Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another joy of teaching

My good friend and mentor Brenda sent this over to me today. Oh, the joy! Makes me feel better after my last post.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Year Five

These are the things that make me love teaching...

Teaching is challanging; every year, month, day, and period is different and requires constant modification and reflection. Dr. Miller (RUSD's superintendent) has set the goal that every teacher knows every student's name, need, and story--this goal is my daily goal and has been since the first day I stepped into a classroom. I was emotionally involved with many of my students at Central, felt their pains, and loved to watch them grow and mature.

Investing in my yearbook students made a lasting impact of my and I'd like to think on them. I love that I can walk onto the field at a freshman football game (Poly Bears vs. Arlington Lions) and talk to students I had two, three, four years ago. I love that I can still invest in these students with encouragment and praise.

There are also things I don't love about teaching...

Although different, teaching is also the same. Each year, there are student issues, paperwork to fill out, meetings to sit in, and parents to notify. There are also more requirements, more pressure, more tests, and less resources. There are irritating students who have parents who have created the monster. The worse part is working with teachers and administrators who hate kids (collecting a paycheck) but don't realize that they need to leave the profession.

This year has been difficult. The parts of teaching I love aren't on the forfront of my day-to-day activities. My ninth graders share less naturally and don't rely upon adults as much. I have no yearbook class to invest in; my SELA class would rather do anything other than make effort. I know this year may become a great year and I have great potential to have an impact, but I feel quite "bored" with teaching at the moment.

I couldn't see myself leaving the classroom right away for administration, but now, I feel like I'd do it tomorrow if I have the chance. Then again, isn't the five year mark suppose to be the one of indecision in teaching? Maybe I'm just in the year five funk.

Happy Birthday Tawni!

Wednesday night we celebrated Tawni's 27th birthday at The Melting Pot in Rancho. We had a blast playing around with our pokers, the different tastes, and remembering how long each type of meat had to cook. The resturant was a great place, very quiet and attentive. Rob planned the suprise party with great details! He managed to get all of us there, reservations made with menu choices ahead of time, and babysitters too! When you make reservations for a group, they want you to give all the orders too! I was able to order just a salad and pick off of Dave's plate :)

Tim and Casey, Rachel and Scott, Dave and I, Carla and Rob, and Melinda celebrated with LOTS of food and laughter! The four course meal was amazing; first course was chedder and spinach articoke cheese with dipping materials, followed by salads, third course presented raw meat, potstickers, and ravioli to cook two different ways. We ended with great desserts to dip in Turtle chocolate and S'mores!

I sat in the middle of our table and got to dip food in cheese, cook veggies and meat, and dip chocolate for my friends. This is the oil bubbling away!

Believe it or not, we went through seven plates of desserts for 9 of us!

Only in San Diego

Only in San Diego at a professional football game will you see this magic!

Chargers Time

Last Sunday, we spent a very hot afternoon in the sun watching the Chargers lose to the Ravens. Although it was a sad game, the defense decided not to play well, and the offensive line was hurt, it was great to be at the game! Being a Chargers fan in San Diego on gameday is entergizing.
We rode the trolley and got there early again to watch the players warm up down by the field. Our seats were in the "Family Section" ALL the way at the top of the seats by the giant score board. If you're going to sit that high, it is nice to have no drinking and cussing around you.

100th Post

I can't believe this is my 100th post on this blog!

I started blogging in July 2007 when I started my Weight Watchers journey so that I could reflect and encourage myself; doubting that anyone would care what I said, I did not share the website with anyone except the few people on the WW Message Boards. A few friends starting reading, then my mom... I felt like I should talk about things other than my weight so I didn't sound whiny or annoying. In January 2009, when I ran out of "free" space on freewebs, I moved over to blogger (which is much easier, by the way) and it has transformed into a diary of my life.

Thank you to all of you who read my whinning, complaining, and talking about nothing important. This year I hope to post more often and about more interesting things :)

Master Bath Progress

The project keeps rolling along at a super fast pace! Here is the building prepared for stucco, but the real magic was happening inside... The electrical system in our house is old, but when this area was built in 1977 it was done very poorly. Instead of spending the hours to figure out the old system, Dave cut out all the old wires and ran completely new wiring for all the plugs, light switches, and overhead lights and fans. The wiring required significant "learning," caused many frustrating hours for Dave, and required many phone calls to electrical friends.
In the new "dressing area" we have these cool recessed lights with dimmer switches. I eventually hope to use this area as my reading nook with a giant comfy chair.
As part of the electric upgrade of the addition, one day I came home to see this in my kitchen... in order to get the inspector to pass the rough electrical, Dave had to put the new room on its own breaker. This damage occured when he was working with the old (1939) box on the left wall and the newer (1977) box directly in front. No idea why there is a whole in the ceiling. At least when I came home there wasn't too much of a mess, but I still have holes.
Today, Cecilio and his man came over and put the scratch coat onto the outside walls. This is the first coat of the stucco process.
He was going to put another coat (brown coat) on today, but the scratch coat wasn't dry enough. Monday Cecilio will come back and finish his part. At that point, we'll be on our own to finish this addition.
For now, we're going to concentrate on cleaning up the outside (piles of wood pieces, insulation, and cement) and doing one thing at a time when money comes in... and onto GRASS!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My parents believed in an enforced, consistant bedtime. As a small child, I remember clearly having to be in bed by 7:30 and up until the end of high school I remember being in bed by 8:30.

When Dawson's Creek came on in January of 1998 (sophmore year in high school) I still had a set 8:30 bedtime, but was given special permission to stay up on Wednesday nights to watch it with my mom and sister after church. Going to bed was never an issue with me because it was a set expectation and I really like to sleep. In high school I left the house at 6:35 am to get to school before first period bell at 7:21. Going to sleep at 8:30 gave me 8-9 hours of sleep.

I often wonder if my parents had been more relaxed with our bedtimes if I would need less sleep now as an adult. In order to be a peppy, happy person I still need between 8-9 hours... to be manageable, but considerably more calm person, 7 works... but give me less than 7 and you don't want to be around me. Today was one of those days... I am a grumpy, flustered person without sleep.

Morning time isn't my favorite until about 9 am and night time isn't really good after about 9 pm. The middle of the day is my time! I soar in the middle of the day!!

Last night we spent a wonderful night at "The Melting Pot" for Tawni's birthday (more on that to come); the four-course dinner was fun and it was great to spend time with all my friends, but dessert wasn't served until 9:30 pm! We didn't get home until close to 11:15! I get up at 5:30 friends! That is only SIX hours... and you want me to be nice to one hundred and seventy two ninth graders all day?!? Setting myself up for failure!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Putting the time in...

Part of my masters degree is spending hours watching and learning about the ins and outs of being administrator. Tonight I am spending time in a Board Study Session (about test results) and Board Meeting. Although I am bored enough to write a blog during the meeting, I am super impressed by our new superintendent, Rick Miller.

Next time I see him at church, I may just say 'hello' to him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


My mom sent me a cute note about choosing my battles (over yelling at the kid) and it got me thinking about growing up.

When I was younger, I fought every battle. I defending myself and others to the nth degree, even if I should have just backed down. Some of the time I fought worthy battles that I could have walked away from and some times I fought worthless battles. I had (and still have) this compulsive need to stand up for other people that won't stand up for themselves. Some find that good, some find that bad, some even say that is why I'm a teacher and should have been a lawyer.

Looking back at the battles I've fought over the years a few things come to mind.

  • Battles are exhausting, both mentally and physically.
  • Battles create drama. I swear it isn't me creating drama :)
  • Once I start, I cannot stop or back down (well, I could, but then I wouldn't be opinionated and bossy).
  • Sometimes when I "win" I look back and wonder why I cared in the first time, other times I look back and still feel the anger that started the battle.
  • I am proud of some of the results of my battles throughout the years and I think I have helped a few people along the way.

But the real insight that I've been pondering is that I have been battling less and less. I'm assuming that is the growing up process that it has taken me twenty-five years to learn--pick your battles wisely (the theme of my mom's email). I also wonder if I will eventually stop battling?

On a side note, I have clearly won today's battle with the yelled at kid. Today he was actually receptive, asked positive questions, kept his mouth shut the one time I corrected his behavior, and let me help him start his narrative. I hope this is our last battle and the war can be over, but knowing fourteen-year-old boys...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


As much as it may suprise you, I don't yell at my students. I make it a point to not let them get me that angry and usually send them outside to cool off so that I can cool off it it is getting to that point. In four years of teaching I can count on one hand the number of times I have raised my voice (4). I can also tell you every single kiddo that caused the voice-raising and exactly what they did...
Today I got closer to hand number two, I yelled at a kid. I was mad. I am still mad. So mad, that I don't even care (yet) that I yelled at him. I think he needed it--continual disrespect, talking back, and rudeness will not win you brownie points in my class especially when you add some cuss words and tell ME (the teacher who is staying calm although she wants to pull your hair out) that I am being rude?!?
What I wanted to say: Kid, who do you think you are? Oh, wait, I know, you're the kid that has failed every class and reads at a first grade level and instead of trying to improve and working with the teacher who is working with you, you're going to be "funny" so no one will notice. Sorry, kid, I noticed and "funny" isn't going to cut it in here. Shut up.
What I did say (very loudly): You're not funny and I don't appreciate being treated with disrespect and talked back to. Please make a positive choice. This positive choice should include you closing your mouth and remembering what respectful behavior looks like.
After this he continued to talk back and I kicked him out. Maybe tomorrow I'll regret it, but right now, it brings me peace to know that he got the "chewing out" that he deserved. The watery-eyes that I saw also prove that the information was going into his head.
I also wrote him a referral (all good yelling is referral requiring) and kicked him out of my class for two days. Even better, I sent an email to his coach and he'll be benched for two practices and one game.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Contractors Move Fast!

Cecilio from Caba Contractors impressed me so much in our inital meeting; so much that we hired him! The day Dave got the permit, Cecilio and his crew came over to begin the project. The siding was taken off by Dave the day before. The first day, they dug this 24 inch deep ditch for the foundation.
Very quickly, they built this frame for the foundation and the cement steps. Included inside the frame is a "rebar" metal supports for the concrete. After the Riverside Building inspector gaves us the go-ahead, Cecilio and crew poured the cement. The very next day, they began building the floor and framing the new exterior wall.

New cement sets from the door (eventually the "pool" door).

By the end of the day, the crew had the entire new wall up! Dave spent the evening tearing down the old exterior wall! By the time I got home from class, it looked like I had a completely different house (left in the morning with the house looking like the black picture above).

They also extended the floor joists, added insulation to the studs, and put down the new rough floor (right side of picture). The right side of the ladder would have been outside the day before!

Dave made his second trip to the dump (for just this project) with a very full trailer.

Dave continued to demo by removing the dividing wall between the bathroom and the sink room and Cecilio's crew frame in the new ceiling (which will greatly improve our hot/cold issue with insulation and HVAC vents)!

Dave also figures out how to get the "rough" plumbing and electrical in the new part for the next inspection. Thursday the inspector came back out and gave the okay to proceed from the framing part. A few more things need to be fixed with the electrical and plumbing (hopefully done soon without a huge budget breaking pricetag).

Cecilio and crew came back out and added brackets, vents, and began to prepare the wall for stucco! The wire in the above picture is step one.

This entire process has only taken seven business days. Cecilio only has two steps left before he's finishes his "part" of the job (base AND brown coat stucco). Then... it won't move so fast...


WHOOOOO HOOOOOO!! I could not be more excited. In honor of the season offically starting on Monday when the San Diego Chargers meet the Oakland Raiders, I thought I'd share some of the "boys" in blue that hopefully will make it all the way to Dolphin Stadium this year :) There is another Bennett on the team!

Melissa, Dad, Uncle Randy and I enjoyed the last preseason game on a warm Friday night, September 4th. The pictures were taken as they warmed up before the game and we took in the endzone. Our regular seats were up at the top :)

Master Bath Planning

You'd think we would have learned our lesson with the guest bathroom and stopped while we were ahead, but instead we have started on the master bath. If I were to pick the number one issue with this house I would pick the master bathroom.

What's wrong with it you ask? Here is my list, in no particular order...
  • It smells like a gym sauna.
  • There is no ceiling and the bugs can get inside from where the wall and roof meet.
  • It takes a good five minute to get hot water in the morning.
  • If it is cold outside, it is freezing inside the bathroom (very unpleasant at 5:30 am when I get up to go to work).
  • If it is hot outside, it is blazing (very unpleasant during a Riverside summer).
  • It is just plain nasty (untreated wood isn't really cleanable) and grosses me out.
  • The shower wasn't installed correctly and if you step in the wrong place it feels like you might fall through the bottom.
  • The sinks are outside of the bathroom which creates A LOT of wasted space.
  • There is a giant, floor to ceiling window opposite of the sinks that provides my neighbors with a lovely view into my bathroom and bedroom.
  • The wiring is funky and you can't use half the switches or you blow the breaker for half the house.
  • The old owners put a ceiling fan in the bathroom part and it can't rotate because of a wall?!?

Enough of the complaining, we have to do something about it!! Like with the other bathroom, I know exactly what I want it to look like in my head. This one was a bit more complicated though...

My plan: knock out exterior wall 3.5 feet to make it even with the rest of the house, move the sinks into the actual bathroom, turn the "sink room" into a closet and sitting/reading area, and get rid of the wood. The reality turned into being much more complicated that my plan.

I researched contractors, interviewed a few, collected bids, and we hired a contractor to do all the rough work (foundation, framing of wall and new floor, stucco). Dave then set out to get the permits for the job. Although the lady who answered the phone in the Riverside Building and Planning Department said that our job would require very "simple" plans, it wasn't the case. Thinking we may need to hire someone to draw up the plans, we got a $1,000 bid. Dave decided to do it himself... amazing man! It took seven days and MANY trips to the Building department, but we have an offical permit! Dave taught himself the drafting program and learning a lot about building codes and made some good guesses. The plan inspector was super impressed that a "layman" was about to create the detailed plans (some of which you see above).

Without further delay

Our NEWLY FINISHED Guest BathroomBelieve it or not, I had an image in my head that I wanted to recreate in this tiny space and it all stemmed from my the painting by Jack Vettriano called "Dance Me to the End of Love." I had the poster version of this hanging up at the apartment and love it. On a trip to Home Depot before we'd closed on the house, I saw the glass time that we used for the accent strip and the countertop and the bathroom was born in my head. Right now I'll be okay with my poster of "Dance Me to the End of Love," but I'd love something more "real."
The mirror is a tilting mirror, mounted high for Dave and most of the population, but tilted for me!
Another task I felt that was important in our bathroom remodel was keeping with the period of this house. Although a little too new to be considered a cottage, I decided to stay as close to that as possible. I really liked the modern look of the toliet and sink (Kohler Archer) with the old fashion idea of tiling the wall. I orignially wanted a white vanity, but I am so glad that we got this chocolate one instead!
The white tiles on the floor and wall were made by DaTile. The tile on the floor is 1X1 inch white cermaic tiles that came in 12X12 squares; however, the wall tiles are 4X4 tiles that had to be individually put into place (Dave wasn't too happy). The glass, multicolor tiles also came in 12X12 squares with mesh keeping them together. On the wall we cut them into strips, but on the countertop most of them were hand layed (I did it and LOVED it, maybe I have found a new passion?!).
I could not find the faucet that I wanted at Home Depot or Lowe's so I called Tim over at Plumbersurplus.com and he had just what I wanted. This ceramic and brush nickle faucet was just what I was looking for to complete the countertop look. Dave created the countertop with plywood and hardibacker, attached it to the vanity, and I tiled it with a butter knife!
This hand towel holder and duel towel bar also came from Plumbersurplus.com and matches the faucet perfectly (again, another thing I could only find there). My mom found these towels and the shower curtain at Marshalls (amazing how well they compliment the tile!?).

The bathroom had this giant cabinet that held most of Dave's tools for this eight month project. When I started thinking about how to best use it, I found these shelves (Home Depot to the rescue) as a pretty cheap alternative to wasted space. The cabinet is two and a half feet deep and each wood shelf was a little more than two feet apart. By adding the metal shelving, we added a lot more useable storage. I went plastic container crazy, organized, and labeled everything. This is the top shelf and the things at the top are things we use once in a while.

Dave thinks that this cabinet may have been a stand alone shower at one point in time (when we moved in the tub was only a tub, no shower), but we decided that the storage was nice. Right now there are no cabinet doors, so I spent $5 on a white linen shower curtain :)

The vanity light and the overhead light for your viewing enjoyment.

I offically "moved in" to this bathroom the week school started (August 17th) and it has been wonderful! The water is hot within a minute, it isn't extremely cold or extremely hot (like the other one), there is so much storage room!

The only thing left to finish is the trim around the windows and door which Dave promises will be done tomorrow.