Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Worksite

I'm sitting here in my classroom.  I finished my work for tomorrow, Praise the Lord.  We can all come back to school now that my lesson on apostrophes is planned.  This is 3rd lesson of the year on apostrophes because it turns out that sixers need infinite practice with these pesky marks of punctuation.

People, take stock of your possessives and contractions, your plurals and singulars.  Get it straight.  Be a good role model for the youth in my class. Or else.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I Took a Vacation

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast.  I've been to a hockey game, some practices, and I'm going to more.  It got to 38 degrees today, and I took a walk outside. Mac and I saw a movie called Penguins of Madagascar.  I've decided to transcribe a conversation about it here, a la Lee and Peter's independent movie review.  Except our movie was the opposite of independent, pretty much.

Me: So what did you think of Penguins of Madagascar?
Mac: It was cool.
Me: Who was your favorite character?
Mac: Dave the Octopus.
Me: Why did you like him?
Mac: Because he was funny.
Me: I was really glad when they turned the penguins cute again at the end.
Mac: [Silence]
Me: Weren't you?
Mac: Uh huh.
Me: How much did you like the movie?
Mac: 5 stars.
Me: Anything else you want to add?
Mac: There was a little cute thing.  It kind of looked like a chickmunk.
Me: Do you think people should go see it?
Mac: Mmm Hmm!
Me: Did you like it better or worse than Monsters University?
Mac: It was worse.
Me: Did you like it better or worse than Free Birds?
Mac: Better.

I think that's all you need to know about Penguins of Madagascar, actually. My mom, husband, and older son got to see Mockingjay, which they seemed to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Favorite Kind of Pants are Corduroys

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and our family will engage in some serious preparations.  One of our traditions is a visit to the TJ Maxx Home Store where we select an item of holiday kitsch to display at our gathering on Thursday.

You can see our favorite purchase - the ceramic chicken - if you scroll down to last week's #TwinTuesday.

I also need to purchase holiday outfits for my wonderful sons and construction paper for our paper chain of gratitude.  I'm looking forward to some QT with my fab niece and nephew.  I'm grateful for those two peeps, one of whom is pictured above.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Today, LH and I  have Cranberry and QTip.  A mixmatch of textures.  Something to think about.

I'm also thinking again about Ferguson.  I wish there were some way to alleviate the suffering and correct the centuries of injustice that have led to this moment.  I'm not sure what else to do except stay the course and keep doing my small things one at a time with other people who want things to do be different.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Been Around the World, Don't Speak the Language

My car has been in a sorry state. In that, it's messy.  In September, I drove a young friend who called it "repulsive."

The kids are always apologizing to their friends when they get in.  They apologize, but they don't take responsibility. Which they should because it's all their crap that's causing at least 60% of the problem.  The other 40% is a result of a life-long condition I've had concerning messy cars.

Anyway, things really came to head last night when I was driving some peeps home from a theatrical experience.  In order to accommodate four adult passengers, I had to frantically swat debris from Mac's seat while Adriana looked on and commented, "It's nice to know that someone like you has a flaw."

That was kind of a nice thing to say, but on the whole, the miniature van is embarrassing.

So, I got up this morning and I cleaned the car.  I can now ride with pride. I still need to use some upholstery cleaner on Mac's seat, but on the whole, it's far less humiliating.

This should last at least five days.  We'll see.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Visit

My mom is flying in today from Arizona.  That last time she flew in from a warmer locale to visit, I got a hideous facial infection and had to spend most of the time in the hospital.

This time, I'm feeling good and ready to party.  We have a play on the agenda, as well as some hockey games, Grand Friends' day at school, a Thanksgiving feast, and probably some other fun stuff.

Let the good times roll.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's Thursday. It's Serial.

I have to admit that right now I'm not giving the blog my full attention.  Instead, I'm listening to Serial on my headphones while Mac watches some infernal show with singing frogs, and Shef sulks on the couch.  Because of the show with the frogs.

To be fair, the frogs are really terrible.  You should see Shef's face right now.  The two of them are huddled up on the couch and Shef looks absolutely disgusted.  Even Mac doesn't seem to really be enjoying it.  I think he's watching it because it's HIS TURN to pick, and he can't admit he picked something completely stupid.  The show also has talking letters of the alphabet.

Shef just interrupted me to audibly complain about the vapid dialogue.

"Mac," I said, "you could let Shef pick now."

He made a sound that I feel like meant NOOOOOO.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Goofy Goober

Per my resolution to enjoy winter and fight crabiness, I went for a run outside with my friend Paula yesterday.  I wore lots of clothes, and guess what?  I wasn't even cold.  It was quite pleasant.  So far, so winning at winter.

Unfortunately, crabiness creeped in over night, and I'm feeling some crank coming on.  Life will be better for me, my colleagues, and my students if I find a way to banish it. One cause is that on Tuesday nights, we have vocabulary homework that the kids do online.  Inevitably, I get five emails from kids who, for whatever reason, cannot complete this online vocabulary assignment.  EVERY WEEK.  Sometimes their parents also write to say, my child tried really hard to get this done and wasn't able to!  Everyone is clearly annoyed.

I'm about ready to go back to pencil and paper vocabulary assignments with no drag-and-drop and online etymological dictionary.  Let's just do some good old fashioned word work already.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


It's that time again.  This week, Lee and I are giving you Ceramic Fowl with DVD.  Here, I feel my chicken is really striving to be like The Incredibles.  It's his dream, I'm pretty sure.

And, today I'm going running outside in the algid temperatures, most likely.  And I'm not even going to complain about it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

She was a Bad Egg

I've made a decision, and it's major.

I'm embracing winter this year.

Last year, I spent every day complaining bitterly about winter and being depressed and miserable.  It does suck here in the winter, but there's no gain in pointing it out all the time.

So, this year, I'm going to enjoy it!  I'm going to bundle up and go walking!  I'm going to put on my gore-tex-enhanced running shoes and lope around the lake!  I'm taking the kids to the sledding hill!  I'm asking for snowshoes for Christmas!  Whee!

There's been snow on the ground for a week.  We'll see how long I can make this last.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Strike That. Reverse It.

Remember Claire?  She was our nanny from the time Mac was born to the time he was three years old, and therefore obviously deserves a Nobel Prize of some sort.

Now Claire is just about eight months pregnant with her first child, and I got to go to her shower yesterday.  I have to say, I felt a little bit old attending a former babysitter's baby shower.  But on the other hand, it felt like a baton was passing.  Do you hear what I'm saying? Go, Claire, go!

I know it's hard to tell, but that tiny person on the right is just about EIGHT MONTHS pregnant.  One of the shower games required guests to take a piece of yarn and estimate how big around Claire's "belly" is.  I simply measured my own non-pregnant waist, and that was about right.  

I didn't allow this game to be played at my own baby shower because we would have needed many, many skeins of yarn to accomplish it.  And, I would have cried.

I didn't win the belly estimating game, but I did win another one, partly because Claire's mom (Hi, Anne!) let me cheat off of her just a tiny bit.  As a result, I got to munch delicious chocolate-covered cranberries on the way home.  Divine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm Not That Into Vampire Fiction

I was really digging our writers' workshop yesterday.  Kids got to write a paragraph about one of our case studies this week (there were three); get out all their notes, articles, and artifacts; and practice writing different types of supporting details.  The vibe was sweet.  I played the "Deep Focus" playlist from Spotify that one of my students told me about, and we were just in it.  Working and writing and helping each other.

One kid, Juliet, was really rocking on her urban gardening paragraph.  She was writing about Havana's agricultural successes.  You can see she was using photos from Architectural Review, her paragraph rubric, and her notes about the components of sustainable development.

I'm pretty sure it was one of the best sixth grade writers' workshops I've had.  A+, sixth graders.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Scratch

Yesterday, Mac's teacher accidentally poked his eye.  This is an occupational hazard I hadn't thought of.  She was walking by him, swinging her arms normally as she walked, and caught him with her thumb nail.  His eyes were right at thumb level.

Of course since it's Mac, it was the Biggest Deal Ever and quite traumatic.  After an hour of his weeping over the scratch, I decided to try to get a consult from our resident ophthalmologist, Dan's mom, Jane.

On the phone, she was like, go straight to the eye clinic! But I was like, it's MAC.  He's not a reliable informant!  She agreed that we could just stop by her bathroom, which has near-ideal light for impromptu eye exams.

Turns out, it was barely a scratch.  Kid knows how to milk an incident.  We all know this.  But, Doc provided drops to make everything seem official.

"You were very brave," his grandparents told him.

I think we were all trying not to roll our un-scratched eyes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Today we're going with chalk and Starburst. It's an unexpected combo, I think you'll agree.  Who ever thought of chalk and Starburst?  Now you have.

I can't think of anything else to say about this combo.  It's just a nice, "Huh," I think you'll agree.

I do want to share that when you get a dumpster in front of your house in order to throw away a bunch of your crap, people continually dig through it. And inexplicably take it.  Rusty, old, rotting stuff.  They take it!  I think there must be a network of dumpster divers.  They alert each other to the addition of new trash, and then they come under cover of night and snatch it.  It's weird, but I like it.  Feels sustainable.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Have Another Public Service Announcement

I feel like I'm danger of making this whole thing a Thursday Creativity Share, but sometimes I just have to report on what I know.

Last week at school, my friend Chris basically accosted me in the hall. "Do you listen to Serial?" he queried.

I'd heard of Serial - it's a This American Life-produced podcast that tells one story over the course of a year.  But I hadn't listened to it.

"Darn it!" he said.  "I'm looking for someone to talk to about it.  The seventh episode comes out today, and I have to talk about it."  He was a little bit twitchy, so I could tell the situation was grave.

"I'll get right on it," I told him.

"I knew you would," he said.  "You'll probably do it."

"Oh, I will," I said.

And now I'm on the sixth episode.  It's fascinating.  It's getting rave reviews.  Basically, you should listen to Serial. Especially my mom will like it.  Mom, please start listening to Serial ASAP.  Download the iTunes Podcast app on your phone and then get it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Public Service Announcement

You know how I'm a social studies teacher now?  I have a goal (of course) to increase my content knowledge in that domain.

As such, I read a current events magazine called The Week.  Have you heard of it?  I love it.  It excerpts all the columnists and summarizes all of the issues.  It's what we in the biz call a digest.  And one of my favorite things about The Week?  Every Friday, they publish the best photojournalism from the previous seven days.  The pics are amazing, and I love to show them to my students and discuss what's going on in the world.  Check these photos out, and then you might want to look at the photos from last week and the week before.  Really good stuff.

You're welcome.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Minority Report

#TwinTuesday Reject Pile

One of my most fabulous students isn't so sure about the validity of the claims about climate change.  She and her dad think that it's something people talk about to gain "political and economic power."  I gave her kudos for using two of our Humanities vocab words there.

"I think you're in the minority with that opinion," I said.  "Is your dad a scientist?"

He's not, as it turns out. But then I came to wonder about how many people share their views.  Turns out, according to Climate Change in the American Mind, a project of Yale University, 19% of Americans think that climate change is hooey.

And here, I just keep assuming everyone knows it's happening, as it's, according to the Yale project, "an established scientific fact."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Like Roses and Clover

Ideally, Dan and I would enjoy a television show together in the evenings after the children go to bed.  The problem, though, is that Shef now goes to bed at nine.  O'CLOCK.  And by the time I'm finished reading to him, it's 9:15.  At that point, I can't reasonably be expected to stay awake for more than fifteen additional minutes.  If I try really, really hard, I might make it 30 minutes.

I'm trying to train Dan to enjoy partial shows, but he usually tries to get me to COMMIT to a whole forty or fifty minutes.

"Come on," he says, jostling me.  "Stay awake!  Don't close your eyes!"

It's not that I don't want to make that commitment and disappoint him; it's just that it's not really possible.  The eyelids are so heavy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Mornings

Remember when I said the kids were ruining my mornings?  Well, they're still ruining my mornings.  Today, they got up at 5:15.

"I'm not getting you anything until 6:00," I said firmly, as they tromped down the stairs. "Watch TV."

As soon as the clock hit the zeroes, Mac requested pancakes.  "It's six!" he announced gleefully.

Maybe I can move my morning routine to the attic where there's a door that locks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


It's a little unexpected, I think you'll agree.  Anthropomorphic vehicle with leaf.  A celebration of fall and of childhood fascinations with locomotion.  Just try and hold these two celebrations in your heart simultaneously as you enjoy our photos.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Competition

This just isn't good enough.

The time has come for the workplace Fitbit competition.  We got our workplace-provided Fitbits in the summer, but the challenge got delayed until November 1st.  I've been doing pretty well with the Fitbit, consistently finishing in the top 3 for steps with other registered co-workers.  I've enjoyed this.

Now, however, with two days down in the "official competition," I'm getting smoked by fourteen school employees! I'm averaging 16,396 steps per day, and I'm only in 15th place. My very active minutes rank FORTY-SECOND!  And I exercised both weekend days!

Even if I wanted to exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors and try to win this thing, I don't think it's physically possible.  The top two are averaging 35,000 steps per day, PLUS, and several hours of very active minutes.

I think I'm going to work on accepting my mediocrity. It'll be good for me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sleep Tight

The weather is changing, and I've begun to feel cold.  Last winter, I got pretty desperate about the unending snow, ice, and misery.  I seriously tried to convince Dan to move.

After many conversations and presentations of evidence by me, he did finally concede that if I couldn't find a solution to my chronic, debilitating, and disfiguring skin condition (psoriasis, obvi), which happens to be aggravated by cold weather and lack of sunshine,  of which we have both in the Twin Cities metro area, we could consider moving.

I was glad he said that, but I could tell he didn't mean it.

So, since we live here, I've been spending time online looking for products and items of clothing that will help me endure yet another winter.  I try to embrace it (Snowshoes?  Gortex runners?), but really I want to cuddle up inside (Sweatpants? Turtlenecks?  Items made with down?).  My Christmas list consists of wool socks and non-bulky layers.  So super sexy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Working on the Weekend

Another Saturday, another work engagement.  This morning, I'm doing an event for prospective students and their families.  At the event, my partner and I teach a mini-lesson to give people a taste of what it might be like to be in our class.  We do it four times for four different rotations of people.

This is important stuff, showing off the awesomeness of our school.  The school IS awesome, and we need fab kids and families to join us and keep the awesomeness coming.  But right now, I just want to go back to bed.