Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review - Challenge Complete!

With this post, I both finish the 30-post Rose/Thorn challenge and present a year-end video. Last year, I totally ripped off Lee's year-end video project when I did my own just like it. Now, I've done another to commemorate 2011.

Sorry about the hacking during the voiceover. That cold just keeps hanging on.



Happy New Year, Everyone! The blog is a great place to be. I love to write stuff here and read stuff on other people's sites. Let's do it all again next year, okay?! Okay.

Floss or Die

I'm making one simple New Year's Resolution this year, and that's to floss my teeth every night.

I don't know why, but I've never made flossing a routine habit. I've gone through phases where I've flossed regularly, but then I get busy and overwhelmed, and for some reason, oral hygiene goes right out the window.

Isn't that silly? I'm pretty sure the 30 seconds it takes to floss won't detract from my other initiatives.

So, now I've done a bunch of internet research, and I've discovered that I should floss not only because my dentist tells me to, but also because flossing is linked with longevity. Also, people who floss are less likely to have heart disease, diabetes, bad breath, and babies with low birth weight. That last one really doesn't impact me becase a) I have huge babies, and b) I'm not having any more babies. But still, isn't that interesting?

One website I found was called Floss or Die. That's serious! So, in 2012, I'm going to floss instead of dying.

And now, only one more post to go in the blogging challenge. I think I'm going to do a recap of the blog in 2011. Remember how we did that last year? We'll see if I can get it done.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Barbra Streisand

While I was thinking of blog topics today, I thought I might list my all-time top 10 favorite television shows.

Why even bother to do this?  I don't know.  I have a CHALLENGE to complete, people!  That's about the only reason.  So here's my list in no particular order:

1. Gilmore Girls (Obvi.)
2. West Wing (Obvi again)
3. Friday Night Lights (Tim Riggins. Obvi.)
4. 90210 (Watched it wide-eyed as a middle schooler.)
5. Dawson's Creek (I love you, Pacey Whitter!)
6. Felicity (Obvi.)
7. Growing Pains (Show me that smile again, Kirk Cameron.)
8. Modern Family (Omg, Lol.)
9. Ally MacBeal (Skinny Legs.  Dancing Babies.)
10. The first few seasons of Lost, Prison Break, Melrose Place, and Gossip Girl
11. And runners-up: Sports Night, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and the Cosby Show.

Wasn't that enlightening?  Did I miss anything?  What makes YOUR top 10?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Belieber

Something about Shef that I may never have mentioned: he only wears pants with elastic waistbands. If you think of suggesting that he wear, oh say, jeans or khakis, he throws a fit. Like, he might even shed some tears. Then you end up getting really annoyed that he's whining about BUTTONS, when you're really such a reasonable, even bordline permissive, parent.

So, this situation being reality for the last four years, you can imagine my shock when the kid got dressed for the day in a pair of dark jeans and a hoodie.

Is this growing up?

Later he showed me a list of rules he's written for Dan and me. Rule #3 reads, "No kissing me without asking."

So it goes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Back Aches, My Pants Are Tight

Well, not really.  But, it's time to publicly admit that I have a wicked cold.  I've been in denial about this now for three days, but... the facts are these:
  • I have a sore throat
  • I have a post nasal drip that probably causes the sore throat
  • I have a sinus pressure-induced headache
  • I feel foggy, probably because I've taken decongestant pills to partially relieve the symptoms listed above.
And, perhaps the most telling:
  • I'm feeling sorry for myself.
Everyone knows that the cure for this affliction is sweatpants and television.  I'm going to try to get right on that.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Diet

I've only noticed a few downsides to my 30s so far.  For the most part, I find 30-something to be a happy, confident, optimistic, and productive time.  In many ways, I'm just where I imagined I would be at this point in my life.  That is, except for the published novel(s) and recurring role(s) on appealing, quirky television shows.

Still, I don't have a lot to complain about.

Not a lot, but a little: a little about the perpetually-slowing metabolism. 

Last year while I was out of my head with stress and worry about the interview process for my new job, I accidentally gained like fifteen pounds.  I then had to go on a sensible diet where I tracked my calories and practiced moderation.  That moderation bit was completely out of character and disconcerting.  But, I was pleased with the result, and now whenever I get to a certain weight threshold, I use an app on my phone to help track the calories and practice the moderation.

Sadly, I've reached the threshold this morning, and I'm firing up the app.  Ho hum.  This is the 30s.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Uh Oh

I obviously hit a snag with the holiday blogging, and now I have eight posts to write in the next six days.  Luckily, I know I can do it.

Here's an update: Christmas was great.  We hosted two gatherings and attended two others.  We sang carols, and I played my violin with the band.

The kids and I now have succumbed to gross head colds and plan to lie around today reading and playing video games.  We also might go the Muppet Movie.  We'll see.

I also hope to tidy up the place.  AND, I have to set the timer and work for an hour.  There's a lot of work to be done this week before school starts again next Monday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Status Report

Day three of break. It was another great day with the children. I took them to a play, took them to lunch, and took Mac for a a haircut before orchestrating a playdate for Shef, grocery shopping, and making the pieces of gingerbread for our annual house extravaganza.

Why is break always like this? Like, completely nonstop?


I didn't get a good "after" pic of Mac's hair (it's way short - shorter than I expected), but I did get this nice pic of them doing their thing in the Great Clips.



Never a dull moment with these two, I'm telling you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Tour


Mother of the Year Alert: After playing board games and getting the oil changed and purchasing new cookie cutters and visiting the public library for more Secrets of Droon and taking the children to the dentist AND practicing my violin, I drove us over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, per Shef's request. 

His school has an ongoing thing with the MIA, and they visit multiple times per year.  Also, the MIA currently has a cool exhibit of Japanese art called EDO POP, and his class is studying Japan.  So, he went to the museum last week.

This was handy because we had a personal, experienced tour guide.  A built-in guide who knew the location of just about every nude in the whole place.  And, this is where the Mother of the Year thing really started falling apart for today.

"Hey, Mac!  Look at this penis up here!"

"There's another one in this room, Mac! And Mom, the penises all look like Mac's because the skin isn't cut off."

"This is funny - on this one you can see some girl's private fur."

Mac got into it by pointing out the butts.  "Look at that big butt, Mom!"  Also, "Let's look at that penis girl."

I'm not sure what a penis girl is.  I think it's a woman featured in a portrait who happens to be nude.  I don't know.  But, as Dan put it, we sure are glad that Shef has had this wonderful educational opportunity to frequent the art museum.  Can't wait to visit again.  Hope it's really crowded next time because that wouldn't be embarrassing at all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Long, Long Ago

Yesterday, the Geek Squad came to our house and helped us install some new electronics. This upgrade has been a dream of Dan's for a long time. Before we went to bed on Saturday, he looked at me and said, "Tomorrow's my Christmas."

And I'm happy for him.

Surprisingly, I also love having a tv in my room. Putting on your pajamas and getting under the cozy covers, remote in hand... how did I miss the magic of this for all those years?

To celebrate, I brought my Gilmore Girls Season Two DVDs up to watch before sleep. Checked on Shef and found him restless.

"I can't sleep," he said. "It's BREAK!"

I motioned him down the hall and into the bed. "You can watch my show with me," I said.

And then, something magical happened: Shef loves The Gilmore Girls! He can't get enough of them! It's like he thinks he's watching something really grown up. He catches like every third joke, and then he laughs really hard. He's also pretty good at picking up on the foreshadowing.

"Will Lorelai marry Max?" he asked, after she finally told Luke about the engagement.

"What do you think?" I answered.

"No," he said. "She won't."

Good call, kid. And here's to watching all seven seasons again. Not too many years until we can do the West Wing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

May Nothing You Dismay

I started reading a book that I cannot put down. Here's a picture of the cover:
It's like Little House but 60 years later and without the blatant racism. I'm heading back to the couch right now to read it some more.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hark How the Bells

Here's the big news: I made it to Winter Break!  This seems like quite a large accomplishment, and I'm stoked to have the next two weeks off.

To kick off the break, we went out for dinner with some pals at a place called Cafe Maude.  It was quite delicious and festive.  This morning, I had my violin lesson (hw: The Book 1 Folk Songs and more Christmas Carols) and we finished up some shopping while the children chilled at Nana's.

Not a bad Saturday.  Not bad at all.

And, here's a video of the slam poet that performed at my middle school on Friday.  I really love my school.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sickness

I had to stay home today.  The problem was I had some non-specific sickness symptoms like plegm and exhaustion.  Also, my patience was zapped, and I quickly remembered something about teaching middle school: it's way harder than teaching high school, especially when you're feeling sub-par.

For some reason, I agonized about taking the day off.  My school is small and we don't have a lot of subs.  My biggest fear was that the other teachers would have to cover my classes on their prep periods during the week before winter break. 

Luckily, that didn't happen.  Instead, I got a teacher who retired from our school a few years ago.  And, I stayed home and spent the entire morning asleep in bed.  Now I'm awake and ensconced on the couch.  I still haven't showered.  I thought about it, but I was too tired.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Marginal and Uninspiring

So, the English Department is in a pedometer contest against the Math Department.  We're seeing which group can log the most steps during a one-week period.  To keep track, we log into a website that shows us our hike around the United States by way of the state capitols.  Both groups started in Augusta, Maine, and we're proceeding counter clockwise across our great nation.

I hate to say this, but even after three days, it's pretty clear that the Mathletes are the ones who can log the most steps during a one-week period.  They have passed through Augusta, Montpelier, Albany, Harrisburg, Charleston, Columbus, Frankfort, Nashville, and are now just steps from Indianapolis.  The English peeps, however, are still several miles from Frankfort.

This is a bummer for me because I love winning.  I don't love winning as much, however, as Joanne from the Math department.  Even during our practice week, Joanne kept asking me how many steps I had and then making fun of me because she had more.  She came into my classroom and jogged with her arm around my shoulders while telling the students that I was going down.  Then she gave me a high five.  The kids keep asking me how many steps I have and encouraging me to walk in circles around the room or march in place while I give minilessons in order to raise my step total.  "Joanne is beating you," they say, with gravity in their tones.

This morning, I saw Joanne at our faculty meeting.  "How many did you do yesterday?" she demanded.

"Oh," I said.  "Only 7,100."

"That's sad and pathetic," Joanne spat.  "I got 18,000."

I'm just trying to run my own race at this point.  Let's just try to make it through a few more states, English teachers.  Let's just do our best.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shady's Back

Dan has gotten me into the Fast and Furious franchise of action movies.  Have you seen these?  Probably you should watch because (for no reason that I can articulate) they rock.

So last night, I was cuddled up on the couch in my cozy faux-down vest watching Fast and Furious IV, in which Brian and Dom are on the same team against the scary drug dealer.  The movie doesn't really end, but rather it just teases you into watching Fast Five.  We have that, too, but I was too sleepy to stay up, even for The Rock and Vin Diesel.

"No stay," Dan said.  "Let's watch just a little bit of it."

"I'm too tired," I said.

"Noooo," Dan said.  "Let's just watch a little.  Why don't you come over here, and I'll snuggle you and be really romantic and tell you all my favorite things about you."

Too be honest, that offer sounded nice, and I wandered back to the couch for the snuggle and the compliments.  Just as I was comfortably nuzzled in and listening, Dan began with this:

"Why are you wearing that ridiculous vest?  Who are you?  Marty McFLY?"




Thursday, December 8, 2011

We've Reached That Point In The Challenge


I've been sitting here staring at the blank blogger box.  I typed up some stuff and then deleted it.  Then I did that again. I told Dan I didn't have anything to write about.  "I know you're going to say I should write about how awesome you are," I said to him.

"Well," he said, "you have to write about something.  Maybe tonight's the night.  Tell your three favorite stories about me."

"Hmmm," I said.  "I've probably already written my favorite stories about you."

"Well, make me sound nice.  And funny.  A loving husband and father."

So, three stories:
  • Dan is unabashedly devoted to the kids. He kisses and hugs them.  He tells them he loves them. When Shef is too embarrassed to say "I love you" back, this makes Dan feel nostalgic for when that kid was little.
  • Dan loves to cook food for us.  When we eat it and compliment him he says, "My true joy as a chef is to see the looks of pleasure on your faces."
  • When people ask Dan to help, he finds it impossible to say no.  Because I'm not as nice as Dan, this admirable trait sometimes annoys me.  But still, if you ask him, Dan will help you move furniture, set up electronics, take care of your children, or direct you to an excellent lawyer.  Pretty much anything you ask him to do, he'll try to do it. Because he is a loyal and spectacular friend.
And, everyone knows he's hilarious, so I don't have to say anything about that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Pretty Blue Dress

My sister Mary came to school today to give a brown-bag lunch (and when I saw "brown-bag" I mean gourmet corn friseĆ© salad that comes free to me as part of my contract) talk about teen dating violence as part of the 16 Days Campaign against gender violence. 

My advisees and some of their pals came to the event, had some treats, and learned some staggering facts about teen dating abuse.  For instance, I didn't know that 1 in 3 adolescents experiences dating abuse.  Also, I didn't know that 1 in 10 adolescents have been purposely hit by a dating partner.  Further, I didn't know that rates of violence among same-sex couples are the same as those among heterosexual couples.  Finally, I had no idea that girls and women ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence of anyone.

So, basically I didn't know much of anything about teen dating violence.

Next our advisory going to plan a project (PSA festival?  Assembly announcement?  Podcast?) to share what we've learned with the school.  81% of parents say that they either think that dating violence is not a serious issue or don't know whether it is.  We've learned otherwise, and now we plan to share out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

For the Longest Time

Today was great but interminable.


I went skiing with Mac. It was his first time skiing. Overall, it was fabulous. Mac was cheerful and resilient. I was patient and proud. Our only snafu was the time that I fell while getting us onto the magic carpet, and had to endure the shocked stares of a couple of eleven year-olds who were pretty peeved by the delay and underwhelmed by my repeated failures to right the situation.


No one's perfect, okay kids? That's the message.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Flat Out

This is serious: My hair is so weird, and I'm having kind of a crisis about it.  What's going on is that it used to be sort of wavy.  Like since middle school.  Then, like 13 or 14 years later, I got pregnant and my hair got really curly and then stayed curly for three years.  Then, I got pregnant again, and it got even curlier. I ended up kind of liking it like that, and I've been wearing it in a short style on which I've gotten lots of compliments.

Now, it's four years after that last pregnancy, and low and behold, my hair is going straight.  Maybe it's just a teensy bit wavy, but only over the ears. Otherwise, just straight and puffy.

So, I've been experimenting with various different hairstyles and I've decided to grow it out, which is a real pain. Last night, I blow-dried it, and then when I woke up this morning, I parted it far over on the right.  It looked very straight and kind of hung in my face a little.  Different and acceptable, I decided.

8th graders like to comment on every change in appearance, so naturally they noticed my hair.

"Oh my gosh!" said Will.  "Did you get a Brazilian blow job?"

Um, no, Will.  No, I did not.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recess

My voicemail light was blinking yesterday afternoon, and come to find out it was the office manager at the lower school calling to tell me that my first born had injured himself at recess.  Something about falling from a height and hitting his head on a pole.

So, I called right back to see if he was concussed, and Carol explained that he actually just sort of ran into a metal pole on the playground. He actually hadn't fallen off of anything. He had a big goose egg, but was not seriously hurt. She seemed sheepish telling me this, but I recognized this sort of behavior immediately.

I actually chipped two teeth because I ran into a pole when I was in fourth grade.  Then later in college, I ran into a huge cement pole on a sidewalk that I really should have seen coming, except that I didn't.

Later, Shef and I had a good laugh about the pole incident.  That's really all you can do when you're the type of person who runs into stationary objects with any kind of frequency.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Shimmery Purple

I'm watching a What Not to Wear that's really stressing me out.  The contributor doesn't want to listen to anything that Stacy and Clinton have to say.

Why won't she listen?  Why is she wearing short shorts and too-small tops?  Why is she saying mean stuff about Clinton's outfit? Why won't she spend the money and look awesome? 

Also, she won't cut her hair or stop wearing false eyelashes.  I saw a little teaser that makes it seem like Stace and Clinton are going to give her old stuff back and send her home.  That's never happened before!

It's crazy!  She's driving me insane!  But I can't stop watching the show.  I can barely type because I'm so mesmerized.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Milan, New York, Japan



Ever since last winter, I've been paying more attention to what I wear.  Basically, I just try every day to dress interestingly and look nice.  It's kind of a hobby or whatever, and I got into it because while "disheveled" really fit my style profile from the ages of 17-25; I found that as I got older, I'd occasionally like to be dressed appropriately.  At 32, I finally realized that dressing appropriately actually takes effort.  And planning.

As part of my new initiative, I started reading some style blogs and subscribed to a couple of style magazines.  One of the magazines had a how-to on fall and winter layering that featured a red sweatshirt.  A red sweatshirt!  How inventive and inexpensive!  The magazine said a red sweatshirt could be "as versatile as an oxford"!

So, I went to Target and found a red sweatshirt in the men's department for six dollars.  I took it home and tried it on with a few things, and realized that: a) red doesn't look all that good on me; and b) an ill-fitting men's sweatshirt just really isn't going to work as a piece in my regular work wardrobe.  In short, it's not "as versatile as an oxford."

Duh.

Because Dan is Dan, he can't just let this fashion mistake fade into history.  Instead, he's been making fun of my red sweatshirt pretty much constantly.  When I wear the sweatshirt (to bed or to lounge around the house), he says stuff like, "Wow, it must be fashion week!" or, "Does this red sweatshirt have any special washing instructions?" 

It's a laugh a minute here in the house with Pronto.  He never makes a fashion misstep, btw.  Never ever.




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Roll Down Interstate 94

My friend Erin left me a voicemail this afternoon to say, "You're HOSTING Thanksgiving?! You're so grown up!"

It's true. I'm, like, officially a grown up. But, Shout Out to all the other people who washed all the dishes, made delicious sides to share, and played with the children. Good work, Team!

Tomorrow, we're heading out of here to enjoy a sprawling indoor waterpark in The Dells of Wisconsin. We discovered two summers ago that a waterpark vacation is pretty perfect for our foursome. What you do is, you rent a big room at a resort. You bring some food and some friends. You wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and go to the waterpark. Then you swim and slide until lunch time, at which point you come back to the room, eat and rest. Then, you go back to the park until dinner time. Finally, you shuffle back to the room, eat, and then watch tv until everyone crashes.

From the parent perspective, it's really pretty easy. And, as we know, easy makes great when it comes to vacay with smallish children.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mississipi Riv-er

Mac's school started offering violin lessons during extended day, and Mac wanted to play. The Suzuki teacher was going to show right up at school every day and instruct him, and we'd never have to commit to at-home practice.  That was a major plus because we both remember behaving like absolute terrors during at-home practice when we were kids.

We might look happy here as preschool violinists (I was especially happy in my shiny red knickers), but as I moved through elementary school,  I remember screaming, crying, lying, and pouting over my practice sessions.  Finally, after like eight or nine years of lessons, I shoved the instrument under my bed and refused to play ever, ever again.


Now, despite that crazy finish to my violin career, I find myself excited about Mac's lessons. I remember all the songs. I can even kind of play "Twinkle Twinkle," "Lightly Row," and "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" on his tiny little 32nd sized instrument.  To tell the truth, I'm even thinking of taking some lessons again myself.
This time around, if I don't feel like practicing, I probably won't cry. I'll probably just take a couple days off.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Initiative

The eighth graders at my school give persuasive speeches to a big audience of their peers.  We've been working away in class on these speeches for weeks now.  In the last few sessions, the kids have engaged in a master class with a totally rad speech coach who uses theater techniques to help them gain confidence, poise, and to use their body energy and voices to their fullest potential! 

During the coaching session today, a kid gave an interesting talk on how the act of giving increases your happiness and health.  I'm so glad to hear it!  In fact, the #FridayTen giving initiative has considerably increased my happiness.  So far, I've given ten-dollar contributions to EIGHT different organizations.

One of the most fun parts about the giving is that I usually make the donation in honor of someone, usually the person who told me about the organization.  Occasionally, the organization will send that person a card telling them about the gift.  This brings THEM happiness!  The goodness of #FridayTen goes on and on!

On Thanksgiving, I'm planning on making a follow-up #FridayTen video in order to collect a new list of organizations that might get to receive contributions. So, attention Thanksgiving dinner attendees: the video process will go more smoothly and you'll feel less harassed by me if you come with an acceptable organization (not associated with "conservative values" or the GOP) in mind.  Also, please be willing to appear on camera.  This will save a lot of coercion and increase everyone's happiness!

Last weekend, my bio-mom expressed her approval for #FridayTen, which once again brought me happiness.  "I'm surprised that hasn't totally taken off," she said.  I was flattered, but I'm pretty sure she was overestimating the reach of this blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Trade-Offs

The book I'm reading - Detracking for Excellence and Equity (Shout Out to my professional book club!) - is making me feel sort of like a sell-out for leaving my old job and starting my new one.  You see, the book is about committing to making our public schools fair and fantastic for all students by eliminating tracks and providing an awesome college-prep curriculum to everyone.

Of course, I now work in an independent school.  I love the school so much.  I have cool students, creative colleagues, and the ability to do my best work without a lot of barriers in terms of administration and/or bureaucracy.  Also, the school is much more racially diverse and outwardly committed to pluralism than my previous school.  But, we don't have the same amount of heterogeneity in terms of student achievement because, well, kids have to apply to get in and then achieve at a certain level in order to stay in.

So, even though I don't regret my decision to take my new job AT ALL, I do feel like there are other teachers out there doing more notable and noble work by digging in with more diverse learners.  I feel sort of like a traitor for reading this book that's pretty much meant for them.

Luckily, my other book club book (Shout Out to the Mother-Daughter book club!) is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  I probably won't have an identity crisis over that one, so I can't wait to start it.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Forever Your Girl

There's, like, a new trend afoot in our house.  Basically, it's that the kids just act like they totally don't have to listen to me.

I ask them to do stuff, and then they just decide not to do that same stuff.  Then, when I ask again more loudly, they look at me blankly or say, "oh-KAY," like I'm some kind of lunatic who is constantly freaking out.

The whole thing kind of reminds me of this classic article from The Onion, "Report: Mom Just Locked Her Door," except that in my case Pronto does listen to me and help.  Thanks, Pronto.

Just writing this makes me realize that my kids are really not that little anymore.  Instead, they're old enough to be mouthy and willfully defiant.  You'd think a benefit of reaching this stage would be that they now sleep through the night.  Alas.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Here's a Thorn

It appears that our heater is not working. It's set for 64, but it's currently 56. I'm pretty cold. I've done some investigating, and the heater is making some noise like it's working, but none of the radiators are actually warm. With that check, and by turning off the system and turning it on again, I have exhausted my ability to troubleshoot this particular problem.


So, we have called the emergency heater fixers. Will they make it? We're having the first snow of the season, people. It would be great to have some heat.


Rose: Mac appears not to be bothered by the lack of heat. I snuggled with that kid for about an hour and a half, and during that time I wasn't bothered either.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Don't Wanna Hear About Susan

We had a visiting artist at school - actually a super cool speech and theater coach who gave a master class to the eighth graders - and at the end of the day, I noticed that she was staring at me a lot.

"I'm so sorry," she said.  "It's just that you look exactly like my girlfriend, Laura.  I've, like, GOT to call her and tell her I met her twin!"

"Funny!" I said, smiling.

But, the truth is, I was not at all surprised by this revelation. This actually happens to me all the time.  At least once a month, someone tells me I "look exactly like" someone else they know - their tennis instructor, their cousin, their brother's girlfriend.  At every job I've had, I've regularly been mistaken for at least one other colleague.

Even when I'm just standing next to someone, people will often say I look like that person.  Isn't that odd?  What is it about me that looks like so many other people?



An upside to this phenomenon is that sometimes people say I look like a famous person whom I admire.  Alexis Bledel used to be the most common.  Before her was Alicia Silverstone and/or Jennifer Garner.  Most recently, it's been Leslie Mann, a comparison I don't understand at all.  When pressed, people say it's her voice and/or mannerisms that make her look like me.

Whatever.  It's not a rose or a thorn, really, but it happened yesterday.  It happens all the time.






Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turn the Clock to Zero

My beloved spouse, Pronto, has posed a new blogging challenge.  To be honest, it took me a while to find out about this development because I've been so headless at work that I haven't really checked the internet.  In fact, I actually learned of the challenge from @DailyRos, whose first post in said challenge showed up in my reader.

But anyway, of course I'm in for the challenge!  According to the rules, I will blog about something that happened to me every day from now until sometime in the future.  No problem!

Something that happened today: I'm giving student surveys about my teaching performance.  The last time I was required to do surveys, I nearly went insane.  I spent about six months quoting one of the anonymous parent responses. That parent said I was "marginal and uninspiring."  Remember that?  Remember how I couldn't stop talking about that dumb response?  Remember how I forced everyone who knows me AND people who have only met me on the internet to declare indignantly that I am NEITHER marginal, NOR uninspiring?

I can't promise I won't have a similar reaction to any negative comments I get on the current surveys.  So, fair warning.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Psych 1, Psych 2

I'm really bummed out.  I had planned this great date for Dan and me tonight.  We were going to see a the ultra hip and yet ancient EDO POP exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, for which I had procured 2-for-1 tix via Groupon.

Then we were going to Las Teresitas Mexican Grill for delicious foods by the same people who brought us Taco Morelos, which closed a couple of years back on Eat Street.  I had procured a 2-for-1 deal for dinner, too.

And now, our sitter (Hi, Mary!) will be here in 20 minutes, and come to find out the stupid art museum closes at 5.  FIVE!  And I can't think of anything else cool to do.

Lame.  Maybe Mary will play Bananagrams with us for awhile before we leave.  I guess that's the best we can do.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Regular Crowd Shuffles In

This morning on the way to school, Shef said, "Hey, Mom!  It's 11-11-11!"

"I know!" I said.  "It won't happen again for another hundred years!"

"Yeah," Shef said.  "Will I still be alive?"

"Maybe," I shrugged.  "With modern medicine, you might live until you're 107."

"Yeah," he said glumly, "but my rocker days will probably be over."

Probably.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Go Ahead With Your Own Life

Today I went to a workshop in the morning.  I'm really glad I went there.  The expert said some interesting things about formative assessment, and I'm probably going to read his book. The book is called Embedded Formative Assessment.  Probably, if you're not a teacher you wouldn't be interested in that book at all, but whatever.  A lot of you are teachers.  So.

Anyway, the trouble happened when I came back to school.  Apparently, the sub who had committed to taking my class was sick.  Then, the administrative coordinator didn't get his message that he was sick.  Then, instead of telling anyone that no teacher had shown up to teach their class, my students hid in the back of the room in the dark with the door closed.

Finally, they were discovered by one of my bosses.  Then another boss came down to teach the class.  Sadly, I had emailed the lesson plan to the sub instead of leaving it on my desk, so there was no plan, only handouts.

This isn't the best way for things to turn out when you're gone at a workshop.  It's actually much easier to just be there, but then you wouldn't learn interesting things about formative assessment.

The end.

Friday, November 4, 2011

And A Bright Orange Pair of Pants

Before the school day ended today, we all got to see a performance of the Middle School play, "The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet."

On the way to the show, I grabbed Shef from his extended day program, so he could watch it, too.  I'm sure glad I did: that kid laughed his head off when Romeo first saw Juliet and said, "HACHIMAMA!"  And also when Romeo said that Juliet passed the "hot mama test."

Of course, in this version of R & J, the starcrossed lovers don't actually die.  Also, Mercutio and Tybalt don't die.  Instead those two fighters battle with "noodleloos" and are only temporarily laid up.  Later the two feuding families just all become friends.  Thank goodness.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don't Imagine You're Too Familiar

Tonight, I went to an event where author Eula Biss read from her book Notes from No Man's Land and answered questions about it.

Usually, I borrow from Lee and say that "if you want to read it, you should." I'm going a little bit further with this one and say that even if you have the slightest inkling to read about whiteness in a book by a white author, this is a book you should probably pick up. Our school had it as our One Book, so there were quite a few awesome colleagues at the event also listening to Ms. Biss.

There were also some people I didn't know, including Katie.

Guess what?!? And this is probably the best thing that's happened to me in a long time: Katie recognized me and told me SHE READS THE BLOG! That means I was recognized in public as a blogger by a person who reads my blog.

Omigod! I am over the moon! I thought about taking a picture of Katie and posting it right here as a public tribute to my reader. But, I resisted that temptation. I did not resist telling Katie that I HAD the temptation, however.

I told her all of that (and probably some other stuff) because I'm prone to babble on and on and share personal information when I get nervous. In fact, Dan and Erin teamed up to mock this trait of mine just last night.

Luckily, I didn't say, "I have hemorrhoids on my butt," which is what Dan suggested is the type of thing I generally say to strangers when I'm nervous. And I didn't even say anything about my psoriasis. So THERE, Dan. I have total self control.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Something I Want to Remember

I've been meaning forever to blog something: It's that Mac can't say his "th" sound yet, which makes him the most adorable speaker ever.

Shef didn't have this quality in his speech. Instead, he spoke perfectly clearly with an old-man gravelly type voice as a one year-old.  That was adorable in its own way, but when Mac says stuff like, "I love to play wis my brudder," it really melts my heart.

You can hear a couple of examples of lovely toddler affectation in this classic YouTube video from last June


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday Night I Crashed Your Party





I used my grandfather's birthday lunch as an excuse to make a promotional video for my new initiative, #FridayTen. You'll see in the video that my family had some great ideas about where to donate ten dollars.

In honor of these fine peeps, I'm going to donate $10 to each of their organizations. I'll do it $10 at a time starting next Friday.

In addition to those mentioned in the video, I'll also be donating $10 to the MS Society in honor of my grandmother. When she found out I planned to use her video clip online, she said I couldn't. But, still I'm in support of her organization.

Oh, also I won't be donating to Mac's organization for obvious reasons. I'm pretty sure Dan gets his own cash allowance.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I've Been Cool With the Lines

So, took the kids to the neighborhood park today.  I was just hanging with Mac at the zip line and the jungle gym.  Exchanging a few parenting-type comments with the guy next to me, when I realized the guy next to me was totally DONOVAN McNABB.

Back when I used to play fantasy football, I had that guy on my team. And you may not know this, but Donovan is a quarterback with the (sucky sucky) Vikings this year. 

I tried to act reasonably normal.  In retrospect, I might have recognized him sooner since he was really much larger than the average dad at the park.  Eventually, Dan came over from throwing the football with Shef and confirmed that I had indeed been speaking to a famous NFL player.  He acted like it was totally normal and did not at all respond to my excited whispers.

Dan spent the next ten minutes just hanging out with the kids, thirty feet away from McNabb.  No biggie.

Then, when the QB his fam piled into their black SUVs and drove away, Dan started furiously typing on his iPhone.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm emailing all my friends about the sighting!!" he said.

So, then I knew this was big news after all.

Am I Original?

Last week, Lee started an initiative called #CalmTilChristmas.  Many have joined the list of supporters, and I'm proud to announce right now that I am among them.

Coincidentally, I am also launching my own initiative.  Dan has made fun of it on a regular weekly schedule, but I'm pretty sure that's because he's just jealous.  My commitment is to the #FridayTen.  Each week, I've been donating ten dollars of my weekly cash allowance to an organization of my choice.

The first week, I chose The Advocates for Human Rights Women's Program. You can check out their Stop Violence Against Women Website.  My sister Mary works for this particular organization.  As far as I can tell, they're doing a lot of good work by both raising awareness and fighting legal battles here and abroad.

The next week, I picked the Groveland Food Shelf in Minneapolis.  Groveland has a special Food for Youth program that supports kids up to age 23 who are homeless or who are at risk of being homeless.

This week, I picked The Current, which is the music station associated with Minnesota Public Radio.  They were having a membership drive, and I kept feeling guiltier and guiltier about not being a member.  Plus, I viewed this contribution as a statement against Big Media, an issue which my great Senator Al Franken has also taken up.

Every week, it's fun to pick which place will get my ten dollars.  It's also fun to get made fun of by Dan, who has not contributed ten dollars.

Maybe you want to do the #FridayTen, too?  Or maybe you just want to do the #FridayFive?  Or perhaps you just want to read about where my #FridayTen is going?  In any case, I welcome you to my initiative!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Like Dolphins Can Swim

Tomorrow I conduct the majority of my conferences with my advisees.  I'm also going to conferences as a parent for Mac and Shef.

As Shef and I walked out of the building today, we ran into his music teacher.  As we approached, Shef whispered to me, "I probably got a good report in music."  Later, after we chatted with Mr. B. a bit and said good-bye, I asked him how he knew this.  "Well," he said, "I've never had to take a break on the Calming Cushion." 

Later, I asked Mac what his teachers were going to tell me at conferences.

"They'll say I'm so nice," he said.

"What else?" I asked.

"They'll say I'm so beautiful."

"I bet they will," I nodded.

"Anything else?"

"That I'm having fun."

It'll be fun to see if these self-reports are accurate.   Maybe I should tell some of my advisees and their parents that they are so beautiful.  That would probably put everyone in a good mood.

The Hump

People at my new job keep giving me pep talks about surviving my first year.  It's really sweet of them.  They say stuff like:

"After back-to-school week, you'll feel much better."

Or, "Don't worry, after we get back from camp, things really settle down."

Or, "Once you get through Curriculum Night, you can breathe a sigh of relief"

Or, "After Legacy Day, things really feel normal."

Or, "Once you get your first observation under your belt, you'll know what to expect."

And, "Hang in there, after conferences, you'll get into a routine."

I have a feeling these talks will continue.  Luckily, yesterday my new pal Kaari summed things up for me:

"Let's go out for a glass of wine after conferences.  Because the first time you survive anything in this place is a cause for celebration."





Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shake It To The Left

This has been a big week at work: my first formal observation, tons of meetings, preconferencing with the children (I have to do 30-minute conferences with each of my advisees and their families after speaking with all of their teachers), starting two new units, PLUS my commitment to Jillian Michaels and her shred.

On Tuesday, the counselor whose room is just right next door to mine expressed that she too was feeling overwhelmed. 

"I'm so tired," she sighed, "but it's Friday, so it's cool."

I laughed really hard at that.  I've been laughing hard about it for three days now, and it's still not Friday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On That HD Flat

A couple of days ago, on the recommendation of a couple of friends, I purchased Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred DVD.

Jillian leads the workout with the help of two ripped pals, Natalie and Anita. Let me tell you, Jillian does not accept excuses.  She does not allow breaks.  Jillian says if I want results in 20 minutes, I have to PUSH.  She says, "Intensity people!"  She shows me Anita's abs and announces, "These don't come for free!"

I don't know why this motivates me, but it does.  I have now shredded three days in a row.  I'll let you know what happens.  Probably no one will recognize me once 30 days are up.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's Up, Y'All


Here's some information about my media consumption habits of late:

Dan and I are almost finished watching Season Four of one of our favorite shows: The Big Bang Theory.  Have you seen it?  The main characters are physics researchers at a California university and are completely unabashedly nerdtastic.  They live across the hall from a cute wannabe actress who works at The Cheesecake Factory. Is that a recipe for hilarity or what?

Also, I'm reading a book for my mother-daughter book club called Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant.  The author of this book, David Tammet, has a mind that works much differently than most other people's, and he explains this clearly in his memoir.  I'm happy to be reading it, but the writing is not as artful as writing in other texts I've enjoyed.

For my middle school faculty book club, I read The Schwa was Here by Neal Schusterman.  In that novel, the main character is kind of invisible, but not really.  A lot of people tend to just not notice the poor guy. There's one really memorable and poignant scene in the novel that involves a view of a billboard from a warehouse.  Just for that scene alone, I'm glad to have read the book.

Right now, I'm watching Top Chef: Just Desserts.  I have to multitask because otherwise I'm too busy to read or blog or watch television.  That's the way the fall goes when you're a teacher.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Plan Z

You were probably wondering about the latest in the sleep situation at our house. Well, let me tell you: it's been a full queen bed around here lately. But don't feel too badly for me because sometimes I can convince one of them to camp out on the floor. That way they're NEXT TO my bed, instead of in it.

My latest spate of Internet research turned up a sleep solution that worked for a couple of days, wherein I would go check on Mac every fifteen minutes, but only if he was quiet. The problem with this strategy is that you have to go up there every fifteen minutes and the kid doesn't actually fall asleep for hours. Because I guess it's a lot of fun to wait for the checks. I still haven't completely given up on this strategy, but I've added another component:

Tonight I tried a very special sleeping medicine that I whipped up and administered via syringe. I made a big deal out of this placebo. What happened? Shef read for an hour in his bed and then fell asleep. Mac cried for an hour about how he couldn't sleep. I told him the medicine only works if you lie in your bed and close your eyes. In the dark. He didn't really buy this, but eventually he did get in bed and is now sleeping.

I'll probably try everything again tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nerd Alert

 I'm just back from my Nerdy Education Book Club.  This is the one where we pick education-related texts and discuss them in terms of our own jobs, experiences, and philosophies.  Tonight, we discussed a book on how you should only teach reading, writing, and discussion; and until you are teaching those things well, you shouldn't do anything else.

The book was called Focus by a guy named Mike Schmoker.  There were parts of the book I really enjoyed and learned from.  For instance, Mike really drove home the importance of checking for understanding.  This is something I haven't done so well in the last few years, so I appreciated the pep talk.

Other parts of the book, I didn't care for. Basically, those were the parts about how any idiot without an ounce of creativity can teach a good lesson if they just follow an easy formula and why won't the administrators just adequately supervise and enforce.

Overall, I found the book to be condescending, but still useful.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, if you want to read it, as Lee says, you should.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Will Fight Till Forever






Shef has homework now.  Here, he's working on a word wall project in which he had to write a story about a flower AND design the flower.  He came up with a great story idea involving a stream, a giant mango, and a wand.

I was really happy to sit around and talk about the story with him, but the fact that he's become obsessed with perfect handwriting really slowed us down. 

"Keep writing!" I told him.  "We can fix it on the final draft!"

That only sort of worked.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In the Family

Today, while Mac was in the bathroom ("Give me privacy," he tells us after we help him disrobe), Shef asked him something about his "wiener."

"Shef!" I hissed.  "Don't teach him that word!"

"Oh," he said. "He already knows that word, Mom."

I rolled my eyes.  "Because of YOU," I said.

"Yes," he nodded, going back to his art (?!) project.  "I AM an excellent teacher.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marriage

Shef has been yacking my ear off on the ways to and from school.  I actually love it a lot.  He tells me all kinds of good stuff.

Recently, he told me about how most of the second graders had decided whom to marry.  Henry might marry Kelly or Maia, for instance.

"Who are YOU going to marry?" I asked.

"I can't tell you that, Mom," he said.  "I also know who Clare is going to marry."

"Oh yeah?  Who's that?"

"I'm sworn to secrecy, Mom."

I see.

Another topic of conversation was who gets in trouble all the time.

"So-and-so has been to the office FIVE times!" Maniacal laughter.

"That's not so good," I said.  "I bet he's working on it."

"Well, I've been working really hard," Shef reported.  "I haven't had any breaks.  I haven't even been asked to go to my seat.  I HAVE HAD some warnings.  But no breaks. But LAST YEAR!  I had SO MANY BREAKS!!!!" Maniacal laughter.

Yeah, kid.  I had those conferences with Mrs. J. so I know all about the damn breaks.

So far, second grade is a real trip.




Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Second Grade

Tonight, I went to Shef's back-to-school night.  I thought MY back-to-school night was stressful, but the poor elementary teachers have to give 75-minute presentations!

Shef's teacher, Mr. B., was pretty fantastic. Totally charming, and he made second grade seem like the BEST YEAR EVER. Afterward I told Mr. B I thought he was great.  He seemed appreciative. 

I generally appreciate it when people compliment my back-to-school night presentations.  The other day, one dad told me he thought mine was "very hip."  Love that guy.

Just now, Shef told me that he wasn't planning on dating until college.  Good, Shef!  Let's go with that!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Here and There

Obviously, I have loved my students a ton.  Last year I taught mostly juniors, which means they are now applying for college.  I told many of them I would do their letters of recommendation.  I committed to this before I accepted my new position.

Rachel told me I should just tell them I'm so sorry, but I can't do these letters.  You know, since I no longer work at that school, and I'm completely overwhelmed with the responsibilities of my new job.

Jordan told me that I should absolutely not write the letters because anyone else could do that, and in fact in her experience as a college admissions officer, the letters don't really make that much of a difference anyway.

Dobby told me that I should do the letters because it's the right thing to do.

So, thanks Dobby!  If I didn't do them, I'd feel terribly guilty probably for the rest of my life. So, I'm doing them.  I really don't have time to do them, but I'm doing them anyway.  I've done eight, and I have like fifteen to go.




Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tomorrow is Back to School Night

Everyone keeps talking about CURRICULUM NIGHT like it's a really huge ordeal. I am thinking I can handle it, but I hope I'm not wrong.

Also, Renee's having another baby, and I'm really happy about it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later

This has been an intense weekend of 9/11 memorial events.

I have a family member who was incredibly brave. On September 11th, 2001 he stormed the cockpit on Flight 93 that then crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Remembering the shock and grief of 9/11 is difficult, but I love to hear stories about people who've decided to make a positive difference in part because they were inspired by the passengers on Flight 93, including my uncle.

I got a chance to speak about kids and community service at a Minnesota's National Day of Service event yesterday in Minneapolis.

Afterward, a reporter gave me a really nice compliment about my speech. "You must do this kind of thing a lot," she said.

"Oh no," I told her. "The rest of my family is in Shanksville, so they brought out the B team for this."

The A-team got to meet President Obama, but I got to talk with Senator Klobuchar and Governor Dayton. Those guys are cool too.

Thanks 9/11 heroes! You've left gigantic shoes to fill, but you've inspired thousands of people to give it a go.

Monday, September 5, 2011

ZOOM

Just a few cousins cruising Lake Minnetonka eating some chocolate chip cookies. You know, just a normal Minnesota evening. Wish u were here!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

YOOTS



I've have a great first week of school with the yoots.  We rolled into the weekend after discussing our trip to Camp next week.  It turns out that all of the eighth graders go to a camp to bond.  We do high ropes and rock climbing and canoeing and stuff.

And because we're short on parent volunteers, the teachers will have to sleep in the cabins with the yoots.  This is one of those times when I'm incredibly grateful to have had five years of camp counseling experience.

Friday, September 2, 2011

XTRA TIME



I'll be honest: the biggest hurdle for me in the current blogging challenge is the requirement of an image.  I've really had to phone a few images in because of this.  Of course, Pronto would say that phoning it in is actually great blogging. Perhaps I just need a change of perspective.

Anyway, I decided I don't care that the deadline has come and gone and that technically I failed the challenge.  I'm going to complete these last few letters!  I'll finish if it's the last thing I ever do!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WE'RE OFF!



This is a photo our babysitter Claire took as Shef and I were leaving for our first day of school together.  

As we all know, this is generally what happens when we try to take a nice family photo.

Anyway, we both had awesome days.  I have the nicest students, and I feel like I'm working in a dream, pretty much.

Shef was psyched because now that he's a second grader, he has REAL HOMEWORK. And an assignment notebook. Totes official. I wonder how long we can make this excitement last?

Monday, August 29, 2011

VOLCANO




For goodness knows what reason, I taught the boys that "going commando" means wearing pants without underwear. Any normal parent would realize she shouldn't pass on this bit of vernacular. But, whatever. I guess I wasn't thinking.

So anyway, the other morning, I helped Mac remove his nighttime diaper in order to accomplish his morning evacuations. Afterward, he didn't want to take the time to change.

"Don't worry, Mom," he said. "I'll just go volcano."

It took me a moment, but then I realized he meant commando.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

UNINVITED



You know you're teaching middle school when you open your mailbox in the teachers' workroom and find a taxidermied ferrety thing mounted on a birch log. Staring out at you with beady eyes and creepy teeth.

I did what any normal middle school teacher would do: I put it in a colleague's mailbox and shut the door.

Friday, August 26, 2011

TO DIE FOR




The food at my new school is SO FLIPPING GOOD. Yesterday's lunch was grilled portobello mushrooms over wild rice with marinara sauce. Also, strawberry and spinach salad. In case you didn't want that, you could have had tilapia in a light cream sauce. Or a sandwich with meat or sunbutter.

Before all of that, when you get to school you can have cereal, Nurtrigrain or Special K snack bars, and some fresh fruit. Also, you can have coffee.

The best part is that it's free. FREE! INCLUDED IN MY CONTRACT! I keep talking about this. Everyday I marvel at my good fortune.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SIKHISM




Yesterday as part of a workshop on equity and community engagement, I got to hear a family in our school talk about their religion and how it impacts their life. They are Sikhs.

As they were talking, I started thinking to myself that a Sikh sounds like a great thing to be. Sikhs believe in peace, faith, and justice. They believe that each person creates and cultivates their own personal connection to God. Sikhs do not have a lot of rules around social behavior. For instance, if you're a Sikh, you're allowed to have an abortion if you want to or have a relationship with any partner you choose. Also, Sikhs are open to conversion.

The thing that makes Sikhs most visible is that they show their devotion and respect for creation by not cutting their hair. The men also wear turbans. Jas, the dad in the family who visited, told us that 99% of men you see in the U.S. wearing turbans are Sikhs. I had no idea, but now I know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

REQUEST



Yesterday at work, the new school-wide arts department chair told me that I was so funny and had such good energy that she could really imagine me as an emcee of the biggest event of the school year with 2000 people in attendance. So, would I do it?

I'll be honest: I pretty much stopped listening after she mentioned how I'd had the group "in stitches" during my introduction of myself the day before. Oh, the flattery! The legitimacy! The potential of keeping up with Pronto!

And then, before I knew what I was doing, I agreed. To be the emcee of the BIGGEST SCHOOL TRADITION that I've never even participated in before.

As @DailyRos would say, Hella WHAT?!

So, today, I had to send an email backing out of this ridiculous commitment. Thank God the chair was nice about it. She just laughed when she saw me. Let's be honest, I was probably hilarious as I was backing out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

QUERIES



Sometimes I use Google to solve life's big problems. Tonight I used Google to find out why I have been clenching my jaw at night and how I might stop. Sadly, I haven't found definitive answers to these questions. But, I made an effort.

I also tried to find out why this leech bite I got a few summers ago still itches sometimes. Why does it do that? That's so weird. And annoying.

Friday, August 19, 2011

PRIMO



I'm writing this from my new classroom. My mom generously offered to take the kids overnight, which means I can attend the New Faculty Dinner by myself. This event takes place in about an hour and is the culminating experience for the New People. We've already had the New Faculty Introductory Meeting, the New Faculty Benefits Overview, the New Faculty/Mentor Lunch, the New Faculty Technology Training, and the New Faculty Division Time.

I'm starting to feel a little spinny in the head here, actually. I have a lot to learn. The good news is that the father of one of my new co-workers knows a friend of mine. That friend told me that the father told him that the co-worker told HIM that he thinks I'm PRIMO.

And primo starts with P. Phew.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

OVER



Today was the last day. Tomorrow, I'm back to work. Of course, I've been there a lot; but tomorrow is the first time I'm required.

Yes, summer is OVER.

Summer is over, and I haven't even thought about a motto for the year! Last year, I thought a lot about it. Remember I settled with Get it Done? I actually did Get it Done, both the school year and the unbelievably long and intense interview process I endured to get this new gig.

I'm excited, you guys! I'm super excited. I'm so excited, I don't even think I need a motto.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NAUGHTY/NICE

This classic dichotomy pretty much sums up life with Surly Seven and Whiny Three.






Still. Gotta love those guys!!

MIND/SHIFT

I read several teaching and education-related blogs and Twitter feeds. One of my new favorites is Mind/Shift. The blog curates a lot of interesting ed-tech news.

One thing I'm especially interested in is figuring out ways to harness mobile devices. Mind/Shift had an article on this recently. A highlight of the article is the little blurb on "Snack Learning." If you think about it, a 50-minute class period is rather snack-like.

Today on my mobile device (in this case, my laptop, which isn't quite as mobile as my phone or my iPad), I solved a work problem. My new boss (she seems so fabulous, fyi) asked for a head shot-type photo of me. I took one quick with my webcam and emailed it to her. "This is as good as it gets," I told her.



Never mind the zit on my chin. You can't hardly notice it, right?!

Monday, August 15, 2011

LIES

Way back when I first purchased a family membership at the zoo, my mom gave me a piece of advice. At the zoo, you write down how many dependent children you have living with you at your address. She told me to just round up. That way, when one of your kids brings a friend, that extra kid is free. She said she always did that kind of thing when my brother and I were young.

I didn't think much about the LIE, and just signed up for three kids like my mom told me to. Never mind that we have never actually brought a friend for either of our boys. But, whatever, I COULD HAVE.

Well, on this past weekend's visit, we didn't bring friends, but we had to renew our membership. I was, of course, reminded of my enduring LIE. Then, I was forced to ramp it up. On the new membership application, you have to list the names and birth dates of your children. My first inclination was just to let it drop. Like, just say, "Oh you know what? We just have two kids now." But then what if I had to do more explaining and it only compounded the LIES?

So, I just decided that the easiest thing would be to invent a middle child. Plenty of people with 7 year-olds and 3 year-olds also have 5 year-olds, and now, ladies and gentlemen, we do too! As far as the zoo is concerned Shef exists, Mac exists, and so does Thomas, our middle child born on May 15th, 2006.



Welcome, Thomas! I think I do love you so much.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

KOMODO-KANGAROO-KID

We went to to zoo today and had a great time. My idea for the blog was to take lots of photos of animals that start with K and then put them here on the blog.

It turns out the zoo only has two animals that start with K: the Komodo Dragon and Matchie's Tree Kangaroo. So here they are. You can't see them very well because I didn't do a very good job of taking the pictures. Also, I didn't realize ShapeCollage would make them so small. Oh well. Live and learn.



Shef also wanted to pose for a pic next to the buffalo statue, so I added that one, too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

JOBIN

A really funny movie that Dan and I like is I Love You, Man. In it, this nice-but-blundering guy Peter tries to make a best friend in time for his wedding.

Basically, he tries way too hard and says all kinds of painfully awkward things while trying to seem cool. It goes without saying that I have behaved like Peter many times because of my previously mentioned INCLUSION NEEDS. So, naturally I find him endearing and totally relate to his plight.

Anyway, our whole family has gotten into the habit of calling each other "Jobin," which is the inexplicable nickname Peter gives to his new pal, Sydney, in the movie.

We also say all kinds of other things from this film. For instance, when I'm making plans with Dan on the phone, I'll end by telling him, "I'll see you then, or I'll see you at another time." And then he'll answer, "Laters on the men-jay."

Even Dan's parents have gotten into the trend. Their favorite is "When you get a mo." As in, when you get a mo-MENT.

Basically, if you haven't seen this movie and you like raunchy stupid comedies featuring cute little awkward guys, you should probably see it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

INCLUSION NEEDS



This is a phrase my mother in-law taught me. She's always remarking on her own "high inclusion needs." It turns out that I also have extremely high inclusion needs. We do share a birthday, my mother in-law and I, so maybe it's to be expected that we share certain traits.

What it means to have high inclusion needs is that you always need a buddy.

Going out to lunch? I want to come. Walking to the office? Hey! Me too! Have to pee? Well, I'm totally up for that.

So yesterday when I had a fun chat about teaching ideas and other stuff with one of my new colleagues, I was super excited. I called Dan right afterward. "I made a friend!!" I squealed. He tried to sound excited for me, but he doesn't really understand. He's like totally fine to walk to the bathroom by himself.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

HANDBOOK

'

I've been so busy being excited about my new job that I almost forgot to be overwhelmed. But, don't even worry because I just got three back-to-school mailings and now I'm well on my way to feeling suitably HARRIED.

There are a lot of new handbook items to learn: log ins, passwords, acronyms, policies, schedule...

I've posted the (ingenious, I think) schedule above. Here are some things I love about it: 1) the kids get to take seven classes, but never have more than six per day; 2) they have some breaks in the day, like BREAK, RECESS, and TUTORIAL; and 3) We have ADVISORY.

Also, and this is a revelation, teachers have TWO prep periods. Mine are A and C! I was so confused about the two-prep concept that I babbled to my new boss incomprehensibly about my HAPPINESS. Oh well.

Monday, August 8, 2011

GRYFFINDOR



When I left Camp Foley tonight, the campers and staff were busy with their Harry Potter Banquet Day. Starting this morning, they all did this big House Cup Competition and then they ran around in house colors finding horcruxes and battling Bellatrix LeStrange.

Dumbledore and McGonagall wandered around making sure everything was going okay and counting out HP silly bandz for souvenirs.

At dinner, everyone wore dress robes and costumes and listened to the HP theme song. Tonight, they were going to campfire where perhaps the horcruxes would be destroyed and Voldemort vanquished.

During the day, I helped a little bit with the Harry Potter festivities. Gotta love a workplace where people come to you for answers to questions like, "Have you seen my four ring pops?" and "Will you sprinkle these jelly beans on all these tables?"

Also, "Is the face paint in here?" and "Have you checked the batteries in all of these dinosaurs?"

Thanks, Camp Foley. It was a blast, as usual. That's my staff photo up there from 1998, btw. I found the yearbook in my basement.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

FABULOUS



Fabulous is an adjective I use a lot. For instance, if someone says something like, "I bet it will be fun," I might say, "It'll be fabulous!"

If I like your shoes, I'll say they're fabulous.

If your haircut is nice, I'll say it's fabulous.

Fabulous photographs, fabulous house, fabulous time, fabulous food.

Sometimes I shorten it to "fab." You know. Whatever I feel like.

A few years ago, when I was saying fabulous about something, my brother in-law told me that fabulous is popular among GLBTQ people. Just now in honor of "F" day, I checked on Urban Dictionary, and sure enough! According to the website, "fabulous" is a the "ultimate compliment" in the gay community, and perhaps even a mating call.

Love it! Gay Pride! Fabulous!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

EASY LISTENING

On the way up here - I'm north of Brainerd, just over three hours from Minneapolis - I used the scan feature to find a good radio station. I didn't really find a GREAT station, but I did hear Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me" three times within the span of 20 minutes. And I stopped scanning to listen to it EACH TIME!

Which brings me to the next part of my story. Eventually I did stop because a station was playing "Don't Stop Believin'," which was revitalized first by Bill Clinton's campaign and then later by Glee. Next that station played "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel, which I LOVE.

Then they played three more songs I knew all the words to, including "Walkin' on Sunshine." So, I'm sure you guessed it by now, but that, my friends, was a LITE ROCK station. Exactly the format I used to ridicule my mother for choosing.

This is what getting old feels like? Oh, well. Here's Air Supply:



They make every tackle at the sound of the whistle and they make all the stadiums rock.

Friday, August 5, 2011

DRAFTS



In a minute, I'm hopping in the car and driving up to Camp Foley, my old stomping ground.

My friends Alli and Marie let me do a bit of work up there in exchange for Shef's camp tuition. Isn't that so nice? I LOVE them! My job is to read and edit a bunch of stuff, which is obviously right up my alley. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the drafts first thing tomorrow.

In addition to doing that editing work, I get to be part of the awesome camp community for a few days - singing, dancing, being silly, and not cooking or cleaning. I think we can all agree this situation is win-win.

*photo c/o Camp's website

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CHALKBOARD



When Shef was gone at camp, I painted his room and got him new, big-kid bedding. Instead of doing all the walls in that cheery green, I decided it would be cool to cover one big one in chalkboard paint.

It turned out really well, I think! I love the built-in murals! This one is a combo of "The Guy," care of Dan, some Harry Potter wands, brooms, and house decor that Shef did with Claire (our amazing babysitter), and whatever Shef's pal Charles did while he was over today.

Cool, right?!

Cool.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BULLETIN BOARDS



I spent the morning in my new classroom setting up the space. I did a bunch of stuff, but I was most excited about papering and bordering my bulletin boards. The reason I was so pumped is that I purchased three new exciting borders. I decided to use the leopard print border on the board closest to my desk. YES!

In between the bulletin boards, I fiddled around with my desks. My problem is that I feel like the room has more of a table vibe, and I'm not sure how to arrange the desks. I tried a semicircle and I tried rows, but neither of those arrangements seemed right. I'll probably try a few more things.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Okay. ADAPT.

Awhile ago when the last blogging challenge ended at the end of June, Dan spent some time lamenting the lack of challenge.

"It's your turn to pose a challenge!" I told him.

Despite this advice, he chose not to pose a challenge. I think what he said was, "Hmmmm."

So then after a month of slow blogging on this site, I decided to pose my own challenge to myself on July 27th. My challenge was to blog every day until August 18th. I publicly declared this resolution so that I'd hold myself accountable.

But now, a month after my initial suggestion that Dan pose a challenge and AFTER I've already challenged myself, Dan has finally posed a challenge. I'm supposed to post something for every letter (a remix of the AKR challenge from July 2010 posed by Lee) and post an image (a nod to the April 2011 image challenge also posed by Lee).

So, fine. I'm in the challenge. I'm going to do it. And while I'm at it, why not also revisit the December 2009 and December 2010 challenges that both had new/multimedia aspects?

Actually, I already wanted to ask about this thing I've read about a few times online lately called Pinterest. Have you heard of it? It's like a social-bookmarking, collage-making, inspiration-boarding thing. Should we get some Pinterests? I'll admit, I requested an invite. Here's a screenshot (aka IMAGE):

Monday, August 1, 2011

It was J.P. After All!

This morning, I dropped Shef off at his art camp and walked down the hallway to my new classroom to start getting set up for the school year.

One of the best parts of my new job is that Shef and I now go to the same school. I just get to drop him off, and then go to work, and then pick him up... all with no driving!

So, this morning I was doing all the glamorous things that teachers do in August, like wiping down shelves and stacking books and deciding on bulletin board design; and then my door opened. It was Shef!

"Mom!" he said. "It's break time, so do you have those pretzels?" he asked.

And, yes, I had the pretzels! And then he just ran out the door back to his art class! It's hard to convey in blog format how happy this little interaction made me. It's so nice and easy to be in the same school space.

Probably we won't always be so thrilled to be in close proximity, but today it was pretty great. Who wouldn't want to be hanging with this guy?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stroke The Furry Walls

Omg, it's after 11, and I just realized I almost forgot to blog. But then I remembered.

Phew! That was a close one.

So! What do people want to read about today?

Tonight's viewing of The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All? It was slightly sleazy. I'm not sure that Ashley finds love. But then I read a bunch of spoilers in the internet that said she DID find love. So, who knows?

Dan's superior water skiing instruction? He mentored two kids under eight to a total of nine laps around the lake on skis. Holla atcha, Dan!

The comprehensive history of the first 100 years of my new school? I've reached the 1950s and 60s. There's a fascinating relationship between college entrance exams and independent school curriculum in Minnesota all the way back to the 1900s. Also, did you know the SAT achieved status when the College Board postponed and never rescheduled exams after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Also, did you know that the SAT encouraged a bunch of tracking in independent schools? Girls who were thought unlikely to succeed on that particular exam were shuttled into less rigorous tracks at prestigious Midwestern independent schools in the 1950s. I think it's so weird how the same debates and problems are playing out today and have been for the last 100+ years in education.

That's it! Three great topics! Pics and vids tomorrow.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Nine Butts

We're on our second night at the cabin with our friends, Liz and Tom and their three kids. It's super fun.

The only parts that aren't fun are the dishes and bedtime. It's actually bedtime right now. It has been for an hour. Still, right now, three of the five children are still awake. As everyone knows, we're not that skilled at bedtime in general; and we're even worse on the road.

Dan fell asleep with Mac, even though I'm pretty sure he'd rather be up to watch a hit movie with the rest of us. I'll wake him in a bit after I'm sure I can do it without accidentally disturbing his majesty the three year-old.

Friday, July 29, 2011

She Zero Degrees

We're at the cabin with our pals, Liz and Tom and their amazeball kids. After dinner, Shef and Maggie said they planned to jump in the water fully clothed. I was skeptical, but then they really did!

And then Dan and I helped with the swimming.



And then Shef and Maggie helped me with the swimming. Liz took some unfortunate pictures of the pushing in. One of them features my love handles. The other one features me spitting out water upon surfacing. I've chosen not to share either of these photos.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pull on Your Shades

Our little Shef came home from two weeks at Camp Foley on Tuesday. He was awfully proud of himself and quite grown up. Except for all the fart talk and how he now calls all of us DUDE.



We thought Mac would miss his broheim while he was off being a camper, but actually he didn't so much. It seemed like he was plenty happy to have the spotlight all to himself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meta

I've been having an issue with my blog and my Twitter feed lately. The issue is, for some reason, I just don't DO it. And then, when I haven't done it, what happens is that I feel a massive gaping hole in my life that eats at my soul.

I LOVE my blog! It's important for me to COMMIT to my BLOG! I don't know why I haven't been writing it lately, but I do know this avoidance behavior has to stop .

What's going to happen now is I'm posing my own challenge to myself: I'm going to blog every day between now and the first day of my new job, which is August 18th. This is my solemn vow.

I'm also going to try to include images because people like to see images and other media on the blog. As we know, the BLOG is not just about me, it's about anyone who wants to read it. That's the whole deal with the blogs. They're interactive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rachel's Baby Arrived Today. So Happy!



While I waited for baby news from my dear pal, I cashed in my Mother's Day gift at the spa.

First up: Facial!

Verdict: Divine!

Next up: mani/pedi!

Sadly I wrecked it while painting Shef's room. That index finger is the one I use to secure the blue painters' tape. The splatters on my blue toe are just par for the course.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shut the Beat Down

Last night, Dan and I were watching The Bachelorette as usual. As I might have mentioned before, he's completely addicted to it. He even reads Bachelorette Ashley's blog on People.com the morning after each show. What I mean to say is: he's invested.

So, last night during the home visits when Constantine's dad asked him if he thought he'd be ready to propose, Dan was super confused.

"What?" he asked. "HE proposes? Doesn't SHE get to pick?"

"Yes," I explained, "she chooses the person whom she'd like to propose to her."

Dan was flabbergasted. "But that's sexist!" he exclaimed.

I laughed for about five minutes about his indignation. It's like he thought he was watching Masterpiece Theater or something, instead of THE BACHELORETTE.

"I'm beginning to think this show is totally scripted," he said, shaking his head. "Scripted AND sexist."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raise A Glass If You're All Wrong


Dan and I went to a fabulous wedding last weekend in Chicago. The wedding was pretty fancy and started late - ceremony at 7pm; entrees at 11! It was also the first Jewish wedding we'd attended, and immediately we wished that we too could have had a Jewish wedding. The symbolism alone was enough to make this English teacher swoon.

I went so far as to say I wanted to BE Jewish, but Dan told me to stop being ridiculous. He also refused to don the yarmulke. There was a big pile by the door and I elbowed him over there to get one.

"I don't think that's appropriate!" he insisted.

"I think it's respectful!" I retorted.

Later he pretended not to know me while I did our choreographed routine to "Dynamite" on the dance floor and then belted out "The Edge" by Lady Gaga right along with the band. To be fair, a lot of the older ladies were also singing along and dancing crazily.

They were also mostly wearing floor-length black gowns. Even the mothers of the bride and groom were wearing floor-length black gowns. I was wearing coral to the knee. Oops! I thought maybe this was another Jewish tradition I didn't know about? Wearing black to the wedding? But my friend Ann told me that really it was probably just black-tie optional. She's so smart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We Went to See Fireworks. At Actual Night Time!

This is a first since Shef was born. I don't know why we didn't do this before since bedtime has never meant much in our family anyway.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For You For Me, Dawg (June Challenge: Last Post)

Have you seen Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger? There's a famous line in that movie that goes something like this:



For some reason we started talking and laughing about that line tonight. Thanks for the laugh, Arnold! At least you're good for something.