Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Summers Off"

You may remember when Jessie wrote what she called her Big Ass Paper. I certainly do. While she was at it, I sat across coffee shop tables from her and studied her every move. I'm glad now that I was privy to her process because Today was The Day I Began My Very Own Master's Thesis.

The work wasn’t too terrible, as all I had to do was read a book about incorporating all kinds of cool web-based stuff into classroom teaching. One thing Will Richardson turned me onto is a site called 43 Things where you can type in your objective and interact with people who are plugging away on the very same task.

I find this fascinating and addictive, and if I could find a site called “43 Books,” I just might take up permanent residence inside the internet.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Effective Discipline

“I’m done with my chime out.”

“Why were you on time out?”

“I spit.”

“Right. And what else?”

“I hit Mommy.”

“Well, no -- not this time.”

“I kick Mommy.”

“No, you didn’t do that today.”

“I spit.”

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back in the Saddle

This summer has been far too hectic thus far. I find myself overwhelmed by the aforementioned to-do list. Today I didn’t feel like working on my master’s paper, so I began transforming the front porch into my new office. (I can’t possibly begin the work until I have a sanctuary in which to do it, right?) I am not a very keen do-it-yourselfer, so removing some shelves from the wall ate up the hours between 1 and 3pm. In the end, I was stymied by a couple of stripped screws, so I'll be back at that task tomorrow.

Then there’s the trouble of desiring a decent level of fitness. Just the time required for obsession about fitness deserves a few spots on the to-do list.

And finally, we’re in the midst of a learning to cook via Food Network. Since Slow Joe took all our cash, going out to eat isn’t really in the summer budget. Tonight I made a Rachael Ray 30-minute meal in 48 minutes. I think I should make it a to-do to get closer and closer to the 30-minute mark as the summer wears on.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day

For Father’s Day, Shef and I scoped out several local bike shops in hopes of finding an ideal model for Dan.

Shef was really excited about the project: “I go to the bike shop. I get Daddy a bicycle. I get me a seat.” See? It always comes back around to the toddler.

While we did find some good options, and Dan is excited about making the final selection, the highlight of the shopping trips for the kiddo was a stop at Penn Cycle, where Shef absolutely had to sit on this bike:

“I ride this bike!” he yelled, as he hyper-extended his knees in hopes of reaching the pedals. We’ve told him he can’t have a bike until he’s four, and until then, he will languish on his tricycle. This is probably for the best, as he’s even tippy on the trike.

“When can you have a bike?” I asked him, as he twitched with glee atop the pink-mobile.

“When I’m FOUR!” he proclaimed.

“Right. And how old are you now?”

“Twoooo,” he said mournfully.

I feel for him, but I’m holding firm.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Change is Tricky for Toddlers

Poor Shef’s life is in flux – he’s moving classrooms at school, I’m in charge of him in the mornings now, and I’ve started mixing up Sesame Street with some offerings on Playhouse Disney.

Sadly, the way he manifests the stress he must be feeling over these changes is to hit. Yesterday he hit me in the face after music class. He hit me again as I was putting him in the car to go to school, and then again when I picked him up. Later, he hit me because he didn’t want to leave a store we visited, because he didn’t want to stop playing baseball (“I like to play baseball all the time,” he explained), and finally because he was disappointed his friends weren’t home when we happened to stop by.

The silver lining of this problem is that he doesn’t hit anyone else. Plus, he only said the f-word twice all day. Also, he alternates his psychotic behavior with incredibly sweet and loving behavior.

For example, just minutes before the final beating of the day, he was hugging my head and rubbing my check soothingly while riding on my shoulders and lamenting his lack of sibling:

“I want a baby in my house,” he said mournfully. Caroline, a pal at music, has a baby sister, you see. “I want to hold the baby all the time.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Kids are Gone

The grades are entered, the in-box is empty, and I’m finally officially on summer vacation, as of one o’clock this afternoon.

The to-do list for this vacation is lengthy and quite ambitious, if I do say so myself. Already, I’ve organized my closet, dropped three bags of clothes at Goodwill, attended to the dry-cleaning, and purchased a new kitchen garbage can.

Plus, Shef and I played with sidewalk chalk, went out to dinner, and discussed at length my brilliant plan to eliminate the f-word from his vocabulary. It involves a sticker chart and Matchbox cars. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Magic Number is Two

My assistant principal notified me this afternoon that my room is needed for immediate storage of large instruments and other musical supplies, so I’ll be giving my finals tomorrow and Friday “in the math hallway.” I can only hope that I might have access to a computer there. And, I also hope that that particular hallway is one of the air-conditioned ones in the building. It seems some kind of critical piece is broken on the air-conditioner, which makes it necessary for a custodian to spend his day seated by the unit with a hose, manually regulating the water level. I feel bad for that guy, but God, the building really needs to be air-conditioned.

The key message here, though, is that I’m actually giving finals. You know what that means. The end is near. And now I can look forward to a long weekend of grading essays and outside reading projects. Luckily, I’ll be doing this while sitting by the lake and watching Shef frolic in his stylish spandex suit.

Monday, June 5, 2006

You're Never Too Young For a Little Spandex

My friends, especially Renee, like to laugh at my gross whiteness. Of course, Renee, as you may have noticed, is an Italian goddess with olivey skin that deepens into an easy and enviable tan every summer.

Although I am proud of my Irish and Scandinavian heritage, I am incapable of spending any amount time in the sun without inadvertently summoning my inner oompa-loompa. Once, when I was trying to even out my tan lines in preparation for my strapless wedding dress, I went to a tanning booth for two minutes. Within hours, I burned and peeled. Two minutes! That’s all it took to get a few steps closer to melanoma.

Naturally, with our genes (Dan is a red-headed Norseman), Shef has skin that is pretty much translucent. Last summer I barely let him out of the house during the daylight hours. This summer, I’ve discovered something that will let him splash in the wading pool to his heart’s content:

Yes, it’s a full-body swimsuit with built in SPF 50. I borrowed this one from my cousin, who invited us over for an afternoon of outdoor fun.

Because we’d like Shef to maintain a shred of masculine toddler dignity, I’ve purchased him one in blue and yellow:

He insisted on wearing it for hours this afternoon despite no promise of a pool.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Cupcake Cometh, Thank Goodness

On my agenda today was grading as many research papers as possible, including Sarah’s (see below), whose mother and grandmother might be disappointed in my estimation of their work. I made it to twenty-seven, which is a pretty kick-ass number, if I do say so myself.

In order to accomplish this, I sent Shef out for the day with “Cupcake,” one of his grandmothers, who picked him up at 10 am. She came armed with an itinerary of F-U-N, which included his third hot dog in as many days, basketball, baseball, tennis, and a cone and a half at DQ. Needless to say, he wasn’t sorry to drive away without me. In fact, he practically buckled himself into his car seat and yelled “have fun” repeatedly at me as he squealed in delight upon our impending separation.

Tomorrow, I’ll pawn him off on his Aunt Sarah and finish the lot. There are five days to go at school, and I’ve got to get this set of papers graded before I turn my attention to the final exams.