Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recap 10: The Busiest Day

We have a sub rotation schedule, and my turn comes up today. I'm teaching my friend's Rachel's class.  The bad news is that I know exactly how to really teach it because it's 8th grade English, which I also teach and which we plan together.  Do I get any grading done during the period?  No, I do not.  Do I engage in interesting discussion about Mayella Ewell?  Yes, I guess I do.

Next is our department meeting.  Turns out I've forgotten to sign up my classes for time with acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who is visiting our school soon. Why oh why?!

Next is D period.  My boss decides to do a pop-in observation.  It's going to be boring, I tell him.  I'm giving a quiz and then we're watching the first scenes of the film.  Oh well, he shrugs.  I haven't been here in awhile.  He watches the silence.  I feel compelled to circulate meaningfully and also add in a couple of discussion questions as a transition between quiz and film.

Lunch break!  I race madly around getting ready for the afternoon.  Later, I teach two sections of 7th grade, followed by a trip down to my friend Stacy's room to beg her to let me out of yearbook club for the day.  GO, she says.  God bless her. I spend the 30 minutes of tutorial period scribbling grades on mounds of papers.

One more section of 7th grade, and then I print out progress reports for pre-conferencing with the other teachers from 3:30-5:00.

5:35 - arrive 20 minutes late for Mac's tae kwon do class.  Dress him in the car. Shef takes over at 6:00.  7:10 and I'm starving.  Stop at LeeAn Chin and start shoving cheese puffs in my mouth on the way home.  Don't judge.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recap 9: Tready

This will be a short one.  Here's the story: I don't like running outside in the winter.  Once a week, I brave it because my friend Paula goes with me, but otherwise, I go to the basement in my shorts and t-shirt and run on my handy treadmill.  Besides the warmth, it's also nice because I don't need a babysitter.

The downside is that can be boring, especially when I have a lot of miles to cover. Today I did eleven, but I had strategies to combat the ennui.

I started the run by finishing The Round House by Louise Erdrich, which I listened to via Audible.  It's an absolutely fantastic, suspenseful, emotional, superbly-plotted novel.  But, I only had like 25 minutes left of it.

After it concluded (perfectly, btw), I cued up Parenthood on Netflix.  Great show.  Love it so much.  I'm in Season 3.  Love all the characters and continue my girl-crush on Lauren Graham.  I watched two eps.  At about 7.5 miles, I took a quick break for some water.  Later, I finished the run.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recap 8: Annual Exam

Time for my once yearly visit to my fabulous OB-GYN, Dr. Hope.  She's so funny and wonderful. Plus, she delivered Mac, so we are linked for life.  After filling out my, "Are you dangerously depressed?" survey (I'm not, thank the Lord!), the nurse calls me back to take my blood pressure and prick my finger.  BP is 98/60 and I bleed appropriately.

On entering the exam room, the nurse tells me that Dr. Hope has a medical student working with her.  Is it okay with me if the student assists?  Oh, fine.  I say.  Sigh. I always feel an obligation to say yes because I'm an educator myself, you know.

So after I don my paper gown and perch on the exam table, a twelve year-old boy in a lab coat enters the room.  I don't catch his name because I'm stunned by the fact that he appears to be twelve.

"So," he says.  "You're 34 weeks today?"

"What?!" I blurt.  "No!  I'm not!  Not pregnant!"

"Oh..." he mutters.  "Um.  Sorry." Glances at my chart.

"YEARS OLD!" I shout, suddenly realizing.  "I'm 34 YEARS OLD!"

So, we've gotten off on the wrong foot, and I do not feel comfortable discussing my medical concerns with him.  In the first place, he's twelve.  In the second place, I like to make jokes about my medical concerns.  Dr. Hope always laughs at me, and then we have a frank discussion, wherein she gives me her professional opinion that I do not have cancer at this time.  I'm not confident this will happen with Doogie.

So, thank goodness he leaves and returns with Dr. Hope.  We all have a laugh over the pregnancy goof, which was especially hilarious after he'd palpates my thyroid and comments that he can feel it very well because I'm thin.  THIN!  SEE?!  For me, that's synonymous with NOT PREGNANT!!

Next we move on to the breast exam, after which point, don't worry, I will cease recapping this appointment.

"Any changes in your breasts?" Dr. Hope asks.

"You mean in my shriveled up bags of rocks?" I clarify. "Nope."  Ha HA! 

Doogie peers in close from my other side.  I stare at the ceiling.  "Yep," Dr. Hope, confirms, "it's all the same, and it doesn't feel like cancer." You see how she anticipates my needs? "Is it okay if Doogie feels?"  She doesn't say Doogie.  She says Jeff, which is apparently his name.

"Fine," I say, looking at him, "but I do have to say, you appear to be fifteen years old."  See how I gave him three years?

"Yeah," he agrees, checking out the variation between fatty and fibrous tissue.  I'm super comfortable, by the way.  This is just a sweet experience.  "I get carded at the Mall of America.  You have to be 16 to enter."

"Don't worry," reassures Dr. Hope.  "He's legit.  We don't just let strange teenaged boys in off the street to do breast exams."

I basically can't stop laughing for the rest of the check-up.  I laugh all the way to give my blood sample to check for hyper-thyroidism which I always check for because of paranoia.  Some things never change.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recap 7: The New Car

Our car that Dan drives, the Subaru Outback, needs a ton of repairs and rather than invest in them, Dan decides to get a new car.  He drives a bunch and narrows the selection to the Ford Escape and the Toyota Rav4, with the Escape as his first choice.

The boys and I meet him at the car dealership to apply our stamp of approval.  Shef is crying because he doesn't want to drive cars.  That's until he steps inside the showroom and realizes it's a playroom of various Ford vehicles.  And that he can help himself to popcorn from the old fashioned popcorn machine.  "Don't eat that in the cars," I say. 

Does he listen?  No, he does not.

Anyway, I shake hands with Dave the salesguy, and we get set in the Escape.  It's cool.  We all like it.  The boys change the radio stations with their voices.  Basically, we're sold. 

The kids run inside the dealership before I've taken the carseat out of the car we tested.  I find them inside the hatchback trunk of the Escape floor model with the doors locked.  I start to feel vaguely embarrassed.  Dan retreats to the bathroom to get away from us. 

The kids skate out of the Escape and hop into a Fusion.  They're pressing all kinds of buttons, and asking why they can't shift into drive, and all of a sudden the car alarm sounds.  It's extremely loud in the indoor setting of the showroom. "Get out of the car!" I'm hissing.  "We're TRYING," they're saying.  Shef slides further and further down on the passenger side until he's basically on the floor.  "Mom," he says.  "You're embarrassing me."

"I'M embarrassing YOU?" I say.  "Get OUT of the CAR!" 

Eventually, a guy comes over in an official capacity and says he'll shut off the alarm as soon as he finds the key.  Thanks, I say.  And, um, sorry. I hustle the children back to the vending area out of the sightlines of the other pitying customers.  Dan appears, finally.  "I assume that was you guys?" he says smugly.  I nod.  "That's why I stayed in the bathroom extra long.  Hanging out. Washing my hands."

"We'll go now," I offer, leaving Dan to negotiate a sweet deal.  "Good," he says, but not before Mac cries annoyingly about not getting popcorn, and Dan blurts, "JUST BUY HIM A TREAT. Do you want cookies, Mac?  COOKIES?!"

Mac's laughing maniacally on the way back to the van.  "What's so funny?" I ask.  "We are SO not good boys," he giggles. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Recap 6: Ski Day

1: By some miracle, we load the car and leave the garage on time to pick Shef's friend just when I said I would.  "This is so nice of you," Jimmy's mom says, smiling.  She's wearing her robe and telling me that she bought her kids new books at Barnes and Noble yesterday.  Turns out she's planning to read an excellent suspense novel called Into the Darkness while I'm skiing with two third-graders and a preschooler.  This IS really nice of me, I'm thinking while nodding pleasantly at her.

2: It pleases me to find that both Mac and Shef remember how to ski, even though we've neglected the slopes in favor of the hockey rink this winter.  My youngest, however, prefers a straight-down speedy approach, instead of performing the clean, sweeping turns that I prefer.  "MAC," I'm screaming from behind, "TURN!"  "But I don't like to do the turns," he explains.  "I hate them."

3:Midway through the morning, and Mac and I are riding the lift with another dude.  The three of us witness the scurrying of a rodent across the hill.  "Oh gross," I exclaim.  "It's like.... a rat."  "I think it's a muskrat," says the other guy.  "Maybe so," I agree.  "How disgusting." Mac says he wants to ski over it.  I tell him I think that would be nasty beyond belief.  And also not so nice for the animal.

4: I valiantly fight against my instinct to bust 12 year-old lift-line budgers.  I can't stand those budgers, but I'm not in an official capacity in this particular lift-line.  I settle for some meaningful disapproving looks.

5: I soften the reality of departure time for the gentlemen by offering to purchase candy for the road.  Three takers, not surprisingly.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Recap 5: After the Apple

Last night, Dan and I head downtown to sup with my sister and her bf before taking in After the Apple, a series of 10 short plays by local women.  Are we fashionably intellectual, or what?

Sushi at Nami delights, as usual, and even Pronto, on his strict diet and fitness plan, is able to enjoy a full meal.

After Mary's bf Shae picks up the tab (holla!), we head across town to The Playwright's Center, a small theater in our old neighborhood.  Birth mom Martha meets us at the box office.  We're about to witness her "for art's sake" directorial debut - she took the helm for three of the ten pieces.

Her first piece, “Two Boys: Eins and One” by Beth Gilleland, is fourth in the line-up.  It's a long and difficult monologue about two boys at a funeral.  The actor has a beautiful face and a warm voice, and I'm drawn into the story. I also adore Beth Gilleland because a million years ago at my high school, she performed a compelling and hilarious one-woman, autobiographical show. My grade: A+.

Martha's next piece, "Crawlspace" by Christina Ham, follows immediately.  The lighting (conceived by family hero, Michael Pettee, husband and partner of Martha) is creeptastic. It fits because the play, the (a-hem) climax of which is an on-stage guy-on-girl oral sex scene, is also creeptastic.  As a former Catholic schoolgirl, I have a hard time thinking about the themes because I'm stunned by the fact that an actor uses a Ken doll as an (a-hem) implement at the close of the piece.

After intermission, we see "After the Fire" by Ann Byrd, a relatable and sincere story about a mother and daughter coming to terms with time and loss. The actor playing the mother has me at hello, so to speak.  Thinking about it now, I pronounce this third piece my favorite of the Pettee Three, of course because of the directorial decision-making and also because of actor Wendy's sensibility.

If you like theater at all, I recommend After the Apple.  It makes me feel smart to have been in the audience.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Recap 4: The Gender Inservice

Yesterday was professional development around gender in three strands: gender norming, conforming, and bullying; leadership opportunities across the gender spectrum, and single sex environments and situations within the school.

People at my school are so flipping thoughtful and smart. In the morning, three board members talked about their histories, looking at their lives through a gender lens.  Later, in panel presentations, students talked about their gendered experiences at our school.  Finally, teachers told stories about their social constructions of gender and how these impacted their teaching, coaching, and personal development. I was floored by the openness, thoughtfulness, and critical thinking.

Later, we who work in the Middle School looked at data and discussed how our particular practices and environment might be positioning students in different ways.  During that discussion, I got a wee bit testy when a male teacher suggested that women teachers are less effective at working with boys. "That makes me feel defensive," I said, naming my feeling.  "I mean, where's the data to support that, Pete?"  He didn't have any, and we moved on.  I experienced stereotype threat in that conversation because I was very concerned about confirming the stereotype that women tend become irrationally angry.

Overall, the whole thing was a fantastic learning experience.  How often can we say that about day-long staff development?!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Recap 3: Writing the Bachelor Recap

Because those hilarious recaps by Greg Bausch inspired this whole challenge, I decide to write a Bachelor recap in his style.  I set up by opening a Word doc in addition to my usual Twitter home page.  In between Tweets, I frantically type notes on the doc.  This makes me completely useless as a conversationalist.  I sweat a little under the pressure of recording an accurate timeline, in addition to my reactions and funny quotes from the gallery of watchers at my house.

Basically I'm frantically working, stressing out about everything all the time.  How can I balance plot and critique?  How many direct quotes can I capture from the women?  Why isn't anyone faving or RTing me?

Finally, Chris Harrison says that "if we're ready" it's time for the final rose.  I hate how he says, "If you're ready," because obviously the Bach or Bach-ette has to give the rose regardless of being ready.  No time to think too hard about that, though, because I have a new problem: When will I have time to write and publish?  I have to go to bed immediately after the show, obvi.  Next morning, I wake up at the crack of dawn and start writing, and I'm filled with self doubt. It's not funny.  It's too similar to my mentor text. I'm focusing on the wrong details. I'm not good at writing Bachelor recaps.  In the end, I've spent 45 minutes on it, and I'm still not done.

I begin to realize that writing Bachelor recaps in the style of Greg Bausch doesn't really fit in to my schedule.  I'm going to have to limit the recaps to shorter, less complicated events.  That's the sad truth.  My amazing journey is over, and the Bachelor is just not the right medium for me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Recap 2: Bachelor Part One

Bachelor begins with the six gals and their main squeeze flying into St. Croix.  Whenever the bachelorettes are forced to ride in small aircraft, I think about how they might be air sick.  Probably at least one is air sick. I would be barfing on that small, scary sea plane.

Anyway, the gals arrive at the fabulous resort paradise, which is totally a realistic simulation of what daily life would be like married to Sean, and Tierra insists on sleeping in the hallway on a rollaway.  Girl knows how to drive a rift. 

AshLee gets the first date card, and away we go.  The pair heads out on a yacht.  Sean makes AshLee plummet from the back of the boat to prove her love, trust and vulnerability.  Later, she gets to lie on the sand and tell Sean the truth about Tierrable.  Sean thinks,  “I really like your side boob a lot.”  Then, the two entwine on the beach and make out to dramatic fanfare music.

Meanwhile, Tierra gets a date card to explore the streets of St. Croix.  She complains about the activity.  It will be hot, sweaty, and buggy, she says.  Cut to Lesley, who sighs deeply and says, “I hate that bitch.”  Lesley becomes my favorite contestant.

Back on the date, AshLee prepares to drop a bomb. She says wants to breeze through it, but she belabors the intro. Bets at our house about what her confession will be.  I’m guessing she had a child that she placed for adoption.  Others think it’s drugs. Turns out, AshLee is actually totally boring: she randomly got married when she was 17 to spite her mother.  Whatever. Sean seems unphased, clearing the way for AshLee to shout awkwardly about loving Sean.  Sean says, “AshLee is special.”

Time for Tierrable’s one-on-one. Right off the bat, Tierra is “hot, gross, and thirsty.”  Accentuate the positive, Tierra!  The couple hit up the street vendors, and Tierra claims to love a ginormous shrimp-shaped necklace.  I don’t think she could possibly care for it, as it’s ugly.  Sean and Tierra “coincidentally” encounter a crazy street parade.  I’m sure this is the authentic culture in St. Croix.

Through it all, Tierra claims to be “fun, outgoing, and sweet.”  BFF Erin, viewing at our house, proclaims that’s she’s actually “really pretty if she doesn’t say anything.”  At the romantic dinner, Tierra wears a necklace I also own.  I bought on clearance in Target. After dinner, we get to see close-ups of Tierra’s dirty and sandy feet. Then, she forces Sean to press his nose into her armpit while she declares her love.

Next morning at 4:45, Sean sneaks in to the compound.  Sean wants to see what they look like without pounds of makeup.  We all then get to see them without makeup, which annoys me because they look young and fresh.  I guess that’s because they are actually young and fresh, whereas I am actually 34.  According to Tierra, it’s time for me to call the nursing home.

The four group-daters race to the eastern point of the island to view the sunset, which is romantic and special.  And also crowded.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Recap 1: Saturday Morning

Right out of the gate, I know that Saturday brings a challenge.  I have plenty of needs and wants.  I also have no willingness to sacrifice.  I encounter some eye-rolling from Dan as we plan our day, actually.  This is less-than-helpful, but I soldier on.

When morning comes, I wake early and don running clothes.  My marathon-training schedule (did I mention I'm running a marathon in June?  It will be my sixth) says I have to do a race-pace workout of 4 miles at 8:23 pace.  I check a website with treadmill conversion paces and find that I'll have to either 8:20s or 8:27s.  I pick the slower.  I plug in my audio book (The Round House by local hero, Louise Erdrich) and accomplish it.

Next event is my violin lesson.  We have some double-booking, so I tote Mac along. He insists that I carry him down the sidewalk to the studio.  I do it, although I'm also hauling my violin and a bag with our slippers in it.  I prefer to lesson in slippers.  Once safely inside, I hand over an electronic device and pray for silence.  He's playing some war strategy game called Clash of Clans, which is probably inappropriate for four year-olds.  So sue me.  Bad news at the lesson: I fail my review of Becker's Gavotte.  Good news at the lesson: I pass my review of Martini's Gavotte, Gavotte in G Minor by Bach, and Dvorak's Humoreque.  Not too shabby.

We race over to World Martial Arts for Shef's climactic yellow belt test.  This kid has been rehearsing combinations 1-8, and we all know he has them cold.  Still, the testing environment intimidates.  About 20 adults and kids line the performance ring and take turns being ordered through their paces in small groups, yelling "Sir!" and "Kee-up!" and such.  Shef has to test alone because he's the only white belt. Is he hesitant?  No, he is not.  He displays unfailing confidence.  He makes no mistakes.  He accepts compliments and earns a YELLOW BELT!

Next, I run out of there and take Mac to hockey. While there, I read Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System on my Kindle App.  With this action, I displayed utmost commitment to my professional book club.  I'm sure everyone is duly impressed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Here's the Challenge

It's a Recap Challenge.

Do you know what I mean?  A recap is like a witty retelling of something that happened. There are tons of recapping blogs, where people write snarky summaries of television shows.  Recently, Pronto introduced me to the most hilarious Bachelor recapper, Greg Bauch. When I read his funny paragraphs, I wish I had written those funny paragraphs myself.   To be fair, ABC has given Greg a lot to work with by staging the one of the worst/best seasons of The Bachelor ever.

Anyway, I've decided that I will try recapping, and maybe some other people will, too.  Here are the guidelines:
  1. During the month of February, you should write 10 recaps.
  2. The recaps can be about media or just events from real life.  Like today I could write a recap of 7th Grade Poetry Night, which was awesome.
  3. We should comment on each others' recaps with supportive sentiments.
Why don't we just try it?  It might be terrible and hard to write, but who cares.  Push the envelope!

Friday, February 1, 2013

We Don't Usually Tickle Old People

Two of the men in the house have begun blogging once again. Dan is detailing his crazy, transformative diet and exercise routine.  Sheffield is writing about his foray into tae kwon do.

I'm still here, as usual.  Super behind at work at the moment due to several circumstances.  No one should freak out.  I'm totally going to catch up to a reasonable level this weekend.  It'll be hard, but I can do it.  Maybe we should do another challenge to encourage creative and exciting writing?  Unlike this writing right here?