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Thursday, November 25, 2010


word of the day: thanksgiving \thaŋ(k)s-ˈgi-viŋ a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

I'm going with the cliche today. But then again, nothing else seemed appropriate.

I am a slave to to do lists. If there is something to be done, I feel compelled to work on it until I can check it off my list. And I usually do just that: work on a task at hand until I can check it off my list.

I entered Thanksgiving break with a pretty lengthy to do list. I had aspirations of grading all 150 paragraphs my students turned in last week. I wanted to finish an online class I have been procrastinating since July. I hoped to read the second half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

This morning, I woke up and timed my morning routine to end exactly as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began. I drank coffee wrapped in a blanket and realized that I could, in fact, take a break from the things on my to do list. I could enjoy the holiday without feeling bogged down by the unchecked boxes that generally loom over my head.

And so, it is with great thanksgiving that I sit here in my in-laws' family room on their cozy couch. It is with great thanksgiving that I keep switching my gaze between the football game and the snow falling outside. It is with great thanksgiving that I smell the Turkey permeated from its pan in the oven and anticipate the taste of mashed potatoes on my tongue.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like mashed potatoes.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like family.

I could go on and on about all the things I have to be thankful for, but for now, I'm just thankful to be exactly where I am. I'm thankful to be able to stop moving and recognize the blessing of it all.

Maybe I should start adding "take a break" to my to do lists. Maybe then I would remember to do it more often..

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010


word of the day: breathe \ˈbrēth\ to pause and rest before continuing

I think Fall is starting to feel like he's overstaying his welcome. How do I know? Because I've worn socks every day for the last week. That's how I know.

Frankly, I'm not ready for Fall to pack his bags yet. I was just thinking the other day that the amount of cider I've had to drink so far is not sufficient and that I haven't even touched a single leaf yet. I don't know why that's a big deal to me, but it seems like during Fall you should at least do something outside with the leaves. Like jump in a pile of them. Or throw them in the air with reckless abandon. I didn't do any of those things.

I took the construction paper autumn leaves off of a cupboard in my classroom today to clear room for the white paper snowflakes I'm going to make my ninth graders cut out tomorrow.

Fall, I'm not trying to run you out of town, rather, I'm trying to prepare myself for your departure. You're welcome to take a later flight if you'd like, but it always seems like once Thanksgiving is come and gone, so are you.

I was sitting on the couch doing some school work the other night when I realized that it had gotten awfully quiet. That's when I looked over and saw this on our other couch:

Somehow Jake has managed to turn Ginny into his lap dog, which is a task I have been attempting to do since the day we brought her home. Either way, I took the same picture three times because of the serenity of it all. It was a picture of rest at its finest.

That's when I remembered break is coming and I started to breathe a little more slowly.

I can part with Fall if it means Christmas music, nights full of peppermint hot chocolate, and every Christmas movie imaginable. I can snap up the suitcase if it means I get to relax with my family and wear my "I believe" t-shirt. I can throw away the green gourd outside of my door if it means I get to make my house explode with green, red, and cheer.

Because, really, what's the holiday season without the cheer?

I taught my students about theme and symbolism last week. We read "The Scarlet Ibis" and now periodically I'll stop class, wistfully sigh, and say, "Doodle."

(The Doodle comment won't make any sense unless you've read the story, which I highly recommend you do. It's short and you will need a box of tissues.)

I'm big on symbolism. In fact, I got so excited about it with one class that I had to stop and catch my breath. When I told them that they were lucky to have a teacher who loved symbolism so much it caused her to gasp for air, they looked at me like I was crazy. They seem to do that a lot.

Anyways, the theme and symbol discussion got me thinking about my own life. I love the concept of story, because I'm a firm believer that we each live a unique story. We live life amidst characters, plot twists, settings, and conflicts. Story is symbolic to me because it means that I hold the pen to write a great story for myself. As I told my 9th graders, the choices we make will write great stories. Or mediocre stories. Or poor stories. **

Either way, we have a story to tell and our lives are going to tell it one way or another.

Whether or not we take advantage of the pen we hold in our hand.

With that said, then, I suppose it's safe to say that our lives contain themes with the different seasons (don't get me started on the symbolism of the seasons).

In college my girlfriends and I used to sporadically ask each other the following questions: "If your life were a book, what would the current chapter be titled?"

I can remember always trying to think of something really philosophical.

What would my current life chapter be called? What's the theme of my life right now?

That's easy.


Jake reminds me of this often. When I feel like my head is going to spin straight off my neck, he nudges me gently and says, "breathe."

When I can't see past the stress of the present day, he first asks me if the stress of my modern office has caused me to go into a depression. Once I crack a smile (and sometimes manage to say,"Depression? Isn't that just a fancy word for bummed out?"), he quietly whispers, "breathe."


Fall may be pulling out my driveway, but the holidays are fast approaching. And for me, the fast pace of the holidays actually seems to remind me to breathe. To take a few minutes to remember what's really important. To take the pen in my hand and write a good story. Both figuratively and literally.

On a totally unrelated, and yet absolutely necessary note, I read almost all of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last week before seeing the movie last Saturday. Besides falling back in love with my old friends, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, I have now re-familiarized myself with all the spells.

With the said, Accio suitcase. I need to pack my bags for vacation.

Fall's not the only one busting out of town.

**If the idea of writing your own life story resonates with you, then I strongly recommend you read the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. It will rock your world.

Friday, November 12, 2010


word of the day: musings \ˈmyüz-ing\ thoughtfully abstracted

It has been a weird week. In fact, that's kind of an understatement, but we'll go with it. Because of the nature of the past few days, today is a day for musings. Today is a day for disconnected thoughts and incomplete sentences. Even though that is the exact opposite of what I taught my students today.

Do you remember the office episode where Kelly sings "This day is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. This day is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"? The office was in chaos because of the product recall and she had to train the accountants to be customer service reps. If my memory serves me correctly, directly following her adaptation ofHollaback Girl, Angela pops an aspirin into her mouth.

I literally almost sang that song to my students on Wednesday. And today, I popped two Ibuprofins right before 7th block. The nature of the week.

I usually leave for school somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30. That gives me time to stop for my tri-weekly latte and get to school by 7:15.

This morning I woke up at 7:00.

I walked out the door 16 minutes later and arrived at school promptly at 7:45 (my required time of arrival).

I wore flip-flops on Tuesday. That's usually unheard of in the middle of November, and I reveled in the opportunity.

On Wednesday, I felt like I should have had a runway to walk down. Ever have those days? Those days where you are wearing the most fabulous outfit and you wish everyone you know could see you in it? Those are the days you plan out in advance. I'm pretty sure I walked with some extra confidence all day mostly because of the way my new black flats clicked when I walked. Nothing says "There's a teacher coming" like clicky shoes. I'm just sayin'.

I wish I had taken a picture of myself so I could insert it here.

But I didn't.

My classroom was super hot this week. So hot that my students' faces were flushed and that I have now resorted to keeping one set of lights off to eliminate any extra heat.

I reacquainted myself with a old friend this last week. He hadn't changed, really. He was packing and emptying out a dusty suitcase when I finally found time to meet him. He couldn't stay long. Something about horcruxes to destroy.

It doesn't fall under the realm of this week, but I recently redeemed myself for the "Barfalaya" incident of 2008. Jake was a little wary when I told him I was attempting Jambalaya again, but has informed me that this most recent recipe will be requested in the future.

I did a sentence mini-lesson with my students yesterday and today. Now, grammar lessons are not typically very fun for kids, but I have learned that kids will do anything for a LifeSaver candy. Anything. It's almost bizarre the lengths they will go to for a 5 calorie circle of high fructose corn syrup. I had them write on their white boards examples of simple, compound, and complex sentences. Their examples had me rolling.
Mrs. Flinkman will give me a LifeSaver.

I want to eat a LifeSaver, but Mrs. Flinkman will not give me one.

Mrs. Flinkman is beautiful, and I am jealous of her.

LifeSavers have healing powers; however, I have not received one yet.

When I get home from school today, I will study sentence types all night.

Conjunctive adverbs have the best of me; I am not very good at English anyways.
I urged my kids to write complete sentences today, and tonight, I find myself unable to put more than one thought together. Instead, I just want to curl up on the couch with a hot cup of cider and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Bonus points to any reader who can name all seven FANBOYS. In fact, I'll give you a LifeSaver if you can tell me what FANBOYS even are.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

time III.

word of the day: time \ˈtīm\ one of a series of recurring instances or repeated actions

The clock in my bathroom says 9:45.

That's right. I put batteries in the clock.


I realized tonight that each of my time entries (see time and time II) defines the word differently. At first it was a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future. Then it meant conditions at present or at some specified period.season.

Well, whatever it was, now it's just a series of recurring instances, or thoughts for that matter.

I cleaned the whole house last Thursday. I scoured the bathroom, dusted the tables, and vacuumed the floors. To top it all off, I whipped up a batch of chili, lit some candles, and drank a glass of wine while I waited for Jake to come home.

We attended a Halloween "Decap-athalon" last Saturday night and I didn't know so much effort could be put into celebrating the holiday. We threw darts at "arteries", ate "concoctions", and "dug our own graves" so to speak. Oh, and we laughed. A lot.

Jack and Sally:
A turkey being hunted:
And the Black Eyed Peas:
One of my classes told me that our costume was lame. I'd like to think that they just haven't developed a sense of humor and/or love of wordplay yet. I'll get through to them one of these days.

Jake and I started creating our costumes approximately an hour and a half before the party began. Time was not at the forefront of our mind.

In other news, Jake and I performed our civic duty by voting tonight. In fact, we closed down the poll at St. Mark's Lutheran Church as voter #639 and #640 respectively. We walked out of the church and into the cool fall air feeling a sense of accomplishment. I think the feeling of accomplishment came more from the fact that we got off our butts and out of the house, but either way, it felt good.

I didn't have time to vote.

I didn't have time to spend two hours getting reading for a Halloween party.

I didn't have time to take a magic wand to the mess that was my living room.

You know, I almost didn't change my clock. I almost left it at 3:21 due to rebellion alone. For some reason, letting the hands stand still was my excuse to let a lack of time run my life. I mean, if I don't even have time to put batteries in my clock, how do I have time to do anything else?

Our pastor asked us the following question last Sunday:
Do you love the church as Christ loves the church?
That's when it hit me I suppose. That's when I realized that I have been so focused on my lack of time that I have turned it into an excuse to keep me from serving.

I think I was starting to convince myself that people shouldn't expect too much out of me because they should understand that I just don't have time. I mean, come on people, I don't even have time to change the batteries in my clock.

Some logic, huh?

Truth be told, I had time to clean my house last week.

I had plenty of time to tease my hair and paint my fingernails black on Saturday.

I had time to cast my vote.

I have time to write this blog post even though I usually abide by a very strict 10:00 bed time. So I get a three-shot latte in the morning. What's the big deal?

The big deal is that the clock in my bathroom now says 10:25 and I feel like it's ok to be more focused on this train of thought than on my lesson plan for tomorrow.

And with that, I'm going to bed. It's way past my bedtime.