Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Homework dialectic

With seven weeks until my alternate plan paper is due, I am beginning to stress about the amount of work I have to do. Often, when I am working on research or writing, however, I can't seem to forget the stress. I worry that I'm not doing it right, that I won't finish in time, that I'm not writing to the best of my ability. But I can't concentrate on working with the stress looming above my head. It's a difficult situation. I wish I could snap my fingers and "POOF!" it's December 15th and I have finished my degree. If only...

Friday, September 21, 2007

My First Meme

Molly did this meme on her blog this week, and she "tagged" anyone reading it who hadn't done a meme lately. Well, I've never done one on my blog, so here goes...

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:

1. Travel more. My small taste of international travel from college has kept me dreaming of all the many places I'd like to go.
2. Live in the country. Even if just for awhile, or during the summer, I'd like to experience the quiet.
3. Have children. I am eager to be a mother, and will adopt if necessary; I sometimes think mothering will be my greatest skill. We'll find out in a few years :-).
4. Write a book. Textbook? Novel? Memoir? Children's? The choices are many, I just know one exists in my future somewhere.
5. Donate a significant amount of money to an important cause. I volunteer and give money each year to some good causes, but I'd like to some day be in a position to make a big difference instead of a small one.
6. Learn to sew well. I am dabbling in square things, but I have the urge to do more. I have a student who makes most of her own clothes, and I am very impressed.
7. Have a vegetable garden. Living in the country will help with this immensely :-).

Seven Things I Can Do:

1. Teach a room of thirty-six students how to properly structure an introduction for a speech. (Guess what we did this week in class?)
2. Laugh at myself.
3. Get lost in good literature.
4. Say the alphabet backwards as fast as forwards.
5. Drive a manual transmission.
6. See the beauty in small things.
7. Appreciate how blessed I am to have my husband, friends, and family.

Seven Things I Can't Do:

1. Get over my sister living in Arkansas.
2. Convince my new puppy to sleep at night.
3. Shoot a left-handed lay-up.
4. Ignore people.
5. Keep my mouth shut.
6. Wake up before ten unless my alarm is set.
7. Live up to my own expectations.

Seven Things That Attract Me to People:
1. Commitment
2. Honesty
3. Work ethic
4. Motivation
5. Confidence
6. Sense of humor
7. Joy

Seven Things I Say Most:
1. I love you.
2. Listen, please!
3. (and then…) I said please!
4. Good morning, (insert student name here).
5. Jersey, come! (and now Phoebe, come!)
6. Thank you.
7. I’m hungry :-).

Seven Celebrity Crushes:
1. Justin Morneau
2. Taye Diggs
3. Angelina Jolie
4. Katherine Heigl
5. Anderson Cooper
6. Leonardo DiCaprio
7. T.R. Knight (I know he’s gay, but I don’t care. Numbers 3 and 4 aren’t gay and neither am I, but it doesn’t mean I can’t admire…)

Seven People I am tagging:
1. Jen S.
2. Leslie (so she has to start a blog)
3. Angie O. (so she’ll actually post on her blog)
4. Chad (same reason as Angie)
5. And anyone else
6. who reads my blog
7. and has one of their own on which to post!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A review

Indeed it has been a week since my last blog entry. The busy-ness of my life this week has led to the predicted decrease in blogging. For those adoring fans who have emailed me requesting a blog (okay, one, and she was kidding, but a girl's gotta take it where she can get it), here is a brief recap of my past few days. Perhaps you will realize why there has been simply no time.

Friday- The annual conference of my favorite professional organization was held in Rochester. I spent the whole day learning about speech teaching, speech coaching, and what's going on in the worlds of my friends and colleagues from other schools. This conference is always super educational and equally fun. Speech people are great people. I should be working on writing my review of the conference for my department, but I will do that tomorrow :-)

Saturday- The conference was scheduled to conclude at 1:30, but it was a simply gorgeous day, so I skipped the last two sessions and left at 10:30. I met my husband and his family at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. It was as beautiful as ever. I try and visit this lovely location at least once a season, as they always have a special exhibit that's different each year. Last year's was "Secret Garden" and they had little artistic gardens set up throughout the property. This year it is "Art to A-Maze" with artistic sculpture and landscaping leading to a maze made of bushes. It was beautiful and fun. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law together know about everything there is to know about plants and gardening, so it was refreshing to have any questions I had answered. That evening, because the parents were in town, we went to my brother-in-law's house for a barbeque. The air became chilly after sundown, so we had a fire and sweatshirts. It was a perfectly spent, lovely fall day. I took many pictures at the Arboretum, by the way, and I intend to post several of them as soon as my husband takes them off the camera.

Sunday- Our lives forever changed. Not too much to say about the day except: we drove. A lot. To Kansas City and back in one day is not a trip I would agree to under any normal circumstances. But, dear regular reader, you may remember this was the day we ventured south to meet Phoebe. After a lunch with my sister and her husband, we quickly brought our new baby home. We were worried about her because she didn't go to the bathroom once all day. We were also quite worried about her meeting our first dog, Jersey. But there was nothing to worry about, it turned out. They were fast friends, playing in the yard until we made them come in for bed. One last trip outside before lights out to see if Phoebe would go, and she did. Ah, home. Home is where you feel comfortable going to the bathroom. We love our new darling, despite her keen ability to keep us up at night.

Monday- Back to school with VERY little sleep. Night class. Certainly no time to blog.

Tuesday- Again, very little sleep. Much rain, many things on my to-do list: lecturing all day at school, meetings after school, to the gym for a workout, baking pies for my colleagues all night.

Today, my life begins to slow down for a few days and I am looking forward to it immensely. Stay tuned for pictures and more details.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It was 34 when I walked into school this morning. Only 45 when I left my house, but apparently (according to MPR) that's due to "metro island" heating. The sun from the previous day is absorbed into the metal, concrete, and other surfaces around the city and then released back into the night air, making it an entire 11 degrees cooler 25 miles from the city. There was frost on the football field even. Apparently, thirties and even twenties were the norm around the state. And it's still technically summer.

Fall is a time of sweatshirts, changing colors, school's return, both A/C and heat in the car, football, the season premieres of all my favorite shows, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, new fashions in all the stores (I hate skinny jeans...when will they leave us forever?), leaves blowing in the wind, and the anticipation of the fast-approaching holidays. Time flies, and it usually takes the warm weather with it.

Four days until the new puppy comes. Here's another picture; that's her partner in crime next to her, whom hopefully Les will decide to keep.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Meet Phoebe

Les sent me this picture, so I thought I'd give you a peek. I haven't even met her, and I love her already.

I'm sure there will be many more pictures in the future, now that I know how to do it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

We're expecting!

Husband and I have decided we're ready to welcome a little one into our home. We know it isn't the best time, it will be expensive, and many adjustments will have to be made, but you can't always plan these things. So, after much deliberation, we've decided to adopt...a german shepherd.

An email from my sister:

"Last Sunday we were mini golfing and a couple of puppies ran across the course. They were trying to get water from the ponds on the course. We coaxed them over. They were shy at first, but they came to us. They were both tired, thirsty, and thin, one so thin she seemed weak. Both had a few wounds. Well, the course is right on a major highway. We weren't even half done with the game, but I knew I wouldnt be able to let them go and watch them run out onto the HW and get killed! They were really sweet. So, in typical Les fashion, we loaded up the jeep and headed to the humane society. They were closed. Labor day weekend...everywhere was closed. Sucker that I am, they ended up at our place and have been living in the backyard ever since.

The no-kill shelters are overly full and are not taking dogs. The LR animal control shelter is a very high-kill shelter because they always have to have room for animals they pick up. They say some dogs have only 2 days. Still being really sad about losing Josie, we decided we can't let anything bad happen to these puppies.

I have checked every lost and found and placed an add. However, the condition that these girls were in, and the area of town (out in the sticks, ghetto seepage type) leads me to believe that no one is looking for them. For the first couple days, one especially expected to be hit every time we told her "no", more so by Jonathon than me. We suspect they may have been dropped off. How sad is that?

They are the sweetest dogs, and well behaved (for puppies). Both girls. One is a purebred German Shepherd. She is in that awkward ears, feet and nose are too big for her body stage, but will be a big, beautiful dog. She is really smart. I already tought her to sit and shake! The other is a true mutt! Mostly white, with some brindle patches. We think maybe some pointer or sight-hound mixed with boxer?? She'll be medium sized, probably not more than 40-50lbs. Super cute dog. Not as smart... She reminds us of Asia. She has many of the same expressions, and does the boxer "boxing". They are best buds, and I hate to see them be separated after all they've been through together but who will want to take 2 big puppies, and such different breeds. I'm sure any shelter would have to seperate them to have the best chance of finding homes.

I worry more about the shepherd. It takes a knowledgable person to properly raise and own a shepherd. They are so very smart and sensitive and need more stimulation than just a backyard to play in or they can become neurotic. They are unbelievably loyal to their family, but can be very weary of strangers if they arent properly socialized.

The other is just a friendly, layed back mutt that doesnt seem to care about anything. She's naughty and not very intelligent, but as cute and sweet as can be (J calls her Asia Jr.).

They are fun, but 3 dogs is a handful. We are in search of homes for them, especially the shepherd, spread the word...."

So, we're driving to Kansas City (halfway) to pick her up next weekend. Les said she'd keep the white one if we took the shepherd. We've always wanted to get a second dog. We were going to wait until we were "ready" (until the basment is done, until the yard is in better shape, possibly until we have a bigger house), but like I said before, you can't plan everything and she needs us. We're worried about how Jersey will feel about having a sister, as he is a very spoiled dog, but I think he'll be happy to have someone to play with. We figure if other people with houses in the city can handle two big dogs, why can't we? Wish us luck :-).

Saturday, September 8, 2007

One down, thirty-seven to go...

Weeks of school, that is. Now, for the first time in many weeks, Saturday is a different day than the rest of the week. I eased back into the schedule and comfort of teaching in the past four days, knowing that it will get both easier and harder as the weeks progress. I am most nervous, however, about my graduate work, not teaching. I really do love staying home over the summer, saying often to my husband that I want to be a kept woman. But when I am in the moments of my profession that make my heart swell with joy, love, excitment, hope, and sometimes sadness, I know that I really do love my job. I might claim differently in thirty-five weeks or so, but for now I am sublimely happy.

Joy: I had a freshman who was "that kid". That kid who means so well, who has a terrible homelife (I knew after two days that his father beat him, beat in the past tense, as he is gone now), and who loves to talk and participate. But, his well-intentioned comments and antics are not received so kindly by his fellows. Watching them snicker after he's embarrassed himself with too much information makes my heart ache. Why, then, is this under the joy category? Because he dropped my class. Could I have made a difference in his life? Probably. I'd like to think so. But he dropped it to take Woods with a friend of his, and I'm sure he's better off, happier working with his hands and tools than speaking in front of classmates, many football players, who could make him feel bad about himself. When I get him back as a junior or senior, I'm sure he'll be a little more prepared, and a little less "frosh".

Love: I have seven of my speech team kids in my classes this semester. Additionally, I have a group of about five speech team students who stop by regularly to talk with me: share ideas, chat about nothing, gossip about boys, share summer stories, etc. I love these kids. Truly. I am altogether eager to step down as head coach (too much work with finances, paperwork, politics, etc.) and madly in love with being a mentor, a teacher, a coach, a friend to this select group of students.

Excitement: My students gave their diagnostic speeches on Friday, and they didn't suck. Though they all have many areas of improvement, none of them were so bad they couldn't even get through it. Or couldn't be heard. Or couldn't stop laughing. These 153 students (five sections at 34, 35, 35, 30, 19) should be an excellent group with whom to experiment and try new things. Hooray.

Hope: I miss my friend Molly, who has left the halls of my high school. Though we still email nearly as often as we used to during the school day, there is a discomfort in knowing she is 45 miles away instead of two floors away. Somehow, before she left, I let her guilt/convince/rally me to take over her post as literary arts magazine advisor. Knowing the budget had been cut and the post came without stipend, I agreed. We've not yet met this year, but we had a good showing at the freshman activities' fair the second week of August. My hope for these kids is they will share their passion for arts and literature in my classroom twice a month. I hope I can help foster their love through my own. I hope I can be as devoted as their former advisor, who personally provided the beginnings of a very nice budget in the form of a check and an inspirational letter. Sharing this will make an excellent first meeting in a week and a half.

Sadness: Last May our school suffered the tragic loss of one of its own. A car crash took the first student from our new school's midst. She was a smart, kind, athletic student whom everyone loved. I didn't have her in class, but I had many friends of hers. Having gone through this myself in high school, I could feel their pain as strongly as my own. So sad. So tragic. This year, I have her little brother in class. He is a freshman who stands about five-two and couldn't weigh more than ninety. When the students did their diagnostic speeches yesterday, many of them chose to share about their families (they had to speak for one minute straight about themselves, including anything they could think of). This student seemed almost obligated to do the same. Verbatim: "My family...well, there's me, and my mom and dad. But that's it. 'Cause now I'm an only child, I guess." He didn't even mention her. And everyone knew what he was not saying. As the tears welled up in my eyes, it took all of my energy not to let them spill over. All I could do was smile and call the next speaker.

Ups and downs mark every day of this illustrious career. I hope I can maintain a sense of pride, not to mention sanity, as I make my way through this year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

So far, so good

True to form, I am spending my first prep period blogging. Shame, shame on the teacher. Short post, to be sure, but still, someone should reprimand me. As I am well-planned and obviously have no papers or assignments yet to grade, I don’t feel too incredibly guilty about it.

I spent my last few unofficial days of summer enjoying myself. Surely, I could have been working on homework for my grad class, or cleaning my house, or organizing my life (a constant struggle), but I did not. Though I have spent the better part of the last two months doing very little, I still felt the need to indulge these last four days.

Sleeping until 11 (or later), going to the dog park, to the gym, to my brother-in-law’s. Not going anywhere but the backyard, not getting dressed until 3, having leftovers for breakfast. Hiking a state park, getting my brows waxed, going to Ratatouille, cooking dinner with my husband. Reading magazines in the bath tub, reading Reading Lolita in Tehran on the treadmill, reading the instructions on a bag of instant rice. Giving blood, going to the horse races with aunts and uncles, losing [my husband’s] money, drinking red wine with friends. Drinking white wine with friends, providing a couch for a friend (twice), praying for a friend in the hospital. Researching kidney donation, talking to my sister on the phone, talking to my mom on the phone, talking to my husband into the night. Dreaming the crazy dreams that things on this list provoke.

Dear summer, you shall be missed. School year, brace yourself, I am more than ready.