Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Yesterday was a very cool day because I got to witness the birth of my nephew, Dobby.  I have to say, they call it the miracle of birth because it's a flipping miracle.  Also, my sister in-law was an absolute champ.  Super brave and strong.  Basically it was one of the best days ever.

This evening, we swung by the hospital to introduce the baby to his cousins and uncle.  You can tell he likes us a lot already.  I mean, why wouldn't he?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Soreness

I have some major pain as a result of the race.  I'm sore all through my core and all down my quads.  I'm also sore in my calves and on my right shin.  To compound the situation, I'm also sore in my arms because I was so cold that I held a lot of tension in my upper body.

It'll probably be worse tomorrow.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I Was Cold and It Sucked

I did finish the half marathon.  Out of the five times I've done this race, this was my third fastest.  One time I dropped out, so I was obviously faster than that time.  Another time I did it without really training at all, so I was faster than that time.

Anyway, two times I ran the race in 1:43, and this time I ran it in 1:44.  To tell the truth, I'm pretty annoyed that I was that close to running it again in 1:43, or maybe I actually wanted to run it in 1:42.  The main problem was that the cold air was hard for me to breathe; whereas, my neck warmer pulled over my mouth also made it hard for me to breathe. 

Oh well.  I still did it, and now I'm going to train for the next thing, which will be a 10-miler on March 9th.  I'm going to try to get my best 10-mile time, which will be 1:17 or faster.  I'm optimistic, as I ran 1:18 for the 10 mile during today's race.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Status Report

So, now here's what's happening: we're waiting for my nephew to be born.  My first and only nephew, the brother-to-be of my one and only niece.   I have been invited to help at his birth, so I've been on-call, phone in-hand and on bedside.  His poor mother has been having loads of contractions, including a whole 24 hours of them on Monday-Tuesday.

So, I've neglected the blog once again.  I tend to do this from time to time each year.  But I'm not worried.  Everything will be fine, and I'll start writing again.  I have lots of topics to explore:
  • The boys - my boys, Mac and Shef - are doing tae kwon do
  • The kids - my school kids, the Sevies - are writing spoken word poems for a slam with some young and hip poets in-residence.  Those two poets seem like babies, except they are babies that are four and five years older than I was when I started teaching.
  • My Stupid Half Marathon is tomorrow morning.  It's supposed to be 5 degrees with a windchill of -2 when we start.  How dumb is that?  Let's be honest, I'm doing it.  That is, unless someone happens to be in labor.  
  • And other stuff.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

I've mentioned before that one of my teaching goals for this year was to get some new and effective classroom management systems in place.  I think my bosses, when they suggested this goal, meant for me to just, like, try a little harder; however, I'm me, so I read four books on classroom management and student engagement, watched a video by a Local Expert, met with said Expert (who happens to be the lower school counselor), arranged for several peer observations, and accepted Expert's invitation to visit my room.

Yesterday was the day he attended my trickiest class. 

Except, about half of the class was absent for some reason.  There was a Knowledge Bowl meet, one kid had a doctor's appointment, etc. etc.

The class was completely silent, so much that my lesson was sort of... awkward.  At one point, I said, "Is this the quietest class we've ever had?" Everyone nodded, relieved that I mentioned it, and one girl pointed at the Usual Suspect who was left in the room and said, "Johnny, why aren't you ACTING OUT?!"

The Expert left after a bit.  He whispered to me that he'd come back another time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Write or Don't Write

Of course, Top Chef is on, and of course, we're watching.  There are a couple of other die hard fans at school, and we had a little chat in the hallway yesterday about how Chef Josie needs to go.  Josie just keeps hanging on and scraping by and half-assing it, and it's driving us insane.  We agree, and that's the bottom line:  JOSIE HAS TO PACK HER KNIVES AND GO.

So, then while I was watching the cheftestants last night, I was just sort of poking around on the internet; and come to find out that one of those hallway pals, Amy, had posted on my Facebook wall.

"I want to punch Josie in the boobs," she wrote.

For some reason, that just struck me as insanely funny.  I mean, here we are.  Professional, feminist women.  One of our primary goals is to mentor young people.  And she writes, "I want to punch her in the boobs." And I totally can't stop laughing.

I laughed about it intermittently all evening and then all day long.  When I saw Amy in the hallway, I did a little punch at her.  It took her a second, but then she laughed at me.

Punch her in the boobs.

It's so ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Life Got Flipped

So, what happened was I had to write the report card narratives.  This is something we do twice per year, and it is extremely time consuming.  I produced a total 32 pages of text about 84 students.  I woke up at 5:15 each morning to write.  I finally finished at 10:30 last night. 

Now I'm ready to get back to my blogging life.  I also need to READ my fave blogs.  Friends, never fear!  I'm sending comments your way pronto.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Delighted! Lucky! Thank You!

Here's what's happening right now: I'm writing report card comments.  The kids get narratives.  I love the kids, but writing the narratives one after the other is a real challenge. 

I know I should do this differently.  Like, maybe I should take little notes at the end of each week and then use them for my comments?  Would that save time and make the comments better?  Do I need to have my final grades done in order to write the comments?

Do you have any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Grind

Back at it!  But, I was ready.  The kids are really cute and fun; and we're doing a school-wide, week-long, challenge-based learning experiment.  I'm team-teaching with three other teachers, and we have a group of 30 kids.  In order to ease transitions, one rhythmically-gifted instructor proposed a call-and-response chant.

It's theoretically easy - I say J-Term; You say Challenge! J-Term! Challenge! J-Term! Challenge! 

Then we can change around the second word as we like. So, J-Term! Team! or J-Term! Think!

But, the rest of us teachers had some serious problems getting this right.  My biggest mistake was "I say J-Term; you say Challenge! Challenge!"  I did that like three or four times.

Eventually, I mastered this, but it requires a little dancing in order to remind myself of the rhythm.  Pretty sure it makes me look even more ridiculous.  But, I'm going for it.  I mean, why not?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


For some reason, Mac has decided that we should say grace before dinner each night.  During grace, we should hold hands around the table.  I guess we managed to temper the heathenism at some point, for which I should be grateful.

Anyway, he's been choosing the grace-sayer here on our vacation in Arizona.  While my brother Kevin was with us, he was the prime choice.  Now that Kevin's back in Minnesota, Mac honored Chuck with his selection.

No one could have predicted this, but Chuck is extremely terrible at grace.  Here's an excerpt: "Dear Lord, Thank you for this food. We are grateful that the lawmakers managed to get their f&*king acts together and..." Here he was interrupted by utterances from the rest of us.  "I mean," he amended, "I'm glad they've gotten their shit together and..."

"THAT'S NOT BETTER!" Dan shouted, his eyes still shut and the hands still joined.

To be honest, I'm not sure the 24-hour news cycle is good for my mom and Chuck.  It might not be good for their states of mind.  It might be time to turn off the CNN.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thoughtfulness; Kindess

So, here's my resolution:  I'm going to try just a bit harder to be nice.  I'm generally a nice person, but in the last few years - with two smallish children and a hectic job - I've let some conventions of thoughtfulness fall by the wayside. As a result, I've hurt some feelings and felt a little icky about myself.

As Chuck reminded me last night, however, that resolution is a little too wispy.  I need a SMART goal.  I forgot what that acronym stands for. I learned it at my previous job, and obviously it was really helpful. Hang on.  First, it's SPECIFIC and MEASURABLE.  Oh shoot.  I think the T has something to do with TIME.  Let's Google.

Okay.  Now we've got it.  Also, the goal is supposed to be written in like one sentence.  I'm going to try it.  Here we go: In 2013, I am exhibiting thoughtfulness and kindness by returning calls and emails from friends within 48 hours and acknowledging the generosity of others by sending hand-written thank-you notes within 7 days.

Last year, I made a resolution to Floss my Teeth, and I'm proud to say it stuck.  I do regularly floss.  So I have a good track record. 

So here we go on kindness and thoughtfulness!!  I'm excited to get back to being the person I really am.  Call Oprah on that one!  And Lee, who taught me about "I am."