Friday, October 30, 2015

Voice Like Nails

It's Halloween at school.  Tweens in costume throwing candy at one another in the hallways.  Whoooo!

Yesterday was likely to be the more productive day.  Yesterday, I was super excited to teach my first hour class about the components of sustainable development.  "We're going to do one of my favorite things," I told the class.

"You're going to teach us about grammar again?" asked a smiler in the front row.

"No!" I said.  "But I like grammar almost as much."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pointing Out My Flaws Again

Coming to our house tonight: The Evening of Halloween Festiveness.  That's right. We'll be carving pumpkins and putting up decorations.  I'm going to swallow hard, don an orange t-shirt, and totally rock the enthusiasm.

This'll be a bit of a hardship because you know I don't like carving pumpkins, right?

And I don't like Halloween decorations, and I don't like costumes.  I also don't like candy corn because it makes me feel sick.

This is all part of my well-documented aversion to fun.

Sometimes I wish I loved things like Halloween and St. Patrick's Day and fireworks and Easter Egg hunts - in short, things that other people think are fun.

But you know what I think is fun?  Putting on sweat pants, cuddling on the couch, and reading aloud.  Also getting a latte and talking a walk.  I think talking about books is fun.  Seeing new places is fun.  Looking at art is fun.  Even going to movies is fun.  Studying commas with sixth graders is super fun. I'm the funnest person in basically the whole world.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


This is perhaps the most random pairing we've ever had.  Ungulate and jar?  Who's ever heard of such a thing.  Thanks to #TwinTuesday, we now all have.

Would you like an update on the Severe Psoriasis Face Outbreak of 2015?  Here goes: Lucky for me, I was indeed able to procure and pay for 534 dollars worth of ointments and solutions designed to abate my symptoms.  The symptoms have incrementally improved, I'm going to say, due to the efficacy of these expensive products.  On the down side, I did have to do a parent-teacher conference with a full facial psoriatic outbreak.  I didn't enjoy that, but I set a good example for my advisee by soldiering onward and getting the job done.  You don't have to be pretty to run a good conference.  But, I'm going to say that it helps.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Feel a Little Unsteady

Can we talk about the problems associated with making dermatology appointments?

I tried to make one today with my existing and established dermatologist, and his first available appointment is January 15th.

For real?!

And now I'm on hold with some nurses to get refills of some steroidal medications to deal with the the periodic hideousness I experience with my long term and chronic auto-immune problem called PSORIASIS.  It's only taken 20 minutes so far.  I'm hopeful that this afternoon, I can go to Target pharmacy and spend hundreds of dollars on ointments and solutions.

This whole situation is really making my day.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Status Report

Dog: Teddy has lost his balls, my friends.  Yes.  It was time for the neuter surgery yesterday.  The friendly tech told me on pick-up that I'm going to have to keep that guy quiet for TEN DAYS, walking up and down the block, MAYBE around the block.  Did you know that Teddy generally walks about five miles per day?  Sometimes seven? And now he can't walk any for ten days?  I'm not sure how this is going to go.  The tech said that if I get really desperate, they might be able to prescribe me a sedative.  I mean him - prescribe HIM a sedative.

Television: Did you hear that Netflix is bringing back my favorite show of all time?  They're making four 90-minute Gilmore Girlses. Four or five people went out of their ways to tell me the news this week.  It's that big.

Psoriasis: I know you've been waiting on it.  It's on a need-to-know basis, and everyone needs to know.  The scalp situation is out of flippin' control.  I'll be calling the dermo today.  And there you have it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Steal All His Spare Change

Mac set up the chess board last night.  "How do you know how to play this?" I asked.

"Mom, I was in chess club!" he said.

I barely remembered how to play chess, having eschewed the game sometime in elementary school when my dad relentlessly insisted that I master it.  Still, I sort of knew how the pieces moved.  Lucky for me, Mac knows how all the pieces move for sure.  He also gave helpful suggestions on strategy.  "This would be a good move for you," he'd say, showing me how to advance a pawn or slide a bishop.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because then," he'd say, grabbing my queen or rook, "you can go like this."  Sure enough, that would be a good move for me.

"I shouldn't have told you that," he said more than once when I pocketed a piece of his.

Another lesson: "You have to tell if the other person moves into check," he said.

"You do?" I asked.  "But that seems like that's a good way to win."

"No," Mac explained, "you have to tell."

"Why?" I asked.

"It's the rules," he said seriously.

I feel like we might do this again.  I did, in fact, triumph, but it was because Mac helped me extensively.  It was more like a lesson, and he was definitely the teacher.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


This one was a true collaboration.  I was really into the supplies; Lee was really into her new festive napkin. And voila! It's this striking pairing.

My napkin was a gift from my mother.  Once upon a time, in addition to being addicted to Beanie Babies, she was also addicted to this store called Tuesday Morning where you can buy home decor at discounted prices.  I think I've been the beneficiary of many of her Tuesday Morning trips.  I think these napkins, which I always enjoy using, were part of an erstwhile haul.

Monday, October 19, 2015

All that Junk

I'm coming off an epic long weekend.  On Friday, I had to sleep for many, many hours.  I woke up to early to walk the dog, and then I went back to bed for two hours.  Later, Dan and I went out to lunch, and then I went back to bed for two hours.  We played some golf with friends, and then I went to bed at nine o'clock.

I proceeded thusly through the weekend, with less napping, but still plenty of relaxing.  Also, I ate a cheese plate and watched High School Musical.  I'm counting on the usual and well-documented MEA pivot point.  I could use a little more zen.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Didn't Want You Around

It's that time again.  Oh, yes.  Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences.

Here's my approach:

  1. Celebrate the many, many successes.  These kids are alive, functioning, taking in some knowledge, producing some work, and not having to walk in lines in the hallways.  That's a major plus for sixth grade.  They love saying good-bye to Line Basics.
  2. Tell them how much I care about them and appreciate them.  Compliment the parents on their excellent work raising these adorable, alive, functional children.  
  3. Set a couple of manageable goals.  Can we use tutorial better?  Can we manage our emotions?  Can we try to make a new friend?  I think we can agree to try!
I'm on it.  Everyone can breathe easy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Rock and Cap!  I couldn't get this done yesterday, so it's 100% my fault that Lee and I are late on #TwinTuesday.  I'm deeply sorry.  I know you've come to rely on this feature, and your satisfaction is important to me. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Boulevard Walking

Sister Rachel hit her first hockey game yesterday.  I think she was excited.  It was Mac's first regular-season outing as goalie - Ice Sharks versus Polar Bears.

"This is my first hockey game ever," she told Shef and me on the way over.

"You're in for a treat," I said.

"I feel like a real Minnesotan," she smiled.

In the end, I'm not sure hockey is exactly the right sport for Rachel.  I jumped the first time she screamed.  "They're falling!" she explained, as I grabbed her forearm, the seven and eight year-olds sprawled on the ice.

"They do that," I said.  "See all the pads?"  I patted her reassuringly. "They're okay."

But the up-and-down drama of the kids trying to skate continued to provoke audible gasps and shouts and screams.  I was basically laughing my head off at her and holding her hand for support.  "Wait until you see Shef play," I said. The contact and the penalties and the slamming into the boards will surely test her emotional fortitude.

"Oh dear," she said.

But I think she's coming back.  I think she wasn't too, too traumatized.  Still, I don't think I can take her to lacrosse.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Status Report

Work Performance: The rubber is hitting the road for the sixers, and they're going to have to start working a little harder.  There's less guidance and more independence.  Let's just sharpen our pencils, kids, and tilt our heads toward our papers.

Puppy Love: We all know Teddy is one of the world's best dogs.  Here's the only trouble with the Tedster:  He gets up at 4:30 am.  I'm not exaggerating. That's when he wakes.  Plus, he really needs to be walked extensively before I go to work, which requires the walk to begin at about 5:05.  I'm a little foggy-headed with the reality of early-morning dog requirements.  I'm committed, but I'm foggy.

Language: I just started a book with startlingly gorgeous language.  It's called H is for Hawk.  I'm listening to it.  The author, Helen Macdonald, is reading it, and sometimes I find myself just letting out a long breath, like whooooaaaaa.  She hollows out my chest with some of her verb choices.  All the Light We Cannot See sometimes did that to me, too, but I think I'm going to Macdonald's memoir about grief and falconry even better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Be Good to Me

Shef was in my class yesterday because we made some new groupings to do a simulation game called Star Power.  It was a pretty fun experience to work together, and the kid has actually expressed some regret lately about NOT being in my class.

"You let your advisory take selfies!" he said.

It's true, I did.  Apparently, it makes you cool to post a selfie with your advisor on social media?  

I'm sorry, but there was no way to predict that I'd be part of any "cool" behaviors on the part of sixth graders.

"I just want to be in your class," he said.

I am shocked, but also pleased.  Does this make sense?

In any case, he was in my class yesterday and right in the middle of some directions, he just stood up from his chair, walked over to another kid, and stole that kid's baseball cap from his head.

"Shef," I said.  "Unacceptable."  I pointed at his chair.

He gave me a little sly smile, and we carried on.  I have standards and these apply to my own child. Duh.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


This is a wild combo that no one could have seen coming.  Dragon and garlic?!  Are we even serious?! 

Lucky for me, I suddenly have no shortage of small stuffed animals.  This is because at one point in her adult life, my mom, who is an academic with a Ph.D. and a top-notch mind, was obsessed with Beanie Babies.  Now that she's moving from the home of my childhood, she can't accommodate the hundreds of adorables she's collected.  Do you know who's happy to take them off her hands?  

Obviously it's Mac.

I did ask him for 10 to take to school for my advisees to hold during advisory.  I think they'd really enjoy that.  Mac is thinking about it.  I'm thinking about stealing them and keeping my actions a secret.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Grandma Take Me Home

I've got a car that a lot of other people have.  This is probably because it's the best car.  Have you ever driven a Toyota Sienna Miniature Van?  If not, I'll just go ahead and say it: you are MISSING OUT.

Anyway, since so many people are hip to this sleek driving experience, I often park near other dark grey Toyota Sienna Miniature Vans.  On Friday at Dairy Queen, I parked right next to one.  We walked out with our Blizzards, and Shef and I hopped in the front seats. Mac was nowhere to be found.

"Where's Mac?!" I said, exasperated, because usually if you can't find that kid it's because he's incredibly slow.

"He's IN THE WRONG VAN!" Shef shouted, looking through his window and spying a befuddled Mac scanning the back of an identical vehicle.  Mac looked up with wide eyes and saw us in the van next door.  We all got a good laugh out of that.

And then, later in the same week, I tried to get into a chic gray van just like mine.  "Hey," I thought as I opened the door, "I didn't leave Camel Lights in the cupholder."

No, I sure didn't.  And I don't smoke regularly in my car.  Turns out that van wasn't mine.  I closed that door right up and walked down the row to the one with the tree marks on the back.  That's a dead giveaway.  Not every Sienna owner backs into trees.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Walking Through the Hills

Shef has reached a pivotal moment.

"I'm in choir," he told me despondently, "and I can't SING."

"That's why you have a TEACHER," I said encouragingly.  And his teacher is really tops.  He makes singers out of tons of kids with limited natural talent.  Not that I'm saying that Shef has limited natural talent.  He might have a lot of latent choir talent, for all I know.

"It's TERRIBLE," he said.  Choir was really causing him some pain, it was clear.

"I'm really sorry, "I said.  "You can switch for seventh grade, you know, if you want to play an instrument."

Except, he really doesn't want to play an instrument.

"It might be one of those things that you just have to stick with for a couple of years," I said, honestly.  "Maybe a little saying would help?"I offered. "Like, something you tell yourself when you go into choir to help you get through it."

"Like, 'Choir SUCKS'?" Shef suggested.

"I was thinking of something a little more positive," I said, thinking.  "Like, maybe, this is choir and..."

"We're one class closer to the end?" Shef finished.

Sure, I agreed.  It was better than "Choir sucks," so I'm calling it a victory.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Status Report

Fall to Winter: Cooler weather seems to be on the way.  I wore my special-order hockey mom beanie to walk the dog this morning.  Then, I remembered  about actually being a hockey mom. The hours in rinks and the unending try outs and the out-of-town tourneys.  Mac's got his first game next weekend as a goalie in his regular league.  I think the job of Goalie Mom is going to be a special kind of anxiety-ridden hell.  I'll let you know.  But, I'm pretty sure I'm right about that.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to be a total wreck watching people firing plastic slabs at my tiny baby.

Meditation: I've got a new app called Omvana.  I'm digging it.  So far, I've worked on love.  Love isn't a challenge for me, really.  I feel generally compassionate.  Of course, there's always room for improvement, and I've been working on breathing out love to encompass the entire world.  Blowing up love like a balloon to cushion all of the people.  I'm now ready for gratitude instruction.  I'll be honest and say that gratitude fails me in key moments.  Maybe Vishen, my Omvana guy, can fix that.

Dog: I'm sorry to say that Dan's love and compassion and gratitude for Teddy are failing.  It's not Teddy's fault that he's a teenager.  After my weekend away, Dan said, "Never leave us again.  We can't do it without you."  "That's not true," I said.  "You just don't like taking care of the dog."  He agreed that this was actually the case.