Friday, September 19, 2008

We had such a good time with Chris and Melissa last weekend. We went to the Taste of Springdale and just hung out. It was a good time. However, I guess we left Sunday morning just in time, because Hurricane Ike (or what was left of it) slammed Cinci. The Morris household had no power STILL as of yesterday. Yikes.

In other hurricane news, we got pictures of the village where the Creche is and it's really flooded. I guess the road washed out and the only way to get there is by donkey? Anyway, not to worry, I'm sure they'll have things up as usual soon. The pictures seem severe, so I'm trying to be unreasonably positive, cause its the only way to save my SANITY!

Check it out-

This is the gate of the creche, and....

And this is the road in front of the creche. Joy.

New topic-
ISTEP just wrapped up a few hours ago. Here's the thing I would like the average American citizen to know about standardized testing and the so-called 'no child left behind' act.

- Do your realize for a test item to be considered valid on a standardized test, 30% of the answers have to be incorrect. SO, if students do really well on an, addition problem, let's say, and 90% of them get it correct, they throw it out. It's not valid, so in this way, the tests stay valid, and keep getting more and more difficult. Yes, 'NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND' is a really nice, fuzzy idea, but COME ON! Seriously? I KNOW THAT NEVER, EVER WILL ALL OF MY STUDENTS PASS THE TEST, because it is DESIGNED that way. I know this because I have worked for the testing company, and worked with the state to design the science ISTEP exams. I'm not assuming or making it up- it is fact.

So what am I, as a teacher, supposed to do when, in 2011, the state of Indiana (in all their wisdom- insert trumpet music here) says that ALL students are supposed to pass? It's impossible! And now they want to institute merit pay for teachers? What a joke. Yeah, here, you teach in Carmel, so all your students pass=you get $XXXX. You teach in IPS, so you get crap and and extended school year on top of it. Sorry about cha.

Ugh... well, that worked... now I'm all fired up!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Books R Us

I hosted my book club last night at my house we read Adrift: 76 days lost at sea... I think I already mentioned that though. It seemed that everyone really enjoyed the book and we are hungry for a new book. I think my next book will be one of my adoptive mommy books that I've been stacking up with the intention of reading. Although, if I'm going to do it, I'm guessing I better do it now!

As promised, I said I'd post my favorite books... so here they are, in no particular order.
  • On Writing by Steven King--- fascinating even if you are not a Steven King fan. It is a loose autobiography/memoir about how he started writing, and how he gets those ultra weird ideas. I found it extremely interesting that he doesn't even REMEMBER writing Carrie- he was too drugged out. I've read this about 5 times - I really like to reread the good ones.

  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway--- a one-sitting read that is everything a book needs to be. Outstanding writing and empathy for character. I've read this one four times I think. I even have encouraged a few of my fifth graders to read it over the years.
  • Angels and Demons by Dan Brown --- I read the DaVinci Code and LOVED it, but Angels and Demons was more tightly woven and more along the lines of science, which is my weakness.

  • The Kite Runner- by Khaled Hosseini. I read this for book club and found myself feeling so overwhelmed by how little I understand people of other cultures and probably some of my best friends. A sad book that will change the way you look at most things.

  • She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb--- great read, disturbing... I still cannot believe that a man wrote this book. Unbelievable!

  • A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck--- this is one of my student books... It's written for young adult readers, but I feel like I know these people, like I've met them before. It's a great funny book and anyone with a weird Grandma would love it! I cry at the end EVERY TIME.... even thought I read it aloud to my fifth graders. They make fun of me frequently behind my back, I'm sure.

  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan---If you haven't read it, you should get it on your way home today. Required reading for every woman.
  • Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins-- Okay. I'm not religious in any way, but I liked the idea behind this book and the story that unfolded. Great storytelling for entertainment purposes... I couldn't put it down... kind of like The DaVinci Code, ironically.

I'm sure I'll think of four more in the next three minutes right after I click on publish post. I'll add to them as time goes on I'm sure.

However, again, I feel very strongly that people should use their libraries, rather than go to the fancy-shmancy coffee shops with books. I like going to those places as much as the next guy, but the library is SO conveinient now with the online catalog and holds system. Anytime I want a book, I just type it in, they deliver it to my library thats 1/2 mile away, and I can check it out when I want at no charge--- well, kind of... it is my tax money, but yea! I'm using it. How many other government programs can you say that about?? (stepping off soapbox)

Can't wait to post about our visit to the 'natti! Brandon and Chris are entered in a cornhole tournament and plan to eat my weight in fried dough at this festival! Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

No news... kind of

We got the invoice today for Rory's DNA testing that was done on August 6th... that's great because it means there will be less chance of a delay due to that (I'm thinking).

We are SO HAPPY that IKE generally missed Haiti. The flooding is really bad, but it could have been a lot worse. We have received no updates recently because of the lack of travelers to the creche. We think that will change soon.

Tonight is the ICE CREAM SOCIAL at school and I am hosting book club tomorrow. I thought the book was okay- Adrift: 76 days lost at sea.... classic survival story. But I did like it. I also read another survival book last weekend call Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg. I liked it better, actually.

Brandon and I are heading to Cinci this weekend for the TASTE OF SPRINGDALE with the Morris'!! (Shout out to Melissa and Chris!). We are excited! It was a lot of fun last year and should be again.

My next post I might have to list my all-time favorite books. I'm thinking about them now....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Crappy Weather = Crappy Mood

It is absolutely beautiful today... at least in Indiana. Brandon and I have been watching the news day and night about the hurricanes brushing Haiti one after another. It is gut-wrenching and we feel completely helpless. However, everyone at the creche is okay. Here is the message we received from the director yesterday:

Hello Everyone Just wanted to update everyone that Hurricane Hanna did not hit the norther part of Haiti as significantly as it did on the southern and western parts of Haiti. I spoke with Gina yesterday and while there was rain and flooding - everyone and everything at the creche is ok. The kids are all fine and so is the building, staff and grounds. Just not much outdoor playtime the past few weeks. We are most worried about the number of storms/hurricanes that are hitting Haiti. So far it has been Gustav and Hannah and there are 2 more on their way. It has been a complete disaster trying to get our tubs of donated supplies into Haiti, but I will save that story for another post. Kathi

We were so relieved to get this message from Kathi. Or biggest concern is, ironically, NOT the orphanage. We are concerned that the government offices that are still processing our file are not open and may remain closed for sometime.

Here's a link to a CNN article about the situation:

I'm guessing that many people don't know where the creche is located. Here is a map of Haiti- the creche is just outside Croix-de-Bouquets, not far from Port-Au-Prince.

This weekend we are busy. Brandon is cleaning out the garage. We are going to have a garage sale in the next month to make room for all of Rory's stuff! We are trying to be optimistic... Brandon put Rory's bike together yesterday and I went garage-sale'ing' today. I got a TON of stuff. It's really hard to know what to buy when I don't know what size he is, but I think I'm doing a decent job of getting a range of clothes.

Karen and Paul left on Thursday to go back home. We had a great time together; we played tons of euchre and went golfing. It was really nice to have them here and get to do some fun stuff. I went with Karen to Sam's Club and we stocked up on supplies for the orphanage from all the Vaughns. You should see this container of animal crackers we got. It's totally, ridiculously HUGE!

I'm signing off for now... Please keep your fingers crossed that Ike is nice to Haiti and doesn't hit Florida hard.