Friday, August 28, 2015


Right?!  Right!

It's obvious that we're having  little trouble with #TwinTuesday, what with it not being Tuesday.  But you know what?  Sometimes it's the first week of school for one of us.  Sometimes we just have to do it when we can.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gonna Be Another Mountain

Shef and I are stepping into this new territory where we're in the same grade.  Colleagues who have done it before have been glancing at me knowingly and saying things like, "How's it going, MOM?"

I mean, in the first two hours yesterday at 6th Grade Breakfast, it was going fine.

"How did I do?" I asked Shef later.  It was a pretty public day.  I had to go up to the podium, introduce myself in front of the whole grade and their parents, and call forth my advisees.

I thought of a good joke on my way up there and scored some appreciative giggles.  Sure enough, Shef said, "You were really funny."

Internal fist pump!

"So, I did okay?" I prodded.

"Yeah," he said.  "Everyone likes you."

Internal happy dance!

How long do you think I can keep this up?  Until I bust my first cheater?  Say, "Oh no, we don't do that in middle school," for the fiftieth time?  Pawn Magic the Gathering Club off on the new social studies teacher? I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


The summer wasn't as prolific as I imagined it would be.  I mean, the summer was flipping amazing.  But, I didn't spend a lot of time on this fiction writing project. Back in the spring, my father in-law asked if I could just write this damn book in chronological order.  Also, I got a text from Lee: What's the difference between Alice and Norah? she asked.

So, the feeling I'm getting is that my concept isn't really coming through in the #NovelSnip medium.  

That's okay.  Someday it might be a whole book, and it'll make more sense.  In the meantime, it might help to know that Alice is the daughter of Norah and Peter.  She was adopted by Evelyn and Frank, who are her parents.  The narrative goes back and forth through time right now. Norah and Peter falling in love.  Evelyn and Frank parenting Alice and Ethan.  Alice growing up, and in one scene I haven't published here yet, being an adult. In the end, I'm not sure I imagine the time like that.  I'm sort of thinking there will be large chunks in chronological order, which might make Dan's dad happier. His happiness is critically important to me.  Do you know how awesome that dude is?

In any case, this is Alice at 19, seeing Peter for the very first time:

Alice stood still in the fiction section and willed him to turn around.  It had to be him – the height right and the build, a slight slouch to the left in his shoulders.  She gulped and watched him scan the spines of the novels, one hand reaching toward the flat front of a staff recommendation.
Alice's arms tingled, and she turned back toward the door, reaching her right hand to her ribcage, nervously pressing through her flesh and fingering the ridge sloping away from her sternum.
Should she go out and come back in, making more noise this time? Perhaps she could startle him into turning around and meeting her gaze.  She turned toward the door and took a few steps away before peering backward over her shoulder and changing course.
Deep breath.  Sneakers forward.  A tap on the left scapula, a turn.  Blue eyes through glasses.  A sharp inhale.
Alice tilted toward him, right arm forward.  “Hi,” she breathed.

“Well, hello,” he said, warmly, sliding his left arm over her shoulder and clapping her firmly, as she patted his back.  I’m doing this wrong, she thought, letting her cheek rest briefly against his chest.  She shifted her weight back to her heels and stared at the bottom rims of his glasses, at the way they met his cheeks, the way his nose spread a bit as he smiled at her.  “Shall we walk?” he said, and she nodded, turning back toward the door, a half smile and slight stomachache.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Memories Were Carefree

The to-do list is getting slightly smaller, and it looks like I'll be mostly ready for the 6th grade breakfast on Monday.

Bring it, sixth graders!

I've got your locker signs ready.  I've got your combination locks assigned.  I've got some lesson plans for you to enjoy.  Today I'm planning a campfire for our 6th grade overnight.  We'll be singing some songs, for sure.  Everyone will sing.  If you don't sing, I will find you.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Status Report

Back2School: Cruising.  Learning Management System navigating.  Clipboard assembling.  Reading program establishing.  Getting it done and only rarely dissolving into giggle fits.

Dog Health: The guy still has some digestive woes.  Not going to sugar coat it for you.

Growth Spurt: My littlest child, whom I usually have to pry out of bed in the morning, tapped my shoulder this morning at 5:25.  "Mackie's hungry," he said.  Could he be growing?  I'm thinking yes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back of the Cab

Sometimes when you have a dog, it's all rainbows and sunshine and snuggles.

Sometimes when you have a dog, it's diarrhea and vomiting in the crate, leading to 5am baths and scrubbing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


It's back to the routine, and I'm hopeful that the routine means a #TwinTuesday every Tuesday AND in the morning.  Can we do it?  We're going to try.

In the meantime, I'm going to try going back to work and getting started with our new Learning Management System.  I also filled out a survey about how much I love change.  I said, "Bring it!"  

Let's embrace it!  The new routine and the not disappearing!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Nae Nae (Okay!)

We saw a bunch of rad relatives this weekend, and for the first time, people kept saying things like, "It's so funny how one of them looks like you, and one of them looks like Dan."

"Which one looks like me?" I asked incredulously, more than once.  Because forever and ever, all people have always remarked on how much they BOTH look exactly like Dan.

The relatives looked at me like I was insane.

"SHEF looks like you," they said.  Obviously! was implied.

It's hard to explain the glee I felt on this pronouncement. I would have been just as gleeful if Mac were the one. I'm in there someplace, is the point.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

And the Motor Goes

It's happened fast, but it's time - school starts tomorrow.  Not for the children, but for the teachers.  All of the teachers except for me because I'll be traveling home from John and Galen's NYC wedding, which is tonight.  Woo!

In any case, it's that time again where I determine a motto for the school year.  Remember? I've had BRIGHT LIGHT, Best Year Ever, EPIC, Get It Done, and probably a couple of others.

This year, I'm considering changing tacks. Here's the story:

My lifelong friend Emily called me last week, lamenting the fact that we'd missed the summer window this year, failed to get together, and now it'd be months before she had another chance.

Because she's generous, kind, and has known me since the beginning of my career, she wisely said, "So, call me when you get settled into the school year, and..."

"No," I found myself cutting her off.  "I'm not doing that this year.  Let's make plans now."

"What?" she said, confused.

"I'm not disappearing into my work this year," I answered firmly.  "How about the 21st?"

And just like that, my motto was born.  I'm not disappearing into my work.  I'm starting by missing the first day of the school year.  Of course, I didn't mean to miss the first day.  It's just necessary because the choice was either to miss it or miss the wedding.

I mean, duh.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

To My Heartbeat Sound

We're just capping off an epic summer with a trip to NYC to celebrate Uncle John's wedding.  It's been a thrill a minute, so far, and today we're even going on a double-decker bus.

"It's a lot different here than in Minneapolis," Mac observed.

True that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Today's #TwinTuesday is kind of on the metaphorical side.  If you look at my twin, should she post her photo, you'll see that she has an inhaler and a lock.  Turns out I don't own either object.  So here's what I did:  I found a healthcare item that heals the OUTSIDE of the body, rather than an inside organ.  Also, I found a KEY, which is the inverse of a lock.  So, what we have is an oppositional art vibe happening here.

Speaking of metaphor and juxtaposition, one of my very favorite people in the world died last week.  Bob Shandorf was my high school English teacher for two years.  He has been a critical mentor for me and was a significant factor in my decision to pursue teaching as a career.

Basically, I love this guy.  I loved him even when he wrote "NO," underlined and in all caps on the sides of my papers.  It made those times when he scrawled a gigantic A as big as my Blue Book that much sweeter. I've carried my notebook from his American Lit class with me from job to job as a reminder of why I do what I do.

His service today was lovely and funny and heartfelt.  He picked the readings himself, including the last page of Gatsby. He's that classy.

Here's to the Green Light and all the goodness in literature and language.

I'm not sure how he'd respond to #TwinTuesday, but he'd probably think it's curious.  And that's all it's supposed to be.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Party People

Super Pal Melanie asked me to go to a VENUE to see LIVE MUSIC last night.


So, I went, and I felt really hip and now until we sidled up to the bar, and Mel led off with a request for the "least alcoholic beer" they offer.

I dropped my jaw and stared at her.

"I'm DRIVING!" she explained, raising her right arm in defense.

"In three hours!" I said.

The bartender offered some kind of grapefruit-infused 3-2 in a can.

"Is it good?" Melanie asked.

"NO!" the bartender and I said.

"This is embarrassing," I told her.  "Order a Summit already."  She agreed to order a Summit.  The bartender nodded approvingly.  "And," I said, "I'm totally blogging about this later."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My Own Destiny

On our walk this morning, KK and I talked about work.  Like, plans for this year's sixth graders.  And I didn't feel a rising tide of anxiety thinking about it.  I welcomed the school talk and actually felt some glee imagining those eleven year-olds walking into the Middle School for the first time.

"Do you have any nervousness about Shef coming to sixth grade?" KK asked.

"No," I said.  "He's so ready."

And I promise not to embarrass him too heartily.  At least not on purpose.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Now It's All Rusted

Vacation Vignette:

I got a little tired from sitting by the pool and reading my book, so I closed my eyes and dozed.

That's about it.

Dinner's in 90 minutes, and we might play some cards after that.  There's a fire pit, too.  And bocce ball.  So many options.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Empty When You're Gone

All of my sibs do really cool stuff.  One of them has a pager and has to go to the hospital to fix critical equipment to SAVE PEOPLE'S LIVES.  One of them is evaluating the effectiveness of educational programs in Bangalore this summer.  Another one is working on ten year strategic plan for city-wide art.  Another one created and runs an apparel company.  The newest one makes records.

Doesn't teaching sixth grade seem kind of, I don't know, MUNDANE, compared to these professions?

Anyway, I've been pretending to know some things about music.  Here's a little behind the scenes look at his latest.  I hear ragtime is making a huge comeback.