Thursday, July 30, 2009

Officially Tired

Whew. Another great day--I felt really good about my classes and I enjoyed myself...but boy, am I tired! The first week back is always exhausting. I've been on my feet and on the run since 7:00 yesterday morning.

I'm getting used to the idea of having two school sites to work at. It's not the easiest way, but it's what I have to do, and I will do it with a smile. Hey, I have a JOB, right? As close as I came to getting a pink slip in March, I will just remain grateful that I have a full-time teaching position.

Let me just insert here that my new 7th graders are adorable. I hear, from previous teachers, that they're "chatty," but that they are all nice kids. They just like to talk. That I can handle!

One of the students who was very, very difficult last year is back, but I'm happy to say that he seems to have calmed down a bit over the summer. I certainly hope that he matures a little more this year--he's very young compared to other kids in his grade level.

In other news, I've made it to the gym every afternoon this week and I've had so much extra energy during the day as a result. I've done time on the treadmill (except for yesterday) and upped the intensity of my normal cardio on the elliptical. My body feels great, but let me tell you, once I climb into bed, it's nearly impossible to read longer than 15-20 minutes. I am OUT.

And today, I kicked some workout butt--I did ten "walking planks" without stopping! Walking planks are an exercise where you start in a push-up position, on your hands and toes--my trainer does not let me to modified push-ups. Your hands are on a step from step aerobics, with no "lifters" under it. You walk your hands to the floor, and back up onto the step. It is as difficult as it sounds, and in the past, I've struggled with this exercise. Today, I blew through ten like it was a walk in the park. C. was so proud. : )

I'm not having a hard time getting up in the mornings (you might recall that our new school start time this year is 7:40--compared to 8:30 last year). Sure, I'm a little groggy at first, but it's nothing a hot shower and a good breakfast (plenty of lean protein!) won't fix.

So tomorrow is Friday, and that's good, because a nice weekend (plus PAYDAY!!) will be welcome. Summer is coming on Saturday for some scrapbooking, which is always fun.

With that, I'll sign off. I finally mustered enough post-gym energy to make tomatoes with mozzerella for dinner. Give me another hour or so and I might just be in bed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today was my first day at the new school site. I was nervous and excited to meet my newest charges. The day went very well, I have to say. I can pinpoint kids who might challenge me, but I hope that my badass monologue at them today helped them understand that, well, I'm not in the mood to be nice this year.

My 7th grade class seemed pretty much terrified, so I used that to my advantage. My 8th grade class, however, strutted into my classroom with a wee bit of "We are the KINGS of this school" attitude...which I promptly shot down by telling them, "Yeah, you're the big shots. You've been here longest, you know your way around this place. Well, guess what? I'm an adult. When I look around this classroom, I see kids. This is MY room. I'm the Queen in here...don't forget that."

As I continued, I noticed a little bit of talking. I stopped. I stared. The offender shut up and looked at me. I grimaced and moaned, "Oh...Are you THAT kid?"


"You know, THAT kid. The one who talks all the time. The one that ruins it for everyone else. The one who gives me a headache and is constantly getting in trouble. There's always one--every school I've been to. Is that you? Are you THAT kid?"

In a very small voice, with a sheepish smile: "No...?"

"Oh, good. I was worried for a minute there that you would be THAT kid. I'm glad to hear that you're not. In fact, I hope that no one in here is THAT kid. I have enough of them at [other school name]."

(Which is a lie, but they don't need to know that!)

And you know what? They stopped. None of the talking or silliness was overt--it was all very subtle. They're testing the newbie. And the newbie let them know, in no uncertain terms, that she's ready for it. Bring it on, kiddos, I'm not afraid to give out consequences.

I continued talking about my expectations (I actually have a rule that is, simply, "NO WHINING"). A boy put his head down. I stopped again.

"Wake up, hon. This isn't nappie time."

His head came up amid the giggles of his classmates. I smiled and said, "Get 8 hours of sleep tonight, and eat some eggs for breakfast with your cereal. I guarantee you won't fall asleep in my class. Oh, and get some exercise, too."

"Right now?" he retorted. I'd watched him in the morning assembly, with his huge white t-shirt and extra-saggy pants--a real gangsta wannabe with a ginormous cubic zirconia in one earlobe. I could tell, even then, that he wants to be the badass. Well, not in my class, kid.

"Of course not. You're going to sing in here. Exercise when you get home tonight."

So we sang. I had 12 8th graders--mostly boys--singing solfege. Of course, one had to try to imitate my high voice. Again, I stopped.

"Okay, sweetie, you're not Mickey Mouse." I used my best Mickey Mouse voice. The kids laughed, and we sang it again--this time correctly. I told them that if that kind of thing happened again, I'd be taking points off. We have a points-based behavior system. They have to have 10 points to get the reward at the end of each month.

So yeah, they tested me. A few little fingers reached towards my buttons, but fortunately, I was on to them. And I enjoyed myself with them. Kids are kids--they're not easy, they're not perfect, and they don't come with manuals. But I rather like them.

Even the gangstas.

Wish Me Luck!

I'm scheduling this post to publish at 7:50 AM on the first day of school. As it publishes, I will be meeting my new charges at my new school site. I am, as ever on the first day, excited, nervous, and hopeful.

The staff meetings are finished for now, and I will be getting down to what I love most about my job--interacting with the kids, watching them learn, helping them be better citizens, being a role model. So many people tell me, "Oh, I couldn't teach--I don't have the patience!" It does take patience, and empathy. It takes a hearty sense of humor--a lot of teachers I have known are hugely sarcastic--and a love of the ridiculous.

There have been some shitty days in my career, but mostly, there have been great moments, like those moments when I'm really into my lesson, the kids are engaged, and I think, "Holy cow, they're paying me to teach music!!" Okay, so they're not paying me a lot, but still, I make a living and it does pay my rent and bills.

I take what I do very seriously. Sometimes I alone can make a difference for a kid. I'll never forget Josh, an 8th grader from my first teaching job. His mom had recently passed away from cancer, and he was severely learning disabled. He struggled so much in all of his classes--except mine. I cried when his aide told me that he had said, "I only come to school for band." We both left the school at the end of the year--he went to high school, I moved to England. I hope that I helped him in some lasting way.

There are kids like Josh scattered throughout my career, in every school I've taught at, in two different states and even another country. People say these kids are blessed to have had a teacher like me, but really, I am blessed to have had the opportunity to make a difference.

Remind me of this sentimental blabbering next time I complain about how crazy they make me...because they do make me crazy. Their hormones and petty dramas make me roll my eyes, laugh, and want to scream--sometimes all at the same time. I've had nasty remarks, I've been called a bitch (a mark of honor) and found graphic and offensive grafitti scribbled about me on tables and music stands. I know I'm in good company.

And yet, here I am, the night before a new school year starts, thinking, as ever, of the possibilities. I know full well that there will be behavior problems, and kids who want nothing to do with me. And that's okay--because for every one kid who makes me want to pound my head against the wall in frustration, there are ten who are listening. Ten GREAT kids. And that makes all the difference.

I love a new school year. New school supplies, backpacks that aren't hanging on by a thread after a year of heavy use, and the school always seems so fresh, so ready. Everything has been cleaned, scrubbed and shined, and quiet buildings almost seem to wait anxiously for their young charges to come back, making messes and noise and livening things up.

So wish me luck! Today I start yet another new adventure, Wild and Absolutely True.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I used to hate sweating. Sweating, to me, was the quickest way to point out to the whole world that I was a Fat Girl. I was convinced that everyone could smell me, that everyone could see the sweat stains under my arms.

I'm finally starting to get that sweat is not bad--it is my body's natural cooling system.

A month or two ago, I remarked to my trainer that I see some women at the gym who are drought-dry as they work out, whereas I am sweating rivers two minutes into any cardio routine. C. just smiled and said, "Sweat is how you know you're working hard." She then admitted that she, too, sweats buckets when she works out (I've seen her working out during her off time, and indeed, she does). I started to feel better about it.

I also started to realize that both B. The Sadistic Trainer and C. are used to being around people who sweat, and they probably don't notice it all that much anymore.

Today, I upped the intensity in my cardio routine. I've been slowly adding jogging/running to my cardio, forcing myself to do five minutes on the treadmill at a steady 3.5 miles per hour. Today, after running, I climbed aboard an elliptical and set the resistance higher than I usually go, in an effort to step things up a little now that my body is so used to the machine.

Within minutes, I felt the sweat running down my forehead, I brushed it off with a hand, then grabbed my towel and blotted the back of my neck. I glanced at my left hand where it held the hand rail--it glistened. No matter how many times I wiped it off, the sweat returned as I worked.

I looked around and saw other people working hard, their bodies sweating every bit as much as mine--and suddenly, I felt powerful, even sexy, because my body is getting stronger, and the sweat is proof that every stride on the elliptical, every lift of a weight, is improving me.

Of course, I still hate standing in a crowded classroom, surrounded by 30 preteens, sweating buckets because my air conditioning doesn't work--that isn't fun or sexy at all. But I'm no longer ashamed of leaving the gym with my clothes and hair still damp from a good workout. It's a badge of honor, that sweat. It tells the world that I am strong.

Monday, July 27, 2009

And So My Summer Vacation Is Ended...

My first paid day of the new school year is tomorrow, and it should be crazy and interesting. See, I found out today that I have TWO sites this year! My bosses knew a month ago, but when I called Curriculum last week, no one told me I had two schools. It was quite a surprise...and believe me, my initial reaction wasn't quite so Zen as I feel now.

That said, my new site (I'll be at FES every other day and KES on the others) seems pretty nice, and I met the 7th/8th grade team. They seem pretty cool.

So tonight, after a butt-kicking workout with C. (she's making me run a lot more), I found myself with enough energy to vacuum, put laundry away, clear up the kitchen, wash some dishes, refill the cats' bowls and vacuum some more. Then I put on a mud mask, hard boiled some eggs while waiting for the mask to dry, and got everything I'll need tomorrow (school bag, gym bag, purse) together. I refilled my water bottle and put together a snack. I measured out 3/4 cup of cereal for tomorrow's breakfast (I'll also have one of those eggs and half an apple) and tidied my living room.

Then I jumped in the shower, shaved, loofahed, pumiced, scrubbed, and rinsed. I'm lotioned, potioned, moisturized, plucked and pajama'd. I'm eating a bowl of Special K for dessert and finishing off today's ration of water. Give me another 30 minutes or so and I should be tired enough for bedtime.

All this, and I don't even see the kids 'til Wednesday.

Happy Blog-oversary!!

WOW! Today marks five whole years of being a blogger--and I have to say, I've enjoyed every minute of it. I have a lot of newer readers who've only started following this year, so I'd like to tell a little bit about the history of the Little Pink Blog.

It all started in July 2004. I was offered a job in England, and I wanted to make some kind of web page that my friends and family could go to for all of my pictures and stories. The easiest way to do this was to start a blog. My friend Shae had been blogging for a while, so I used Blogger because it's what I knew.

I needed a good name, and The Wild and Absolutely True Adventures of Meg came to mind. I've adopted an attitude that all of life is an adventure, whether you're packing up and shipping off to another country or just going about your day-to-day life. For me, sometimes just going to the grocery store (scroll down to the part that says "Bad Luck") turns into a story that I have to tell.

My first post wasn't very exciting, and, in fact, the blog was slow-moving and kind of dull until I actually arrived in England on August 24. I finally got a chance to update the blog on August 26, with the news that my new home, Burnham-on-Crouch, is adorable and very livable.

That year in England was the most incredible, crazy, stressful, amazing year of my life. I adore England, and associate it, for many reasons, with healing after a nasty break-up sent me fleeing to London for a semester in 1999. However, the job itself was stressful--I had to learn the curriculum, deal with some interesting behavior issues at the school, and in the end, I knew that staying beyond the one year just wasn't an option. I was sold out of miracles.

So I finished off the school year, which goes much longer than here in the States. Thus I found myself flying back to the U.S. of A. on August 5, 2005, a week before my 27th birthday.

Here's the thing, though: Home was a totally new place. When I came home from England for Christmas, Mom and Dad were in the process of moving. I flew home to San Francisco, then flew back to London from Seattle. We had spent the 27th of December driving from Folsom to Bremerton, Washington. Mom and Dad would move to their newly-completed house in Port Ludlow a couple of months later.

So I came home--to a completely unfamiliar house in a part of the world I'd seen one time, for a few days. I was excited to explore Seattle (a truly fabulous city), but I missed England terribly and also sort of missed California, where my friends lived.

It was an interesting time. I hadn't driven for a year, and now I had to not only reacquaint myself with Rosie Pro, I had to do it in the middle of a forest, constantly watching out for suicidal wildlife and overzealous cops.

Somehow I managed. And, within a couple of months, I had found two jobs. I would teach one period of 6th grade choir each day, and by night work at Mervyn's.

In February (it was now 2006), we had a three-day power outage after a severe windstorm. Mom and Dad got a hotel room, and one morning over the complimentary breakfast, Dad said, "Well...Mom and I are thinking of going back to California."

Turns out that "thinking about" and "all systems GO" were the same thing. Before I knew it, plans were being made, movers were called, and I was applying for California teaching positions after all the craziness I'd gone through to get a Washington Teaching Certificate.

I wasn't happy.

But I knew, deep down, that if Mom and Dad were in California, I needed to be, too. My friends were there, and while Washington is a beautiful, fascinating place, my life was heading back to California.

So June rolled around and I was off. Mom and Dad left a few days before me, but I had a contract to finish, so Heather flew up to Seattle, spent an awesome weekend with me, and then, proving her friendship, sat in the passenger seat on Interstate 5 from Seattle to Sacramento. It's roughly 800 miles, and we did it in one very long day.

I was fortunate enough to have a job already lined up, so the day after my long old Seattle-to-Sacramento drive, I found myself driving to Antioch to meet my new boss.

The next two years were more stressful and crazy than my year in England. I truly did NOT know what I was getting into, taking over for a much-loved choir teacher at a huge high school. I jumped in the deep end without my floatation devices, and I paid dearly in terms of mental health and physical health.

Blogging was sparse in those two years, with my most productive month being January 2007, with 13 blog posts (if you look at the amount of posts I've made since August 2008, you'll understand that this is not a lot). I was struggling with anxiety and depression, and at some point, had my first panic attack--not fun, not easy. A change was in order.

I left Antioch at the end of June 2008. I didn't have a job lined up, but a few weeks later, I was offered a K-8 music position in Stockton--my current gig. In Stockton, I have found relief from the anxiety, time for working out and focusing on myself, and deep satisfaction in teaching--which had eluded me for a few years. I also joined Stockton Chorale, which as led to new friendships and opportunities.

I've lived a lot in the last five years. Since starting this blog, I've lived in Folsom, Burnham-on-Crouch, Port Ludlow, Lincoln (Mom and Dad's current home), Antioch and Stockton. I have flown across the Atlantic Ocean four times, visited France, Ireland and Canada, and been on countless road trips all over California.

I have fallen in love with England, explored the Puget Sound, and rediscovered that I really am a California Girl, and I'm perfectly okay with that. It's all in here--five years of adventures, Wild and Absolutely True.

Here's to many, many more. I hope you'll stick around and read about them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Follow-Up

I got this great shot with my crappy little EasyShare. It normally takes HORRIBLE night pictures, but Keane had some great lighting effects, and I happened to catch a really great shot of all of them.

They are, from left to right, Jesse (a recent addition--I'm not sure how official his spot in Keane is, but fans have adopted him) on bass, Richard on drums, Tom doing the vocal thing, and Tim, on piano. Tim writes most of the music, with collaboration from the other guys.

Click on the picture to see it in a larger size.

Best Pop/Rock songs of the 2000s

I got to thinking (yeah, dangerous prospect, haha) today about what some of my favorite songs of the last 10 years have been. I'm still up to my eyeballs in Keane music. I just keep replaying my "Keen on Keane" playlist on iTunes and I'm not sick of it yet.

Obsessive personality? Maybe--or, maybe, it's just really good music.

But I love lots of other music as well, and thought I'd do a personal Top Ten list of the best pop/rock tunes of the early 2000s. Make sure to check out the links to YouTube videos. Here goes!

10. She Will Be Loved by Maroon Five

She Will Be Loved is from Maroon Five's 2002 Songs About Jane. I had bought the album well before leaving for England in 2004, but it was in England that I realized how much I liked a lot of songs from the album. She Will Be Loved is one of my favorites.

9. Fidelity by Regina Spektor

Released in 2006, on Spektor's album Begin to Hope. My dad, of all people, introduced me to Regina Spektor--he loves her voice. I find it quirky and fun, and this song is really awesome. It's not easy to sing that broken "fa-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-all" (also done with the word "heart") stuff and make it sound cool, rather than crappy.

8. Good Day by Luce

This is a lesser-known song that had some serious playtime on Sacramento radio stations in 2001/2002. Summer and I were fortunate enough to see these guys live at a summer concert put on by a local radio station.

I love how they incorporate an almost jazz-like style with the brass. I bought their album and have long since gotten rid of it, keeping only Good Day for my iTunes library.

7. These Words (I Love You, I Love You) by Natasha Bedingfield

This was the second single off of Bedingfield's 2004 record Unwritten. I first heard it towards the end of my year in England, and when I got back to the States, it was a hit over here, as well. I love it for mixing a hip-hop beat with a definite pop hook. As a singer, it's also fun to sing along with. Which, believe it or not, is one of my criteria for liking a song--I know, I know, I've got a degree in music, and I like songs I can sing along with.

Also, it's sentimental. It reminds me of my friends in England--whom I haven't seen in FIVE YEARS now. I'm listening to "These Words" as I type this, and it takes me back. Never underestimate the power of music to bring back happy memories.

6. Starlight by Muse

I have to admit that I'm new to Muse. They've been around a few years, and I'm just getting to know them. Starlight is a 2006 song that I've always enjoyed on the radio, but until recently, I didn't know who it was. It's quickly becoming a favorite.

I'll add here that it wasn't until sometime this weekend that I realized that Muse is British. Meg and her British music...

5. I'm Yours by Jason Mraz

I was introduced to this awesome tune by my high school choir students who sang it (endlessly) in the choir room. You'd think I'd be sick of it, or absolutely hate it, but nope. I love this song. I'm Yours (We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things of 2005) is a quirky, fun song which showcases an awesome vocal range. I dare you to listen to it and not smile. It is simple with very little instrumentation and a heavy reliance on awesome harmonies.

And maybe I like it because the one time those two stupid, whiny choir boys ever came across as likeable was when they were singing this song.

4. Tripping by Robbie Williams

I first fell in love with Robbie and his music in 1999, when I heard songs like "Strong," "Angels," and "Millennium" all over England when I was there for London Semester. They quickly became part of the soundtrack of my post-London life, and I have eagerly awaited every album he's done since.

His most recent albums, Intensive Care and Rudebox, have not been my absolute favorites compared to Escapology and earlier fare, but I love that he has taken a chance and redirected himself since he and Guy Chambers, who co-wrote so much of that early music, split. And Tripping is a great, hyperactive dance-style song that features Robbie's fearless use of his falsetto (I love a man who is not afraid of his falsetto...see Numero Uno on this list).

3. Viva La Vida by Coldplay

The minute Viva La Vida came out in 2008, I was all over it. From the opening strings playing a syncopated rhythm and the lyrics about ruling the world--I was hooked. Coldplay hit on some pop music GOLD with this one. By the time you get to the wailing "Whoa's" at the end--which were, of course, made for a stadium crowd to sing along with--I am always ready to hit the back button and play it again.

Live, Chris Martin disappointed in this one (for me), but I was having a great time watching the drummer wail away on a huge tom-tom.

2. Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) by Train

I half-jokingly refer to Drops of Jupiter as my "theme song." I have loved it since it was released, around the same time I was graudating from Chico (in 2001) and finding my way through that twisty, difficult road called Real Life after getting my degree.

According to Wikipedia:

Due to its unique and enigmatic lyrics, the meaning of song has been the subject of speculation since its release.[citation needed] Lead singer Pat Monahan has stated that the song was inspired by the death of his mother, and that the opening lines came to him in a dream. The song, which started as a song about his mother, has evolved into a love song, according to Monahan in 2006.

Poetically, the use of references to planets, stars, galaxies and so on gives an ethereal feel to the music, contributing to its popularity. The lyrics propose a lost lover who has 'found a shooting star', explored the Universe, but comes home.

I always rather identified as the one who is "looking for [my]self out there."

Beyond the meaning I found in the words, this is just a great song from a great Bay Area band--I like a lot of their stuff (Meet Virginia, When I Look to the Sky, and others).

1. Somewhere Only We Know by Keane

Duh. What else would Number 1 have been?

From 2004's Hopes and Fears, Keane's debut album, comes this awesome, awesome song.

I first became acquainted with Somewhere Only We Know on the radio, and also when Keane performed it live on Saturday Night Live. I rushed out and bought the CD, but, being me, I only ever listened to the one song I knew. I held on to that album for a few years, but eventually copied Somewhere Only We Know onto iTunes and took the CD to some used music store and forgot about it.

That said, this song was in my Top 25 Most Played Songs list on iTunes, right up until about May 9, 2008, when it slipped into the number one slot.

You see, on May 8, I saw Keane live in Oakland, and at some point in the evening, I turned to Summer and yelled over all the awesomeness, "HOW THE HELL DID I NOT KNOW THESE GUYS WERE SO FUCKING GOOD?!?!"

I love a lot of their music, from all three of their albums (other, lesser, fans were disappointed by the slightly different approach they took on Perfect Symmetry, their third record...I love it). But this song remains my favorite. From the opening piano chords to the huge, climatic chorus, it is just an awesome, inspiring song.

I think what I like best about Keane is their overall simplicity--they don't need gimmicks and crazy personalities. They just get the job done using great music and natural talent for what they do.

Now that's good pop music.

Teacher's Domain

I took some before pictures of my classroom the other day; now I have some new ones to share. It's coming together.

Most of my time in there has been spent boxing up some language arts materials I found...and then unpacking them when told they'd have to be stored in my room until a new home can be found for them. Oh, and arranging and rearranging the student desks. I think I finally have them set up the way I want them. Maybe.

Here's my desk area--before and after. It's almost the the way I want it. I realized, after setting up my whole room, that the internet connection is allll the way over on the opposite side of the room, but I'm hoping to get around this. If I have to change things around, I might cry.

If I don't have to move my desk over to this window, this will be the part of my room I use for music time with my "teenies."

A view of the white board from my desk.

Some of my personal stuff on display.

The back wall--getting that stupid paper up is the hard part. Putting borders around it and decorating it will be a breeze.

Looking in my room from the doorway.

This is about half of the books I packed/unpacked (the rest are on the top shelf of a cupboard by my desk). I'm going to cover this with fabric to make it look nicer. And, of course, the garbage cans are now on the floor, near the door.

I found out last night from a colleague that we actually go back on Tuesday, instead of Monday, so I have one more day of summer vacation. I'm actually looking forward to getting back to the routine of the school year--it will help with my weight loss goals, having regular breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner times.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Singing Fool

I can't believe I'm about to do this...but I am.

I just took a video of myself singing. Here's the thing--I love to sing, and I'm good at it. That sounds cocky, but I've had training, and I am praised a lot for my voice.

That said, I'm off my game in this one. But I've never shared a video of myself singing, and thought...well, it's about time.

I do have to point out, though, that I do not say "sh" in place of "s." We can lay the blame for this on my cheap Kodak EasyShare. The rest of it--being slightly out of tune at parts, and not quite being on time with the CD, are all my fault. : ) It's not my best performance. Believe it or not, I do better in front of an anonymous audience than I do on camera, or for my friends.

Oh, and Harley Dude has a solo at the end. See if you can hear it...and watch me roll my eyes when he does it.

The song is Nino Precioso, a Nicaraguan folk song that I learned in Fall 2003.

Without further ado...I present LadySoprano, The Singing Fool.

Blogging Fool

Brace yourselves...I've got a TON to blog about this weekend, and a bunch of pictures. I've been all about the cute British men, whining about the economy, and showing off pictures of my collections and whatnot.

Now I have some classroom pictures to show--I spent a few hours there this morning (yes, on a Saturday) getting things together, and I'm pleased with how my room is coming together.

So...stay tuned. I've got posts to write, scheduled posts...always something going on at the Little Pink Blog.

Stuff: I Haz It

A few days ago, my friend Trashy (really it's Michelle, but her nickname is Trashtastic, or Trashy) posted pictures of her bookshelves on Facebook. Our mutual friends are all bookworms. I decided I want to take pictures of MY bookcases to share.

Taking pictures of my books means also taking pictures of my Snoopy collection, as they share the bookcases. In fact, when I moved into this apartment, I bought the three short bookcases because I wanted to display my massive Snoopy collection on top. It's worked out quite nicely.

On top of the bookcases, from left to right, are the following:

Flying Ace (my favorite Snoopy persona).

Avon collectibles (in the 60s, Avon put out a line of Peanuts shampoos, shaving creams, soap dishes, etc. A couple of these are full, but most are empties I purchased on eBay).

Random Snoopy

Below the Flying Ace stuff is my Harry Potter collection (notice I have the American AND British editions!), my collection of Sunfire romances--historical romances for young adults, so no sexy-times--and my war books/biographies/history section. I like Stephen Ambrose. Oh, and Lauren Bacall's autobiography? Wonderful and heartbreaking.

Under the Avon products are my classics, some chick lit, Twilight, Bill Bryson (one of my absolute favorite authors--the man is hysterical) and some romance novels.

Under the general Snoopy stuff are the bulk of my romance novels. My tastes have been changing, and I've gotten rid of quite a few of my romances this summer. However, I will hold on to Suzanne Brockmann and Julia Quinn forever.

On the very bottom shelf are my beloved old Jude Devereaux books. I read these in high school and thought I was so adult to be reading romance novels. My tastes have changed enough that I don't read her newer stuff, but I can't bring myself to get rid of my very used old copies of Sweet Liar, The Black Lion, and The Duchess.

In another part of the room, I have a tall bookcase. This one houses Snoopy stuff on top and the first two shelves, including my Snoopy Snow Cone Machine (bought as an adult--I never had one as a kid. I know.), my collection of McDonald's glasses from the 80s (these were Aaron's but he kindly let me have them), and other various odds and ends.

The bottom three shelves are devoted to cookbooks, what is left of my CD collection (I [heart] iTunes!), my Snoopy books (most of which go back to my childhood), yearbooks, music books, and other miscellaneous stuff.

My Snoopy books:

I also have Snoopy stuff around the rest of the room. The green bag is what I use for Chorale rehearsals.

You can see why I've put a moratorium on the Snoopy shopping. This is a lot of stuff, and it does not include my holiday items and the box of plush toys in my closet. Or the few items in my classroom. Or my beloved Snoopy doll that sits on my nightstan. My Peanuts Christmas stuff alone is pretty damned impressive.

That said, my collection makes me smile. I've weeded a few things out over the last few years, mostly stuff that is not special or meaningful in some way.

And my books, well, I love my books.

Head, Meet Desk


It constantly amazes me how the stupid partisan politics in this country--and, more specifically, this state--keep us from getting anything done.

California, my friends, is a mess. We have a $26 billion (with a "b") deficit. Keep in mind that California's state budget is larger than most national budgets. It's something like 7th or 8th in the world...last I heard, anyway.

But hey, yesterday our lawmakers signed off on a budget deal! Not bad for a group of overpaid, underworked, vacation-taking fools who can never get over their own partisan stances long enough to even look at the other side.

Okay, that's harsh. But really, from my view in the cheap seats, that's what it looks like.

So, what does this deal mean for the Golden State and all of its shiny happy people? Let's take a look, shall we?

The Good

1. Local governments will be spared from being "unwilling cash machines for the state's general fund." I'm all for communities having their own money to fix their own local economic problems.

2. There was a big ix-nay the upid-stay (nix the stupid) on a plan to drill for oil off of Santa Barbara. A win for the environment.

3. For better or for worse, it closes the deficit...for now.

"In no way should this be misconstrued as kicking the can down the road,” said the Assembly speaker, Karen Bass, in prepared remarks. “Where local government, and the communities we serve are concerned, it’s more like we’re throwing a hand grenade out of the foxhole."

The Bad

1. Three days of furloughing per month for state workers. It will save the state $1.3 million, but it is bad news for the state workers and the families they are supporting.

A friend of mine who is in the nursing profession mentioned recently that they are considering furloughing nurses. She just laughed and said, "Don't they realize we'll all just take overtime and it will end up being even more expensive?"

2. Cuts to health care, social services and the closure of several state parks. Do I really need to add to this?

The Ugly

You guessed it: education.

The K-12 education budget, which also includes community colleges, lost $6.1 billion from its roughly $58 billion base, and higher education took a $2 billion hit.

I have one word that immediately comes to mind: SHIT.

Followed by thoughts of moving to another state next year, because this is going to get worse before it gets better. I was spared getting an ass-kicking from the Pink Slip God this year...I won't be that lucky next March. I'm a music teacher--in other words, expendable.

I don't know how this is going to affect California--I'm sure there will be some good to come from it, but I know, too, that there will be some harsh times for all of us.

British Boys, Part 5: James McAvoy

Who else could pull off WWII-era hunk, Jane Austen's love interest, and mythical creature in a children's story?

That's right--not many. James can!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Continuing the Fat Girl Blogging

Wow--I kind of let it die, didn't I?

I still have some fabulous fat ladies to blog about, so I thought I'd get on that before school starts, and I no longer have any time. Instead of blogging about one lady, I'm going to devote this post to several gorgeous women.

1. Emme--Plus-sized model

2. Jennifer Hudson--who knocked my socks off in Dreamgirls.

3. Mama Cass--The Original California Dreamer

4. Sara Ramirez of Grey's Anatomy

5. Tocarra Jones, contestant on America's Next Top Model

6. Whitney Thompson, first plus-sized (though that's a loose term, here) winner of America's Next Top Model.

7. Venus by Reubens

They all rock.


Oh, I've just gone and fallen in love with a shoe. Is this not ADORABLE?! It's Steve Madden...and he is shoe genius.

I love them, heart and sole.

I toe-tally want them.

And...I'll stop now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why I Need Glasses/Contacts

It's cleaning day at the LPB Homestead (make that teeny weenie apartment). I've got the mop out and everything! I might even get around to dusting the shelves on which my Snoopy collection lives...but then again, I might decide to shower instead.

Anyway, as I haven't showered yet, I haven't put my contacts in, so I've been relying on my battered old glasses. Thing is, they bother me. They slip, they slide, they're always covered in my fingerprints. I was not born to wear glasses.

So I took them off and left them on my desk. I can manage cleaning my apartment without them--it's distances I have problem with, so don't let me drive right now--with minimal squinting and no headache.

Go me, right?

A few minutes ago, I walked into my bedroom and glanced over to the closet door.

"Hi, Doodle!" I cooed at the Little Dude, who was sitting in...the...doorway...of...


No, that was not the Doodlebug. I quickly corrected myself.

"I mean, hi, Shoe-dle!"

Yep, I mistook my size 8, white-with-red-trim gym shoe with a large, chubby orange-and-cream feline.

I win at life.

Millie Joyful

Millie's full name is Millennium Joy. A few years ago, Mom started calling her Millie Joyful, and it stuck as one of many nicknames for this spoiled-rotten cat. She really is a happy cat. She has grumpy moments (inspired by her snotwad little brother), but is, overall, affectionate and loving. Especially with me.

Anyway, the Little Dude gets a lot of blog attention of late, so it's high time I do a Millie post. I got some cute pictures on Tuesday night.

It's no secret that since December, when she had a bad bout with pancreatitis, I've worried about my girl. She is doing beautifully, and I hope that, as she approaches her 10th birthday, she continues to be healthy and happy. She's still much skinnier than I would like her to be. She's always been slender, but now I can feel her spine, though in the last few weeks, it seems to have a little bit more padding.

She's your basic lazy cat, for the most part. She sleeps a lot, but also has moments of spunk and playfulness. She does not let Harley get away with anything, and every night, she joins me in bed for cuddles. She's always liked sleeping on my chest or lap while I read, and then moving over by my side when I turn the lights off. We have our little routine, and it makes us both happy.

Her recent, ongoing bout with acne is finally clearing up, too. Now, instead of a red, raw-looking chin, she's growing her fur back and it's soft and white and fluffy again.

She is truly a special cat, in so many ways. I can't imagine life without her.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

British Boys, Part 4: Richard Hughes

No secrets on this blog--I'm completely obsessed with Keane these days. I've already given you a post about their frontman, Tom Chaplin. Now it's their drummer's turn.

Vital Stats:

Age: 33
Where in England is he from? Battle, Sussex
Why I'm obsessed: One, he's adorable. Two, he's a great drummer. But above and beyond all that, he takes awesome pictures--some of signs!!--and blogs for his fans:

North America

Oh, and he has cats!!

Marking My Territory

I spent a few hours at school today, moving a few things from my old classroom to my new one, setting things up, and sweet-talking the custodian into moving my desk for me. Actually, I didn't need to sweet-talk him. I learned--early in my career--that being helpful and considerate of the school custodian and secretaries will make a teacher's job easier. When I asked him when my desk might be moved ("when you get the chance!") he replied, "I can do it right now." He actually dropped what he was doing to move my desk from one room to another.

Anyway, before all of this, I took a Before picture of my new classroom:

It's much like my old--a portable, same size. This one has carpet, where my old room had tile. Like in my old room, I'll put my desk over by that back window in the picture. No more looking out at kindergargen recess time during my prep! I'll miss watching the teenies running around--they're so cute.

However, I'm no longer situated right in front of the primary playground, so I won't have to navigate my way through various jumprope games, kickball extravaganzas, and flying playground equipment to get to my room anymore. That's a plus, as I always sort of feared for my life. They may be small, but I still don't want to get mowed down by a 6-year-old going 70 miles per hour.

Today I mostly packed up a bunch of language arts materials that had been left in my room by the previous occupant (I told Mr. Custodian, "I'll box them, if you and your guys can move them out for me!"). I unpacked most of my personal items, like my books and files. All of that had gone home with me for the summer, as my future was uncertain at the end of May.

I put a couple of posters up on the wall, and immediately removed a big poster I made last year to put on my door:

I'm marking my territory. : )

Tomorrow, I'll go back to finish up, and hopefully I won't have anything more to do after that but work on lesson plans from home. As soon as Mr. Custodian moves the piano and a couple of tables from my old room, I'll set up the student desks and start playing with arrangements so that I have desks for my middle school students, and a big open area for my teenies.

I'm so excited to be going back to FES!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It's one of those busy, satisfying, get-stuff-done kind of days. I like days like this. Tonight I'll sit back and relax with a movie and two cuddly cats, but for now, I'm getting stuff done. I'm kicking butt and taking names. It feels good. I've got a list of stuff I've accomplished so far.

1. Early Riser

Yikes! Our school start time is going from 8:30 to 7:40. Mrs. Principal joked that we'd all be wandering around with IVs full of caffiene. We know we're going to have a huge issue with tardies.

More importantly, Little Miss Former Morning Person now has to get back to those good ole days of rising before 7:00. I'm aiming for 6:00, which means practicing this week. My alarm went off on time this morning, and I woke up...before deciding that since I'd acknowledged my alarm clock, I deserved another hour of sleep.

Tomorrow--I'm up by 6:30!

2. Number 1 on the To Do List

Number 1 on my list of stuff I need to get done this week was "Call Curriculum re: assignment for this year." Now that it's been established that there will be NO AUGUST LAYOFFS in my district (in short, Meg of the LPB will be EMPLOYED), the other question I had I still at the same site? The answer, my friends, is yes. This makes me happy.

3. 9:00 Butt-kicking

I walked (yes, walked, it's about 3 blocks) to the gym, did my 30 minutes of cardio, and then met with C., my trainer. Today was a measurement day, and while my belly was up one inch (Auntie Flo arrived yesterday), my arms are down a whole centimeter! I am very, very pleased with myself. All those push-ups, pull-ups, parachute push-ups, etc. are paying off in a big way.

And as for my tummy, water retention really does take its toll. Give me a few days and I won't be quite so bloated.

I had a great lower-body workout today, and feel like I can take over the world...just as soon as I shower.

4. Bean Counter Cooker

I'm making my own refried beans! I boiled them, and they have 15 minutes left of sitting, off heat, covered before I can drain and rinse them. I'm also going to make cilantro rice and chicken cooked in taco seasonings. Add lettuce, tomato and homemade guacamole on the side and you've got an awesome meal.

The beans will be made with olive oil instead of lard--a trick I learned from Summer B.--and they will be just as delicious, but much healthier. And a lot tastier than the canned stuff.

5. Coming Out of the Closet

I just finished going through my closet, trying things on and putting the "fat" clothes in a bag to go to Goodwill. Yay me! I'm going to try to eke some more life out of a few things that are a wee bit on the roomy side, so that I don't end up spending a fortune on clothes.

I do, however, need new bras as soon as possible. My current ones fold and sag and do all kinds of weird stuff when I'm wearing them. I can't tell you how good it feels to shrink out of my clothing, instead of growing out of it.

6. Other Bits and Pieces

I have also folded a load of towels that have been hanging up to dry on my drying rack since...Saturday before Coldplay? Something like that. And I emptied the dishwasher, unpacked the rest of the stuff I had taken to Mom and Dad's house, and started putting info into my new calendar--I don't buy new planners in January, I buy the school-year ones for students. I'm pleased that my "No Quarter, No Mercy" pirate sticker was able to transfer from my old planner to my new one (it's now on its third planner). I bought it when my drum line at Oh Hell No HS was doing a pirate-themed show and figured it fits my classroom management philosophy pretty well, so I kept it around.

Last night I started typing up classroom rules, which will be posted and hung in my classroom soon. I started thinking about what I'm going to do for the first couple weeks' worth of lesson plans. I'm not going to do much art this year--those kids are getting Mad Meg the Music Maniac this year, whether they like it or not. They will sing, they will drum, they will clap their hands and feel like fools.

No quarter, no mercy.

Okay. Break over, and time to get back to it. I still need to shower, take stuff to Goodwill, and maybe stop by the school. If I don't do it today, I will tomorrow. I wonder if they have my class lists ready...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Farm Panorama

Farm Time

I really need to make more of an effort to visit A Chance For Bliss everytime I'm up this way. Seriously, what a happy place.

Mom and I went over this morning to hang with the horses and give them some love. We were in for a couple of surprises.

First, a new addition to the feline duo of ACFB, Beau and Seinfeld...Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Casper:

I said, "Mom! There's a KITTEN!!!" As soon as we got out of the car, I ran over and introduced myself. He's purrfectly friendly and allowed me to scoop him up. He was purring so hard his whole little body vibrated.

God, I love kittens.

I asked Woody, "Who is this?!"

"Casper," he replied. "There's another couple of newbies, too. Go inside and see."

So Mom and I went in and chatted with Dee, who showed us their two newest dogs, Angel (a severe neglect case) and Joy.

Angel was the victim of abandonment. She was found penned up in the backyard of a vacant house, digging for worms and drinking her own urine to survive. She's a Boston Terrier, like most of the ACFB dogs. She's been there one week and is already showing huge improvement. These dogs know when they find something good.

When Dee went to Wonder Dog Rescue to pick her up, the lady there offered her a gift--Joy. She could have gotten adoption fees for Joy, but instead gave her to Dee and Woody as a gift for all they've done, and because they lost one of their beloved dogs, Hope, a few months ago and still feel the loss.

Joy, I might add, is four months old. She's also a "red" Boston Terrier, which is more rare. Why was a purebread BT left at Wonder Dog? Well, she's deaf in one ear (her siblings were completely deaf) and the breeder wouldn't make any money from her.


Anyway, she's ADORABLE:

After fawning all over Casper and Joy, Mom and I set out to the pasture to give the horses, goats and other farm critters some treats, and to brush the horses. They sweat a lot in this heat and it dries on them, leaving salt deposits.

Next we walked over to the back pasture, stopping to coo and cuddle all over Casper. He followed us all the way out to the back pasture, scampering along and trying to climb the trees. We told him to stay...but you know how cats are.

While out there, I took a little self-portrait, and unknowingly caught him mid-lick.

The back pasture crew:

(Yes, Ferdi--the big black/white guy on the left--is a BIG bull. He's a gentle giant, but I still make a wide berth around his horns.)

On our way out, we stopped to chat with Woody (I threatened to stow Casper away and take him home) and laughed at Harmony the Water Dog playing with the hose. Apparently nothing makes her happier than telling the hose who's boss.

All in all, it was a lovely visit to that always-lovely farm. We left covered in horse slobber, dust, hair from various farm creatures, and sweat--but also feeling very happy.

Coming soon: a short video of the sights and sounds of the farm.