Thursday, November 30, 2006

29,836 + 30= One Crazy November

Wow. I can't believe it is Day 30 of NaBloPoMo. Thirty posts in thirty days. The time just flew by! Well, except for the few days I was too tired to post anything interesting or engaging. For you, those days were probably a drag.

I'd like to give a shout out to all the readers this month. Many days, the only little boost I get is seeing the dots on the map thanks to the tracking services of Sitemeter. That's right people. I'm watching you! I know I've got lots of lurkers and I hope eventually you will feel comfortable enough to post a comment. Even if it is just to correct a spelling error or point out my incorrect use of helping verbs.

And to some of the new visitors who have made their way here from the NaBloPoMo pink elephant search: Welcome! Hope you will continue to come back for more. I'm glad you're here.

And finally, a big thank you to Fussy. Without Fussy, I wouldn't have made it a daily habit to write. And without her and NaBloPoMo, I wouldn't have been reminded about that other Na thing that people do in November, National Novel Writing Month. And I wouldn't have completed a 29,836-word young adult manuscript without that reminder.

So thanks, readers! And thanks, Fussy! I'll make sure to mention all of you on the credits page of my novel!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Trimming the Tree

I spent two hours during senior citizen day at the mall and found ornaments for the tree. I went with simple silver organic shapes and some meaningful ornaments including a panda, an owl, a fish and a peacock, all which are favorites of Oscar.

I unwrapped and the boys decorated. As you can see, they did an excellent job.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When Two Means Five

There are few cases in the world when two inches really means five inches. I know you are thinking perhaps of the example of some men's measuring abilities in regards to certain parts of their bodies.

What I am referring to is the two inches I asked to have cut off the bottom of my hair today. The stylist, or should I say, the hair cutter, must have been using the same "measurement" guidelines that some men use.

Aren't bad haircuts a bummer? Like today, I went in, all excited, ready to embark on the next phase of my life. The new haircut phase. The swinging, shiny haircut phase. The "Gee, My Hair Not Only Smells Terrific, It Also Looks Terrific" phase.

Instead I am in the "Crap, I Can't Even Pull This Into a Decent Ponytail" phase. The "I Guess I'll Just Use a Lot of Product" phase. The "Maybe I Should Just Go and Get It All Chopped Off" phase.

Why can't my trips to the salon be like it is for the people on "What Not To Wear" when the guy with the beard cuts their hair? Where the magic of face shape and hair texture and product mixed with the perfect cut and color yield dazzling and breath-intaking awe?

I had a haircut like that once. Her name was Brigette. She was my husband's before she was mine. She took a simple look from the Garnet Hill catalog and her shiny silver scissors and transformed me. Sigh.

That's what I want for the holidays. That slow-motion, hair-swinging high that comes from an incredible cut.

Because that is definitely not what I got today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yes, It's Real

Obviously, we went for the real thing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm Gonna Unschool You!

Check out this interesting article on homeschooling or unschooling, as some call it, over at the New York Times.

As a trained educator who is constantly thinking about how I can reach and teach all of my students, I find some of the ideas held by homeschoolers to be downright brilliant. Let kids learn about what they want? Fantastic idea! Let kids dictate what time of day and what environment they want to learn in? Excellent, sign me up! Teach kids about everyday applicable skills that are necessary for living a full life? I'm so there!

I was first exposed to homeschoolers when I was living out in Seattle. Homeschooling was very prevalent there and since I was in the educational toy industry, I got lots of chances to talk and interact with families who had chosen that route for their kids. Some of the people were great and some of them were a little cuckoo...just like the rest of us. The main thing I noticed was that all the parents who were homeschooling were definitely involved in their child's education. Which is a lot more than I can say for many of the families in the general population.

But the jury is out for me about other things in regards to homeschooling. I already am afraid I've scarred Oscar in some way due to the lack of play dates in his young life. Will he be unsocialized? I know that most homeschoolers work hard to assure their kids get exposed to other young learners. But would I be able to do it? Can every parent who homeschools manage to do it all? Being a parent is hard enough without throwing in that huge chunk of responsibility.

I think that homeschooling parents do need to show some sort of expertise or willingness to learn about pedagogy before they embark on such a huge task. Wanting to do it should not equal being able to do it. I want to be a doctor, but so far, they aren't just letting me scrub in. Some of you may say, "Well, it's not like education is brain surgery." To that, my response is this: Come and spend a day with me people. And then you can tell me what you think.

Overall, I think it is a great alternative for some families.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

To Tree or Not to Tree, That is the Question

This year, we can't decide if we should have a tree or not. We aren't huge on the holidays, but this year, I feel a certain pull towards the idea of going all out.

Last year, we had a simple tabletop artifical tree and that was plenty. This year, besides the dilemma of whether to have the tree, we also have to decide if we want to go fake or real or really fake like the one below.

I know you have opinions on this, so help me out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Holiday Must See Movies

Fussy made a list of her top DVD's of the season. In homage to her list, here are a few of my favorites:

Home for the Holidays : One of the few holiday movies that focuses on Turkey Day, this is a fun romp through a disastrous and totally believable holiday at home. Makes me laugh and cry everytime I see it.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer : Watch this for the gay elf who missed his true calling as an orthodontist and the Abominable Snowman.

Love Actually: Always funny, always cheesy and the soundtrack rocks!

About A Boy: It may seem like I am huge Hugh Grant fan, but it is Nick Hornby's perfectly written characters and Toni Collette's acting that put this one on my list.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


What a day. The theme was stuffing. Stuffing ourselves with food of course, but also stuffing as much visiting and family into the day as possible. Poor Oscar made it through the entire holiday with no naps. Thankfully, he enjoyed himself, despite the lack of sleep.

I, on the other hand, didn't get a nap either and I'm feeling a little cranky. As much as I love and enjoy my family (and extended family) sometimes it is the days full of people and food and driving that remind me just how much I adore my little family and the quiet times when it is just us.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Or as Oscar says, "Gobble, gobble!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lacy, fingerless gloves and miniskirts with cut-off tights*

Many hours, days, weeks, perhaps even months of my life have been spent dancing, lipsyncing and dressing like Madonna.

And therefore, I have no time to post today as I pay homage to my mentor.

*What really disturbed me as I typed this, is that this look is back in style. {Shudder.}

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vacation, baby!

That's right. I am officially on vacation. Except I suppose it's not really a vacation as much as it is a break. Teachers don't really get a vacation. They just get breaks. Of course, I'm not complaining. Call it what you will, it still means sleeping in past 6 a.m. and not having to remind anyone which drawer the extra pencils and paper are in or to walk in the hallways.*

So besides the regular turkey eating that will take place, what should I do with the five (FIVE!) glorious days of freedom in front of me?

Any ideas?

*This is what I do all day. Or at least it feels like that some days.

Monday, November 20, 2006

This is not a food blog...

And yet this will be my second post on food in as many days.

I had this delicious soup for lunch at a little potluck we had at school. And I liked it so much that I had to try to replicate it at home post haste.

Yummy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

1 box Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice, prepared according to package instructions
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans vegetable broth
1 or 2 cans of mushroom pieces, depending on your tastes
1 tbsp of black pepper

That's the vegetarian version.

For the bacon-loving version, add the following

1 lb bacon, cooked and broken into pieces or if you are lazy, like me, a bag of precooked and shredded bacon pieces
2 cans chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth
2 tbsp of bacon grease (if you've got it, why not use it?)

Throw it all in a big soup kettle or your crockpot, heat it up and enjoy! It is especially delicious with some crusty bread to dip in it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jesus is on my lawn and it's not even Thanksgiving!

Now, I think everyone should be able to celebrate and share their religion freely and peaceably in our little world. But I am not sure that anyone should do that by putting up a life-sized, one-dimensional, light-bulb-enhanced scene of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

And that is what I have on my lawn right now. I guess that is what you get when you belong to a condo association.

Once it is dark and the baby Jesus is lit up, I will sneak over to my neighbor's patio area and photograph the aforementioned manger scene.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

We had this at cooking club last week and I will be serving it up at Thanksgiving. That is, if I don't decide to keep all three pies for myself.


Light brown sugar
3 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cornstarch
3 c. corn syrup
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. heavy cream
8 eggs
1 c. chocolate chips
4 c. pecans
1/2 c. bourbon
3 premade refridgerated pie shells

Blend all ingredients together except chocolate chips and pecans. Divide chocolate chips and pecans into 3 unbaked pie shells. Then pour in the filling and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until firm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Crayon Love

Does anyone else love crayons like I do? The cracking open of a new box, the points all so neatly and evenly aligned, the rainbow of possibility just sitting there, waiting to be used?

I can't draw for shit, but I do love me some crayons.

Thankfully, Oscar is a fantastic artist and will at times spend hours with his crayons, drawing circles and other abstract shapes.

He gets his love of crayons from me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What the H*ll is a Helping Verb?

There is something I've been wondering about and maybe you could help me out.

How many of you can name all the helping verbs? What about actually defining what the helping verb does in a sentence? And can you tell me if a helping verb ever be anything else?

I try to believe every day that what I am teaching my students is applicable to their lives in the "real" world*.

And yet at times, I think, gosh, will they really ever have to know or even understand what a helping verb is?

Do you use helping verbs in your daily life? I mean, with actual conscious thought and purpose? Maybe if you are an editor or a writer** or a language arts teacher. But for everyone else in this world, is it really all that important that you are able to recite the helping verbs to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down?"

Seriously. Is it?

*I refer to the world we all live in here, not the MTV reality show "Real World."

**I asked a writer I know and they weren't quite sure what they are either.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

I tell my students first thing that I don't want to hear any excuses. I want to hear solutions, people! If you forgot your homework on the kitchen counter, I want to hear that you called your grandma and she is bringing it to you. If you don't have a pencil, I want to see you borrowing one from my magical drawer of pencils. If your dog ate your narrative essay, I want you write a new essay about what happened and I want you to turn it in on time.

And yet today, I have neither excuse or solution for my problem of not being able to come up with some sort of interesting/unique/dynamic/life changing and/or affirming post.

Except this one.

My excuse: I. Am. Tired.

That's it.

My solution: See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We read a ton around here. Some of our favorites right now are...

This is New York by Miroslav Sasek

Olivia Forms A Band by Ian Falconer

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Tomorrow I'll post what Oscar is reading.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I've Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew

I have big plans for this week. Here are just a few things on my to do list:

1. Host fundraiser at local pizza place (expected turn out of two to three hundred people)
2. Make a bunch of stuff for the craft sale at school
3. Blog every day for NaBloPoMo
4. Get in another 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo
5. Edit the 22,000 words I've written so far
6. Give a presentation at work
7. Clean up the pile (and I mean, PILE) of stuff that has gathered on the floor of our bedroom
8. Get a haircut
9. Cooking Club Wednesday night

But I think I have bitten off more than I can possibly chew. I may have to lower my expectations. For instance, the PILE will remain a pile until next week when the blessed Thanksgiving holiday break begins. And the presentation, well, it's not gonna be great. I'm still giving the rest of the list a fighting chance. Thankfully, my recipe for cooking club is beyond easy...or I would have had to ask my mom to do the cooking part of cooking club for me. And this little post takes care of least for today.

So, what's on your list this week?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh, Baby

My new little nephew and the crop of pregnant ladies at school have me thinking about the days when my wee one was itty, bitty and tiny. This is one of my favorite pics of us when he was newly arrived. It is a rare glimpse of me sent out to blogland. And I just love how he is looking at me.

Man, they do grow up fast, don't they?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Go There Now!

Here are some sites/blogs that I am loving right now...

Free Spirit This fantastic site belongs to Free Spirit Fine Quilting Fabric. Not only do they have a fabric gallery for perusing and a nifty way to make a list of your favorite fabrics to print and take to the fabric store, they also have a bounty of incredible quilt patterns...for free!

Hello My Name is Heather Everytime I visit Miss Heather's blog, my mind is blown. Beautiful colors, beautiful photos...and now, a beautiful line of fabric which will be available at a shop near you soon! Her fabric is distributed through Free Spirit (see above.)

Vincent Shoes Everyone needs shoes, right? If your little ones need something for their little feet, this is the place to go for the sweetest, smartest and most fashionable shoes.

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone has time for a nap!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Ok, so it is not snowing yet, but someone I know is ready for it.

I am aware that some of you are dreading the snow. And some of you won't see a flake this winter (unless it is the person you are dating or a bad case of dandruff) and you are wishing for a white non-secular holiday. I am ready for some snow because if it has to be cold, it could, at the very least, look a little more like a winter wonderland outside. I am sick of the brown grass and the leafless trees and the orange snow fences patiently waiting to be covered by the glistening flaky stuff.

Bring it on, I say. Bring it on!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The first person who correctly guesses what the above number is will win a prize.

Happy guessing!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!

Have you ever sniffed yourself repeatedly because you just smelled so darn good? If you have, I'd love to know more. Because that was the theme of my day...self-sniffing.

The title of my post is the thought that kept running through my head today. I was at an out-of-town conference. It was my first overnight trip away from Oscar ever. While the conference itself was interesting, I would have much rather have spent my time writing or crafting or simply staring blankly into space.

The one truly bright spot of my day came in the form of a shampoo bottle. Or rather its vehicle was a shampoo bottle.

If you stay at a Hilton (which I did) and if you shower at a Hilton (at, not with, and I did) then you too can smell as glorious as I do right now. You see, they stock their lovely marble, yes MARBLE! bathrooms with La Source products.

And so as I was sitting in my chair at the conference, I found myself again and again twisting my hair up and then taking a sniff. I'm fairly sure people think I am a bit odd to begin with. The hair sniffing may have cemented this thought permanently into their minds.

But, gee, my hair really does smell terrific!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Words I Love to Hate

(in no particular order)


What words do you hate?

Monday, November 06, 2006


Four jobs I have had in my life:
1) Jailer
2) Pizza Delivery Personnel
3) Chanel make up artist
4) Scrapbook instructor

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1) Drop Dead Fred
2) The one where Joaquin Phoenix is busted for drugs in Thailand and Vince Vaughn takes a bath with Anne Heche
3) Amelie
4) Sleepless in Seattle (corny, I know)

Four places I have lived:
1) Wadena, MN
2) Seattle, WA
3) St. Paul, MN
4) Fargo, ND

Four TV Shows I love to watch:
1) Brothers and Sisters (love it!)
2) The Bachelor
3) Any cooking show on PBS
4) ER

Four places I have been on vacation
1) Florida
2) New York City
3) Italy
4) Amsterdam

Four of my favorite foods
1) guacamole and salty chips
2) dark chocolate
3) Triscuits and Laughing Cow cheese
4) tomato, mozzarella and basil on fresh crusty bread

Four places I would rather be right now.
1) In bed, sleeping.
2) Playing with Oscar and Brady.
3) Sewing or creating something with my hands.
4) On a beach somewhere warm with a book and a drink.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's 54 degrees outside! In November! In North Dakota!

That's really all I've got to say.

Enjoy the weather!

Update: It's 64 degrees outside!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Give Us a Kiss Bye-Bye

Today we made what will probably be our final visit to the zoo until springtime. We said goodbye to the goats, the cow, the big horse, the little horse, the llamas, the camels, the pig (who has no manners at all,) the red pandas, the Russian red-headed squirrels, the takins, the ducks, the porcupines, and the prairie dogs. The zoo has given us a great amount of pleasure this last year. It is the perfect size for us and we can visit for half an hour or half a day and enjoy ourselves.

So until next spring, zoo! Stay warm! And here's a big kiss from the cow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What I Learned in School This Week

1. Most 7th graders believe that homeless people are dirty old men who are boozers that love free Taco Bell meals and making cardboard signs.
2. Technology isn't really here to help us. It is here to make us insane.
3. Kids don't care how many times and how nicely you ask them to take their hats off in school. They are still going to forget (read: ignore) this rule every single day until they see you and hear you politely ask them to take it off. Then they will take it off until they think you can't see them. Students will even act as though you are invisible and that they are deaf to avoid removing their hats.
4. Exclamation points are cool!!!!!!!!!
5. Candy wrappers can magically materialize out of thin air, without any assistance from a human being.
6. Math facts are fun. I know this because it is Multiplication Month.

And yet, I will return on Monday, ready to teach, ready to make them laugh and learn and think about their worlds.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What I Ate for Lunch

Ok, so the cardinal sin of blogging is to talk about what one has consumed for lunch. But I just have to share what my classic hot lunch line meal was today.

For a starter, there were rubbery slices of cucumber, served in a cup that you might also use to dispense medications in a hospital. That was followed by a main course of reconstituted mashed potato flakes covered in a turkey-flavored gravy. The chefs take great care in counting out the cubes of pressed turkey so that each diner has the same gastrointestinal experience. The meal was finished with a Styrofoam cup of strawberry ice cream. All served on the finest Styrofoam tray and eaten with white plastic dinnerware.

Fine dining, people. Fine dining. I invite you all to come and have lunch with me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Blog Posting Month Kick Off

So, Fussy got me all fired up to get on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon and so here is my first post! Check out the link on the right to find out more about who is participating and how to get involved.

Today's journal topic for my seventh graders was "If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?" Since I made them write about this topic, I thought I might chime in myself.

If I could go anywhere in the world, I wouldn't choose anywhere exotic. Sure, I want to travel to places like India and France and Belize and Portugal. But where I'd really like to go, right now, is Seattle. Lately I am nostalgic for my West Coast home. I miss the weight of the air, the ocean just blocks from my back door, the parks, the people. I miss the temperate climate, the lack of bugs and wind and the cool mist on my face in the morning. I miss fresh seafood in the food court at the mall and that big beautiful mountain in my rearview mirror.

I'd love to take Brady and Oscar there for a visit. Our finances make it impossible to do right now, but sometime, and I hope sometime soon, I want to show them why I love Seattle.

If a seventh grader can do it, so can you...where would you go and why?