Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Orphan Master's Son

I just finished The Orphan Master's Son.  Man alive.  I'm still reeling from the amazing ending.

Well done, Adam Johnson.  Your Pulitzer Prize was well deserved, imho.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Institute

Yesterday I taught a lesson on transition sentences.  I used two texts about Booker T. Washington as resources for examples of great transition sentences.

The kiddos wrote transition sentences and we learned a bit about Booker T. Washington along the way. I'll now share our learning with you thusly.

Booker T. Washington lived from 1856 to 1915.  (I think).

He was born into slavery.

He worked in a salt mine when he was a kid.

He wanted to go to school and he eventually did.

He founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  He believed education and entrepreneurship were the avenue to civil rights, clashing with the more activist mission of the NAACP.

He had lunch with Theodore Roosevelt.

He wrote a book called Up From Slavery.

In conclusion, Booker T. Washington seemed like a pretty good guy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Creativity Share: The Cardboard

I like this little cardboard puppet.  If we have indoor recess again tomorrow for the millionth day in a row, I may try to make some of these with the Thirdlanders.

So that's it for Thursday Creativity Share.  Refreshingly simple.  A cardboard puppet. There you go.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Memories

Indoor recess yesterday so I sat down with some Thirdlanders to help with their crocheting.  Some Thirdlanders know how to crochet now and others not so much.  But we're all going to get there.

As I chatted with the two Wonderbugs and funny kid, the talk came around to being sneaky.  Funny kid said, "I can sneak stuff out of our kitchen without anyone seeing me.  You would not believe how quiet I am."

I replied, "I was pretty good at that when I was a kid."

The Wonderbugs began chatting about how they sometimes sneak things but then they feel so horrible about it that it's not worth it.  I kind of shrugged that off because how big a deal is it to take a cookie now and again?

Then things turned serious.  Wonderbug 1 said, "I have haunting memories.  If I do things that are mean or bad to anyone, I cry myself to sleep at night.  I can't stand it.  And the memories of these things never go away."
Wonderbug 2 says she has the same problem.  "I just lie awake thinking of anything bad I did and I try so hard the next day to make it right."

I have some of the same issues that these Thirdlanders have.  It made me a little sad to think of them having these feelings for the next 40 years or so, and possibly longer.  While compassion and striving for kindness are great goals, it can be over done.  Finally I said, "You know, sometimes it's hard to let stuff go, but we've got to try.  We have to put these memories in the past where they belong and just try to focus on the present moment."
Wonderbug 2 pulled at her crocheting which isn't really going that well to tell you the truth and sighed, "It's so hard."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Exception?

Come to find out, one of our favorite alittleleeway readers lives with a beagle (pictured above) and this beagle goes by the name of Gracie.  And also come to find out Gracie supposedly does not fit the beagle bill and is allegedly much loved and appreciated by her guardians. As we all know, I'm always open to telling the whole story here. So I will be working to learn more about Gracie in the coming weeks.  There may be some evidence of guardian bias in the reports I'm receiving about Gracie, so I'll try to get to the crux of the matter in answering the question, "Can a beagle be a good dog?"  I'm nothing if not open minded.

As for goals this week, I'm thinking we should all be as kind as possible to those around us and primarily to ourselves.  Testing season is coming up and there's going to be a need for some extra TLC for all concerned.  I'm already getting a little testy about the tests.  Goal:  Kindness in the form of extra gifts for ourselves and cheerful, supportive chat with others.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Dog

Artwork by Awesome Thirdlander
When I was a kid, we had a dog by the name of Henry.  Henry was a mutt, but mostly beagle.  Henry was lovable, but he was a bit of a pain in the neck.  He ran away constantly, chased cars down our street, and occasionally wandered through my school looking for me.  Sr. Electa, our principal, used to talk to me frequently about how I needed to figure out how to keep Henry at home. Of course I had other siblings who attended Our Lady of the Holy Rosary School, but I was kind of the go to gal for odious chores involving responsibility.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.  The point is this.

All these years, I've had esteem issues about having a poorly trained dog with a devil may care attitude. I now realize that no one was really to blame for Henry's issues. He was just a friendly dog cursed with the legacy of a rascally breed.  The NYT has an article just today by a woman who wrote an entire book about problems with beagles.  The author, Emily Yoffe, is concerned because a beagle just won the Westminster Dog Show, so she fears every citizen of this great land may head out this spring to get a beagle.  I want you to know that I share this writer's concerns.  Do not get a beagle.  Beagles are cute dogs, but they have been known to wreck lives.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Teach Times Two Podcast

Here's our second episode of the Teach Times Two Podcast. KC and I talked about literacy in our classrooms.  Kind of neat stuff.  #1 Son gave us the music.  I edited the podcast this time, so it's not super professional.  The important thing is that I did my best and I totally forgot the rest.   It's less than 8 minutes long so I'm not sure why you wouldn't listen to it. In conclusion, you should listen to this podcast if you want to.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday Creativity Share: African American Read In

It's time for the African American Read In.  Judith gathered all the books for us and we're reading away.  Some of the new books I've read because of the Read In are:

1.  Ashley Bryan's Puppets by Ashley Bryan. Ashley Bryan makes cool puppets out of stuff that washes up on the beach.  His puppets are stunning.  I'm not as crazy about the poems about the puppets, but the full page photographs in this book are splendid.  This is going to be a great partner book to Georgia In Hawaii because Georgia liked to find objects on the beach and turn them into art as well.  I wonder how I can get one of Mr. Bryan's puppets.  If you're reading this blog, Mr. Bryan, please send me a puppet as soon as possible.

2.  Before John Was a Jazz Giant.  This is a simple book about John Coltrane as a child.  I need to learn more about John Coltrane because he's obviously a jazz giant and one of the greatest saxophone players to ever live.  I'm hoping to learn to play the saxophone in the near future.  Just like John Coltrane.

3.  Josephine:  The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker.  Thirdlanders are loving this biography of Josephine Baker.  Did you know she had a pet cheetah?  She was phenomenally famous too on stage and screen. She really didn't put up with any nonsense.

4.  Rent Party Jazz by William Miller.  I didn't know about the rent parties.  Lots of famous jazz musicians played at these parties when they were still up and coming.  People who were having trouble paying their rent would have a rent party.  Win win.  Great illustrations in this beautiful picture book.

5.  Harlem Renaissance Party by Faith Ringgold. If you are wondering what was so great about the Harlem Renaissance, you should go ahead and read it.  I wish I could have been hanging out in the Harlem Renaissance with all the coolest artists our country had to offer. Sidenote: Speaking of Harlem,  there's a new statue of Malcolm X in the spot where he was shot, the Audubon Ballroom.  I would like to see that statue this summer when and if I take some textile classes at the New School in Manhattan.

Thursday Creativity Share.  My goal is to read a new book from the cart every day in February.  So far, I'm doing great.  New books by and about creative people.  It really doesn't get much better than that.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Owl

We've all been a wee bit down lately, so I decided to foster an owl for a pet.  I got Sheila from the Animal Rescue people.  She needed a nesting site so we offered our back yard.  The Animal Rescue people came over yesterday afternoon and set up her nesting area right outside our back window, in our Tulip Tree.  Did you know the Tulip Tree is the state tree of Indiana?  Anyway, Sheila's out there nesting.  She has two baby owlets.  Every hour or so we release a mouse on to the snowy yard and Sheila swoops down and kills it with her talons.  I feel a little sad for the mice, but mostly I'm fascinated by this Great Horned Wonder who has come to hang out with us for a few weeks.  She's the best.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


This unexpected pairing of remote and dice somehow seems to me to be fraught with peril. It scares the heck out of me to tell you the truth.  Let's all try to stay calm, give the photo the appreciative perusal it deserves, and then move on with life, putting #TwinTuesday in the recesses of our minds.

We have another snow day here, and I for one intend to live it in the now.  But looking forward momentarily,  my goals for the day look like this:  Restrict random reading of Bachelor articles, continue working on revisions of chapter 2, try hard not to eat the rest of the casserole that KVS brought over last night for all of us and lastly, to maintain a bright and cheerful attitude.  Maybe I'll take some photos as well.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Bachelor

Whenever I watch The Bachelor, I get totally obsessed with the show.

Case in point. Every day, I search for news about The Bachelor on the internets and waste time reading articles about who went home and how they're feeling about it.  It's ridiculous and not good for my self esteem.

This new Bachelor lives in Arlington, Iowa, with only about 420 citizens.  No restaurants, no movie theater.  Basically nothing. I think the Bachelor should sell his farm and move to Des Moines.  Des Moines looks pretty nice. The Batch had a date there last night and  I've never been there, but now it's on my list of potentially cool places I'd like to visit.

In conclusion, I'm not happy with myself right now with my TV addiction, but I am learning more about Iowa, and I think that may possibly benefit me and others in the future.

Happy Birthday to ALittleLeeway

First, the important stuff.  #1 Son is not totally up to snuff, but he's on the mend. HOORAY! YAY!   He's watching Heathers right now.  If you haven't seen that one, you probably should if you want.  It's weird and a good distraction.  I hate that #1 Son has been ill, but I sure do love having him home.  Even when ill, he's the best company.  Just an all round awesome guy.  Yesterday he played some bass while I graded papers.  I'm hoping he can come over every Sunday evening to practice because his music made grading papers a lot more pleasant.  Thanks, #1 Son!

And B.  I almost forgot that February 9 was the tenth anniversary of alittleleeway.  In the last ten years, I've blogged 2,239 times.  Happy Birthday to you, Blog.  I love you so.  Later, we'll have some cake and I'll bring you balloons.  Everyone's invited for the cake.

In conclusion, this snow day is nothing short of a miracle.  An unexpected day brings life back into perspective. #MORE SNOW!  #MORESNOWDAYS!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Firm

#1 Son is home with us.  Feeling better, but not awesome.

My recuperation regimen for him today involves:

  • easy walks every 40 minutes, of 5 to 10 minutes in duration
  • drinking water and herbal tea on the hour
  • intake of soup made by sweet friends
  • watching The Firm, the Tom Cruise/Gene Hackman classic
I think The Firm is a good prescription because it's a classic film, but not of the highest quality.  It's easy to watch and can be interrupted with impunity as a result of

  • drifting off into narcotized naps
  • Forced easy walking every 40 minutes
One of these mornings, #1 Son is going to wake up singing. Unfortunately today is not that day.  We have confidence, however, that the day of singing is on its way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Reminders

Yesterday was a hell of a day.

One minute I'm teaching with intention and care.

The next minute I'm driving to the hospital because #1 Son's going to get his appendix out.

One minute we're all set for a quick laparascopic surgery with a 2 day recovery time.

The next minute, come to find out, #1 Son has to have his appendix taken out the old fashioned way, with a huge incision, multiple days in the hospital and several weeks of recovery time.

One minute I'm home for a quick shower.

The next minute I'm blogging quickly so I can get back to the hospital to talk to #1 Son's doctor.

So, in conclusion, know that this present minute is not going to last forever.  I know this, but it seems like I forget it and relearn it over and over again.  And also in conclusion, #1 Son is doing well and already showing signs of his quintessential self.  He can only have ice chips for his diet right now.  We spoon ice chips into his mouth whenever he points over to the styrofoam cup and says, "Chip me."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Cameron

I read Julia Cameron's Artist's Way books over and over again.  In Finding Water, she suggests that we stop worrying about our important work sometimes and just have some creative fun.

She suggests we write down 10 creative things we could do that would not move us forward with our work in any way.

Here are mine:
1.  Livetweet The Bachelor.
2.  Keep editing the newest Teach Times 2 Podcast
3. Read the new picture book about Josephine Baker and listen to one of her songs on YouTube.
4. Collect four attractive sticks at Lake Griffey.
5. Watch the BirdCam and take screen shots of my favorite birds.
6.  Read the books on the African American Read In cart all day long and do absolutely nothing else. Ask students to do the same and hope they will.
7.  Bake scones. Eat them with tea.
8.  Get a manicure, opting for an unusual color.
9.  Make a small, pocket sized picture book about why I don't like turnips.
10. See if the school has an old zither I can borrow for a few days.

In conclusion, our goal this week will be to do at least one thing that doesn't help us be efficient, organized or productive.  Of course I'm just stealing this idea from Julia Cameron, but she probably won't mind because I'm giving her due credit.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Creativity

I brought in some stones and shells and leaves this week.  The Thirdlanders painted watercolors in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe.  I love how they jump in and get going.  We're writing about creativity.  I love their paintings, but their essays aren't really up to snuff.  We'll work again tomorrow. I wish we could finish these up so I could have a cool bulletin board display about creativity.  I have to remember that important quote by Kenneth Kaunda, "When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees."

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Prairie

I learned a ton about biomes yesterday.  Our school has a partnership with some university biologists who come every once in awhile to teach The Thirdlanders about science.  Interesting fact I picked up yesterday.  The prairie dog is basically "room and board" for the black footed ferret.  Black footed ferrets will eat about 100 prairie dogs each year.  They also use the prairie dog's burrows for hiding or for raising their young.  In conclusion, the black footed ferret is the bad ass of the prairie biome.

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Flu

Dental Office Selfie
They're dropping like flies in this family.  Husbandman has hideous bronchitis with all the coughing a person can handle.  #1 Son's here on the couch with a raging fever.  Even 20 Something, feeling the filial connections even cross continent, had to go to an urgent care last night to get antibiotics.

It's basically up to me to keep this family running. The problem is, I have to go to my job.  So Husbandman is going to drive #1 to the doctor this morning.

I think my main purpose right now is to stay in good health and to give some extra TLC to those around me.

There has been sickness with The Thirdlanders as well this week.  I am sorry to report that one little sweetie had profuse vomiting nearly immediately after I had suggested there might be a lack of effort where the math assignment was concerned.   Obviously, I'll live with guilt over this event for the rest of my life.

From now on, I'm here to support, not thwart.  Sick People, may you be well.  May you once again know vim and vigor before the day is through.  I'm here for you Sick People.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Thursday Creativity Share: Vines

Ian Padgham creates vines and come to find out, he's pretty good at it.  Here are some of his faves from last year. I think I like this one the best.

Thursday Creativity Share.  A vine.  And a link to some other vines.  Getting the job done.  Once again.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Sometimes I wish I could give #TwinTuesday the time it deserves.  I would like to take this week's pairing out and photograph these two in a range of settings.  Alas, life gets in the way of true creativity sometimes.  Still, though, you can see the possibilities of this pairing being life changing for all of us.  Tangled Textile and Metallic Lid.  I feel a certain kinship with these two that will carry me through this busy Tuesday. I predict our hit counts will soar as I look at our two photos every hour, on the hour.

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Bowl

Sometimes I wish Super Bowl Sunday could be Super Bowl Saturday.  Because is going to be a little bit harder than a normal Monday.  Because of the daunting day ahead, it's time for me to make up some goals for myself and for you.  Let's try to not think about all the stuff we have to do and just focus on the stuff that we're actually doing.  The day will go faster and happier that way, maybe.

I was rooting for the SeaHawks.  Alas, it was not to be.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Liberties

After the Columbus gig
#1 in his Latin Ensemble attire.

After we saw the fabulous FOXCATCHER movie yesterday evening, Husbandman and I headed to a lovely local eatery.  I've been going to this eatery lately with some good pals, off and on.  The waiter recognized me and said, "Well I know you love Chardonnay and we have one on special."
Husbandman added, "You know her well."
The waiter said something else about how much Chardonnay I'm always ordering.

I wanted to say, "Give it a rest, Small Fry" because I felt friendly waiter was taking certain liberties with my story.
 Director Bennett Miller took liberties with the Foxcatcher timeline as well. Liberty taking is going around.   At any rate, Husbandman gives the movie a 4.  I give it a 5.  In conclusion, it might or might not be okay to take liberties when telling true tales.  And also in conclusion, we both loved this movie and if you want to see it, you should.

The Astronauts

 From a Lynda Barry book, I've used the idea to have the Thirdlanders draw self portraits on occasion.  Draw yourself as Batman, a monst...