Chuchería

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snapshots

Last night we had the 2nd of 4 quarterly parent-teacher conferences. They are held in the cafeteria from 4:30 until 7:30 pm (duh). I dread them, mostly because it makes for a long day, and by the end, I am just fried from doing all the meet and greet. I usually have about 30 conferences in 3 hours. It makes my head spin. And? The next morning is really rough- the staff usually skates in minutes before the students arrive, coffee in hand, dark circles around their eyes. It's a good movie day, or better yet, one to call in sick. Not me, though. I of course opted for the quiz and fascinating lesson on the present perfect subjunctive.

Dread them as I do, I must say that I do end up actually enjoying conferences. I like meeting the parents of my students, and the atmosphere in the cafeteria is quite social. Some of the parents have had kids in school together for 10 or more years, and this is one place they get to see each other. Since I live in the district in which I teach, I also know some of the parents socially- or at least semi-socially. So, it's basically a big love fest.

Last night's offerings were very colorful indeed. It felt like I was watching a Robert Altman (God rest his soul...) movie- with the parents on one side of the table, performing for me, and me on the other, just observing.

I of course had the typical "helicopter" parents, the ones whose kids are getting an A in Spanish 4, and it's effortless for them. They are the ones who want to know if the entire class is taught in Spanish, what they should expect from their child in the way of fluency, what are good software programs for tutorials, on and on and on with their over-achieving selves.

But, I also met an interesting couple- parents of a really cool kid- he actually went out and bought a guayabera (one of those button down shirts a lot of men wear in the Caribbean) and wore it to class. I found out that his mother had studied linguistics in college, and that they had lived in Zaire for a couple of years when they were first married. His dad worked at a hospital there and spoke some French, and his mom learned one of the trade languages while living there. They both got these really sweet smiles on their faces while reminiscing about that time in their lives.

One mom made me laugh when she said that she was glad her daughter had me instead of one of my colleagues, who, she said "shits pencils" he's so uptight. She also was telling me that she was relieved that her daughter was kind of a goody 2 shoes, but she worried that she was perceived as a bit of a Jesus geek. Then she shrugged her shoulders and leaned forward and said, "she's never going to get laid her Freshman year of college. That's a good thing, though."

Another mom confided that she and her husband had separated after 28 years of marriage. They had adopted a family of 4 kids and then had one of their own, and then called it quits when he was 15. Isn't that sad? Then she told me that her son had a mild form of Turret's , which you would never in a million years guess. She said it was strep induced from when he was little, but he was outgrowing it.

One dad came and he looked kind of like a werewolf and seemed to be several bricks shy of playing with a full deck. But, props to him for showing an interest in his daughter's education. You could tell that he was really uncomfortable being there and he hardly made eye contact with me. His daughter is bright and if she came from a different socioeconomic class, she would be preparing to go to college instead of choosing which restaurant she will waitress at.

Lots of parents talked about their kids' college plans- some of them even kind of teared up when they spoke about them leaving home. It's funny, the kids look like adults, but they're still someone's little boys and girls. The parents look at their sons and daughters and remember the little bundle of joy they held in their arms a short time ago. Some of them just glow with pride. Others are so disgusted with their slacker kids, they could just spit. One mom said "It's really good that I'm a social worker - then I won't go home and beat him!" She was joking of course- don't take me too seriously.

One dad always comes with his son. His son is nice enough and is a pretty good student, but I can't help but think to myself "How did a 50 year old man get into that 15 year old kid's body?" His favorite movies are To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men. He likes to come up to me after class and show me things like a family vacation photo where his dad had "the most hilarious expression on his face." And it's not.

The couple that stole the show was towards the end. Their daughter is beautiful, bright and talented. She is also a bit "work shy" and gives herself a day off about once a week. Some of her absences are excused, some aren't. Her father is American and her mother is Asian. They seemed to be perplexed as to how to get their daughter to come to school and to come to school on time. The mother shook her head and said in heavily accented English, "We didn't do discipline her when she was young. Now it's too late." She tossed her head at her husband, "You need to make her! You need to be tougher on her!" "Me? Why do I have to be the bad guy? I don't want to be the bad guy!" I mentioned that some parents took away priviledges like phone and car. The mom shook her head, "No. She get mad and won't come at all." Mmmm. Methinks someone's created a monster. They went back and forth for a little while. It was highly entertaining, in a train wreck sort of way.


Just for the record, I think that we will NOT get hit with this big "winter storm" the weather folk are all geared up for. I'm sure it will travel across Iowa and veer either north or south of us and we'll get nothing but flurries. Of course, my students were all jacked up, anticipating a snow day, which they will regret in June when we have to make it up. We hope for a 2 hour late start, where we can sleep a little late and enjoy the morning coffee.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh, Snap!

I was doing so well, too! But, I dropped the ball yesterday and instead of propping my eyelids open to enlighten you all with more of my inane jabber, I fell dead asleep at about 8:04 last night. On the 27th day- it's like watching someone with a winning streak in poker bet it all on a pair of twos and lose it all! Ok, that's a bit reaching, but you get the idea.

Here's a question for you teacher-types: Do your schools have some kind of protocol or policy regarding parents coming to observe?

Here's a question for you non-teachers, lest you feel left out: What do you think is reasonable and acceptable with regard to parents coming to observe a classroom?

Here's why I ask: Today I was in the middle of teaching and I got a phone call from the office. "There's a parent here who would like to come and observe your class." To which I responded, "you have got to be kidding. No phone call, no appointment?" The secretary responded with, "Well, we're going to have her talk to someone before she comes down, because she's getting a little belligerent..". I could hear the woman in the background- yelling about taking an interest in her child's education, blah, blah, blah. So, I said, sure, send her down, why not?

The woman in question is the mother of a frightfully average to below average student of mine. He is a senior, and has a whopping 14 on his ACTs (out of 36, for those of you SAT people.) He vacillates between a B- and a C+ in my Spanish 4 class, which is pretty good for him. But, his parents seem to think that his C+ in my Spanish class is messing up his gradepoint average and will interfere with his ability to go to college. They called for a conference last term and I gently tried to tell them that he was really working hard and to the best of his ability. Is there a nice way to tell them that their son's quite average, he's not a real go-getter and that they should take the C+ gracefully, because quite frankly, he's not going to do much better than that?

She did come observe my explanation and review of the present subjunctive (I'm sure she was like "what. the. hell. is the short lady saying?") The class is huge, so there are no extra chairs- we got her a place to sit, and I did ask if she'd rather sit by her son. Of course I did that on purpose- I'm sure he would rather have dug out his eyeballs with a ballpoint pen than have his mommy sit by him in class.

I don't mean to sound like I don't ever want parents to come observe my class, but how about a phone call, an appointment, a heads up? I don't have anything to hide, but what if we had been doing something completely mundane, like taking a test, or watching a movie? What if she would have disrupted my classroom? Does she have the right to do that?

Oh, and just so everyone knows? Girls who sit with their purses in their laps, with one hand in the purse and keep looking down? Aren't fooling anyone into thinking they aren't im-ing their friends.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday-itis

I've got a bad case of the Sunday-itis. You know- when you start dreading going back to work the minute you wake up. You've got loads of laundry to do, you could stand to do a little cleaning, you've got dishes to do and yet, you do things like this:

1. hang your Christmas lights. Since it was like 70 degrees here today, the whole block was out having a big ol' deco-fest. It was kind of cool, although I was horribly reminded of the embarrassing film with Matthew Broderick and Danny Devito- Deck the Halls. We hung icicle lights around the porch- we have a wrap-around porch- and put out 2 small pine trees with white lights on either side of the front door.

2. sleep late and skip church. One of the reasons I hesitated to even take this job at the high school level is because it starts so damned early. 7:45 is too early for teenagers- and too early for me. I leave the house at like 7:10- ugh.

3. go buy a Christmas tree so you don't have to do it next weekend, you can just focus on decorating it. I don't understand people who are indecisive in this matter. Pick out the freaking tree- they all pretty much look the same anyway.

4. take down all fall/Thanksgiving decorations. I tried to be all Martha and had little mini pumpkins in big glass hurricanes on the mantel. Yeah. They got all rotten and moldy. Yum.

5. avoid Lesson Plans. Doing the lesson plans is giving in- admitting I've got to go back tomorrow.

6. correct no papers. Their last quiz was so bad, I just can't face it.

7. wait until 6:00 to start prep work for Brownie meeting after school. Why does all of this sound like a good idea in August?

8. watch your next Netflix movie.

I hope everyone else's tomorrow is a good one. I'm sure mine will be, too, it will just be a rough start.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


I am in 2 book groups and they are both meeting next weekend. We will discuss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in one and An Amateur Marriage, by Anne Tyler in the other. Soooo many books, and so very little time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy to Us

At the T household, Thanksgiving also marks an anniversary of sorts for the Mr. and Mrs. (cue Wayne and Garth "diddly diddly" noise, complete with wavy fingers....)

It was 1992, I had just graduated from college, moved to Louisiana with my then -fiancé, broken off that engagement, moved back home, accepted my first teaching job, and was flat ass broke, living in my hometown with one friend in town. My teaching job could not have been crazier. I taught morning bilingual kindergarten, then traveled to one of the high schools to teach 1 class of ESL, then skedaddled across town to a junior high to teach another section of ESL. Only the kindergarten part was a contracted position- the ESL was a long-term sub. gig. To make ends meet, I taught a night class- Spanish to adults.

For a social life, I hung out with my one friend and her fiancé, and I went out of town almost every weekend to visit college friends. On the Weds. before Thanksgiving, my friend asked if I wanted to go with her and Fiancé to a party. "You remember Mr. T, don't you? From high school? His dad was our art teacher?" Sure, I remembered, we even had a couple of mutual friends. I obviously had nothing else to do, so yeah, I'd go to the party.

I dressed carefully, a really great green fuzzy sweater that made my eyes look like emeralds, green pants and a funky black wool hat that I had bought in Chicago. Mr. T would remember that hat years later when we'd have the "Do you remember when we first met?" talk. We arrived right in the thick of things- people in the basement (Mr. T was living with his mother at the time- give him a break, he was only 21) cigarette smoke hung thick in the air, typical college party. Mr. T and some other guys I did not know were warming up- their band was going to play. He shyly talked to me, looking at me through the hair that hung in his eyes. In later years, people would peg him as a dead-ringer for either Leo DiCapprio or Matt Damon. We reminisced about friends we had in common. We laughed about the only other time I'd been over to his house- again, he and his band were playing in the basement. His mom hollered down for them to turn down the amps, because his dad had a headache. Ever agreeable, always the smartass, Mr. T said wryly, "Nooo fun for you tonight, huh mom?" And for some reason, it just sent me into peals of giggles, and I always remembered it. I even shared that story with him and his mom that night- and they got a kick out of it.

So there I was, 4 or 5 years later, his father had since passed away, he was living with his mom. I stood in their hazy kitchen, hazy because they had to clean the oven, had to clean the oven because Mr. T had put his sister's childhood doll, Baby Crissy in the turkey roaster as a joke and someone unknowingly turned on the oven to pre-heat and stank up the oven and kitchen. I got to meet his mom that night and she took to me right away, and I was immediately comfortable with her. Mr. T was ever the gentlemen, introduced me to his friends, made sure I got a cold Mickey's (ew) and had this sexy way of looking right into my soul when he talked to me. Frankly, I have little recollection of who else was there that night.

We ended up leaving the party early, my friend and Fiancé were smoke intolerant. Mr. T walked us to the door to say goodbye and gave me this slow, warm embrace and thanked me for coming along.

As I slid into the back of friend and Fiancé's car, across the cold, vinyl seats, I leaned forward to talk to them in the front. My face flushed, I said, "Gosh, I don't remember Mr. T being that cool."

The rest, as they say, is history. I tell people this story, and I always add that it was love at first sight. Even though Mr. T did not look good "on paper"- no job, not in school, smoker, played in band, slept all day, lived with his mother- I just knew he was the one for me. He was my diamond in the rough, and remains my greatest treasure.

And so now we have a standing date on Thanksgiving Eve- we go out for a nice dinner and usually go to the Festival of Trees. We now go with our 2 daughters and celebrate the beginning of Us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, these are 13 things for which I am thankful.

1. My wonderful, long-suffering husband. He is my everything.

2. My two lovely daughters- I always wanted to have a daughter, and luckky me, I have 2!

3. That most of my extended family lives close by. I know-the "ties that bind", but I really like having relatives live near us.

4. My job- I know that I am lucky to have a great school to work at, with great colleagues, great kids and it's 5 minutes from my home.

5. My health, knock on wood.

6. The Democrats kicked some serious ass in this last election. I was very, very worried about the Iowa gubernatorial race. I am so very glad that I won't have to choke out the words "Governor Nussle" anytime soon.

7. That I don't have any "serious" dysfunction in either mine or my husband's families. No one is in prison, no meth labs in the basement, no demonic possession that we know of.

8. For the roof over my head and the food on our plates. I know that we take these things for granted, and there are plenty of people out there who don't have as much.

9. For our health insurance. Lord knows it could be better, but at least we've got it.

10. To have so many wonderful friends.

11. That I have such a great mom who raised me all by herself.

12. That I've been able to travel and see as much of the world that I have, which I know is not much compared to some people, but nothing to sneeze at, either.

13. To live somewhere where my children can play outside safely.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope all of you have things to be thankful for, too.

13.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Inner Priss

I have mentioned my Inner Priss on several occasions. Those of you who know me either as a "real person" or through this blog know that I am not a prissy person. I swear like a sailor, I enjoy a bit of blue humor, I laugh at bathroom jokes, I watch South Park and The Family Guy.

And yet, she lives within me, my Inner Priss. She rears her perfectly combed head from time to time- like when my daughters say "fart" and "butt". The Inner Priss prefers that they say "pass gas" and "bottom", or maybe even "toot" and "heinie".

IP made an appearance twice this evening. We attended the Festival of Trees as a family. Part of the festival includes local dance classes performing throughout the evening. Some of the dances that little girls were doing should have been done while hanging onto a pole. Have you seen Little Miss Sunshine? Not far off. I guess I don't think it's appropriate for 7 year olds to be shaking their shoulders and writhing on the floor. Remember Solid Gold, with host Rick Dees and featuring the Solid Gold Dancers? My mother would just cringe when those women would roll around on the floor and then strike a dramatic pose when the clip of the song ended.

The Festival of Trees also hosts a dance for teens, which happened to be tonight. Let me tell you that I have recently chaperoned a high school dance. I work with teenagers every day. I enjoy them. I know they need to strut their stuff a bit. But. Some of the outfits I saw the girls wearing tonight were just positively hoochie. One girl had on a pink micro mini skirt with white fur trim, white go go boots and some skimpy top and a Santa hat. She looked like a stripper. Several girls' dresses looked like nighties, and lucky for everyone, you could see right through them, so if you were wondering what color of Victoria's Secret thong they had on, wonder no more. One girl was hobbling along in a tall, shiny, red pair of F*** Me pumps, wearing a sparkly skirt that barely covered her ass. Most years when we go, we see the kids coming in for the dance as we are leaving and I enjoy seeing them all dressed up. This is really the first year that I was struck by how slutty a lot of the girls looked.

My Inner Priss and my Inner Feminist were having quite a discussion. Is this really what we want our daughters and sisters and nieces to show the world? What message are they sending? I'm not against showing a little skin- especially when you are still young and everthing is still where it belongs, but this current trend of showing it all and living life like a Playboy Bunny is disturbing.

I guess I'll go drink my glass of Metamucil and watch some Golden Girls before I put on my flannel nightgown and go to sleep.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The 100th Post: A Very Special Chuchería

Today marks my 100th post. I don't really feel any different, and I certainly don't feel like I've done anything extraordinary.
(cue dreamy harp music that will take us back to April, 2006....)I was talking about Peeps and Ghetto fishing a lot that month. I was a mere Babe in Blogland...

May brought more shit with my textbook, and one huge rant about my students.

June brought freedom, a new hamster, and this appeared across the street.

We went to Disneyworld in July, and I won this award. I also blogged about a book I read with the girls, and the author herself left a comment. Woo hoo!

In August, I wrote a letter to the bats in my belfry in hopes that they would leave. I also whined a lot about going back to school.

We got tagged in September, but I don't think it means we are "it".

In October, I re-invented the STD, and that brings us to November and the whole NaBloPoMo craze.

Thank you to my readers, it has truly been a joy. This is something that I look forward to every day- keep reading, and definitely keep writing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Turkey Say: Relax (it's the tryptophan, man)

A columnist for our local paper brings up the phenomenon of the Turkey Note every year. It seems as though these things exist only in my neck of the woods. And what are these, uh, turkey notes of which I speak?
I remember making them when I was in elementary school. You take a small-ish piece of white paper and write a little rhyme on it, like "Turkey red, turkey blue, turkey says I love you!" The rule is that it has to have the word "turkey" and you have to use color words. Then, you roll up the paper and tie it with some yarn, then you cut and fringe the ends- so they end up looking like those little fake turkey leg warmers you see in pictures but no one ever uses. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, you put a Turkey Note on each person's plate as a little favor. A lot of people here still make them and it's become a tradition in many families. Someone speculated that they are a German tradition, since there were a lot of Germans who settled here. But, seeing as how Thanksgiving is really kind of exclusively an American holiday, that theory has been shot down.

So, has anyone else even heard of Turkey Notes? Do you have anything similar where you live?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

domingo

Trivia Update: We tied for 1st place and lost because we're stupid. I had no idea that I knew that the place just under your nose is called your philcrum. AND I did not know that the actor that played Cowboy Curtis on PeeWee's Playhouse was none other that Lawrence Fishburne.

Bonus Points duly awarded to Oh the Joys for answering correctly "Philosophy's the talk on the cereal box, Religion's the smile on a dog." Nicely done.

Oh, and the
Zygote has hatched over at Zygote Daddy. Give'em a peek, the very new and adorable Hawkes is starring. It's so funny how you "know" these people out there floating around in the blogosphere.

So, tomorrow after school, my work-week will be half over! Woo hoo! I wish I had something better to offer my students than "perfect" tenses.

I'm watching Vh1's The Fabulous Life, which I should not, because I find out things like Sharon Stone hired her sister Kelly to be her "wardrobe mistress" on the set of Basic Instinct 2 for $40 K. Yes, and I am working my ass off and cannot afford to buy Scholastic magazines for my classroom. What is WRONG with our world?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Trivial Matters

Mr. T and I are going to play Trivia tonight. I don't know if you all have these where you live, but they are quite the fundraiser here. You get a table of 8-10 people, it's $10 a person, you bring your own snacks and beer and you play 10 rounds that consist of 10 questions each. Each table submits their answers on an answer sheet, at the end of the round, the scores are tallied. It's kind of like tailgating. ONly without the cold. And the football. And the back end of a truck. And the grill. Ok, it's not like tailgatig at all, except for the beer part.

So, I'm really psyched for this. For, you see, although I do not claim to be any sort of intellectual giant, I do have a noggin for useless information, pop culture and also have a frighteningly good memory. I'm just waiting to be asked "What is the difference between a carousel and a merry-go-round?" So that I can answer "A carousel goes counter clockwise and a merry-go-round goes clockwise." Smarty pants that I am. And could someone please tell me why I know that the white part of the orange peel is called the pith? Or why I'm able to name the crew of the Love Boat?

Bonus Points to those who can answer this:

According to Edie Brickell, what are philosophy and religion? (Think of song lyrics, circa 1988)

I know that I personally will suck at the local trivia and sports categories. I'm hoping for a 70's sitcom or Spanish irregular verbs category. I'll let you know how we did.

Friday, November 17, 2006

And we're off!

Actually, we're not off until Tuesday, which is a welcome change from having to go until Wed. Sure we'd get out a couple of hours early and like 60% of our students were gone anyway. So now we just go to school on Mon. and Tues. And do you know there are high school students- smart high school students who asked me "Do we have school next week?" and "What day is Thanksgiving on this year?" and "When do we come back?" Are they living under a rock? How do they have no clue as to when their days off are? And unless they are recent immigrants to this country, which they are not, they really have no excuse not to know that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday.

So, the title of this post is really a reference to horse racing. We're the horses, racing through the holiday season. I'm looking at my calendar- work parties and Christmas programs and other parties and gift exchanges, oh my! I know, it sucks to be me- too many parties to go to, boo freaking hoo. What I really want to do is put up my tree, sit in front of the fireplace and watch "White Christmas" and NOT have to go anywhere. Even if it's a fun where. The up side is that I have a sparkly emerald green dress to wear and a shiny red purse to carry with it when I attend a couple of these events. The downside is that it's not the most comfortable thing to wear. Would it be tacky to attend Mr T's work party in yoga pants and a fleece?

Tomorrow is the first installment of the T's holiday festivities. We are going to one of those balloon parades (like Macy's Thanksgiving). We get a primo view, since we are going to watch it from the window of our friend's photography studio downtown. It's a kick-off to the Festival of Trees event, which is a huge fundraiser for the local Arts council. I know, it's very Junior League, but I am a sucker for Christmas-y events.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, The Drinking Game

This is kind of a take on that drinking game "I never". Remember that? You'd sit around a table and tell things you've never done and everyone at the table who had never done that same thing had to drink. Or at least, that's the way I remember playing.
So, play along at home- if you've never done these things, take a drink of whatever you happen to be sipping at the moment (tea, Diet Coke, Lavoris, Similac, agua, bourbon...)

I've never...

1. used a tanning bed. Ever.

2. wanted to (see #1).

3. gone downhill skiing.

4. been to Europe.

5. been part of a cult.

6. liked country music. (not that that has anything to do with a cult)

7. seen any of those 3-D pictures that were all the rage a few years ago. I did the nose against the picture and backed up- still nothing.

8. been to confession.

9. witnessed an exorcism. (I don't THINK they're the same thing...)

10.seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies. ( see #5... just kidding!)

11.worn white after Labor Day. (Have you seen the movie Serial Mom, where Kathleen Turner's character charges a woman in the courtroom for doing just such a thing?)

12.karaoke'ed. Seriously. I get up in front of people every day and do my dog and pony show- I don't really fear public speaking- but the singing? Scares the crap out of me.

13."hosted a murder"- no, not a real murder. What kind of a freak do you think I am? I'm talking about one of those cheesy party games where you have to get into character and solve a murder mystery.


Ok, so I gave you some freebies- I can't have thirsty people reading this blog, can I?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gilmore

And now, a break from Real Life and a chance to pretend we live in Stars Hollow, Connecticut and are close, personal friends of Lorelei and Rory Gilmore.

Have any of you been keeping up with this new season? What do you think of this new Lorelei and Christopher business? Can you even believe they got married in Paris? At the end of last season, I was sort of ok with her going back to Christopher, because that's kind of been her pattern all along. He also seems to be much more part of her "world" than Luke, so they have that bond. Plus, I was really frustrated with Luke for being so wishy washy. He really needed to grow a pair. The part that I don't get is how Lorelei got over Luke so quickly. I know she and Christopher are all lovey and gushy over each other, but wtf? I almost liked him better when he rode into town on his motorcycle and nobody really knew if he was going to stay or not.

And Lane? Ok, cute that she's pregnant after only having sex the one time. But now twins? Kind of cliche.Very cute that Mrs. Kim wants to move in- and very much in keeping with her character. I LOVED it when Zach thought the twins were conjoined and then when he found out they weren't, he was like, "Dude, we can do this!"

I love Rory's new girlfriends, although they aren't nearly as entertaining as Paris- and the Marty twist was interesting. Didn't that happen when you were in college? That whole "3 degrees of separation" phenomenon.
Marty's girlfriend was on "Veronica Mars" last year- which is like the only other show I keep up with on a regular, somewhat obsessive basis.

I fear that this will be the last year for the Gilmores, what with Amy Sherman Palladino having gone bye-bye- I wonder how they'll wrap things up? Will Luke and Lorelei end up together after all? Logan and Rory? I'm dying to know.

What about you? Non-Gilmore watchers need not reply. What do the rest of you think?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Word.

Found this over at Sex Ed in Higher Ed. Tag, you're it!

You can only type one word (I don't know if I can stand it.) No explanations.

Yourself: Complex
Your partner: Pensive
Your hair: Tonal
Your Mother: Strong
Your Father: Dead
Your Favorite Item: Purse
Your dream last night: none
Your Favorite Drink: Beer
Your Dream Car: Thunderbirdconvertible
Your Dream Home: Finished
The Room You Are In: Office
Your Ex: TALL
Your fear: rats
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? Stable
Who you hung out with last night: Mr. T.
What You're Not: Simple
Muffins: Blueberry
One of Your Wish List Items: Chanel
Time: Lacking
The Last Thing You Did: Read
What You Are Wearing: work
Your favorite weather: June
Your Favorite Book: Many
Last thing you ate: eggs
Your Life: ok
Your mood: spaz
Your Best Friends: saucy
What are you thinking about right now: School
Your car: messy
What are you doing at the moment: Procrastinating
Your summer: Disney
Relationship status: Married
What is on your tv: Gilmore
What is the weather like: Icky
When is the last time you laughed: 6:00

You have no idea how hard it was to only write one word for these. Try it, it makes you think and choose your words more carefully.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm Just Not That In to Him

Haven't we all been in a relationship that starts out good? You get excited about seeing the other person- you look forward to it, in fact. You imagine what your next encounter will be like. The other person anticipates your needs and wants. It flatters you.
But then, things start to bore you. You start looking elsewhere, and you really like what you see. You start to avoid the other person- even to the extent of pretending you're not home because you just don't want to talk to him.
I've come to a crossroads, my friends. It's time to break up with my Schwan's man. Oh sure, it was great at first- a glossy new catalog with all kinds of tempting treats delivered right to my door every other week. No dinner planned? No problema, dude! What to choose? Pizza? Deep dish or thin crust? Fish -n- Chips? How about some ice cream for dessert? Dulce de Leche or Cookies 'n Cream?
Today, when I turned onto our street, I noticed the huge truck in front our our house. A feeling of dread came over me. I opted to keep driving and took a few spins around the block before coming back home. All this so as not to deal with having to tell him "No, we don't need anything today!"
I definitely won't miss the little orange stickers that name the next date of their arrival. Like we will plan around it? It's frozen food, people. Frozen. Food. We can buy it elsewhere.

So, bye-bye Mr. Schwan's Man! It's been nice, but we need to move on. This relationship is dragging us both down. It's time to see other people.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday-itis

But I don't WANT to go to school tomorrow!

Here's the Top 10 for my weekend (in no particular order- that would take far too much effort.) :

10. Sleep- I adore sleeping past 7:30!

9. Pumpkin waffles- oh.my.god. Who knew? Heavenly.

8. Watching the girls frolic in the leaves, with the added bonus of them finally being old enough to actually be of some real help. (Right now the leaf bag count is at about 40.)

7. HOT coffee. I am sick, sick, sick of drinking lukewarm coffee because I don't/can't /won't take the time to sit down and enjoy it while it's hot.

6. Killer sale at Old Navy- 50% off the lowest price. I got stuff for the girls for $1 and $2. Score.

5. Chipping away at the Christmas shopping.

4. Leinenkugel Apple Spice beer- not quite a beer, not quite a hard cider. Definitely yummy.

3. Soup made today- all ready to go for tomorrow. Sure beats LAST Monday's dinner. (cereal.Don't judge me.)

2. The annual watching of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"- no, you didn't miss it, we have it on video. Remember when you had to actually be home to see it? And if you missed it? You had to wait a whole YEAR to see it again. Good grief.

1. It's official: someone ELSE is hosting Thanksgiving this year. Woo hoo! Thursday-at home, hot coffee, Macy's parade, I don't have to do anything else.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Whew!

...sure glad my life path aligns with what Blogthings the Almighty has set before me. Don't know what I'd do if it said I'd make a good rodeo clown.




Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence



You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.

An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.

You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.

A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.



You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Five

1. Given a choice, and imagining that money and time were no object, would you rather cook dinner, eat out or order in?

I would definitely rather eat out. I'm imagining a wonderful meal that is prepared with lots of garlic and probably something like veal (sorry,
Jess )or shrimp or something I don't prepare at home very much. And a salad prepared by someone else? Almost always better.

2. What is the most elaborate meal you've ever prepared yourself or purchased at a restaurant?

I'm going to answer this in 2 parts. First, I'll tell you about the most elaborate meal I've prepared. I'm actually a fairly adventurous cook, so this is kind of tough. I guess any holiday meal that involves coordinating the turkey or ham with everything else is pretty elaborate in terms of the timing. I've made both moussaka and pastitsio, and a killer Mostaccioli sauce that has meatballs and sausage and pork neck bones and you have to cook it for forever and a day in order for it to come out right.

The most elaborate meal I've eaten out was at a French restaurant that we've gone to several times. Mr. T used to work for a company that took everyone there for the Christmas party. We started with escargots, lobster bisque, salads of hearts of palm. Once Mr. T ordered the sweetbread and the very sweet waiter tactfully asked "Have you had our sweetbreads before?" To which Mr. T answered "no". Taking pity on my poor, philistine husband, he said, "The sweetbreads are the glands of the bull." Mmmm. No thanks, I think I'll have whatever is covered in bearnaise sauce. Mmmmmm.

3. What food do you find yourself making and/or eating way too much?
I don't know if it's necessarily a bad thing, but I make and eat a hell of a lot of chicken. Roasted, grilled, fried, shredded, diced, sliced, baked.... Last Spring I was on a big Greek chicken kick- sooo easy. Juice 1 lemon, pour into a ziploc bag. Add to it about a tablespoon of cooking oil and a small handful of oregano. If you use the dried stuff, make sure you rub it between your palms to release the aroma. Add salt and pepper. Let marinate for about a half and hour. Cook on the grill, serve with yummy Greek salad and warm pita. Yum.


4. What was your most disastrous cooking/eating out experience?

When Mr. T and I were first dating, I invited him over for dinner. I made "coq au vin", but sort of improvised. This is both a good and bad thing, but in this case, it turned the "coq" purple. (great, I can just imagine all the pervert hits I'll get for that one.)I only had red wine, which stained the chicken. Plus, I had to cook it in a bowl, because I was only like 22 and didn't have all things kitchen at my disposal.
It ended up being one of the most memorable, romantic evenings of my life.

5. Would you rather cook for someone else or have them cook for you?

Not a fair question. It depends on what is being cooked, as well as who's preparing it, and who I'd be cooking for.
I really prefer other people to do any kind of grilling for me. I also don't really make pancakes much, so any time someone else wants to make them for me, I'm in.
If I have to cook for really picky people who have no culinary imagination, then I'd prefer to order pizza.
For the most part, though, I do like to cook, so I guess I'd vote for me doing the the cooking and someone else cleaning up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Roy






Last year my daughters were fascinated by Native Americans, in particular Inuits and whatever the p.c. term for Eskimo is. They played Native Americans-usually by our fireplace and usually with every basket they could lay their hands on. For some reason, their play evolved into having a sled dog, and one of them, usually Lydia would be the dog.

One winter evening, Lydia was cruising around the main floor of our house on all fours, panting, not too much barking, because sled dogs don't bark a lot- duh!. Claire kept giving her all sorts of commands. Well, you can't call a sled dog "Lydia", so Claire came up with "the only Native American sounding name she could think of" for her faux canine companion. She called her "Roy".

"Roy, go get that fish jumping out of the river!"
"Roy, good boy!"
"Roy! Come back here!"

They were really into it and hardly broke character when Mr. T came home from work. Lydia sprang up and ran into his arms, yelling "Daddy!" Claire barely spoke to him, except for the obligatory "Hi! Yes, I had a good day at school..." Respecting their need to play without interference of grownups, Mr. T left them to their game and went into the kitchen. As he walked out of the room, he heard Claire say, very seriously, "Roy, don't talk to the White People."

Could you die?! Sometimes I think they are here on earth just to entertain me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yesterday

A re-cap of yesterday, or "Why I fell asleep at 9:00 and thus resorted to lame blog entry on Nov. 7."

6:30 am Mr. T left to go "get out the vote" and be a poll-watcher (NOT a pole-watcher, which is an entirely different, hillbilly thing.)

6:50 am My mom arrived to pinch hit and hang out with the girls so that I could go to school. Girls cooperative, for once.

7:10 am Left house, refused to listen to any talking on the morning radio. My 7 minute commute only allows me to listen to like 2 songs on my Beck cd in the car. Track 6, and then I go back to Track 5.

7:45 am Show time- aka the final bell signalling the start of 1st Block. A very mellow start to my day- tiny class with 7 students. (Scheduling snafu.)

9:15 am Prep time, which I spent at a meeting with my daughters' principal discussing some teacher issues I'm having; on the way back to school realized I was on "e", so stopped for gas. While filling up, was watching the numbers tick away and was thinking "Boy, I really must've needed gas, 'cause usually the thing shuts off at about 13.5 gallons." 14, 14.5, 15, 15.5...... until I realized that gas was splooshing onto the ground. Made up for yucky gas smell and nervous feeling talking to principal by stopping at coffee drive through for a cuppa. Made it back to school in time for some "housekeeping" stuff I needed to do for trip to Spain this summer.

11:00am Crazy 3rd Block that has 29 bodies stuffed into it, none of whom will shut up for love nor money. I've tried, they won't. This is the class with the boy of very average ability, who by some strange twist got a B- at midterm last quarter. His dad set up a conference because his grade point average was going to interfere with his going to college. Mmm yeah. He got a 14 on his ACT's. He's a nice kid, he does his work , but higher than a B for his final grade? Not going to happen, sorry. Plus, he missed ALL last week because of an injury, which I know he can't help, and will miss Thurs. and Fri. of this week because they're going out of town. Whatever. Maybe his GPA would be better if he didn't miss 7 out of 10 days of school. Maybe.

1:00pm Noisy 4th Block which has Homecoming Queen and the Desk Movers. They got to miss the last 35 minutes of valuable class time last Thurs. for a fundraiser, which I am ok with,and can plan accordingly. However, they had another day of such nonsense yesterday. It was an eating contest, with proceeds going to help the local food bank. Irony? Plus, I am philosophically opposed to this. So, I told my class they could go, but those who stayed would get 20 extra credit points. I'm sure that flies in the face of school spirit, but could care less.

3:30 Home at last. Leaves taking over the yard. I had to buy the house with the 5 oak trees that are 100 plus years old. That aren't finished dropping their leaves. Filled 8 stupid lawn bags, plus yard waste bin. Leaves still in the lead. Claire cleaned gross hamster cage and called it a day. Lydia raked and jumped in a pile for a while, then lost interest and focused on the candy.

6:30 Back in the house to find Lydia's Halloween candy bucket with significantly less candy than earlier. Only Tootsie Rolls, Smarties and other non-chocolate treats remain. Claire in a tv daze. No beer in fridge. Ate lame-o dinner from freezer.

7:30 Rousing games of Go-Fish, Slamwich and Blink. Girls took turns reading some of the Thanksgiving favorites. (Awwwww! Especially cute to hear Claire read some of the ones we remember reading to her when she was a toddler.)

8:45 Mr. T still poll watching. Girls all ready for bed. Lay down with Claire to say good night. Stumbled into Lydia's room to do the same. Woke up long enough to stay in the NaBloPoMo running.

10 ish, too much in a daze to remember properly. Stumbled to bed, praying that Jim Nussle would not be our new governor.

11:30 Unbeknownst to me, Mr. T arrived home after attending the local "victory" party, tired but feeling good about all of his time and energy put into this election.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get out and Vote!

I hope you all got out and exercised your right to vote today.
It's really important.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In Case you were wondering...

You Are Best Described By...

San Giorgio Maggiore, Twilight
By Claude Monet


Thanks, Nic, for the tip!
I love those stupid Blogthings! I can waste lots of time spend valuable minutes finding out random shit interesting things about my true self.
Oh, and also? I just figured out how to strike through text. Woo. Hoo.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time


My book group met this evening. The above is what we read. A fabulous read- the author shows amazing insight into the mind of a high-functioning autistic boy. We all loved the book, which is pretty amazing in and of itself, since our group has some diverse taste in reading. We all agreed that we were sympathetic to the parents of the boy, and yet were very much rooting for the boy himself, Christopher. We also loved that it was British, full of British usage and funny slang. I for one, love the use of the word "poo", for some reason. It makes me giggle and at the same time does not seem as crude as other words.(which, incidentally, I am not above using.)I highly recommend it to everyone, though people who work in education or counselling or social work may find it particulary interesting.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

And the answer is.......

C. It's always C, isn't it? Even when I write my own multiple choice test, which isn't often, the answer is more frequently C than any other letter. I laughed and laughed, and then said, "Ok, now which of you jokers is going to move it back??" While heaving it back to its spot, one boy turned to the class and said "See? I told you she wouldn't get mad."
I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

As for my Saturday, I went to Stamp Camp with a friend in the morning. We made hand crafted holiday cards and then went to luch at San Francisco Oven. This afternoon, my daughters had friends over and I was subjected to lots of giggling and some Cheetah-licious dance moves.

Tonight, I loaded the girls up and we went to the fall musical at my school. They did a marvelous performance of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". I am overwhelmed with their talent. And I was a little verklempt when I read some of the "break a leg" notes in the program from the parents. One note that was missing was from the mom of the boy who played Charlie Brown. See, she left her family last year, overcome with addiction and the complexities of life. "Charlie Brown" says he knows he's better off without her, but he's a little bitter. As I watched him on stage, listened to his beautiful singing voice, I was angry with her. She's got a wonderful son here, and even though he's almost 18, he needs a mom. I know it doesn't make up for anything, and it's probably not very kosher in the teacher code of whatever, but I sent him flowers after the show. The drama department sells them before the show and at intermission for people to buy for the cast and crew. The card said, "You ARE a good man, Charlie Brown! Fabulous performance!" Sra. T.
God forbid I ever crap out on my family, but if I did? I would hope somebody would pick up the slack.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tres in NaBloPoMo*

Our school is on the block schedule. Full time teachers teach 3 90 minute blocks a day. Since I was the last hired in our department, and there is no extra classroom for me, I don't have my own classroom-I push a cart from room to room - my "mobile classroom". It's not really so bad, it just requires that I be extremely organized, which I am not, by nature. This means that I'm constantly forgetting things in the other room- CD's in the CD player, stacks of papers, videos in the VCR. I'm lucky that the rooms are all close together, so it's a matter of running next door.

Yesterday, I was about to give my 4th block class a quiz and realized I'd forgotten the quizzes. I told the kids to study for a quick minute and I'd be right back. Homecoming Queen said in a stage whisper "Ok, we won't do anything while you're gone." So, I walked a few steps into the hall, then ran back into the room to find him about to molest my cart. (molest means bother, people! Jeez!) So, I made him come with me, which he happily did. We ended up being gone a few more minutes than expected, because we saw one of the girls in our class in the hall and stopped to talk to her- she was upset about something. We walked back to the classroom, where I opened the door...
to find the big, teacher desk moved from the front of the room to right inside the doorway, the students sitting quietly, hands folded, holding back smiles.

What to do? What does the Master Teacher do in such a situation?
Does she:
A. curl up in the fetal position, rock back and forth and
say "calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean"
over and over again.
B. Cry
C. Laugh hysterically
D. Give everyone detention
E. Go apeshit and yell and scream at them about being immature
and untrustworthy and that they need to be studying for the
vocab. quiz.

Cast your votes. Then I'll tell you what I did, not being a Master Teacher, you know.
*NaBloPoMo=National Blog Posting Month

Thursday, November 02, 2006

True Confessions

We have a phone system at school - each room has a phone, and I mean like a fancy office type phone that has different lines and voice mail and you can put people on hold and transfer them to other lines and stuff, only I don't know how to do any of that. Each teacher has a voice- mailbox as well. The "msg" light on the phone supposedly lights up when there is a message. Then, 20 minutes later, it lights up again, because it forgot that it lit up before. (I'm only kidding about that part- get it? MSG as in monosodium glutamate or whatever it's called?)

At any rate, I never really figured out how to set up the phone so that I can access my voicemail. I tried, I really did, but it was like a 23 step process and I got really sick of this Stepford voice saying things like "THAT is an invalid PASSword. Please try again." I figured that if the "msg" light was on, I'd have reason to figure it out. Well, the "msg" light is never on. Nev. Er. So, I never had reason to check my "msg s". Right?

Wrong. We got an email sent out to all of us to emtpy our voice-mailboxes and to re-set our voice-mail messages this year. I printed a copy of the step by 23 step directions and gave it a go. YAY! It worked. I have a current, professional "I am away from my desk, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I will return your call" kind of message. I have a password that I actually KNOW. I still have to get out the file folder that walks me through the process, but I am able to navigate through its different functions beyond just dialing room to room or outside the building. But wait, what's that little mechanical voice saying to me? "You have. Twenty. Three. Messages."

23 messages. Good lord. Some of those messages were from 2 YEARS ago. I'm sure these poor people are going around telling everyone what a slacker I am because I never returned their calls.

Could I be a BIGGER loser?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Número Uno

Ok, so here is my first post of November. Remember, I am going to attempt a daily post during this month.

This is a quick shout out to Nic over at Siempre Fiel- take a peek at her blog. Nic, if you are reading this, you should know that I've tried to leave you some awesome comments, but they are not showing up on your site for some reason.

Today was a discouraging teaching day. The students get out an hour early every Wed. so that we can have "collaborative time". It is the bane of my existence. Our school is doing "PLCs" or, for those of you who aren't up on the latest Educationalese, Professional Learning Communities. I am not opposed to PLCs- it's the meeting and thinking you are being productive, then being told you can't actually implement something creative and innovative that your group has come up with that I'm opposed to.

We also have a big literacy initiative in our district, one in which we all have to do specific literacy activities in our classroom and then fill out a log to document that we've actually done said activity. So now, instead of just working on a reading passage with my students, asking different types of questions, I have to record the activity. It's like the Dementor (for all of you Harry Potter fans, you know what I mean-for everyone else, it's a life sucking being) of education. All this stuff that is supposed to make me more "accountable" is just sucking the life and joy out of teaching. Basically, it's just sucking.

EDITED TO ADD: Oh, I forgot to mention the brilliant decision in the district with the big, overblown "literacy initiative", the decision to cut librarians in the elementary school was made. So now, most schools must share a librarian and that person must commute between 2 schools. Because, really, a library just has books and computers and stuff and those might, just might, help increase a student's literacy.