Friday, December 31, 2010

Post the Last!!

This has been an excellent blogging challenge for sure.

For my last post, I really really wanted to experiment with Google Voice. Did you know that you can get a Google phone number that will ring to your home number, as well as your celly?

Also, on Google Voice you can record your calls, among other things. I thought it would be awesome if Lee called in and we podcasted together across the miles. However, things are busy and we couldn't make that work. As a back-up, I asked Rachel to call me at some point, any point, during the day. But, that didn't work out for some reason. Probably related to Mario and his video games.

So then, as a last ditch effort, I made Dan go in another room and call my Google Voice number. He did, thank the lord. And here's the call I recorded. The possibilities for this thing are endless, I feel. In addition to embedding it like this, you can also download an MP3 file and edit it in a podcasting software like Garage Band. You can also do conference calls and send text messages to your email. And it's free! I'll be using this in 2011 for sure.

Happy New Year, Everyone! This next year will be a fun adventure.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year In Review - The Penultimate New Media Post

Lee had an awesome video on her blog that was a year of blogging in review. I instantly loved it and decided to make one myself. Since my blog is more text and not as many (zero) amazing photos, my vid is not quite as fascinating. Oh well.

This was my first time doing a voiceover on iMovie, and I was surprised about how hard it was. It was my first time also using an iMovie theme. I'm indifferent about the theme, actually.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking Things Up a Notch

Dan pointed out last night that I hadn't really tried hard enough to become a style blogger for Ann Taylor LOFT.

"You haven't even emailed the company," he pointed out.

That's so true.

So, this morning I wrote an email and sent it to Public Relations/Media Inquiries people at LOFT. After I drafted and edited the whole thing, I realized I'd have to cut it to 1000 characters.

This is probably good because, as any fashion blogger will tell you, less is more. Unless less means no boots, scarves, necklaces, skirts or dresses. Or make up. Or actual sense of style. Anyway.

Here's what I sent:

I’m a 32 year-old working mother of two. My day job is teaching English at a suburban high school. I love coffee, minivans, Guitar Hero, and LOFT. I always imagined that I’d magically become more fashionable and put-together as I got older. However, for those of us who are more challenged by style, it takes a conscious effort. For me, that effort has been absolutely inspired by LOFT.

I’m interested in writing some LOFT-sponsored posts, wherein I’d wear LOFT pieces and write about them.

My blog, Word Savvy (, has consistently growing traffic. I participate in cooperative blogging challenges that increase traffic and interactivity. My writing is funny, open, self-aware, and sometimes flip.

Here are some representative posts I’ve written about style challenges:

From before my LOFT days:,

And here are some posts that include the word “fashion”:

Let me know what you think! Thanks!

So far, I've just gotten a response from a robot saying that they'd research my inquiry and get back to me within 3 to 5 business days. I think we can agree that this is truly an interesting experiment in new media communication.

You'll notice I didn't reveal to LOFT that Dan is actually a funnier writer than I am. But then again, he won't be modeling spring pieces on Pronto Pup.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Here's Pummel Part 2

I deleted a bunch of my photos, so I wouldn't deprive anyone of the rest of the sporting themed pictures. This now counts as a post, and I think that means I'm three away from finishing this great challenge!

June 5! Marathon! Minneapolis! Mary!

A Big Announcement

I've decided something: I'm pretty sure I am ready to commit to running a marathon in 2011. So this is my announcement: my sister Mary and I will be running Minneapolis Marathon on June 5, 2011.

In honor of this announcement, I've created a Pummelvision with a sports theme. I chose pix related to sporting events from my iPhoto library. (YES, labor and delivery counts as a serious sporting event, but don't worry - I didn't allow action shots). I chose 381 photos, but with my free Flickr account, I was only allowed 200. Oh well.

Mary wants to run a sub-4 marathon. This will be a tall order. My first marathon in 2001 was a 4:03, and since then I've run as fast as 3:40 and as slow(er) as 4:57. I'm proud of them all.

BUT, because Mary wants to go sub-4, I'm pledging to train a bit harder. 3-4 times per week instead of 2-3. We'll see if this makes a difference.

The Biggest Present of All Time

Shef really, really wanted a hand-held gaming thing for Christmas. We have so much media in this house that we weren't going to get it.

But, then we did.

I'm glad about it, to tell you the truth.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Status Update

So far, it's my calmest happiest adult Christmas ever.

I'm very cheerful, and I'm currently in between parties. I'm organizing a bit right now and sipping a Diet Coke.

I hope all of my internet friends are also having a wonderful holiday, if they celebrate.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Sadly, This Video Reminds Me of Some People

I saw this video embedded on Scott McLeod's blog, and I really liked it. Probably because I've heard a lot of these comments in the last year in response to some really good ideas: ideas about making our school about equitable opportunities for black and brown kids, ideas about technology integration, and ideas about the nature of school itself.

My Anti-Creativity Checklist from Youngme Moon on Vimeo.

Let's keep fighting the good fight, peeps! I think it might be worth it. Someday. Perhaps. Maybe in an alternate universe.

Well, really what's the alternative? Great education for the rich white kids and that's it?

Merry Christmas Eve!

Not only is it Christmas Eve, but it's also my mom's birthday! Usually, this has been kind of an issue for my mom (and everyone else I know who has a Christmas birthday) because their birthdays get swallowed up by the big HUGE holiday.

This year, my mom is really happy because she has a great new boyfriend, Chuck! She hasn't been stressed about her birthday at all. That makes me very happy for her! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is Tumblr Awesome?

I've gotten kind of fixated on Tumblr. Is it cool? If so, why is it cool? Would I like Tumblr better than Blogger?

I can't explain why I've become so obsessed with this issue. Or, why in other times and places I've become obsessed with cloth diaper sites, types and specs of bicycles, pro triathlete blogs, Tim Gunn, or Ann Taylor LOFT. Except in the case of the latter topic, of course I'm obsessed with LOFT because it's the awesomest retail store I've ever known.

Anyway, I decided to experiment with Tumblr. After I made one really fast (click HERE to see my one post and my About page!) I realized some cool things are you can upload things really fast and easily. Things like MP3 files, which Blogger does not support.

Who knows if this will go anywhere, but maybe now I can stop thinking about Tumblr for a few hours at a time.

Vacation Status Report

Basically I've been acting like Mother of the Year. Trips to the ski hill and the indoor play area, building a ginger bread house with all types of candy known to humankind, staying up late to watch movies and cuddle on the couch.

Someday soon, I'm going to have to start working a little bit. But probably not today, and probably not tomorrow or Saturday or Sunday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It Turns Out LOFT Has a Great Blogger Already

So, I did a little research, and I found a style blogger who is already sponsored by LOFT.

Here's Jessica. Today she posted a picture of all of her outfits from June 2010:

I'm really impressed by this, obviously. I don't think I really even got dressed in June. I mean after school got out.

After I learned about style blogging, I spent a few hours looking at Jessica's site, What I Wore. I think it's really inspirational! I even feel like I could pull off some of Jessica's outfits. And I learned about some other stores that sponsor Jessica. She's really awesome, I think.

So, I added Jessica's blog, What I Wore, to my reader.

Obviously, I would be more of a "make over" project for LOFT. Mid-thirties mom of two, double c-section, full-time teacher who fantasizes about Botox and minivans.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Club Can't Even Handle Me Right Now

Mary and I went to Zumba this morning. Our teacher was Leslie. We picked her class because she had an awesome video on YouTube featuring her and her crew dancing on the Stone Arch Bridge here in Minneapolis. You can see the original video here.

For this challenge post, I first danced along with the YouTube vid in front of my webcam. Then, I uploaded and downloaded the original video using Zamzar. You're probably not going to believe this, but I did the absolute best I could during the dancing. Then, in a probably spectacularly stupid move, I edited my own dancing into Leslie's original video.

OMG. Challenge participants, this is called: LAYING THE SMACK DOWN.

p.s. in this video, I'm wearing a LOFT sweater and LOFT jeans. Nice!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hey, Ann Taylor LOFT! I Will Blog For Clothes!

I was thinking it would be great to get sponsored by Ann Taylor LOFT. My plan is that LOFT can give me several new outfits every season. Then, I'll wear them and post photos on my blog.

Right now, I'm using new media to get sponsored by the LOFT.

I would be an excellent blogger for Ann Taylor LOFT for many reasons:

First, I already wear lots of stuff from LOFT. I like the clothes, they fit me well, and they're perfect for my teaching job. When I wear LOFT, I feel put-together and professional. Thanks to LOFT, I've been able to limit jeans-wearing to Fridays.

Second, it says on their website that LOFT loves teachers. As we know, I AM a teacher!

Third, I'm open about my need for fashion help. Style does not come naturally to me, so I make goals and publicize them. My next goal is accessories and skirts, dresses, and boots. I don't have a skinny jeans goal, but if LOFT wanted me to demo a pair, I'd do it. All in the name of fashion adventure by LOFT.

For the next few days, I'm launching a campaign to become a LOFT spokesblogger. You can see my LOFT items of the day in the sidebar. Probably LOFT people could think of ways to make me look cuter. I'm open to all of their suggestions.

Will this work? Dan says probably not. He says my goal should just be to get an email back from LOFT people. That's a good goal, but I'm aiming higher. Obvi.

Winter Break Begins

This is the first day of Winter Vacation. I'm celebrating by posting this podcast, which features my all-time favorite Christmas song.

I tried to upload the podcast to YouTube, but it wouldn't work for some reason. So I published it here.

I hope you enjoy the podcast!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I have an idea for a podcast that I'll record later, I hope, depending on when Mac falls asleep, but right this moment I'm announcing something amazing:

I have returned my archive to this URL!

As you may recall, last spring students started reading my blog en masse. I had to move the archive, lock it down, and delete every F-word I'd ever written, except the ones in quotes. (Of course those are mostly from Shef.)

This painstaking editing process was an excellent lesson in the pitfalls of new media self-publishing.


So finally, after months and months and editing the over 700 posts I'd written since 2005, the blog is all back together!

And thank God! Because, how else would we be able to re-read all the week-of December 16th posts I've ever written? Like this one from 2009, wherein I detail the results of my evaluation surveys. Or this one from 2008 when Mac was 6 months old. In 2007, I had only gained 9 of the 60 pounds I would eventually put on in pregnancy with Mac. I was desperate for winter break in 2006. In 2005, I documented a conversation between Shef and me that has become a FAMILY STORY, one that's sure to survive until the kid is an adult. He was 1.75 years old.

I'm so happy the blog is back together again. It was like a piece of my heritage had been taken from me when it was gone.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just a Blog Post

Shef came running into our bedroom the other day, shaking Dan awake.

"I have a loose tooth!" he whispered urgently.

He's six-and-three-quarters, and he's been waiting intently for this moment.

Seconds later, he burst through the bathroom door to give me the news. I took a break from brushing my teeth to hug him in celebration.

Later at breakfast, I asked him to show me the wiggle. "Here," I said, reaching my index finger toward his lips. "Let me feel."

"MOM," he scolded, stepping back. "I don't want you sticking your finger in my mouth."

I guess that's fair. He blogged about The Wiggle here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

John Proctor Jam!

I haven't left the house in 29 hours, but the streets are now kind of plowed, I think.

Have I been productive during this time? Not really. We did make a music video to a song from High School Musical that you can see on Shef's blog.

I also made pound cake from a mix and ate a bag of microwave popcorn that made our kitchen smell disgusting.

Finally, I remembered this cool video that some of my juniors made that you should probably see. They wrote and played the song and then Windows Movie Makered it up.

Click HERE to view.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Party Like It's 1991

When I was a ninth grader, we had a crazy huge snow storm that stranded me at my friend Buffy's house for two days. It started on Halloween night, and the snow just kept on coming, all the way up to 28 inches. The stir-craziness at Buffy's peaked when her dad took her grandmother's tiny dog (Grandma was also snowed in with the family), and chucked it straight out the back door. The little white dog plummeted out of sight and barked from beneath the snow blanket until older-brother Charlie rescued it, which he did pretty hastily, as I recall.

The newspeople say we might top out at 20 inches of snow today, which is the next biggest snowfall after that 1991 extravaganza.

The combination of the snow and the Sadie's chaperoning last night (40 forgotten IDs, 3 too-small shirts, 2 missing straps, and a breathalizer blown for the po-lice!) made me extremely sleepy, so I napped with Mac for 2 hours. Dan took a picture of us when we woke up. It's just kind of a snoozy day around here.

Gotta Be From Outta Town

Mary had one of these great Flicks on her blog, so I made one too.

I'm not a good photographer, but it was fun to take pix of the kids. Even the seniors seemed to feel like the photo session was novel.

Obviously, my classroom needs a makeover. I already blogged about that, tho. Remember, I made a glog?!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

With a Cheez-It on His Tongue

We're going for cuteness today. Cuteness and hat hair and the first time he's been cognizant of the webcam.

Oh, Mac. How can you be so adorable??

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

I used to be the biggest Bah Humbug known to humankind. However, in recent years, I've really stepped up my Christmas Cheer.

This year, I documented our tree decoration in a stop-motion video, so you can see my cheer for yourselves.

After I posted the video, I realized I should have added cheery Christmas music. Oh well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saying A-Oh

My mom took this picture of the boys and then sent it to my email from her phone:

They're sitting at her kitchen table because I bet you didn't know this: Just about 90% of the Friday nights of this school year, my mom has invited the kids to sleep over at her house and then has kept them until lunch time on Saturday.

Can you even believe that?

It's true! And she hardly even complains at all about how they sleep perpendicularly in her bed that she also sleeps in.

When I tell my colleagues who also have young children about the sleepovers, they often look at me with jealousy and hate in their eyes.

But I can't really help it that my mom rocks. Whose fault is that? It's just not really my fault.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Media Day

I teach with new media every day, since I teach all blended classes and a class called Mass Media.

Today, we worked with Google forms to evaluate multimedia projects the kids made. Some of the kids had problems publishing their pieces, so here are some things I did:

- learned how to insert a page jump on blogger

- uploaded an iMovie to YouTube and embedded it on the Am Lit class blog

- embedded three VuVox collages on the Mass Media blog

- created a mixdown of an Aviary podcast and embedded it on the blog

- uploaded an MP3 file to my edublog as a podcast entry, and linked it to the class blog

And then for other purposes, I did a few more things:

- encouraged kids to use their smart phones to complete a recording assignment

- edited a Prezi to use in a grant presentation I'm helping with tomorrow. It's not my grant, but I still hope the guy who proposed it gets it.

- used Jing to grab screenshots of kids reflections on my class.

- recorded and uploaded quick YouTube webcam vids into that Prezi.

And a few other things. Basically, new media is my entire life these days. It's a good life, but seriously. It's a lot of media.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Hmmm. Today, I tried to use the Aviary image editor to comment on how much I love the miniature van.

My Van.egg  on AviaryMy Van.egg on Aviary.

This didn't work out so well. The tool was really hard for me to use, which might be because I didn't watch the tutorial. I ended up thinking I should have just made a Glog about this.

I'm glad I tried it because I planned to have my students use this to make in-line-type comments on print advertisements, but then I realized they should really use Glogster for that. Way easier.

Okay. Good talk. Boring blog, but good talk.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dream Classroom

My teaching has changed so much in the last couple of years that not even my physical space makes much sense anymore.

I loved the other glogs that have been shared in this challenge, so I decided to make a glog about my dream classroom.

If I get the grant I'm applying for from the parent council, I'll only have $500 to start with. What do you think I should do with it?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm Still Working on iMovie

There were a few more fixes I wanted to do on this video, but the blogging challenge is short and there are a lot of posting requirements:

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Mass Media Kids are Making These This Weekend

Here's a VuVox I made with great pix from 2010. This is a fun tool. I think I could get much better at it with practice. I bet Lee would be great at it because she is very good at photography and design.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rock This Club

Because I'm totally bringing it to this new media challenge, I figured out how to make a one-take lip dub.

Shef was the creative director of this video. Before we started rehearsal, he sketched out his vision:

Then we rehearsed and choreographed. My lovely sister helped with that part and really plays a pivotal role in the narrative, I'll think you agree.

Mac sometimes played and sometimes didn't. In the end, he only agreed to appear in the first shot. What a diva.

Anyway. Here it is:

Monday, November 22, 2010

2010 Blogging Challenge

As Lee mentioned, a new blogging challenge is afoot.


Is that even the right usage of afoot? I have no idea because I had 57 parent-teacher conferences today. In all of them, I had to answer hard questions and basically lay out my teaching philosophy in 90 seconds or less. Here it is, parents: Digital media=good. Disengagement=bad.

Anyway, I've decided to write some rules for the challenge right here right now. I'm not really flexible on these rules, I don't think. Unless someone has a serious complaint. Let me know, and I'll consider it, but I'm not making any promises. As Dan likes to say, there's a difference between being bossy and being the boss. So.

We're supposed to try to come together to create, consume, and explore media and become a culture of people who do that and help each other. So here's what you need to do:

1. Create media 5 times per week. A blog entry counts as media, thank the lord. But, it's even cooler if you have other media embedded or linked.

2. Comment on other people's media creations every time they make them. We need strong support for our creations and a solid social connection!

3. Post 30 times between now and January 1. The idea is to do 5 days per week, but you can flex a little bit if necessary. That seems reasonable and fits with my teaching philosophy.

Let's do it. Here we go. If you're playing, comment and I'll link you in the sidebar.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Princess Plates

I'm back in the Heartland after the days in Disney.

I didn't know this, but Disney is really kind of a messed up place with lots of slow shuttle buses and bad food. When Lee and I got to the Japanese restaurant for our reservation, Judy wasn't there yet. She was picking up something at a store outside.

"But is she in Japan?" two different Epcot employees asked.

"Um, yeah. She's in Japan," we said.

Then later, we accidentally took a monorail in the wrong direction and went to some parking lot in the middle of nowhere.

But, it was great to see my pals, hear some talks, and tell a few people about the podcasting project.

More people are going to have to listen to me talk about the podcasters. I'll probably never stop talking about them ever again for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pretending it's Friday

I'm done at school for the week and headed to the National Council of Teachers of English convention in Orlando. This is going to be fantastic, and not only because it's the first time (except for that dumb run-around-the-clock relay race) that I've been away from home in a year.

Also, on Sunday when Dan picks me up from the airport, he'll be picking me up in our new minivan.

Yes, my life's dream has finally come true!

It's an eight-passenger, grey, svelte Sienna. And my first week driving it will probably be the best week of my life, except for maybe the week of and after my wedding. I would say the weeks that my kids were born were great too, except they so totally weren't. Remember the 30-hour long labor and then c-section? And then the next 12-hour labor and then c-section? Because I DO.


Orlando, here I come! And when it's over, there will probably be a new blogging challenge. Bring it, Lee! Bring it, Jessie! Bring it, Gina! Bring it, Mary! Bring it, Pronto! Bring it, Dobby! I'm so planning to win this year.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We're Getting Played

I went to Mac's school conferences today.

His teachers told me that he's 100% potty trained at school, that he goes to sleep immediately for his nap, that he's ready to transition to the big kids' classroom upstairs, and that he listens to all directions pretty much all the time.

Last week at our house, he stuck a crafting googly eye up his nose and we had a few tense moments where I thought I might miss dinner with Renee before he finally blew it out into a kleenex.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that there are some discrepancies between the behaviors they're seeing at school and the reality I'm living here at home.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Copy Cats

I have been working for most of the day. First, I worked on the NCTE talk that I'm giving with Lee. It's really hard, and I don't even know if I'm doing a good job.

Then, I worked on Mass Media, which kind of makes me feel depressed because the kids don't work very hard in that class; and I feel like it might be my fault.

Finally, I paid some bills.

Then, I checked Lee's blog and she had a great 4-picture photo thingy. So, I did one of those with Shef, too. It took us about 10 takes to do this photo, so I hope everyone appreciates that.

Our concept was smile-frown-surprise-nothing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Miss Zumba This Week

Lee says she's not blogging until we're done with our NCTE talk, but I feel like blogging for me might open the floodgates of productivity. But I hope it opens them for tomorrow because tonight it's really close to my bedtime.

I was pretty productive today, getting grades entered and discussing them with the juniors. Most of the juniors were happy with their progress, so that was positive. Some of the seniors should be more concerned about theirs, but what can you do? Apparently, I signed up to teach the biggest slacker class at our school. It's a class where you feel like you can refuse to log into your computer for the entire period or just draw little cartoon people and giggle about it.

I don't know what to do about these problem behaviors, to tell you the truth. The students are eighteen years old.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Just Have to Wait

When I was about out the door this morning I encountered our babysitter Claire carrying nearly-naked Mac over her shoulder.

"He ran away from me!" she explained, cheerfully.

"Oh, he's been doing that to me constantly," I told her. "He does it in the grocery store, in Target. Running and cackling."

"Really?" said Claire.

"Yes!" I said. "I have to chase him!"

"Yeah," Shef added, "and a lot of people laugh at you."

So true.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

When You Fall Get Up

A while back during the A to Z blogging challenge, I said Mary and I were going to try Zumba. Ditch the workout, the Zumba website says, and join the party!

"Wait," said Rachel. "Is that like the Shakira dancing workout?"

"Yes!" I said.

"Mary's actually going to be good at that, and you're really NOT," she said.

I mean, how did she even know that?!

Anyway, at the first Zumba workout we tried, it didn't really matter that I couldn't shake it like Shakira because our teacher Mickey couldn't really either. He was a cool guy with shoulder-length hair and a thick mustache. We did some butt-waggling, but not a lot of choreography.

After each song, I looked to Mary for validation. "See?" I said. "I did that pretty well."

The next week, we decided to try a different teacher, who would maybe be a little dance-ier. Sure enough, I could tell I would have a much harder time from the very first song where complicated hip shaking and ball-changing was required. In fact, the only way I could even begin to follow Megan's routines ("Now diva walk!" "Now salsa!") was to stare directly at her ass for the entire hour.

I didn't realize I was doing it until halfway through, but I totally was. That's just how I Zumba.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Guess What?

I'm so totally going to be blogging again!

It's that magic time of year called MEA BREAK, when all teachers across Minnesota sort of kind of get their lives back after the first frantic weeks of school.

Here are some highlights of the first weeks:

First, I've really been dressing better, thanks to my favorite store Ann Taylor LOFT. I have not, however, been accessorizing; so I'm really only 1 for 2 on my back-to-school fashion goals.

Second, we had a chemical spill at school and had an unexpected day off, on which I cleaned my closet and went to lunch with my sister, who's still home from Senegal thank the Lord.

Third, I'm teaching unmotivated seniors in an elective, which is a new adventure. Some of these seniors display a shocking level of laziness. Seniors, it's only October! The slide doesn't start until March! Also this class is about YouTube, for frick's sake!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Like It's Dyn-o-mite

After my in-laws left for France last week, we decided to throw the hammer down on Mac in terms of his horrendous night-time behavior.

On the first night of the new regime, we put one of those baby-proofing door handles on his door, explained to him that he couldn't come out, and left him in his room with the door shut. The screaming lasted for an hour or so until he ripped the plastic door handle in half and threw it over his gate. Then there was some more screaming, and then a couple of hours later I somehow I ended up right next to him in the toddler bed for the whole flipping duration.

So. Fail.

The next two nights, I told him I'd sit outside his gate while he fell asleep. That worked pretty well. I even moved out of his line of sight and just called out to him when I saw his little shadow approaching his doorframe.

"Mac!" I said. "I'm right here, now go to bed." I was caring, yet firm.

For the overnight wakings, I stumbled out of bed and plopped myself on the ground outside his room. This morning we both woke up on the floor, on either side of gate. His little fingers were reaching out toward me from beneath it.

Tonight, after bedtime, I sat for awhile outside the gate and then I went downstairs and did the dishes! I felt really smug about this development until I came up and saw that Mac had systematically emptied his dresser and flung it over the gate. Here's a video of the pile of debris with a swim diaper making it's way onto the heap.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day of Rest

In a few minutes, I'll be heading to work to: a) spend two hours working on the NCTE talk I'm giving with Lee, and b) figure out next week.

Luckily, this will be easier than last week when I was making the calendars for the units and coming up with all kinds of ideas. Now, I just need to execute the ideas. One problem I've encountered, however, is that no one really seems to know why a YouTube video goes viral.

"I don't think there's a reason, Kace!" Rachel said forcefully. "It's just stupid America!"

I feel like there have to be some categories of things that make us so stupid. For instance, we love public humiliation.

I myself humiliated one kid this week. It was unavoidable.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Will Hurt You!!

Mac goes to a really lovely, really hippie Montessori school where light and happiness flow freely. The kids work with wooden toys, toddle around in cloth underpants, and practice yoga on little mats.

We also get updates from school via email. Most of the time, the updates are like this: "Mac enjoyed pouring work and gardening work. He also manipulated small objects that start with S and partook in an organic snack of sprouted bagels and cream cheese. Best wishes!"

Last week, we got two emails that were not like this. The first one was about how Mac was taking bites out of the fruit in the community fruit bowl and also stealing other kids' snacks at snack time. Were we feeding him at home? the teacher wanted to know.

"Mac, did you take other kids snacks?" I asked.

"Can't I have more snack?" he said.

The next day, we got this email: "We had an incident today in which Mac backed another child into a corner and was using his spreading knife to poke her in the chest. Immediately following this incident, he did not respond affirmatively to our safety discussion."

Would we please discuss with Mac the importance of using utensils only for their intended purpose?

Can you imagine? Mac?!

I responded affirmatively to the email by laughing my head off.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Status Report

Illnesses Experienced by Members of Our Family Since September 1st:
chest cold, viral sore throat, strep throat, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infection, stomach bug, warts, migraine and acute anxiety (obviously)

Number of illnesses Experienced by Dan

Classroom Activities Thwarted by Network and Computer Problems since September 7th:
Watching a video from the Frontline website, using Wallwisher and TodaysMeet for backchanneling, collaborating on a Google document, watching a screencast posted on Moodle, using Aviary to record audio, viewing completed Prezis, using school gmail addresses to sign up for Prezi accounts (school gmail blocked by proxy!), commenting in a Moodle forum, and signing into computers wirelessly for any purpose.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Meta, I Guess

This blog has been so lame of late. I can't help it, and I'm not promising any improvement.

However, awhile ago, Gina tagged me in her 8 Questions post. So, now I'm going to answer those questions. It will probably be boring, and you can totally skim.

Also, I noticed after I typed up all these answers that Gina actually asked me different questions. Oh well. What can I say? I only teach careful reading some of the time.

1. What are your top 2 cities in the world?

This is kind of embarrassing because I'm totally not a big traveler compared to basically everyone else in my family. Still, my cities can really represent:

I'm going with Paris first. Dan and I went on the whirldestwind tour ever in 2006. We were there for three days. Basically we sprinted through and glanced at famous landmarks and priceless works of art. We'll have to go back, obvi.

Edinburgh is second. My mom took me there on a trip in 2002. Castles, pubs, graveyards, and a freaky poltergeist tour. It was awesome.

Are you doing what you love or doing what you have to do?

I'm doing what I love! And I'm working way too hard.

3. Coffee or tea?

Coffee, of course. I'm a high school English teacher. Didn't your teacher stand around with a mug in her/his hand? That's just what we do. And, in my case, regularly dribble it down my shirt or soak my desk.

4. Describe the moment in your life when you felt the most loved.

Oh, I can't do that. I am really lucky because I have an amazing family and wonderful friends, and so I feel loved every moment pretty much.

5. Who do you think has had the single biggest impact on your life?

Gina! These questions are so flipping hard!

6. What song lyrics say exactly what you're feeling right now?

I'm not really a music person. "Don't stop believin'"? "We're gonna make it after all"? I have no idea, really. Something about Keep Truckin'.

7. Pro sports or college ball?

I tried really hard to love football when I first met Dan. He loved it so much, I felt that I should too. I read a book about the rules, I learned expressions to say during different parts of the game ("I hate it when my quarterback gets sacked!"), and sure enough, I started to love the Vikings.

But guess what? Loving the Vikings is a totally stupid thing to do. The Vikings know how to break your heart into a million pieces. The Vikings will always let you down. The Vikings will never, ever love you back.

8. What book do you really, really want to see made into a movie?

Secret of early motherhood: You don't really go to movies anymore. It costs a lot to go to a movie, and then on top of that you have to pay the sitter. Also, you don't really have time to read books.


But, here a benefit of just having the children and then letting them get older: mine will be all grown up by the time I'm 48. Then, they'll have to leave the house and I'm going to go to a million movies all the time.

Dan and Lee, you were also tagged, I hope you know, on Gina's post. I suggest you answer the second set of questions, which seem easier.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Score One

Mac is totally, 100% winning the sleeping game. Basically, he gets to do whatever he wants in terms of sleeping or not, alone or with others. Tonight I tried to leave him in his room to cry it out while I found Waldo with Shef, but then what happened is it turns out he can scale his gate.

Apparently we need to lock him in.

Except I probably won't do that, so I guess we just need to wait around until he's four and start paying him to sleep like we did with Shef.

When Mac turned two, I happily told my mother-in-law that I was so relieved to be almost done with sleep deprivation since I only had two years left. Also, I accidentally told someone who has eight month-old twins that I totally felt his pain because I hadn't slept in six and a half years. That was the wrong thing to say to that poor guy, obviously. I did a lot of back-pedaling, but the damage was already done and I ended up confessing some unfortunate side-effects of this hideous lifestyle like extreme aging and memory loss.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beginning of School Clobber-fest

Basically what's going on is I'm getting my ass kicked by back-to-school. This happens every year, and even though by year ten I'm theoretically prepared for it... Well. It's still awful.

I'm teaching online all the time and a brand new prep besides. I have 27 more students this year than last for a total of 155. And, the computers I was supposed to use for teaching 21st Century Skills don't load web pages. Also, did you know we're living in a multi-generational, extended family household? As I type this, there are six adults and two children here with me under this one roof.

Also, Shef is testing every existing boundary and Mac won't sleep. I don't know if you've tried it, but four people (yes, Shef still visits!) in a queen bed does not make for a restful night.

Last night I told Dan that he should just go to Shef's bed when Mac came in. This worked pretty well, and Mac was especially pleased. At breakfast he told Dan, "I sleep in Mommy's bed. You go out."

Someday things will be a little calmer. Maybe in a month or two or six.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Does This Mean?

I've decided to take all of my comments for student papers this year from the famous and hilarious Double Rainbow video:

"So bright; so vivid!"

"Oh my God! Oh my God!"

"What does this mean?"

"This is starting to look like a triple rainbow!"


"So intense!"

Luckily, the whole (multi-generational extended) family also has double rainbow fever:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's Starting to Look Like a Triple Rainbow

Great news: I have completed the first day of school.

All of the children were able to log in to a computer and change their passwords. In addition, we played a game using some statistics about media and kids.

I did not fall down or spill on myself or accidentally use any inappropriate language.

If you keep the first day expectations low, you can really exceed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bring on the Children

Workshops are over, and it's time for the children to arrive. Let's get going kids! I'm ready for you, and I scored us some netbooks!

The school spirit and leadership group has designed t-shirts for us once again. Last year, the shirts said, "Best Year Ever." This year, they say, "Come Together."

Many of us teachers were suspicious of these t-shirts from the start. First of all, "Come Together" has a double meaning that I think many readers can infer. Also, they're golden, while our school colors are green and white. Finally, there's an "o" instead of a "0" in 2011.

This is high school, people. We have to face the possibility that the students have knowingly designed us dirty shirts. "Come shirts," my departmental colleague calls them.

And, away we go! Let's get 'er done!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bright Light

Yesterday, I was not a Bright Light. In a meeting, I told everyone that our curriculum review would likely be a "miserable disaster."

Some people were shocked by this pronouncement. Later Jackie called me a Black Hole instead of a Bright Light.

I was in a better mood in the evening when we saw Dan's girlfriend Carrie Underwood at the State Fair. That girl has pipes that no one can deny.

And, as a bonus, we also ran into blogger Gina. Her hair really did look great. We took a group photo that Dan will probably post later when I'm getting inspired at a staff meeting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Last Day

Today was the last official day of my summer vacation. This is kind of weird, but I actually caught myself thinking several times this summer that I wish I worked at a year-round school.

I think summer kind if stresses me out because I'm always thinking, "Am I having the most fun possible?! Is this a great summer?!"

However, I know I had a great last day of summer today, hanging out with my sister, getting my hair cut, buying shoes, and playing with the children. I also watched Shef's day camp performance, in which he sang and danced to "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus. Obviously, that was awesome.

Tomorrow we move way closer to school and work, which will greatly increase my daily quality of life.

Maybe I'll even have time to blog again. I hope so! I really do.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Know Karate

So, I finished that dumb race. In the end, I'm glad I did it; but man, it's kind of dumb.

You run for awhile, you cheer on your van-mates for awhile (I taught my van-mates a cheer AND gave them Silly Bandz), you "rest" for awhile (I think I've slept for about 2 hours in the past 37), and then you do all of that two more times.

Liz explained that the reason for increased safety policy at this year's race (we were all required to wear reflective vests and blinking lights and headlamps and use crossing guard flags) was that someone in a different Ragnar in another state got hit by a car.

"Yeah," I said. "That's because this is actually DUMB. It's DUMB to run in the dark on the side of the road."

But anyway, here's the elevation map for my second leg, which was 6.7 miles.
I started this leg at about 11:00pm on Friday night.

As you can see, I encountered quite a few hills, including a 2-mile incline at the beginning of the run. I'm certain this is the biggest hill I've ever climbed while running. Later, at the end of the leg, there's an even steeper incline that lasts for more than a mile.

Let me tell you, this particular run was really flipping hard.

So, Ragnar! That was an experience! Let's do it again sometime later in the future, maybe.

We'll see.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The End

This may have been the longest blog break I've ever taken.

Here's the problem: the summer was absolutely insanely busy. And tomorrow, I do maybe the dumbest thing I've ever signed up for, ever in my entire life: a 12-person 191-mile relay. 10 of the 12 people are strangers and this is not even for a good cause. Also, one of my legs will be at like 3:30am.


And now, the summer, busy as it has been, is coming to an end. I'm both looking forward to and dreading going back to school. I think my motto will be, "Get it done." Also, I will sprinkle in some, "I did it!s"

This will be a great year, I'm pretty sure. As long as I stay hidden in my room.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Something About a Crooked Zipper

I was so excited when I saw last week's Runway premiere because it sort of seems like that show might be back. It was edgier, and the contestants seemed better. I even took out a paper to write down a quote to use as a blog title.

Sadly, I lost the paper, and now all I know is that the line had something about a crooked zipper.

Oh well!

On another note, I feel like I need a new tagline for the upcoming school year. Last year, I had Best Year Ever. That was a great slogan, and it reminded me to try my best to be a great teacher and have fun in the process.

However, one big problem with Best Year Ever was that it was easy to use for sarcasm. Like, something horrible would happen, and Rachel and I would look at each other and say it spitefully.

Also, the Best Year Ever is such a superlative that it's impossible to achieve, right? So, I sort of doomed myself to disappointment.

I'm trying to think of something good for this next year. Something optimistic and cheerful, while still inspiring hard work.

Mary suggested No Walks, which was the motto of one of her fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. I like the "go hard or go home" sentiment, but then again, I can't go my hardest every moment. Also, I'm not planning on "swinging at everything," which is what the slogan requires.


Friday, July 30, 2010



Mary convinced me that we should go to a Zumba class together. Zumba is this exercise class where you do some Latin dance moves.

Here's a video of some people doing Zumba:

We agree that I will likely be unable to perform most of the Zumba moves. Mary just said we probably shouldn't stand next to each other, or we'll laugh too hard. I found a Zumba class that happens outside at Lake Calhoun. It's free, but Mary said we ABSOLUTELY CANNOT Zumba OUTSIDE where people can SEE.

She has a real point there.

Thursday, July 29, 2010



I've been sort of obsessed lately with a shift I've felt in the last year. Suddenly, I just feel older than I did before. Does this happen to everyone in their early thirties?

I noticed it especially this fall when I ran the Twin Cities Marathon. Last time I ran that in 2002, people cheered for me and Jamie by saying, "Go girls!" and "You look awesome, girls!"

This time, people said, "Okay, ladies!" "Keep it going, ladies!"


This morning, I met one of Mary's friends from the Peace Corps. He's moving anywhere in the United States he gets a job, which surprised me because didn't his family die from missing him so much and feel like chaining him in their house?

No, he said.

"I missed Mary so much that every moment was filled with sadness," I said, exaggerating only slightly.

"Yes," Mary said. "You wrote COME HOME NOW! and DON'T EXTEND! in all caps in every letter."

"You DID?!" asked her friend

I did. I never expected her to do those things, but every time I wrote a letter I just wished I was talking to her in person so much. That was probably selfish of me. I also wrote in my letters that I knew she wouldn't come home and that I was proud of her for doing all that good work with malaria nets and health care for nine villages.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


X, like a quantity. X = some number

Last week when I got a pedicure, the nail techs accused me of being the type of person who keeps score. In their defense, I had just asked them to rate the beauty of my feet on a scale of 1 through 10.

It was 5, btw. 5 when Martha and Mary got 8s, so perhaps Dan's assessment ("troll feet") isn't so far off.

Anyway, this off-hand comment has kind of given me a complex.

Do I keep score? Is it inappropriate? Is this a serious character flaw that I need to rectify?

I just asked Dan if he thought I was the type of person who keeps score.

"Well, yeah" he said.

"Like how?" I asked.

"You wanted to know if I'd be better than you at CrossFit, you study your race results. Stuff like that."

Hmmm, I said, just a moment ago.

"I mean, it's not a bad thing," Dan said.

Hmmm, I said.

"Well," Dan continued, "It would be hard to keep score with me because I beat you at everything."

That's actually true. He beats me at pretty much everything, except long distance running.

I guess I keep score. I'm really sorry if that's bugged you at some point.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010



Today,I had to lock myself in my classroom and seriously get to work. I have a grant to learn about scads of new tech tools and implement them into my blended courses. I've been working on and off.

For instance, last week, I learned about Prezi and made a Prezi about Blended Mass Media at my school. Prezi is pretty neat.

But one Prezi does not a course make. So, today, I made a podcast using Aviary's Myna tool. Aviary has lots of cool tools, including one called Roc that lets you make/mix your own music. I made this beat:

I realize my beat isn't all that cool, but I just wanted to try using Roc, okay?!

Then, I included my beat in my podcast about privacy and reputation on the internet. This podcast will be used as an example in Mass Media class and embedded on my Moodle site.

See? You can really tell I worked hard.

Monday, July 26, 2010



Dan and I went to CrossFit Minnesota today to experience our new militaristic fitness regimen for the first time. While we were there, we got to meet Tom, who has been my internet friend for awhile, but whom I've never met IRL. (Hi, Tom!! We'll see you again soon!)

Anyway, we got into the gym, and this guy Mike told us that warm-up included two sets of the following circuit: 10 pull-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 back extensions, 10 squats, and a quarter-mile run.

"But," I interrupted him, "I can't do a single pull-up, not even one." And it's true: I can't.

"That's okay," Mike assured me. Then he brought over a box and told me to jump up to the bar.

So, fine.

Then we did a lot of squatting and some strides, followed by a teensy little "Baseline" workout, during which I had to do push-ups on my knees and more pull-ups with the box. None of the other hardcore law enforcement and military professionals in the gym were doing these things. Neither were the high school kid and his dad.

Still, I finished it. We're going back to try it again on Wednesday at a basic class for people who need to learn how to, like, lift barbells. In the meantime, I'll be taking ibuprofen every six hours to deal with the soreness.

Sunday, July 25, 2010



Mary: Still here. She suggested I write about her for every remaining letter of the alphabet. Her suggestion for U was UNDYING LOVE.

Editing Blog Archive for Wider Consumption: Slow going. I used to have 716 posts. Now, I have 694 or something, mostly without swear words.

Curriculum Writing: So much left to do that I should probably work 4-6 hours per day on just this for the rest of the summer.

Fitness: First day of militaristic training class tomorrow. OMdoubleG.

Sleep: Still waking up at least once per night most nights, most often for Mac. Annoying. Dan told me he was also having trouble with sleep because he's been waking up sore in the mornings.

"I think my pillow is too soft," he said, rubbing his neck. "Maybe I need a new one."

"Yeah," I agreed. "Maybe you should go get a stiffy."

Obviously, that's not what I meant.



I love travel, and I also hate it. I hate getting ready for trips. I hate traveling with babies and toddlers. I hate if/when my flights are delayed and if/when I run into traffic. However, I love having been to new places. I love the feeling of being free from the responsibilities of home.


This is my job. I try to do it as well as I can. One of the truths about teaching is that some days you'll be good and other days you'll have to apologize to your class for your total failure and come up with an entirely different idea right on the spot.


Did you watch the show ER on television? I did for awhile, but then I had to stop because it turns out I don't like to see traumatic injuries dramatized. I also don't like to see them in person.


You can never really tell what's true and what's not. This is something I learned about in graduate school. Therefore, I'm not really into absolutes.

Friday, July 23, 2010



I helped Mary buy a cell phone today. She had one in SENEGAL, but she really needed an update. We ended up just getting a SIM CARD at first because the guy at the TMobile counter assured us it could be inserted into any phone and then used with SUCCESS.

It turns out this is not so. You have to buy a TMobile branded phone for this to work. It would have been nice to know that before we made two trips to Best Buy, one trip to Target, and two trips to the mall.

However, I spent the day with my SISTER, who is STILL here. I can't get over it. I'm so happy I could SPIT.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010



My sister finally came home. My sobbing upon first seeing her was dignified and brief.

It was really tough to take a good reunion picture, but that's okay. She's back, and that's all that matters. I really, really hated it when she was gone.

Sunday, July 18, 2010



I like to use this expression even though I think it makes me sound nerdy and OLD. Most often I use it when I'm discussing things I used to do before the children were born. Crazy things like grabbing my gym bag and shouting over my shoulder to Dan on the way out the door, "Hey, I'm going to go work out!" Doing that instead of planning weeks in advance who will exercise when and what the others will be doing during that time.


This is how Mac says Old MacDonald. It really cracks me up.


Once in 2002 we went on a sailing trip with Dan's parents, and we heard on the boat's radio a message for a vessel named Ooo La La. When the guy on the radio called for the boat, he repeated the name three times fast: ooolalaooolalaooolala. It sounded really funny, and it turns out it's really fun to say. So, to this day we randomly say that to each other or to ourselves. It's a habit with no downside, as far as I can tell.

Saturday, July 17, 2010



Here are some rules from my high school cross country team:

NEVER stop at the bottom of the hill (that would be bad for the psyche, and running is 90% mental).

NEVER stop on a hill (that would be wimpy).

NEVER stop at the top of a hill (momentarily, you'll feel so much better).

Here's the rule from my college cross country team:

NEVER embarrass yourself, the team, or Vanessa. Vanessa was the coach.

These days, I have a few rules for my own personal running team of one, but I guess I try to frame them positively. Like, Believe in yourself! And, Try to run a couple of times per week! But, I do have one NEVER, which is: When training for a marathon, NEVER skip your long run. That's the key to finishing marathons on two or three runs per week.

Friday, July 16, 2010



Yesterday, on public radio I heard a writer, Barry Eisler, talking about how he likes to put his mistakes on his webpage. He categorizes his mistakes by novel and puts them right up there for people to see. For instance, one time he wrote that stun guns don't leave marks, but they do! He tried out a stun gun on his stomach to be sure, and he said he got two large red welts. So.

Here are some categories of mistakes I've made:


Once, after eight hours of parent-teacher conferences during my first year of teaching, I started to forget definitions of vocabulary words that parents were using in the conferences. Like "verbose." A dad used that word, and I just felt like my brain died.

Another time, in my second year of teaching, a really smart eighth grader used the word "reverie," which I thought at the time had a negative connotation. It turns out it doesn't. Sorry about that, Heather!

A third time, for some inexplicable reason, I agreed to be in charge of the Spelling Bee for four years or so. One year, I distributed some certificates of "acheivement" to top spellers. OOPS!


Last night, I lost hold of Mac at Shef's soccer game, and he ran onto the field and collapsed himself in the way of oncoming novice players. I had to bend over and get him, and I think my underwear showed when I did that.

I've dropped both kids while descending stairs. Neither hit their heads, thanks to Jesus. I was wearing slippery socks when both incidents occurred.

Several times per week, I go to work and start teaching with Mac's food hand prints on the back of my shirt.

Finally, I forgot to bring Mac's water bottle to his school today. I just discovered one of my bra straps is showing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010



I feel like we're on a run of bad luck lately. I try not to dwell on it because things could be so much worse; however, things could could also be better.

An example of the type of bad luck I'm talking about is the fact that we had to replace our garbage disposal this morning. Our other one was leaking all over the place.

Also, we're probably going to have to replace some aspect of our garage door/garage door opener system tomorrow. We wouldn't have had to do these things if someone, ANYONE, had bought our house at any point within the last ten months.

Also, that Leinenkugel's on our MacBook.

Also, I rear-ended someone a couple of weeks ago.

Also, the skin keeps falling off my right ear.

Also, I had to get new brakes last month.

Also, Alex Wong, my favorite dancer on So You Think You Can Dance, had to have surgery on his Achilles tendon and had to drop out of the competition.

That kind of thing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


K can be a toughie because there aren't that many things in ordinary life that start with K. Still, K is a neat letter, which is probably why marketers and citizens enjoy misspelling C words with Ks. For instance, Kool, Krazy, and, most horrifyingly, Kum & Go, the gas station chain.

Even our guide in this challenge, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, included KLASSY as one of her two K entries in Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

Of course, my name starts with K. It's KATHLEEN, which I have always liked. It's occurred to me many times to try to go by KATHLEEN instead of KC, which almost everyone calls me. But, it turns out it's really hard to shake a nickname, especially when giving up something sort of informal and friendly-sounding for something more distinguished, like Kathleen. Or Margaret. Or Judith.

There have been a few iterations of my nickname. When I was a baby, my parents experimented with spellings. These included KAY-CEE, which I guess I'm glad they didn't use. I DID use KACEY for almost all of my growing up. I switched to KC sometime in high school because it seemed simpler, but still, I have to spell my name for every damn person I tell it to. I prefer not to use the periods - K.C. - because I find that encourages people to say kay-CEE, which I don't like. But, since no periods is technically incorrect, I guess it's ironic to omit them given my profession as an English teacher.

Oh well.

I turns out I had a lot to say about my own name. Does this make me a narcissist? Perhaps the whole existence of this blog indicates an unhealthy level of self-interest? One time, a cousin of Dan's told me he hates to read this blog because, in his words, "It's one big over-share."

Geez, Brendhan. No one forced you to click on the link, if you know what I'm saying.

Monday, July 12, 2010



I made a deal with Jesus that if the Apple people said my MacBook was okay after the spill, it would be a sign that I should return to the Catholic church. Despite this grand gesture on my part, the Apple people said we can expect the MacBook to die pretty soon.


Shef and I have been laughing our heads off at Fudge-A-Mania, another book by Judy Blume. We giggled all the way through the other Peter Hatcher books, too. On the way out of his room tonight, I said to Shef, "Good night, Stupid!" because that's the kind of thing the Hatchers say to their Myna bird, Uncle Feather. We laughed really hard about that, and then we had to say good night all over again.


We also laugh really hard at these books by Barbara Park, but we recently put one aside to start up with Fudge once again. I guess you can tell where our priorities lie.


I had coffee with her today. Good times! Fun reunion! Hoping to see her again soon!

JULY 21st

That's the day my sister arrives back here in Minneapolis. My sister, home at last after two-and-a-half years away.

"Why did you forsake me?" I asked her over IM last night.

"I didn't forsake you," she said. "I wrote you letters and called you and loved you."

Fair enough.

Sunday, July 11, 2010



As soon as I've watched a movie I like, I'll check out the trivia on I tend to watch making-of featurettes on DVDs. I'll read interviews with the authors to figure out why and how they were inspired to write their masterpieces.

Once, when seeking INSIDER INFORMATION about Josh and Donna, I read an article on Aaron Sorkin. In it, he professed HIS love for all-things behind-the-scenes, hence his work on Sports Night (behind-the-scenes at ESPN), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (behind-the-scenes at SNL), and The West Wing (behind-the-scenes at the White House, and Best Show Ever).

Probably this interest of mine informed my decision to become a teacher. As a student, I always wanted to know what happened in the teachers' lounge. Come to find out, all that happens is people drop the F-bomb and occasionally make inappropriate jokes. That's IT.

Friday, July 9, 2010



Guess what? Wisconsin Dells is truly the best vacation ever! I'm serious this time! It's been awesome.

True, it wasn't that awesome when a bottle of Leinenkugel's tipped over on my MacBook. And it also was less-than-awesome when Mac threw up all over my mom and her bed.

However, most of the other stuff IS awesome! HOORAY!

One tiny problem in the waterpark today was that the kids (we're here with my cousin, her husband, and their three kids) wanted to go down an extremely steep yellow waterslide.

Like an idiot, I volunteered to test said slide to see if it would be okay.

Once I walked up there (lots of flights) and sat at the top of the slide (totally death-defying), I instantly knew IT WAS NOT OKAY.

"I don't think I can do it," I told Mikhail, the twenty year-old attendant.

He didn't answer me.

"Can I do it?" I asked.

"Lay down," he said in a Russian accent. "Cross ankles."

"But, do you think I can make it?" I asked.

"Cross ankles," he said. "Cross arms."

Clearly Mikhail didn't have a lot of sympathy for my plight.

In the end, I did do it. I had to. The kids and Dan and my cousins and Mikhail were all watching. Some of them laughed at my screaming, but it was really a scary slide, and the truth is I scream on all the slides here in Wisconsin Dells.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010



My house has been sweltering and humid.

I have not yet packed for my trip tomorrow.

I missed a call from my sister in West Africa because my phone didn't even RING.

And, the aforementioned humidity is having an unfortunate effect on my hair.

Finally, I still have a scar from that chin zit I picked to hell this winter.


That's just great.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I went through a lot of ideas for today's F post.

One idea I had was FUNNY, DAN IS SO.

I've mentioned before on this blog that lots of people tell me this all the time.

"Hey," someone will say randomly at lunch or wherever, "your husband Dan is so funny."

"Yeah," I'll say.

"I mean REALLY," the person will say, after hanging out with him once or reading a single blog post or something, "he is SO funny."

"Mm hmm," I say, smiling and nodding. "He's really funny."

My problem with this is not that Dan is funny. It's that I KNOW Dan is funny. Also that HE KNOWS, too.

You can read how funny over at Pronto Pup. Every entry is witty as hell.

Monday, July 5, 2010


EARS, obviously.

My ears, while not as offensive as my feet (I know because Dan has never referred to them as "troll ears"), are still not the best.

When I was born, they stuck way out to the sides. They stuck out so much that when the lady from the adoption agency called my parents to tell them I'd arrived, she decided she'd better warn them about the ears.

"We have a beautiful baby girl for you," she said, "but her do ears stick out."

Later, I had a surgery to make them not do that, and so ended my ear saga.

That is, until this last winter.

All of a sudden, I noticed that my left ear stuck out farther than my right. I thought I was imagining it, but Rachel confirmed. She checked with her dad, who's a plastic surgeon. Sure enough, otoplasty has a 10% attrition rate.

I was worried that I'd think about my ear nonstop for the rest of my life, but what happened was I forgot about it after a week or two, and then just remembered this week. Just in time for E.

Here's photographic EVIDENCE. Yes, I know I look ridiculous. I pretended to blog while I took the photo, so it would be authentic.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


We have an ongoing DILEMMA.

Mac is a terrible sleeper. Shef was a terrible sleeper before him, and remained so until his fourth birthday. I tried to speak reasonably with Mac about his nighttime habits in the following video:

You can see we're also dealing with fairly large cases of DENIAL and DELUSION.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I choose "Correspondence."

I picked up Amy Krouse Rosenthal's book (the whole basis for this challenge, I daresay THE BEST CHALLENGE EVER) at the library today, and while I've just begun it, I'm already charmed.

In the beginning of the book, there's a chapter called "The Evolution of this Moment," which explains how The Encyclopedia of Ordinary Life came to be published. Rosenthal gives some examples of correspondence she's had and kept over the years: correspondence with writers she's admired, rejection letters, and just numerous exchanges large and small with various people who influenced her work. Awesome people like Ira Glass.

When I was in ninth grade, I, like Rosenthal, was compelled to write to an author I loved, Jon Hassler. Guess what? He wrote back to me on yellow legal paper in long hand. I loved that letter, and I showed it to my teacher and she hung it on the bulletin board.

It didn't even occur to me to be embarrassed by the extent of my dorkitude.

I continue to love correspondence. I love emailing people and getting emails. I loved writing letters to my grandmothers. Of course, I love commenting on people's blogs and getting comments. And txting, obvi.

I'll probably continue to correspond for the foreseeable future.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I'm going with BEACH READS.

As everyone knows, I'm currently finishing up some serious academic reading for my summer school class; however, next week I'm going on my Dream Vacation in The Dells, and I'm going to want to download some footloose-and-fancy-free books to my iPad.

Here's my situation: I read pretty widely. I like serious, literary-type fiction, and I also like the whole Shopaholic series.

Right now I'm reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which I really like, but that book features ghosts. I'm not good at reading about ghosts (or violent crime or suspense) before bed.

Can you suggest a beach read that's very engaging and that I'll be able to read at all times of the day and night? Following in the footsteps of Challenge Bloggers Rosalyn and Lee, I'm going to offer incentivized commenting on this post:

If you give me a BEACH READING (full disclosure: I'll be reading this at a WATERPARK) suggestion in the comments, I'll send you a post card from my trip to the Wisconsin Dells. If I don't have your address, you can Facebook it to me. If we're not FB friends, you can send it to my blog email thesavvymomblog @

Okay! I'm so excited!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


My A is Astral Phantasmagoria

Here's what happened: I decided to take a class called Contemporary American Drama, which has been excellent. I read a ton of plays I'd never read or seen before, and I learned about drama and theater.

Yesterday, I was finishing a paper about how Baudrillard's concept of simulation works as a framework for reading post-modern drama, and I complained to Rachel that I can never write a good conclusion.

"That's okay," she said. "It's because you've already said everything you want to say three times. And how long is your paper?"

"Twelve pages," I told her.

"Oh," she said, waving her hand, "then just don't even worry about it because you know your professor is going to be so tired of reading it by then."

So, just as I was ready to slap a period on the last sentence I'd written and call it a paper, I found a perfect quote from an article by Elizabeth Klaver in which she claims that Baudrillard's gap between the real and the sign for the real "produces astral phantasmagoria that radiates out of the desert" and allows us to see America in new ways in the theater.

Astral Phantasmagoria! OMG! It's Poe's spirits flying through the air searching for authenticity. I'm probably going to use that phrase a lot from now on.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Challenge!

I'm really excited because my BBFF Lee has posed a July blogging challenge.

You can see a really cool video about the challenge at Lee's blog. CHECK IT OUT!

I'm starting tomorrow with the letter A. I already picked my topic, but I'm not telling until July 1.


I mean, Letter.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It Must Be Some Failure on Our Part

When Mac started crawling out of his crib, we got him a nice little toddler bed and a gate for his door.

This has been a total nightmare, pretty much. We have to sit with him while he falls asleep and then visit him and rest with him in his TODDLER BED many times during the night. If we don't do these things, hours of screaming ensue.

"Mac," I said to him this morning, "why won't you sleep in your bed all night long by yourself?"

"Ummmmm," he said. "Bug in my bed."

"There's not a bug in your bed," I told him.

He shrugged and walked away.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Had the Radio On

Finally after months and months of loneliness and despair on my part, my sister will be home in 27 days. I cannot adequately express my relief and happiness about this fact.

My immense relief and happiness survived even her very first homecoming request: she wants us to get pedicures together.

My birth mother (her mother) communicated this desire to me, and I mustered as much enthusiasm as possible.

"I'll totally do that," I said, gamely.

"Won't it be fun?" Martha asked, excited.

"Well," I continued, "you know I don't currently have any toenails."

That wasn't quite true. I do, at this moment, have 5.5 toenails of the usual 10.

Still, it's probably going to be the best homecoming ever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Yo Homes to Bel Air

During Mac's nap, I made this podcast. It's one of my best podcasts ever, I think, partly because I did not use Apple loops. Some listeners thought the Apple loops I used last time sounded like a porn soundtrack. That wasn't the effect I was going for, obviously.

You'll probably want to CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good While It Lasted

Well, today as I was finishing up my first real day of summer vacation in the coffee shop reading some contemporary American dramas, I got a call from Mac's teacher saying he woke up from his nap with a fever. Yesterday she sent an email saying, "Look out for lice!"

Tomorrow he'll stay home with me. If he feels good, I'm going to take him to Kids' Hair for a trim.

This is an okay plan, but it's not what I envisioned.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Fork the Size of Texas

Today was the last day of school. I'm sad to say it wasn't the Best Year Ever. Of course there were some great highlights. In terms of awesomeness of students and quality of intellectual work, this year surely contends for B.Y.E. However, if we're looking at overall experience, 2006-07 was definitely a better year, as was 2002-03. In those years, no parents wrote on a survey that I don't actually do any work or care about students' academic development, and instead that I just play on my computer all day "for personal reasons."

I wish the mom who wrote those asinine things had signed her name to my survey because I would have called her up to ask if she realized everything I sacrificed to teach her daughter in a blended class this year. LADY, I would say, I GAVE UP TELEVISION FOR YOU! I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT'S PLAYING ON BRAVO! I WAS SIX WEEKS BEHIND ON BIGGEST LOSER! ALL FOR YOU!

Still, the most important thing about this year at this point, is that it's over. My grades are reported, my materials are checked in, and my stuff is safely locked in the closet in my brand new room.

Also, our adorable second child turned two. Mac is the greatest, obviously. That's why I got him a trike. I think he'll like it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best Drawing Ever

It's finally the end of the year. It's seemed like the end of the year for about a month for myriad reasons, but now we're really and truly there. Only final exams and grading remain. I've even taken down classroom decorations because, as I mentioned before, I'm giving up the smallest room in the school in favor of a normal-sized space with plenty of leg room for thirty senior boys.

I've never taught senior boys before, but Rachel has, and from what she tells me it seems like there will be a lot of blog fodder, among other things. Like fart jokes and swearing and many many awkward moments when I'll be forced to advise against drugs and for birth control.

Anyway, I've been taking down the decorations, including a sign I put on the outside of my room, identifying myself and the classes I teach. It's a weird little sign that I hand-wrote the night of parent open house. I remember hanging it, but I'd forgotten why I put it on the wall instead of the door and why I didn't bother printing something out.

When I took it off, the memories came flooding back: That night, I'd had about thirty seconds before the parents arrived to cover up the giant penis drawing I'd just discovered above my room number plaque. A penis drawing in fine-tipped permanent marker.

Oh summer. I'll be so happy to see you again next Wednesday. So, so happy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's So Over

We've reached the point in the year where school is just sort of dumb.

The students are done, the teachers are done, the administrators send out long emails filled with elaborate plans to JUST KEEP THE LID ON!!

We have six days left.

In the midst of all this, I'm scheduled to run a marathon this weekend. I feel sort of like this marathon could be the worst idea of my life. I feel paunchy, tired, and over Diet-Coked. This is not the ideal condition to be in days before a 26.2-mile race.

But, I did do some running in preparation, so it's likely that I'll haul myself and any cellulite that may or may not have recently developed over the finish line in order to acquire the t-shirt. Needless to say, I'm expecting a pretty slow time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another From the Annals of Younger Brotherhood

Walking back from the pool with the family on a gorgeous sunny Memorial Day.

Me: Mac, what's your school called?

Mac: Poopy!

Me: No, that's not right. What's it called?

Mac: Big poopy!

I sense that things will probably get worse from here. Why wouldn't they?

Friday, May 28, 2010

That Kid

When Shef was littler, I always resented the kids who encouraged him to play guns or robbers or pirates or pretty much anything beyond astronauts or peaceful organic farmers of the 70s. I'd roll my eyes and separate him from the hooligans who taught him butt jokes or fart imitation.

Those kids were really annoying, disruptive, and obviously poorly supervised.

Those kids, I realize now looking back on it almost always had older brothers. Maybe sort of significantly older. Say four years or so, maybe a few months more.

Last night when Mac took the pencil from the kids' bag at Davanni's Pizza, held it in my face and said, "I whiw kihw you," I suddenly felt a lot more empathy for the parents of those violent little storm troopers, old enough for pencil light sabers but still unable to pronounce r's and l's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Best Year Ever!!

Today something miraculous happened. I went to the assistant principal's office ostensibly to chat about blended learning. While I was there, I planned to casually ask whether he'd made any headway on the room situation.

The problem is we don't have enough rooms for the teachers at our school, and so sometimes people have to share and move and it's not convenient.

Also, sometimes people go on maternity leave and when they come back they get assigned to the smallest rooms in the school. Rooms without any space in the front, so that the teacher has to conduct class while bellied up to the front row.

Not that I would know.

So anyway, I went in there, and guess what? The assistant principal HAD made headway in the room situation! He'd assigned me to my own full-size room in my home hallway! This is great news. Really fantastic. Best Tuesday ever.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm Not Happy About This

I know this looks like my blog and everything, but we all know it's not my blog. I'm pretty sad about it, to tell you he truth. On Friday afternoon when she helped me develop the URL-changing plan, Rachel (who no longer wants to be linked here for obvious reasons) totally understood my pain.

"It's real grief," she told me when I apologized for crying over my blog when we both have a bunch of other things that are more worth crying over than an archive moved to another URL temporarily.

Here's one thing that's cheering me up: this is my first blog post created on my iPad. The iPad keyboard is pretty functional, except do you know what it needs? It needs arrow keys. Are you listening, Apple? Let's add some arrow keys so I can more easily write posts for my fake blog on my new super-awesome computing device.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Children

I've been so consumed with work lately that I haven't written about the adorable children who live here.

The big news is that Mac speaks in cute, little sentences now. "I come in, Sheffie?" he'll ask if Shef retreats to his room after school.

"I like it," he'll tell me any time he eats something sweet.

"I find worms," he announces while digging in his sandbox.

And there's more stuff about pretty much anything. Of course, "No want to," and "No like that" still figure prominently in our lives.

Shef is obsessed with Star Wars and the Star Wars Lego Wii game. A couple of weeks ago he posted a sign on his door that says, "Onley Storm Trooprs Can Axiss Thees Areea And Darth V." Every day on the way to school, he makes me ask him questions about playing the Wii game. This is only the thing he wants to talk about.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Best Run Ever

I ran 18 miles today - my last long run in preparation for my next marathon on June 6th. It was a gorgeous day, and half the city was out walking or running, either alone or with their babies or dogs or pals.

During my run, I listened to two extremely awesome episodes of This American Life. One of them featured not only Ira Glass, but also Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris, and Dan Savage. Dan's story was so moving and so well-told that I actually had to stop for a few seconds to cry alongside the running path. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that crying and running don't mix.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ray, This is 1987

There are 21 instructional days remaining in the school year. This count doesn't include final exams, which I don't really believe in giving but am sometimes forced to do so.

I just finished my Gatsby unit in American Lit today, and then I nearly had a heart attack when I thought I'd screwed up my pacing so badly that I'd have a whole extra week to fill between now and my last unit.

I was so relieved when I figured out I could easily carry memoirs out for three weeks. Tomorrow they'll pick between The Glass Castle and The Color of Water. We'll do some creative writing alongside these great texts a couple of times per week.

And then, blessedly, we'll end up at finals week totally in-tact and unscathed.

Let's all hope for this, shall we? We might just finish this thing after all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We're Watching Buffy. It's So 1997.

Today, a kid in American Lit approached me after class.

"I need help on that speech thing," he said. His speech was due sometime last week, and tomorrow's the last day for make-ups.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Well, I haven't really read the book, and you said something about deep thoughts."

"So," I said, "you want me to tell you what I think about the book you haven't read so you can repeat that stuff in your speech?"

"I read like two chapters," he continued.

"I'm not really sure how to help you," I told him. "I think you should pick a chapter you actually read and think of something to say about it. Follow the outline I gave you."

He seemed disappointed. It really seemed like he thought this conversation might turn out differently.

I think there are 24 days left of school.