Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 347- Mary*

I'm usually not a wah wah wah it's Monday kind of person.  It's not Monday's fault that it happens to fall at that time of the week that tears you away from Sunday and the weekend and everything happy.  In fact, I kind of like Mondays sometimes.  Shh... don't tell.  Monday is the day to start fresh and new.  You are still feeling that weekend buzz and not yet feeling the weekday fatigue.  You (hopefully) have clean laundry and a fridge full of groceries and the idea of having a fabulous week is still a possibility.

However, I must confess that I was really ticked that it was Monday when I woke up today.

My "case of the Mondays" led to an irritable and frazzled kind of morning at home.  Bad attitude= bad morning.  Haven't I figured that out yet?  There were a variety of factors at play that were really not important and seem much more trivial now.  I will overshare that part of the problem was that it took three different pairs of pants to find one that buttoned.  Perhaps I took Thanksgiving a little too far this year...

I'm not sorry.

Aaaand that's as far as the whine can go.  On the way to the work, I reminded myself of the things that were important and made the choice to not take out my hatred of interior pants buttons on Monday or on my students.  We all deserve better than that.  I also found Christmas music chasing me around the radio, and I just don't see how a person could stay cranky when folks are singing about Christmas.

By the time I got to school, it was all good.  I wasn't even mad when I discovered that our heat wasn't working and saw that my classroom temperature was less than 60 degrees.  Not mad, just a little chilly.  I had a Not-So-Secret Society (fun committee) meeting before school, and it did wonders for my state of mind to plan holiday events and chatter and laugh.  When I got back downstairs to my room for hallway duty, I was almost ready to take on the day.

Mary was in my room first thing this morning.  Wearing her Ohio State sweatshirt.

To be fair, Mary has been wearing this sweatshirt all year and cheering on the Buckeyes.  She has also been very troubled this year and for the past month or two in particular.  She is brilliant and funny and has an incredible amount of potential, and  I have been trying my darndest to connect with her.  I think she may finally be starting to turn a corner in her life.  This means that she is turning that corner at school as well, and we're all excited to see that happen.  She was as chipper as can be this morning and asked if she could borrow a pencil for a minute.  I sent her into my room and called behind her, "You know I'm a little sensitive about Ohio State today, Mary!"

"I know," she said, twirling her Buckeye (do I really have to capitalize that dang word?) beads around her neck.  When she left my room, I thought I saw her give me a little wink.  It threw me a bit, but I was glad to see her happy.  When I made it back behind my desk to take attendance in first hour, I realized that it had definitely been a wink.  There, sitting right next to my computer, was some sort of Sloopy Ohio State Marching Band cd.  There was a little note sitting next to it that said You can borrow this sometime if you want.

I couldn't help but smile.

After first hour, I saw Mary at her locker stealing glances my way.  I called her over and let her know that I had found her little present.  I asked if she wanted it back or if I should just run it over with my car.  Then, I told her that she had given me a much needed laugh this morning and thanked her for her sense of humor.  I saw a little twinkle in her eye that I have not seen in quite some time.  I could not be more thrilled for Mary that one way or another she is getting her stuff together and is present in her classes again.  It's really nice to have her back... even if I am still a little sensitive about that whole buckeye (ha! take that! lower case) business.

Thank you, Mary*, you made my day.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 346- Dog Nap

Dog Nap: Noun

  1. To take a short nap; doze lightly.
  2. A short sleep taken by Mama Bear and General when reunited after a brief holiday.

Origin: Ferri household, circa 2008.

Related words:

cat nap
sheep sleep

I am lucky enough at this point in my life to have two places that I call home.  When we head up to Michigan, we are going home.  When we head back here to Missouri, we are also going home.  Home is where the heart is, and my heart lives in two places. 

It was wonderful to see my family and to spend quality time at my Michigan home.  It was also wonderful to be done with our marathon driving today and to pull into our driveway.  We have worked our butts off to make this house a home, and it is a place that I love to come home to.  The real excitement, however, was seeing my little guy again.  Oh, how I miss him when we go away!  I'm always worried that General will be upset when we have to leave him behind, but he's such a nice dog that he never is.  He always sprints up to see us, does the full body wag, licks a bit, and picks right up where we left off.  Still, it is important to me to make him feel loved and secure, so I make it a point to spend quality snuggle time with him like I did when he was a puppy. 

General nuzzled up to me tonight and fell asleep right away.  I melted.  He usually tires of this after a while, but not today.  I had papers to grade and lists to make and all kinds of things to do.  Those can wait.  General and I shared a nice little dog nap and a perfect ending to a relaxing break.

Thank you, dog nap, you made my day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 345- Root Beer

I was looking through the mini fridge in my parents' garage for something to go with my pizza tonight when I spied it- an A & W root beer.  There was a time when I absolutely used to adore these, but I can't remember the last time I actually drank one.  I took her out for a spin, and I felt as if I was five again (in the best possible way, of course).

The only thing that could have made my root beer better was a frosted mug and a scoop of ice cream.  Ahhh... life's little pleasures.

Thank you, root beer, you made my day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 344- RichRods

My whole family is heading off to watch the big game tomorrow at the home of one of Tom's friend's families.  The big game, of course, is Michigan vs. Ohio State.  It's only the greatest rivalry in college football, and it's probably the greatest and longest running rivalry in college sports in general.  You know, THE game.

Anyway... my parents decided that we would bring a tasty treat along with us.  These treats are 50% pretzel rods, 50% chocolate, and 100% awesome.  Once you top each one off with some maize and blue sprinkles, you have yourself a RichRod. 

We had an assembly line going to create these today after a few mishaps in the chocolate department.  I was in charge of the maize sprinkles.  I must admit that this was not my proudest Martha moment, as I was apparently "doing it wrong" according to others involved.  I think that my vast cooking/crafting talents must just be more specialized, and this project was not suited to them.  I did, however, come up with the delicious pun of a name to go along with the treat.  I will be looking into a copyright for this shortly.  My hope is that the game will go well tomorrow and that the actual RichRod will still have his job by the time I get my copyright.

Thank you, RichRods, you made my day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 343- Thanksgiving

This is a no brainer.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for more reasons than I can count.  I suppose I could try to count a few, though.

1. I got to spend today surrounded by family and many (not all... we missed you guys that weren't here) of the people that I love most dearly.  We shared stories and laughs and memories and bad jokes and couches.

2. I ate two massive, delicious dinners filled with some of my favorite foods.  I make mini Thanksgiving dinners year round in anticipation of the big event.  The turkey, the mashed potatoes and gravy, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the rolls, the cranberry sauce, the green bean casserole, the pies... they all have a special place in my stomach.  I am lucky enough to have two grandmas who really know how to cook and deliver. 

3. This could possibly be 2b.  Stretchy clothes.  I have learned from the button-waisted mistakes of my past and developed a successful strategy for more comfortable consumption of mass quantities of food.  I have decided that pants of any kind do not allow me the expansion room that I need to fully enjoy my holiday.  Today I wore a dress with a belt and a cardigan.  It really set me up for success and gave me what I needed to have two incredibly satisfying trips to the Thanksgiving dinner table.  My food baby twins jiggle happily around in their free space.

4. Football!  Even though the Lions lost today, per usual, they at least posted a good half.  Plus, if they're going to lose, why not lose to the Patriots?  Tom Brady posted some fabulous numbers and looked impressive.  If he would just cut his Bieber, this picture could have been pretty.  We also enjoyed a suprisingly good rivalry game between Texas and Texas A&M tonight.

5. Did I mention how much I love spending time with my family?

6. I truly believe in the power of being thankful each and every day (hence the blog).  I have absolutely loved seeing and hearing everyone join in on this cause, even if it is only for a day or two.  I love the reminder entering into the holiday season that we should live thoughtfully and thankfully and really take the time to appreciate the blessings in our lives.  One of my good friends sent me an article recently with scientific proof about what a healthy practice it is to be thankful.  Literally.

7. Does it count to say that I am thankful for having so darn many things to be thankful for?  I am incredibly blessed.  It is easy to be thankful and happy on a daily basis with so many blessings in my life.

I could go on and on, but I think we'll leave it at that so that I can go enjoy #8.  I'm about to have a good night's sleep under my parents' roof, and I can spend more time tomorrow with the family that I love so dearly.  I am thankful for the life I am truly blessed to live and for all of the people who make it easy and wonderful to be me.

Thank you, Thanksgiving, you made my day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 342- Life

Okay, I know that this one sounds like a cop out.  Yes, I am thankful to be alive every day.  However, I have an actual extra reason for this today.

Tom and I had an incredibly scary experience early on in our eight hour drive today.  Given my history of incredibly scary driving/passenger experiences, this instance was magnified about 100 times.  I was completely and totally freaked out.  The car was not wrecked, but I was for hours.

How many people have realized that they are looking into oncoming highway traffic from a car that is going the wrong way?  Maybe a lot.  How many people have walked away from that situation virtually unharmed?  Definitely less.

Twice?  Hmm.

It becomes increasingly easy for me to understand that I am on this earth for a reason and that I have a purpose.  Why else would God allow me to walk away from experiences like this?  Days like today, however awful they may be at the time, reaffirm so many things for me.  God is great, and there is no doubt in my mind that He is with me and watching over me for sure.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. " Jeremiah 29:11

It is no coincidence that I wake up every morning full of life.  Today and every day I am thankful to be alive and to have another opportunity to chisel away at my small corner of the world.  Talk about a timely lesson for Thanksgiving, eh?
Thank you, life, you made my day. 

Day 341- Ice Cream Party

We had our ice cream party today in Ac Lab for winning the can drive.  I was really pleased that it was scheduled today because I knew there was no way that I'd get all of my students to do quality work in Ac Lab right before a holiday/long weekend. 

I'm not sure that my class could have been any more excited about that ice cream if they tried.  They were like savages!  We were provided with two gigantic tubs of ice cream, sprinkles, cookies, cherries, toppings, and whipped cream.  They attacked that bar as if they had never eaten before and would never eat again.  One boy, a kid who is usually quite quiet and shy, came and stood next to me.  Grinning, he said, "Look at my bowl... there's not even any ice cream in it this time!"  I looked down and noticed that this was no joke.  His bowl was pure whipped cream, sprinkles, and toppings.  This concoction was smeared all over his face, and there was a twinkle in his eye that I had never seen before.

At the end of the day, I asked the sugar-filled kids to please apologize to their parents tonight for me while they were bouncing off the walls and to thank them for buying the cans.  As they left clutching their bowls full of seconds- thirds, even- I said a small prayer for their bus drivers and parents and felt thankful that I was neither of those things at that point in time.

Believe it or not, we had all kinds of leftovers.  I did the rounds inviting all of the other teachers to come have a sweet treat in my room to kick off the long weekend.  When I returned to my room, I found another teacher from my team eating directly from one of the gallons, polishing it off.  She too had a little smeared here and a little smeared there on her face, and it made me smile.  I suppose we never grow out of that, eh?

Thank you, ice cream party, you made my day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 340- Done

I was such a good girl tonight.  I decided not to procrastinate and save things for later.  I decided not to let myself use the excuse that I have a long weekend coming up to put off work that needs to be done.  I got down to business...

...and I am DONE :).

I am collecting a project from my kids tomorrow that I will hopefully get graded over break.  Other than that, I am DONE.  I think only another teacher can appreciate the beauty of empty folders/boxes and understand what an incredible feeling it is to be completely and totally cleaned out of any kind of work that needs attention.  Sure, students will be turning in projects, and this moment is only fleeting.  However, the projects should be fun and easy to grade.  I already put the real work in on their rough drafts.

When I just had two sets of papers left tonight, I started to tell myself that maybe I could do them after school tomorrow or tomorrow night or... the thing is, I would have ended up staying up late on Sunday night to grade them, and I would have kicked myself all the way.  Instead of making that mistake, I worked a little harder and stayed up a little later today.  As a result, I am--

DONE!! :)

Bring on my only other day of school this week, Tuesday/Friday.  Bring on my five days off in a row.  Bring on my weekend of family, relaxation, and guilt free joy.  Bring on my favorite holiday and day of the whole year.  I am soooo ready for them all.  Why?

Yep.  Done.

Thank you, done, you made my day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 339- AMA Performances

First, I have to clarify.  Tom and I ended up fast forwarding through just about all of the lackluster performances in tonight's awards show.  I am concerned about the state of music, the lack of meaningful lyrics, and the little attention that is paid to artistry these days.  I'm over the bodysuits and leotards and shock value and glitter.  I never caught Beiber fever.  I want my music back.

Luckily, there were two performances that entertained me.  One had me swaying in my seat, while the other gave me no choice but to jump to my feet.

The only performance that was truly exceptional was Kid Rock.  Man, that guy has soul!  He was absolutely everything that the rest of them were not and had everything that so much of music is lacking these days.  He wasn't wearing a crazy outfit, nor was he surrounded by thrusting dancers.  He wasn't synthesized or reliant on a catchy beat or tune.

Mr. Rock-- or should I call you Kid?-- you touched my heart by singing deeply from yours.  You look like a guy I could meet up with and have a beer with anytime (in fact, I know a few friends who did just that in college), and you sing about the things that mean something to me.  You didn't need the lights or the entourage or any of the fuss.  You sat and belted out the most beautiful lyrics and restored my faith in music once again.  When you were introduced, it was mentioned that you are comfortable on the rock, country, pop, and all kinds of other charts.  It's so true... your music knows no genre.  You're just us.  Puuuuuuure Michigan.

Are you interested in Kid Rock's new album yet? Click here for "Times Like These," one of my new favorite songs.  

The lakes and pines they bleed of beauty and grace
And the rivers they run wild like an endless race
The forests soar so high then fall to the sea
As church bells ring and sing in harmony
I heard them say they’re shuttin’ Detroit down
But I won’t leave 'cause this is my hometown

And it’s times like these we can’t replace
It’s times like these we must embrace
And even though it’s bittersweet and brings us to our knees
It makes us who we are, in times like these

The concrete and steel stand strong against the wind
With the memories of what was and what has been
The sounds of sweet soul music and blue-collar blues
There were 17 colors for a Chevy all red white and blue
I heard them say that you can’t save that town
But I won’t leave, I will stand my ground

And it’s times like these we can’t replace
It’s times like these we must embrace
And even though it’s bittersweet and brings us to our knees
It makes us who we are, in times like these
The ice and snow give way to a new spring bloom
In the wake that hope and faith they will be home soon
A new day dawns as the good Lord shines from above
'Cause in the rubble and rust there remains a whole lotta love
And I was here watchin’ it all go down
And I’ll still be, when it comes back around
And it’s times like these we can’t replace
It’s times like these we must embrace
And even though it’s bittersweet and brings us to our knees
It makes us who we are, in times like these
It makes us who we are in times like these

The other performance I must admit I enjoyed was NKOTBSB (New Kids on the Block Backstreet Boys, duh).  It was terrible and desperate and everything you would expect, but it was also the very definition of a guilty pleasure.  I was busting out my best boy band moves and amusing/scaring the boys.  Pure fun.

Thank you, AMA performances, you made my day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 338- Muffuletta

Unfortunately, my today
was not a very good football day.

The bright spot was our boy Denard
with his NCAA record-setting yards.

But the team's lackluster play
meant something else would make my day.

So, my Tom went out to get a
delicious McAllister's muffuletta!

This sandwich made me change my tune
and came not a minute too soon.

It made me want to sing a ballad-
the meat, the bread, the olive salad!

It was the perfect lighter dinner.
Perhaps it will help to make me thinner.

No, you say?  Don't be a dope.
Well, a girl can always hope.

Thank you, muffuletta, you made my day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 337- Academic Lab

Academic Lab is something that I first learned of last year.  I'm not sure if it's something that they have everywhere now or if it's just in this area, but it's basically what you get when homeroom and study hall meet and have a baby.  It is a semi-short period at the end of the day where all kinds of things happen- announcements, homework, progress reports and checking grades, silent reading, catch up work, etc., etc., etc.

Ac Lab is a complete and total frenzy.  There are always a million things going on and  a million kids needing to go other places while a million others need to come see me.  The frenzy is compounded by the fact that I somehow ended up with an island of misfits of sorts in my room for that class.  My Ac Lab kids are kings and queens of missing assignments, absences, bus detentions, chattiness, broken limbs, trips to the nurse, and issues in general.  There are days when I have to tell them that if they are not bleeding or on fire, they should step away from my desk.  This usually results in only about half of them going back to their seats.  It's like that.

Every day as I read announcements, I realize more and more that I have this group of... um, "interesting" kids.  I try to weed through all of the many announcements to find those that pertain to my group in order to get them to the homework time they so desperately need that much faster.  Do I need to read the robotics announcement?  Anybody in robotics?  Nope?  Ok.  NJHS?  They shake their heads.  StuCo, newspaper, yearbook?  No?  Ok... what are you in?  Blank looks and shaking heads follow.  Alright, let's work on homework then and check your grades.

All that being said, I adore my Ac Lab.  They are quirky and silly and sweet and friendly and all kinds of good things.  They are a class full of little projects, and they are with me for a reason.  These are kids I see two times a day, and I really feel responsible for them, my little cubs.  I want them to succeed and to hand in that missing work and to join things and to develop good study skills.  They're all my little Ac Lab Ferris, after all. 

We have had a big can drive going on at school for the past few weeks to collect for our local food bank before the holidays.  My Ac Lab usually has a lackluster performance in this type of arena.  For spirit and dress up days, I told them recently that they make me feel as if I am the only girl at the party wearing a costume.  I go all out and dress up for everything, and one or two of them (if that) join me. I was bound and determined to push them.  We had a running joke that we would all have mustaches for school pictures and checked in daily on our progress.  I gave them stickers for dressing up on some of the other days.  We took third place in the team building competition and cheered for each other and did a big go team huddle at the end.  I shared pictures of my dog and the occasional funny story (which both, surprisingly enough, work as a reward to keep them quiet).  I got them plastic fangs for Halloween and let them be goofy for a few minutes that day.  I'm pretty sure these simple gestures have led many of them who don't have a whole lot to decide that they'd walk through fire for me.  They are fiercely loyal.

When this can competition started, I told them that it was time to step up their game.  There was an ice cream party up for grabs for each grade level winner, and I was bound and determined to get them to earn this for themselves.  I made them a deal that I would match every two cans that they brought in with one of my own.  At the end of the first week, we only had eight total.  I did not relent.  I kept reminding them of our deal and the ice cream party.  We had a huge surge in cans in the last two days, and I think it was because they wanted to see if I would keep my word, even as the number of cans grew and grew.

Have you guessed how this one ends yet?

I got the e-mail this afternoon during my plan period that we had made it to 109 cans, and we were the winners of the eighth grade.  My kids.  I was so excited that I ran out into the hallway to see if there was anyone to share the news with.  There wasn't, of course, so I jumped up, pumped my fists in victory by myself, and circled back into my room.  I reread the e-mail to make sure that I was not mistaken.  I wasn't.  The ice cream party and the W are all ours.

I kept the kids in suspense until the very end of the day because I was worried that the announcement would get them all hyper, and I wanted to make sure that we got in some quality work time first.  Silly me.  It took some time to get them settled in anyway because it's Friday and none of the core teachers gave homework for the weekend.  When it came time to make the announcement, one of them was brushing her teeth in the back (not even kidding) while another did the robot and his math homework.  Ohhhhh, Ac Lab.  As I finally spilled the news, they were filled with the pride and joy that I so hoped to see from them at some point this year.  They responded by dancing in the aisles of my room, swinging their arms in unison and casting glances my way to see my reaction.  "She's laughing!  She's laughing!"  The small group of dancers grew into almost the entire class.  I love winning.

I'm sure that the ice cream party next week will make me want to pull my hair out.  Yet, I'm also sure that I am so proud of my eccentric little group of lovelies.  I might even lay off of them about their grades for a day.

Or not.  I'd love for that to be our next victory.  For now, I'll probably have to settle for the fact that none of them have broken any bones or received a detention in the past month, all of them have learned how to at least pretend to do their homework quietly (over half of them are actually working!), and some of them who were previously disinterested in just about everything are now eager to please.  One of them was even recently elected president of a club and acted in the play tonight.  Upswing!

Thank you, Ac Lab, you made my day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 336- High School Friends

It's marathon grading night.  My kids are working on facebooks for characters in Flowers for Algernon.  Their rough drafts were due today, and we're going to the computer lab tomorrow to start to crank out the final drafts.  I gave myself a one day turn around in order to get in everything I want to do before Thanksgiving Break next week.  The good news is that I won't have to grade all of this over the weekend :).

The lukewarm news is that the blog must suffer a bit tonight.  Here's what I have time for.

After a truly satisfying yet extremely long day, I came home to a few pleasant surprises.  First, I received a card with the cutest little pictures of my godson.  We got lots of photos from his baptism and his first school picture and tons of sweetness.  I loved it (thanks, Annieka)!  Welcome to the refrigerator, Maks.

I also got a lovely message in my facebook inbox from another high school friend.  We aren't always the best about keeping in touch consistently (story of my life lately), but we seem to always find a way to meet up over the holidays.  I was excited to get this message as an initiation of the holiday get together process and a reminder that our catch up time is coming soon-- yay!

As they say in Girl Scouts,

"Make new friends,

but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend."

Did I really just quote a Girl Scout song?  I should probably finish grading and get to bed.

Thank you, high school friends, you made my day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 335- William and Kate

I know, I know... everyone else in the world is over it except for the tabloid journalists and me.  I'll keep this short and sweet.  Top 10, maybe? 

Top Ten Reasons I'm Sort of Kind of Excited About the Royal Engagement... so get over it ;)

10. I'm a sucker for a good love story.
9. I am even more of a sucker for weddings.
8. News stations have decided to pull out the old Lady Di and her adorable young sons footage again.
7. Kate is such a classic beauty with a classic duckling to swan to prince story.
6. Kate may be one half of a fairy tale, but she also seems as if she is her own woman.  You go, future    queen!
5. Did I mention how much I love love?  Divorces are highly publicized all the time.  Why not celebrate an engagement instead?
4. I just know Kate is going to become even more of a fashion plate.  What will she wear next?  The royal blue dress was a hit for sure.  Oooh, what about the wedding dress?  Don't even get me started.
3. Ohhhhh... the love story.  It's refreshing to see a couple who started as friends, gave the whole dating thing a thorough examination, then decided to get married.  I think (hope) this one will stick.
2. Kate is a commoner.  Her mom chewed gum at an important parade.  Gasp!  Bad girls :).
1. British accents, British accents, British accents!  I just can't get enough.  I don't even realize that all these people are talking about the engagment anymore.  I just like to hear them tell me anything in those lovely British accents.

Thank you, William and Kate, you made my day.   

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 334- Gwenyth Paltrow

At long last, Glee is really back.  Thank goodness!  After a few lackluster episodes and Gleepeats recently, it was truly a magical show again tonight.  Ahh...

Gwenyth kicked off the show with one of the first cd worthy tracks of the season.  It is a song that gets my feet a tappin' and one that I just can't help but sing along to every single time I hear it.  It's a song whose catchy bee boppin' melody does not match it's bent of out shape lyrics.  Glee cleaned up this Cee Lo track a bit to the more radio friendly "Forget You."  It was so much fun that it made me believe that it could actually be nice to say "F you!" to someone else.  It was so much fun that I may have watched it more than once.  In fact, I may be watching it again as I type... oh, what fun!  I may be doing the dance routine along with them now... not that I have it memorized or anything... including the robot...

Sue was her usual terrific, witty, amazing self tonight.  Having been "bested by Beiste," she had to find herself a new cause.  This turned into a crusade against tater tots.  What is it about tots that makes them so darn funny?

There were also a bunch of other fabulous musical numbers.  Mr. Shue and that guy whose name I can never remember showed off their Broadway chops in a spectacular song and dance number.  Rachel and Gwenyth brought down the house with a splendid Broadway duet of their own.  Can you say Chicago?  I say incredible.

Mixed in with all of the glitz and wonderment was a serious discussion of educational philosophy.  Holly and Mr. Shue explored the differences between the "cool" teacher and an effective teacher.  They raised all kinds of interesting ideas and points, and they also got in some great PSA quotable moments about the importance of the arts in schools.

The show concluded with a mash-up of "Singin' in the Rain" and Rhianna's "Umbrella."  I've never seen rain look so good.  I'm probably going to need to learn that dance number too, complete with puddle splashing and umbrella twirling.  I have a feeling this episode will hang out on my DVR for a little while.

Notable Quotables from this evening:

"I'm the cure for the common class." Miss Holly Holiday, the wacky and eager to please substitute

"Hoarders is great, but animal hoarders is better!" Sue and Holly in unison

"You know what this is?  It's broccoli.  When I showed this to Brittany earlier, she began to whimper, thinking I had cut down a small tree where gummi bears lived."  Sue

"Mr. Shue taught me the second half of the alphabet.  I stopped after M and N.  I felt they were too similar and got frustrated."  Who else?  Brittany!

"You know, William?  One thing I learned in my time as President--" Sue
"--Principal."  Will
"You can't force public opinion.  I pardoned you.  Sometimes you gotta give the inmates what they want.  You throw 'em a comb and hope they stop beating each other long enough to whittle it into a shiv."  Sue

"I suggest selling yourself on Craig's List under the heading of 'Men seeking men with butt chins.'"  Sue

Welcome back, Glee!  F you, Holly Holiday :).

Thank you, Gwenyth Paltrow, you made my day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 333- Apple Cake

Trisha Yearwood, you did it again!

We've been lighting fall candles for the past few months because a. I am obsessed with fall and b. I love to have the delicious scents of pumpkin and apples and cinnamon wafting through our house.  Tonight the aromas are plentiful, and they have nothing to do with candles.  They're real!

It started with this...

Then there was a little of this.  Work it, spoon, work it.

Of course, there was a whole lot of this.  Don't spoil your appetite, Thomas.

Into the oven it went... that's when the delectable smells began to creep through the house.

Finally, voila!  It was ready to eat.  Just wait until I put on the special glaze once it cools :).

Trisha and I are pleased as punch to have made something so tasty from batter to bundt.  Tom may be slightly less pleased as all that batter settles in his stomach, but he's pleased just the same.

Thank you, apple cake, you made my day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 332- Watch What Happens: Live

Brace yourself for another embarrassing (ok, I know I should be ashamed, but I'm not at all...) reality television show confession.  I LOOOOOOOOOOVE me some Real Housewives.  I have been watching these series since the original OC ladies, and I have picked up all of the additional cities along the way.  I could list the reasons why for days, but today is really about my boy Andy Cohen and his Real Housewives aftershow, "Watch What Happens: Live."

The show takes place in the Bravo clubhouse.  As far as I can tell, this is a rowdy little studio in the corner of some building somewhere that is decorated like a bachelor's basement.  It fits the rowdy little host Andy Cohen perfectly.  Andy is hilarious, impeccably dressed, and usually at least somewhat intoxicated (and holding a cocktail in his hand for most/all of the show).  His guests include the housewives from the shows discussing their drama, Bravo realebrities (I think I might have just made that word up), and the occasional suprising big name celebrities. 

The guests tonight were Kristin Chenoweth and Molly Shannon.  I was delighted to discover that they are good friends in real life.  They even text each other while watching the Real Housewives!  That is a friendship sandwich I would definitely like to be a part of.  I'm sure we could call up Neil Patrick Harris to join our club too :).  Bliss!

Kristin and Molly made the already entertaining show even more spectacular.  They aren't faking when they say they watch the Bravo shows like some guests do.  They provided real details and opinions on the goings on and drama of the crazy ladies.  They also did fabulous impressions.  Beyond that, Molly, with only a tiny bit of coaxing, broke out her Sally O'Malley "I'm 50!" character.  That's always a crowd pleaser (or at least a me pleaser).  After drinking something she could only describe as "chocolate surprise," Kristin yodeled.  She is as precious as can be. 

The whole thing was thirty minutes of delightful and a wonderful end to an already wonderful weekend.

Thank you, "Watch What Happens: Live," you made my day.    

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 331- Ugly Win

An ugly win is-- well, ugly-- but it is also a win.  It's a W.  It's a check in the right column and a number added to the right side of the record.  It is not a loss.  It does not leave me sad on the couch.  As the Big Ten Network announcers spent their time kissing Purdue hiney this afternoon and applauding their moral victory, I was applauding our animal, appalling, awful, bad-looking, beastly, deformed, disfigured, foul, frightful, grisly, gross, grotesque, hard-featured, hideous, homely, horrid, ill-favored, loathsome, misshapen, monstrous, not much to look at, plain, repelling, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, unbeautiful, uncomely, uninviting, unlovely, unprepossessing, unseemly, unsightly (thank you UGLY win.  Why?  Say it with me now... because it was a win!!!

Sure, we had more turnovers than touchdowns.  Yes, we still can't finish a game without a facemask penalty.  And the kicking.  Oh, the kicking.  It was absolutely dreadful.  Tom closed his eyes for one of them.

Here's the thing, though.  Our defense did not allow a touchdown today.  OUR defense.  THIS YEAR's defense.  No touchdown.  That deserves three cheers.  If you would have told me two years ago that we would be disappointed to only score 27 points, I would have laughed.  Even in an ugly game sprinkled with turnovers, we scored 27 points.  Our defense scored seven!  It's time for at least three more cheers.

The final turn-that-frown-upside-down-yay-for-the-win-however-ugly-it-was point I'd like to make is this.  I am now looking into my eligibility to play college football.  I will move back to Ann Arbor, walk onto the team as a kicker, do amazing work, single-handedly turn our special teams around, get drafted, become an NFL star, earn lots of money and Fantasy Football points for my husband (who will inevitably draft me as well), and still remember all of you little people.

Three more cheers for ugly wins and lofty goals :).  It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Thank you, ugly win, you made my day. 

Day 330- Call Ahead Seating

Tom has been anxious to try the new Texas Roadhouse down the road for a long time.  We'd drive by it on the highway as it was being built, and he'd always say, "Do you think they're open yet?  Do you think they're open yet?"

We finally made it over there last Friday, and Tom's tailed wagged furiously as we pulled into the parking lot.  After two swoops around the lot, however, we still could not find a spot.  Plus, there was a whole slew of people waiting outside.  We ended up at Buffalo Wild Wings instead.

Do not fear... Tom persevered!  While we were deciding where to eat tonight, he had a fabulous idea.  If we were lucky, maybe... just maybe Texas Roadhouse would have call ahead seating, and we'd be able to give it the old college try tonight.  Their website confirmed this to be true.  Tom called, and we were off.

We found a parking spot after one swoop, and it was a close one at that.  We walked in through crowds of people (that's actually not an exaggeration), waited for a few minutes, threw some peanuts on the floor, and waltzed to our table in front of all kinds of people.  I felt the eyes burning into our backs as we jumped ahead of everyone sitting around us and just knew that they were all wondering how in the world we were already getting seated.  I was a little embarrassed at first.  Tom, of course, absolutely loved his VIP status.  He was probably shooting "in your face" looks back at them behind me.  With the first bite of the fresh-baked bread covered in cinnamony butter at our table, I was totally over the embarrassment and on board with our little arrangement.  Success!

Thank you, call ahead seating, you made my day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 329- Hanging Index Card

I was out in the hall greeting students this morning, and I looked across the way into my colleague's classroom.  I spied something curious.  There was an index card on a string hanging down in the middle of the doorway at around average kid height.  I planned on asking Ms. L. what it was when I saw her, but I figured it out for myself first.

As I stood there watching, I saw a student walk right into the card.  He looked at it, turned around, and walked back to his locker.  This same thing was repeated with the next student who approached the classroom.  And the next.  And the next.  I heard one girl talking to herself as she turned.

"Oh yeah... we need index cards today! 

Then it all made sense.  Genius.

I got a real kick out of this all day long.  Between each class I'd rush out to stand and my door and watch the parade of forgetful students as they were slapped in the face with a reminder of what they needed for class... literally.  I'm totally going to have to steal this idea sometime.  I'm still cracking up just thinking about it.

Thank you, hanging index card, you made my day.

Day 328- Doggie Dress Up

A picture is worth a thousand words... three pictures are worth one day's blog.  These pictures speak for themselves (although I have provided some captions to speak for them as well).

Sup.  Go Blue!

Look-- I can touch my tongue to my nose just like my dad!

Um, did someone say no pants party? 

Tom was ditching his gym clothes for a shower tonight when he got an idea worthy of a six-year-old.  He decided that it would be funny to try his t-shirt on General.  I, of course, jumped on board immediately.  We've really never put General into any kind of clothing before, and we've never made him dress up for Halloween.  We let our son do his own thing, which means when we do pull stuff like this, he tolerates it.  He's such a nice little cooperater.

We literally got five straight minutes of laughter out of this one.  I believe that also equals five minutes of an ab workout (at least that's what my slightly sore stomach is telling me).  How I love my boys!

Thank you, doggie dress up, you made my day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 327- Cee Cee*

Bad poetry time?  Hmm... ok.

Cee Cee is so nice in class,
with her hard work
she'll surely pass.

While other kids are causing riots
there she sits
all nice and quiet. 

Tonight while I showed Barnwell pride
I got to see
her other side.

This girl who keeps each sentence short
can run her very own
basketball court.

She dribbles, she shoots, she throws a great pass
is this really the girl
I see in class?

She's aggressive and she dominates,
to see her play
is something great.

She's like some kind of black and white cookie
or a lot of normal
with a little Snooki.

I like each and every side I see
of this wonderful girl,
the BA Cee Cee!

Thank you, Cee Cee, you made my day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 326- Tylenol

Thanks for a little relief every four to six hours from this icky headache that has tried to dominate me.  We'll beat this thing, my tiny capsule friend!

Thanks (hopefully) for letting me get a good night's sleep to conquer this thing once and for all.

Thanks for being easy to swallow (literally) to make this pounding a little easier to swallow (figuratively).  See what I did there, Tylenol, see what I did?  I knew you would laugh along with me.

Seeing as I am now having a conversation with my medicine, I think it's probably time for bed.

Thank you, Tylenol, you made my day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 325- Hymn and Homily

I made a few new choices about death and my funeral this morning.  Doesn't that sound like a cheery and perfect topic for a positivity blog?  Get excited.

Fr. Ryan has really been hitting it out of the park lately.  It seems as if we have had a lot of homilies surroundig the topic of death, but they are not depressing.  Father has a way of speaking about death that is interesting and sometimes even uplifting.  Today he focused more on the idea of heaven and whether or not we live as if we are ready to die.  He spoke about the fact that we all make up these stories about heaven to make ourselves feel better.  For example, he said we might make comments at a funeral like, "Grandma's up there baking cookies, happy as can be."  I'm most certainly guilty of this.

He went on to explain that heaven is not about the cookies.  We don't have up there what we had down here in terms of things.  What exists beyond us and beyond this world are the things that make us who we are, he said.  What we'll have up there is the true essence of our souls, the "stuff" that adds up to us as people.  Our relationships will endure and exist, but our things will not.  Thinking about life and death and heaven in those terms is really freeing, I think.  It is so easy to get caught up in things that don't matter.  It is completely liberating to think of living a life focused solely on cultivating relationships and on making sure that we are made up of goodness and love and faith.  That type of living allows you to shed all kinds of stresses and things that don't truly matter.  It allows you to live with focus and intention.  Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Father ended the homily by talking about Saint Louis... not the city, but the actual Saint Louis.  He said that while Saint Louis was careful to leave a good will that left all of his children what they would need, he also left another type of will.  You see, Saint Louis thought that a second will was needed to leave behind what would be truly important to his family and his children.  This included an emphasis on the importance of charity and biblical study and other things of that nature.  I absolutely love this idea.  It got me thinking about the things that I'd like to leave behind someday that aren't really things at all.

To top off this enlightening mass, I found another hymn that I'd like to have at my funeral.  If any of you are planning on being at my funeral, I think it may be a long one with all of the songs I have selected so far!  This one in particular is short and sweet and direct.  It's an old African American spiritual, and I do hope you will sing it in this fashion when it's my time to go. 

Give Me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
When I am alone,
When I am alone,
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

When I come to die,
When I come to die,
When I come to die,
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

See... death and funerals can still warrant their own positivity blog. 
Thank you, hymn and homily, you made my day.

Day 324- Two-point Conversions

The pain of five turnovers, a bunch of silly penalties spread out over a few games, and a couple of disappointing losses was eased today, thanks in large part to two very important two-point conversions. 

When our game against Illinois went into overtime today, I began to have an extreme physical reaction.  My fingers and toes went cold, and I was shaking.  I wasn't sure how I was going to survive another heart stopping game.  You can only imagine how this was magnified when the game required a second overtime... then a third.  I was scared that the next time I looked into a mirror, a head of gray hair and a face chock full of wrinkles would be staring back at me.

Thank goodness for the rules!  In the third overtime, a team must go for two points if they score a touchdown.  Michigan was up first, and- hallelujah- they scored!  Tom and I were jumping up and down and high fiving like crazy.  The dog spent some quality time outside because the whole scene was entirely too much for him.  The two-point conversion followed, and it seemed easy.  Taters gonna Tate!  At that point, I felt so relieved.  I kept repeating to Tom, "We can't lose now.  We can't lose!  We got all of the points we could."  My hands continued to shake, but now it was with an excitement that hadn't entirely been present before.  This made for an interesting texting experience.

That wasn't the only two-point conversion that mattered, though.  As I repeated (in an OCD way typical of my family), "We just need one stop.  We just need one stop.  We just need to stop something... the touchdown or the conversion," Illinois scored.  One of the announcers commented that it was almost as if the touchdown was a given.  We knew it was coming.  The true test would be whether or not we could stop the additional play.  I totally agreed. 

One play would decide.  It would decide if today was a win or a loss.  It would decide whether or not we would know for sure that we get to go to a bowl game this year.  It would decide if we were self-destructing or if we could still salvage some of what was left of our season and end it with our heads held high.  It would decide whether or not we could forgive our defense for giving up a ridiculous amount of points... at least for this game.

As the ball was batted down once and for all, the celebrations were out of control in the Ferri homestead.  We were jumping for joy and hugging and slapping hands and then jumping and hugging and slapping some more.  I was shouting, Tom was singing, and I'm pretty sure there may have been some tears in some eyes that weren't mine. 

Yes, I know that it's just two points in one game in one season of one sport that will not change the world or even the BCS rankings.  However, it's the little things on little afternoons like this that bring us together in celebration and happiness that we should appreciate and enjoy while we're living them.... and enjoy it, we sure did!

Thank you, two-point conversions, you made my day.   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 323- Teacher Work Day

I adore my students.  I really do.  However, it's quite nice to occasionally get some time at school without them.  Enter Teacher Work Day.

The Setting- I spent most of the day in my classroom by myself (but with the door open, of course).  I developed the most soothing and wonderful playlist filled with James Morrison, Maxwell, Howie Day, and other take it easy kind of favorites.  If you are not familiar with James Morrison, you must immediately get yourself some James Morrison lovin'.  I would suggest starting with "This Boy."

My Accomplishments- Boards cleaned.  Desk completely and totally cleared off and cleaned off.  Many papers filed and bookshelf organized.  Informal department meeting.  Mentor meeting.  Much needed lesson planning and grading done or in progress.  Possible novel selected for next semester/year.  Lunch eaten casually, rather than scarfed quickly. Other small yet important activities.

Major Accomplishment- I took a deep breath.  Although I only got about 10/20 items done from my to-do list, it sure did feel good... especially after I cleaned all of my fake white boards off and inhaled fumes that I probably shouldn't have. 

Results- I feel organized and prepared to take on the next few weeks.  I also think I have freed myself up a bit of time to really start to tackle a huge project that I am working on launching at school.  Hopefully I will have good news about this before Day 365. 

Unintentionally Funny Answers Found While Grading Papers Today (this could really be a whole book if I compiled all of them... these are just from today)-

We have been talking about mood as it pertains to poetry.  One student, in response to why a poem was good, said, "This poem really gets me in the mood." 

There was another question where students were asked to draw what they thought of when they listened to a poem.  One student drew a picture labeled, "Big house, big knockers."  She meant door knockers, of course.  That didn't stop the eighth grade boy in me from having a big ol' laugh by myself.  Perhaps those fumes got to me a little more than I originally thought.

Thank you, Teacher Work Day, you made my day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 322- Google Maps

I saw this on the facebook pages of a couple of friends, and I finally decided that I had to try it.

‎1. Go to Google maps.
2. Go to directions
3. Type Japan as the start location.
4. Type China as the end location.
5. Go to direction #43.

I'm not going to tell you what I found because I don't want to ruin the surprise.  You're definitely going to need to try this one for yourself :).

I am still chuckling and chortling like mad.  (I also decided that I use "giggle" too much and looked up some synonyms.  I think I still like giggle better.) 

Thank you, Google maps, you made my day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 321- Poetry Centers

As I was poking around last night looking for ideas to enrich a poetry lesson I had planned for today, I felt inspired.  This led me to scratch my original plan and to stay up until midnight putting together poetry centers for the kids to work their way through today.  I worked really hard to put everything together and felt as if I was at peak creativity.  I really hoped that my students would reward my efforts with a day of quality learning and maybe even a little fun.

They did not let me down.  YES!!

One thing I can't get enough of is overhearing my students talking about the things they're learning about when they don't even know I'm listening.  As I circulated through the five centers, I heard kids discussing figurative language and reading their poetry to each other.  They were helping one another with directions and following directions.  Wow!

Although many of them wouldn't admit it to me, I know that a lot of them had fun.  When the academic conversations they had spilled over into the hallway, I had my tell-tale sign.  I got a few smiles too : ).  A couple of them finally admitted to me today that they had memorized the figurative language rap I gave them last week.  I win.

I had another pleasant surprise in the form of a visit from my mentor.  She works outside the district for a local university and is there solely to support new teachers.  She stops by from time to time to chat or sit in on my classes in order to see how everything is going.  She slipped in this morning while we were in full rotation glory, and I was thrilled that someone would get to see the lesson I had labored to create.  I was even more thrilled when I found little post-its she had stuck to my desk before she left.  They were full of her gushing about the environment, level of engagement, and learning happening in my classroom. 

Ahhh... it feels so good.  I love me some positive reinforcement! 

Thank you, poetry centers, you made my day.     

Day 320- Jamie*

Because of tonight's Gleepeat (a Glee episode repeat, obviously), I had to lean on some other thing to make my day.  Thankfully, I had just that thing.

Jamie was instantly endearing from the moment I met her.  At first, I couldn't explain why exactly, but she was one of those kids that you just like.  Ever since our first day together, I have found that the more I learn about her and get to know her, the more I like her.  That's not always the case with eighth grade girls. 

Many things about Jamie make her a less than typical eighth grader.  She has a sister in the building, a blond toothpick whose good grades come somewhat easily.  Jamie works incredibly hard to earn decent grades... and to be blond... and to be thin.  While her hair may not exactly be golden, her heart most certainly is.  I'm not sure that I have any students who try harder or do more with what they have.  She always always always does her work to 100% of her capabilities, she always always always smiles warmly and converses with me in the hallway (another behavior not always so typical of teens), and she always always always listens intently in class.  When she doesn't know the answers, she throws her hand up anyway and asks a question or gives it her best guess.  Can you tell how much I like this kid?

Jamie is another one of these students, come to find out, who has far less than ideal circumstances when she leaves our walls.  You'd never guess this from who she is or how she acts.  My hopes are set firmly on the idea that she will break the cycle and do all of the wonderful things that we both know she is capable of.  Her dreams belong far outside her house and her neighborhood.

My students took a test today.  I have been reviewing with them and encouraging them to study for over a week.  I have given them multiple different kinds of materials and supports and ideas and experiences to try to help them succeed on this.  I'm not a huge fan of traditional assessments in an English class, but my district asks me to do them occasionally to collect data, so I do.  My group of not-always-so-hardworking-kids does not always care so much as the rest of us about where their scores end up.

Jamie does.

Once again, she worked so hard to prepare and to succeed.  She rushed up to me at the end of her hour to see how she had done on her test.  I told her that they probably wouldn't be graded until tomorrow or Thursday but that I hoped she had done well.  She was such a sweet little puppy that I looked over her paper while the next class was taking their test.  When I saw that she had only missed one multiple choice question on the entire test, I almost jumped out of my chair.  I caught myself smiling for the rest of the hour, thinking about how she would react when she found out.  This was by far the best she had ever done on any major assignment.

I pulled her aside as she came out of her class and shared the good news.  Our two grins lasted for the rest of the day. 

Thank you, Jamie, you made my day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 319- Women of SNL

I hung out with a bunch of old friends tonight- Molly, Cheri, Tina, Amy, Rachel, Nora, Ana, Julia, Laraine, and Kristen.  We all played and laughed and enjoyed one another like it was the ol' glory days again, and it was great to be back.  They were reunited for a special evening to entertain me on a "Women of SNL" special, and I was back on my couch laughing my buns off.

I used to be glued to the screen every Saturday night just waiting to see what they would think of next.  These women were absolute icons to me (and still are in many ways).  They were fearless and hilarious and I felt as if they had the most glamorous and wonderful jobs in the world.  For once, the women were valued for more than their looks (although many of them aren't too bad to look at either).  They are bright and witty and talented and confident and all-around amazing entertainers and women.

Tonight's show included highlights from the past thirty-five years of incredible women.  I got to see Mary Catherine Gallagher, the "Delicious Dish" hosts, Barbie WaWa and Barbara Walters, the "I'm 50!" lady, Mom Jeans, Roseanne Rosannadanna, Amy and Tina on "Weekend Update," Debbie Downer, and so much more.  The show started with a delicious parody of a "Real Housewives" reunion with all of the women, hosted by none other than Andy Cohen.  It was delovely and delightful.  Throughout the two hours of women comedic geniuses got Tom into his full on giggle and me into my silent laugh, and it was so nice to have the old gang back together again. 

I may have finally begun to give up the idea that I will be a featured lady player on SNL, but you better believe that some of these characters and impersonations will make their way into my classroom.

Thank you, Women of SNL, you made my day.