Teacher Travels: deYoung Museum – Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris

What do you get when three teachers travel together?

A whole lot of awesome, that’s what.

Our plan was multifaceted:  Help me with my Summer of Intentionality list, escape the Sacramento heat, enjoy a leisurely lady date and a visit to the deYoung in San Francisco to see the Picasso: Masterpieces From The Musee National Picasso, Paris.

Alicia {4th grade teacher/textile artist/owner of Spirit House Designs}, Amy {high school English teacher/blogger extraordinaire Just a Titch} and I {yoga teacher/school teacher on parental leave – holy crap!} were super excited to see this exhibit and to not have to travel to Paris to do so.

Travel tips from Sacramento to the deYoung Museum {AKA a whole lot less expensive than a trip to Paris!}

1. To make sure you can get into the exhibit, please order your tickets online before you go. $25 for the general public and $15 for members. Or special pricing for others – see link for details.

2. The tickets are time and date stamped so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there.

3. Know that even on a midday Tuesday, you’ll be swimming in people. {I was surprised and wondered why everyone wasn’t at work. Forgot about all the tourists!}

4. Need to know how to get to the deYoung? Check out my post on getting to the Academy of Sciences. They are in the same part of Golden Gate Park.

5. Once you finish with the exhibit, be sure to check out the deYoung Cafe for a glass of wine and lunch. We did.

The wine totally helped us get over the weird goat thing Picasso had going on.

Pretty sure the polenta was loaded with dairy. My taste buds were dancing!

Other things to while in San Francisco:

Giggle at the Segway silliness.

Dig your feet into the sand at Ocean Beach {get back on the N-Judah and head all the way down to the beach}.

How do you spend your time in San Francisco?

Teaching All Over the World: An Interview with Jenna Francisco of This Is My Happiness


Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!


Have you met Jenna? She’s the writer of the inspiring This Is My Happiness: Reflections on Travels and Day-to-Day Joys, college instructor, yogi and momma.

Meet Jenna Francisco -May’s TGBTS Featured Teacher.


What and where do you teach?

I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California.  I teach all levels, from false-beginners to very advanced, and all skills (writing, reading, pronunciation, grammar, etc.).  I love the variety of all the levels of our program, but I prefer teaching the most advanced students because we work with literature, research, and other academic subject matter.

The student population is extremely diverse, from all over the world with different religions, languages, cultures, and ages.  All the students have a story of some kind, from being imprisoned in re-education camps or barely surviving as one of the “boat people” from Vietnam, to being the victim of domestic violence or escaping religious persecution.  I love working with them, and it all makes for a job that never gets boring.

What is your teaching history?

I started teaching rather spontaneously in 1996 in the Czech Republic, but I had no idea what I was doing and basically no support (very few books, no computer), so planning lessons was really hard.  In 1997, I returned to the U.S. and went to graduate school to study linguistics.  I was fortunate to get a full-time teaching position when I graduated in 2000.  I’ve been at CRC since 2002 and have learned how to teach mostly through experience.

What brought you to teaching?

I got a B.A. in art history and planned to go to grad school, but I had a year to kill, so I traveled in Europe for 3 months and visited my best friend from college, who was living in the Czech Republic with the Peace Corps.

I was totally entranced by the idea of living abroad for an extended period of time, so I asked her if I could move in with her.  I started teaching English there because that’s the easiest job for Americans living abroad to find.  I had always loved languages, grammar, and writing, and I ended up realizing I could really love doing it if I could just get trained, which is why I went back to school in 1997.

 Tell us about your blog.

My blog, This Is My Happiness, is something I started for fun more than a year ago.  I originally wanted to write about my travel experiences because traveling is one of my great loves in life, and after I had my first child, I felt a strong desire to travel more, I guess because I felt like life was getting shorter.

My blog has evolved into a place where I have fun expressing myself and occasionally write about other life stuff, too.  An unexpected benefit of it is connecting with others; I love reading and responding to people’s comments and now have on-line friends!


If you’d like to learn more about Jenna and her travels check out her blog, This Is My Happiness, and be sure to stick around for part 2 – coming soon!

For up to the minute news, you can also follow Jenna on Twitter and you can “like” her blog on Facebook.


Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.



April 2011 Amy Estes, High School English Teacher and writer of Just A Titch

March 2011 Anna Guest-Jelley Brilliant Mind behind Curvy Yoga

February 2011 Jed Brewer Teacher/Musician/Music Executive/Yogi

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan– Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

Saturday Senses


tasting :: veggie burger on seeded sourdough

hearing :: family stories

smelling :: airports {sacramento, lax, el paso}

seeing :: my niece walk across the stage to collect her college diploma and my nephew get his eagle scout honors

feeling :: like a very proud aunt.

wishing/hoping ::  for all my lovely readers to have a wonderful mother’s day.

What about you?

What are your senses this Saturday?

Looking back, how was your week?

Leave a comment and tell me all about it. I’d seriously love to hear about your week. Now’s not the time to be shy.

This weekly tradition inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday.

Don’t forget to click the links!

Teacher Travels: The German Alps

I think Walt Disney was a fan of Bavaria


What makes a place home?    

Is it the place where your people originate?    

Is it where your friends and family live?    

Is it where you work?    

Is it where you keep your stuff?    

Is it where the sights and smells are familiar?    

Is it the place people speak your language?    

I recently traveled to what we’ve been jokingly calling the Homeland AKA – Germany.    

Previous to that, I’d never been to Germany nor did I have a burning desire to visit – we don’t know anyone there, last I heard they don’t serve cocktails with umbrellas there and it might be a tensy bit expensive.  It was my husband that really wanted to, so we did.    

I felt strangely at home when I got there.  Something about it felt very familiar and home-like.  Maybe it’s because my family is originally from Germany and the aesthetic came to the United States with them. Or the food was food I grew up with or that the people all looked vaguely like people I am related to.    

In any case, I felt strangely at home somewhere I’d never been before.    

For those of you that want to see – a quick trip to the Alps with Hacknbrew:    

 Day One – Garmish and Partenkirchen   

Hello, Bavaria!


The mountains! The architecture! The cute mister!


The gardens!


Flowerboxes everywhere!


Could it be any greener?


Day Two in the Alps: Mittenwald {no, I could not stop calling it “Mitten World”}   

The bus/train station - closed for repairs - and yet still beautiful!


There is no such thing as a bad view in Mittenwald.


Meandering meadow walk on the way to the trail UP the mountain.


Me and some random German family that hopped in my photo at the bottom of the mountain. I think they must do this all the time.


The view from just over the Austrian border - did I mention the hike was STEEP? Germans like them some hiking. I wish I would have thought to bring a flask like the guy sitting at a vista point along the way.


The bridge was less scary than I thought and more scary than Jed thought. You do the math.


A beer garden half way down the mountain? YES PLEASE! {PS the cake was mostly for him and the beer mostly for me}


The view. LOOK at the VIEW!!!!


I <3 Mittenwald.


Have you ever found yourself being at home somewhere you’d never been? Tell me about your travel surprises.  

Teacher Travels: {English} Espana

Algorfa, Spain with the Hick-Stewarts 2010



Travels with Toddlers 2010


Who: Hick-Stewarts and Hacknbrews 

Where: Algorfa, Spain {LaFinca – a GOLF community!} 

When: July 2010 

What: swimming, beaching, eating, reading, singing {lots and lots of Bah, Bah Blacksheep}, cooking, dancing {chef and ring around the rosie}, laughing, and site-seeing. 

Why: Because we love each other and holidays! 

Click on the images for a closer view and if you’d like to see more photos {with commentary} check out Facebook.

Teacher Travels: Did Somebody Say Texas?

Last week, my friend Tari and I accidentally visited Texas. 

We thought we were going to San Francisco to see a show, but we ended up learning more than we ever thought possible about Texas right there in Justin Herman Plaza. 

Go figure. 

You can't make this stuff up


The Texas Tourism Board hosted our favorite band, Old 97s and while we waited for the band to start playing we took a tour. 

Dude, it was surreal. Just what a ridiculously jet-lagged super fan needed. 

Here’s proof in case you don’t believe me. 

{No seriously, click the link. It involves a Texas longhorn.} 

Rhett's from Texas


Murry is too!


If you’d like to see the show too – click here

If you’d like to read a review of the show – click here

If you want to pre-order a copy of the new Old97s record – The Grand Theatre Volume One – click here

My giant head and Rhett - happy, happy!


If you ever find yourself in Texas, or any place where the Old97s are playing, please do yourself a favor and go.

Crash Landing

We’re back!

Now if only we could sleep through the night and actually be awake in the daytime instead of from 2:30-4:30 am PST.

When I find my words…

I have photos and stories to share.

Books I want to recommend and places I want you to visit.

For now, know that we are home safe and sound.

Please send me all your surviving jet-lag advice and good sleep vibes.

Teacher Goes Back To School Takes A Trip!

Housesitters have keys and long, teacher-written “sub” plans.

Bags are almost packed and pets are now taken care of.

First stop is to the Bay Area.

We leave early tomorrow morning for Philly, then to Munich.

We land in Munich and then fly to a small island off of Spain.

We fly to Valenica, spend the night and then travel by train to Alicante where our lovely British hostess, JojosUK, drives us to our 2 week summer home.

{Can someone please get Planes, Trains and Automobiles out of my head now?}

We’ll be swimming, going to the beach, eating, sunbathing, sightseeing and enjoying spending time with our favorite British family for 2 glorious weeks.

The Hick-Stewarts take on Sacramento!


I’ll be known as “Her” and J will be “the other Daddy” and we’ll get to hang out with these two awesome toddlers.

Summer Al eating Sophie's head last summer in Sacramento


We will bid them farewell and fly back to Munich for 7 days in the city, but not before trying to capture another excellent “Two Daddies” photo.

The Two Daddies


TGBTS will return in early August, rested and ready to bring you more tips on how to best care for yourself so you can care for others.

Last tip: Taking a break can sometimes be the best thing for you!

Tell me about your summer vacation adventures – near and far – I can’t wait to read about how you cared for yourself this summer!

Saturday Senses

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week.  




tasting ::  lager and ginger ale. I was introduced to this refreshing delight on the 4th of July by my friend Eric. He claims it is all the rage in Germany. Who am I to not believe him?

hearing ::  the Words with Friends alarm on my new iPod Touch. O.M.G. – this machine is amazing! Who knew this game was so addictive? I hope I get better at it with all this practice!

smelling ::  lavender laundry soap. Finally had to wash all my clothes to get ready to pack.

seeing ::   My favorite British family in a matter of days!

feeling ::  Relief! Our housesitters came through at the last-minute {and I didn’t lose my marbles worrying about it} and the dude is able to travel {no kidney stones for now}!

wishing ::  You all a lovely rest of July. I’ll be taking a blog break whilst in Europe. Please feel free to check out the archives while I am away, make comments and rate each post with my fancy new 5 star rating system.

What are your senses this Saturday?  Looking back, how was your week?    

Leave me a comment to tell me made your week memorable.    

This weekly tradition was inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday

{click image for source}

Saturday Senses!

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week.  




tasting ::  ice cream sandwich – tarragon and lemon shortbread with vanilla ice cream from magpie.  

hearing :: world cup vuvuzelas 

smelling :: tan in a can {my legs are pretty stripe-y right now – i need to practice my spray painting skillz}  

seeing :: 9 (!) new or new-to-me pairs of shoes {total= just over $100!}  

feeling :: a little pre-travel anxiety. do you worry before you go?   

wishing :: some lovely ladies {mom, v3, steponme} a very happy independence day birthday! 


What are your senses this Saturday?  Looking back, how was your week?    

Leave me a comment to tell me made your week memorable.    

This weekly tradition was inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday

{click image for source}

Bittersweet Travel Planning

Until recently I thought we would be traveling to Thailand this summer.

That fantasy was burst and I’ve pretty much made peace with the situation.

Until I started planning for our actual summer trip.

In doing research on Munich and Croatia (yay European travel!), I started with Rick Steves and quickly remembered how much I don’t want to travel with him.

I can’t even make it through an entire episode without wondering how he has this job.

Don’t get me wrong, he seems like a nice guy….. but are you kidding me?      



Enter my favorite travel guide: Tony Bourdain.

The foul-mouthed drunkard chef?

Yep, that one.

Anyway, in my search of No Reservations episodes in Netflix Watch Instantly, I came across a Thailand episode.

Of course, I watched it.

The dude even stopped what he was doing to come join me in my office.

I’ll spare you the details, but ultimately watching Tony eating his way through Thailand made me sad.

I really wish we were going to Thailand this summer.

Stationery #best09

December 28 Stationery.

When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

After reading this prompt, I think I may be missing out on one of life’s simple pleasures. I haven’t written or received a letter on stationery in years. Like most, I keep up with friends via email, text and Facebook. I do, however,  remember the feeling of excitement when a hand-written letter would come in the mail.

For a while, after most people were keeping up with friends only on the Internet,  my friend Joanne and I would exchange real letters. We were inspired to write letters to each other based on a book about two friends living in different parts of the world and longing to keep the connection between them.

While Jo and I no longer write letters to each other and despite living on different continents, career changes and children, we still manage to stay connected to each other. Yes, Facebook has played a role in that. A smaller role than one would think.

Instead, we plan vacations together.

Before Jojos went to medical school and still had her fancy flying around the world job, I could count on her annual visit. Once she settled in country to study medicine, I wondered how we’d keep up that pace. Thankfully she missed California and wanted to show it (and her old friends) off to her new boyfriend.

The next summer we traveled to England to meet her new baby girl and to spend a couple weeks together in the South of France. The four adults to one 9 month old baby ratio was perfect for a relaxing holiday of swimming pool hijinks and cheese eating.

Last summer Jojos brought her little family, which now included a new baby boy, back to California for some summer fun. Some friends we have in town were traveling to Italy for the summer and generously offered their house to the Brits. They have two daughters so when little Sophie came into a holiday house filled with girlie toys, she exclaimed, “It’s the House of Treasures”!

 With our adoption plans keeping us guessing, we’re not sure what our next vacation will be.  Or even when it will be. Maybe in the meantime, I’ll spend some time writing Jo a real letter on real stationery and revive that little pleasure in my life.