Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Stress? What stress?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Trivia perhaps; trivial, no
But this year's Lawrence Trivia -- Amigo and Husband have made friends at the radio station in the past few years. They willingly do double shifts answering phones, a very important job, so the Trivia Masters love to see them coming. Amigo even did a stint on the air on Sunday. He's added up more than his fifteen minutes of fame by now, if Trivia Weekend counts!
As for answering questions ourselves, sometimes a team effort works best. Da Boys were sitting at the computer Saturday evening listening and researching questions and calling in the answers as quickly as they could. The question gave a long medical term for an illness, and then mentioned that the illness had caused the death of a famous person's mother. Husband typed it in as the Trivia Masters spelled it, then added "Killed Mother" to the search. He came up with Abraham Lincoln. I walked by at the moment, so he asked me if I knew the name of Honest Abe's mother. "Nancy Hanks, of course," I replied, and then walked on up the stairs singing that standard pieceof mezzo-soprano repertoire, "If Nancy Hanks came back as a ghost, seeking news of what she loved most..." In the background I heard Amigo giving his team name over the phone, meaning that he'd gotten it right and gotten in on time before the buzzer.
Ah, the memories we create playing this game... I'll give you more Trivia Stories, like the midnight phone calls, another day. Stumble It!
Friday, January 26, 2007
Darn those armchair quarterbacks. I want to play.
Phew. There. Take a breath. It's Friday. And it's not just any weekend -- it's one of my favorite weekends of the year. Tonight, just after ten, I return (virtually) to my college days and visit my alma mater for the annual Trivia Contest.
Some people go to Florida. Some go skiing. I gather up my books, computer, and cell phone, and join with friends and family to compete in a venture with only negligible worth. The prizes are junk. The questions are ridiculous. The pressure -- well, it's as much or as little as I want.
This year I plan to play, but not compete. I will sleep at night rather than stay up to catch the overnight questions. I might help Amigo field his own team like he did last year.
Trivia is addicting. Ken Jennings admits as much in his book Brainiac. Yes, I read it. I'm such a trivia geek, I got the book as a birthday gift. Ken didn't visit or write about LU's contest, but he'd like it if he did. In fact, I'll take a chance (since I'm sure Ken Jennings doesn't read my blog) and put an open invitation for Ken to visit my family and play Lawrence University Trivia. With his quick mind and great wealth of knowledge, he'd love it.
For those of you who are really curious, check it out yourself! The contest is now totally internet based. Since the college gave up its on-campus over-the-air radio station, they went online. Anyone can look into it, and anyone can play. Go to the WLFM homesite and click on connect or Tune In. If you're listening this weekend, listen for these teams.
Six Feet Under: Not HBO, Just Trivia (our Big Team: we usually finish in the top ten)
Tonka Truckloads of Trivia or the Fire Truck Kid (I'm not sure which name Amigo will use this year for his team)
Nudge (I played for this team in the early 80's when they were new on the scene)
And a team name that deserves points for creativity, even though I don't know a soul on it: The Dyslexic Agnostic Insomniacs Lying Awake at Night Wondering if there really is a Dog
To gear up for the weekend, I'm dressed in my favorite sweatshirt. Start the coffeepot, I'm ready!!! Stumble It!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I couldn't settle on a caption, so here are a few choices.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I'm not the only one fending off pandemic fears.
Gaston sings, "I've been thinking."
His henchman responds "A dangerous pastime."
Gaston: "I know."
So...I've been thinking again. Are we ready if a major illness hits our locale? Local news talked about it a few days ago. The topic came up over lunch today.
The answer: pretty darn close. We have a good stock of canned food in the pantry. My freezer is packed. I can add a few stock-up items to the shopping list next week if I feel really panicked, which I don't.
Some years the annual influenza strain hits hard, and some years it doesn't. If a true pandemic hits, it won't hit tomorrow. It'll give me a few days, more likely weeks, to stock up. From a practical standpoint, I'm more likely to be stocking the shelves for my foot surgery than for a pandemic of avian flu.
So I'll keep washing my hands regularly, cover my mouth when I cough or sneeze, and stock the medicine cabinet with anti-inflammatory drugs. Oh, I stocked up on those last week.
What am I thinking? I need to sit down, relax, and stock up on good fiction instead of canned soups. Heck, I should be picking up snacks for the Super Bowl! And that's ten days away. Stumble It!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Soup Swap Day!
1 1/2 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 can Bush's Chili Starter
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
onion and green pepper to taste
Optional: grated cheddar cheese
Brown the ground beef or turkey (with diced onions and/or green peppers if desired). Drain.
Add ingredients to crockpot in this order. Do not stir.
Ground beef or turkey
(Add 1/2 cup water if it looks too thick.)
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6.
Add one cup noodles (elbow macaroni or shells) about one hour before serving. Turn heat to high. Now you may stir it.
Serve with grated cheddar on top. Mmmm...now that's a chili to warm a person up after driving or walking home in the cold. Stumble It!
Monday, January 22, 2007
What a difference a year makes
He had an old-fashioned closet -- long shelf at the top, with a long pole underneath for hanging. Since Amigo is Joe Casual and owns few hanging clothes, all of the out-of-season coats and rarely-worn items ended up stored in his room. The shelf was loaded with games, toys, and Braille books. Last January, the closet pole decided it had had enough, and pulled itself out of the wall. The shelf followed.
Of course, this happened in the middle of the night. It was loud enough to wake me from a sound sleep (with my hearing aids out!) and scare the heck out of the rest of us. Husband saw the terrified rabbit run for shelter under the china cabinet, leaving a scent trail all the way. Did you know that rabbits, um, exude a certain flatulence when they're scared? They do. Husband then ran into Amigo's room, saw what had happened, probably swore, then comforted Amigo so he could fall back to sleep. Peanut remained under the china cabinet.
We gradually cleaned out the mess. The poor kid was tiptoeing around fallen detritus for months. I'm not kidding, it took us months to get it all stored properly or thrown out or set aside. Husband repainted the back wall of the closet, installed a stronger brace for future shelves, and re-built the whole thing in a more updated, practical style. I think he finished in May.
Perhaps I exaggerate, but not much. The rabbit came out from under the china cabinet eventually. We were so overloaded with life in general that we didn't even get upset about this relatively minor disaster.
The Night the Closet Vomited is part of our family lore. At least it didn't run a fever. Stumble It!
Friday, January 19, 2007
Who is this Morton guy, and why do I have his neuroma?
I see the podiatrist in ten days. The family doc predicts that I may be facing another surgery -- the third on this foot.
Well, to look on the bright side, it's my left foot. I can still drive. Both of our vehicles have automatic transmissions. Since Clutch + bad left foot = slow healing and more pain, the trade-in of my stick-shift Saturn SL2 was inevitable after my first surgery. Sniff. Sigh.
I hope that the foot doc will be able to handle this through less invasive means, but I won't count on it. With my luck, she'll want to operate sooner rather than later.
Hmmm...maybe I'll need new shoes. Darn. Stumble It!
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Every story, new or ancient
A long, long time ago, a young man set a goal for improving himself. We call them New Year's resolutions, but way back then he simply called it a goal. He wanted to stop being a gossip. And since he wasn't going to gossip any more, he thought he'd find a way to make amends for the gossip he had spread in his past.
The young man went to the rabbi because he was the wisest man in town. The rabbi's advice was valued and trusted. He asked the rabbi, "How can I make it up to the people about whom I've gossiped? I want to fix everything."
The rabbi told him, "Go get a chicken from the butcher. Bring it to me. On the way, pluck all the feathers from the chicken so that it's ready to cook when you get here."
Now, back in the time of this story, the butcher wasn't a clean glass counter at the Piggly Wiggly. The chickens didn't come in a nice shrink-wrapped package. The butcher himself went out back, grabbed a chicken, wrung its neck, and then handed over the carcass, feathers and all. And his shop was on the opposite end of town from the rabbi's home, so the young man had quite a way to go before he delivered his poultry to the rabbi's stove. To save time, he plucked the feathers as he walked briskly across the town.
The young man arrived at the rabbi's home. "Here it is," he panted. "It looks like a good one. And I plucked every last feather. Have I made amends? Have I fixed the damage done by my past gossip?"
"Thank you," the rabbi replied. "To fix the damage done by your past gossip, you now need to find all of the feathers from this chicken and put them together again."
"But...but...I can't do that! They are all over town! They have flown to the winds! It would be impossible to gather them all again!" the young man sputtered.
"Ah, and so it is with gossip. Once released, it flies to the winds. It spreads all over town. It is impossible to make amends. To truly stop gossip from hurting, you must not spread it to begin with."
Labels: teachers live at schoolStumble It!
Monday, January 15, 2007
Snowy days and Mondays
- the entire class talks through the announcement about "snow rules" on the playground
- the special ed teacher for emotional/behaviorally challenged students is off to a training seminar
- the school counselor is off to the same training seminar
- the school principal is also off to the same training seminar
- Little Jenny comes up and says, "I'm so tired I could fall asleep at my desk."
- Little Johnny has a note from his mom proclaiming that he didn't get any help with his math
- the class quiets down briefly to listen to the new read-aloud book by an award-winning author, long enough to hear dialogue that includes the word "Hell"
- two students are absent: a different two from those that were absent last Friday
- at least four teachers are out sick
- the sub who "didn't help" little Johnny with his math confirms that the kid lied through his teeth
- the undiagnosed ADHD child keeps interrupting
- his diagnosed but unmedicated friend joins in
- Later on, little Jenny points out, "I'm still yawning all the time!"
- the class seems to be having a squeaking contest in the hall with their wet boots after lunch recess
- Little Johnny announces that he didn't "get it" the first time fractions were taught, either.
- Georgie Porgie gets in trouble for throwing snowballs at recess, and then wonders why I hounded him to listen to announcements.
- Behaviorally challenged child tries to leave science class three times to use the bathroom. I let him go once, stop him twice, and hope he doesn't really need it again.
- Little Jenny again shares, "I think I'm going to fall asleep."
- I say, "I'll wake you when the bell rings."
- She replies,"Good luck. I'm a sound sleeper."
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Go team go! But which team?
Our "logic" works like this.
We could cheer for the NFC team nearest ours, the one that won the division title, even though our Packers beat the heck out of them in the final game of the season (sorry, Bear fans, I couldn't resist).
We could choose an AFC team that boasts another talented quarterback from the south who does priceless commercials. ("D-Caf! --boom, boom-- D-Caf!") And the Colts' coach, Tony Dungy, has gone through a lot of private suffering in a very public arena, maintaining his dignity and class the whole time.
Then there's the "storied past" angle. Mike Holmgren, currently of the Seattle Seahawks, coached the Pack to their last Super Bowl win ten years ago, uniting the entire extended community of Green Bay in the celebration.
But what about the New Orleans Saints? They were hit hard when hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and trashed their home dome. Haven't they earned the respect and admiration of fans across the country with their amazing comeback?
La Petite found a solution. Click here, and NFL.com will analyze your preferences and assign you a surrogate team.
Enjoy! And trust me, fellow cheeseheads; the Pack will be Back. Stumble It!
Friday, January 12, 2007
Help put some fun into fundraising
De-lurking week is sponsored by Sheryl of Paper Napkin. She provided several buttons we can display; I posted the one I liked best.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
In case you've never been introduced to my lovely family, Husband and I (from left to right) are on top of the box, and Amigo and La Petite (from left to right) are on the floor. I mean, they're in the foreground. My thanks to La Petite and Husband for helping set up and photograph the "party". Amazing how they did that without opposable thumbs!Stumble It!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
No Flarping during Jeopardy!
Like a good big sister, La Petite showed her brother a few tips for making the noises more, uh, authentic. He practiced (practiced!) and they giggled and laughed and roared as the ‘quality’ of his Flarpiness improved.
I wasn’t so thrilled.
It seemed like whenever it was most irritating, Flarp made its presence known. Not constantly, but as if on cue, just often enough.
If I tried to read a book: Pbbth.
If I put up my feet in the recliner and relax: Pbxzth.
Whenever I finished a goal and took a break: Ppbbthxxb.
When the caffeine was low, and my eyes began to close: Ppbbththxxxbbpbth.
Eventually, I stashed it somewhere that Amigo could find it, but wouldn’t think of it very often. After that, he spent more time with his other gifts and the new bunny in the house.
Until my brother came to visit, and the kids taught him to Flarp, too. Darn musician; he has a talent for making the most, er, unique sounds possible. Do you think I’d stay on speaking terms with my sister-in-law if I sent the jar of Flarp home with him? Stumble It!
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Still Plays with Toys
"A little push, and you're back on the road. What 'cha hauling, buddy? Carrots?"Stumble It!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
conversations over holiday gifts
While reading the brand new Good Home Cookbook:
"Did you know that Thomas Jefferson's cousin was the first to publish a recipe for mac & cheese?"
"Cool. I'll add it to my Trivia file."
"Mmm. Here's one for goulash."
"But do they have booyah?"
"Well, not by name, but there are several good ethnic soups. Let's plant lots of tomatoes in the spring so I can make a good minestrone. Maybe extra beans, too."
I like this cookbook. It has basic instructions and fancy recipes and everything in between. Of course, the trivia scattered throughout guarantees that it'll sit on my top shlf for a long time.
Reading The Favre Family Cookbook: by the Favre family was an entirely different experience. Instead of instructions for basic midwestern recipes of my family and friends, it features "three generations of Cajun and Creole cooking from the Gulf Coast." This is not your mama's chili; it's Brett Favre's mama's gumbo, and more.
"Honey, do you think you'd like Crawfish Bread? I wonder if it would work in my breadmaker."
"Don't ask me to go fishing for the main ingredient."
"Okay. Wow, this one uses three pounds of alligator meat."
"Alligator? Where would you buy that?"
"I know where I can buy buffalo meat. Do you suppose that would work?"
This cookbook has fascinating recipes. Some I could make (Leslie's Potato Soup), and some, no matter how delicious, I'm sure I won't (Rotten Bayou Alligator Broiled with Lemon Butter Sauce). Between the recipes, there are great family pictures of all three generations. I could browse this one for hours.
Cookbooks are fun. The recipes are at their hearts, but the other little details are what makes them special and keeps me reading and cooking. Stumble It!
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Welcome to space camp -- aka the first day back at school after a long break
I put on my jacket this morning and reached for my green pair of gloves.
At the end of the day, I put on my jacket and discovered that there was a black and white pair of gloves in the left sleeve (yes, mom, the ones that look like cows). They had been there all the time and I never even noticed. I pulled them out, put both pair in my schoolbag, and went home, contemplating having my morning cuppa before leaving for school instead of at my desk.
Another spacy thing I did today:
I wore a new pair of boots. I've been lazy (I admit it), a veritable couch potato, for the last week and a half. Getting back on my feet for the day and wearing a new pair of leather boots with a moderate (read: low) heel was painful. Tomorrow? My new Keds.
But one of my students did something even, um, less logical (read: thoughtless). I caught her in the act of writing a note to a friend. I confiscated the note. She re-wrote it. Sure, now she decides that re-writes are valuable in the writing process! I confiscated the second copy. When I read the note (privately, of course), I realized that it needed to be addressed in the context of inappropriate behavior because it involved her bragging about breaking a rule at recess time. Duh!
The morals of the story:
Wear comfortable shoes on the first day after a lazy break.
Look in coat sleeves before reaching for gloves.
And advice for the Little Scribbler?
If you want to stay out of the principal's office, don't put your transgressions in writing. Twice.
And I thought I was only going to teach math, reading, and science today. Stumble It!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Off we go --
I feel tired already.
I always feel a little regretful as I head back into the school routine. It's not as severe as burn-out, but it's a definite down emotion. Part of that down-and-out comes from difficult working conditions with an ever-increasing workload, uncooperative families, and the whirlwind final weeks of this semester. We're going into the second half of our second year without a contract, with no sign of progress anytime soon. If we approve a contract in the next few months, then the negotiations can begin for the next one that starts in July of '07. Yes, you read that right.
I start to feel more upbeat when I'm actually at my desk and getting the day's materials and plans ready. This, to me, is the heart of teaching: knowing the students, taking the curriculum and making it accessible so that they can learn it.
I spent several hours of break correcting and analyzing a pre-test (not fun) so that I know where to focus in the next math chapter. Fractions can be enjoyable; and now that I know what they already know and what they'll need to review and relearn, I can start digging out the more interesting and motivating activities to help them learn it. This is the last year they'll have for a really thorough foundation in fractions, as the middle school math program presumes a solid knowledge base, so I really spend time working toward mastery in this chapter.
There. I feel a little better already. It's not about the bubble tests or the required district assessments; it's about the kids, who they are, how they learn, and how I can teach them.
Early to bed tonight, and then off I go tomorrow, strong coffee in hand, to start 2007.
Labels: teachers live at schoolStumble It!