Sunday, February 27, 2011
Like a lot of things I do, I bought this on a whim today. My mom, sister and I were at breakfast this morning and they got to talking about the games they play on their Droids and at that point I had just had it!
I wanted to play Angry Birds, Words with Friends or Doodle Jump!
But, nooooo. I was a Blackberry user and couldn't get those fun games and apps. My contract wasn't up for a LONG time and I wasn't due for any upgrades so I had just planned on waiting... but, after breakfast this morning I couldn't wait any longer.
We headed straight to the mall to pay a visit to Verizon. My mom thought it was a little ridiculous (but now that she is playing Words with Friends with me she seems pretty happy!).
After talking with my friend Lesli about what she did, I realized that the way to go was to add another line to our contract for $10 a month and pay $199 for the iPhone. Seems a bit much, but I get a feeling I won't get sick of this phone after 6 months like I do every other phone!
I'm not extremely frugal with my money - I definitely have room to improve, but I don't make big purchases like this very often. And I don't randomly buy $100 fleece jackets right afterwards either...
Yeah, you read right. While walking through Scheels on our way to the parking lot I stopped in the North Face section. There was of those super soft jackets left that I had been eyeing for the past few weeks and I just couldn't resist... I bought it. It still has the tags on it so if I am still sick over my frivolous purchases this week I can return the jacket (something tells me I won't though... ).
I already have Words with Friends (username: AmberWDM) and Angry Birds. What other apps do I just HAVE to get for the iPhone?
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant.
For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.
In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen.
Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.
Jodi Picoult has churned out yet another great novel that is full of controversy and characters that are easy to love and hate. I don't know how she does it year after year but she keeps releasing books that are full of research and full of arguments that really make you reconsider your opinion on something. She gives a voice to the subject through characters that you wouldn't otherwise know.
If you didn't already know, part of this book is about gay rights. When I first heard about this book I naturally assumed it would be about gay men, but it wasn't. It was about lesbians, and I will be honest, it made me uncomfortable at some moments, but I feel like I know a little more about what goes on in a gay woman's mind. It seems like whenever there's a controversy surrounding gay rights it tends to have to do with men, lesbians prefer a more lowkey lifestyle I suppose? Makes sense, I guess.
It's sort of perfect timing for this book to come out considering the controversy surrounding the semi-recent legalization of same sex marriage in Iowa. Some people aren't happy (I'll let you guess what party that could be...). I have my opinion on it, as I'm sure we all do, but before that I am in favor of equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.
I, for one, am extremely proud to be from Iowa. Words cannot even describe... so instead, I will post this graphic from Wikipedia that makes my heart swell in joy.
My only complaint about this book is the predictability of it. Maybe it's because this is my 10th Picoult book and I've gotten to know her writing too well. Regardless of being able to guess the ending about halfway through I have always loved how much I end up learning from her books. Whether it's about a rare disease or a group of people, I always walk away with a newer or stronger outlook on a specific subject.
Oh, and I can't forget the soundtrack that this book comes with! I loved it, it's perfect music to sit and enjoy a book to. I was a little worried that the cd would raise the price of the book too much, but it doesn't look like it is!
Read this book if you're a Jodi Picoult fan, and if you haven't read any of her books this would be a great one to start with!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Keys to my apartment, keys to my mailbox, keys to my parents house, keys to my car, keyless entry to my car, keys to my sisters car (don't ask!), another unknown key for my sisters car (probably the glove box), my gym card, my Petco card and now, my new library card.
Yikes! There's not room for anything else! Plus, I just recently relieved this baby of four keys that were designated to my former job. My grandpa always lectured me about too much on my keychain and how it was bad for the ignition...
So, tell me. What's on your keychain?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This week I am linking up with Jamie at This kind of love! :)
This week I am loving...
...the super cute kiddos in my 2nd grade practicum. I am only required to complete 40 hours, but considering I was there twice this week... I will probably have a lot more than that by May!
...that I get to spend some time with my good friend Lesli while she's in town this weekend!
...YA Fiction! I just can't seem to get enough and I keep adding new books to my list of books TBR.
...that this morning the birds were singing on my way into school. Spring is near!
...the Biggest Loser, it's so inspiring. This weeks show was super emotional!
...that my sister and I are going to see Pauly Shore at The Funny Bone. We loved him when we were kids so I'm excited to see him do some stand up! I would love to know exactly how many times we watched Encino Man, Son-in-Law and Bio-Dome....
...these extremely cute sandals from Aldo. I just love Aldo shoes!
What are you loving this week?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
So, an effective school is successful at educating children and producing graduates. Easy enough, right? That’s it? Wrong.
An effective school is everything listed in Teaching In America pages 107-8 but it’s also consistent. I believe consistency is the key to effectiveness for many things and schools are no different. But, as schools are getting larger and larger it’s getting harder and harder to be effective.
An effective school is not afraid of change, but it also does not immediately jump on the bandwagon to each new idea. An effective school is careful and cautious with what changes they proceed with. An effective school is full of teachers that are naturally progressive and always yearning to grow further themselves.
An effective school starts with its teachers, just as Davis Guggenheim from Waiting for Superman claims. Like a principal can control the culture of a school, the teachers can control the effectiveness of a school. A school cannot be effective if the teachers do not strive for results from each and every one of his or her students.
In my first semester at Drake an instructor claimed that we would not like every child/student. We are human and it’s human to dislike another human and it’s okay. This really struck me. As a person that strives to see the good in everybody and tries really hard to like everybody, it’s hard to accept this fact. It brought clarity and relief though. What she was also saying is, you don’t give up on that person because your personalities clash. Your job as a teacher is to teach everyone, and if you don’t teach everyone, or at least try… well, you didn’t do your job. You only did a portion of job. Who wants to do just a portion of their job?
In reflecting what effective schools look like I got to thinking about what ineffective schools look like. This should be easy, right? They’re supposedly everywhere and in almost every city. In fact, I went to a high school that is regarded as a “dropout factory” so, I should have first hand experience on what they look like, but I had to give this some serious thought. When I read the list on page 108, I thought to myself, “This describes my high school, so what is going wrong?” Then I thought to myself… my high school had almost 2000 students in it at one time. It probably has more now, as that was 10 years ago. 2000 students! To me, that is a ridiculous number. It is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of so many students and teachers, and if it’s a school that’s at the top of the state for sports and activities… that’s wonderful, but in the shoes of an average student, it is hard to comprehend feeling special or more than a number.
It takes a strong adult to try and stand out in a crowd of 2000 people, now put that weight on the shoulders of a student that is young and impressionable. That student has the easy way out whispering in his or her ear, and that easy way out is to give up. As teachers we need to be watching for that voice and when we see it we need to be drowning it out with our own voices.
There’s no way around big schools, cities do not have the funds to break them apart into smaller pieces. This makes a teacher’s responsibility even bigger. Their eyes have to be open a little wider, their ears need to be stretched a little farther and they need to see what other people don’t. When they see and hear these things they need to find ways to get through to their students or at least reach out to someone else that can do it for them.
There are many, many factors that contribute to making an effective school effective and many, many factors that contribute to making a school ineffective. Identifying the factors and remaining consistent is just one piece of the puzzle.
"The fate of our country won't be determined on a battlefield it will be decided in a classroom."
You may have guessed I just recycled a paper for class as a blog post, but you know what? It's important stuff and I wanted to put it out there. If you haven't seen Waiting for Superman, you should check it out, it's a wonderful documentary. It sensationalizes the issue but, in my opinion, it needs to be sensationalized.
So tell me, what do you think makes a school effective?
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I had a great week for books so I thought what a great opportunity to start participating in The Story Siren's weekly meme In My Mailbox? I go to Kristi's blog every now and then when I have the urge to read YA, because if there's a good YA book out there, she's read it.
This week I had to head downtown a couple times for my Arts Integration class and while down there I figured I would pop into the main Des Moines Library. I am so, so embarrassed to admit this, but... I had never been there. This library is pretty new... they moved and expanded in 2006. How terrible that I had not stepped foot inside this library?! What makes it even worse is that I grew up in Des Moines proper and the DMPL libraries were the branches I borrowed from every week while growing up and before moving off to college. In my defense though, I graduated undergrad in 2004 and immediately moved away and didn't come back for good until 2008(ish) so I think if I was living in DSM when the new library opened I would have been there for it (I like to think so anyway).
Now that I live in the suburbs I visit two libraries near my apartment which are equally as awesome, although I have to admit the structure isn't near as gorgeous as this one... I may have to make the trek downtown more often though because I have re-fallen in love with the DMPL. :)
Anyway, on with the books!
Since I am going through a YA phase I headed to that section right away and picked up two books that I have had my eye on for quite a while now. I was actually pretty surprised they were available!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I have noticed this circulating on the YA network for quite awhile now and at first immediately blew it off to be too cheesy for me. Then I noticed some of my favorite bloggers that typically read the same material as me (such as Jessica) enjoying it so I thought I would give it a try.
It looks cute and totally like something I would have loved in high school.
The Book of Spells by Kate Brian
This book is a prequel to the Private series, which I devoured last fall and have been reading each new one as soon as I can get my hands on it. This series is the type of stuff I loved when I was in high school so it's kinda of nice to be able to revert back to that chapter of my life and just lose myself in this world that is so different from my own.
These books are also incredibly fast reads so it's nice to be able to plow through books like this right away... Books from my favorite author, Jodi Picoult can leave me reflecting and distracted in the middle of them for too long... :P
And then... drumroll, please...
Speaking of my favorite author...
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Words can hardly express how excited I was to have won a copy of this book. It officially comes out March 1, so it's right around the corner, but I was ecstatic to have won a copy a little early so that I can get it read before the signing I am attending on March 11th in Minneapolis.
I got the book yesterday and am already a quarter of the way through it and am hoping to have time to finish it within the next few days. :)
Another book I picked up after seeing the documentary was...
Waiting for Superman, How can we save America's failing public schools?
The documentary made me cry like a baby and really hit home for me so buying this book wasn't an option for me. I wanted all of these facts in print. I think the film sensationalizes the issue a bit, but it's an issue that I think some (umm, many) people ignore. And, I say people and I mean citizens. It's great if you can afford private school or the public schools in your area are performing, but let's face it, most of them are not.
That is what's in my mailbox, what's in yours?
Friday, February 18, 2011
I've always been attracted to books about sisters and the bonds they have, especially sisters that are like night and day. My sister and I are exactly that. I am high strung and super organized and my sister is extremely laid back and cluttered. We haven't always gotten along, but in the past few years have gotten closer and closer and now we even live together. Our relationship is not the healthiest, we fight like cats and dogs, but I love her to death! Lindsey and Alex are similar to my sister and I in how different they are. This book hooked me right away with the setting based in New York City and following Lindsey at her high powered ad agency job, then to her hometown in Maryland where Alex still lives. Once she gets home she realizes that she's secretly falling for the guy in high school that she turned down... But, something (or someone) might be in her way. It kept right on going and I was able to finish this one faster than I've been finishing novels lately. (It's hard to read for leisure when you have that tiny voice in your head chanting you should be reading for class tomorrow, slacker!). I know this review doesn't let on too much about the book, but I don't want to spoil it! You're just gonna have to read it! ;)
I will definitely be picking up Sarah Pekkanen's second novel, Skipping a Beat when it comes out next week!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Nope, I had no recollection of this place at all. My teachers sure got through to me, huh? :/
I took a friend and we browsed several of the exhibits. For class I had to spend time reflecting on the exhibit "On The Road Again" which was part of the temporary exhibit "You Gotta Know The Territory" that examined Iowa's early years before statehood. There was an actual covered wagon on display, which was something I had to reflect on for my paper. Have you ever seen a covered wagon in person? No? I hadn't either...
It's massive! This obviously isn't the one on display, because I forgot my camera! :( But, this wagon looks very much like the one displayed.
I expected it to be big, but not that big! It was pretty cool! There were displays of the items that the settlers chose to bring with them and examples of items that they probably had to leave behind. My favorite part was a video that narrates the diary of a girl traveling west through Iowa in the covered wagon.
It was hard not to ponder over the thought of what might be on display in 200 years about us! ;)
After leaving the Historical Building my friend and I were hungry so we started looking for somewhere to eat. We didn't want to spend a lot of money so we were trying to think of something cheap... We ended up here :
The High Life Lounge!
High Life is a retro 60s bar that has shag carpet, vintage wallpaper and wood paneled walls. They serve High Life beer (the champagne of beers!) and other great contemporaries such as PBR and Schlitz. It's classy, let me tell ya! ;)
I love it though! They serve food as well. Some of the items that grace their menu is goulash, tuna casserole and tater tots. Yes, tater tots. I was really craving some tots, so I ordered a 1/4 lb cheeseburger with a side of tots and a pint of Miller Lite (yeah, I declined the PBR, Schlitz or High life beer...). All of this for only $6.95! I don't think we could have gotten anything cheaper. :)
It was a great afternoon! I'm looking forward to visiting other events in the area to meet my arts requirement. I don't think High Life counted... :P
I'm studying special education and am currently working on a huge paper due at the end of the semester that examines the benefits of arts integration with special needs students. The research has been interesting so far, I'm loving it!
What museum in your area is your favorite? Favorite museum of all time? When you were a kid and first learning about history were you genuinely interested?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Next weekend one of my favorite blog friends turned IRL friend, Lesli is coming to Des Moines to visit! Now that I am a free woman, I have all the time in the world to spend with her. We usually end up at her hubby's favorite restaurant, On The Border which is muy bueno with me! :)
A couple weeks after that I will be heading up to her neck of the woods with my friend S for the Jodi Picoult signing for Sing You Home. (Do you guys get how big of a nerd I am now? Seriously. My last few posts have all mentioned this book somewhere!)
Then... the week after that (St. Patrick's Day!) my group of friends and I are heading two hours west of here to the lovely city of Omaha, NE to see this spectacular lady....
We have FLOOR SEATS (that we paid a pretty penny for) and I just can't wait. I have a feeling it's going to be chaos and so much fun! We decided to pay a little extra because my best friends sister in law has graciously opened up her home for us, (which, not going to lie. This woman is loaded and I'm almost as excited to see her house as I am Gaga) so since we didn't have to spend any extra on a hotel room we splurged on the seats.
It's general admission floor seats which, I have to admit is a little concerning to me. I'm not interested in having to elbow people to maintain a good view and would enjoy having an actual seat, but we decided to risk it and see what happens. If we regret it... well, we'll learn our lesson! I think no matter what we're going to have a great time.
Today, I am heading downtown with a friend to walk through the Historical Building and the Papajohn Sculpture park for my Integrating the Arts class and I am actually really excited! Being a Des Moines native I have been to the Historical Building, but it was probably in the 3rd grade on a field trip, so I basically remember nothing. I'm excited to check it out as an adult that appreciates history.
I will make sure to take lots of pictures! It's gorgeous out so I should be able to get some good shots of the sculptures in the park!
Have you ever been to a big concert that was general admission? What did you think?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I have had a wonderful week so far, and a fantastic weekend. You see, my friend S and I are always complaining that we're still so young, yet we don't ever do anything "fun." We love to call ourselves LAME, because we pretty much are. We don't do much that doesn't involve sitting in a booth at a bar, drinking beer and listening to crappy music.
Seriously. We never do anything. Sometimes I get really frustrated. I understand that things cost money, but we're all young, responsible, child-less adults. We all have a disposable income that allows for a little fun and spontaneity, but we're never spontaneous.
S and I have decided that needs to change. Immediately. We're trying to push ourselves to do more fun and interesting things. We had been talking about sledding all winter which made me think about tubing at one of my favorite places as a kid.
Sleepy Hollow Sports Park.
Sleepy Hollow has a 15 story hill that is used for tubing, snow boarding, and skiing. This may not seem like a big deal (a 15 story hill that isn't steep at all) but in a place like Iowa where it's completely flat almost everywhere it IS a big deal! A fun deal! :)
We had a lot of fun tubing down this hill for a couple hours. Definitely brought me back to my childhood when my parents would bring us here a couple times during the winter. Plus, it cost less than $20 for two hours. Pretty cheap, if you ask me! :)
Earlier that day, I found out some great news that made me so excited I was jumping up and down in the sports store I was buying snow pants at... I found out that I had won an ARC of Jodi Picoult's newest book, Sing You Home that comes out March 1, from Jessica's blog A Booklover's Diary. I have been coveting this book for a year now. As soon as I heard Jodi talk about it at the signing for 2010's release, House Rules, I knew I would be impatient waiting for it. All she had to say was gay rights, and my ears perked right up and I knew it was gonna be gooooood (and controversial). Thank you, Jessica!
I will most likely do something with the ARC once I have finished reading it because I will by a finished copy for the signing in Minneapolis on March 11th. Not sure what I will do with it yet though. If I give it away it will probably be after March 1 or very close to it. I'm not sure if anyone would want an ARC of a book that is already released. Suggestions?
Have you done anything out of the ordinary lately? What is your group of friends like? Do you tend to do the same things over and over every weekend or do you get out and do fun stuff like winter sports?
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
My sister and I got in a huge fight this morning. It's extremely stupid and I know it's a misunderstanding between us both, but now we're not talking to each other. I tried to talk to her earlier and that just made it even worse. We're such opposite personalities that sometimes we majorly clash, and we're both super sensitive to boot. Ugly combination.
I'm still waiting on all my sub stuff to go through. For a school district that is in such a desperate need for subs they sure are taking a long time... :/
I've got a pretty light week for classes. There's not a lot that is due, which is good so I can take this time to maybe get a little ahead. I have a feeling that my schedule is going to get hectic pretty quick...
Friday I start my practicum for my Foundations of Education class. I'm working with a 2nd grade class here in West Des Moines. I'm going to be working in her room every Monday probably for the rest of the semester (if all goes well!). I'm just starting this Friday because we're both available. I'm a little nervous, but more excited! The Foundations class requires 40 hours to complete the practicum and 80 hours total for my entire program (there's another class that requires a practicum). 80 hours is what is required for the state of Iowa, but most other states require 100 so just to be safe I will probably try to hit the 100 hour mark. I don't plan on leaving Iowa, but you never know.
I am so ready to read Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home. I have been excited about it since last years book signing for House Rules! She brought up Sing You Home during her talk about House Rules and I knew it would probably be a book I would love.... it doesn't come out until March 1st and I'm already scouting out the booksellers that tend to put their books out a little early. Hopefully I get lucky!
What's going on in your world? Anything exciting happen this week?
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I have a confession... I won an ARC of this book during a giveaway over a year ago and have only just now read it. Shame on me. Honestly, I have no idea why I took so long to read this. It was pretty good! I don't know if I think it's as fantastic as everyone else does, but it does top the list of great YA novels.
Before I Fall is about Samantha, a senior in high school that is part of that inevitable group of "mean girls" in high school. She's extremely popular, but hasn't always been. She knows how it feels to not be liked and teased in school, yet she still contributes to making life miserable for the unpopular kids now.
One night Samantha dies in a car accident leaving a party with her friends. Instead of moving on, Samantha lives out her last day over and over... What would you do differently if you knew that today was your last day to live?
This book really makes you stop and examine how we treat other people. It really made me think about the different personality types we all have as people and how something that might be nothing to you can really bother someone else.
If you're craving a little YA and a quick read definitely look into Before I Fall.
The Help by Kathrynn Stockett
First off, this is the first book I read on my Nook! I loved the convenience of the Nook and it's especially great at the gym. Nothing has kept me on the treadmill longer than a great book - total plus!
I've read a lot of great books, but you know a book is really fantastic when you just can't stop thinking about it. When you're not reading, you want to be. I wanted to be reading this book every chance I could get. At the same time though, I didn't want to get to the end. I didn't want it to end!
This book uncovers the truth about what it was really like to be an African-American maid during the Civil Rights Movement in the South. That period of our history has always fascinated me, as well depressed me, and living in the South for a short period of time only piqued that interest more. The Help is narrated by three different women. Wise, bookish maid, Aibileen who has raised seventeen white children in her lifetime. Sassy, sharp tongued maid, Minny who is a phenomenal cook. Recent college graduate, Skeeter who aspires to be a writer.
Each time Aibileen's sections ended I was sad. I wanted to read more about Aibileen, I fell in love with her character and have definitely added her to my list of fictional characters that I admire. She's smart, interesting and kind. Her story will break your heart and make you want to reach out and hug her.
I'm so excited that this book is going to be a movie! I cannot wait to see one of my favorite characters in action on the big screen! :)
Do not wait to read this book. Get to the bookstore, reserve it at the library, borrow it from a friend. You won't regret it! If you have a Nook I am allowed to lend it to one person! Hint, hint! ;)
What are you reading right now?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I'm linking up with Jamie over at This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday! I love reading her posts on Wednesdays because she finds the cuuuuutest dresses!
This week I'm not searching for clothes because I am not allowed to buy ANYTHING clothes related for a long, long time. (Except for maybe some khakis... and maybe some capris, because I don't wear shorts and we've gotta buy them now if we want 'em...)
Here are some products and things I have been loving this week!
OPI Rapid Dry top coat. This stuff dries in five minutes and looks so shiny and nice! Since giving up regular manicures last year I love picking out new colors and painting my own nails each week, but I'm impatient and almost always smudge so this stuff is a necessity! It's a little pricey at $12 a bottle but totally worth it!
Remember my skin woes last week? Well, I wondered if using a toner would help at all so I picked up this stuff during one of my trips to Ulta. I stopped using moisturizer for a few days and just used toner and it's working! I'm definitely a fan of this new product from Neutrogena!
A snack I have discovered recently also has my heart... Dole Apples and Creme parfaits. They are so good and taste just like apple crisp! At only 130 calories per cup it's definitely better for the waistline!
I'm also loving Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. This book is so good so far! I can tell I am getting ready to go through a YA phase and will probably read Oliver's latest release, Delirium next. I'm only on page 194/470 so I might not finish it for awhile. I don't feel too bad though because I'm taking four graduate level courses and you know what that means? READING. Pages and pages and pages of textbooks to read. Seriously, I'm not a skimmer but I'm probably going to have to become one if I want to keep up on the reading and still have a life.
What are you loving this week?? Tell me in the comments or link up over on Jamie's page and tell us what you're loving this week!