Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Artsy Fartsy

I'm an art lover. Not the go-to-the-art-museum type of art lover. Not the eclectic dye-your-hair-and-wear-weird-clothes type of art lover. Just the curl-up-on-the-couch-and-enjoy-some-good-music/reading/movies/musicals type of art lover. I danced for years, I still sing in the shower, and I find my fingers often tapping like the airline counter workers when I have a Word document open.
So what's with the little artsy fartsy bio? A local playhouse by my parents, the Bucks County Playhouse, has now closed. This was my own personal Broadway, as I saw a number of performances there with my family over the years. It was special treat for us. A fancy dinner beforehand, squishing lots of cars in the tiny parking lot, waiting just outside the theater for the show, and being mystified by the performers who were so close you could reach out and touch them.
The "BCP," as known around my house, has never been a showy place. The seats were old and worn, the theater a bit on the chilly side. It wasn't about making money (at least, it never came across that way). It was about the love of performing arts.
Then recently, the playhouse was closed. My understanding (found through word-of-mouth) is that they showed up at the bank to pay their loan a little before closing time. The bank then told them to sit and wait, refusing to see them before the end of banking hours. Once banking hours had passed, they said, "Sorry, Charlie" and refused to process the payment. I don't know if this is 100% factual, but just the thought of that being reality is so Scrooge-esque. Bah humbug!
But there's good news. (Yay for a Christmas miracle!) Jed Bernstein is stepping in to save the day. The playhouse that featured Robert Redford, Alan Alda, Angela Lansbury, and Walter Matthau, to name a few, looks to be making a comeback. Long live (my own personal) Broadway!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Take That!

It's about time people in role model positions are being held accountable (especially in sports)! In case you missed yesterday's Jets/Miami game, one of the Jets coaches made the oh-so-wise decision to trip one of the Miami players. He was suspended for the rest of the season and fined. THANK YOU NFL FOR STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE! And we wonder why kids (and unfortunately, adults) these days don't know how to solve their problems or resort to violence as the solution. It's like I told my student teacher - kids will copy whatever they see. If you want them to be kind, you have to show them how.

Super Stars, kids look up to you. If you want to make a (positive) difference, show them how to act by doing it yourself.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Beauty (?) of Broccoli

I have come to the conclusion that my parents are psychic. That may sound silly, but here's why. They always told me to eat my vegetables, especially my broccoli....and now I see why.

I know my parents weren't the only ones out there to make that common threat at the dinner table, you know the "no-dessert-till-you-eat-your-broccoli" threat. It didn't matter if you had chopped it up into tiny little pieces and spread it around the plate, trying to hide it in the little bits of other food you left. Oh no, they had broccoli-sensing radar. Don't misunderstand me, I loved some vegetables. I would eat an entire box of spinach at the dear old age of 2. And butternut squash or asparagus - bring it on! But broccoli...the moldy-sock, sweaty-foot smell of it overcooked and simmering still makes my stomach turn when it's oozing through the halls at school.

We live in the age of genetically-altered everything. Turkeys that are raised to have more white meat for Thanksgiving, oranges that have no seeds, corn that is able to withstand pests better than it should. Scientists, here's your project for that Nobel Prize you're trying to win: infuse the goodness of broccoli into yummy-tasting vegetables (or anything, really) so I don't have to eat it, but can still avoid cancer, arthritis, and prescription medication for stomach infections.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Run, Edison, Run!

Just found this article on CNN. How is it I had no idea a Chilean miner was running in the NYC marathon?

What an uplifting story for anyone who ever feels like life has gotten in the way of their plans! I can't imagine what it must have been like to have been trapped in a mine for 69 days with all those other men, initially not even knowing if you were ever going to get out alive. And here's this guy, running every day to keep his spirits up, determined to beat the mine and the crappy hand he was being dealt at the time.

My favorite quote from the article: "I told the mine, 'I'm gonna outrun you. I'm gonna run till you're tired and bored of me.'" Next time something in your life has gone completely opposite of how you were planning, run till it's tired and bored of you! If Edison can do it trapped almost 1/2 mile underground, you can do it on land (or on water if you happen to be at sea for quite some time).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Julie, Julia, Lisa

I just finished watching Julie & Julia. I know, I should be writing about what I read and not what I watch, but someone had to write the screenplay, and the movie was based on a book, and really, what good is having a Netflix subscription if you can't use it?

That being said, what a cute movie (and so related to this whole blogging thing). So here's my blog to blogging. I'm right there with you Amy Adams, is anyone even reading this? It's funny how writing to the invisible someone out there can help you find yourself, and lose yourself, and find yourself all over again. While I doubt this blog will lead to a book deal (especially since my books are children's books and not necessarily related to my blog), if anyone has a dear friend Avis, or any other literary guru, let me know!

But back to why I love the movie - I love how it emphasizes the journey and not the destination. It's those little moments where the characters are smearing chocolate cake all over their faces or dressing up like Julia Child at a birthday dinner. Those are the moments that matter in life; they're the ones we remember and make us who we are. So here's to smearing chocolate all over your face at your next dinner, birthday party, or dessert tasting! (A lesson, I find, that we're learning over and over again because we never seem to get it right.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weight Gain

Before I get started on this one, I apologize to my dear blog followers (though few you are) for being so quiet over here the last few weeks. While I've been reading plenty, I'm assuming most of you don't want in-depth (or even basic) coverage on my student teachers' lesson plans. That being said, let's dive in.

October 4, 2010, Time Magazine, page 20:
0.5lb (Weight gain of freshman women with obese roommates)
2.5lb (Weight gain of freshman women with slim roommates)

There are a few ways to look at this...
1. The small weight gain with obese roommates is because they beat you to all the goodies in care packages your mom sends you.
2. The larger weight gain with slim roommates is because they don't even eat their own goodies from care packages. Instead they sneak the goodies into your care package pile and you eat double the goodies (nothing wrong with double homemade cookies!)

But my favorite way to look at this...
Only "Freshman 2.5?!?!?!" What's changed since I was in school? I would have killed for the "Freshman 2.5!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Superman (or Batman if you'd prefer)

Another great article for you: Dads are the 'Supermen' students need

If you know me at all, you know my feelings on the whole Chris Christie being "Superman" for the education system/NJ. I won't get into that in an attempt to save all of you from my what-could-be-pages-long diatribe about my job as a teacher.

Instead, I'm going to take the article one step further. Kids need a "Superman" that's real, down-to-earth, and truly super in some noteworthy way. Not the newest or most highly paid sports figure (though some of them are super in ways off the field), and not some video game hero who has become the product of some developer's late night dreams. Kids need a "Superman" who's tangible, a role model with whom they can interact, and actually mimic to become their own "Superman" at some point.

Kudos to those who make a difference in their job or anywhere else in this world, and do it out of the goodness of their heart, and not because of the public opinion it gives them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life, More Fun

This was the Facebook post made by a friend from high school:

If two year olds ran the world, we'd all be naked and running around with oatmeal in our hair 97% of the time.

Please know, I'm not encouraging the running of the world by two year olds, nor incredibly frequent nakedness, nor the oatmeal in the hair (though I did manage to get cream cheese in my hair this morning while eating breakfast - may need to drink coffee before eating breakfast from now on). However, I do think it would make life a good bit more fun and quite less stressful than it is now. Roads would be bumper to bumper with big wheels and those kiddy-sized motorized Jeeps. (This could make 94-mile commutes, like that of Crabby Commuter, a bit more entertaining.) We could wear footsie pjs instead of high heels all day long, and read books with pictures every day. Plus, it's more acceptable to throw food when you don't want to eat it and best of all, nap time could become a law!

Just something to think about as elections are coming up in November.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who Says Gaming Systems Aren't Designed with Everyone in Mind?

Check out the link my brother sent me. Parents of all types are cracking down on "screen time," or maybe they're becoming just as addicted as their children. You decide.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Second Chances

Each summer I join the ranks of teachers who get second (and third) jobs, one of which is tutoring. This summer I tutored a going-into-5th grader who chose to read Because of Winn Dixie as part of her summer project. I had seen the movie years ago and wasn't very impressed with it. I really didn't see what all the hype was about, so I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading the book.

Wow! Really, that's all I have to say. Apparently I didn't pay much attention when I watched the movie, or the director did a horrible job getting across the message in the film. I was (quite pleasantly) surprised at how wonderful the book is. And what a great way to show the power of second chances and how unusual pairings can create beautiful friendships. On top of all that, it's written in such a way that kids enjoy the book, and can actually have a "book club" discussion on the powerful themes.

If you haven't yet packed away your flip flops and stored your beach bag in the basement for another 9 months, here's a great "it's technically not fall until September 23" summer read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Go Out and Celebrate!

Grab a book and some treats. It's International Literacy Day! Thank someone who taught you to read and made this day one you could enjoy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Marking the End of Summer

While I know it's not necessarily the case depending on where you live, here on the east coast Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of another school year. That being said, this post goes out to all those who work in schools, regardless of what your position is. You make the biggest difference anyone can make - giving the gift of empowerment. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Creative Townfolk

I spent summer traveling as many different time zones as possible. Here are quite possibly the best two signs I've ever read. You have to love the creative townfolk who have a good sense of humor.

If only I knew the Dog Whisperer so he could translate, "Grrrr, bark, woof," for me.

Notice the cigarette butts under the sign. Leave it to the Brits to make you laugh double-time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Does this really surprise anyone?

Poll: Jersey voters give 'Shore' thumbs down

Here's a shocker for you die-hard followers - people in Jersey don't like that "The Jersey Shore" is associated with them. Honestly, someone really felt the need to do a poll to find this out? All you need to do is mention the show and people want to throw up. My friend and I just got back from a trip to the UK. We went through a tour company and there were 40 people we didn't know on the tour. So, what's the first typical question all these newcomers ask when you introduce yourself? Where are you from? And our response every single time - the Jersey Shore, but we're not like the people on the show!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Animal Cities?

I can't get the picture to copy so I can put it here, but check out the link to the CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/08/21/sudan.animal.shaped.cities/index.html?hpt=C2

Sudan is planning on building cities in the shapes of animals to attract attention to say the least. Interesting that this is going to cost a good bit of money for a war-torn area that happens to be incredibly poor and lacking many what we would call necessities. They're hoping these cities will be privately funded. (If you own a business, would you pay to help create it? I don't think I would unless it was in the shape of my company's logo.)

But I think the most important question in all of this is as follows: when flying over these cities, will you be able to tell that they're animals? Because, let's face it, the view from 35,000 miles up can get pretty monotonous. This would really spice things up a bit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beautiful Souls

I got a letter in the mail today (I love getting mail that isn't junk mail, or worse - bills!). While I'd love to tell you all about what it said, I can't. I know, I know - what's the point in blogging about what you're reading if you're not going to share what you're reading? Bear with me though; while I can't tell you exactly what it said, I can tell you its impact.

I think it's absolutely amazing how a sad situation can bring out the beauty in one's soul. Sure, you expect your best friends, family, or religious leader to be amazing support through some difficult time. While it brings out their beauty, it's a beauty you already knew was there and one you knew you could count on throughout the situation. This isn't the beauty I'm talking about. It's the beauty in the souls you don't expect to see it from, the way God can work His way into a situation and make it beautiful beyond words, the way a wedding or birth of a baby brings out beauty, joy, and happy tears.

So as I read my mail tonight, I cried those happy tears. The letter inside my envelope was like the gift you never thought you'd get but wanted more than anything wrapped up under the tree on Christmas morning. It's the present you'd ask for every year, assuming it will never come, but not willing to give up the hope that one day it will be there waiting for you.

Sender of my letter, Merry Christmas and thank you for one of the best gifts ever!

Side note: While I hope I didn't offend anyone by talking about God in this, I can't help but see His hand at work in so many difficult things in life. There are just too many "coincidences" for me to look at it any other way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quite the Hiatus

I know you've all been dying to know what I've been reading lately, so I apologize for the 2+ week break. I'm a bit jet-lagged from the 6 "fasten your seatbelts, life jackets are under your chair, if you should need them oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling" speeches I've heard in the last 2 weeks as I've traveled a total of 8 time zones in two different trips. My internal clock isn't sure if it's lunch time or one of those eerie wee morning hours. I'll be back after I eat a sandwich, or go to bed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

I'm not normally a magazine reader (not even on long cross-country flights) but my roommate enjoys Entertainment Weekly and subscribes to it. The latest issue to show up in the mailbox has Julia Roberts on the cover and an article about her newest movie, "Eat, Pray, Love." Being a huge Julia Roberts fan and one of the many who enjoyed the book, I decided to read the article. The blurb on the cover says, "Julia Roberts on the epic new movie, her own 'lost' years & the joy of pizza." I have to say, before I started reading I wondered if this pizza comment was related to the movie or carried the double meaning of the movie and Roberts' first credited movie role in "Mystic Pizza." (Turns out it was about real pizza, the yummy food that it is).

Much of the article wasn't anything to write home about (and yet, here I am writing about it), but it did make me think. I have a friend who's concerned that Roberts won't be able to fill the role quite like she imagined Elizabeth Gilbert to be on her journey. I, on the other hand, think that she could be great at it. I know most people think of "Pretty Woman"and other roles that are light-hearted when they think of Julia Roberts, but don't forget about "Erin Brockovich" and "The Pelican Brief." She can be serious when the role calls for it.

I have another friend who isn't looking forward to the movie at all. As a matter of fact, she wasn't even able to finish the book, never making it out of Italy. Wow! I'll admit, there were times when I found India and Bali to be not exactly my taste, but this wasn't one of those books I had to force my way through. I related the most to Italy and all she did there, reminiscing on my own trip there and reliving the food I ate. That being said, while it was my favorite section of the book, I expect it to be my least favorite part of the movie.

It's interesting how one person can love a book and another find nothing special about it. And it's interesting how you can enjoy a book but hate the movie (though often that's because it's been butchered and is so far from the original text that you can barely recognize it on the big screen). For me, I'm not worried about that. It's more that I've changed in the years since I've read the book and think I'll relate more to those experiences in India and Bali that were once foreign to me.

But I digress - back to the article. There was a section that mentioned criticism of the book - how could Elizabeth Gilbert write about her petty little problems when there are starving children in our country and the world and people are living in genocide? I would never want to down-play the harsh realities of this world or the incredible problems that others may have. However, those realities aren't things that I can relate to easily since I've been fortunate enough to never deal with them directly. Instead of looking at Gilbert's journey as downplaying life or simplifying/belittling women's problems, I think it's a clear snapshot into many women's (or men's) souls who go through hard times in their lives. We don't all go through the same problems, but that doesn't mean we don't feel like we're in our own personal hells at times or that we never feel lost and desperately searching for ourselves while feeling as though we're drowning. To me, the book is a testimony to getting back up once you've been knocked down, and knowing that you're better because of what you've been through, even if the journey was long. And hopefully, the movie will be just that too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The book I'm reading now is told through a variety of genres (diaries, personal and professional emails, journals) and I just find it so interesting how slang words and abbreviations came about. Who was the first person to write "BRB" in, what I'm guessing was, an IM conversation? How long did it take the first person who read LOL to figure out what it meant? And did the first recipient of "b4" think it was some clue to where the treasure trove was hidden on a pirate's map?

And yet, here we are publishing texts with these in them. While it has its time and place (and NOT in an English paper or anything else of any professionalism), I do think it's pretty cool that editors will allow it since it offers a realistic view into how we communicate.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Say It Ain't So!

It started off as an ordinary morning. I got up, ate breakfast, checked my email. And there it was, staring me in the face (imagine an old fashioned western shoot out ready to take place - computer with blue bandana, red bandana for me, guns drawn and ready to fire)...the Staples weekly circular. Okay, no big deal for most people, certainly not worthy of writing about. However, this was THE ad. School supply specials.

Oh dear school supplies, I'm just not ready for you yet. It's still July and it's too hot outside to think about the sweatbox that is my classroom in September (forget what it's like in the summer - talk about a sauna! I should charge a gym fee to enter.) I appreciate the bargain prices at which you're being offered but I'm just not ready to pack up my flip flops and pull out my "professional" clothing. Unless you're planning on joining me at the beach for the next month, kindly wait patiently on the shelves at Staples and I will come to collect you at the end of August, but not a moment before.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Debunking the "5 Second" Rule

I was watching the "Today" show this morning as I was getting ready for work and they were discussing food-borne illnesses. [You're probably thinking "I don't really want to hear about all the nastiness I'm eating without realizing it, so I'll stop reading now." My response, "Keep going, keep going!"] They listed a few different points for the viewers to read as they discussed those yucky germs we all ingest, hoping we ate at least a pound of dirt before we were three so we have some semblance of an immune system to pounce on those germs before they can say "Abracadabra!"

So, just in case you missed those points this morning, here they are (and I must say, it really DOES take a rocket scientist to figure these out):
1. Cook your meat until it's not raw anymore. (Okay, they gave specific temperatures, but I don't remember what they were and I'd hate to lead anyone astray).
2. Don't eat things that have fallen on the floor a la the "5 second" rule. (Forget that!)
...and my personal favorite...
3. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. (This one I learned at the ripe old age of, let's say 5, after hearing dear old Gran say it over and over so we'd never forget it. Turns out grandmas really do know everything.)

So, as you're attending those many barbeques this summer, don't forget your meat thermometer, eat your food burning hot or freezing cold (maybe if you go back and forth between the two extremes quickly enough you won't burn your tongue or get a brain freeze), and pack a really big bib so you don't have to surreptitiously scoop anything off the floor.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Calling All Old and Crabby English Teachers...

Summer is my time to catch up on all the books I wanted to read during the school year but just couldn't find the time. I'm notorious for my "Summer Reading List," which currently sits at around 185 books, though I haven't added new books I want to read, nor read many that happened to be on the list so the actual list is likely much longer. Being so "Type A," everything has to have an order in my life and it seems I read with that in mind. I get hooked on an author and need to read all of his/her work. This summer's author of choice so far: Meg Cabot.

I'm reading The Princess Diaries series and, though it's really teen lit and not "big girl" reading, isn't that what summer's for? I'll admit, I didn't read the first book because I had already seen the movie. I'm on to Book 5 now and have found the recurring theme of "self-actualization." While I'm not sure if this is an actual term or one coined by Meg, I like it. Pull it apart and you find the heart of these books (or at least what I've found to be the heart of them). Finding out who you are and accepting yourself for the wonderfulness you have in you.

I find it interesting how her books can have a "self-actualization" effect on you, the reader, at the same time. And I'll be honest, while the main character's friend is always talking about how Mia needs to "self-actualize," I don't feel that theme pulling me through the book. At least, not Mia's "self-actualization." Sure, she goes through all the typical teenage hooey-ballooey: liking a guy but being too afraid to tell him, not always getting along with relatives, those girls who always think they're so much cooler than you and want to make sure you know it...amidst all that, I find myself "self-actualizing" more than I see it in Mia. I mean, let's take a minute to really dive into this. I'm an adult, well brought up (thanks Mom and Dad!), and can't remember ever going through any major "Who am I?" crises. I'm as normal as can be expected (who isn't quirky in one way or another?) and have a stable personality. And yet, here's a book meant for ages 12 and up (according to Amazon) that's making me look at myself in a whole new light. Who am I and how do I feel about myself? (Pretty good - it's nice to say! I'm finally starting to really see the wonderfulness in me that my mom is always talking about, and truly owning it.)

I suppose that's the purpose of books - to give you something you can take away, changing you ever so slightly that you don't even realize it's happened until after the fact. Take that crabby English teachers who swear by "the classics and only the classics." I read A Tale of Two Cities, The Canterbury Tales, and plenty of Shakespeare in my school career. I had teachers who cared and probably held great discussions about the things we read (if only I could remember them), but the truth is, none of those pieces did it for me. I walked away empty-handed. You don't have to rely on the classics to teach major themes; current books can be meaningful too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And so it begins...

I suppose it's time I join the rest of the world and start blogging, because I know you've all been holding your breath waiting to hear about the "Not So Interesting Adventures of Lisa B." But, if you're anything like me, you have a love for reading, so I'll try to nurture that love by giving you some new material.