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.