Tuesday, December 30, 2008
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
Sunday, December 28, 2008
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
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
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
Sunday, December 21, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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
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
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.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
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.
Monday, December 1, 2008
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
Saturday, November 29, 2008
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
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
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
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
Here are some glimpses around our house in the last week or so:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
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
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
Friday, November 14, 2008
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
Sunday, November 9, 2008
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
The clan, with my Mom, Mickey, Bre and me