Monday, January 31, 2005

Standardized Tests

My students are taking their standardized tests today.

I feel sorry for them. I know that it is a "right of passage" for all students age 8-18 to take these uber-boring exams, but I just think they get to a point where they are spent. They don't care about inferring, drawing conclusions, compare and contrast, and main character after 25 minutes. Yes, 25 minutes is an awfully long time for a 10 year old. I do my best to help them keep the test's importance in perspective while keeping their spirits up.

Thankfully, our school helps celebrate learning during this week with fun themes. Today, we all wore YELLOW because of the theme, "CAUTION: Brains at Work!". Tomorrow, along with the children, I will wear sweats and sweatshirts because we DON'T SWEAT THE TEST.

I recall my ACT exam when I was a junior in high school. I knew that I was not smart enough to receive a score that would allow me a scholarship to my state school, but I wanted to do well enough to get in. I knew I would because you only needed a score of 19 to get into the University of North Dakota. I remember wanting a Diet Coke...needing a Diet Coke and they wouldn't let me have one. I believe this led to the direct result of receiving a medicre score of 24. No embaressment though. I went to college, graduated in the under-average time of 4.5 years. I got a job. And VIOLA! I am a success!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iron & Wine

Call me old fashioned, but I still buy CDs.

I don't download music from the internet, but I do buy some songs from itunes. I love to listen to radio online. Sometimes, artists will have full versions of their songs available at their websites.

Recently, I have been pining away for Iron & Wine. I have not brought myself to the music store to purchase it because I have been enjoying the music I've found on the internet to listen to. I have provided a link to one of my favorite songs (see Obsession of the Week).

If you like Wilco, Nick Drake, and Elliott Smith, you'll probably enjoy Iron & Wine. When I went to In Good Company a week ago, I heard a song that I needed to know the artist. I came home, punched in the soundtrack on and VIOLA!! Iron & new love.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

School Christmas Party Highlights

Highlight #1: My husband and my friend Ryan wore the exact same shirt. It wasn't a shirt that nobody would notice. They were made fun of for most of the night. Pretty funny.

Highlight #2: Watching grown men sit in fear that they might be forced to karaoke.

Highlight #3: Watching grown men sing karaoke for the first time in their lives.

Highlight #4: Singing a duet with my friend Ryan "Play That Funky Music" for the first time. Terribly fun.

Highlight #5: Watching my co-workers trying to emulate gang signs in their pictures.

Highlight #6: Seeing my co-workers run and hide when they see me coming because they know it means two things, they are about to have their picture taken or they are going to be asked to perform a duet.

Highlight #7: Paying $2 for a beer. I love Ankeny.

Highlight #8: My co-workers chanting my stage name, "Dixie" (What?! Doesn't everyone have a stage name?!). So, yes, my co-workers did hound me, but I did not fight it. I can't help it. I think karaoke is so fun. And so funny to watch. I am so glad that so many people tried it and found out how ridiculous it can be.

Highlight #9: Getting to hangout with a bunch of people that I love to work with and having a great time on a cold January night! Awesome fun.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Thankfully, it is Friday tomorrow. Let me list the reasons why tomorrow will be a lovely day.

  1. I get to wear jeans to school.
  2. I get to wear my red Merells to school. They just happen to be the most comfortable pair of shoes that I have ever owned. I recommend a pair to everyone.
  3. Our work Christmas party is tomorrow night and I anticipate loads of fun. A teacher's husband is a DJ and he is bringing his karaoke machine. I have already told people at work that three people HAVE to sing before I will sing. Otherwise, they will hound me because they know I am a karaoke junky. But it is not going to be Sara Variety Hour.
  4. I bought groceries today so I have lots to choose from for lunch...not just fiber bars like today.
  5. I am giving a new mixed CD to my pal, Jodi, at school. It will make her day.
  6. I am visiting the chiropractor again for my second visit. I love the chiropractor. In two days, I feel great. My lower back pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain is minimalized.
  7. It is Friday. There is just something about Fridays. I love them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cartoon Me

Because of Melanie's smart blog, I was able to construct an image of myself. I did my best, but I am really one of kind. It was a fun, great waste of time. Try it. It was like going shopping and going to the hair salon at once. I was tempted to put myself in a bikini, but let's be real. I am more comfy in my loafers and jeans.
I am feeling much better today. I am not in the January Doldrums. Today, I am feeling so much better. I think it has something to do with the fact that my good friend from college called me today. I haven't heard from this woman for at least a year and a half. It was great.
We had the best time together in college. Even though I was a sophomore and she was a senior, we hung out all of the time. It was sad that we only had one year together before she graduated, but it was the kind of year that was memoriable.
We had so many laughs together. We have plans to get together when I go to Minneapolis in impending.
I really like my cartoon's hair color.
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Monday, January 24, 2005


I am knee deep in the January BLAHS. You know good holidays to look forward to. I didn't have a proper day off in January. I can't plan to go anywhere because the weather won't agree with you. Sure, it is nice all week and the weekend comes and it snows. DRAT.

I know that I am not the only one to experience this. However, I am not in the depths of despair. I have some bright spots. I have the school Christmas party this Friday. That should be fun. Last year, we went to the Crow's Nest, a local bar, that is attached to a lube station. It has some flavor. I saw my first official bar fight there with tables being tossed and shirts being ripped off to ensure full testostrone strength. We sang some karaoke. It was great. Well, people are saying it is in the cards again because we started a great tradition.

I bought a new CD which always makes me happy. They are small, but make me so content. I purchased Gavin DeGraw. Even better was the discovery that it was a bonus CD with a live version of the complete album...FREE. Now, I can listen in my classroom and in the car.

I went to a movie, In Good Company, tonight. It was terrific. I like those types that move slowly, some humor, some story, and very little action. The music was great and I will probably purchase the soundtrack.

So, I guess things aren't so JANUARY after all.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Well, I stayed home and did not venture to the snowy Minneapolis. I do not regret my decision since they did receive tons of snow. I guess, I feel a little cheated. We did not get a snow storm. Really, I am only interested in snow if it makes us have an early out at school.

Instead, I stayed home and did very little. Friday night, we grocery shopped. I love to grocery shop. Saturday, we cleaned. Tim worked on his computer. I visited my friend who is still on bedrest. She is 32 weeks and has seven weeks to go hopefully. I have introduced her to scrabble. We worked on a puzzle of Times Square in NYC. That was fun. We sat there for two hours and said very little to each other, but we finished the puzzle. I love puzzles.

Then, my friend came over and we got her set up on She has been thinking about it for awhile and I encouraged it. I think it is a great idea. It is something you have total control over and can weed out anyone you are not interested in. I am going to be in two weddings this spring that are the direct result of online dating.

Today, we plan on going to the book store to find books on Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, George Washington, and whatever strikes us. Tim is inspired this weekend to begin reading biographies on the Presidents because he has been watching the history channel with the Presidental specials. I say, "Good for you!" I am glad because he usually reads chemistry and science related books with the exception of Lord of the Rings. I have been a neglectful reader. I usually read in the evening, but I have been so tired that I didn't read at all last week. I need to start limiting my tv and start reading more.

In a nutshell, there was my weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

My eyes are burning. I can't decide if it is from my exhaustion or the lingering sinus infection that has been toying with my immune system. All I want is for my husband to walk through that door and say, "Honey, let me pick up the messy kitchen. Let me call out for some dinner. Let me throw in some laundry." Unfortunately, he is not home yet. He is working late and the countertop is such an annoyance that I will probably have to do it. Also, Tim is not a mind reader. I would have to ask him and then I would sound naggy and I hate that. I hate sounding naggy. So, I keep it inside and just do the dirty work. tired and partially not feeling well. I might have even considered taking a sick day tomorrow but I have to do some crummy assessments and they have already hired me a sub for that. Tomorrow is that last day to do the assessments. This week has been so difficult. I had stuff going on everyday after school. Today, while teaching math, I wanted to just lay on the commercially uncomfortable carpet in my classroom and instruct laying down. I don't think it would have worked.

So, tonight. I will lay on the couch and watch Wickedly Perfect. I will call my friends in Minneapolis and tell them that I am not coming because I am not feeling well. I am under the weather. This is sad because I want to see them as much as possible since I will be in Philadelphia soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Wow. I have had an exhausting week. I won't bore you with the details, but it had to with chili, baby showers, and a not-so-fun professional portfolio that I won't even need when I move because it goes along with all of the Iowa Teaching Standards.

I feel recovered. However, I am getting a little nervous because I am to travel to Minneapolis to see my chums and they are predicting snow. I hate to drive in snow. I am trying to convince Tim to travel with me. He is considering it.

While in Minneapolis, here is my agenda...

Friday Night
-Hang out with friends Steve and Jolene.

Saturday Afternoon
-Go pick out a bridesmaid dress for one of three weddings that we are in this spring.

Saturday Night
-Hang out with Amanda and Sara!

-Drive home.

Sounds, fun, huh?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Testing Hindsight

A 16 year old Sara!

Today I received my high school transcripts. I need this for all of my Pennsylvania job stuff. Very revealing...not really. It turns out that I was a B average student with pretty dismal standardized test scores. However, my extra-curricular activities list was outstanding! I am bit embarrassed by my obvious attempt to be good at something and obviously mediocre at it all.

Also, my transcript states that I am MALE. Hmmm.

I loved that fact that my standardized test scores illustrate my life as a B student. I am in the 80th percentile for everything...except science which I scored a less than impressive 76. The most interesting part of the test scores is that in Language and Expression, I scored in the 59 percentile. This is the largest part of my life. That is all I do. I do it for a living. I do it in my hobbies. My life as a B student never made me sad. Actually, I kind of prided myself on the fact that I was in high school to have fun. I took the classes that would not require too much energy. I survived. I got by.

This may seem strange to some of you that I am writing about this, but I thought it was very amusing to read all of these test scores because I deal with it everyday at my own school. I know what these test scores "mean" to teachers. I know what teachers infer from them, and tonight, I learned a very important lesson...

Do not judge a student based on their mediocre test scores...they might just turn out to be a successful person.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What Should I do?

I have six months to think about, consider, and contemplate my professional future in Philadelphia. In order for me to obtain a teaching license in Pennsylvania, I will have to take an exam, do a load of paper work, get two criminal background checks, and more paper work. Right now, I am considering substituting for a year until I can get my barings in Philadelphia. However, I have been creating a list of other possible job opportunities. Here is my list and my reasons for it. IF you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them. Let me give you some background so you know what I might be qualified to do for a job...

I have a master's degree in elementary education. I have taught elementary school for four and half years. I love to learn, read, create, and be with people.

So, here is my list.

1. Teach in a classroom of my own.
2. Substitute.
3. Tutor
4. that only goes during the day and goes home at night.
5. Work in a candy shop and learn the ropes.
6. Work in a library.
7. Corporate training...that education aspect if I have any idea what I would be teaching and training...not like insurance or anything like that
8. Working in some creative environment.

I have been looking at non-profit and regular job adds just seeing what is out there. So, what should I do for the rest of my life?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Nutrition Market

How is it that some people can just have charisma and some just don't. Tonight, I met Steve, the Nutrition Marketplace Guru. He cracked me up. The minute I walked into his organic grocery store, he was calling me "Girlie" and running me around his store ripping bags of food open so I could try it. First, he had me trying some soy ranch chips...awesome. Then, he had me eating these super high fiber snack bars. He heated them up and they were terrific. I have plans to eat them for breakfast with my yogurt. He GAVE me a bag of high fiber tortillas to try because he told me that I would love them and be back to buy more. Every person that entered his store he acted like he knew them by name or face and welcomed them back. Really, I think his charisma is really a little bit of ADHD, but it still worked on me. Normally, when a person refers to me as "Girlie", I wouldn't like it. But coming from Steve, Organic Man, I was okay with it.

I started to spread the news about our big move to Philadelphia. I got three reactions. First, I got, "Uh, no. I am so sad. Are you sure he can't find a job here in Iowa." Next, "Oh my gosh! That is terrific! I am so happy for you." And finally, the most surprising reaction, "Oh, I am so jealous. I would love to do that." Really?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Philadelphia Freedom

It is official! We are moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! Sometimes it is hard to get my mind around it, but we will be heading to the east coast in August. If you would have asked me a few years ago if I could imagine my life in Philadelphia, I would said a strong NO. However, with this kind of move, a person can't help be excited. Sure, with every move there comes change, good-byes, and certainly miles, but the opportunity for change is very exciting.

Tim has been offered a faculty position at Villanova University. After eight years of hard work, he will now be able to be an official professor. When Tim and I got married, we knew that this is where our lives would go. I knew that I would have to quit my jobs to follow him because I have a job that I can do anywhere. I don't feel resentful towards Tim as I leave a job that I love because I can find another job that I love. Sure, I will miss my midwestern friends dearly. I will be sad when we leave the midwest and will be homesick for my family and friends, but I am not worried. I call my friends and family everyday as it is. I can hop on a plane and see them when I want to.

This is going to be a new life for Tim and me because we have never lived in a big city. We have never lived in a city with so much history and culture to offer. Every weekend can be filled with museums and sightseeing if we choose.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Hearty Girl From ND

Grand Forks, North Dakota was 39 degrees BELOW ZERO today.

There is something about that which fills me with great pride. I have never been one to dog on my hometown or rush to leave it. I love that I come from a place that makes me hearty to the elements. I love that today, even with the snow day, I can make the honest statement, "This isn't that bad." If we lived in ND, we would be going to school today. However, one has to realize that it gets much worse than this up there, and if we called off school for this winter storm, we'd miss a lot of school. It pretty much has to be called a blizzard and then, only then, will they consider calling off school.

Let me give you some perspective...

Once in my sophomore year in college, we had seven blizzards. We had so many blizzards that the weather forcasters started naming them. The last was called Blizzard Hannah.

When I was teaching in ND, we had a blizzard on October 24..I remember because it was my friend, Amanda's birthday. I walked to work before it started to blizzard. Then, we let the kids out early. I walked home. I got to my apartment door and realized that I had forgotten my keys at work. UGH. So, I walked back through waist deep snow to my little trailer which I taught in and back to my apartment. I later took a great nap.

I realize that I have written about the weather for three posts now, and I promise...this is the last one.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I am knee deep in weather related denial

I am just not sure that I am buying it.

The local media likes nothing better than to get their panties in a ruffle over weather extremities…PLEASE! They discuss snow accumulation and send their overly animated reporters wearing their stations winter gear out in the snow to report…guess what…it is still snowing. They talk, ramble, and fester-on about the possibility of 10-12 inches. I doubt it. Never…and I mean NEVER, have their predictions ever been right when it comes to winter weather related news.

Ed Wilson, the weather man, is now becoming a bit of a gambler. He has put his money where his mouth is. If he is wrong, he will give away a brand new snowmobile. I have no need for this since I do live in a basement apartment, but I am signing up anyway. I would like nothing better than to tell Ed Wilson, “I told you so.”

So, try as they might, I am not biting. I am not going to get my hopes up for another snow day to have to wake up to my alarm rather than the phone ringing with my pal, Ryan, on the other end telling me to go back to bed.

On an entirely different note, I had this $20 gift card to Target. I thought about buying a new CD, but I would buy that with or without the gift card. I thought about buying a new shirt, but I am not buying new clothes until I lose at least 15 pounds…11 more to go. I thought about buying a DVD, but I rarely ever rewatch them. So, I bought make-up brushes and some bronzer.

WHAT? Sara is wearing make-up? Sara is using more beautification product than just the standard brown mascara and chapstick?

Yes, it is true. Along with my list of NEW ME Resolutions, using make-up on a more regular basis is one of them. Do you think this lame? Do you think this vain? I don’t know.

I am not quite sure where this idea came from, but it has been lingering in my mind for some time. I would never go over board because I am still getting over my sophomore year in high school when the captain of my cheerleading squad who happen to be Miss Teen North Dakota suggested in her not-so-subtle way, “Ummm…maybe you should put some makeup on?!” Then I saw it, the look of a vulture approaching its prey…she saw a makeover canidate in me and there was no where to run because my only means of transportation was the big yellow bus. She colored me with make-up to the point I looked like a two-bit and wanted to crawl under a bleacher and die.

So, be assured. I will not go overboard and I will try my best to not look like a two bit.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Strong Woman

I remember where I was when I first learned of Shirley Chisholm. I was driving north on Interstate 35 to Minneapolis. Tim and I were listening to NPR. It was an interview with a documentary film director who had created a movie about Shirley Chisholm and her 1972 Presidential campaign.

There were interviews with Shirley Chisholm and through these interviews, I learned that she was the first African-American woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1968. Can you imagine? Not only was this citizen doing her civic duty, but being a role model for two minorities rarely given a chance in that era in the political arena.

Shirley Chisholm passed away on Saturday. Thankfully, the movie Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed by Shola Lynch exists to show people about Shirley. I don't know much more than what I heard on that interview, but I know I'd like to know more about this woman. I think I will watch this documentary.

An Extra Day

After two and a half years of teaching in Iowa, I received my first snow day. Well, technically, there wasn't any snow, just freezing rain which turned into trecherious ice on the roads.

First, my alarm clock went off at the exact moment that my phone began to ring.

I was confused...bewildered. My phone never rings before the sunrise. Then, I heard Chad, the PE teacher, on the other end. He was informing me that school had a two hour delay. JOY! This was terrific news because I couldn't get to sleep the night before and now I would not be a beast this evening because of my lack of sleep. I would be able to enjoy two extra hours of sleep.

I woke at 8:30 to get ready for my return to the workplace to continue my fight against ignorance, when I took a chance. I check online to see if school was still on. Then, I saw the magic words CLOSED. CLOSED. I never believe my own eyes so I checked on television. The ticker told me it was closed too. Having a flashback to when I was supposed to be at work at TCBY Yogurt but wasn't, I called my friend Toni for a last confirmation of this supposed closing of schools. She confirmed it.

I was so happy. I had just told Tim the night before that I needed one more day of vacation.

So, I spent my day playing online scrabble, watching a few episodes of Six Feet Under, and doing some research on a project.

The only thing that could make it better would be a Diet Coke. I am out and will have to walk to the store. I will have to walk in the grass and carefully avoid the dog poop that no one in town picks up. The sidewalks are too icy.

My morsel of insight today goes something like this...snow days are like crumpled up money one finds in their jean pocket once it goes through the just makes you happy.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Photo Reorganization

There is something special about a selfishly lazy day. Surprisingly, I did shower and get out of my pajamas yesterday, but barely. I showered and put on comfy clothes and spent the day hanging in my apartment with Tim. Where he spent the majority of his day playing XBox and his new Lord of the Rings game, I started a new organizing project.

It was one of those projects that seem small when you start and gets larger as it goes. I have a box of photos that date back to the ninth grade. Some of these photos are doubles and do not require to be placed in albums and others are high school photos that need to be sorted and put in albums.

Like anything, this project has seeped into today. I will continue to place the photos in albums, but I get so sidetracked just looking at photos. I love them. I have so many photos from high school, but I realized last night that I have hardly any from my college years. Strange. I have a few from a party here and there and of the semi-fun spring break trip to Cancun.

Thankfully, my photos started to increase after college. I have many images of weddings, showers, trips, and more. With the digital camera, I take three times as many photos as I used to take. Even going out to an anniversary dinner with my parents, I was taking pictures. I took pictures New Years Eve. I don't think I have photos of any other New Years Eve except 2000.

So, as part of my New Years Resolutions, documenting my life is one of them. I will take pictures. I will develop the pictures. I will scrapbook or place them in organized albums. I think I can do this.