Thursday, April 30, 2015

Head Spinning

Two kid anecdotes:

First, Mac announced to me last night that he has two jobs on Friday.

"What are they?" I asked.

"Well, Kendall and I were talking about Cool 2," he said.  Cool 2 is their band.

"Oh yeah?" I prompted.

"Yeah," Mac said. "And we decided we need a bodyguard."  The Cool 2 has decided a lot of things.  They've decided to graduate early from college and move to Turks and Caicos, for instance.  And also to start a science club.   "And on Friday, I have to do two things," Mac continued.  "First, I have to tell Henry that Kendall is in love with him.  And then, I have to ask him to be our bodyguard."

"Why Friday?" I asked.

"Because Kendall won't be at school," Mac said.  "So I can tell Henry that she loves him when she's not there."

Second anecdote: Shef's trying to improve his mile time from 6:19.

"How do I go faster?" he asked.

"Well," I said.  "You pretty much have to run until you think you might throw up or die.  Even if you feel bad.  You won't actually die.  Just keep pushing it."

"Until I throw up?"

"Yeah," I said, nodding.  Unfortunately, I know from personal experience that this is how you run as fast as you can.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Status Report

Reading: I'm on Book 20 of the year.  It's called Station Eleven, and it's by someone called Emily St. John Mandel.  Riveting.  It's gonna be a 4-5 starrer. I think my favorite book of the year so far.  Of course, I also loved the two by Liane Moriarty.  This year's reading has been just as fab as I thought it might be. People are creating some fantastic stuff for us to read.

Puffiness: Receding, thank the lord, thanks to My Fitness Pal and favorable choices.

Meetings: They should all be canceled for the rest of the year.  That's a no-brainer.

Psoriasis [You knew it was coming]: Inflamed due to poor vigilance on my part.  Red, blotchy, scabbed.  I'm headed to the booth today.  In the meantime, if you see me, it's not polite to stare.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Coaster and Pen!  Coaster and Pen!  It's a fab #TwinTuesday once again.  

In other news, we've reached the point in the school year where we try to just keep going.  Every day.  Just try to proceed in a forward direction. So, that's what I'm doing today.  Proceeding.  Toward knowledge about Cuba.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


#NovelSnip is a tiny portion of my fiction writing project.  I haven't been writing as much as I'd like, but I'm not giving up.  This picks up right where last week's left off. Chronological order, my friends!  Making a story!!

“Norah,” said Ellen, her roommate, one afternoon as the two wiled away  the last few minutes before the dining hall opened at five, “you should really come to the Spring Fling.”  The Central Wisconsin Association of Colleges put on the event each year, a social of sorts between St. Bonifacius and the other area schools.  

“No,” said Norah, “that’s not my kind of thing.” She stared into the mirror and tried to force the wisps of fine blond hair on her temples into some kind of order.
“Oh come on,” Ellen pleaded, her blue-jeaned legs crossed and her own blond hair pulled into matching low pigtails that bubbled over her wide-collared green shirt.  “There will be boys there.”  She hissed the s and bugged her eyes out.  “And bands, and almost everyone from 3rd MM is going,” she raised her eyebrows comically. Ellen and Norah both knew that the latter girl couldn’t stand to be left out.

“I have to study,” Norah said.

“On Saturday afternoon?” Ellen replied, sarcastically.  “No, you don’t.”  Norah met Ellen’s eyes in the mirror.  The two had grown steadily closer, especially since the afternoon when Ellen arrived in room 316 after her biology lab to find Norah wracked with sobs and curled underneath her bed.  Ellen had immediately dropped to the floor and softly stroked Norah’s hair from behind.

“It’s okay,” she’d whispered, before she’d even known.  “Everything’s going to be fine.”  A few minutes later, Norah had scooted back into the middle of the room and Ellen had laughed at the coating of dust that clung to Norah’s right side.

“Thanks for doing the cleaning,” Ellen said, smiling, reaching out with her hand to sweep the damp from Norah’s cheek.  “What happened?” Ellen said, when Norah had eeked out a tiny smile, a half giggle-half sob.

Norah’s breath shuddered as she prepared to tell Ellen her shameful secret.  “I got a C on my Hamlet paper,” she blurted, tears forming again.  Ellen, who’d been expecting news of a dead grandparent or the financial ruin of the Sullivan family, tried unsuccessfully to keep from laughing.

“Okay,” she said, a smile building from her chin to her cheeks and a few giggles trailing the word.  Norah swatted at her shoulder.

“Don’t laugh,” she said.  “I’m a failure.”

Ellen got to her knees and grabbed her roommate in a heartfelt hug.  “You’re just fine,” she’d said, and Norah hugged her back.

That's it!  Next week, they'll probably be some more.  I mean, I do have more.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oh, Oh So Is Life

Shef's 5th grade play was last night.  They also did a daytime performance, which I snuck into.  I know I'm his proud parent, but this is a true story:

The kid was spectacular.

That's all there is to it.

He played a clownfish who was the funniest clownfish ever.  

When I walked into the auditorium during my prep, I was just expecting to check out a fun play starring some cool kids. But when the fifth graders starting doing their final dance number to "Turn the World Around" and just looked so grown up and lovely, there was no choice but to start sobbing.  I had to leave the theater.    

As you can imagine, I was really glad I went to the morning show and accomplished that release, so I could respond to the evening performance like a normal, emotionally stable person.  The normal, emotionally stable person who is pictured here with the clownfish.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


We're here at Tuesday once again, and the Twins have thread and a tea cup.  

This photo has a grandmother theme.  My cup belonged to Dan's grandmother.  It's painted with lead paint, so you can't actually drink out of it.  I keep it on my dresser and store my earbuds inside.  In this photo, it's sitting on a table I got from my grandmother.  I have always loved this table, and I keep it even though Dan doesn't like it at all.  It's mine, so I get to have it. Speaking of Dan, he's blogging again.  Have you heard?

Finally, thread.  I'm lucky I even had this thread, as I don't even know how to sew.  The last time this thread was used was when the kids were doing surgery on old stuffed animals.  Maybe I'll start sewing someday. I wouldn't rule it out.  Maybe when I'm a grandmother.

Monday, April 20, 2015

To the Strawberry Ice Cream

Fitness Fail: I accidentally gained weight by eating everything in sight for many days on end.  So, now, everything is softer and bulgier that I'd prefer it to be.  Like, it's even getting tricky to tuck in shirts to my pants and skirts.

So, let me say this: I'm making healthy choices starting today!  This is my solemn vow.  And, you know I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Here's some craziness: I've been writing in order for all of April.  All Norah, in chronological order.  This feels like some sort of breakthrough, like maybe I could write all of the characters in order and see when and where they intersect. Anyway, last week, I wrote about the C Norah got on her Hamlet paper.  Here's the conclusion of that scene.  It starts right where the last one left off.

“How’d you do?” Donna leaned in from her right.  Norah instinctively pulled the paper toward her chest.

“Horrible,” she said, looking down.  “Just horrible!”

“Yeah,” Donna said, curling her mouth up in a wry smile, “I got a B too.  It stinks.”

Norah slid out of her desk and grabbed her backpack, still clutching her paper.  “See you later,” she mumbled, and hurried out of the room, rocketing blindly for the door of the building.  In the quad, she felt her lips start to quiver and tears spill from her lower lids. She didn’t look up once - not on the sidewalk, not at the entrance of Mother Mary, not on the stairs, not even once she entered room 316. She closed the door behind her and leaned against it, sobs overtaking her, a high wailing emanating from her throat.

“No, no, no,” Norah moaned.  “I can’t do this.”  She dropped her backpack next to her desk and sunk to the floor, tipping forward from her knees and pressing her face against the cool linoleum.  For many minutes, Norah lost herself, feeling only the clammy wet of her cheeks.  “I can’t do this,” she mumbled.  “I can’t do this.”  She balled the Hamlet paper in her right hand.  Finally, she pushed herself back to her hands and knees and inched toward her bed. Norah pawed the pillow from its head and stuffed it under her metal bed frame. She crawled in after it, curling up against the cinder block wall.

After this, her roommate comes back and helps her, thank goodness.  She does recover from this episode; however, I think we can agree her moment-by-moment coping skills might need work.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sent From Above

This week has been not the most smooth.  I haven't exercised or worked on #NovelSnip very much. I can't wait for it to be over is basically what I'm saying.

Today we have some shortened classes, an Earth Day video, and then a faculty meeting.  That's it.  I can do that, right?  Right?!  Please let me be able to do it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Today's offering includes a ukelele and a wedding ring.  I put mine on top of the puzzle I just finished.  As a result, there's a little too much going on in this photo.  Lee has a lovely shot of the body of the uke on some upholstery.  Very pleasing. 

But, #TwinTuesday isn't really about perfection, believe it or not.  It's about creativity and collaboration and connection.  I'm keeping on.

Monday, April 13, 2015

He Loved that Goat

Monday morning.  Dear lordy. I will probably make it through the week.  It kind of started yesterday, when I checked off the first order of business, which was playing the Csardas by Michael McLean in the violin recital.  I was the only adult to play this time, but I did so proudly in my section of 6th grade girls.

Here we are playing our piece.  We're in the back.  You can see the sixth graders, and you can see my hair.  If you look really carefully, you can sometimes see a piece of my face.

My stand partner turned to me at the end of the piece and said, "I messed up on that last section."  

"I did too," I said.

Then, she went on to play the solo in the first movement of a fancy Vivaldi concerto.  She played it really, really well.  So, if she messed up at the end of the Csardas, then certainly I can too.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


#NovelSnip is a tiny portion of my fiction writing project.  All week, I've been writing about Norah, mostly about her reaction to getting a bad grade in Shakespeare class at St. Bonifacius College for women .  I'm a little behind on my goals, but I have written more than 5000 words in April.  That's nothing to sneeze at, I think we can agree.  Anyway, here's Norah, freaking out:

Forty minutes passed while Norah scribbled Jones’s main ideas - mutilation, impotence, retribution - in her notebook.  She kept her eyes down, her left hand planted on her desk, her right hand gripping the pen.  Finally, Jones gathered his lecture notes and tapped them on the podium, straightening them into a neat pile.  “All right,” he announced.  “It’s time.”  He reached down to his briefcase and drew out a manila folder.  “They weren’t terrible,” he said, “for a first attempt.”  He scanned the class.  “Now,” he continued, a paternalistic smile creeping onto his face, “if you’re at all displeased with your score, take heart.  Many of my students find their strides later in the semester.”  He propped his elbow patches on the podium and started calling out names.  “Miss Faris,” he began, and a dark-haired, plump girl rose from her second row seat, hand outstretched.  “Miss Anderson,” another girl, a petite gal from Iowa with a button nose, smiled shyly at Professor Jones, whispering her thanks.  Norah’s gut twisted.  “Miss Donaldson,” Jones said, eyes twinkling at Mary Jane.  “Excellent work.”  Norah squeezed her lips together, smashing them into a line.  Six more girls were summoned to the front, while Norah waited, closing her notebook, sliding her Collected Works into her backpack.  Finally, Jones glanced at a paper and called, “Miss Sullivan.”  Norah’s mouth was too dry to speak.  She rose, shuffled to the front, and took the paper between her thumb and forefinger.  She placed it face down on her desk and breathed once.  Then, she peeled the upper left corner up toward her, peeking underneath. The professor had scrawled in red flair pen across the top.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Little Love, and Little Sympathy

Attention Everyone: Project Land will close next Wednesday, and I can't wait.  It's time for all of the eleven and twelve year-olds to sit quietly while I drop some knowledge.  No more choice and student-centered messiness.  Or even better yet, maybe the students can silently fill in some vocabulary worksheets.  Doesn't that sound like more fun than making a huge mess with props and scraps and asking the same questions over and over again even though there's a rubric for the project right in front of your face?!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Status Report

Profanity:  Mac: "Mom, Liam doesn't even know what middle-finger-up means."
                   Me: "Hmmm.  What does middle-finger-up mean, Mac?"
                   Mac: "I think it means 'jackass.'"
                   Me:  "Yes.  That's what it means.  So, we don't do it."
                   Mac: "Oh, I don't."

Self Control: I keep eating too many jelly beans.  I'm going to have to eat all of the jelly beans until they're gone to solve this distressing problem.  Damn it.

Tidying: Would you believe my closet has been completely clean since I read the KonMari organization book on January 1st?  It's true! Thank you, Clothes, for helping me feel comfortable and confident each day.

Sleep Training: Mac's been in our bed every night this week.  I'm 100% trained.  Well done, Mac. Game, set, and match.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Time once again for #TwinTuesday.  Today we have (on the left) Bell, and (on the right) Ball.

I'm pretty proud of my execution here because it required that I remember to bring my school bell home.  I do indeed use that bell.  It's the signal for the students to be quiet - that I have something vital to share with them.  So, here's what I did: I wrote in my planner: "Bring home bell."  And then - THEN! - I read my planner, retrieved the bell from the front table, and put it in my backpack.  Finally, I checked off "Bring home bell" from my notes list.

And that's how it's done, people.  That's how it's done.

Monday, April 6, 2015

My Picture Fades

Stop. School time.  If you're curious, I'd describe my feeling as "first-day-of-schoolish."  Excited and nervous.  The sixers are still in Project Land, ready for phase three, which is building their products.  I'm in charge of the groups who chose to make websites.  Instead of planning a big presentation on what they need to do, we're going to look at a couple of exemplars and the judges' rubric from the competition.  Then, they're just going to go for it.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, April 5, 2015


#NovelSnip is a tiny portion of my fiction writing project.  This week, I tried something sort of different.  I made a list of the characteristics I needed to introduce in Norah, the birthmother character, as a young woman.  Now, I'm writing scenes that might convey those.  See?  It's kind of like Backward Design for teaching.  I'm not sure how it's going, but it's going.  500+ words per day, per my solemn vow.

She glanced at the clock on the dash.  Ten o’clock.  Forty five minutes past when she should have been home at the end of the game, as promised.  She snaked the car through the neighborhood rehearsing potential lines.  The girls from the Honor Society had asked her back to one of their houses.  She’d run into her English teacher, who wanted to chat about her latest paper.  She’d fallen down on the bleachers and the athletic trainer insisted on examining her ankle.  Norah swallowed hard as she eased the wagon into the garage.  As she stood at the back door she closed her eyes and rolled her shoulders down her back. Norah turned the handle and eased the door open, stepping silently over the threshold.

“Norah.”  Her mother’s acidic voice caught her as she closed the door behind her.  Norah envisioned her mother’s set jaw and steely eyes before she looked up.  Sure enough, Susan’s gaze was cutting, traveling the length of Norah’s body.

“Hi, Mom,” Norah said, bending to untie her sneakers.

“What have you been doing?”  Norah could hear the sneer in the question, the emphasis on the “you.”

“Nothing,” Norah said, trying to keep her voice light.  “We won the game,” she breathed quickly, lingering over her second shoe.  “Um. I ended up hanging out with some of the Honor Society girls afterwards.”  Reluctantly, she straightened her legs and stood still on the doormat.

“Is that right?” Susan hadn’t moved from her position at the kitchen table, palms lying flat, flanking a glass of ice water.

“Um hmm,” Norah said.  She scanned a path through the kitchen, an escape route.  Go, she told herself, willing her legs forward in long, purposeful strides. As she passed Susan, the older woman twisted suddenly in her seat and grabbed her daughter’s arm nails penetrating the flesh above Norah's wrist.  Norah took a sharp breath in and spun toward her mother, open-mouthed.

“Be careful,” Susan said, squinting at her. Norah felt heat rising in her cheeks and acid at the back of her throat.  “People,” Susan said slowly, scanning the length of Norah’s torso again,  “might start thinking you’re a slut.”  The hard "t" in slut echoed behind Norah's eyes. She closed her mouth without saying anything, opened it again, her breath wavering, and finally set her lips in a line.  After a few beats, she yanked her arm away. Susan brought own hand back to it’s resting place on the table.  The edges of her mouth quivered a bit, and she breathed slowly through her nose, listening as Norah ran up the carpeted steps.
So, that's it.  What do you think?  Do you like Norah?  I do.  I'm going to keep going with her arc this week.  Skipping with her through time, but in chronological order.  We'll see how it's going.  This is a fun and challenging project, and I like doing it with all the writers online.  Highly recommend.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The End

Spring Break is coming to a close.  It's been one for the ages, with fun activities for all.  I'm into my last day and a half, and I'm soaking it up.  Walking outside, reading books, watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, all of which I recommend.

The reason we can enjoy break is that we don't have it all the time.  Thus, I'm happy to return to routine come Monday.  Bring it on, Routine.  I'm ready for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Status Report

Obsessions: LaCroix sparkling water.  It's like I can't drink water unless it's sparkling.  Even in restaurants, I get club soda.

Seasons: It's spring now.  Gin and tonic season, FYI.

Supplies: I've become partial to Staedtler triplus fineliner pens.  .3 mm.  I've got a set of ten in all different colors.

Carrots and Sticks: Since stickers have worked so well for me as an adult beginner violinist, I've decided to use them on my own in my new paper planner.  If I do a workout and #NovelSnip, I get a sticker.  This is a great system, IMO.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I Don't Know How It Happened

Here's something kind of neat that's going on: I'm doing an online writers' retreat in April.  It's called Camp NaNoWriMo.  You might know about National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo.  That's in November, and you have to pledge to write 50,000 words during the month.  That's too crazy for me.  But luckily, the peeps behind that organization offer Camps.  You get to choose your goals and get matched up in a "Cabin" with other people who are attempting similar writing feats.

My goal is 500 words per day on #NovelSnip.  And good news: I did it already today.  It's a snip about Norah as a teen. Also today, I listed my main characters - Alice, Evelyn, Frank, and Norah - across the top of a piece of paper.  I left space below to write ideas for scenes that need to be driven by each.  When I have an idea of something that has to happen, I'll put it down there.  Maybe I'll sort the scenes I've already written.  Who even knows?

Some writers plan their books in advance and other writers rely on serendipity.  Right now, I'm in the latter camp.  But, I'm putting words on the paper, and I think that's the main thing.