What would “Jack Rudy” do?

I have always been a gin and tonic fan.  Early in my adult life, it was the drink I used to order when I would go out – it made me feel sophisticated and worldly.  It felt classier than a beer and not as lame as a cosmo.  “Bombay Sapphire please, and yes, I do want the lime.”

As I have gotten older, I have gotten more into trying different kinds of beers, which has been a lot of fun, partly because of the taste, and partly because it’s a fun thing to share with Ed.  Plus, there is so much delicious craft beer available now.

Also, as I’ve gotten more into healthy eating, I find that most commercial tonic waters taste too sticky-sweet to me, what with all that high fructose corn syrup.  It just ruins the whole experience for me.

I’ve developed this habit of listening to podcasts in the car lately, as a change from my normal NPR, and one of the ones I enjoy is Alton Brown’s, titled the “Alton Browncast.”  This weekend, I was so excited to listen to the latest episode, in which Alton interviewed Brooks Reitz, who created Jack Rudy’s tonic.  Reitz talked about how he worked in a restaurant and created a tonic based on the more traditional recipe, one that would not ruin the taste of good gin.  As I listened, I could almost taste what would surely be the best gin and tonic ever.

I had to try it.



We were able to track it down at the Crate and Barrel in Hingham.  Then we hurried home, so I could pair this tonic with Death’s Door gin, a recent find from Washington state.

I have to say, it did not disappoint.

I opted for no lime and three ice cubes, and it was delicious.  It was the first time in a long time that I have not been disappointed by a gin and tonic.

I think I’m going to need more gin!

Happy New Year!


I love the beginning of a new year! It’s a time that encourages me to try to new things and  focus on what’s important to me. Plus, it offers some rest and quiet after a busy holiday season.

Rather than making resolutions that I MUST start on January 1st, I like to take the first few days to think about my goals and what I feel is realistic for me.

Here’s what I have come up with:

1 – read 1 book per week – this is pretty important to me, I just feel like I don’t read enough.  Plus, I have this bad habit of buying books that I am interested in, then letting them sit on the shelf.  I am looking forward to actually reading some of these.  My first book for the year the The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller.

2- exercise 4 – 5 times per week – I would like to be in better shape, and I feel like this is a realistic amount of exercise for me.  I have my exercise schedule for this week made up – I am particularly excited to try something new, a Body Pump class at my gym.

3 – drink 1 cup of green tea per day – because I know green tea is good for me, but I just don’t drink it enough.

So those are my goals!  I am excited to see how it goes!

Pumpkin season!

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the weather – so crisp and cool.  With the great weather and the changing colors of the leaves, it is the perfect weather for long walks or runs or driving, or pretty much anything, in my opinion.

I also love fall flavors – apple pie and, of course, pumpkin.  Oh, my obsession with pumpkin!  Even as a kid, the thing I looked forward to most at Thanksgiving has always been pumpkin pie.

I love that people have jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon – you can pretty much find pumpkin in anything.  My Friday afternoon treat the last few weeks has been the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.


I have been putting pumpkin in my morning smoothies, and I have big plans to make some pumpkin muffins this weekend.

But my favorite is pumpkin beer. I started the pumpkin season with a Shipyard Pumpkinhead – with the cinnamon sugar rim, of course!


Not one to limit myself, I enjoy trying all kinds of pumpkin beers.  We recently tried the Cambridge Brewing Co.’s Great Pumpkin Ale.


It was good, more pumpkin than pumpkin spice.  And it’s local!

But one of my favorites lately has to be Jacko by Traveler.


Traveler makes these great shandies that I enjoyed during the summer, and Jack is just as good.  So yummy and sweet, and with that great pumpkin spice flavor.  It has been a little difficult to find, so we made sure to buy a case!  So I think I am ready for fall!

Komen run

Since school started, I haven’t been able to run as much as I would like, especially during the week – I just feel so tired at the end of a day at school!

I have at least been running on the weekends, and I was able to do three 5k’s this month, with the last one being Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5k in Boston, last Sunday.

Here I am after the finish!


It was a really good morning.  The race started at 8am, which was very early, but it was nice and cool, and there was a great turnout.  I also ran my fastest 5k to date, 36:47, which I know is slow for some people but is pretty good for me.  It’s fun to see myself improving now that I am really paying more attention to my running.

Ed ran his fastest 5k too!


It must have been something about the positive energy, with all those people running with a loved one in mind, or just to support a great cause.

So all in all, a great day!  Plus we raised money for a great cause.  Definitely one of those perfect Sunday mornings!

Being reflective

The first month of school has flown by, and the year is off to a good start.  I am loving my classes.  It’s exciting this year because I am teaching some new courses (Statistics & Economics) and teaching a course online.

There has been some stress too – this is our first year with the new evaluation system for teachers, and it is definitely overwhelming.  I am sure it will be easier once we are all used to it, but for now, it’s a huge change, there are so many forms, and there are so many questions.  I guess every new process has its hiccups.

While the beginning of the school year has been a lot of work, I always want to make time to learn more about things I am interested in outside of school.  Recently, my husband and I have been taking a class that our town’s police department offers, the Citizens Police Academy.  It has been very interesting, learning more about our town.

Last night was the taser demonstration.  I couldn’t believe how loud the “bang” was!  But even more surprising was the fact that the two guys who volunteered to get “tased” were fine five minutes later – who knew the effects could wear off so quickly!

The officers who put on this class are really great, and they have all kinds of stories.  What most interested me, as a teacher, was that more than one officer talked about reflecting on incidents they were involved in and thinking about ways they could have handled the situation better.

I can see how being reflective is important for them in their jobs.  Although police officers have a much harder job than I do, our jobs have that in common.  I generally think this is a strength for me, that I often think about how I taught a particular lesson or handled a certain situation, and I think about what I did well and what I could have done better.

It’s probably true of many jobs, and true in life, that if we all could reflect on our actions more often, we would become better at what we do.  Reflecting on our actions is something we probably could all stand to do more often.


Goodbye summer!

As August comes to an end, I am getting ready to say good-bye to summer.  I think most people wait to bid summer farewell until after Labor Day, but for me, saying hello to the beginning of the school year also means saying good-bye to summer.

I love teaching, and I am looking forward to new students and teaching some new courses.  In terms of school, I have some exciting things to look forward to.  I am teaching AP Statistics for the first time.  I am teaching my first online class, AP Economics – my first online teaching experience and my first time teaching this topic.  I am also mentoring a new teacher for the first time.  In my seventh year of teaching, it is a year of many firsts.

Every year, on the first day of school, we have a welcome back breakfast.  Teachers meet and mingle and re-acquaint themselves with each other.  Every year, someone will say that this is one of the special things about our profession, that we have this yearly opportunity for a fresh start.  New students, new pencils, and shiny clean floors remind us of this new beginning.

I am looking forward to school, but I will miss summer.  So I wanted to take a moment to say good-bye to some of the things I love about vacation:

Good bye to waking up whenever I choose.  Good bye to morning runs, morning yoga classes, and morning Zumba classes.  Good bye to afternoon conversations with my husband during breaks from his home office.  Good bye to lunch time walks with the dogs.  Good bye to 2:00 appointments with the residents of Port Charles.

Ok, I’ve said my good-byes – I think I am ready to start!

Reflections on why I teach

Last week, during school vacation, I had the opportunity to go back to my old college and speak with students about careers in teaching.  I went to a business school, so my path to teaching was non-traditional – this would probably be the case with these students as well.  Leading up to the day, I was very excited about visiting, and it was fun to be back, to remember how pretty the campus is, and how much I enjoyed my experience there.

The students I spoke to had a lot of questions, but one I found myself thinking about on my way home was about the pay difference between my previous career and this one.  Prior to teaching, I was a mortgage underwriter.  With six years of teaching experience, I now make as much as I did when I left my previous job – in other words, it took me this long to do it.  When I told the students the number, many of the students made some very interesting faces.  In truth, many of them could make what I do now right out of college if they decided to do something else, and they know it.

I thought about their reactions, but the truth is, for me, it doesn’t matter that much to me.  Doesn’t it reflect on us as teachers that most of us do what we do, and not for the money?

Because really, there were two questions that stuck with me.  One was about the pay – the other was: would I ever want to go back to my previous career?  My answer: absolutely not.

Because I love my job.  I love that my job has a purpose that it meaningful to me.  I really enjoy my students.  And I really appreciate how my job challenges me in different ways every day.

I know there are certain kinds of people who find money a huge motivator in their careers.  And although it is odd, considering I did  go to a business school, I just am not that way.  Do I ever wish I made more money?  Sure – but not enough to leave a career that really matters to me.

Even with all the difficulties we face in our careers, I am sure most teachers would agree.

How could Zumba make me a better teacher?

In an effort to take better care of ourselves, my husband and I recently joined a gym.  It’s a pretty standard gym, and they have some classes.  Originally I didn’t think I would take any of them, I figured I would just use the treadmill and weight machines, but then a few weeks ago I thought I would give the Zumba class a try.

Let me point out – I am not coordinated.  I can’t even clap along with the beat at a concert without watching other people.  And I definitely can’t dance.  It’s a little sad, actually.

I guess I avoid dancing like some kids avoid homework.

But I do tell my students that it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time, and to try new things, and to not be afraid to fail.  So I figured I would try it.

The first time I went, I was not great.  But the instructor did say, “There’s no wrong moves, as long as you’re moving” – so I took her at her word.  Partway through the class, I wondered if I was feeling what my kids sometimes feel, like I was not quite getting it.  But I looked around, and I certainly wasn’t the only one messing up, so I kept going.

And  I went back.  And  I will continue to go back.  Each time I go, I feel like it does get easier.  I am still not great, but I get better, and I am having more fun.

I think it helps me relate to my students better.  Most dance-type situations do not come easily to me – I get self-conscious, I make mistakes.  I am sure some of my students feel like this sometimes, and I have been trying to remember this feeling when I have students that are stuck or frustrated or want to quit on a problem.  I hope this increased empathy on my part helps me be better able to help them, and helps me remember to keep telling them that it’s ok to try and it’s ok to make a mistake – just keep trying!

Students protest standardized testing

Kids don’t like taking tests.

I know, shocking.

More specifically, students do not like high stakes standardized tests, and they are letting us know.

In Seattle, teachers have refused to administer a school district’s standardized test, and students and parents seem to support this.  At Garfield High School in Seattle, “…Garfield teachers had the support of the PTSA, and many parents chose to opt their children out of the tests or keep them home when administrators forced the school to administer the tests.” (see Huffington Post).

In Providence, students dressed up as zombies to protest standardized testing.  There’s a nice article on this in the Washington Post with a video of the Providence student protest.  This article also includes an interview with a student in Oregon, Alexia Garcia, who is helping to organize an opt-out campaign.  There was one part of this interview that stuck out to me:

I am a senior in high school, and I’ve been taking standardized tests ever since 2nd grade or 3rd grade. I remember really stressing out over the tests as an elementary and middle school student. There is a lot of pressure put on students to do well on them. Teachers would do practice tests with us and teach us techniques to doing well on the test…. Once I started high school I realized that these tests were not actually as important as they are made out to be, in that they were not related to the class, but simply an additional state requirement. The material on the tests was not relevant to what I had been learning in class. Also, teachers would have to stop mid-unit to administer the tests, that was something that really frustrated me as a student. We would be learning something actually interesting, then have to take a day or two off to test.

I added in the bolding, just to point out what part specifically got me thinking.

By the way, you should go back and read the whole article, it is impressive how thoughtful and well-constructed her comments are.

As a teacher, I can share some of this feeling.  Being in the middle of a unit, having the students starting to really “get it,” then losing them for a few days, feels like such a loss of momentum.

As a teacher, I also feel bad for students who are tested so often.  When I was a student, there was not nearly as much testing, and I sometimes wonder how I would have felt if I was in their shoes.  Would I have enjoyed school as much?  Would I have learned as much?  Would I have been as engaged?

To think of kids taking tests every year, from the 2nd or 3rd grade up to high school, seems kind of crazy to me.  It’s just a lot.  I’m not against testing altogether, but maybe now it’s too often.  And for kids to come to a point where they realize that it “doesn’t matter” for them must be so frustrating.

In a way, I am surprised that it has taken this long for students and parents to say “enough.”

What a hockey game!

On the last two Thursdays, I had the opportunity to attend a class about statistics and sports through a program called Teachers as Scholars. It was a great class, and it gave me some ideas of things I could incorporate in my classes to try to make things more real and interesting for the kids.

When I came back to school after the first class, I told one of my Pre-Calculus classes a little about what I had learned. Specifically, because I have a few students who share my love of the Bruins, I told them about this hockey example. Apparently, based on some probability modeling, when you are trying to get that last goal to tie up the game and then hopefully have a chance of winning, you are better off pulling the goalie with five or six minutes left in the game, versus the common practice of a minute or maybe a minute and a half. You are more likely to get that goal with five minutes instead of only one. I told my students I hoped to have more insight as to why after my second session.

The second class was this past Thursday, but with the storm over the weekend, today was the first day since the class that I saw these students. When I started to explain the probability modeling behind this conjecture, one of my students excitedly asked if I saw the Bruins game last night.

No, unfortunately, I missed it.

Well, apparently, the Bruins pulled their goalie with about two and half minutes left, and my kids were so excited that what I told them seemed to have worked. In those two minutes, the Bruins were able to make the two goals needed to tie up the game.

Ok, so they ended up losing, but hey, probability worked!