Thursday, October 30, 2014

Phase One Complete

This year at school, I'm working on my leadership skills and style.  I try to do a good job of leading and facilitating, and then I write about what went well and what I think could have gone better.

October was my month to facilitate team meetings.  Today's the last one, thank the lord.  One problem I'm having is that my face betrays my every emotion, including aversion and incredulity.  It's not so wonderful to display these reactions when facilitating a meeting, I've learned.  Maybe what I need is pump-up music.  Perhaps a playlist including "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga.  I think it might do the trick.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Proximity

I pledged to read 52 books in 2014.  I'm almost there, and the proximity of the goal thrills me.  It's even possible that I'll surpass the goal, as I've logged 49 already. I'm anticipating the day when I can compose retrospective posts on the year with the best books of different types.

As goals go, this one wins.  I love having read all of these books.  The goal enriches my life and has no downside.

If you seek purpose in your life, may I suggest a goal of averaging a book a week.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


It's Bandaid and Halloween Decor today.  You can see me taking the photo in the reflection of the owl.  To some this may seem sloppy.  To me, it seems creepy, apropos of Halloween.  I might be a ghost appearing in the photo.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Is This Happening?

My alarm went off this morning, and I was like, "Why am I getting up?  Surely, it's Sunday."

But it's not Sunday.

What happened was that on Saturday, Robin, KK, and I did a workshop with a group of teachers who strive for global competence.  The workshop was great, but I was like, seriously, where's my make-up weekend day?

It's not coming.

The only saving grace here is that we're making sketchnotes about capitalization rules today.  You might be thinking, "Why the heck don't her sixth graders already have a handle on the capitalization rules?"  To which I would answer, "I have no flipping idea."  But this is the case will all simple mechanical rules in the English language: You have to practice a lot to really get them.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Chance to Make the Games Mean Something

Once again, my peaceful morning is compromised by the wakefulness of my oldest child.  But it's okay because his hockey try-outs are complete, and you guys, he made the team of his dreams.

Last year, he was crushed and there was sadness.

In the grand scheme of things, that was a valuable life experience, and I'm glad that he had it.  He overcame his disappointment and worked super hard to become better at hockey.

This year, however, I wanted him to have the experience of working his butt off and having it pay off.  It's so much more fun in this moment, with the jumping around and the delight.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Phony Phone Call

I get up at 5:30ish to prepare for work, blog, and read stuff on the internet.  The primary purpose for this is that it's the only hour of solitude I can carve out in the day.  I come down here, make the coffee, sit quietly, and breathe deeply.  At 6:30, I drag the family out of bed.

But today, I padded out of my room to discover multiple lights on.  I descended the steps, and the children were cuddled up on the couch watching Spooky Buddies.  It's a movie starring Golden Retriever puppies.

"What are you guys doing down here?" I asked.  "This is usually my alone time."

Mac smiled ridiculously and said, "Well, Mom, today this is our time."

Then, they starting asking for things.

"Just give me ten minutes," I said.  Everything is ruined.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Righteous Dude

Shef's try-outs are tonight.  It might be the last round of try-outs.  Nobody told me that try-outs are stressful for parents, too.  It's not that I care what team he makes - I don't care one bit - but I want him to get what he wants.  Because he wants it so much.  I imagine this is only the first time I'll feel this way.  There are innumerable potential disappointments ahead - driver's test failures, low grades, awards not received, colleges not gotten into, jobs rejected from, breakups, promotion pass-overs... the list never ends.  Life is one big disappointment, kid.  And this is just the potential start of it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Anything Good to Do

Psoriasis report:

Excellent news.  I've gone from 11% covered with psoriasis to 8% covered with psoriasis.  I'm going to be honest and tell you that when you're 11% covered, it feels like you are 80% covered.   If I didn't have to parade around in front of my older male doctor in my underwear in order to complete the calculations, I would have questioned his math.  But there's no denying the improvement.  I'm less hideous than I once was.

So we stay the course, and I continue to visit the light booth twice per week and use nine hundred-dollar ointment on my lesions.

"Nothing that comes in a TUBE should cost nine hundred dollars," my nurse said when I mentioned the price.

Amen, sister.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Today's installment features a turtle on piano keys.

I think if you look into that plastic turtle's eye, you can really see the depth of his struggle. His ancestors traversed the earth 220 million years ago, and yet he still can't tickle the ivories.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fakers Gonna Fake

At my violin lesson last week my teacher asked me to start memorizing the second violin part of the Bach Double.

"Yeah, right," I basically said.

Have you heard the Bach Double?  It's this: 

The second violin part is the one that starts first.  This is not what I sound like playing it.  And, I only have to learn the first movement.

So anyway, I was like, "I can't memorize it."

"Why not?" asked Jennifer.

"Ever since the Vivaldis, I just can't memorize."  I was being a little middle-schoolish.  I recognized this.

"Hmm," Jennifer said.  "How's your listening?"

When you study violin, you're supposed to listen to the pieces you're learning over and over again.  I have not been doing this.

"Poor," I admitted immediately.

"Okay," said Jennifer smiling.  "I'm going to skip straight past correlation and go right to causality."

So, I started listening to these gals.  I listen and follow along with the music.  We'll see how it goes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

They Will Attack

I think I might have psychological problems because I cannot stop laughing about this video.

I keep watching it and laughing my head off.  "Is it gone?!  It's it gone?! It's not gone!!"

Apparently, this is a magpie attack and this lady was sent out by her employer to provoke it.  That's all fine, but why do I think it's so funny?  Do I enjoy watching other people's pain and terror?  Apparently.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Conference Redux

We conferenced yesterday with each of the kid's teachers.  This year for the first time, Shef got to be in his conference with us and show us his work.  It was really funny to watch his demeanor with his teacher.  At the beginning of the conference, she told him how much she likes him and what good work he does. He was just sort of gaping at her, incredulous.  And giggling a little bit.

I think he said, "Okay," at the end of that part.

Then he scuttled over to his desk to get some work to show us. Later, we saw an iMovie he made about an engineering project regarding a boat.  The movie was hilarious, as in some cuts he was wearing a blue shirt and was sweaty and red-faced from PE.  Some shots he was in a red shirt and not those things.  The continuity issues cracked us all up.

Basically, Shef's work is stellar.  That's just a fact.

Mac's work is stellar, too.  He'd adopted a strategy to avoid reading for long periods of time that I thought was genius.  In a nutshell, he tried to take a really long time to select his book.  When I asked him about it, he got a little smirk.

"Ms. J. said she was going to take away 5-minutes of choice time if you kept doing that," I said.

"Yeah," he confirmed, "but I never got that consequence."  Kid's been hustling, which I appreciate.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Go 'Head

It's conference prep day.  Time to think about how the sixers are doing.  The good news is that the sixers are doing extremely well.  I mean, really.  These kids know their stuff, and they're making really insightful comments about all kinds of big, important issues.  I wish I could just individually call all of the 75 parents of the kids I teach and say, "Hey - no worries! Your kid is great."  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

To the Hey

Heading into a week that can be described as cray-cray.  Here's the good news: we have Friday off, yo.  After we do hockey try-outs and group violin lessons and parent-teacher conferences from either side of the table, we have Friday off.

Dan and I decided to really live it up during that sweet reprieve and start cleaning out our basement and linen closet.  Maybe we'll even take a load to the dump, or maybe just to Goodwill. Whoo!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Drop Dead of Diptheria

In a few minutes, I'm going running with my friend Sheila.  Turns out I need to go running because I keep eating anything I want whenever I want to eat it.  And then I keep eating pizza without consideration for consequences.  And then cookies. Would it kill me to focus on fruits and vegetables?!

Anyway, I found this little video that Mac took it upon himself to make. I found it while I was deleting photos from my device and looking for inspiration for this here blog.

It's true that I don't allow Mac to say the sh-word.  If he said the sh-word, he would definitely incur the consequences that he describes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Count Your Money

Today I'd like to discuss the benefits of having a pal who is a highly knowledgeable, committed, and all around fabulous children's librarian.

What happens is you think you've chosen a good book for your students to read during fourth quarter, but then your teaching partner starts to read it and realizes it's sorta boring.

So, you just say to your team, "Let me just send a quick email to my friend the librarian."  This librarian has a great track record, as at this very moment, the entire sixth grade is reading one of her suggestions with great success.

You know said librarian is on vacation per her fabulous, social-media-shared photos of stunning Colorado, so you just say in your email, hey, if you know something off the top of your head that fits this very specific criteria...

And less than two hours later, she sends you a list of like 20 books with one in particular that looks especially fantastic.  That's what I call PROBLEM SOLVED.

And this is what happens when you make good friends who introduce you to their good friends.  It's a network and a village.  That's the magic of JW.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Small Pulsing Light

Two anecdotes as I watch my Fitbit charge:

I found myself sitting at lunch with Gary, the guy who has consistently beaten me in the workplace Fitbit challenge.

"Gary," I said, "I'm ahead of you right now.  I feel like it's a miracle."

"I'm NOT CHECKING," Gary said definitively, emphasizing this choice with a sweeping arm motion.  "I've just gotten too fanatical.  I'm taking a break."

"Really?" I said.

"Yes!  I'm getting my 10,000 and that's it."  Gary's been averaging about 18,000 steps per day since June, so this is a significant departure.

"Okay," I said.  "I get that, but can I tell you something?  Someone is now beating us both!  A newcomer!"

"Allison Thompson," he said certainly.

"That's right," I said, surprised.

"She's not new; she just took a break because she was becoming way too compulsive, like just going out and running eight miles to get the steps.  But now she's back."

She's currently ahead of me, so that means I'm not fanatical, right?  Just Allison?

And second:

Shef ran the PE mile in 6:19.  I'm amazed.  Kid's got legs.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Katy Perry Song

I talked a big game last night at 9:15 about watching an episode of Game of Thrones.

"Wow," Dan said, "are you up for it?" 

"Yes!" I said, "I'm in!"

So, we started the show.  I remembered some of the characters (winning!).  Nobody was beheaded or uncomfortably nude within the first five minutes (miracle!).  And then, the familiar drooping of the eyelids set in.

"How much left?" I asked.

"I knew this would happen," Dan said, pausing the show.

"I just got really tired suddenly," I explained, as we both noted that I'd made it through 22 minutes.

"What a shock," Dan deadpanned.

"I tried my best," I said.  And that's all anyone can ask for.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


We call this installment, "Flashlight and Dog."

I tried to put a cool Instagram frame around this photo, but that cut off the tip of Skip's right ear.  Nobody cuts Skip's right ear off for a corner.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Slowing

Last week, I was so harried that I felt I might need to quit taking violin lessons.  I would never choose to do this, as playing instruments, especially stringed instruments, is hugely beneficial for health.  It's documented, and I'm a believer.

But, if you're constantly driving your children to their various commitments, including their stringed instrument lessons, it's hard to carve out the time to practice.  And then you're just showing up for your lesson embarrassed and unprepared.  That's unequivocally not good for your health, as experts have confirmed.

So, I reluctantly confessed that I might have to quit.

"I don't think you have to quit," Teacher Jennifer said.  "I think you have to wait until after MEA weekend."

Immediately, a weight lifted from my shoulders.  "You're right," I said.  "That's it."

MEA weekend - it starts next Friday the 17th - is a documented turning point.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Please Enjoy

Mac's violin recital.  He played "Alegretto."  It was quite nice.

When he got back to his seat, we tried to say, "Good job."  He said, "STOP IT."  I had to explain that the only acceptable response to a compliment is "Thank you."  So, then he said "thank you" with gritted teeth to each additional compliment.  Compliance is awesome.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Grind

It was a long week, and I'm welcoming the weekend with relief, sweatpants, and fleece.

Because of my current life stage, I have a full day of ferrying the children to various sporting and social events.  The upside of this is that I'm reading a really great book called Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton and also listening to a really great book called The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. In between the dropping and the picking and the, I hope, laundry folding because I have about nine loads sitting in various places around the house, I can make some progress in these texts.

I also need to get back into my meditation habit, which I can just do on the go with my handy phone app.

So, it's going to be a cozy, comfortable day here in the chilly metro, ending with a recital by Mac.  Rock on.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

One Killer Bee

We taught the kids about the FANBOYS the other day.  You know, those little words that connect independent clauses.  I usually make them chant them a few times for good measure - FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, SO.  It's fun.

In the next lesson, I asked them to review the conjunctions, just for reinforcement.

"I know it!" said a cheery chap in the front.  "It's something about PLAYBOY!"

I quickly corrected his misconception.  It could have been because of BUT, but we all know there are no BOOBS in FANBOYS.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Cool 2

Mac's band, The Cool 2, produced this mural (partially pictured) to promote their work.  His teacher told me the Cool 2 still lives, but that now they're working on a set of Timberwolves tickets.  This band has varied interests that can't be kept down.

Cheers to the Cool 2!  Go Cool!  Go 2!