Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yes We're Gonna Party Party

I totally forgot to celebrate Teddy's first birthday, which was earlier this week on the 26th.  You might remember when I first brought Teddy into our home last June.  Since then, he's brought love and laughter and so, so much poop into my life.

The scientific benefits of dog-ownership are well-documented.  I'm going to document, via list, the benefits of owning Teddy in particular.

  • Teddy encourages me to socialize and be community-focused. Walking Teddy is one big social experience.  Everyone loves him and wants to discuss his beauty and intelligence.  I'm forced to pause my audio books, remove my headphones, and actually speak to my neighbors.  I guess this is a benefit.
  • Teddy furthers my desire to be a life-long learner. I've learned about classical conditioning, positive reinforcement, and the benefits of consistency in training.  I've taken three different obedience classes, and Teddy still jumps all over me. I will continue to learn.
  • Teddy teaches me about the need for exact measuring.  I've prided myself on being a fairly excellent dog owner.  But then, lo and behold, at a recent appointment for the aforementioned copious poop, the vet mentioned that my beloved pooch is obese.  What?!  "He's a little round," the tech confirmed. I can't believe I let this happen, and let's be honest, I was embarrassed when the tech called me out on my mistake - non-exact measurement of foodstuffs.  Shoot.
Overall, we're moderately happy-to-thrilled to have Teddy in our lives.  Happy birthday, big guy!  In year 2, let's lighten up on the diarrhea.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You and I

It's truths and questions to ponder from my book stack this week!

  • I've finally gotten around to pulling Kenneth Ginsberg's book, Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings of my shelf. I'm at the beginning, but here are two ideas that have already influenced my interactions with kids: 1) Let's distinguish between "paper tigers" and "real tigers."  Meaning, if a situation isn't life threatening (taking a test, deciding on a lunch table, choosing an outfit), you can use breathing and self-talk to frame the challenge in a reasonable (not panicky) way.  And 2) If we adults jump in to solve kids' problems for them instead of letting them puzzle and troubleshoot, we're conveying a lack of faith in their abilities. I really dig that last point.  To sum up: Not everything is an emergency; let's not act as if it is.
  • The sixth graders and I are reading The Lightning Dreamer, a book in verse by Margarita Engle.  Poets, as you may know, sometimes use their craft to explore unanswerable questions.  Here are the four questions we talked about today: What are the limits of love? What messages are conveyed in the stillness between words? How do we make up for lost time? and What good is a witness who cannot testify? To sum up: Art wriggles into mysteries and exposes secrets in curious ways.
  • Finally, another book I've been meaning to read forever found its way open this week.  It's Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  Sepetys also dwells in the land of the unanswerable question, the questions in this case encircle Stalin's mass deportations in the Baltic region during World War II.  I'm already attached to Lina, the protagonist.  I'm aching for her happy ending, and I feel certain it's not coming. To sum up: Heartbreaking stories from history prompt us to examine and reexamine our human nature.
That concludes Writerly Wednesday.  There will be more in this week's newsletter, per usual.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


We're trying something new for #TwinTuesday this week, something that leaves ample opportunity for trying even more new things in the future.  Today, the pairing is things that start with T.  My two things are, as you can see, a trophy and tape. Lee's two things are different items that also start with T. 

I didn't win this trophy, but my colleague Robin doesn't like anything ostentatious like an award for getting her grades done first.  So, I'm graciously housing this little beauty for her until someone else can take it.  

Speaking of something a little new and different (like a #TwinTuesday with a capital-T theme), I'm a new contributor on a book blog called Literary Quicksand.  I wrote a review for them of The Taliban Shuffle that's published today.  I keep telling people about this new endeavor because I'm so jazzed about it.  I told my friend Lynne three or four times. Finally, she was like, "Yeah.  I KNOW."

But just to be clear, I'm a contributor on a book blog called Literary Quicksand. My first review is up today!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Calibrating the Commute

Sometimes, even when I get up exactly on time, even when the children eat breakfast at a reasonable hour, even when Teddy has been walked on the early side, even when all of the appropriate sports gear has been pre-loaded into the car, EVEN THEN, we can still get waylaid on the way to school because of stupid traffic.  That's what happened this morning, and boy was I irritated.

Here are some strategies to try when you're stuck in traffic and notes on their efficacy, as tested by me.
  • Trace-like breathing.  I'm not sure if it's actually a trance.  As I mentioned before, I'm going to have to visit the hypnotherapist to be sure.  But what I try to do is let my vision blur into a soft focus, let my cheeks hang slack, and then breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. I give this strategy 3 stars.  I mean, it probably lowers the blood pressure, but it requires constant vigilance and I have to start over every time I take a break to shush the children or curse other drivers.
  • Frantic ear wax picking. Let's be honest. This is clearly not a good strategy.  And yet, my obsession with ear wax continues. I find myself digging like a nut job every flipping time I hit a red light.  0 stars.  Nasty and a poor example for my children.
  • Pump-up playlist. In theory this would be a great strategy.  5 stars.  It works super well when I'm by myself. It goes wrong when I have to share air time with the children. They play infernal and maddening music and they fight over whose turn it is to choose. 2.5 stars if they're in the car, which is almost always.
This list probably won't help you that much, now that I'm thinking about it.  You can't win them all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A World of Never-Ending Happiness

As you may know, I'm a life-long learner.  I use this identity to explain and/or justify any number of behaviors. "Why are you doing that?" someone will ask.  Answer: Because I'm a life-long learner.

It's a real conversation stopper, now that I think about it.

Anyway, here are three things about I've learned lately:
  • Place Value Mats. Someday, I might want to teach elementary school (including math), so I'm taking an online class about number sense. Did you know how intuitive and amazing place value mats are?  Carrying and borrowing suddenly just 100% make sense. I told Mac I learned about place value mats, and he was like, duh. He knows all about them. We started jamming out problems in my little daily notebook. 

  • Lots of Adhesives Fail to Stick on Painted Tagboard. That pretty much covers the learning.  The backstory: one of our sixth grade project groups painted their tri-board a striking gray color, and then when they tried the usual tapes, none of them would stick to it.
  • If Your Dog Has Experienced Gastrointestinal Distress, Tread With Care. This is a lesson I've been learning for the past year. Most recently: If you give your dog a bath to clean the remnants of an episode of GI distress, he might then run out of the tub into your bedroom and experience another episode.  It's important to remember your unconditional love for your pet during this learning experience.
Today's another day.  There's no telling what we'll learn.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Annals of Medicine

Today, I will tell you in list form about my latest embarrassing health problem.  I'm not forcing you to read it.  I mean, there's other stuff to look at here (babies!) if you don't want to look at this.
  • To be frank, I started noticing a problem with my poop about a month ago.  Here's the issue: it's skinny.  When confessing this dilemma to two friends, they both immediately asked, "How skinny?"  My answer: Crayola marker or skinnier. "Is it a weird color?" one friend asked.  No. Don't be gross.
  • Naturally, I spent hours googling "skinny poop."  Turns out this is a common search query. All of the major medical websites have the same thing to say about slender anal emissions: Cancer. Misery. Imminent Death.  Or, only slightly more appealing, a colostomy bag.
  • I kept my diagnosis in the back of my mind along with fears of fiery car wreck and falls from multi-story heights.  The cancer was probably already at Stage IV, but...
  • I didn't call the doctor right away because I thought maybe it would magically resolve with Miralax.  Miralax reduced the amount of straining required to pass the skinny poop, but it didn't make it fatter.
  • When I did call the clinic - bringing myself one step closer to the devastating news - it turned out my doctor wasn't available for several weeks.  "But," said the receptionist, "I think I'm going to transfer you to the nurse."  Skinny poop, it turned out, had triggered an A1 alarm.
  • The nurse asked some questions about the stool and about my butt, which I answered truthfully and with endearing humor.  Finally, because my symptoms sound like cancer, she said, "You need to be seen sooner.  Do you prefer a female doctor?"  "I don't really care," I said.  She assigned me an appointment for the next morning at 8 with an "awesome" physician's assistant named Richard.  "So what you're saying," I confirmed, "is that you would show Richard your butt?"  She burst out laughing.  "He's really great," she assured me.
  • Bright and early yesterday, I texted my sister Mary from the waiting room at the clinic.  "I have skinny poop," I told her.  "What?!" she responded.  "Is that a typo?!"
  • The medical assistant had sort of the same reaction.  "Excuse me?" she said.  "My poop," I clarified, holding up my thumb and forefinger about a half inch apart, "is skinny."  We looked at each other for a beat, and then we guffawed.  "I'm happy to help you start your day with a laugh," I said, weakly.  "Yeah," she said, wiping her brow, "thank you for that."  "But you are a medical professional," I reminded her.  "I know," she giggled.  "I'm laughing with you, not at you."  She told me that Richard the PA was being assisted by a student who would be right in.
  • The student, a young man of about 27,  appeared to be straight from the set of The Bachelor. Handsome, smiley, and sensitive.  "I'd like to help you make your poop fatter," he said, winningly. Oh, Jesus.
  • Of course I required a close examination by Richard and his student.  Since they're both men and I'm a woman, they invited another student to also watch.  "Is that okay?" Richard asked. "We need a woman in here anyway." "I'm a teacher," I said, "and I've had two babies.  So, yes, you can all see my butt."  Ha ha HA.
  • "Have you had an anoscopy before?" Richard asked.  "No," I said, "but it sounds great!"  
  • I'll skip the details here except to tell you that the procedure involved a tube and a speculum. And then all three medical professionals peering into my butt.  Here are some key quotations from this segment of the appointment:  "See that? Yep! Turn counter clockwise."  "Oh! Purple!" and "Look how bulbous!"  That last one was the real highlight of the anoscopy for me.
  • Finally, the good news: I'm not dying right this second.  The bad news, I think you may have guessed.  It's internal hemorrhoids.  Bulbous ones.  Just what I needed.  
I can't promise I won't update you on the effectiveness of the steroid suppositories, but I do promise to warn you before you start reading. It's your choice to be here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Today's pairing is a lovely earring and a bottle cap.  I've got mine on a rainy deck slat.  Lee's also got hers on a woody backdrop, so we're extra twinny today!  

Since we're talking about it, can I just mention another plus of #TwinTuesday, besides the well-documented brain benefits of novelty that I listed last week? It's the nurturing of a creative partnership. I've had many creative partners, including Lee. We haven't just done this quirky blog project together, either - we've done official research studies like this one.

I'll be honest and admit that one reason I collect creative partners is because of my high inclusion needs.  I'll basically follow you into the bathroom if you'll let me, just so we can keep talking and I can feel like I'm your friend. Sometimes, if you don't start strategically avoiding me, our conversation leads to a project or lesson idea we can collaborate on together.

"Cool," I'll say.  "Can I do that with you?"


"Do you have any interest in working on this with me?"

Sometimes people actually say yes, and in those cases, I almost always end up doing something better than I could have done on my own.  So my list today is action items to nurture a creative partnership.  I don't know if these will work for all fields (tell me!), but they've worked in teaching and writing so far.
  • Cultivate a Yes Response. If someone asks me to do something with them, I really just try to say yes.  There's a caveat - I don't say yes if I know for sure the idea doesn't interest me.  Like, say, "Will you work with me on revamping after-school detention?"  That's going to be a big fat no.  First, it doesn't inspire curiosity in me, and second, I don't even believe in detention.  But, even if I'm just marginally interested or curious about an idea, I'll go with a yes!  Or, at least a, "Tell me more about what you're thinking." I'll especially go with yes if there's an idea of how to do something differently than I've done the same thing before.  Why not at least try the different way?
  • Teach with the Door Open. Depending on whether or not you're a teacher, I might be speaking metaphorically here.  In teaching, people have a tendency to shut their doors and just be in their spaces with their kids.  I try not to do this all the time. Instead, let cool people see your work, and sometimes those people will want to join you in it.  Full disclosure: this can backfire and those interlopers can be mean and/or obnoxious about your work.  Most often, though, that's not what happens.
  • Ask.  I snagged my writing partner by asking what she was working on and whether we could get a coffee.  The coffee ended with her saying, "How can we help each other?"  And now we help each other.  I can't believe it!
And that's #TwinTuesday.  Do we see the value added?  I think we do.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hockey Mom Blues

Who put these pads on him? Seriously? Who did it?

To be perfectly honest, I'm tempted to write the three reasons never to let your child learn to ice skate. That would be so easy. The reasons are: hockey, hockey, and then the potential that your child wants to be a hockey goalie.

Finished. And I think we're all clear.

However, just in case you're like me and you failed to implement my first set of advices, I'll now offer some tips to survive hockey, specifically, hockey goalie parenting. I'm not going to suggest a flask, Xanax, or other injectable mood-altering drugs. This is a family-friendly website, after all, and I don't even know how to purchase injectable (or oral suspension or tablet) mood-altering drugs.

So instead of those things:

  • Try a mantra.  As you're watching the game and you feel your blood pressure and cortisol rising, repeat a soothing phrase.  I've tried, "It's just hockey" and "They're seven."  To be honest, this strategy has been only marginally effective on it's own.  It works better in concert with other strategies.  
  • Take frequent bathroom and drink breaks.  Don't bring a water bottle.  Instead, leave your seat a couple of times per period to get drinks from the fountain.  Something about moving your feet dissipates the palpable stress that builds for me during hockey games, especially when my darling little angel is in the net.
  • Try hypnotherapy.  I haven't done this yet, but as I'm typing it, I'm feeling quite sure that it's the answer.  I recently read a novel wherein the main character was a hypnotherapist, and she was able to mitigate all sorts of emotional imbalances for her clients.  Surely, a real live hypnotherapy professional could help me watch youth hockey?
If you've never accidentally registered your child for an elite 7 year-old hockey team, you might be like, what is wrong with her that she needs these tips to watch elementary school kids play a flippin' game?!  All I can say is, I totally understand your questions, and I don't have a solid answer for you.

Friday, April 15, 2016

People on the Streets

Sweet mercy, this is our last day in Project Land, at least for the time being.  Project Land is a place I like to visit periodically.  On this month's trip, kids are making immersive and engaging exhibits, websites, and performances about world problems and their proposed solutions.  It's sophisticated and amazing work. It's work you can't believe eleven and twelve year-olds have completed.

That's awesome, but there comes a time in Project Land when you just have to leave as fast as humanly possible. I've reached that moment.  The image above was created by my co-teacher, KK.  I think you can see some of the problems with Project Land, but I'm going to list them for you just in case. 
  • Project Land can be messy.  Uncapped glue sticks, paper and cardboard particles, drippy hot glue guns, a stinky fog machine, plaster, paint, spray adhesive - all of this stuff litters the classrooms.  And when it's time to clean up, it's almost never the mess of the person who's standing beside it.  Isn't that amazing?! How is it possible?!
  • Speaking of, in Project Land, it can be easy to duck accountability.  I've learned to start many a conversation with, "Talk to me about what's happening here" or "What are you working on right now?"  Most often when I have to begin this way, nothing productive is happening and/or no work is, at that moment, being accomplished.  Sometimes I'm wrong in my first impression, which is why I always ask first. Most of the time, though, I'm not wrong.
  • Project Land is chaotic for an extended period of time.  The building/making phase of this current project was about 10 school days long.  By the 8th day or so, I begin to experience physical side effects of being here in Project Land - eye twitches, stomachache, blurring of peripheral vision, muscle soreness, and in rare cases, numbness in my arms and hands.  By this point, we're almost done and I can foresee the happy, carefree days of grammar and mechanics instruction on the horizon.  Thank god.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Light Upon a Hill

Time for a list of truths and questions to ponder from this week's reading.  Saddle up!  
  • I started listening to American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus.  The author endeavors to demystify her family's legacy and its ghosts, including one actual spirit - Julia Staab, the wife of a wealthy German entrepreneur, who supposedly haunts the present-day hotel that was the family's home.  As Nordhaus digs for the truth of her ancestor's past and lingering present, she poses the question: "What stories do we believe?" What stories do we believe about ourselves and our pasts, our motivations and our origins? 
  • I'm still deep into The Year of Yes, which I blurbed in last week's newsletter. I'm getting a clearer picture of the Shonda Rhimes conception of Yes vs. No.  In the segment I read last night, Rhimes contends that "you lose yourself with every no."  If you choose not to reconnect with someone, if you pass up playing with your kids, if you won't go to happy hour - you might be losing yourself.  I'm not sure! I'm thinking about it.
  • I'm guessing that Dani Shapiro doesn't quite buy the Rhimes No. In the last pages of Still Writing, she advocates a sort of ascetic solitude, especially when you're near the end of a project.  "Protect your time," she urges.  "Feed your inner life." And definitively, no to television, "[n]o to lunch with friends, to the overflowing inbox."  Shapiro's approach seems sort of, I don't know, joyless? at some points? Am I crazy to think that writing could also sometimes be fun? Also, Shonda writes tv.  That seems relevant.
That's Writerly Wednesday.  Lee's got some on her blog, too, and she thought of the Wednesday title and theme.  Want more book talk?  There will be some in next week's newsletter.  You should totally subscribe.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


It's that time again: time to look at an image of a novel pair of things that might not make any sense at all.  What's the point of #TwinTuesday?  Who even cares?  I've been thinking about this because my comprehensive review of Google Analytics shows that the group of readers that enjoys #TwinTuesday is on the small side.  "Maybe because it's just this weird thing that you do without any purpose," Dan suggested.  Thanks, Dan, for that helpful feedback.  Now, listen up:

It turns out that #TwinTuesday (and today's juxtaposition features a Nativity scene with a wind instrument) is not just the weird vanity project of two long-term bloggers.  The novelty of the series actually has documented brain benefits, which I will now list for you:
  • According to researchers Kashdan and Silva, thriving on novelty indicates general well-being. In fact, people who seek novelty - something new and different on a regular basis - are "at an advantage in creating a fulfilling existence."  Sounds pretty good.
  • Another Ph.D., C. Robert Cloninger, says in the New York Times that "[n]ovelty seeking...keeps you happy and healthy and fosters personality growth as you age." I don't know about you, but I don't want to stale and stagnate as I approach my next decade.  I choose vibrancy and #TwinTuesday instead of those bad things.
  • Finally, novelty in the form of seeing an image you've never seen before, like say, one of Nativity scene and Wind Instrument, activates a dopamine pathway in your brain.  Drs. Bunzeck and Duzel actually confirmed this via fMRI, reports Belle Beth Cooper for Lifehacker.  After seeing an unexpected image, you actually get a "rush of motivation to explore."  I'm sorry, but that's a great and important impact of #TwinTuesday.
Want to make your own #TwinTuesday?  You totally should.  It might increase your happiness and improve your motivation and personality.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Punk You'd Better Back Up

It's time again to consider whether to participate in my workplace-based Fitbit activity tracker challenge. There are certain benefits and dangers, which bear remembrance and review in today's lists:
  • Benefit #1: Friend-making and work-place camaraderie: People with wristbands acknowledge one another.  I might initiate conversation!  I might develop a special FitBit salute or handshake!  Our wristbands might unite us in meaningful life-long connection! 
  • Benefit #2: Outside accountability for fitness-related goals.  I don't want people to see that I've spent fourteen straight hours on the couch supervising my tween's consumption of Gossip Girl. People might have a better impression of me and my parenting if I take him on a run around the lake instead.
  • Benefit #3: Healthy competition. It's fun to see how many people I can pummel.  I'll try to smash most everyone and then feel superior about it.  There are also drawings for prizes you can win if you're the best, and I love to be among the best.
I guess, reading it back, that the last benefit might be a danger.  Speaking of dangers...

  • Danger #1: Obsessive and feverish movement.  During the last FitBit activity tracker challenge, I did things like jog in place while giving classroom directions, leave the comfort of my bed as I was falling asleep because I realized at the last wakeful second that my little band hadn't buzzed 10,000 steps, and spontaneously abandon fruitful conversations to do jumping jacks and plyometrics.
  • Danger #2: Increased level of technology addiction.  The FitBit app will tell me how good of a person I am if I constantly sync it.  I'll open it and sync it.  I'll just check a few hundred times per day.  Am I good enough yet?  How about now? 
After a full accounting of the benefits and dangers, I realize I'll probably compete in the FitBit challenge.  It might bring out the worst in me, but I also might win.  And regardless, it will end eventually.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

In 6 Weeks, We'll Be Swimming in Outdoor Pools

Today, I'm going with 3 Excruciating Truths About Minnesota Spring.  And, don't even worry because I'm going beyond "it sucks." Kind of.

  1. It's Brown. Fly in over Minneapolis in March or April, and if you're not seeing snow, you're enveloped in expansive brown ombré.  It might make you think of chocolate or coffee or sisal floor mats. Or it might make you think of poop.  Citizens aren't aware of craving green, but then you watch people approach random trees and bushes, scouring every branch for just one flipping bud.
  2. It Snows. As I type this post, the temperature here as measured in degrees fahrenheit is 19.  Nineteen.  The average high in April according to US Climate is 58.  But it doesn't matter.  Spring doesn't even care what's average.  Yesterday, as my students were adorably planning projects, they stopped to disgustedly note the blizzard conditions outside of our window.  We all wrinkled our noses and felt sorry for ourselves.  Some approached the glass to stare longingly at the recess field.
  3. It's Short. Sometimes - Sometimes! - we'll get a glorious day with 60-degree temperatures and everyone puts on shorts and sunglasses. We throw our arms wide and in uncharacteristic friendliness greet strangers outside. We have entire meals on the deck and fire up pop mixes that include MMMBop and Soak Up the Sun.  And then, 48 hours later, Minneapolis is 95 degrees and infested with disease-ridden mosquitos.  Damnit.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Marion Cotesworth-Haye

In my quest to become a very serious and effective blogger (ahem, subscribe to my new and fabulous email list), I've done some research about what people like to read on Word Savvy.  It turns out people like it when I've got a challenge or theme going.  Thank God.  Because the true story is that I turn to a challenge or a theme when I can't figure out what the heck to write.

In April, then, I think I'm going to do lists.  I don't even know what all the lists are going to be, but today's is 3 Podcasts For Readers, Creatives, and Cult Followers.  Yay!
  1. This is my favorite podcast that I recommend to all people.  It's the Inside the New York Times Book Review Podcast. What happens is that the host interviews authors and/or reviewers of recently published books. Even if you don't want to read the book, you might find yourself happy to know about the Spanish Civil War, public shaming on the internet, or a new thriller co-written by two established writers.  Later in the show, you get an update from the NYT publishing beat reporter and the best-sellers column writer.  The whole thing is basically the best, and it comes out on Thursdays. Many times, I throw little anecdotes from the podcast into my lesson plans and/or my effervescent cocktail party conversation, by which I mean my chats with Dan while I sit around in my sweatpants and maybe live-tweet The Bachelor.
  2. My sibling-in-law Galen recommended First Day Back to me at Christmastime, and then, because she is #sosmart and #sopretty, I binge listened.  This story of motherhood and return-to-work hits home.  As with all great first-person listens, I just liked the host, Tally, a lot.  Even if you're not at the stage of motherhood when you have to agonize about how and/or when to go back to work, she unfolds a compelling narrative, detailing her desire and attempt to make something great - a documentary film about a very awesome festival.  I'm getting a little nervous that Tally's not going to put out a season two, but I have no basis for that worry.  Sadly, engaging in unnecessary worry is a sort of a hobby of mine.
  3. Last, can we please just talk about The West Wing Weekly?! It's Will Bailey and his pal Hrishi recapping every episode of the show from the beginning.  I just can't even.  Every Wednesday will now be my favorite day.  Here's a gif of Will Bailey doing something that I would absolutely do. 


I hope you've enjoyed this list.  More list tomorrow or the next day, I'm pretty sure.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

You Can't Know

Should we do a little self-help Wednesday?  I'm plugging away at Dani Shapiro's Still Writing, although, to be completely honest, I've also started The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes on the side.  I want to both Still Write and also be more like Shonda.

That seems reasonable.

Shapiro, Rhimes, and also the podcasters I've been listening to in recent weeks (Gabriela Pereira at diyMFA, Kirsten Oliphant at Create if Writing and Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn, for three) all emphasize just going for it. Don't worry about it too much.  Just put some goddamn stuff on the page.

Shonda Rhimes calls it "laying the track."  Put the words down because of "[t]he train that is a'coming no matter what." And after a while, if you keep doing it, at some point if you're lucky, you go from feeling like you're "climbing a mountain on your hands and knees" to "exultation."

That's cool, but all of the other writers I've read on craft - the writers who are not in charge of making multiple television shows every eight days - describe more of the grind and less of the flight.  For instance, Dani Shapiro says, "You can't know if it's going to work. You can't know if it's good, or has the potential to be good. You can spend days, weeks, years working on something that you will end up throwing away, or, in the more gentle way of phrasing it, putting it in a drawer.  It's a lot like the rest of life, in that way."

It's sort of in that spirit - that a writing life is like a real life - that I've kept publishing Word Savvy all these years.  And, in that same spirit, I'm taking it up a notch in 2016.

So, I have an ask.  Will you sign up for my new email newsletter?  This is Word Savvy 2.0, only eleven years in the making. Here's what's going to happen: I'm going to send you cool stuff on a weekly basis.  Stuff like book reviews, maybe a little #NovelSnip, and some other things that are so innovative that I haven't even thought of them yet.  I'm sending them to you because you're on my team, ok?  Ok.  Thanks.  You just do it right down there.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Done Like Dinner

Usually it's Pronto with the food blogging, but tonight I'm taking a turn. Here's the story: I tried a new recipe from Dan's new cookbook, Thug Kitchen.  The recipe was vegetarian pad thai with dry-fried tofu.  Unfortunately, I had to make a few adjustments because I'm really bad at grocery shopping.  Even though I had shallots and limes on my meticulously hand-written list, I did not actually purchase those items in the produce section of the store.  

This happens far more frequently than it should.

In any case, I smartly substituted clementine juice for the lime juice and thinly-sliced red onion for the shallots.  From there, everything was perfect.  We all loved the healthy pad thai, stir-fried in grape seed oil, and we all had seconds. Except for Mac.  Mac had about a half a bite of the dish.  Later, he asked if we could "take the stuff off" the noodles and cried. It's hard to be Mac.

But it's easy to eat pad thai. Yum. I'm making this again.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Eighty-Eight Miles Per Hour

It's that time again - Spring Break has ended, and we're all headed back to our school this morning.

I wish I could say that we're universally thrilled about this development, but... Mac couldn't sleep last night and cried about returning to Grade 2.  Shef pouted about his 30-minute per day reading requirement.

I, however, am feeling pretty ready.  I know the sixers are going to be taller and more grown up.  I'm excited to see their little faces. Yesterday, I finished my Quarter 3 grades and submitted them.  I've got a new To-Do list plan and schedule.  I grocery shopped and menu planned.  I even made homemade energy bars, for Pete's sake.

Bring it on, Quarter 4!  I'm excited to see what you've got.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Vacation Recap

We're coming to the end of what has become a nearly annual centerpiece, The Family Ski and Snowboard Trip.  Here are some of the highlights from the 2016 installment:

  1. Mac switched to snowboarding from skiing and was, predictably, highly successful, progressing through multiple Snowboard School skill levels and charming his teachers.  The instructors, predictably, universally loved his pink hair.
  2. Shef continued cliff jumping and mogul hopping on skis.  You start to feel really lame when you continually refuse to accommodate his requests to join him on treacherous and potentially life-threatening runs.  This leads you to acquiesce once in a while, an always ill-advised decision that leaves you thanking the heavens for your health and in-tact skeletal system. 
  3. Both children interacted with their grandparents, aunt, cousins, and uncle-to-be, all of us together enjoying an active lifetime sport and/or its social benefits.
  4. I became more educated on Bernie Sanders and his differences from Hillary Clinton. I reaffirmed my democratic ideals and my solidarity with Bernie enthusiasts.
Low-lights included altitude-induced gastrointestinal distress and new facial psoriasis lesions.  No one wants to hear anything else about those two topics, so I'll leave it right here.  Thanks, Dobby and Doc, for a wonderful time!  Let's do it again next year.