Monday, March 30, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I Know

I haven't posted anything for almost a week. My excuse? Um, nothing. Nothing has been going on, nothing to report. I may have to dig deeper into the well for some ideas. I also need to write things down when an idea strikes. One of my English teachers in high school told us that we needed to carry a note pad around with us to record any ideas. Some days I hate to admit that she was right. What is it with teachers and their good ideas?!

We were out with friends recently and two of the most-talked about topics inevitably came up: the weather and the economy. I finally said, "I'm just tired of talking about it!" As I'm sure everyone is. It is weighing on everyone's mind (I'm sure the latter topic more than the former) and it easily becomes conversation.

I am trying to make a concerted effort to think about and look for good things around me. Local stuff, national stuff, whatever. So I ask you, what's something good that's going on with you? Share this with whomever you talk to. Give someone something else to think about.

In the meantime, I'll compile my list, and also start writing some things down. And I won't talk about the weather either. No one likes a complainer, right?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The In-Between

I'm starting to get impatient. It's that in-between time of the seasons that I hate. I think waiting for spring to come is the most brutal wait of any season.

I'm tired of my clothes. Heavy sweaters and jackets, scarves, and gloves. I'm done with them. Those days of warmer weather we had last week were a tease. I didn't have to wear a coat, I had the windows down in the car, and I could actually hear the birds chirping.

There are signs that spring is coming: the crocuses and daffodils have poked up from the dirt in the courtyard at school. Dairy Queen is open. It is staying lighter outside later at night. The first sight of a robin. Yet all these signs also seem to be a tease. I want warm weather for many days in a row. Starting tomorrow.

Demanding, I know, but I'm ready. Ready and waiting.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

There's Something About Tulips

That makes me hopeful for spring. That makes me happy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What I Needed to Hear

I have mixed feelings about my job. I know I'm not alone in this, and it's not anything new to me. But because I'm a long-term sub in the position, my job has always felt temporary. All year, I never knew if the job would suddenly be filled, and I would be back to regular subbing. I never knew if I should plan something that would last a few weeks, only to be told half-way into it, I was done. So this whole year, I have been going week to week, and planning accordingly. Talk about being in limbo.

It wasn't until a couple weeks ago that I found out I will be in the position until the end of the year. Yet, because of this, I now need to take almost 35 days off so that I can last until the end of the school year. You see, as a sub, you can only sub 140 days, and there are 180 or so in the school year.

As I have been taking days off and thinking about ending the school year, a somewhat apathetic attitude has crept in. Even though I can plan some long-term projects now, I know that I won't be in the position next year. I can't help but think that it may be a lesson in futility. And taking time off gives me that separation and interruption to the continuity. Then the guilt factor creeps in. The reason I'm doing this work? The 250+ kids who depend on me to expose them to books and authors and computers. No pressure there.

Today I heard some kids say things that not only set my attitude straight, but also gave me a little lift. I was with the 3rd graders, and the conversation came around to why I had to take days off. Apparently the sub I had last week told them that I needed to take the days. I guess I wouldn't have told them these details, but whatever. As it came out that I was only a sub and that I wouldn't be here next year, a boy in the class who had overheard our conversation said, "You should be our teacher. Why can't you be our teacher?" I didn't go into details with him about the hiring process or the qualifications I lacked as part of No Child Left Behind. I was content knowing that I had reached them. That they liked what I taught them.

For the next class I had the 4th graders. They're a lively bunch, and I usually spend half of my time putting out small fires of incessant talking. But they all mean well, and have a good sense of humor. At one point we were talking, and again the idea of me as a sub came up. "I don't get it," one girl said. "Why can't you just be our teacher?" Again, I didn't go into details.

That was (selfishly) all I needed.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I'm back. Back home. Back to a regular schedule. Back to reality.
It has felt like I've been gone longer than I have, but I think being in so many different places in a short amount of time will do this to you. I feel like a gypsy, maybe. Although I didn't steal anything (aside from the cool pen in the room at Sundance) and didn't wear anything outlandish (aside from my newly purchased ski socks).
Utah was beautiful. I have been there twice before - once as a six-year old on a six-week family vacation out west, and once when I worked for Einstein's. I don't remember much of either time, except for the mountains. I never forget mountains. Something about them makes me feel so tiny compared to their enormous peaks and deep valleys. Going fast down the mountains on two thin pieces of wood also makes you respect them quickly. And there's nothing like driving at night near the mountains, with stars overhead and small twinkling towns below.

Sundance is in the middle of nowhere, about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City. You get there by way of a winding mountain road lined with tall pine trees and a running stream. At the top of this road, you are suddenly at Sundance. Sundance sits in the valley of towering mountains with snow-capped peaks. All of the buildings are rustic, but not rustic in the dilapidated, dirty sense. Rustic as in wide-planked wood floors, western accents in all of the dining rooms and rooms, and "Western" cuisine in all of its restaurants. Is there rehab for red-meat eaters? Because I think I had some sort of red meat at every meal, no joke. Here is one of the rustic buildings at Sundance. The rehearsal studio, I think they call it:
This is one of the set of stairs that we had to take from the main lodge area to our suite. It goes up, and then a trail winds back and forth up the hill:These are the stairs that went up to our suite. (It's behind the pine trees to the left):Here is our dream house that was up the hill from our suite. It was humongous!: And then there's the Robert Redford factor. Because he is the founder of Sundance, and has such a hand in everything there, every available wall space has a picture on it. The pictures are from some of Redford's famous parts (a lot from Butch Cassidy, for obvious reasons), and some are of other famous actors who have come to Sundance for various reasons. One of my favorites is a trio of pictures of Alan Alda and another actor giving what looks like an interview on a stage. Alan Alda is caught in the first picture smiling his famous smile. In the second one, he is beginning to laugh. And in the third he is laughing hysterically. It's a classic.

Chris and I skied one day at Sundance. We decided to take a lesson since it had been a while since we both had skied. After being paired with our instructor, we were told to wait for more people. When no one else showed up, we were told to go. We got a private lesson for the price of a group lesson. Yay for us! Our instructor, Wendy, was great. She grew up skiing at Sundance, and had been a full-time instructor prior to becoming a teacher. Now she instructs on the weekends. She taught us all kinds of tips to help us improve our skiing, but most importantly, to build our confidence. By the end of the time with her, we were looking good! Chris and I stayed a while longer trying to get more practice. Here is Chris and Wendy on the lift:
It was a fantastic day for skiing. It had just snowed the day before and the sun was out.

After skiing, we both got massages and relaxed before going to dinner at the Tree Room. I had more meat, a buffalo steak. Wow, was that good. It was served with a potato gratin stack that was just as good.

The next morning, before leaving for Park City, we went to brunch at Sundance. And what do you know? I had more meat. How could I resist steak eggs Benedict?!

Park City was beautiful, but definitely more touristy than Sundance. (Sorry, I don't have any pictures of Park City, and Chris unfortunately lost her camera this weekend). The downtown area of Park City is an old miner's town, and the streets are lined with shops and restaurants. The mountains look like they just come straight up from this little town. One of the lifts for the Park City resort actually starts in downtown Park City.

Chris and I looked around the downtown area for a bit, and then went tubing at a nearby tubing hill. It was nice that they had a tow rope for the tubes, otherwise I would've been whipped by the second or third time up! That altitude gets me every time...

That night we went to the No Name Saloon, where, what else could I eat but a buffalo burger? It was just the casual place that we wanted after a few days of upscale eating at Sundance.

We did go skiing in Park City at The Canyons. It was snowing pretty hard already in the morning, so we were a little hesitant to commit to skiing that day. Chris finally said, "We're here, we might as well go." So we did. I'm so glad we did. We were able to practice more of the tips that Wendy gave us at Sundance, and by the time we stopped, we were looking even better. We came in from outside just in time. As more people came off the mountain, they had inches of snow on their hats and helmets. The snow picked up intensity the rest of the afternoon and evening, so our trip to the airport the next morning was a bit treacherous. (Thanks again for driving, Chris!).

It was just what the doctor ordered: Time with my fabulous friend, fun, relaxation, and delicious food. Ahhh.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Has Been Over a Week

and I haven't written anything.  I've been to Utah and back, and now I'll be in Grand Rapids (via Crown Point, IN) and back this weekend.  Mickey and I will be making our geeky pilgrimage to the Michigan Reading Association's conference on Saturday and Sunday.  But first Stein and I will first be going to Indiana to see our nephew Blake in Beauty and the Beast (he's playing Lumiere).  
I'll be back with regular posts soon.  Along with recaps of both trips.  Just as soon as I can set my bags down for longer than two nights. 

Hope all is well in our world!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lobster Bisque

If you live in Ann Arbor, you know about Le Dog. If you don't live here, you're missing out.

Le Dog is a hot dog stand housed in a red shack-like building pretty close to U-M. It's pretty unassuming, even a little scary looking. You would never know from its appearance that you could get a hot steaming bowl of made-from-scratch soup along with a hot dog. The owner of the place has been called the soup Nazi, as it's a no-frills place. The second location is run by his wife, and the place is better in appearance and the service is more friendly.

If you want to go to Le Dog, be sure to go on a Thursday or Friday. Those are the days that the lobster bisque is available. But don't get there near closing time - they'll probably be out of the bisque by then.

This lobster bisque is amazing. So good that I often think that it's laced with some sort of addicting drug. When I worked from home or when I worked at U-M, it was convenient for me to get there on a Thursday or Friday for my fix. Now, anytime I'm off on a Thursday or Friday, I'm there. Last Thursday while Danica was here, I introduced her to lobster by way of the bisque. She loved it. How could she not?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hugs and Stickers from Maria

There's a first grader named Maria who is one of my favorite kids. I know that teachers aren't supposed to have favorites, but I probably speak for most teachers when I say that we do.

Maria always has an excited smile on her face when she looks at me through her small wire-rimmed glasses. As soon as she catches my eye, she stretches her small arms toward me and gives me a hug.

This hug is my greeting every morning when I meet all the kids who come off the bus. This hug is my farewell when I watch all the kids get back on the bus. These two rituals have become part of my everyday.

Today was a special day. This morning the kids waited inside of school before the bell rang because the temperatures were too cold to wait outside. Maria saw me and gave me my morning hug, and I mentioned how cold it was and how I hoped that spring would come soon. I said, "Don't you wish spring would come soon?" She looked at the ceiling as she thought for a moment, and then said, "Yes, I really want to wear my short pants. I mean, the pants that don't go down all the way, that are shorter at the bottom." I understood immediately. She wants to wear capri pants. I do too.

A few minutes later I had turned around to tell some of the energetic bus boys to settle down. I felt someone trying to get my attention, and it was Maria holding out her hand. She had three cat stickers for me. If you know first graders or any kids for that matter, you know that stickers are like gold and not easily given away. I thanked her like I got a sack of diamonds and stared at the cat faces like I actually loved cats.

Hugs and Stickers. Some of the many rewards of teaching.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Up North in Pictures

We're back. We had a great time up north. It was great to see everything blanketed in snow,
since the only other times we're up there is in the summer and fall.

We had such a fun, relaxing time that I don't want the break to end. I have that Sunday afternoon/night feeling, but I keep reminding myself that I only have 4 days of school this week until I go to Sundance. Makes me feel a lot better.

Here are some of the many pictures that I took. I felt like Danica's experience with cold and snow for the first time should be well documented. I'll spare you the complete tour and share only the highlights:

Sledding at a nearby hill:
Making snow angels whenever the urge struck:Ice skating:Snow past our knees:The state park with no one else in sight:
Stein showing Danica how birch trees were used to make canoes (the lake is straight out in the distance):
Walking on the ice in the bay:
Before embarking on our rafting trip:
Trees on the river: A great day for a river ride:A hike through the woods before hitting the water park: