Sunday, August 31, 2008

School ready to go, part 1

School starts on Tuesday in our new school. Within a few short weeks, we've made amazing progress in setting up our learning environment and I am PROUD of our accomplishments so far. This was last year's classroom, literally a "one-room schoolhouse." It went from this:

to this (our cafeteria / gym / math room:
Our science lab went from this:
to this (the floor is still not done, so we decided to wait on moving in the big storage cabinets):

Friday, August 29, 2008

Check out the view from my office

My classroom is shaping up, though I still have tons to do before kids show up on Tuesday. My desk is on the yet-to-be-organized list, but my books are all at home on their shiny new shelves. Whenever I start to feel too stressed, I can sit back in my comfy office chair and peruse my mighty empire of books. Ahhh...

The actual classroom remains "under construction," but we're getting there. I'll go in tomorrow to (hopefully) finish setting up the physical space. Then I can spend the rest of the long weekend writing curriculum. FUN.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Proud to be a woman today

Smart, dynamic women; fantastic speeches.

Some of my favorite quotes from Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton:

I loved what Michelle said about "the belief that the world as it is just won't do-- that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be."

And that "America should be a place where you can make it if you try."

Michelle Obama delivered a positive, uplifting message which was just what I needed after a hard day. I would've actually settled for a foot massage, but, hey, a political speech is the next best thing, right?

During Hillary's speech, I was reminded why I like her so much. That woman is so smart and a such powerful presence on stage. Definitely a bit stiffer than Michelle, but formidable (and I do mean that in a bad-ass, derby love way). Can't really see Michelle playing roller derby, but I bet Hillary could knock some bitches down.

The "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits" line cracked me up, but my husband didn't get the joke.

When Hillary said, "My mother was born before women had the right to vote; My daughter was able to vote for her mother--for President," I almost burst into tears. While I'm still blaming the patriarchy for the fact that the US is STILL not ready for a female president, I have to admit that we've made some amazing progress.

And now, thanks to Hillary daring to go where no woman has gone before, there are "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Join the fight against Leukemia and Breast Cancer

Support your Stateline Roller Derby Divas as we join the fight against Leukemia and Breast Cancer.

The Divas will be walking in Light the Night to raise money for leukemia research on September 18. The walk starts at Davis Park in Rockford, IL. Registration begins at 5:30 pm and we start the walk at 7 pm. Walk with us and become an honorary Diva or make an online donation. You can make your donation at:

We will also be participating in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer on October 25. This walk starts at Martin Park in Loves Park, IL. Registration begins at 8 am and we start the walk at 9 am. Walk with us, buy a t-shirt, or make an online donation (or all do all of the above and experience some sincere derby love). Visit my fundraising page to help save endangered boobies everywhere:

Friday, August 22, 2008

My New School

Construction is ALMOST DONE on our school expansion. Last year, our charter school was literally a "one-room schoolhouse." That original room, pictured here crammed with all our junk, will be used as an all-purpose room. Gym in the morning, lunchroom at noon, and whatever is needed in the afternoon.

At the far end of our all-purpose room is the kitchen where lunch will be served. It was a storage area last year.

We hope our new science lab area will be done by next week. Let's all cross our fingers...

Here is the long view of our very large classroom that will hold about 40 students in grades 9-12. We moved in the furniture all day and I was too exhausted to even think about taking more photos. Maybe tomorrow when I go in to set up my office...

It doesn't look nearly so big with 40 workstations set up.

Close-up of the same room. My office is the door on the left, Scott's is in the middle, and the short hallway on the right leads to an extra classroom where we can take small groups of kids for seminar time, presentations, or whatever. I managed to squeeze a ginormous desk and four bookcases into my office. Now I just need a spot for the file cabinets...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Roller Derby Basics

Can't get enough of roller derby basics? Check out this article from HowStuffWorks for a short tutorial on bouting, rules, etc.

Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track by Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan

Roller derby is back, but very different from the banked track derby that many people remember from the 70's. The reimagination of derby as a flat track, skater-run sport started with a single league in Texas in 2003. Today, there are leagues of smart, strong women all over the country ready and willing to step into their skates and knock a bitch down.

Melicious traces the fascinating history of flat track roller derby, starting with the founding of the Texas Rollergirls in 2003, and continuing through the Dust Devil National Championship in 2006. Quotes, stories, and profiles from real rollergirls, in addition to fast-paced derby action, make this a book that will be almost impossible for skaters or fans of derby to put down.

Melicious describes her immediate enchantment with the sport after seeing a bout and her subsequent trip to the rink for her first practice. I could relate because I had the same reaction. Even though I hadn't been on skates since middle school (a loooong time ago), my local team has welcomed me and is patiently teaching me how to hold my own on eight wheels.

I highly recommend this book to skaters of all levels. Melicious combines a detailed history of this exciting sport with stories from skaters that explain exactly why so many women are willing to pay money for the privilege of working so hard and risking injury in order to participate. Humorous and informative.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not sure you understand the basics of women's flat track roller derby? Check out this animated video posted on YouTube by the Gem City Rollergirls, featuring music by Uncle Leon and the Alibis:

Great stuff!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My favorite song from Les Miserables

Rereading Les Mis got me thinking about how much I enjoyed the musical when I saw it in London back in 1991. I haven't listened to the soundtrack recently, but even hearing a few bars of my favorite songs starts the waterworks...

Who Am I? (Jean Valjean) Another man is arrested in Valjean's place and he struggles with whether to admit his true identity or to let the other man take his place:

Come to Me (Fantine/Jean Valjean) Fantine's death scene:

Master of the House (the Thénardiers) A bit of comic relief with the thoroughly disgusting innkeeper and his wife:

The Confrontation (Jean Valjean/Javert) Valjean begging for time to save Fantine's daughter while Javert insists on following the letter of the law:

A Little Fall of Rain (Marius/Eponine) Eponine's death scene. I weep every time I hear this song:

Bring Him Home (Jean Valjean) Valjean rescues Marius and prays that he will live:

I wish they'd sell the musical on DVD. As much as I'd love to go back to London to see the show again, I don't see that happening any time soon. And the movie versions just don't do it for me....sigh...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Irritated by a Book

I really hate reading fiction and being smacked in the face with an author's agenda. Sheesh, that crap should be saved for non-fiction. At least you know the kind of drivel you'll be getting from Ann Coulter or Jerry Falwell.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

When you're on vacation in Las Vegas...

As a former resident of Las Vegas, I have a tip for those of you planning a visit. If you're planning to get drunk and stupid, you need to know that following traffic laws might save your life.

If you ignore traffic laws and cross against the lights, you stand a very good chance of being hit by a car. And no, holding up your 3' tall drink as you stumble in the path of fast-moving traffic won't make motorists feel your drunken vibe. In fact, it just might piss them off enough that they will run you down. And guess what else? If you are crossing where there is no crosswalk or crossing against the light, the motorist who runs you over won't even get a ticket.

My husband and I just spent a week in Vegas for RollerCon and I could not believe the way tourists just wandered out into traffic. Often, everyone would be waiting and then one dumbass would decide to go in spite of the don't walk signal. This would inspire a group of others to follow, despite the fact that two lanes of traffic were heading towards them.

Believe me, coming home in a body bag will totally be a vacation buzz kill, so just wait for the walk symbol.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Las Vegas food highlights

Janie and I got new haircuts for the Black and Blue Ball on Friday and then stopped at Firefly, our favorite tapas restaurant, for lunch. We started with the crunchy bread and almond butter and a couple of mojitos. I like the sangria better, so I switched to that for the meal. We ordered a big bowl of salad and a big bowl of pasta. We tried to get Bill to come over and join us, but he was busy taking a nap. Smart man--it was a late night!

Our last stop of note was my all-time favorite restaurant in Vegas, The Roadrunner. Unfortunately, the blender was broken, so I was unable to order my usual, a mango margarita. I only pouted briefly. Ron and Janie joined us. Ron had the buffalo meatloaf, Janie had the Dr. Pepper tacos (very juicy and delicious), Bill tried the brisket (underwhelming, though the smashed potatoes rocked), and I stuck with an old favorite, the smoked turkey and avocado wrap.

We stayed at Paris and tried a couple of restaurants there when we couldn't face traffic. The food was excellent, but pricey. I highly recommend getting away from the Strip on your next trip and venturing out to where the locals eat. Just don't act like an annoying tourist!

Las Vegas food highlights

One of my favorite things about Las Vegas is the wide variety of restaurants. I'm not a big-city kind of girl, but I love eating out and appreciate good food. I planned to do a daily food blog live from Vegas, as there are so many wonderful eateries, but Internet access was sporadic and my free time surprisingly limited. It was a hectic week, but we did make time to get away from the Strip and revisit some of our favorite restaurants.

Our first stop (directly from the airport) was Memphis BBQ. No need to look at the menu--it was brisket sandwiches and apple blossom tea for both of us.

Next up was our favorite breakfast place, The Original Pancake House. Portions are GINORMOUS, so it is a good idea to share with a friend. Unfortunately, Bill likes meat and I prefer veggies, so he never wants to split anything. He had a basic egg and sausage breakfast and I had an incredible baked omelet with lotsa veggies. And fluffy buttermilk pancakes and fresh-squeezed OJ. Then we had to go take a nap and digest a while...

The other Divas in town for RollerCon joined us for dinner at Sammi’s Woodfire Pizza. I had, you guessed it, a grilled veggie pizza. Yummy!

More to follow...