Sunday, March 29, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings and a Little Grumbling!

Tomorrow is the first day of AIMS testing in our school district. This is the annual rite of passage that our state has mandated to determine how our children are doing academically. The children are tested in reading, math, and writing beginning in third grade. These tests have taken on a life of their own and have become so incredibly important as far as the state and federal government are concerned. Our entire school year is geared towards this week.

Now don't get me wrong....I truly understand the importance of accountability in schools. It is very important that we prepare our children for the future--they are our future. However, the AIMS only exams what they have learned about our state standards. It doesn't measure how far some children have come academically. It doesn't measure character, and what good will our future be without citizens with strong character? It doesn't measure how far some children have come behaviorally. It doesn't measure how much English some of our students have learned at the same time trying to master the curriculum. Yet, every day in our schools we deal with everything that is happening in our society, both good and bad.

I have seen so much added stress on families recently with the downturn in the economy. Some of our children's lives have been turned upside down. That is something that I don't even totally understand, yet we are asking our children to
put all of that stress aside and do well on the AIMS test.

We also ask our special education students to take this test on grade level without accommodations. I truly believe that this is so wro
ng. Children in special education struggle academically and socially for many reasons and depending on what their disability is. Yet they are expected to perform at grade level.

On Friday, I went around to all of the classrooms and talked to our students about how proud I am of them and how I know how well I know they are going to do on the test this week. I have never done this before because I have felt that there is
such a fine line between stressing the importance of the test and stressing them out. We had ordered bracelets in our school colors that have "GO TIGERS" embossed on the bracelet. I told them that this was my present to them to say thank you for all of their hard work. I asked them to wear them this week when they are taking this test so that they can be proud of being a Tiger!

We only have around eight weeks of school left fo
r this year. I am not looking forward to the next few weeks as our district will be grappling with what are going to be very severe budget cuts. So much is still up in the air because the legislators haven't figured out what they are going to do as yet. I have seen many ups and downs over the many years I have been doing this, but nothing like what is happening right now. I am very worried about the impact that these budget cuts are going to have in so many ways......

On a lighter note, Saturday night we had our family over for dinner. Brendan, Chris, and his girlfriend, Bridget, were here from San Francisco. Brendan and Chris are the sons of my cousins, Lena and Rosemary. They were on spring break from college and were in town for spring training and the basketball tournament game yesterday. Teresa was thrilled to see them and as always, we were so glad that they were here.

Cecilia was giving my "Little Lucy" pug a hard tim
e, so Lucy sat on my lap and growled at her for about half an hour. It was hilarious!!!

Our family is truly amazing in so many ways. It is always so good to get together!! Thanks for coming to visit us, guys!

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Cyberspace on this Blog!!

Just got back from two days in Las Vegas with my cousins, Jay and Cecilia. Cecilia called on Tuesday and asked if I wanted to go. Of course, I jumped at the chance. So Wednesday morning, I drove over to Glendale to their house and we drove up to Vegas.

I love to play the slot machines. Sometimes I am a bit lucky and other times, not at all. This was one of those other times.

We stayed off of the Strip at a hotel called the Southpoint. It was very nice, but they were doing something to the elevators so everyone in the hotel had to use the service elevators. When we got to the 24th floor, we had to walk through the laundry and storage area. Every time we got on the elevator, we stopped at EVERY floor and we were packed in like sardines. Because we started at the top, we were always in the back. I took this picture of Cecilia being pressed against the wall behind Jay.Going anywhere with Cecilia and Jay is always a fun time. Cecilia is always up for a good time. I thought of the title for this blog on our way up there, just in case......... With Cecilia, you have to be prepared!!!

We decided to try to get tickets to Jersey Boys for Thursday night. We went down to the Strip to try to find 1/2 price tickets. We ended up in the downtown area where we found out that it isn't one of the 1/2 price ticket shows. So we decided to splurge and go anyway.

Jersey Boys was as good as Marion said it would be. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. Cecilia kept checking her phone during the show as we were waiting to hear from her son, David. His wife, Meg, was in the hospital set to have their second baby. When we got out of the show, Monica called to let us know that Cecilia and Jay have a new baby granddaughter. David and Meg have another little girl, Bisbee Scott, who is 2 1/2 years old. Needless to say, Cecilia and Jay are absolutely thrilled. So congrats to David and family in Idaho!!

On the way back, we stopped in Kingman to eat lunch and to watch the second half of the ASU basketball game. Go Devils!!!!

Our trip to Vegas certainly doesn't compare to the London trip that the kids are on, but we had a very good time.

Marion, I was going to put "Viva Las Vegas" on, but changed the song at after getting your email!!

Spring Break is almost over and it will be back to the last nine weeks of the school year on Monday!! I don't think people who work in the "real world" truly understand why we have to have these breaks during the school year, but it is so important to get away from the hustle and bustle for a bit and unwind.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

St. Patrick's Day has always been my very favorite holiday. When my kids were little, it always seemed to be when we had spring break and we would go to Douglas. We always had ham, cabbage, and boiled potatoes. I made bread and dyed it green. The kids always had some kind of juice that we also dyed green.

Right after we had our pool built, we had a St. Patrick's Day party with all of the cousins. Our pool light changes colors, so we were able to keep the pool green that night.

One year we spent St. Patrick's Day in New York City. I didn't think that could be topped, but it was last year--spending it in Ireland! Even with having a leprechaun "try to pick me up," it was so much fun and something I will always remember and cherish. This year, it will be quiet as Kerri, Cameron, and Patrick are in London!!! Teresa, Judy and her family will be over for an Irish meal and a few toasts.....

May your mornings bring joy
and your evenings bring peace...
May your troubles grow less
as your blessings increase!

(which is Gaelic for)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The 39th Anniversary of My 21st Birthday!

In January, I hit a milestone birthday, but wasn't able to celebrate it at the time. This birthday was on a Saturday and I was going to have a party to celebrate. However, our district brought in a nationally known speaker for that weekend and we were all required to attend and bring a team of 10 or so teachers. So that kind of put the damper on plans for that weekend! Things happened and there just didn't seem to be a good time to have a party.

Judy said that she wanted to have a party for me and wanted to combine it with St. Patrick's Day. Her new home is in a gated community with limited parking access, so when it was time to make a list to invite, we were a bit limited. So we decided to have only family here in the valley (and you know how many that is), some old friends from Douglas, and some of my dear friends that I taught with previously, and a few others... The original list was way too long and it was very difficult to try to limit it. So my intention is to have ANOTHER party or two in the very near future--kind of reminiscent of 39 years ago!!!

So last night we all gathered at Judy's house. Nancy Delecki made and decorated a beautiful cake, Judy's house was decorated with signs, and there was plenty of food and drink to go around. When it was time to sing "Happy Birthday," I wanted my theme song instead. So everyone sang "Tequila Sheila." Every time we have family parties and weddings, all of the cousins join together to sing and dance to that wonderful song. It has become a very fun tradition. My limited musical talent comes when this song is played and I get to let out a few yells!! Having grown up on the border, it amazes me that there is a song like this with my name in it!!

It was so good to see the old friends who I have known for most of my life. I was so touched that my cousin, Marion, came all the way from Turlock. Teresa came up from Douglas and she wasn't even the oldest one there. Marge Littrell, who is almost 93, held that "title." Before she left, she told me she expected to be invited to my 70th birthday and that she will then by 103. I plan on taking her up on that!

This picture that is posted was the greatest gift! This is a picture of my two friends, Elise and Ann Littrell, and me. They lived across the street from us in Douglas and we loved to play "Cowboys and Indians." I always pretended to be Annie Oakley!! Elise is a retired school teacher who lives in Tucson and Ann is a Superior Court Judge who lives in Bisbee. We have been friends for as long as I can remember!

Many stories were shared over the course of the evening and much laughter was heard throughout the house and outside. It was a great evening and I thank Judy, Ken, and Kerri for putting this all together. And I look forward to the next party (ies) here at my house where I can celebrate with so many of the wonderful people I can claim as my friends!! I just need to find a date!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Romy!!

Today, is Romy Scott's birthday. Romy is my Uncle Bill's daughter--my mom's youngest brother. Romy is the second youngest of seven children born to Bill and Rose Scott in San Francisco, California.

Romy is an amazing woman!!! She is a San Francisco Firefighter and has been one for several years. Romy is also mother to Angelica Rose Scott. Romy adopted Angie a few years ago after she came to live with her. Angie is technically Romy's niece, but I can tell you that she is really her daughter. Romy is a wonderful mother to Angie and to her fiance Joe's son, Gabriel.

Whenever there is a family event, you can always count on Romy being there. She is so much fun to be around and I always enjoy my visits with her. Romy is quite a bit younger than I am and it has been so great to see the incredible person she has become. Romy's mom, Rose, died when she was a young adult and her dad, Bill, died in 1993.

One of my favorite memories is several years ago when we had a "Girls Only" weekend in Truckee at our cousins' cabin. I think that it was about 10 years ago. Of course Romy was there. Romy's friend had a Harley Davidson motorcycle and he took my mom on a ride. She was probably about 81 when that happened!!!

Two summers ago when we had Teresa's 85th birthday party, Romy and her sisters had previous plans for the weekend of the party. So they all came the weekend before her big bash. We had such a great time that weekend and Teresa was so thrilled that they were here.

Romy is actually closer to my kids ages and they think the world of her. Whenever they go to San Francisco, they have a place to stay--and they try to go as often as they can.

Our family is truly blessed because of all of the wonderful cousins who were brought up by incredible parents. It is such a tribute to all of the Douglas Scotts that we continue to be such a great family, even after all of the original Douglas Scotts (except our Teresa) have passed from this world!

So thanks, Romy, for always being there through the years. I am glad you are my cousin!! Hope your birthday is wonderful!!!

I couldn't think of a song for your birthday, so I am putting on an Irish one in honor of your dad and your birthday being so close to St. Patrick's Day! And I found one about the Irish Navy.....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pancho, the Obsessive, Compulsive Pug!

Pancho, our troubled middle pug, is obsessed with balls. If you ask him where his ball is, he immediately starts looking everywhere for it. It doesn't matter how tired he is, he will continue to play fetch forever. When we are in the pool, he wants us to throw the ball to each other. He will run from one end of the pool to the other to try to get it, while crying all of the time.

When Earl, the fourth grade bunny, was visiting a couple of weeks ago, Kerri put one of Pancho's balls in the bunny cage with Lucy and Earl. This is the video of Pancho getting his ball.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Tom's Birthday Today!!

Today, March 11, is Tom Park’s birthday. Tom is the oldest of the six Park kids born to my Aunt Dot and Ed Park. Tom grew up in Sacramento, California and now lives in San Jose with his wonderful wife, Elsa.

Tom and Elsa have one daughter, Dorothy. Dorothy and Kerri are the same age. Kerri spent some time in California with Dorothy when they were about 10. They continue to be good friends.

A few years ago, Kerri, Cameron and I drove to San Jose for Dorothy’s wedding to Wes Won. It was a quick weekend trip and we had a wonderful time.

Twins run in our family. We have several sets in different branches of the Scott Family. Tom has twin sisters and twin brothers. And now, Tom and Elsa are the proud grandparents of twins, Izzie and Will. Of all the twins in our family, this is the first boy/girl twins.

They came to our Aunt Teresa’s 85th birthday party in July of 2007. I will never forget the two of them in our swimming pool!! They were so precious and had such a great time. They are darling children.

One of the greatest things about our family is the fact that everyone tries to get together as often as possible—for the good times and the sad times. We get to see Tom and his family often. I was thinking about this the other day. My Aunt Dot died in 1981 and Ed in 1986 (I think). I know that Dot would be very proud and happy about the way we have all stayed in contact through the years. It is actually more than staying in contact.....

Tom and his brother, Ted, like to attend one of the NCAA basketball regionals every year. They have stayed with us a few times when they have been here in Arizona. They are also both "die hard" San Francisco 49er fans.

A little story about what happened a little bit ago that I think you will enjoy, Tom! I had a PTSO meeting on Monday night and didn't get home until after 8:00. Last night I went to the Suns game and didn't get home until quite late. I had started to write this post, but hadn't finished it. I figured that I would finish it when I got home this evening and post it then, as I am actually home tonight... Well, I was in a first grade class doing a teacher observation when my phone started to buzz. It was Teresa calling. I couldn't answer it then, but when it went to voice mail, I was a bit concerned because she is in Douglas right now. So I went out of the classroom as soon as I could to listen to her voicemail. Guess what she was calling about?????? She had just gotten on my blog and I hadn't posted your birthday post!!! It was quiet in the office and I decided to run home and finish this before our lunch starts and the possibility of any discipline issues!!!

So, Tom, I hope you have wonderful birthday today. Sorry I didn't get this posted earlier!!! And I know you know what song I am putting on!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blog Envy, Ya Betcha!

Cameron, Kerri, and Patrick are going to London for spring break next week. Patrick got a great deal on tickets and was going to take Cameron. Kerri also wanted to go and she is going!!

Cameron and Kerri started a blog last night to chronicle their trip. There first post received SEVEN comments. I now have what we have coined as "blog" envy!! One small post and they have that many comments!! Sometimes life just isn't fair!!

There is a link to it on my blog. It's called "Cameron and Kerri's Excellent Adventures." Be sure to visit it, but DON'T leave a comment unless you leave one on mine!!!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Take This Job and Shove It--I Don't Think So!!!

All day Saturday, our district had a job fair to interview prospective teachers. This fair was scheduled last fall, before we knew that the financial situation our state is in would so dismal. Last year was the first job fair that the district held. We were able to give letters of intent to quality candidates. This year, the district just wants to make sure that all of our current teachers will be able to keep their jobs.

My job as a principal requires many, many hours beyond the normal eight hour day. There are many nights that I don't get home until after 8:00. I get to school around 7:00-7:15 in the morning. This past week, I had our school carnival on Saturday, then a Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss party on Tuesday n
ight, the rally for education on Wednesday after school, the fourth grade program and a PTSO meeting on Thursday night. These night activities are part of the job of principal. Despite these long hours, I still love what I do.

I consider my weekends "sacred." I truly need that time to decompress and not think about school. So needless to say, I was NOT looking forward to spending all day yesterday at a job fair where we weren't going to
do much hiring, if any.

These past few weeks at school have been especially difficult. The weeks before spring break are always hard. I have heard so many sad stories lately from families hit by the stresses that are happening in our society. I have felt that we are really going to take the brunt of what is happening in fam
ilies at school. I have seen this happen before, and feel that the current economic bad times are going to be very difficult for so many reasons. When kids come to school stressed out over what is happening at home, it impacts their learning and their behavior.

The last thing I wanted to do yesterday was to interview people who really want a job and probably won't get one--at least in our district. It is amazing how quickly things have changed. Last year and in previous years, we were doing everything we could to attract the best candidates. The competition was fierce and this was such a great thing for the teaching profession. Teachers actually could pick and chose where they wanted to teach and what they wanted to teach.

The first interview was at 9:00 and there was one every half hour until 4:00. I interviewed some great candidates, who would be a wonderful addition to our district. There were approximately 40 administrators giving up their Saturday to do the same thing.

There is very little to find humorous about any of this. It is really depressing But I have to find a little humor in everything I do. I was telling a couple of the younger principals about an experience I had the summer before my first year as a principal.

I was fairly new at interviewing at that time. I have learned a whole lot in the years since.

I was waiting in my office for the applicant to arrive. She was a few minutes late and came in a bit flustered. She didn't come in alone, as she had a small baby in a car seat with her. She told me that her babysitter canceled at the last minute, so she had to bring the baby with her. The baby was asleep as she put the baby and the carrier on the floor next to her.

A screening interview at that time consisted of about 10 to 15 questions. I proceeded to ask the applicant the questions. About half way through, the baby started to fuss. This was quite a distraction. She stopped a couple of times to try to soothe the baby, but there was no soothing to be had. She asked me if we could stop for a minute and I said "yes"--never even thinking of what might happen next. She lifted the baby out of the car seat and decided to feed him--and it wasn't with a bottle!!!!!!! I will never forget the next question I asked her--"describe a discipline plan for your classroom." Her answer to the question was accompanied by sucking noises from the baby. I wasn't sure where to look at that point. Was it ever uncomfortable!!!!!! We finally finished the interview and she left the office. I could not believe what had just taken place......

Ever since that day, whenever I have asked the question about a discipline plan in a classroom, I recall that interview......... It was quite an experience, to say the least.

And I can honestly say, that with all of the interviewing I have done, nothing has topped that particular interview!!!!!!

Monday morning will be here too soon. At least there is only a week before our spring break. I just hope to make it through the week without any major issues. I am thankful to have a job in these difficult times, even when the days are so long and the weekends so short.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Time Marches On!

Wow! A whole year has passed since I became a "blogger" and started this blog. The first blog post that I did was March 2, 2008. It was very short--just the introduction after setting it up. The intent at that time was to chronicle our trip to Ireland last spring break. I never thought that it would continue and that I would enjoy it so much.

During the trip to Ireland, I wrote every day about what we did and saw and what being in Ireland meant to me personally. I had forgotten how much I like to write until I started blogging. It "reawakened my love for writing" which is what I have on the sidebar of my blog. When we got back, I wanted to continue the blog, but wasn't sure what I would write about......... However, there has been so much to write about over this past year and the writing has come easy.

I have written about family events, our wonderful pets, things that have happened at school and at home, about friends and colleagues, and about the loss of loved ones. I have reminisced of loved ones gone, hoping that by this writing, "those we love will never really be gone as long as their stories are told." I have written about funny times, sad times, and ordinary times. And for my Aunt Teresa, I am doing a birthday post for all of her brothers' and sisters' children.

During this year long journey, I have reconnected with old friends, made new blogger friends, heard from some very distant relatives in Ireland who I am hoping to meet in the near future. We would not have connected if it hadn't been for this blog.

One of my good friends from Douglas, Susie of Arabia, has an incredible blog. Susie and her family moved to Saudi Arabia a little over a year ago. She has been writing about this experience with her blog being a way for her to share with others. She has become "blogging" friends with some of the bloggers that I follow. In one of her posts, she wrote about several blogs that she follows, one of which is mine. Susie has been up for several blogger awards. I am proud of her!

Carol, known as Velvet Brick is the person who suggested that I start blogging and then helped me set the blog up and still answers questions when I am not sure how to do something on my blog. Carol and Susie have become friends. I got an email yesterday from Susie and she told me to give Carol a hug from her because of the loss of her dad this past week.

My friend, Martha, started her blog in order to keep everyone posted on her fight against breast cancer. Her incredible courage and outlook shows each time she posts. So many people are able to be a part of her courageous journey. I admire her so much.

And Meags writes about her life as a mother of five children, which includes two sets of twins. I have to laugh at her posts, while at the same time feel the poignancy of what she shares.

I love to read the comments that are left on the blog. They encourage me to keep writing. Now, I just have to do a post explaining how to leave a comment for all of my wonderful cousins "who haven't figured out how to write a comment!!" I know that they read the blog because they tell me that they do!

I hope that this blog has brought a smile to your face at times, or made you think about something that is happening in our society. I hope that you have learned something about someone you didn't know or that you have remembered someone you hadn't thought about in awhile. I hope you have enjoyed the music and songs that I have put on to try and match what I wrote about. My blog writing has been so meaningful for me. I hope that it has brought you some enjoyment, too.

I look forward to continuing to blog. Technology is such an incredible tool to keep us connected in so many ways. I found a great quote about blogging which is so true, "A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list." I think I am some where in between changing the world and sharing my shopping list--probably closer to the shopping list than changing the world!!!