Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sun, sun , sun, here it comes...

Finalmente! Sunshine, surf, smiling children, sunburn! We finally had a beach day. We repaired to the beach at high tide for wave jumping, sunning, and general merriment. We got salty, sandy, and sleepy. The waves were challenging, especially as you were trying to keep your footing as the water ebbed out and another wave came crashing in. I got stuffed only once, but worked hard to stay on my feet.

Tonight we had a feast for Sam - giant shrimp and a delicious steak. Corn (from the ACME in case you are curious), favorite beans, jasmine rice, roasted carrots, cake [a secret family recipe - Betty Crocker] and Edy's fudge swirl ice cream.

Must run down and get our gifts [lite] for Sam. With many promises for cooler things when we get home, we have birthday tokens for Sam.

The Beach, the Wind, and the Sun's Guest Appearance

So, by ten this morning we gamely headed to the beach. No rain, but serious overcast. Low tide today as at 9:10AM, so the waves were less intimidating and we had a chance to get in. The girls were shiver-lipped when they got out as the water was a bit warmer than the air.

Martha and Bob joined us at the beach in a bit, and hung out with us in the wind. It was not really pleasant, although we were sure we were going to milk any enjoyment possible out of the experience. Claire does not go out in the sun, and she doesn't like the sand, so we were not able to coax her to the surf.

We all cheered when the sun came out for a peek, and then it got startled by the applause and went back behind the curtain of gray. The wind got progressively fresher, so Martha used the umbrella to make a beachy yurt. The little girls scoured up all the available towels and used them as rugs. The new towels that Claire bought have not been washed yet, and they leave a light lint coating on your salty skin. Hannah looked really blue until we realized that she was really blue - from the lint. This bugged her more than being blue from cold, and it rolled up as we brushed it off.

We went back to the house for lunch, and the sun has appeared fully now along with blue sky. We will go back to the beach in a bit. High tide is at 3:30 today.

Emily actually is here - really - here's a picture that I am sure she will hate. And yeah, I can't figure out how to rotate photos so they will stay rotated. I'm sure with photoshop...:

Sam and Sophia Make Pancakes

It's Not Raining!
It's Sam's Birthday!

Sophia and Sam are making fabulous Krusteaz pancakes for breakfast this morning. Sophia woke up ready to cook, and she has everything ready. Butter, mix, bowl, whisk, pans, syrup, blueberries.

The table is set. Plates, cutlery, and all the breakfast beverages that we could want. Sam made the coffee.

Check out the chefs in action!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dinner at the M - M Steam Bar

Shore Dinner - this is the place!

We had a a ton of delicious food. The bisque and chowder were great. Martha had a fried soft shell crab sandwich, and Emily had a shrimp basket. Sam's Mahi Mahi looked good, too. The meal to eat obviously was the lobster dinner - not what we ordered, but everyone around us was up to their elbows in melted butter. M & M is a great location, and you could probably find something new to eat everyday. They do the full shore package - raw bar, fried food, grilled, lots of yummy stuff.

So, worth the trip I think.

Surrey in the Rain

Our silly, Let's Get Soaked, excursion was to rent a bicycle surrey and pedal our legs off down to the end of the island to the wildlife refuge. We got completely soaked in the mist and rain, although it really felt like we were pedaling through a cloud and not really rain. As you can see, the cover was pro forma as we all were soaked anyway. Leaving the surrey to take photos on the beach resulted in a wet seat and a load or two of laundry.

So much for Accuweather and the "it will be clear by noon" prognostications. We are still in the center of this stationary front or the edge of the hurricane winds. This northeaster is a bit depressing, but we vow to get to the beach in due time.

These photos show what the beach is all about today - lots of wind and salt spray. The camera hit the ground at one point in an "out of saddle" sprint to get around a police car and the vehicle that he had stopped/ stopped for. I stuck the memory card in my back pocket to ensure that it dried out before I stuck it back in the camera.

We are all going to join hands on the porch and sing "Here Comes the Sun." Hope that it works.

Walk to Holgate (South)

Went for a walk with Sam this morning when the birds and Claire were up but the rest of the household was still abed. The rain has stopped, but there is a sturdy North Easterly wind at about 12 mph (2 knots or thereabouts), and it bites at the ears when you are walking back up the island. Tide is pretty high right now, and so I hope that the wind will drop some and we can get to the beach.

Have put aside The Amber Spyglass as I discovered it was a first printing of the first American edition - that means that if I can get a first/first of The Subtle Knife I can make some $ off of them as a first/first set if they stay in fine condition. The cover of TAS is fragile with a cut out on the front, so I'll check out a copy from the library to finish the reread.

So, I'm back to rereading Pride and Prejudice. Such a hardship. Maybe I just don't like the post-modern novel (gasp! heresy in an English teacher!).

Heard that the house sitter is doing fine and that Sky in whining. So, everything is apparently normal.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's Raining, It's Pouring, But We're Not Snoring

Rain watch part 3-

Yes, still raining. Yes, still waiting. Yes, still eating. Yes, Martha made it on the bus today. Yes, we shopped at Ron Jon's. Yes, we bought a new boogie board. Sure, we wish it were sunny. Indeed, I'm going to make a cocktail - because no matter what the time stamp on this entry is, it's really 5:00 pm and it's cocktail time.

I've read Eclipse - by Stephenie Meyer
An Iris Johannson
Reread The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Starting The Amber Spyglass
Still struggling with Middlesex by Eugenides
Gilda bought me Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated

Read Stephen King's essay about the real importance of Rowling's Harry Potter series:
But reading was never dead with the kids. Au contraire, right now it's probably healthier than the adult version, which has to cope with what seems like at least 400 boring and pretentious ''literary novels'' each year. While the bigheads have been predicting (and bemoaning) the postliterate society, the kids have been supplementing their Potter with the narratives of Lemony Snicket, the adventures of teenage mastermind Artemis Fowl, Philip Pullman's challenging His Dark Materials trilogy, the Alex Rider adventures, Peter Abrahams' superb Ingrid Levin-Hill mysteries, the stories of those amazing traveling blue jeans. And of course we must not forget the unsinkable (if sometimes smelly) Captain Underpants. Also, how about a tip of the old tiara to R.L. Stine, Jo Rowling's jovial John the Baptist?

Yes! That's me! Struggling with the boring and pretentious "literary novels" and wishing everyone told a story as well as Meyer and Rowling and Pullman.

Well, back to the books -

Funny shopping note. I sent Claire to get some avocados and she returned - told me that she knew nothing about avocados or when they are ripe so she only bought one - and it is a mango. I haven't had the heart to tell her yet.

Monday, August 20, 2007

And the rain rain rain came down down down

Still raining -

Sam is looking for an activity. Emily is safely back with us, and still sleeping. No surprise as she has been in MDT for a week. I've got the copy of Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer to read, so I don't care if we leave the house.

Bob has been eating his weight in our good cooking, although I can't seem to get people to eat vegetables beside sliced cucumbers (and I mean adult people). Last night Emily, Sam and I ate the salad by ourselves - and we ate it all, I might add.

What shall we do on a rainy day at the beach?

Quiz question - the post title is from? Answer

Sunday, August 19, 2007

the rain is raining all around...

And so it goes. Rain and 67° - but as I have said before, a rainy day at the beach is still a day at the beach. I love the sharp smell of the air, the mix of rain and salt water. It's a little September-y, but that is all the more reason to hunker down and read a good book.

Tonight's dinner is Frenched rack of lamb with penne pasta served with a garlic/olive oil sauce and broccoli made a la Maison (that's the soy/garlic sautéed). No onions. Just remember. No onions. Got it?

Sam and Emily will be here within the hour. Must get cooking!
The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.
-- R.L. Stevenson

Sunday Mornng at the Beach House

Sam and I went for a long walk this morning. The weatherman says that there will be rain on and off this week. I suspect it is because there is a hurricane blowing in Jamaica and it's throwing weather all around. Surfers were up and in the water at 9:00 when we were walking by.

Looking at the ocean from the top of the house.

Emily is at the Albuquerque airport and we will pick her up today.

We will grab our beach experiences when we can, as often as we can. I'm philosophical. A rainy day at the beach is better than a rainy day many other places.

We made delicious chicken with garlic and lemon last night, roasted potatoes and a big salad. Tonight, lamb chops I think. With Martha eating only fish and vegetables, I'll need to think through Tuesday through Thursday dinners.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The House in Beach Haven

We made it at 2:20 to the realtor's to pick up the key (on time - any time after 2:00).

The house in on piers - I love that because we get a fab breeze. The house actually have three levels. Level one (up a flight of stairs) has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Second level has a big room with living area, dining table, and kitchen - and a half bath. There is a great balcony on this level, with chaises and table, and a circular staircase up to a final level and balcony with a chaise and chair. Great view - great breeze.

Here is a picture from the balcony to the beach (can you see the kite?)

It's dusk and my little camera doesn't do so well. More tomorrow!

Last Day in Manhattan - MoMA

Today we went to two museums - Nintendo World - where the girls played with a Wii and craved it even more. Sophia got her NY splurge and got two new games - Mario Kart and High School Musical the game.

After Nintendo world we went to the Museum of Modern Art to see the Richard Serra sculptures. We had a tres chic lunch at the 5th floor cafe - tiny little bites of food for lots of money.

Got caught in the rain. Went to Gilda's, said goodbye, and Paul drove us to Mountainside. It took almost 2 hours with Friday afternoon traffic and the rain. Slowly, slowly said the Audi A6.

The girls got to see High School Musical2 this morning. One of Claire and Bob's friends thoughtfully tapes it so they could watch it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dinner at Cafe Joul; Breakfast out of a bag

We had a lovely Vouvray and Mussels.

The beat salad had more jicama than beats but it was tasty.

Lemon sole with basmati and spinach. Needed less rice and more spinach.

Room service consisted of a guy in whites running up from the corner diner with my coffee in a styrofoam cup and eggs in a carry out containers. Plasticware - think of it as service to your room not in your room.

We are packing and stressing out. Hey, it's New York!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Village and the Lower East Side

Today was a lot of walking, window shopping and negotiating. We had a wonderful breakfast at the Palace restaurant, near the hotel on 57th. Everyone around us was speaking in another language - Italian, Spanish, Polish, German. We feel so boring. Hopped into a cab and harmonically converged at Gilda's therapist at 11:00 and we met Martha there. Martha, the girls and I went walking through the West Village, Washington Square Park -looked at the statue of Garibaldi and the big triumphal arch - and kept going. As I said, lots of window shopping and some actual retail. We found some adorable stuff at a store called Love Child that we found earrings, and other fab tschotkes for the girls. We ate lunch at a Brazilian cafe in Nolita called Cafe Colonial where the girls shared a hamburger as big as their head and I ate an oriental chicken salad. Delish, although I am wearing a quantity of it. Apparently this is a people watching place, which might be why there is the "no cell phone" sign on the wall. "Lots of pretty people there, reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue" - Joni Mitchell

We went from pretty people land to the Lower East side tenement museum, a place that my friend Ellen said had a great gift store. She was right - great stuff - and the tour was excellent as well. We did the tour that talked about two families - German immigrants in the 1860s and an Italian family in the 30s. Sweaty stuff.
The tour guide made two comments that cracked me up -
one -he talked about how the house was from the time of Abraham Lincoln, and as Abe isn't looking too good these days we should not touch anything. The girls leaned over and asked if our house wasn't built around then - yes, but we can touch it -
and two - some man probably disappeared one day (probably was press ganged or shanghaied) and the guide said to the girls, "Would you run away and join the circus?" and they said - "We already did." Which earned a major double take. Big laugh, too. I don't think he though she was serious. I think he thought she was the funniest kid he'd ever met.

Now we just need to figure the dinner thing out. I'll update after we make some decisions.

NYC on 57th

We had a great travel day yesterday - no flight troubles, great car service guy (Jose) who was helpful and generally fabulous.

Our room at the Hotel 57 is total Euro mod. Lots of faux suede and frosted glass. Nice beds with lots of feathers (this must be the upscale hotel trend of the 21st century) and lots of high design stuff. Ikea style closets, vessel sink, and lots of polished limestone in the bathroom. The bathtub itself a not luxe - just a small porcelain enameled tub that has a chip on the outside - such an interesting corner to cut!

But they have free internet and that is okay.

We are up to our usual wrangling of too many conflicting agendas and not enough will in anyone to press theirs, so we do a lot of that buzzard stuff from Jungle Book - "what cha wanna do? I don't know. What you wanna do? I don't know, maybe we could eat breakfast. Naw, I just want cereal. Do we take a cab or the subway? I don't know, it would cost $10 either way, but your choice...." Arrgh!!!

We had a lovely dinner at a trattoria a block from Gildas's apt. Sophia ate her weight in ravioli, spaghetti, and flourless chocolate cake. I had a fabulous bass that was broiled and served with garlic and olive oil. Yum.

More later. I'll post pictures if I get a card reader.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oh, by the way...

Isn't it amazing that I can spend an hour in a discussion with a woman who just returned from helping the government of Serbia create a national anti-bullying legislation and we can't get our colleagues at school to agree that we might need a school wide curriculum?

Isn't it amazing that I can sit next to a guy from the Ministry of Education in Finland?

Morning Keynotes

Two challenging voices this morning. We were asked to think about changing the teaching model, not just including technology as a part of the classroom. Make this all more than just an expensive pencil.


And excellent model for a classroom. Problem for us as English teachers - how to make the study of literature into a creative process. I can see how this would work in fiction and poetry writing, and I have a glimmer of an idea operating on the corona of my usual practice. Now how to make it come clearer into focus.

As I said earlier about Mitch Resnick, he makes me want to transform the look of my classroom. Perhaps my girls can help me innovate here. My room needs work.

The first speaker, Angela McFarlane, reminded us that:
Education comes from the root Educare - to draw out
But we don't educate our children -- we train them (:()
We should educate children to ask good questions
She makes a point about what parents want for their children -
*they want them to be happy
*they want them to be successful
but all success is not monetary.
This gets me back to my discoveries about all the teachers in the Potter Family. There has always been an opportunity cost to formal education, especially in its purest form.

I'm going to listen to Resnick in the keynote follow-up, so I'm going to listen now.

The North End... Success!!

So, last night we risked the possibility of rain and took the bus into downtown Boston for the express purpose of revisiting the North End. Well, some things are frozen in time, thank God.

The landscape has changed slightly since the Big Dig. You no longer have to get to the North End through a pedestrian walkway (read - tunnel) under the highway, as they have moved the road. So it's a simple act of crossing the street at the light.

We walked up Hanover street and had dinner at Piccola Venezia (Little Venice) on Hanover. It is as I remember it, just a bit bigger. We ate early as I wanted to not stand around for a table - a possibility even on a Wednesday. I had a "small" (food for five) ceasar salad and a huge plate (food for seven) of fried calamari with a spicy marinara. Yum.

I dragged Cathy all over the North End on the ruse of "just a block" to the next thing. We saw North Church, St. Leonard's Church (the Sacco [I think of Sacco and Vanzetti] memorial stained glass window), Revere Mall, Copps Hill Burying Ground.

We had cappuccino and the gold standard of tiramisu sitting at the table on Hanover Street at Cafe Vittoria (you remember that place, Liz? We went there together a million years ago.)

The keynote speaker is starting, so I should listen. More later!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Morning at BLC

Hi everyone -

Well of course after a fascinating yesterday today has been a lot of powerpoint presentations (or Keynote if they are Mac users). So lots of pages and pages and links and..

Someone, somewhere has to do a presentation on how to actually make some of these things work. No one is yet discussing pedagogy - they are all showing us cool stuff. i just saw a presentation that mentioned a new on-line bookmarking site that allows you to highlight and leave sticky notes on electronic texts. Now THAT could have some application with annotation.

This session that I am waiting to see is supposed to be about "putting it all together" so I hope that they are ready with some - "now, how do you use it" options.

Lunch was a salad, roast chicken breast, really sturdy (shiny) mashed potatoes and Raspberry Tiramisu. The coffee here is good, contrary to my expectations.

Tonight we are going to travel into the city down to Quincy Market via the conference bus. We are going to have dinner in the North End. Cathy was so skeptical last night about getting around, and she's not much of a walker, so tonight will be a challenge.

The session is starting, so I'll sign off and post later.

Great Beds

Just a morning note. The bed is great. It's a little Princess and the Pea, but with a featherbed, a duvet, and four down pillows it's very cushy. Hard to get up at 6:15 again this morning.

I have a zit on my chin. Quel drag.

Off to the opening remarks - I've just been to a very interesting early bird session on tolerance.

Later folks

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sentimental Journey

Okay - so we went to Brookline tonight for dinner, and even though I had previously googled my favorite restaurants - they were gone. Sniff.
We did find a nice place where the ambience was better than my meal - but my companions enjoyed theirs. I had a muddy (bleck - tilpiaesque) Striped Bass, but the rest of the meal was better. It was called The Fireside and it was in Washinton Sqaure (Tam O'Shanter territory).
So here's the amazing part. I - the queen of lost - managed to navigate the mothership with the copilot (Cathy) kept screaming at Dave (the pilot and her husband) not to miss the turn again. I knew where I was!!! I could get us where we needed to go! Too bad so sad that neither of my sentimental journey destinations were still happening businesses - ah well.

Emily - I shall, shall, shall (triple promise) to put Scratch on every machine when I get home. You will all love it.

I'll write in the AM

Tuesday Evening - there are stinky cheese people...

We are having a reception to get everyone "Connected" and there is a considerable quanity of stunky cheese - a white stilton in particular I am told. I find that the Brits (and there are a bunch of them) particularly like to talk about stinky cheese.

"Cheese, Grommit!"


It is unfortunately that like a SD wedding, everyone is sitting at those round tables and very few people are mingling. I shall fight my hermetical istincts and chat up some Brit about the stilton.


Tuesday afternoon at MIT

We've learned a bunch about the programming possibilities of Scratch and how to make it do complicated things like keeping score in games and respond to an outside stimulus (like light and touch and sound).

The folks here at MIT are really helpful. There is at least one facilitator for every two workshoppers making the learning curve flatter - though for some of these folks doing show and tell, it's hard to tell who did the work - but as we are a room full of smarty pants teachers, it probably is a good bet that most of them could do these things, it would just take a little longer to figure it all out.

I know that you girls (Hannah, Sophia, & Emily - and the M's too) will love this and I'll send the link to Al Tabor who will get a total kick out of it. Matt, you should check this out. It's pretty intuitive and you will get it in a snap

Tuesday morning at MIT

We woke up to the snarl and shout of the alarm clock at 6:15 Boston time (5:15 Chicago)- to make the 7:15 bus to MIT. The bus driver took the curlicue way to MIT - we are just in Kendall Square so I'm not sure how hard this could have been.

We looked at the coolest software, ladies. I'm going to load it on your machines when I get home. It's called Scratch and you can program your own computer games and animations and it's fun (and easy, too).

The Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT is big fun. The room is full of Legos. They invented the lego robotics "mindstorms" stuff that I am sure is the stuff that they are using in the Girl Scout workshop. I don't know how $$ it is, but it sure would be fun to have. I need to have my room at school look like this place - it looks like a demented giant decorated it. (photos to follow)

They are itching to get going in three minutes - and there is a woman at our table (who joined the group this afternoon) who uses self controlling speech for everything she does. She pilots herself aloud through every step of the process - "I have to find widget. Ah here are the widgets, can I make them bigger? Yes! So now the widget needs to run over here? Can I make more than one widget do this at the same time. Now I have to do this, then that now why isn't it working. why isn't he move... yadda yadda yadda - I am ready to smack her in the face and she' only been here 10 minutes!!!!

Gotta go and workshop. Love to you - I'll update later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday - Travel day

Trains Planes and Automobiles

From home at 9:00 this AM with a fabulous send off from my girls and Sam. Got to O'Hare is record time. No trouble getting to the gate - I checked my bag a curbside spending the $2 to not wait in the long cattle lines inside. Boom, done.

Flight was jammed but uneventful. I am always at the back of the plane - row 27. There was a family of clearly homeschooled kids traveling with mom and dad to Boston. They were being quizzed about how many syllables in the word gum - had to give the right answer in a polite way or not get a piece of gum for take off and landing. The woman next to me was reading a well thumbed copy of the King James Bible. I read a Harlequin.

Easy to get my bag and get to the T shuttle. Transferring to the blue line and then the green line at Govt Center was easy - but the Riverside train is running shuttles from Reservoir (by my old apt at Cleveland Circle)to Riverside - this adds some time and extra level of complication to just jumping on the train and heading into town. The bonus of this little bus cruise was that I got to see the towns I usually trained right by. Blue hydrangeas are very pretty - I'm so used to only seeing pink and green ones that blue ones seem so unusual. I know it's the acidic soil, but they are still pretty. They remind me of Ann Murphy's house in Falmouth.

I had dinner here at the hotel after a good walk provided nothing more than a quick-mart and a place to rent kayaks and canoes. No food.

The big excitement was the fire alarm that went off as I was talking to Sam on the phone. Two fire trucks, a police car, and a command vehicle appeared, but we were only out of the building for 10 - 15 minutes and no one looked too hurried.

It's now 8:00 pm and I have to be ready to leave for the MIT session at 7:15. I was hoping to get Cathy's Dave to drive me to a CVS. Met some folks from Portland. Long day for them, and a short night if they too have to be up early. Even 12:00 here is 9:00 am in Portland.