Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If I Had All the Time in the World...

I don't watch very much TV, but I do love TV. If I had 4 or 5 extra hours a day, I know I'd waste a good portion of them in front of the tube. If I had time to watch any television on a regular basis, here are the shows I'd watch (I apologize for the number of times I plan on saying "love" in this post. I'm just feeling the love):

Survivor. Yep, I do enjoy the reality TV. I used to never miss Survivor. I like imagining how I'd play the game. Of course, my version always involves going to a hotel at night.

The Amazing Race. This is my favorite reality show, by far. The people drama matters a lot less on this show. I love the challenges and all the world travel.

Top Chef. I can cook anything with a recipe. But these people blow my mind. I love watching what they create. Quickfire challenges are my favorite!

Project Runway. I haven't seen this show in ages, but I love it for the same reasons I love Top Chef. I can barely sew a single stitch, let alone create a whole ensemble. Plus, Tim and Heidi are the best. You are out!

30 Rock. Alec Baldwin. Everyone is great, but I adore me some Alec Baldwin. Plus, there are so many obscure Star Wars references.

Weeds. Sensational writing. I can't remember a show that has shocked me more or made me explode out in unexpected laughter and surprise more often.

Big Love. Polygamy. Weird, weird, weird concept for a show. Great acting. Great writing. Crazy storylines. It has it all.

Ace of Cakes. Andrew can't believe how much I love this show. The cakes are so cool! What's not to love?

Deadliest Catch. I can't even imagine having that as my job. I hate being wet. Wet and cold together? And having your life in danger? Every day? Riveting TV.

Glee. Every swing choir kid's dream show. I can hardly express my love for this show. Plus, Sue Sylvester is the epitome of the character you love to hate. Fantastic.

Thank goodness for hulu and DVD's. Maybe I'll get to watch a few episodes here and there of these great shows. Which shows do you love, if you have time to watch TV?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Caved

I caved. I dressed up for Retro Day, and I wasn't a rebel with a toga. I have tight-rolled my jeans, taken the laces out of my plain white tennies, scrunched my socks, put a big scarf in my hair, and layered my tank tops under my cut-up Flashdance-style sweatshirt. It's honestly weird how comfortable I feel in the clothes of my youth. It's sort of like coming home. I wonder if everyone feels like that. Well, everyone except the people of the 70's who could never possibly feel at home in double knit polyester. I don't think that's humanly possible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homecoming Up & Down

This is Homecoming week, a fun week of dressing up and community spirit. Yesterday at Fairfield Middle School, it was Color Day. Each grade wore a different color, and the staff wore green. It was my first day at school after my surgery. I wore my long sleeve green & white t-shirt w/ khakis. I had no idea it was supposed to get up to 85 degrees yesterday. By the end of the day, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.

Today was Favorite Team Day. I wore my brand new Hawkeye camouflage pants. They're black, gray, white, and gold camo. A student told me that he thought it looked like "yellow snow." I told him if his pee is ever that color, he needs to see a doctor immediately.

Tomorrow is Retro Day. Normally, I'm a big fan of going back to side ponytails and tight-rolling my jeans. But this week, I'm tired. I don't feel great. I get my hair cut after school. I don't want to be all decked out a la 80's, for once. The high school got Toga Day. I think that sounds fun. I could make my Retro decade the 00's, as in the 0000's. I considered it. I even messed around with a big bedsheet tonight. I just don't think it's going to happen. I might be a Scrooge tomorrow. Bah Humbug.

Thursday is Bad Hair Day. Don't I freaking live that every day of my life? Maybe I'll wear all of my hair things at once... scrunchees, headbands, clips, barrettes, etc. I'm working up to be inspired.

Friday is Black & Orange Day. Now, this I can do. I love my new bright orange Fairfield Middle School shirt that has my name stenciled on the back. True, it looks a little like a convict's jumpsuit, but I love it just the same. I also have a ludicrous black, orange, and silver bow that I'll probably put in my hair. Putting the front of my new short haircut (this is the time when I miss having hair long enough for a ponytail) up on top of my head makes me look like a toddler, but I do love those silly bows. 38 and still wearing bows in her hair, folks. I'd like to think I'll grow out of this, but I don't see it happening. I'll probably be 58 and still have those bows.

Happy Homecoming wherever you are. In small town Iowa, it's an event, let me tell you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Banning Makes Me Crazy!

I wish that instead of trying to control everything that goes into our kids' heads (can you say losing battle???), people would talk to kids and listen to kids. I wish Laurie Halse Anderson had never been put in the position she's been in this weekend, having to defend her work. But, I'm proud that teachers and librarians and readers from everywhere are stepping up and helping her. We have your back, Laurie! Read the blog post that explains it all here.

Literature is a vessel, my friends. Literature takes us to places we've been. Literature helps us see new worlds. Literature helps us walk in the shoes of another. Literature shows us we're not alone.

Fight censorship.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

4 Things I Love About Tailgating

1. I love that Andrew is learning to love football. He's becoming a huge Hawkeye fan, and it's so fun to enjoy this with him along for the ride. Here we are at last week's season opener in Kinnick Stadium.
2. The Hawkeye Mornin' Crew is a bunch of seriously fun people. We like to eat, drink, be merry, and cheer for our Hawkeyes. We meet every game day in the Hawkeye Commuter Lot, decked out in our finest flair. It's fun to laugh and be together.
3. I love the Iowa Hawkeyes, and so does everyone else around me. I've loved the Hawkeyes since I was 8 years old and we moved to Iowa City. My Halloween costume in 6th grade was Hayden Fry, for heaven's sake! It's fun to be around all these people who love football and who love the Hawkeyes.
4. I love being with my family. My family is weird and complicated. Technically, my mom and Mike were only married for 2 1/2 months before she died. Hawkeye football keeps me connected with my stepbrothers, Tim and Travis, and all of their families as well. I never dreamed I'd have such a fun pack of brothers. I love them, and having our football tickets together helps us to not grow apart. Even if we don't talk often throughout the year, we know we'll see each other several times during the fall.

Yesterday was a great win against the Iowa State Cyclones. The tailgate theme was bacon, and I'm sure the increase in our collective cholesterol count would scare off any health insurance provider. I tried a new recipe for bacon crackers that went over VERY well. See it here. The Iowa State game is always a big rivalry, and it was a good warmup for the upcoming Big Ten Season. 2 home games down, 5 more to go. GO HAWKS!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Headache from Hades, Part III

I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Anderson yesterday. We looked at the 2nd CT scan of my sinuses, and what he had originally thought was a marble-sized pocket of infection is actually the size of a ping-pong ball. Yes. I said a ping-pong ball. In my head. Pressing against my eye. He told me he couldn't believe my vision hadn't been affected. Anyhoo... my surgery is scheduled for next week. Thank God I'm getting this thing out of my head. A 6-week headache is not my idea of fun.

Again, my CT scan was awesome to see. The infection kind of looks like a third eyeball. Please keep me in your thoughts as I go under the knife next week. Dr. Anderson hopes he can go in through the nose to take care of this, but if not, he'll have to make an incision by my eye. I prefer no incisions. Call me crazy.

And in case I haven't mentioned it lately, I have the best boyfriend in the world. He's taking the morning off to be with me during my surgery, and he's taking time the next morning to get me to my follow-up doctor's appointment to get the packing removed... ugh. Sounds pretty terrible. I'm just hoping I'm OK enough to go back to work the next Monday.

On a different note, tomorrow is Friday already! I love 4 days weeks with no Monday in them. Tomorrow is our first book club meeting for the year. We're discussing Pat Conroy's South of Broad, which I LOVED. I also love wearing jeans every Friday. I seriously live for this. It's a little sad. I can't help it though. I'm a jeans girl! My jeans, my books, my ping-pong ball of infection, and I all wish you a happy Friday! It's just hours away!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I would just like to state for the record that it is completely unfair how the human body revolts when healthy practices are reinstated into the regimen after an undisclosed amount of time.

That's all I (and my aching back and legs) have to say about that.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Animal Totem

In many Native American cultures, there is a concept of a totem, or symbol that represents a person, a tribe, or a family. This totem is usually an animal, and this animal is a guide or a guardian spirit. This Legends of America website does a nice job explaining the idea. I also like how it explains how you can discover what your animal totem is. I like thinking of different animals that fascinate or resonate with me.

The second time I went to Alaska, just weeks after my mom died, I became fascinated with the salmon. I went with my cousin Kathy and her kids to her husband's family's homestead. You had to hike in to it a couple of miles. It was the beginning of September, and the berries were fermenting on the vine in the forest, and the whole place smelled like fruity wine. The bears were fat and sleepy, getting ready to hibernate for the winter. I saw the exact place where they would sit in the stream and fish. And the salmon were on the very last leg of their journeys home. They were literally dying from the outside in. I went canoeing for the very first time, and they would swim by us in the stream, barely able to move, but still struggling on. I'm sure it sounds gross to think of their flesh basically falling off of them as they swam, but it wasn't gross to me at all. It completely mesmerized me... that these fish had an instinct so strong and a job so important to do, that they would not stop doing it until their bodies literally fell apart. Even when they are mostly dead, they go on. There was something very beautiful in that to me. When you look at what the animal totem of a salmon means, it stands for determination and persistence. That this animal came into my life when I was at the bottom of the pit of despair is pretty amazing and wonderful.

When my friend Cate would invite me to her island in Ontario, there were many things I fell in love with, but one above all others was the loon. The first summer I went to her cottage, a loon pair had babies, and the babies rode on the back of the parent. It was seriously the cutest thing I had ever seen. At night, we would fall asleep to the loon's song. During the day, we would watch them hunt and swim and dive, wondering where they would surface again. Last summer, when I went to Alaska again (I never noticed this Alaska/animal totem connection until right now), I mentioned on my last day that the next time I visited, I hoped to go canoeing. My Aunt Darlene, Uncle Bob, and my cousins tried to think of a way to make it happen before I left. We went to a little lake on base called Otter Lake, and it was magic. My cousin Ahnna was with me in the canoe, and we saw some loons in the distance. We paddled over to them, because I wanted to get closer. They had told me the loons nested on the far edge of the lake, and we probably wouldn't be able to get close because of how protective the loon pairs would be. Ahnna and I quietly got about 30 feet away from a pair. We put our paddles up, and just watched. It was beautiful. They finally dove under, and we let out the breath we'd been holding in, smiling at our fortune. Suddenly, the loons surfaced about 10 feet from us, not scared at all. They swam around our canoe, and one dove under and swam right under our canoe! It absolutely took my breath away. Beautiful. Today, I discovered the Native American symbolism for a loon. It symbolizes hope, dreams, wishes, creativity, music, and imagination.

I think anyone who knows me would say I'm a perfect balance of persistence, determination, hope, and creativity. The salmon and the loon make complete sense for me.

Which brings me to today...

Today I met with my Centering Prayer group because our Judy was back in town from Washington State. Aside from one other person I can think of, my Centering Prayer ladies are the only other women I allow to mother me in any sort of way. They are very dear to me. Our Centering Prayer times on Friday afternoons fill me up like nothing else really does.

Judy brought these wonderful little charms with her from Washington. They each had animal totems on them. She brought little cards that explained what each totem meant. At the top of the card, leading the two columns, were the salmon and the loon. I smiled... there they were! My animals! Judy had a handful of little charms that she spread out on the table. We were to choose, but maybe more than that, we were to let the charms choose us. There wasn't a loon, but I saw the salmon. I knew it was mine.

We all gathered around, and before I knew it, my salmon had been snatched. And not by me! Hey! I'm the salmon! Hm. I looked at the others left, and Judy scolded me for examining them so closely. I felt them all in my hand and chose the one that had the "right" feel. It was the moon. Not an animal at all. And on the back, it said "guidance."

Before Judy brought out the animal totems, we'd had 3 1/2 hours of wonderful catching up. We'd all shared things about our lives. We'd laughed and commiserated with each other. I'd shared some upcoming huge, life-altering decisions I have ahead with life, love, work, and my future. This year could bring some big changes my way.

Guidance. When I thought about it, it's what I'm going to need most this year. I didn't even see it at the time my salmon went into the hand of another.


Thank you, Judy, for your beautiful gift. I'll keep it with me as I continually seek guidance in my life this year.

Gotta love those God moments. Keep them coming, Big Guy.

3-Day Weekend.... Ahhhhh.......

It's true that tomorrow will be spent reading a million journals, correcting Friday's spelling tests, and editing 7th grade pen pal letters, but I'm so glad I have tomorrow to do it. I may start on Tuesday actually caught up. We'll see. ;)

Yesterday, Andrew & I went to the opening game of the 2010 Iowa Hawkeye football season. It was a stunningly beautiful day at Kinnick Stadium. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, a fall chill in the air... perfect. It was great to be back with the old tailgating group. The Hawkeye Mornin' Crew enjoyed our breakfast theme with all kinds of breakfast goodies and beverages. The team looked good. My favorite player, Adrian Clayborn, didn't see much action because he was being double and triple-teamed the entire game, but that opened up some holes for some other players, which is good. Next week is the big Iowa/Iowa State rivalry game. The tailgate theme, in honor of all that is Iowa is BACON! Iowans love their pork, and next Saturday, anything that is bacon will be making its tailgate debut. Bring an empty stomach and a side of angioplasty.

As for today, Andrew and I are taking it easy. My friend Judy is in town from Washington State, and I hope to get together with her and my centering prayer group later this afternoon. I haven't seen her in ages, so it will be a wonderful reunion.

Tomorrow, I'll grade about 47 million papers, and then we'll start all over again.

I have my follow-up doctor's appointment for my sinuses on Wednesday afternoon, so I'd appreciate all positive thoughts you care to throw my way on that day.

Today is seriously beautiful. The breeze is blowing in through the windows, and the sky is blue. Get out there and enjoy it, people. I plan to!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why is This in my Head?


Fun with Zooburst

My students have been trying some new Web 2.0 tools. Zooburst is one of my new favorites. You can't beat online pop-up books! Plus, I'm getting excited for the first Hawkeye game of the season. Saturday can't get here soon enough! :)

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