Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Requirement

In my world, it just isn't Thanksgiving without my favorite pink salad. Or Christmas either for that matter. So in the spirit of giving that comes with the holiday season, I am going to give the recipe to you.

Pink Salad

1 bag (12 oz) cranberries (can be frozen)
1 can pineapple tidbits (chunks or crushed work too)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 bag of mini marshmallows (more or less to taste)
1/2 pint whipping cream

The night before, chop up the cranberries in a food processor. Mix cranberries, pineapple (drained first), sugar and marshmallows in a bowl. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, an hour at least before you plan to serve, whip the whipping cream into stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into cranberry mix. Let the flavors blend until you are ready to eat.

This is one of my absolute favorite things in this world to eat. And we all know there aren't many things I say that about. I generally buy a few bags of cranberries this time of year and freeze them so I can make this at other times of the year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve

So I promised that today I would be thankful. So here goes, in no particular order.

I am thankful that:
• my headache is gone.
• nothing annoying happened at work today.
• all of my dental work was completed today.
• I don't have to cook tomorrow.
• my boys' eyes light up and twinkle when they see me after work.
• those boys are healthy and happy.
• sweetP read sweetE two books tonight when they were supposed to be falling asleep.
• Velcro is happy and healthy too.
• I have a wonderful teaching partner.
• I got a pedi last night and they put snowflakes on my toes.
• I have four days to relax and get stuff done.
• I have most of my holiday shopping done.
• online shopping exists.
• my cute new pink ipod keeps me happy after school each day.
• Ducky is my coparent, copilot and buddy in life.
• I live where I can run into friends in all kinds of places.
• that ice cream was on sale today.
• my headache is gone (I know I already said it, but it makes a huge difference).

And a whole host of other things. I could go on and on, but it is late, I need sleep and nobody wants to read all the things I am thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And Then...

Today we were asked to get by with even less.

And then I read this blurb on Reuters,
"Life insurance companies, nervous over massive investment losses that could ultimately threaten their viability, are hoping they are next for a bailout."

Can education have a bailout so I can photocopy freely?

That is all. Tomorrow I will be thankful, tonight I am still cranky.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One Day

One day I will be able to do my job to the best of my ability. I will not be given a script to follow. I will not have my schedule prescribed to the minute. I will not be asked to teach things that are not effective. I will not be asked to make due with less, and then less than that. I will be treated like a professional. My class size will be small enough that all students will get the extra attention they deserve to reach their potential. I will be allowed to make judgements based on how I know each student to help them learn better. Someone will once again realize that these are children, not widgets and one size fits all does not work with children.

There were extra frustrations today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Amazon, How Do I Love Thee...

In an attempt to maintain my sanity in the coming holiday season, I am shopping now. We had the boys write their letters to Santa this weekend. And it is a good thing we did it early.

My dear little sweetE, wants a Spiderman iDog. The one that came out a year ago and is no longer available in stores. Thank you Amazon and all your shopping glory, it will be speeding my way sometime in the next week. He loves his music and he and sweetP don't always see eye to eye on what they should be listening to. "Santa" will be packaging it up with an old iPod shuffle, that has been laying around forever, loaded up with Wiggles and other preschool favorites. It even has a hard plastic, waterproof case to keep it safe in 4 year old hands. Ahhh, to be the child of a music loving and iPod crazy family.

And my bigger sweetP has his heart set on a LEGO Tie Crawler that was in last years holiday catalog. The LEGO store no longer carries it, Target no longer has it and I am not setting foot inside Toys R Us to see if it has it. Lovely Amazon did it again. Santa will get the credit, but he will be a happy boy.

What did we ever do before Amazon and internet shopping? I still love the homemade gifts, but purchasing online makes the whole season easier and less stressful. Especially if you get done early.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cold Feet

Winter has arrived. I can always tell when it happens without a calendar or a thermometer. I will be in a perfectly warm house (70˚) and I will be cold. The chill seeps in through the layers and settles in my bones. I radiate cold.

I don't live in a particularly cold climate. Can you imagine if I did? But, during the winter when the humidity is up and the temperatures are down, I can't get warm. I walk around in sweaters and socks. I sit under a very warm, very soft blanket when on the couch. I have to stop working at the computer to warm up my ice cold fingers. I have to wear socks to bed.

My feet are my thermometer. If they are cold, the rest of me will feel cold as well. Once they are cold they are impossible to warm up. Last year I laid in bed one night for two hours waiting for my feet to warm up. They still felt like ice. After two hours! I will sometimes put them on Ducky's leg (he lets me) and I make his leg cold to the touch, but my feet are no warmer.

I have special booties that go in the microwave (buckwheat hulls or something). I have warm, fuzzy booties to wear while watching tv. I have fuzzy socks. I have learned that if my feet are cold, then I must put those on before I go to bed or else I can't fall asleep because my feet are so cold.

What I do love about winter is sitting in the house with a fire in the fireplace. It vanquishes the cold and makes me all toasty and warm. I love to just watch the flames and listen to the crackle and pop. I will happily sit in the dark watching the flames for hours. So I have to make sure that I have some free time if I am going to build a fire. I also love my snowman socks. It is one of the joys of teaching that it is acceptable to wear goofy socks.

Update to the Perfect Turkey: We made them today in class. No one had time to finish, but we had fun. I still love my perfect turkey. I haven't had time to do any else perfectly this week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Turkey of Perfection

There is an ongoing battle to get students to do their homework. Students don't realize what a drain it is on a teacher's time when work isn't done on time. When correcting papers you get into a rhythm, memorize the key and after a few can just whiz through them. When there are stragglers, it takes a lot of time. Find the key or make a new one. Remember what exactly you were looking for. Check it, record it and then return it. I hate, loathe and despise late papers. Late papers make me further behind, and I don't need any help getting behind. I do it entirely too well all by myself.

There is the thought that if you wait until all the papers are in, then it isn't an issue. But, then all those students that did get their papers in don't get feedback. And a huge pile of grading can accumulate. And sometimes you never get every student's paper.

So we attempt rewards to entice those papers to come in. The end of the grading period is rapidly approaching and I don't want a huge pile of papers to grade because they all waited until the last minute. This week we are doing an art reward. On Friday, if a student is all caught up, they get to make a turkey centerpiece. If they are still missing work, they get to go to study hall.

Today I brought my turkey in to encourage them to get their stuff in. We have lists on the board of what is missing. Only I can cross off my assignments. In theory, all those lists will be gone by Friday.

Last Friday I brought home all the supplies to make the turkeys with the boys. I thought it would be a fun project. And it was. I cut out the body of sweetE's, and he cut out most of the feathers. Ducky helped him a bit. A four year old's attention span is only so long. SweetP made his (except the cutting of the cardstock) and it turned out really cute.

SweetE's bird, isn't he cute.

SweetP's bird, I love his quote. He came up with it entirely on his own and I really couldn't blame a turkey for saying that. In case you can't read it, it says, "Eat Pork."

Then there was my bird. I am carefully cutting out each and every part. I colored the edges of the feathers with Sharpie to make them stand out. Ducky interrupts my reverie with, "You know it doesn't have to be perfect." Shows how well he knows me. I am a frustrated perfectionist. There are so few things that I can take the time on to make them perfect. I hate, hate, hate it when I can't do things up to my own standards. I procrastinate on a regular basis rather than do a half-way job.

Between my ability to get easily distracted (I started this post almost two hours ago), and my need for perfection, I am ripe for disappointment. But my turkey is perfect. It was a small enough project that I could take the time to make him exactly the way I wanted to. It wasn't difficult, just fun.

Perfectionism is my turkey. It drives me nuts, but now I have the perfect turkey.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not an Athlete

We have been attempting to clean up and organize and purge in recent months. In the process I found a scrap of paper that shows my enduring lack of athleticism.

There is an award called the Presidential Fitness Award. Every year in PE we all had to do certain activities to attempt to win it. To receive the award you must reach the 85th percentile in every area. It was torture for me. I would have preferred to just skip it as I already knew the outcome. There was no hope in hell. And in my case hell = PE.

Here are my results.

50 yard dash - 26-29th%
600 yard run - 75% (my shining moment)
Long Jump - 30%
Shuttle run - 70%
Sit ups - 16-19%
Flexed arm hangs - 11-14% (My most dreaded second of the year)

My average percentile, 38%. Complete and utter failure. No wonder I hated doing it. It was in the midst of these years that any joy I got from exercise was squeezed out of me by middle school PE.

This may come as a shock to those that know how I feel about running. But I ran a race once. Voluntarily. It was in elementary school. I seem to recall that it was kind of fun. The photo of me shows me all smiles with my atrocious headgear glinting in the sun. I didn't win anything. I never did it again. I believe more because it wasn't something my mother was interested in rather than a lack of enjoyment. We lived in the sticks and if mom wasn't interested there wasn't much I could do about it.

Does this make me think I should take up running again? No. The only exercise that I have ever enjoyed was walking up a butte everyday. I don't know why it didn't get old. I did it by myself every day, late in the afternoon. It was a mile up and a mile down following the road around the butte. I often ran stairs at the top. I was in awesome shape. I think it was because I loved the views. I could see for miles in every direction, all the way to the mountains. There were always plenty of people around, so it wasn't scary or lonely. I haven't been able to find anything else since.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I had asked Ducky to get me a new ipod for Christmas. Mine did not have a lot of storage space, so loading it with songs was a pain. I knew he had ordered one, because I told him exactly what I wanted. He, however, decided that my Christmas present should be a surprise so I got my new ipod today!

It is pink and square and cute and holds all my music. Yeah! So tomorrow I will be testing it out when I have to go in and do some work.

I also managed to get a few things crossed off the to do list. There may be hope yet.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I sat down to post last night and drew an absolute blank. And tonight doesn't seem to be any different. I believe that I am just so tired that coherent thought beyond the required is just not going to happen. I of course have lots of great thoughts during the day. But since I don't write them down, they go as quickly as they came.

Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Overwhelmed and Undermotivated

No matter where I look, I can see at least a dozen things I need or want to get done. It doesn't matter where I look, home, work, anywhere. As I sit at the computer, I see a pile of papers that need to be sorted, receipts that need to be entered, grades that need to be entered, papers that need to be graded, photos that need to be downloaded, a calendar that needs to be ordered, photo books that need to be made, a list of projects in other rooms waiting to be worked on, a magazine I want to read and a catalog I want to peruse, a bill I need to pay. If I dug into that pile I would find another dozen things that I have forgotten. One of which I was reminded of while reading a friends blog. And now I feel like a total schmuck. These are all while I face the computer, don't ask me to turn around and look into the family room.

The real problem is that I don't have time to do all the things that need doing. When I attempt to get something done, I get interrupted (about every 2 minutes) or sidetracked. So even if I manage to cross one thing off the list, about five more get added in the meantime. Which makes me loathe to start anything. So that makes it impossible to ever get caught up.

I would walk around with my eyes closed, but then I would get all bruised up by bumping into things. I know I will never get caught up if I don't just start, but the effort seems futile. So I will go attempt to get two small things done that have been put off for the last month. Two letters.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

End of Season

Yesterday was the end of sweetE's soccer season. He loved it, even if he did get bored and just wander around the gym. But he is four and even that is cute. He got a new trophy. He wanted to know if he got to keep his soccer shirt. I missed a good chunk of his season, the games were early and Saturday is my day to sleep in. But I made sure to be there a few times. He would wander and then all of a sudden run after the ball. He was too polite to kick it away from anyone, but he was happy to kick it if it came his way.

Tonight before he went to bed, he ran downstairs to get his trophy. He came back up with his new trophy in hand and his medal from the spring season around his neck. He had a blast and that is all that matters.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Stroll

It has been a busy week. I usually stay late on Fridays and attempt to get a handle on the week that just finished as well as the week coming up. However, I volunteered to help at sweetP's school with their craft night. I came home early from work so I could spend an hour with the boys before scooting out the door again.

So shortly before six, I headed out the door into the rapidly darkening night. As I strolled along on my way to school, I remembered one of the things that I love about fall. I was walking through the leaves on the sidewalk, enjoying the crunching, rustling sounds they make when you walk through them. It is the only time that I drag my feet to make the dry leaves fly into the air. I slowed down to enjoy the light crispness of the air, the sound of the leaves and the relative quiet of the neighborhood.

I hope the rain holds off for the rest of the weekend, so I can get some more good walks through the leaves before they get flat and soggy from rain.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Moving On Too Quickly

Driving home from work on Tuesday, I spied with my little eye, something green and cone shaped. It could not be. It is too soon! So I assumed I was wrong. Driving home last night, I looked again. Yes, it was. There is a house with a Christmas tree up in their window. On the 5th of November. I hope it is fake, so it is not a fire hazard. I know there can be legitimate reasons for decorated trees, special visits or people leaving. But, wow it makes the year seem to go by that much faster.

I could not believe that the Christmas lights were out for sale at Target before Halloween. This is insanity. I am not ready to be Christmas-y just yet. Pretty soon the Christmas/holiday season is going to be six months long. I do love the holidays, but I have Ducky's birthday, Thanksgiving and the end of the trimester to get through before I can think about it properly.

I know I promised to start my education discussion posts today, but I am still assembling a few facts. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Moving Along

Now that the election is behind us and the victory was by a large enough margin that we won't be waiting for recounts, let's move on. This election season was nuts and it went on forever.

I am happy to report that my pay will not be determined by my students multiple choice tests. Thank goodness. Tomorrow I think I will start a little series on my thoughts on education. I am buried up to my eyeballs in it, so maybe I can start a good discussion what is working and what is not.

Today, I need to get my buns in gear and shorten the stack of papers I am carting around. And get caught up on laundry. And try to shake this cold. Oh, and go to work and teach about exponents and plural nouns and the nervous system.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Seriously So Possessed

Yesterday was possessed. It started when I was in the shower. The lights were flickering and not in that way that flourescents usually do. There were fleeting moments of darkness. At the same time Alfred, the new Roomba, started chiming. The sound he makes when he returns to his dock. And my dear sweetE was downstairs watching Backyardigans (coolest kid show ever) so I know it wasn't him.

The lights eventually drove me nuts and I just turned them off. The flickering didn't help the migraine that was beginning to form. Only I thought the headache had to do with cold that I have been fighting since Saturday. So I popped my Advil and headed off to work. And then I popped more Advil after school. And then I came home and was possessed by what was the worst migraine I have had in some time.

I put sweetE in jammies at 6:30 and followed suit still thinking my headache was cold induced. At 7:30, after helping sweetP with his homework and piano, I gave up. I just went up to bed without a word to anyone. I had taken a migraine pill at 7 and hoped and prayed that it would work fast. If not, the nausea was going to overtake me and I hate that. I was so thoroughly possessed by that headache that I didn't get to put the boys to bed.

At 9:30 I finally felt better. So I got up for a bit to get ready for bed. Then I was possessed by insomnia until 2:30 in the morning! Dang 6:30 comes fast when you fall asleep so late. So we'll see how today goes.

Make sure you get possessed to vote! I did. I hope Obama wins and I hope he is the change we need and that he has promised to be. I don't think I can handle four more of the same. There are too many important issues at stake.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time for Change

I woke up this morning to the pitter patter of little feet. Completely forgetting that the clocks were supposed to have changed. It is not like I needed to be anywhere. But, do they really have to subject us to the twice yearly upheaval to our circadian rhythms? I am strongly considering putting a measure on the ballot that would keep us on Daylight Savings Time all year round.

Speaking of ballots, please remember to vote. My ballot has been cast and I am waiting patiently (okay, maybe not so much) for the election to be over. The negativity to end. To find out what direction our country is headed in. And to find out if my paycheck will be directly correlated to how well my students can answer multiple choice questions. Because we all know that life is multiple choice.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Silly Things

A little over a week ago, sweetE was being silly. Not that that is rare in our house. But it was bedtime, and I always say, "I love you, good night, sweet dreams." Never fails. The boys each say those things back. And there are many mommy kisses to go along with.

But sweetE decided that instead of sweet dreams, it should be sweet beans. So now every night I tell him, "I love you, good night, sweet beans." And he replies, "sweet peas."

And another silly tradition may have been born. I love childhood.