Saturday, February 28, 2009


For the past many years, our school has held a carnival for our children and families one day about this time of year. It is called the Tigerfest. I was trying to remember how many years it has been an event here, but one year mixes into another anymore. We didn't start it until three or four years into my being the principal.

One year, I volunteered to make green chili meat for one of the grade levels to sell. It was a big hit and from that day on, I have fixed green chili meat and beans for this event. The first few years I cooked the meat, pulled it apart, and then froze the meat until Tigerfest time. It took me the better part of a month to get this done. All of the family helped. Over the years, it became too big a job to do this for such a big event. So our wonderful parents helped by cooking the meat and stringing it for me.

The past several years, I have made anywhere between 100 and 125 pounds of green chili meat for green chili burros and 10 pounds of pinto beans for bean burros.

It takes an entire day to make the green chili meat even when it has been cooked and pulled apart. I have to do this on the Friday before the Tigerfest. Yesterday morning one of our wonderful parents brought 100 pounds of cooked and strung roast over to my house. I got started making the meat into green chili about 9:00. My friend, Martha, brought a salad and bread over for lunch while I was cooking. It was so wonderful to visit with her and know how well she is doing in her fight with breast cancer. She looks awesome and has such a wonderfully upbeat attitude. I admire her very much!!!

I have actually gotten quite efficient over the years and have it down to a system, so to speak. I finished the meat about 3:30. It filled four large roaster ovens. We took it to the cafeteria kitchen in the early evening, plugged the roasters in, turned the roasters on to keep the meat warm through the night, and I went home to start the beans. I cooked the beans on low all night and got up around 5:30 to check on them. They weren't quite done, so I turned them up and went back to try to sleep for another hour or so. I finished them up and got them to school around 8:30 so that the volunteers could start fixing the burros to sell.

This is really fun for me to be able to make this contribution to our school. I don't have any musical or artistic talent. This is the closest thing for me to one of those talents. It is fun to see former parents who have come to the carnival for some of the burros. I feel that the Tigerfest is one of the best times for our kids and families and does so much to enhance the wonderful community that our school is.

Today was a beautiful day with the weather being perfect. We had a huge turnout. Children of all ages were there and having a great time. Many of the grade levels sponsored booths. They had old fashioned games like soda pop spin and fish pond. In this day and age of everything electronic, it was fun to watch the kids play these "old" games and have such a good time. I think that the most popular booth was the "fake injury" booth. The kids absolutely loved that one. I think Cameron had a bandage on every possible place. He was so excited all week for Tigerfest.One of the other traditions that we have had for the past several year is a drawing for a student to be "Principal for the Day." Kids had to bring in two liters of pop to get a ticket to be drawn for this. I always look forward to the day that the student gets to be "my helper." It is amazing how excited the kids are for this.

A the end of the day today, there were some burros left. So we had "clearance burros" for sale. I guess with the state of the economy as it is today, "clearance burros" would fit right in perfectly. The good part is that the clearance items went quickly!!

When I got home I was very tired, but it is a "good" tired! It was a great day at our school today and I am so glad I to be a part of it. Thanks to all of the parents, teachers, and staff who worked so tirelessly to make this such a successful day!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"His Name is Earl" or "Tales of a Fourth Grade Bunny"

As if we need anymore animals at our house...... Recently, Kerri found a little bunny on the playground at her school. She was able to catch it and it has now become her classroom pet. Because she caught him early in the morning, he is named Earl. The principal made an announcement that if anyone had lost a bunny to please go to her room to see the bunny. Kerri said that she thinks every student at her school came to her class that day to check out the bunny. No one claimed him for a few days. Then one afternoon a junior high student came by and said that he belonged to her. Kerri told her to get her parents to come and get him. Well, no one ever came to pick him up, so he is now officially hers.

One of the parents in her classroom brought in a cage for the bunny in the classroom. For the past several weekend, she and Cameron have gone back to school on Saturday and Sunday to feed the bunny.
Last weekend, she bought a portable cage so that the students could help by taking Earl home for the weekends and vacation. So Earl spent last weekend with us.

Of course, our pugs and Harvey, the chow who thinks he is a pug, were thrilled to see Earl. They sniffed his cage and wagged their tales and welcomed Earl to the house. Lucy, my little devil pug, is absolutely enthralled by Earl. She pranced all around his cage and whined and cried. Kerri put her in the cage with Earl and she was so thrilled to see him. She licked and licked him all over. Surprisingly, Earl actually seemed to like her too. Lucy then tried to figure out exactly what kind of food that Earl was eating, because she hasn't met a food she doesn't like--even rabbit food. It was hilarious to watch. After taking her out of the cage, she still continued to go over and spend time trying to figure out how to get into the cage.

Earl returned to school for the week to learn everything that he needs to know as a fourth grade bunny. He returned to our house for the weekend as Kerri doesn't have the permission slips ready for the kids to start sharing the joy of bunnyhood! Lucy was so excited and it actually looks like Earl may also be excited to be here. He sits in his cage right in the middle of our living room by the fireplace, taking in all of the activity going on around him. Lucy continues to try to get into the cage and when she is allowed in, she showers Earl with "pugs and kisses!!" Maybe Earl is replacing some maternal instinct buried way deep in Lucy?????

Hopefully, next weekend Earl will have a new vacation spot to visit and our lives will return to the regular chaos that we call normalcy around here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Birthday Greetings to Ted and Ed!

Happy Birthday today to our cousins, Ted and Ed. They are my aunt Dot's twin sons who grew up in Sacramento. Ted and his family still live in Sacramento. Ed and his family live in San Francisco.

Last spring, we all went to Sacramento to celebrate with Ted and his wife, Luisa, on their 25th wedding anniversary. Their two children, Kevin and Kelly, put together a wonderful party in their honor. It was a great weekend!!

One of my favorite memories of Ted's family happened about nine years ago. We were all in Tucson for the Reidy Family Reunion. Kevin was probably around 14 or 15 that summer. He is a great young man. My mom, who was in a wheel chair, and Teresa took him to the Tucson Mall to get his ear pierced. That was quite something to watch. Here were these two old ladies paying for this handsome young man to get his ear pierced!! Picture it, if you can.....

Ted and Ed are die hard San Francisco 49er fans. I remember attending a Monday Night Football game with Ted and Tom several years ago when the Cardinals were still at Sun Devil Stadium. Of course, the 49ers won that game. This is the first year in all of those years that we can actually "lord" it over on them a bit!! After all, the Cardinals beat the 49ers twice this year!!!

Ted was here recently to attend the celebration of Phil's life. He is always at every family function and I always enjoy visiting with him. He was telling us that this year would have been their father's 100th birthday. He said that they were all going to get together and tell stories about his dad, Ed Park. When he told us that, it fits so perfect with the book that I love so much. "Those we love are never really gone, as long as their stories are told."

Our family has so many stories to share. I have said it so many times...but I love the fact that we get together so often and keep in touch with each other.

So Ted and Ed, happy birthday to you!! Of course I am sure you know what song I have to put on with this post!!! Have a great one!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Scary Times!

This past Saturday which was Valentine's Day and Arizona's 97th birthday, I attended a rally close to the state capitol building in downtown Phoenix. The rally was titled L.O.V.E. which stand for "Lifting Our Voices for Education." This gathering was organized by Dr. Gary Nine, who is the superintendent of Florence Unified School District.

Education appears to be taking the brunt of cuts needed to balance the state budget. Arizona is already way behind most states in spending on education. There is a saying that "you get what you pay for." I believe that a lot of time, but I don't believe it when it comes to education in Arizona. Let me explain that a bit more.... Every day I see what teachers do for children in Arizona. It is amazing to see this first hand as an elementary school principal. The teachers at my school have approximately $125.00 per school year to run their classrooms. This miniscule amount
allows them to purchase pencils, erasers, construction paper, writing paper, staples, etc. from our district warehouse. I know that every teacher uses his or her own money to purchase many things for their classrooms. I did when I taught and Kerri and Patrick do it now for their classrooms.

Yet these teachers go to school every day and teach our children math, reading, writing, science, social studies, art, music, PE, computers, and character. They deal with discipline issues, do duties, talk to parents, plan for the next day, take professional development classes to learn new and innovative ways to teach today's students... I could go on and on. Schools are a microcosm of everything that is good and bad in our society. We see it all!!

Our district does a very good job of providing as much as possible with the limited resources that we have now. I can't imagine how we can get by with even less. The teachers I know will still do their very best no matter how little they have.

My greatest concern is for the children of our state. What does it say about our society if we don't meet the needs of our children and our future?? Public education where everyone has a chance to get an education is what has made our country so great. We educate everyone, yet we are compared to countries that don't.

I have another concern that I am so hoping won't happen. The only way to truly save money is to reduce the number of people who draw salaries. The thought of having to tell some of these wonderful people that I work with every day that they may not have a job next year is one of my worst fears. I just can't imagine having to do this.

For many years I have said that educators need to become politically active and stand up for what we believe in. It is never more true than right now.

There is going to be another rally--I believe it is going to be March For our children on March 4th. Our school had a wonderful turn out last Saturday. It was so great to see so many of our teachers and families at this rally. Cameron went with us. I was always taught to stand up for what I believe in. I talked to him on our way over about the importance of what we are doing. He may not realize it now, but I think he will in the future. Cameron, as well as all of our children, deserve a first class education.

I have so much respect for Dr. Nine and the fact that he is trying to help our children and our schools. He has a website and I am including it on this post. I also put a link to it on the sidebar where other blogs I follow are posted.

I hope that more people go to the next rally and I hope that the legislators and our governor will do what is right for our children and our future.

MAYBE THIS IS A GOOD SIGN............ When I was trying to decide on which quote to put on t his post, there were two that I liked the most. I chose the one that is on the beginning of this post. After I published the post, I noticed that the other quote was the one on the blog under "quote of the day." WOW!!!

Education is the transmission of civilization.
Will Durant

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Great news about our Yaya tonight---she came through her surgery extremely well!! Yaya had a mastectomy earlier today at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital. There was no sign of any problems in the lymph nodes. When Cecilia told her, she cheered with her fist and thanked God.

Yaya had breast cancer and had a mastectomy in 2002. I remember being at the hospital that day when she asked the doctor if she could have a double mastectomy. She went through chemo and has done very well since. She has been going to the doctor regularly. When something showed up recently, she immediately decided to have another mastectomy. It looks positive that she probably won't have to go through chemo again. I know that was a major concern for her as she dreaded going through this a second time.

Her doctor is a young woman who specializes in breast cancer. She believes in treating everything aggressively. When she came out to talk to us, she was very positive about everything. She even said that Yaya could go back to work next week if she felt good enough to do so!!! Yaya said tonight that she will take all of next week off--we were glad to hear that.

I went to the hospital a little after noon today. Her surgery was scheduled for 1:00. I didn't get there in time to see her before she went in. Teresa, Cecilia, Pat, and Monica were all there when I got to the hospital. Maggie came a few minutes later. I can say that there were many prayers said for Yaya this afternoon.

When we got to her room around 4:30, she was awake and looked absolutely wonderful. It was so comforting to me to see her look so great!

Breast cancer comes in many forms. It causes devastation and reeks havoc on so many families. Both Yaya and her sister, Marion, as well as our Aunt Teresa have been affected by this disease. Fortunately for all of us, they have been able to beat this dreadful disease.

So tonight our family is so thankful that our prayers have been answered and that Yaya is doing so well.

Last Saturday night, we went to dinner to celebrate our cousin Pat's birthday. Yaya kept saying how wonderful our family is and how supportive we are of each other. I told her that I would write that it in a post on this blog. Our family support is amazing and is so hard to describe in words. I am so thankful to have my cousins close by and so supportive!! And I thank God that Yaya is doing so well tonight and that the prognosis is positive!!! We are truly blessed!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Happy, Happy, Happy" Birthday, Pat!!

February 7th is Mary Patricia (Pat) Scott Rush's birthday. This is one of the special 'zero' birthdays, but I won't say which one.

Pat teaches special education students. She finished her degree after her kids were older and went into teaching. I am sure that she is a wonderful teacher and that she makes a difference in the lives of her students.

On Sunday at the Super Bowl party we were at, I asked Pat what her favorite song was. She said that she really didn't have a favorite song, but that she liked Scott Joplin. Now I have to admit, that one caught me off guard. I knew I had heard his name before, but it certainly wasn't a familiar one to me. I was able to find quite a bit of his music and I actually recognized the songs when I listened to them. I then did a bit of reading about him. There is actually a Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation. There is even going to be a festival in June in Missouri--so maybe we should go!! I put the song that was most familiar to me on the blog--The Entertainer.

I have written quite a bit about Pat and her family over the last several months. I am sure that this birthday may be a bit difficult for her. One night a few weeks ago, I was over at her house when she asked me to read the obituary that the family had written for Phil for the Arizona Republic. When I read it, I was so touched that she included me as one of Phil's survivors. I didn't tell her that night, so I am telling her now. Pat, that meant more than you can ever know.

In the post I did for Yaya's birthday, I said that Pat is Yaya's much younger sister--that's my birthday present to you, Pat. It is true though, as she is younger than Yaya.

Pat is a very strong person and I very much admire her strength. She is one of those "salt of the earth" people who can always be depended upon for anything.

Pat, Phil and their family lived in many places through the years. They came back to Arizona in 1989 when Phil retired. I am so glad that they have lived here and that she has been such a big part of my life. She is a wonderful human being and I am proud to call her "cuz." She is much more than a cousin, though!!

So, Pat, hope your birthday is "happy, happy, happy!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's Yaya's Birthday, Yeah, Yeah!!

Today is my wonderful cousin, Yaya's birthday!! I won't say how old she is today......... I can tell you that she looks great, is still teaching part time after retiring a few years ago, and is always so fun to be around!!! She is the oldest daughter of my Uncle Matt, my mom's brother.

Yaya's real name is Margaret Ellen. When her MUCH YOUNGER sister, Pat, was first starting to talk, she was confused because there were two other Margaret's--my mom and an aunt on her mom's side of the family. So she called her Yaya and it has stuck. You have to say it a certain way--it's not like the yaya and the yaya sisterhood!! Our family coined that way before the book and movie came out. So Yaya has always been Yaya to us. Her parents and my aunt Teresa all call her Margaret Ellen.

Yaya is well known for her sense of humor and for her enchiladas. She learned to make enchiladas with her husband, Tony. Tony was a great cook, a great politician, and a great storyteller. He cooked for all kinds of big parties and political fundraisers over the years with Yaya by his side. Some of my most favorite memories are these events. Tony was a great man. He was a state senator from Flagstaff and was very supportive of education, as he had been a teacher and principal. He did a lot for education in Arizona. After Tony died 11 years ago, NAU named a dorm after him--Gabaldon Hall.

The song on the blog is a song that Tony always liked to dedicate to Yaya. It's Margaritaville. So I am putting it on here in honor of her birthday.

So, Yaya, when you read this, I hope you know how lucky I feel to have you as a cousin (sister). And I loved having Tony as part of our family!! You are truly a special person!! Happy Birthday!!!!!!!

P. S. Couldn't resist the title for this blog!!!

February 5th is also our Uncle Johnny's birthday. He was born in 1903, so this would have been his 106th birthday--wow!!