Monthly Archives: October 2008

San Antonio

I have no photos. Forgot to take my camera out. Two of my students didn’t. They looked out their ninth story windows, saw the ashtrays outside them and decided, oh look, cool photos. Then they CLIMBED OUT THEIR WINDOWS and stood in the ashtrays with their cameras taking "cool photos, Mrs. Lee." I found out when the director of the conference stopped me from judging yearbook copy so I could talk with the hotel manager and security.
Needless to say those two did not enjoy their Saturday evening in San Antonio.
Sunday DH and I met Mary and her DH for dinner at Casa Rio. This was the first time I’ve met Mary’s DH. Very cool guy. Seeing Mary again was great, too! (Hi Mary!!!) DH drove down Saturday and stayed through Sunday so I could walk around the Riverwalk. No way could I have done it without him! He’s definitely in the running for DH of the year awards!!!
Monday we heard the keynote by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jim Sheeler. Once again I heard how important it was for reporters to remember their humanity and use it while working.
If you haven’t seen his Final Salute series, you really should. Find it here. It’s amazing beyond belief. Don’t forget the Kleenex. You’ll need it.
After Sheeler spoke, the awards were distributed. Two photographers and my editorial writer won awards. The paper and yearbook both won second place Best in Show out of the papers and books there for schools our size. YAY!
The trip home was much better than the FOREVER trip down. The bus ran faster, thank GOD!

Her Warrior Slave by Michelle Willingham

Her Warrior Slave

Her Warrior Slave

Michelle Willingham

Kieran Ó Brannon is no ordinary slave—defiant, daring and
dangerous, he is untamable! Iseult MacFergus is drawn to this powerful
man with the strength of a warrior and the honor of a king. She trusts
him to help find her lost child….

Kieran sold himself into
slavery to save his brother’s life, but Iseult, with the face of an
angel, gives him hope that he can again be a free man. Determined to
find her child, Kieran may finally have his freedom—although now his
heart is tied to Iseult’s forever….

Read Excerpt

This book was soooooooo good. MIchelle always does a great job bringing her characters to life. Kieran is a FANTASTIC hero. Years ago I had a professor who loved reading Jude Devereaux novels because of the historical details she put in her stories. I think he’d love reading Michelle’s books for the same reason. I highly recommend this book!

San Antonio

9.5 hours. That’s how long it took us to get to San Antonio in the school bus today.
That’s almost a flight to England.


The Italian people are the nicest people I’ve ever met. Their food is unbelievable. The landscape leaves you breathless.
We spent the night on the night train from France to Italy.

This was my car-mates on the night train. DD didn’t stay with me and mil, she stayed with her BFF and her other two friends. We had an awesome time even though the rooms were tiny. We told ghost stories and pretended to be Asian tourists. My car and the car next door  were the only non-Asian tourist rooms on our car.

We got to Italy in time for breakfast. It was so good! Lots of fresh fruit. Peaches everywhere.
That day we went to Florence. If I could do anything over, I’d plan a full two days in Florence and skip Pisa.

DD and her BFF were sick in Florence. BFF’s mom is a world traveler. BFF and mom stayed in Florence and saw the local tourist doctor while we made our way to Pisa.

I have some pictures somewhere of the tower, but I’ve got to tell you, Pisa was a HUGE disappointment. You know those cheap touristy places that drive you crazy in cities like NYC, DFW, San Antonio? That was Pisa. VERY commercialized. It didn’t feel sacred at all. BUT the Pisa baptistry was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever heard. Most people in Pisa have lived there forever. They’re parents lived there, and their grandparents did, too. They’ve all been baptized in this gorgeous marble baptistry. A lone man walked in and started singing while we all sat on the marble steps surrounding him. His voice echoed off the round walls. It was haunting and touching at the same time. Outside, the temps were reaching near 98 and we were all exhausted. But inside, the marble was cold. That man’s voice will live in my memory forever. Were weren’t allowed to take photos inside the baptistry.

We stopped at Assisi on the way to Rome. Assisi was everything Pisa wasn’t. It was sacred and beautiful. The scenery around the town is straight from a Tuscan postcard.

We had the best pizza I’ve ever tasted in my life in Assisi. 🙂

Then we were on to Rome. Our tour guide told us there are so many artifacts in Rome, things that would normally be in museums are on roadsides there. People can’t remodel their homes without finding some ancient artifact or another. Our first night there, we went on a night tour of the city. I went to Trevi Fountain and threw my coin and had the best pistachio gelato. YUM!
The next day we made our way to the Vatican. The Pope was there! Talk about chilling. I’m not Catholic, but watching and listening, I was stunned by the power.

The Pope blessed us while we were there. (Pretty cool)
I’d love to spend more time at the Vatican. I felt rushed the entire time. BUt the place was so incredibly crowded. It was CRAZY!
After the Vatican, we went to the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, and they gave away free champagne. I wish I’d paid more attention to the brand. I don’t usually like champagne, but I could’ve had that with my meal. It was perfect for the hot day. (Another 100 degree one)
The week before we were there, the Romans said they were wearing light jackets. We were there for record setting heat!

From the restaurant, we made our way to the Coliseum.

DD, BFF and another friend went off on their way, and I went off one mine with other people.

I’m in the background here. I have no idea what I’m thinking. But I bought the hat in Florence! I bet I was having some sort of weird premonition. Something was saying don’t go any further. Just sit down. Who cares about all this ancient history?!?

Even DD and her BFF were trying to convince we not to venture off.

And ten minuted later, I was talking about Gladiator ghosts and, boom, down I went.
The EMT’s were very Italian. 🙂

I’ll definitely go back. San Giovanni’s nursing staff might have been nice, but I don’t want that to be my last Italian memory!
My next trip is already planned. Summer 2010, I’m taking a group of kids on the From ROme to Athens trip, and I can’t wait!


Paris was amazing beyond belief. I took four years of French in high school and three and a half in college. Paris has been on my must-do list for over half my life. When we walked out of the train station onto the Paris streets, I almost started crying.
The Eiffel tower was as beautiful as I’d always imaged. The Louvre and Notre Dame took my breath away. Versailles was indescribable. I wanted to stay longer! I’ll definitely go back to Paris one day, but I think I’d like to go back without students. 🙂
If you get a chance to visit, you MUST have a few crepes. And the wine is to die for. So is the cafe au lait (YUM!). But beware: you don’t want to sit down in a restaurant to eat. It costs more.

Me, DD, MIL (and yes, I do have a traffic light coming out of my head!)

Me with the other two teachers who led groups. We’re on the second tier of the Eiffel Tower.

Me with the Tower at night.

I don’t remember if this is the Louvre or the place they kept Marie Antoinette or something else, but it was in Paris, and it was outside my window and I got all excited and pointed, and made a bunch of ooh, ooh, ooh noises. (The real reason DD spent very little time with me on the trip. She didn’t want to look like a tourist, and I totally embraced the tourist persona!)

The Arch de Triumph. Cool, cool cool! People can actually walk up to it! We just went by on a bus. DD and a group of girls went out with a mom on Music Night and got to see it up close and personal. I’m sooooo jealous. I HAVE to go back!!!!

Versailles. It’s a sucky picture. Doesn’t come close to the opulence of the place, but I was there, and it was beautiful, and I want to go back.

From the Louvre. One of the most touching sculptures I’ve ever seen. I saw this and thought what a PERFECT representation of love.

Notre Dame. I cried like a baby the whole time I was in the church. It felt sacred (unlike Pisa). THankfully MIL was with me, and she carries Kleenex.

Picture of Josephine from the Louvre. I’d forgotten how gorgeous she was!

Me with the sculpture of Artemis. My friend Kim and I walked the Louvre together, and I loved this sculpture, but we both got a laugh out of me getting picture with this goddess. She’s so athletic. So sure on her feet. And I’m such a klutz. That’s what I was thinking when Kim took this picture. I think I even said something about it. Little did I know what was in my very near future!


Our trip this summer through London. Paris, Florence and Rome was amazing beyond belief. The one place we didn’t get enough of was London. We started at Trafalgar Square. 
For some reason our tour bus got lost or broke down or something, so we ended up on this hike through the streets in search of the bus.
But because of that we got to see a real London protest and the Australia House otherwise known as Gringott’s Bank in Harry Potter.

My MIL and I road the Eye

Then we got lost in the Underground trying to get to Picadilly Circus. Our guide said go to the statue in the center of the square. We came out of the Tube station exit for PC and went the wrong direction.
In London we saw Wicked, which was AMAZING! I desperately want to go back to London. We didn’t get enough. Everything there was so cool.
Strangely enough I barely saw DD on this trip. She spent most of her time with her bff, Loren.

I believe…

I believe all students can learn.
I believe it’s up to us as teachers, as departments as schools to make sure we have a system in place to make that happen.
I believe that if a students chooses not to learn on Monday, my answer isn’t "Fine, fail." It’s "Heck no. You don’t have a choice."
I don’t believe my answer makes a student any less responsible.
I believe schools must change, or they will cease to have a place in our society.
I believe I make a difference every day I walk into my classroom.
I believe every student on my campus is my responsibility.
I believe TAKS is a basics skills test, and by teaching to a basic skills test, we’ve hurt generations of students. I believe that test is important, but we should be teaching to a higher standard.
I believe I’m underpaid, overworked, and still I’d never do anything else.

Woo Hoo, Mel!

She signed with Melissa Jeglenski. If anyone deserves this, Mel does. The Cursed Clan is an AMAZING series. Go say congratulations!

Dear Texas High School Football Gods….

You know, I’m a big fan of Texas High School Football. (Yes, the caps are right.) I mean what’s not to love? We have big crowds, big bands, dance teams, cheer crews, teams. It’s amazin’. Especially when a cool almost cold breeze is blowing and you think maybe just maybe it’s time for hot chocolate. The stars are shin bright, the flags blow, and every time I stand to cheer the team on, my hair flies in my face.
Yes. Texas High School Football rocks. Only, here’s the deal. You (Texas High School Football Gods) somehow got things screwed up this year. You moved our games to Thursday night. And even though tonight met all the requirements for an awesome game (we won!), it’s just not the same knowing I gotta get up in a few hours and go to work. So please, next year remember, it’s Friday Night Football.


All that working out yesterday killed me today. My ankle hurts, my leg hurts. Everything hurts.
On a bright note, when I got home, I confirmed my plans for summer 2010: I’m taking students on the from Rome to Athens trip. Woo Hoo!!!! I hope the trip makes.
I’d planned on London and Paris this summer, but I decided this week there was just no way. 😦
My ankle is too sore for me to know for sure I’d be up to a walking tour in less than a year.