Home At Last

It is so great to be home.  Here is the weather from this afternoon.  A big difference compared to the weather in Maryland last week.


The first thing my husband said to me when we arrived home late last night was, “It will be so nice to sleep in our own bed.”  I had to agree with him, especially since our family of five shared a hotel suite for a week.  It was a bit cramped.  When the girls were younger, this didn’t seem to be too much of an issue.  But, I think now, we are getting to the point where we may have to get two hotel rooms when we go on these trips.  My husband is in denial about the whole thing.  I keep trying to tell him it would solve a lot of problems if we got two rooms, like space and deciding sleeping arrangements.  Who was going to get the sofa bed?  Who would get the roll-away bed?  I don’t know what my husband’s issue is with this whole idea.  Maybe it’s the money, or maybe he likes being is small spaces with all of us.   Fortunately, there were a few nights when two of our girls spent the night at my sister-in-law’s house.  That left my older daughter, my husband, and me to share the hotel suite.  That wasn’t too bad.

I am reminded of the book, The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant.


I know this story takes place in the summer, and we were visiting relatives in the winter.  But, the part of the story I can relate to is where all the relatives are sleeping in different rooms of the house.

It was different going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house.

I won’t lie to you.  We are a family of “breathers.”  🙂  So, I have to agree with my husband.  It was nice sleeping in the quiet of our own bedroom.  And, the girls didn’t have to fight over who got to sleep where.  They each have their own bedrooms.

Now, I am waiting for the last load of laundry to finish drying so I can fold it.  I am thinking through my lesson plans for tomorrow.  I wish I had another week off to recuperate from the week off I just had!  I am going to bed as soon as my laundry is done.  An early morning workout is planned and then it’s off to work.  It’s the end of my vacation.  Time to get back to reality.


Our Last Day

It’s our last full day in Maryland.  There is still snow on the ground, but most of it has melted off.  It has warmed up a bit since we arrived.  The temperature right now is 48 degrees.  It’s mostly cloudy and has been raining on and off all day long.  Today we took a trip to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.  We walked around a bit and ended up in a bookstore.  I bought books for my daughters to read on the plane.  Then, my family wanted to go into Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  I chose not.  They went into the museum, and I went shopping.  I also went shopping with my sister-in-law yesterday.  Good thing I brought an extra suitcase!!

My cold has pretty much gone away.  My throat no longer hurts, so the antibiotics must have done the trick.  I actually got to have dinner with my family yesterday at my in-laws’ house.  Today is my sister-in-law’s birthday, so we will have more family time tonight. My kids are having an awesome time doing activities they would not get to do at home.  They are mostly enjoying the snow time.  My youngest daughter, Allison, said she wants to move here.  I wonder if she would feel differently if she actually lived here in the winter?  I suppose, as with anything, you just get used to to it.  I told Allison she could live out here, but I am going back home.  Here is a picture of the girls building their first snowman!


The best part of the evening was seeing a family of deer walking through the woods before we sat down to dinner last night.  They came close to the house looking for food.  My mother-in-law informed us that their neighbor sometimes leaves food out for them, so the deer always come by to see if there is anything for them.  Unfortunately, there was nothing for them yesterday.  The deer hung out and waited for a bit just in case.  We all stood at the dining room window and watched the deer until they went on their way.  They also watched us cautiously.



It will be harder to spot the deer when we come back for another visit.  I am pretty sure we won’t be coming in the winter for our next trip out.  The trees in the woods will be covered with leaves.  The deer will be hidden from view, and they won’t have to come up close to the house to search for food.  We are so lucky to have seen them up close.

There are so many things to remember about this trip.  However, the best memories are the ones spent with our loved ones.  It has been great seeing my husband’s side of the family.  My kids and their cousins pretty much picked up where they left off.  It was like they had never been apart.  In fact, my kids will be spending their last night in Maryland with their cousins.  They are spending the night at my sister-in-law’s house.  Tomorrow we start our trip back to home sweet home.

My Un-Visit

Well, this trip to Maryland has not turned out the way I expected.  I thought I may be in trouble when I woke up last Saturday morning with a sore throat.  That’s the day we were leaving for our trip out here.  I didn’t think anything about it at the time.  I thought my sore throat was due to the dry weather we were having in San Diego.  However, it is now Tuesday and my sore throat has not improved.  I decided to go to Urgent Care this morning to make sure it wasn’t strep throat.  I figured if it was strep, I should be on antibiotics.  The doctor examined me and gave me a prescription for antibiotics.  He didn’t tell me for sure that I had strep, and he didn’t do a strep test.  So, I am not sure what to think about the whole thing.  It is difficult to discern when you are away from home and all its comforts.

In the meantime, I have been away from my family and unable to visit with my in-laws.  My mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.  Since her immune system is low, it is not a good idea for sick, old me to be around her.  I spent the last two days at my sister-in-law’s house.  Today, I am cooped up in the hotel room while everyone is at my in-law’s house.  I am bummed that I cannot be with the family.  But, the good part is I get to catch up on some work I brought with me.  And, I am able to post to my blog.  I am enjoying a bowl of hot and sour soup I ordered from a local take-out Chinese restaurant.  It’s delicious and makes my throat feel good.

I am hoping that I will be feeling better in the next day or two.  I thought I read somewhere that I am no longer contagious 24 hours after taking antibiotics.  I will have to research that some more.  I hope to spend the last half of the week with my in-laws.  I guess it is best for me to rest and not make anyone else around me sick, too.  For now, I will enjoy the peace and quiet.

Out of My Element

We are visiting my in-laws in Ellicott City, MD.  As a Southern California girl, I am definitely out of my element.  However, I find myself battling with the elements.  I am talking about the cold weather and SNOW!  Here is the temperature at the time I am typing this.


 I am not used to this.  When I left home, the weather was 80 degrees and sunny.  It’s a bit of a shock to my system.  I like warm, tropical weather.  However, I love seeing the snow piled up on the side of the road.  I love to see the snow on the rooftops.  It’s not something I am used to seeing everyday.

My kids are enjoying spending time with their cousins.  They spent the whole morning sledding on homemade jumps made in the backyard.  They would stay out there all day if we didn’t call them in to eat lunch.  They love it!  Don’t they look like they fit in here?  You would never guess that I had to drive to three different stores before we left to find snow boots!  I am glad we found them.  🙂


This morning, I went for a short walk (short because I was freezing), around my sister-in-law’s neighborhood.  I am trying not to let the cold weather deter me from spending time outside.  It was early, so it was quiet.  I took my time to appreciate the scenery.  It’s amazing how the snow makes everything look pristine.  I was glad I had my sunglasses on, since the sun reflecting off the snow was bright.



I tried to imagine what it would be like to live here.  When it snows, everything slows down.  I can’t picture it.  I need my beach and sunshine.  If I had to, I am sure I would get used to it.  For now, I am enjoying my visit here, but I am also thinking about the palm trees and warmer temperatures waiting for me back home.


Happy Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s Day.  Today I taught my students the words to Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You.    It’s such a catchy tune.  I love that song for the mere fact that it sends a message that you don’t just have to say “I Love You” when it is Valentine’s Day or on special occasions.  You can say those three words every day, or as Stevie Wonder sang it on any “ordinary day.”  My students loved the song and a few students asked me for a copy of the words so they could sing it after school.  Another one of my students came up to me after we learned it and said, “I just want to sing that song a million times.”  🙂  I thought that was cute.  Love is my 2014 word of the year.  Any time I can spread love is great!

Today, especially, love is visible in the commercial items that you can buy in many stores.  Flowers, cards, and balloons are given and received.  I am happy there is a day devoted to my word.  But, it is equally important to keep giving love all year round.  It’s just like the Beatles sang, ” The love you take is equal to the love you make.”  To get love you have to give it.  That’s why I was tickled when I took my daughter to her orthodontist appointment.  The assistant asked me if I wanted to pick a heart sticker out of her bucket.  My daughter was looking at me like, “No way!”  I thought, “Sure!”  I put my hand in the bucket and pulled out a heart.  Guess what it said?  LOVE.  I thought, “Perfect!”


Happy Valentine’s Day to all lovers in the world.  Don’t forget to say I love you often.

Remembering Dad

February is the month of love.  I am not just talking about Valentine’s Day, but it is also the month of my wedding anniversary.  On February 11th, my husband and I celebrated 19 years of being married.  We went out for a lovely dinner for two and we reminisced about our wedding day.  Here’s a picture of us on that special day.  Boy, we look young.  🙂


There are so many wonderful memories associated with this month of February, but these are overshadowed by another memory.  This happens to be the month my dad passed away.  In fact, it was 9 years ago today that my father died.  So, I wanted to take this opportunity to write about the first man in my life. . .my father.


Lots of people say I take after my dad.  They say we look very much alike.  My mom used to say we had the same personality.  If you said that we were both passionate, emotional people, then I would tend to agree.  However, my mom said that we shared the same stubborn streak and that we had the same fiery, Filipino temperament.  She said we were both “hot-headed.”  I like to think we were just spirited and energetic.

Growing up, my dad was always away.  He was in the United States Navy and seemed to be on deployment all the time.  It was tough when he would come home, especially when we were little.  It was like we had to get to know him all over again.  As soon as we did, he would be gone on another trip overseas.


My dad was very set in his ways.  He liked peace and calm. He would get angry if my siblings and I were getting too rambunctious.  We were afraid of his temper back then.  As we got older, we realized my dad was a big teddy bear.  He seemed to mellow out with age.  Things didn’t upset him too much, except when the San Diego Chargers, or the San Diego Padres, or the Chicago Bulls (during the Michael Jordan years) lost their games.  My mom was fearful of his blood pressure getting too high or that he would have a heart attack.  Yet, another example of our similar personalities.  My husband and children know better than to talk to me after a Charger loss.  🙂    I will argue that it was Dad’s passion and love of the game coming out at these times.

2002 Dad

Even though my dad wore his emotions on his sleeve while watching a ball game, he hardly ever expressed his love for us outwardly.  I think it was just his generation.  My sister, brother, and I knew he loved us without having to say it out loud to us.  He showed it everyday in the way he provided for us.  He retired from the Navy and the U.S. Postal Service just so we could have a better life.  My dad’s work proves that love.  I am reminded of the song, by Reba McEntire called The Greatest Man I Never Knew.  I cannot listen to this song without getting emotional.  But, that is just the way my dad was.

As I am reminded of my 2014 word of the year (love), I think about this month and how it encompasses that word.  And, I think about my dad who I loved very much.  I remember all the sacrifices he made and all the things he helped me achieve.  I remember all the fun things we did, like singing karaoke together and dancing at my wedding.  I wonder if he can see me and see what I have become.  I wish everyday that he were still here to give me advice and to watch his grandchildren grow.  He was the first man in my life, and I miss him very much.


Let’s Try That Again

Have you ever had this experience?  You try something out, and it just doesn’t work?  Well, this happened to me the other day.  I had a lofty idea that my students would be able to take one of three leads that we had worked with before and revise a lead from a story they wrote in their journals previously.  I had them rewrite a lead using mentor text we had seen before.  My students assured me they knew what to do.  However, when I checked their work, it turned out they were all confused.

I decided to take that failed lesson and use it to my advantage.  I realized that I had released the responsibility too early. I took the training wheels off the bike too soon.  Today, I worked with the students to analyze the mentor text we used for leads.  We looked at each example more closely.  Each student had a copy of the sample leads.  We wrote notes in the margins of our paper to help us think about the author’s plan.

After analyzing the different leads, I gave the students a story to read about a park ranger.  As they read, they were to highlight all the info that showed the perks of being a park ranger.  Then, we brainstormed all the reasons that supported our topic.  We actually put evidence to that effect on another sheet of paper.  After much discussion and brainstorming, it was time to write.  I felt that this went smoothly.  Students could take information from their brainstorm sheet and include it in their writing.  Since we analyzed the leads and talked about characteristics of each, I felt like the students had a better understanding of how to start their opinion pieces.

At the end of the writing workshop period, I asked the students to sit at the meeting area to talk about this writing experience.  They liked the idea that we looked closely at each lead.  We read sample leads and we analyzed them. We looked at the author’s moves in each passage.  The students wrote notes in the margins of their copy of the leads.  My students also liked the idea that I had retyped the story about park rangers so they could highlight and mark up the text.

We are still working on these opinion papers in class.   Tomorrow, I will collect them and see what the students come up with.  I felt great about this lesson.  But, more importantly, the students felt good, too.