Tuesday, January 27, 2009


So I definitely need a new porch cover for the spring. :)

I'm not sure there's any fixing this one.

Shopping for a Winter Storm

I needed the $70 in groceries I bought yesterday before the ice storm. Like I need a hole in my head.

I was talking to Mitchell at the grocery store last week and he said if the weathermen would just mention that we might get some type of weather, it would sure give the store a boost. We were joking about the influx of shoppers before the big moment hits. And there I was yesterday, just like the other 60 shoppers at G & W. (And yes, 60 shoppers in G & W is SUPER CROWDED!)

I didn't have a list. I just felt like I needed to go. I must be the most unorganized shopper in the universe. I don't go in with a list, but am thinking of a few things I know I need, like milk, egges, and, well, that's all I could think of at the moment. But I scour each row as if I'm buying my last set of groceries ever!
Ohmygosh...condensed milk. Do I need condensed milk? Do I have any at home? Will I be cooking something that calls for canned milk? What if I don't have it and I need it? Should I get it? I don't need it. When's the last time I used condensed milk? Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Please, I'm not going to make a pumpkin pie on a snow day.

So I bypass condensed milk. But then I get to the Ragu.
Do I need spaghetti sauce? Should I get some just in case? I could make spaghetti, cacciatori, lasagna...oh so many things with Ragu. But, really, a bad choice. What if my electric goes out? Hmmm. Where's my dutch oven? I could heat Ragu up in the dutch oven on my grill. (And now this gets me thinking I should be buying things I can grill just in case my electric goes out. Which then puts me into a panic to get home and get some wood out of the weather just in case I need to build a fire outside.)
Down the aisle is hot chocolate. And can't find my favorite brand. Shoot. They are out. Oh, but I could make it with milk, which I've already bypassed that aisle and will have to go back. Three trips later to the dairy case and I finally get what I came in for.

Betty checks me out, as usual. She combs through my basket and starts asking me what I'm cooking for dinner. I have no idea. All I know is I have 70 dollars invested in things like extra mayonaise, corn starch, and sesame ginger salad dressing. I can't remember the last time I bought any of these items.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some day I want to go back. On the weekends, we walked across Mariabrucke into the city centre, hopping on the trolley that followed Ringstrasse. Our favorite stop: Stadtpark.

Packed with rolling landscape, aged trees, winding sidewalks, thick, crisp patches of grass, and lots of people, Stadtpark was the perfect place to spend a summer evening in Vienna. We'd find our place on the grass and enjoy eating the sandwiches or slices of pizza we picked up from a street vendor along the way.

Dusk is when it would start. The Vienna Orchestra would start playing their stringed instruments at a place called The Kursalon, which had a wide veranda outside. On nights when the humidity was low and summer air didn't make you sweat out your dinner, we would sneak up as close as we could, sit in the grass below the hedge surrounding the veranda, and watch the dancers waltz into our evening of bliss. The women wore elegant ball gowns, and the men wore suits and tuxedos.

We spent hours there getting to know each other. I was mostly with my friend Anne, and we made plans for the future, talked about frustrations, longed for things American, and relished in the dream we were living. It was a mixture of longing, and belonging.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Want Snow

If it's going to be 4 degrees. I want snow. Buckets of it. Where I have to shovel out for weeks and weeks and get to stay in my pj's all day and make warm chocolate chip cookies for breakfast if I want.

Snows Days when I was a young child were spent in coveralls and mittens and boots outside for the first part. By noon, back inside where Caron and I made grilled cheese sandwiches...and Chef Boy R Dee ravioli from the can.
Then a game of monopoly would ensue, where I most often would win just because I was the banker. And sometimes we would play checkers and 4-cross on a tattered cardboard checkerboard. The checkers were stored in a small round blue peanut tin, and our games, for that matter, were stored in an iron tub in the corner of the room on the fireplace hearth. That hearth was the best hearth I think I've ever seen. In fact, some day, if I ever build my own house, I think I want a replica of that hearth. It was made from Arkansas stone and spread across the entire wall of the living room. The ledge went across the room as well, and we stored things on it, like the iron tub for games, a stack for newspapers to help start the fire, the fire utensils, and wood. Man, I'd like to see that hearth again. It was the place for family portraits, from the day my sister won homecoming queen, to night Janet, Tina and I dressed in our formals and went to dinner. The beautiful mantel at the top of the hearth sported a grandfather clock, owl paintings, family antiques, family photos, and most unsightly school pictures.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dancing Pencils

I love watching student writers. Fingers pluck keyboards. Pencils dance across the page, sometimes not fast enough to get down every idea. This is a distinct sound, lead on paper, transferring thoughts. Hands resting the head are placed on foreheads or cheekbones, feet tapping, earbuds neatly hid down sides of faces. Sometimes, they stop to think and stare off into the distance, or out the window. Sometimes they hand over journals and ask their neighbors opinion. Sometimes, brows are furrowed, and sometimes, smiles creep across faces. But the pencil still dances. I love watching student writers.

Come from behind Winners...a Tribute to Whitney and Caron

Where did we go wrong? Was it when we played the King too early and couldn't catch the three? Was it when we forgot about the Big Joker being able to trump the Little Joker? Was it when we bid 7 three times in a row and thought we might have a shot at winning our first match from a negative 8 deficit? I don't know, but Wanda and I could not seem to get our cards to fall in the right places together. And neither could Caron and Whitney. They got smoked so bad by Dad and and Tom the first game that they were finished well before our game and had to spend some quality time in the kitchen munching on cheesecake bites, fruit and dip, and chips and guacamole. (Of course, this didn't upset them at all.)

When Wanda and I finally lost and were met with the other first losers, we thought our game was going to turn around. We had come back from the negatives to actually playing competitive, so we figured our luck would come with us to our new table. And yes, it did. We lost that game in another landslide.

So Dad and Tom beat Faron and Spencer, and went to the table to play Caron and Whitney, who had to win two games in order to claim the championships. And this, much to everyone's dismay, they did. They both pocketed a whopping $7.25 and left full and happy.

During the championships, the rest of us, not too interested in watching someone else play, decided to play 9 rounds of Mormon Golf. This got a little intense when Wanda, a new player to golf, was kicking the daylights out of all of us. She did end up winning, but not before I got to hand out 20 points to everyone! :) (Oh, and so did Wanda, but since she won, it doesn't count, right?) :) Next time, we'll have to play for a few quarters.

Here are some super easy and super delicious recipes that were big hits Saturday night. They are perfect summer and spring recipes, but I think everyone was craving fresh fruit in the dead of winter.

Super Easy/Super Delicious Guacamole Dip
2 avocados
1 Roma tomato
1 lime

Peel and mash the avocados, dice the tomato and add to the mixture. Slice the lime in half and squeeze one half of its juice into the mixture. Stir. Add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips (I'm in love with Tostitos Multi-grain.)

Super Easy/Super Delicious Devonshire Cream Fruit Dip
1 small Hiland whipping cream
1 cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sugar

Whip the cream cheese, (yes, it will stick in your beaters), add the whipping cream and when a little fluffy, add your sugar. Whip to your desired consistency. Serve with apples, grapes, kiwi, and other fruit of your desire.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm a Keeper

This is Preston. He wore this shirt today. Here are his thoughts on why he wore this shirt: "I always get the worst kind of girl...so I just thought I'd wear this shirt today to prove to everyone else that "I'M A KEEPER!"

So really, it's his tactic to attract the kind of girl he wants. So if someone actually believes his shirt, he should be swarmed by girls. But today, he says, "it's not workin' out too good, but maybe it will when I go to town tonight." Poor Preston. I know he will make a fine husband and father...someday.

It's the first Friday of this week. This class is behaving miserably. They are not writing, but smack-talking their way through the last 25 minutes. We had accomplished nothing until the yearbook girls walked in and had everyone complete a form to order their 2009 Williamizzou. This, I thought, might get us back on track...but nope. It didn't. They went crazy as usual.

The only thing I've accomplished is this:
Amanda, guess what I have?
Since the summer I've been collecting the nice candles jars that the White Barn Company uses for their candles.
REALLY??!! How much do you want for them???
We'll talk about that later...but would they be something you are interested in for you senior project?
Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crazy For You...by Madonna

I've been reading the latest of Edutopia. The entire December issue follows a theme called The Collaboration Age: Teachers Jump Into the We Generation. I couldn't help but snag it from the table in the teachers lounge. These types of magazines are always laying around in the lounge and I'm pretty sure very few people thumb through them.

I can't concentrate because it Cherish by Madonna is on. The kids want Akon, but I could only find 30 second segments of his songs.

Brittney is asleep today. We are all totally wiped out this week, the first week back. I wonder if she had to work last night. She woke up briefly, looked at me, and then put her head back down and pulled her hoodie over her neck and ears. She's cold, or she hates Madonna. Kayla is writing in her journal. Kyle is doing a pretty good job of writing for just recently starting the class; Blake's just looking at his paper...he's written about a half page. Matt is writing, then pausing, then writing some more. He sits quietly and unnoticed. Robert pretends to write, or maybe he's drawing today. Cali is here for the first time since Thanksgiving. Kayla writes. She used to have a fabulous journal but she is writing in a composition notebook now. I wonder where her pretty journal went. Shelby writes. She writes all the time. She works on things in here and she never seems to run out of things to write. I think her fluency has definitely improved. Morgan is writing as well, and her and Shelby are sharing Shelby's ipod. Samm is writing tucked away in the corner. The layout of this class amuses me. They all sit as close together as possible even though we have empty tables for them to spread out. It took a while for Cheyenne to get started, but she's . Jessica is stretching. Garrett and Bobby are writing s l o w l y. They don't write much. Fetty goes in spurts. We are listening to Vogue now.I can't stop singing in my mind.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Uninspired by Chris LeDoux

I'm at a loss for things to write about right now. We are listening to Chris LeDoux. For some reason country music has never been too inspiring for me. It's first block: 8:30. I've been at work for almost an hour and a half--faculty meeting this morning.

I wish I knew the potential my keyboard has. There are so many numbers and letters and function keys. I'm still using only the ones I was taught in Mrs. Luna's keyboarding class 25 years ago. I was a pretty good typist back then, and even went to contests at Missouri State for speed. I can't remember what they called it. But we never learned what F8 did, imagine what Fn + F8 could do when pushed together with the control key. FYI--it controls my touch mouse pad. :)

Janet has been having a wonderful experience with her job lately. She's felt the rush and anxiety of opening a new After School Academy, followed by the joy of watching the kids utilize all she and her staff have done to make the ASA a true educational experience where students are engaged and active in learning that is valuable to their own being. I can't remember all the details, but she's been running this program for the better part of 10 years and they have now moved into a new facility.

We're in the 3rd song. These are quite soft and soothing...even if they are country.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Come Away with Me

We are listening to Nora Jones during warm-up writing. We've never put her on, and it's very soothing...and makes me think about friends and places a million miles away in my mind.

Nora Jones got me through one summer in Brazil a few years. I never stopped listening to her on the plane, on buses, working at the children's home; my earbuds were never far from my body. I put together a photo album of pictures of Brazilian children living in stonecutter's villages. These children were happy. Their homes jutted out from the sides of hills where their front yards, back yards, side yards, and every yard was ground dust leftover from their older siblings and parents cutting through the earth to dig up marble slabs to sell. Every time I see marble tabletops, or marble kitchen counters, I think about the children who grow up learning how to cut marble from the earth for just a few cents a day. They live with no running water, no electricity. They serve alcohol to men. And cook for their mothers. Many walk around without shoes. I visited three days in a row once and never saw any change their clothes. I left them with crayons and fruit and a little piece of my heart.

Seven Years, by Nora Jones

Spinning, laughing, dancing to
her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
Is all alone

Eyes wide open
Always hoping for the sun
And she'll sing her song to anyone
that comes along

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallin' to the ground
Without a sound

Crooked little smile on her face
Tells a tale of grace
That's all her own

Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
And she's all alone

This song always brings tears to my eyes for all the children throughout the world who just want someone to stop and listen to their song.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Generation We

A while back I posted a video about Generation We. This video is from a website that builds on the fact that this generation is trying to renew a hope in their own humanity and in the world.

As a teacher, I hold this hope that the world will be a better place. Or maybe I should say it's different...not better. It's different than any other place I've ever been in my life. But that's okay. My story is not their story. My story is filled with summer days at the lake and a walk to the Pontaic Cove Marina for a Mtn. Dew and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. But their story...it's different.

Here's a microcosm of the story of this generation.

Right now I'm sitting in a room with ten 17-19 year-old students. (This is perfect because I can actually do the math on this one.) :)

10 students
8 have jobs
6 have cars
All 6 make their vehicle and insurance payments.
9 have cell phones
6 pay for cell phones
2 pay their parents a monthly stipend.
8 have daily chores.
3 live with both their mother and father.
1 doesn't live with either parent

Aside from hauling hay in the summer and working in hog and milk barns, I can't name 10 people from my high school who worked during the school year of 1989-90. I'm not sure about vehicle payments or car insurance. None of us had cell phones. One of my friends didn't live with both his mom and dad.

I get frustrated as a teacher when I hear comments about how worthless and useless Generation We is. That "they don't know what hard work is," or "they haven't had to suffer through war or depression."

I don't know what the changes mean in our society, but I still hold to the thought that this is, by far, the greatest time in the history of education to be a teacher. There have not been any greater changes than over the last two decades...and to be a part of such greatness is inspiring.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Grandma Says....

"What you do on New Years Day, you'll be doing all year long."

I slept late.
Didn't eat breakfast.
Ate an orange.
Wrote a letter to a friend in Finland.
Wrote a letter to a friend in Japan.
Re-booted my computer.
Received a letter from a friend in Germany.
Checked e-mail.
Checked facebook.
Changed my facebook status.
Commented on a friends photo.
Called a friend on the phone.
Left a message on an answering machine.
Listened to a message on my machine.
Returned a phone call.
Sent a text message.
Sent an e-mail.
Sent a facebook message.
Sent several more of all three.
Drank two cups of coffee.
Walked Macy.
Walked Montana.
Filled a water bucket.
Fed the cats.
Snuggled with Charlie.
Wrote in my journal.
Wished it was snowing.
Visited with my boss.
Worked on Senior Projects.
Worked on a Senior Project presentation.
Thought about a new career.
Looked up directions on MapQuest.
Lit a candle.
Talked to my dad.
Talked to my grandma.
Blew out a candle.
Looked in a mirror.
Watered plants.
Covered up with a blanket.
Craved hot chocolate.
Craved for someone to bring me hot chocolate.
Went to the gym.
Forgot something.
Listened to my ipod.
Ran stairs.
Drank a bottle of water.
Ran more stairs.
Drank another bottle of water.
Zipped up a hoodie.
Fixed the timer on the scoreboard.
Turned out the lights.
Used my signal properly.
Wore my seat belt.
Drove the speed limit.
Chewed a piece of gum.
Ate a Tic Tac.
Left the house a mess.
Toasted the New Year.
Said goodbye to family.
Kissed my Aunt Cindy.
Talked with a student.
Gave advice.
Told stories.
Listened to stories.
Went to my classroom.
Packed up my car.
Stayed awake after midnight.
Went to sleep after midnight.
Forgot to watch the Rose Bowl Parade.
Watched USC celebrate.
Popped popcorn.
Watched a movie.
Wished I was in love.
Looked at old pictures.
Was glad I wasn't in love.
Hugged my sister.
Drove 65 miles.
Filled up my gas tank.
Cleaned out the dishwasher.
Warmed up leftovers.
Wore house slippers.
Slept in Vera Wang pj's.
Talked to animals.
Played ball with my dogs.
Bought a newspaper.
Put air in a tire.
Read a story about the Gaza strip.
Watched football.
Cheered for Nebraska.
Prayed again.
Rallied with Virginia Tech.
Waved to my neighbors.
Called Keri.
Listened to NPR.
Organized files.
Talked to my dad again.
Bathed a cat.
Turned down the heat.
Threw clothes in the laundry basket.
Used deductive reasoning.
Cracked an English walnut.
Looked through the cupboards.
Wondered if I had black-eyed peas.
Wondered if grandpa gave out new dimes.
Commented on Erin's facebook status.
Accepted a new facebook friend.
Opened the fridge.
Commented on Bobby's facebook status.
Wrote to Mike.
Looked through the cupboards again.
Sent condolences to a friend.
Thought about my mom.
Wished nobody had to die.
Thought about war.
Thought about peace.
Wondered how Heaven would actually work.
Had a dream.
Listened to music.
Thought about painting the living room. For a second.
Put water in the teapot.
Changed clothes.
Took a shower.
Washed my hair.
Looked through old jewelry.
Talked to Caron.
Thought about Kory. In a nice way.
Used Q-tips.
Threw leftovers to the birds.
Smelled and tested perfumes.
Packed an overnight bag.
Called Granny.
Looked for matching socks.
Let the dogs run loose.
Looked at a calendar.
Flossed my teeth--twice.
Read a storycorps story.
Pilfered online.
Talked to Janet.
Decided to fold and put away laundry.
Looked at the pile.
Decided it wasn't worth it.
Laid on the couch.
Brushed my teeth.
Uploaded videos.
Watched YouTube.
Checked my Twitter account.
Checked my Missouri State account.
Used a remote control.
Lotioned my hands.
Gave the dogs treats.
Gave the cats treats.
Turned on the Christmas lights.
Worked on my computer.
Propped up my feet.
Slept under a down blanket--on a pillow-top mattress.
Thought about my blessings.

I forgot to think about resolutions . . . Hmmmm.