, I still managed to step on a sting ray, get sea sick, and walk up(perhaps pull myself up is a better description) a very steep path in the jungle. Those things turned the trip into quite the adventure, which suited me just fine.