Friday, April 25

It's all about the sun

It's really amazing how much more I am able to tolerate Moscow now that the sun has started appearing. My grade 10 students are signing up for next years classes and I think if I have them as grade 11s, then I'd want to stay a third year to see them through, but then that's a never ending cycle, isn't it?? We had parent conferences yesterday and mine went so well. Of course, the parents of students who could really use the conferences didn't come, but still. I had two parents come only to say thank you to me for the support I give their children. This really is an amazing school and I'll just say again I love my job.

Have I mentioned that I'm coaching softball? I am, the boys high school team. In three weeks we're traveling to Istanbul for our one tournament and chance to play against other schools. Anyway, it was so nice to watch the guys playing while standing in the sun. It's still pretty chilly, but today we're supposed to have a high of 57! That's not too bad at all.

Monday, April 21

So proud!

Warning, this is all me being a proud mama hen.

I use Engrade, an online gradebook, to keep all my grades. It's free, web based and super user friendly. They've just added functionality that I can post lessons or assignments without students having to log in (somehow they can remember their Facebook, etc, passwords, but not mine) - click here to see the general page of assignment calendars. And to some of these assignments, I can set it so that students can respond.

Like my Log Bonus post. Go click on it. Please! Look at the stuff my students are doing! I'm so proud. And this is from my "weakest" grade 10 class.

Resuming normal bitter self now.

Sunday, April 20


Decorated Piano

Well, I didn't end up with that many pictures of myself, though I know the yearbook teacher got a few of me. It was really nice, except that there wasn't any dancing. Many of my students were there, a surprising number of sophomores.

Daniel and Peter

It was at the US Ambassador's house, which is beautiful. It was a casino night theme and they brought in blackjack tables and dealers from a local casino and had poker chips made.

Teachers at the Tables

AAS Chips

Here's my favorite dress, the girl designed it herself and had it made.

Favorite Dress

And one of my students won prom queen. It was quite surprising actually as she's not the most popular. She was thrilled though and I had fun photographing her along with two of her friends, also my students.

Really Excited


Saturday, April 19

Slowly Spring Arrives

When I returned from the Canaries a week ago, it was a beautiful day. I went hiking the G, a friend of a friend. We couldn't help but be excited by all the budding trees (in Russian, they have separate word for a bud that makes leaves versus a bud that makes flowers).

Spring Buds

The trees that are further along have produced buds that have fallen to the ground. To us it looked like a migration of caterpillars.


It was a great way to spend the day. Of course three days later it was snowing. However, the snow didn't stick and blue skies are forcing there way back in. I just went to the market and bought strawberries! Yay, with winter ending I'm finally beginning to enjoy Moscow again!

Last night I had dinner with friends two metro stops away from home. It was such a lovely night I decided to walk back. I haven't done the walk over the bridge at night before so I'd never noticed this huge Gazprom sign before. I don't know how much you hear about them in the States, but they're the largest company in Russia, third largest in the world and do lots and lots of natural gas refining.

Gazprom Reflection

Oh, and tonight is prom which means an exciting picture of the day.

Thursday, April 17

La Gomera - Canaries 4

I was reminded that I didn't explain who I went to the Canaries with besides my sister who I always call Sarita. The whole reason I was there is because my sister had planned this trip with a friend of hers, we'll call Sahara because her name is similar but strange and Sahara is all I could think of when trying to remember it. Anyway, Sahara works for Delta and so she and her two kids fly for free and my sister got to fly for 10 cents a mile, so they decided to pick some place exotic for break. My parents donated their time share and it just so happened this planned trip fell on my spring break, so I tagged along.

Anway, on our 5th day there, we took a day trip to La Gomera, the second smallest Canary Island, and is a quick 32 km away from Tenerife. Even on a bus tour, it was stunning. I especially loved the laurel forest we got to spend an hour (not nearly enough time) in.

Moss Covered Forest

I wish we'd have spent our entire trip on La Gomera which is far more tropical and humid than the desert like Tenerife. It's far less touristy with only a few hotels and lots and lots of hiking.

Note El Teide (the highest point in Spain, the old volcano on Tenerife) rising through the clouds in the background.

Monday, April 14

1, 2, 3, Duck - Canaries 3

Tuesday was a great day. Well, in parts. We went to the Camel Park. By now we've learned our lesson about Parks. At least with the monkeys the kids got to pet them. The brochures showed happy camels, if there is such a thing, and people getting kissed by the camels. "Lies" the boys shouted within 10 minutes of our arrival. These camels were not happy, no petting occured and the ride, well only the boys went. They enjoyed it, but it wasn't "the coolest thing ever."

Camel Mustache

However, our drive there was lovely as was the return. The boys headed to the beach to create sand sculptures. Here they are with their volcano (it's not a pyramid!!)

They loved the black sand!

Sarita and I headed off to an "aqua spa." There were 10 different stations:
1. Massage bath - a huge warm pool, chest high water with many different jets and water falls.
2. Cold Plunge - love them!
3. Hot tub - not so hot, unfortunately
4. Roman bath (wet sauna)
5. Scottish Shower, cold shower with jets all around and a Bucket Shower
6. Flotarium - super salinated water where you have to try to push your limbs under water - my favorite experience. My muscles have never felt so relaxed!
7. Turkish bath - dry sauna
8. "Relaxing" Foot and Leg Massage - walk in a half circle on small pebbles while water is sprayed onto your ankles.
9. Mineral springs mist - another half circle walk
10. Mineral oil shower - we never actually found this.

It was great! A good, laughable bonding experience for my sister and I. And really, after 1.5 hours in water, you skin is so smooth!

We returned to meet up with the boys and their mom and headed off for a great local dinner. On the walk home, I went ahead with the boys and as we were walking along the balcony towards our room, on the count of three we ducked down and hid. It was great fun. We ended the night with a game of Blokus.

We heart Blokus!

Depressed Monkeys - Canaries 2

Today (Monday) we went to the "Monkey Park." I already hate zoos. Caged animals make me want to cry. Animals crowded into cages in a "park" thatsmells of feces where the animals are missing patches of fur, well these make me angry with myself knowing I've just paid to get in and am help supporting the cruelty. The things we do to get along with our family when on vacation.

What do you see first?

Do I look like I eat bread??

I was thinking about this while waiting for my sister and the kids to finish feeding the monkeys the dried bread, cat food and sunflower seeds (all the things they get in nature right?!). I was standing near the crocodile pit thinking twirling the car key when "oops" there goes the key into the croc pit. Yep, the animal keeper had to be radioed to come jump the fence and retrieve our rental car key. Yep, that's me, Grace should be my middle name.

The Ocean Scares Me - Canaries 1

I was reading most of the flight to Tenerife (Ten-air-reef-eh) so even though I had a window seat, I hadn't been gazing out of it. However, from Moscow to Madrid I did glance up from my grading as we passed over some beautiful mountains (the Alps?). Anyways, I the flight to Tenerife I was sharing a row with a German Gymnasium (HS) math teacher. He and his wife and another couple were heading to Tenerife for their 11th time!! As we approached the island he drew my attention from my book to the view out the window to the water/island below. I immediately thought, "The ocean scares me." It's so big. how can you not help but feel insignificant when compared to its vastness. If you're swept away, that's it your a speck, a cookie crumb soon to disolve in a big glass of milk. Oh, and don't forget sharks, rip tide, and sand. I fly a lot, as we all know. I'm never afraid, except when I see nothing but ocean below.

Two days later I was up at 7. I walked along the ocean, so at peace with its sound and smell... from the safety of land, I'm in love.

Saturday, April 12


And obviously, I'm back. I've started posting pictures and I'll give you a summary tomorrow. All in all, a great trip. Some wonderful QT with my sister. On the last day we went to El Teide the highest point in Spain:

Parque Nacional del Teide Landscape

Arrested Development - The Movie

I just watched Juno which was great. I think I'm the last person on the planet who hasn't seen it, but if I'm wrong, then go watch it. Comedies about teenage pregnancy, love them. Though Saved is still my favorite. Anyway, while watching Juno I kept thinking who is that guy? I know him, what's he from? I had to run to IMDB to figure out how I knew Michael Cera... OF COURSE! Arrested Development! How could I have forgotten??? That show was great! Very funny and canceled after only 3 seasons. But it appears they're making a movie due out next year! Maybe they'll have the whole cast...

In further reading he's also staring in a film adaptation of "Youth in Revolt". I read this book when I was in high school and laughed my way through the misadventures of Nick Twisp. I wonder if I'd still like it. Hrm, maybe my library has it...

Friday, April 4


Thank you to everyone here, on facebook, via email and skype for the birthday wishes. It was a great birthday!!!

Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

Here's day 2: me trying to match the smile of my favorite birthday card. When you open it, the cats teeth are actually created with the block letters for "Happy Birthday" but in Russian. Anyhoo, I waited until I looked less hung over to take the picture, but in the spirit of true photodocumentation maybe I should have taken a photo this morning. I think this exercise will be a great reminder to always carry my camera.

I'll continue the photo a day but I won't be able to put any up for the next week because in 5 hours (at 4 a.m.) I'm being picked up and taken to the airport. Yep, I was just in Thailand, but that was work people! Seriously, even though I was in Thailand it was 24/7 with the kids. But this, this is April break. I'm flying to Tenerife, which is one of the Canary Islands where I'll be meeting my sister and one of her friends. I hope to hike, read books and play lots of Blokus. I'll catch you up in a week.

Thursday, April 3


Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

Photo 1/365. Me hiding from all the camera flashes of the two young photographers at happy hour. To the right are the roses given to me by a student.


Remember this? I'm introducing logarithms and tonight's homework was answer the question, "What is a log?" I said I'm not talking about the one that's "big, heavy and wood." I was met with many blank stares, so their bonus work is to find this video!

Another year gone by

Well, I have now entered my 30th year, to steal Mickey's way of phrasing the fact that today is my 29th birthday. And as such I think I'm going to steal Minnie's 365 idea to commemorate my 30th year of existance. So I'll be taking a picture a day of myself to watch my transition of moving towards being the age that I feel. Really I feel more like I'm 32 or 33. But anyhoo, stay posted for 1/365. I'll have to wait until I get home to upload it :)

Thus far, I've been given 3 plants (yay!), homemade tiramisu even made with marscapone which I didn't even know you could find in Moscow (double yay!) and a box of Ladoo - Indian Sweets (huge YAY!). After school a crowd is heading to my favorite brewery restaurant.

Update: Add to the list 7 long stem white roses from one of my Russian students. This one means a lot because he's one of those kids that was a big trouble maker last year and I've got him in math and advisory and he's doing really well.

A few photos:

Me and the tiramisu maker:
Italian Student and Me

Young Photographer:
Beer and Camera Head