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Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

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  • Saturday, September 30, 2006

    weather and a moody weekend

    We had beautiful weather for a while today. We headed downtown on the city bus to mingle with the crowds and have lunch at a charity booth on the main Avenue. It's fall festival weekend, and all kinds of things are happening. After we came home, and unluckily right after I cleaned the bunny litter boxes and set them out to dry, we had one of those "isolated" downpours. Fortunately, there was no lightning this time, just a wet bunny and an extra rinse cycle for the bunny boxes. Rainwater soft, just like the old commercials for fabric softeners! Or were those shampoo commercials? Never mind.
    Last night Amigo was planning to go to his high school football game and a tailgate party beforehand. The rain and cold temperatures changed his mind. At first we thought about going bowling, and then Amigo had another idea. He was surfing the web, stumbled across the web site of a local blues singer, and found out the man was performing at a downtown coffeehouse for most of the evening. We decided to go there instead.
    This was the perfect plan. Amigo had a wild berry smoothie, I had a big cup of freshly brewed Mexican decaf (mmmm), and we enjoyed good tunes and good atmosphere. Amigo didn't mind hanging out with his mom as long as he could introduce me to one of his favorite musicians. Blues and laid-back country were right up my alley last night. In the midst of the news (and with Husband gone south to help cover the story) I wasn't in the mood for anything too uplifting or exciting. This singer's style and attitude and intricate guitar work helped me relax and appreciate the small world that I live in.
    All things considered, I guess a rainy, cool night wasn't such a negative thing after all.

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    Friday, September 29, 2006

    A whole new world

    Another school shooting. This is two in one week, following closely on the heels of a narrowly avoided Columbine-style disaster. This time, a principal was shot. Earlier this week, a young girl was killed. The narrowly avoided attack? Who knows how many would have fallen, dead or injured?
    It's scary that we live in a world where these attacks occur. It's good, in a way, that they rate heavy coverage: that means the events are rare enough to be considered news. I'm grateful that the potential disaster nearest my home was avoided by quick and efficient intervention.

    A few years ago I spent a day training with some of my coworkers and a large number of police officers to help prepare for just such a situation. I've never forgotten it. Even though we knew it wasn't real, we knew the guns were not loaded, and we all knew the script, it was still very intense.
    We spent the morning hearing how such incidents used to be treated, and how and why that procedure has changed. We were treated to an analysis of the Columbine shooting and the response. Watching the account with teachers, administrators, and police was a valuable and moving experience. No one knows how many, if any, lives could have been saved had law enforcement entered the building earlier, but the confusion that reigned was shocking and upsetting.
    We spent the afternoon participating in a drill. There were many surprises: how long it took to "sweep" the school (a relatively small building), how little we could hear from our corner of the dark classroom (one gunshot, a scream, a large vehicle arriving), and how dramatic and scary the evacuation was. Afterwards, staff and police met to discuss and suggest improvements.
    Since then, all of our door locks have been replaced. We can now lock our classrooms from the inside and without a key. No one has to search for keys and step out into the hallway to secure a classroom. It was a small change, but it speeds up the process of securing the classroom and getting the kids safely in a corner. We fine-tuned our procedures wherever we found weaknesses.
    Now when my students ask questions, I can answer them. I can tell them what's "Hollywood" and what's true. I can explain why we do what we do. Every time we have a lockdown drill, I tell them about my training, and I reassure them that our local police force knows how to handle any intruder.
    One philosophy from our training sticks with me to this day. Drill like it's real. Drill like your life depends on it -- because it does. Whether it's a fire drill, tornado drill, or lockdown, my students know I take it very seriously. Their lives depend on knowing what to do and being able to do it automatically.
    Drill like it's real.
    Drill like your life depends on it -- because it does.


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    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    things to do when the big frost is on the way

    -- harvest the last of the broccoli, including the leaves, for the rabbits
    -- take one last picture of the flowers on the deck
    -- put on a sweatshirt and resisting turning on the heat
    -- pull up a few bean vines for the rabbit hutch -- what a treat!
    -- harvest the last zucchini, even though it's really too small
    -- bring in a batch of tomatoes to ripen indoors
    -- offer the rabbits one last helping of fresh cabbage
    -- pick the last bit of parsley and stray carrot greens for a bunny treat
    -- wonder if rabbits binge eat like humans do
    -- wave goodbye to the late-growing hollyhocks
    -- pick some late rhubarb for one last batch of muffins
    -- think about packing away the shorts and capris
    -- think about getting out the warm sweaters and sweatshirts
    -- stir the compost pile
    -- inhale deeply the scent of the smoke from the neighbor's woodstove
    -- bring in a few logs for the fireplace
    -- think about cleaning the fireplace: nah, maybe tomorrow
    -- marvel at the early darkness
    -- drink cinnamon tea from my Pillsbury Doughboy mugs and feel warm and cozy

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    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Tricky, mom, tricky

    I "hid" vegetables in the sloppy joe mix last night. Tee-hee; hohoho; BWAHAHAHAHA!!!
    To you family members who ate it and didn't even notice: so there! It tasted good. You even had seconds.
    And you of the nutrition police: does this excuse the Fritos I ate while I was cooking?


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    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Late, late, late

    I have a pet peeve. No, it's not a cute and furry little pet peeve. It's something that irritates the heck out me and irritates Amigo (a.k.a. El Grande), too. We (he) had an appointment yesterday. The doc's office is out of town, about a forty minute drive. I left work and raced (as much as anyone can race through three school zones) over to Amigo's school to pick him up. We hit the highway immediately, and got to the doc's office at 3:55 for a 4:00 appointment.

    I understand that offices of any kind can run behind as the day goes on.
    I understand that any type of medical office can experience emergencies that interfere with timeliness.
    I understand that things come up. Sometimes. Now and then.

    40 minutes late. He saw us 40 minutes late. We had our 15 minute appointment, scheduled our follow-up, and were out the door.
    40 minute drive, 40 minute wait, 15 minute appointment. Hold on -- that was more like a 12 minute appointment and 3 minutes to schedule for next time. And we arrived five minutes early. Any way you push the buttons, the math doesn't work.
    Go back to the understanding mama of two paragraphs earlier. Where were we? Oh, yes. I understand that things come up. Sometimes. Now and then. But every time?! Every stinking time we come in? Does this clinic EVER run on time? This is typical, folks, typical. Never, ever has this doctor seen us on time or even close to it.
    I plan to wait until I'm calm -- or maybe I shouldn't! -- and write the clinic. This is unprofessional. So inconsiderate. So doggone rude! He has more education than I do, charges more per hour, holds more titles than I do, but does that mean my time is worth so little? I'll answer that myself.
    No. My time is worthwhile. My child's time is worthwhile. It's time to shop around for another doctor who will respect our time as well as our medical needs. Darn, I wish it were easier.


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    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Inside the Blogger's Studio

    I've been tagged by Mom-nos for a new set of questions. These originated on the Bravo show "Inside the actors' studio" with James Lipton. At the end of each in-depth interview, the host always asks these ten questions. Ordinary people like bloggers often have interesting answers, too. Here are mine.

    What is your favorite word?
    Touchdown! (Okay, can you tell I answered these on a Sunday afternoon?)

    What is your least favorite word?
    Should. Shoulds are bogus.

    What turns you on (creatively, spiritually, emotionally)?
    Reading. Gardening. Learning new ideas.

    What turns you off (creatively, spiritually, emotionally)?
    Narrow minds, closed minds.

    What is your favorite curse word?
    Drat. I don’t swear (okay, I RARELY swear), so I’ve found alternatives.

    What sound or noise do you love?
    Simple sounds: silence, the wind blowing through trees, rain falling

    What sound or noise do you hate?
    Whispers: Even with my hearing aids, I can’t understand whispers.

    What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    Writer or Poet

    What profession would you not like to do?
    Hold political office. I could work for a candidate or office-holder, but my skin is too thin to ever campaign.

    If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you enter the pearly gates?
    Whatever She says, I’d just like to be able to hear it without straining or asking her to repeat herself.

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    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    The re-naming of the son

    El Grande is taller than I am. He has been for at least three years now, and he keeps getting taller. However, he seems to be earning a new nickname. He's still tall, and will continue to be tall, but he seems to be attracting furry friends, including our own rabbits and the dogs next door. Today he formally introduced one dog to Grandma. "Shelby, this is my grandma. Grandma, this is Shelby." The dog seemed to acknowledge the introduction while stretched out on the driveway enjoying being petted. We'd have a cat if it weren't for my allergies, too. My brother has been cat-sitting long term for a relative that couldn't bring her cat into a new apartment. The cat dislikes everyone -- except my family. The Evil Feline actually likes my Husband, La Petite, and El Grande. We could take it in -- but it would make me wheeze, so we won't.
    So anyway, El Grande needs a new name. From this day on, the tall one will be known as El Amigo de los Animales, or Amigo for short. Unless, of course he reads the blog and tells me that he likes being El Grande better. (Um, gee, kiddo, if you're reading Mom's blog, tell me what you think!)


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    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Taking a break from reading instruction and contemplating environmental science

    Or: I'm taking a well-deserved break from correcting Comm. Arts papers, and thinking about my compost bin. The first load of laundry is in the dryer, the third in the washer, and I've finished one stack of time-consuming but valuable paper-correcting. I'm taking a coffee & blog break to clear my mind.
    We had one frost warning already this week. Soon we'll get a killer: a killing frost that'll mean the end of my vegetable garden. We'll let the bunnies roam freely in the garden and finish off anything they consider edible, and then we'll leave the garden gate open for the Wild Ones who roam the neighborhood. They can browse and take shelter there when the blizzards hit.
    Serious cold weather also means the end of active composting. The black bin absorbs enough heat to keep the process going in cool weather, but not when the snows fall and the thermometer sinks below the freezing mark. This month I'll add the last scraps to the compost bin, followed by a final layer of fallen leaves if they fit. Then I won't see it until springtime. Sniff. Sigh.
    The environmentalist in me feels more than a little twinge of guilt the first time I throw a coffee filter full of wet grounds into the garbage. I know it'll decompose quickly in the compost, but there are limits to time and endurance when I know that it's too cold for the process to work well. By December, I'll be resigned to the idea and no longer feel guilty. I'll simply look forward to spring.
    For non-composters, here's an example of how pretty compost can be. The top photo is the "before" picture, complete with leftover carrots (too soft for bunny food), rhubarb leaves, and watermelon rinds.

    Isn't this pretty? Even garbage can be aesthetically pleasing if you know what to look for.
    And below is the "after" shot. There are still a few wood chips from the rabbit litter that didn't decompose completely, but the rest of the former waste has turned into a lovely deep brown that will be added to the garden soil next spring.

    The cute pink shovel was La Petite's when she was a little girl. Cute but sturdy, it still comes in handy for mixing and turning the compostables.

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    Friday, September 22, 2006

    The cold is going away. Thanks to a week of taking herbal remedies and not-so-natural remedies, I'm breathing almost freely now and I slept drug-free last night. Woo-hoo! I'm still exhausted.

    The biggest disadvantage to spending a school week feeling under the weather is that I fall behind. My schoolbag is heavy, heavier, and heaviest tonight. Add to that the work I didn't get done while dealing with the trauma of a popular student moving away today (tears all around for the entire afternoon) and I don't even want to think about what's waiting on my desk for me Monday morning.

    My to-do list will get done, though. A typical Saturday in the life of this teacher looks like this:
    Wake up. Start coffeepot. (Notice how those two go together?)
    Skim newspaper.
    Sort laundry.
    Start first load of laundry.
    While first load washes, correct response papers from reading class.
    Move wet, clean laundry to the dryer. Start new load in washer.
    Correct comprehension test papers from reading class.
    Fold clean, dry load. Rotate next load into dryer and add another to washer.
    Score writing assessment papers.
    Take periodic breaks from scoring to rotate more laundry through its cycles.
    Analyze writing assessment scores.

    Did anyone notice what's missing? This type of day is a work-at-home-in-pajamas day. I often stay in my "loungewear" until the laundry is done and I've let the water heater fill up again. Then, and only then, I shower and get dressed and feel presentable enough to go out in public. Some weekends I amaze even myself at how much I can accomplish in my pajamas! Hmmm...if I need to change careers, I should find one that lets me work at home in my pjs.

    But in the meantime: next weekend, math!


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    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    I hab a code

    The remedy for the sniffling, dripping, coughing, aching, stuffed up head of mine: a cup of hot orange& spice tea in my Life is just a Chair of Bowlies mug. Mmmm.

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    Monday, September 18, 2006


    Tonight after school we gathered to remember a friend. "We" means teachers, other staff, parents, and students who wished to honor the memory of Mrs. S., a kindergarten teacher who died suddenly last spring. We planted a tree outside her former classroom and put in a garden along the playground that we now call "Mrs. S.'s Kinder-Garden". But the best way for me to honor her memory is to reach into my heart and tell you about her.

    The kids called her Mrs. S. I called her C.
    C. was teaching in her dream job. I remember when she got the job: full day kindergarten, a fabulous school, not far from home. How she beamed! She kept saying, "It's exactly what I wanted!" And it was a perfect fit for her. She had large classes -- too large, really, for kindergarten -- but she handled them with ease, the experience of years and the knowledge and understanding of the children's ages. We teased her that she looked like a mother duck with a looong line of ducklings behind her when she walked them down the halls.
    Students, parents, and teachers adored her. She called me one night and asked, "What's this 'Terrific Teachers' thing on TV? Why are they coming to see me?" Well, C., it's like this. You ARE a terrific teacher, and parents from your class want to be sure that you know it.
    I still have trouble putting her in past tense. Yes, she was a terrific teacher, and a terrific person as well. When my father died, she was one of the first to hug me. She didn't say a word until she knew I was ready. C. could always make the lunchroom feel light-hearted, even on a tough day. She was the reason I came to the lounge to eat lunch instead of working through lunch eating at my desk.
    I dressed in Green Bay Packer garb today because C. wouldn't miss a chance to wear her green and gold. Through thick and thin she backed the Pack. We commiserated when they lost and celebrated together when they won.
    C. was one of the most understanding and caring people I've ever known. She knew when (and how!) to cheer someone up, and when to let them vent their troubles.
    Her death came suddenly. She was on a field trip with her students on a Monday morning and went home that afternoon not feeling well. By Wednesday she had been hospitalized, and on Friday morning we were told that she was not expected to live. Still giving even in death, she donated her organs for transplant.
    I miss her every time I walk into the school building. There's a hole where her smile and laughter used to be. But she'd be upset with me for being sad; she'd want me to go on and enjoy teaching, enjoy the Packer games, enjoy her tree, enjoy the garden, and enjoy life.
    It's fitting that she will be remembered through a flower garden and a tree. Like her influence, these will live on. Like her, they'll make me smile. And they'll remind me how precious life is.


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    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Where's Waldo? Does he serve cappuccino, too?

    Where's Waldo? Well, if you can't find him now, just fill the mug with hot liquid (preferably Folgers) and all of the faux Waldos' shirts will fade away. This mug has been in my collection for a long time -- at least 13 years. I ordered it free with a few labels from cans of Spaghetti-os and a miniscule shipping and handling fee. It has served up tea, hot cocoa, and of course, coffee. I've had a lot of fun with this mug over the years, including watching people stare at it in the teachers' lounge. It was worth the shipping and the stamp. And yes, we still eat an occasional can of funny-shaped pasta.


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    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Supermom's Super Soup Recipe

    Look in the vegetable drawer. Dice up one cup of everything available. Add a can of dark red kidney beans. Add a handful of Green Bay Packer beans if ripe at the right moment. Dice the leftover pork (from the rotisserie last night). Add water and broth crystals. Flavor with herbs if available. Turn crockpot on low for a few hours; then add barley and turn to high. Serve when ready.
    On the side: make a loaf of bread in the bread machine.

    Sure, you may laugh. So do I. But the truth is, my soup "formula" gives us lots of nutritious meals and makes the house smells wonderful. While it simmers, I can finish the laundry for my family and correct papers for my class.

    Of course, I couldn't do it without my appliances, including the crockpot, bread machine, and mini-rotisserie oven. Oh, yeah, and the washer and dryer. And the coffeemaker. Have I missed any?

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    Friday, September 15, 2006

    simple pleasures

    *sitting on a backyard swing after supper and feeling the week's tension drain from my shoulders
    *watching El Grande pet the neighbor's dog and explain to me, "she's not whining, she just has anxiety."
    *enjoying the scent of clean red cedar litter in the bunny hutch
    *giving a now-healthy bunny his last dose of antibiotics
    *harvesting a monster tomato just as it ripens
    *seeing two green zucchini trying to grow
    *handing a bunny a big leaf from the broccoli plant and seeing him practically inhale it
    *knowing the final Jeopardy answer, er, question
    *getting email updates from La Petite at college
    *snuggling a bunny in the backyard swing, listening to crickets chirping
    *knowing that my alarm won't go off at 5:30 tomorrow morning
    Now that's priceless.


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    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Yawn. It's definitely the start of a new school year. I have that "thank goodness I finished tonight's papers because I can't afford to get behind" feeling. It's a lot like a letdown after a big race or competition, except that it happened every night this week. After coming home, dealing with snail mail and voice mail, making and serving supper, and then helping El Grande with his homework, the time came to finish my own work. It took all of Survivor (don't ask me the tribe names, I was thinking about reading vocabulary and comprehension) and I missed Wheel of Fortune (which is fine with me because Jeopardy is MUCH better) correcting spelling tests. Early tomorrow morning I'll huddle at my desk and hope no one interrupts me while I enter the scores in my computer.

    But it's a good kind of tired that I'm feeling. It's the kind of tired that comes from a full day, a lot accomplished, and all that's left are the prepare-for-morning routines. I can do that, feed bunnies, and then get into my pajamas. Pajamas. Mmmm...what a delicious thought.



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    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    When it's cold outside

    Where did this cold weather come from? It was hot, hot humid summer last week, and all of a sudden (and it really was sudden) there were frost warnings for the northwoods. I closed all the windows tightly, put an extra blanket on our bed, and of course made coffee. When it's 54 degrees outside at school bus time, a warm mug in my hands can steady my train of thought.
    This set of mugs isn't really a set. They kinda-sorta go together in a theme -- they're all about trains. Husband is a train buff and HO-scale modeler. He usually drinks his hot cocoa (not a coffee fiend like me) out of the Green Bay & Western mug on the bottom left. I like the National Railroad Museum mug on the bottom right, and the smaller Hiawatha line mug is perfect for a small cup o' Joe. Ah, a little history and a little java are just the things to keep me on track on a cool morning. Pun intended, of course.


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    Monday, September 11, 2006

    September 11

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    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Are you ready for some football?

    When we married so many years ago, Husband and I discovered that our sports fanaticism was at different levels. Like many couples, we learned to live with that. But it’s not what you might think. It wasn’t the wife learning to live with the husband’s addiction; it was the Husband learning to live with mine.
    In high school, my friends liked the quarterback that was “cute”. I liked the one who could pass.
    In college, I stunned one of my male friends by knowing more Green Bay Packer trivia than he did.
    When we got married, my Husband discovered he could sit down and watch the game with me or do something on his own on Sunday afternoons. Making the obvious choice, he gradually learned the game at my side.
    We’d been married two years when we moved to Green Bay and rented a duplex (be still my heart) almost next door to Lambeau Field, directly across the street from the Packers’ practice field. The landlord didn’t know it, but I would have paid almost any rent for the view from that front porch. .
    La Petite learned to ride a bike in the stadium's parking lot. We flew kites there. I pushed the kids’ strollers in Lambeau’s shade on many evening walks. I love the roomy home we live in now, in a nearby town, but I sincerely miss the location of that tiny duplex. The Lambeau Field neighborhood had an atmosphere, an aura of its own.
    Eventually, Husband put his technical skills to use in television broadcasting. He decided that since he didn’t get much of my attention on Sundays, he might as well work. Well, now he works in the crew on the sidelines of the Packers’ home football games, and I’m envious because he’s closer to the games than I am.
    Ah, well, all’s fair in love, war, and NFL football. Go Pack Go!

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    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Coffee + Books = happiness

    The quote says it all, doesn't it? There aren't enough hours in the day or days in the year to read everything I'd like to read. So why am I hanging around on Blogger? I'm going to log off and read!


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    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Did Superman ever get headaches while he was saving the world?

    Yesterday was one of "those" days. I felt like I'd already worked for hours before I left the driveway. It was the day the cleaning service comes, which requires some advance preparation. It was the second day of school, which means I began the morning already tired out from the day before.
    Before breakfast:
    I fed both rabbits.
    I super-caged the house bunny to keep him out of the way of the cleaning service and keep him from leaving any "rabbit raisins" around the house after they left.
    I showered (practically sleep-walked through it) and dressed in my work clothes (Ha! You were expecting my Superhero uniform, weren't you?!).
    I got a super breakfast for El Grande.
    I made sure he brushed his teeth.
    And more:
    I cleaned the house bunny's litter box and set it outside to super-dry.
    I super-wiped down the floor to get any "misses" around the litter box area.
    I packed my super-lunch and cleared the table of breakfast dishes.
    I emptied the dishwasher of clean dishes and put the super-dirty ones inside.

    THEN I went to work.
    For the most part, it was a good day at school with tired but happy students. However, it was a super-busy day with no real breaks except recess -- barely enough to zoom to the bathroom.
    I tried to work at my super-desk after school, but (due to recent construction) there was a huge super-vacuum truck outside and just below my window. I could deal with the noise (I teach pre-adolescents, after all), but the stench of diesel exhaust was too much. I packed up my super-work and flew (okay, drove) home.

    Back home again:
    I re-filled the super-clean litter box and brought it inside.
    I brought the small furry one inside again.
    Small not-so-adorable furry one left a "gift" on the clean bathroom rug to express his displeasure: one tiny rabbit turd.
    I put not-so-super supper in the oven. Okay, I admit it, it was from a box (potpies and buttermilk biscuits), but it was a meal.
    Then, and only then, I reached for the super-strength ibuprofen.

    Did Superman get headaches when he saved the world? Because Supermom sure does. But fortunately, Supermom thinks like Scarlett O'Hara, not like Kal-el -- tomorrow will be another day!

    This oldie-but-goodie is my entry in Scribbit's Write-Away contest for July '08. Her theme is Wonder Woman; I thought the Super Mom parallel was appropriate.


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    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    "Love" Thursday

    Some children with autism wander. Escape. Run. El Grande doesn't, and never has. So when this happened, it wasn't scary -- just odd. I was working on my laptop in the den when he got up to use the bathroom and didn't come back. When I realized he'd been gone for a while, I got up to see if he had a stomach-ache or other problem. He was out of the bathroom already. He hadn't come back to the den, he wasn't upstairs listening to the radio, he wasn't on the old computer in his sister's room. I looked outside in the backyard; he wasn't on the new backyard swing, either. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tail wag. It was our neighbor's dog. Sure enough, El Grande was there on the driveway with the dog. This is an old and mellow dog (Shades of the old Beast) who thrives on attention. When she's outside, she'll come to the side of the yard and make little noises for El Grande to come pet her. It's a win-win for both; El Grande gets to develop a relationship with a friendly dog, and the dog gets attention that the neighbors (parents of an adorable toddler) don't have enough time to give.


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    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    What do you get when you cross a coffee mug with a duck?

    You get a coffee mug like this!
    (What, you were expecting a punch line?) This series, not quite a gallery, describes the coffee mugs in my collection. There are no plain ordinary mugs, no plain white ceramic, no basic black. The duck mug was a gift, given to go with the art work on the mantle (below). Husband bought me the piece as a gift for completing my Masters Degree project a few years ago. The day I mailed the project, after many sleepless weeks of planning and work, he presented me with the framed duckling picture as a reward for having "all my ducks in a row". When my sister-in-law spotted the mug, she thought they would go together well. She was right. I use the mug often, and every time I think of how good it feels to have the degree finished and "all my ducks in a row."


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    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Off to school!

    You saw the "before" picture, and you saw the "during," now here's the "after."

    the big picture -- taken from the entrance to the room

    "my" corner, with my desk and the computer pod

    That's El Grande in the background helping out. He saved me a lot of time!

    Science corner, with posters, new vocabulary, and kits (still in the boxes)

    Classroom leveled library, also known as the Book Nook

    Wow, I feel better. There is still work to do, mainly planning for the rest of the week, but the room looks a lot better. I could welcome a visiting parent now, and last week I would have panicked at the thought. Now the only panic is wondering if I'll really have all of my lesson plans ready when the kids come in the door! Somehow, it always works out. I will work at my desk all day today (Tuesday) and welcome the families to Open House tonight. By then, I'll have my plan book ready, and all of my art paper cut out, and the puzzles copied, and the chart paper posted, and ... oh, no, I'm panicking again. Where's the coffee?


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    Off she goes!

    The pile begins.

    The pile grows...

    ...and grows.

    Can I bring my rabbit?

    Sorry, no more room. It's either the rabbit or your shoes.

    (Just kidding! The rabbit stayed home.)


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    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    I've been "tagged" by Momnos to answer a few questions on books in my life. This is harder than it looks! I read a lot, both professionally and for pleasure, and it was still difficult to come up with answers for all of these.

    A book that changed my life:
    When I was young, I read and re-read Little Women. I was going to be Jo March when I grew up! I liked (and still prefer) books with strong female characters, believable plots, and good writing. I read Frank McCourt's memoir Teacher Man earlier this summer. It was excellent -- right on the money.

    A book I've read more than once:
    I reread. I do. Reading a good book once isn't enough. I read The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans so many times I can recite certain scenes in my mind. The movie was okay, but the book is SO much better. Evans has a way of describing his characters through their actions that lets the reader feel like a part of the story. Every time he publishes a new one, I buy it.

    A book I'd like to have on a desert island:
    Since I reread most books, I have trouble picking just one. If I were marooned somewhere, I'd hope that my previous reading would do me some good. In fact, I'd stand a better chance of surviving in a wooded area, based on reading a lot of Gary Paulson (Hatchet) and Jean Craighead George (My Side of the Mountain).

    A book that made me laugh out loud:
    Bill Bryson's travel books make me laugh every time. I've read A Walk in the Woods several times, and I laugh out loud.

    A book that made me cry:
    Back to children's literature again -- when I read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, I needed a box of tissues by my side. Oh, my, she builds up to a surprising and amazing climax.

    A book I wish I had written:
    There are too many to choose from. I really enjoy good books. I wish I'd thought of Harry Potter, but honestly, J.K. Rowling does him better than I would. She just gets better with every book.

    A book that never should have been written:
    Rather than a book, I'll refer to a lengthy tome that affects so many children: the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act, sometimes known incorrectly as No Child Left Behind. Frankly, this law is very poorly written and leaves a lot of children behind.

    A book I'm currently reading:
    Alma Mater: a college homecoming by P.E. Kluge, and The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser. Maybe Ted Kooser's suggestions will help me improve on my own work! When school starts, I make a conscious effort to have pleasure reading on my bedside. It keeps things in perspective and lets me sleep peacefully at night.

    A book I'm planning to read;
    Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. Many of my friends have read and recommended it.

    Thanks for the tag, Momnos. This was a thoughtful and enjoyable post to write!


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    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Back to School -- and dorm room

    Here's an updated family picture. La Petite moves back to the dorm tomorrow. She is surrounded by boxes, both empty and filled. since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll say no more -- for now.


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    Friday, September 01, 2006

    The Juggling Act

    I've described the balance of working full time and motherhood as a juggling act. I keep several "balls" or other props in the air by catching each one quicky and then tossing it carefully in order to catch it when it comes down again. When something else gets added into the act, sometimes I have to toss a ball higher than usual so that I can pay close attention to stunts with one of the others.
    But really, the "balls" in motherhood and working are never the same size and weight. It's more like juggling produce from the market. I skillfully toss a few oranges in the air, and then someone adds an apple. Then one orange goes away, and along comes a grape. Grapes are small, so they need a different technique.
    Well, this juggler just got tossed a watermelon. El Grande's braille embosser hasn't worked properly since the lightning hit our yard last week. Related? Maybe, maybe not. Husband spent a long time on the phone with the service department, attempting to troubleshoot. The end result was this: the machine had to be shipped to a repair facility in Florida, for a repair with potential cost of $500 or more.
    Of course, the other fruits (getting ready for my first day of school, helping El Grande prepare for his first day of high school, helping La Petite pack and move to her college dorm, Husband's workload increasing with the start of football season) still have to be juggled. Maybe it's more like juggling flaming torches right now, because nothing can be neglected. Every single thing need attention and needs it now.
    So why am I wasting time blogging? There's laundry to be done!
    I just hope I don't drop the underwear.

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