Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's The Start of Something New

Well, either today or tomorrow is the last day of the blog challenge. It's been a great challenge, and right this moment I'm conceding defeat to my pal Lee.

I'm proud to have competed against such a worthy blogger, and I know our future is in good hands with Lee as the champion.

Of course I'm thinking about resolutions. Here they are:

1) Exercise enough.

2) Grade papers in small doses on a regular basis.

3) Find homeopathic remedies to the ailments I mentioned previously.

4) Chillax.

5) Blog. This blog is now more than 5 years old. There's no reason to stop here.

Happy New Year, Friends! This has been fun.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

That's My New Pink Shirt

I think I should probably start trying to look nicer in my video blogs. Maybe lip-gloss? Shower? Something.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Heart the Outlets

This afternoon, my mom, Mac, and I strolled the outdoor outlet mall. I enjoyed this very much. The weather was mild and the deals were HOTT!

Two long-sleeved t-shirts with cool necklines and a pair of jeans for a total of twenty-six dollars.

Twenty-six dollars!

Maybe tomorrow I'll video blog with one of the shirts on. That could be fruitful.

In other news from today, we took the Real Age Test designed by Oprah's Dr. Oz. The test showed my real age as 27.4, which is 4.3 years younger than my actual age. I sent Dan the link to the test, hoping to clear-up that Wii Fit confusion. He dutifully took the test, and found that his Real Age is 4.6 years younger than his actual age.

I think my problems are the following in the age-defying department: my migraines, my IBS (sorry TMI), and my unchecked anxiety. I'll be visiting the homeopath in February, after which time I'm sure I can improve my Real Age.

Monday, December 28, 2009

We'll Keep On Fighting Till The End

I'm really struggling with myself right now. Here's the problem: I have a lot of school work to do over this break. Like, a LOT of school work to do. Maybe 35 pounds of papers to read. I decided that I would do each of the following things every day of my trip: 1) exercise; and 2) work for one hour.

I exercised already, thank goodness. But, I have not done a lick of school work. It's 8:30, and I want to go to bed with the Hedgehog book I'm reading for Lee's book club.

I think I'll probably have to compromise. I'm going to grade papers for 30 minutes, and then read Their Eyes Were Watching God for 30 minutes, if I don't fall asleep. I'm teaching that book starting Wednesday, January 6th, and I haven't read it since 1997.

Omg. Here I go.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Metal Under Tension

This has been what you'd call a long travel day. The children did well on the plane, but they were still children on a plane.

The airport was a madhouse. People were tense. Mac melted down in the evening, became a sweaty puddle, and fell asleep as Dan was putting together the porta-crib.

Now I'll have a glass of chardonnay and figure out some plans for tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stand On A Star

We're really busy today because we have to get our house back in show-condition (it's for sale, remember), our stuff packed, and ourselves ready for a week in Florida beginning tomorrow.

So, we're really busy, but we were not too busy to get started with Wii Fit. Shef did the body test first. He failed the balance portion and got a Wii Fit age of 25, despite his healthy BMI of 14.5.

I went next. I also failed the balance portion of the test because I have no balance. Plus, Mac was distracting me. After the test, the Wii asked me if I sometimes fall down when I'm walking. I'm sorry to say, the answer to that question is YES. So, my Wii fit age was 39, despite my healthy BMI of 22.8. Wii wants me to lower my BMI by .8, so I said I would try. That's a 6.5-pound weight loss, most of which is probably accounted for by my annual holiday treat and bevvie bonanza.

Dan went last. He aced the balance test, not surprisingly. His BMI was healthy, but not as good as mine. Wii wants him to lose some amount of weight, but he says that amount will render him emaciated.

In the end, his Wii Fit age was 33, two years less than his actual age. My Wii Fit age was 39, 8 years more than my actual age. This is lame and unfair, given our fitness histories in the last 10 years. I vow to rectify this situation.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Victory

Well, it's been a great day so far. Of course, I have the best family(ies) in the universe. One highlight was the new Flip video camera Dan got me. Hence, video will make a triumphant return to this blog. Hallelujah.

Another thing I'd like to share with you was my latest shopping success:

On the 22nd, I had 15 minutes to shop for a bathing suit. I went into the Marshalls. I picked three suits in my size from the rack. I brought them to the dressing room. I purchased the least offensive. It's a black and white paisley-patterned tankini with full-coverage on the tummy and the rear. It cost 24.99.

It was truly a Christmas miracle.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sleighbells, etc.

I've gotten some positive feedback on the video blogs, and we all know how I thrive on praise.

TokBox - Free Video Chat and Video Messaging

Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let All the Dreamers Wake the Nations

Here's my Voice Thread on our gingerbread house. Shef declined to comment this time around, but I bet he'll add his voice later.

I had a little trouble with Voice Thread today, and I'm wondering: is there something better that does the same thing? I'll probably try to find out.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Glass Half Full

Tonight we had dinner with our good pals Tom, Liz, and their kids, who match up nicely with ours.

I told Liz how happy I'd been that afternoon when I had an unexpected 30-minute wait at my OB-GYN's office where I'd finally shown up for an annual exam appointment, only six months late.

"I'd brought my book, so I was just really happy," I explained.

Liz laughed at me. "You know you've crossed a bad and scary line," she said, "when going to the gynecologist counts as FUN."

I guess that's true. I even wore holiday socks, which I enjoyed looking at while I was in the stirrups.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Increasing Skill Set

Shef has a new podcast, wherein he sings "Skol Vikings" and reads his script about making our awesome gingerbread house. You can hear the podcast by clicking here. It's just over one-minute long.

This time, I experimented with adding sound effects to the podcast, which was fun. Shef does everything in one take, so we're getting pretty efficient. I like knowing how to use GarageBand. And just think, if Shef's teacher hadn't suggested that we find a project that would support his literacy development, and if I hadn't decided to do a podcast exchange with the Bloomington peeps, and probably if I hadn't decided to do technology exploration during the blogging challenge, I wouldn't know.

Funny ole world.

There will probably be a Voice Stream about the gingerbread house coming up in the next couple of days. I also didn't know how to do that before. It's great being a life-long learner.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

There's a Spaz With a Bell

We started Christmas today with a super-fun gathering at Cupcake and Michael's house. Lots of laughs were shared by all, especially during a rousing round of Balderdash, the board game we'd given Ben as a gift.

I'm extremely skilled at Balderdash, and I would have prevailed had I not agreed to help Shef take his turn as Dasher. In the end, that choice was not worth it because he just ended up crying about not being able to read people's cursive and "bumpy writing." Then he expressed frustration about not being able to read books as well as he wants. I'm pretty sure that's because he can't yet read Harry Potter. Life is rough for these Kindergarten readers.

The other day, I went to Barnes and Noble and asked for a fantasy/magic book for younger readers, but the ladies in the kids' department told me that what I was asking for doesn't exist. I'm pretty sure they're wrong about that, but I didn't have time to go to Red Balloon and talk to some decent booksellers.

Elementary teachers, librarians, and literacy researchers: Do you have any tips for me on that front? Basically we're looking for a book that's like HP, but not as scary. Could be a read-aloud or a something to read alone.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Phoning it in

Dan is typing this blog entry for me on his phone while we have dinner out. We're eating later than we ever have in our entire lives, pretty much. 8:30.

First, we tried to go to a fancy sushi restaurant where ladies in spandex and hats were dancing on pedastals. That place was weird. They wouldn't give us a table even though we had a reservation. It's probably because we were wearing our ski jackets and jeans from Target.

So now we're at a steakhouse, and I've just eaten a loaf of bread.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One More Day

Today when I went to get Shef from Extended Day, they were just beginning a cookie house project. Picking him up was going to be a disaster because he wanted to do the project so badly. So, filled with the Christmas spirit, I offered to go get Mac first and then come back to get him.

He was so happy.

45 minutes later, I'd driven all over the city and back to Extended Day and finally started the journey home to Southeast Minneapolis, which is pretty much the least convenient place we could possibly live, except for Woodbury or Inver Grove Heights.

We arrived home an hour later than usual, but I felt like I'd done a small thing for Shef that he really appreciated. Plus, Mac got to go to Extended Day where the kids were having a dance contest to "YMCA," and he rushed right in. It was pretty cute. He loves to dance.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Roof Is On Fire

And the lid is coming off a little bit.

Today was extra crazy because the teachers were "working to rule" to demonstrate our seriousness about settling our contract. We only worked our contract day and agreed not to take any work home or do any work over our duty-free lunch hour (or, duty-free seventeen minutes).

I hate doing this kind of stuff, which is why I voted for the first crappy contract deal they put before us. But, I value solidarity, and I actually do think we deserve a fair contract. So, I'm not working tonight.

It was already crazy, and then I also spent the day in angst over my parent and student survey results. Only 22 parents replied. About half of those were the ones who really hate me and wanted a forum wherein to express these feelings anonymously. Some of my favorite comments:



"Shuts down dialogue."

"Figure it out yourself."

"I can't read her."

"Too much busy work."

And, "I wish my child liked her more."

Yeah. Me too, parent. Me, too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Every Streetlight A Reminder

Signing up for swimming lessons with the two children was probably the worst decision I made this fall.

Every Tuesday, I drove all over the city picking them up and going out to dinner and then to swimming. Then, we all changed into our suits and got in the pool. The changing area is the "family" locker room where I wriggled in and out of my speedo as quickly as possible, so as not to flash any of the other families. Mac tried to sneak under the stall doors every single week while I had no clothes on.

Because Shef's lesson started and finished fifteen minutes before Mac's, he was unsupervised for fifteen minutes in the facility. This was fine for the beginning of the session when he had no friends, but in the last few weeks, it's been a flipping disaster.

Today, I staggered sopping wet into the changing area only to witness another mom telling him and her own son to "PLEASE CALM DOWN AND STOP RUNNING AROUND." She was behaving appropriately, but someone else in SpongeBob pajamas and snow boots was not.

Tonight was the last night. I'm so happy I'm having ice cream. Lots of it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dan Is So Mean, Part III

Here's a video from Dan explaining why my previous video messages have sucked.

TokBox - Free Video Chat and Video Messaging

Thanks, Dan. That was so instructive.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Close Call

I almost forgot to blog, but thank goodness, I'm here! I haven't forgotten! I'm ready to post something great!

It's the last week before Winter Break, and my goal is simple: "Keep the Lid On." To that end, I'll be conducting class all week. No parties. No fun. Lots of Arthur Miller.

But, I will be playing the podcasts for all the soph classes. The first two are up on my new Edublog. I have to have an Edublog because it's easy to upload podcasts there, whereas I've found it impossible to upload them to my usual teaching blog.

Anyway, you can hear the podcasts at this link. You might want to go there, listen, and leave a comment. Both feature musical numbers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Stars Are Brightly Shining

This morning, we took the kids to see Santa at fundraiser breakfast for my school's competition cheerleading team. Our cheerios were in the top 5 in the nation last year, so it's a worthy cause.

It's a good thing Shef got to tell Santa then that he wanted a broomstick that really flies and a wand that does real magic, as our late afternoon trip to see the Macy's holiday display was a total failure.

The line was three floors and hours long. Obviously, we had to give up and come home. The holiday cheer can really be exhausting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Strike Up the Band

It was a weird day at school because it's the end of "Mix it Up" week, which concludes with the Sadie's Dance (and thank you God, I'm not on the list to chaperone that one).

It was a great night at home, though, because Dan surprised me with a dinner out to commemorate the tenth anniversary of our first date. We stopped celebrating this particular anniversary a long time ago, but... why NOT have a dinner out to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our first date?!

He'd planned for us to go to the Science Museum after dinner to re-create the actual date, but after lingering for two hours over some delicious Italian dishes, we decided to hit the liquor store and come home to watch this week's Glee instead.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rock the Sure Shot

Mac's school offered a workshop on homeopathy for colds and flu tonight. I really enjoyed the chat with the homeopath, and although I'm not willing to turn the kids' care over to her, I think I've decided to see her for my chronic headaches.

I have considered homeopathy before, but then dismissed it because I imagined it was too expensive.

Last year, I had that crazy migraine that landed me in the hospital, as well as a few follow-up visits; so my migraines ended up costing about $3000.00 out-of-pocket.

Even if I had to go to a max number of homeopathic appointments and have periodic phone consultations, I'd be spending only a fraction of that. And surely all the Aleve I've been taking to stave off the migraines that hang out behind my eyeballs isn't good for my liver.

I think I'll go to her, and then I'll give a full report. I liked visiting and blogging about the acupuncturist, and this will probably be just as fun.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Instrument Of Peace

Today, there was a little snowstorm here and it took me 25 minutes just to get to Shef's school from mine, when it usually takes about 8. It took about a million more years to get to Dan's parents' house where we were going for dinner in lieu of swimming lessons.

When I was almost there, my car died at a red light. The people behind me were less than pleased. I turned on the hazards and marched with Shef to the Amoco station which was about 200 feet away. I marched there in my high heels, which I wore today without looking at the weather report.

A guy from the Amoco jumped the car, and it started, but the ride was tenuous. The heater wasn't working, the windshield wipers weren't working, and the dash lights were ominously dim.

When I got to Dan's parents' house, Dan went out to check on things and locked the keys in the car because Subaru has a dumb "safety feature" wherein you can lock your keys in the car even if you have the remote entry device in your hand.

And also, Mac who has been home sick for two days with an ear infection (Dan was with him today, and I was home yesterday) now has conjunctivitis (aka boogers in his eyes), which means he also can't go tomorrow. Dan, our savior, has volunteered to stay home again. God bless you, Dan. I love you so much.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Now I'm Going to Oprah.Com to Re-Watch the Cormac McCarthy Interview

Tonight, I finished The Road. I sobbed uncontrollably at the end of the book because it is so ridiculously sad. Dan laughed at me, but he hugged me.

"I must console you as a husband," he said.

For some crazy reason, he's decided to read the book. I wept openly for the last ten pages, and he kept saying, "Don't tell me what happens! Don't tell me!"

I had already told him about the terrible cannibals and the dead baby on a spit and the death of the father, so I'm not sure what else there is to tell.

"This is the most terrible book I've ever read in my life," I sobbed.

Dan asked if I wanted a picture of myself with tears streaming down my face holding the goddamn Road. The answer to that question was a big fat NO.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We'll Be Singing When We're Winning

Twice this fall, Shef's been dancing along in front of me not really paying attention to where he's going, and I've tripped over him while holding Mac. I've found that when you trip while holding a baby, you have a greater chance of falling all the way to the ground because you won't let go of the baby to break the fall. Rather, you try to roll to the side while protecting the baby's head with your free hand. Also, you instinctively try to hold your chin up to avoid slamming it on the ground.

The results are sort of humiliating. Both times it's happened to me, I've been completely prone with the baby in my left arm. Once, his head flopped at the last second and hit the street. He wasn't hurt, but we were both pretty freaked.

These falls cause a lot of soreness. My entire right side is aching today because of the spill yesterday in the fanciest mall in the Twin Cities. Dan was there, and he stared at me sprawled out on the floor for a few seconds before jumping in to help. I think it took him a little while to figure out how I'd gotten all the way down there, with my belly touching the ground.

In other news, Shef has a new podacast! It's a Harry Potter podcast, and in it he reads from his retelling of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's about three minutes long. You can click here to hear it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Worth the Investment

I feel a little anxious today because I had to send out surveys to all of my students and their parents asking them to evaluate my performance as a teacher. I also had to send a survey to my colleagues, but since I got to pick who to send that to, it doesn't make me quite as nervous.

I generally try hard and do a pretty good job of teaching, but you never know what someone might say about your performance. I have 140 students, so there's a good chance that someone or someone's parents might not care for me at all. They'll probably feel free to say something mean about me to the principal on this survey.

In the meantime, I'm relieved to have a break from reading The Road. The kids don't have pages due tomorrow. Last night I read about cannibals who cut off their prisoners' limbs one at a time and then burned the wounds to stop the bleeding, and also about a dad giving his son instructions on how to blow his brains out with a pistol. I read it right before I went to sleep. It wasn't pleasant.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Drag Me Under

I need to start exercising again because I registered for the Minneapolis Marathon, which happens on June 6th. I'd like to run another sub-4 race, even if I can't run my PR time of 3:40:12.

The only way to get enough workouts to prepare for this will be to run after school one day per week. Today was the first day. I brought some workout clothes in order to make it happen.

But when I told Rachel about the plan, and she discouraged me. "I wouldn't do that," she said, shaking her head when I held up my running shirt. "The children will SEE you."

I immediately saw her point.

"At least drive your car over to the other side of the highway and run over there," she said. She was feeling trepidation on my behalf, which made me nervous.

Still, ten minutes later, I went out to the parking lot and started running. I made it about fifteen steps until I realized I absolutely could not jog near the students' cars. So I got in my car, as Rachel suggested, and parked on the other side of the highway. Then I ran for 30 minutes. It's a victory.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two Classes and No Homework

When I extended the deadline for the sophs' short stories, I told them that they'd still have to hand in complete rough drafts on the Friday before Thanksgiving break.

"Okay!" they said, cheerfully.

Then, on that Friday, some of them convinced the sub that it would be okay to just show him their drafts and then take them home again. They were annoyed when I took one of their draft points away because of this.

"But the sub said!" they said.

"But I told you to hand in a complete rough draft."

"But that's confusing because we asked the sub!" they said.

"But I had already told you," I repeated. "I was very clear."

They appeared stumped, but I was finished explaining. Some other sophs have been pulling paper games like this one: "Oh, hey! I just realized I only printed half of my story! Can I bring just the rest tomorrow?!"

In ten years, I still don't know the right response to these types of ploys. Today, I told a kid I knew she was scamming me and felt trapped by the situation. She just shrugged and walked away.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blackness Without Depth or Dimension

I'm having a pretty difficult time reading McCarthy's The Road. I'm pretty sure it's the darkest, most depressing and bleak book I've ever opened.

Here's the honest truth: I feel like the book is crushing me.

My students are having a different experience. "This is the first book I've liked all year," one of them said. They're fascinated by the nature of the apocalypse - what happened to end the world? When did they start becoming cannibals? How long have they been traveling south?

I don't really care about those things. "Do you see ANY EVIDENCE of hope in the first 77 pages?" I asked them. "Is there any reason to think things are going to turn out WELL?"

Yes, they said unanimously. The dad loves the boy. The dad is never going to give up on that.

So, okay. I'll keep trudging through. It's not like I have any choice.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poor Planning

What's happened is that I'm overcome with stress and anxiety because of the volume of schoolwork that's piled up.

Sometimes I feel okay about it, like, I'll say to myself, "Calm down! It's all going to be fine!"

And then, like two seconds later, I start to hyperventilate.

The bottom line is that I'll be performing for 140 kids tomorrow. I hope to heaven that I can be moderately prepared for this endeavor.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm On the Bleachers

Shef is now obsessed with making comments on Voice Stream. About fifty times a day, he says, "Let's make a comment!" So, of course we made several comments on Lee's family hand turkeys.

Because he's so into recording his voice and playing it back, I suggested that we try making a podcast. He thought that sounded good.

I posted the podcast here because I couldn't figure out how to upload it to blogger. We had fun doing it, and we'll probably make more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shining Through

For Mothers' Day '08, Dan got me a Flip video camera. I loved it! It even had pink accents! I uploaded a bunch of great videos from it to this blog.

The camera broke just before Jdoc's wedding a year later, and when I called the Flip people for help, they said I should just take out the batteries and let it rest. Then when I put the batteries back in three days later, they said the problem would be fixed.

I was skeptical and asked for clarification, but they insisted that resting would help the Flip.

In the end, the resting did not help, but I kept the Flip in a closet hoping that someday I could revive it.

And then, today I did! I put some batteries in, it worked, and I got a great video of Mac saying, "Happy Thank You!" But when I plugged my camera into the USB port, my computer wouldn't recognize the camera. I sent the Flip people an email asking for help, and they sent a form message back asking me to answer about a million clarifying questions and provide tons of information about my computer and my Flip.

To tell the truth, I might not do that. It would probably take about an hour for me to answer the questions, and then I'm guessing they'd just tell me that my Flip is broken and can't be fixed and my warranty is over or never activated or something.

Perhaps I'm being a pessimist, but that's my best guess about how this situation is going to resolve.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Heart is Like an Open Highway

Thanksgiving was lovely as usual. Dan's cranberries were a highlight for sure, and in terms of the company, my niece Ilse is totally divine.

For one thing, she's a baby GIRL. She was wearing this perfect red tartan dress with matching bloomers. Also she's quite curious and obviously a brilliant genius.

After Ilse and everyone else left, we remembered as an afterthought that we'd like to snap a Christmas-card worthy family photo. Well, Shef refused to smile, Mac was obsessed with locating his pacifier, and I look like a total lunatic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mmmmm What Did She Say?

I've taken a lot of flack from my colleagues in the past couple of days because I don't like dogs that much.

I know! It's unAmerican! They told me that. They called me heartless and communist. They looked at me with hurt in their eyes. "You don't like DOGS?" they whispered.

Then, when dogs appeared in a film we viewed for staff development yesterday, they looked at me pityingly - "See?" the looks said. "Isn't THAT dog cute?"

OKAY! YES! The dog in Colonial House is cute! When Shef and I were hanging in a coffee shop this morning, we saw this dog through the window. I loved this dog! It was some kind of small white terrier that I'm sure doesn't shed and also probably doesn't poop. I would totally get this dog.

You can click the pic to enlarge. It looks like a passenger in the car! That cute wittle dog is just the greatest. Seeing it made my whole frickin day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hey, Bust a Move

I got to see these adorables in Philadelphia:

I'm trying hard to become their favorite aunt-type person, but it's been hard because I haven't seen them in a long time. Or, in Ryan's case, ever. But now I'm well on my way, since I let Shef pick out fun and probably dangerous toys for them.

I can tell I'm making a big impression. Sophie asked, "Where did Katie go?" when I went to the bathroom at this restaurant. Katie is another nickname for Kathleen, so close enough.

And then later, her parents made her give me a hug.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Really, She's Brilliant.

This day was interminable.

First, I read my sub notes from last week. Here's how the missive started: "I don't allow students to sit on desks or jump on furniture. I don't know what you do." The ending was like this: "I think the class did not find me delightful but I tried and they did do some work. Some called me a bitch when they left."

I rolled my eyes and set that down.

Later, after about 5 hours of conferences, I graded a paper by a student that read, "What is courage? Courage changes depending on the situation. One example of courage was when Henry Dobbins wore his ex-girlfriend's panty's around his neck even after they broke up."


Still later, after I'd conducted a total of 45 conferences, I really started to lose it. Tim, Kari, Rachel and I were all between customers and standing near my table. I noticed some parents hovering. "Are you looking for one of us slackers?" I smiled, assuming they were waiting for me.

"Yeah," they said. "Rachel?"

"Oh!" I said. "Well!" Oh, crap! "She's right here!"


"And," I continued, "She's not really a slacker. She's brilliant!" Rachel was already turned around and marching toward her table, creating as much distance between us as possible.

Did I stop talking at this point? No, I did not.

"She's a genius!" I continued. "So. Have a good conference!" And then I patted them each on the shoulder. Both the mom and the dad.

Tim was bent double with guffaws, and Kari told me I'd officially lost my mind.

8 hours of conferences! Really, what do they expect?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Contest

Lee and I are engaged in a Challenge to revitalize our blogs. We're going to blog every day from now until the new year. JDoc is doing it too, thank goodness. I asked Pronto if he would play, and he said, "No."

Party pooper.

Anyway, it was a great weekend at NCTE. Next year, it would be terrific to have a crowd of fantastic people from Bloomington and from Minneapolis meeting together for fun times at NCTE. Let's do it!

When I got home the children were happy to see me. Shef said, "Stop copying me, Mom." And Mac said, "Did it!"

Tomorrow I have eight hours of conferences. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

p.s. I had a little trouble with the Voice Thread below. The Voice Thread with all the comments is here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do I Have Strep?

As you know, Mac has strep.

At first, I thought that I was having psychosomatic strep symptoms because they started right after Mac got diagnosed. But now, I think I might actually have it.

But, in the meantime while the strep was potentially incubating, I went to Philadelphia for a conference.

I'm sure they have urgent care here in Philly, so I'll probably seek that out tomorrow if I wake up feeling like I have strep.

I'm kind of pissed about this situation, if you want to know the truth.

However, I'm pretty happy to be here overall. I'm going to have the best weekend ever.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time Grabs You By the Wrist

It's the end of the quarter, which was always a stressful time even before I had that second child plus a full-time teaching load. The kids start to get panicky about their grades, and then they start to say things in an accusatory tone. Things like:

"But you never SAID we needed a works cited!"

"But my printer ran out of INK!"


"My thesis IS fully expanded!"

And then they turn around and start to mumble things about me. Things that, in my imagination, are not very polite. In order to deal with these interactions professionally and with patience, I've adopted a few strategies.

One of them is I say Hail Marys over and over again in my head. And then I throw in a Glory Be and a couple of St. Francis of Assisi prayers. "SPREAD JOY," I remind myself before beginning class. "SOW LOVE."

This can be really hard, especially when they say things like, "Who's Duena Alfonsa?" when Duena Alfonsa is a main character in the novel, and we're already on page 217.

My other strategy is to repeat the mantra, "Grace and courtesy, grace and courtesy, grace and courtesy." I got it from a book about The Montessori Way. It's important to explicitly teach those things, the book says. And I'm trying to be a model.

It's hard to do when they say things like, "I don't even know why we're analyzing McCarthy because he obviously doesn't know how to write."

But I want you to know I'm trying really, really hard.

Friday, November 6, 2009

You, You Got What I Need

Here's an update:

Mac says a few things now. Like "please," "thank you," "ball," and "I do!" Like, you'll say, Mac do you want some breakfast? And he'll say, "IdoIdoIdo!" And a few other cute little things.

Shef, of course, says tons of things, some of them cute and others not so much. Just today, his teachers sent the kindergarten feelings book home in the e-Friday Folder. I was having a great time scrolling through the photos. Kids saying things like, "I felt confident when I was the flower girl at my uncle's wedding," and "I was ecstatic when I built a tall tower." Those kids were beaming in their photos, looking totally adorable.

Shef was toward the end. Here's what he looked like:

The text said he felt disgusted because he ate tomatoes. The kid really doesn't care for produce.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guest Post

Well, that title is a little misleading. It's still me. (Hi!!) But I planned to type up this story that Shef wrote last night:

I weint to a frm and bobd for applers.
I weint baek and the hoem was a tornado.
I had to goin the basmint.

God, I love that kid.

I've been having a little trouble blogging lately, and it's partly because, as I've previously mentioned, my life is insane; and also partly because I'm afraid to write the funny kid stories from work (For example: Me: Cara, are you dressing up for Halloween? Cara: Yes, I'm going to be an Indian. Me: Do you think your costume is culturally appropriate? Cara: Well, I'm doing the fringe and everything.)

The problem is I'm on Facebook and the link to this blog is on Facebook and I'm friends with some former students now.

Probably I should just take the link off of Facebook and keep writing. That sounds like a good idea.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Star Spangled Eyes

Dan and the kids came into the bathroom while I was using my neti pot.

"Oh, geez," Shef said. "That looks gross."

Well, no one invited you in here, Champ. That's what I was thinking.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm On the Bleachers

On the Thursday of MEA break, Shef and I took Mac to school, went for coffee and sweet rolls, dropped off a birthday present for Dan's dad, spent some time in my classroom, headed over to Kindergarten conferences, and then spent five hours at The Waterpark of America with my cousins and their kids.

On our first tube slide, Shef cracked me up by yelling, "SWEET! SWEET! YEAH, BABY, SWEET!" all the way down.

And then, Mac surprised me on the second day of break (take Mac to school, do the laundry, clean out the dresser drawers, donate too-small baby clothes, pick up Mac, and wait for Dan to get home) by busting out his first two sentences: "Yes I do," and "I do it."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh, Hey!

I think this has been my longest blog break in awhile. I feel like the reason is pretty simple:


Still, we're trying our best. As I've mentioned, I'm having the BEST YEAR EVER at school, with nice kids and great colleagues. Shef is exhausting himself in Kindergarten and hates weekends because he loves school so much. Mac can make lots of animal sounds, identify his body parts, sing and dance, and he loves swimming. And of course, Dan works. A lot. All the time.

Did I mention our house is for sale?

Also, I get up every day at 5:15?

And, I look SO OLD? I seem to have no cheeks, but still have cellulite and saddlebags.

Finally, I've been using my neti pot for five days. It's making a difference. I recommend the neti.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Put Your Hands Up

Marathons are a combination of training and luck. My training since school started has been pretty spotty (as in, I've run six times in the last four weeks), and I had a some bad luck in the form of wicked foot and calf cramps beginning at mile 14 and continuing through the end.

Still, I'm so happy to have finished this race! I didn't make my time goal, but I gave it a good shot. I saw a lot of great friends on the sidelines, and three of my best and oldest friends were also in the field. Between the four of us we've now run thirty marathons. Amazing! Only four of those marathons are mine, and I think I'll probably do another one sometime. It's a pretty cool way to spend a morning, after all.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Go Out And Smash It

Tomorrow is my first marathon in seven years. In between that last marathon and this one, I've had two pregnancies, two c-sections, and hundreds of nights of substandard sleep. So, this return to the 26.2 is like a little victory lap for accomplishing all of that. I'm running with my friend Jamie, and we're wearing matching two-tone blue shirts, which is great because I love to match in races.

As a bonus and thanks to gallons of Germ-X, I think I've avoided pre-race sickness despite coming into contact with a kindergartner, a toddler, and hundreds of teenagers each day. Tomorrow at about noon, I expect to become ill. But I don't care. Because I'll probably be a marathon finisher once again. I really hope the t-shirt is cool.

If you want to track me online, you can. Check the TCM Homepage. There should be link. My number is F438. Race starts at 8:00am central time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Up In the Club

As you know, this is the BEST YEAR EVER of my teaching career.

One reason is that, upon the good counsel of my friends Jackie and Rachel, I've adopted a "No Kill" policy on literature.

That means we will absolutely not over-analyze a text until the kids can't wait to be finished with it forever.

I love the policy -- I can't believe it took me so long to articulate it, when in theory I've held it all along -- but sometimes it is hard. For instance, if I think the kids haven't properly appreciated a beautiful passage or perhaps they've inferred the "wrong" theme of a poem.

"Yeah," Rachel sympathized, "You have to relinquish control of the text."

So, there you go.

Also, it's the BEST YEAR EVER because many of us English teachers are interested in learning choreographed dances. Yes! AND we have a colleague who is both an English teacher and a choreographer. Double Yes!

You might think I'm kidding about the dances, but I'm totally not.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Believe It Or Not

Overall, it's been a good start to the school year.

I was a little worried when, on the first day, I asked my first hour to sit in alphabetical order according to first name and one kid said, "Yeah. That's not going to happen."

"Yes it is!!" I cheerled. And sure enough, it did.

And now, I'm cooking lunches for the week. On Sunday! Well ahead of time. I think things are looking a lot like THE BEST YEAR EVER.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Dictionary and a Microphone

So, basically, we're getting slammed.

I can't even believe how much effort everything takes. The other day, when I was approaching the house with a baby on one hip, a laundry basket on the other, a backpack over my shoulder, a five-year-old running ahead; and then I proceeded to drop my keys, I actually said a little prayer:

I'm not asking for easy, I reminded the heavens, I'm just asking for manageable.

I think I'll have to cancel the PR contest for now. I can't even find the piece of paper where I wrote everyone's original picks. Also, last week's episode was deeply unsatisfying. Where is top American fashion designer Michael Kors? Where is NINAGARCIA? And I didn't like that winning suit, either.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Ok, it's been hard to remember all the contests with all the getting ready to sell the house, kids starting school, KC starting teaching and life and the rest.

Plus, as cool and edgy as it seems, it's actually kind of hard to run a contest on a blog.

SO. New idea. Everyone who would like to be in the REAL Top Chef Showdown, please email me at and I will set up a new contest. I'll send a reminder email every week and will keep better track of points.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Will to Live

Well, I'm home from Open House. This was a 14-hour work day, and I now have no voice. Tomorrow will be tough, especially when I try to explain the syllabus to three sections of sophs.

On top of the two kids and two jobs, our house is going on the market tomorrow.

Last night, after I collapsed on the couch at nine o'clock, Dan said of our new schedule, "This will take some getting used to."

"Yeah," I said. "And some meth amphetamine."

Kidding, of course. Totally kidding.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top Chef Showdown - Week 2

Hi all - Dan here with a very quick Top Chef Showdown post. With the short holiday week, I almost forgot about tonight's episode - "Vivre Las Vegas:"
The contestants must tap into their traditional cooking skills when they're asked to show their mastery of French cuisine, and as if that's not stress enough tonight's judges are some of the biggest names in the industry: Daniel Boulud, Hubert Keller, Joel Robuchon and Jean Joho.

Remember to get your picks in. I think there are TWO eliminations tonight - one during the Quickfire Challenge and another during the Elimination Challenge, so make picks for:

(1) Quickfire winner

(2) Quickfire loser

(3) Elimination Challenge winner

(4) Who will pack their knives and go

As always, the honor rule is in force - feel to get your picks in before you watch the show even if it has already aired.

Good luck!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Better Go And Get Your Armor

It starts tomorrow! School!

It's also the first day that both kids and both parents have to be places on time without forgetting important items like clothes or lunch.

This is totally doable, right? RIGHT?

Here's a photo of the boys on Shef's first day of Kindergarten.

Overall, it was a great first day. The night before, I reminded him that I hoped he'd be a good leader.

"I want to do it!" he said. "How do I do it?? Can more than one kid be the leader??"

Let's hope the excitement continues.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Can't Back Out; Can't Back Out

Yesterday, my principal gave out t-shirts that say, "09-10: BEST YEAR EVER!"

So now it's official! All of the teachers will be wearing those shirts on the first day of school, so the kids can get the message loud and clear.

And I also hope you get this message loud and clear: for the PR contest, please post your WINNER GUESS for tonight's challenge. It appears to be a team challenge with all the requisite DRAMA. The designers meet Tim on a beach in the beginning. Then they work with a partner. Rachel Bilson is the guest judge.

Fave quote from the promo comes from Ra'Mon: "Ladies and gentlemen, W-T-F."

I promise to post the scores soon.

And my guess is Louise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hi all,
Dan here with your Top Chef Showdown reminder. Time to get your picks in for the show! Here is this season's arbitrary scoing:
1. Pick one quickfire challenge winner (correct pick gets 2 points)
2. Pick one elimination challenge winner (correct pick gets 4 points)
3. Pick who will pack their knives and go (correct pick gets 3 points)
4. SPECIAL BONUS POINTS: If the cheftestant you pick to pack his or her knives and go is in the bottom three, you get 1.5 points).

The winner of this season's Showdown will (eventually) get a (used) copy of Padma's cookbook: Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet.

Get your picks in for this week's episode - THUNDERBIRDS: The remaining contestants try to serve the 300 pilots and crew from the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron based at Nellis AFB with the same Pride, Precision and Professionalism on deck that the Thunderbirds show in the air. Guest judege: Mark Peel.

As always, we are on the honor system, so as long as you have not watched the show and did not see the results, you can enter your picks. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You're the Meaning in My Life

I tried hard to be a BRIGHT LIGHT yesterday, on my first day back at school. Overall, it was good; but some moments we more difficult than others.

Once, I leaned over to Rachel and Tim and said, "I'm suffering." They looked amused, but not particularly surprised.

"These first couple of days don't really count for your bright light plan," said Tim.

Thank goodness!

A few people said things like, "Oh, HI! I feel like I didn't see you at ALL last year!"

At which point I reminded them that I hadn't worked at the school last year.

But now I'm back! And I'm shining brightly!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

Tonight, Jackie hosted a dinner for the English department. It was lovely, and I shared my goal for the year with several colleagues:

I'm going to be a BRIGHT LIGHT.

They responded favorably.

"I'm going to be a shooting star!" said Elizabeth.

"And I'm going to be the Northern Lights," said Kristin, making a wavy, jazz-handsy kind of motion.

Several others chimed in with their own metaphors.

I'm pretty sure it's indeed going to be THE BEST YEAR EVER! That has been my plan since I decided to return, and last week when my principal's letter arrived, I discovered he'd chosen "The Best Year Ever" as the slogan for the year. I think it's surely a sign. A good one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

minute 20

KC is clearly uncomfortable with this format and with her choice of husband. Please feel free to follow me on twitter, where I will live-twitter this event:

this will be epic.

minute 19

"I need a worker here. I need a worker."

Jennifer = bi-atch

"live" blog

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Pterodactyl in a Gay Jurassic Park

We've waited a year for Season 6 of Project Runway. It's finally here, and I'm so thrilled I feel like I could cry. And the addition of Models of the Runway? I'm so over the moon that I'm pretty sure I could not be happier unless I'd been photographed with several PR designers, including Ra'mon-Lawrence.

Oh, wait! Here I am with Ra'mon! (And Erin!)

So, I'm ecstatic. And, I'm definitely hosting a Runway Challenge. Dan (Co-Champion of Season 3) and I (I think I finished 2nd or 3rd one time) are for sure playing. I hope some other people are going to, too.

In addition, Dan is hosting a Top Chef Challenge. He's going to run it here on this website, which might mean that I have to let him guest post every week. He IS pretty funny, so I think that'll be fine for everyone, especially those who rue the day that Pronto deleted his blog.

So, here's the plan. The Runway Challenge begins THIS WEEK. You have to post your guesses for the next three designers to be auf'ed in the comments. My guesses are Malvin, Mitchell, and Shirin. You can see photos and bios of the designers here.

The Top Chef Challenge, run by Dan, begins next week, when there are 15 chefs remaining. Dan will probably post some kind of reminder, and then we'll have the stats for both competitions in the sidebar.

You probably want to play both challenges, right? I mean, why not?

Monday, August 24, 2009

They Are Becoming Themselves

Mac's new school is a very sweet Montessori, with a small number of children and a relatively large number of teachers. The materials are lovely, the environment is beautiful, and most important, Mac seems pretty happy there after his first five days.

One thing Dan and I especially like are the emails we get from the main teacher:

"Mac enjoyed banana work again today."

"Mac did some posting and pounding work and enjoyed flower arranging."

"We did some outdoor music and enjoyed a walk around the block. He walked most of the way."

"He did some water work and loved the sensory table."

We've taken to calling things "work" at home, too. Like, I'm going to do some painting work. Or, now I'm going to do my before-bed work. It's pretty fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Billy Don't Be a Hero

Today I went to Target, where I tried on some clothes. One item I tried on was a dress that looked cute on the hanger, but sort of flight-attendantish once I had it on.

So, reject!

But when I tried to take the dress off, I realized the whole zipper, which ran up the left side of the dress, was pretty much broken. The seam separated, and the handle part was stuck at the top, just beneath my armpit. Can you picture it? My whole side, including part of my bra and the waistband of my underwear, were exposed. And the zipper would not budge.

I tried for several minutes in the dressing room to remedy this situation, but without success. I finally accepted that I would have to exit my stall and explain the situation to the worker at the desk.

"Hmm," she said, reluctantly leaving her seat. Then she stood for several minutes at my armpit, tugging on the zipper, while I tried to hold the gaping dress together with one hand.

I hoped I had remembered to put on deodorant.

Thinking about it made me sweat.

"Um," said the worker, "would you like to stand farther back in the hallway?"

"Sure," I said, grateful. And then, after another minute or two of sweating and worrying about it, I said, "I just don't think it's going to come off."

She mumbled something and tugged on it a little more and took a break to answer the phone -- "Operator! How can I direct your call!" -- and finally called the manager on the walkie talkie.

When the manager came, she examined the zipper for about thirty seconds, and then took her scissors and cut me out of the dress.


The humiliation continues, though, because later in the evening, we went to an orientation at Mac's new school, and I accidentally walked in on one of his teachers in the bathroom. THANK THE LORD she was already washing her hands.

When that happened, Dan just made a beeline for another room because standing in my vicinity was JUST TOO EMBARRASSING for him. Such is my lot in life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Want Pre-Nup!

Oh, just kidding. We totally don't have one.

What we do have is seven years under our belts.

And while not every moment has been as idyllic or exciting as this one:

Overall, it's still been really, really good.

Happy anniversary, Dan. You're the best.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One More Day Up in the Canyons

The day after I did my not-super-short, but not-really-long triathlon on July 19th, I got really sick with terrible bodyaches and headache and fever. As is true with most young families I know, a relatively little thing like this - a sick mom or a sick kid or a canceled babysitter - throws the delicate balance of LIFE off enough to make everyone in the household miserable and harried.

During the week of illness, I decided that I would not continue training for my half-iron distance triathlon. I was supposed to do it in September, and my training was already bare-bones. Every time I got on my bike, I'd think, "How will I do this for 56 miles? And then run a half marathon?" Never mind the swimming problem, which was that I was not swimming AT ALL.

Giving up the race was a tough decision mostly because I planned to do it with my good friend Sheila, and I knew she signed up for it at least partly because I wanted her to.

But, once I allowed myself to think of letting it go, I felt relieved. No 70-mile race looming on the calendar, just six weeks out.

The worst part about the whole thing was telling Sheila. But of course, she got over her disappointment pretty quickly and is still my stalwart friend and training partner. We'll be running the Twin Cities Marathon together on October 4th, and the training for that is actually going quite well. Sheila did say, however, that she thought my backing out of the Half absolved her of any obligation to do a full Ironman at any point in the future.

That's totally fine, I said. But, I still have a dream of doing one. I think I might treat myself to it for my 35th birthday. The kids will be 5 and 9 by then. I probably won't be waking multiple times each night. And maybe our lives won't be held together by such teeny tiny weak little threads.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Greens of Summers

Here's what happened: On Friday, Dan's parents picked up the boys. Dan went to Chicago, which is the only bad part of this story.

I was alone in my house for the first time in a million years. I went to bed at 10, after watching a stupid romantic comedy. I was all alone in my house.

At 5:45am on Saturday, my eyes popped open and I leaped out of bed to go for a run. I felt terrific and unstoppable. Later, after an important political official listened to my opinions on education for a couple of hours, I drove up to the cabin to see the kids and Dan's parents.

That night at the cabin, Mac slept in the room with his grandparents. I slept pretty much through the night. Again. For the second night in a row. My eyes popped open at 6, and I felt terrific and unstoppable. I read in bed until the others awoke.

This was pretty much the best weekend of my entire life.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cabin Clean-Up Style

Way back in the winter, I promised Shef we'd go camping just the two of us this summer. He'd just discovered I owned a tent and decided we should use it for some other purpose than as a prop in our Peter Pan 2 movie. That movie rocked, by the way. It starred Dan as Captain Hook.

Anyway, Shef and I went camping last night at a state park about an hour from here. It was pretty great - we cooked out, played cards, went on a little hike, and I let the kid have two s'mores.

"I love camping," he said.

And, yeah, I agree. It's really fun.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Taking Him Camping for the First Time on Thursday

Shef seems to have realized in the last month or so that Mac is staying and requires our love and affection.

Frankly, it's taken longer than we thought it would for him to get to this place. We thought he'd have anxiety and display extreme attention-seeking behaviors last summer. But it turns out LAST summer, Mac was just an adorable little lump who came along with us in his little bucket seat and made little baby sounds and didn't really threaten Shef at all.

THIS summer, Mac is a toddler who paces the house, screams for things, bahGAHs, and generally wreaks havoc on all of our lives. And he wants toys and destroys everything and gets lots of attention for being cute.

So, Shef is displaying anxiety and extreme attention-seeking behavior.

Like the other night at dinner with Dan's parents when he told my mother-in-law that the best part of his day was "going commando."

And today, when he asked the baby-sitter to turn on "All the Single Ladies" so he could put on his sunglasses and show her his moves.

Monday, July 20, 2009

He Knows All, But Tells Only Some

Mac has one recognizable word. It's "uh oh," and he looks really cute saying it. Otherwise, he communicates pretty well with grunts and pointing. And also with screaming.

And occasionally, he'll do a drive-by, when he'll say a word clearly and recognizably, but only once. Then he'll laugh maniacally and put his pacifier back in his mouth. He's done it with please and quack and Shef.

And, finally, he says, "babGAH," which is what he says when he wants you to stop bothering him about saying things.

When he wants some food:

"Mac, say 'Please.'"


When we pick Shef up from camp:

"Say, 'Hi, Shef!'"


When we're looking at dogs (which is a lot - the kid loves dogs):

"What does a doggie say?"


He's sort the kind of kid that you can tell will mostly get his way. Probably for the rest of his life.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Only Nasty Thing I Like Is a Nasty Groove

Most nights, I cook delicious and nutritious meals for my family. I usually use fresh, organic produce. I make sure everyone has some protein and some vegetables and some starch. You know, a balanced diet for optimal health.

Believe me, I'm happy to do this, despite the considerable effort it requires. Because I love to enhance the quality of life of those most precious to me.

Tonight though, I was cleaning out the crisper. I decided to try throwing some two-week-old fennel on the grill pan with the main-dish salmon.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it ended up not tasting so great. I think mostly because the fennel was pretty old and because I didn't cook it long enough. Anyway, I advised Dan to leave it on his plate. He tried eating it anyway, and ended up exclaiming at its awfulness and spitting out the bite he'd taken.

"I told you not to eat it," I said, simply.

"Yeah," he said. "I think that was the worst thing I've ever tasted."

"Well," I allowed. "Just don't eat it."

"I guess I really don't like fennel," Dan replied, shaking his head.

"I think you probably DO like fennel," I said. "It's just that you probably like it fresh and crispy and not rotting."

He got up to get himself a fresh glass of water and said, and here's the real foul of the evening, I think you'll agree:

"That might be true, BUT I don't want you to take this as a metaphor for our marriage."

And I think he kept going, but I stopped listening right there. Because O.M.G.

He has likened me to old, flaccid, rotting fennel, ladies and gentlemen.


Some seven-year itch!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Whole World Has to Answer Right Now

I had track again this morning. When Tracy, the leader, sent out the workout via email last night, I could see right away it was going to be a doozie. Four full miles of speedwork! Beginning with all-out 200s! It would be the toughest track session yet, yes it would.

This morning, I figured all of my pertinent paces, and wrote them on a card so I'd remember from set to set.

"The only way I'm going to get through this," I told Dan, "is to stick to these paces and not go out too hard."

"Mmm hmmm," he said, not looking up from his computer.

"It's gonna be tough because those track ladies like to start fast," I said, shaking my head, "but I'm just going to run my own pace." I stood up from the computer. "Even if I have to go it alone." I waved my card in the air to demonstrate my commitment to those numbers. "Those ladies are going to get away from me," I continued, "but they're going to come back to me eventually."

"Mmm hmmm," Dan said.

"It's like I'm going to be the peloton," I declared, "and they're going to be the break-away. Before it's over, I'm just going to swallow them up!"

Dan raised his eyebrows. "I don't think you should tell that to the track ladies," he advised.

Probably a good tip. But, the peloton image did work for me during the intervals. That, and I started talking to myself in the voice of Mary Murphy: "You're going to finish this workout, YES YOU ARE!" "You can do it, YES YOU CAN! HAHAHAHAHA!"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Who's Bending Down to Give Me a Rainbow?

The boys and I went up to Foley for a few days. I was working on a new promotional video for Camp, and the kids were having the full camp experience. Shef did swimming, climbing, archery, crafts, tennis, and fishing. Plus, we went to campfire, had meals in the dining hall, and hung out with tons of super campers and staff.

Lots of things have changed since I was a counselor in the late nineties. For instance:

No cabin inspection!

No Spic 'N Span Award!

No locking of the staff lounge! (Ever! Not even for not cleaning it!)

Graces to the tunes of the Coke jingle and "We Will Rock You"!

And "11:30 Fun Time" is now just "Morning Fun"! And it's at ELEVEN!

That really blew my mind.

Thankfully, lots of things are still the same. For instance, Shef and I joined in with a younger girls cabin for their "WOW."

The counselor was wearing a floor-length, black "ninja dress," and they were on a "secret mission" to the shop to make "secret communication devices," aka jewelery out of bottle caps. Shef thought this was totally awesome, and so did the eleven-year-olds in Cabin Ishtakaba.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Shot Through The Heart!

Sheila and I are training for a half-iron distance triathlon and also Twin Cities Marathon. To that end, she found out this awesome track workout we could do with a group of other women on Monday mornings.

I love it! It's super fun and challenging, and when I'm done, I'm on a high for the rest of the day.

I missed last week, though, and it turns out that last week everyone did a time trial mile to get a baseline for their paces.

I didn't think it was such a big deal that I missed the time trial because I've been running for twenty years (20!), and I generally have a pretty good idea of how in-shape I am at any given time.

So, when the leader, an elite triathlete, called me out on not having done my mile at the beginning of the workout, I said I was willing to forgo it. I really just wanted to do the workout with the group.

"I'll just say my mile is a 6:20," I said.

"What do you mean you'll just SAY that?" she said.

"Well, I think that's what I would run," I said, shrugging.

"Oh!" said another woman. "Okay, I'll just SAY mine is a 4:50!"

"Yeah!" said another. "And I'll just SAY mine is a 5:30! That would be great!"

Hahahahaha. Humph.

So, obviously, I ran the stupid mile. A begrudging 6:17.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Sleep Till!

I'm on a Ride or Pay plan this summer. I either have to ride my bike three times per week, or pay my alma mater ten dollars.

Ten dollars for every week I don't ride three times!

That's pretty motivating, especially since I haven't given any money to my Catholic high school since they violated the conditions of their 501c3 status by distributing anti-abortion propaganda via the cover of their alumnae magazine and funding a trip to Washington D.C. for several students and their dads to march in an anti-abortion rally in 2004.

That really pissed me off.

Recently, though, a nice gal in the class ahead of me sent a handwritten note asking that I please give a little at the end of the school's fiscal year to help them surpass their fundraising goal. I decided to send in what I owed for not riding, which was twenty dollars.

Today, I got a thank-you note with some holy cards inside: Jesus, Mary, and Michael the Archangel. Michael's prayer is a little intense, asking that God cast into hell all the evil spirits who roam the world seeking the ruin of souls.

I'll remember that next time I don't want to ride.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shock! I Got a New Life

I have a brilliant plan to make 2009-10 the best school year EVER.

Here it is: I'm going to figure out how to make it the best school year EVER.

It needs a little flushing out, but that's it in a nutshell.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gotta Get-Get

Well, I think this is the last of the Ugly photos. I realize that at some point, I'll probably have to cut Mac's hair, but I'm not likely to do it that soon.

This morning when I was feeding him breakfast, he refused to eat the little bite sized pieces of things I gave him. He wanted to hold the whole banana and the whole cereal bar.

I think it's yet another sign that toddlerhood is here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All You Beyonces and Lucy Lius: Get on the Floor

On Sunday morning, Lee told me that she'd been forced to google "hip injury sustained while dancing" at 1:00am after we got home from Jessie's spectacular wedding.

It made me think of all the things I've googled at 1:00am, or 3:00, or 5:15 in the last year. I typed "my" into the little google search field on my browser, so I could report the list to Lee. I think I sometimes start with "my" because in those early-morning hours, it seems like I'm the only person in the world with whatever particular problem I'm experiencing.

Anyway, I got this list of desperate queries:

my baby has no schedule
my baby is the worst sleeper in the world
my eleven-month-old will not sleep
my preschooler is exhausted
my preschooler is exhaustion

Then, today I checked just "baby," and sure enough, there were a few more:

baby blood in stool
baby got back lyrics
baby nurses all night
baby proofing cords


baby wakes every 45 minutes

That last one really says it all, I think.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This is My Stank Face

Mac turned one today! We were all excited, and Shef greeted guests at the door saying, "This is a really great party!"

I completely agreed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Always. I Know. You'll Be. At My Show.

This weekend, my good pals Rachel and Jim got married. It was lovely, and I was the personal attendant to the bride, which gave me a backstage look into the whole thing.

Usually when you're P.A., you are the last person the bride sees before she walks down the aisle. It's quite a privilege, and I like to be the person who fluffs the dress and drapes the veil.

All the wedding events were enjoyable, but it also made for a busy weekend. Dan flew to Colorado today (this time, I'm certain of his destination), which compounds things a little bit.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were driving somewhere, Dan and I started talking about how you think you're busy at various times in your life. Like, when I was in high school, I thought I was really busy with homework and activities. In college, too, I felt really busy. When I started my first teaching job, I was busier than ever. Ditto that when Shef was born and My Stupid Master's Degree was in full swing. But now, with Mac here and my business going a bit and both of us trying to exercise moderately, things seem on the verge of out of control most of the time.

"I mean," I said to Dan, "I HOPE that now we're really busy, because.. well, it just can't get much busier than this."

"Oh yeah," Dan said, reassuringly, "I'm pretty sure this is it."

Knock on wood, will you? I'm doing it right now.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

If You Liked It Then

Yesterday was the anniversary of my due date with Mac. Let me just say, I'm SO HAPPY to be sitting here 60 pounds lighter and with no labor on the horizon. That fact makes everything, including the decision we made about me going back to teaching full-time in September, so much more palatable.

When I went to the choir concert at my high school last Thursday in my non-maternity clothing, I noticed several of my former students giving me a once over.

"It's so funny," Rachel said. "They all check to see that you're not still pregnant."

Several also seemed happy to see me, which was pleasant. I had just finished reading in the program that one of my favorites from 07-08 would be performing his own composition in the second act of that night's show and then attending an Ivy League school in the fall, when that same kid spotted me in my seat.

"MS. W!" he said.

I stood up to say hello, and he hugged me (!).

"How ARE you? How are the kids?"

"We're fine," I said. "This concert is my favorite thing," I told him. "I'm looking forward to your number, and I see you're successful and attending Columbia. Congratulations!"

He smiled, and we chatted a bit longer.

When he walked away, Rachel said, "Wow, Kace. That was GENUINE love, there."

I know it! And, although I also know it's delusional, I'm just going to pretend that when I go back to work, all the kids are going to be that nice. And all the interactions are going to be that positive. And I'm going to hang on to that fantasy until I'm forced to give it up.

Probably one minute into the first teacher workshop.

But still. I'm holding on.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Street Lights; People

A few YEARS ago, I tried to explain zone training to Dan. Like how you don't just go out and run as fast as you can every time you run. Instead, you mostly go at a comfortable pace for building endurance and burning fat, and then only sometimes run as hard as you can.

I explained it really well and patiently because I'm a teacher by trade.

Did he listen or internalize this information?

No, he did not.

But when some dude on his sports talk radio station brought up the same concept last week as part of a paid segment for Lifetime Fitness, Dan suddenly became a convert and is now running slowly in his fat-burning zone and using a heartrate monitor.

This same type of thing (where Dan totally disregards whatever I have to say) has just now happened. There's this awesome vocal concert that the kids at my high school do. It's a great show featuring all kinds of music, and, as a former singer in SEVERAL a cappella groups, I KNOW Dan would enjoy it.

But has he attended?

No, he has not. Instead, he's repeatedly made fun of me for liking it.

And then tonight, we watched the new Fox show Glee (awesome!). Dan was riveted during the closing number featuring a small group of high school kids singing a song by Journey while accompanied by other high school kids playing rock instruments. He was so riveted, in fact, that he yelled at me for pausing the show during that number, the number which was an exact example of the type of performance that makes up that stellar concert at my high school that he refuses to attend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Called A Dance Floor, And Here's What It's For

Today I went to see my new internist about the migraines. It was a little off-putting when the receptionist asked me to sit in the smallish waiting room with a woman who was vomiting violently into a trash can.

"Have a seat!" the receptionist smiled, gesturing toward the woman bent over the plastic can.

Really? I felt like saying. And you couldn't get her a room?

But I did take a seat, and I started texting Jessie about the vomit.

"YUCK!" Jessie wrote.


But then, the new doctor was lovely, thorough, and a little quirky. She didn't have too many answers about the migraines ("We need an office visit with the neurologist," she said), but she did have a groovy homemade necklace ("I like jewelry made from keychains.")

I liked that. It was good enough for me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Violins Sing

A couple of days ago, my mom offered to watch both the boys tonight so I could go out with a friend.

Dan is in Austin for work. I thought he was in Chicago, but finally I realized that he was in Austin because he was telling me this evening that it would take him most of a day to fly home. And that he had a layover in Atlanta.

"Aren't you in CHICAGO?" I said.

"No!" he said, incredulously. "I'm in AUSTIN!"

Huh! I was sort of confused when he told me it was 90 degrees when he got off the plane yesterday, so that explains that.

Anyway, I tried to find a friend to go out with tonight, but after a few rejections, I gave up.

So now I'm eating cheese and watching You've Got Mail on Bravo. The cheese is organic, so that's something.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Angel

The little guy is eleven months already. This month, he seems to have grown a bit, and I didn't realize until after I'd dressed him (in an 18-month-size t-shirt!) that orange isn't the greatest color on a red-head. Oh, well.

Big news this week: he can walk in a herky-jerky, feet-wide-out sort of way.

And also, he nods "yes" and shakes "no." He answers questions with "yes":

"Do you want a banana?" "Yes!"
"Should we go outside?" "Yes!"
"Do you want to swing?" "Indeed!"

The "no," on the other hand, signals that he's doing, or about to do, something he shouldn't. Like eating some non-food item off the floor or banging the entertainment center doors into the sides of the tv. This latter behavior is generally wild and violent with primal banging and shaking.

I'm sure it bodes well for future behaviors. Like when he's five and going into Kindergarten. I'm sure there won't be any disobedience then.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It Took a Nip of Gin

We've had (surprise!) kind of a crappy weekend here, but we did manage to get Shef to the birthday party he was scheduled to attend yesterday.

First, I forgot what time the party was to start and consequently had a meltdown in the parking lot of the garden store. But, after we got that out of the way, I determined the time and we were able to shop for plants and get to the party.

Of course, neither Dan nor I took a shower before we left the house. I was wearing the same pants I'd worn for the last three days. Dan was wearing a fifteen-year-old Williams College t-shirt with a hole in the back.

"Geez," he said, after we walked out of the party place. "These parents really dress up for the birthday parties."

It's true that it doesn't take a lot to look okay, but it does seem to take more than we have.

Monday, May 4, 2009

To Pick the Very Best One

Shef's entered a new phase. He repeats all these little expressions. I remember them from when I was in elementary school, and in fact, I can't believe they're still cool.

"Guess what?" he asked me one day after school.

"What?" I said, totally unsuspecting.

"Chicken butt!" he exclaimed.

Oh, super.

He's also been asking Dan and me to turn around and then saying, "May-ga, May-ga, Now you're in the baby book!"

Dan finally figured out that he meant "Made-ya look, Made-ya look."

Of course.

Then this weekend, he yelled out "FEET IN!" as we were playing football at the park. Dan and I obliged, as we figured this would be the start of a cheer. Instead, Shef bent down and touched each of our shoes along with the syllables of, "Some-bo-dy far-ted, that's YOU!"

And then he cackled.

It turns out that was the second phrase of the one that goes, "Skunk's in the barnyard, p.u."

How many years does this last? And how many times will I be embarrassed in public?

Darling Can't You Hear Me, SOS

Yesterday, a student of mine mentioned that he and basically every other soph in my class reads my blog.

"Someone told me about it, and then I told everyone I know," he explained matter-of-factly.

I tried to keep my smile steady, but inside I was mentally flipping through the FIVE YEARS' WORTH of posts on The Savvy Mom, trying to remember exactly what I'd written all those times I was out of my mind with sleep deprivation.

After school today -- after another kid told me that while he's reading the archives in reverse order, OTHER kids are reading from the earliest posts forward -- I panicked and moved the blog to another URL. Then I closed it, so only I can see it.

The truth is this blog has always had a mixed audience of friends, strangers, family, and colleagues; so I've written almost nothing that's objectionable. ALMOST.

Almost because for instance, back before I got hired at the high school I've never named here, I used to use swear words in my posts; as a kid reminded me today.

"I guess you didn't really like writing about Foucouldian theory," he said.

"Yeah," I said, remembering the post I wrote as I desperately tried to finish that paper for my lit theory class on no hours of sleep per night and no hours of babysitting during the day. "I guess not."

So, now I'm starting fresh here until I have time to edit the archive and put Word Savvy back together again.

This is a good plan. Good audience accommodation. Hello, students. I do love you so much.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Six O'Clock Already

April has been one damn thing after another over here. After the sewage, I had another crippling migraine complete with vomiting, confusion, and unbelievable pain.

"Am I going to die?" I asked.

"No," I was assured. "You're not going to die."

Sure enough, I'm still here. But then, guess what? Shef is sick with strep again, and the basement needs a few more go-rounds with bleach.

Thank goodness there are only two more days of this month. I've convinced myself that May is going to be a whole new world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hear the Thunder

This morning, I went down to the basement to do some laundry, but instead what I did was discover an inch or so of standing water with toilet paper floating around in it. And presumably some other stuff in it, too.

First, I called Dan. He said to call the plumber. They said they'd come over in a bit. And then, I called some of my friends so they could feel bad for me about the crap in my basement.

Molly said she felt bad for me, but that she thought that the time she had one single rat in her basement was worse than my basement full of crap.

"I don't think that's true," I said.

"It is," she said.

"Why?" I asked, thinking of the hours I'd have to spend scrubbing shit off the basement floor.

"Because!" she said. "It's a, a...RAT."

I guess, but I still don't agree.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Good Old Days May Not Return

Last week, I registered for the Twin Cities Marathon. I haven't run a marathon in six years, so this will be a true test of my fortitude.

Luckily, I've already begun training - I've got a half-marathon next weekend and a couple of triathlons on the calendar for the summer. And since I've already started training, my feet have already gone from reasonably tolerable to completely nasty.

The other night, Dan and I were sitting on the couch watching Friday Night Lights, the best scripted show on television.

"God," Dan said. "Your feet are SO GROSS."

"Yeah," I said. They are just really disgusting. I've got this thick nail on my left second toe which has started oozing blister fluid. There are some dried up blood blisters on the side of my right foot. The nails on my pinky toes are already starting to go. And, of course, my big toes are huge. Totally disproportionally so.

"Your big toes look like they belong on someone three times your size," Dan said, curling his upper lip. "GOD! They're GROSS!"

What can I say? It's true, and the whole situation is only going to get worse.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Just Love Your Flashy Ways

Mac is 10 months old now!

And, no, it's not your imagination: he's still the same size as he has been for the last four or five months. In fact, in this photo, he's wearing the exact same outfit he wore for his four-month shot. Granted, he has gained about three pounds since then.

That doesn't seem like a whole lot to me, but the kid appears completely healthy. He babbles all the time, does a few tricks when he feels like it, takes single steps if it strikes his fancy, and eats all kinds of things.

Here he is with some prunes in his hair:

I'm sorry, but not just every kid can look that cute with prunes in his hair.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Want to Be the One Who Walks in the Sun

Wow, it's been a terrible week.

After all the strep, I got a wicked three-day migraine plus a ruptured ovarian cyst. Both of these caused a lot of pain.

Today, the painkillers seem to be working appropriately, and I'm no longer so sensitive to light that I cover my eyes when sitting near a window.

This weekend is supposed to be beautiful, weather wise, and I'm thinking that if I'm still well, it's likely I'll be in an excellent mood. I might *MIGHT* even participate in my family's egg roll and egg hunt, but that sort of depends on how I'm feeling at the exact moment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Baby, He Don't Talk Sweet

It was a terrible weekend at our house.

For one thing, on Friday morning my mom came over to babysit while I rode my bike in the basement for 30 minutes. Afterward my legs ached all day and I developed a sore throat.

Hmmm. I thought.

Then, on Friday night, I wasn't sleeping. The sore throat was raging.

Darn it! I thought.

On Saturday morning, I looked in there with a flashlight and saw some white spots.


Later, I took myself to the Target Clinic to get a test, and sure enough, it was strep.

Then, I made Shef get a test because even though he has no symptoms, that strep had to come from somewhere. He cried and refused to open his mouth, but finally they got the swab in there.

Positive! I knew it.

On Sunday night, I got some kind of massive stomach attack. I popped a Zantac and lay on the bathroom floor in the fetal position. It subsided eventually.

Meanwhile, Mac was all out of sorts. Crying in the night for long periods of time, even when we held and bounced him. He seems to have developed conjunctivitis. And I'm betting on an ear infection. We'll see the doc in 45 minutes.

It's no wonder the house is a mess.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mama Said Knock You Out

Sheila and I signed our preschool boys up for this little gymnastics class at the Y.

I'm always calling it the "little gymnastics class" because it's really pretty stupid. The kids don't seem to learn anything. The teacher has been absent three of eight classes. She rescheduled the last one because she was going to Mexico, which she told me seven or ten times. She also doesn't seem to have any knowledge of gymnastics or experience in teaching it. I mean, as far as I can tell.

For the last class, the kids did a "performance." I'm not going to lie: Sheila and I just laughed through the whole thing. The kids were trying hard, but I'm pretty sure they would have done just as well on the first night as on the last.

At the end, everybody got certificates with gymnastic lady clipart on them.

I watched the teacher rifle through the stack. I could see that there was no Shef certificate in the bunch.

"Shef!" she called out. "What's your real name again?"

"Thomas," he told her.

"Ok," she said, looking at each certificate again.

I could see that there were no certificates that said Thomas.

"We're going to have to change this one," she told me, pulling out a certificate that said Ian, "because he doesn't go by his first name."

"Okay," I said, laughing a little.

She came back in a few minutes with SHEF written in big sharpie bubble letters over the Ian.

I laughed some more, but Shef didn't seem to mind at all.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just a Man and His Will to Survive

On his birthday, Dan and I gave Shef the good news we'd purchased a Wii plus Guitar Hero in celebration of our big birthday week.

The kid was thrilled and couldn't wait to play it when we got home from vacation.

Dan and I totally capitalized on this anticipation, and for three days in Vail, I told Shef I was going to "beat the pants off of him" in Guitar Hero.

Naturally, he thought that expression was hilarious, but in retrospect it was probably a mistake to break it out:

"I'm going to beat your butt off as soon as we get home, Mom," he said as we walked into the airport.

That was slightly embarrassing, but not as much as many of the other things that kid has said in public.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jiggity Jog

We'll be headed back to Minnesota in a couple of hours. We had a terrific vacation in Vail with Dan's family. Dan and I especially enjoyed saying, "schuss-booming."

"Shall we schuss?"

"I do love to schuss-boom."

"That was some very impressive schuss-booming."

"Schussing through powder is especially invigorating!"

You get the idea.

Shef is now officially five, I'm now 31, and Dan will be 35 tomorrow. I do feel a bit older this year, to tell the truth. I suspect it has something to do with my ongoing experiment with sleep deprivation. I think and hope that when I do start sleeping through the night, say in about four (three-and-a-half?) more years, I will suddenly become a towering genius with limitless intellectual prowess.

I can't wait until that happens.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Little Bit Is Never Enough

Shef's in a knock-knock joke phase. Dan worked with him on this one for 30 minutes the other morning:

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting Cow

As you can imagine, hilarity ensues EVERY TIME!

So, last night at dinner, we pulled out a book of knock-knocks I think I purchased at a book fair one time. Neither Dan nor I felt the tome lived up to it's title, The Best Knock-Knock Book Ever.

Like, this one is in the book:

Who's there?
Tobias who?
Tobias you need a lot of money.

What? To buy ass? And this is for KIDS?

And similarly:

Rubber who?
Rubber the wrong way and she'll smack you.

Innuendo AND violence?!

Anyway, because the jokes were so bad and because I'm generally sleep deprived, I was weak from laughing by the end of the meal. I couldn't even decipher the text. For example, I told this joke:

Nestor who?
Nestor lives in my neighborhood.

"That doesn't even make sense!" I said, snorting.

"Are you sure you read it right?" asked Dan, grabbing for the book.

It turns out I hadn't read it right. I was, "Nestor lives my neighbor." But that's still not very funny.