Monday, December 27, 2010

Ghost Town of the Old West

No trip to the Old West would be complete without a trip to a Ghost Town.  Mogollon Ghost Town. We have driven past the turnoff for years and we finally decided to do it.  Pretty creepy in that you could tell that people are living there, but like a horror movie where unsuspecting tourists drive in and never drive out.
Old gas station

Abandonded general store.  We later found out that this was built as a set for a movie.

One of the original cabins built in 1880.

Another old building that survived the many fires and floods.

These mine shafts are all over the place.

We Had a Blast!

On our trip to the Old West, we stayed in Bisbee.  Well, just getting to Bisbee was an adventure in itself.  You know us; adventure just seems to follow us.  We had the truck loaded with wood for a gift to family in Texas.  We didn't realize how much the wood would affect our gas mileage.  As we drove through Benson, we thought that we had plenty of gas to make it to Tombstone and Bisbee.  Actually, we thought the towns would be bigger and would have multiple gas stations.  Now  we know better.

On the way out of Tombstone, we passed the one and only gas station, forgetting to fill up.  But, Bisbee was only 26 miles away.  We could make it.  Wrong.

As we were going uphill, we lost power to the truck.  On a one lane highway, around a curve.  It doesn't get worse than that.  But, Joe knows of a trick where you slam on the brakes to get the gas to shift forward and get enough to get it to turn on again.  At this point, we were just entering town.  But, the highway had a split and we took the right split.  Again, she turned off.  No power steering.  No power breaks.  And at this point, we are going down the hill and making the turn into town.  Luckily, the downhill motion pushed the gas forward again and Joe got the truck to turn on.  We sped through the little town, back up the hill, to the other split in the highway, with an ambulance behind us.  All this to say, we finally made it. 

The next morning, we decided to take the boys on a mine tour.  We had a blast!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Trip to the Old West

Joe wanted to take a trip out West.  Ironic that we had to drive East to get to the Old West.  We started in Tombstone

We toured the courthouse, which was built in 1882.  It had 14 foot ceilings downstairs and 16 foot ceilings upstairs.  It was gorgeous inside, with all that old wood.  Talk about baseboards!

We walked around and checked out all the old buildings. 

I guess the boys got tired.
We trekked on to Bisbee.

Now, we are sleeping in a 110 year old hotel.  On the 4th floor.  It doesn't get any better than this.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Program

Preschool Christmas Programs are never boring, usually loud, mostly chaotic, sometimes funny and always memorable.  Here are some clips from Jack and Josh's Preschool Christmas Program (their first ever).

Jack had a speaking part.  Actually, he told a joke.  I might be a little biased, but I think Jack told his joke perfectly with perfect timing.  I always knew he was a "payaso" (Spanish for joker).

A new twist on the old favorite B-I-N-G-O.  I think that was the only line the kids really remembered.

You do the Reindeer Pokey, and you turn yourself around.  That's what it's all about!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Penny Saved

A penny saved is a penny earned.  Fifty-two dollars saved is fifty-two dollars earned.  Today is payday!

My boys love Thomas.  I must admit that I thought this would be a passing phase, but they have played with Thomas for two years now and they show no signs of stopping.  We have probably 100 feet of track and about 10 engines.  We have close to a dozen DVD's.  They have Thomas backpacks.  The boys even have Thomas sweatshirts.  They have made their own stations.  I bought a turn-table online for Jack's birthday last year.  Big hit!  Legos and Lincoln logs now have created towns around the track.

About six months ago, Jack informed me that he wanted the new Thomas Train Zip, Zoom, Logging Adventure Track.  But this Logging Adventure Track thing is expensive!  Fifty-two dollars, expensive.  How does a sensible mother respond?  "You'll have to save for it."  *whisper: I never thought they would do it.

Everytime the boys got money in the mail, they rushed to put their dollars in the piggy bank.  While walking through Wal-mart, they would scan the floor for pennies.  They would run through the parking lot if they spotted a nickel.  And I do admit, there were a few occasions where I paid them a quarter to put their laundry away.  They soon outgrew their piggy bank and had to resort to using a bug collector.

They never lost sight of their goal.  Everytime we were in Wal-mart (which is at least a weekly occurance), they would show me what they wanted.  Thomas Train Zip, Zoom, Logging Adventure Track.  I always had the same response.  "You'll have to save for it."  (anyone else having A Christmas Story flashback "Red Rider....." "You'll shoot your eye out")

I am so proud of my boys, because save they did!  Two days ago, Jack asked if we could count their money.  I thought they had about $10.  The teacher in me had a heydey.  We counted the quarters.  Then, the dimes.  Nickels.  Pennies.  You never knew a four-year-old could count to 100 on his own.  Talk about motivation.  Imagine my surprise when we counted $52.10! 

I am also so proud of my boys because they actually had more money than that.  Most Saturday nights, on the way to church, they would take a handful of pennies to give to God.  We always prayed over the pennies before putting them in the box at church, and thanked God for giving us all that we had.  Last Saturday night, Jack grabbed a five dollar bill to take to church.  Both Joe and I told him to put the five dollars back and to grab some change instead.  Jack insisted.  He said that he wanted to give the five dollars because God had given him all the money in the piggy bank (bug collector).  How do you argue with that? 

So, today was the big day.  Six months in the making.  We used the Coinstar at Safeway to convert the change.  Totally worth the $3 they charged me!  I then gave half the bills to Jack and half to Joshua.  I was a little afraid that they would lose the money on the way from the van to the cashier.  Not a chance!  They walked right to the Thomas aisle.  Jack swiftly took the tracksystem off the shelf and shoved it under the cart.  hmmm, it's interesting that the most expensive tracksystem was on the bottom shelf, at kid-level.  At checkout, they handed over the money happily.  I watched proudly. 

The boys are upstairs right now, playing with their track.  Their track.  They paid for it.  And I couldn't be prouder.

Joe got involved.  He added a few pieces of track.  Notice it goes under the zipline bridge.  Jack added his turntable.  Josh added the Jay Jay hangar as a tunnel.  The hot wheels city is now a station.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All in a Day's Work

Teaching is one of the few professions where you can laugh one minute, and then cry the next.  Today, was one such day.

These are some exerpts from my day:

"Mrs. Rodriguez, what are you eating?"
"Calzone," I replied.
"Ewwww!  You're eating a cow bone?"
Cal-zone. Not cow bone.  Oh, forget it.

My student came to the word "democracy" and was struggling with it.  I asked them to chunk it and look for words they recognize inside the word.  "Oh! I see 'crazy'".  Well, democracy might seem crazy at times, but...

"Mrs. Rodriguez, she was my mom's teacher."
"Honey, I don't think she appreciates you telling everyone that."

We had just finished up a unit about Civil Rights and I played the video clip of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his "I Have a Dream" speech.  As we were walking down the hallway, one of my students told me, in a very dreamy accent, "Mrs. Rodriguez, I have a vision....." 
"Oh really?  What is your vision?" thinking it would be something grand and heroic.
"I have a vision" said in the same dreamy accent, "that I am going to go into the restroom to wash my hands!"
Not exactly the vision I had in mind..........

And then, just as suddenly, the laughter can turn to tears. 

"Mrs. Rodriguez, my great-grandparents are missing.  They went hunting on Saturday, and no one has seen them since."  A little background, we had a good-sized snowfall Sunday into Monday and then temps plummeted into single digits.  The rescue effort has turned into a recovery effort.
****UPDATE***** The elderly couple was found, safe.  They did get stuck in the snow, but they had made a fire and survived the last few days.  The search helicopter saw the smoke from their fire.

And then, as if my eyes didn't well up enough, another student told me that because today was the last day of the month, she "can't go home because we have no money for gas".  When I suggested she call home to ask where she should go, she replied that her mom was "out of minutes" on her phone.  I can't imagine being a child and having to worry about things like that.

Overall, the good times do outweigh the bad.  We laugh more than we cry.  But, we do cry.  And that's okay too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ancient Tribes Museum

I am so proud of my fourth grade class.  They worked so hard on their Ancient Tribes Museum.  They did research in books.  Then, they researched on the internet.  They then put all that research together to make posters and did a presentation to the class. 

I gave them a hunk of clay and they created ancient villages.  They collected sticks and glued them together to make little ladders.  They found scraps of tissue paper to make fire pits.  They painted and sculpted.  Finally, they opened their museum.

We held our museum in the gym, where we could spread out.  We dimmed the lights and the students held flashlights to highlight the work.  Each "tribe" presented their posters and dioramas.  They asked questions to check for understanding.  They took questions from the visitors.  And they did it for 500 students for 3 hours.  Boy, were they tired!  (I mentioned that teachers talk/teach for 7 hours everyday.)

 We even had visitors from the District Office.

  See the cute tissue paper fire?

***UPDATE*** I had to remove the cute pics of my students. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pin the Feather on the Turkey

You know the game.  Pin the tail on the donkey?  Well, this year, we turned it around a little.

It all started when my boys were getting excited about family coming to visit for Thanksgiving.  They kept asking how many more days.  I had made a countdown chain for them last Christmas to...countdown to Christmas.  I decided to modify it a little to help them countdown to Thanksgiving

Every night the boys plucked a feather and we wrote on the feather what they were thankful for.  I saved the feathers for Thanksgiving night.  Oh, it was fun!

Everyone got blindfolded.  Spun around.  And pointed in the right direction, more or less.  Joe cheated. 

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In the end, the littlest, youngest, and the one who had never played before won!  I had my money on the blink guy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Know a Not-So-Old Lady Who............

I know a not-so-old lady who swallowed some pie....

she swallowed the pie to go with the turkey....

she swallowed the turkey to go with the mashies...

she swallowed the mashies to go with the salad...

she swallowed the salad to go with the rolls...

she swallowed the rolls to go with the stuffing....

perhaps she'll pop!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Countdown is On!

My family is coming to visit for Thanksgiving.  I'm so excited.  The boys are too.  They kept asking me how many days until Thanksgiving.  At first, I just told them the number of days, but then I had an idea (it does happen every once in awhile).

At Christmas, I make a countdown chain.  Each chain has a Bible verse or activity on it.  We focus on the real meaning of the holiday and we schedule the fun stuff (deliver cookies to the ER, drive around and look at lights, spend time with elderly neighbors, etc) so the holiday bustle doesn't get the best of us.  The boys get to take a chain off every day and see that we are getting closer to Christmas. 

I used that idea for Thanksgiving.  But paper chains are Christmas-like, not Thanksgiving-like.  Instead, I made a turkey out of scrap construction paper (um, that's why he's blue, y'all).  Then, I cut out the feathers.  I think in the following years, the boys will cut out these pieces.  Each day the boys take a feather off the turkey.  Now, they can see that we are getting closer to Thanksgiving.  On each feather, we write something they are thankful for.  Tonight, Jack said that he is thankful for "our food". 

I am putting the feathers aside right now, for later use on Thanksgiving night.  I plan to play "Pin the Feather on the Turkey" complete with blindfolds.  Even my dad (and if you know my dad, that is hilarious!).  I will post those pics/video after Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Great Hiking Weather

We woke up to 25 degrees and heavy frost outside.  So, we enjoyed a nice cozy morning inside.  But, once the sun came out, the great outdoors started calling us. 

We live in the shadow of Mullen Mountain and Joe has always wanted to hike it.  I did it this summer with the boys

We grabbed our hiking sticks and camera and set off.

Josh was our fearless leader.
I got in front at one point, and he yelled out that he was the line leader.  Well!
We stopped to admire the views.
And, we found the gnome!
Do you see it?
Look closely.

Pretty random.  But, there is a garden gnome inside a burned-out juniper.  Speaking of juniper, Joe was amazed by their size on the mountain.  He just had to climb one. . .
while I had fun with Jack.
It was a great day for a hike.

where Glory meets my suffering