Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stuff I Don't "Get"

This is not an all-inclusive list... in fact, if anybody out there is reading, feel free to add to my list via the comments section. Today presented me with several things "I Don't Get...

1. how my students can have 2 days to relax and enjoy snow and come back A) tired and B) with unfinished homework!
2. why one kid needing to use the restroom causes 10 others to need to "go and do likwise".
3. how 10 out of 21 of my AP kids can choose the same prompt out of 22 possible choices on a list and then not imagine that as I slowly go insane grading them it won't make my red pen bleed on them even more!
4. why schools feel they can pile greater responsibility on our students yet turn around and not offer them greater trust/respect/privileges.
5. how my kids can bear up as they SIT for 6 hours per day! I would be DYING!
6. why we don't have more than one snow day built into our school calendar in a state where people are paranoid about driving in 1'' of snow.
7. early risers (as in pre-6am)
8. people who think sports REALLY matter in the long run.
9. why anyone would want to go sky-diving.
10. how it is possible to consider recalling all the peanut butter shipped from Georgia!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Soup, Snow, & Slimmer

It's been an interesting past 3 days. St. Charles was hit by a reasonably good-sized snowstorm on Monday night that continued into Tuesday and made roads nasty until Wednesday. This resulted in 2 snowdays for Ed & I. Well, only for Ed, actually. I have been attending the Midwest Educational Technology Conference on Monday through Wednesday of this week. It was an awesome educational experience that would have (could have?) cost me three days of teaching time. Thanks to the snow, it only cost me one.

Meanwhile, we've been hunkering down and enjoying how pretty everything looks covered in the white stuff. Time to make soup! I made veggie soup on Sunday night. And since I haven't posted a photo of myself lately, I made Ed take a shot of me while I cooked it. So you can see the newer, down-sized version of me while I am doing something I rarely do... cooking! Wish you could smell the soup... it was delicious!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In Anticipation

Today, I am giving my blog space to my husband. He's not a "blogger" as a rule, but today he wrote this, shared it with me, and gave me permission to post it. We are both very excited for Tuesday, but Ed captured the essence of it so well that I just had to publish it! A little longer than my typical musings but quite meaninful.

In Anticipation - January 18, 2009

It is Sunday, prior to the inauguration of our next president, Barak Obama. I am sitting by the fire listening to the national concert being held in DC today and am somewhat in awe. I am turning 55 next month and although I have voted in every presidential election since I have been able to vote, and have even worked in calling campaigns for presidential candidates prior to this year, I can truly say that even though my choice often was the winner of the election, I have never been this moved with anticipation by an inauguration until this moment.

I began following President Obama after I heard him deliver one of the keynote speeches at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I remember sitting transfixed, by the speech and the speaker. I had not anticipated even listening to the entire speech as I had never heard of this young would-be senator from Illinois. As he spoke, he drew me in with both his message and delivery. I cannot, today, even remember the exact content, but I do remember saying at the time that his message conveyed the theme of what public service in the U.S. should be as it reflected an attitude of what I would simply characterize as,what I had been taught was America.

In my view, at the time America had become a bit of an international and domestic bully; not just because of the war in Iraq, although that was, for me, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, but because of an ongoing and growing projected attitude in a number of areas in which America seemed to be using its power to act in hegemonic, unilateral ways in the international arena to push others to acquiesce to our will. Domestically, American leaders, and many good individuals, appeared more interested in the private, and by extension the collective, good that a growing economy could accomplish. There seemed to be a growing sentiment that if you were not able to, in some way, contribute to economic growth through personal investment, you were so much of a drain on our society. And, in the face of a “growing “ economy we saw cuts to domestic programs which had been designed to assist the less fortunate. There was a growing intolerance of ideas that were not in accordance with this party line and there appeared to be a growing attitude of nationalistic and, to some degree, spiritual fundamentalism. So for the first time, I began to look carefully at decisions made by political leaders. Exactly who was voting for what and under what circumstances. I began listening to political rhetoric from the perspective of one who was choosing to be an active participant rather than one who was simply a political subject of a particular party and party ideology. I also began reading, almost feverishly, books written by our political leaders expressing their views on our constitutional principles and on what it meant to be a U.S. leader and citizen.

One of the people I followed was Mr. Obama. Just after 2004 and well before all of the primary candidates from all of the parties had been rolled out, I had determined that I could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who represented the Grand Old Party. And while I did not agree with all of the stances of the Democratic party, I had come to recognize that the majority of my personal beliefs about government , economics and a good number of social issues lined up much more closely with the agenda of that party. Initially, however, my choice for president was not Barak Obama. I liked much of what he stood for, but I felt that there were others with whom I was more closely in agreement. By the time, the primary came down to Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton, though, I had decided to support Sen. Obama. By that time I had read much more from him and about him and I came out a true supporter.

That does not mean I will agree with 100% of his decisions, but I feel that for this unique time under these special circumstances ,American has boldly chosen a true leader, a man who will set a new tone for the United States. I believe that in Barak Obama we have a president who will listen to all sides which are actively seeking to make America a better place, which are intent on improving and protecting the common good, and which are willing to use a spirit of reason and rule of law to accomplish their goals.

Yes, I am anxiously awaiting Tuesday, I believe America is anxiously awaiting, and I believe that the world is anxiously awaiting Tuesday. There is a window of opportunity here because of the conditions of the times, the president, the American people’s excitement and the world’s expectations for great things to be accomplished. These may not be measured in specific deeds right away but first may come an attitude shift and then, who knows?

So, back to my initial musings as I was listening to the national concert. Usually, when we view huge numbers of people congregating in a national capitol as we see today and expect on Tuesday, it is for some sort of demonstration of protest. Today, as I listen to the concert in DC in anticipation of Barak Obama’s inauguration, there are 100’s of thousands gathering not to protest but to celebrate, and not just to celebrate a man and a party victory but to ,I believe, celebrate a potential, a new beginning, a new opportunity, to celebrate what America at its best can be. What a spectacle to view, especially for the rest of the world. America is not some fading giant but is still a leader and if we follow our new president’s lead, America can be such a leader as the world has never yet seen. Yes, I am anxiously awaiting Tuesday.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yesterday was a big day for me! I reached a goal that has been four months in coming; I have lost 10% of my body weight! After a long period of frustration with "do-it-myself" diet and exercise, I joined Weight Watchers back in September. It is a sad fact, but if I am paying for something, I am more likely to follow through. A good friend of mine had a lot of success with the WW's programs last year and recommended it highly. I dragged out my decision for almost 6 months, but finally decided that I was tired of being at an unhealthy weight; so I joined.

I generally go on Thursday nights. I have to say the meetings (which I expected to be "cheesy") are actually very helpful. You see a whole lot of different folks from a variety of backgrounds and all of us are in the same boat.... we need help with how we relate to food! There is an inspiring fellow (who could be old enough to be my dad) who lost 148 lbs in one year and has kept it off for over 3 years. People helping each other is what the weekly 30 min. gatherings are all about. I get recipes, encouragement, and the knowledge that I will be "checking in" at the scale.

Last night was special. My group leader announced my success and a room full of 50 or so people burst into applause! It felt amazing! I still have a way to go, I want to get to my goal weight by spring... and I can honestly say I believe I can do it now. So here's to all my new friends in Weight Watchers, and to my family members who have been cheering me onward as well! Thanks so much!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Top 10 benefits (!?) of having a Cold....

Yeah, I hab a code... err a cold.... There's been one floating around school since our return from holiday break, and it found me last Wednesday. This weekend was given over totally to trying to get better, and I am not sure I am making progress. SO.. instead of whining about it, I've decided to play "Pollyanna" with it and see if I can find some benefit in cold nursing.... Here goes.

10. You have an excuse to talk less to your students and anyone else you don't want to talk with.
9. You get to sleep in on the weekend.
8. You drink 5x's more juice and tea than you normally would.
7. You don't feel very hungry... makes dieting a LOT easier.
6. You stop caring what your hair looks like... at least while at home.
5. You have a good excuse to have your own PBS marathon, I love PBS!
4. You can knit all you like and nobody expects you to move around much.
3. Clementine oranges now qualify as medicine.
2. Whether it rains or snows outside ceases to matter to you.
1. Your hubby will make you his awesome chicken soup!

So there we are, readers.... some decided benefits of nursing a cold.... which hopefully STAYS just a cold.... if not, I'll be back with added thoughts!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

First things first - Sydney is ONE.

Happy Birthday to you, Miss Sydney Grace! Saturday was the big day... and Gretchen and Leon pulled out all the stops to make the big #1 a memorable one! There was cake, balloons, funny hats, noisemakers, the works! Sydney woke up from her afternoon nap to find a house full of silly grown-ups all waiting to wish her a happy birthday. She seemed a bit serious at first, just sort of taking it all in, but when it came down to the frosting on her cake, well, the pictures tell it all! Many more happy days, little one! It was fun being there for this special day!

"Let's see, I've got a chair, an ottoman, and this cool hat...
what more could a girl need?"

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolutions... To BE or?

Spent our New Year's Eve with our best friends, Doug & Carol, and the topic of resolutions came up. Not surprisingly, Doug had used some thoughts about them in his New Year's Eve sermon just a few short hours earlier and he shared them with us. His focus was on "Be" resolutions rather than on "Do" resolutions and as he listed a few like "be faithful", "be in the Word".... I found myself thinking seriously about what I might resolve to "be" in 2009.

I have generally not been a resolver - at least not on Dec. 31/Jan 1. Seems that I have an aversion to making promises just because it seems the "thing to do" on a given night. But there are definitely some things I would like to "be" in the year ahead.... so here goes...make your own list if the idea strikes a chord.

1. Be more in the moment....
2. Be less "busy"
3. Be at peace with myself
4. Be healthier
5. Be wiser
6. Be "greener"
7. Be a light in dark places.
8. Be less burdened by things
9. Be a good friend
10. Be in balance

There... that's my "be list"... I think there's enough there to keep me busy in 2009. Happy New Year to all of you!