Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Weekend in Sports Town

We went into Chicago this weekend to go to the Michigan/Northwestern game on Saturday. We got in on Friday night just in time to meet Shark and Jane for dinner at Messner's (Mmmm, tater tots with my turkey reuben...) in Wrigleyville. By just in time, I mean that we were able to watch the Cubs on tv clinch the National League Central Division! Even though the game wasn't in Chicago, there were enough people celebrating to warrant a helicopter to hover over the neighborhood after they clinched it.

Saturday we got up early to go to the game in Evanston. What a beautiful day for college football! A blue-fall sky with wispy clouds. Shark, Jane, Chris, Mike, Patty (Patty, you made the blog! Yeah, you wish you did.), Sarah, Scott, and our nephew Alex were all going to the game. We were going to take Patty's boat up there, but the waves were too high. So instead we jumped in our cars and headed north.

Since we got there right before the game started, we didn't have time to tailgate and just walked to the game. Our seats were on the second level, but ended up being great seats. Since there weren't people behind us, we were able to stand up and stretch our legs if we wanted. Plus, we weren't squished like we normally are in Michigan Stadium. It was great to catch up with everyone who we haven't seen in a while. We always have a lot of fun with our good friends from Chicago. Michigan pulled out the win, after another nerve wracking performance.

After the game, we walked to a restaurant/bar near the stadium. We figured that we needed to eat and also wait for traffic to die down. A lunch of spicy buffalo calamari, steak and chipotle quesadillas, and Miller Lite was just what the doctor ordered. The traffic dying down plan didn't work, however. It took us an hour and 15 minutes to make a trip that normally takes 20-30 minutes. Needless to say, when we got back to Patty's boat to regroup, we were crabby. But the beautiful breeze, a red-orange sunset and a view of my favorite skyline cured the crabbiness almost instantly...

That night we went to the Oktoberfest at the German parish of St. Alphonsus. Or we tried to. When we got there, the line was down the block. Shark and Jane were already in the fest, but it was really crowded and we didn't want to wait in line. So we talked to them through the bars of the fence while they finished their drinks. We walked down to a bar near the festival and had some drinks and food. Chris, Stein and I were home by 11:00. It was a long day!

This morning we got up and went to breakfast with Chris and Alex. One of our favorite spots for breakfast is McGee's which is near DePaul (where Alex is a freshman). McGee's has really yummy options for breakfast including a make-your-own bloody mary bar. We didn't participate in the bloody mary option, but we had some great food. Chris had a turkey club with waffle fries, Alex had a breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, ham and sausage with a biscuit and gravy, Stein had eggs benedict with steak, and I had the "Mexican Haystack" which was eggs, hashbrowns, chorizo, green onions, and eggs served with tortilla chips. It was so yummy. So yummy that Stein couldn't stop eating my leftovers!

I kind of forgot about football Sundays in Chicago. It's all about the Bears. I don't know why I forgot about this since I grew up going to the games and watching them on TV, but it struck me today as we were eating breakfast. McGee's has a ton of TVs in the bar (including little TVs at each booth) and each TV had a different NFL game on it. Groups of friends were gathering for brunch to watch football and talk about the night before. After breakfast, we dropped Chris off at a bar to meet Mike. They were going to watch the game together. We decided to go see Patty at her boat before we left town, so we drove over to the harbor. On our way, every bar (and if you know Chicago, there are lots of bars!) was packed with people clad in Bears gear.

When we got to Patty's boat, she and Paul had the game on the TV on the boat and she was frying up perch on the dock. Another gorgeous day today, too bad we had to get on the road. After a piece of yummy perch and a coke, we were on our way.

This evening we were too tired to cook, so we ordered a pizza and watched football on TV. A fitting end to a fun, sports-filled weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Comfort Food

I called Stein on the way home from school today and asked if he needed anything from the store. "Nope, I have everything I need. I'm already making dinner." I came home to a house full of rich beef stew smells. He made me beef stew along with fresh Zingerman's bread "because he knew I needed comfort foods today." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is reason #246 of why I married him.

Comfort food. It definitely comforts the heart and the soul. And it tasted damn good. Here's the recipe if you want some comfort too:,1977,FOOD_9936_33091,00.html

A New Day

I was really upset last night at my bad day yesterday (Stein can attest to this. He had to listen to me boo-hoo all night). I think I was upset mainly because I didn't get the break I was so looking forward to. I try to think of myself as a spontaneous person, but really, I am my mother's daughter. I am a planner.

I went into school this morning with another plan. I was going to have a talk with the class about how we all felt about yesterday. I was going to be more calm about my reactions. I was going to be proactive in stopping situations from escalating. I found that I didn't need all of those things. I was feeling really confident going into lunch. In fact, I had a breakthrough with Mr. Crumpled Paper. (He even said to me at one point when another kid was throwing a tantrum, "Sometimes I feel like that, but I never get like that." I didn't say a word.)

Then we went to recess.

When the sub from my room checked on the kids and everything was okay, I started talking to a fellow student teacher. In a matter of a couple minutes, another teacher came walking over to me saying, "Are those your kids?" Yes, those are my kids, I thought. The ones who were wrestling and pretty much beating each other up. Those are my kids that I wasn't watching. Nice job, student teacher. She called them over and gave them a yelling. They were just yelled at yesterday when they were doing the same thing. Apparently that wasn't effective.

When the kids got back from computers, I used my mad teacher's voice to lecture them. I told them that I hated to use that voice, and I know they hated hearing it. We talked about the "3 B's" of our school - Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible, and how we broke all three. I told them that they are fourth graders and they should know better. (I think this last statement was told to me a couple times in my youth, either by nuns or my mom.) Then Mr. Crumpled Paper slammed his desk top down when I asked him to put away his paper and read and said, "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME READ!!!" I said to him calmly, "I thought you don't act like this." I probably shouldn't have said this, but I couldn't help it. He not only got on my last nerve, he rode that nerve to next week.

Looking back on the day, I don't feel nearly as bad as I did yesterday. I felt like again they were trying to get away with a lot because Linda wasn't there. I can't feel that bad about it. This happens all the time.

Tomorrow I have a workshop from 12-3, so I'll need to leave school at 11:00. I can handle it. Linda will be back, and the subjects I'm supposed to teach are scheduled for the afternoon. Yes, I can handle it really well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It Won't Mean a Thing in a Hundred Years

I just wrote this in the comments on Karen's blog. It's a line from a Blues Traveler song that we used to listen to in college. We would say this line to each other when we were having a bad day/week/test/relationship. She's having a tough go of it this week, and I have to say, I'm feeling the same way today. Today was my solo day, and it didn't go so well. People have been trying to tell me that it's the weather, a full moon (coming or going) and that the kids just felt the change of having me in charge. They were feeling something, that's for sure.

The day started out great. I got there early, had everything ready. I greeted each cherub at the door as Linda does every morning. I even remembered to hand out a pencil to each kid, the "treat" they got for all bringing in their math homework yesterday. Then I let the kids who had breakfast eat their breakfast, and we had our morning meeting. It went well, and I was feeling positive about the morning.

As we got up from our morning meeting and started the math lesson, all h*ll broke loose. I must have told a handful of kids to be quiet about 5 times each. One boy, who has some challenges, crumpled up his worksheet in a tight ball and threw it across the room in frustration. Each time I would make any kind of pause, the kids felt the need to fill that time with chatter. The sub who was with me tried to help out with damage control, but the kids were on a roll. I lost all thoughts about what we were supposed to do, eliminated some important parts, and finally gave in to giving them a math game to play. I was calling out the reserves.

After math I did our snack and story, which seemed to settle everyone down. (Except for the crumpled-paper boy who felt the need to rip up the paper towel that held his pretzels because "he only got six." Somehow it was my fault that he only had one pop-tart for breakfast, and that his normal supply of waffles at home were gone.)

I then went right into the writing lesson which also went pretty well. Crumpled-paper/ripped towel boy refused to write and spent most of the rest of the day in his own world. I figured, let him be.

The afternoon went a little better. We had Reading, Science (I showed a movie), Recess and Computers. My kind of afternoon. I was so relieved that the day was over at 3:42 p.m. I could just go back to observing most of the day tomorrow and get my bearings back and see what I did wrong. Linda could give them a talk and it would all be a new day.


Linda came into the room this afternoon (she had to be back for a staff meeting) and told me that her son had a 103 degree fever and her husband had already took 2 days off this week. If she decided to not come in, she would call me. Sure enough, while I was out to dinner with a friend, she called. "Hey Kelly. I'm not going to be in tomorrow." That's all I needed to hear. Visions of today came rushing back, and I just wanted to crawl into a hole.

Tomorrow? Well, I'll be there. The good news is they'll have art at the beginning of the day, and computers toward the end of the day. I'll let you know how it goes. Can a math game take up the rest of the day?!

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Down, Two to Go

I had my first observation today and it went really well. the kids all acted appropriately for the most part. I'm just glad that my university supervisor had already left before one of the kids said that he was going to "write about the time I hit ___ in the privates." I told him that wasn't appropriate and he would need to think of another story. "Can I write about playing soccer with him, then?" I told him that was perfect.

I thought the lesson went well and the kids understood what they had to do. It was a pretty simple concept that I had to get across to them, so it wasn't very complicated to write the lesson. There was only one part that I sensed their boredom, but honestly I was getting a little bored too. Live and learn. Now I just need to make a switch when I can see I'm losing them.

I met with my supervisor later in the day, and, not to boast about myself, she had nothing but great things to say. I was really pumped up and enthused about my teaching.

Now we have curriculum night with the parents tomorrow night, and teaching by myself on Wednesday. I hope the positive streak continues. At least until Wednesday night!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Catching Up

Forgive the lack of posts, but I have been pretty busy with school this week. Things there are still going well, but I am getting more and more added to my plate. Friday night I came home and was exhausted! I was in bed and asleep by 9:15!

This week is going to be filled with all kinds of activities. Tomorrow my university supervisor comes to observe me for the first time. I'm not really nervous about that, since the lesson is pretty straightforward and I like the subject (writing). I just hope the kids behave themselves! Tuesday night is curriculum night, so it will be interesting to meet all the kids' parents. And then Wednesday Linda will be gone all day, so a sub will be in the classroom (I'll be able to sub for her starting the beginning of October). But Linda said that the sub will be a "warm body" and I'll just teach the whole day. The whole day? By myself? The. Whole. Day. By. Myself. Gulp.

This weekend Chris and Mike came in for the Michigan/Penn State game. Julie, Chris and the boys also came down, so it was nice to hang out with everyone. We went to Matt and Anne's to tailgate, and there was quite a smorgasbord of food there. We brought marinated shrimp, and then there were quesadillas, meatballs, pork sandwiches, caramel corn puffs, and chips and dip. Yum! Julie and Chris went home before the game. The game was good (U-M won)- but a little too nerve wracking for Stein's taste. I agree - it was very tense! And it was like a carnival around us. Penn State fans getting reprimanded for being obnoxious and U-M fans falling down the stairs from intoxication (two different people). These kinds of things never happen in our section.

Chris, Mike, Stein and I went to Conor O'Neil's later after the game and had dinner. Then we went to the Arena to meet our friend Shane. He was in from California (He went to U-M business school, and now works for Kraft. He was in for a recruiting weekend). It was good to see him and to be at the Arena. This used to be our stomping grounds, but we haven't been there in about a year. It's also been a while since we've seen Chris and Mike and it was good just to hang out and catch up.

We got to catch up more this morning when we went to Cafe Zola for breakfast and then went to the Cider Mill so they could get some goodies to bring home. We will see them again next weekend when we go into Chicago for the Michigan/Northwestern game on Saturday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Making Contact

Today was an exciting day at school. We actually communicated with the International Space Station (ISS) as it flew over Michigan! A local Ham Radio operator put our school in some sort of a contest and we won! Actually, our school is a NASA Explorer School. This means that in 2004 we were chosen by NASA to be an Explorer School. We received a large grant from them to purchase equipment like weather monitoring and GPS equipment. Even though we're no longer receiving money from them, I'm wondering if our "status" got us an extra vote. Regardless, it was pretty cool.

A student from each classroom was picked to read a question to the astronauts aboard the space station. The tech people had all of our classrooms hooked up to receive a live feed from the room where they asked the questions. So we watched from our classroom as they made contact and then talked to the astronaut.

At first I was a little nervous, because the Ham Radio operator wasn't getting connected. He kept saying, "NA ISS, this is Tango 3 ..." and some other radio jargon I couldn't understand. He must have said it about 10 times before the astronaut called back. It was really exciting when he did! There was only time for about 3 questions to be answered before we lost contact again. It's not surprising - the ISS moves fast - it only took them 11 minutes to get from Alaska to Michigan!

It was a great experience for the student in our room who asked a question (he got a t-shirt too!) and also for the rest of the kids in the class. I mean, how often do you get to talk to a real live astronaut - who's talking back to you from space?!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Favorite quote from a Michigan fan boasting to a Notre Dame fan about the win on Saturday:
"We may be a bad team, but we're not as bad as your team."

That's almost as good as my new favorite t-shirt I've seen worn at the games:
"Our stadium is bigger than your stadium."


I hate to say it, but it's here. In case you haven't read my previous post about why I hate fall, it's because winter is the season after it. That's all. No fault to fall itself, I just don't like winter.

Last week and this weekend have been unseasonably cool. So cool, in fact, that last night Stein and I put plastic bags over the basil and thyme in the garden in case of frost. And even though the temp is supposed to reach the 80's this coming week, fall is here. Stein keeps talking about fall clouds lately. Clouds that are big, and low, and dark on the bottoms. It has been great sleeping, though. I love to be cozy under the covers while the air in the room is cool. I sleep best this way.

Whenever fall arrives, I get very nostalgic for Chicago. I think for a lot of reasons, really. One reason is the start of school. Since I spent 14 years (including pre-school and kindergarten) starting school in the fall in Chicago, it's a big part of my life. Another reason is the north shore. Why the north shore, you ask? After college, I worked for a SCUBA diving manufacturer in a northern suburb in Chicago. It was a family owned business, and therefore had a little craziness surrounding it. A lot of my lunch breaks were spent driving around the north shore looking at the amazing mansions dotting either side of Sheridan Road along the lakefront. It was always a getaway for me, one that I mimicked many times while I worked for Einsteins and had to travel to Evanston, Glencoe, and Highland Park to visit stores. There are a ton of trees along Sheridan, and the colors of fall are always spectacular, even if it's a rainy, dreary day.

We are going to Chicago in a few weeks for the U-M/Northwestern game. I will get my taste of fall in Chicago when we trek up to Evanston for the game. Hopefully some of the colors will be out so I can get my fill of fall in Chicago.

On another note, fall always makes me crave comfort foods. I love the foods of fall and winter. Stews, soups, pot pies, lasagna, meatloaf. Heavy, hot foods. Today Stein made meatloaf and it was out of this world. Here's the recipe so you can enjoy it too:,1977,FOOD_9936_20044,00.html

We had garlic cauliflower "mashed potatoes" with it. Just steam some cauliflower and combine it in the food processor with your favorite mashed potato fixings. It's low carb and the taste and texture is pretty similar to mashed potatoes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Celebrating Diversity

In our class we sit in a circle on the floor a few times a day. Once for our "morning meeting" and then other times for various activities throughout the day. The movement is good for the kids, and the circle also allows the whole class to see each other when we're in a discussion.

Today while we were in the circle I took notice of all the faces. Black, brown, tan, white. There is not one minority or majority of ethnicity in the nineteen kids in our class. This is also reflective of the school as a whole. In fact, our school's ethnic statistics somewhat mirror those of our nation.

We are in 4th grade, so racial issues are almost non-existent at this point. I also think that the diversity of the school and our class only helps this. I consider my kids lucky to be exposed to such a variety of cultures and backgrounds. It can only help them. In two years they will be in middle school, which will be bigger than their elementary school world. And three years later they will be in high school, even bigger than their middle school world. Each time they move into a bigger place, they will encounter even more diversity. They are already building their skills of tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation for people that are not from the same culture and background.

They're pretty lucky to be building these life skills at a time in their lives where it's easy. If we are surrounded by people who are just like ourselves, then when we get older, it is harder to tolerate or accept those people with different beliefs, cultures, etc.

What a worldly place the classroom is. Especially my diverse one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm Walkin' Here

Since I haven't had time to go to the gym lately, I've been trying to fit in walking into my schedule. I've done it in two ways lately.

First, Linda and I have been walking at lunchtime. We attempt to do 30 minutes, but sometimes it's less if there's any last minute tasks to do (wait for the lunch monitor to take his time to get outside, etc.). It's great to get out of the building and have the time to catch up on school stuff or just get to know each other. The kids always see us walking, which I think is a great example for them.

Stein and I have also been walking at night after dinner. This also gives us time to catch up on random things, while we explore new areas of the neighborhood. When we walk, I think of Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Becker who were my neighbors growing up. Every night during the summer, they would walk around the neighborhood, each clad in their shorts, black socks and sandals. They were quite a pair, those two. They only went around our block, so we saw them multiple times a night.

Stein and I pick a different route every night. It makes me realize every time that I really don't know the intricacies our neighborhood. On every walk there are so many streets or houses that I have never seen before. It reaffirms once again that there is still so much to see and do in Ann Arbor. Actually, in our neighborhood. We have seen some gorgeous houses in the residential sections, and some not-so-gorgeous houses in the student sections. We have explored some streets that are like private drives on the north shore of Chicago. Each house that we see and like we point out the specific feature - the porch, the yard, the unique roof or windows.

Hopefully, I will somehow find the time to get back to the gym or maybe run in the morning or after school. For right now the walking is just fine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Putting it Into Perspective

As I was putting our day's agenda up on the board at school, I realized that today was September 11th. Actually I didn't realize it then, I did hear the coverage on NPR, but I started thinking about how it would affect our day at school.

As Linda and I were talking about what we were going to do, another teacher came into our class. Linda asked her how she (a 3rd grade teacher) was going to handle talking to her kids about it. She said that unless the principal made an announcement about it, she wasn't going to address it. "After all," she said, "These kids were only 1 or 2 when it happened." Linda and I agreed with her. Our kids in 4th grade were 2 or 3 at the time. Unless they watched the news or they heard about i from their parents, they would have no clue that today was the anniversary of a tragic day in our country.

I did find out later that Matt (the other 4th grade teacher did address it with his class. He treated it like a history lesson, that the kids needed to be aware of this important event in our country's history. I can see both sides of the coin, really. I will have to make that decision someday when I am the teacher as to what we will do.

Six years ago I sat in an Einstein's talking to the District Manager about what we were going to do for the rest of the day. I overheard a customer say something to another customer about a plane crash. When I went in the back of the restaurant to check on the baker, I heard a report on the radio next to the bake station. The baker and I just stood there staring at the speaker on the little radio. We looked at each other in disbelief. "That's really weird," I said. It was minutes later that I heard from another customer that there was a second plane. I was starting to get scared at this point. We had little information but continued to speculate about what we did have. It was such a foreign concept to us - planes crashing into buildings. There were so many times that I heard the phrase "this only happens in the movies" uttered that day.

The District Manager and I tried to get on with our day and make it as normal as possible. We quickly realized it wasn't possible. My cell phone rang all day - updates from Stein, my boss calling to see where I was and if I was traveling by plane, my friend Julie who said to me, "Think of today's date. 9-1-1. Isn't that weird?" I called Chris to find out if she was okay. She was scheduled to leave the country the next day for England to go to Karen's wedding. She had been running errands and didn't know what had happened. (I won't go into details about what she said as she cursed the whole time knowing that her trip probably wouldn't happen.)

That night, our neighbor Jamie came down to our apartment, and the three of us sat in front of the TV for hours on end. There was nothing new to report, but we just kept watching the coverage of the crashes over and over. We tried so hard to make it real in our heads, but it was unfathomable. Again, the phrase "this only happens in movies" was said again and again. It was unreal.

In the next few months and years we all tried to make sense of it all. We can't. It was a senseless act and it pains me that we had to be witness to it, whether we were there or watching it on TV.

My fourth graders today didn't say a word about it. When someone asked me what the date was to write on the top of his spelling test, I didn't blink an eye and said, "September 11th". The words coming out of my mouth had such a different meaning than the words entering his ears.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

TJ: Where Did Our Love Go?

Dear Trader Joe,

What happened to our love? For years now, our relationship has been sublime. It has been a relationship of give and take. But lately, I feel like all I do is give, and all you do is take.

It used to be great - you had everything I needed, and more. You knew just when the relationship was getting boring, and offered new things to spice it up. (Your chile-lime chicken burgers in particular...) I would come to you, giving all that I had (in my wallet) and you would reciprocate the favor by giving me just what I liked. It was a match made in heaven.

But now? I still come to you, and give you all I have (in my wallet), and you don't keep up your end of the bargain. Those things that wooed me in the beginning, aren't there any more. Or, you're just not consistent on when some things are there for me. I know this is part of who you are, your "M.O." But how can our trust be built over time when I can't trust that I'm going to get what I need?

It may come down to this, Joe. I may have to give you a taste of your own medicine and not give 100%. I won't be coming around as much as I did before. I may even have to end this relationship and go out with someone else. That Whole Foods guy isn't looking so bad lately, if you catch my drift.

The Best Thing That's Ever Happened to You

Yesterday's Debacle

Just like last week - we don't want to talk about it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Had Been Warned

And yet it has happened. But this soon? During the summer weather we've been having?

I'm getting sick.

It started Thursday during the night - the nagging scratchy throat. While sitting through a workshop led by my university supervisor yesterday, I was in a state of denial. But I felt a little feverish and a little achy. I can't be sick, I thought. It's only the first week of school. I've been washing my hands like crazy at every opportunity I get.

Last night the sore throat got worse and now this morning I've been sneezing like crazy. I hate being sick. Actually, who doesn't?

I'm not surprised, though. Since starting teaching on Tuesday, I've had a completely different schedule - sleeping less, drinking less water, and working out less. My body was probably in a bit of a shock. And I've been warned time and time again. Teachers get sick. A lot.

I just hope that the cold will be at its worse tomorrow while I have the day to nurse it and be on the mend come Monday. I've already learned that I need all my energy to teach. The kids are there everyday expecting the same level of energy. It doesn't stop.

For now I think I'll just take a nap.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Out of the Mouths of 4th Graders

This week in our classroom we introduced an activity called "Getting to Know You Bags". It's a way of getting to know everyone by using visual clues. You put a handful of things in a bag that represent different aspects of who you are, and then take each one out one by one. You tell the story behind the object and at the end everyone has learned more about who you are.

On Tuesday Linda did her bag, and on Wednesday Matt (the other 4th grade teacher who team-teaches with Linda) did his. Yesterday was my day. I packed the following:

-The bag I used is one with maps all over it. (Thanks to Gayle and Mindy). I explained that it represented my love of travel.
-A picture of my family.
-A church cookbook that has a bunch of my favorite "mom recipes" and also because I love to cook.
-A book by Christopher Paul Curtis who autographed the book for me.
-A Cubs hat.
-A Marquette sticker.
-A bumper sticker from Hawaii that says "Live Aloha".
-A baggie with basil.

And here are some of the questions that the kids asked (I couldn't make this stuff up!):
-"Can you use the maps on that bag to go places?"
-"What are herds?" (I had to do a mini-lesson on pronunciation in addition to answering what herbs are.)
-"Have you been to Houston, TX?"
-"Have you been to Dallas?"
-"Have you been on a plane?" (This was asked after all the places I've been including Hawaii and Poland had been discussed .)
-"Where is Poland?"
-"Dwyane Wade went to Marquette." (This was a statement which I affirmed and opened Pandora's box on the darling's sports knowledge.)
-"Do you have a wedding ring?" (After I answered yes, a little girl in my class reached up and touched my ring.)
-"How many times have you been to Florida?"
-"Have you ever been to the place where the Chicago Cubs play?" (I didn't go into details about Opening Days, Friday afternoons in the bleachers, or games viewed from apartments and rooftops.)
-"Who is your favorite player on the Cubs?" (I didn't have an answer, but a lot of kids offered up Sammy Sosa as a former favorite.)
-"Do just boys play on the Chicago Cubs team, or do girls play too?"
-"Do you like to cook?" (Obviously my presentation wasn't riveting enough to hold everyone's attention.)
-"Are you allergic to guinea pigs?" (I told them I don't have pets because of my allergies.)
-"Are you allergic to goldfish?" (Asked after the guinea pig question.)

It was a lot of fun and I felt really special to have 36 pairs of eyes on me listening to my story. It just reaffirmed for me the importance of storytelling. Everyone has a story to tell and wants to tell it.

This is how Linda is building community in her classroom. She allows positive dialogue to occur between kids about themselves and others. By getting to know each other's stories, it is more likely that the kids will look out for each other in the community of the classroom, school, etc. Obviously we can all learn a little bit more about each other. And I think we can all learn a lot from this group of fourth graders. I know I have learned so much already. And I've only been there 3 days...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I'm Still Here

Just a bit busy with the school year starting yesterday. I went into school at 7:30 am and left at 6:30 pm! Today was the same except I left at 5:30. I'll definitely write more details later, but for now, let me say, that it's great.

The kids are cute, inquisitive, kind, honest ("Raise your hand if you were talking in the hall," Linda asked. At least 6 kids raised their hands), challenging, and smart all rolled up into one. Like I predicted, we are all going to learn together.

Linda has been great too, showing me the ropes of everything from how to schedule a day with appropriate breaks and active and sedentary activities, to how to use the dye-cut maker.

This week I've just been a student, observing and pitching in a little bit during instruction. Soon it will be time for the teacher in me to come out and play. She's waiting. A little apprehensive, but ready.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Aaaargh. I Forgot About Sunday Night!

Last night we were invited to a theme party. We felt like we had arrived by being invited to this party - we had heard about previous parties but had never been invited. We would've easily had something to wear to the white trash party or the Caddyshack party in the previous years. But this year the theme was Pirates. Pirates? I know, the Pirates of the Caribbean is popular and everything, but dress up like one?

Originally, Stein had agreed to wear a Captain Hook costume complete with a long red coat, black wig and moustache, boots, etc. And I was going to be Peter Pan. But when I envisioned myself in green tights, I didn't have cute Kathy Rigby-like visions in my head. I couldn't get past the tights. We needed another plan. It's a good thing that ESPN is on in our house a lot. We like sports. And with baseball on our minds, I suddenly had an idea. We could dress up like Pittsburgh Pirates. Ah, yes, no tight wearing for me. And no searching the resale shops for long red coats and hooks.

A call on Monday to my friend Eric in Pittsburgh set the plan in motion. He kindly agreed to go to Target or Kohl's to pick up t-shirts and hats for Stein and me. His wife Nancy was actually the one who did the shopping, and she did well. On Friday we received the package with our goods. A black Pirates t-shirt for both of us, and hats. She was smart in that she didn't get the same t-shirts and hats for us, so we didn't look like twins.

When we arrived at the party, we started laughing. Stein said, "If you didn't know what was going on here, this would look really weird." Immediately, all we heard from people was "Aaaargh." People were dressed as all different kinds of pirates, but most were in the Pirates of the Caribbean vein. Babies had bandannas on, and almost everyone wore an eye patch. Tales of trips to Value World and the like were told. People seemed to like our idea for our "costumes". Some people said that we had the concept wrong. I would remind them, "The invitation didn't say what kind of pirates, did it?" Regardless, I think we were a lot more comfortable.

At one point toward the beginning of the party, everyone started walking toward the lake. "Where is everyone going?" I asked. "To see the pirate ship come in." Ah, of course. And there, on the lake, was a pontoon boat decked out to look like a pirate ship. Our friends parents did the decorating. It really looked like one! Off the boat came more pirates, and Peter Pan. Our friend's father dressed up in green pants (pants - hmmm, could've thought of that), shirt and green hat. It was great.

Everyone brought some food to share, so there was plenty to go around. There was a bouncy house for the kids (Stein and I estimated 40-50 kids were there) and also a dunk tank. We were there until about 11:00, talking and laughing with friends around a chiminea fire. It was a gorgeous day that turned into a gorgeous night. A fun, piratey time. Aaargh.

"Last" Day of Summer

Although today wasn't officially the last day of summer, it was in my mind. Labor Day always marks it for me, especially when I'm in school, or in this year's case, teaching school. The students arrive tomorrow, ready or not. I'm nervous and excited at the same time. I know everything is going to be okay, but it's the fear of the unknown that has me nervous.

Today was a gorgeous day outside (as was the rest of the weekend). When we woke up this morning, we asked each other, "What do you want to do today?" We knew that we couldn't stay inside, but we didn't want to just walk around downtown. I remembered the park where we went for our friends Melissa and Meghan's going-away party. There was a walking/running trail there. Off we went. We talked on the way about possibly renting a canoe to explore the river, but decided to first go on a little hike. It ended up being a really nice hike. The trail wound its way through the trees with the river on the left side poking through at different spots. It took about an hour round-trip to walk the trail. Once we got back, we decided against renting canoes. But we didn't want to go home.

Stein suggested that we go to the cider mill. We followed Huron River Drive along the river, passing a lot of bike riders on either side of the road. We got to the mill and visited with my brother-n-law and sister-n-law (Stein's brother and sister-n-law own the mill) and our three nephews. We grabbed a half-gallon of cider and were on our way home. As we made our way back down Huron River Drive, I asked Stein if we were near Zukey Lake tavern. He didn't know how to get there, so we turned around, and went back to the mill to ask for directions.

A few minutes later we were on our way. We both had never been there, but had heard good things about it. We decided to sit outside on their upstairs patio. The menu is limited up there to basics like pizza, burgers, and salads, but it was just what we were looking for. I had a burger and Stein had a steak and blue cheese salad. We sat looking out onto the lake while we ate our lunch. It almost felt like we were on vacation, exploring a new place and taking in the views.

On the way home, I said to Stein, "I need a nap." He agreed, and the minute we got home, we were on the couch and sleeping. A perfect end to a fun, summer day.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Yesterday's Debacle

We don't want to talk about it.