Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ella Enchanted

This was a fun fairytale book to read. I enjoyed the story, the way that it is a retelling of a classic fairytale without being an almost precise replica of that tale. I felt endeared with Ella and the way she attended to the challenges presented to her with a bit of stubborness. I like the discoveries she makes of the world around her, and how, even though she is given a challenge in her life, she still does her best to make her life happen the way she wants it to.

One of the things I didn't like about this book, and is probably just a personal preference, is that there are gibberish languages that really can't be pronounced and are put in to demonstrate that different creatures speak differently. Also, there are several parenthetical explanations that violate the "Show, Don't Tell" rule and bug just a bit.

I have actually seen bits and pieces of the movie rendition of this book. I seriously doubt that the book was read by the screen writers. Yes, the movie still has ogres and giants, and there are the characters who have the same names, but the story, character development, basic plot...pretty much everything in the movie is created for the movie and is not seen in the book at all. It is yet another verification of the reasons I really try to avoid movies recreated from books that I like. 99% of the time I'm incredibly disappointed and quite upset. Especially when the movies don't even try to be like the book. ARGH.

(coming down from movie/book tangent now...)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Girl with the Pearl Earring

I grabbed this book off of a co-workers bookshelf before the end of the school year to tool up for summer reading. I have loved the painting for quite some time, and the idea that someone created a story around the girl was truly fascinating.

I liked this book. It is the story of a girl who must help provide for her family and becomes a maid six days a week for a wealthier family. Her master is a painter, her mistress is less than fond of her and she is to assist in caring for their children while tending to her chores. This is her story.

I really liked this book. It isn't a hard read and I think that it would even be enjoyable to teens. It is a good depiciton of a different society, and I would even look into some of her other works. Not a book that I would call amazing, but it was a fun escape read - slightly above brain candy level I would say. I hear the movie is really good too, but movies created about books that I have read have been more disappointing than not.

On to Ella Enchanted - I love summers. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I kept seeing this book on different lists I was looking at as one that was highly recommended. It is the story of a china rabbit who belongs to a girl who loves him dearly and he could care less. Then, they get separated and he goes on a journey over the course of years, belonging to different owners and learning how to love.

The premise is okay, and I really think could have been a really great story, but there are a few problems. First, the language is so inflated that the age group who probably still plays with stuffed toys or has a beloved doll could not follow the story. It could possibly work as a read aloud, but again, I still just don't know that there would be many kids who would enjoy it. It seems very much like a children's book that adults were meant to read. And there is nothing wrong with that but it is just a story. I think it was meant to evoke great emotion and memories, but for me, it was just a story. Read it if you want. It's not bad, it's just a story.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Book Thief

Reading this book was such a joy. The idea in and of itself is pretty smart, a girl in WWII Germany who discovers a love of reading, and, being poor, finds a way to support her habit. She watches her younger brother die on the way to the foster family her mother is leaving her with and finds her first book. But even that little plot beginning doesn't do this book justice.

First of all, it is told from Death's point of view (and no, he doesn't carry a scythe - he says so himself). There is enough of an mix in of German words that the reader remembers all the characters really do speak German, even if we read it in English. The plot is addicting, carries some twists, leads you believe you know what is going to happen only to show you don't. I lost a decent amount of sleep one night because I just did not want to stop reading this book.

But the thing that I still marvel at, and haven't had an encounter with before, is the way things are described and the presence of color imagery in a way I never really thought about before. There is a little bit of swearing in this book, probably not more than a ball game outside of a church, but the story is amazing. This is definitely a YA book, one that at least some of our freshmen at the school will be reading next year, and I can't wait for them, or you, to experience it.

On a side note, we just got back from getting each of the kids their own library card - I grabbed three books myself. Let the summer of reading begin!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kids in Slumber

It is always fun to see what I'm going to find when I go to re-cover my kids before I go to bed. Quite often I will walk in and see something like this.

Most of the time when I walk in Will's room, he is in some variation of this.

But the funniest was the night I walked in and found Catie like this.

She was given this hat by Ellie who got it from a teacher at the school. I think she likes it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why I love to teach

After that last post, it may be questionable about my love of teaching.  Then we have days like today, where all the classes come through to sign out, sign yearbooks and visit.  One of our requirements as teachers is to have the student's evaluate us.  I thought it would be fun to post some of the comments I got.  

Keep Doing
Drinking Diet Coke
Class Discussions
Song Lyric Poetic Devices
Be Willing to Help One on One
Learned more in English this year than ever before
Random beginning of class conversations
Keep everything the same
Being sarcastic
Helping students
Pass along stories
Witty sense of humor
Fun writing activities
Love the magazine
Liked the selection of major writing assignments
Keep doing journals – helped me with my writing
Fun poetry games
Read The Chosen
Religion reports
Allow work in groups
Keep being a good teacher
Fun, creative projects
Hands-on learning
Being funny
Keep the nice chill atmosphere
Keep giving hints on how to do better on the ACT
Keep the mythology unit
Relating things in the world to what she is doing/teaching at the same time.
Being herself
Liked the “My Gang” stories

Do different forms of poetry
Not a fan of journals
Learn more about genres, writing styles, eras, famous essays, authors, etc.
Do more read-alouds
Give out a syllabus at beginning of class with due dates and point values of assignments
More time to work in class
Didn’t like the magazine
Read fewer books
Read more books
Focus on specifics
More instruction prior to giving the assignment
More time to read in class
Less homework
More time for poetry unit
More time to do reading
Frequency of seat changes
More presentations
Fewer presentations
More choice in books to read
Amount of time between due dates of assignments
No negative energy toward her teaching
More lessons and fewer assignments
Charts and worksheets with books
Sometimes felt like random lesson plans
Less paperwork and more involvement work
A different way to let students know of due dates
Leniency for slacker readers

Never Do Again
Fredrick Douglass Unit
Greek Gods/Goddesses
Make us read
Have only clock in classroom not work
Memorized poem
Huck Finn
Hang up a Denver Broncos calendar

Additional Comments
“She shouldn’t be cooler than her students, it makes us look bad.”
“She shouldn’t get mad at me…but…I am responsible for my own actions.”
“Mrs. Seegmiller rocks and she is my role model.”
“You are a good teacher and great at rhyming!”
“The magazines (although stressful) were fun.”
“Mrs. Seegmiller = perfection.”
“She should keep on doing everything.  This year I actually had the best time in this English class. I really understand
English and had a lot of fun with the projects we did.”
“You’re my favorite teacher.  I look forward to coming to your class.”

That's why teachers teach even when we get paid what we do :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

School's (almost) Out For Summer!!!

This means that the number of conversations I have to have with students who dink around for eight and a half weeks and want to know how to get their sub 20% grade up to passing (60%) are almost over, that I don' t have to have many more parents tell me I'm destroying their child's future, pleading with me to have a mother-to-mother talk about our children or call me prejudiced against her - a white women with brown hair (which I would think would mean I was prejudiced against myself...right?)

Yup -
all in one conversation!

I have come to realize more than ever that under no uncertain circumstances do I want anything to do with administration because when their whinefest doesn't work on the teachers, they always try to have our administrators change - go over our heads. Never works, but those are some long hours listening to all that whining.

This also means that we are in full fledged busy mode, with many more experiences like this in the next month or so.

We just finished this, for a few months anyway.

I get to hear Catie ask if she can have a "pop-ik-skul" all summer long - sometimes even several times a day.

And of course, I get to see this more often :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It saddens me to write this review.  I debated for several months about buying this book, thinking that it would be a great book.  I like the idea behind it and read many reviews before getting it.  And even when I started reading it, I enjoyed what was happening, thought it to be well written and the character intriguing.  

But there was a problem.  The sex scenes are gratuitous.  And the sex keeps going even when the main characters aren't involved.  There are a series of murders that have been taking place, and the author describes how each of the girls were murdered, how their bodies were found, and in many cases animals were killed as well.  I couldn't stop reading once I got into the mystery part, but began losing interest in the book as the sex/violence continued with details I just didn't feel needed to be shared in as much detail to keep to the honesty of the plot.   Apparently this book was initially called Men Who Hate Women, and it is true.   The actions against these women is astonishing.  I had really high hopes for this book and wanted to know who committed the murders.

Sadly, I will not be finishing this book.  Apparently it is an international hit, but as I was looking at more and more reviews, several people commented on how they found the sex and violence to get more addictive as the book progresses - no thank you.  And apparently I didn't even read the worst scenes.  I can't recommend this book to anyone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

100 Random Things About Me

I am thinking about this being the first writing assignment of my classes next year - figured I should do it too, right?

1. I have known my husband since 2nd grade.

2. As a child, I had three black labs at different points all named Molly.

3. One of my Molly’s had a litter of puppies who I named after all the characters of Gilligan’s Island. 

4. When I was four, I thought a prairie dog was a bear.

5. I have been playing the piano since I was four.

6. I memorized “The Animals of Farmer Jones” when I was two.

7. I also memorized when to turn the pages so it looked like I could read.

8. I am married to a man with the same name as a southern Utah town and an Bible prophet.

9. I would rather watch a football game than a chick flick.

10. As a university student, I have had a baby in the middle of a semester twice.

11. I competed in seven pageants during two years.

12. I love the smell of rain.

13. My first car was a Pontiac Grand Am.

14. My husband and I bought a car together before we were officially engaged.

15. All three of my kids were born in March.

16. I lost two pregnancies and neither had the due date in March.

17. I broke my hand while playing basketball.

18. I grew so fast my knee caps used to slip.

19. I love the smell of old, but not moldy, leather books.

20. I am an inch taller than my husband.

21. My husband and I spent the first four months of our relationship trying to not marry each other.

22. I have passed half the songs in Guitar Hero on the hard level.

23. I CAN NOT play video games that require steering.

24. I was taller than my mom half way through 6th grade.

25. I hate to run.

26. I love to ride a bike.

27. I have helped pour concrete, sheet roofs and install windows and doors on several homes.

28. I took a semester of Russian – got an F. (My professor was Russian and spent the whole time calling us stupid Americans)

29. I took a semester of Latin – got an A (same semester I had my first child).

30. I like the music in my car to be loud enough to feel the sound.

31. My music is rarely that loud when my kids are with me.

32. I have never had any desire to get drunk.

33. I love going to plays

34. I have dated guys of three different ethnicities from myself.

35. I love cheesecake ice cream, especially if it has brownies in it.

36. I have moved 11 times in 9 ½ years of marriage.

37. I hate the sound of the phone ringing.

38. When I am bored, I sketch house plans.

39. I played the clarinet for seven years.

40. I was in Symphonic Band all through high school.

41. I love to go fishing.

42. I hate to bait the worm.

43. I despise creatures with more than four legs.

44. I loathe any animal with less than two legs and no gills.

45. I have appeared as the Virgin Mary in numerous paintings.

46. I love to workout but only in the morning.

47. If is could come back as an animal, I would be a snow owl.

48. My first kiss was six weeks before I graduated from high school.

49. I listen to talk radio on the way to work in the morning.

50. I have a to do list of operations I would like to have.

51. My husband and I had our first kiss the night before his girlfriend got home off her mission.

52. I can feel the weight of nail polish if I paint my fingernails.

53. I love to sleep on my stomach.

54. I get some of my best ideas in the shower or when I’m blowing my hair dry.

55. I point out attractive women to get my husband’s opinion.

56. I like to look at sports cars but not ride in them.

57. Just watching roller coasters makes me nauseous.

58. If I ever get cancer, I plan on shaving my own head and getting my hair made into a wig.

59. I don’t have any white walls in my house.

60. I will do anything in my power to avoid throwing up.

61. I HATE to cry.

62. I love to buy shoes, but kick them off when I get the chance.

63. When I lose my voice, sometimes I sound like Marge Simpson. 

64. I consider country music the illegitimate child of the blues.

65. I hate to go to bed by myself so I will fall asleep on the couch next to my husband until he is ready for bed - unless I fall asleep reading a book.

66. Red roses ALWAYS make me happy.

67. Based on looks alone, I could marry Jason Statham.

68. I never met a fish I didn’t like….to eat.

69. I really enjoy the Lego video games (Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman – want to try Lego Indiana Jones)

70. I like to watch golf with my husband.

71. I can carry on a conversation about the happenings in the NFL with the best of them.

72. My kids are all named after monarchs (William, Elizabeth and Catherine)

73. I want to become a published novelist someday.

74. I love chocolate, but drinking hardly any hot chocolate makes me feel sick

75. I write a short review of all the books I read.

76. I love watches, but they have to have a big face and leather bands – I currently have them in pink, red, white, black and brown.

77. I’m incredibly competitive – threw a whole deck of Phase 10 cards at my husband when he beat me by two phases after we got married. 

78. If I had all the money in the world, I would have a library with floor to wall bookshelves all in leather bound books.

79. I do most of my clothes shopping online.

80. I’m enjoying the process of learning how to golf.

81. I would keep going to school forever if I could.

82. I would rather chat or text someone than talk to them on the phone.

83. I listen to a classical radio station during the day that is broadcast over the Internet from England.

84. When I was studying the author John Milton, my husband tell people I was out with my boyfriend, John.

85. I love the sound of bagpipes playing old traditional tunes – gives me cold chills every time.

86. If I could convince our family to follow us, I would move back to the Seattle area in a heartbeat.

87. My mom has tried to teach my how to crochet several times, but I never can get it – not sure I really want to.

88. I re-read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity every 18 months or so.  It is provocative and cheeky and I love it.

89. There are probably few people who appreciate being warm like I do.

90. I have little patience with a computer that thinks slower than I do.

91. Other than the piano, my favorite instrument to listen to is the cello and I wish I could play it.

92. If I could have one super power, I would be the ability to teleport myself to where I wanted to be at the time.  If I could do it with a nose wiggle like Sam on Bewitched that would be okay too, but not with the head-nod-blink combination like Jeannie – I thought it made her seem stupid.

93. If I couldn’t have that super power, I would love to have a photographic memory (think about how fast I could get through books then!!!)

94. There are very, very few movies based on books that I like.  In most cases, if I liked the movie, it was probably because I didn’t read the book first.

95. I would love to live for a year or two or three in England.  If I had to be from a country other than America, it would be England.

96. Within the first six months that I was married, I sat down with my husband, back to back and no peeking and we sketched out our dream homes.  They were almost identical.

97. If I ever get to create a world, I plan on giving humans huge angel wings.

98. I’m typically only a night person if I’m playing video games with my husband.  Watching movies late at night usually ends up with me doing a careful examination of the back of my eyelids.

99. My husband’s kiss can still take my breath away and make me weak in the knees.

100. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky and happy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Role of Fashion

I have been thinking about the role of fashion in my life lately. When I am at work, I think I maintain a decently updated yet professional attire and demonstrate the ability to camouflage my "trouble spots." I find this is really easy to do for most of the school year, because most of the school year is chilly, cool or down right cold.

Then it gets warm.

It gets harder to hide trouble spots and not sweat to death, even for me.

Then I read this post from Charlotte and watch maybe a few too many episodes of What Not To Wear and I'm second guessing everything. During the summer I fit the description of "Soccer Mom" more than "Mom on the go" and would like to be fashionable, but appropriately so, considering I spend time at ball fields and pools.

Last year, I managed to destroy all but one pair of my capris. I'm trying to decide if I should buy more capris (as looking short has NEVER been an issue for me) or if I should go more with walking shorts and fun summer dresses and skirts.

Then, what sandals do I get. Because, according to all who are fashion conscious know that the flip flop is not an adult shoe. But I have bunions on my feet, and many of the sandals that are out seem to either not really fit or make me foot aware in a bad way. And some of the Roman style sandals I will put on and feel like my feet are naked - maybe that is good, you know, to have seductive feet...Just add a little pop of color on the toes, and my feet are ready for a wild night out???

What's a girl to do???

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Random Stuff

I had a great time watching my brother check out the BYU campus and then run in their invitational. We had a bit of a laugh after hearing the clock tower bells chiming "Come, Come Ye Saints" for the third time in a day and he asked me if I had read 1984. I said yes and we had an enlightening conversation about the propaganda at BYU, and all universities for that matter. He is so excited to go and I'm completely weirded out about the fact that he won't be around as much for many many years to come, if we ever get to really live close to each other again. He is hands down my favorite brother.

Today is Sunday again. I used to really look forward to Sundays, the chance to engage in spiritually intellectual conversation in Gospel Doctrine classes, to feel the Spirit in Relief Society, which took me about three full years to finally feel welcome. Now, I play the piano for three hours every Sunday. I'm the choir accompanist and primary accompanist and so I play for most of the day. I really try to look at this as an opportunity to serve, to share my talents that have been given to me and be grateful, but I really feel like, after being the choir accompanist for three years and doing double piano duty for six months now, that I'm sure there is something to learn, something that will be gratifying in the future, but, for now, Sundays are just the day I play the piano. It's a bit frustrating...not sure how to change that. Hmmmm.......

Three more weeks until school is out. I'm ready. My students are ready. My colleagues are ready. Have to plan fun activities or I'm going to lose my students. I think we are going to do a word game day soon. :)

Here's to the first week of May!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sneaky and Suspicious???

You know, I've been watching the news (I'm a bit of a news junkie) and I can't help but think there is something going on besides just the news.  I'm not really a conspiracy theory type of gal, but the fact that the swine flu has been labeled a pandemic so quickly is a bit...shall I say, strange.  Really, if you compare the number of cases and deaths with the total population of the world, it seems strange that they would elevate the level so quickly.  

Then there is Justice Souter suddenly retiring.  He isn't sick, hasn't had a history of illness, really isn't on the verge of death, hasn't suffered even half of what some of the other justices have, but is suddenly done.  This is the one where I wonder if he had a private audience with someone to talk him into leaving so a more "suitable" justice could be selected.  This is the story that just seems...strange.  

Maybe I'm losing my mind, overly suspicious and just need to resign to making some tin foil hats... :)