Happy Birthday my little Prince! I had a quite busy weekend with my son's birthday along with also celebrating my husband's 40th birthday and his cousin's 35th birthday. Every year we try to celebrate their birthdays together, but this year I made a special cake for each one of them. Jeremy's cake could not have been anything but Star Wars related. He loves the "white guys" or storm troopers, so I made this cake just for him. The storm trooper is modeled using rice crispies and covered in fondant. This was a moist chocolate cake filled with caramel buttercream and dulce de leche.


One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know that we are not alone." When I think about books, and when I think about my students, that's certainly one of the messages I hope kids will take with them- you are not alone, other people have lived the life that you are living, they have survived, and you will make it too. This weekend, I found LISTENING FOR CRICKETS, a gem that I know I will be handing to many, many kids this year.

Ten-year-old Jake has a rough life. His mom and dad are like a lot of my students' parents- in marriages that are barely making it, struggling financially, and sometimes numbing those struggles through drugs or alcohol. Jake's parents are not able to provide much support for Jake, or his second grade sister, Cassie. His father, trapped in a series of low end jobs, is frustrated and abusive and often unkind to his children and his wife. Jake and Cassie share a room, and every night, Jake makes up stories to distract Cassie from their parents' loud and sometimes violent arguments. And as if the struggles at home weren't enough, Jake can't read very well, and has to go to a special reading class every day.

This is a sad book, but it's also a book with a message of hope. Jake receives support from a smart and intellectually stimulating best friend, his reading teacher, and a crusty old woman who lives next door. It is those people who give Jake the strength to deal with everything that is going on at home.

The kids I teach have hard, hard lives. I'm so glad to have a new book to remind them that they are not alone.

GORILLA'S STORY- Harriet Blackford

Today at the library (notice I did not say bookstore!) I found a really lovely new picture book. GORILLA'S STORY traces the life of a young silverback gorilla from the day he is born until the day he assumes leadership of his own family of female gorillas. It's told as a story, tracing the life of the gorilla, but it's totally based on fact, and it has tons and tons and tons of really detailed information about gorillas embedded on every page. At the end of the book, a letter from the author explains that the silverback is an endangered gorilla, and tells kids what they can do to help. The illustrations by Manya Stojic, are beautiful, beautiful, full color page-covering paintings.

When I looked for this book online, it said the intended audience was children from ages 3-6. I totally disagree with that. This is an EVERYBODY book. It's a fairly long story, and I don't know if I'd use it much before kindergarten, but I think kids from kindergarten to fifth grade would enjoy the story and would learn a lot about gorillas (I especially liked how Blackford explains how a young male comes to adulthood and is driven out of his father's family, then has to find drive away an aging male to take over his own group of females). I also think this would be a terrific mentor text for the dreaded "animal report." Kids could start by listening to GORILLA'S STORY (or Blackford's TIGER'S STORY or ELEPHANT'S STORY, that I have never seen, but am definitely going to look for now). Think I'd probably read it one time, so kids could just enjoy the story and illustrations. The next time through, I would give kids clipboards, and ask them to list all of the facts they hear embedded in the story. Finally, I'd let them try writing their own animal stories, using facts they had learned about animals they were studying.

A really lovely new "nonfiction-ish" picturebook.

The Second Week of School

This year, I'm writing a newsletter, "COMMENTS FROM YOUR COACH" to my teachers. I'm not sure whether it will be every week, or every other week, but here is the feature article for this week (I'm posting it here because I am having a hard time keeping up with school, and football, and work, and blogging, so this piece is going to do double duty.

In order to get better at reading, kids have to read A LOT. When I say read, I mean actually read- sit in the chair, eyes, minds, and hearts glued to the book. Many kids (and adults) don’t understand what it means to engage deeply with a book. The first thing, then, that I want to do with my students is to teach them this very important habit of engaging with a book.

High school teacher and author Kelly Gallagher asks his students if they have ever been so absorbed in a television show or movie that they are completely unaware of what is going on around them. Most students have had that experience, so Gallagher explains to kids that he wants them to engage with books in that same way. Nancie Atwell talks to her students about entering the “reading zone.” I used the idea of “reading zone” with my fourth and fifth graders last year, and it seemed to make sense to them.

Gallagher suggests that three things have to occur for kids to enter the reading state. First, they have to have EXPOSURE/ACCESS to great books and lots of them. Next they have to have PLACES to read Finally, they have to have TIME to read.

• Are you reading aloud to kids every day (hopefully more than once a day)?

• Are your read alouds carefully selected:
o books you love and can’t wait to share with kids
o books around a certain theme (e.g. back to school books, books around a certain character trait, making friends, solving problems)
o books in a certain genre
o an author study
o a series you think kids will enjoy reading independently

Choosing Books for Independent Reading
• Is your library organized in a way that KIDS can find books they want (e,g, if an eight-year-old wants a book about football, or a book by a certain author, or a book that’s really scary, will he/she be able to locate that)?

• Are books that you think kids will especially enjoy displayed in a way to make them appealing to kids (when you go into a bookstore or library, which books do YOU pick up first?)

• Are you doing book talks on great books, authors, or series every day? Jim Trelease, author of THE READ ALOUD HANDBOOK, says that teachers need to do commercials for books just like McDonald’s does commercials for hamburgers.

• Do your students know that readers choose books for a variety of reasons, e.g. they are interested in the subject, they like the author, another reader recommended the book, the book has an interesting cover, the blurb on the back or on the inside cover sounds interesting?

• Do kids know how to find a book that is just right for them? The five finger rule is one tool. You may also want to teach older kids that if a book is just right, the reader can make pictures in her head while she is reading. He can hear what the characters “sound like” when they are talking. He feels like he is right there in the book.

Establishing a place/time to read
At this point in the year, I don’t give kids a lot of choices about where they will read. Everyone reads in their seats. Later, after they get better at engaging with books, I will give kids more freedom about where they can read.

I use these guidelines for independent reading with my students:
• Select a book (this procedure will vary from grade to grade) BEFORE independent reading time begins (for younger children, early in the year this may mean having a few books in a pile ready to read, or having a bin of books on the table). Later on children will probably read from their book bags or their poetry notebooks
• Read ends are super-glued to chair
• Eyes and mind glued to book
• No talking (the younger students all read aloud any way, so it’s not necessarily a silent time!)
• No one does anything that would distract or disturb another reader (or take them out of their zone). No one gets up. No one goes to the bathroom. No one makes noises with their mouth, fingers, or feet.
• I set a timer. Start with a time where you are sure kids can be successful, e.g. 8-10 minutes. Depending on how it goes, increase a minute every few days. I want my primary kids to build to 20-30 minutes, and third graders to read a MINIMUM of 30 minutes (last year my fourth and fifth graders were doing 45 minutes by the end of the year).
• At the beginning of the year, I read when the kids read, because I want the room to be absolutely quiet. Later on, after kids are good at getting into their reading zone I use the time to confer with individual readers or work with kids in pairs or small groups.
• When the timer goes off, tell kids to get to a good stopping point., then pull them together to evaluate how independent reading time time went. You may want to work with students to create some kind of rubric or tool that the class or individual students can use to evaluate themselves.

Independent reading time is so, so, so critical to kids’ growth as readers, that it’s important that we get it absolutely right.

Song Sharing Sunday

This is a Sunday Meme hosted by my sweet friend Angeline.
Hop over her blog to join and have fun!

This Sunday I choose Gloria Estefan once again cause as you know I'm all into this sort of music!
And I can't believe that Winter is almost here! :(
I'm already feelin' depressed!....
Hope you gals have a great weekend!*mwah*!!!

You Go, Barney!

It's about time Democrats start defending their position on Healh Care Reform and tell it like it is about these opponen

For all love birds out there :)

Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine - Can't Stay Away From You (Official Video 1988)

Mom's Wedding

Like you girls know, mom got married (I mean like signing papers and exchanging vows!...) last Saturday the 8th of August.I have to admit that the wedding was funny (a bit tacky for my taste but very funny) and everyone had a great time.
My mother and stepfather were so happy that the both of them looked like two small children on Xmas morning!...
They even cried while exchanging wedding rings and vows and while climbing up the staircase into the venue room!
I was the "photographer in charge" so there aren't many pics of this whale, I mean, momma here!LOL!
So here are some of the pictures my BIL took with his cam.Have fun girls!

I'm waiting for my mom to send me the pics I took with her professional cam so there's more to come ladies!

The Church That Preys...

Article in the New York Times about ministries that preach God-to-riches philosophy. Specifically mentioned is the ministry of Gloria and Kenneth Copeland. These “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted the crowd with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God. The message of this ministry and others like it, simply put, if you have sufficient faith in God, and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times. Guess these preachers do not know too much about Jesus Christ, do they?

Jesus had nothing! He gave up everything he had to live a life of committment and helping others. Jesus did not show people how to become rich. Jesus led the life of a pauper for the sake of others. He did not ask God, His Father, for riches and kingdoms. If you believe what Jesus said, "...If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." ( Matthew 19:20), then Jesus preached just the opposite of the Copelands and those like them!

Shame on you, Gloria and Kenneth Copeland!

Song Sharing Sunday

This is a Sunday Meme by my dear friend Angeline!
To join, hop over her blog

Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy ORIGINAL


Lorelle is a special family friend who is having her first baby. As usual, she left it all up to me, so I created this baby bag cake for her baby shower a couple of weeks ago. All the baby items are fondant/gumpaste. The cake was a moist and fragrant vanilla rum cake filled with vanilla buttercream and caramel rum sauce. Cake covered with MM fondant.

A Day In The Life of a Middle Class Republican

I do not take credit for this. My work buddy, RM, gave me this story about A Day in the Life of Joe-A Middle Class Republican. I will not go through the entire story, but it goes something like this:

Joe gets up at 6:00AM to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean water because some stupid liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some dumb liberals fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some thick-headed liberal union workers fought the employer for paid medical insurance.
Joe gets ready for work, and steps outside. The air he breathes is clean because some tree-hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some filthy union members fought and died for these working standards, along with an 8 hour work day and Child Labor Laws).
Joe is home from work and visits his elderly father later that evening. He arrives at his boyhood home, financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers did not want to make rural loans. The house did not have electricity until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. Joe is happy his dad is retired now. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe leaves his father and turns on talk radio. The show's host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives good. The host doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout the day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives. After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have."


AARP Tries To Set The Record Straight

A friend of mine (Thank you, Mommanator) recently sent me an e-mail from AARP trying to break some of the myths about Health Care Reform as it relates to Seniors. Here's some clarification from AARP:

1. Your choice of doctor and hospital is protected under all three major bills under discussion.

2. Drugmakers will voluntarily cut in half the cost of name-brand drugs provided for those who fall into the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" or coverage gap.

3. Both the Senate Finance Committee and House "Tri-Committee" plans eliminate Medicare copayments and deductibles you currently pay for preventive care services, such as cancer screenings.

4. Current versions of health reform legislation require your health insurer to pay you back if they spend less than 85 percent of premium dollars on the care of patients -- in other words, if their overhead and profit costs exceed 15 percent.

The AARP goes on to state, "When opponents of health reform talk about Medicare "cuts," here's what they point to: Provisions now before Congress currently would reduce taxpayer-financed subsidies paid to some private insurance companies to provide care under the Medicare name. (Here's a Families USA study on these plans.) These plans currently get paid extra to provide the same care as traditional Medicare provides. That's a fact that health-reform opponents never mention."


Designed this cake for my friend Nichol's baby shower. The baby room and party decor were Snoopy. Figurines made using fondant/gumpaste. Red velvet cake filled with creamcheese and vanilla rum cake filled with vanilla buttercream and caramel sauce.
What a great baby shower that was! The food was amazing and we even enjoyed a belly dance performance by Nichol's friends. Baby Joseph is going to be one little spoiled baby...he was showered with so many gifts! God bless you both!

Maybe Not What We Expected

So nobody miscontrues my meaning here, let me start off by stating that I still support President Obama completely! I trust him completely! I favor what he has done thus far. Howerver, the latest edition of The Advocate contains an interesting article about Barack Obama, the candidate, and his promises to the LGBT community, compared to President Barack Obama's actions thus far on those promises. I admit President Obama has failed thus far!

On the main issues facing the LGBT community in reference to the federal government here is the scorecard:

1. Federal hate-crimes legislation: Candidate Obama pushed this. President Obama has promised to sign the current bill....A+;
2. Employment Non-Discrimination Act: Candidate Obama wanted gender identity to be included in any non-discrimination law. President Obama has not clearly been lobbying for the bill....B;
3. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Candidate Obama said he would repeal this. President Obama has resisted lifting DADT by executive order. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been given the task of reviewing DADT, but President Obama has not done much....C-;
4. Defense of Marriage Act: Candidate Obama stated he wanted to do away with DOMA and that LGBT individuals should be provided the same benefits as hetero-couples. President Obama has only mentioned a DOMA repeal while signing his memorandum granting same-sex federal employees benefits. President Obama has done little to lobby for the repeal of DOMA, and a Justice Department brief filed in June indicates the President will support DOMA until Congress takes legislative action to repeal DOMA.....F.

It's about time President Obama do more for the LGBT community that supported him! It's very disappointing thus far!

Two More Victories For Obama!

Two more victories for Obama! The Senate today confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor as US Supreme Court Justice. The Senate debates more money for Cash For Clunkers; it looks like it will get the funding needed to continue!

Dinner Rehersal Cake

I designed this cake for my beautiful sister Ruth. We had a family dinner the night before the wedding and this cake actually traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I used the colors of the wedding and per her request, it was a moist almond brandy cake filled with vanilla buttercream and almond paste. Soooo Good!

My sis and her now hustand Humberto.

The family!
My sister and I.


I made this lovely cake for my friend Thelma to celebrate her daughter's Christening. It was a yummy chocolate cake filled the banana creamcheese, fresh bananas and caramel drizzle. Details are fondant and gumpaste. Thelma, I'm sorry I missed the celebration, hope to see you soon!

Olbermann Exposes Critics of Health Care Reform

Keith Olbermann slammed and exposed the critics of Universal Health Care, Republicans and Dems alike! It was great! Give it a look-see.

Life begins at 40

It's my birthday today and I'm turning 40.
Yup, I've made it! I'm still alive :)

Thanks to all you guys for a terrific party on Sunday; you folks are the best!

Give Us A Break, Dr. Orly Taitz

Here's the leader of the "Obama's Not An American" campaign, Dr. Orly Taitz. Despite all the evidence that Barack Obama was born in the US and is fully qualified to be US President, Dr. Taitz continues to insist Obama is not! Clarence Page gives us some of the arguements to the contrary. Give us a break Dr. Taitz! There's alot more important things to be concerned about!

Jungle Baby Shower Cake

I designed this cake for my friend Bobbie. The colors and decor match the invitation for the baby shower. The animals were made using fondant. The top tier was a chocolate cake filled with vanilla and chocolate mocha buttercreams and caramel sauce. The bottom was a fragrant and moist coconut cake filled with alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate buttercream. I was happy to know that Bobbie thought it was the "best cake I've ever had"!

Isn't It Time To Legalize Pot....And Prostitution?

Activists in California are launching a campaign to have the issue of legalizing marijuana put on the 2010 ballot. The proposal, if passed, would allow people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of the drug and also would allow property owners to grow a certain amount of pot. One big positive would be taxing it as a way of generating needed revenues for the cash-strapped state. I say it's about time! Every State in the Union will hopefully follow suit.

I am in no way condoning the misuse of drugs! Pot is no different than alcohol that is served in every State. Some would argue it might even have less ill effects on society than alcohol does. If legalized, pot would be controlled by the State just like alcohol. It would be taxed and the revenues would be tremendous. If you drive while intoxicated by pot, just like a DUI, you'll pay the price!

And while we're on the subject, prostitution is something that also needs to be legalized! I'm not suggesting it be legal everywhere, but there should be certain areas, Atlantic City for example, where prostitutes could legally carry out their business. It too would be controlled. The "girls" would need a "license" for which they would have to be disease checked. If the prostitutes do not have a "license" they are busted!

With both these issues, just think of all the money that could be generated. Also, think of all the money that would no longer be wasted. How much money is wasted having cops make silly little arrests for both pot and prostitution? In the case of prostitutes, they are arrested today and back out on the streets tomorrow! This is a business that has been in existance since the beginning of time, so why try to stop it! Control and regulate it! (OOOPPPPSSSS....That's a bad thing to say to any Republican)!

Running like a horse!...

Lately I've been running like a horse!...Running to get to my work...Running back to get to my house...Running to pick up the kids...Running to get the dinner started...Running ...Running...Running!!!!....
And during the past two weeks, running to get some nice clothes for my mother's wedding that will happen next Saturday!....Arghhhhhh!....Yeah!...You heard me right!...My mother is getting married next Saturday (with my step father) thou they're together for 17 years now...So...The girl who's carrying the wedding rings will be wearing a pink dress and Wilson will have to match her!... The thing is, I've been so busy that I only started to worry about it short while ago and now I can't find pink shirts at all!!!!
Therefor I'm stressed!...Not to mention that I look a whale in my dress!....
*Big sigh*......
Hey Eric!Can mommy lay there with you!?!?!?.....

So Much To Think About

My last post here was July 4th! WOW! I can't believe I've been on "vacation" for so long. Guess I've been doing most of my venting/thinking on Believe me, there has been so much on my mind the past 4 weeks, but I just have not felt like writing it all down.
The healthcare battle in the US has been something I have thought often about. My confusion lies in "what is the problem with getting healthcare to all our people?" The US has so much money that it wastes elsewhere in the world, why oh why can't we just spend a small portion of it here! Why is it that the people who seem so opposed to any kind of Universal Healthcare (if that's what you want to call it) are those that have good health insurance? Why is it that those who oppose Universal Healthcare in the US are those that are so afraid it might cost them something?
The budget crisis of the US states has also been something I've thought about. NJ's budget is a mess, but PA's is even worse. The poor State employees in PA didn't even get a pay check yesterday! Can you imagine working your week or 2 weeks only to find out you get no money? Can you imagine having sent out that mortgage check a day or 2 before payday expecting the money to be in the bank by time the check gets to the mortgage company, only to find out there is no money in your bank account? NJ might be in bad shape, but we are not experiencing what some other states are going through. Which again makes me think (this thought was brought to me by a coworker, RM): why does the US send out so much foreign aid and not give some to its own people that need it?
The race for NJ Governor has been on my mind. I know Jon Corzine maybe hasn't been the most productive Governor, but the economy situation isn't his fault! He's been holding NJ together and believe me, I am totally afraid of Chris Christie! I saw this interesting commentary yesterday abut the race for NJ Governor:
So even though I haven't been writing, there's been alot on my mind. I will try, try hard, to keep everything posted here. (Even though nobody reads it).