Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Blog Address

After months of "blogger's block," I've decided to make a fresh start by moving to another blog host and starting fresh. I may import this blog to the new one, though I haven't decided yet. But I will no longer be posting here.

I've emailed several people with the new address and I've posted it on Facebook, but if you still haven't received the new address, please email me!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Hot Item for 8th Grade Girls

Practically every other 8th grade girl who walks past me in the halls at school has a version of this bag. Apparently, it is the item to have. :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Aha! New Uses for Old Things

The magazine Real Simple typically has a section called "Solutions: New Uses for Old Things," in which an item intended for one use is given an "Aha!" use -- something new to do with the item. Here's an example, in which a shower caddy, originally intended to hold extra shower items, is given an "Aha!" use of holding extra laundry, pantry, or gardening supplies. They recommend hanging it on a doorknob. All that to say, I thought I would do my own "New Use for an Old Thing" (I must give credit to my mother for this suggesting that I post about this!)

For the last few years, I've had a giant leather school bag which I've used to tote books, papers, and supplies to and from school. Since I didn't have my own classroom, and the school didn't have much extra storage space, having a big bag to hold everything was essential. And I think my fellow teachers would attest that my bag was big.

Well, I don't need that big bag this year. Everything can stay in my classroom, and I'll only need to take home items that I need on that particular evening. So I was on the lookout for a new, smaller bag. I browsed for a while at Target the other day, and after wandering through the purse/bag section and then through the school supplies section, I ended up in the gardening section. And that's when I saw it. A gardening tote! It was adorable! And it had tons of pockets! (I think it's safe to say I was excited.) All those little pockets just charmed me -- a pocket for pens, a pocket for a calculator, a pocket for post-it notes, and on and on. The bag has 8 pockets in all around the outside of the bag. In addition the bag has a reinforced bottom, so it can bear the weight of the books I'll put in it without looking misshapen. So that's my new use for an old thing.

Solutions: New Uses for Old Things

Garden Tote

Original Purpose:
Keeping seeds, trowels, and gloves neatly organized as you dig around in the dirt.

Aha! Use:
Organizing school supplies (pens, pencils, markers, calculators, notepads, and, paper clips) in neatly separated compartments with ample space for books.

Organized teacher, cute bag -- it's bound to be a successful year!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to (a brand new) School

Well, brand new to me, that is.

I'm in the process of beginning a new teaching job at the Christian Academy of Louisville. I'll be teaching 8th grade Literature and Language Arts (these two classes are my only preps, though I have three sections of each class in the course of a day).This school is a change for me in many ways. My previous teaching job was at a classical Christian school, and while CAL is Christian, it's not classical. Right now I'm just concerned with following the curriculum maps (I'm quite thankful for them), but it will be interesting to see how I might be able to incorporate some broader principles as soon as I find my footing. I think many of those broader principles will correspond to standards already in place, such as Bloom's taxonomy. A second difference is size. I grew up attending small-ish Christian schools -- my senior class had 27, which was a large class (our school had about 250 students, K-12). And the school I'd taught at for the last four years (Ad Fontes Academy) was small as well. Christian Academy is a system of four schools in the Louisville area. The campus I'm assigned to is the largest, with approximately 1,500 students, K-12. Each of my classes will have 21-22 students. Because I have the same students for a literature class and for a language arts class (I have each set of students for two periods in a row), I end up with about 65 students, which is actually a fairly small number compared to other teachers who have either more preps or more sections.

Another key change is my classroom. Meaning, that I have one. All to myself. I've never really had that before. For the last four years, because of available classroom space, I've moved from room to room to teach my various classes. And because we rented space from local churches, I've taken my needed teaching resources with me to and from school nearly every day. It didn't necessarily impair my teaching -- I think you can get a great education with just a teacher, a student, and a book -- but it did get tiring at times. Now I'm a good ways closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. Here's your classroom with 23 desks, two student computers, your own desk, filing cabinet, computer, two windows, various cabinets, counter space, drawers, bookshelves, overhead projector, and bulletin boards. By the way, feel free to decorate however you'd like.

Decorate. Yikes. I've never realized how tiring it can be to decorate a classroom. Maybe that's because I've never done it before. Today was the first day (after a full week of teacher training, with lots of time in our rooms) that I left the room feeling that things were in order. That the walls didn't look too bare. That my desk area is starting to look like I have a personality. It wore me out. Don't get me wrong. I am so excited to have my own room. I loved walking out of my classroom today carrying one small bag because I could leave everything else in the room. But, my word, that room consumed a lot of my mental power this week!

I have a few more days of preparation before classes begin on Wednesday. I'm quite excited, a little nervous, but grateful that right next door there's an experienced 8th grade English teacher who's been at this school for a long time and who's willing to share any and every resource, lesson plan, quiz, test that she has. I'm also so grateful for my previous four years of teaching experience -- the fact that I feel busy but not overwhelmed is due to those four years at a small school where I saw daily that the only thing you really need for a good education is a teacher, a student, and a book.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Baked Eggs

I first had baked eggs (also called shirred eggs) at the bed-and-breakfast where Jeff and I stayed on our honeymoon. On two mornings we came down to find charming ramekins, each filled with an egg and herbs. Soon afterwards, I found a recipe for baked eggs in How to Cook Everything, and I've made them on several occasions, usually on a Sunday morning. We had them again this morning, and I thought I would post the recipe. I've adapted it somewhat from the basic version in HTCE.

Baked Eggs

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Butter small ramekins or custard cups. You can also put a couple teaspoons of cream in the bottom of each ramekin. If I don't have cream on hand, I usually put a little half-and-half in the bottom.

Break 1 egg into each cup. You can bake them like this (fairly plain), or you can add some toppings.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • I usually put some fresh herbs on top of the egg. Today I used thyme. I've also used rosemary.
  • Grate some cheese on top. I usually prefer freshly grated parmesan. Jeff likes cheddar (and today I put colby on his).
  • Breadcrumbs -- I've used breadcrumbs from a box, which work well; today I had leftover hearty white bread from another recipe calling for breadcrumbs, so I pulsed one piece in the food processor and sprinkled the fresh crumbs on top of the eggs.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. I usually bake for about 10, otherwise the yolk begins to set, which we dislike, though we do like the egg white to be fairly set. 10-11 minutes seems to do it. The eggs keep cooking even after you take them out of the oven, so take that into account.

There are other variations listed in HTCE -- olive oil/tomato, spinach, onions. Anything that you like to have with eggs would probably do well. Let me know if you have variations you enjoy. I encourage you to try your hand at baked eggs. They're quite charming and quite good!

It amazes me that shirred eggs have fallen from favor: there is something so luxurious about them, and, although they take a little time, they are delicious.

~ Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Moving to Louisville

Thursday ~
After several days of packing (and invaluable help from my family), Jeff and I pulled out of DC (and into morning traffic) around 9am. Jeff drove the U-Haul, while I followed in our car. We drove for about 8 hours, which actually went by fairly quickly for me -- I'm reading Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, and I had the second one (The Subtle Knife) playing in the car as I drove. We arrived around 7pm at Jeff's parents' house in Ohio, where we had a great dinner and spent the night. It was lovely to not have to unpack after driving all day.

Friday ~
We left Ohio around 9am, arriving in Louisville at 12:45pm. We had a walk-through of our apartment at 1pm, and then we unloaded the truck in two phases (we had a generous break in between) with lots of help from Jeff's sister Emily and her husband Scott (we now live in the same apartment complex) and some other Louisville friends. We had another great dinner that night with those friends, and then we headed home to sleep among our boxes!

Saturday ~
We dug around in our boxes for our coffee maker and skillet, and then had a breakfast of fried eggs. We headed out to return the U-Haul, and then decided to head to Home Depot for little odds and ends we need to set up house (we got a little turned around while looking for it, and so we decided to take a coffee break at Heine Brothers' Coffee before continuing our search). And then (just one day after unloading over 20 boxes of books), we decided to check out the local library! Jeff came out with one book, and I came out with about 7 plus a CD. What can I say? I like to have choices! We spent the rest of the afternoon unloading some boxes and organizing a few things like our kitchen pantry. Then we spent the evening playing poker (my first time!) with several friends.

This morning we attended Immanuel Baptist Church, where Scott and Emily are members. After church, we had lunch at a small gumbo restaurant -- quite good! And now I'm posting this after a lovely Sunday nap. :-)

After living in a small basement apartment in DC, we feel like we have room to rattle around in! Our apartment has a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and a 2nd bedroom that we're turning into an office/study. We're hoping to paint a few of the rooms in the coming days, and then we'll try to post a few pictures. Right now you can just imagine lots of boxes in various states of being unpacked, and you'll have a great image of our place! :-)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Book Thoughts: The Diana Chronicles

When I was about ten years old, I became fascinated with British royalty and with Princess Diana in particular. And though I've outgrown many aspects of my fascination, I still can't resist an occasional biography of her. About three years ago, I read Paul Burrell's book A Royal Duty while I was on vacation with my family and loved it. And so when I read favorable reviews of Tina Brown's new book The Diana Chronicles, I had to get it.

While Burrell's book was highly complimentary of the Princess of Wales, Tina Brown's tone is far more complex. I feel that in many ways she is sympathetic toward Diana (which some reviews have questioned), but she certainly doesn't shy away from laying a hearty portion of the blame for Diana's struggles upon Diana herself. And I felt that Brown handled most of the characters (and I do mean characters!) in a similar fashion -- Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Camilla Parker Bowles, Fergie, Diana's family, and even the Queen. Each of them is on the receiving end of Brown's love-hate tone, some more than others. (And some certainly get just the "hate" portion, notably Dodi Fayed and his father Muhammed.)

Throughout the biography, usually expressed after an account of some off-the-wall action of Diana's, Brown takes a position that many others have taken on Diana: that she was a woman who might have led a happier, quieter--though, most certainly, far more dull--life had she not married into the Royal Family. Much of the conflict seems to come down to "she didn't understand them, they didn't understand her." Brown addresses and dismisses any suggestion that the monarchy is in danger of not surviving. But she does trace the transformative affects that Diana has had on the Royal Family. If you're interested in Princess Diana, I think this book is worth a read.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Back in Business

So I haven't posted in . . . a really long time. That delay was due primarily to the fact that I couldn't access my blog for quite a while (and with the busyness of the end of the school year, I wasn't motivated to solve the problem). Since I know so little about how these things work, I won't attempt to muddle through an explanation, but I think I've solved the problem (or at least sidestepped it) by creating a Gmail account. All that really matters to me is that I can post again! :-)

I'm also not going to attempt a recap of the last three months. Suffice it to say that the school year ended (my fourth at Ad Fontes Academy). The students I taught as a first year teacher (9th grade English) graduated from high school this year, so there was a sense of having come full circle. Because Jeff and I are moving soon, I won't be returning to Ad Fontes next year.

Jeff and I are moving (in 10 days!) to Louisville, Kentucky, so that Jeff can begin the Master of Divinity program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary this fall. We'll be there for (at least) the next 3-4 years. And that move is prompting a change of sorts in my blogging purpose. I didn't originally intend this blog to be "diary-like," but I am going do more of those sorts of posts (hopefully accompanied by photos) as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends. I also intend to continue to post about books, literature, movies, etc.; but there will be a somewhat stronger emphasis on details of our life in Louisville.

So that's a quick update! I'm glad to be back!

Wedding Photo

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wedding Photo

We're still in the process of sorting through wedding photos, and this past weekend we got our digital version of the photos we've chosen. So I'll probably post a few of my favorites here and there. This one was taken outside our church in a small alley between parking lots.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

National Poetry Month

I was reminded when visiting Christa's blog yesterday afternoon that April is National Poetry Month. I enjoyed celebrating National Poetry Month last year on my blog and plan to do so again. (Thanks for the reminder, Christa!)

You can sign up to receive a poem each day from (the website of the Academy of American Poets, which, as I learned, inaugurated National Poetry Month in 1996). You will need to register with the site, but that takes just about 20 seconds.

For my first poetry entry, I chose one of Emily Dickinson's "definition" poems ("Hope is . . ." / "Faith is . . . "). And then below the poem, I've included a paragraph from Garrison Keillor's introduction to Good Poems in which he speaks of Dickinson and the enduring power of writing.


Presentiment - is that long Shadow - on the Lawn -
Indicative that Suns go down -

The Notice to the startled Grass -
That Darkness - is about to pass -

~ Emily Dickinson, c. 1863

To see poetry finding an existence that its maker never imagined, visit Emily Dickinson's grave in Amherst. Here lies the white-gowned virgin goddess, in a cluster of Dickinsons, under a stone that says "Called Back," and here, weekly, strangers come as grieving family, placing pebbles on her big stone, leaving notes to her folded into tiny squares, under small stones. Dickinson was a famous recluse who camped in the shadows in the upstairs hall and eavesdropped on visitors, and now there are few graves in America so venerated as hers. She is mourned continually because the quickness and vitality of her poems make her contemporary, and when you make flies buzz and horses turn their heads and you declaim "Wild Nights! Wild Nights!" and give hope some feathers, you are going to have friends in this world for as long as English is read.

~ Garrison Keillor

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Here's a photo I took tonight just a few steps from our apartment on Capitol Hill. Just past the stoplight is Stanton Park, and a few blocks beyond that, the Capitol. The traffic may get on our nerves at times, but you can't beat the view!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dinner for two . . .

. . . leaves us with lots of leftovers. I think I need to find some recipes designed for two people. We did like this Indian Spiced Chicken recipe -- hopefully, it will reheat well!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Dear one, how many years is it - I forget -
Since this luminous evening when you joined us
In the celebration of whatever it was that we were celebrating - I forget -
It is a mark of a successful celebration
That one should have little recollection of the cause;
As long as the happiness itself remains a memory.
Our tiny planet, viewed from afar, is a place of swirling clouds
And dimmish blue; Scotland, though lodged large in all our hearts
Is invisible at that distance, not much perhaps,
But to us it is our all, our place, the opposite of nowhere;
Nowhere can be seen by looking up
And realising, with shock, that we really are very small;
You would say, yes, we are, but never overcompensate,
Be content with small places, the local, the short story
Rather than the saga; take pleasure in private jokes,
In expressions that cannot be translated,
In references that can be understood by only two or three,
But which speak with such eloquence for small places
And the fellowship of those whom we know so well
And whose sayings and moods are as familiar
As the weather; these mean everything,
They mean the world, they mean the world.

~ Alexander McCall Smith

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pagan Puritans

I was struck today while reading through Book 16 of the Iliad with my 8th graders that as Christians, we probably have more in common with the mindset of these ancient pagan characters than we do with modern-day nonbelievers. What I mean by that is that these characters have a unified world. Everything happens for a reason. A storm is not merely a storm; it's an indication of the current emotional state of the gods. A bird is not merely a bird; it's an indication of how a battle will turn out. And regardless of how skilled one might be as a warrior, ultimately the success or failure of anything is, as Ajax realizes as he fights off Hector from the Greek ships, up to the will of the gods. I hasten to clarify that I am not implying that God treats us according to his whims or that we are ruled by an impersonal Fate. There are certainly deep distinctions between the God of the Bible and the Greek gods of the Iliad. In fact, I'll probably have my students write an essay on that very topic when we're done reading the epic. But today I was struck not by differences but by similarities -- that the world is not divided into neat little compartments as I so often tend think it is, but rather that everything is connected and that our individual actions and the events swirling about us and the will of a deity are wrapped up into one complex, yet unified whole.

In fact, I thought as I read the chapter, all of this reminds me of something from another class. It reminds me of the American Puritans that my students in 11th grade American Lit read. Those writers had the same habit of seeing God in absolutely everything. And I realized with a start, The Iliad is filled with pagan Puritans! It was a humorous, yet instructive, realization. And I think a couple of the 8th graders got it when I mentioned it. I think . . . . :-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Most mornings I try to catch "The Writer's Almanac" at 6:50 on our local NPR station. I've grown to love Garrison Keillor's voice reading me a poem as I merge onto 66 East.

And so when I came across Good Poems in a bookstore recently, I picked it up and have been working my way through it. Two days ago, I read the following poem and loved it, especially its one-long-strung-together-sentence feature. That element makes the "Hallelujah" at the end sound fabulous. It reminded me a little bit of the poem "The Creation" by James Weldon Johnson -- a sort of similar imaginative retelling of God's creating work. (On a side note, I still remember Dr. Panosian performing "The Creation" at a Sunday Vespers years ago at BJU. He had the perfect voice for it.)

Morning Person

God, best at making in the morning, tossed
stars and planets, singing and dancing, rolled
Saturn's rings spinning and humming, twirled the earth
so hard it coughed and spat the moon up, brilliant
bubble floating around it for good, stretched holy
hands till birds in nervous sparks flew forth from
them and beasts--lizards, big and little, apes,
lions, elephants, dogs and cats cavorting,
tumbling over themselves, dizzy with joy when
God made us in the morning too, both man
and woman, leaving Adam no time for
sleep so nimbly was Eve bouncing out of
his side till as night came everything and
everybody, growing tired, declined, sat
down in one soft descended Hallelujah.

~ Vassar Miller