Wednesday, December 31, 2008

winner winner!

SJ won herself a copy of my buzzing sunflowers. What a way to end your daily blogging month!

(Sorry, Mike, I guess your luck finally ran out.)

Thanks for participating in my first blog giveaway!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

it's like summer in here!


Except there's winter gear all around and it's cold. But hey, I hung out a load of laundry! It was in my kitchen, sure, and I had to dry it in the dryer for about 30 minutes to have a chance of clothes being wearable by morning, but it's better than it was. Thanks, Santa, for the new and improved drying rack. I love it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

for Beth

Let me talk a bit about my relationship with cake making: I do it all the time, but it's not obvious that I have years of experience. I have made every birthday cake for our kids (and I believe one each for my other kids!). I love making them their themed cakes, but I'm not technically good at it. I mean, it's really hard to screw up a box mix, but my cakes are always lopsided, and ALWAYS have bits of cake mixed into the frosting. I would never, ever make a cake for someone I didn't know-- and I would only make one for someone I did know if they understood what they were getting. That being said, no child (or adult, for that matter) has ever complained.

The checkerboard bit of this didn't really show up-- the colors were too similar to stand out as being distinct. I'm sure I'll have another opportunity to try again in a year or so...

birthday girly!

Today Girly is 9! It's amazing to me that it has been that long, but the math doesn't lie.

Up until this year, we have had her party in the summer. Family celebrated the real date, but all the little friends came on her half birthdate of June 28. But this year she wanted a sleep over party on her actual birthday. So last night I made a cake (fun-fetti and vanilla checkerboard cake--let's hope it comes out right!) and we cleaned her bedroom. The tree is down so we can focus on the birthday alone. My bestfriend's birthday is in 2 days, and we have learned from his experiences that it is worth the extra effort to make her so-close-to-Christmas birthday as special as those of us lucky to be born far removed from the major gift-giving holiday of the year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

spirit of giving

In honor of the day, I'm sponsoring my first comment giveaway!

If you'd like your own copy of this photo, tell me your highlight of the last 24 hours. One winner will be chosen randomly from all the responders. The winner can chose either a 5x7 or 8x10 print.

Merry merry to all my loyal readers!


(In response to Beth: we cannot claim this sunflower as our own, but I did take the shot. Ricker Hill Orchards had this huge patch of them, and instead of letting my students take one, I took pictures for them. Turns out I took one that would have earned me a fine grade in Photography with Mr. C!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

traditions

When I was in high school, my sister's best friend since forever became one of my dear friends too. We all ran on the cross country team together, and often shared rides to and from events as we were only about 3 miles from each other. Every year we would stop at her house on our way to Christmas Eve services. Her mom would always serve us ginger ale (in a paper cup) and Greek pastries as we traded our trinkets. Throughout high school and college it was part of what we did. When we all moved away, I missed our little tradition, done amongst her aunts baking and preparing for the holiday.

Today I took Boy and Girly to their friend's to exchange gifts. They live about half a mile from us, and are in the same grade as ours. We have already started trading off ("I'd like to take the boys fishing if you'd keep the girls") and it only proves to happen more as the boys head to the middle school next year and leave the girls behind in elementary school. Girly had made her friend some homemade cards, and Boy gave his bud a little picture of them together during baseball season.

Tonight, we head to our friend's house for our Christmas Eve tradition here. It is with our group of friends here in town, and I described it as my church earlier this season, and it is. These people are a very accepting, loving, giving group, and we're lucky to be a part of their world. The details are different this year-- music instead of Christmas readings, a different house, and bestfriends joining us (!)-- but we will all be together, celebrating each other.

Christmas for me is about the people, and while my Christmas Eve memories begin with ginger ale in a paper cup, sandwiched between family commitments, they do not end there. Tonight when I lift my ginger ale cup in my friend's mom's memory (she died of cancer about 10 years ago) I will also toast to many years of the kids heading to their friends house for a few stolen hours of fun before each family heads to their event.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

should we stay or should we go?

Boy has stated publicly that he thinks we're in for a snow day. WB thinks we should... but is afraid it'll stop early enough to fool the Deciders into thinking that since the main roads are plowed, the back roads are too. Girly is really hoping for snow day, so her judgment is colored. Me? I hope not, but I'm afraid last Wednesday's folly will keep us home tomorrow.

What do you all think?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

because I enjoy making Katie and SJ happy

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? whatever I have saved to reuse from Christmas' past. And I have a lot saved...

2. Real tree or Artificial? always real

3. When do you put up the tree? this week-- Monday night.

4. When do you take the tree down? usually Dec 27-- the day before Cate's birthday!

5. Do you like eggnog? no. If it was called something else I'm sure I'd love it, but I can't get beyond the idea of drinking raw eggs...

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I got a dr. kit one year that I loved...

7. Hardest person to buy for? depends on the year. This year, my brother.

8. Easiest person to buy for? the kids, especially Girly. She just loves everything.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? yes. My mom got it for me. It's made of olive wood, and it looks like the one she got from her mother. I have the same cookie cutter set my mom has, too. I love those sorts of traditions.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I"m sure there is one, but I can't think of it.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When the mood hits. Usually December, although this year I started in early fall trying to spread out the payments!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I recycle EVERYTHING (see #1) so yes, if I get something I won't use and someone else will, you bet!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? yes

16. Lights on the tree? yes, all white

17. Favorite Christmas song? Fairytale of New York by the Pogues with Kirsty McCall.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Home Christmas day, but travel all around before.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all….Rudolph!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? star. made it myself the year we were married of this stuff probably meant to top a gift. It's ugly, but there it is.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning. Always.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? When people do things because they "have to" and don't enjoy the season.

23. What theme or color are you using? um.... theme?

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? lamb roast, but I've never met a dinner I didn't like.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? a debt free season!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

tis the season

to be tired!

Man, am I tired. I crashed on the couch at about 8:30, waiting for WB and Boy to come back from archery. Girly and I had treated ourselves to some chinese, and I had a full belly in a slightly chilled house.

I should have been making my dad's half dips, but I couldn't keep my head up. So today, I head off to see my new grand-student born yesterday, take Girly to her gymnastics show, and then pick up the kids to bring them back to decorate sugar cookies while I do up dad's candy. Tomorrow we head to Boy's first qualifying shoot, then to my parents to exchange gifts. Sunday is a baby shower for our VT friends and then caroling in the afternoon. Monday may have a gathering, Tuesday definitely does, as does Wed and of course Thurs. Friday may take us to Mass for another gathering... so yes, tired is an extremely acceptable consequence of loving and being loved by so many people.

Monday, December 15, 2008

love train?

I inadvertantly pulled out behind The Music Man and SJ this morning. I recognized TMM first, and then checked to see that, yes, it was SJ right behind. I don't believe either of them recognized me-- I don't usually see them in the mornings so we're not time markers for each other. (I see a school board member most mornings, and we can tell how early or late we each are by where we pass and wave.) Anyhow, it made me chuckle to join a mini RVB train moving along 108.

Friday, December 12, 2008

snow day!

The first snow day of the year is usually my favorite: it reminds me of Christmas anticipation from my childhood. I love it when it's predicted days in advance, giving time for the excitement to build. And then-- added bonus-- the storm is predicted for a Friday! We got the call before 6, and went back to sleep until 9. I got the cards done and last packages mailed out, although none of the baking I had contemplated. Oh well-- the kids came over and went sledding, WB got the yard cleaned up, and Mike and Katie stayed for a beef stew and fresh bread dinner. What a great way to start the snow day season! By March I'll be praying for the storm to pass, but now, it was a perfect way to create a long weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jon Stewart rocks my world

Seven minutes of your life you will not regret sitting still for.

my turn

So I was observed today. I really had no idea what to expect, what with The New Guy as my principal this year. It was fairly painless, except my kids were so nervous that they made me nervous. I talked to them about the Cuban Missile Crisis-- one of my favorite topics in recent US History. Kennedy may have been a lot of things, but he was a really good President. I mean, dude, he talked his way out of a nuclear war off the coast of Florida in the height of the Cold War-- and came out making Krushchev looking a bit weak! Anyhow, this is one of those topics that I want them to at least recognize when someone mentions it. (Yes, a lot of my lessons are built around them not looking dumb in some future hypothetical conversation, but I gotta use something as a filter, right?) Anyhow, I think it went ok, and the kids actually got involved in the conversation, and no one let an F-bomb slip. In short, they tried to make me look good. I'm not sure how New Guy defines success, but that works for me.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

ghosts of Christmases yet to come

I am sure that when I look back upon today, I will only remember that we went, and were successful, and had fun. "That was a great day"... and it was. But right now, I'm going to tell the whole story.

I wanted to take the kids to see A Christmas Carol live. We watch the George C. Scott version and the Muppet version every year, so they are well acquainted with the tale, but I felt they would benefit from seeing it done live, and by a very reputable company. WB decided he is Caroled out, so I took them alone. I also brought along my other 2 kids-- their mom had worked last night and was going to sleep all day anyway, but really, I took them because that's just what we do. I like packing up all my kids into the van and heading off on an adventure. But I digress; this is about a trip to the Big City to see a Show! They spent the night last night so we were ready to hit the road early, even as the predicted snow started to fly. The roads weren't that bad-- the snow was coming down for real around Gray, but I've driven in much, much worse. We got into town about 40 minutes early, to find that my normal parking lot was closed. Hmmm.... so I drove around the block and found onstreet parking. Sweet! When we got into the lobby, there was no one there. I mean NO ONE. The box office was closed, and no one was anywhere to be seen. After I called the box office (from 10 feet away-- one of my favorite tricks) and didn't hear our show listed, I finally stumbled upon someone who informed me I was at the wrong venue-- our show was about 5 blocks away... but she didn't give great directions, and I really didn't know where we were going. This is where the story takes it's turn.

And so we left, quickly, as we only had about 15 minutes to make curtain. I drove off to where I thought the theater was, but didn't see it. So we went around the block... to encounter one way streets. After a long drive through the Old Port, I got back to a known landmark. The one time I needed WB to be at home on the couch with the laptop open, he was working on getting the 4-wheeler ready to plow the snow. Luckily Mike was available. He googled me directions, got me a phone number, and talked me around the block again. I ended up passing the theater 3 times, but finally saw it. Another quick turnaround, into the parking garage, and we got there about 10 minutes into the show. The 4 kids sat in late seating on the left side of the house, while I was taken to the right side because there weren't enough seats for us together. After a few heated words with the stage manager ("One of them could have come with you.." "I know, but they're in, seated, quiet, and fine. Just take me to the other side.") At intermission, we found our correct seats. All was right in the world.

I have to say, through all of this, the kids were amazing. Now, they've been with me enough-- and with me as the sole adult enough-- to know how stressed I was, and how one little thing would cause me to break. So they walked quickly, sat quietly, and helped by not saying anything. There was only one big sigh as I explained how, on the third trip by, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever find it. One quick bark from me (and I think some stares from the fellow passengers) was all that was necessary. When we were finally seated, a section apart, I heard other children talking, but not a peep from my chickens. They were happy to move, and NOT A ONE OF THEM asked for a snack at intermission. (For those of you who have not taken 8,9, 10, & 11 year olds to a noontime event, that's a super big deal!) Yes, Santa, they all earned Good Kid points today.

After the show we got some lunch and did a bit of shopping (getting lost, again, finding my way from the theater to the mall). Now I spent most of my childhood about 30 miles south of this city, and had a passing familiarity when I was in high school... twenty years ago. It took about 10 years of living up here to change my landmarks and successfully navigate the city from the north, but I don't do it often, so while I know about where I am, I don't always remember how to get from point A to B. Let's just say "I HATE the city!" was uttered more than once...

Anyhow, it really was a great day. We made it, we didn't miss much, the play was awesome, and we got some shopping done. Most importantly, we got through a rough spell together, without any of us losing it. They rallied around me as only your kids can when you're lost in the city and there's not a damn thing they can do to help. When I had calmed down enough to laugh, they laughed with me. When the show was over, they asked to fill their bellies, but didn't make demands on where. When I said it would have to be fast and cheap, they were thankful for the Happy Meals. When we shopped for WB and teacher gifts, they didn't complain. I got to walk through the city, with 4 kids in tow, and see the amazement on others faces. So yea, it was a great day. No hindsight necessary.

Friday, December 05, 2008

it's 11.

Oven: fixed. No idea on the bill, but right now, who cares?
Windshield: fixed. $100 deductible. Do-able.
Exploded pen: off my fingers. (ok, it wasn't really worthy of being the 3rd in the string, but I was hoping to end it quickly.)
Nausea: gone. Didn't even hurl. Yea me!

And the credit card is paid off. Super Duper Yea Us! Now to the equity line...

time to make the cookies.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

believe it

I jinxed myself the other post, when I said there would be more news to my updates. There is another update: the van is at Portland Glass getting it's cracked windshield replaced.

humph indeed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

it's official

The Grinch's heart has grown 3 sizes: it is now officially the Christmas season.

(FYI: We are still only watching the Boris Karlov TV half hour special: I hope to never see more of the Jim Carey movie than the teasers I had to endure when it was first released.)

Time to carve the Roast Beast. (Well, theoretically, of course, since it's 9PM and because of the whole oven thing, but you get the refrence...)

updates

The oven: not the news I was hoping for. Friday at the earliest. We need a new ignitor, and need the part to get here, which takes 3-5 days. So, it's either stove top cooking or using the oven at school. Cookie swap cookies may just get baked with my students on Friday. Service learning or something, right?

The sunshines: I got a visit from a student today needing help. The situation is not good, but between a bunch of support people, we've got him on the path to resolving the issue. I had some resources from my fall alted conference that were very helpful ($100 well spent!!). While it pains me to have to help them all through these messes, it's further confirmation that I'm where I belong. "I didn't know what else to do, so I came to you."

The budget: working on next year's budget, which means I need to have next year's schedule. What is that going to look like? I don't know exactally.... so I'm throwing arrows in the dark.

The shopping: almost everything is purchased. I believe we're down to less than than half a dozen things to get. Then I just have a few CDs to burn and cookies to bake, and we're good to know. Feeling good about that.

Stay tuned. More news at 11.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

my favorite holiday

So we started this Thanksgiving season with a Gamma Day at Mike and Katie's. For those of you who don't know, Gamma Day started years ago because my darling husband never, never, never gets enough turkey and fixin's at Thanksgiving proper. So, we'd do it all over again, usually right before or right after, but sometimes randomly months away. When Lea was very little, Mike (Gupiga to our kids) dubbed it Gamma Day (because they call him Gamma, of course). Gamma claims that only he can call an official Day, but he never complains when one of the rest of us calls one, because it means more turkey, which is always a good thing.

Today, with the help of Mike and Katie's new and nicely functioning oven, we hosted our own Gamma Day. I headed to their house to cook the bird and the stuffing, and he got the root vegetable medley started here. It's mashed potatoes, but with carrots, sweet potato, and parsnips thrown in. After 3.5 hours, I trucked the cooked food back home and got the gravy and broccoli and asparagus finished. Bestfriends came over with their leftover pies, and we finished the Thanksgiving season together, enjoying each other's company.

Forever more, this will be my favorite holiday. Not only does it mean our friends will be present, but it also has the flexibility of us deciding the best day for it. And there are very few people who have ever celebrated this holiday, which makes it pretty darned special. So happy Gamma Day, everyone! Let the leftovers commence!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

thankful

A great idea from SJ and Katie.

1. Friends, all of them. I love my Dickvale crowd, my RVBs, my DHS friends, my bestfriends... I am blessed to b surrounded by so many wonderful people.
2. Stuff. I have everything I need and then some. I am comfortable, warm, and full.
***EDIT: Except my oven, which just died. Humph.***
3. Health. Aside from a few minor issues, my friends, family, and I are all healthy and going strong.
4. Work. I am lucky to have found a job that I love that provides us with the paycheck we need to keep #2 & #3.
5. Family, immediate and extended. As much as they can drive me nuts, it is good to have so many people to care about, and to be cared by. And the 3 others who reside here with me, well, I'd be lost without them.

so happy Thanksgiving, all. May you find peace in this coming hectic season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving #2

Yesterday's school based Thanksgiving was a success. Kids and teachers and administrators working together to put together a meal for us to enjoy (and to share with a few elderly residents). My June graduates from last year came by as well, and it was nice to hear "One Good Thing" that has happened to everyone in the room recently. It was a good day. As long as my middle school counterpart and I are in this business, it is what the day before Thanksgiving break will look like.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

idea

My idea is not a post for me to write, but one I would happily comment on. I would love a Joe Pos* or WB or Mike post on the greatest athletic commercials of all time-- Be Like Mike, That's De-termination, many of the early SportsCenter promos. Just making my desires known.

*I know it gives my husband great joy that I, a non-obsessive sports reader, check this blog daily. I skim the ones that are all about sports, but his writing is so good it's worth the effort. When he writes about non-sporting things, well, that's just another sign of a good day.

go with your gut

I was scheduled to give blood today, but woke up a bit stuffy. I pondered whether I should go or not, but WB convinced me I really wasn't the kind of sick that would render my blood useless. Well, turns out my body disagreed. I was sent away after being stuck because I would not bleed. 3 techs tried, to no success. So now I still have to be gentle to my arm ("no dishes for 3 days"... ha!) but no one benefits from the injury. So it goes in my life-- I've been sent away for not bleeding fast enough before, and I'm often right on the edge of making it. Better luck next time.

connectedness

If I were asked to define myself as an educator, in one word, it would be connectedness. Honestly, I think that one word defines me as a human being-- I still send Christmas Cards to my fourth grade teacher. (At one point in my life, I sent out close to 100 cards every year. I've whittled it down to about 50, which really took some work.) Anyhow, while my 'lessons' focus on the MLR of the day, I scrap it all for the "teachable moment" that deals with whatever the given kid needs at the moment-- a conversation about safe sex or quitting smoking, my recipe for chicken and broccoli alfredo, or finding out whether or not Castro is still alive during math class. My ultimate goal at the end of the day is for the kids to realize that knowledge is important, but in this day and age you can find anything (see the Castro question and google). What really matters is that someone cares that you found out. Or thought about finding out. Or really didn't care to find out, but did because it was a hoop that had to be jumped.

I've mentioned before that this was a rough week in my world. But there was a lot of good, too. I had a conversation about this very topic with one kid-- and she really appreciated my approach. Another boy admitted, probably for the first time in his life (and I'm so not exaggerating here) that his actions caused the punishment, and the fault was all his. The other parent thanked me for doing what I do, even as I was talking to her about the drama that had altered our plans for the day. A boy came to visit me-- one I'd never taught, but would check in with as he struggled to finish school-- to tell me how he was doing, and to check on his brother (who I do teach) because things are rough at home. Every day ends with "Bye, Buckaroo. Have a good night." I think that's a pretty big deal for kids racing out the door to freedom.

This afternoon I was at the grocery store and bumped into a graduate of mine. This kid is a great one-- hard working, smart, kind-- but his path has not been an easy one, and he's spent some time in the county "hotel". His younger half brother was with him, and they were preparing to have a Thanksgiving together. "Be a gentleman and help her with those bags." Little Bro is not a current student of mine but one on my radar screen, and I thanked him for being such a sweet kid. I'm not sure how often he hears that, but it is so very true. "I'm lucky to have you boys" I joked. But I swear to you, I am not kidding. I am so lucky to have all these kids in my life. I hope they never stop letting me know how they're doing. Connectedness. You betcha.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

what not coaching looks like

Never in my life have I felt this ready for Christmas. The box to go to my sister is ready to be mailed on Monday. Christmas books for the 4 bestfriends are created, ordered, and ready to go (thanks, Shutterfly!) As you can see, the gifts that I have in the house are wrapped and tagged. It's not even Thanksgiving yet! Yea me!

I do have some work left to do. Calendars for both sets of grandparents, half-dips for my dad, stockings for the family, and purchasing fewer than a dozen items for people still on the list. Then, of course, I have cookies and chocolates and pot luck dishes to make and enjoy. I'm feeling like I'm really going to be able to enjoy this season because I'm so far ahead of the game. I guess the economic crisis has been good for something-- it forced me to start shopping early so I wouldn't have to use any credit cards.

I'm feeling like quite the Boy Scout: I am prepared for the next month of mayhem and joy and love. Bring it on... but don't start playing the carols until I flip the calendar. That just bugs me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

always planning

My mother in law and her sisters laugh at me annually because I want to start making holiday plans in late August. We are busy people, and I need to know where we're going in order to be sure we get it all in. It's become a family joke, which is fine, because I know I'm right.

As a follow up to my budget woes post, I've been working on plans. How to payoff the van; what extras can go, and where I might work. I may have stumbled upon a plan, rather randomly. My alt ed conference had a legal session (a great session, BTW) which followed a post by Beth about her job. I haven't stopped thinking about becoming a guardian ad litem (also seen spelled lietem-- not sure which is right), and many have commented that I would be good at it. So, if my dream job disappears in a puff of budget woes, the kids I love dealing with may have a new advocate on their side.

It's a plan, which is really all I need to sleep through the night. I can do anything with a plan... just watch how many Christmas parties we get in every year!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

low battery

Today started with one impending drama, moved into another bit of daytime drama, and ended with the predicted drama being as bad as feared. Suffice it to say I cannot even envision going to work tomorrow, never mind sticking around for house and staff meetings, and THEN having to come back on Friday. That excitement I've been feeling about our way cool Thanksgiving event... yup, gone. Nicely done. I'm sure I'll rebound by Monday, but right now, Friday night can't come fast enough.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

playing along with SJ

The idea here, according to SJ, is to bold the things you've done.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Friday, November 14, 2008

working towards a 4

Beaner Bean called me tonight with some news. She didn't call Boy or Girly, but me. "You're important to me and you should know." For over a decade we've been talking about how cool it will be when our kids talk to us, or at least one of us, about the important stuff. We're now reaching that actual point. The next 10 years should be fairly ...interesting, but I'm hopeful that we'll all get to the other side, adults and children both, and realize we all did the best we could. That's really all we can hope for.

I then had a quick little conversation with Boy about various things, and for the moment, anyway, he cares what I think and what I have to say. Let's hope that continues, too.

I love these 4 people more than I ever thought possible. Watching them grow up is just the coolest. I am truly lucky to have them.

(Let's hope they're not the only ones!)

I understand the drop out rate more and more...

Why, why, why, do we have to make everything so boring? I'm not at a How to Make Kids Lives Miserable conference, so why would I pick up the boring Growing a Nation CD that kids can sit and be prattled to about how important agriculture is? Here's a crazy idea-- how about getting outside and getting our hands dirty instead of watching a prefabed program. The whole reason I'm here is that some kids WON'T SIT AND LISTEN TO YOUR STUPID, BORING NONSENSE LIKE I AM RIGHT NOW! In fact, if the presenter wasn't smart enough to be blocking the door, I'd be outta here too.

I come to this conference for innovation... we've covered boredom in the classroom in many different ways. I want to know what someone has done to get kids interested-- or has tried that didn't work for them. I want to leap frog ideas, and get a little wacky. I want to come away enthused, not exhausted.

She's moved from the door. Time to make a break for it...

time?

I think it may be time to switch from receiver to presenter. Who knew I was doing "harm reduction"? Well, me, I guess, but I didn't know it had a name.

I wonder if I can start a Friday tradition around our random conversations? How was your week? What did you learn? What can you teach others?

I also need to start some sort of WB's Free Forms.

Conferences are great for new ideas... even if they're not the ideas of the presenters. Maybe better, in fact...

just ask Cracker.

"What the US needs now is..."

(... another folk singer like I need a hole in my head!)

I could say the same thing about keynote speakers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

on my mind

Another scary email from our boss today. I don't think I'm on the first-to-go list, but I am not foolish enough to think my program is not expendable. I haven't updated my resume yet, but moments of panic are creeping in. Let's hope it doesn't go any further than that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

political insight of the night

We watched 60 Minutes tonight, and there was a story about the Obama election team. They commented that Obama's reaction to the Reverend Wright situation was a big turning point. I say it is the reason he is our next President. (To be honest, WB does too, but this is my post. I gave him the Grant Park East one.) Think about it: faced with a situation that could have become the Monkey Business of this election, Obama stood up and controlled the news cycle. He spoke his mind rather than saying what people wanted to hear. That is what a leader does, and ultimately why he was elected.

During the primary run, I made the prediction, based on history, that America would elect a black man before a white woman. Black men earned the right to vote in 1870 with the Fifteenth Amendment while women had to wait until 1920 and the Nineteenth Amendment. I have to admit, that while I would have voted for Hillary if she was the nominee, I am so very, very glad I was right.

Friday, November 07, 2008

mad lib (from SJ)

SJ this great little blog mad lib from Debra (Reflecting) who found it from Friday Fill-Ins. I can't resist playing along, so here are my answers.

1. My blueprint for success includes just keep swimming.
2. Kissables were the last candy I ate.
3. The best facial moisturizer I've ever used is Mary Kay Timewise.
4. Being with people you love can be good therapy.
5. I'd like to tell you about a great book.
6. My extroversion is my strongest characteristic.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having some pirates show up at the door, tomorrow my plans include a visiting my friend in Belfast and Sunday, I want to get ready for the week ahead!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

why I do this

Today was one of those days that wouldn't be obvious to the outside world as a successful day. But I think I planted some seeds that maybe, if I keep tending them, will grow into something real.

The day was chaotic. Kids were yelling-- I was yelling in response-- and everyone kept moving around. Walking in circles. Leaving the room. Going out one door, tapping on the windows, and then back in the other. One kid is working on an independent humanities course, one a science. Both need help. The four who made it in on time needed to go get breakfast first; everyone was hungry all day, including me. Some relationships have changed over the last week, so there was some anger and, later, some reconciliation. That is huge. Massive. Last week I didn't think we'd even get close to resolving things this calendar year. That alone would have made it a good day.

But we also talked about a lot of other things, in between getting work done. Saw a headline in the paper about a car accident and talked about a cousin's accident (drinking and driving) and a few other tragedies. Learned more about the local man who died from cancer this week but donated his body to research. He lived hard, but he treated these kids with respect, and they in return. One person-- even someone who 'wasted his life' according to some-- does make a difference. We all talked about the Articles of Confederation and the Great Compromise, followed by some Algebra. Talked about our work and personal values and how they'll impact future jobs. Decision making again for English class. I learned a little bit more about tracking a deer. Lots happening here. Lots.

Interwoven around it all was the election. Half my class is racist, and not afraid to say so. And so each time they say something, or joke, or let something slip out, I address it. Every time. So by the end of the day, I was asking what they were so afraid of? The immediate reaction was to deny it, but I saw the glimmer of questioning in their eyes in return: what am I afraid of? That was something no one had ever asked before.

People often comment about what I do all day, and how insane it is. I try to explain it, but I really can't. It just makes sense to me. Some days it's hard. Some days it's torture. Some days even I wonder what I think I'm doing, and how I can think, even for a minute, that I can be teaching anyone anything in this chaos. But after a day like today, I understand in my every fiber why I do this, and why I wouldn't succeed in a regular class, although I still can't put it into words. They're rough, vulgar, crude, and insensitive, but if you give them respect they'll eventually give it back. They'll consider your point of view for a split second, even if it's one that has never ever even occurred to them before. And tomorrow it might not seem so crazy.

Yup, we had a good day today. Thank God I wasn't observed, because they would have done their best to sit and be quiet and make me look good-- and we wouldn't have accomplished half as much.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

hope

I am full of hope today. It took the electorate 8 long years, but finally we've learned.

Thank Heavens.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

nothing like my hubby

But I had my first (maybe only?) "ohhhh" moment of election coverage: Luke Russert reporting on the youth vote. Very classy, NBC. Well done.

Monday, November 03, 2008

luckiest

So I've been reading back posts of 6yearmed, because she has a way with words. She posted about a blog of a sick little boy and, hesitantly, I checked it out. Suffice it to say I won't be a regular reader of this one, as I can't take on that kind of sorrow-- Danielle is at about my outer reaches for sadness that does not have direct impact on my life. But sometimes it is good to be reminded of just how lucky we are.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

best morning of the year

Going off Daylight Savings Time is one of the great joys of my life. I love being able to stay up a bit later, knowing I can sleep in guilt free. And then the sleeping part... I just love that feeling of being enveloped by my blankets, all comfy and cozy... and knowing that I will be able to stay there until I am ready, with no feelings of regret for staying there too long. I do love this day... much, much, much more than the day that allows for this one, but that is another post for another day...

Friday, October 31, 2008

holy moly!

What's a girl got to do to get a comment around here?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

specific link love

I am not a sports page reader: I never read the sports section without looking for something specific, nor do I read sports blogs. I do, however, read Joe Posnanski regularly. He is a sports writer, but that's not why I read him. I read him because he is an amazing writer, and he often writes about things other than sports, and when he does, it's really, really worth reading.

This post of his is definitely worth reading. Anyone who references Storm Troopers and Malcolm Gladwell in the same post knows how to bring it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

hitting the fan

Stay tuned, dear readers, for I know not what this week brings. Remember that intervention I mentioned a few weeks back? Well, it never happened because people kept showing up late or not coming to school, so all the requisite players were not in attendance at the right times. Today the fecal matter hit the proverbial fan, but at the very end of the day, so the only resolution was one student leaving before the conversation was finished. Tomorrow we somehow attempt to pick up the pieces. I do not have high hopes that this can be solved in a day, or even solved by me. Some issues are bigger than a classroom, and this is one of those issues.

Scariest part of all this? It never even crossed my mind once that this job isn't worth it. I still can't see myself doing anything else. If budget cuts get to me, look for me in your local bank branch, because I think I've gone too far off this cliff to come back into a regular classroom safely.

***UPDATE***
We had a chat, which was really more that I did the talking and they did the listening, and while things aren't totally resolved, the tension level is better. The issues are bigger than they seem-- it's not really about someone getting mad about a mess, but about respect, and a lack of coping skills when things get heated. So it's better now than it was. That's really all you can hope for...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

so much to say

but not enough energy...

Amity came to visit today. I forget how gross this place is until someone new comes over. Sorry for the mess-- it's easier when it's late enough for whiskey.

This election just needs to end. I know how I'm voting and I can't cope with even NPR's coverage. Just vote already and lets move on.

The end of the quarter wreaks havoc on all of us. While I haven't had Mike's troubles, the kids are all a bigger mess than usual. One student is now calling me nightly. What do I say? Yes, your life does suck and I have no solution at all. 'I care' just doesn't solve everything. But it's all I've got, so it'll have to do. It still breaks my heart to have nothing more than that.

Whiskey is good for what ails you, just in case you were wondering. Soccer is over and life should get better. Only 10 days 'til voting and 6 days until Halloween. Things should look up soon....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

just keep talking

I had the opportunity to take a trip with a few students last week, and the time in the car was at least as valuable, if not more so, than the event to which we were headed. At one point we got talking about relationships and marriage, and I gave them my big secret to success: keep talking. Talk about the weather, the game, who's getting the kids, what we need for dinner, politics, music, tv shows, favorite colors, the meaning of life... as long as you keep talking, you will grow together, and chances are good you'll make it.

This advice, while intended for the lovey-dovey type of relationship, is true for any. When teachers talk to kids they understand each other more. When administration and teachers and school board members sit down together, there's less fighting. When the community talks about why they're afraid of higher taxes and hear why teachers are afraid of smaller budgets, consensus is possible. Not guaranteed, but possible. Possible is way better than not.

In light of our recent budget woes and the realization that jobs will most likely be lost this year, I find hope in the conversation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

end of the season


Sadly, I think I've hung my last load on the line for the season. StormCenter tells us we may have snow tonight or tomorrow night! I hate using the dryer, but I don't have a good space to hang a line in the house. I need to try to find some place to put one...

UPDATE: No snow, at least that I could see. Lots of rain, but I might be able to squeak out another load or two....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

geeks unite!

Today we did a trial run of the costumes. They look great-- we totally did the right thing by 'hiring' Upideet and Shannon to make Boy and Girly's costumes too. Once we got everyone suited up we headed into the forest to take some pics. The Evil Wizard battled hardily against the Elven Ranger, Changling Warrior, and Woodland Fairy.

It is terribly cute to watch these guys take Halloween costumes so seriously. They take on the characters and pose with requisite expression. We got some awesome shots today, and 2 more hours of wear out of the costumes. If we're lucky, the amount of time wearing them will equal the amount of time it took making them!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I knew he could do it.

I am not a baseball hater. I enjoy a good game, especially early in the season. But by October, I guess I'm just sort of over the drama. The beloved Sox haven't been playing well recently, and I was really ready on Thursday for them to just let the season go. I sent Boy to bed with the words "It's the 3rd inning. They're down 5-0. Say goodnight to the team, see you next season." He went to bed, content in the knowledge that they were just not playing well, and sometimes you don't win it all. Great life lesson, right?

We all know how this story ends. I head up to bed at about 9:30, heated rice sock in hand to try to "sweat out this pain" (it sort of worked) and WB stayed up to watch the bitter end of summer. I awake to a note on the door: you have got the magic. The Boys of Boston Summers weren't ready to get their Halloween costumes out of storage yet and came back in the 8th inning (or something like that) to win it and force game 6. Humph.

I had wrapped my head around weekends based around which NetFlix had arrived and not what time the game started. I was so excited about the next 4 episodes of Dexter, which now have to wait for heaven knows how long because we're on a 3 week series of booked Friday nights. (Richard Thompson concert last night, Peter Mulvey concert next Friday, then Halloween followed by a Great Big Sea Concert.) I was excited to not have any excited utterances floating up the stairs late at night as someone either had a great at bat or horrible inning. I was ready for the vacation we take from the end of Red Sox games until March Madness. Wll, it's not so much a vacation as it is a respite from following a specific team's every move. We'll have hockey on, football sometimes, soccer when we can find it, gymnastics, pool, skating, skiing... pretty much anything that's on, but the difference is out of season NetFlix arrivals have priority over the random golf tournament. Anyhow, I was ready to possess the clicker again. Humph indeed.

So now it's 3 innings further than it was when I gave up on the season Thursday night, and the Heros are in the lead. I guess I just have to accept that it could be well into November before I can watch the next episodes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

just read

So the kids have spent most of the weekend reading. Most of it is Book-It! inspired: if you're not familiar, teachers set the bar and if kids reach it every month (for 6 months) they get a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Now, we're lucky parents because when the kids learned to read, they liked it, and so we've never needed external motivation. They play Book-It! for the pride of doing it. Girly loves it. Takes it seriously, every month. Boy... not so much. I think he doesn't like to be bothered keeping track. (I don't keep track for them. The charts go on the fridge and it's up to them to fill them out.) Anyway, he's decided to make it this month, anyway, just to prove he can. He needs to read 600 minutes in the month of October. This weekend, he's read at least 400. Girly has reached her classroom goal of 300 minutes, but on she reads. I came downstairs this morning to find them next to each other on the couch, reading. No TV even for background noise. Just reading.

I know. We're very lucky parents.

Friday, October 10, 2008

altright already, I got it!

It's been quite a week... strep followed by a massive head cold followed by the worst episode ever (in my experience, anyway) of having put my back out. Yes, Cosmic Energy, I hear you. I need to slow down. I can't do it all. The world can survive without me. I got it-- you didn't have to yell.

(OK, maybe you did.)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Introducing!

My newest nephew! Girly maintains her position as the sole girl of her generation, on either side of the family. Both sets of cousins have 3 brothers. I'm sure there's some cool math in that...

I hate that they are across the country and that it will be months and months before I get to hold him, but as I don't have the cash to hop a plane, I'll have to be satisfied with pics. Time to make a quilt and a CD and all those Nanny rituals that I do for my babies.

Friday, October 03, 2008

enough already!

So I do have strep, again. Third time in as many months. I guess it could be classified as the second time in three months, since I got it in June, treated it and turned out to be immune to the base level antibiotic, so it came back 11 days later. But this is three times of itchy ears, wincing with every swallow, and general throat related annoyance. I know that on the hierarchy of what I could be afflicted with this has a treatment and I (currently) have one that works, but I do not enjoy the regular addition of antibiotics into my system. I mean, I've had to use them a lot throughout my lifetime and am immune to some, for Pete's sake! I'm part of the problem! I never enjoy being able to say that.

So, if anyone has any thoughts on how to build up a resistance to a bacteria that attacks me annually, I'm all ears, itchy as they may be.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

my turn

I think I, too, need to go all Flowers and Sausages on my class. We have some new friends this year who need it quiet, and some of our old friends need it loud. Somehow, we need to reach a compromise.

Last year we had 3 rooms at our constant disposal, so it was easy: the ones needing quiet could head to the little room, and the ones needing to be loud could move away and get rid of some aggression. This year, we have one room. One round room, with few windows and no corners in which to escape. So the ones who need the noise tend to dominate the ones who need the quiet. Today it got bad enough that it's obvious it is time to do something about it.

I hope it goes as well as it did for Amity and Ms. Mimi. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

got sun?

We're watching a NOVA on harnessing the sun. What I wouldn't give for $25k, give or take, to invest in photovoltaics for our southern exposure roof. Probably not the best time to try to get a bank loan, however...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday nightlife

So tonight I got in a discussion with my friend about the current state of education. There are a lot of things on which we disagree, but it was a great conversation nonetheless. I enjoy that kind of conversation-- one with passion and feeling behind it. She is a great elementary teacher and I have no doubt that all the kids who pass through her room are better for it. It was certainly a much more engaging evening than if we'd just watched Runway reruns all night... although, to be honest, I'd have enjoyed that, too. But definitely not as much. Intelligent conversation beats mindless video every time...

Friday, September 26, 2008

don't you forget about me

So I covered Friday DT for a friend tonight-- my plans canceled as hers ramped up to include interviews. I asked for the list of players and was shocked at some of the names that appeared-- three kids who probably haven't even had a regular DT in all their years of school. Turns out it was a joke went bad that landed them in a 2.5 hour Friday afternoon session, and there is no doubt that the real punishment was just being there, in that room, with the other kids who'd done other kinds of wrong. I mean, they probably would have spent at least that much time working on homework over the weekend, so that wasn't a big deal at all. At one point, as I was talking to another kid about what he was doing potentially landing him in another Friday, one poor girl broke out laughing and put her head on the table-- and the "oh my heavens, I can't believe this is happening to me" look was unmistakable. Twenty years from now I would not be surprised to learn this was a monumental moment in their development. I hope it turns out to be, because otherwise it was just an afternoon spent with John Bender and Claire Standish.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

democracy is not pretty

We went to a special town meeting tonight.... and they were certainly accurate in naming it 'special'! Six articles, approximately 50 people, a new, not very good moderator, and the same question asked a bazillion times over again got us out of there in two and a half hours. It was brutal. It was ugly. People left mad. But out of the 1000? 500? registered voters in town (I really have no idea how many voters we have) 5o of us showed up and made some decisions. At one point our speaking selectman said something about "the great turnout" and I almost jumped out of my chair. Are you even kidding me? That's minimally 1 in 10 represented, probably closer to 1 in 20. If I was giving it a grade we'd be thrilled to get a 10-- which is definitely failing! What is it going to take to get Americans to just go vote? Getting rid of town meeting certainly helps-- 300 voted in the referendum last summer. But even that was a low turnout. How do I convince my government students that voting is where the power lies? Yes, it's inconvenient but it is part of our job. Just do it. Suck it up, buttercup. Whatever works for you, but stand up and be counted!

(How long will it take me to calm down tonight? I'm betting I'll be full on exhausted by Friday...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

perspective

Let me say right off the bat that I love my job and truly enjoy coming to work. I had a good day today-- I think we actually did some creative stuff (especially when I look back on what I was left with when I first took the job 4 years ago) that enhanced the kids understanding of the subject matter. Not bad for a Monday, no? Add to that kids coming to school when sick because they don't want to disappoint me by being accused of skipping (I sent one home because he really was too sick to be here, the other was able to suck it up and get through the day) and my vocational life is looking good.

My life as a parent.... well, not so much. I've got a kid afraid to go to one of the specials, and a parent meeting in the morning to figure it all out. Contrary to the public face I put on, I do not enjoy being "that mom" always complaining about the way things are going. Unfortunately, things are not going well and people need to know. Said child deserves to go to specials and not be afraid of why they'll be yelled at today-- especially in our "anti-bullying" environment.

I want to love my school system, but right now I just can't. Don't worry, we're not yarding them tomorrow or anything. It's certainly better than most alternatives, and is far from the worst one around, but this stuff is just getting old. At least we get free parking spaces and don't have to worry about William Inspections. It's all about perspective, I guess.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

put me in Coach

I coached my first soccer game ever today. The deck was stacked against us from the time we left home: I knew we had only 13 kids on our team and The Enemy would have at least 16, but probably more like 18. The Enemy is a team that I can't stand in HS track-- they have a snooty-ness about them that makes me nuts, and, unsurprisingly, they teach that in their pee-wee leagues. I am not the type of parent/fan that usually blames our loss on the other teams' behavior, and I certainly don't today either (we were totally out played out there) but they were full of cheap, dirty plays. Add a Homer ref, and, well, you get the picture. We lost 8-0. We only had about 2 real opportunities; it just so happens that the second was Boy's, with about 2 minutes to play. He received a pass in their territory without being off sides, and pushed it beyond the defenders. He was outside of the 18, but closing fast. Someone pushed him from behind, and he went sprawling. It was blatant, and obvious, and wrong.

The good news is I think our team played out of their heads. No one complained about having few subs, and everyone was good about coming in and out and helping each other. Some of them really got the idea of passing to the open spaces and looking for support. We still need to work on not crossing the ball into the middle and some of us need to work on not criticizing our team mates, but they really stepped up and did their best. I'm proud of them. They also learned about being the Bigger Person and not giving in to cheap shots. I have no doubt that in 5 years the girls HS team will be The Team to Beat. Those girls are awesome players and quality kids. It will be loads of fun watching them get to that point.

While I may not be a great coach, I'd step in and do it again. I had a lot of fun.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I love trash!


So I got us an offer to pick up trash behind the skate park today. A few of my kids need to log their community service hours, and it was a nice, sunny, warm September Friday, so what do you think we did? We gathered 2 bags of trash and a bag of bottles. A nice couple was sitting in their front lawn and thanked us as we went by. We came back to the cooked apple crisp we had made out of the apples we picked Wed. All in all, a very satisfying teacher afternoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

tomorrow

We went to see james last night, and even though I am EXHAUSTED today, it was a great show. I'm too old now to stand on a cement floor in a club with hundreds of other fans until 11:30 PM on a work night, so if this was the last show of this type we attend, it was a good one to end on. They played a great mix of old and new (they came on to Laid, which totally set the tone of the night). I could link you all sorts of great songs, but if you're interested, go to youtube and watch 'em. I love them. So does Boy and Girly and WB. We have such hip kids.

Their new album is awesome, which we've talked about before. Waterfall has probably the most relevant message to my life of any of my current favorite songs. It's chorus asks "How much junk in my life do I really need?" Want less. Great goal. I'm trying. Not there yet. Maybe never will be, but it's a great goal, no?

Off to bed. (And I'm not even lying. I'm too old for this nonsense, even if it's fun.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

when I'm 64

So it was certainly an interesting family weekend. After the Phone Call from my uncle on Friday, I talked to my mom. She and my flying biker brother* were heading off on an overnight hike this weekend and would be stopping in on Sunday. My dad was set to ferry them from where they came out back to the car. Now, without knowing my parents, you wouldn't automatically know that said ferry vehicle is a motor home. My dad loves that thing. He drives it everywhere he can. Coming up to watch Boy shoot arrows in Auburn? Drive the RV. A soccer game? A car would be too small and confining. Were we going to be home Saturday night, because if so, dad would like to come sleep in the driveway. We were, and he did. Girly slept out with him (Boy decided that 2 single camper beds was 1 to few-- no wonder he's earned a scholarship already!). He arrived around 5, took us to dinner, went to bed around 8, and left before 9. They did come visit as promised, and my brother gave the kids cash, just because he can.

After all this, I find myself seriously pondering what form of craziness will I embody after I turn 60?

*My brother went flying off a mountain bike trail this summer, leaving him with some broken vertebra, strained wrists, and other random injuries. Since he didn't like the medical instructions to lay low, he pretends they don't exist. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of the two of them heading off to tackle one of the hardest stretches of the AT at this point in time, but it was useless to even suggest they rethink the mission. Luckily my fears were not justified.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

I don't know why, but I'm really captivated by Cold War history. I'm fascinated by the willingness of normally sane people to suddenly stop thinking for themselves. Someday I'll treat you all to my Cuban Missile Crisis expertise, but that is another post for another day. I have not (yet) proved my mastery of the Rosenberg trial, but that is about to change.

So it turns out that Ethel Rosenberg did not get her day in court. She spent a bunch of time in a courtroom, but no one actually cared what she had to say in her own defense. Morton Sobell, a fellow defendant, admitted this week that he believed that while she knew her husband was a spy, she was not involved. Pretty high price to pay for making a bad choice in husbands.

Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, was involved in spying for the Ruskies. He stole documents about the atom bombs and gave them to Julius Rosenberg, who in turn gave them to the Russians. Greenglass, in an attempt to protect his wife and children, told prosecutors that Ethel typed the documents first, although the reports were of handwritten documents. Greenglass went to jail, but his sister was executed. Go figure.

This trial encouraged Joseph McCarthy, which brings me to the point of my rant: blind following of an idea, that in the light of day, turns out not to make so much sense. Was America really in the midst of a Red Scare? I'm sure, coming out of the Korean War, it made a lot more sense than it does today. I mean, really, how can some jewish housewife be such a threat to society that she needs to be executed? Sadly, though, we haven't really learned from our past. Substitute "Middle Eastern Terrorists" for "communist Russian spy" and there we are again. We have enacted all sorts of laws infringing on civil rights in the name of protecting America.

Today we're not afraid of the Ruskies... or are we? Recent events have me wondering if we're all just happier with an obvious enemy. I mean, we had plenty of opportunity to have a common enemy during the Cold War, right? You're either for Democracy and The American Way or you're a Commie Pinko Fag. Simple. Effective. Unless you're not actually a Commie Pinko Fag, but someone accused of being one, or someone who is friends with one, or just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, in the worst case, you end up like poor Ethel, vindicated 55 years too late.

Friday, September 12, 2008

holy *bleeping* moly!

Now, this is one of these times where you may not believe that I sensed this occurrence, but I did. I didn't know exactly what was happening, but when the emails bounced back from my uncle as undeliverable, I knew there was a deal brewing. I thought about calling, but then figured he'd email when he got his new address. Right church, wrong pew. He called me tonight, from LAX, getting ready to move to Europe! Yes, this is the same uncle I went to see in August because his health isn't the best. He decided that instead of waiting around to die, he was going to live his life. And what he really wants to do is live in the south of France, speaking the language until he thinks the language. (I remember Haikey telling me she started thinking in Spanish, even when she was speaking English, and that was a cool development.) He has no idea when he'll be back. No idea where he'll live, or how long it will take to get settled and reconnected to the world. He's in the air now.

It's like a movie script-- an indy one at that. Dying uncle, suddenly summarizes his life into 10 boxes, donates his furniture to consignment shops, sells his beloved car ("I'd have sold my child first, if I'd had a child"), and hops a plane to the unknown. I'm so impressed with his courage, so awed by his raging against the dying of the light. I have maybe spent 2 months with this man over my life span, but he has influenced me nonetheless. He always sent us Christmas presents and birthday money, and would write back to my dutifully sent thank-yous. He was this cool uncle living across the country who never had kids (I eventually learned why) but loved hearing from me anyway. He moved in with my grandparents and took care of them because he could, and someone should. He worked in the San Fransisco hospital that identified AIDS, worked as the volunteer coordinator for sexually abused kids (usually poor and Mexican) and adults with AIDS. He believes in being who he is without making a big deal about it. When my students talk about queers ruining their lives, I think of my uncle and try to help them realize they're people first, and what's it matter what they do in private. I have a lot of respect for my uncle, and this situation is no different. He's going out on his terms, speaking the language he wants to speak. I'm lucky to have had his influence on my life: instead of it being across the country, now it's across an ocean. We can do that.

I am so thankful I knew to go see him this August, even though I didn't know why. I hope I get to see him again... who knows, maybe next summer the family will take a trip overseas...

the morton's salt of commentary

http://petersagal.com/wordpress/?p=149

I guess it really does make sense... and proves the point WB has been making all month, which is McCain has effectively killed his best argument against Obama by picking Pallin.

So ha!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

dancing with myself

Actually, that's not true-- at least not tonight. Dance is back, along with all my friends. There is a group of us--a core of eight-- who've met once a week during the school year for the last 8ish years to tap away our troubles and laugh our way through the winter. Fellow RVBer Katie joined us last year, and I'm thrilled she's come back to our crazy world! A few others mix in and out depending on the year and their schedules. I believe we started tonight as a group of 12, which is as many advanced dancers as we've ever had. It might not be the song we stick with BUT I LOVE THIS DANCE. I cannot say it more emphatically. It is hard, it is going to be a challenge, but man, is it going to be fun. I'm already tapping in the shower, waiting for the tea water to heat up, reviewing the steps I just learned a few short hours ago. Dance nights rock my world!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I think it fits the Rules

So my makeover has taken on entirely insane proportions. Not only have my children decided I should look "cuter", but my friends have jumped in as well. While at a conference this summer with some work friends, we went shopping. My school's social worker peer pressured me into buying this dress... I thought it wasn't terribly flattering on me, but she insisted WB would love her for making me buy it. Since it was something like $10 I gave in... and wore it this weekend for a friend's wedding. I felt a bit exposed in it, but looking at this picture I guess I don't look that bad! The kicker to all this is the number of teachers and students around school who have noticed I've changed my wardrobe, and commented positively. My only worry now is winter-- I'm not sure I can go a day without a turtleneck and sweater!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

writing out loud!

There is something about a sharpie marker that just makes me happy. I don't know what it is, especially since they are not scrapbooking appropriate. Once they started making them in colors, well, my little heart skips a beat every time I walk by a new package. Lucky for me Mardens had a shipment in. Now, every time I open my desk I am greeted with a giggle-inspiring sight. In honor of the event, I wrote my name on all the sharpies with my favorite colored sharpie. Yes, I am settling into my new classroom in style!

with a nod to Amity

I was recently alerted my baby sis is blogging again. Seems a good time for some link love!

http://krazykaroline.blogspot.com/ It is my sister's voice, no doubt about it. Makes me feel like I'm sitting next to her instead of being across the continent.

http://alwayssomeonecooler.blogspot.com/ My loyal RVBers know this one, but the link is for the newbie on the block.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

99 more just like that one...

..and Boy's college will be paid for! Today we found out that when the Sea Dogs said "finalist" what they meant was "winner!" Yes, he is now a scholarship recipient at the age of 10. I couldn't be prouder of him-- for doing what I asked, for doing it well, and for being humble about it all once he'd won. Girly is to be commended, too-- she also wrote an essay, never once complaining that she didn't win, and is as proud of her brother as we are. We are lucky to parent them both.

For those who care, here is the $1000 essay:
If I had to choose between going to the Olympics and taking a college baseball scholarship, I would need more information. How much is the scholarship? Where are the Olympic Games being held? How much will it cost me to get to the Games? Would I be able to go back to college and still play on the baseball team? There are a lot of questions that would need answering!

Going to college on a baseball scholarship would mean I would not have to pay for my degree while being able to play college baseball. I would become a better baseball player while being able to learn what I need to be successful in life. Major League scouts go to college games, so there would be a chance of me playing in the Major Leagues-- which would be pretty cool!

Going to the Olympics would also be pretty cool. It would mean I would be participating in a once in a lifetime experience. I would get to meet people from other countries and compete with them. I would also have the chance to earn an Olympic medal, which would mean a lot to me. Having an Olympic medal would increase my chances of playing in the Majors.

This would be a very hard decision. Ultimately, though, I would choose going to the Olympics. Even though going to college is important, I can do that anytime. This could be my one chance at the Olympics, and I’d have to take it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

first day

Here they are, ready to go... Boy pointed out that instead of getting a pic of them boarding the bus, getting in the van made as much sense. Since I'm one of those mom's who drops her kids at school, he's right. Now, my reason for this is purely selfish: the bus comes by at 7 AM, and if I drop them on my way to work, I can SLEEP until 7. No brainer there. Honestly, the only thing I hate about my job is that it starts at 7:50 AM. I dislike getting out of bed at such an early hour, and resent having to go to bed long before Letterman's Top Ten hits the airwaves. Otherwise, I do love what I do.

It was good to see my sunshines again this week. Some changes in their personal lives, but they all came back on day 1. I'm not sure if that is a record, but it's darned close. I feel pretty good about that. And they told me their stories. We're adapting to our new space-- it's different being around people again, but I think it's going to work. Life is good in our little fishbowl.

But tonight I get to stay up a little later and sleep a bit longer in the morning... although not much, because we have soccer practice at 9 AM. Humph.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm here... really....

I've had lots of plans to write this week, but by the time I get home and settled, I'm just too tired to think. If we could start school at say, 10 AM, I'd be a much happier woman. I wonder if I'll ever pull *that* one off!!

More this weekend, I promise. Three day weekend! That means.... wait for it.... SLEEP!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

oh, why not?

Another fun little show and tell... thanks Katie and Amity!

Nine things I want to do before I die
1. own a camp
2. have gotten to know my grandchildren
3. perform a tap dance with Boy and Girly
4. retire in good health
5. own a pool and a hot tub
6. convert to solar
7. be debt free!!
8. visit New Orleans
9. see the kids grow into happy, contented adults

Eight things I'm wearing
1. life is good tee shirt
2. tank top
3. shorts
4. barrette in my hair (I really can't cope without one)
5. glasses
6. engagement ring
7. wedding band
8. mother's ring

Seven things I appreciate
1. my family
2. my friends
3. good writing
4. modern comforts: electricity, heat, running water....
5. sweaters!
6. my sunshines
7. flexiblity (of all sorts)

Six things I touch everyday
1. WB, Boy, and Girly
2. kitty
3. dishes (clean and dirty)
4. laundry (ditto)
5. my laptop
6. food!

Five things I do everyday
1. love
2. laugh
3. think
4. plan
5. eat

Four songs on my mind
1. A Different Kind of Love by Too Much Joy
2. Waterfall by james
3. Certain Songs by The Hold Steady
4. that Olympic song that plays at every comercial break...

Three things I think of when I wake up
1. ten more minutes
2. ten more
3. not yet...

My two favorite foods
1. summer veggies fresh from the garden
2. low salt Lays potato chips

One person I love more than any other
1. WB, although Boy and Girly are right there too

wowie wow wow!

Boy had asked last week about a scholarship essay he wrote this spring for the Portland Sea Dogs. I said we hadn't heard yet, so he probably didn't get it. Well, I checked messages today, and the Sea Dogs had called. He's a finalist in the K-5 group! He is very proud, as are the rest of us. I'm also really pleased from a "mom is always right" standpoint, as he resisted writing the thing in the first place. All age groups (k-5, 6-9, 9-12) had to write a 200 word essay about whether they'd go to college on a scholarship or play for the olympic team and possibly lose their scholarship. I did think his was pretty good, but I have an obvious bias. We have 4 tickets waiting for us for the Aug 31 game and we'll find out the winners there!

Way to go Boy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

acceptance

I headed into school today for a few hours. I had been planning on spending a good 5 hours there, but then I was able to get a massage in mid afternoon, and with the 10 cord of wood hanging around, I decided discretion was the better part of valor. I logged 3 hours of moving and unpacking boxes of books. Girly came and helped, which was a really nice treat. Some furniture needs to be swapped with other programs in the district, so it's a good thing I couldn't do my full stint today. I'll head in for another 3 hours post camping, and will be ready for next week.

Mentally I'm getting there, too. I'm excited to see the sunshines again. I'm excited about the new room and spending more time with my east campus buddies. Don't get me wrong, I love living a life of leisure, but it's not the hand I was dealt. So I'll enjoy the next 6 days off and be ready on day one (or something like that).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

inspired

Tech Camp (known as Summer Tech Institute to most participants) was a personal success. I actually think it was a team success-- my fellow buddies seemed to also have a productive week. I learned some new things, and really had some time to think about what I wanted to teach and how I wanted to teach it. That is always a cool thing-- and not always a guaranteed thing. I will remember these days in the dead of March when I'm in desperate need of inspiration!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

thinking of SJ

Looking for some easy, fun ways for my students to figure out their political affiliation. Who knew I was a liberal :)

http://typology.people-press.org/typology/

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

warms you twice

Our load of wood arrived last week... or should I say loads! Four, to be exact. Three by the wood burner, one by the swingset. We now have 10 cord waiting to be stacked. Now I don't mind stacking wood. It's sort of a zen activity for me, combined with puzzles: which piece fits best where, and when you're done for the day you can see the dent in the pile. Satisfying work.

Now if it would just stop raining long enough for us to get back out there we'd be good to go!

Monday, August 11, 2008

live and in color

How delightful to see all my RVBs and other teacher friends today! As much as I love my summers and living the life of the rich, I do enjoy spending my days with these dedicated, smart, and very caring individuals. Good to see you all! And remember, party at our place Saturday night! Hope you can come!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

welcome home?

So I'm back from my little trip. Nothing at all like the trip Joe just took, but it was a big deal for me, a self professed hater of travel: coast to coast in a long weekend. I went to Palm Springs, CA, to hang with my sick uncle. I literally sat on his couch for 3 days and watched movies with him, listening to stories. It was certainly worth the trip, especially since I wasn't flying out of LAX when the American Airlines flight had to return to the gate because it was on fire. Mike is to be commended for not calling me with the news update on that one :)

When the fam retrieved me at Logan, we headed to the Cape to see WB's Aunt. We've been visiting her summers since I entered the picture-- I think we only missed one summer of the last 15. (Fifteen years? Is that even possible???) We had a nice visit, and missed out on all the rain back home: two perfect beach days, one ok one. No complaints. We arrived home at 1 AM this morning.

Katie commented that we had brought the sunshine back with us, and we were grateful. After stories of flooded basements and rotting gardens and canceled trips, it was good news indeed. I had a fleeting thought about power outages, but nothing formed into a cohesive thought. Well, I needn't have worried. As if on cue, the heavens opened and the wind rose and just as we were about to watch synchronized diving... cut to black. Indeed, I am so sick of this.

Good news is it was only about 60-90 minutes without Olympic coverage. I wonder how many personal interest stories we missed out on?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I like what I see out my windows

http://www.eattheview.org/

Thanks Wendy for the link!

What do you all think?

in between outages

I think this one makes number 6 or 7 since March. Number 4 of the month of July. We lost less power in January! Whatever. At least we're not cold. This outage only lasted about an hour... but the thunder is still rolling, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

staying calm

I shouldn't panic about flying to Southern California this weekend, right? So what that there was a small earthquake, right? There's already been after shocks, so no worries? Getting to my uncle will be worth all the effort, but it is going to take some deep breathing to make it happen.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

heading in and out of coverage

Hello, gentle readers...
Just a little notice that I'm gallivanting around for a few weeks and my ability to post will be spotty at best. I will hop on when I can!! Hope you're all enjoying summer bliss!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

people let me tell you 'bout my best friend...

So Boy chose to leave his friends (who are really more like cousins) at our house and come for a walk with me. He worked really hard to keep up with my strides. (I must admit, it's a bit weird to be the one with a long stride length! That hasn't happened to me in, well, ever!) The cool part was that he chose to come walk and talk with me instead of continuing the LOTR ongoing game they play. I guess I haven't crossed over into totally uncool authority person yet...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

who's got the Morton's salt?

So as SJ alluded earlier, today's weather had you wishing you had a boat nearby... just in case. It rained like you only read about, and no one 'round here was heard sayin' "... God willin' and the creek don't rise..." We get flooding every spring (and that winter storm a few years back that flooded Canton-- that was a real scary spring!) so this isn't (yet) a 100 year flood or anything, but it's as high as we've ever seen the water. Dave planted a new flower down by the banks as it likes 'wet feet', but we're hoping it's still there, as it was completely submerged this afternoon. Nature has a way of working itself out though, given enough time. I wonder if we're patient enough to wait her out?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

another one from SJ, through Beth


43% Geek
43%

I'm not geeky enough to get this to show up well, but it's 43% geek. Respectable, but I'll guarantee my friends are all higher than me. Just like our Miller's scores...

(Sorry, flashback there to my insecure past. Moving on!)

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