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.