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


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


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.