Sunday, August 31, 2008


My prayers to my friends on the Gulf Coast. I realize the focus has been on New Orleans, but the cities of southern Mississippi seem to have been overlooked. Back in 1997 I had the blessing of being able to live and serve in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina when the eye of the storm passed over them. Now I read that once again, the eye of the storm is said to be aiming itself for the Mississippi coast. My heart aches, and my prayers go out to the Gulfport Stake and all other cities and towns along the Mississippi and Louisiana coast.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


So my students this week were given an AP reading list that I finally was able to get compiled and printed off for them. Yes, it's pretty extensive, but I figure I better give them A LOT of options. Anyway, as I pointed out a few things here and there on the list, I had one class ask about Mary Shelley's famous novel Frankenstein. do I tell students I HATED it because I hated listening to the monster gripe endlessly about being a freak, being alone, and needing a companion! What's wrong with that? Hello!?! Why should I want to feel any comraderie with a monster described as being watery eyed and freaky enough to make people scream? Not a healthy comparison! :)

To close, I very diplomatically expressed a personal appreciation for Shelley's ability to create one of the first science fiction novels that explored the dangers of using science without an appreciation and respect for human life; however, I also told them I wasn't a fan because of the "conditions I read it under." That seemed to satisfy them...thankfully. Oh, and they also wanted an "estimate" of how much I read. (Teen translation: "Just how nerdy are you?") I don't think I read enough, based on the amount of time I feel I often waste, but I still manage to get through 4-5 novels a month throughout the school year. During the summer, it depends. On a good vacation/break, I can get through about one every two to three days??? Yes it's a hobby, but there's a part of me that feels like it's part of my job, right? Thank goodness I love to read. :)

Well, it's a three-day weekend, and although I have stacks of work to do for school, and an entire online course to revise, I'm off to keep reading Anna Godbersen's novel The Luxe. I'm kind of liking it, but am also finding that it's a little too 90210 for turn of the century, upper-class New York society. I don't think it's exaggerating the double standard many of these uber-rich people were living, but this jury of one is still out on the true "YA" stamp on the novel. Since I've been trying to finish Jude the Obscure and rereading Don Quixote with my AP students, a good pleasure read is highly in order. I'm off to go do some judging! :)

P.S. I just finished checking out a few reader/author blogs and have now found that people are comparing Godbersen's series to The Gossip Girls? I didn't ever read the series, but am not feeling so comfortable with that comparison. Is that meant to flatter or criticize? I'll have to see!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breaking Dawn

I just finished Stephenie Meyer's fourth, and final book in the Twilight series about an hour and a half ago...and not a moment too soon! I had this great fear that my overzealous students at school were all going to reveal the ending to me. :) Besides, I have one of the school library's copies, so I better get it back to them! Here is the review I posted in

"In the beginning, I found Bella's personality to be grating and frustrating. It seemed as if once she found herself surrounded by men who loved her (and that she could wishy wash in between), that she lost a spine or brain! HOWEVER, once I kept reading, and got past a good 200 - 250 pages, I finally was able to see that Meyer had to set up a story with a full, rounded plotline. In the end, I was really captivated by the fourth book in this unusually engaging series. In fact, while I should have been working and doing any number of other things, I had my nose in a book! What a great way to spend a couple of days! My on. If you care about Bella, Edward, or even Jacob, then hang in there, and all will feel resolved."

Well, I'm off to try to read some of the other books on my list. I can't say how much time I'll have now, but there will always be weekends and workouts, right? Doc came over this weekend, and we watched North and South. I felt pretty validated when she looked at Richard Armitage in episode three and went, "That man is HOT."'s not just me! Anyway, it made for a glorious Saturday morning.(In the words of Shakespeare, "...ah, to be a glove upon that hand..." :) Yes, I amuse even myself!)

Well, off to bed to face another work week. Cheers!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another School Year Has Begun

Yes, you can see that I'm back to school, as I've become painfully absent. I literally started off last week by having to put in 10 to 13 hour days. :( It's just what had to be done to get things ready! I was informed on the THURSDAY before school started that I had to go through some crazy audit to teach AP courses. Sigh. Honestly, I don't even know what to say about that. Let me please, by some miracle just get through my online class, and I will be able to switch gears.

Well, I had to share something one of my juniors said on the first day of school. I had up on the board the whole class name, teacher, etc. Well, I had written my name "Ms. Rhodehouse" on the board. This boy says, "Hey, shouldn't there be an 'r' between m and the s in your title?" I'm sorry, but I did break up over that and said with a smirk on my face, "Yea...there SHOULD, but there's not." He just came back with, "Hmm, sounds like someone's going to get a ring this year?" To which I laughed and said, "From your mouth to God's ears!" :) It was actually a real funny exchange, and I was impressed that he did it all with a completely straight face. What a brave, brave boy.

I haven't had much time to do any reading, other than when I'm on an exercise machine. Yes, I'm still somehow managing to make it to the gym around four times a week, and working on getting in another two days (if I can get a routine down without wanting to throw a tantrum and lay on the couch like a lifeless bum with nothing better to do). Anyway, I have been tearing through the last book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn.

I actually was pretty angry at Bella, the main character, after the first 100 pages or so. Her pathetic hang-dog sappiness made me want to punch her! However, I'm about 500 pages in now, and I am skipping right along (whenever I can catch an hour or so), and not hating her quite as much.

My AP students are reading "A & P" by John Updike, and "Araby" by James Joyce for tomorrow and Monday. We're looking at hero figures, and while this isn't a unique combination of stories to share for this, I'm really excited to jump into the unit I have planned. We're going to do an assignment on evaluating social norms, they're going to break one and report back on it, and then we'll read the first section of one of my favorite tales, Don Quixote. That novel makes me laugh so hard, so I REALLY hope that AP students get the humor in what Cervantes is trying to say about chivalry and the classic hero. By having them break a social norm, I'm going to ask them to question whether Cervantes created his main character to be this poor old guy who's out of his mind (senile), or created him to be a character that breaks social norms and makes everyone around him uncomfortable in the process. I actually think it's the first, but I still want them to read the text for evidence in either direction. It will be fun, and they're already thinking of ways to do it. I thought about having them read "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which is an awesome story, but use it to contrast all of these with the "anti" hero? What do you think??? Okay, so I'm totally lesson planning out loud, but I keep scouring my brain for characters that demonstrate the flip side? I guess the opposite of a hero is a villain, and I don't know that Bartleby is a villain. Hmm..., I'll have to contemplate. If anyone has any ideas of a short story I could use, throw them my way! :)

Outside of that reading, what's up next on the list? More things than I can count! You know honestly, I actually thought to myself one day that my biggest fear behind dying (besides making my mom so sad) would be leaving behind so many unread books, poems, and plays! Sigh. I really should go back and get by PhD. Maybe I'll go do it at some point. Reading, literature in general, and cultural analysis is just so great! I'm really excited to share it this year with my AP Lit. students, and really get to PUSH a class. How fun! Yes...I'm a big nerd. So up next to read? A student of mine came in my room on the first day of school and said, "Ms. Rhodehouse! Did you read The Truth About Forever yet?" I honestly hadn't, and told her so, but was horrified to watch her face fall in such a way that I seriously walked straight into my classroom, logged onto my Salt Lake Country library account and put it on hold! I thought I'd read a ton of YA lit. to get a ton of them out of the way, but still somehow managed to miss one. Well, rather than sit here and keep blogging, as relaxing as this honestly is, I should get off and do some reading! :) If I don't want to die for fear of never making a dent in my TBR (to be read) pile, then I better snap to!!!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back in Utah

I have to share something that happened to me a couple of hours ago...

After my all-night jaunt back to the mainland, with one hour of sleep, thanks to the married chick who sobbed her way into my seat, leaving me on the Exit row next to the galley and toilet, I came home totally wham-boozled. Little known facts about the galley, exit seat: 1) It's FREEZING (and every time they flashed the outside temp at -51, I felt it!), and 2) It's NOISY (the stewardess people--don't know if that's politically correct--like to stand in there and gossip about passengers, slam little metal cupboards, and flip light on and off). Between the people who stand in line to use the potty or do their yoga moves (yes bumping into me in my "luxury" aisle, galley, exit seat), the galley fright, and the below zero temps, I am not exactly running on all cylinders back here. Although...once I landed and got in the house, I started cleaning like a mad woman (stripped bed & changed sheets, cleaned closet out, dusted walls and ceilings of 2-month webs and bug friends, opened windows through the house to get non-toxic, Dr. Oz recommended clean air into home, scoured entire bathroom, vacuumed, etc.) all while the garage-door man was here to fix our undeniably white-trashola looking garage. Seriously, the entire upper left corner wasn't even closed, but just hung there, exposing all our non-organized garage items and beckoning small-sized, tweenies in our neighborhood to try to see who could fit through the hole! Anyway, it's all fixed now, so I'm saying, "Yipee! I don't have to worry about climbing out of my car to open a door when it's snowing, or when I'm just flat out too lazy!!! I'll leave my exercise to the gym, thank you very much!"

Well, I crashed for about an hour (not of my own choosing...just fell over asleep on the couch after eating my "whatever's-in-my-pantry" lunch). Taking a nap, at least for me, leaves me feeling like I've got lead weights attached to my body, and not exactly chipper to be alive. :) (Who, me? Grouchy? Never!) I forced myself to get out and get the last of my errands (for today) out of the way, praying that my non-registered car wouldn't get ticketed! I ran my lovely Hyrbrid-esque Honda through the car wash, and then hit Walmart. Thanks to a tip off I'd received from another teacher, I knew they had all their "Back to School" (moment of silence please...) items on sale. Since leaving Idaho public schools, I've had to learn the ropes with this whole "supplies" things. We have legislative money, but I can't tell you how many times I've ordered something from either the OfficeMax catalog (or whatever that place is), or district warehouse, to only have something really odd delivered. For instance, I ordered a plain ream of white, computer printer paper and received a package that literally looked like it had come out of the 70s, and contained some serious looking parchment-like paper. I actually ended up thinking it was kind of cool, but it left these weird fuzzies in my printer that I had to constantly open up to blow out. Anyway, I've decided that I might as well buy my supplies, write them off on my taxes, and save my legislative money for big stuff (you know, like Kleenex and white board markers--if you ever want to see me go really postal, watch what happens when a kid dorks off with a white board marker and then doesn't put the cap back on).

To move right along then! I put my huge load of stock-my-kitchen-back-up groceries on the conveyor belt first, followed by all my school stuff to pay for second. As usual, Walmart was bustling, and I felt bad for all the people who jumped in line behind me. Once my groceries were rung up, and I'd stacked them in the cart (thinking non-stop about the fact that I had to still pack them home and put them away), I turned to watch as she rung up my "supplies." All of a sudden, this construction worker behind me taps my arm, and the conversation went as follows:

Man: "Hey lady (yes, screaming in head over term he called me!), are you a teacher or something?"
Me: "Yep, just stocking up now while it's all on sale."
Cashier Lady: "Utah Sucks."
Man: "Yea! Utah sucks! Can't they afford a few markers and scissors?!?"
Me: (A little scared and frightened that I've caused a hub-bub of sorts...)
Lady in Line Behind Man: "This is why we needed to vote in a Democratic governor."
All but Me: "Yea!"
Man: "I've heard of teachers having to do this, but this is the first time I've ever seen it with my own eyes."
Cashier Lady: "God bless you!"
Me: (Giggling nervously, and hoping my harried look from traveling all night and cleaning all day isn't adding to their perspective on teachers being abused or something...) "Thanks. I'm just saving my legislative money for things like books is all."
All but Me: "Books! Can't they buy books anymore!?! Utah SUCKS."

By that point, I seriously thought I'd entered the Twilight Zone, or was hallucinating from lack of sleep! I smiled and thanked them all as I stacked my $60 worth of cute binders (colors I wanted), markers, colored pencils, my own set of scissors (SO EXCITED about owning my own box full!!!), cheap mechanical pencils for my gradebook (yes, I still like to have my paper gradebook as back-up), and four huge packages of the clicky-colored pens I like to use to grade papers with and go through like the kleenexes my students blow through (literally) all year, and ran.

So there you have it! The people have spoken, and they were NOT happy to see a teacher buying her own supplies. Actually made me feel like someone actually cared about the job I'm going to do, like I had real support and not just lip service. (Well, it WAS only lip service, but still!) It was kind of funny, and I had to share.

Now I've got to go get my online grading done. :( Why!?! (Crying softly into hands...) Oh, and one last thing. If any more married chicks come crying to me about needing to sit by their husbands, pulling that "you're all by yourself, aren't you" crap, I swear I'm going to tell them that I think they'll live through a plane ride without hubby right by their side!!! Okay, I realize that when (not if!) I get married, that I WILL want to sit by my husband, but I'll remember this feeling right now, and NOT dump on someone who's traveling alone! I paid way in advance for my seats, so my motto for students feels pretty applicable to the chick I so un-generously sacrificed my seat for: "Lack of preparation on your part, does not constitute MY emergency."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Book List...


I'm finally ready to post some book reviews, get feedback if you've read any of them, get suggestions for things you think I should be reading, or even let me know if you'd like me to give YOU suggestions. I will say, that my own choices in reading material doesn't mean that I haven't spent a lot of time exposing myself to lots of different things (just not horror!!!) so that I have things to recommend to my students. Having said that then, I'll just say that my summer has been filled with lots of selfish beach reads, since there are LOTS of beaches here (and I'll cry when I leave them...), and a lot of YA fiction to catch up on what I saw students reading. Let me also insert in here really quickly that I can honestly say that the newest trends in YA fiction for girls is a little underhanded at times. I'm really not one to ever ban or censor any of my students, but I now have a short list of "girl" books that make me sad and sick to my stomach. (I won't post those, but email me if you really want to know what series, authors, or publishers that I now think have little value. Reminder, I'm not a censor, and never will be one, but I know what I won't recommend to students, or anyone for that matter!)

Off to my reads!!! ( favorite subject...outside of my new love Richard Armitage!) :)

--Mass amounts of Meg Cabot: I really like any of her YA stuff, as she has an amazing sense of humor, and attacks issues and teen thinking I see every day. As for her writing for adults, I will say that it's not perfectly squeaky clean, so you have to pick and choose. Overall though, I'm a big fan of her stuff, and I have her newest teen fiction book Airhead ready to read on my flight home. She always makes me laugh, and her stories are fun to escape into.

--I also read three Sophie Kinsella novels this summer, purely for selfish, beach-reading fun! Mom actually picked up one and couldn't put it down. Kinsella is famously known for her "Shopaholic" Series, but she has also put out some stand alone novels such as The Undomestic Goddess. No, she's not Beehive Book, but her stuff also makes me laugh, and gives me a relaxing, good read to escape into.

--Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. I felt like I wasn't exploring into genres that I'm not real big on. Basically, this novel is a fantasy novel based around a girl who has magical powers, but doesn't know it. Her kingdom has killed all people with magic, so as she begins to discover her powers, she has to hide it. Also, along the way she is hired as the king's food tester. She has to taste his food for poisons...and that's all I'm going to say. Did I like it? Yes and no. It was decent enough, but no Harry Potter! :)

--House of Many Gods by Kiana Davenport. I actually haven't finished this one, but it's really good. It's your basic ethnic novel based around the Hawaiians on the Southwestern side, over by Wainae. It's been interesting to read, and I'm thinking I need to email my Graduate Director, Greg, back as K-State to see if he's heard of it. It's not an easy read, nor is it a casual read, as it hits on cultural issues among native Hawaiians. If you like contemporary, ethnic reads, then you might like it. This one definitely has my attention, but it helps that it fits my environment!!!

Unfortunately, that's it on my summer reads. Let me remind you that my degree was in a pretty liberal field in English. It's pretty hard to offend me, so if you need a more specific suggestion or analysis, just let me know.

Sigh... Having said that, I guess I'm ready to gear up to head back tomorrow. :( I met with my trainer today for the last time, at least until I come back in December. She has been SO good to work with. From the beginning, she's been a teacher, and all about working with the health problems I've had that have messed up my metabolism and immune system. Anyway, my weight has stayed at around the same 4 pound loss I've had this entire month, but if you could see how baggy everything is on me, you'd know that I'd done some pretty serious work this summer! I went from gaining an inch on my biceps, to dropping three, and have dropped about an inch everywhere else. My lean body mass has increased, which is SO AWESOME!!! That's what you want to have, as it reduces your risk of diseases, injuries, etc., so I'm really happy about that shift in muscle mass, as HEALTH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Let me NEVER indicate anything else in this pursuit, if not that I just want to be healthy and happy. Honestly, I'd be most happy if my energy would skyrocket, but that's still in the basement somewhere. Overall though, I'm really pleased with the changes I've made, and for always being so persistent in being proactive about my health. Let me not kid anyone though, as I will ALWAYS love chocolate cake and bowls of pasta, and have no intention of giving them up! As with all things in life, our pursuit is to be balanced, and not do anything to an extreme. All I can say is, that I'm very happy with the hard work I put in this summer (did I mention AT LEAST 2 hours a day?!?) in the pursuit of health, habits, and happiness. Now let's bring on this fall, because I'm DETERMINED to keep up my three H's! :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I leave on Tuesday!!! :( :( :( I'm freaking out a little by the whole thing, and while I knew it was coming, I'm still blown away by the fact that I have to go back and be an "adult" again pretty soon! I haven't touched my school stuff, but know it's going to all be a mad rush once I fly back in. The storm is coming.

Well, I have to apologize for my rant in the last entry. If you know me well, then you'll smile at my passionate speeches. If you don't know me, well then you got an inside view of how my mind works sometimes! Since then though, a lot has happened here. Not only did we actually get into Pearl Harbor, but I have the proof to show that we did. (By the way...if you happen to be in Hawaii the same time that I am, I refuse to try to get into Pearl Harbor again. I tried four times, and mom five, so I think I'm done! Mom might be nice though and try again with you.) We also went and hiked Diamond Head with Sari. I had to laugh though, because mom must have thought it was a little jaunt, as about half way up the 331 stair climb (after a windy, rocky trail), a sweat-soaked JoAnn gasped out, "Go ahead. I'll stay here." I didn't want her to regret not making it the little bit further to the top, so I had her follow me in a "slow and steady wins the race"-pace. Once she hit the bunker, she collapsed onto a ledge while Sari and I climbed out to the top. The view was BREATHTAKING, and the sky and water were sparkly and filled with sunshine. :) I have pictures to show in the slideshow, so once again, I'll hope it works.

My feet are still throbbing a little, but that's thanks to the Hades-like regime I kept today. After Diamond Head and walking Waikiki before taking Sari to the airport last night, I woke this morning with swollen feet, and an 80-year-old-woman's hip! I had an appointment with my trainer in Kaneohe, so I sucked it up, hobbled my way into my workout gear and shoes, and headed down. My trainer spent a good 20 minutes helping me work the tension out of my hip (which made me feel like an old lady or something), before putting me through the ranks. Actually, she just had me do abs, and then I went upstairs and lifted weights and did my cardio routine. Well, before you think it was all over, let me assure you that this was not it for my day. I had promised my trainer all summer that I would go to her spin class, and this was my last chance, so I headed back down again at 5 pm to take her hour-long class. I swear I turned into my dad, as sweat beaded up and rolled down my face and neck to absolutely drench my shirt. To get through the hour, I just focused on this black knob on the bike in front of me, thinking to myself, "My bootie is going to be screaming tomorrow!" I survived the class, and am now sitting back with my feet propped up, just as I deserve after all that. :) Until I go crazy and rant again, or have the desire to prattle and share the things I love (like books and film), then I'll be talking to you soon! Much love!