Thursday, December 30, 2010

Polar Express - IMAX Style

We had another big first yesterday, and it happened at The Science Museum of Virginia.  We took the kids to the IMAX theater which is a huge dome shaped movie screen where the movie literally surrounds you.  I have fond memories of going there as a kid on field trips and sitting silently for an hour watching the galaxy, meteor showers, and planets fly past me on all sides.

Needless to say it was quite a different experience as an adult.  The train in Polar Express had not rounded the first bend and I was dizzy and nauseous.  I glanced over to see if my husband was experiencing the same thing and saw that his head was in his hands - not a good sign.  I thought that surely we weren't the only ones, as the place was filled with adults with their children.  To my horror, every other adult in the place was head-up and smiling - what was their secret?  I still haven't figured it out, but luckily it got a little better for the hubby and I as the movie went on.
What made this experience truly a first was that it was the first time we have taken the kids to anything that would require more than a fifteen minute attention span - and if you have kids under three, you know what I am talking about.  We held our breath, said a little prayer, bought our back up (popcorn), and entered the theater.  Immediately I started searching for seats close to an exit (just in case), and up high so we could get the best view.  It seems that everyone else had the same idea as the top was filling up quick.  I grabbed hands and ran the best I could up a very steep set of stairs.  We made it just ahead of a few others who I am sure were disappointed that they were not going to be in a position to make a quick get-away!

At first, Boy #1 insists on sitting on his own seat - this didn't last long.  The movie starts and all goes calm - my two-year old, strategically positions himself on my husband's lap for a better view with HIS popcorn, is all eyes - he CANNOT take his eyes off the screen (thank you science museum for the lack of previews). 

Polar Express is an adorable movie, with the whole message that believing in Santa Claus is in your heart - no matter how old you are.  The movie is full of great one-liners:

"Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see."

"This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas - as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart."

And my personal favorite,

"The thing about trains... it doesn't matter where they're going. What matters is deciding to get on."

The best character in the film is the Conductor, in my opinion.  He is Tom Hanks, obvious to any adult viewing the film, but he is allusive, mysterious, kind, intelligent, all bundled into one.

The story centers around one boy who is questioning the reality of Santa and Christmas as a whole - and the Polar Express takes him to the North Pole where he can witness it all to start believing again.  Along the way, he befriends a girl and boy who teach him valuable lessons about humility, giving, and friendship.  "There is no greater gift than friendship" Santa Claus says to them.

All in all, a great Christmas story - and I am glad we chose this one to be our first family film.  And seeing it on IMAX (while a bit of a struggle for our adult eyes) was another winner!  And the bonus?  Boy #2 (our one-year old) slept through the ENTIRE FILM!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Day

Normally, we teachers love a good snow day - a day off work to stay at home and drink that warm cup of coffee that is normally rushed in the chaos of a school day?  Yes indeed!  Snow days used to hold their spell over me, but that has changed a bit.  Now I find myself aching for that warm cup of coffee that I can't seem to fit in because of the two little rugrats that are demanding my attention from 5:00 a.m. on.

So far today we have played Spongebob Memory, played trucks, dinosaurs, and "made a Dora puzzle" as my two-year old says, used our new Lightning McQueen stamps, thrown a truck with blocks through the air at a high rate of speed, and watched Dora Slumber Party.  I have only managed to do two loads of laundry and unload and reload the dishwasher.

I am fondly remembering those days when I woke up, stayed in my pajamas all day, cuddled up with a great book and a cup of coffee.  It makes me remember a song from my childhood that I still love to this day....

Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lightning McQueen Explosion

Lightning McQueen has exploded all over my house...literally.  Maybe I should consider buying stock in the brand?  At least I would get a little return on my investment!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teachers are lucky...

As I sit here at my desk the last day of school before winter break, I am once again reminded of the why I chose this profession (besides the long winter breaks and killer summer vacation.)  It is on days such as this that my students take a step back and show that they really are still children down deep inside, and not adolescents struggling to find their way.

Being a middle school teacher, I have quite literally seen it all.  My students, while only 12 years old, struggle every day to find their identities and then once they find them, make them their own.  They have peers to impress, teachers they know they need to listen to but don't want to listen to, and parents that they want to rebel against.  Literally, every day is a struggle in one form or another. 

Today, I look out and see students with a light in their eyes - it is almost Christmas vacation!  It is on this day that they come to school toting gifts for their teachers, and their smile could not be bigger when a teacher reaches out to give them a hug and a thank you.  I cherish the moments when they come up to me asking to borrow a novel because they know they will need something to do over break (as an adult, I would love to have that problem!)  I cherish this job, this profession, and the 86 students that make it the greatest job ever.

Merry Christmas...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Real St. Nicholas?

Have you ever wondered what the "real" St. Nicholas looked like?  I know what you're thinking, but it is a snow day and the kids are already in bed so what else am I supposed to be doing?

This article gives the whole story...Merry Christmas!

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

I finished a young adult book last night, and it once again reinforces how amazing a good historical novel can be. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is a novel set in the 18th century during one of the most fascinating American conflicts, The Revolutionary War. Since I am currently bringing American History part one alive for my students on a daily basis, I am always on the lookout for a great piece of historical literature I can bring to them.

Isabel, the main character is a slave in colonial New England, the property of a brutal mistress who is relentless. Without giving away too much, the story chronicles her life as her sister is sold, her only friend it captured as a rebel prisoner, and she spends her downtime running errands for the enemy.

As I began reading this to my students, I was pleased to see the shock on their faces as they heard punishments such as branding, whipping, and being sold. It reminded me that there is some humility in the upcoming generation, something that is comforting to see.


Well, here I am...sitting in front of my computer doing what I thought wasn't possible. I am an avid reader, but no writer (although I have always secretly aspired to be a Louisa May Alcott or a Laurie Halse Anderson.) I don't follow any of the rules, I don't know as much as I should about grammar, but I do know that you don't have to be good at all of that to put your thoughts onto paper.

Since I haven't said it already, welcome to my blog! I admit it, this is the product of all of the other "bloggers" out there making their debut. I couldn't take one more Facebook post stating, "Really proud of my last post," or "Follow my adventure to finding the true meaning of life." I almost felt like I wasn't being "deep" enough, or like my life wasn't exciting enough since I wasn't blogging about it. Not really...

I am also looking forward to having a place to write reviews on the young adult literature I read - this could turn out to be a very valuable resource!

So, because I am a believer that you can never had too much on your plate, I add keeping up with the blog to mine - in addition to being a mother to two kids under three, a wife, a school-teacher with an after-school tutoring gig, and being half responsible for running an entire household. Nevermind that I am currently knitting two scarves for my sons for Christmas, making two quilts, scrapbooking two albums, and currently have bookmarks in about four books. Why not? Enjoy my ride...