Monday, December 31, 2012

My Last Post of the Year

In the last couple of years, I've done a year-end video; but this year, I'm not feeling the year-end video vibe. So, I'll just tell you: 2012 was a fine year on the blog.
  • It turned out, thanks to the Autumn Blogging Challenge, to be my most prolific year as a poster.
  • We also had an interesting baseball challenge that stretched me in cool ways.  I find I actually quite like those posts.  I tend to like my writing better when I'm forced by a frame or challenge to think beyond my first idea.
  • We were infested by vermin - bats, mice, squirrels, and then in a spectacularly disgusting finish - LICE.  This was very expensive and also revealed my unfortunate tendency to be cowardly.
  • Mac started coming to school with Shef and me.  Although he acted like was being a total non-participant in school, it turns out behaves like a real person when not in the presence of his parents.  It seems like he'll probably start Kindergarten next year.  I know you can hardly believe it.
  • We're hockey parents.  It's likely that I'll blog about this in 2013.
New Year's Resolutions?  I'll get to them.  I'll need to think about this. I'll probably announce them tomorrow.  Let's all make a collective resolution to keep the blogs going.  It would nice to become a famous blogger, but I've sort of given up on that ever happening. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Stars Were For Shining

The four of us are headed to Phoenix for a little sunshine and relaxation. And of course for a visit with my mom, who now lives there for a good portion of the year with Chuck, her superstar partner.

I've got another week off, so we figured Arizona would be a good place to spend it, considering the sun and the relaxation and the parent. I might take up golf while I'm there.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Baldwins

I'm now into watching Parenthood. People are always like, "WHY aren't you WATCHING Parenthood?!" I think it's because it's like totally my life station, and because I personally completely adore Peter Krause and Lauren Graham so much.

Well now I've completed season one, so I'm that much closer to becoming the person I always wanted to be. The person I'm meant to be.

This episode guest stars Billy Baldwin, so there's that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Aftermath

Sitting here thinking of the next few days. My priorities are errands, school work, running, and violin practice. Of course, the kids and I are in it together, and we'll inevitably have some fun along the way. I think they'd appreciate it if I texted #1 babysitter Anneleise to see if she can Nerf with them while I do all the things I listed above. I'll probably do that in about a half hour.

In the meantime, Shef got Madlibs for Christmas. I've found he laughs especially hard when I use words like smelly, stupid, fart, butt, reek, etc. It's easy once you get the hang of it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Break

I'm really looking forward to this break. I need a little respite from the grind over there at the Most Awesome School in the World.

At this moment, I'm having some coffee, scanning the internet, planning a workout, and gearing up for assembling and decorating the ginger city. You're crazy if you think pictures aren't forthcoming.

Friday, December 21, 2012

ABC #75: I Can't Believe This is Happening

I can't believe I am completing this challenge. It was so ambitious.

Look, I know some of my entries were short; but they were all done. And here I am at 75, right on time at the Winter Solstice. Because of this challenge, I had my most prolific blogging year ever.

Thank you blogging friends! Lee, Mary, Jessie - you guys are an inspiration.

ABC #74: Poor Timing

I'm not sure that the two weeks before winter break are the best time to read Night by Elie Wiesel with the 8th graders. It seems like too sad a send off. I remember when I was in 7th or 8th grade, we read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in the weeks before break. Can't teach that here at my non-denominational school, however.

Night is critically important, but so so sad.

ABC #73: The Scab

I had a gross and fascinating scab on my elbow from my slip on the way to the garage.

Last night while I was sleeping, it fell off and I bled in several places on my bed. Gross! Also, then I found the scab under my pillow. Double Gross!

But also cool. I did inspect it before I threw it away.

ABC #72: Holiday Breakfast

It's two things today at school: 1) Holiday Breakfast for Middle School Adults; and 2) Pajama Day.

Now, I'm not a Pajama Day person. I can't maintain my dignity as a professional in pajamas. Plenty of people can, and more power to them! However, I have to wear clothes. A senior teacher, however, suggested that I wear my slippers. Slippers sounds like a pretty good idea actually. I'm strongly considering it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

ABC #71: Mascerated

Of course I like interesting vocabulary. I think I might especially like M words.





Reminds me of a song by Cookie Monster, actually. "MMMM,Marshmallow! MMMM, Meatball! MMMM, I love to MUNCH!"

ABC #70: Special-K

BFF Erin turned 36 today. On her birthday, her mom makes this utterly fantastic Special-K Bar layer cake. I'm not kidding. It. Rox.

So glad I got to go to her birthday party once again. Makes me wonder how many of her birthday celebrations I've attended. 20? More? We became friends when I was 11. I love that friendship so, so much.

ABC #69: The Secret Santas

Did a little Secret Santa exchange with some peeps at school. It was really fun, and my SS was extremely thoughtful. She donated Diet Cokes to the Coke Club in my name. She did my recess duty one time. She bought me new running socks. Basically, it was a dream come true.

I had a great time getting stuff for my giftee, Lynne, too. She's warm, friendly, smart, and a fantastic teacher. I really am so lucky in the colleague department, and Lynne is tops.

ABC #68: Gifts

Time for the holiday gifts to roll in. Let's go, students! Bring on the gifts! I used to give a gift-giving speech to my high school students ("You might think you're too old to give your teacher a gift, but you're totally not!"), but I can't do that in the middle school. The kids would actually think I was for real.

ABC #67: Teacher Stare

Does it surprise anyone to know that I'm not a very scary teacher? I'm generally extremely cheerful in the classroom. Although I'm organized and controlled (IMO), one of my students recently told me I am her least strict teacher.

Anyway, I made some boys stay after a class today for a talking-to.

"Listen," I finally said. "I'm sorry to be so harsh."

"Wait," said one fellow, "you're being harsh right now?"

Another stifled a giggle.

Still, I'm confident my message of seriousness came through. There won't be eye-rolling and under-the-breath comments after Winter Break.

ABC #66: Emergency

I have ten blogs to write in one day.

At this moment, I'm watching last night's Top Chef. One of my favorite past winners, Stephanie, is a judge. She's standing next to Padma. According to Dan, Padma looks awesome as usual.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ABC #65: Chill

What happens after I run in the winter is sometimes I don't change my clothes right away. Then, I get really cold. However, I don't feel like changing right now. I feel like watching tv and trying to finish this ridiculous fall blogging challenge.

I am still cold.

ABC #64: Teaching Doesn't Pay

I read on a blog I like about THIS ARTICLE, which tells us that teaching is one of the careers that provides the worst return on your college degree.

No surprise there. I don't even make the median salary listed on that site. When I was an undergrad, my dad sent me a few newspaper clippings with headlines like, "English and Education Majors Don't Freaking Pay At ALL."

Still, teaching is what I'm good at and, even though there were a couple of years that were truly horrendous, it's what I like to do. I'm 12 years in, and I'm energized and inspired most days.

I have been shielding myself from most of the Sandy Hook coverage because it's just too sad. I tried to shield my kids from it, but inevitably, Shef heard about the tragedy from friends at school. I had given him a very vague overview of the event, a fact I reminded him of when he told me how upset he was about what he'd learned at lunch.

"Yeah," he said, "but you didn't tell me that 20 kids were SHOT."

True, I said. I didn't tell you that.

So. THIS WRITER really says what I feel about this event, as a mom and as a teacher.

ABC #63: The Home Stretch

It's official: everyone is done working at school. It's time for one big fat WINTER BREAK. I say fat because the holiday chocolate has started pouring in, and let me tell you, I'm indulging.

I also ran after school with my pal Paula, but as Jillian Michales told me: You can eat your way through any amount of exercise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ABC #62: Ding Dong

Shef's pet crayfish, Apollo, died today. First some of his legs started falling off last week, and now he's dead.

Thank God. That thing was really gross, and everyone was a little freaked out about him.

ABC #61: Freudian Slip

Gave an in-class writing prompt today to help kids reflect on their independent reading. The kids were sort of crabby about doing it. I got the feeling that some of them perhaps had not actually done their independent reading.


The kids started finishing, and one little guy came up to my desk.

"Here's my shit," he said. "Uh, I mean here's my SHEET."

"Did you just say shit?" I said.

"Uh, yeah," he said.

So funny.

ABC #60: Morning Meetings

I work in a Meetings School. This term was introduced to me by my friend Kate, whose husband teaches with me. When I first heard it, I was like, "Yeah, yeah. Don't we all?" But, in fact, my school takes meetings to a new level. I have, on average, six meetings per week.

On the one hand, it's totally: ENOUGH with the meetings already. But then on the other hand, we discuss really interesting and important stuff in most of the meetings. Here are some examples: positive racial identity development, how we teach the African-American story in grades Pre-K through 8, student staffings and interventions, gender stereotyping and norming, scope and sequence from Pre-K - 12, curriculum ideas and planning, reflecting on teaching and debriefing observations, and on and on.

What's the solution here?

Monday, December 17, 2012

ABC #59: A Deep Dark Hole

Here's a sad story: I've gotten myself way behind at work. I have a ton of stuff to accomplish. The quarter ends on Friday. Whatever shall I do? I'm going to have to buckle down.

ABC #58: Another Teachable Moment

Shef's poor unsuspecting music teacher showed him a video of some guys performing the Nutcracker ballet in class today.

Did Shef mention anything about the music or the dancing?

No he did not.

Did he mention anything about the costumes?


"Mom," he said, giggling. "The guys were wearing tights and you could, like, SEE know."

"Oh yeah," I said, laughing. "That's kind of how it is with tights."

"And there were some Russian guys, and theirs were HUGE!"

Super grateful for this opportunity to explain the vocabulary word, "codpiece."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

ABC #57: Weekend Homework

Check out Shef's tradition homework. He decided to make a video, and I helped:

ABC #56: Holiday Party

Had a lovely time at the holiday party last evening. We have a holiday party at my new job. I've never worked for a place with a holiday party before.

Dan's never that psyched about going to my work events. I don't understand why. Hanging out with me and my cool friends while we discuss the ins and outs of educating the youth of America is super fun. Obviously.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ABC #55: Too Many of These

I have no idea what to say or do about the Connecticut school shooting. I woke up this morning thinking about the families. I can't really imagine just suddenly losing your child like that. A whole classroom of people just gone. How will that school recover? What will happen to those people who experienced this trauma?

One of the coping mechanisms I use for my anxiety is to push aside the disaster thoughts or scenarios that I tend to have by saying, "Maybe that will happen; maybe it won't." For some reason this kind of stops me from perseverating on long stories about death. My mantra seems weird, but it works for me - We could all die at any time. There's no point in wasting time fixating and being afraid.

But I never really logically expect the bad stuff to happen. Why does this stuff keep happening?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

ABC #54: I slipped on some ice

I did! On the way to the garage. Skinned my elbow. Hurts.

ABC #53: Plans

I will now go and practice my violin. I'm hoping to get a sticker on Bach's Gavotte in D Major on Saturday. Let's all cross our fingers.

Before I do that, actually, I'm going to put on my sweatpants.

ABC #52: The Probs

Okay, here's the problem: I have like 23 posts left to do in like seven days. Will I do it? Of course, I'm going to do it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ABC #51: Okay, the Talk

Good news: I have something to say to that subcommittee tomorrow. I will now rehearse it a few times because that's my way. I actually talk out loud to myself. Is that weird? Does everyone do that? I always tell my students to do it, but most of the time they look at me like I'm insane.

Next, I'll figure out what to wear. Also, I need lesson plans for tomorrow.

Never a dull moment at this new school, I'm telling you. Never even a single one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ABC # 50: Uh Oh

Here's what's going on: In October, a cool guy that I work with (the director of Information Support Services) asked me if I would present to the 21st Century Learning committee. I said sure. December seemed a long way off. The ISS guy suggested I cobble together some stuff from other presentations I've done. Sure! Fun! Totally on that!

But now the talk is on Thursday, and so far all I have is a title. It's a fine title - maybe even slightly hip - but it's just a title. And lots of bosses will be at this meeting.

Something will have to be done.

Monday, December 10, 2012

ABC #49: Resinogenous

A couple of weeks ago, teacher pal Stacy and I were a pronouncers at our Spelltacular competition. That's what we call the Spelling Bee at our school. Anyway, the pronouncer job is a really tough one with a lot of pressure, so Stacy and I got together ahead of time to practice all the pronunciations and accompanying sentences.

We did not, however, practice reading the definitions. And that's what got me in big trouble at the Spelltacular.

Let me set the scene: we were in the final rounds of the competition, down to the final two spelltestants. Those two were all, "Can you pronounce it again?" "Can I have the definition?" "Can I get the language of origin?" and all of that nonsense.

So, anyway, I was pronouncing, and the word was resinogenous. First I said, "res-IN-ah-ges," but I immediately knew that was wrong.

"No," I said. "Just a minute." I turned and conferred with Stacy, and she got me back on the right track. It's resin-AH-gen-ous.

"Resinogenous," I said. "While hiking through the woods, Samantha enjoyed the fragrance of the resinogenous trees. Resinogenous."

"Can you say it again?" asked the speller.

"Resinogenous," I repeated, confidently.

"Can I have the language of origin?" asked the speller.

"This word is from a Greek-derived Latin element, plus a Greek-derived element plus an English combining form," I read. As if that would help him determine the spelling.

"And can I have the definition?" he asked, in the fateful moment.

You guys, I am not kidding. This is the definition of resinogenous listed in the spelling bee guide:

any of various hard brittle solid to soft semisolid amorphous fusible flammable substances that are usually transparent or translucent and yellowing to brown in color with a characteristic luster and that are formed especially in plant secretions.

You just go ahead and TRY to read that with a straight face at the middle school Spelltacular. I mean it, just TRY to. Obviously, it's impossible. Obviously, I laughed my head off at the podium in front of the entire middle school. Obviously, at least five people greeted me that evening at the faculty happy hour by my new name: "Resinogenous." One person called me "Giggles," instead.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

ABC #48: The Adrenaline

You can't really tell from the video that my hand was shaking so hard that it was tricky to play. I'm in a black skirt behind another adult violinist (a tall one) in gray pants. I smile at the camera at the end.


Bad news is I still have a rotten cold. Good news is NOTHING - not my cold, not the snowy weather, not my nerves - will keep me from my first adult violin recital this afternoon.

Yesterday, when I was polishing my part with my teacher, she told me two things. First, she said it's time to buy Suzuki Book 4. Second, she said I should be very proud of the work I've done on Corelli's Christmas Concerto Pastorale. I know it's a little bit ridiculous, but I totally AM proud of the work I've done on that piece!!

This afternoon, I'll post the video of the performance even if I screw up.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

ABC #46: The Other Brother

Played some indoor hockey with the children the other day. We used a plush soccer ball. When it was Shef's turn to play goalie, Mac pointed at him and warned, "Now don't go too hard on your little brother."

Kid knows how to work it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ABC #45: Phlegm

Time for my December cold. The onset this time was sort of brutal with body aches and lightheadedness. Then, I had a sleepless night with a terrible sore throat and chunky phlegm.

Sorry for the gross-out, but the truth hurts to read sometimes.

Now it's just a normal cold, but I still feel run down. Thus, I'm headed to bed immediately. It seems like the right thing to do before my formal observation tomorrow. At my new school, we're constantly being formally observed.

ABC #44 : Pizza

We've had frozen pizza for dinner two nights in a row.

That's fine, right?

I mean, I also served frozen vegetables. I did defrost the vegetables before serving them.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

ABC #43: Sweet Silver Bells

Tree's up and warming in preparation for lighting. Country Christmas is streaming on the sound system. Santa Bear 2006 is perched on the love seat.

It's happening, peeps. I'm headed for holiday cheer once again.

ABC #42: Whoo Whoo

This is an adorable mug that I got as a gift from one of the families at school. Their son decided to switch schools, and this was my thank-you gift for being his teacher.

I've gotta say, I love thank-you gifts for being a teacher. Also, I think owls are so hot right now. That's true, right?