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Montenegro – Day 2

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Excited faces and voices crowded the foyer of the Montenegrin elementary school and then suddenly it was time! This is what we’ve been preparing and waiting for! Originally we had 16 and as if by magic, we now had 26 eager 3rd/4th graders.  The classroom was smaller than my own classroom back home and we literally could not squeeze another desk or chair. Despite the large sized group, the students behaved so well and we had no behavior issues. It was a productive and fun-filled day! They were all still smiling at the end of the day, so this was definitely a successful first day! I loved every minute of it! More about the kids later.

Later in the afternoon, we hit the beach. The beaches in this area have funny names. This one was called Copacabana! The sand was a dark gray color and very soft. The water looked a brilliant blue (more pictures coming soon), and the sun was hot — until the clouds started getting darker and we finally made a run for a beach cafe when a sandstorm practically threw us at it.  More on the food another time.

Here are some observations and things I’ve learned about the culture and community, so far:

  • Montenegrins don’t buy coffee on the go.  On our walk to the school, I stopped for a quick breakfast bite and wanted my coffee in a “to-go” cup. They laughed at me and amongst each other for a minute before handing me a tiny cup with the coffee, which was delicious, by the way).  I guess they don’t believe in Starbucks here and are not upset about it.
  • Cows roam free on the streets. I saw at least 4 cows on this same morning walk. So cool. They didn’t bother us at all as we basically walked around them on the path. I love cows!
  • The kids in our class are VERY SIMILAR to the kids back home. They love many things and especially SOCCER (they say football) and DOGS! They loved EVERYTHING we did with them and especially anything with music, dancing, singing, movement,  and interactions with partners or in small groups.
  • The kids here do the FLOSS dance too!! If you’re not a teacher or a parent, you may not be familiar with it — omg! Youtube is most likely behind this! Ditto with FLIPPING water bottles — well, only one kid was doing this, but it’s a fad I’m glad is mostly over in the U.S.

My jet-lagged brain needs a break…more tomorrow! And yes, more pictures too…

 

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Soccer Tips for Newbies

A funny thing happened one morning when I casually asked a friend how she got into such amazing shape.  She opened my eyes to a whole new world of …women’s SOCCER!  Wait. What? At that point, my daughter had played on a few teams and I’d gone to all her games and practices (most were cold and dreary), but grown-ups play too? It was music to a young mom’s ears, who craved – yes CRAVED – to get into shape.  Only thing was…I’d NEVER played before.  Not in college.  Not in high school.  Heck, not even in middle school.  In fact, I Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in fitness, Funny, Games, kids, soccer

 

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Joys of Teaching Teen to Drive

Um…the word for it is much more like…TERRIFYING!  Okay, okay….it’s getting better, but those first few times were pretty rough.

After you spend all kinds of money on a “Segment 1” class, you need to drive your teen around for a total of about 50 hours. Part of that class includes an instructor driving with your teen.  They even go on the highway.  When I first heard this, I was in awe of the instructor.  Brave man.  He does this for a living too.  But, after a couple of seconds, I realized he has an extra brake pedal in the car!!  Brave? Not so much.

The first couple of times were absolutely the roughest.  For. me.  She was fine.  I death-gripped the sides of my Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Family, Funny, parenting, Teaching

 

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Max, the birthday boy, celebrates at the dog park

Max turns 8 years old today! Happy Birthday Max! In dog years, that makes him the oldest in our family.  To celebrate, we will be giving him a special treat – he doesn’t have to know it’s also good for cleaning his teeth. We’ll also be taking him to one of his new favorite places in the entire world:  THE DOG PARK!

The dog park opened in late May and we’ve gone numerous times.  I actually overheard someone say, “What happens at the dog park, stays at the dog park.”  I found out later that it’s a slogan on a t-shirt and I provided the link here.

We’d never experienced too much “off leash time” with other dogs, so I was a little hesitant at first and wasn’t sure what to expect.  Would we encounter Cujo-like dogs that’d attack my gentle and loving Max, who thinks everyone is his best friend? What if a dog fight breaks out and he gets swept up in it?

Poop bags and water on hand, we braved it one sunny afternoon. The second we arrived, Max’s nose went into full sniff mode. It was like me in a fudge store, inhaling all the wonderful smells that make me want to devour ten pounds of fudge.

Of course, Max left his “mark” every couple of feet, and we weren’t even at the gate of the fenced off area yet. There were only a couple of other dogs in the “small dog” section and of course, they greeted each other in their up-close and personal way. Again, think fudge store! Soon, Max ran off with one of the dogs and it was pretty sweet to see his little personality shine. I also found it to be a great social time for us owners, and it reminded me a lot of when my teenagers were toddlers and I made tons of mommy friends.

I was so pleased with our first visit that I go several times a week, which is more times than I go to the gym! Hmmm…funny how that happens.

We’ve gone at times when there were 20 or more dogs running around and, happily, haven’t had any Cujo incidents or aggressiveness. But there was one incident with growling and ironically, it came from Max!

Now that Max is in his “golden years”, he likes to take a little break now and then and not run around non-stop. The other dog was a puppy that never stopped running or jumping and he hadn’t quite learned the fine art of giving another dog his space. He’d race around with another dog and bulldoze his way into and over Max, who was minding his own little business on the soft grass. The first time, Max gave him a warning “look”. The second time, he put that puppy in his place with a vicious growl that surprised the heck out of me. My Max? He knows how to growl? He doesn’t hardly even bark! The puppy left him alone after that.

I highly recommend our dog park. It truly is a great place where dogs can run off leash to exercise and socialize. There’s also the added benefit of seeing all the different breeds, mixed or pure, and laughing at their individual antics.

In honor of Max’s birthday, here is some doggie etiquette for the dog park:

Do run off and socialize

Do not run off and socialize until you’re off leash

Do greet other dogs in the usual sniffing the privates ritual

Do not lick said privates, regardless of the enticing smells

Do smell every square inch of the 5 acres

Do not lick any of those inches, regardless of the enticing smells

Do relieve yourself of that full bladder

Do not relieve it all over a curious onlooker, human nor canine

Do empty your bowels if the urge arises

Do not empty them in small increments, every few feet

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Dogs, Funny

 

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Funny things students say


As you may know, I teach English as a second language at the elementary level and I laugh every day at the funny things kids say.  I have to share this one from a couple of weeks ago:

I was listening to a second grade girl read and she couldn’t pronounce the name “Shirley”. I corrected her gently, but she couldn’t quite get it and kept tripping up on it.  After several times (it must have been in the story 80 times) she stopped, gave me a deadpan look and said,

“I have five missing teeth – what do you want?”

LOVE IT!

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Funny, kids, Teaching

 

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Halloween visitors and Max

Max was whimpering like crazy as he peeked out the little window by the front door — his favorite spot to people watch.  It was not to be confused with ordinary whimpering.  It was more like his:  “HURRY, WE HAVE VISITORS! let them in, please, please, let them in, they are my best friends, please…” But the thing is….no one was at the door.  Or so I thought.  Upon closer look —  our “visitors” were our Halloween lawn decorations! We had to let the little guy go outside and see for himself.  He ran right to them (Mr. and Mrs. Witch) and he literally stared at them for a full 30 seconds before daring to go up and smell them…aww chucks…not best friends after all…what a hoot!

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2010 in dog, Funny, Holidays

 

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Janet Evanovich Rocks!

I met Janet Evanovich at her book signing in Michigan and she is a one terrific lady! I’m a HUGE fan.  How HUGE? Well, recently, I helped plan a fan party at our local library in her honor and then went in costume to her book signing and helped the book store entertain the long lines.  It happened something like this:

My friend wanted to throw a “little” dinner party with all the favorites from the books (mashed potatoes, meatloaf, pineapple upside cake)  complete with character costumes. Picture someone dressed as Lula or Vinnie!!  What a hoot!! Then – I don’t know what came over me but I thought — why not make this a community event? I contacted the local library and it snowballed from there.

Each day we came up with more fun ideas and it was like planning a wedding! Food had to be DONUTS (all Stephanie Plum series readers would get this) and of course I figured I’d ask local businesses to sponsor this.  At first it was just the donuts — Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons were super generous! Then the library provided coffee and gift cards for the used book store.

Hmmm….why not promote local businesses and help the economy while we’re at it? The responses were mostly positive! We had gift cards that related to the stories:  Lula loves her chicken — so KFC donated gift cards! cars blow up in every book — Lighthouse Car Wash donated GCs! Food is a central theme in all the books so we had GCs from Wendy’s, Holiday Market, Leo’s Coney Island and Big Boy too.  Big hair in New Jersey? Salon Anew GC! Rex the hamster and Bob the dog? Pet Supplies Plus GC!  It was amazing!  Even the Janet Evanovich website sent us tons of goodies to give out!  (Thanks Alex!!)

The library wrote up a little blurb about the event in their newsletter (we just barely made the deadline) and their website (alright!) and our local paper wrote about it too! (AWESOME!)

In the meantime, my friend created most of the trivia questions and I typed them up and put them in balloons!! (okay that was much later…) The only way to get the questions is to have fans sit on the balloons and POP — like the cars that blow up in the books! Okay…more on that later…We came up with an ice breaker type game and little details and whammo – we had our games and activities!

Food? Check! Gifts? Check! Press? Check! Games and activities? Check! Costumes?….wait, what? I have to wear a costume? 🙂

I decided on the Stephanie Plum character because she’s one of my favorites — and, okay, so that one’s pretty easy without looking ridiculous! 🙂

By the way, my friend and I work in a school and the fan party was on the Saturday after school started!! Talk about a busy week!!!

Okay – now – my friend decides she still wants to have the dinner at her house after our fan party at the library and actually cooked a fabulous meal! She made mouth-watering meatloaf, chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls!! To top it all off, we had upside down pineapple cake AND double chocolate cake!! I could hardly move the whole night!! (Think: Thanksgiving).  The characters in the books eat like this all the time — good thing they’re fictional — too much of a good thing.  (And of course, we had wine, but that’s another story).

The morning of the event was filled with runs to the donut shops and bakery but the best part was loading my car!! Remember all those balloons with the questions tucked inside them for the game? I thought I was smart by putting them in four huge black garbage bags and putting them in my garage as I loaded up my SUV.  I was standing in the back of my car watching my hubby put the seats down to make room and per chance, I glanced up — only three garbage bags are in my garage.  One of the bags blew away onto the neighbor’s yard — complete with balloons inside – AND two of the balloons escaped from the bag! I made a mad dash after the bag and the run-away balloons!  Did I mention how windy it was? Oh for pete’s sake!

The event was a blast! The fans were terrific and we all shared our favorite LOL parts of the Stephanie Plum series.  The games and activities were fun and thanks to our generous sponsors, the gifts were great too!! (Big Boy even made a special appearance!) Oh yeah, and did I mention the DONUTS!!

YUM!

The book signing was a total hoot! My friend arranged for us to provide the entertainment while people wait in the long lines.  I was happy to do it and didn’t even mind wearing my costume — it’s like Janet Evanovich fans all “understand” each other — we love her books, the humor and the men in the stories!! So many women told us they LOVED Ranger!! I asked trivia questions and the best reaction was when I asked what was Lula’s previous profession — the answer was always “She was a HO!” complete with attitude and all! People were so funny – my smile was still plastered on when I left the store a few hours later…

I’d read so many things about the author previously that I felt I already knew her when it was finally my turn to meet her. She was all smiles and friendly (and probably a little surprised at my costume). Besides devouring all her Stephanie Plum series books, I’d read her “How I Write” book and found her to be very down to earth and refreshing as a person and writer.  What a classy lady!

Pictures by Jennifer Wilmarth.  I’ll post more pictures  soon!

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Funny, Games, Writing

 

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