Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28

It's been a wild and crazy couple of days! Sorry I haven't been able to blog, but no internet where we were staying (Temple University), no time, too "ice cream wasted" -- you pick whichever excuse you like best. But I am sorry.

As soon as I took my camera out to take the first picture, I discovered my lens was broken. A piece is actually missing! I have no idea what happened as I just used it last weekend. I did bring along a cheapo camera, so I started to use that -- until the batteries -- all that I had -- died. I had to wait to buy more batteries, and it was too late. So I used my phone. But my phone won't upload "due to restrictions placed on this computer. See your admnistrator." Whoa. So I will get pictures upload asap.

Philadelphia is the richest city I have ever visited. Rich in history. The history of our country's birth is here! Which of course is why we're here (duh, it is the History Project). I am in love with the City of Love. We did so much! We learned so much! So, here's the beginning of Monday:

Started off with a lecture by a very (seemingly) caffeinated professor. He was interesting to watch – and listen to, of course – he seemed to be, at times, playing tennis on both sides of the white board. He would run from one side to the other, writing one thing, reflecting on it, go to the other side, write something, get some input from his audience, write some more, go to the other side, etc. It was definitely entertaining. And thought-provoking. As we view national monuments, do we view them as “temples” (something that we ‘worship’) or as an actual historic monument… It was a most appropriate way to start off our busiest day of the tour.

Christ Church on 2nd Street, north of Market, was our first stop. Christ Church is the burial ground for five signers of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin is buried there! Mr. Franklin is one major Tuesday star, so I won’t go too ga-ga here. And believe me, I am definitely ga-ga for Franklin. In addition to being the burial ground for some of our Founding Fathers, as well as revolutionary war heroes, early medical pioneers, and more; Christ Church was also considered the early “nation’s church”. George Washington attended services regularly, Betsy Ross had a pew, and Dr. Benjamin Rush was a parishioner. It was founded in 1695. In those days, men (only men) rented pews. The more important you were, the better the pew you got. Franklin, who was not a religious man, did also have an interest in the Christ Church – its steeple. He raised funds to raise the steeple so that he might be able to use it for his electricity experiments. The steeple was not finished in time for this, but when it was finished, it made Christ Church the tallest building in the world, and it remained that way for over 100 years. (Franklin had his hands in so much!).

Our tour guide then took us to Elfreth’s Alley where some of the oldest buildings in our country are located. We learned how to tell how old a home is: by the size of the windows and the number of stairs. We learned why rich people are sometimes referred to as the “upper crust” of society: because back in the 18th century, most people did not own their own ovens, so you took your dough to a community oven. You paid to have it baked. If you were poor, you had your bread baked on the bottom of this community oven; your bread was sometimes burned, sometimes not fully risen. If you had the money to pay, your dough was placed on the top shelf, producing a perfect loaf of bread with a perfect crust. Thus the term, “upper crust.”

We then visited Betsy Ross’s house. Did you know that Betsy Ross was considered an 18th century interior decorator? She not only sewed our first flag, she also made bedding, curtains and other things for the home. When the war began, people could no longer afford her interior decorating services, so she had to find another way to make money. She was a devoted patriot, and so she started making ammunition for the rebel troops!

After Betsy’s house, we went to view the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell was made in England! The very country we were trying to gain freedom from… Christ Church actually has bells from the same company, but instead of trying to fix theirs when it broke (and it did), they sent it back to England and got them to replace it! The reason the Liberty Bell is so cracked is because they tried to fix it!

Do you know the difference between independence and freedom? Apparently the black troops during the Revolutionary War did. England offered them freedom if they won the war; the Patriots wanted independence from England. 5,000 black men were Patriots, whereas 30,000 served on the British side. And we know the story from there; blacks didn’t gain their freedom for a long time after that. But that is a story I will tell for tomorrow… Tuesday we went to the African American Museum (the first one of its kind in the nation!)

Monday isn't over yet (YES, I know it is, I'm just not done writing about it), but I want to get this posted (for my loyal six). I’ll try to attach images …

NOTE: I attached images, but had no control over where they are. I wanted to strategically place them, but darn it all I have no control!!! Clockwise: Elfreth's Alley house, "Betsy Ross" and her fabrics, the Christ Church steeple, and pews in Christ Church.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010 (10:05 p.m. Philadelphia time)

What a day! Finally got to sleep on the second leg of the trip because (phew!) I did find my Xanax. I really need to buy a toothbrush... wonder where I can go at this time of night. Will I have to wait until tomorrow? ICK. Don't even have any mouthwash. TMI, huh? ICK.

We ate at Buca di Beppo: salad, rotoni with meat sauce, fettucini Alfredo, and Parmesean chicken, all followed by cheesecake!!! Wooohooo! What a great meal. (Really need a toothbrush.)

After eating, we were taken by bus to Temple University, which hosts people other than students during the off-school season. Saw a couple of really historic buildings on the way here; didn't have my camera, but I'll make up for it tomorrow.

Temple University has a few really awesome people working here in the off season; they set up the computers for us to use. They have no WiFi (unless you are a student). I've never been in an actual dorm before, so it was an eye-opening experience for me. How do the kids do it? There's no light in the room! They have little single foam mattresses to sleep on! I guess they have to decorate with their own stuff -- like they sell at Target! I remember all those Target commercials for kids leaving for college on their own. Now I know what they mean!

Gonna go try out that foam mattress for myself. Let me know if you've ever been in a dorm before. Can you relate? Tell me your experiences. Talk to me, people. My loyal followers...

Sunday, June 27, 2010 (7:41 a.m.)

So it begins. No sleep last night, yet I cannot sleep on the plane. Listening to the Eagles. Thought maybe I was just hungry, but no. They served us breakfast! Yea, it was just cereal, but it filled the tummy. Just try sleeping on a plane without a pillow! I dare you. Double dare. Unless, of course, you go first class. Like that’d ever happen. Right.

The sun is shining into the plane, especially on my side. I got a window seat, but the shade is down (way too sunny right now). So you know how you just know you forgot something as you’re on your way to the airport? Yea. Well. I forgot my toothbrush. And my sunglasses. I can only hope I didn’t forget my Xanax. Pretty sure I put them in the carry on. I’ll look when we change planes. Those last few minutes before you leave the house. There should be a button you can push to just stop time. Just stop it for a few minutes, just so you can gather your stuff, and not be rushed.

You know you always use your toothbrush right before you leave, and well, sunglasses – at 4 in the morning? Not thinking of them. I took a ride to the Harley Davidson in Folsom yesterday, and they were in my Sportster 1200 saddle bags. The very thoughtful service guys there checked my oil and tire pressure, tightened up my loose ignition, and even cleaned the windshield and gas tank. They are amazing!

Good news! The district paid us per diem! Of course, it isn’t enough to buy a good dinner for two, but hey – it is Sac City Unified, and we are in an economic crisis. Besides, three (very long) days before payday… whatever it is, is much more than I have now. And now I can buy a toothbrush! Whoohoo! (But please, keep those donations coming, folks.)

To my (now six) followers, I would like to say – well, thanks. And keep following. I love to lead. And I love to be in control. I am a teacher, after all.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26, 2010

All packed and ready to go. Got an "Official Visitor's Guide" to Washington DC in the mail today. Whoohoo!!! So hard to decide what to put in my carry-on and what not to. So many regulations. I have NO idea how I'm gonna carry all that I have to carry... backpack with computer (ugh, heavy), carry on luggage, and roller luggage. How am I possibly going to travel from hotel to Greyhound (walking), then from Greyhound to hotel in Pittsburgh (bus ride), then from .... well, you get the picture. Little ole me (5' tall, little person). No idea.

Maybe some dark and handsome knight will help. Ride up on a white stallion. Grab my bags, throw 'em over the horse's back (he'll have ropes, of course). Then grab my hand and swing me up. My hair blowing in the wind. My arms wrapped around his waist. I can feel his six pack. Steven Tyler can be heard singing "Crazy" in the background. Wait, maybe he IS Steven Tyler.

OK. Time to wake up.

Doubt I'll get any sleep tonight. My plan is to stay up all night, talking to a new friend. 'Course, that's MY plan. And we all know what happens when you make plans. Hmph.

Going to see Grown Ups in a few minutes. I love a good laugh. Anybody out there really grown up?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010

Wow! I have four followers! Don't get me wrong, I really don't think they are "followers," just people who love me and put their profiles up for me to see that someone really is listening. Yeah, right. It doesn't matter anyway -- I'm enough for me to have to listen to me. And believe me, I can go on and on. And on.

I've almost spent all of my money just getting ready to go on this trip! You know how it is ... you need a new pair of walking shoes (cuz, boy, are we gonna be walkin'!), a new pair of shorts (or three), shaving cream (cuz your son always takes yours), razors, Preparation H Medicated Wipes (oh, you don't use them? You really should try 'em!), make up, mascara, and so on and so forth. I had my hair done, I had my nails done, and tomorrow, I get my brows (and more) waxed. All to get ready to meet complete strangers, who really don't give a rat's tail about me or what I look like.

Though if I remember from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a rat's tail is pretty darn important to rats. Ah, to be an adult for just a little while and then return to the kingdom of childhood. Oh wait, I'm still not an adult! Whooohooo!

Watched the final episode of Saving Grace last night. Grace dies. Guess I really wasn't surprised -- after all it was the final episode. But I'll bet they could make a really good series from it... Grace could be the angel WITH Earl. I think she kinda had the hots for him at the end.

Way off topic, huh?

So, tried to get our tickets changed to stay another night in New Orleans. We'll only be there one full day and two nights, and I really want to stay longer. It would have been possible, but I figured it's already planned, it would cost another night's stay in a hotel, AND I'll be going back to New Orleans next summer anyway!!

That's right, next year the planned trip for the UC Davis History Project ( is to New Orleans! I'm so excited about teaching fourth grade and California history. I really love American history, but I really love history in general, so California history it is. And going west is so important to the country's history overall. Look at all the people who suffered just to get here (to CA)! Take my ex-husband for instance. He was from the east coast and came here for me! Boy, did he suffer!

And on that note...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19, 2010

Found out that Mary Poppins is going to be onstage in D.C. while we're there!!! Woot Woot!! Also researched and found a free walking tour called "DC by Foot," guided by professors and performers. Sounds like a delight! Getting closer...

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

So you're probably wondering why this blog is called "23 Days of Summer 2010." It will turn out to be more than 23 days because I'm starting to blog before I leave. I am so excited. Never done this before! As a teacher participant in the UC Davis History Project, ( I am going with three of my colleagues (and many teachers from other schools) to Philadelphia. This particular project is called "Legacies of Liberty." We have heard many lectures through the school year from historians in the area, have read American Colonies by Alan Taylor, and have created and taught wonderfully engaging American history lessons. We have shared our thoughts and ideas and had absolutely delicious dinners. It's been a great year with the History Project. And now it's time to celebrate our learning and learn much more! On to one of the most historic places in American history -- Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is the beginning of my 23 Days of (exploring the east coast) Summer 2010. And thus the name of this blog.

I will be leaving (via Greyhound bus) from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

I have been a Steelers fan from the time I was about 16 years old. I've never been to a game, and I've never seen Heinz Field. So on to Pittsburgh. There's probably more to Pittsburgh than just the Steelers, eh?

One of my best friends is meeting me in Pittsburgh, and then we get on Amtrak for the rest of the trip.

Washington, D.C. is next on the agenda. Although I was brought up on the east coast, I have never been to our great nation's capital. I look forward to every single minute there. I have been told that there are literally warehouses FULL of historic items that have not even been released to the public! Probably a good thing. I'll only be there for two days -- not enough time, I'm sure, to see all there is to see.

Remember Lestat? He was the original modern vampire, in my opinion. I literally consumed every Ann Rice book I could get my hands on back in the 80s and 90s. And in the process, fell in LOVE with New Orleans and vampires. And witches and half breeds. All of them. So, the next logical stop: New Orleans.

Because of Hurricane Katrina, Amtrak no longer goes east and west, just north and south; so, D.C. to New Orleans, back to D.C. Kinda silly, huh? Anyway, next stop ... Savannah! Really want a taste of the old south. What better place to get it?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17, 2010

Today was the last day of school. It was a historic year. Had 64 kids, equally shared with my partner teacher. Glad it's over, but sorry to see it done. Will be teaching fourth grade next year. Looking forward to it, but a little leary of the younger age. Really enjoy fifth grade; they're old enough to get me. Afraid the fourth graders (who are just barely out of third grade) won't get it. We'll see. Also not looking forward to learning a new curriculum. So familiar with fifth grade curriculum. Have to learn a new one. Love learning new things, but so comfortable with what what is already known. Out of comfort zone. Actually, ready for a change. Kids are developing so quickly these days, much quicker than my time. Much quicker, even, than just ten years ago. Maybe because of growth hormones in food? Who knows. It is what it is. Change is good. Fourth grade will be awesome. Love my team.