Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pre-Holiday Status Report

How are things going? Well, let's take stock:

Clean Eating: Oh, as if. It's December. Report cards are due, holiday shopping has barely begun, the faculty lounge, which is perpetually stocked with baked goods, is mere steps from my classroom. In fact, there is literally not a closer classroom to the fully-stocked faculty lounge than mine. Plus, I'm just not really trying that hard. Bring on the toffee!

Exercise: An eyebrow raise seems appropriate here. I'm hanging on to fitness like a mom hangs onto a wild toddler in Disney World. That's the best synonym I can think of at this very moment. Still, I ran a 5k yesterday. To be honest, if I didn't have a date with a friend at that 5k, I totally would have bailed.

Report Cards: This isn't easy, people. The report cards are massively time-consuming. I'm trying my best to have the report cards accurately reflect each child's progress, as well as my adoration for each child. That's a tall order. I'll probably get it done by the deadline because, for better or for worse, meeting deadlines is how I roll. However, there might be some crying on the way. Sadly, crying is also how I roll.

Christmas Cheer: Believe it or not, I'd give myself a 5 on a scale of 10 for Christmas cheer. That's high for me, as I'm certifiably Grinchy. But, self-improvement is a worthy aim, and I'm nothing if not a life-long learner.

That's how things are going. And that's five weeks in a row of weekly blog posts. #goldstar

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Story about Quarter-Zip Pull-Overs

Here's an unfortunate fact about me: I'm not a very good gift-giver. Every once in a while, I'll straight-up steal a half-decent idea from someone else about what to buy for someone I dearly love. Most of the time, though, I walk into one of the same half-dozen stores I always go to and pick something that the recipient might think is just fine. Just fine, but not usually delightful.

I wish I were better at this, but I'm just not.

This year, Dan has some specific requests for Christmas gifts. One of them is a quarter-zip pull-over. Before I go any further, I want you to know that Dan has about fourteen quarter-zip pullovers already in his closet. I pointed this out.

"I'd like one that isn't blue," he said. It's true that at least six of the pull-overs--the only ones he actually wears--are blue.

"But I've purchased you purple and green ones, and you never wear them," I argued.

"On the green one, the sleeves are too short."

"What about the purple one?"

Dan went to his closet and pulled out the purple. "Well, the collar is just outrageous. It's too tall! And, plus, it's boxy." I asked for proof of these assertions, so he modeled the sweater for me. To be honest, I could see what he was saying, but I disagreed that those two points made the sweater unwearable.

"It's okay if you can't find the perfect quarter-zip," Dan said. I think he began to realize that he was sounding a little Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. "I could also use some, like, regular sweaters. Maybe a cable knit."

First of all, I don't think he has any idea what cable-knit is. He definitely doesn't like it. He only likes tight stitches.

"I liked those v-necks you got me that one year," he went on, "but, I didn't like how deep the Vs were. Like, I don't like it when any part of the second button of my shirt shows in the V."

I raised my eyebrow here, I'm pretty sure, and Dan started to look sheepish. He might have giggled. "And also," he added, "those were a little too short." There's another black quarter-zip that he has, incidentally, that's a little too long.

 I think all readers can see my predicament.

"Just get me a sweater," Dan said, finally.

I wrote this directive down in my bullet journal. "I'll do my best to get you a sweater. But not a crew neck, not a deep V, and if it's a quarter-zip, I'll be sure it's neither too short, too long, and also doesn't have a tall collar or a boxy fit."

Should be easy. Luckily I'm such a good gift-giver.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Treadmill Story

As you know, I'm a dedicated masters athlete. By "dedicated," I mean I miss quite a few workouts, and in terms of "masters," I'm referring to the USATF definition of 40+.

Just to clarify that in case you thought "masters" meant "skilled."

But anyway, I went to the treadmill yesterday and I did the prescribed mileage and speed for my upcoming 10k. I felt super lucky that the Ironman World Championship coverage was re-airing on ABC. It'd make the 40 minutes go fast, watching all those inspiring endurance athletes who don't skip workouts finish something so daunting.

I was running along, virtually cheering the triathletes when a profile of an age-grouper came on. The guy, Leigh Chivers, was competing for his wife who'd died from brain cancer at age 34, and also for his baby son, who died from his own brain cancer just six months later.

Obviously, I sobbed during this profile. It was a little bit awkward to be hiccuping and wheezing while I ran, but anyone else in the gym watching that particular tv had to have had the same reaction.

Can you even imagine a brain cancer diagnosis for your spouse and then, just a short while later, the same terminal diagnosis for your child? And there was Leigh, biking 112 miles and running a marathon, all after finishing a 2.4-mile swim. He was talking about the importance of determination and positive memories.

People might want to watch the profile. You can find it here at 34:18. I'm inspired by this family. People can be pretty good and mightily resilient.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Potential Hazard

It's the weekend again, and I now write a blog post on the weekend. Easy peasy.

So, this last week, one of my third graders came up to my desk while Spanish was happening.

"Ms. West," he said quietly, "I found a nail on the rug."

"A nail?" I said, turning away from the computer screen. "Well, thank goodness you found it. That could be dangerous." I held out my hand. I did wonder fleetingly how a nail had made it to the meeting area, but sometimes these things just happen.

"What should I do with it?" the kid asked.

I felt like it was pretty obvious what he should do with it since I had my palm cupped and ready, but I nodded at my hand to reinforce the cues. "Just give it to me."

As he dropped the item in, I realized pretty quickly that the nail in question was not the sharp metal variety, but the rounded papery top of a discarded fingernail.

"Oh," I said.

"Yeah," my student agreed. "That's pretty gross."

"I'll just put it here," I told him, standing to tip it into the garbage can. Later, when he found another one, I just offered a noncommittal comment about how people should probably put their fingernails in the compost if they happened to bite them during instructional times. I didn't bother helping with the disposal the second time around.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Couple of Things

I've been reading Vikki Reich's daily November blog posts, and I've been thinking: how hard could it really be to just write something here once a week?

Vikki is a humor writer I admire, and her blog is really good. So, it's not as if I'm thinking: it'd be so easy to write something like Vikki every week. No, it's just that when I read her stuff I realize blogging has a lot of value, at least to me. I love reading about other people's lives, and I like going back through the archives here and reading about my own life.

Wouldn't it be nice to chronicle a little longer? Just keep track of the mundane?

In any case, here are a couple of things:

  • We've been working on volume this week in third grade. As in, noise level. Previously, we've worked on stamina and coping skills. Those things are still high on our list of priorities, but this week I felt like a lot of people were yelling all the time. We've now worked on self-awareness around yelling. I come around and gently remind people about our goals. I say, "It sounds like you're yelling." We've achieved sporadic and marginal success in lessening the frequency of yelling.
  • Mac has me obsessed with this podcast called Six Minutes. It's a story about a girl mysteriously lost at sea and the family who takes her in. Also, it's about helicopters and bad guys and hoverboards. It's transformed our commute. Each episode is--shocker--six minutes long. If I can't listen to my new Spotify playlist that includes "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" and has my family engaged in a whole new round of mom-mocking, then I choose Six Minutes.
  • The kids and I are headed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota today for the Nike Heartland Regional race. It's a cross country fantasia with many 5k events spread over Sunday. Tonight, we'll eat tepid pasta in a Sioux Falls convention center ballroom where we'll hear from an elite athlete about running. I invited Dan to this getaway. I said, "You could come with us to Sioux Falls and watch hours of cross country races in which you'll know no one, OR you could stay home and enjoy some alone time." I think you know which way he went, even after hearing about the pool at the Sioux Falls airport hotel I've chosen.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Is This Thing On?

Remember about my blog? It's here!

I'm paying attention to it today because I finished my book again. I think I've finished my book 6 or 7 times now. That's all the way to THE END. I'm wondering how many more finishings it's going to take before people can actually read this thing in traditional book form. Whatever the answer, at this point, I'm not really interested in quitting.

I'm also not interested in quitting my day job teaching third grade. It's pretty fun. We have crayfish right now. I'll be honest and tell you that I was not very excited about hosting crayfish. After all, they're gross. But having crayfish turns out to be a pretty good experience. We're doing some cool observing and experimenting. Today, we're making crayfish identification cards. It's going to be some of our best work. We're going to weigh and measure those suckers in addition to describing their structures and doing some scientific drawings.

One day during our crayfish time, three kids got pinched by their lab animals at once. I'm sorry to  report that there was a fair bit of screaming. But as long as we slow down and follow the protocols, everything will be totally fine. There's no need for any more bloodshed.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Our New Bed

Let me tell you a story about a mattress. This story begins eight years ago, but I'll keep it short. Way back then, Dan and I moved into his parents' house. They were moving out, and they left several pieces of furniture, including their bed. This was really convenient, and we were grateful.

As the years went by, the second-hand mattress became less functional. It's an old Sleep Number job, and it started deflating at odd times. In general, it wasn't ideal. Lucky for us, Dan's parents offered us a like-new organic cotton mattress from a guest bed they weren't using in their condo. They've become our mattress suppliers. Plus: "It's organic!" my mother-in-law said. I guess non-organic mattresses are basically environmental and health disasters. So, that's something to consider.

In any case, we emptied the miniature van and went over to Dan's parents' place to get the mattress. We lugged it to the car and then up the stairs to our room. I made the new bed, and then I lay down on it, ready to bask in its luxury environmental-friendliness.

You guys.

It's rock hard. I'm talking ROCK. HARD. It's like camping in our bedroom. There's no way my wonderful in-laws have ever tested that bed. Or, they have tested it and found themselves high-fiving as we removed it from their home. Dan has had to take Advil to deal with the effects of the mattress. While I used to look forward to retiring to my bed, I'm now happy to stay on the couch longer, as I can sink into it. Mac ran into our room the other day, ready for a story. He leapt on the bed, only to find himself the victim of a dull thud. "Whoa!" he said.

Whoa is right. I googled the benefits of a very firm mattress, and it's true there may be some. But, this weekend, I'm buying a memory foam topper. It probably negates the environmental health benefits of the organic mattress, but I fear my hips and shoulders are becoming bruised. There's only so much I can take.