Thursday, December 31, 2009

You Say You Want a Resolution...

In 2010 I will....

...stop cursing. It's not like I go crazy, but like I tell my students, there are better ways to express yourself.
...shampoo my makeup brushes once a month. I am terrible about this, and it's not that difficult. Once a month is probably not ideal, but it's a start. more positive about relationships. I wrote down affirmations for when I get in my negative mood about it, and I will not harbor negative thoughts.
...start my house down payment fund.
...have 100 no drive days, meaning I will walk, carpool, or ride my bike rather than use my car. It's green, it saves money on gas, and it makes me exercise.
...complete my secondary credential in English.

Friday, December 11, 2009

All about me...

I had my students do an activity where they wrote eight sentences on any topic they wanted and then they traded with a neighbor and marked them as either facts or opinions. Some of them were stuck and so I said they should write about me (because I'm vain.) Here are some of my favorites:

"Ms. Fletcher is serious about classwork."

"She also is strict when people are talking."

"Ms. Fletcher is a Dodger fan. Also she does not like the Angles." (That's how he spelled it.)
"She also had nice blonde hair."
"She is better than all my other teachers."
She is the best teacher ever."
"Ms. Fletcher is the fastest typist in our school."
"Ms. Fletcher's class is very very FUN!"
"Ms. Fletcher cares for everyone in the class."
"We are not allowed to eat in class."

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like memories...

I love decorating my Christmas tree because I have been collecting ornaments from various places I've traveled, and so decorating the tree makes me think of trips I have taken and people I love. For example...

My cherry blossom reminds me of DC and visiting Melanie and Tasha.
My Big Ben reminds me of my trip to London with Shelley.
My Eiffel Tower reminds me of my trip to France with my Aunt Katy.
My Shaker Village ornament reminds me of my trips to Kentucky with Bethany. (and of the Godshalls, though I have not visited them there.)
My Dodgers ornament reminds me of Becca and Justin, my fellow Dodger fans.
My Jamaica ornament reminds me of my fabulous trip in August with Jessica and Elizabeth.

So, decorating my tree last night was great fun, not only because I have a lovely tree in my living room, but because of the sentimental value of my ornaments. They are my favorite travel souvenir. And, if anyone has an ornament that goes with Italy, tell me where to get it (I am totally willing to cheat and buy it after the fact so I can think of my trip to Florence and Rome with Rebecca).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Changing the stigma...

Tonight I ordered Christmas cards with pictures on them for the first time. I always want to order these kind, because they are the kinds of cards I like to receive the most, but I've always felt weird ordering them as a single person. But tonight I decided that you don't have to be in a couple or a family to send out pictures on your Christmas card. I chose four pictures-two from Jamaica, one of some friends and me at Easter brunch, and one of Erin and me at a Dodger game. The hard part was deciding what the typed message should say. Here are some of the ideas Kerri and I came up with:

"Merry Christmas Suckas! Still single!"

"I care too much. Bitches be crazy!" (That's from Parks and Rec)

"I'd like a man in next year's card. Know anybody to set me up with?"

I eventually decided on something much more boring, but also much more appropriate. So my single friends, you too should make a photo Christmas card if you want to! And, prepare to receive one from me. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This is mostly for Erin...

From one of my student's essay about Benjamin Franklin, who she says invented the library:

"Libraries are probably the most resourceful thing on Earth. Without this invention, I could not be able to type this essay! I probably would not know who Benjamin Franklin is! Most of you will say, "Well I can check on the internet." Guess what! They got their information from libraries! Libraries are the best invention on the planet!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

He's got a ticket to ride

The Beatles cross generational lines and cultural boundaries. How do I know?

Today I put on The Beatles 1 Album and looked over to see an eleven-year-old Mexican boy in the year 2009 singing all the words to Ticket to Ride.

I love it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why I Like Carson

So, a few weeks back my kids turned in essays for the citywide Why I Like Carson essay contest...and two of them placed! One kid won third place and the other won first prize! YES! My principal came in this morning to tell me and congratulate the kids and me. Very fun! It made me feel successful as a teacher and it's fun to see something positive come through for the kids.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Personal Finance Blog

Hello Blog Readers!

I have decided to start another blog-a personal finance blog, called Homeowner by 30. So, for those of you interested in a blog devoted to living frugally, saving, and getting out of debt, check it out. For those of you who wish I'd shut up about money, you're in luck! The Write Stuff will now be devoted to random musings, teaching thoughts, movie reviews of films of the 1970' know the drill.

Or, if you can't get enough of me, feel free to read and subscribe to both! :)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anyone know anything about Swagbucks?

This looks pretty legit and I've seen some other bloggers write about it. Or click on the banner and see what you think. I have three Swag Bucks so far, but it looks like you earn them by using their search engine. I am a big internet searcher, so this has some potential. Bloggers have mostly talked about getting amazon gift cards, but you can also get DVDs and all sorts of other things. Hmm....

Search & Win

No Spend November

I have been seeking out blogs about saving money recently, for a few reasons. One, to get ideas of how I can save or bring in extra money. Two, it's nice to be able to relate to other people who are working on changing lifestyle habits and working their way out of debt in an anonymous format.

Today, I stumbled across a blog about No Spend November. This guy makes a rule that he can't spend any money except on things like rent, credit card bills, utilities, etc. No groceries, and for him, no gas. The trick is that any money extra made during that month CAN be spent. Spare change, selling things on Craiglist, calling out people who owe you money, rebates, etc.

Check out his blog. You can click on each day of the calendar to see his daily update. I really like this idea and I am planning on doing No Spend January, which lacks the alliteration, but gets me through the holidays. I am planning on doing a daily update on my blog for that month. Anyone else in? I'd love to see how much we can all save and how much we could really earn if we got creative and sold stuff around the house, took in recycling for cash, and collected the spare change.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Amazon Mechanical Turk

I know Amazon Mechanical Turk is sort of gimmicky and sometimes shady. I know that the rates can make working in a sweat shop seem lucrative. But I transfered my $6.95 over to an gift card and bought my next book club book used for a total of $4.00, which means I have $2.95 to spare.


Need I say more? I'm addicted!

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, google it. I've been completing HITs while I watch TV and my goal is to build up funds consistently so that I can shop for books and DVDs without spending any money. Tedious? Yes. Right now, totally worth it? Yes.) Also, google the origin of mechanical turk for another interesting story.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Plagarism

Once again, I don't have much to I will steal the words of my students from their important person essay. The assignment: choose an important person in your life, three traits that describe them, and write a five paragraph essay using evidence to back up the traits. Without further ado...

"The person that holds a family together is a mother. My mother is a mom who is supportive, smart, and kind-hearted to others and me."

"The most caring person I know is Areli. She's caring because whenever we see someone we know by themselves she always goes up and starts talking to them."

"My first trait that explains why Pablo is an awesome friend is that he is hilarious. He is hilarious because whenever I'm down he is always there to tell me a funny yo mama joke."

"My mom is giving because everytime I go outside she says, 'Here is a dollar for the ice cream man.' Also, when I go to Target or somethign she says to choose three things but not over $50. The biggest thing my mom always gives me is love. That is my favorite thing she gives me."

"Brianna is very brave when it comes to protecting her best friends. If someone is picking on them she says, 'Leave them alone...gosh!'"

"She likes cats, dogs, and as any grandma does, she loves babies."

"My grandma is faithful everyday. She is faithful because everyday she has a bright smile on her face when she goes to her radiation. It feels like a sunburn and that hurts really bad. Another reason why she is faithful is because she has breast cancer...everyday when my grandma wakes up she has faith that she is going to get better."

"Another trait I would use to describe my dad is brave. My dad went to Iraq in 2004 for almost two years. I call that brave because he didn't know if he would come back to his family. When he came back he was hurt mentally and physically. At night he used to wake up screaming thinking he was still in Iraq."

And boy seemed to get a little confused...he wrote about his mother was loving...lazy...and clumsy. I would be mortified if my son turned this in: "The reason she is lazy is because she would say, 'Let's go to the store later,' and when we are all ready she's in bed saying, 'Let's go on the weekend.' She always has to eat someone else's food because she is too lazy to make her own."

Sigh. They can't all be perfect.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Go ahead, make my day.

Things that made my day:
1. I sent out an email to parents asking for donations of cups, napkins, juice, and donuts for our Egypt Placemat Breakfast on Thursday (they had to read a book about Egypt and make a placemat with five facts from their book On Thursday we are going to circulate and read each others while eating breakfast). I have had seven parents volunteer to bring items. Love it!

2. The kids did a decoding Hierglyphics activity that was actually pretty challenging. I was going to go over it at the end of the period and half the kids who hadn't figured it out yet yelled, "NO!!!!" because they wanted to figure it out themselves. The room was abuzz and they were SO into it.

3. I was getting observed by one of my assistant principals today, and I coughed, like once. He asked if I was sick and if I was drinking tea. He then left my room, went to his office, and made me a cup of tea and brought it back. Seriously.

And it's only 11:15am. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I don't feel I have to warn you of spoilers, since the movie came out in 1976

I watched the movie "Carrie" for the first time tonight...whoa. That movie is honked up. But actually pretty well done.

First of all, the weird religious Mom who thinks sex is evil, calls Carrie's breasts "dirty pillows," berates her for having her period, and thinks the devil is in Carrie because the mom enjoyed sex...whoa. Whoa. And then, at the end when all the candles are lit everywhere and Carrie ends up crucifying her mother with knives along the doorway...I don't even know what to make of all of that. Talk to your kids about sex in a normal way, I guess is one of the morals of Carrie.

I also thought it was interesting how quickly the horror part happens. It's a long build up and then bam! Pig's blood, everyone is dead, she and Mom fight, house collapses in the span of maybe twenty minutes. It's an interesting style and makes the movie different from most modern scary movies, which are all about gore all the way through.

It definitely has it's scary moments-when her mom is hiding behind the closet door; when her mom tries to kill her; when she kills her mom, crucifixion style; when she reaches out of the ground and grabs Sue's arm.

But I think the strongest reaction I had wasn't fear, what makes the movie horrifying is the horror I felt at how mean the girls are to Carrie. Literally, when she goes up on stage to accept her award as prom queen, I was curled up on the couch saying, "oh no, no, no." The cute boy is being nice to her, her classmates are applauding. But knowing that John Travolta and his girlfriend (who keep slapping each other around, which is also pretty odd), are about to douse her in pig's blood was the hardest part of the movie to watch. It's just so awful.

Okay, and then the ending-why does the house crumble into the ground? Apparently "be sure to check for termites" is the other moral of Carrie.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

5 Things

My friend Nicole just posted a blog with five things she likes-she mentioned choosing to focus on the positive in life. I liked her list so much, I decided to make mine:

1. Bagels with cream cheese. I have recently been eating these for breakfast again and it is the thing I look forward to the most in the morning. The crunch of a perfectly toasted bagel, licking that little bit of extra cream cheese off my finger. Yum!

2. Men who respect women. And not just in the chivalrous way (though who doesn't love that as well?), but I am thinking of men who truly value women's opinions as equal to men's. Who are friends with women, who can admit when a woman is better than them at something, and who realize that these traits make them no less of a man. Frankly, these kinds of guys are few and far between, but whenever I meet one, I like him.

3. Middle School students. But only at school, not out in public. But I love that my kiddos say hi to me enthusiastically when they see me in the hall, even if they just left my room five minutes before. I love that they have boundless energy and can make me laugh every single day. That even when they make me crazy, I still kind of enjoy them.

4. Great pictures-part of the fun of being the yearbook adviser is that I get to see all sorts of fun pictures. Whether it's Ms. Aguilar and Mr. Stowell decked out in their search & rescue gear pretending to pry open a door with a crowbar, two girls jumping up and down at the school dance, or a great 8th Grade Favorites picture, where the "Most Talkative" kids made signs that say, "Dang, does she ever stop talking?" and "OMG I wish he'd shut up!" I love good pictures of people looking like themselves and having a good time.

5. Live music. Concerts are perhaps my favorite thing of all. And tomorrow night I get to go see the Foo Fighters perform at the taping of VH1 Storytellers. Super small venue, we get to ask questions, possibly meet the band, and it was free. Expect a blog on that in the next few days!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Movie/TV on DVD recommendations???

Well, I officially have bronchitis again. Blerg.

So, besides watching my Thursday shows and the latest episode of Glee on Hulu this weekend, I am looking for ideas of movies or TV shows that I can rent this weekend.

I plan to sit at home, eat Natalie's crock pot recipe (see the comments on my last blog), read (library here I come!), and watch TV/DVDs. That's it. If anyone wants to risk catching my disease by parking it on my couch next to me, lemme know. Especially if you can bring a movie I don't already own.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cheap "Meals"

So, I have been googling "cheap meals" to try to get some ideas of cheap, easy things I can eat for lunch and dinner.

The problem is my definition of a meal is different from most people's. I mean, don't get me wrong. Those recipes sound great. And I have my go-to cheap recipes like Keri's taco soup and frittatas. I would say those count as real. I can throw a baked potato in the microwave and find some fixins in the fridge. A can of tomato soup with grilled cheese is great on a rainy day.

But listen. I am single. I am cheap. I am lazy. No one depends on me to cook for them. And sometimes, I just want something in my stomach. So where are the websites with suggestions like these:

Dinner: Half a can of pinto beans, a slice of cheddar cheese, and a quarter of an avocado (and the avocado is a splurge). Use stale chips that you have been meaning to throw away to dip in the beans. Put the other half of the can in a tupperware container with cheese and another quarter of avocado to have for lunch tomorrow.

Dinner: Pancakes (made with just add water mix) topped with jam, jelly, honey, spray butter or whatever you happen to have in the fridge. Make sure you are too impatient to wait until they are all done, eating them with your hands as they come off the pan. (The bonus here is that you lose track of how many you eat and can claim it was only a few.)

Breakfast: Peanut Butter and Jelly on slightly stale bread. But toast the bread and you can't tell it's stale as easily. Especially if you slather on the PB&J. This one I actually stand by. It's delicious. It just means I have to be ready with time left over to toast the bread in the morning, which does not always happen.

Dinner: Sliced tomato with garlic salt. Wait fifteen minutes. Bag of instant popcorn (snack sized). Wait fifteen minutes. Last three potstickers in the freezer. Wait fifteen minutes. Pudding cup. Wait fifteen minutes. If you're still hungry, just go to bed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've been interviewed...

I did this "interview" because I am all about pimping out my blog. Oh, I mean, all about education. Look!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hanging by a Moment

I am rereading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for book club this month, which I LOVE. This is one of the parts I underlined last night:

"The other problem with all this swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in the moment...If you are looking for union with the divine, this kind of forward/backward whirling is a problem. There's a reason they call God a presence-because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only play to find Him, and now the only time."

Which is a great quote. I am constantly out of the moment-imagining interactions with people, thinking about what I will say to someone or what I should have said, or how they will react to what I am going to say. So, last night while I was getting ready for bed I tried to be completely in the moment. My internal dialogue was as follows:

"I am taking off my eye makeup. I am taking off my eye makeup. I am putting on moisturizer. I am putting on moisturizer. I am putting on moisturizer. I am putting on eye cream. I am putting on eye..."

I stopped when I was so focused on my narration I put eye cream on my lips like it was lip balm.

Sigh. Being in the moment is hard.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Food for Thought

One of my co-workers sent me this article.  I thought it was thought-provoking and I can relate. But I'm sticking with teaching. :)

When I woke up this morning...

1. I was almost late this morning because I did not get up until 6:45 and then left the house at 7:15 and still decided to stop at Starbucks. Which could arguably be considered a bad idea. Except that I had a gift card and my caramel apple cider is delicious.

2. This morning I just let my hair air dry on the way to work (see number one). Which caused one of my students to say, "Oooh, did the rain mess up your hair?" when I got into the room. I told him I just didn't do it today. And now it is in a ponytail.

3. When I went to turn on my laptop to show the kids a video, it decided not to turn on. Just nothin' going on. I have it plugged in and I think I will try it again in a little while. BUT. I do not have high hopes. On the bright side, I backed up my computer on Sunday night. On the not so bright side, my computer is out of warranty as of August. So if it dies, I have to just buy another one. So much for saving money this month.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Creative Writing

Every year I assign a Figurative Language Project, where kids have to write examples of similes, metaphors, personification, and hyperbole. Below are a few of my favorite examples from this year.

"The cat is hairy like the barber's legs."

"Ms. Fletcher knows more than the whole collection of Harry Potter books."

"The sun is a big burning bowl of chili."

"The romantic red rose was as red as the devil's tail."

"My friend's nails are long spider legs."

"His teeth were as yellow as the sun."

"My mom is my shooting star."

I also told them to think of a creative title. From Nathan I got, "Similes, metaphors and More! An Epic Tale of...Stuff."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We are Family

This week one of my colleagues, Thelma Magsombol, passed away due to breast cancer. She had battled it for about five years and on Tuesday morning, she went home to the Lord.

We had a planned faculty meeting after school on Tuesday with lots of things to discuss. See, the thing about my school is that it's crazy. I mean, really. There's always some drama or incompetence or ridiculousness going on. I sometimes get asked why I stick around. Why not find a "normal" school?

But on Tuesday afternoon I remembered why I stay. After a moment of silence, people shared thier memories of Ms. Magsombol. The word "gracious" was used over and over. Thankful, kind, funny were said repeatedly as well. Ms. Magsombol was a very godly lady and that also came up several times. Finally, Mr. Witte, one of our PE teachers said,"I know I'm probably not supposed to do this, and you can write me up if you want to, that's fine. But Ms. Magsombol was a devout Christian and I can't think of any better way to honor her than to bow our heads in prayer." He proceeded to lead our staff in prayer. Our principal cancelled the planned meeting and we headed out.

All week people have been talking. Cards are being passed around. Donations collected. People are going to the funeral in strong numbers on Saturday-I think one of our teachers is actually doing the eulogy. Our whole school is wearing pink tomorrow in memory of her. People mention that Mr. Witte leading us in prayer showed them a different side of him. I stopped to talk to Ms. Perea, who has been at Carnegie for 32 years, to thank her for what she shared on Tuesday. We were talking about how despite the fact that our school is crazy, as a staff we really take care of each other. And she said that it's always been that way at our school. Not every staff is like ours.

We have a staff organization called Carnegie Family. It usually involves lunches, potlucks, and the newsletter where we do "shout-outs" every month. But this week, as cliche as it might sound, I really did feel like our staff was a family. We lost one of our own this week, but I can say that throughout all of Ms. Magsombol's illness, I really remembered why I am thankful that I work here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Adventures in Cheesecake

Last night I went out with friends to The Cheesecake Factory to celebrate my friend Shelley's birthday. Before we sat down we took a peak at the cheesecake display case to help us decide which one(s) we were going to order.  We were on the lookout for the new red velvet cake cheesecake, with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate shavings.

As we were drooling, I noticed that all the cheesecakes had placards with the number of calories per slice. Now, I am no fool. I do not delude myself that this piece of cheesecake is healthy or low in calories. But when I saw that one slice had 1,550 calories I was shocked! I quickly scanned through the rest of them and found that the one I usually order (lemon rasberry cream) has "only" 794 calories per slice.

I did a little research and found out th law at there is a new saying chain restaurants in California will have to display the number of calories in their food (because why would The Cheesecake Factory voluntarily reveal that info?). It is the first such law in the nation.  I think it's a good idea-I am more likely to order the healthier option if I know what I'm getting myself into. And maybe having to display that information will push restaurants to come up with ways to lower the caloric value of their food. So yes, I am in favor of this new law to combat obesity in America.

BUT-when I go the Cheesecake Factory, I am prepared to indulge. I know that eating a slice of cheesecake after a large meal isn't the healthiest option. That's why I don't do it everyday. So part of me (a small part of me, albeit) resents them shoving the information in my face. They are killing my sugar buzz, if you will.

Because, shocked as I was, we still ordered the red velvet cheesecake as one of the three pieces the group of us shared. It was delicious.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The 99 Cents Store...not just for cheap toys anymore!

This morning I visited what I thought to be the "final frontier" of my desire to make discount shopping a part of my life: The 99 Cents Store.

Now, I am no stranger to bargain stores. I grew up frequenting Pic N' Save (before they changed it to the more appealing Big Lots. Good call-no one wants to think of picking their nose while they are shopping.) I am no stranger to The Dollar Tree for teacher supplies, and I used to go the 99 Cents Store semi-regularly for prizes for my students and the like, but today I when I ventured into the 99 Cents Store in Gardena, I had a different mission in mind: grocery shopping.

I was skeptical at first friend Jessica had been talking about shopping there for weeks, and I made fun of her at first. But, I did some online research and heard about people getting wine and organic produce there, so I thought I'd give it a go. Jessica recommended the one in Gardena, so we went this morning. My goal was to see what items that I wold normally buy I could get for 99 cents and to see if I could gather all the ingredients I needed to make taco soup from my friend Keri's delicious recipe.

First of all, the store is jam-packed! No shelf or wall space goes unused and it was a bit overwhelming when we walked in. But, I have to say overall I was impressed. I think it's improved since I went there as a kid. Here are some of my most impressive less than a dollar bargains:

*1 Dozen eggs
*4 pomegranates 
*6 tomatoes (organic)
*pack of flour tortillas
*80 pack of cotton pads (the kind you use to take off eye makeup. This may not seem that amazing, but I spend at least twice that at Target).
*hands free cell phone device (mine broke and I need to stop putting everyone on speaker phone in the car.)
*3 pack of jumbo Dodger pens. YES!

And, I was able to get all the ingredients for my soup, except for the meat and the green chiles. Other highlights of the trip included Jessica sneezing on her arm and showing it to me. Luckily I was planning on buying tissues anyway, so we opened them and used one before we paid. She did the same thing with a bag of Sun Chips (opened them before paying, not sneezed on them).

They also had am impressive selection of spices, candy, and cookware. If I were a fan of hot dogs and white bread I also could have been all set. I saw some wine, but it was a rose, so I think I will wait until I see a white I'm willing to try.

Overall I would say that the trip was a success. I spent $37, and while I didn't get everything I normally would at the grocery store, I would say I won't spend more than another $15 at Trader Joe's tomorrow. I came home and made a quesadilla for lunch and if I were better at math I could tell you how much it cost me. I am going to guess no more than a quarter. And my soup, which I plan to make tomorrow and freeze in serving sized portions, will be at least eight meals at I would guess about a dollar each.

While the 99 Cents Store won't replace my regular grocery store, I definitely plan to make it a stop on my grocery shopping route. 

Selling Out.

My quest to save/earn more money continues today with two new elements. First, I decided to start putting ads on this blog. I know not too many people read my blog, but I have heard about this and thought I'd try it out. I have a lot of friends who also blog, so I'll be the guinea pig and see if it's worth it, friends. They say they base the ads on the type of content I post. Thus, I assume the ads will be for teaching credentials, debt consolidation, and happy hour. We shall see.

My other venture for the day was my first time grocery shopping at the 99 Cents Store. I think that deserves its own post, so look for that one, coming soon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dear Mr. President...

The nice thing about teaching is that I don't have to write my own blogs; I just steal my students' writing and post it here.

My students wrote letters to President Obama that I need to mail this week. I've been putting it off because I want to excerpt some of what they wrote here.

"You might not know where Carson is, but here are some clues. We live near Long Beach where a famous haunted baot is, the Queen Mary. Here is another clue. We also live in the same city as where they Home Depot Center is, home of the Chivas USA and of the LA Galaxy."
(It's like a scavenger hunt!)

"My goal is to do well in school, do all my homework, and pass my classes so I can go to college. I want to do this so I can be the first one in my family to go to college."

"I wish you luck and a Happy Halloween."

"My family and I work in the swapmeet at Los Angeles and my family and I had suffer so much. I carry heavy boxes to help my mom and dad. I have been working in the swapmeet for twelve years, and since the economy started it went really bad, so I started to work harder, and I put in effort so I won't stop working. I always wanted to be a president of the United States, the first woman, so I dream of it and I work and go to school to study."
(This one made me tear up.)

"When I culminated from elementary school I got an award signed by you. It was a Presidential Achievement Award. Nobody from my mom's part of the family has ever graduated from high school."

"I too agree and symptahize with you the way you described our needs thoroughly."

"I will have a great career like you Mr. Obama. And you're better than George Bush, I got to say."
(I told them not to do this...but "he got to say" it.)

"My goal was and is to get straight A's in my report card. That is one of my goals, but the one I am going to tell you sir, it comes with the straight A's because my second goal is to get into a great, amazing, fantastic college when I grow up. I do want to get good grades as I told you sir, in my own goal."
(I think she thought the letter was to Peppermint Patty.)

"I really appreciate you worrying about the children in the world, but what about the adults need to get some kind of booster to keep on moving toward a better life."

"I hope the economy problem goes away. You can make America better, you just have to try."

"I would like to have the opportunity to meet you or another president. If you, for some reason, do not have time, well that's okay. I culd start my own team to start healing the Earth. I would be happy either way."

"I wish that you caould come to our school and recite one of your outstanding speeches. But since you can't, I wrote you a letter to show I appreciate your other speech. On the other hand, our school is located on Bonita Street, near the Queen Mary."
(Apparently I need to teach them how to correctly use the phrase 'On the other hand.')

"I realy want to do something important in the world that will make a difference and do something important with my life and not just throw it away like my dad and my real mom...I just don't know yet...any ideas?"

"Just three years ago I as new going to school here in America. I went to tutoring classes and summer schools because I came from another country. I never gave up, I studied hard, and here I am in the honors class."
(This one is for sure my favorite. The American Dream!)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another way to save money....

Get on Victoria's Secret's mailing list. They send out coupons for free underwear every month or so. (They call them panties, but can we all agree that we never need to use that word again?) No other purchase necessary, just walk in, pick out a pair of cotton underwear, have them ring it up and it's free.

And Polly's idea (see her comments on my last blog) of making a spam account just for restaurant Eclubs is great too. I signed up with all my favorite restaurants and have coupons for 10% off, free appetizers, and promises of free stuff for my birthday, which is coming up. Score! I think I am going to print them out and keep them in my purse so I am ready when people decide they want to go out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

All About the Benjamins

A few weeks ago I made a new life goal for myself: I want to get control of my finances. The goal is threefold:
1. Pay off credit card debt and stop having it in the future. If I want something, I need to save for it.
2. Talk to a financial manager about saving for retirement. LAUSD automatically deducts for STRS, but I want to start putting away some extra amount now.
3. I want to save enough money for a down payment on a property of some sort (ideally a small house in LBC, but more realistically at least a condo.)

So, I have been brainstorming ways to save money in small ways. I am a big fan of a little bit going a long way. And now I would like to share my ideas with you, blog readers, in the hope that you will share your ideas with me. I have divided them into categories (because I am a huge nerd).


1. Use the library. Which is totally obvious, I know, but I never used to do it. I recently decided to start a book club and rather than buy the book I went online to see which of Long Beach's libraries have it and went and picked it up. The only catch is returning the book on time so I don't have to pay late fees.

2. Strike up a DVD Deal. I am a HUGE fan of TV shows on DVD. But, it gets pricey to buy all the shows I like. Luckily, some friends and I have reached an unspoken understanding. I buy Weeds, Dexter, and Big Love (when it goes on sale. Damn HBO shows!). Becca and Justin buy How I Met Your Mother and Big Band Theory. Shelley buys The Tudors. We didn't sit down and discuss a plan, but it's nice that we share the wealth in this way. Also, I am going to rent Mad Men when I find the time, rather than buy it. And I save every month by not having cable. :)

3. Happy Hour at Home. Felisa started this one, but it's genius. Even with drink specials, happy hour can add up (especially when you go to Yard House). Last week, Greg hosted at his place. I brought a six pack and a bag of chips, spending $11. We hung out for a few hours and I can guarantee you that had I gone to Yard House I would have spent two to three times that amount. And, no waiting for a table or your next's all right there.

4. Drink Water. Okay, this one I just tried for the first time on Saturday, but I have high hopes for it. When you go out to a bar, make the first drink you order a glass of water. This not only has the benefit of keeping you hydrated, but if you drink it while you socialize that's one less drink you will buy that night, saving you some cash. I say do it first, because later in the night your judgment might not be as clear, and planning to only have two or three drinks gets trickier. But if you start slow you are less likely to drink as much (which is good for your health and your wallet.)

Beauty Products

5. Take advantage of Gift With Purchase. Every six months (in October and April) Clinique does their bonus time. I wait to buy my usual products (eyebrow pencil is the staple. The others I mix up.) until it is gift time. That way, I get a free mini mascara (I haven't bought mascara in a few years now.) It's about a six month supply, which is perfect because that's how long you are supposed to keep it anyway. And there are always other goodies that I use and a few that I give away to friends who enjoy them as well. You also always get at least one cosmetics bag, which I use to store toiletries when I travel.

6. Which leads me to storing travel-sized items. You know how when you go on a trip you always visit the mini-sized aisle in Target and stock up? I realized that for most of my trips I don't use the whole amount. So, I have a stash in my cupboard of travel sized items. Now, when I go on a weekend trip I don't waste money buying more toothpaste or shower wash, I dig into my stash. It's also great for emergencies when you realize you are out of shampoo or conditioner.

7. Talk to your stylist. Recently I asked Ashley, my fabulous hair dresser, how I could make my visits to the salon a little less expensive. She worked some magic (only dying certain parts of my hair every other visit. I don't really remember the details now, but I can't tell the difference when I look in the mirror). Essentially, I am saving an average of $10 per visit. Score!

8. Make a no professional pedicures allowed rule. This one is difficult. I love getting my toes done. They last longer than when I do it myself and look better. BUT, doing them at home is essentially free, since I have a decent stockpile of nail polish and files, and I can touch up chipped polish without having to do them all over, since I own the colors. This one has to be a RULE, because otherwise I'd totally break it.

9. Order styling products on ebay. I got hooked on the fancy-pants styling products for my hair over the past few years, but I have a hard time justifying my twenty dollar bottle of shampoo. The solution: Ebay! I can find my shampoo and conditioner, blow-drying lotion, leave-in conditioner, and hairspray on Ebay for a good deal less than the salon price. It's not as cheap as drug store brands, but frankly, I can tell the difference in my hair, and these few luxuries make me happy. And I'm not getting pedicures anymore, so leave me alone.

Do It Yourself

10. Recycle for money. I know it's lovely that the city gives you bins to throw your recycling in, but I just started saving bottles and plastic containers for cash recycling. Cal State Long Beach runs a community recycling spot where you can take your items and they pay you cash for them. You pay the CRV on all of those items anyway, so you might as well get it back. Also, since my roommate throws her stuff in with mine that's essentially free money.

11. Make birthday cards. This is my new goal because cards are a freaking rip-off. Every time I make a card I am saving between two and four dollars. I am making three cards in the next month, and am thus saving up to $12 this month alone. And I think it's fun to make your own, even though I am far from a craft queen. At least my mom will like it.

12. Grocery Shop. I loathe going to the store. But, if I don't I end up eating out because I have no food in my house. So, I have made going to the grocery store each weekend part of my routine. I have to be careful to balance going with stuff that I have to prepare so that it's cheaper and going with pre-made stuff because I am lazy as hell. But, I am making it a concerted effort to eat at home unless it is a group eating out activity.


13. Ask a teacher friend if they get magazine discounts. Every year my school sells magazines and teachers get 40% off. I not only get my beloved Entertainment Weekly for less than $15 bucks a year, but I hook several of my friends up too, getting them a good deal. Ask around.

14. Keep a regift bag. I know, I know. It's tacky. But, I keep a bag in my closet of items that I can use as gifts. Most of them end up being stocking stuffers-small items. But recently I got a free bag of stuff when I spent money at a store I like. It came with a pair of fun socks by Burton. I threw them in the gift bag and they will go in someone's stocking for Christmas. Candles that my students give me go in there. Extra stuff from Clinique gift. Things like that. I don't try to pass it off as purchased goods, but it's a nice go-to when you need a gift or want to thank someone for something.

15. Gym membership. You can buy a two-year membership to 24 Hour Fitness for $300 at Costco. As soon as the credit card debt is paid off, I am doing that and saving my $30 per month instead.

16. Tell your friends. Which is most of the reason I wrote this blog. If my friends know that I am saving and trying to spend less, they will get it when I decide not to go to dinner or cut back on shopping trips or whatever. And you can all come to my housewarming party in three years. Look forward to it.

So, if anyone is actually still reading, I want your ideas on how to save money! No idea is too small, I'm just tired of reading the same ideas on the internet. What's worked for you???

Friday, September 18, 2009

6th Grade Writing

I forget how many of my posts are about students when I am in school. But here is another one.

On the first day of school I give my kids the homework assignment to write two paragraphs about their first day of middle school. The first paragraph is about what happened and the second paragraph is about how the felt. This is an excerpt from Brandon's first paragraph:

"What happened at the first day of school was that I met new friends like Pablo, Arly, Richard and Jef. They looked really shy so I went to them individually and told them each my first and last name and all of them said in a quiet voice there names. Afer I told all of them my name I saw them stop being shy and talking and greeting other people."

Brandon's outgoing nature is certainly already confirmed and it's interesting that he is aware enough to notice that he has the ability to make other people more comfortable by being friendly. He also mentioned that at first he was nervous, but then it went away and he started to feel happy and "a little hungry."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Darndest Things.

This week I am having my kids write letters to President Obama telling him what goal they set for themselves in response to his speech on the first day of school. I was telling them to write a paragraph that introduces themselves-their names, grade they're in, what school they go to. I asked, "Now, do you guys think President Obama knows where Carnegie Middle School is?"

"Yesss," they all chorused back.

"Um, actually I don't think he does. Remember there are thousands of middle schools in America he can't know where all of them are. What are some landmarks nearby that would help him know where our school is?"

"Subway!" one girl yelled out (referring to the sandwich shop on the corner.)

"Well, no there are a lot of those."


"No, think of really famous things."

"City Hall!"

"Every city has a City Hall. Try to think of something there is only one of."

Eventually we got to Long Beach, which led us to the Queen Mary. And how far LA is from us. And that we were part of LA Unified. But I thought it was cute that they truly think the president knows exactly where their school is. I kind of hated to burst their bubble.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Day o' School

On the first day of school I give out a student interest inventory. It asks about brothers and sisters, favorite books, movies, TV shows, etc. Toward the bottom it asks, "If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?"

Now of course there are some kids who said they would buy mansions and video games, which is what I expected to see. But I would say over half said something along these lines:

"I would give half to charity and the other half to my parents to pay the bills."

"I would buy what I NEED first, and then get things that I want."

"I would give it to my parents because there is a money crisis."

"I would give it to someone that really needed the money."

I wonder if this is a result of the economic crisis? Even 6th graders are aware that times are hard and that money can do more than just buy video games and put in swimming pools. Through all the hard times economically for people, perhaps a positive is that it is making kids less greedy and selfish? It made my day to read those answers, honestly. Not that I am happy that things are hard, but it was such a nice sentiment-they still completely trust their parents, they want what's best for their families and others. Lovely.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Year, New...

...students. I went online to check out my classes before the first day of school. I don't really have a good reason to do this since they are all new to the school and none of them are legendary yet. I just read the names and look for crazy ones, and try to figure out if there are any huge troublemakers just by looking at their names. "Brian, no that should be fine. Stephanie, okay. Michael...I've had trouble with Michaels in the past..." I don't know why I do it, but I can't help it. In other news, I have a Betsy in my class this year. 1955 called, and they want their student back.

...clothes. I have acquired various work clothes over the summer that I have yet to wear. It's always fun to think about wearing new clothes, and it gives me false hope that I will look great everyday, all year. "I'll only wear jeans on Fridays. I will totally iron that button-down shirt so I can wear it more often this year." And even now, I think "but maybe this is the year where those things will be true!" Stay tuned blog readers.

...responsibilities. This year I am still the yearbook adviser, but I have finally agreed to sell ads, which means more work for me. And I feel like I need to make an ever-improving yearbook. The pressure's on. Also, I am the English department chair this year, which means working with all the teachers and running meetings and for right now, figuring out what else I am supposed to be doing. I really have very little idea. This should be fun.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yes, I love technology

I love that every question I have in my life has an answer to be found on the internet.

Which kind of fillings are better, silver or white? (pros and cons to both)
Should I floss before or after I brush? (Dentists are divided, it's important to just do it)
What is the best eye cream? (Doesn't matter as long as it's a rich one. For daytime All About Eyes by Clinique is preferred)
Who is the singer for the band Owl City (Not Ben Gibbard, which was my guess)
Are Pink and Carey Hart back together? (Yes, it would seem that they are)
What group exercises are at my gym this week (Schedule is on the website)
How do I get to my work bbq today? (I love you mapquest)
How far did I run/bike/walk outside today (I am going to marry

How did we exist before the internet?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Do you ever have something in your life that deeply fascinates you, for no good reason. Like you want to tell people about it, except they would think you were crazy for wasting their time with it? 

That's what blogs are for.

I have developed a deep appreciation for my own night time routine. I have read that a routine is good because it helps let your body know you are ready for sleep. That might be part of it, but I think I am just rather proud of myself for consistently sticking with it. I haven't missed a night since...St. Patrick's Day, I believe. And that was an unfortunate incident with mixing alcohol. But other than that, tipsy or tired, I have stuck to my routine.  And I never used to be that way. If I was too tired, I skipped it. When I lived in the dorms, sometimes going down the hall to the bathroom was just too much effort. If I came home past midnight, it probably wasn't happening. But, I am a new woman. And I must say, my skin has never looked better. My calves aren't half bad either (see routine below).

Just to complete my incredibly self-indulgent post, here is my nighttime routine:

1. Brush teeth (I try to do 50 calf raises while I do this, although that does not happen every night)
2. Floss
3. Mouthwash
4. Wash face
5. Take off eye makeup (when I do this first, I inevitably can't get it all off and then have to do it again. Blerg.)
6. Put on night cream (which is actually an anti-acne one, so it's kind of drying, thus making step 7 absolutely necessary...)
7. Put on eye cream (Which I researched, and any rich moisturizer is fine, so you don't have to waste money on it. I use Clinique Moisture Surge, which came in my gift with purchase at some point. I like it.)
8. Put on lip balm (Khiels is the best lip balm ever. I want to marry it.)
9. On a good night, I put lotion on my feet after I get into bed and turn out the light. This one doesn't happen every night either.

If you are still reading, you must be bored. My apologies. But you knew going in that this was ridiculous.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Musings on Dangerous Minds

First of all, Gangster's Paradise over the opening credits totally holds up, even if they overuse it a bit in the movie. Let's just say that.

This is the first time I've watched this movie since I became a teacher, and I have to say it's much more realistic than some of the other ones I have seen (don't get me started on Freedom Writers). She's missing management 101 when she starts, but the first thing her classroom neighbor told her is "Don't try to talk over them," which is probably the best advice to give someone. The first day is horrible until she grows a pair. Although the cowboy boots on the desk with a plaid shirt might not intimidate inner-city kids, and it seems like karate could easily turn into a full blown fight. 

I like that she gets better in fits and spurts, which is pretty realistic. Although it is damn hard to get them back if you start out struggling. 

I like that she keeps caring, even when they don't get it and act like assholes. Also pretty realistic. And they try to teach her to dance, which my kids have totally done. I got laughed at trying to learn the jerk and the reject last year.

Also, I like that not all of the students make it. It's a more realistic portrayal than, "Look I am super teacher and I saved all of my students who are now in college and make speeches about how great I am." They don't all make it, no matter how great you are. I like that this movie owns that.

Unrealistic: why, in all movies, do they make it seem like they only have one class throughout the day? I mean, I know I get that it's less confusing. But can they not even acknowledge somewhere in there that she has a full schedule of classes?

But, she totally teaches bell-to-bell. Well done Ms. Johnson. 

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Tonight I went to a music festival and got to see a few different local bands, which was fun. Then, I got to see the Cold War Kids perform, which was super fun. Also, I ran into two of my old Jr. Highers from youth ministry who are now Juniors in college. But, here is my new experience of the night:

I was holding my friend Juliet's four-year-old daughter, Eva, who has short blonde hair.

Man behind me, to Eva: "You have the same haircut as your mommy!"
Me, apparently too quietly: "Oh, she's not my daughter."
Man, to me: "She looks just like you!!"

Now, this is interesting for two reasons. One, obviously Eva is not my daughter, so it's funny that we resemble one another enough to have someone say she looks just like me. I know who to borrow if I need a fake daughter. But secondly, and weirder for me, I apparently look old enough to have a four-year-old. Which I mean, I am. And I know that, but I don't think I've ever been mistaken for a mom before. I usually have people think I am younger than I am, so it was weird to have someone assume I am a mom. And a little disconcerting...I am nowhere near having kids right now. Kind of puts the pressure on.

But, Eva is adorable, so I am going to go with the compliment that she looks like me and stick with that. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things of all sorts

The annoying thing about being a grown up is that when you are vacuuming and realize that the vacuum is not sucking it is you and you alone who must flip it on it's side, take scissors to it and pull out enough hair to make a disgusting wig. 

The awesome thing about dry clean only clothes is that when you get them back they are not only clean, but pressed perfectly. I am terrible about taking my clothes in the the dry cleaner and about ironing in general, but when I got back skirts and shirts that look better than they did when I bought them, I can't wait to wear them and I am in fact glad that they are dry clean only.

The annoying thing about lift class tonight was that the instructor didn't even do the workout with us. She walked around and assisted and then would demonstrate with a bar that had no weight on it. She kept saying, "It's your workout, not mine." Listen. It makes it more bearable if we are all suffering together. When you say, "four more!" I can tolerate it because you are doing it too. When you are just standing there and say "four more!" I want to punch you in the face. Except I can't because my arms are so fatigued from the millions of reps we just did.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like August

I kind of forgot I had a blog. Huh.

So, for whatever reason I have been on an organizational rampage this week. I think it comes from my annual need to get my act together in August. August is when I finally make all my doctor and dentist appointments so I don't have to go when I am working. But this year I extended my to-do list into territory of my house. This week I have...

-cleaned out my closet
-cleaned out my dresser (HOW do I accumulate so many t-shirts? I swear they mate and reproduce in there...)
-re-organized and cleaned out my CD rack, DVD drawers, and bookshelves
-Cleaned out jewelry box and organized all earrings into pairs
-bought canisters for my flour, sugar etc.
-bought a lazy susan for all of our spices
-rearranged some of the kitchen drawers
-took in a crapload of dry cleaning (including my coats, which I swear I've probably never had cleaned. Maybe I shouldn't admit that in a public forum, but oh well.)
-cleaned out and re-organized all toiletries (which mostly involved throwing away expired medicine.)
-Re-organized linen closet
-Cleaned out my car, including glove compartment (no small feat, but this is the one I most want to keep up with)

And I can't stop. Tomorrow I am washing all the dish towels and pot holders, vacuuming, and hanging more things on my walls. I would like to think that if I can get everything organized before school starts, I will somehow be able to maintain it throughout the year. I would really really like to be that organized and just do the maintenance, however generally this falls apart. Clean laundry ends up stacked on my bed instead of hung up. Books overflow into all the nooks and crannies of my room. Dirty clothes end up on the floor. Jewelry is taken off all over the house instead of being placed in my jewelry box. But, since it's August, I am pretending that I will be able to maintain this. Just like I am pretending that I will only wear jeans on Fridays to work this school year. Sigh. Check in with me in November-we'll see how I do this Fall.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Do you not know, have you not heard?

Attention concert-goers: When the band stops playing their song, says thank you, and exits the stage, the concert is not over. There is this crazy thing called an "encore." We all play along and clap until the band returns, when we cheer even louder, feigning surprise, and they play two to three more songs. You should come to expect this. And, they are usually some of the bands biggest hits that you want to hear. So, sit back, relax. Your car will still be there and leaving isn't really going to make traffic that much easier. If the lights are not on, the concert is not over.

This has been a public service announcement.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Monday I kayaked.
Tuesday I spun.
Wednesday I yoga'd.
Thursday I surfed.
Friday I biked.

This summer I have turned over a new leaf and have decided to be active as much as possible. The nice thing about not working is that I have plenty of time to explore new hobbies, go to the gym, and try to fulfill my goal of being in the best shape of my life.

I was never athletic growing up. The only sport I ever played was volleyball in 7th grade-they needed one more player to form a team and my friend Hannah convinced me to join. To give you an indication of my skill level, I actually thought it was called "Ballyball" until the day I saw the sign up sheet in the girls locker room. It did not go well from there.

I dabbled in dance in high school, but only to get out of PE, and once that was done, so was I. My friends swam; I took pictures of them for the yearbook. My friends played water polo; I wrote an article about the water polo team for the school newspaper. You get the idea.

So, I've always thought that I just wasn't a sporty person-that I could make myself go to the gym to lose weight, but that I'd never enjoy working out and certainly assumed that sports or other athletic activities were beyond my reach.

This summer I discovered a new side to myself. I am by no means a super athlete-organized sports still sounds mildly terrifying to me. But, I started with riding my bike on the beach path near my house. Then I went on a few hikes with friends. Then kayaking. And this week I attempted to add surfing to the mix (which certainly needs more work). And I have enjoyed all of them. I am learning to play catch and have made it a goal to learn to play softball well enough that I don't humiliate myself on a co-ed softball team next year.  I have also been enjoying spinning and yoga classes at the gym, and dare I say it, I actually look forward to all these things.

What is my point? I'm sort of rambling here, but I guess I'm realizing that I don't necessarily fit into the box that I created for myself for several years. And that's good-it means I am not completely set in my ways-I am not finished growing and learning and changing, and I like that. So, my few blog readers, what boxes have you put yourself in? I say kick apart the cardboard and try something new!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Resolutions

1. Make it to church three out of four Sundays per month.
2. Work out four times a week.
a. Michelle Obama arms...or at least no bat wing arm jiggle...
b. Best shape of my life
3. Use my bread machine once a week.
4. Go to the doctor for physical, check on knees, eye doctor, and dentist.
5. Get my date on.
6. Ocean Kayaking!!
7. read read read read read read read read read read read read
8. Have fun fun fun 'til her daddy takes the t-bird away.
9. If Getty happy hour exists, go to it.
10. Stroll & Savor
11. Free movies on the beach in Long Beach!
a. Harry & the Hendersons on July 14th

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thinking Positve Thoughts

Things that made my day/restored my faith in humanity today:

My good friend at work, Christina Soris, got her job back today. She is an awesome, strict, passionate teacher (the kids call her the DinaSoris), and she will not be layed off.

The yearbooks came out yesterday and an 8th grade boy yelled across the hall at me this morning, "Ms. Fletcher, I LOVE the yearbook!!!!"

Another good friend at work, Juliet, told me that a friend of hers who had lung cancer and went through chemo is now cancer free.

I had a really interesting conversation about religion with my students today, since I am teaching Rome and am thus teaching Christianity.

As of today there is only one week left until summer vacation. And this place is crazy, and it stresses me out and occasionally makes me cry, but you know what? I think I am actually going to miss it a little over the next few months.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Books, books, books.

Today, the Carnegie poetry books arrived. The students submitted poems, I typed them all (or most of them. A few of them were high tech and gave them to me on a flash drive), and had them printed via The book is called Mind & Soul. It came out pretty nicely. Check it out here:

The kids who are in the book get a free copy, thanks to a grant that we received. Wesley yelled about a hundred times, "I'm on page 23!" Stephanie keeps reading hers while she's supposed to be doing other work in history (which I am benig nice about, but making her do her work.) To be honest, putting the book together was a big pain, as is opening the boxes of each set of 10, which are double wrapped in plastic. BUT, I must be cliche and say that seeing the kids get excited makes all the hard work worth it.

Now, I must go and finish getting them distributed, since my yearbooks are due to arrive tomorrow. It's a busy week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This morning I brought my homeroom donuts. I told them that if they raised $300 in the Pennies for Patients fundraiser (which benefits and leukemia and lymphoma society) I would bring them donuts, and today I followed through on my end of the bargain, purchasing two and a half dozen donuts on the way to work.

Remember when you'd get a treat at school? Cupcakes on someone's birthday, cookies as a reward, whatever. I love sweets. LOVE them, to this very day. The fact that I did not open the box this morning and eat all their donuts makes me think I deserve some sort of medal. So, when I was in class and we got a treat, I was always very excited, and ate my snack immediately. Not like I stuffed my face and had crumbs everywhere, but I ate it right away.

And then. And then, I would look around five minutes later and be in total awe of the kids who still had the entire cookie on their desk, untouched. HOW did they manage this? I mean, even as an adult, I am impressed by the kids who right now, 45 minutes after I gave them the donuts, have not eaten them yet. Some of them wrapped them in their napkins, to enjoy at nutrition (which I don't get...half the fun is that you get to eat in class!). But, even more amazing is the boy sitting a few feet from me who has taken bites of his chocolate twist donut periodically, but still has over half of it left. It's just sitting there while he reads his history book. WHA? I can barely contain myself from going over there and eating it, I don't know how in the world he can manage this feat. Who are these people? And what kind of self-control will they have as adults...these people could probably buckle down and go to medical school or run marathons, or just say no to drugs forever.

...although the boy in question is tardy EVERYDAY to first period...I guess we all have our weaknesses.

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is the conversation I have had at least twenty times today:
"Ms. Fletcher, did you feel the earthquake!?"
"Yes, I did. Did you?"
Then the student tells me how they were sleeping, in the shower, in their mom's room, doing their homework ("So you can't get mad if it's messy!" Wesley cheerfully told me.)

I roll my eyes internally, but really I did the same thing last night. It's tradition. I called my mom right away and asked her "did you feel the earthquake?" We made fun of the people who call in to the news, "It was more of a rolling motion." Then I talk my roommate down from the ledge and tell her that California is a nice place to live, and that "The Big One" is BS, just like how when it rains it's immediately "Storm Watch!!" and I go check my room to see what fell over (a picture frame, not broken.) It's nice to have these traditions for natural disasters-especially when the disaster isn't so disasterous.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Eavesdropping on Period 3

Daniel: (while reading an article about ancient Rome) Ewww, Ms. Fletcher did you know that girls in there early teens would marry men in their thirties!!
Robert: That's sick!! They have mustaches and everything.
Daniel: I know, ugh.
Robert: The men are all crusty already...

(apparently crustiness begins in your thirties)

Robert: It's illegal for a man to marry a really old lady
Me: No it's not, Robert.
Robert: But that would be all gross...she's get all shriveled up before you.
Daniel: (inexplicably singing) She's a super freak, super freak, she's super freaky! Yow!

(yep, I'm changing lives.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don't tell The Little Mermaid...

...but I think Mulan is my favorite Disney movie. I actually teared up today at the end when she goes home to her dad. And I love the songs. And her character, who does more than get rescued or fall in love.

Teaching China always makes me crave Chinese food.

The word of the day is sore. As in, "Ms. Fletcher has a sore throat." Or, "Ms. Fletcher has sore calves from jump roping yesterday." Or "Ms. Fletcher has sore shoulders from doing the four shoulder machines at the gym." And "If you think this blog is boring, you are sorely mistaken."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Think Blue

Tonight, I am going to my first Dodger game of the season! Polly, I will tell your boyfriend Russell Martin you say hi.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So, occasionally I am a nice teacher and give my kids a fun project to do. (I am also having them write an essay the week before Spring Break-can't be too nice.) Today, we are coloring and painting greek pottery (on paper). Yesterday, we watched a Power Point on Greek pottery so they'd know how to do theirs (after which, Daniel said, with sincerity, "That was the best 20 minutes of my life." I have thoroughly taught them how to suck up.)

Today, they used crayon to color their pots with a scene from The Odyssey and are painting the background with watercolors. So, I have put on traditional Greek music, also known as Weezer's Blue Album (which is my favorite. I know the cool kids like Pinkerton better, but the blue album is one of my favorite albums EVER). "In the Garage" just started and let me tell you, the boys in my honors class like to say EVERYTHING out loud.

"That's the harmonica!"
"I play the harmonica!"
"I play with windwhistle."
"I play the recorder!"

All of this was at full volume, which I could hear across the room. Bless their hearts. And their unintentionally loud voices, which I understand completely. After this exchange, I looked around the room and felt genuine affection for them. I like my classes this year. And I like listening to Weezer at work.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I mailed my National Boards Portfolio on Saturday.

I just submitted my final spread for the 2009 yearbook.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's 12:05pm...

...and a kid in my class just yelled out, "I'm the Mexican Zeus!! Viva la Raza!" during our Greek myth play practice. Ah, I love my school.

A request...

I would like The Simpsons to make spoofs that go along with all the lessons I teach, please. We watched "Tales From Public Domain" after we read The Odyssey in class...they loved it. And, I told them that everything is funnier if you're smart. A valuable life lesson indeed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

You say you want a resolution...

My New Year's Resolution for this year was based on my sister's friend Mary's blog or Facebook (can't remember...all the technology runs together) which at some point said, "2009-Year of makin' it happen." I decided that rather than choose few specific goals, I would just make myself do the things I always talk about doing, but never get around to, either out of fear or laziness. Thus far I have...

-gotten a tattoo

-dyed my hair a crazy color (purple, to be specific)

-signed up to run a 5k

-joined a lifegroup to get more involved at church, which also qualifies as joining a book club, since we're reading Flannery O'Connor.

I am also planning on taking surfing lessons this summer (which terrifies me, to be honest). What else? If you can think of something you've heard me say I'd like to do, call me out and unless it is ridiculously expensive, I'm goin' for it. Life is short, man. (Apparently a hippie typed that last sentence. But a smart hippie, who knows what he's talking about).

The best laid plans...

Yesterday, I ran to the grocery store and then walked home. It actually worked well-the grocery store was too close, so I ran down and back up the pier which is cool because you are running into the ocean. But when I arrived at the store I was hungry. So, unfortunately, my eyes were bigger than my arm muscles.

The walk home was rough. I bought a bottle of water, so I stopped and drank the whole thing, to lighten the load. I briefly considered hucking the bottle into the bushes, to make it that much easier, but thought better of it and carried it home.

But, I got to use my new shuffle, which delivered "Jump on It" by Sir Mixalot while I was running-it was mid-90's perfection.

Friday, February 13, 2009

6th Grade Poetry...

I assigned my students an "I am" poem for our poetry unit. You know, where the poem is formatted with the beginning of the line and they have to fill-in the blanks. I read them and alternated between laughing and finding some of them heartbreaking. So, here is my found poem from my 6th grade students:

I am astounding and curious
I am awesome and kind
I am sometimes mean and sometimes nice
I am a kind and caring gentleman

I cry about my mom and dad not together
I cry when I get near onions
I cry because my mom passed away
I cry when there's cruelty in the world

I dream of going to a Jonas Brothers concert
I dream of zombies eating people
I dream one day I can change the world

I wonder when the war in Iraq will end
I wonder why I am different
I wonder what I look like to others
I wonder why we have sports

I pretend to go into books
I pretend to be myself
I pretend that I did my homework
I pretend to be someone who I am clearly not
I pretend to be okay
I pretend that I can drive
I pretend to listen to my mom

I hope I do well in school and please everyone

I see snow fall from the sky like little peaces of heaven
I hear the rain hit my window like a bullet
I hear my mom call my name

I dream that one day I will be the richest man on earth for inventing or discovering something

I understand my mom is divorced
I understand life is like a freeway, sometimes bumpy and sometimes clear
I understand that sometimes everything can't be perfect
I understand everyone has to die

I hope my hear murmur gets cured
I hope I can figure out why me?

I worry my mom is hurt
I worry what will happen if my mom gets married
I worry I'm not smart enough

I want to have no other life than my own
I want more devastatingly cool DS games

I say good is in our hearts

Are you jealous of my job right now? I think you are, just a little.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thoughts of the day...

1. I had a martini tonight called Hawaiian Sunrise (or maybe sunset?) at Yardhouse, and apparently Hawaii is delicious.

2. I am going to a drag show on Thursday night. Yessssss....

3. If a middle school student interviews you and asks a bunch of questions about retirement, and you are not planning on retiring this year after all, maybe you should speak up so they don't write an article about you and put it in the freakin' yearbook.

4. I am pretty damn assertive in the last few years. Boyfriend, administrator, random children in my school parking lot who look like they might throw a football at my car. I speak my mind.

5. It needs to stop raining so I can go running tomorrow morning. Who would have ever thought that I would speak that sentence?

6. I need to read two Flannery O'Connor short stories before Monday night. I am buying the book tomorrow. I have homework again, and I love it.

7. A girl from worked was shocked that I've never seen a stripper. "Haven't you had, like, a ton of friends get married?"  Yes, but I went to Biola. Who knew?

8. I started this list thinking it would only be a few items, but then when it grew I really want it to be ten.

9. My eyelids are heavy, my down comforter is warm, and my arms want to be under it and not typing anymore.

10. Good night.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Warning: This is a really long blog about the Carnegie Middle School yearbook. It's probably only interesting to me.

So, can I just say that I love doing yearbook? It's busy, it makes WAY more work than I would otherwise have, I have to deal with every club adviser in the school, my brain is constantly thinking of what we need to photograph. But, it's my favorite part of my job.

I love going through photos and seeing that one of the kids got an awesome picture. Today, I was editing the Dances page and there is a picture of two girls jumping and dancing and the photographer caught them at the perfect moment. The PE page has a picture of two boys jumping in mid-air to do the tip-off in a basketball game. The girl taking pictures of Leadership students counting flyers stood on a table to get a different angle, and it makes what otherwise would have been a boring picture pretty cool. And I love that these are my 12 and 13 year old students.

I love reading an article about an event we do every year that has a creative beginning, way better than I could have thought of. The article for the Science Convention, where the kids dress up as a famous scientist, begins like this: "Have you ever wondered who invented the telescope, discovered electricity, or invented peanut butter? Well, on November 24th in Power's Hall, you could find your answer." The girls doing that page also want to do a matching game, where they'll have pictures of the students in costumes and then have the scientists names on the side, and people have to match up who's who. Love it!

I love seeing the kids be creative and make pages that I would never make. The Spirit Week page is straight out of the 80's, with pink and blue squares in the background. The girls doing 8th Grade Favorites put the names on the pictures themselves, and put the categories running vertically next to the pictures. It made my least favorite page look actually pretty cool.

I love that I get to go through each page and edit it-it's like getting to be on yearbook staff, but not having to do all of the work-I just get to have my final say on each page. So, in two weeks when I am spending all weekend editing the 38 pages that are due, I might complain about it. But I'm full of crap. I love every second of it. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009


When my mom told my grandma about my tattoo, she said, "Oh, I love Jessica so much, I wouldn't care if she got a tattoo on her face."

That made me feel more loved than I have in a long time. Because I think my grandma really dislikes tattoos. But she loves me. 

AND, now I can finally get my face tattoo, just like I've always dreamed of.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Somedays, I don't feel like an optimist.

Given just the right algorithm of age, times the number of friends getting married, to the bronchitis power, plus the number of papers I have to grade, divided by days until my National Board Portfolio is due; sometimes it all equals half empty.

But, I choose hope. I choose to believe that life is good. That the things that I want will happen for me. That while my happiness doesn't always look how I expected it to, it's still happiness. Wrapped in Pinkberry, covered with a good movie, tied with the bow of sleeping in tomorrow, there it is. My optimism, a gift just for me.