Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 318- Bob Evans

This post is titled "Bob Evans" because I had an amazing tryst with some of Bob's food this evening, but the credit for the day really goes to my fabulous husband.  I don't want to repeat any subjects for the first 365 days here... so Tom and Bob will share some time today.

After having to pick me up last night and write my blog for me (yes, see the update on Day 317), I'm sure Tom must have been a little weary of my "Hey, I'm in college again for a night" behavior.  However, when I woke up this morning a little... ahem... under the weather, he did not show any signs of annoyance whatsoever.  Instead, he was kind to me all day long.

Tom took care of the dog all day without saying a word.  He got me water and tylenol and grilled cheese.  He tucked me in on the couch under the most comfortable blanket of all time and quietly went about his business around the house. 

I started to feel like a real person again this afternoon, and I decided that a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy would be the best thing to ever happen to me.  Tom went and found me one at Bob Evans, and it was absolutely everything I possibly hoped it could be... and more.  Hmm... sounds like someone else I know :).

I'm not sure what I did to deserve such love and affection.  In fact, I'm sure I was obnoxious enough at two o'clock this morning to warrant a day off from any kind of love and affection.  I tease my husband sometimes that he is not always so classically romantic, and I think it's only right that today I give credit where credit is due.  Tom, thanks for taking care of my silly self today and for feeding me and for loving me even when I had a bucket o'beverage too much.  You rule.

Thanks, Bob Evans (and Tom, really), you made my day.  

Day 317- Girls Night Out

UPDATE: Thank you to my wonderful husband for updating the blog for me at 3 am.  I got all upset that the streak would be broken, and he came to the rescue.  Can you tell that he wrote it and not me? ;)

Tonight was girls night out and the night before Halloween.  We all dressed up as dominoes and went out in downtown St. Charles.  It was a great time.

We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and a lot of girl time.

Thank you, girls night out, you made my day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 316- Engagement

another boy
another ring
another loving kind of thing

it took a while
but that's okay
because he made her smile today

another two
will become one
that wedding's sure to be so fun

good for you
you found a match
you caught yourself a perfect catch

and as for you
lovely miss j
welcome to the family!

It's only fitting that I write a terribly bad poem for the engagement of my dear friend who dragged me into a terribly bad poetry class all those years ago :). 

You two are an amazing couple, and we are over the moon for you!  From the bottom of our hearts, congratulations.  We wish you all the happiness life has to offer and can't wait to celebrate this momentous occasion in person!

Thank you, engagement, you made my day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 315- "Let It Be"

I know that sometimes my extreme optimism may come off as naivety.  I get that.  People give me looks like, "Oh, isn't that sweet.  She'll learn."  Here's the thing, though.  I hope I never "learn."  I hope I don't grow out of this.  This optimism is what drives me and what I think will make me good at my job and what sends me full force forward on ideas that other people find reason after reason not to pursue.  It's easy to be negative and cynical, but it's not productive.  I believe that it is so much harder to be optimistic, even when you are given every reason not to be, but it is much more rewarding. 

I received some validation today, fuel for my fire.  I'd like to take credit for it, but I was the just facilitator.  My kids were the creators of the moment.  We are working on figurative language in poetry, which is not everyone's cup of tea. I gave them a warm-up with lines from three different Beatles songs, and they had to identify the type of figurative language in each one.  While they were working, I played a little playlist I had made with all of the songs on it. 

The first song was one of my all-time favorites, "Let It Be."  I had been humming it all morning, hoping that my kids didn't notice (or that if they did, they were mildly amused and didn't talk about how crazy I was once they left my room).  Then, in third hour, I noticed that I wasn't the only one.  I heard a few other hummers scattered around the room, and I saw some feet tapping.  Then, we had our first singer.  The second singer wasn't far behind.  And the third.  And the fourth.  Before I knew it, almost the entire class was singing along.  They were belting it out, swaying happily from side to side, looking around at each other, and grinning from ear to ear. 

I jokingly said to them, "Aww... I'm so happy I could almost cry."  But then I almost did.  Pull it together, Mrs. Ferri.  In that moment, none of the patronizing looks or "No, that won't work"s entered my mind.  Instead, I simply thought it's possible.  The rainbows.  The sunshine.  The peace, love and happiness.  All of it.  It's totally possible.  These kids frustrate me daily with their late work and laziness and constant need to shout things out for attention, but they also amaze me on a daily basis with the size and capacity of their hearts.  We shared something special today, something that I have always dreamed of.  I can't wait until our next moment.  The beautiful thing is that I know as long as I keep believing there will be more moments, there will.  It's as simple as that.

Thank you, "Let It Be," you made my day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 314- The Challenge:Cutthroat

Tom and I have long been followers of The Challenge on MTV.  If you've never seen it, it's not the easiest thing to explain.  Basically, though, it is a show in which former Real World and Road Rules (has that show even existed for a while?) cast members can extend their 15 minutes of fame for season after season of a physical competition program.  Each week's challenge is either extremely physically or mentally challenging... or sometimes both.  People form alliances and get voted out in all kinds of different ways.  That just depends on what the theme of the season is and what the twisted minds at MTV can think up to cause chaos with this group of twenty-somethings and thirty somethings whose only jobs seem to be to show up for The Challenge seasons every now and then.  Well, to be fair, I think they're all trying to make it in the entertainment industry... but I'm not sure that that's going so well for any of them.

Surely they all eat well and rest well and keep extreme focus for all of the demanding challenges, yes?  Oh, no no... that would not be any fun to watch.  Instead, they act silly and pull pranks, get sloshed and do all kinds of regrettable things, and rotate through each other until new cast members are brought in like it's a soap opera or a season of 90210.  It's quite entertaining.

The actual competition was the most entertaining part tonight, though.  First, all of the teams had to battle in "Bottleneck," a challenge where they all had to fit through extremely small spaces at the same time.  The first team through won.  The other two teams had to vote people into the elimination round, and this is where the real fun started.  This round had participants slapping each other in the face with flyswatters that increased in strength for each round.  It's one of those "I guess you had to be there" or "I guess you had to see that" kind of things, but rest assured that it was awesome.

Thank you, The Challenge: Cutthroat, you made my day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 313- Sue's Corner

I didn't totally get tonight's episode of Glee because I have never seen that Rocky Horror business.  After hearing a lot of the songs and what not, I'm not sure that I'm in a big hurry to see it anytime soon either.  My wish for Glee is that it will return to the Glee of yore with stronger plotlines and... ahem... slightly less mature content.  Does that make me sound like an old lady?  Perhaps.

I hope that doesn't sound like griping.  I have a special place in my heart (or at least in my Tuesday nights) for that show, and I will watch it until the day twenty (or ten... or five... or two) years from now when it goes off the air.  I own every Glee cd ever made, and I have seen most episodes at least twice.  As long as there are kitschy songs and dances and costumes and as long as there is Sue Sylvester, I will be a hopelessly devoted fan.  Which brings me to my next point...

I friggin LOVE Sue's Corner.  Every time.  I wish and hope each episode that we'll get a little Sue's Corner magic, and I make unnaturally joyful noises when this is the case.  She brings me into a full on silent laugh.  You know, the kind where you're laughing so hard that you no longer make a noise, rather you are just making a silly open-mouthed laughing type face.  I don't want to be Sue Sylvester when I grow up, but I sure would like to hang out with her-- even though she would probably insult me left and right.  Sue delivered another one of her little Sue's Corner gems tonight.  Enjoy!

Sue: You know Halloween is fast approaching, the day when parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls and little girls to dress like whores and go door-to-door brow beating hard-working Americans into giving them free food.  Well, you know what, Western Ohio?  We've lost the true meaning of Halloween.  Fear.  Halloween is that magical day of the year when a child is told their grandmother's a demon who's been feeding them rat casserole with a crunchy garnish of their own scabs.  Children must know fear.  Without it, they won't know how to behave.  They'll try frenching grizzly bears and consider living in Florida.  So, moms... skip trick or treating this year and instead sit your little toddler down and explain that Daddy's a hungry zombie, and before he went out to sharpen his pitchfork, he whispered to Mommy that you look deeeelicious.  And that's how Sue 'C's it.

Anchor: Sue, you're the cat's pajamas.

Thank you, Sue's Corner, you made my day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 312- Hurricakes

Hurricakes: Noun

  1. Cupcakes that appear to have been overtaken by a hurricane; disastrous yet delicious
  2. Apologetic "Oops I forgot your birthday cake" desserts created by your husband even though you weren't even mad at all in the first place because he gave you a lovely birthday
  3. Sticky cupcakes with tops that fall off when frosted
Origin: Jessica F. (creator of word), Thomas F. (creator of hurricakes)

Related words:

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree (noun)
Griswold family turkey (noun)

Sample Sentence: Those hurricakes weren't much to look at, but boy were they scrumptious!

Thank you, hurricakes, you made my day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 311- Hedgehog

There are a number of sayings about how families run, including "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" and "Happy wife, happy life!"  Things run a bit differently in our household.  If our son General (yes, I totally realize he's a dog) is happy, we're as thrilled as punch.  When we decide to start having children of our own, I'm not worried about General getting jealous.  I'm worried that the human kids will be jealous of the time and attention he demands.

In keeping with this theme, Tom bought our dog a new toy today.  Pshhh... as if he needs a new toy.  General reminds me of "Prayer of the Selfish Child" by Shel Silverstein.

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys to break.
So none of the other kids can use ‘em…

The kid (ok, ok, dog) has more toys than he knows what to do with.  However, don't you dare call him spoiled.  He deserves them, yes?  He's so cute and he can't turn left and I just want him to be happy as an adopted child in our home and never remember the shelter and...

Anyway, you should see Puppy with his new toy.  It's so precious.  We all giggle as he runs around with it, as proud as can be, and it makes a little squeaking/quacking noise to let us know where he is in the house.  It took a while to get a shot of just the hedgehog because we couldn't pry it away from him long enough.  Tom rolls his eyes and talks about how spoiled the dog is, but make no mistake... who bought him the toy?  Yup.  It's totally worth it to see such joy from our little boy.

I am certain that the hedgehog made Puppy's day :).  Therefore...

Thank you, hedgehog, you made my day.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 310- 27

"I submit that all of us are nothing more or less than the sum of who we love. It doesn’t matter whether your family is whole, divorced or divided, the only way to achieve any kind of happiness in this world is by loving a handful of people. I believe we are marked by the people who love us, whether we like it or not, for the rest of our short lives on earth."

Today is a rare occasion.  It is something so rare that it happens only once a year or so.  No, I'm not talking about my birthday.  What's even more suprising is that...
I am at a loss for words.
I'm not a huge birthday person.  I LOOOOOOVE to celebrate other people's birthdays, but I'm just not all that into my own.  My parents always make a big deal and send absolutely lovely sentiments and lots of gifts.  Tom goes out of his way to do things for me that are special.  Amanda sings me at least one silly message.  When I'm lucky (like this year), I get two or three :).  I can count on cards from other family-- my grandparents and my Aunt Jacky, who still remembers after all these years, and Tom's family and other relatives.  I enjoy all of these things greatly and appreciate them deeply, but I certainly don't expect them.  I most certainly do not expect any more than this either.  I like to have a low key birthday with a meal so good I have to unbutton my pants and some quality time with people I love.  I pretend that it is just another good day in the life of me and don't dwell on the fact that it's the anniversary of my birth.
The birthday today was hard to ignore, though.  Messages and phone calls were rolling in all day, and I am completely overwhelmed.  If I can take this as any sort of reflection on myself, I must be doing something right.  I am once again thinking about how unbelievably blessed I am and how very lucky I am to be surrounded by incredible people who ooze love.  It all just makes me want to be the kind of person that deserves all of this.  
To those of you who are reading who have played a role in making me feel so loved today, thank you thank you thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  If this is 27, I'll take it.
Thank you, 27, you made my day. 

Day 309- Super Casual Friday

After spending the week in button downs and dressy dress pants and heels for more than 12 hours at a time, sweatpants were a more than welcome addition to my Friday.  Nothing says a day off like good old paint splattered, frayed, worn out sweatpants.  And a t-shirt.  And no make up.  And wild unbrushed hair.  It ain't pretty, but it sure is nice every now and then.

On Sunday when I'm scrambling to finish all the things I need to get done this weekend, I'll wish I had gotten more done today.  However, this uber casual day was blissfully lazy and an absolutely wonderful contrast to the frenzy that was this week. 

I used to really embrace the idea of work hard, play hard.  I don't play so hard anymore (which becomes obvious each time I choose takeout, sweats, and Dateline on a Friday over any other extracurricular activity), but I sure do enjoy "nap hard" when I can and "relax hard" when I should.

Thank you, Super Casual Friday, you made my day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 308- Marathon

Do you ever have one of those days where you think, "If I can do this, I can do anything"?

You get to school by 7:15, organize your life, and chase kids down in the hallway before school for their missing work.  You wrangle kids through a series of activities for their first "B" (fun?) half day of the year.  You do SSR and listen to a guest speaker and attend celebrations and advance a round or two in the team building hula hoop activity with your AcLab.  You play games with your kids with no missing work at the end of the day and win (oops... is that supposed to happen?) a rousing game of chicken foot.

You have a brief lunch with your coworkers in which you finally get some medicine for that headache that has been plaguing you all morning (the one that you are too stubborn to let get the best of you during happy fun time with the kids).  Then, you are back at it again in your grade level PLC.  You get a quality test made and coded to reflect the appropriate state GLEs, DOK, and process standards with your PLC team and feel proud for a bit that you got so much accomplished during the afternoon.

You leave school for the first time that day for about half an hour because the ladies on your team want to take you out for a quick dinner for your upcoming birthday.  You chat over chicken on a stick and crab rangoons and fried rice and feel thankful to be a part of a team of women who listen to and support each other.  You feel lucky to be surrounded by people who have many similarities and differences, with one key similarity- a shared love for those kids and that profession that have had you running crazy all day.

You get back to school and change into your parent-teacher conference appropriate outfit in the one small corner of your room that no one can see from the window.  You begrudgingly use the restroom at school as you realize that you are settling in for a long night.  You look forward to meeting and talking to parents all night, especially because you know that you are in the home stretch now.  You are surprised to be even more busy than Tuesday-- parents coming and going so quickly and close together that you realize that two hours have passed since you last looked at the clock.  You spend this time gushing and suggesting and laughing and comforting and relating and all kinds of other things.  You wish you could have quality time like this with alllllll the parents and have aha! moments over and over again as you think "So thaaaaaaaaaaaaat's where the students get that from." 

You see a few last minute straggler parents and suddenly realize that it is way past 8 o'clock and the building is finally cleared.  You pack up your stuff and click your heels together as you leave school for a three day weekend that you know you have earned. 

You feel great about all that you were able to accomplish and survive in just one day and incredibly blessed for all of the amazing people who are coming and going in your life.  You spend some time with your boys when you get home before you fall asleep on the couch to a sleep that you have worked so hard to get to.

So... yeah.  Ever had one of those days?  Yup, me too.  I had the opportunity today to prove just what I was capable of.  I put on my big girl shoes and conquered my little corner of the world. 

Thank you, marathon, you made my day.

Day 307- Team 8-1/8-2 Lunch

I think it should be quite clear by now that I adore my job.  However, I also cherish my break time for lunch.  Sometimes being with other adults for a little while is just what I need... so we can act like 8th graders. 

Teaching can be an isolating profession, as I spend my day surrounded by kids who are half my age (literally).  I adore them too, but let's face it... they watch Hannah Montana and listen to Justin Beiber.  I need some time with my colleagues now and then! 

This is a long and tough week with parent teacher conferences and a 3-in-1 kind of day tomorrow that will be a bit of a frenzy.  Our students are acting the way you might expect students to act during this type of week.  I was getting a wee bit irked by the time 1 o'clock rolled around, and I was happy for a break to give myself an attitude adjustment.  We all started lunch with a little bit of venting, and then we were off.  If today's lunch was a game of Jeopardy, the categories might have gone something like, "Inappropriate Hand Gestures," "Things That Make Me Giggle Because I Have an Eighth Grade Sense of Humor," and "That's What She Said."  Lots of chuckles.

Thank you, Team 8-1/8-2 Lunch, you made my day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 306- Grandma D.

I ate an entire BBQ dinner tonight (provided by our PTO before conferences) and did not get anything on my shirt.  I didn't even have to wear my blazer that I brought just in case.  BUT... that's not even what made my day today.  It must have been an alright day.

Grandma D. is not my grandma.  She does not belong to me.  Her grandson does, though, for one hour a day.  He is truly a special kid.  As always, I don't want to say too much because I'd like to protect his privacy in case anyone is actually reading this thing.  However, if I told you what this kid has endured and the circumstances that he deals with, you wouldn't believe me anyway.  It's like that.

Despite his disabilities and disadvantages, Grandson D. has blossomed in my class.  He earned an "A" for first quarter, and I was thrilled to give it to him.  He does his work (and hands it in!  on time!), participates, listens, asks questions, and all that other good stuff.  He is an amazing artist and an even better writer.  The writing is suprisingly good.  Fabulous.

I finally got to meet his grandma tonight, a woman that he has told me all kinds of wonderful things about.  She was just as lovely as expected, and we had a nice little conference.  I got to gush all about her grandson and assure her that he is everything that she hopes he will be.  That's not even the best part.

Grandson wrote a paper about his Grandma D. first quarter.  It was a beautiful account of why he loves her and all of the things he appreciates about her and how she has saved him from so many things that might have pulled him under.  She's his angel.  It touched my heart.

At the end of our conference tonight, I told Grandma D. that I had something to give her, and I pulled out the essay.  As she sat and read it, she was speechless and started to choke up.  I told her that was quite alright and that the paper almost made me cry too.  She looked me straight in the eye and thanked me from a place deep down inside.

I have the best job in the world.

Thank you, Grandma D., you made my day. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 305- Evaluation

I handed out my first set of report cards today.  Put another milestone into the books!  I thought a lot about the grades I gave, and I asked my students to reflect on a few different things in their warm-ups at the end of the quarter.  We also looked at class averages and set goals for this quarter.  I had students write their own goals accompanied by carefully constructed responses about how they plan to reach these goals.  I am optimistic for this new quarter and hope that at least some of them will take all of this to heart and really push to do better.  However, as my Tim Gunn bobblehead so aptly says, "I can't want you (them) to succeed more than you (they) do!"  At the very least, all of this work I have put in should come in handy for parent teachers conferences this week (here's the paper where your child wrote that he should get a "C" for effort because he didn't try as hard as he could have and had some late work... busted).

I received my first official teacher "report card" today too.  I'm not sure how appropriate it would be to spill all of the details of my evaluation conversation with an administrator, so I'll just say this. 

It could not have gone any better. 

While I am confident that I am working hard and doing my absolute best (no matter what I heard today), this feedback was quite nice to get.  I'm the girl who used to clean her bedroom for a grade, for heaven's sake!  This should come as no surprise.  It is so satisfying to have validation that I'm doing alright.  In addition to that, it is absolutely fabulous to work at a job where the things I like best about myself are the things that are valued the most. 

I might just have to send my parents a little package with a copy of my report card and a school picture.  Will I ever be too old for that?  Perhaps tomorrow I'll clean something, and Tom can give me a grade.  Hmm... probably not.  Now I'm stretching.

Thank you, evaluation, you made my day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 304- Diamond Ring (and the Boy Who Goes With It)

I haven't seen it yet, but these are quite pretty.

A diamond ring (and the boy who goes with it) have made one of my friends very happy this weekend.  Her left hand is a bit heavier, and I'm sure her heart is oh so full.

I want nothing more than to see the people I love happy, and that is most certainly the case here.  Congrats, guys!  We are ecstatic for you and CANNOT WAIT to celebrate :).

And to the boy who gave the ring... nicely done.  We all know how much she loves shiny things!!

Thank you, diamond ring (and the boy who goes with it), you made my day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 303- St. Louis Bread Company

You call it Panera.  Here they call it St. Louis Bread Company.  It was started in Missouri, and they want to stake their claim to the franchise, darnit.  Anyway...

Tom and I don't really celebrate cheesy Hallmark couple days (even though I'm obsessed with Hallmark).  I've always told him that I would much rather have him be nice to me on some random day because he wants to than spend lots of money on a "holiday" because he feels obligated. 

Today was a meeting of these two worlds.  I got up with the dog and poked around the kitchen, only to realize that we had forgotten to get anything to make for breakfast this morning.  Tom got up a little while later and came to the same realization.  I didn't use to be that into breakfast, but now that I make a point to eat it every day before work, it's a must.  Tom sensed right away that this was the case and started to brainstorm what we might get.  We decided on STL Bread Co., and he was off.

While Tom was gone, I got on the computer and realized that it was Sweetest Day.  Oops. 

The funny (ok, not ha ha funny, but "Oh... that's true..." funny) thing is that Tom did just what I have always asked him to do.  On a random Saturday, he went out and got me a delicious Panera breakfast sandwich (on a jalapeno bagel... mmm) and a pumpkin coffee (even more mmmm) just because.  He went out of his way to make a sweet gesture, and I greatly appreciated it.  I told him this through a mouthful of sausage and cheese.  "Well played, sir, well played.  By the way, did you know it was Sweetest Day?  Nope, me neither.  You done good."

Thank you, St. Louis Bread Company (and my sweetest), you made my day.  

Day 302- Bad Poetry Day

Bad Poetry, Oh Noetry!

On this blog I have been known
to write a few bad poems.
So then it only makes sense
the today I did dispense
advice on how to be a terrible poet.

Sometimes to learn just what to do
they need to learn the what nots too.
I provided lots of examples,
and then they wrote me their own samples
of the most awesomely bad poems.

Last night I made some brackets,
today my students made a racket.
Bad poems yesterday they did write
and today they did recite
until there was just one winner/pair per class.

In their awfulness there was no shame,
rather a Bad Poetry Hall of Fame.
You see, the worse today was better
even for the best go-getters.
Happy Bad Poetry Day!

Students joked and laughed and played,
but then they felt oh so betrayed
when they realized "Oh, noetry
We're having fun writing poetry!"
Which they thought wasn't possible.

Hopefully when it comes to next week
they'll be much happier to speak
about all the things they feel,
though now the poems will be real.
That's the hope, at least.

But what mattered most today
was the confidence and fun at play.
We all had a good time
as they spit and twisted rhymes...
although sometimes things didn't.

Thank you, Bad Poetry Day, you made my day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 301- Brandon*

This kid cracks me up on a daily basis.  I have him early in the morning, a time when many kids are still acting like sleepwalking zombies.  He, on the other hand, comes in ready to go and full of personality. 

This morning was a bit stressful.  There was a major issue in one of the bathrooms that resulted in the flooding of one of our main hallways downstairs and total chaos.  Luckily, my room is down a different hallway, and I did not have any of the toilet water in my area.  However, there was all kinds of drama in our downstairs common area, as many kids were trapped on one side or the other of the river flowing through the halls.  Once I saw that all of my students for that hour had made it to my classroom, I went in and shut the door.  I figured the last thing anyone needed was 25 more kids freaking out and running around the hallways in the mess.  The room was abuzz with students gossiping about what exactly had happened and trying to get to the door to pick out at all the goings on, and my mind raced with different ideas about how to get control of the classroom and get my lesson going.

Brandon to the rescue!

When I started the lesson, he participated.  We were starting our two day bad poetry lesson and talking about cliches.  With a few ideas and a few jokes, Brandon helped me to focus the class on the task at hand and get everyone involved.  The students got deeper into the lesson and let their minds stray away from the Great Toilet Incident of '10. 

Brandon always enters my room with some sort of quirky comment that amuses me greatly.  ("I think on the last day I might wear short shorts.  No, maybe long shorts... but pink.")  He usually ends the class in the same way, and today was no different.

"Mrs. Ferri, I like turtles.  Well, I don't just like turtles.  I mean I REALLY like turtles.  I thought you should know."

Thank you, Brandon*, you made my day. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 300- Warm Spiced Cider

Start with one mug of cider.
Add a loving husband.
Have loving husband add a dash of cinnamon and microwave for 45 seconds.
Cider comes out piping hot.

Warm.  Fuzzy.  (The cider is warm... I'm fuzzy.  I don't think I would drink fuzzy cider.  Then again, I love it so much that I just might.)

Mmm... it tastes like fall and heaven.  I'm not totally sure what either of those things would taste like, but this is certainly what I would imagine.

Thank you, warm spiced cider, you made my day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 299- Sam and Quinn

Glee Tuesday!

Glee has been a little... ahem... mature for my taste lately.  There are many things from tonight's episode that I can't really discuss with my middle school students, and the content has gotten a bit dicey at times. 

Luckily, Sam and Quinn came to the rescue this evening with their duet of... well, "Lucky."  As Santana said, it was "So frickin' sweet."  It is refreshing to see young love depicted in a nice, innocent, slow moving kind of way. 

I hope to see Sue Sylvester and Puck back next week!

Thank you, Sam and Quinn, you made my day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 298- Dettlings

Do I really need to explain why this made my day?  Okay, okay.  I'll give you one word.


Dear Diane and Dan,

You rule.  Your silly pictures brought back lots of fond memories of football Saturdays (pot roast sandwich!!) and Drinks on the Links and Euchre tournaments.  You make me smile :).  I hope that one day we will live in the same place again or that we will make enough money to fly to the same places frequently.  We miss you!  XOXO.


Jessi (Rainbo) 

P.S. I didn't forget you, Buddy.  You're my favorite.  Shh... don't tell your parents.

Thank you, Dettlings, you made my day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 297- Fall Break

Fall Break is a beautiful thing.  This break came at such a good time for me.  Last week, I finished the first quarter of this first year of teaching.  I made it!!  More than that, I loved it.  Sure, I had a few stressful days here and there, and I am already learning from mistakes I have made, but I am still as happy to be doing this job as I was in August.  Score!

As a reward for all of our hard work, teachers and students all got this past week off.  This was my first experience having an actual fall break, and I took advantage of every minute of it :).


  • watched a friend's band play.  I'm the newest Torn fan!
  • spent two days doing whatever I wanted (which turned out to be a little bit of something and a whole lot of nothing)
  • had a little CGR time with Tom (you know-- church, Gingham's, relaxation).
  • slept in-- until 8 sometimes :)
  • cleaned my house... including a deep cleaning of all the bathrooms.
  • caught up on laundry.  And my DVR.  These were both quite exciting.
  • cooked lots of delicious food.
  • played hostess to some of my favorite new friends and had a successful game night (although there may have been more eating, drinking, and chatting than actual game playing).
  • got in a ton of quality time with my two favorite boys :)
  • saw my parents, grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles.  More quality time!
  • thoroughly enjoyed the company of my parents, sampled their home cooking, and slept in my childhood room.
  • went to an apple orchard with my grandma and came away with all kinds of goodies for both of us.
  • had dinner at Daryl's.  I've never had a bad meal there!
  • reunited with some of my favorite people in the world... family, old friends, new friends... Mom!  Dad!  Grandmas!  Peach and Tom!  Frank!  Carolyn and Anne!  Abiman and Joanna!  The Sausage Kings of Ann Arbor!  I could go on... 
  • tailgated on Hoover and watched a game at the Big House (we won't talk about how that turned out).
  • danced the night away at Rick's.
  • made it home safe, sound, refreshed, and ready to take on Quarter 2.
I'm sure that there are a million other fabulous things that I'm forgetting, and this actually proves my point even further.  I, Queen of List Making, could never possibly complete a list of all the blessings in my life.  My cup is so full that it tips over.

Sometimes I let myself feel guilty for everything I have.  How much can one person actually deserve?  I was raised by an incredible set of parents and surrounded by the most amazing family and friends I could imagine.  They may not have always had a lot, but they have always given me everything they had.  They have all loved me, supported me, and done everything in their power to make me the happy girl that I am.  I have had more love, joy, laughter, and opportunities in my life than I can even really wrap my mind around. 

I think about this even more now that I am a teacher.  I see the difference that is made in the lives of those who have families and support and meals at home (if they are lucky enough to have homes) and basic material things, and my heart breaks for all those who don't.  However, I have come to learn that I can't feel guilty or apologetic for what I have or what I have been given.  That's simply not productive and will not change anything for anyone.  Instead, I recognize how incredibly blessed I am and my responsibility to pay this forward.  If it's joy or love or a sense of community that my students are lacking, I have more than enough to try to spread around.  If it's shoes or a lunch or a book that they need, I can probably dig those things up too or find a way to get them.  All of the advantages and opportunities and blessings that I have received have led me to this place in my life and to this profession and to this position.  My success in this career depends on me coming from this place of hope and peace and kindness.

Bring it on, Quarter 2!

Thank you, Fall Break, you made my day. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 296- Michigan Football

Michigan football is more than just football to me. 

Today I will get together with family and friends and relive more than twenty years of shiny, sparkly memories.  We will eat, drink, dance, cheer, and be merry.  We'll laugh and high five and simply enjoy the fact that we are in the same place at the same time.

There are many times in life, I must admit, when I wish I was somewhere else.  I want to be on a beach or reunited with my family and buddies or at home with my dog and my husband.  I daydream sometimes about what I would be doing if I could be doing anything I want.

These daydreams often lead me to the Big House on a cool fall day.  I'm sitting or standing in my seat just before a game begins, with Tom on one side of me and my parents on the other.  I feel little wolverines dancing around in my stomach, as if I will be the one running out onto the field.  The anticipation is almost more than I can bear.  It is magnified once the music is pumped into the stadium and the highlight intro video is played.  At that moment, there is no place else in the world I would rather be.

I will be in my happy place today :).

To be continued...

Thank you, Michigan football, you made my day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 295- Afternoon with Grandma

I feel about afternoons with my Grandma Katie the way Mitch Albom felt about his Tuesdays with Morrie.  She's the kind of person that I like to call an inside out person.  She is equally as stunningly beautiful no matter which way you turn her, inside or out.  I'll have to tell you even more about her one of these days.

I could sit and listen to my grandma tell stories all day.  In fact, today I got to do just that.  We started with a lovely lunch at the Beach Bar.  I got the tomato soup that I dream about on a monthly basis (and can now actually make at home), and she got the crab bisque that makes her drool.  We chatted about Grandpa and my teaching and, of course, many of her entertaining stories from the past.

After lunch, we headed out to Flavor Fruit Farms.  The drive from point A to point B was nothing short of spectacular.  I remembered a conversation I once had in Seattle with some coworkers.  Our friend who had lived in Washington her whole life was talking about how amazing the falls were in the Northwest, and my East Coast friend and I shook our heads.  She tried to convince us, but clearly it didn't work.  We told her that people pay to sit on buses and drive through our kind of fall.  We told her about the leaves changing colors and the crisp air.  She just didn't get it, and all we could do was smile while feeling sorry for her and clicking our tongues.  Our kind of fall is not something that can be described or captured in a calendar.  It is something that must be experienced and driven through and breathed in.  I got to do all of those things with Grandma this afternoon.

We took a scenic drive through the outskirts of Jackson to the orchard, Grandma spinning her webs of wonderful stories while country music provided a soft background on the radio.  She had to direct me around the town that I grew up in, and we chuckled that my nonexistent sense of direction must be something I inherited from her.  When we got to FFF, we veered straight for the big jugs of cider, and I carefully selected a few bags of apples to live on for the next few weeks.  We also stocked up on doughnuts, which I can't wait to pop in the microwave for a few seconds and savor.  Amazing.

On the car ride home, Grandma told me about how she met Grandpa and how their relationship grew and what their young love was like.  It is a story I have heard many times before but one that will never get old.  I love to picture them young and in love, and I know that Grandpa was smiling down on us girls as he got to spend the afternoon with us too.  An afternoon as beautiful as this one has God written all over it.   

The only bad part of the afternoon was the fact that it had to end.  In my head, the sweetest Taylor Swift song in the world still plays, "I had the best day with you today..."

Thank you, afternoon with Grandma, you made my day. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 294- Bruno Mars

Every now and then, I hear a song so sweet that it makes me sigh softly and wish that it was written for me.  How do you like that alliteration?  (Sorry... English teacher... can't help myself).  Anyway, the song that has been melting me lately is "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars.  It is uptempo enough that it's not completely sappy, but the lyrics are just incredibly nice and thoughtful. 

Tom and I made another one of our long journeys back to The Mitten today.  This is another one of the perks of my fall break, as we will be taking in the UM/MSU football game with family and friends on Saturday.  AND I AM SO FREAKIN' EXCITED!!  DID I MENTION I AM EXCITED? In an of itself, the drive is not necessarily part of what I'm calling a perk.  However, Bruno Mars and his wonderful song made the long drive (which was even longer today due to a massive tree planting session in Indy, mind you) much more enjoyable.  I chased the song around the radio, trying to find it on as many stations as I could and celebrating each time I came across it. 

On the third listen or so, I told Tom how much I wished that the song was written for me and kindly suggested that maybe he say the things from the lyrics to me.  That may possibly make me sound a bit more desperate than necessary (ha ha), but the detail is needed for the story.  I was reciting all of the lyrics to Tom and telling him how amazing they were.  When I got to, "And when you smile/ The whole world stops and stares for awhile," I thought we had a breakthrough. 

"You know what that reminds me of?" Tom asked.
"Yes?  Oh... what?" I asked, beaming and ready to soak it all in.
"Denard Robinson."

In Tom's defense, Denard's smile really does light up the world.  Also in his defense, I'm sure that deep deep deep deep down Tom feels all those things in the lyrics and is dying to say them.  When they finally all come gushing out in five or ten or fifty years, I will be an even happier happiest girl in the world.

Until then, the song and I will dance with each other up and down the dial of the radio.  Here are the video and lyrics for your enjoyment :).

Oh her eyes, her eyes

Make the stars look like they're not shining
Her hair, her hair
Falls perfectly without her trying
She's so beautiful
And I tell her every day

Yeah I know, I know
When I compliment her
She wont believe me
And its so, its so
Sad to think she don't see what I see
But every time she asks me do I look okay
I say

When I see your face
There's not a thing that I would change
Cause you're amazing

Just the way you are
And when you smile,
The whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

Her lips, her lips
I could kiss them all day if she'd let me
Her laugh, her laugh
She hates but I think its so sexy
She's so beautiful
And I tell her every day

Oh you know, you know, you know
I'd never ask you to change
If perfect is what you're searching for
Then just stay the same
So don't even bother asking
If you look okay
You know I say

When I see your face
There's not a thing that I would change
Cause you're amazing
Just the way you are
And when you smile,
The whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

The way you are
The way you are
Girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

When I see your face
There's not a thing that I would change
Cause you're amazing

Just the way you are
And when you smile,
The whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

Thank you, Bruno Mars, you made my day.


Day 293- iPhone

After almost five years together, my Zack Morris phone and I finally had to part ways. 

It was a not so little pink flip phone that served its purpose and served it sort of well.  One fateful afternoon last week, I was carrying it to my classroom on my laptop after a meeting, and it slid off the computer and onto the floor.  Oh, the horror!

I had been resisting getting a new phone for a long time.  I was and still am scared about what one of these new smart phones might mean.  I don't want to be "that girl" who is constantly pulling the phone out to do all of the stuff that these phones can do.  I'm still not even totally sure what exactly this phone can do.  I think it might be able to launch a spaceship and operate a microwave remotely... or something like that.

My new iPhone came in on Monday, and Tom was more excited than I was.  Again, I am a little scared of the implications of this little machine.  However, today I finally allowed myself to be "that girl" just for a little while...  while I sipped on my pumpkin spice latte (yeah, I really was that girl), I really played around with the phone to see what it could do.

Here's what the phone did today.  iPhone accessed my e-mail and facebook.  iPhone helped to coordinate the details of our girls' night in.  iPhone got me in touch with Tom before and after he flew today, which helped calm my nerves about his travel.  iPhone helped me check the weather.  iPhone made a few phone calls.  iPhone did all of these things, and I haven't even begun to tap into its capabilities yet.  Yikes.  I am soooo going to have to make an effort to avoid becoming... ahem... that girl.

Thank you, iPhone, you made my day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 292- Grilled Cheesus

It all started when Finn made himself a grilled cheese on his George Foreman.  Coincidentally, I had a grilled cheese for dinner tonight too, and it was quite tasty, but that's neither here nor there.  Anyway... Finn burned the grilled cheese and thought he saw the image of Jesus on the bread... hence Grilled Cheesus. 

This set off a sequence of events for Finn and the rest of the cast of Glee centered on the idea of religion.  The episode tackled all kinds of different ideas about faith and God and spirituality and really dug down into different perspectives.  It was a brave and interesting thing to see on secular television!

This episode also featured a number of instant classic songs that I can't wait to sing along to in the car.  I absolutely loved "Only the Good Die Young," "Papa, Can You Hear Me," "What if God Was One of Us," and "Losing My Religion."  Through the Mercedes gospel version, I fell in totally in love with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" all over again.  While all of these were outstanding, my favorite was probably Kurt's exquisite version of "Hold My Hand."  This was accompanied by a touching montage that made me feel all Wonder Years inside. 

There were plenty of zingers from Sue and Brittany and others that are worth quoting, but let's leave it at warm and fuzzy for tonight.

Thank you, Grilled Cheesus, you made my day.

Day 291- Mini Thanksgiving Dinner

Here's another one to add to the list of the million things I absolutely adore about fall.  All summer we try to eat relatively healthy and to grill and to stuff ourselves with lots of fresh foods.  That's wonderful.

Many of my favorite meals are a little heartier, though.  In the fall, we transition into full on hibernation mode, and it becomes increasingly acceptable to eat things that are saucy and cheesy and rich.  Oh yeah... that's the good stuff.

Tonight's menu was one of my favorites, and it was made possible by fall.  We had a little something we like to call mini Thanksgiving.  The main and side dishes in mini Thanksgiving change from time to time, but they're always... well, Thanksgiving related.  Here are tonight's specials:

cranberry pork chops
green bean casserole
smashed sweet potatoes (I'm just now trying to perfect this recipe)
peach cobbler ala mode

Buh-bye swimsuit season!  Hellooooooo hibernation fifteen.  Look, even the ghost is happy.

Thank you, mini Thanksgiving dinner, you made my day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 290- Fall Bin

The orange bin sits patiently in the basement for much of the year waiting to be discovered.  Once fall rolls around, it seems to glow, the magic inside radiating out.

I opened it today, in the midst of football games and a pumpkin latte.  I've been waiting for this all year.  The 60-degree weather and the October page of the refrigerator calendar were no longer whispering-- but shouting-- it's time!

As soon as I opened it, I inhaled deeply.  The sweet and spicy pumpkin smells were released, and it was only a matter of minutes before they conquered  this house in the name of fall.  The spiderweb tablecloth, jack o'lantern doormat, and little wooden dracula spoke of fun days to come.  The candles and the leaf dishes filled with potpourri rounded out the aromas and the decor. 

I try not to let myself get too wrapped up in things, but oh how I enjoy my fall things!!  I sat in the middle of them all for much of the afternoon.  The candles were all lit, and Dracula and I shared a secret laugh while the silly little stuffed ghost tried to scare us. 

Ok... maybe I inhaled a bit too much of that fall smell or something, but it was a darn good afternoon just the same. 

Thank you, fall bin, you made my day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 289- YGOD

The doorbell rang this afternoon.  We were kind of scared.  When the doorbell rings, here's what usually happens.  I send Tom to the door.  I'm not sure why he always goes... I think this is partly because I often stay in the living room to hold back the dog.  This may also be due in part to the fact that I will stand and make listening noises for as long as someone wants to talk to me, and this has led me into many long, undesirable conversations at the door.

It's really the lesser of two evils, though.  If Tom is the one at the door, he will buy something.  It doesn't matter what it is, and it doesn't usually take very long to convince him.  I hear a bit of chatter, he goes for the wallet, and then he comes back sheepishly with his newest coupon book/cookies/random cheap fundraising item.  His "best" purchase was a cookbook that we later discovered was filled with VEGAN ONLY recipes.  Have you met me?  We got rid of it.

It was a whole different story this afternoon.  Tom came back into the living room holding something, but he hadn't purchased anything.  Add a smile to that, and call me surprised!  It turns out it was actually some kids from the youth group at our church, YGOD, who were delivering cookies out of the blue for no apparent reason.  The doorbell had a nice new ring to it :).

This whole scenario is made even better by the fact that Tom will most certainly be accompanying me to church tomorrow.  Good one, God.  You know the way to my husband's heart can be found by following the path from his stomach.  First, you made him a godfather.  Now you give him cookies?  Our God is an awesome God!

Thank you, YGOD, you made my day.

Day 288- First Hour

Today was officially the last day of first quarter, and my first hour still offically thinks I'm insane.  I am chipper and full of personality at 8 o'clock when we begin every day.  They are not.  I dance around and entertain and do everything I can to draw them out and get them involved.  They look at me.  Seriously.  It's like a staring contest sometimes.

I'm not sure that it's even because it's first hour.  This is one of my laziest classes and is full of a whole bunch of kids who just don't care a whole lot or try a whole lot.  They're too cool for school.  The difficult thing is that each and every one of my lessons is tried out on them first, but it is often not until second hour that I truly get to see how the lessons will work and how the day will go.

All of my late work was due by the end of the day yesterday, and I wondered what in the world I would do with all of my kids today.  They were having parties in a bunch of their classes, but I really don't think I've seen enough quality work from any of my classes collectively to warrant giving them a day off.  These kids really need to learn and grow as much as possible this year.  I was sure that they would rebel against any work I tried to get them to do today, but I decided to give it my best effort anyway.

My students have lots of great ideas, but they could use some work on really organizing them and knowing what to do with them.  I crafted a tutorial today on the best way to answer constructed response questions and an accompanying PowerPoint with example questions and activities that I thought was pretty darn cute.  I was excited about this lesson and really hoped it would take.  I was prepared for my first hour to roll their eyes at me and make me tread water through the lesson until second hour.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The lesson started with me asking them to take notes on a few things.  They actually did.  Then, I modeled what they had learned by showing them some effective answers I had made up to answer the questions "Who is the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?" and "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"  They laughed and played along.  After that, they got into groups and had to write answers to their own silly questions.  These were things like "What happens to socks when they go missing from the laundry?" and "Should the three second rule apply when you drop food on the floor?"  They did a beautiful job of using what they had learned to construct lovely answers with examples and supporting details and complete sentences and all kinds of good things.  Once each group answered their assigned questions, we went around and read them group by group.  After a group read their answer, the other groups would grade them based on the criteria they had learned.  They got to use my little white boards to show their answers like on a game show.  They liked that.  One of the most satisfying things to overhear in the classroom is students having excited conversations using the vocabulary and ideas that I give them ("I think they should get a '3' because they followed the criteria, restated the question, and gave adequate evidence." "No, I think they should get a '2' because they didn't really clarify or explain that last example enough.")  Ahhh... music to my ears. 

Once they had practiced answering my silly questions, then they had to answer more "real" questions.  They still did well.  They had all kinds of opinions and ideas and really applied the lesson to their work.  Again, I heard them really helping each other by discussing the things they had learned.  They were a little community of learners and thinkers supporting each other and truly elevating the work of each student in the class.  I could not have been more proud. 

I've had other good days in first hour, but today I finally had a major breakthrough... on the last day of the quarter... amidst the craziness of the day... and they actually learned something.  Go figure.  If my first hour went that well, you can only imagine how wonderful the rest of the day was.  I giggled my way through hour after hour of creativity and humor (by the way, your socks that are missing are used as puppets by your little brother... or taken by little leprechauns that live in the vents... or....).  While other teachers were completely frazzled by hyper, out of control kids today, I had one of my best days yet.

Cue Fall Break.

Thank you, first hour, you made my day.