Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Return

We're on the road once again. We'll stop in Nashville for the night. I hope to finish reading Octavian Nothing to Husbandman on this leg of the trip. Offspring not listening to the story, preferring music. A sign of independence, most likely.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Mullet

I saw many dolphins yesterday, right next to shore on Caladesi Island. They were fishing for mullets, I've been told.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Fortitude

I have a wicked bad sore throat, but I'm resolved to go forth and vacation well.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Gifts

Lots of baked goods have been coming in this year. I'm eating cookies, lemon bars and fudge all day long. The madness must stop. In 2007.
I'm a little down on myself today. Because I'm a bad wrapper. I keep getting gifts that look like works of art, beautiful ribbons, handmade tags. My gifts look hideous. I don't even try to make them look nice. And that's why I'm down on myself today. That, and the constant cookie eating.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Movies

I'm a little sad after watching Infamous, a movie about Truman Capote. He's more sympathetic in this film. The two movies provide contrasting pictures of Capote, a guy who played around with truth and fiction himself. Check it out this holiday season. I'd really like someone I know to rent both Infamous and Capote and then report on both films using a Venn Diagram. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Comments

This year's sixers and cincos are really taking up my invitation to comment on the edublog I set up. Right now they're debating the use of the term "food insecurity" that's being used instead of the word "hunger." We read about this in a Newsweek article by Anna Quindlen.
Some of the quieter sixers really let loose with their opinions on the blog. I like that. One sixer calls himself Mr. Turkey and writes ridiculous comments. We're all trying to determine Mr. T's identity, so that lends an air of mystery to the edublog as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Tree?

We watched a PBS show on Walmart last night. Thanks, Walmart, for wrecking the entire planet.
Thinking more locally, I am worrying about getting a Christmas tree. We'll only be in the house for ten more days, then we travel over hill and dale. I think we probably waited too long. I wonder if the offspring will tolerate a bunch of santas displayed everywhere, rather than the tree. I broached the subject with teendaughter and she seemed not too happy about it. If I were Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, this wouldn't even be a problem.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Dench

I like Judy Dench's hair in Casino Royale. My hair might be too bushy for her cool cut though. I'm growing my hair out and it just looks like a lawn is growing on top of my skull. It's driving me crazy. But just because I want a certain hair style doesn't mean I can have it. I've learned this.

The Weekend

Ho Ho Ho. Holiday shopping today. I'm going to get it all done. Because I'm so awesome.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Midterms

Many parents don't understand the whole concept of the midterm. This week the midterms went home and I got quite a few notes back that read, "Call me immediately if he/she has missing work in the future." I need to get these folk into the huddle and explain to them that the midterm IS the way I contact them about missing work. One sixer's parent was upset with me that I hadn't called her about two missing assignments. I told the sixer to come to my classroom every Friday afternoon from now on so that she can call her mom and let her know if she has missing work or not. She didn't look thrilled, but what am I supposed to do about it? Another mom was screaming at me on the phone that she didn't want to be angry with me, but she wanted to be "transparent." She kept repeating that phrase. I thanked her and added that I wanted to be transparent as well, and I told her, "I've been teaching for over twenty years and I have every confidence that I know what I'm doing." Not sure I have EVERY confidence, but it seemed important to communicate that at the time. This hasn't been the greatest day. After the slew of notes, I ended up getting a paper cut in third period. I kept calling kids over to look at it, but they didn't think it looked so bad.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Humans

A new website is born and it's a darned good one. I'm going to share it with the cincos and sixers as we are working on the food drive this month. Cool letter writing activity here. Check it out. Website created by friend and Husbandman's pool playing pal.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Tasks

I've edited most of the plays, about 1/5 of the fiction stories and about 1/3 of the zines. I'm heading into the compound to finish up the job. I regret, but accept, that I must neglect my family for the sake of the progress reports that go out tomorrow. If I finish this job, it will be a superhuman accomplishment of unprecedented proportions. It will be done. Oh yes. It will be done.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Oxygen

This is cool. Good friend Menosky has an oxygen machine at home because she's recovering from pneumonia. She had extra nose tubing so I got to watch Top Chef tonight while breathing in pure O2. She even let me keep my tubing, so I can reuse it next time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Shaming

I read an editorial in The Tennessean to the sixers yesterday. The editorial discussed the possible repeal of the shaming law for DUI offenders, which calls for the wearing of vests that read "I AM A DRUNK DRIVER" while doing road crew duty. The sixers had all sorts of questions about DUI and open container laws. Stuff like, "What if you had a beer bottle, but you filled it up with ginger ale and you had that in your car? Would you get in trouble then?" It was difficult getting them back on track, talking about how text can be used to wield power. When we got back to the photograph, many thought humiliation was a harsh and stupid punishment, and others supported the vests. When some of these same sixers ran through the hall on the way to the book fair, I asked if a vest that said something like, "I RUN RATHER THAN WALK IN HALLWAYS," might be helpful to enforce our hallway rules. They thought that was hilarious and a long list of shaming vests were invented as we walked the rest of the way to the library.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Sevvies

Today some of #1 son's pals came to our home, waking me up from a nap on the couch. 2 of these sevvies were former students. As I sat up and tried to straighten out my couch head, the sevvieboys started down memory lane. Ringleader sevvie asked, "Hey, remember the time I brought a giant bag of cheetos to lunch and passed it around to all the kids and you got really mad?" When the laughter died down, homework slacker sevvie added, "And remember the time I brought a 12 pack of coke in my backpack and brought them up to the cafeteria and that's all everyone had for lunch that day?" More laughter and gleeful shaking of heads.
"I remember well," I told them. "Those were good times." They agreed and then asked if we had any pie left from Thanksgiving that they might enjoy.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Holiday

I'm feeling grateful. Kinfolk are here. We're heading out to Fossil Beach. Tonight's the famed "Festival of Lights" on our downtown square. The dinner yesterday was first rate. The big exciting news is...we got tickets to an IMAX movie about the Nile. Though some here have asked why would anyone care to see this film, I'm heartily charged up. As my dad always says, I couldn't be better. My goal today is to spy a bald eagle down by the lake. Brother In Law says, "And so it shall be. You shall see one." I love the upbeat attitude and optimism that surrounds me.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Steps

I got a new pedometer and I'm on the 10,000 steps per day program. I'm up to 9,000 and it's not even 2pm.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Note

Driving in to the compound yesterday, I felt great anticipation. I knew the note from the substitute teacher waited for me on my desk. I had discussed with the sixer/cinco crew my vision for the sub note. I told them how I dreamed of a note that praised their courtesy and their work ethic. A sixer told me with confidence, "We can arrange that." I was not sure what he meant, but I just let it drop.
Reading the note with trembling hands, I was charged up to read the beginning paragraph which included a plethora of compliments about los alumnos. As I read on though, the note detailed myriad transgressions and named names of the usual suspects through each of the four periods, over two days. Something's not right here, I thought. It occurred to me that some type of arrangement had actually taken place. I guess I'll never know. Cutting my losses, I put the note away and moved on down the day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Truth

I saw Inconvenient Truth last weekend, the Al Gore movie about global warming. Now I'm thinking ...Gore in 08. The movie's excellent, so you might want to check it out.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Rink

#1 Son just left for the ice rink, a new Saturday night ritual. Last week, Husbandman and I were driving by the rink when we decided to stop in to watch #1 skate. We found him surrounded by a group of friends. He was friendly enough, but didn't talk much. We left after a short chat. The next morning, #1 laid down a few groundrules about the rink. The long and the short of his message to us was this: We're basically not to enter the rink area when he is there with friends. He found our visit "confusing" and "unnecessary." Also, somewhat "annoying."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Relief

I know I shouldn't expect too much of the new kids on the block, but if those results hadn't gone as they did, I'm not sure you would have heard from me again. I probably would have just started walking away. Who knows where?
Hoping hoping hoping for the Senate.
Low expectations, low expectations. These are the words rolling around, going back and forth.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Vote

Posted by Picasa We voted this morning. Maybe things will go our way and the war will end and we'll save the country from ruin. So optimistic am I about our democracy. Not sure why since I, in my insomnia, listened to the radio all night long and heard tales about our problematic voting machines. I'm pushing that behind me and looking ahead. Don't wanna be nosy, but you voted today, right??? If you need a ride to the polls, let me know. I have the day off.

These almond joys were gifts from the sixers and cincos. I told them they were my favorite. They hate them so I got a ton and just kept eating them all day in class. The sixers and cincos didn't mind a bit. And I was pleased of course because Almond Joys are so indescribably delicious.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Camera

When I was in college, I got into the habit of asking people for their possessions from time to time. If I liked something, I would just suggest that my pal should give it to me. I was often pleasantly surprised to find that people would accomodate my request. So when Menosky was showing off her brand new coolio camera at lunch yesterday, I said, "Hey what about your old camera? What are you going to do with that? Should I have it, do you think???" Sure enough, that baby's mine. AWESOME! MENOSKY ROCKS! Husbandman's appalled, but I say, try it sometime, ask for what you want. It's like David Byrne always says, "Be a little more selfish, it might do you some good."
Adorable Alice as LRRHood. Foto credit: Janet

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Conferences

27 conferences down. 3 to go. They're going okay. Most people want their kid to have more homework. But they add, "Don't tell him I told you that."
Foto of cute Kateland by Sam.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Sidewalk

Of course #1 son waited til last night to ask for help with acquiring a costume. He found one among the dregs. A mask that makes you look like your head is a basketball. Bought him a Pacers shirt. He's in action.
Teen Daughter and creative pals are the characters from Peter Pan. She's Captain Hook.
Halloween's a bit of a bust now. Los kiddos go off with friends right after school and we pick them up after it's all over. No one comes to our house to trick or treat because we have no side walk. No handing out candy, no cruising the neighborhoods enjoying the ghouls and goblins, crunching on the fall leaves. There should be a center for Halloween Wannabes, where we can pick up a kid and just head out. What I really want is to pass out candy. Is that asking too much?
Foto credit: Emma's mom. Emma looks HOT as batgirl.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Details

After a storyteller came and told us a creepy story yesterday, I decided to pull out ye olde gory story lesson plan. I began with friend Sam's classic write up of an infected spider bite, and then moved into a semantic map about Husbandman's renowned tennis toe. We brainstormed a list of possible topics...wart freezing, fat lips, blood blisters, mishaps with staplers. The stories behind the scars started pouring forth. Disgusting dog stories followed. A sixer's dog chewed its own toenail off. The injury was bloody and the family spent a great deal of time searching through the blood for the missing toe nail. One cinco decided to write about "The Beetle with Diarrhea," and included the golden lines, "Normally, beetles have bowel movements frequently, but this beetle was pooping every few seconds. Also, this was the first time the wonderful children had ever seen a beetle urinate." A + heading her way.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Hilarity

A parent I like a lot and have known lo these many years cheerily shared a story with me this afternoon, that she just knew I was going to find funny. Her sixer came home talking about how cranky I was and told her mom that I probably should go back to half time teaching. Then sixermom laughed pretty hard and added, "And she's so sick of this social justice stuff you're still doing!" I looked at her and said, "Could you please not tell me anything else?"
The thing about interactions like this, is, as they're happening, I instantly recognize that I'm going to be bugged for a long time. And so it has been, lo these many hours. My mind keeps returning to the words and my impatience grows as I wonder how long this one's going to stick in my proverbial craw.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Hood

Small town teaching reality. #1 son, middle school student, is now friends with a bunch of former sixers, and they keep showing up at my house. I have a problem knowing how to act. I ask about their reading habits and how they're keeping up with homework. They grunt a few comments and then huddle around the myspace hub, worrying me with fervid typing and loud cackles. I want to offer snacks, but I remember how they threw trash in my bookshelves that time I brought in poptarts. It's all very confusing. I know what some of these sixers are capable of, so I want to keep an eye on them. At the same time, I want to run far away.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Drafts

The first drafts of sixer stories are slowly coming in. Not very good, but we'll get them cleaned up through the collaborative editing relationship. In order to do some research while they're writing, I'm asking sixers to find and read texts that connect to their themes. They've been slow to bring things in, but some sixers are reading stuff about cyber bullying, animal rights, stereotyping. I was a little disappointed with how unsubtle some of the stories were, but when I google-news-ed "racism," for a few kids whose stories need a ton of work, I got quite a few current examples of blatant racist acts, so maybe their stories aren't that unrealistic afterall.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Departed

The Departed is a good movie. Matt Damon's great as a bad guy, Nicholson's eerily over the top and Leonardo is tormented and messed up . Don't delay; see it today. It's on the bloody side, just fyi.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Shampoo

My pal is in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery. She has an impressive scar, bruised and swollen arms and legs, and an excruciatingly slow walking pace, but on the good side, she told me that they have a shampoo cap that they put in the microwave and then put on your head. You rub it into your hair and it cleans it. Honestly, her hair didn't look that great, but if they worked on that technology, it could be something I would use daily. Drinking coffee and reading the paper while shampooing my hair. I'm all for it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Vole

Last week I saw a horse rolling on its back in a field. I saw a coyote later in the week, lurking near jw's home. Today, while on a walk with Minnie Jean, JW's little dog, I was surprised to see her hunt down a vole or perhaps a mouse. She jumped suddenly onto a patch of grass and said creature flew into the air and then disappeared down a drainpipe. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Permission

Knitting has exploded with both sixers and cincos. There's this one sixer who hasn't spoken much with me this year except to tell me that he has no interest in social justice and that he would much rather write the adventures of TBone, the telekinetic super dog, than any writing invitation I could come up with. He approached me on Friday and mumbled below his breath, "I've decided I'm going to let you teach me how to knit. I'll come by on Thursday." GEE GUY, THANKS! Can't wait to see ya!" is what I wanted to say. Instead I whispered back, "I'll have you all set up with needles and yarn. No problem."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Outing

After reading this poem, we all walked down to the cemetery where we picked an object and wrote poems in the same style, beginning with, "How must it be to be...." The kids who complained that the whole outing was creepy wrote morbid sad poems and they were delighted with their own handiwork. They had to have me read their pieces the second they were done. They annoyed me on the way back screaming at all the cars to honk, but while we were there, I was well pleased.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Heart

The Heart of the Game is a great sports documentary. See it today, without delay. It's about a girls' basketball team in a Seattle High School, the very high school my favorite niece attended. The coach of the team amused me with his special themes for each season. One season the team becomes a pack of wolves, the next they become a tropical storm. When they were wolves, the coach yelled constantly throughout their games, "Look into their eyes! Look into their eyes!" I need some metaphors for my classes I think. Our school mascot is the jaguar, so maybe I'll go that route. Or maybe a natural disaster like a tornado would be good. Or perhaps a migration of monarchs.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Doubts

At the beginning of the week, I talked with one group of sixers about an article by a teacher I know. In her piece, she wrote about reading books about racism, war, and oppression to her K - 2 multi age class. Many sixers felt the books were inappropriate and several expressed doubts that the littles enjoyed this type of literacy work. This being Banned Book week, I followed up our conversation with a slide show about banned books. The sixers were appalled and disgruntled by the idea that so many books they loved had been challenged. In my smarmiest voice, I said, "But I thought you told me just yesterday that many books should be kept away from little kids? Littles might get upset and we need to protect them from scary ideas! Didn't most of you say that?"
They stared at me snarkily until one sixer broke the silence with, "Touche."

I'm enjoying these peeps.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Refills

Something odd happened last night. I asked for another glass of wine at the restaurant and the waiter said in all seriousness, "We're going to have to charge you for that." Then I said yeah okay no problem and when we got the bill later, I wasn't charged for the wine. Crazy talk.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Mask

We were on lock down at the compound yesterday and police were everywhere. Little kids at recess thought they may have seen a gunman in the woods near our playground. We spent the day locked up, quelling rumors right and left. I was happy to be teaching the sixers and cincos because when we went in for book buddies with the Littles, I kept hearing comments like, "I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure a guy shot out the back windows of the school" and "A guy had a gun and he was shooting at us."
Turns out a neighbor told us today he was walking his dog in the woods around that time and he heard some Littles commenting about seeing a man. He knew they meant him, but didn't realize they would later decide he had a gun and a ski mask. We even made the front page of the paper this morning. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Treats

I'm probably getting sick. Throat hurts and I'm out of sorts. I had planned to boycott the faculty pitch in luncheon, just on surliness, but when I saw the dessert table as I walked by, I had to venture in. I stood by the desserts listening to another teacher talk about how her father almost died from hiccups. While she talked, I ate 5 rice krispie treats and a big bowl of this green jello/koolwhip/marshmallow combo. It was pleasurable, but then I had to go back to the room and give more ISTEP tests to unsuspecting sixers and cincos.
A happy end to my day will be seeing James Brown tonight. Life's been a little boring and depressing of late. The Godfather of Soul will perk it up perhaps.
p.s. Thanks to Menosky and Burke for the tickets.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Shark

For the past six months or so I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been going to bed ridiculously early. I don't sleep. I watch television, drink a glass of wine, listen to my radio. I'm tired but not tired enough to conk out so I vegetate most ignominiously. I don't even read. Okay, sometimes I try to do a sudoku. This week my slothism had hit rock bottom. Coming to my senses, I decided that, like the shark, I would continue to move until 10 pm and only then would I be able to enter the inner sanctum. If I don't sit down, I can achieve my goal. I wash the dishes, clean off all flat surfaces in the home, cast on knitting needles for sixers, go to Target, fold clothes, walk over to the corporate book store, come home and re-wash counters, you get the picture. I keep moving in a relentless drive to avoid horizonticalism. The kitchen's looking clean and my self respect is on the rise. My next step is to add meaning to my evening activities, but that's a long way off.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Coverup

Just saw Hollywoodland and I'm fairly certain that George Reeves was murdered. His death was not a suicide. In my kidlife, I watched all 104 episodes of his Superman over and over again, so I'm quite annoyed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Cast

I have been knitting a scarf for over 2 years. I know one stitch and I know it well. I brought the scarf to school because an amazing teacher I know knits with her students and I wanted to emulate that teacher. She told me that the kids just teach one another and it’s a lot of fun. During the first week of school I brought the homeroom out for extra recess and I did some knitting while they frolicked, which is probably not a good idea in terms of liability issues, but I didn’t think of that until later. A sixer told me she would bring in her knitting too and I urged her to do so. Dreams of the grand knitting circle we would soon have filled me with glee. We decided to set up shop at a picnic table at recess on Thursdays. Two Thursdays ago, I worked on my scarf and the sixer sat next to me glumly because she couldn’t remember how to cast on. I told her I could not cast on and that I only knew one stitch, but I would ask Teen Daughter to cast on for her and return her knitting the next day. I heard from some other kids that they might want to learn to knit, so I went to Hobby Lobby and bought needles and yarn for six knitters. Teen Daughter started off a few rows on each set of needles. 8 girls showed up for the knitting session on Thursday. Two said they knew how to knit, but they were total liars. And the rest could not learn worth a damn. After 20 minutes of me trying to help, recess was over and I had a tote bag of bare needles that need recasting. I didn’t get to knit at all, so that was a bit of a drag. As the kids filtered in after recess, many told me they plan to come in next Thursday. I told them that I suck at teaching knitting, but they’ll probably show up anyway. I have a habit of thinking I can do things I can’t. I’m curious about this knitting predicament. Maybe my dream of the knitting classroom will come true if I just keep trying. And teen daughter keeps recasting.

Gratitude #9: Power of Song

We've been listening to , singing, and reading about, songs for social change.  Fables of Faubus, Which Side Are You On?, Wavin' ...