Saturday, August 30, 2014

Moderate Levels of Caring

When I was running Ragnar, I saw a van that had written on it a message that perfectly encapsulates my current philosophy of racing: "We don't care, but we care."  That's basically the whole thing.  I sign up for these things, and I'm like, this will just be a fun way to stay in shape.  And it basically stays that way, but then I also like passing people and finishing in the top quarter of the race and stuff like that.  I don't care, but I care.

So anyway, my A race this summer was the Urban Trail Half Marathon.  I've been wanting to get into trail running.  Even after my surprise appearance at Ragnar the week before, I was really excited to get out there and try out single track running.

I knew it would be hard, so I reminded myself many times that I was "running, not racing," in order to really hold back at the start.  I enjoyed the varied terrain and the camaraderie and the excitement of trying something new.  Here's me running, not racing, down some steps on to a new trail.  I stole this photo off the website for the event. I am the person in the pink shirt and gray shorts.

As the race went on, I was still running, not racing, but I found myself picking people off.  I'd just look up, fix my eyes on a woman in front of me, and calmly run her down.  It kept things interesting. I think I passed about 15 women between miles 7 and 11.  None of these people passed me back. I'm going to be honest admit that it was gratifying.  So much that I managed to eek out a smile while also looking awful running past the photographer at about mile 12:

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I crossed the finish line and noticed several of the gals I'd passed milling around drinking water and chatting.  What the heck? How did they get there?

Well, turns out a bunch of people missed a critical turn around mile 10.5.  This missed turn resulted in them running 11.5 miles rather than 13.1.  Of course, on the results sheet, these people, whom I've identified in the many, many race photos by number, appear AHEAD of me in the results.  Even though I painstakingly passed them one-by-one in a considerable "I don't care, but I care" effort.

The race promises to sort out the results, probably by using the photos, as I have done.  Maybe they'll post results for the 11.5-mile people?  In any case, it's not a big deal, obviously.  Except that it is.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Locks

The biggest obstacle for some of my sixth graders has been their locks.  Combination locks.  As you may know, you have to turn the lock clockwise, counterclockwise, and then clockwise again.  Some of them can't remember this requirement.  Others have forgotten their combinations.

After I tried one lock twice with no success, I said, "Let's look up the combo."

"I KNOW it's 22-7-17," said the kid.

"Let's just check," I said, locating the information.  "Okay, it's 7-22-17."

"OH!"  Problem solved.

Later, a kid said, "My locker won't open."

"Let me get you the combo," I said.

"But I have the combo," he said, producing the original slip of paper with the exact combo written on it.

"Okay," I said, approaching the lock.  Luckily, I happened to glance up at the locker itself, on which I'd hung a locker sign with the student's name. "Hey," I said, "this locker isn't yours!"

And sure enough, that was the problem.  He was trying to open someone else's lock.

At the end of the day, two of my advisees said the locks were the worst part of the day.  I suggested that those two take their locks home for some extra practice.  I think they'll do it.

It's Go Time

The sixers were in yesterday for orientation, and I have to say, I got a lot of positive comments about the room.  Kids and parents wandered in and out all the day, and they mostly said, "Hey, I like this room," which was gratifying, indeed.

Room, view from door
One kid really loved the yoda in the reading area.

I especially like the hanging lanterns and this bulletin board, the idea for which I found on pinterest.

Now we're on for good, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome.

Room, view from back corner

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Rock Mom Jeans

We're up to day four.  We've had meetings like you would not believe.  Meetings on very important topics - connected learning, 1:1 policies, digital citizenship, mitigating stereotype threat, democracy and education - but meetings straight for 3 days.  You might not know this, but teachers really want to get into their classrooms during this pre-school time.  No matter how many cool ideas we're presented with, we can't really process and internalize those ideas right now.  We have to get ready for the kids to actually arrive in the building.

This is a perennial problem in back-to-school weeks.  Balancing the teachers' desire to get their rooms and lessons ready, and everyone's desire to learn cool new ideas and necessary information about the start of the year.  For instance, this morning I'm learning about empathy.  Who wouldn't want to learn about that?  Everyone would!

But, I also want to sort school supplies, make clipboards with hall passes, finish a bulletin board, finalize some lesson plans, and review the material I need to present to my advisory on MONDAY MORNING.

They're coming.  And I'm not ready yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All About That Bass

We made it through the first day of workshops.  In my mind, that should be a walk in the park, Kazanski.  But, it's not.  I had to lead a book discussion group, give a presentation, and be on my best behavior from 7:30am to 7:30pm, following the Back-to-School BBQ.  Next year, I'm going to try just showing up without volunteering or being asked to do anything.  Just walking around and smiling at people and being friendly.  Can't that be enough?

Today, I'm leading a couple of more workshops.  It was my goal to develop my leadership skills, but so far, being a leader is cramping my style of being a nodding and smiling audience member.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ragnar, Again

Last year, I did the Ultra Ragnar, and it was a difficult and triumphant experience.  I was excited for Dan because he was going to do the relay this year with most of our same team from last year.  I was staying home, and I was happy about that, too.

But then, yesterday, I got a call from Dan about a calf injury he sustained.  He was out.  Super frustrating and disappointing for him.  Also, the team was in need of an alternate.  I was, in fact, the alternate; so I drove down to the race, switched places with Dan, and started running.

During the first leg in the hot sun, I said to myself, "But I said NO to this."  And yet. After the 7-miler, I got in the van and reported to Liz that luckily, I'd actually been training on hills more this summer than last, even though "I'm not doing this."

To be honest, the team was a little lo-mo with the struggles they'd already encountered, so I set to being cheery and pleasant.  "Enjoy this gift," I told myself.  "Feel grateful that you're able to run."

We continued on through the normal highs and lows of the race (my favorite part was running three legs overnight, picking off runners ahead, whom I reeled in by watching the blinking lights on the back of their reflective vests) we completed our morning legs, and then it became clear that one of our pals was getting progressively ill.  Liz pulled over in the van in front of me and said, "We're stopping."

"Great," I said.  I got in the van, called Dan to come and pick me up.  We were all good with this excellent decision.  Our pal was ill and needed medical attention.  We'd all accomplished plenty.  We celebrated the fact that we can run, and I celebrated that I got to go home early and watch tv in bed.  Now that Pal is home, healthy and resting, I feel like it's win-win, except for Dan's calf injury.  Maybe he can try again someday, if he feels like it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is the End

We're winding down here.  I have to go to work today to meet the new teacher I'm mentoring.  I'm inordinately excited, of course, and I'm going to have to temper my natural reactions and responses, lest the poor new teacher thinks I'm a unmitigated lunatic.  I'm going to try my best.

Before we start for real on Monday, I wanted to write about a particular summer memory.  When Mac is sitting opposite you at a table, he'll probably say at some point, "I'm dancing, but you can't see it."

This is your cue to guess what tiny dance he's performing.  He might be wiggling his toes, bending his thumb, jiggling his knee, or something else.  Basically, he's dancing.  And you can't even see it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I've been trying to do that barre class once per week.  It's great, and it's a perfect complement for running.  And, it's wicked hard, which I enjoy.

The only problem is that, very often, the most convenient time to go to barre class is 6:30 am.  That's early for summer.

The sacrifices I make for this body.

Anyway, the way I get myself to that class is to arrange for my friend KK to pick me up.  Then, I try to go when the teacher is this woman named Heather.  Heather has a great playlist and awesome bird tattoos on her shoulder.  Go, Heather.  Lots of people show up to her class, even though it's at 6:30.

But, sometimes I feel like I want to go on other days when Heather is not the teacher.  For convenience's sake.  At these times, the teachers are practically teenagers and they play the absolute worst music.  Either that, or they don't show up.  That actually happened one time.

Anyway, the music is this melody-less crap that offers zero in the motivation department.  I'm not sure what it's called.  Electronica?  New Wave?  Souless Droning?

This morning, the teacher was cute little 20 year-old Kelly.  Two people including KK and me showed up for her class with the wack music. BECAUSE THE MUSIC WAS WACKED, KELLY!

I have a suggestion for you: play the top-40 pop music that the 30-to-60-somethings enjoy. Have you heard of Pink?  Rhianna?  Beyonce?  Kelly CLARKSON?!  You guys even have the same name!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Nice Toffee

Here we are at Camp.  I'm working.  Shef's a camper.  Mac's a day camper.  And we all start school super soon.

Incidentally, our wedding anniversary is today.  Pronto and I have now been married for 12 years.  That's a long time, but we also have a long time left.  So, that's good.

We've agreed to celebrate our milestone sometime later in the future when I'm home.  In the meantime, he's having a lovely weekend alone.  He's watching movies, eating whatever he wants, and golfing.  I'm happy for him, but at this point, I would basically kill for just one day by myself in my house doing whatever I want.

I'm doing other cool things, of course, but that's one cool thing I'd like to do.  Because I'm kind and generous, I'm happy for my spouse and his freedom.  He deserves it.  Happy anniversary, dear.  I love you so much.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cirlce, With the Music. The Flow.

I've been golfing a lot this summer.  I've improved a lot, but sometimes I'm extra terrible.  Yesterday, I was extra terrible on the putting.  The putting was atrocious.

Happy Gilmore helps with the bad strokes.  I don't actually javelin the pin like he does, but I quote him and use foul language, and it's kind of therapeutic. Yesterday while Dan was using foul language on my behalf, my golf pal, Melanie, misheard "You can suck my white ass, ball," and thought he said, "You can suck my one nut."

"What?" I said.  "ONE NUT?!"

"I thought it might be a thing," she laughed.

I was basically doubled over.  "A THING?  Do you know anyone with one nut?"

"I don't even know any one-nutted men," she sputtered.

"Dan," I howled, "do you know any guys with one nut?"

He just shook his head.

I actually hit a good shot after that.  The one-nut was the difference.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Al Pacino Rocks Hard Core

I've been back at work creating curriculum and getting organized.  We've been coming up with some excellent stuff, if I do say so myself.  I'm excited to get in there and try it out on the kids.  Until then, I have one week left of the summer. 

I'm going to catch up on some serious gratuitous television watching.  That's my major goal.

Plus parenting, of course.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Shailene Woodley Does It

The most recent outbreak of psoriasis had me combing back through the internet searching for some kind of magic bullet. 

The latest thing is this ancient, but currently trendy activity called oil pulling.  You swish coconut oil around in your mouth for, like, 10-20 minutes.  The theory is that the oil sticks to some harmful bacteria, and then when you spit out the oil, you also spit out the harmful bacteria.  And then your health problems are magically cured.  It has something to do with strep mutans.

I know.

As I was describing it to Dan, he was like, "Umm, hmm. Yeah. But you are still following actual medical advice, right?"

Yes, I'm still following actual medical advice.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Itching and Burning

Would you like to know about another psoriasis trigger?  I will tell you.  It's paint fumes. 

People, I know you're probably tired of reading about psoriasis.  Believe me.  I wish I wouldn't have to write any more about psoriasis.  Sadly, I keep accidentally triggering my psoriasis and then reading on the internet that the regular things I do trigger psoriasis.


In other news, I worked all day today in solidarity with my Bloomington, IN peeps who started SCHOOL.  I can't wait to hear the school stories.  I just got to work on laptop policies.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bike Camp

Back in June we had Mac's birthday party at an indoor rock climbing place.  He was excited about it until we got there.  Then, he decided he was afraid of climbing and was the only child to refuse to do the activity.  At his very own birthday party.

We decided then and there that the week of climbing summer camp that I'd registered him for was probably not a fabulous idea.

"What do you want to do instead?" I asked him, after I'd canceled the camp.

"Bike camp!" he exclaimed.  The kid is really into biking.

"We might have to make up our own bike camp," I told him.  I haven't heard of any offerings.

So, we are doing bike camp.  So far, we've ridden to the pool, rented a surrey bike at Minnehaha Falls with Nana, and ridden the Tour de Tonka.

TdT was a 16-mile ride that Mac completed on his 16" bike.  People were pretty impressed with him, but he got tired of the encouragement.

"Tell people not to talk about my biking," he said. 

"But you're doing so well!" I replied.

"I said not to talk about it," he insisted.

But, it was still pretty cool to do and an awesome event.  We'll be back next year, for sure.