Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I really like how this Teddy is just looking at you with unconditional love.  He doesn't care if you make poor fashion choices or forget your deodorant.  This guy just wants you to be who you are.  He appreciates your efforts.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Well, Okay

Here I am in LAX, just keeping you posted.  It's been an epic trip, with plenty of sibling bonding.

Having siblings in the ether is okay, and all.   But, having siblings in the real-life present is so much better.  The one pictured above - we re-met each other after eighteen years apart - toured me all around Hollywood and Beverly Hills and Venice Beach.  The entire weekend was surreal and fabulous.  I can't even write any more about it because I keep doing undignified airport crying.  

When I get home, I'll get to see Mac's blue hair and lost tooth.  Shef will continue to run cross country races with bigger kids.  Dan and I will kick it old school in the kitchen with the crazy dog and the bad tv.  The other sibs will be in and out, as they live mostly in Minneapolis with me. I like it that way.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

You Married a Really Nice Guy

LA Update:  We went to Beverly Hills and got in a little bit of trouble for taking that shot in front of a green wall in the Prada Store.

Don't I look like I totally fit in in Beverly Hills?  I think I'm going to move here and live at Barney's.  In the basement, people will make me look beautiful by applying expensive make-up to my face.  Later, I can wear pointy booties with fringe on them and take a jaunt down the street to Chanel where I'll buy the 12,000 dollar dress I touched there.  Also, I'll have prosecco at a fancy hotel every day like I did today. 

This has been fab.  100%.

Friday, September 25, 2015

He Would Never Call You

I'm in California visiting my youngest brother and his lovely wife.  So far, I've been cool enough, I think.  I have mostly stopped worrying about being cool. #bigsteps

Highlights so far: view of the Hollywood sign en route to their place from LAX, sushi lunch, and live musical performance by said sibling.

I mean, he's really good and I had never heard him before.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little choked up.  Who wouldn't? Sometimes all there is to do is cry just a little bit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Could Say Hi

I'm visiting Los Angeles starting tomorrow.  I'm really excited, but I'm also paralyzed by nerves.

Here's the problem: When you hop off the plane at LAX as Miley Cyrus is wont to do, do they check for coolness?

Because I'm pretty sure I will fail any LA coolness test.   I googled about how to be cool in LA, but I can't find any definitive tips beyond getting paid for your Instagram.  Also, I've heard that women of a certain age (my age) are eschewed by Hollywood.  I learned this by reading articles about people who used to be cool, but now because they are in their mid-to-late 30s, they are no longer cool.

I did find an article about things I can wear to appear cooler than I am.  These include beanies and lace/sheer clothing.  Also leggings at all times.  So, basically, no.

It's safe to say I'm counting on the unconditional love of my sibling and his fab wife to make up for my Minneapolis mediocrity.  Everything will be okay.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


#TwinTuesday brings us a poem and a charm.  My poem is "Companion" by Jo McDougall.  My charm is a wine glass marker that Dan and I made a million years ago.

It's fitting because it's homecoming this week, and our mascot is a bear.  Also, our colors are blue and green.  It's funny how things work out.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Didn't Respond to It

I've become obsessed with Mac's loose tooth.  The thing is hanging by a thread, and he won't let me pull it and he won't pull it himself.  He also won't let Dan pull it.  He's been waiting forever to lose a tooth.  I feel like I'd be doing him a big fat favor if I just lightly tugged on it.  But, no.

"Mac won't let me pull out his tooth," I told Mary.

"I mean," said Mary, who is a social worker in grad school for her MSW, "my teacher would say the question is, 'Why do you want to pull it out?'"

"I just really want to," I said.


"It's not about power and control," I continued.  "And since he says I can't, I don't force him."  I paused.  "I don't like hold his mouth open and make him let me."

"Well, that's good," she said.

I still feel like she was thinking there was something clinically significant about my tooth-pulling aspirations.  Maybe that's indeed the case.  I do think about it every time I look at his little face.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Status Report: I Thought We Were Doing Fine

School: In a groove. Helping the students with myriad problems, including unknotting shoelaces and managing absences due to orthodontist appointments. We got this.

Running: I'm not running at all, but my child? The oldest? He's kicking butt and taking names.  Ran his first cross country meet today.  Beat all the kids his own age and most of the kids a year and two older.  A former student said to me, "I guess it runs in the family." Can't say I wasn't pleased to hear that.  Does that make me a bad mom?  Unwilling to let him have his own identity?  I mean, he has his own identity, and it's a million times better than mine.

Teeth: Mac is about to lose his first.  Finally.  But he won't let me yank it out.  Does that surprise anyone?  Because it shouldn't.  That kid doesn't let me do anything.  It's his way or the highway.  Except the times when I take away his electronic devices.  Then, it's my way.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On Another Plane

We arrived twenty minutes early for Mac's drum lesson last night.  My idea was that we'd sit calmly in the car and work on our reading.  Maybe we'd listen to some music at the same time.  Breathe deeply, perhaps.

Soon after parking, however, the kids were out of their seats and wrestling.  The miniature van is quite large, but it doesn't really accommodate full-scale physical fitness or combat-type endeavors.

"Stop roughhousing," I commanded.

"We're not roughhousing," Mac sang.  "We're trunk diving!"

Oh fine, I thought to myself. I glanced into the rear-view and watched them hang their top halves over the back of the hatch.

Not two minutes later, there were shouts.

"He hit me!"

"He's bleeding!"

"There better not be blood on the car," I said threateningly.

The silence told me the whole story: there was blood on the car.  It's a smudge on the middle of the back of the back seat.  From dragging a leg over into the hatch while bleeding.

That's so annoying.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Turns out, and I may have mentioned this before, but Red Dye 40, as featured in this lifesaver, is toxic to humans and causes skin rashes and other symptoms.  I can't recommend Red Dye 40 as a food choice, but it really isn't my decision whether you eat it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

He's Magnetic

A couple of weeks ago, Lee told us about the Bronies.  I personally became sort of obsessed with them in that I really wanted to watch A Brony Tale, a documentary about the Brony lifestyle on Netflix.

Rachel seemed like the perfect Brony-watching partner.  She hadn't yet heard of Bronies, but was absolutely willing to learn about this eclectic group of dudes via the television and internet.

"Do you like My Little Pony?" I asked, as we sweat-panted on the couch.

"Yeah," she said.  "I was into them.  But, we bought them at thrift stores, so some had, like, marker on them."

The important thing here was not the marker, but that she was familiar with the joy My Little Pony can bring someone.

The new ponies, the Friendship is Magic ponies, have more of an anime look to them, as we discovered.  And the bros are committed to the lessons of teamwork and love that the show spreads.

They're also into a phrase that goes, "20% Cooler," as in, "Is this cool enough?" The answer might be, "Meh, it needs to be 20% cooler."

You can get a t-shirt with that phrase, and I'm probably going to.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I Can't Resolve This For You

Dana and I have started a club that's going to assuage the massive sense of guilt I feel when I recycle my unread New Yorker each week.  In our club, the two of us read an article from the New Yorker. Dana picked this week's piece about Judy Clarke, the defense attorney who represented Tsarnaev, the kid who bombed the Boston Marathon.  It's fascinating, and at this moment, I'm taking a break from reading it to tell you about our club.

Another aspect of the club is that we each choose a piece to read independently.  I already know I'm picking the Critic at Large article which addresses Black Silent Majority, Between the World and Me, and Ghettoside, two of which are already on my to-read list.

The last part of the club is that we walk around the lake and discuss the articles we've read.

Pros of the club include more reading of smart material, better use of available resources, concurrent dog walking, and dedicated time with Dana, who is awesome.

Cons of the club are nonexistent.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Status Report

Back to School Night: I'm not tryna brag, but it was one of my best performances yet.  Favorite moment: I'm teaching the son of our pals Joe and Jill.  Joe and Jill approached my classroom and laughed their heads off at my conservative and polished English-teacher outfit.  Just because you hang out with people late into the night in your jeans and t-shirt, they think you can't bring it for Parent Night?! Jill actually POINTED and laughed.  "Get in there," I said, rolling my eyes and gesturing to the door.  "And no questions from either of you.  Only smiling and nodding." They mostly acquiesced.

Noveling: Hey!  I wrote some words this week, and I'm planning on writing a few more!

Coffee: There can never be enough.  The supply of coffee needs to be infinite today.  It'd be better if it were good coffee, but I'll take whatever's in the work pot.  That's the situation.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Buick Over There

I'm staring down one of the longest days of the year.  You all know it as Back to School Night.  For a bunch of people who talk in front of large-ish groups all day long, doing little ten minute presentations for mostly amenable groups of parents should be fine.

And it is FINE, and I'm actually pretty good at it.

But, man, it turns me into a sweaty, blotchy mess.

What really rattles me is if my jokes fall flat or if no one is smiling and nodding.  I generally try to identify a smiler as the parents walk in and then repeatedly make eye contact with this cheerleader throughout the presentation.

If I don't have a smiler-nodder, I go to the worst case scenario. "They're hating it," I think to myself, which accelerates the blotchy.  This year, I'm smart and I'm wearing a button-up shirt buttoned all the way to the top button.  The worst is if you wear a scoop neck, and the parents can watch the red rise all the way from your shirt line after that first lame attempt at humor.  Even worse if you get hives, which has happened to me before.

So, I'm going to close with some advice.  If you're attending a Back to School night tonight or any night, identify yourself as a supporter with a firm handshake, a big smile, and a "My child LOVES your class," on the way in.  Say it loud enough for other parents to hear.  Who cares if it's really entirely true.  Just help that poor literacy educator get through the next ten minutes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


It's Tuesday again, and we have a whimsical pairing here.  I actually love the contrast between my photo and Lee's.  Mine is upbeat and out there, color wise. Hers has a muted and melancholy feel, I believe.  One cheerful sock.  One pensive sock.

Plus some breath-freshening chewing gum.  It's a teaching necessity, and we're both teachers.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Punch You in the Face

I'm not planning on punching anyone, but I just want to mention that Mac weeps every time I ask him to practice his violin, and it's incredibly unpleasant.

"Why are you making him play the violin?" my brother asked me today.

"I don't know if I'm doing the right thing," I said.

"Is it just so he'll follow through on something?"  he continued.

The truth is, that's a big part of it.  The other part is that he's really good!  I don't feel like he can make an informed decision about quitting at this point.  Instead, I said he could also take drum lessons, which start tomorrow, in addition to honing the violin skills.

"Remember," I consoled Mac, as he was still crying while taking a bath following the practice.  "Drums starts tomorrow!"

"I'll quit both," he said, lip quivering.  He'd rather not rock than rock and also play classical violin.

Oh, help.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Everything Is Awesome

Mac's second grade teacher scores his work.  This is a brand new thing, and Mac is psyched about it.

"Mom," he said importantly on Friday.  "I have math in my Friday Folder."

"Oh yeah?" I said.  "Let me see!"

He unzipped his backpack and dramatically revealed his assignment.

"See?" he said, proudly, gesturing at his place value problem solving activity.  "SIX out of TEN."

"Yes!" I said, smiling.  "I see it!"

He stood there looking smug.

"Do you think you might do some more practice with place value?" I asked, trying not to betray any dismay.

"I think so!" Mac said, smiling.

So, there's that.

Friday, September 4, 2015

In the Back of the Cab

It's picture day, and I'm filled with indecision.  Should I wear my glasses?

Pros: I generally wear my glasses at school.  I like my glasses.  I like how I look like an English teacher in my glasses.  And, glasses are rad. Plus, glasses work to cover up wrinkles and eye bags, both of which I have.

Cons: Sometimes glasses look crooked on my face in the pictures.  Like, ridiculous.

It's a hard problem, and I'm going to mull it over for the next hour-and-a-half until go time.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Status Report

The Crush: It's starting, but I'm keeping it at bay.  One thing at a time.  One plan at a time.  Maintaining connections outside of school.  Not disappearing into the crush.

The Benefits: Yesterday, Shef popped into my classroom between classes.  "Mom," he said.  "Can you sign this?" It was his Humanities Reading Expectations contract, a document I wrote myself that he had to turn into my friends KK and Robin, who are his teachers.  He'd forgotten to have me do it at home.  "Sure," I said.  Later, KK, Robin, and I were entering grades, and they realized that Shef hadn't turned his in.  "Are we really giving Shef a 5/10?" KK asked.  I shrugged.  But then later, I went to his locker and told him to flipping give it to her.  I felt guilty that I used my powers to help him thusly.  So, to compensate, I went around to a bunch of other kids' lockers collecting their forgotten contracts, as well.

The Sisters: I think maybe you know I have two sisters?  Technically speaking, they're both half-sisters.  But what the heck is a half-sister, really?  Either you're a sister or you're not.  Anyway, I introduced these two to each other last night.  "How weird do you think I'm going to be?" I asked Dan in advance of the event.  "Very," he said.  "You need a giant G&T before you go."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Orientation

We're in the point of sixth grade where there are a lot of questions.

"How do I get to PE again?"

"Can I bring my snack in here?"

"Should I bring my planner to choir?"

"Can I get a drink?"

"Will you be the faculty sponsor for shark club?"

These are common examples.  There are also problems.  Problems like,

"I brought the wrong books."

"I accidentally put my lock on Elizabeth's locker."

"I can't find the computer lab."

"I don't know the names of any authors."

Finally, it's also an era of corrections.  Teaching these little sixers how to be effective members of the Middle School community.  Corrections include:

"Sign out on the pass log."

"Stay focused on your discussion topic."


"We generally don't comment on each other's bodily functions in class."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


As my good friend Lee once told me, just about a year ago when #TwinTuesday was born, it's not that hard to just write something every day.  It's time to get on with it.  The blogging, I mean.

See?  Haven't you enjoyed this?