Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Music

I haven't done a Monday Music post in ages! I just wanted to share this song; I learned of it a few weeks ago when a student auditioned to sing it in this week's concert. It is "Rockets" by Tori Kelly, and it's quite cute.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stress & Legos

So, I've been stressed the last few weeks.

Oh, it's nothing too horrible. It's just that in my infinite wisdom, I scheduled my first half marathon to be three days after my first concert of the school year, and to top it all off, I have to get a dental filling this week. And the 49ers have been losing. And it's evaluation time at work. Just life.

Several weeks ago, I bought a tiny Lego set so I could build a tiny airplane for my classroom. "Haha," I thought to myself. "An excuse to play with Legos!" Aaron had about a gazillion of them when we were growing up--enough to fill one of those boxes that copy paper comes in. We used to haul it to Grandma and Grandpa's house, dump it all over the living room floor, and entertain ourselves for hours. 

It had been years since I'd built anything with Legos. I imagine Aarons are either collecting dust in his attic in Idaho or long given to charity. Building that little airplane woke something in me, and I found myself perusing the Lego aisles every time I was at Target.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought three small "3 in one" sets so I could make the whole train.

Yesterday, I went to Target with the specific goal of buying more Legos. I bought a bigger set this time, and spent a good hour building an awesome tree house.

There's something relaxing about following the instructions in the book and watching it all come together. The familiar clicking as pieces go together brings back happy memories of childhood, and playing with my revered big brother. It's hard to feel stressed when sticking a tiny walkie-talkie in the hand of a Lego figure. 

Maybe it's silly and childish, but I don't care. At some point I'll carefully dismantle the set and put all the pieces in Ziploc bags to give to charity. Or I'll keep them all and build something different when life has me feeling a little overwhelmed. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Week in Instagram (Week #96)W

Let's just say that I have a lot of stuff to ponder and worry about right now (a concert, a half marathon, a filling--ugh, etc. etc. etc.) I might just be freaking out a little.


At least it wasn't HOT on Sunday for my long run.

10.6 miles done--my last long run before the Urban Cow.
And yeah. I am so not feeling ready for that.

"I will massage your quads if you'll let me cuddle you for the
next two hours..."

Monday selfie. I got some new foundation and I love it.
Though this pic is a little washed-out.

I created a poster! Not bad for someone who is good with
music, not design.

Student government is sweet (and early!). Sadly, the poster
is now gone.

Why? No, really, WHY?!

Lynn got pranked by her tuba section.

The Maestro.

Index cards for my upcoming show.

I love M&Ms, especially the green ones. And people with
M names. ; )

Our polo shirts and hoodies were finally ready this week.

Music pizza in piano lab. 

On Wednesday night, I used my new mineral soak, and it was

So...I've started playing with LEGOs to combat stress. More
further down in this post.

RAIN!!! We got a really nice dumping of rain on Thursday,
and it lifted everyone's spirits. The drought has been so

Organized AND stylish. That's me.

New staff gear.

Sunrise over the marching band.

I drove this big green monster (a school van) to Sac State so
my boys could attend Real Men Sing.

340 young men gathered to sing together. It was awesome.

Only two came from my school, but they really enjoyed it. It
was worth the time and the effort of wrestling the Big Green
Monster down the freeway. 

A mom from another school in my district had THIS awesome
little fighter with her. This is Maggie. Seven days old, found
still in her placenta, no mama, no siblings.

She's gained half an ounce in her first week (very good), and
has a lot of fight in her. Go Maggie!

During the informal performance at the end
of the day.

The Women's Choral Festival is this week.
More wrestling the Big Green Monster.

On Friday evening, Mom and Dad hosted their wine group.

Mom decked the place out...

The spread was incredible.


So I've been craving LEGOs. And today I rewarded myself
for getting a lot done this last week by buying this.

And I spent about an hour this afternoon
building it.

I have absolutely no feelings of shame about this. It was
relaxing, and who cares if I'm 36 and playing with LEGOs?
I'll likely donate them to charity.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Clientele

I remember back in my earliest days of teaching--before I was even student teaching--I subbed for a music teacher, and later had a chance to observe him. He did some Music Math with his middle school kids, to help them memorize the number of beats in particular notes. Like any teacher would, I promptly stole the idea, and I'm pretty sure I've used it in every music teaching position I've held ever since.

Today, I rolled it out in piano lab, giving a quick "Ten-Minute Theory" lecture to help the newer pianists, then offering up a small work sheet for extra credit. "You don't have to do it," I said, "But if you want extra cred--"

A clamor went up, cutting me off, as students practically leapt over pianos to get the worksheet. (It's not as if any of them are failing, or particularly needing extra credit, though some have struggled in their theory books and may want the points to make up for it.)

Once the theory was out, a low buzz of noise settled over the room as kids helped each other--not copying, simply discussing how to do the math problems. I didn't make them simple, using exponents, parentheses, and a combination of functions. I know these kids can get it.

But the most amazing thing happened.

I had written one problem to look like this:

[whole note] + [dotted quarter note] = ____ x [half note] = ____

About half the class missed the second equal sign, so instead of making this a linear equation, in which 4 + 1.5 = 5.5 x 2 = 11, they all started solving it as though it was an algebra problem. This is remarkable to me, because every other school I've taught at where kids are at algebra-level and beyond, that sort of automatic foray into higher-level thinking has never been so automatic or instinctual. It says a lot about the Large Suburban High School that its students are:

  1. So eager to get a few points of extra credit on already excellent grades, even though it means extra work for them.
  2. So willing to work together, discuss possible answers, and even help each other see why a problem works out the way it does, rather than simply copying answers from The Smart Kid in the room.
  3. So quick to utilize the skills they've been taught in other classes to automatically look for another way to solve a simple problem. 
I've been there a little over a year, and it still surprises me sometimes. I am definitely not complaining. 

But lest you think this school is full of perfect children, they are not. They're teenagers. They are glued to their cell phones, eager to flirt, and I returned to my choir room yesterday to find this all-too-common problem:

Why? WHY?!
(For the record, this was not choir kids.)

...So, yeah. They're definitely not perfect. But I love them anyway.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Week in Instagram (Week #95)

It kinda passed in a blur. I was busy and nervous and generally just focused on making it to Friday.


On Sunday, I finally sent the last of the San Diego post cards
I bought--in January--to my brother.

Some of the loveliest chocolate anywhere.

Gorgeous! Almost--but not quite--too pretty to eat.

Mom planted these and finally found a use for the old iron
trellises she bought a while back.

Millie loves her grandma.

Lunch and paperwork.

I had to go through and grade all these during piano lab.

Can you Handel it? 

It was an orange kind of day.

With just a couple weeks left 'til The Urban Cow, I found it
funny when I saw my odometer paused at this mileage in the
Target parking lot.

Don't mind if I do, Jamba Juice.

Found these at Target for our upcoming concert.

I will never get this song unstuck from my head.

That enormous cloud over the theater is the El Dorado County
wild fire. : (

Cali Swimmy came to work with me for my first observation.

I only got my picture taken so it would be in the yearbook, and
so I could get a new Staff ID for teacher discounts and whatnot.
I didn't need a gazillion copies.

Clouds. Is fall finally coming?!

What, you don't brush your teeth at work? I had a dental
cleaning and I don't like to go without brushing first.

I kept an eye on this all evening.

Red sun...a sign of all the smoke in the air.

It was a good day for a selfie.

It was a sunny day that looked grey. 

Starting cue cards for my show. It's going to be awesome!

Margarita, recliner, and the Outlander Wedding episode.
Happy Saturday!
This week will be busy, and next week will be insane. I'll keep clicking pics for Instagram, through it all!