Wednesday, November 30, 2011


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."


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


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."


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.