Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review

Oh, the plans I had for my Christmas break.  The lessons I would prepare, the menus I would plan, the library books I would read.  And with Matt off work as well, what better opportunity to get errands run and house cleaned?  But it's now afternoon, 9 days after this lovely break began, and we're both sitting in our pajamas,  not even really planning to leave the house.  I had holiday M&Ms for breakfast.  I thought about taking down our Christmas tree, but all the boxes for the ornaments are in the basement, and I'd have to put on slippers.  My dog is wedged very comfortably at my side, and I don't want to disturb her.  I've had about a day and a half of productivity. Fortunately, this past week is not indicative of the productivity of the last year.  And all this lazy time has been good reflection time on where we've been in 2011, and where we want to go in 2012 (at least before the world ends).

The House: If you've read this blog before, you know how much I love our house.  But I've also loved entertaining in our home, and to a lesser extent, learning how to fix broken stuff and be grown-ups.  This has mostly been Matt's region, and the Shop-Vac and cordless drill he got for Christmas will help him in his endeavors.  But I help, and I want to learn to do more around my home.  2012 Home Goal: Cook and eat at home more often, and try to develop a green thumb. 

The Job:  I love my job, and I always want to be a better teacher.  My professional goals are to be positive even when it seems like there's not enough time in the day, and to do more professional reading and writing.  I always make my students write specific goals, so I will add that I want to bring more technology into my classroom and reconsider how I approach outside reading assignments.

The Book of Stuff:  One of my more brilliant ideas of 2011 was to write down the fun stuff that we did over the year.  I have a lined book that I update as we travel, see movies, read books, or go to sporting events.  It's fun and easy, and I have no idea why I haven't done it in the past.  It was something we both contributed to - I wrote down the weekend trips we took for weddings and new restaurants we tried, and Matt handled the starting pitchers of Royals games we saw.  It makes me wonder how much stuff I've done over the years and forgotten, because I didn't have a record.  I really notice this in the books section.  It's no secret I'm a big reader, but I've never thought about writing down what I read.  As I look back, there are books I read three months ago that I'd forgotten about.  I set a somewhat arbitrary goal of 50 books for 2011, and as of today, I've done it!  To be fair, about eight of those books are just a bit below my reading level.  I had a lot of 7th grade literature to catch up on when I moved to the middle school.  However, no picture books were counted in this total, so I'm pretty proud of that!  I want to read another 50 in 2012, but do more writing and sharing about what I read. 

Now it's probably time to take care of some easier goals to accomplish, like showering and going outside.  Happy New Year to everyone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Terrible Television

I must confess that I am addicted to terrible, terrible television.  I'm trying to cut myself off reality TV.  I can honestly say that I don't watch very much - no denial here - but what I watch is so awful I think it rots my brain at twice the regular rate.  I used to ride a pretty high horse when it came to reality television.  Rubbish, staged, waste of time, etc.  Then I started watching Project Runway.  Then Top Chef.  Then Bridezillas.  Then I stopped watching all of those, and discovered shows that portray some of the worst wretches of humanity imaginable.  When Matt started having rehearsals on Sunday, I started watching Discovery Channel and TLC.  At first, I thought I could get away with it.  When someone asked me what I was watching, I could say, "Oh, just something on Discovery" without mentioning it was a show about 900 pound people, a mermaid girl whose legs were fused together, hoarders, polygamists, or people with Pica (look it up).  This doesn't work with TLC.  If I'm watching something on TLC, it's almost guaranteed to be the opposite of educational.  The Learning Channel does not fit the programming.  I suggest Toddlers, Lunatics, and Cupcakes.  Other suggestions? 

One of my favorites is "I'm Pregnant And...".  I watched a marathon once, and it was life-changing in a very depressing way.  The premise of the show is that a woman is pregnant and has some obstacle to overcome, or some weird quirk that makes her interesting to viewers like me.  For example, I've seen episodes about pregnant heroin addicts, prison inmates, and nudists.  But as I recently discussed with some friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many other weird things people can be in addition to with child.  Surprisingly enough, some of them already have their own shows (I'm Pregnant and it's Baby #20).  Also, some potential shows could be based around people we already knew of:  I'm Pregnant and in Driver's Ed, or I'm Pregnant and in 8th Grade.  So programming gurus, take note.  These examples are free.  I've got more - but they're going to cost you.  For your entertainment:

I'm Pregnant and...a Mature, Financially Stable Adult in a Long-Term, Committed Relationship
(Just Kidding)

I'm Pregnant and...Accused of Statutory Rape
I'm Pregnant and...A WWE Diva
I'm Pregnant and...My Sister Wives are Jealous
I'm Pregnant and...This Time I'm Telling the Truth
I'm Pregnant and...So's My Mom
I'm Pregnant and...I Made a Deal with the Devil
I'm Pregnant and...An Alien Abductee
I'm Pregnant and...I Have a 6 Week Old Infant
I'm Pregnant and...I'm Getting Divorced
I'm Pregnant and...I'm a Virgin
I'm Pregnant and...It Didn't Stay in Vegas

Friday, October 28, 2011

Having a Autumn

I could have gone with the clearer choice and titled this post Having a Ball in Fall, but since I recently taught my students that fall and autumn are the same thing, and that I wasn't trying to trick them with a fifth season, I thought I'd go with the fancier word.  I've also taught them what TBA means and that Bob is a nickname for Robert, so I'd say I'm pretty effective and also brilliant. We're still working on their, there, and they're. 

Fall is definitely one of the best seasons.  I'm glad I live in an area that has seasons, but I wish that they were only spring, fall, and Christmas.  Fall just has a combination of all sorts of things I love.  I will list them here.  The next post will focus on recent reading, date TBA.

1.  General coziness - throw blankets, cardigans, hot chocolate, staying in bed a little longer every morning, slipper socks, etc. And this year I'm excited to have a fire in our fireplace!
2. Birthdays - Mine!  And this year's combo housewarming/birthday party was a blast.  I think I'm going to devote a whole post to my new Kindle. 
3. The return of the slow cooker - this is my kind of cooking.  Throw some stuff in a pot and let it simmer until you're ready.  Last year, I successfully made chili, pot roast, pork shoulder, and macaroni and cheese.  This year, I made a pretty good dip, and I want to do chicken noodle soup.  Just a lot of good things to eat when the weather cools off!
4. Fall Foliage - It ends too soon, but I love the fall leaves.  Upside is that our new house has lots of old trees, downside is we have to rake them up.  And don't even get me started on how many walnuts are appearing overnight.
5.  Fall Festivities - In addition to birthday celebrations, I love other fall fun.  City fall festivals, even if I only went to Gladfest this year, Homecoming, Halloween and Thanksgiving gatherings are all great ways to see good people and eat good food.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011


In general, I dislike the phrase 'slippery slope', because it is an obnoxious catch phrase that politicians use to defend inequality and promote their own agendas.  And if politicians are allowed to use expressions like 'slippery slope', and 'Wall Street Vs. Main Street', and 'vaccines give you disabilities', then where do we draw the line between personal opinion and politics?  It's such a...slippery slope...oh no.  Perhaps I will use the visual image of a domino effect instead.  I need some kind of metaphor to describe how my love of football has developed and grown over the past few years, with little personal control or choice.

Throughout the first 18 years of my life, I don't remember ever seeing a professional football game.  I saw high school games, but Friday nights were mostly about band.  College games would be on at home sometimes on Saturdays, but not something I really paid attention to.  Sundays were for church work or woman's work.  But this all changed when I came to college.  Can anyone describe the rush of a first home college game?  I was in love.  As time passed, I progressed from following just Mizzou to the Big XII and beyond.  I realized that because I'd missed some critical years hating kansas, I had to hate them extra hard now.  And my first bowl season...oh my.  I never realized how much fun the holidays could be with some friendly smack talk. 

When Matt and I first started dating, I still hadn't moved on to professional football.  He just thought I was so darn cute he didn't even mind that I knew very little about one of his great loves.  When he took me home to a Chiefs game and I met his family and loved ones for the first time, I figured out that if I was going to be serious about Matt, I would have to be serious about football.  But my beginnings as a good-intentioned girlfriend morphed as I started to love the sport for the love of the game, not just for the love of Matt.  I do draw the line at Madden, though.  Never will I love Madden.

Now, many of my fall weekends are devoted to football.  I don't watch all the games.  I nap, I read, I grade, I nap, but I'm also spending time with family and following the scoring.  While I initially got involved in fantasy football because I liked the challenge of coming up with a clever team name, now I am an active researcher/drafter/participant.  (Thanks Wes Welker, and I hate you Jamaal Charles.)  I can even follow along on the Red Zone channel.  I have opinions, and after a few years, I vocalized them.  Sometimes I even watch a game when Matt isn't home.  I get excited for drafts. 

It's been quite a transformation.  The downside is I get to experience the heartache of being a Chiefs fan, and knowing that they have to lose today if I am going to carry on another week in my survival league.  Is it worth it?  Yep.  Maybe.  I will have slipped too far if I get a team tattoo, but I think the slope has bottomed out at a good place. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Death Threats

When you are a high anxiety person (like me) and are exceptionally clumsy (also me), maiming and death traps lurk around every corner.  And it turns out that when you buy a house, you can hire someone to come in and tell you all about the many dangers of your future home.  Some of these items even I'm not worried about - the inspector was pretty concerned about the 1/8 inch difference between the tile in the kitchen and the wood floors in the dining and living room, but not even I could trip over that.  We acted on other recommendations, though.  Getting the radon situation mitigated was probably a good choice.  Some issues we didn't even need the inspector to point out.  The stairway upstairs has a low doorway, so we have to watch our heads.  The basement stairs are narrow and rickety, so we have to watch our steps.  I knew I had to be careful there...but so far, I've had a few near - death experiences that had nothing to do with anything I'd been warned about or figured out on my own.

Venomous Serpents:  One of my earliest childhood memories is of being terrified of snakes.  I can't say for sure if I have a diagnosable phobia, but truly nothing frightens me more than those slimy, slithery, harbingers of death.  So imagine my dismay when I was peacefully walking with my dog in the backyard and heard a deadly rustle - it was a foot long, black snake wriggling away from us.  I screamed.  Now the neighbors think I'm crazy, and every stick, leaf, and walnut lying on our lawn startles me and makes me shiver.  I should point out that not only did the dog fail to defend me, she didn't even notice. 

Poisonous Spiders AND Fire:  We were spending a lovely late summer evening sitting on our new deck furniture, when a monstrous spider started to descend right in between us.  I'm not exaggerating about the size of this beast, it was intense enough to make Matt jump too.  Brave husband that he is, he started to attack it with our nearest weapon, a can of bug spray.  The spider was undeterred.  Matt's mother then handed him a lighter, hoping to burn the creature to death.  A second's hesitation reminded us that bug spray + flame = probable house fire.  So Matt defended us with a shoe.

Drowning:  We have an old house with a stone basement.  We were advised to buy a dehumidifier to keep the slight dank odor out, and dry things out in the event of a heavy rain.  So on our weekly trip to Lowe's, we decided to pick one up.  And after some debate, we ended up going with the big daddy 70 pint model.  And it's a good thing we did.  We started running it on Saturday afternoon, and as of Tuesday, we had emptied it 3 times.  That's 210 pints, or 26.25 gallons.  As of this evening, it's still going strong.  That's some serious moisture seeping into our lungs.

Dog Suicide:  No one has ever accused our dog of being brilliant.  But I also didn't think she was dumb enough to try to off herself.  However, within 15 minutes one evening, she tried to end her own life no fewer than five times.  She squeezed out the front door, and gleefully ran across two streets straight to the defensive German shepherd that lives in his backyard and would have thought she was a snack.  Fortunately, the shepherd's owner so what was going on in time to pull her animal inside, which then inspired ours to run back and forth across the street like a fate-tempting fool.  My father-in-law tackled her to the ground in the front yard.  It was not pretty. 

I guess the moral of the story is thank goodness for insurance.  And does anyone know where I can take out a policy on my dog?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This has been a really, really big month.  We bought a house!  It's basically the best house ever.  I got a new job - also basically the best ever.  But with all this new awesomeness comes great responsibility.  Even more than usual, there's always some project to complete, something to clean, and something to grade.  I recently checked the time to find it was 8:30.  I was ready to go to bed and had assumed it was after 11:00.  I'm hoping that I adapt to this new schedule soon, or else I won't even be able to stay awake for local news.

The theme of this post is adaptation.  I'm adapting to some areas of middle school (the kids, extra-curriculars, a later start) better than others (missing my high school colleagues).  Some of us (me and Matt) adapted to our new home much better than others (the dog, who freaked out for a solid week). That being said there are still a few tricks to our house I have yet to figure out.  Part of this is because the house was built in 1940, and it has lots of little quirks which I love - part of the charm of the place.  Part of this is my failure to adapt to a new home. 

I can only lock the front door about 50% of the time.  I can't get the lock just right.  Sometimes I go back in and lock it from the inside, and then leave from the sun room, which isn't terribly convenient.

I'm not sure where all the light switches are yet.  I'm always fumbling around and slapping walls where I think the switches should be, especially in the kitchen and the office.  I go into the office everyday, and everyday I hit the wall on the opposite side of the door.  Embarrassing. 

There are two lights in the bathroom.  One is a regular, pleasant light.  The other is a blinding beam of burning white light, which sears the eyes and heats the skin.  Unfortunately, this light must be turned on in order to have the only outlet in the bathroom work, which I require for my electric toothbrush and hair straightener.  This light is one of the causes of another problem - my leave the house time has increased by a good 15 minutes.

Every morning after I fumble around to find the lights and get dressed, I stare at myself under the bright light in the bathroom.  I see flaws I didn't know existed in nature.  The light shines like a beacon on every overlarge pore, chapped lip skin, and errant eyebrow hair.  I smear powder over my nose, trying to cover the gaping holes in my face, only to see each individual fleck of powder reflected back at me.  Putting on make up is an entirely new experience, as I can see every little blonde eye lash I have, and every spot where eyeshadow and eyeliner aren't quite blended.  After this morning ritual, I head to the kitchen to make my lunch, where I have to remember the hidden light switch and remember which side the fridge opens - it's the opposite of any place I ever remember living.  Then if I can lock the door on my first try, I can leave, if not, several more minutes pass.

The good news is my pores and I overall love the house.  It's beautiful and wonderful and perfect, and I can't wait to finish decorating it and have people over to sit on the deck.  I just wish it wasn't teaming up on me to try to make me late.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School Dreams

Based on my scientific survey of the teachers I have spoken to in the past week or so, I am not alone in having bizarre back to school dreams.  Any teacher I didn't talk to and has a trick for not dreaming about school, please let me know because I wake up all flummoxed and cranky.  I am aware that these dreams are a result of thinking a lot about school, anxiety/excitement for the new year, and a little bit of brain vomit.  But for the sake of my blogging readership and some funsies,  I went to the first dream interpretation guide I found on Google to examine potential dream messages.  After all, "acquiring the ability to interpret your dreams is a powerful tool.  In analyzing your dreams, you can learn about your deep secrets and hidden feelings" (  Let's do this!

Dream #1:  I am getting a haircut, but my principal is the one cutting my hair.  It is awkward.

My interpretation:  I probably should get my hair cut before school starts.  My principal is kind of awkward. 

Dream dictionary interpretation: To dream that someone is giving you a haircut suggests that you are experiencing a decreased sense of power.  You feel you are being criticized unfairly.  Alternatively, your dream haircut symbolizes a fresh start.  You are shedding some unwanted aspect of yourself. 

Reaction:  Whoa!  I must totally be experiencing a decreased sense of power because it is an authority figure cutting my hair!!  He's not really critical though, he mostly makes kindly suggestions.  I am getting a fresh start in a new building though...points for the dictionary!

Dream #2:  I am frantic on the first day of school and running around like a fool.  I am given the news that one of my classes is going to be split up to make my other classes bigger, and I'm losing my planning time.  During these extra hours, I will have to serve as school nurse.  I panic because I don't know how to be a nurse.

My interpretation:  Hmm.  Could this really happen?  With budget cuts all over the place, maybe teachers will have to take shifts doling out band aids or waxing the floors.  What if a kid barfs on me???  If it's slow enough, maybe I could still get some grading done.

Dream dictionary interpretation:  I find it odd that there is an entry for nurse and wet nurse, but not school nurse.  Here's what nurse said: To dream that you are a nurse suggests that you need to show more compassion in a situation.

Reaction:  Harsh!  I'm totally compassionate.  I was grossed out by the dream students though, so maybe they're who I need to be nicer to.

Dream #3:  I am approached by the school band director and asked to help out with the marching band.  I love band and am totally excited!  I am a chaperone on the bus to a competition.  When I get off the bus, I'm told that there's been a misunderstanding - I'm not there as a chaperone, but I'm needed as a substitute player because some kid got sick.  They get me a uniform and a trombone, and send me on the field.  I don't know the music or the drill, and I'm very stressed.

My interpretation:  Between the new school year approaching and the big move, this has been a stressful time for me.  Maybe I feel like I need more guidance.  Also, I am an incredible dweeb.

Dream dictionary interpretation: To see or be in a marching band (This is common???)  indicates that you are a team player and able to work in harmony for a common cause.  You show great discipline.  Also, to see or play a trombone in your dream represents success in love.

Reaction:  Oh yeah!  I am AWESOME!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Growing Old Gracefully

Confession:  I am 26, and I am basically an old biddy. I always thought I would like to be a sweet old lady like my Grandma Helen, but given my height and cranky disposition, I will probably age more like my Great-Aunt Lola, who was a towering old broad with an alarmingly gruff voice and an unfortunate humpback.  She did make beautiful afghans, but I was terrified of her.  While I've accepted that I am more 'traditional' and 'old-fashioned' in my views and ideals, I fear that I am also becoming a little more grumpy and odd.  I read Mary Higgins Clark and the Brontes, my Netflix queue recommends British Romantic Dramas, Period Pieces Based on Literature, and Films with Strong Female Leads, and I fade fast in the heat.  I also have been known to rant about kids these days and their twilights and their abercrombies and their beibers.  But I've observed some other traits that are making me fussy and pushing me more into old lady realm:

1.  I just got a new HP laptop for my job, and I have been having trouble switching back and forth between that and my personal macbook.  It's really hard!  I forget all the shortcut keys, and I don't like it.  It makes me cranky.

2.  I am a loyal Hy-Vee shopper, but I have been getting bad customer service!  The past several times I have been there, the cashier hasn't even said hello, let alone ask me if I found everything I needed.  I haven't complained to anyone, or threatened to take my business elsewhere, but I worked in retail long enough to expect a greeting!  I think this is just a stepping stone to the nursing home, though.  I'd probably have to formally lodge a complaint, and starting paying for my items in the express lane with a check to really demonstrate my old ladyness.   

3.  I really, really, love cardigans.  I do.  And mine are mostly fun and relatively fashionable.  I don't have any with holiday appliques or knobby fabric lumps.  I am starting to button them up higher and higher though.  Soon enough, I'll be wearing a fully buttoned cardigan over a turtleneck pull-over.  I prefer to pair my many cardigans with ballet flats.  I always wear flats because they're more comfortable to teach in and I'm still overcoming my childhood trauma as an Amazon freak.  But regular ballet flats aren't cutting it anymore.  I need shoes with more support, and sturdy heels that will hold up well.  My arches aren't going to support themselves, and toe-cleavage is a definite no.

Between these new developments, my sickening affection for my pet, and the care I lavish on my houseplants, I think the tennis ball and walker combo can't be far behind.  I better learn how to knit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

One of the ideas I heard at the writing project this summer involved students writing lists of things that made them happy - 100, to be exact.  I thought that seemed like a high number, but I wanted to see if it could be done.  I did place some restrictions on myself - no 'good fortune' items - health insurance, employment, shelter, etc.  Not that I'm not grateful for those things, because I am, but it would be too easy to just start listing them.  I also decided it would be too easy to start listing specific books, music, and movies. I could do lists of 100 of each of those probably.  Or at least 50.  No inventions that make my life easier - sorry Internet, dishwasher, and car.  I also wanted to keep the list items short - no time wasted on lengthy explanations of why something made me happy.  Those restrictions did make things a little more complicated.  I was going strong for the first 40, then took a break to think, and completed the list in increments of 20.  Of course as soon as I was done, I kept thinking of other things, but I went with my first instinct.  Also, my own restrictions make it look like I'm really addicted to beauty products, which is only partially true.  I'm only sort of vain.  Here it is, in alphabetical order:

100 Things that make me happy:
(Besides raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens)

1.     A clean house
2.     A new haircut
3.     Accessories
4.     Alliteration
6.     Autumn leaves
7.     Babies and children that aren’t mine
8.     Baking
9.     Barbecues
10. Birthdays
11. Bookstores
12. Brunch
13. Candles
14. Cardigans
15. Celebrating New Year in late August
16. Christmas shopping
17. Comfortable and cute shoes
18. Crossword puzzles
19. Cute planners
20. Diet Dr. Pepper
21. Dogs (especially mine)
22. Doing something well
23. Epic music while driving
24. Family
25. Farmer’s markets
26. Finding a good deal
27. Football
28. Friends
29. Giving cards that are hilariously (I think) inappropriate
30. Good talks
31. Guilty pleasure magazines
32. Hand written letters, mostly from my grandma
33. Historical fiction
34. Hot Chocolate
35. Hugs
36.  Ice cream
37. Kindergarten food – chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese
38. Kindred spirits
39. Laughing
40. Learning
41. Lemon trees
42. Libraries
43. Lingering dinners out
44. London
45. Looking for home furnishings
46. Lush brand body products
47. Make-up, even if I’m not wearing it
48. March Madness, when I’m doing well
49. Marching bands
50. Matt
51. Memoirs
52. Mizzou
53. Movie marathons
54. Museums
55. Music
56. My bed
57. Netflix
58. New school supplies
59. No line at the photo copier
60. Obscure sports
61. Old movies
62. Old photographs
63. Organizing closets
64. Our new house
65. Pedicures
66. Peonies, roses, sweet peas, and tulips (pink)
67. Perfume
68. Planning future travel
69. Playing games
70. Puns
71. Reading
72. Reminiscing
73. Ridiculous YouTube videos
74. Road trips, except for most of the driving
75. Sagas – film or literary
76. Seeing live shows
77. Seeing movies in the theater
78. Shakespeare in the Park
79. Sitting on the deck
80. Sleeping in
81. Snow days
82. Snuggles with Puggle
83. Solving a mystery in a novel before the character
84. Sporcle
85. Sprawling
86. Starry skies
87. Successful new recipes
88. Sunroofs
89. Swimming
90. Swinging in a hammock
91. Target
92. Teaching
93. The beach
94. The holidays
95. The Olympics
96. Visiting Columbia
97. Weddings
98. When summer turns into fall
99. When winter turns into spring
100.  Writing
Please leave a comment and tell me something that makes you happy!