Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Candy for the Brain

I've had a bad case of A.D.D. lately when it comes to reading. I shouldn't say lately, because I feel like I've been like this for years now. I've only had the attention span for magazines, if that. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't finished the 6th and 7th Harry Potter books yet. TV (and I have to say, bad TV) has been my vice lately.

That was, until about 2 days ago, when I started the book, Twilight.

Mickey chose the book to read for her book club after my niece had raved about it. I knew it was something I wanted to read eventually, but didn't give it much thought as I picked up another magazine or flipped to a rerun of Gilmore Girls on TV. I ended up throwing the book in my cart on one of my pre-Christmas outings, and still didn't think about it until 2 days ago.

I was pretty skeptical about the book in the beginning. If you don't know anything about it, it involves a teenage girl and a vampire. (That's all I can really say without ruining it for you.) The teenage thing doesn't bother me, in fact I really like young-adult fiction, but the vampire thing I could do without. Boy, was I wrong.

The way I have been devouring this book the past two days proved that I couldn't do without it. I was up late last night reading and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I haven't been this engrossed in a book since The Firm by John Grisham came out. I was in college, and while I abandoned every responsibility I had until I finished the book, Karen kept threatening to tell me the ending.

I think the appeal has something to do with a chase in the book. Something that has pulled me in when I read The DaVinci Code, and also most of the Harry Potter books I've sped through. Twilight also has that appeal (again, I won't say anything more).

So now what? You ask. Well, thankfully there are four books in the series. And wouldn't you know? Those sneaky Twilight marketing folks put a little excerpt from the next book in this one.

I'll be at Borders today if you're looking for me...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Into the Light

I've been paying attention to light lately. This winter has been unusually brutal already, so any signs that we may get out of it are welcome to me. About a week ago, when Stein commented that it was the first day of winter, I couldn't help but reply abruptly, "And the shortest day of the year, which means that the days are getting longer now." Even though it's only a few minutes more of light each day, I take stock in the hope that this brings. These days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and then some early signs of spring like a robin or a daffodil will also be folded into this hope.
While the days are getting shorter, we are all so busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, that we don't have a lot of time to think about the darkness. But now that those holidays are over, the dark tends to sink in. This, mixed with the grey days of winter, really makes it seem dark. That's where I tend to grab onto any light that I see and cherish it. Even if that light is coming from the brightly lit Christmas tree, or candles around the house, or the fireplace, it doesn't matter.
This morning it was nice and sunny, so while I sat and wrote this post, I took notice of the different places around the house where the light came to play. The blue sky outside was especially nice to look at too. Thank you light, for giving us hope in the darkness of winter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The In-Between

We're having a great break. I say we, because Stein was off Thursday and Friday too. The thing that I've enjoyed most during the Christmas season this year has been gathering with family and friends and then having quiet, relaxing moments with just the two of us. Having these in-between times has made the gatherings with family and friends more enjoyable. Nothing has felt rushed this week. I feel like we got to spend quality time catching up with some of our favorite people, and most importantly, catching up with each other.

There has been a lot of reading, watching TV, and napping during the in-between times. Last night we took in the twinkling lights downtown as we walked around and looked in shops along the way. We also tried a new restaurant we've been talking about for weeks, and were home just in time to assume our outstretched positions on the couch.

The weather has been cooperating nicely too. We had a White Christmas, thanks to the leftover snow from the snowstorm the week before. Yet, just as we were getting tired of talking about how cold it was, the temperatures warmed up. The snow is almost gone, and last night it actually felt balmy as we walked downtown. It's been a nice reprieve from the brutal temperatures we've been enduring for weeks now.

I feel lucky that I have a whole week off ahead of me. It feels decadent, actually. We're heading to Chicago mid-week, where I'm hoping that there will be moments of relaxation in-between the visiting with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


You all know how I get. Give me a few days off, and I get all reflective and nostalgic. Well, here I am with days off behind me, being all reflective and nostalgic. Don't get me wrong - that's not the only thing I've been doing. I have fallen into my vacation sleep patterns, finished my Christmas book and started another book, and have thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with my old friends on daytime TV. But in between the relaxing has been reflection. Oh, and the nostalgia? Well, that will have to wait for another post.

I keep thinking back to the last day of school. I had the fifth graders in the morning, which normally goes really smoothly. These are the kids I had last year while student teaching, and also some of them were in my summer school class. So, we have a history, and we respect each other. Everything was going along swimmingly, in fact, Mr. Crumpled Paper (remember him?) even finished his math on the computer which I wasn't anticipating. Then we moved into the library.

One of the kids who is kind of an outsider spent most of his time trying to hide from me while he stirred up trouble around the library. I just ignored him, as this is his M.O., and it only eggs him on if you pay attention to him. At one point, I heard what sounded like cracking wood. I looked up and he was throwing crayons at an empty bookshelf. When I confronted him and asked for the crayons, he ended up leaving the library and standing out in the hall. To make a long story short, the Principal saw him in the hall, brought him back in the class, and we all had a talk together. As the class left, I said to the Principal, "Wow, I really haven't seen behavior in him like that since last year." She said, "Well, I just found out this morning that they are having a rough time at home. They're not even living in their house right now. We have to remember that some kids are not looking forward to the break. In fact, they're dreading it."

Wow. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I heard this last year from Linda, but forgot about it in the midst of the holiday bustle. I assumed all kids were like me - ready for a break. Ready to watch TV 24/7. Ready to read books (well, that's my fantasy for all kids...). But never would I think that kids are dreading being home for a break. That is so foreign to me, and so disconcerting.

I don't want to be Debbie Downer on Christmas Eve. But as you spread Christmas cheer to those around you, be sure to take some time to think about those people who are having a tough go right now. The Christmas season unfortunately brings out unhappiness for some people. You may know someone personally, or you may be that person who needs the positive thoughts. Whatever the case, send some positive thoughts to those people who need them most right now. I am thankful to be surrounded by family and friends who support me if I do ever need them.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village

Last year, sometime in November, Stein called to see if we could get tickets to the Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. The woman on the other end of the line laughed. "We've been sold out for months!" She explained. Wow, it really must be something special, we thought. This year, we were smart. We called sometime at the beginning of October to get tickets. We went this past Saturday with Doug and Susan and their son Ben. And yes, it was something special, for sure.

If you're not familiar with Greenfield Village, you can read about it here. Each time I go there, I am impressed with the foresight and generosity that Henry Ford had in acquiring and moving so many historic homes to one place. It's amazing to me to be able to go inside of places like Thomas Edison's grandparents' home, or Noah Webster's home, George Washington Carver's home, or the Firestone Farm. And in each of these homes (there are many others, too) there are people who are dressed in period costume, and are willing to tell you all you want to know about the place or the historic period.

For the Holiday Nights, all of these homes are open, but are decorated according to the historic period, complete with a display of all the holiday foods. On the streets, there are pedestrians walking and wishing Merry Christmas to everyone they encounter. On almost every street corner, there are groups of people singing Christmas carols. Model T Fords cruise the streets, as do horse-drawn carriages. And there are a lot of booths set up along the way with food for sale.

A blazing fire at one spot had a spit of beef where you could have some of it sliced onto a bun for a sandwich. A roaring fire at another spot had a huge kettle that held Butternut Squash soup. There were chestnuts roasting (on an open fire!), and hot cocoa to sip while we walked. The other thing that kept us warm, besides the hand and toe warmers we had in our shoes and mittens, were the huge bonfires set up at various spots around. Some had benches where you could sit around the fire, others were in decorated steel drums. These really helped in the 20 degree weather!

One of the best parts was the finale. We knew there were going to be fireworks, so we positioned ourselves in the place where we could watch. Before they started, all of the people in period costumes trudged through the snow in the field in the middle of the town holding lanterns on long poles. Women in long dresses and coats didn't seem to mind that their clothes were dragging in the snow. Once they were all in a line across one end of the field, they walked toward the crowd, where they eventually stood on the steps of the "Town Hall". There they started a Christmas sing along. The fireworks started shortly after. Stein and I decided to watch the rest of the fireworks as we walked back to the car. What a fun night! We'll definitely go back next year. Here are some pictures:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trying to Forget the Cold

Man, is it cold outside. The wind blowing through the sieves that we call windows is a constant reminder that the temperature is in the single digits with a windchill below zero. So let's take a look inside the house, okay? Where warm lights and bright colors of red and green take our minds off the frigid weather. "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas" around here. And good thing - it's only three days away!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Man Loves to Shovel

Seriously. Anytime snow falls, Stein enjoys, really enjoys shoveling our sidewalk and driveway. When I took this picture yesterday, he was clearing the snow left by the snow plow. He even ventured across the street to our neighbor's house to help her clear her driveway and sidewalk. One day last year, this neighbor said to me with a perplexed look on her face, "He really likes to shovel, doesn't he?"

People have told us to get a snow blower. But we really don't have a lot to shovel, and Stein loves to do it. Our neighbors have a company that comes out and clears their driveway and sidewalk. One day while Stein was shoveling our driveway, they came to clear the neighbors'. The guy yelled out the window, "You could have us do that for you!" in an effort to get our business. Stein just yelled back, "And take this away from me?!"

When we had our snow day the other day, I decided to shovel the driveway so Stein could put his car there when he got home. Our little driveway took me two hours to clear! Stein called that afternoon and asked what I'd been up to. "Shoveling!" I said with enthusiasm only he could have. "Why?!" he asked. "Don't worry, I left the sidewalk for you." I knew he would do it immediately when he got home. And he did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thanks, Amy!

Amy tagged me on this game, so here it is...

The object of the picture tag is to:
1) Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on your computer
2) Select the 4th picture in the folder
3) Explain the picture
4) Tag 4 people to do the same

NO CHEATING! (cropping, editing, etc!)

This picture was taken last year during student teaching. In fact, looking at this picture, I realized I don't think I ever blogged about this project. The project involved the 4th graders interviewing the residents of a nearby retirement home about their lives. They were also interviewing the seniors about the foods that they liked when they were younger. The woman in charge of the project is a songwriter and performer, so she took the stories and recipes and wrote songs that were then performed by the 4th graders. It was such a great project, and it touched the 4th graders more than I thought. The seniors just loved having the kids there. It planted a seed in my brain that someday when I have my own classroom, we will be involved with the local seniors in some way. You can obviously see in the picture that the 3 girls are listening to the senior talk, and one of them is holding up the tape recorder to save her story.

Thanks, Amy! This was fun. Since I only have one friend who blogs and reads my blog, I tag Karen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Weatherman Was Right

The phone rang at 5:20 am. I must have been sleeping through the first two rings, because by the time I got to the phone on the fourth ring, the answer machine picked up. "Hello? Hello?" I tried to sound like I was awake. I don't think it worked as my voice squeaked. "Kelly, it's Sally, we have a snow day, go back to sleep, and enjoy your break." I stood there in the dark, punched my fist in the air and whispered, "Yes!" out loud. Stein started shouting from the bedroom, "Come on! It's not that bad out there!" I went downstairs to call the next person on the list, and then promptly came back to bed. Stein was getting up to work out, and I climbed back into the cocoon of down, still warm. At first I had trouble falling back asleep, but that didn't last long.

So now I'm up, and ready to enjoy the snow day. There may be some laundry that gets done, or not. I may walk to the grocery store, or not. There are some books to be read, or not. I may watch some movies, or Christmas shows, or not. I know that there will be several cups of hot cocoa made, after some trips outside to shovel.

Today the world of my house is my oyster. And like I said before, what a great beginning to the holiday break.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Resident Weatherman

In addition to counting down days until the weekend or next break, teachers like to dream about snow days. Oh, and it's a big fantasy, let me tell you. It's better than snow days as a kid, I think. Because now I have a house to wander, unlimited food to eat, and no one to argue about what shows I will watch. All. Day. Long.

Lucky for the teachers at my school, one of our colleagues is a weatherman. He hasn't been formally trained and I don't know where he gets his information, but he's always spot on (so I guess you could say he's the anti-weatherman). He regularly sends out emails about upcoming storm systems and the likelihood of a snow day. In fact, we had a storm come through last night and while most of us fantasized about a snow day today, we never got it. The resident weatherman said in his email that it wasn't a huge storm and there would be a less than 10% chance that we get a snow day. Yesterday I heard more than a few people say, "He's ALWAYS right. He just knows."

In the same 10% chance email, he talked about another storm system coming through Thursday night and Friday morning that had a great chance of turning into a snow day. He wrote a second email today about the same storm system, adding that he was going to send a note home to tell his parents he was changing the class party to Thursday. He's that sure. It's supposed to be a nasty storm that brings freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Just the right mix for a day spent at home and kick off the holiday break.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Amy posted this to her blog, and I thought it was a fun thing to do. I did follow the directions exactly, although at times I really wanted to change the answer. Keep in mind my crazy mix of music on my iPod - kids' music, Christmas music, 80's, Sinatra, John Denver, and everything in between. A lot of the answers cracked me up...

1. Put your iPOD on shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds!
4. Tag friends who might enjoy doing the game as well as the person you got the game from.

If someone says, "Is this okay" you say? Humongous Tree

What would best describe your personality? A Well Respected Man

What do you like in a guy/girl? Roll Me Away

What is your life's purpose? The Enchanted Valley/Farewell

What is your motto? Still Water

What do your friends think of you? Only Got One

What do you think about very often? When Smokey Sings

What is 2+2? Better Man

What do you think of your best friend? Better Than This

What do you think of the person you like? Breakdown

What is your life story? You Send Me

What do you want to be when you grow up? All Your Love

What do you think when you see the person you like? The Big Payback

What do your parents think of you? La Mariposa (The Butterfly)

What will you dance to at your wedding? Guinnevere

What will they play at your funeral? Alive

What is your hobby/interest? Code of Silence

What is your biggest secret? Sunglasses at Night

What do you think of your friends? Sunday Morning Coming Down

What's the worst thing that could happen? The Book I Read

How will you die? Not For All The Love in The World

What is the one thing you regret? The Weight

What makes you laugh? Annie's Other Song

What makes you cry? Evenflow

Will you ever get married? Uncomfortably Slow

What scares you the most? That's Right (You're Not From Texas)

Does anyone like you? Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

If you could go back in time, what would you change? Flake

What hurts right now? Big Lie Small World

What do you say in the morning when you first wake up? Nothing I Can Do

What will you post this as? Viva Las Vegas

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Sunset

This was my entertainment outside our kitchen window this afternoon. I was getting some things put away, and each time I looked up, the view was more beautiful than the minute before. I finally decided to grab my camera, in case I missed it. I'm glad I did. About a minute after these were taken, the sky was dark.

Thank you, Miss Sunshine, for showing your face now and then. Today was a glorious showing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trying to Slow Down

I know I've written about this before, but today I was encountered once again with the concept. Mickey and I both wrote emails to each other yesterday, not knowing that the other person was sending one simultaneously that echoed the sentiments of the email. We are both feeling overwhelmed.

We both have been really busy with holiday obligations while simultaneously trying to slow down and take in the season. Both of these concepts seem to pull at the other like an angel and devil sitting on left and right shoulders. While we want to make the most of the fleeting season and experience all the traditions and glitter of it, we are also trying to slow down in an effort to truly savor it. I've realized that it's the latter idea that really makes me feel the spirit of the season.

For me in the past few years, my Christmas spirit seems to come and go throughout the season. This year is the same. I have been so busy going places and getting things done, that the spirit isn't even part of the picture. I've lost sight of what it is.

I remember not so long ago, that once I was in the spirit, I stayed in it. It usually came the day after Thanksgiving and ended somewhere around New Years. But now, it seems to change by the day. As you know, our tree is up, I'm listening to Christmas music whenever I'm in the car or near my iPod, we've watched most of the Christmas specials on TV, and most of my shopping is done.

Today I realized what I need to spark and keep that spirit. Time. I had the day off today and it made me realize that I need to stop, take a look around, and take in the season. I was out at a store mid-day, where I was able to casually look around without the stress of crowds or grouchy people. I was able to catch up on things at home, including putting more decorations up. And I was able to do something that I haven't been in the mood to do in a really long time. I started reading a book. It's a book of Christmas stories, so my motivation was fueled by the need to finish the book before Christmas.

It was just what the doctor (and Santa) ordered. I felt refreshed and in the spirit. It made me look forward to the holiday break coming up. Hopefully I won't just collapse in a heap from exhaustion and not enjoy the time. But mostly, today made me feel that Christmas spirit once again. I hope it lasts.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Remember the block party we went to this summer? The one where the police showed up? Well, at that party, Stein inadvertently agreed to host part of the progressive holiday party in our neighborhood. We figured everyone would've forgotten the agreement. We thought that people had enough to drink by the time the topic came up, that they surely wouldn't remember.

They remembered.

Today when I got home, among all the holiday catalogs in our mailbox, was a card with "Kelly and David" written on it. It also had our address on it, but didn't have a return address, a stamp, or a post mark. I almost felt like I was being subpoenaed. In a way, we were. Subpoenaed to host part of the party.

In the card, the woman who brought the topic up at the summer block party, said, "They are planning a party for the 27th...yes it's last minute...but David had agreed to hosting part of it...was he still interested?"

When he came home from work and I told him about the card, he immediately said, "We can't. We're going to be out of town." We're really not going to be out of town. But maybe now we'll have to be.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tree and Trimming

We braved the elements and got our tree yesterday. It actually wasn't too bad out there. We all commented that it wasn't as bad as a couple years ago. Stein and I found our tree in record time, which helped too. Every year we get a tree, I say, "This is the best tree we ever got!" only to be followed by the next year when we get the best tree. Ever.

We always go to the tree farm with the same friends, so it has become a fun holiday tradition. It definitely kicks off the season for me, and gets me in the Christmas mood. I didn't get any pictures of the cutting-down process, because there were some furry friends who joined us this year. I was distracted, to say the least. Some of our friends brought their golden retriever, and other friends brought their new chocolate lab puppy. I couldn't get enough of that little puppy. I really wanted to pick him up and take a nibble of him, he's so cute. And chocolaty.
After the tree farm, we always go over to our friends' house to have chili and other goodies. The kids run around in the basement, while the adults catch up upstairs. The snow continued to fall throughout the evening, to the point where Stein had to help shovel the driveway that got pretty slick.
Then today we had Eric and Mia over to decorate the tree. That's another tradition we have. Stein and I contemplated today how many more years they will want to come over before it feels like an obligation. I'm hoping it goes right to the point of nostalgia for them so it never stops. I have just as much fun helping them find just the right spot on the tree. Inevitably, Stein and I need to do a little rearranging when they leave , since there are several favorite spots at just the right height that have a cluster of ornaments.

They also like playing with the Peanuts Christmas characters before we watch the cartoon.

I hope your holiday season is off to a festive start! Wishing you warm traditions, whatever or whomever they may involve.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

So it's snowing here today. Here is a picture I snapped this morning as the stuff was coming down. It's one of those fine snows, that comes down like flour thrown in the air and blows easily off rooftops.Oh, and it's cold. This week has been really cold. Cold as in reading 24 degrees on my dashboard in the morning on my way to school. Cold as in scrunching up my shoulders to help keep myself warm.

All I want to do is hunker down. All I want to do is eat hot comfort foods. There is some split pea soup made by Stein simmering on the stove right now. That's a good start. The only reason we have to leave the house today is to find and cut down our Christmas tree. I'm thinking this would be a great day to go to the closest tree lot and pick one out. But what's the fun in that? We're adventurous. We live on the edge. We're silly enough to brave wind and blowing snow to cut one down.

Hope you're having a warm weekend! Have some hot cocoa for me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Elmer's Glue

Being back at school today felt like the first day of school. It seemed like the kids forgot what they were supposed to do in any given situation. I know that having three days off did this. It also didn't help that it snowed yesterday and was continuing this morning.

The same things happened in all three of the kindergarten classes I had this morning. Suddenly it was a great idea to just blurt out random things while I was trying to read a story to the class. Or start poking a neighbor just enough so said neighbor would scream out a "STOP!" that would disturb the story. Or ask to go to the bathroom setting off a sudden urge for everyone to go while the story was being read. Or just come up in the middle of the story and say, "Hug!" and wrap your arms around me. (Okay, that one caught me completely off guard and put a smile on my face).

I should've known that this would happen. I should've planned to get them re-acquainted with the rules in the library. I should've read a story and done an activity that went along with this theme. Oh no, that would be too easy. I planned something else instead.

I did an activity that involved Elmer's glue.

Most of the kids did great. Most of them heeded my warning of "Only put a dot or two on the place where you want to paste the paper." Most of them cut out the correct paper to be glued on the other paper. Most of them didn't turn their glue-soaked papers upside down onto the table to write their names on the other side.

The remaining few had me running from table to table trying to put out glue "fires". Somehow a "dot" of glue translated into some of their five-year-old minds as a quarter-sized "glob" of glue. Somehow it was a great idea to turn the paper over with glue globs and press it on the table. Somehow it was an even greater idea to start running around the library with scissors. (Why is it always so tempting to run around with scissors?)

I do have to say that the activity lasted a good 25 minutes, which is the longest that any of the kids has lasted so far this year. I did have a few "helpers" that I kept busy because they were the first ones done and were starting to get into trouble.

I did learn one thing in all of this. I think I may need to put in a supply request and ask for glue sticks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The last stragglers from the party. I've been slowly but surely trying to clean up and get things put back, but each time I turn around, there are more things waiting to be put away. Mickey helped me a ton yesterday by putting all the dishes and silverware back. Now there are linens to clean and wine glasses to put away. Meanwhile, the flowers are keeping guard and bringing some cheer. The sun was shining, so that added to the happiness. And a long weekend didn't hurt, either.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I'm feeling full. And thankful. Thanksgiving turned out really nice, with everyone making it here and back home safely. The "movie" that played out during the day was a bit different than the "book" in my mind, but that's always the case.

The movie had me in the kitchen more than I anticipated, but it all worked out. My brothers and Stein kept me company, as we all worked to get the appetizers and dinner out. There were visitors here and there, from my nephews stealing fresh-baked rolls, to people just wanting to be in the small space that is the kitchen. I enjoyed this time, and my brothers, Stein and I made a great team. We helped each other through the various dishes, offering advice for things like making gravy or keeping foods warm, or carving the turkey. We bantered and teased each other too. I felt right at home. As for the food, there weren't any major disasters and all the food was hot when we finally put the it out on the table.

When it was time to clean up, I was joined by Mickey and Pat in the kitchen. They helped do dishes, put food away, and get dessert out onto the table. After dessert, we were able to play a small game of Spoons ( I wasn't very successful at that game) and then played a rousing game of Catch Phrase.

The only major disappointment was that Stein got sick. He was sick on Thanksgiving, but managed through the day with the help of DayQuil. Yesterday and today he has spent in bed. You know it's bad when you stay in bed. I'm actually not surprised he got sick. He worked so hard before Thanksgiving to get the house ready. He did all of this for my family. It was a great day and I know that it wouldn't have been nearly as nice without all of his hard work. I hope he's on the mend soon. I'm hoping the Thanksgiving leftovers will help the healing process.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


As I look around the house this morning from my vantage point on the couch, I see bouquets of flowers, plates and napkins all ready to be used, pop and wine ready to be poured into glasses, wood ready to be made into a crackling fire, and a fridge full of stuffings (two kinds!) and sweet potato casserole ready to be eaten. There's a bird already cooking in the roaster, and another one waiting to be fried (sorry, Karen, I know you're without a turkey today).

In about 6 or 7 hours, the house will also be filled with people - my Dad, my siblings and their families. Glasses will be raised, appetizers will be eaten, and the house will be warm from the fire and the food cooking in the kitchen. The smell is what I love the most, the turkey and the stuffing all mixing into one big yummy scent.

On this day of giving thanks, in a year of not so good local and global news, I am feeling lucky to have abundance around me. I feel a bit guilty, actually, for all that I have. Loving and supportive friends and family, a doting husband, a job, and a house and bed that keep me warm at night. Add a great meal today shared with those I love, and I am content.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Whenever I read that word alone, I think of the Heinz ketchup commercials where the song played while a bottle of the red stuff was tipped over. Total tangent - Did you know that if you hit the bottle with a karate chop right at the spot where the 57 is written (etched?) on the glass bottle, it will come out faster?

Ah, but back to anticipation. I saw my former University Supervisor today at school. She was there observing the current student teachers. We exchanged pleasantries, and naturally the conversation came around to holiday plans. When I told her that we were having my side of the family here, she said, "You know, the anticipation is really the best part." To which I replied, "Yes, you're right. If I could just stay at the anticipation part, I would."

It's true. I love dreaming about what's to come. I think it's the best part because unfortunately, sometimes the "movie" that's produced in the end isn't as good as the "book" in your head. You think about all of the good parts of past get-togethers, and assemble the perfect screenplay for the movie. Yet when the movie is being shown, some of those fabulous parts never make it off the cutting room floor.

Don't get me wrong. Family get-togethers for me are always fun. Because I don't live close to my family, any time spent with them is precious. I laugh so hard that my belly hurts and tears stream down my face. I get teased by my siblings because that's what happens when you're the youngest. And we catch up since the last time together, weaving in past stories with new ones, and planning for future get-togethers.

But right now I'm relishing in anticipation. I'm excited for Thursday to come when the characters of my movie will come to life and visit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting Through the Next Two Days

All of the teachers around school keep saying, "Two more days!" with big smiles on their faces. "We can do this!" we keep saying to each other. It's true. We can. Even if the kids are squirrelly already, even if the snow is making them even more squirrelly. We always manage to do it.

As teachers we always tend to look at time in chunks. Quarters, semesters, time until the next day off, how many weeks until Thanksgiving, until Christmas, until spring break, until the end of the year. I remember doing that as a kid, and now I find myself doing it again.

So how am I getting through the next 2 days? Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, for one. All three of the kindergarten classes already watched it, and I can show it to some of the other classes as well. There's also a Thanksgiving assembly tomorrow afternoon which may cut my time with the lippy 4th graders short. I may just have to stand up at the end of the assembly and yell, "How about another verse of Over the River?!" to make it last longer.

Two days. We can do this.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Stein and I have been getting the house ready for Thanksgiving. Most of the behind-the-scenes work has been done. Now all that is left is the cooking and the last-minute details. It's nice to have a lot of this done. Now we can focus on the important things: food and family.

Here are some glimpses around our house in the last week or so:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

She Feeds My Addiction

Mickey sent these to me today. Not only was it exciting to get mail (I love mail), but it was exciting to get these. I told Mickey about these pens, the newest addition to the Sharpie family, while we were in North Carolina. She remembered and bought them for me. She knows that I've been stalking them ever since I saw the commercial for them. You see, it's an addiction. Most of you know I have an addiction. No, we're not talking about my chocolate addiction. And we're not talking about my children's book addiction either.

I am addicted to office supplies.

I'm not alone. Both Mickey and Rick (and I think Bryan and Andy) have this addiction. It probably started when we were growing up. My Dad would bring home used office supplies for us to play with. Using the piano as a desk, we had things like an intercom (so high-tech!), carbon copy paper, and a Rolodex. Throw in a few cool pens, and we were set. We would pretend to answer calls from customers, write messages to the boss, and make those messages in triplicate with the carbon paper. Hours were spent doing this.

As I got older, I always needed the "just right" supplies. The pens needed to write smoothly. The pencils needed to stand up to my tight grip, and the markers needed to color brightly and last long. You never knew someone could be that demanding of inanimate objects, huh?! Well, I was and I am.

Just like you need to have the right pen or pencil, you also need to have the right post-it notes. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. They all have special purposes. Wait, I'm sounding like a freak now. (I didn't want to take a picture of my post-it drawer, because that would probably send me right to the freak category in your mind.)

So before I start talking crazier, I will end this. Thank you, Mickey. You know me too well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Nothing has been inspiring me to write lately. I mean, there have been some moments, mostly funny ones, that I knew I should write down, but just as soon as they happened, I would forget them. Like that one time? In the computer lab? Or that one time? In the library? Then you can fill in the blanks with a smiling face looking up at me and arms hugging me, or a page colored with crayolas and scribbled with I Love You, with all those letters in different shapes and going in every direction.

I've been enjoying getting to know the kids better as the year has gone on. I know about 99% of their names, which is quite a feat with 15 classes! But you get a family with siblings named Jayden, Joey, and Jayci, and any name that starts with a J could come out at any moment when you're trying to call on them.

Something Stein and I saw tonight has sparked some inspiration, some thinking. We saw Pond Hockey, which is a documentary about the Pond Hockey Championship tournament which took place in Minneapolis (go figure). While it sounds like it would be pretty boring, the gist of the movie dealt with kids, specifically those who have grown up playing hockey on frozen lakes, ponds, rivers, or flooded backyards. The old-timers interviewed for the movie kept repeating the same sentiments over and over. That not enough kids play outside anymore, not enough play the bare-bones, rarely adult-supervised game that builds character and fundamental skills.

I thought about that. And not having played hockey as a kid, I thought about what I could relate to. I remembered the hours I spent in the backyard, throwing a basketball onto the slanted roof of the garage and waiting for it to come down, jumping up and grabbing it, imagining I was fending off players from another team. Or the hundreds of tennis balls we would whack against our neighbors brick garage, perfecting our John McEnroe swings. Or bumping a soccer ball (we didn't have a volleyball) against the side of the house, trying to hit that one discolored brick which was my target.

It's those times that I remember the sky (or roof) was the limit, that I dreamed of being on an Olympic team someday. I was unsupervised, could try out new moves without being laughed at, and had the ball all to myself. This wasn't part of an organized practice, and these weren't monotonous drills. My imagination ran wild. It was my time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I got a message this morning from a friend I used to work with.  He relayed the bad news about the husband of a former co-worker who was killed in Afghanistan.  Apparently a roadside bomb was the cause.  I thought back to my conversations with her about her husband.  She told me he was in the special forces, so a lot of his locations and operations were a secret.  There were many times when she didn't know where he was.  She had so much faith that everything was going to be alright, since he was a trained sniper.  For a long time everything was.  There is some irony that he was killed by something he couldn't see, couldn't fight.  I am sending good thoughts to my friend in this awful time.  May John finally rest in peace after serving in a war for so long.

I also heard from another friend who is going through a stressful time right now.  Without getting into it, she is also dealing with the well-being of a loved one.  I am sending her warm, positive thoughts in this worrying time.

As I look around at all of the vibrant, smiling kids here at school, I am thankful for what I have, the friends and family who support me, and the wonderful experiences that make me who I am. You never know when you may need to call on those people or experiences to support you during the tough times.   

Friday, November 14, 2008


Is that a word? I don't know, but I'm going to use it.

This week has been a good week (aside from sending 2 kids to the office) and I have much to be thankful for. I've been reading a lot of Thanksgiving books to the kids lately, so my mind has been full of thankful thoughts and reflection and planning.

I have to gush again about Stein. He has been busy preparing for having my family here for Thanksgiving. We've been talking about the menu, making lists, and cleaning. He spent the good part of the day a couple days ago running errands and cleaning the house. We want to get as much stuff done before so we aren't running around the house like banshees and can actually enjoy our company. But it's my family, and I am so thankful that he is willing to go overboard for them.

My birthday came and went and it was a good day. The 4th and 5th graders left for camp that day, which left me with some extra plan time. Someone put a balloon on the door of the library, so everyone that walked by wished me a happy birthday. I don't usually tell people it's my birthday, but feel special when they wish me a happy birthday.

And Stein gave me an iPhone. Totally unexpected and frivolous, but I love it. More about it in a later post, while I try to figure out all of its bells and whistles.

I am excited about all the upcoming events. It gives me so much to look forward to. One event happens this weekend when Chris comes in. I can't wait to catch up with her. Our busy schedules have made it hard to connect lately. But there will be plenty of connecting this weekend.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

That Boy, Stein

He never ceases to amaze me.

The 4th and 5th graders at school are going to camp this week. A lot of the kids' families can't afford to pay for their kids to go. It's not a lot of money, but so many of these families live from paycheck to paycheck. Sending kids to camp just isn't in the budget.

Linda asked Stein if his business would be willing to give a donation. He agreed and asked me how much the kids had to pay to go. I told him the cost, and a few days later he handed me the envelope with the check. I forgot about it until I went to school that day. When I remembered, I looked into the envelope and saw the amount. He donated enough money to send 5 kids to camp! I gave the money to Matt and he was so excited. He must have told his class because 2 kids came up to me and said, "Please tell Mr. Steinhauer that we said thank you. That was really nice."

I am so glad that he was able to do this. I think that this experience is going to be so fantastic for these kids. For some of them, this will be the first time that they will be outside of Ann Arbor. The first time in nature. The first time sleeping in cabins.

And that generosity, readers, is reason #892 why I married that man.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The S Word

Patty: Try to catch snowflakes on your tongue. It’s fun.
Linus Van Pelt: Mmm. Needs sugar.
Lucy Van Pelt: It’s too early. I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.
Linus Van Pelt: They sure look ripe to me.

We went to see a movie with Eric and Mia this afternoon, and when we got out of the theater, it was snowing. Mia instantly opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue. I did the same, but definitely felt like Lucy. It's too early. It's November for heaven's sake. Can't I just ease into this h*ll? Can't I just take my time to find all of my winter gear, slowly incorporate warmer layers into my rotation of school clothes, and just practice scrunching my shoulder and neck muscles against the cold for a little while?

It was just last week that the temperatures reached into the 70's. A sick joke, if you ask me. It was like summer tried to strut her stuff one last time. It was all a big tease. It made me want more weeks of the warm stuff. Nope. Friday night the temps dipped down, and the precipitation started. Tonight when we left for home, there was snow on the pumpkins in front of Eric and Mia's house.

Snow and cold. They're bad, four letter words.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

North Carolina Revisited

Sorry it has taken me this long to post pictures of my trip. I won't go through a day by day, hour by hour recap of the trip. I know how boring my posts about our trip up north probably were. So here are more pictures than words:

The weather was gorgeous. Just the right temperature for being outside doing things like jump roping
Or putting the finishing touches on Halloween costumes
Or hugging

Gadisse took advantage of the weather to sit outside and crochet a beautiful hat for MickeyShe also found time to braid Bre's hair twice
The hula hoops came out. We remembered how to do it, and my mom learned for the first time
Or making pretend cakes

We were also there for trick or treating on Halloween
And the sorting and bartering of the loot. Also the dividing in half for the "candy fairy" who will come in the night to take the candy and leave a toy or money.

The dog waited. And waited. And waited. But no luck.
While the kids were at the movies the next day, the candy fairy shared some of her stash with the adults

The weather was perfect for watching Kenene's soccer game

When we weren't outside, we were inside playing board games
The clan, with my Mom, Mickey, Bre and me