email: okaybyme at gmail dot com

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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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  • Monday, December 31, 2007

    May you live an interesting life.

    I've also heard the Chinese saying, both a blessing and a curse, translated as "May you live in interesting times." We certainly live in interesting times, and it's not always positive. but am I interesting enough to fulfill this meme? I'll give it a whirl.

    The Good Flea tagged me with the "Seven random things about you" meme. I know I've done one similar to this before, so I'll do my best to think of new and exciting -- well, new things, anyway -- that readers of Compost Happens may not already know. Here are the basic rules:

    Link to the person who tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
    Share 7 facts about yourself.
    Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
    Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

    1. I blog in three places: Here at Compost Happens, A Mother's Garden of Verses (poetry), and on the new group blog Mid-Century Modern Moms.
    2. I can eat stale popcorn for breakfast, if there's coffee to go with it.
    3. I love to bake. One of my life goals is to learn to bake bread -- without the breadmaker machine. Gadgets are great for me, a full-time teacher, because I can feed the family and still get all my schoolwork done. The breadmaker and the crockpot are my saving grace. But there are times when I pour the flour and yeast into the breakmaker, push the button and think, "I'm cheating, really. It would be so satisfying to knead this myself." But who has the time? Maybe next summer.
    4. I enjoy watching the stat counter on Compost Happens. It's not like watching an odometer click, scheduling maintenance and oil changes, and wondering how long it will last. Watching the stat counter is more like watching a child grow. I might just celebrate when it hits 20,000. I predict that might happen next summer sometime. Party!
    5. I'm a morning person. I enjoy getting up before the rest of the family, getting my coffeepot going, feeding the rabbits, and enjoying the quiet. It gives me thinking time and a little computer time without having to fend off the other Internet addict, er, computer users in the household.
    6. If I hadn't been a teacher, I might have been a nurse. In fact, I had applied to a local college of nursing and was meeting with an advisor when I made my decision to instead expand my teaching license to include regular elementary. The rest, as they say, is history. I still satisfy my interests in that area by keeping my first aid and CPR up to date and by training as a public health volunteer.
    7. If I ever leave teaching (don't worry, family, it's not likely) I would like to write. Even now, I'd like to write more. I published a professional article a few months ago, applied for a grant for the first time (didn't get it, I'll try another source later), and realized that I miss the process of forming thoughts and putting words on paper. That said, I offered to help my principal work on a large grant application. We'll see if she takes me up on it. I live in interesting times? In a world view, yes. In my own household and blogging world? Only time will tell. Heck, it's an election year. Anything can happen.
    As for tags -- so many bloggers, so little time! I'll leave the tag area open to anyone interested. Let me know if you post this one; I'll put up a link.


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    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Funday! more! time!

    Poor Husband. He doesn't have to work at Lambeau Field today for the Packer game, and he doesn't know what to do with himself.
    Most Sundays, if there's a home game, he is either working his day job for a local television station or he's moonlighting for the visiting network that's airing the game. This week, somehow, he's not.
    So last night we told him wow! He gets to watch the game with his family! Together! In the den!
    He's not sure it's good.
    It might have something to do with the idea that we want the Packers to keep winning. He is, at best, neutral. It relates, again, to his job. You can read the details here, but suffice it to say that the more they win, the longer the season, and the longer and more complicated his workload will be.
    It might be that we are, well, vocal fans. Okay, we're loud. Loud! We shout. We moan. We jump up and down. We have our very own touchdown dance! Sometimes the rabbit even joins in! Okay, most of the time she cowers in a corner when we get up and start bouncing. Husband cowers in a corner with her.
    Maybe it feels like a wasted day. After all, he normally works a lot of Sundays. He'll still work on the coach's show and the other local follow-up productions later this week. If he's just parked in front of the TV, it isn't a good use of his time. Daughter and I, on the other hand, find watching Brett Favre a very good use of our time. We call it bonding.
    Well, if he insists on staying busy, maybe we can talk him into working on taking down the tree. I'll take down my Packer ornaments, like my mini-blimp, my crystal snowmen, and my jingle bell guy, and pack them with care. Then I'll re-do the fireplace mantle in Title Towels and cheeseheads.
    After all, 'tis the season.

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    Friday, December 28, 2007

    On watching too much television

    Random thoughts, in no particular order, while sipping strong coffee and watching the snow fall

    On watching The Weather Channel: Looks like we'll get steady snow, as expected, and those east of the lake will get more. Okay with me; I enjoy winter, but I have family on the road today. I want them to reach their destinations safely.

    On watching CNN: I remember reading about Benazir Bhutto many, many years ago in my first subscription to Ms. Magazine. She was an incredibly strong woman. I was impressed by her then, and I'm saddened by her assassination now.

    On more Weather Channel: The Southeastern U.S. is finally getting a little rain. I hope they get a significant amount, but not so much that they get floods. Dry/ drought-ridden land doesn't absorb sudden deluges very well.

    On watching CNN: Pakistan elected a female prime minister decades ago. Granted, she had corruption within her administration, eventually ended up in exile, and more, but really.... How is it that our own progressive country still thinks gender is an issue for a presidential candidate?

    On catching a bit of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: Hey, this is refreshing. Snore...get me more coffee...maybe I should go outside and shovel....

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    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Winter Break, and the livin' is (not) easy

    To do list for today:
    • Clean bunny litter boxes
    • Return overdue book on tape to the library
    • Pay fine on overdue book on tape (cringe)
    • Buy bunny food and bread
    • Sign and mail adjudicator contracts for 2008 music festivals
    • Update family prescriptions
    • Take Amigo to doctor to look at potential ear infection
    • Pick up prescription for ear infection (When Amigo says his ear hurts, he's usually infected)
    • Fill car with gas for La Petite's trip to job interview at her university
    • Prepare car for possible winter emergency in case back roads are bad on the way to university
    • Remind La Petite to pack food, since her apartment cupboards are bare
    • Make sure all errands are done before La Petite leaves us temporarily without wheels
    • Laundry, including La Petite's extra baskets
    • Pack boxes for thrift store pick-up tomorrow
    • Clean kitchen (again)
    • Fill refrigerator with fruit from music dept. fundraiser
    • Write thank you notes for student gifts (smile; fourth graders are still cute)
    • Grind coffee beans (oh, such a sacrifice: two Christmas gifts inlcuded whole bean coffee)
    • Nibble on Christmas cookies
    • Read A Wrinkle in Time with Amigo (he got the Braille edition for Christmas)
    • Snuggle up on the couch and watch CNN or the Weather Channel
    • Catch up on Time Magazines and sip coffee or hot cocoa
    Come to think of it, maybe the livin' isn't so hard after all. Any to-do list that includes reading, nibbling on cookies and sipping coffee can't be all bad.

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    Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    The aftermath

    It wasn't as bad as it looks, really.

    It was worse.
    But relax; we cleaned it all up before the in-laws arrived.

    Poor Buttercup was exhausted.

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    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    It's Christmas! What are doing reading blogs?!

    Singing reindeer? Singing Santas? Look here.
    (I must say, however, that the Nylons did it better.)

    See if North Pole Village is resting after their big busy season.

    Check out videos and maps of Santa's travels, now that he's gone round the world and back.

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    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Some Nylons in my Stocking

    Amigo, the great TV watcher and radio listener, heard that The Nylons were coming to our local Performing Arts Center, and suggested we get tickets. No, he insisted we get tickets! The only question was how many tickets we would need. Timing was right; La Petite came home from college that afternoon, so we went to the concert as a family. My family enjoys live music of just about any kind -- bluegrass to blues to classical -- so it was a real treat to attend this Christmas show together. A capella music is my favorite, so I held the Nylons to a high standard of performance.

    The first Nylons' first Christmas CD was an instant classic. I play it at school, we play it in the car, and it has the best version of "Carol of the Bells" that I've heard. (The Blenders' version comes a close second.) I knew they had a new one out, so we bought a copy in the lobby on the way in to the show.
    This is a group with real talent. No lip-synching allowed or needed; the singing was excellent. Their arrangements varied from the traditional (The Huron Carol) to the jazzy (God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen) and included everything in between. Their performance was enthusiastic and energetic. La Petite whispered to me early on, "The old guy is more nimble than I am!" "The old guy" was Claude Morrison, the founder of the Nylons. He is an amazing singer and dancer. Whether he was showcasing his stunning falsetto or rich middle range, he led the group and blended harmonies seamlessly with the others.

    I heard the Nylons' Christmas Show a few years ago in another nearby town. Both shows were very well sung. This year's show was more fun because the crowd was larger and very appreciative, and the Nylons responded to the energy. If they come through town again, I'll be there. Merry Christmas to Claude and company. The Nylons have always been part of our holiday season; this year, they were even more.

    This is a totally spontaneous review. I spent my own (family) money on the tickets and the CD, and believe me, it was worth every penny.

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    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    It's all in your (green or gold) perspective

    Husband and I have a different perspective on the Packers and their post-season. He's a Packer fan in a way, but he looks at their success from a slightly different angle because he works in television.
    Television news in a major NFL market is a whole different, well, ball game from working at a station with no football to cover. For him, an extended post-season is both a blessing and a curse. It means more work, and it means more work. More work means overtime, and more work means overtime. An extended season can also mean travel...unless the Pack manage to earn home field advantage.
    Who cares? I hear you wail. Well, here's transcript of a conversation we had less than an hour ago.
    Me: It'll be great if they keep winning and get home field advantage through the playoffs.
    Husband: No, no, n-n-n-n-n-no!
    Me: What? I thought you'd like it because you wouldn't have to travel!
    Husband: I don't want to work outside on the sidelines in the freezing cold!
    Me: Okay, then you want Dallas to win so that you can work a game in Dallas, instead?
    Husband: No, No, n-n-n-n-n-n-no!
    Me (confused): Huh?
    Husband: I have this fear that the news director is going to look at us engineers and say, 'Erbert, Gerbert, load up the satellite truck and drive it down to Dallas. and when they win? Turn right.' I could be on the road for three weeks! (editor's note: he said "IF they win." I changed it.)
    Me: Then you should cheer for the Packers to keep winning. They'll earn home field advantage, and you won't have to travel.
    Husband: (speechless, waving arms in air)
    Me: I suppose it's a lose-lose situation for you.
    Husband: Yes! Yes! Yes!

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    Saturday, December 22, 2007

    Ah, the cards.

    Good intentions...well, you know the rest. I intended to have the Christmas cards done and mailed earlier this week. I know they won't reach their recipients by Tuesday, but I do plan to get them written and mailed today.
    Husband and I have never gone for the family picture style card. I enjoy seeing those, but we've just never taken the time to get them made. Our kids are old enough now that their growth and change isn't dramatic from year to year, so it's not as exciting to send a picture as it is when, say, kids are babies and preschoolers. We're also frugal -- okay, cheap -- when it comes to items like Christmas cards. I like to buy them the day after Christmas when they're marked down, store them in the attic, and then send them out a year later, secure in the knowledge that I've saved our family budget a few cents. Picture cards are no longer expensive, but the time investment is still significant.
    If we spot a cute/humorous/just right card, we'll send it. One year I sent out cards with Santa Claus scoring a touchdown. He wasn't dressed in green and gold, but it worked for us. Family lore includes the time my mother found a card that made us all laugh. It had a lovely picture, musical instruments of some sort, with sheet music as background. The card proclaimed "Silent Night" in lovely script letters. A great card for a musician family, right?
    Wrong. The sheet music wasn't Silent Night; it was the Star Spangled Banner.
    The end result: my mom bought a box of cards, and we sent them to people who would know the difference and enjoy it while also understand that we knew exactly what we were sending.
    So family and friends, you'll get my cards late (again) this year. But at least you can enjoy the stories.

    Update: I ran out of cards after letter O in my address book. I went out to fill my minivan with gas pre-storm and decided to try the neighborhood Family Dollar stores. Success! I'll get these sent out tonight.

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    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Teachers often talk about "attention-getting behavior," mainly negative behaviors that develop in an attempt to gain center stage when the positive attention isn't sufficient. But what happens when the attention-getting behavior is developed and sponsored by a major university?
    The Child Study Center at NYU recently worked with a major advertising agency to create billboards that they felt called attention to child and adolescent psychiatric and learning disorders. Nicknamed the "Ransom Note" campaign, the billboards displayed 'notes' like this:

    "We have your son. We will make sure he will no longer be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives. This is only the beginning…Autism."
    "We have your son. We are destroying his ability for social interaction and driving him into a life of complete isolation. It's up to you now…Asperger's Syndrome"
    "We have your daughter. We are making her wash her hands until they are raw, everyday. This is only the beginning…OCD"
    "We are in possession of your son. We are making him squirm and fidget until he is a detriment to himself and those around him. Ignore this and your kid will pay…ADHD"

    These ads spurred an activist movement that surprised their creators and sponsors. Autism advocates mobilized immediately to protest the implied hopelessness and inaccurate perceptions in these "notes". Bloggers like Kristina of AutismVox and Vicki of Speak Softly stepped up, spread the word, and eventually were quoted in the New York Times. I read great posts by Mom-nos and Dr. Joe, both parents of children with autism. If you follow the trail from these four, you'll find many, many more blogs that addressed the topic -- written by parents of children with autism and adults with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
    The campaign has been abruptly halted because of the negative responses. Dr. Harold Koplewicz, head of the Study Center that initiated the Ransom Notes campaign, made a public statement of apology, ending it thus:

    "...Our goal was to start a national dialogue. Now that we have the public’s attention, we need your help. We would like to move forward and harness the energy that this campaign has generated to work together so that we do not lose one more day in the lives of these children.

    "We invite all of you to continue this conversation online at a “town hall” meeting that we will hold early next year as we plan the next phase of our national public awareness campaign on child mental health. Look for details on our web site"

    Well, as the saying goes, the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions. Gaining the public's attention by using shock isn't a new tactic in advertising, whether commercial or public service. Autism isn't new, either.

    But considering that awareness is the lowest form of knowledge, far behind comprehension, application, and analysis, shouldn't any public relations campaign be far better quality than this one? The autism movement has moved well beyond the awareness stage. Any major attention-getting ideas should be beyond that stage, too.

    But you know what I say, "Should" is a bogus word. It's meaningless, really.

    I wonder what kind of "ransom note" they'd come up with for a hearing impaired mom, happily married, well-educated, professional, raising a teen and a college student? If you haven't guessed, that's me. And don't bother with negative attention-getting behavior, either. I've taught too long to fall for that.

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    Please have snow and mistletoe --

    and bunnies on the tree!
    What, you were expecting more of this?

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    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Contingency plans

    Recently, my coworker was suddenly taken ill and sent me an email with lesson plans for the day. The plans were basic, and a bit sketchy, so I dipped into my bag of tricks. My own contingency plans.
    A few years ago (it feels like it was just last month), we lost a teaching colleague to bacterial meningitis. It was sudden and heartbreaking. It was also a wake-up call to the rest of us.
    All teachers keep a Sub Folder. It has basic information such as attendance routines, a class list, schedule, other teachers who can provide support, and where to find the coffeepot. With our friend's death, many of us started a new emergency sub folder. We thought, what if we had a car accident on the way to work? What if there was a family emergency? A tornado or fire? How about the possibility of getting stuck with a cancelled flight or being on the other side of a storm front, unable to drive? A sudden unpredictable illness?The possibilities were endless, even frightening, given what we'd just experienced.
    Well, a kindred spirit (and companion in grief) suggested we come up with a set of alternate plans that a sub could teach on short notice. I saw the value in her suggestion and grabbed the bull by the horns. Hence was born my Emergency Sub Folder, subtitled "Activities with value for filling time." One folder has 30 copies of several activities: word searches, spelling practice games, and basic math facts. The other has a collection of master copies; the sub would have to make copies, but there is enough to do that he or she could fill a day and keep the kids busy.
    The last part of my plan is this: these folders are on top of my file cabinet, next to my desk, labelled in large letters "Mrs. Flowers' Sub folder." An substitute worth his/her salt could walk into my room, find the folders, and teach the day.
    I've had these folders for four years (out of thirteen years teaching). It's a little like carrying an umbrella, snow brush, or ice scraper; I hope no one needs to use them, but they're ready.

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    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Santa's a Secret, for now

    In the last few years, I taught in a building where the Secret Santa exchange was a work of art. Aside from the creative gift giving and the sneaky delivery systems, there were the emails.

    Mrs. G. "Dear Santa: I have been very good. If you happen to come across a CD of Josh Groban singing 'Oh, Holy Night', I'd love to see it under my tree."
    Mrs. O. "Hey, Mrs. G., maybe Santa could send Josh in person to deliver!"
    Mrs. H. "Do you think he'd take requests?"
    Mrs. McQ. "Who's Josh Groban?"
    Well, we enlightened Mrs. McQ, but Mrs. G. didn't get her CD. I hope she's treated herself since then. Josh Groban is an amazing talent, and his Christmas CD will warm the Grinchiest heart.

    But this year, I'm in a new school building. The Secret Santa exchange has been creative, but not as heated and suspenseful as I've experienced. However, my Santa is sneaky, and has my number, that's for sure. He or She delivered (by way of a student) a 16 oz. Starbucks Breakfast Blend one Friday at the first bell, and it was still hot. That leaves out all the early birds who arrive long before school -- like I do. And...I saw a matching cup sitting on the principal's desk less than an hour after I got this one. Hmm.
    Later that day, a co-worker showed me a Starbucks gift card and asked what kinds of things I liked from Starbucks. He's not a coffee drinker, and he'd won the gift card as a door prize.
    The following week I got a lovely metallic red cappuccino mug, also from Starbucks. Pretty, shiny, and smooth, just like the coffee I put in it.
    Then came the sneakiness. I arrived late to a staff meeting (due to a PT appointment), and when I got back to my room, there was a gift bag with Starbucks Christmas Blend, whole bean (Mmmm) nestled within the tissues. This had not been on my desk twenty minutes earlier when I arrived. I think this rules out the principal, as she was running the meeting. My non-coffee drinking co-worker...well, I noticed he (and at least two others) had stepped out of the meeting for a few minutes at one time or another and then come back.
    There's no real evidence, though. I'm not sure who might be playing the Jolly Old Elf, but I know it's someone with good taste. At least I can tell you the gifts taste pretty darn good!

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    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    Oh, the weather outside is...

    Margalit of What was I Thinking and Mid-Century Modern Moms made me laugh yesterday. Boston has been snowed in, big time, and she talked about the French Toast Alert system. I had to smile. According to Margalit,
    "the three items grocery stores continually run out of when a big storm is
    announced are bread, milk,
    and eggs
    . What can you make with those three items? Why, French Toast!
    Clever, it is not?"
    She even has French Toast Alert t-shirts! She grinds her own coffee beans, too, but that's another story.
    I can identify with this philosophy because a) I live in Wisconsin; b) I stock up when a storm is threatening; c) I stock up when the flu season is threatening; and d) I like French toast. When the kids were young and we had very little money, I made French toast often. It was easy and it was cheap. Bread from the day-old bakery store, eggs (on sale if possible), and a little milk, and we had a meal. Breakfast, brunch, or lunch, the family liked it and it was a piece of cake to make. Er, sorry for the mixed metaphor.
    My shopping list today also includes ingredients for my annual Gifts in a Jar. I plan to give my co-workers brownie or cookies mixes in canning jars, all nicely wrapped in a (re-used, of course) pretty gift bag. It's more time-intensive than costly, and my co-teachers will all enjoy the sentiment and the gift itself.
    In summary (I'm teaching essay format in Writers' Workshop right now, can you tell?), the grocery list today will include bread, eggs, milk, and basic baking supplies. Whether the weather be fair or whether the weather be stormy, I'm ready.

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    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Random Holiday Thoughts

    Husband and Amigo are in the den decorating the tree. Husband just came out to me and suggested a blog post based on "Teachers never need (blank)" and ending with " buy candles or Christmas ornaments." I think he just found the box full of student gift ornaments from the past twelve years.

    If anyone wonders why our tree lights don't reach the bottom branches, just remember we have rabbits.

    Yes, I wore geek clothes to school today. My students think it's totally normal for a teacher to wear a Santa turtleneck under a Green Bay Packers sweater. I think they may be right.

    My boss is looking for a Wii. She has had no luck in town or online. Any ideas, folks? She's a terrific mom and really wants to get this for her daughter for Christmas. I suggested a couple of web sites, but she'd already tried them and they were sold out.

    I had an odd dream last night. In my dream, a chair got buried in snow on our front porch. Only the top of its back stuck out of the drift. This was not a deck chair or molded plastic polka-dot type thing; it was a nice, wood, straight backed chair. I couldn't pull it out without breaking it because the snow was so heavy and deep, but I knew that leaving it buried outside for the duration of winter would ruin it. I woke up wondering why I left an indoor chair on the front porch. Our porch is rather small, too -- it would have made more sense to leave it on the deck. We've had some snow and some bitter cold days, but nothing resembling Boston's current storm system. Dream analysts, any takers? Or is this another subliminal thought that is best unidentified?

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    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    It flu the croup...

    Score: attendance 21, tardy 1, ill 3. And those 3 -- well, I'm beginning to wonder if I remember what they look like.

    One missed most of last week and might be out the rest of this week as well.
    One missed three days so far, and may miss more.
    The child who was coughing yesterday was out today.
    Two more were coughing today. Tomorrow? I'll wait and see.

    Last time I worked with a student teacher, she didn't see the entire class as a whole entity for the firts five of her eight weeks. She learned how to handle make-up work, preparing it and then correcting and recording vast amounts of it later. It's a useful skill; I can vouch for that right now. I had no prep time today other than recess, and I gave up one recess to keep a batch of kids in to finish their homework. Then I used the other recess (15 minutes, mind you) to prepare and copy the make-up work for three, leave one packet in the office to be picked up, gave one to a younger brother to take home, and then zoomed upstairs for a speedy bathroom break.
    I keep hand sanitizer in my classroom and asked the housekeeper to refill the anti-bacterial soap dispenser. I'll keep encouraging students to wash their hands and throw their used tissues in the wastebasket. Most parents have been reasonable about recognizing whether their children should be in school or not. That's something teachers can never take for granted, so I'm very grateful for the families with whom I work.
    And as for Christmas? Note to self: add a personal pack of tissues to each student's gift pack. Hopefully, they won't need it, and neither will I.

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    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Trimming the tree

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    Monday, December 10, 2007

    On the nth day of Christmas...

    My students have sugarplums dancing in their heads instead of math facts. They're dreaming of a white Christmas instead reading strategies. They're more concerned about getting their snow pants and boots on quickly than finding their homework. If I were a Disney dwarf, I'd be Grumpy.
    But it's hard to be Grumpy when I'm setting myself up for my own holiday Zen, the simple mood-altering atmosphere that gets me in my own Teacher zone and helps me tolerate the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise! -- as the Grinch might put it.

    1 cup (okay, 16 oz., technically two cups) of hot liquid with caffeine
    (can be Hazelnut, Peppermint Mocha, or simply the Folgers from the school office)
    1 boom box on the table near my desk
    1 set of fabulous and unique holiday music CDs
    (And when I say unique, I mean it.)

    Sip lovely liquid.
    Revel in taste and warmth.
    Turn on lovely and unique tunes.
    Take a deep breath (preferably over the mug of tasty fluid).
    Then, and only then, turn on computer, check email, and begin to correct papers and finalize lesson plans.
    Serves one teacher, well.

    And if you're looking for a little unique holiday music right now, in your cubicle or home office, try this.
    The Twelve Days...and more

    On a different "note," my guest post is up at workitmom. You can find it here.

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    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    Oh, the agony

    I needed a picture for my guest post on WorkitMom. I tried to take one of myself using the bathroom mirror. Disaster; I won't even show you how bad those looked. I could have scanned a school picture, since teachers get forced to take those every year, too, but I usually throw them away or hide them under stacks and stacks of books and papers. La Petite, chatting with me through IMs, offered to edit as needed with Photoshop. Finally, I resisted bashing Husband on the head for laughing at my feeble attempts, and asked him to take one. He did, and I sent it to Victoria along with a short bio. At least I didn't wear a Holiday Sweater this time.
    But I still like this picture better.


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    Saturday, December 08, 2007

    When she grows up, will she still bring her laundry home?

    La Petite came home for a busy weekend: her birthday celebration, Husband's birthday celebration, her boyfriend's sister's graduation, and (drumroll, please) she's going to the Green Bay Packer game on Sunday.
    To understand just how big this is, you need to know a few things.
    • This is a milestone birthday: her 21st.
    • La Petite grew up in the shadow of Lambeau Field. Literally. When she drove her boyfriend through the old neighborhood and showed him the proximity of the home to the Packers' complex, his response was, "Wow. I always thought you were exaggerating. You weren't."
    • Green Bay Packer games have been sold out since the 1960s. Season tickets get passed down in wills, fought over in divorces, and in general are more vaulable than gold.
    • The Packers' current 10-2 record (and the unspeakable possibility of a major quarterback retiring) have made single game tickets expensive and rare.
    • Her boyfriend isn't a big football fan, and his favored team is (having a poor season) somewhere in Florida.
    Well, said boyfriend made connections with his roommate's girlfriend's family. They own four tickets, and they're only using two this weekend. He made them an offer, and they took it. He took a deep breath, called us, and asked if we could chip in. We said yes, absolutely. This kid is thoughtful, sweet, a major character, and he really cares about La Petite. In short, he's family. If they break up, we might just keep him. (It's okay, daughter, I'm kidding.)
    So she came home Friday night to gather her green and gold and wrap a present for her dad. And as she walked in the door, she politely let me know, "Mom, I didn't pack any clean clothes. Could you, like, start laundry tonight?"
    Well, at least she's old enough to bring up the laundry baskets and help.

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    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Perhaps I should bake this weekend.

    From the wellness coordinator at my place of employment (my comments are in italics):

    1. If you eat a Christmas Cookie, fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free. (Of course. If the baker can't eat it, who can? Must test.)
    2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories. (But what about coffee?)
    3. If a friend comes over while you are making your Christmas Cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend’s first cookie is calories free, rule #1, yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and being the friend that you are that makes your cookie calorie free. (Oh, heavens, I must be a good friend while baking.)
    4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass. (Gravity does enough bad things to my body; this may balance it out. No pun intended.)
    5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas Cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue. (Huh? I frost with a small rubber spatula.)
    6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have 3 and Green ones have 5 – one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones! (If they're plain, does that mean they have five calories or none?)
    7. If you eat cookies while watching “Miracle on 34th Street” these also have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one’s personal fuel. (I prefer Charlie Brown Christmas. Does that count?)
    8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage. (I thought it was called calorie evaporation. Well, if it works, great. Call it what you will.)
    9. Any cookies consumed from someone else’s plate has no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. (Have you honestly seen cookies left on another person's plate? If so, you need a new recipe.) And finally…
    10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed has no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It’s a rule! (Does this work for the accompanying beverages as well? I sense a double peppermint mocha on the horizon.)

    Disclaimer – This is your humorous stress relief for today and cookies really do have calories!!(Oh, darn it, she would have to add this! Do not eat the rocker. Do not eat the rocker.) Happy Baking!

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    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Track this!

    Can you identify the maker of this trail?
    Update: This trail was made by a boy with a white cane, walking to his bus stop before school, just after a light overnight snowfall.
    Photo credit: Husband
    Trail made by: Amigo

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    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Such a sacrifice for the greater good

    Actual conversation (more or less) with Husband

    Me: Dear, I found this really easy recipe for Beer Bread. In fact, it's called Beyond Easy Beer Bread. And if I bake it, well, may I use a bottle of your beer from the fridge or should I run out to Flanagan's and pick up something less worthy?
    Him: Uh -- well --
    Me: Don't worry, I'll understand if you'd rather I left the good stuff for actual drinking.
    Him: Is any special kind recommended? Like, do light or dark beers work better?
    Me: This recipe doesn't really specify. Although it's possible that a cheapy like Badd Light probably wouldn't work as well.
    Him: I meant... well, um, okay. (Nods)
    Me: Are you sure?
    Him: Yes. You can take a bottle (gulp) of my beer to bake beer bread.

    Well, I did promise I wouldn't take any of his favorite specialties like New Glarus Spotted Cow or Fat Squirrel. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have to visit a couple of local brew-pubs to get some goodies for his birthday or Christmas. Because, you know, he's making such a sacrifice for the good of his wife's baking. And the family's holiday eating. And all that.

    And if everyone really likes it, and I need to make a double batch next time....

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    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    My name is Daisy, I dress like a dork, and it's okay.

    I admit it. Contrary to BlogHer advice from the fashionable Susan, I wear holiday themed clothing. I do. And I wear it to work.
    Regular readers know that I am willing and able to sport the Green and Gold at home and in public, from head to toe.
    As for the holiday themed clothing, we elementary teachers do wear "fun" clothes to school at times. I wore a sweatshirt with an appropriate message ("I do know all the answers, but I'm sworn to secrecy") on opening day of state testing. Every year I dig out my December clothing to wear in between Packer games. My students enjoy it, and yes, so do I.
    One of my coworkers walked into the lounge last year, turned off the lights, and shimmied to show us her light-up Christmas Tree necklace. When the lights came back on, she announced with glee, "Working in an elementary school give you an excuse to dress like a dork!" We all looked down at our chests, realized it was true, and laughed out loud.
    My "clients" are nine and ten years old. My room decor, or my "workspace" decor, acknowledges the season without going wild. I do not have a tree, for example, but I have a few snowy pictures and December trivia posted at key spots in the room. By recognizing the topic on their minds (Santa! Presents! Snow! Cookies! Fun!) but not going overboard, I can keep the kids relatively calm during this somewhat-frenzied month. By dressing myself in the Holiday Spirit, I let them know that it's okay to be excited, as long as they continue to work hard and keep learning.
    Don't worry, fashionistas, I don't plan to post pictures.
    Tomorrow, I plan to wear my Grinch pin on a basic sweater (budget cuts = cold classroom on Monday mornings). Maybe I'll slip the black socks with shiny white snowmen into my black Mary Jane shoes. Subtle? Maybe not, but it works in my field.
    And dorky or not, that's good enough for me.

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    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    Here's the umbrella. Where's the snow brush? Ice scraper, anyone?

    Yes. NaBloPoMo is over for 2007. I posted 30 consecutive days. As to prizes, there are so many bloggers enrolled that I'm not counting on winning any goodies. That's not why I signed on. why did I sign on? Oh, the usual, the personal challenge, the slight increase in readership, the kinship with a whole batch of other bloggers crazy enough to make this commitment. You know. You don't? Well, then you need a blog. Really. It's fun, it's personal, it's serious, it's funny, and all of the other adjectives that come from journaling online.

    I'm glad it ended yesterday, if only because I had a big all-day shopping trip planned with friends and it was a bit hairy getting home in the storm. Visibility was lousy, so we stopped at opportune moments to jump out of the minivan and help the driver clear the ice off her windshield wipers. By the time we got home, we were laughing about the whole experience. It reminded us of the Chaos Fire Drills we'd play while out cruisin' back in high school. "Ready? I'm stopping now. Go!" Then we'd run around the car and try to get back in somewhere before the light turned green. But this time, we all got back in the same seats and buckled our seat belts safely like the moms we are, even brushed off what snow we could before jumping back in the sliding side doors. To make it even more chaotic, we were doing this with our gloved/ mittened hands; she couldn't fin her snow brush or ice scraper! She knew they were in the van somewhere, but these essential tools of winter were nowhere to be found when we needed them.

    Now that we've taken out all the shopping bags, she'll probably find it tomorrow, after the storm passes. All's well that ends well, and we had a great day shopping the outlet mall. Harry and David? I think I love you. Well, your peppermint bark samples and your free coffee, anyway.

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