Closing Website

My site is due to expire on 12/1/15, and I’m not going to renew it since I haven’t been updating this at all. Life has been crazy & interesting.

I’m not doing a blog anymore. I stopped teaching in October 2015, and started a Spanish tutoring and translation business. Feel free to check out Palabras Que Cantan – Words That Sing if you would like more information on the business.


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Carta a Enrique Iglesias – Letter to Enrique Iglesias

WOW….. has it really been 4 months since I last posted?!?!? Time has flown by!

I know that chances are he will never personally read this, but tonight I sent the following message to Enrique Iglesias on Facebook. Here’s a little background for those who don’t know Spanish before I share the letter since it is in Spanish…….

I’ve LOVED Enrique Iglesias’ music since I first heard “Si tu te vas” and “Experiencia religiosa” in 1995. He started becoming even more popular with his albums, Vivir, and Cosas del Amor, in 1997 & 1998 when I was serving my mission in Chile. Although I did not really listen to the music while on my mission since we were limited to church music, I heard it on the streets and heard about it from people we talked to and would sometimes hear it in the houses we lived in. Therefore, I came home from Chile with a tape of both those albums and they were the first Spanish songs other than church music that I listened to all the time and memorized after coming home from Chile. Not only did they remind me of the amazing times I had in Chile, but they also helped me keep up my Spanish and learn more.

Throughout the years, I haven’t always kept up with his new songs, but often have – especially the ones in Spanish. When “Héroe” came out in 2001, it quickly became my favorite love song & has been since then. The interesting thing with that, though, is that I LOVE the Spanish version, but am not so fond of the English version. The translation is not the same and just does not come across with the same power that the Spanish version has – to me at least.

Recently, when I heard his new song, “Bailando,” I was reminded of how awesome his music is and the impact that it has had on my life over the years. Then I found out that he was coming to Austin for his current tour. I really wanted to go, but didn’t want to go if it meant being in horrible seats. Every time we tried to get tickets, the “system” kept giving us seats that I just felt wouldn’t make seeing him after 20 years of loving his music a very memorable experience. At one point, I decided I would just live with not seeing him in concert because I didn’t really want to spend the money it would take to have really good seats, and I didn’t want to go if it meant sitting in the “nosebleed” section or even in the lower sections if it wasn’t a good view of the stage. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that this might be my only chance to see him in concert and I really wanted to go. Therefore, we decided to pay more than I’ve ever paid & probably more than I ever will pay for one concert, in order to get good seats (4th row) to go to the concert.

For those who didn’t know, I got a job that started on January 5th to teach high school Spanish. Although I’m glad I have a job doing what I’ve always wanted to do, it is a very rough situation. It is at a school that has a lot of challenges and I’m taking over for a teacher who was A LOT different than I am and the school has many policies that are different that what I’ve been used to. Needless to say, there have been many rough days that have ended (or sometimes started) with me in tears. On those not-so-great days, it has been prayer, family, and the music of Enrique Iglesias that has kept me going and has kept reminding me of my dream and of how much I LOVE Spanish.

Because of all that, this is the letter I decided to send him on Facebook tonight. Even if he never personally sees it & never sees me at the concert next week with the other thousands of fans there, I needed to write it for myself because his music has meant more to me at various times in my life than I will ever be able to express in mere words – in either language…….

Sé que a lo mejor usted recibe muchísimos mensajes y que no puede leer todos. A lo mejor es otra persona que lee los mensajes, pero aún si esto es el caso, quiero mandarle un mensaje para agradecerle por su música. Empecé a escuchar su música en 1995-1996. Viví en Chile en diciembre 1996 hasta abril 1998 y mi amor hacia su música creció en este entonces. Encanté “Sólo en Ti” y “Enamorado por primera vez” cuando escuché Vivir. “Héroe” ha sido mi canción favorita acerca del amor desde que la escuché por primera vez. Ahora, encanto “Bailando” también. Hay más canciones suyas que encanto también, pero estas son mis favoritas.

Mi lenguaje nativa es el inglés, pero he amado el español desde mi primer día de mi clase de español en el séptimo grado. Ahora, por fin este año, logré mi sueño de ser una maestra del español en la escuela secundaria. Amo el idioma tanto que siento que soy latina de corazón y es una lástima que no es más fácil para mi. Su música habla a mi corazón y encanto escucharla.

Por fin, voy a poder verle en concierto en la próxima semana en Austin, TX. No quise ir si no podría tener asientos buenos, entonces pagué más que jamás he pagado por un concierto para que podemos sentarnos (yo y mi esposo) en la cuarta fila. Sé que a lo mejor no me va a ver allí porque habrá tantas personas allá también, pero quería darle este mensaje para decirle que agradezco mucho que usted comparta su talento con el mundo y para decirle que estoy tan feliz que puedo verle en concierto después de escuchar su música estos últimos 20 años. No creo que podría expresar suficientemente el impacto que su música ha tenido en mi vida. La experiencia de verle en concierto en la próxima semana será una memoria increíble que tendré por el resto de mi vida.

Una cosa más….. algo chistoso que no sé exactamente cómo decir en español….. I was student teaching a few months ago and showed my students the video for “Bailando” & one of my students said “Wow, he’s hot!” & then we all laughed when I told them that you’re a few months older than I am (I was born in August 1975). Then that one student said she didn’t care that you were older, you were still “hot”!

También, he tenido algunos días super-difíciles en este año de mi enseñanza estudiantil y este mes al empezar a enseñar mis propias clases. En estos días tan difíciles, al fin del día, he puesto su música – usualmente escucho a “Bailando” y “Héroe” primero y después otras canciones suyas – y su música ha sido una cosa que me ayuda a seguir adelante con todo y acordarme cuanto amo español y que esto (de enseñar español) ha sido mi sueño por tantos años y que tengo que seguir a pesar de los días difíciles.

#enriqueiglesias #EnriquePitbullTour #somethingsarepriceless
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Lessons Learned in the First 4 Weeks of Student Teaching

Well, I was horrible at updating the blog this summer. It was filled with watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, reading books, and spending time with our new puppy (and getting the old dogs used to the new one). 

Over the summer, I had 4 different placements for student teaching that canceled on me for various reasons. Although it was VERY stressful not knowing ahead of time where I would be spending this semester, I’m a firm believer in the fact that things happen for a reason. I ended up being placed at Pflugerville High School, which is a city on the Northeast side of Austin. It’s actually where the Friday Night Lights TV show was filmed (and I love that show).

I went to some meetings the week before school started, and right from Day 1 of those meetings, I felt at home. I walked in and discovered that two of the ladies who went to the AP Spanish summer institute at UT with me work there too, so that helped me feel more welcome right away.

From Day 1 of school, on August 25th, I felt at home with the teachers and students there. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more welcome at a school since my own time at Scotia-Glenville High School in 9th & 10th grades (and 2 weeks into my junior year). That was my “home” school and Pflugerville High School seems the same way for me now. The students there already own a huge piece of my heart.

My cooperating teacher is amazing and is open to my ideas and has great ideas of her own for the classroom. She let me start teaching different parts of lessons right from the start. Last week I started taking over 4 of her 6 classes. She only teaches Spanish I, which is great because I get to re-teach the same lesson 4 times with different groups of students.

Some of the things I have learned in these first 4 weeks of student teaching are:
** This is indeed what I was meant to do.
** I love every minute of teaching – except when I’ve had to send a student to the office or tell them to be quiet for the millionth time.
** I learned I could send a student to the office one day and become that same student’s good friend the next day – which makes the hard part all worth it.
** The students hold more of my heart than I ever imagined they would.
** Some students need a lot more help than others.
** Even those who don’t need help need love.
** My heart has grown 10 sizes in the last 4 weeks. I didn’t think it could get bigger than when I was in Chile on my mission or than when I became a mother, but it has grown a ton!
** I wish I could fix all the students’ problems for them – although I can’t do that, I can show them how much I care and can be there for them.
** Teaching is exhausting!!! I walk about 1.5 miles per day just in the classroom (even more if I make copies or do other errands around the school).
** My feet hurt more than ever before – even during the mission when I walked EVERYWHERE!! I think it’s more because it’s standing and walking in a set space all day instead of really exercising, but it’s just as achy as going to the gym for an hour!
** Lesson planning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…… although I’m glad I don’t have to do detailed plans for every day like the last 3 semesters of UTeach!!
** 90 minutes goes a lot faster than I ever thought before!
** I miss my own kids! I’m grateful that Richard has a schedule where he can be involved with them now, but I miss seeing them right after school.
** It’s okay to go to bed before my kids…… I’ve been so tired that I’ve often gone to bed before them….. maybe someday my body will get used to this routine!
** I don’t mind driving 20 miles each way to go somewhere that is like home every day!
** I love hugs from students almost as much as hugs from my own children!
** Dreams really do come true……
** it’s never too late to follow your dreams……
….. and….. did I mention…… This is what I was always meant to do!?!?

I can’t wait to see what the rest of this semester brings! I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I may have found my permanent teaching home at PHS!!


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The amazing graduation day has come and gone now. Here are our pictures from the Liberal Arts graduation on May 16th, and the next day for the university-wide graduation.

The Liberal Arts graduation ceremony on May 16th was amazing! I feel my mom was able to watch from heaven as I crossed the stage. I teared up some and it is still kind of unreal in my memory. My name was called and I crossed the stage, shook hands with the Dean of Liberal Arts and took my “congratulation letter,” and then I walked a little further and was greeted by my favorite professor ever, Carlos Amador. I didn’t even know he was there until I saw him standing there to give me a hug! I gave him a hug and then moved down the steps where we stood in front of a green screen to have our pictures taken again by the professional photographers, and then I went to sit back down and wait for everyone else to go up on stage. There were probably 800-1000 graduates total. It was amazing to see all the graduates and all the parents, friends, and relatives there!

The next day, we went to campus for the University-wide graduation ceremony. We took some pictures around campus and went to the Texas Exes “Great Exit” celebration where we had sausage in tortillas & popcorn & where Samantha danced with Bevo. We were originally planning on staying for the commencement speech and fireworks, but decided against staying because of the heat and because of how long we would have to stay to wait and get a good seat. We ended up watching the ceremony online & I was glad we didn’t stay after seeing everyone there online. I’m not very good with big crowds and there were A LOT of people there since it was for all graduates! Even though I’m sure only half of the nearly 9000 graduates were there, that’s still a ton of people with everyone there watching too.

It’s still pretty unreal to me that it happened and I actually have my Bachelor’s degree now. I know I still have to do student teaching before I can accept a job as a teacher, but it’s amazing to know that I’m actually done with my degree and that I’ve actually followed through and finished!!

Now…. to have a relaxing summer and prepare for student teaching next semester!

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Graduation is almost here . . .



Earlier this semester, I found a countdown app for my phone that would count the days until graduation. The above pic is from that app this morning. I truly can’t believe it’s almost here!!

Our daughters helped me the other night to decorate my cap for graduation. cap

I remember going to my sister-in-law’s graduation a few years ago at UT and seeing some people with decorated caps. I thought it was kind of odd and never expected to decorate my own cap when I graduated. However, after all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 years, and also realizing it could be something the girls could help me create, I decided to go ahead and decorate my cap. That way I can have it forever and it will actually mean more than just being a blank cap. Since I’m in the UTeach program, I wanted that on there, especially since the graduation I’m participating in is for Liberal Arts and for the Spanish program and not really for UTeach. Because of the Spanish, I wanted to represent that somehow, so we added the sombrero to Bevo, the longhorn logo, and the maracas too. Because of teaching, I found the other stickers that we added of a bell, the globe, books, apples, and chalkboard. I cut out a template of the longhorn logo and traced it with the glitter glue, although it’s not exactly symmetrical. We had fun deciding what to do and where to put things. It will be a fun thing to have from graduation.

I realized last week that I was the same age when my mom got her Bachelor’s degree that our oldest daughter is now when I’m graduating. That kind of hit me as ironic because I know my mom has been helping me and pushing me and encouraging me from heaven these last 4 years. I hope she’ll be watching as I cross that stage on Friday.

Although I know it’s coming up and although I’ve planned for it in my mind, it still seems unreal to me that it’s actually happening. It probably won’t feel truly real until I cross that stage.

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Heart Soaring – I’m Graduating in May!!!!

gradMy heart is soaring right now! When I started this odyssey toward my ultimate dream in August 2010, it seemed like it would take forever to finish even going full-time. Even after getting my Associates at ACC in May 2012, it seemed like the Bachelor’s was a long way away. Last year, I found out that I’d have to add an extra semester in order to finish all my coursework at UT, so my initial thought of graduating in May was pushed back to graduating in December 2014 instead. 

I honestly didn’t really think it was that bad to only add one semester and still finish in 2014, so I just planned on that when this semester started. Then one day in my UTeach class, someone mentioned that she was graduating this semester and then just coming back next semester to do student teaching. I was shocked because I didn’t even know that was an option. I met with the UTeach director just over a week ago to talk to him about it and he said it’s really just a personal preference, especially if I have enough coursework done. The student teaching semester counts for 9 credit hours, so there are sometimes people who need those extra credits to graduate. However, I don’t need them because I have enough credits this semester. He said the only thing that might happen is that I might have to submit an appeal for Federal Financial Aid to cover the tuition for next semester since I’ll technically be a graduate, but he said he’s filled them out before and students don’t have a problem still getting the financial aid, especially when it’s not grants. 

Anyway, when he said it was possible, it just seemed kind of unreal to me & I didn’t realize until that point that it really did make a difference in my mind and with the thought of achieving this massive dream if I could graduate in May. Therefore, I decided to do my application for graduation. I just got the email (above) today to confirm that I can graduate in May (as long as I pass my current classes). In the grand scheme of things, it kind of doesn’t matter because I still have to do student teaching next semester and still can’t start working until after that. However, it feels absolutely amazing to say that I will technically be a college graduate 4 years after I started (instead of 4-1/2), which is truly amazing for anyone these days, especially someone like me with a family. 

I’m planning on taking my Spanish teacher certification test at the end of March (I hope) and my PPR (Pedagogy) teacher certification test in April, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when I graduate I will also have my certifications done. This summer I’m doing AP training, so by the time I start student teaching, I’ll be a graduated certified teacher who is also certified to teach AP Spanish…….. and I can start working as soon as student teaching is done in November. 

In just under 15 weeks, on May 17, 2014, I will officially be a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Teaching!!!! 

I am beyond grateful to Heavenly Father and to my loving & amazing family for the support through this awesome odyssey of being a Mom Scholar. I couldn’t have done it without Him or them (especially this semester when our older daughter & my husband are helping me with my math homework)!! I’m also eternally grateful to my mom and other relatives who are in heaven cheering for me and pushing me to finish. I KNOW they are there for me too! A few days ago when I submitted my application for graduation, I thought of how I’ll need to find the old picture of when my mom went back to school when I was growing up and got her Bachelor’s & I’ll have to do a side-by-side pic when I graduate. I know she’ll be there with us in spirit that day! I’m grateful to her for being an amazing example of following her educational dreams when I was growing up, so I can do the same for our daughters (and for myself) now. Years ago, when we got married and were focusing on Richard’s degree and career and I never thought I’d go back to school, I never thought it would matter that much. However, now that I see it a stone’s throw away, I’m amazed at how important it really is to me. Looking back, I realize how much I’ve quit in life because of the thought that I couldn’t do it, but achieving this and being able to do what I truly love (besides being a mom) is absolutely amazing and lifts my self-esteem an awesome amount and lets me know that I really can do whatever I set my mind to accomplishing. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for Heavenly Father, my family & friends & professors & cooperating teachers – and even for the bus drivers of the city buses – because without all this amazing support I wouldn’t be soaring with the clouds right now!! 


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Spring Semester in Full Swing

The Spring Semester of college started back on January 13th, but the first week wasn’t really “full swing” yet since a couple classes canceled the first day of class and others didn’t meet for the whole class time because we just went over the syllabus. It also wasn’t as hectic as normal because I hadn’t started my high school observations yet either. It was a pretty easy first week.

This past week was a little more “normal” except it was cut short because of the MLK holiday on Monday and a snow/ice day on Friday, so it was still a little odd. However, a little more normal because I had to start doing readings and homework and I also started my high school observations.

This semester I’m observing Ms. Mondragon at Vista Ridge High School, which is in the same school district we live in and it’s nice to be close to home for observations. Ms. Mondragon teaches Spanish III Pre-AP and Spanish IV AP. Because of how their schedules are, I’ll be observing one of each of those levels, but when it’s time for me to do my teaching, I’ll only teach the Spanish III Pre-AP class because I’m not yet certified to teach the AP level and also because the AP class is focusing more on sample AP questions and such to prepare for the test in May.

I’m really looking forward to being in the high school now. This semester is really making things more real to me since I’m actually observing in a high school and getting closer to taking the teacher certification tests and graduating myself. It’s kind of odd not taking any Spanish classes at the university this semester since I finished all my Spanish requirements last semester, so my observations will be my main exposure to Spanish now.

I have Math on Monday, Wednesday & Friday. When I was going to ACC, I originally only thought of applying to Texas State University so I followed their transfer plans, which included College Algebra for the math requirement for Liberal Arts, so I took College Algebra at ACC. However, when I decided to apply to UT and was accepted, I discovered that UT didn’t accept College Algebra as the math requirement for Liberal Arts majors, so I would have to take another math course instead. I was really not looking forward to another math class because math is NOT my strong point! It was also hard to get into last year because many seats are saved for freshmen when registration opens, so I had to wait until now to take it. It’s a class called Introduction to Mathematics and it is designed for Liberal Arts majors with the thoughts that most Liberal Arts majors don’t like math a lot. So far, it’s actually a quite interesting course. Doctor Schurle explained that although we are going to do some algebra and deal with some x’s and y’s and such, it is more a class to help us expand our minds to see how math is used all around us. He said that we will be thinking hard about small & simple things. Of course, since math is not my thing, our older daughter and my husband had to help me on my first homework assignment — it’s the first time my child has helped me on my homework instead of the other way around!! However, I am finding the class enjoyable so far.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have UTeach, Biology, and UGS (Undergraduate Studies). UTeach is my class all about teaching. It is a 6-credit course this semester, so we meet for 3 hours both days. We talk about ideas of things to do in our classrooms and also go over all the pedagogy rules and regulations to prepare us to take the teacher certification exams. My class is for all the LOTE (Languages Other Than English) majors in the UTeach program. This semester there are only 6 of us. Three of us are Spanish majors, and then there is one each of French, German, and Arabic. It is a very interesting class and the 3 hours seems to fly by usually.

My Biology class is also a class geared more toward Liberal Arts majors instead of Science majors, so it is not quite as technical as classes for Science majors would get. It is mainly about Ecology and Evolution, although so far we’ve just talked about introductory Science terms and the Chemistry that relates to understanding matter and organisms. Dr. Takata has some pretty interesting stories about his times in Africa and the work he has done there. The only “issue” I have with that class is that the TA is from France and has a VERY strong accent because this is her first year in the USA. Luckily, she only teaches the discussion session once a week where we talk more about what Dr. Takata taught in class, so hopefully it won’t be a huge problem. I did leave the first discussion session with a huge headache from trying to understand her though. I’m crossing my fingers that it will get easier to understand her throughout the semester. I’m really enjoying the actual Biology class though.

Everyone who attends The University of Texas has to take one Undergraduate Studies class in order to graduate. They are geared more toward freshmen, but transfer students have to take them too. There are UGS classes for just about any topic under the sun. Last semester, I registered for one that I thought would be “okay” and fit my schedule. However, it ended up delving more into the subject than I expected and I was uncomfortable in the class, so I dropped it and decided that when I signed up for another one I would make sure it was something I knew I would be interested in and not just one that fit my schedule. The one I’m taking now actually falls in line with my major and has already opened my mind more to an issue that potentially influences my future students. It is Latino/a Migration Narratives. I guess growing up in upstate NY and not in an inner city really made me ignorant to the immigration issues in our nation. This class has already opened my eyes more to the complicated issues and made me want to learn more. I have always been a fairly non-political person and have not involved myself in a lot of political things, mainly because I don’t like conflict. However, the things we’ve been reading about already in this UGS class have really made me quite angry about the situation of undocumented immigrants and how we treat them. I am ashamed that I lived my life not knowing about these things going on in a country I profess to love, and want to know how to get involved to change the current policies and help better the lives of other human beings who deserve more than they are getting now. We have had some very interesting discussions in class and I can see this class getting even more thought-provoking as the semester progresses.

This semester is going to be very hectic, especially since there will be weeks when I have to teach twice a week in order to fit all my teaching sessions in that are required. However, I am thoroughly enjoying all my classes this semester and look forward to the next 14 weeks!!!


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Amazing Missionary Song

Last week on one of the pages I follow on Facebook, Supporting Our Missionaries, someone posted a new song for missionaries. As soon as I heard it, I was flooded with emotions and remembrances of my own mission & also thought of the amazing missionaries that are currently serving from my ward. I’ve listened to this song many times since I first heard it last week and each time it sinks deeper into my soul. Although it was written with LDS missionaries in mind, I feel it can apply to missionaries from any Christian religion because it echoes the sentiment of many who are serving Christ in some way. Those who are familiar with LDS music, know of “In The Hollow of Thy Hands” and “Window to His Love” which are classic LDS missionary songs. I truly believe this song is the best song about missionaries since those others and that it is even more powerful in some ways.

The sad thing about this song is that it came about because of a tragedy of a missionary who died while serving his mission. Despite the tragedy, I’m grateful for this song and grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who inspired this song as a comfort to this family and become a new amazing song for anyone who has ever served a mission, is currently serving a mission, or will serve a mission in the future. It is also wonderful for member missionaries or anyone who wants to share the Light of Christ with others. You can read the whole story of the song at the songwriter’s blog – To Lift and Inspire. There is a link in the post at her blog to download the file as well if you would like to have the MP3 file.

Here is the YouTube video for the song – I Will Serve Him

Here are the lyrics –
I Will Serve Him
by Sara Lyn Baril
sung by Daniel Beck

Joshua said, “Choose ye this day
whom ye will serve”
I will let go of all my pride
and promise to serve God,
that perhaps I may be an instrument
in His mighty hands
and find peace in bringing hope
and peace to all I can.

I will serve Him.
I will testify of Jesus Christ.
I will give my whole heart,
in building His kingdom,
sharing His love;
I will serve Him.

I’ll heed the call,
trusting in God and His wisdom.
I’ll share His word,
laboring in the vineyards of the Lord.
My heart is full with the love of God;
in faith I’ll teach His way.
I will give all that I am.
My hands are His today.

I will serve Him.
I will testify of Jesus Christ.
I will give my whole heart,
in building His kingdom,
sharing His love;
I will serve Him.

I’ll not glory in myself,
but glory in the Lord;
rejoicing in the light of Christ unto life.

I will serve Him.
I will testify of Jesus Christ.
I will give my whole heart,
in building His kingdom,
sharing His love;
I will serve Him.

I will serve my God.

The songwriter and family hope to spread this song throughout the world. Therefore, feel free to share the YouTube link and the songwriter’s blog page with the download to anyone you wish to share it with. My heart goes out to the family who lost their missionary and my heart is full of gratitude, once again, for absolutely amazing music to soothe and uplift our souls. I’m eternally grateful to Heavenly Father for the experiences I had on my mission, which have helped to shape my life since then. I’m grateful for the deep testimony I have that Christ loves us all and died for each of us. I’m grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who guides my life daily and knows everything I’m going through. I’m grateful for this beautiful song that encourages me to do better and be a better testimony of Christ to those around me each day.


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Another Semester Done

Well, this post is a bit late, but at the beginning of December, I finished another semester at UT. There are times when I feel like it will never be over, but other times when I can’t believe I only have 2 semesters left! 

This was a good semester overall. I started out taking 3 Science classes and 3 Spanish classes. I ended up dropping one of my Science classes – Physical Geology – because it was too hard and I wasn’t doing well in the course. I knew that by dropping it, this coming semester would be harder because I’ll need to take 15 credits instead of 12, but I felt it was better than potentially failing and having to re-take it anyway. I also ended up changing one of my Spanish classes – Latin American Jewish Writers – because I personally felt the class was boring and when I was taking it on my most packed days, I didn’t really want a completely boring class with 5 classes in a row! I was able to find another Spanish literature class – Animals, Ecology & Disaster in Southern Cone Literature – that was at the same time period, so I easily switched classes. That new literature class ended up being my favorite class of the semester. The professor was amazing and I learned a lot about society and helped expand my Spanish vocabulary too! 

Here’s my summary of the semester as far as grades go, which I also updated on the “My Grades” page.

Fall 2013 (August – December 2013)

BIO 301L – Molecules to Organisms = B
GEO 302D – Age of Dinosaurs = B
GEO 401 – Physical Geology = Q-drop – dropped the class because I wasn’t doing well in it.
SPN 375 – Animals/Ecology/Disaster: Southern Cone Literature (Spanish) = A-
SPN 367K – Advanced Oral Expression for Teachers (Spanish) = A-
SPN 364L – Applied Linguistics (Spanish) = A

As always, there were classes and professors I enjoyed more than others. The Age of Dinosaurs class was just as interesting as I thought it would be, but it was a lot harder as far as memorization of different dinosaur names and their characteristics and relationships. I sat in the front row and enjoyed talking to the professor, which also helped my grade in the end because he does a curve to the grade. I enjoyed the lectures and kept thinking of The Land Before Time (my all-time favorite dinosaur movie) during the whole semester. It wasn’t necessarily as “fun” as I thought it would be because of all the memorizing, but it was interesting – even though I’m still not sure I believe that birds are dinosaurs (the “theme” of the class). It will definitely be one of my “most remembered” classes of my college career!

As mentioned earlier, the Spanish literature class was my favorite this semester. We read theoretical articles in English that related to our main readings in Spanish, which were mostly poems and short stories. We also watched a few movies in Spanish throughout the semester. The professor, Carlos Amador, will go down in my list of “favorite teachers” because he was very animated and loved the subject. He amazed me with his in-depth knowledge of the texts we read and helped me push my thinking as well. We laughed and joked and had a fun time, which was great since it was in the middle of my 5-class stretch. It helped wake me up for the rest of the day!

The other class that was fun was my Biology class. The professor made it interesting, even though he confused a lot of students by adding a lot of information in his lectures that weren’t on his PowerPoints. Apparently, this was the first time he taught a “non-majors” Biology class, so he was used to lecturing with a lot more detailed information. I felt he was fun and I could tell he really enjoyed Biology. He reminded me a lot of Ms. Nolan, my high school Biology teacher, who will always be on my list of favorite teachers. Even now, 20+ years after taking her class, I remember her gumption and gusto in class and her love of the subject. Even though I don’t remember what she taught anymore, her spirit lives on as an example of the kind of teacher I want to be. Professor Bargmann emanated that same spirit of the love of teaching and love of his subject. He required us to go to one lecture during the semester that was out of class time. I actually ended up going to 2 of them (we had a choice of 3), and took my family because it was a series of talks called “Hot Science, Cool Talks” that UT has each year that are geared to involve children too. There was a pre-lecture fair with activities for kids & then the lecture. The first one we went to was about Curiosity, the rover on Mars, and the second one was about how animals use different colors for different functions in nature. At the second one, at the pre-lecture fair, there were different kinds of animals for the kids to see & hold. It was fun to do with the family and I was glad to find out about the lectures because of the Biology class. Many times I feel like I miss out on a lot that UT has to offer as far as that kind of thing since I don’t live on campus and since I do have a family & only one car. It’s hard to go back to campus once I leave in the afternoons. It was a fun way to involve my family in my university life though and show our daughters the value of education in a different way.

It’s hard to believe I’m now done with my Spanish requirements for my degree. It will be odd not going to at least one Spanish class on campus. I’ll have the high school class that I’ll be observing, but that’s not the same.

Next semester, which starts January 13th, I’ll be taking 15 credit hours. I have a 6-credit UTeach class, where we have a 3-hour class on campus twice a week and then I will also be observing and teaching in a high school Spanish class for 45 hours throughout the semester (about 3-4 hours per week); another Biology class (since I dropped the one Geology one this semester I still needed one Science class); my Math requirement (which I’m not looking forward to); and the Undergraduate Studies requirement, which I was actually able to sign up for something that relates to my major – Latino Migration Narratives.

It will be another semester where we have to do some interesting finagling with the car because of my schedule, but we’ll work it out like we always have. I think getting into the high school for observations & teaching will make things a lot more real for me. It was odd this semester not being in a classroom like that since I was the last 2 semesters with the UTeach program. I had to take a semester off of the program to finish my other coursework since I have to be done next semester with all my coursework in order to progress to Student Teaching next fall.

Anyway, I’m glad this past semester is over, and I’m looking forward to the coming one. I’ve enjoyed my break between semesters & am starting to study more Spanish grammar so I feel better prepared for the teacher certification test that I’ll be taking sometime next semester.


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Some Family Fun

Things are still pretty crazy for me, especially while nearing the end of the semester, but we’ve been able to sneak in some family fun recently. A couple weeks ago, we went to an open scrimmage for the Austin Toros (NBA D-League that feeds into the San Antonio Spurs) and our younger daughter got to play a game between quarters where she had to wear a player’s shoes and put on a uniform on the go and then make a basket. She was competing against a boy about her age. She lucked out and won after her ball teetered on the hoop and rolled in before he could make a basket. She won a Toros t-shirt, Spurs t-shirt and Toros lanyard. After the scrimmage, the whole team & one coach (who is an ex-NBA player) signed her t-shirt. 

Last weekend, we went to the botanical gardens and took lots of pictures & enjoyed walking around & relaxing as a family. 

Here are just a handful of pics from those events . . . . . 

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