Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The laundry's done. The living room is clean and I have a pile of things to drop off at Goodwill. I've been working on the clutter around the house. House clutter is easy to work with. Brain clutter, that's a whole other that I'm finding hard to tame. My head spins with things to write about every day, but by the time I find the time to put fingers to the keyboard nothing wants to connect.

Certainly, one of the downfalls of daily writing is breaking through the muddied thoughts and inspirations. Some days...most days, writing is hard work. It's much easier to rearrange the living room furniture and sort through a pile of old sweaters.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow Watch

Today's activity involved tracking the major storm making it's way up the east coast. What was at one time supposed to dump up to 10 inches here in the Baltimore area amounted to about two inches of snow. The storm wasn't much but wreaked a bit of havoc just the same. The wind and snow meant my brother and his family wouldn't make it in from New York, so the possibility of having the entire family in the same room at the same time for the first time in ten years wasn't to be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Clarence Goodbody

For me, Christmas Eve isn't quite complete without watching It's A Wonderful Life. First of all, I think Jimmy Stewart is just grand. He's grand in this movie and others as well. I'm fairly certain he was a stand-up kind of guy in real life as well. I like that about him.

And then there's Clarence, George Bailey's angel (2nd class). There's something about his determination and earnestness that I find heartwarming. He's a "I'm not giving up" kinda guy and I like that. He knows George Bailey can save himself...he just needs a bit of clarity. It's clarity that only Clarence can give..."Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Touch

My mom used to keep tabs on me through my photo blog. Once I noted the pictures I'd taken that day were shot on my way home from the doctor's office. I got a call from Mom later that evening, she was wondering what was wrong with me. These days she gets her updates through this blog. In fact, she called me this weekend to see if I was feeling better.

"I saw in your blog that you were sick," she said.

I'm okay with that. A college friend follows my blog and often and remarks on my writing in our email conversations. It's nice to know people are reading my daily, sometimes mundane thoughts. Does it count if it's family and friends that are like family? Sure, why not. It's nice to know anyone's reading and it's always good to stay connected to Mom.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tiny Tim Meets Willy Wonka

I made a quick stop at Target yesterday. The idea was to run in and pick up needed wrapping paper and a few other items. The decoration section was filled with other shoppers and their children. It was one child, in particular, that made me smile. I caught a quick glimpse of him using two candy canes filled with M&Ms to hobble his way down the wrapping paper aisle. I smiled thinking about the possibility of a movie mash-up-- part Charles Dickens and part Roald Dahl. If that were to ever happen I'm sure Tiny Tim Cratchit would use only canes filled with candy to make his way. Willy Wonka wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Couch Time

As a kid a sick day from school meant moving from my bed to the couch for the day. I suppose it allowed my mother to keep watch over me while she went about her daily business around the house. There wasn't much to do on the couch except sleep, so that's usually what I did.

I still take my sick time on the couch. I went to bed early on Thursday with a sore throat and woke up on Friday feeling sick. I was pretty sure it wasn't a serious illness-- just the annoying common cold, which is never much fun. I muddled through the day at work and left promptly at 3:00pm. My one stop on the way home was the grocery store where I loaded up with cookie-making supplies, cold remedies and the makings for chicken noodle soup. By 4:00pm I was dosed up with Zicam, Sudafed and Emergen-C under a quilt on the couch. I rallied around 5:00 to make the soup and enjoyed a cup before yet another early bedtime.

I awoke with new energy this morning. I packed up my cookie-making supplies and headed over to a friend's house happy that I didn't have to miss out on our annual afternoon of baking.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The First Snow

The first snow arrived today along with the frenzy that usually accompanies such an event. The weather was topic #1 on last night's local news and has continued to monopolize the broadcast throughout the day. At school most of the day was spent hypothesizing about the possibility of an early dismissal. The first snowflake sighting at 10:00AM was enough to turn the buzz that surrounds a group of sixth graders up ten or twelve notches. Containing the excitement was a challenge but we managed to make it through the day. The early dismissal didn't arrive as many had hoped, but the sub-freezing temperature has me wondering about the possibility of a little extra sleep tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Approaching a Milestone

The odometer on my car reads 99,965. It used to be when a car's odometer hit the 1oo,ooo mile mark it would roll back to zero. A car's life was much shorter back then.

In the summer of '79 a friend and I took a ride out to Rocks State Park so we could watch as the odometer in her orange GMC Matador rolled back to 00000. It was a big occasion for two 17 year-olds embarking on their senior year of high school. Three months later that Matador was totaled after a moment of poor judgment found it filling up with water in the rushing floodwaters of the Little Gunpowder River.

But that's a whole other story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


By the time my sister and I hit Target tonight for the last of the shopping we were pretty tired. It seems Target was feeling the same way. There was an eerie silence throughout the store and it wasn't until I was standing in the checkout line that I realized there was no music playing. Where was that holiday feeling? By 9:30 tonight it had gone by the wayside, along with any kind of organization in the toy aisle and the prospect of buying any sort of holiday lighting.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

In the movie, "You've Got Mail," Tom Hanks' character proclaims that The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. He sees it as the I-ching, providing the answer to any question. Interesting.

I have a friend who feels almost anything can be taught through the show SpongeBob SquarePants. I can't say that I disagree; I've just never tried it.

Today, SpongeBob made his way into my classroom on his own. The students were puzzled by the word miser as we worked our way through a few analogies. Most were not familiar with the word so I took a moment to read the definition from the dictionary.

"A miser, " I began, "Is a person who has a lot of money, but refuses to spend it."

I had barely finished reading the definition when a student in the front shouted out, "That's just like Mr. Krab!"

The class went on to list all of the things about Mr. Krab that make him a miser.

Thank you, SpongeBob. I'm pretty sure I have 18 students that will always remember the definition of miser.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Nice Surprise

I wasn't all that surprised to be pulled over by the local police on the way to work this morning. It's Murphy's Law, right? I was running a little late and needed to stop at the grocery store on the way in. I left the Harris Teeter parking lot with a plan to use an exit that would not have me sitting at a light. With the expertise of the great driver that I am I tapped the brake with my toe and took a quick left to avoid waiting for an oncoming car to pass me by. Too bad that car was the kind with flashing lights on top. I noticed that the instant before the bright blue lights started twirling to tell me I needed to pull over.

Of course, it took forever for the officer to make his way to my car. I closed my eyes and drew in my breath in an effort to avoid the look of total annoyance. I found my license and fished out the registration, which was expired. I didn't try to talk my way out of anything-I'm a compliant law-breaker.

I waited as the officer strolled back to his vehicle to decide my fate. I considered the possible fines and figured my rolling stop in front of the local lawman was going to put be back about $50.00.

He strolled back to my car, admonished me for the expired registration, returned my license and presented me with a warning. What a surprise...and a pleasant turn of events.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Meeting

There was a meeting after school to discuss a likely change in grading policies in the county. The purpose was to discuss the possibilities and weigh in as a school regarding what we think is best. All secondary schools in the county will report and the powers that be will make recommendations to the school board based on the consensus.

It took us 75 minutes to decide that a grading scale of 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0 is better than the traditional A through E ten-point scale. We also decided it's best for teachers to round up when figuring out a final grade.

There was a great deal of conversation, and for the most part it was interesting to listen to everyone's point of view. However, I wonder if we would have arrived at the same decision if we took a vote before discussing the pros and cons of each choice.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rest as Needed

I've been fighting a cold since late last week. The scratch in my throat has been off and on for about a month now, but I didn't really start feeling the drain of a cold until Thursday or Friday. A weekend packed full of activities didn't leave much time for recovery...until this afternoon.

I met friends for a birthday brunch this morning and made a quick stop at Tyson's Corner Mall. I returned home about 1:30, threw on a pair of sweatpants, grabbed a blanket and hit the couch. I stayed there most of the day.

I'm hoping an afternoon of rest and an early bedtime will be enough rejuvenation to get me through Monday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Easy Trip

It's always nice when field trips go better than expected. We took the students to the Museum of the American Indian today prepared for a bit of chaos. The information we received from the museum regarding our tour was a little sketchy, so we weren't sure what to expect.

Worry number one was the traffic. Our school is less than 8 miles from the museum, but with rush hour traffic it was tough to guess how long it would take to get there. Fortunately, the rush hour gods were with us, and we arrived 10 minutes ahead of our scheduled tour time.

Then there was the tour. When asked what the guide would cover we were told there was no way to tell...every tour is different. The mystery was slightly disconcerting, but we went in ready to roll with it.

The tour guides were fabulous. They were informative and engaging. The students not only listened, they also answered and asked questions.

Concern number three was whether or not we would be able to get back to school in time to eat a quick lunch before going to afternoon elective classes. Again, no problem. The bus was ready and waiting for us when we walked out of the museum, we were back in the classroom 15 minutes later with plenty of time to enjoy lunch.

One field problems...a nice way to end the week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Not the Boss, Or Is She?

I attended my monthly PLC group this afternoon. The meeting is held at another middle school in the county and is facilitated by another 6th grade reading teacher. The PLC is supposed to be a place for fellow teachers of grade 6 reading to share what they're doing in their classroom. I have a sneaky suspicion that in time it will become a place to make sure we're all doing the same the name of accountability. Of course, that's a whole other thing, not the thing I want to write about today.

This was our second meeting, and also the second time that the facilitator reminded us that she was not the boss of the room. She was merely there to send in attendance and give us a place to meet. She assured us that she wasn't in charge. The assurances came from her seat behind her desk. From my perspective in the desk usually occupied by a student, it seemed like she most definitely was the boss of the room.