Monday, December 10, 2012

LOVE this video!

I absolutely love this Ze Frank video from  Love, LoVe, LOVE it!  I especially love the song at the end...  Just FYI, if you watch the video, the word "ass" comes up a lot around the four minute in, "going to kick some..."

In other news, I've posted a few times now about working wayyyyyy too much and not having down time to enjoy my personal hobbies and interests. I've been trying to make a focused effort to have a little bit of time every day for reading which, aside from my family and friends, is what I love more than anything else in life. I LOVE reading. I love reading more than I love the above video, and I really love that video!

A long while back, I had planned to update my reading habits regularly (see THIS post for more on my reading habits). I have failed big time in that regard, but I also haven't been reading as much as I was when I wrote that post. I'm working hard to remedy the situation and get back to serious reading on a daily basis.

Currently, I am reading two books, and I am enjoying both.
  • Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell*This is a Swedish mystery/crime novel and has been turned into both a Swedish television series and a Masterpiece Theater series. The book is fantastic, and I love both television series as well! One of the few book to film adaptations I have enjoyed and that seems to keep the integrity of the written work.
  • Where We Belong by Emily Giffin*This is a sweet story of an adopted young woman who is a bit lost in life and the woman go gave her up for adoption. The story is sweet, tender, and balanced. A bit on the side of chick-lit (ok, totally chick-lit), and I adore it.
*Please note, these are both Amazon Affiliate links. Should you buy these books through these links, I will receive a touch of dosh for my wallet which will help support my reading habit! Thank you in advance!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Snow, New York City, Groceries

I went out to buy groceries today, and just the teensiest little bit of snow was falling.  I wonder if we will have more snow later today, or overnight?  The weather forecast calls for possible snow on Tuesday.  Hmmm....

We had our first snowfall of the year shortly after Hurricane Sandy.  Thankfully the lad and I live in an area that while hit by the hurricane and subsequent nor'easter, was not that badly impacted.  Unlike many others...some as close as a few blocks away...we were able to enjoy the snow. 
After that snow melted, JP and I had an afternoon in New York City.  Actually, he had a class in the city, and afterwards, we went down to Union Square for dinner.  The plan was to snack from the many food trucks that are usually in the area.  Unfortunately, Union Square was big used as a staging ground for hurricane disaster relief, and only a tiny handful of food trucks were around, and one looked very appetizing.  Instead, I got a vegan falafel salad thing at Maoz which was O....M....G.... yummy!  I am not a huge falafel fan, but this was downright amazing!  I will definitely go back there!  The bonus was the crazy wall tiles in Maoz.  I LOVED the tiles.  JP got a sampler platter from TGI Fridays.
We also made a stop at Mario Batali's Eataly which was...overwhelming.  I am sure it is a great place, but the layout was awful, there were TONS of people, and it is expensive!  We got sorbet, but it wasn't anything special...
But...back to my grocery shopping.  I'm trying to be extremely frugal about groceries while still eating well, but it is a bit hard when we don't have a car and I don't want to PAY to get TO the store!  We have a few small local shops around the corner, and a small but full-service grocery.  Beyond that, I would have to take a bus or train or cab to any chain grocery, farmers market, or other such place.  The full-service grocery takes coupons, but has high prices, and often lacks things I need/want (so, is it truly full-service???).  The other shops are a CVS (expensive if you are buying groceries!), a Korean run market, and a Turkish run market.  The Turkish and Korean markets have a mix of ethnic foods and typical American fare.

So, I spent $30.68 today at the Turkish place after considering the food already in the cupboards and fridge.  I am sure I could have saved more if I'd gone to a store outside of my neighborhood, but the cost of transportation and the time would have negated those savings.  Here's what I got:

  • celery...$1.15
  • bananas...$1.32 (2.7lbs)
  • butternut squash...$1.70 (1.72lbs)
  • Roma tomatoes x 2...$0.49 (0.49lbs...funny!)
  • bag of baby carrots...$1.19
  • pkg mushrooms...$1.25
  • Chobani yogurt x 3...$1.19 each
  • Chobani yogurt with mix ins x 3...$1.39 each
  • can of tuna...$1.79
  • small jar of dill pickles...$3.99***
  • zucchini x 1...$0.16
  • blueberries, small pkg fresh...$1.99***
  • corn meal...$2.29
  • Canadian bacon...$3.49***
  • onion...$0.63
  • eggs, 1dz...$1.50
***I did make a few "splurge" purchases.  The pickles are a gourmet brand, the blueberries are maybe a twice yearly purchase as JP won't eat them, and the Canadian bacon is also a twice yearly purchase.

All of the above is available at the regular grocery in our neighborhood except for the Chobani yogurt with mix-ins.  All of it costs less than the regular grocery in our neighborhood.  I know I could have saved on several items at a larger store outside of our neighborhood, but not enough to make up for the cost of transportation and time.  Next Friday, we will go into the city for one JP's classes, and there Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both have stores within a short distance of his class, so we'll fill up on a few other items organic apples.

How does my list and the prices compare to your area?
Now to make our groceries last!  JP is 14 and growing!  He is like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to food lately!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012-2013 School Year - 9th Grade

The homeschool year has officially started for many families, including ours.  If JP were in a regular school, he would be entering the 9th grade.  Yikes!  I have a high schooler!

Note:  no real pictures this post....sorry!

We are starting the school  year by finishing a few details leftover from last year, and we are using a few new tools this year.  I've had a great time reading about the materials that other families are using, and now I'm sharing our list.  Enjoy!

Math - We are giving MEP a try this year.  MEP stands for Mathematics Enhancement Programme and was developed by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching in England.  The program is attached to University of Plymouth, and correlates to grade levels in the United Kingdom.  After Googling the meanings of some terms for various levels, looking over the materials, and reviewing the age suggestions, we've settled on the Year 9 materials.  So far, so good.  JP likes it much more than our previous math curriculums.  It seems to be enough practice and explanation for him to learn, but not so much that he ends up overwhelmed.  We loved Life of Fred and the Key To... workbooks that we used a few years ago, but they weren't quite enough.  The CK12 materials we used last year were ok, but didn't have enough information for me on the teacher side of things.  Hopefully MEP will work out well, and we will be able to use it throughout the high school years.

Click HERE to go to the MEP page.

Language Arts - For language arts, we are finishing the curriculum I devised for JP last year, focused heavily on poetry, with essays every few weeks.  He has been working on a research report for social studies which has quite a bit of weekly writing, so I put less emphasis than usual on essay writing last year.  

This year, we will do a "contemporary short story" course based on the course that I currently teach at a local community college, and we will do formal essays focusing on narrative, process, cause and effect, persuasive, compare-contrast, and two literature essays.  

I don't have a set reading list beyond the short story list for this year, but he reads a good mix of traditional classics, modern classics, and junk.

Social Studies - For social studies, we'll pick up where we left off with world history, and will continue to take a unit studies type of approach.  The next section we will cover is Ancient China and Southeast Asia.  We'll read, watch videos, and hopefully take field trips to some museums in New York City.  JP will also keep working on his big Afghanistan research project, and he will continue reading two current events articles daily (one of his favorite activities, actually!).  

Additionally, for social studies, JP will begin to prep for the SAT II World History subject exam.  I plan for him to take the exam in the spring.  Since one of my tutoring students is already prepping for the same test, I already have all of the necessary study materials.  JP loves history, and has learned a ton on his own, so he may not need to prep a whole lot.  I'll be giving him a practice test next weekend before I determine his SAT study plan.

Science - For science, we are going to blast through a bunch of materials that we've had sitting around for a while, including a chemistry kit that he received a loooong time ago but wasn't ready to use until recently.  After those are done, we'll delve into the level III science kits from Noeo Homeschool Science.

We absolutely love Noeo, and recommend it to homeschoolers frequently!  After this year, I have no idea what we'll do for science as JP will have finished all of Noeo's products, and I've not been thrilled with any of the other curriculums I've looked at. We may have to enroll him in a community college science program next year as a result.

Click HERE to go to Noeo's website.
Electives - We live in a state with many regulations about homeschooling, including requirements regarding a distribution of high school credits. So, this year we have to start counting credits in each subject, including for electives.  JP is doing the following for electives this year:
  • Udacity - Online course for Intro to Computer Science.  So far JP is loving this course!  He has even backtracked to watch a few video segments more than once just to be sure he fully understands the material.  This is the first time that HE has initiated a review of materials.  Previously, I've always had to stop him, and get him to review.  
  • - Online German instruction.  JP also loves this program!  He already was teaching himself German through a variety of methods, but since we've added Duolingo, his skills have increased tremendously in a short period of time.
    • Check out THIS post for additional German resources.
  • A comics illustration course which will begin in a few weeks.
  • A film making course for high schoolers if he gets chosen in the lottery for admission (this one is a free course, so there are a lot of applications for just a few spaces!)
  • Golf lessons - starting late October, or in November for a winter/indoor program
  • Archery lessons - still have to set this up
  • Piano/keyboard lessons - still have to set this up
On his own, he's also been working on his cooking skills, and has been learning about computer hardware, but we can count those towards his educational activity too.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Dear friends,

This is for anyone with kids - it is for homeschooling families, public school families, private school families, unschoolers, and everyone else.

Please teach your children about plagiarism - what it is, why it is wrong, and the consequences of getting caught.  Teach them about intentional versus unintentional plagiarism, and how to work to avoid both.

While I'm sure that most of your little angels would never purposely use someone else's work and pass it off as their own, it is still something you should discuss with them.  It is very much a problem in our world, not just in classrooms, but in business, journalism, blogging, and beyond.  Unfortunately, the internet makes it much easier to plagiarise both on purpose and by accident. 

Even with the technology available today, and the sneaky ways in which students are learning to use technology to hide intentional cheating, it is still not that hard to catch them. 

I currently teach two college level English courses, and I have caught students plagiarising in both classes.  Often it is accidental (usually a misplaced or missing quotation mark, or an improper citation), but I also have found several cases of blatant plagiarism where the students have tried to pass off the work of another as their own.  It's not that hard to catch if the teacher is paying attention.

Make sure your kids are informed about the issue of plagiarism - what it is, how to avoid it, how to cite other sources, and what to do if they are accused of plagiarism.  I am passing out a bunch of F's in both of my courses this week, and if these students are caught again, they will flunk my class and face the Academic Honesty committee.  You don't want your kid to have to go through that.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I'm super busy this week, so this post is mostly pictures...we've been wrapping up several science experiments that we've collected over the years and just never got around to doing.  Since we schooled over the course of the summer this year, as we finished one subject, we filled in with the collected science experiments!

Taking apart an owl pellet.  I did this in the 4th grade when I was fortunate enough to have a teacher that was CrAzY for all things scientific.  It was fun to share this with JP, even if he was several years older than the intended age group.  You can buy owl pellet kits HERE.

After picking off most of the outer material, he began to find bones and a skull inside the pellet!

Working on identifying the parts - a jaw.

Various biology experiments - a terrarium to both see plants growing, but also to understand the water cycle, and several sprouting experiments.

The garlic clove never sprouted, and only one of our wheat seeds sprouted (in the tubes in the middle container), and the two beans sprouted as well.  The wheat seed that sprouted was a surprise!  It was just a tiny little nub of green one evening, and the next morning was several centimeters long.  By the next day it was almost six inches long!

Day one of the terrarium.  It began to develop its own water cycle in less than 24 hours, and we had sprouts in less than 48 hours.  Unfortunately, there is too much moisture for us to see into the thing very clearly! I also have to say, I love how creative JP was in solving the issue of the round terrarium on the flat table.  He used Legos to build a stand to keep it from rolling.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The face of 14...

This past Friday, my baby boy turned 14 years old!!!

This what 14 looks like:

14 year olds express themselves, sometimes in ways that might drive some parents crazy, but not me.  In this case, my kiddo is taking after me in some very distinct ways!  When I was his age, I began experimenting with doing artsy stuff to my clothing, including drawing on my jeans with Sharpies, and eventually learning to paint on fabric.  As you can see, he's started with Sharpies on his favorite hat!

14 year olds are capable of doing a lot for themselves.  He's taken the lead in learning to cook over the past year, and recently cooked spicy Italian sausage, and has been scrambling his own eggs.

14 year olds also like to try new things with their physical appearance.  He knows that I won't let him get tattooed or pierced as long as he lives at home, but I don't mind hair dye and funky hair styles.  Most things you can do to hair are reversible!  You can just barely tell, but he has a purple tint here.  His hair has gotten significantly darker over the past two years, so next time he wants to dye it, we'll have to bleach first.

One thing that he hasn't lost as he matures into a young man is his love of drawing comics.  He draws them frequently, and several times per day he says, "I should make a comic of that!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homeschooling (and tutoring) resource binder...

What is one thing your homeschool could not do without?  For us, that one thing is our resource binder.  It is the most value item I have put together!  My son uses it for his schoolwork, and I use it for my tutoring students.  We also both reference it at other times as well (converting units in a recipe...  looking up war dates...).   This is also a great idea for non-homeschoolers too!  Moms, dads, grandparents, caretakers, babysitters, etc. can all use this idea to help make homework and studying easier for kids in public (or private) school.  I can see even sending a modified version of this off to college with JP in a few years!

homeschool resource binder

Read on to learn more about our resource binder, and a little about how we organize our homeschool materials and days.

A long while ago, I posted about how we use an expandable file folder (you can buy one HERE). We are still using it, and probably will continue to do so for a few years to come (updating this two and a half years later, we are still using this multi-pocket folder and our resource binder!).

homeschool organization
That is the second best thing I've done for our homeschool.  The BEST thing I've done?  I put together a resource binder.  This is so simple!  I can't believe it took me so long to think of it!  If you haven't done this, I urge you to consider it.  It will save you so much time when you are trying to find information ("Hey, mom?  How many quarts are in a gallon?  When was the Battle of the Bulge?  How do you say "I'm hungry" in German?").  Instead of going to the internet, or searching through your bookshelves, this binder will contain tons of information, all in one tidy spot.

homeschool organization

Every "school" day, I set out a pile of book and materials that my son will need for the day.  The resource binder is always on the table, or nearby.  At the top of my son's pile will be either the week's master list of tasks (school, recreation, and chores), or it will be a small handwritten note like in the picture below.

homeschool organization
But, I digress...back to the resource binder!

Have you found yourself looking up, or printing out a page of math formulas for area and perimeter, a list of writing prompts, maybe a sheet of Spanish verbs?  Or, any number of other materials?  Do you have workbooks with glossaries in the back that just get tossed when the workbook is done? 


Here's what you need for your resource binder:
  • a big 3-ring binder.  Mine is 2 inches, but we will upgrade this year to a 3-inch so we have room to grow. 
  • a bunch of page protectors
  • a 3-hole punch (THIS is the best one I've EVER owned!)
  • dividers to section out the binder
That's it!  Pretty easy materials to come by.  All of those pages you've printed out with math formulas, timelines, foreign language rules, and so on get popped into sheet protectors, organized by subject, and put into the binder.  Glossaries from workbooks go in the binder too, as does anything else you think you might reference on occasion.  Several items made their way into the binder because my son asked for them (the Russian alphabet and Roman numerals lists below are two examples).  Easy peasy!

Here's a glimpse into our binder, with just a few pages from each section.  By far, the math section is biggest.

homeschool organizing
The first section of our binder happens to be science.  I bought several study guides for various topics and included them in the binder.  Here you can see the Physics and Rock Cycle study guides.
homeschool organizing
One of my tutoring students had Earth Science last year, so I photocopied all of the charts and graphs at the beginning of the book to include in our study guide.  My student was glad I'd done that since he misplaced his book at one point, and needed the charts to study for his year end exam.
homeschool organizing
For our math section, before my son even starts a math workbook, I pull out the glossary and put it into the binder.  I also made him a big chart of unit conversions for both metric and non-metric measures (I use this one A LOT when I cook!).
homeschool organizing
At some point, the lad asked about Roman numerals, so I printed this from somewhere online...I forget where, but HERE is a good one.
homeschool organizing
When one of my younger tutoring students was struggling with area and perimeter, I found several printables and they made their way into the binder.  The ones pictured came from, but that is a pay-for-membership website (although for elementary age students, it is worth the fee!). 
homeschool organizing
I hand wrote the formulas for surface area and volume because I happened to have them in front of me in a book that I didn't want to tear apart. 

homeschool organizing
More printables from - math symbols and various math properties.
homeschool organizing
In our writing/ELA section, we have lots of writing prompts.
homeschool organizing
Proofreading/editing marks.  I use these with tutoring students, and in the two college English courses that I teach.
homeschool organizing
Instructions to write formal and friendly letters.  We also have printouts on how to organize various types of essays, ways to brainstorm, and more.
homeschool organizing
In our social studies section, we have a timeline of wars involving the U.S.A.  This one is from the Department of Veteran's Affairs. 
homeschool organizing
Two side-by-side charts showing the states in the U.S.A.  One side has them in alphabetical order.  The other has them in the order in which they joined the U.S.A.
homeschool organizing
JP asked for a chart showing the Russian alphabet.  So, we put that in our foreign language section.
homeschool organizing
A German grammar study guide...
homeschool organizing
Many pages of Spanish verbs.
homeschool organizing
And, at the very back, empty sheet protectors!
As I write this, my son is at the table doing a math worksheet on surface area and volume.  He is referencing the formulas I wrote out earlier today...which I promptly popped into the binder!  Later this week, I plan to add to the social studies section.  I'll be including a printout of the Declaration of Independence, a copy of the Constitution which I got for free in the mail thanks to the ACLU, a list of the presidents of the United States, and several other tidbits.  I'm putting together those materials for a tutoring student who will have U.S. history this year, so I figured I might as well add them to our homeschool resource binder too!

Like this post? Check out these additional posts about homeschooling:

Please note, some links contained in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a commission.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mini-goals and mini-rewards...

I have been playing little games with myself today in order to motivate myself and get stuff done.  Our sink was overflowing with dirty dishes, the living room is a mess, and I have a ton of work to do for tutoring, not to mention several personal goals that I've been ignoring.  Sigh...  What to do, what to do?  I know! Make it a game!

Now, before you get all excited, these aren't really fun games...more little mental tricks to keep me going, and allow me to feel like I'm accomplishing my tasks.  I have been bopping between several chores, tutoring tasks, and personal goals today by assigning a mini-goal for each one.  Once the mini-goal is accomplished, I switch gears and set a mini-goal for something else, and so on until I'm back where I started.

So, the starting point....

I've been doing several tasks at my desk, which is really just a table and camp chair in the living room.  As you can see it has been semi-taken over by my son's crap (Legos, video gaming headphones, and so on).  But...I've also been trying to centralize all of my tutoring supplies, and have a plastic crate on its side as a makeshift bookshelf on my desk.  (Yeah, we have virtually no real furniture, and it's going to stay that way until we are able to move out of this dump of an apartment into something nicer.)  Our lovely pooch got all excited when I busted out the camera, so I purposely shot the pic so she'd be in it.  See the SAT world history subject test book on the floor?  One of my tasks today is to create ONE timeline from the book for my tutoring student who will be taking the SAT II in December.  He is away on vacation for a few weeks, so I'm creating some additional study materials for him (and by extension, for my son!).  That brings me to mini-goal and mini-reward #1...

Mini-goal and reward #1:  Condense 5 mini-timelines from the study guide into my larger timeline.  After those five are done, spend no more than 5 minutes on social media.

Mini-goal #2:  Go to the kitchen and wash at least 5 dishes/items in the sink.  Individual silverware pieces are NOT individual pieces!  5 pieces of silverware = 1 item.  After those 5 are done, clean a 2' x 2' section of the kitchen counter.  Then, refill coffee cup, and read a blog post.  This is a good one:  You Gotta Give it Away - Dreams of My Home by Rosalind at A Little R & R.

Mini-goal #3:  Sort the recycling from the trash, and figure out what the mystery odor is in the kitchen.  Use the old ratty kitchen sponge to do a preliminary cleaning of plates on which JP has made cheesy pizzas, and thus also made the plates impossible for me to use in the process thanks to my dairy allergy.  Throw away disgusting sponge, put plates back in sink for a real washing with a new sponge.  Check supply of paper plates for future cheese related episodes.  Reward:  More coffee, and another blog post to read.  I really like this one by Gabriela at Luminous Fire - Good Thing We Took Our Rain Jackets.  So full of beautiful pictures!

Aren't you glad I am showing you clean counter space, and not a picture of my sorted recycling and trash?

Mini-goal #4:  Go back to the desk, and practice some Spanish using Duolingo.  Duolingo is a mini-reward in and of itself.  I think it's fun, and much easier to use than Rosetta Stone although it has a similar methodology, plus it is FREE.  Today, I practiced plurals.

Now, I'm starting over with the timeline, then into the kitchen again, but this time to bake some lemon-zucchini bread which I found on Pinterest!  Due to a dairy allergy, I am making some substitutions. The original recipe HERE. UPDATED - a review of the recipe linked here.  Um...we didn't really like it.  The glaze was too tart, and the muffins were...odd. :/

After the zucchini bread, I plan to work on a post about our homeschooling curriculum choices for this coming school year...I keep promising to do that!  Today, it is on my list, and I WILL get it done (I think...).

Ok, so those aren't really games, but they are larger jobs, broken down into smaller tasks, with tiny rewards along the way.  I am in a bit of a funk today, and really needed to break things down to much smaller steps in order to accomplish anything today.  And, the next time you are feeling so down, lame, tired, or whatever that you just want to say, "Chuck it! I'm going back to bed!" instead, choose one chore or task, and break it down into several smaller steps.  Choose one tiny step, and accomplish that itty bitty goal.  Give yourself an itty bitty reward, then move on to another itty bitty goal with an itty bitty reward.  Eventually, you will have accomplished something larger, and will hopefully feel good about the results, even if you still feel like going back to bed!

There was a time in my life many years back, when JP was quite young, that I felt stuck in every possible way.  Even the simplest of tasks felt impossible and not worth doing.  So, I would just set myself to one TINY task.  Usually it involved cleaning a 2' x 2' section of the kitchen counter.  I would do that, give myself a little reward, then come back to do another 2' x 2' section.  Over the course of a the morning, my depression would ease a bit, though wouldn't go away entirely (2 years of therapy, and a year of anti-depressants helped it go away...mostly).  At the very least, I felt like I'd accomplished something, even it if was something small. 

Off to work on that timeline, then mix up the lemon-zucchini bread, then walk the dog while the bread bakes!


UPDATED:  Nom nom nom!!!!  I have the lemon zucchini bread baking now, but I decided to go the cupcake/muffin route instead of baking a loaf.  And, oh my goodness!  Do you like mushrooms?  Do you like breaded mushrooms???  Droooooooolllllll....try these!  Super duper easy!  For the inspiration,  WITH dairy, recipe visit  HERE.  For a dairy free, but still cheesy tasting, version, keep reading:

Breaded Mushrooms

8oz pkg whole mushrooms, cleaned (mine were HUGE, so I cut them into quarters)
2 eggs
generous handful of breadcrumbs (I didn't measure them, sorry!)
1 Tbsp so of nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

If you haven't cleaned your mushrooms, or cut the big ones into halves or quarters, start by doing that.  To clean the mushrooms, just wipe them with a dishtowel.

Put the two eggs into a little dish, and whisk.

In a shallow bowl, or on a plate, mix the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and pepper.

Dunk the mushrooms in the egg.  Then transfer the egg coated mushrooms to the breadcrumb mix.  Your fingers will probably get all goopy and gross - wash your fingers off as needed in order to keep handling the mushrooms without accidentally pulling off the breadcrumb coating.  I found that it works best to drop the egg coated mushrooms into the breadcrumbs and press down a little.  Then flip them, and press again, flip and press again, until the mushroom pieces are well breaded.

Place the breaded mushroom pieces on a lined baking sheet (I just used a piece of parchment paper).  Bake for 8-10 minutes at 450F.

Allow to cool, and enjoy!

In the process of making the lemon zucchini muffins and breaded mushrooms, I completely destroyed all of my kitchen counter cleaning and dish washing progress!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I've been so busy the past few weeks!  I can't believe how time flies by.  Before I know it, August 24th will be here, and on that day my baby will be turning 14 years old!  He is growing up so fast, and is just 1/4 of an inch shy of being taller than me!  He's a good kid though, and I am so happy to be his mom.

I had a whole idea for this blog post, but my mind is basically fried at the moment!  So, instead of a long post about whatever subject I had originally planned (I really can't remember!), here are some pictures and little blurbs about the past week...

I love that you can find poetry AND art in the New York City subway system.  This was posted in a subway car.
Gorgeous walk home from a tutoring student's house.
Even though my son loves the dog, and he takes good care of her, she glues herself to my side on days when I'm gone longer than usual.

I tried to get a better picture of this little bird.  I was sitting outside the school where I teach and the little guy kept hopping up to me.  I am sure that if I'd put my hand out, he would have hopped into my palm!  I normally don't like birds (allergic!), but this guy was so cute!
I am now the proud owner of a New York Public Library account!  My county's library system can go suck it (excuse the language!).  After the getting kicked out of the local library system, I found out that you can get a NYPL account if you live or work in the NYC area.

When I see things like this, I really wish I wasn't allergic to dairy products!  These cakes look amazing!  They are at the bakery and cafe in the building where I teach.
This week, I had my short story literature class read "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin.  It is such an amazing story!  I started the class tonight with my favorite passage from the story.  For our discussion, we spent some time comparing "Sonny's Blues" to "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver.  We talked about how the narrators of each story end up seeing their situations, and life in general I suppose, in a new way.  We talked about different ways of seeing from the literal to the figurative too.
For each story my class reads, they have to identify the point of view, main characters, setting, tone, themes, and symbolism.  They were struggling with "Sonny's Blues" a bit - it is the longest story I've had them read, and most have only been speaking and reading English for 2-3 years.  I have a wide variety of ability levels in my class.  So, today, I wrote a lot on the board, and had them copy it down.  We are going to talk more about it next week.  I also told them, "If you ever see me take a picture of the chalkboard, you better have that information in your notes!  Those pictures will likely be the basis for most of your final exam questions!"   ........but, can you believe that my school doesn't have dry erase boards?  I learned not to wear black to work pretty quickly. :)