Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Summer Break????

So I've been out of school (and essentially off work) for two weeks. However, I have yet to feel like I'm actually on vacation. "Why?", you ask. Well, this is what my summer looks like this year:

Week of June 15: Tuesday - Thursday: 8th grade Pre-AP History training
Week of June 21 - Saturday: TAH2 Grant Summer Institute
Week of June 28 - Thursday: Last week of summer school at McLane - AP Geography Bridge class

[I'll have Friday- Monday off to do laundry and pack]

July 6 - 13: Colonial Williamsburg with TAH2 :) (super stoked for this trip!!!!)

July 14 - August 1: RELAXING this is when my actual vacation starts. Going to try to squeeze in a trip down south to visit the cousins, do a little shopping and hit Disneyland.

August 2: Back to work. Training of some kind (I'll find out tomorrow) and getting my classroom moved into and set up.

Now, I'm not complaining about any of this (well, maybe about the laundry!) and I signed up voluntarily for most of it [not to mention the fact that I am getting paid for all of it :)]. And lord knows if I wasn't busy doing all of this, I'd simply be sleeping the summer away and getting absolutely nothing accomplished. I just wanted to give you a little insight into my summer. And for those of you who haven't been able to pin me down during my tie off, well now you know why :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Addition

I grew up in a house that has always had a cat. About a year ago, our cat Miss Nietzche had a stroke and we had to have her put down. She was a fabulous cat, and it took us a while to get over our loss. It was very odd to not have a cat in the house. Recently my mom had brought up the idea of adopting an adult cat from one of the local shelters, but this idea hadn't made it passed the discussion phase, due to the fact that my dad isn't to keen on the idea of adding another pet to the family.

I received a call from my mother last Thursday. She asked me what I thought Vivy's reaction to a kitten would be. I told her that Vivy would probably be fine (she thought that she and Nietzche were great friends, despite the fact that Nietzche actually despised Vivy), but that she might be more concerned with how Dad would react. Her response was "your father will be fine... so you think Vivy will be okay with a kitten, because I have the cutest little girl sitting in my lap right now. She needs a home."

Meet Cali, the newest addition to the family. She and Vivy are not quite friends yet (Cali's a little intimidated by Vivy's enthusiasm), but I'm sure they will be soon.

They're Here!!!!

I promised myself that once I landed my first teaching job (as a credentialed teacher, that is!) I would reward myself for my patience and perseverance with a pair of shoes. Not just any pair of shoes, but the Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes. Yes, I know what you are thinking... those are the expensive shoes that Carey Bradshaw coveted on Sex and the City. I have always loved these classic pumps. Well, guess what came in the mail on Monday? That's right!!!!!!!!

My very own pair :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tim McGraw 2010

So on May 25 I attended my 6th (yes, I did hit the correct key) Tim McGraw concert. My cousin Terri and her boyfriend were in town to be my dates to the show. Neither of them had ever seen Tim in concert before and I have to tell you how lucky they were! This show was the best show I have seen him do, hands down!!! It was amazing! He played 90 minutes straight of his biggest, rockin'est hits. It was awesome!!!! But let me back up and tell you about his opening acts.

Love & Theft opened the show. They were decent, although they looked more like extras from the "Karate Kid" rather than a country music band.

Next was the chart-topping trio, Lady Antebellum. I saw them two years ago when they first came onto the music scene and they immediately became my favorite new group. I was very excited to see them again and they did not disappoint! They sang for about an hour and rocked the house. I truly believe that they are following in the footsteps of Sugarland and will win many awards in the future.

Before Tim took the stage, the lights went out and the Phil Collins' hit "In the Air Tonight" began to play. What an awesome way to rev up the crowd!!! Tim took the stage in leather pants (and man did they look sexy!!!) and a white tee. He explained to those who had never been to one of his shows that he and his band don't bullshit. They understand how hard their fans work to be able to attend their shows and they don't want to let us down. They just play and sing. And boy did they!

Tim brought out the Warren Brothers (who I love!!!) and sang "Blank Piece of Paper" and "If You're Reading This". He did his cover of "Tiny Dancer" (one of my absolute favorites) and brought out a guitar. He explained that he hawked his high school ring for his first guitar, not so he could become famous but so he could get laid! He sand the first song he ever learned to play, Alabama's "Feels So Right". He rocked his hits from his cd named after his band, The Dance Hall Doctors. Man, he just rocked!!!!!

It was awesome! I can't wait until the next time he comes back to town!!!!!!!!!

TAH2 - Fresno Historical Society

Back on May 22, I participated in my first field study for my Teaching American History 2 (TAH2) Grant. It was very fun and quite enlightening.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to tour places throughout the Eastern portion of Fresno County. My group and I got to explore Akers Cemetery (just outside Centerville), where several Native Americans are buried. We had lunch along the Kings River and wandered around the sedge beds (Indian women still use sedge roots from this area to make baskets for cooking). We were then taken out to Hacker Ranch (outside of Minkler) and got to see Native American hieroglyphics that dated back more than 6,000 years.

The entire trip was so neat. I always knew that much of the Central Valley was once Native American land, but it blew my mind to actually hear stories about the land I was standing on and see evidence that had lasted several millennia. It almost made me wish I taught elementary school so that I could share this with my students and have it fit into the standards... almost!

I love being a history nerd :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Top 10 Predictions for the "Lost" Finale

I came to the realization a while back that the title "Lost" has absolutely nothing to do with the condition of the show's characters, but is actually the status of the audience. As the series draws to a close I find myself more and more confused. I routinely claim to hate this show and curse J.J. Abrams for sucking me in and torturing me for the last six years, yet I watch every episode several times just to figure out what the heck is going on!

In honor of the upcoming series finale, I thought I'd share my Top 10 predictions of how the show and torture may end:

10. The screen simply fades to black.

9. Jack and Kate run into each other in the hallway of a college dorm 18 years after leaving the island and discover that their kids will be living across the hall from each other.

8. As the remaining survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 fly off the island, the camera pans around the island one last time.

7. The survivors are sentenced to life in the polar bear cages.

6. We find out that Desmond is simply writing a short story.

5. It turns out that the island, and everyone on it, are simply part of a snow globe that belongs to Aaron.

4. As Jack flies off in a helicopter, the pilot circles back around to the beach where Locke has spelled out 'goodbye' in rocks on the sand.

3. The survivors gather for a group hug and then walk off into the jungle singing "It's A Long Way To Tipperary"

2. Clare wakes up to find Charlie, long sense believed to be dead, in the shower.

1. Locke wakes up in the middle of the night and roles over to tell his wife (played by Suzanne Pleshette) about this strange dream he just had.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TAH2 - Liberty For All

I am so stoked to get to participate in the second Teaching American History (TAH2) grant through the Fresno County Office of Education. This is an awesome grant in which 30 lucky teachers (elementary included) get to focus on the beginnings of our great country and learn new ways in which to implement this knowledge in our classrooms. Included in this grant are resources from the fabulous Teachers Curriculum Institute (lovingly referred to simply as TCI by those of us who use it), collaboration with elementary and secondary (middle and high school) history-social science teachers from all over the Valley, a workshop with advisors from Fresno Pacific University, a one day field study with the Fresno County Historical Society, a six day summer institute/training, and (drum roll please....) a six day field study in Colonial Williamsburg, VA! Maybe stoked doesn't really describe my enthusiasm!!!!

Today was the very first TAH2 workshop. We got the opportunity to work with the awesome TCI material with the help and advisement of some wonderful FPU people (for those of you who know my history with FPU, no one from that drama is involved!). We also got the opportunity to share some of our own experiences with the TCI lessons. In addition to this supplemental material, we were introduced to a wonderful website called Cicero. It is chalk full of lessons, handouts, guided reading questions, etc. that cover the California history standards. i can't wait to use a few of the power points this next week!

This grant is guaranteed for three years, with possibility of being extended to a fourth and fifth year. Year two's field study will be in Washington DC and year three's will be at various Civil War sites! If we are extended to years four and/or five, the field studies will take place in New York and Civil Rights areas in the South, respectively. This is a dream come true for this history nerd!!!!! I can't wait to take in all these great experiences and opportunities!

Stay tuned, as I will be reporting all along the way :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Concerts Anonymous

Ok, if you know me at all, you know that I am a concert junkie. Well, some of you may say I'm addicted to concerts. So here it is, along with the list of artists I've seen, my admission. My name is Jenny, and I am addicted to concerts...

Matchbox Twenty (2) Toby Keith Jessica Andrews Maroon5 Sherrie Austin
Kenny Chesney (4) Rob Thomas Billy Ray Cyrus The Beach Boys The Wreckers
Tim McGraw (5) Gretchen Wilson Phil Vassar Avril Levine Rhet Akins
Faith Hill (3) Bon Jovi Ty Herndon Poison Emmerson Drive
Keith Urban (3) Billy Joel Leann Rhimes Warent Hannah Montana
Reba McEntire (2) The Rolling Stones Lady Antebellum Quiet Riot Kelly Clarkson
The Warren Brothers (5) Sawyer Brown Prince Bret Michaels Josh Groban
Rod Stewart (2) Lonestar Aerosmith John Michael Montgomery Anna Nalick
Collin Raye (2) Hewie Lewis & the News Brad Paisley Darius Rucker Ricochet
Gary Allen (3) Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Miranda Lambert Cher Chris LeDoux
Rascal Flatts (2) Neil Diamond Little Big Town The Eagles JoDee Messina
George Strait (2) Elton John Martina McBride Josh Turner Heidi Newfield
Terri Clark (2) Madonna Sugar Rey The Dixie Chicks Pat Green
Chely Wright (2) Lenny Kravitz Big & Rich Sammy Kershaw Brandon SIllerva
Trick Pony (2) Clay Walker Brooks & Dunn Billy Currington
Sugarland (2) Frankie Valli Garth Brooks Harry Connick, Jr

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 ACM Recap

Just a little recap from one of the biggest nights in country music:

Wow, The opening number was awesome! Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood opened the awards show with a great rendition of Credence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band". The ladies, who were soon joined by Brad Paisley, already had the crowd on their feet when they welcomed John Fogerty (lead singing of CCR) and Charlie Daniels to the stage. What a performance!

The host for this years awards was once again the fabulous Reba McEntire. Her witty humor and beautiful wardrobe changes are only part of her charm. Her voice is timeless and she is a class act. She choked up while introducing Brooks & Dunn for the last time. During her performance of her new hit "I Keep on Loving You", she had a picture montage on the video board of several of country music's long-lasting couples: Tim and Faith, George and Norma Strait, Kris and Lisa Kristofferson, Brad and Kimberly Williams-Paisley among them.

While I am not a huge fan of the Zac Brown Band (although I do like "Toes"), I commend them for their involvement with the USO. Several pieces of footage from their tour through the Middle East and interaction with our fighting men and women were featured. One of the things I love about country music is that, no matter one's politics, there is a huge patriotic emphasis and support for our troops. Thanks ZBB for keeping our troops in high spirits and giving them a little taste of home.

After years of being snubbed by the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, Toby Keith is usually a no-show at awards shows. Tonight, however, Toby, a nominee for Entertainer of the Year, made a rare appearance. Has he gotten over his hurt feelings of being overlooked for his outspokenness? Probably not. I believe his appearance had more to do with honoring his late friend, former NBA player and jazz musician Wayman Tisdale who passed away last year from cancer, with a song that he wrote. His performance was beautifully touching and very atypical for no holds barred, take no prisoners artist.

Um, what's the story with the boots Matthew McConaughey gave Carrie Underwood? I would have appreciated a story about that rather than what led to the birth of his daughter following his last trip to the ACMs.

Brooks & Dunn's final performance on the ACMs. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, who have been the top-ranking country duo for the better part of twenty years, is calling it quits. They are getting ready to begin their final tour later this month. It's the end of an era. I still remember the first interview I saw with them, Ronnie said that the ad campaign for their first tour was going to be "Not Garth Brooks and not Holly Dunn (these were two very popular country artists on the charts in the early '90's). Now their name is synonymous with Duo of the Year. During the performance, the cameras went to stars like Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Troy Gentry, Joe Nichols singing along to in the audience to "My Maria". And as a fitting farewell, they took home the award that should be named after them, Duo of the Year. During their acceptance speech, joked that they are in therapy with Bret Farve, trying to figure out how to capitalize on this... will there be a reunion in their future? Fans can only hope!

Congratulations to one of my favorite artist, Lady Antebellum on winning Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year. They are absolutely awesome to watch and sound just as great live as recorded, which is more than I can say about some artists. And did I mention how fabulous Hilary Scott looked? How can anyone not love this trio? I can't wait to see them perform again with Tim McGraw here in Fresno next month!

Some of my favorite performances of the night: Blake Shelton w/Trace Atkins, Kenny Chesney (ok, he's always my favorite!), Laura Bell Bundy (yes, I know she was very Brittney-esque, but her voice reminds me of Dolly and I loved her in Wicked.), Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Reba, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jackie Robinson Day

It's been 63 years since Jackie Robinson made his major league debut, breaking the color barrier that had existed in major league baseball. To commemorate this important day in history, MLB has named today (and every April 15 for that matter) Jackie Robinson Day.

It was on this date in 1947 that Robinson donned his now famous number 42 and trotted out to second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play in the majors. For the next ten seasons Robinson would continue to man second base for the Dodgers, named 1947 Rookie of the Year and 1949 National League MVP, making a total of six All-Star appearances, and compiling Hall of Fame statistics: .311 career batting average, 1,518 total base hits, 137 home runs, 734 runs batted in (RBI), and 197 stolen bases. These accomplishments alone earned him a place in baseball's Hall of Fame. What is really incredible is the fact that he managed to put up these hall of fame numbers while have to endure slurs, racial epitaphs, separation from teammates on the road, and even death threats in segregated America.

It was on this date in 1997 that Commissioner Bud Selig retired Robinson's number 42 throughout Major League Baseball and named April 15 "Jackie Robinson Day". The only number to be retired by all 30 teams, never again to be worn by another baseball player. (Today the only player allowed to wear this cherished number is Yankees' pitcher Mariano Rivera, due to the fact that it was the number that he wore when it was retired.) Never, that is, with the exception of every April 15.

It was on this date in 2004 that Selig added another element to Jackie Robinson Day. He had received a call from Cincinnati Reds' center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. requesting permission to wear number 42 on this day in honor of Robinson. Selig took Griffey's request one step further by suggesting that ALL major league players wear Robinson's number for "Jackie Robinson Day".

This has since become a tradition. Every April 15, every major league baseball player, whether white or black, Latin or Asian, American or otherwise, dons the number 42. For many African American players, this is especially poignant. They understand that, if not for the trials that Robinson endured, they themselves may never have had the chance to be where they are today.

As I turn on my television this evening and settle in to watch an evening baseball game, I get chills when I see every player wearing that sacred number, the banners hanging from the outfield wall, and the opening acknowledgements of the significance of this day. I am proud to be a baseball fan.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Randomness of it All

Ok, friends, I have finally given in and decided to start my very own blog. Now if you are hoping to find something profound, you are in the wrong blog. This will be a very eclectic smattering of rants, observations, thoughts and experiences, perhaps with a few concert, movie, tv show and book reviews thrown in (Aw, who am I kidding, with MANY concert reviews!). I am not out to convince or persuade anyone to think any one particular way or believe one particular thing. I just want to express myself, so enjoy!