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!