7.25.2012

Fiddle-dee dee!

I find myself staring out the windows more and more lately.  My eyes droop a little bit, because I have been having those classic anxiety-ridden school dreams that I get every year at about this time that make me wake up several times each night.  I stare out the windows because it is too hot to turn on the oven and bake, and in the mornings I have been working on a few Prezi's to get the school year started.  By the time the afternoons hit, I have run out of energy ... and the coffee pot is empty.

I stare out the windows because each and every year a wave of anxiety shoots through me and I get very numb.  There's a character named "Haywire" in the defunct television show Prison Break.  He is a bit of the loony-tunish nature and needs medicine to keep him from going over the edge.  He sits, stares, drools.  That's me when I get these anxiety attacks.  You wouldn't necessarily know I was having an attack unless you caught me allegedly daydreaming. If I am daydreaming, I am having an emotional breakdown somewhere deep inside.  I am hopefully not drooling.

So my latest attack is the same every year:

You've forgotten how to teach.
You can't teach!
How could you possibly get back in there again?  You don't even know where to begin.

And the loop repeats.  Sometimes the loop says things that are harsher and possibly worthy of Mean-Girl status, and it is amazing that when I am disturbed out of this circle of doom, I pray that I don't have the Haywire-like drool.  It's so embarrassing.

Besides the anxiousness to get back to school at around this time, I also feel the creeping fingers on my shoulders of this fretfulness, the need for naps, the need for slobber rags, and the need to set fire to this self-trash talk. The only thing I can really do to combat these feelings is claim war on it.

Shop in the crack-aisle of Walmart!:  SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

Do you know what school supplies do to my heart?  Do you know how high those sweet multi-color packs of STUFF send my blood sugars? My heart goes all a-flitter. My hands shake.  My knees knock. And just as Scarlett O'Hara said, "Fiddle-dee dee!  War, war, war; this war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring.  I get so bored I could scream.  Besides ... there isn't going to be any war."

That's right, Scarlett.  There isn't going to be any war (in my head), because I have already won it.


You've forgotten how to teach ... unless I get this brand new multi-level, multi-pouch purple binder that can fold out and become a double-wide RV!
You can't teach ... that's right!  I can't teach without these new slotty thingies that will hold all of my ... whatever!
How could you possibly get back in there again without a brand new set of pens, pencils, markers of EVERY friggin' color known to man and some animals (you know who you are).
You don't even know where to begin without a brand-new calendar with every religion known to mankind clearly marked and annotated!  


As you can see, I have everything under control for the most part (there is that drooling problem). And as Scarlett would say:  "No, I do not teach just for the school supplies. As God is my witness!"

7.22.2012

Humorous Grammar


I found this list at creativeteachingsite.com and I wanted to share it.  I tee-hee'd my pants a little.


  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  2. Never use a preposition to end a sentence with. Winston Churchill, corrected on this error once, responded to the young man who corrected him by saying "Young man, that is the kind of impudence up with which I will not put!
  3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
  6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies endlessly over and over again.
  10. No sentence fragments.
  11. Contractions aren't always necessary and shouldn't be used to excess so don't.
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
  13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous and can be excessive.
  14. All generalizations are bad.
  15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  16. Don't use no double negatives.
  17. Avoid excessive use of ampersands & abbrevs., etc.
  18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake (Unless they are as good as gold).
  20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words, however, should be enclosed in commas.
  22. Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.
  23. Don't overuse exclamation points!!!
  24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
  26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed and use it correctly with words' that show possession.
  27. Don't use too many quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations.. Tell me what you know."
  28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a billion times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly. Besides, hyperbole is always overdone, anyway.
  29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
  30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  32. Who needs rhetorical questions? However, what if there were no rhetorical questions?
  33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  34. Avoid "buzz-words"; such integrated transitional scenarios complicate simplistic matters.
  35. People don't spell "a lot" correctly alot of the time.
  36. Each person should use their possessive pronouns correctly.
  37. All grammar and spelling rules have exceptions (with a few exceptions)....Morgan's Law.
  38. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  39. The dash - a sometimes useful punctuation mark - can often be overused - even though it's a helpful tool some of the time.
  40. Proofread carefully to make sure you don't repeat repeat any words.
  41. In writing, it's important to remember that dangling sentences.
If you liked this list, you can find more at  http://www.creativeteachingsite.com/humorgrammar2.htm.

7.19.2012

Kitchen Floozy

It used to be that the only reason we had a kitchen is because it came with the house.  
We used to know that dinner was ready when I set off the smoke detector.

But things seemed to have changed in the last several weeks. The decision to step into a room that seemed daunting and scary wasn't as forbidding as it once had been once I took that first step into it.  Those nicely squared boxes that hid all of the dishes probably could use some dusting, and I avoided the sharp-objects dealies in the very tidy block for a few days; you just don't know what kind of damage they'll do once out of their tucked-in state. You should have seen me. I was like a lost child in the land of Adults and I wasn't ready to grow up.  I might have bounced on the floor a little bit just to, you know, check out the escapability of the place.


But, I had a purpose in being in this foreign, soul-sucking place. Five weeks ago, I made the life-changing decision to go wheat free.  This was a decision mainly to see if gluten in wheat was causing me the problems that I suspected it was causing.  After about a week of giving up the blessed stuff, my suspicions were right.  Almost six weeks later, I feel better than I have felt in years.  The difference in energy still has me in shock. No more stomach upset; no more bloaty/floaty tummy; I have so much more energy now; especially exciting is that I have no more foggy brain. Yay for thinking straight and remembering my mama's name! I've lost weight.  That's a bonus.


Unfortunately, all of this good news meant that I had the energy to now get up. I abandoned the search for anti-depressants and entered the space that I thought I hated.  I grabbed some of those thingies that I tend to avoid.  I think they're called skillets. And sauce pans. 


I was suddenly Thor with his hammer.
I was Wonder Woman with her golden rope.
I was Zeus and his mighty lightning bolt!


In all actuality, I was Swamp Thing and I only held wimpy seaweed.


Okay, enough of this. I floozified myself for my new art.  The Husband and I cleaned up and organized the kitchen, and I pushed up my sleeves, probably exposed some shoulders to be a true floozy. I scoured the Internet for gluten-free recipes and when The Husband and The Child came home from work and school, the Kitchen Floozy demanded, "Taste this." They tasted. Unfortunately, I cannot get the kiddo to like anything but a box brand of a certain gluten-freeish product, but the husband's a bit easier.  Perhaps he is a floozy, too.  So cheap.


So now the kitchen and I get along great.  I almost cannot tear myself away with all of the nut flours I must try, and all of the veggie combinations that I have to test.  I have grilled on the smoker an eggplant lasagna. I have made my own salsa out of the vegetables people have been kind enough to let me have. I have made almond and sesame crackers, and I have rediscovered that the stove top is for something more than mutilating an egg. I have even gone over to the hippy-dippy side of making hand-made soaps.


This is, of course, all very strange to me.  While at one time I observed the religious belief that cooking and cleaning were important--just not important for me, as well as the cooking school of If It Could Fit In a Toaster, I Could Cook It; I have since changed my stance about this strange, dangerous room.  I apparently needed a power sport of cooking with weird materials to challenge me to even go in there, and I am there each day like cheap red lipstick loves her floozy.  

7.14.2012

Cady Sleeps

We think Cady-dog was born sometime in the summer of 1995, because she was somewhere between 3-6 months when we brought her home.  If I remember right (ah, and there's the rub--the remember part), she was to be my Christmas gift.  I had no idea at Christmas that year what we would get, just that we would get to choose a puppy.  Our choice gave us fourteen years of slobbering, chewing down newly planted trees, bed hogging, panting, patient, loving ball of fur.

The Humane Society was particularly busy ... and stinky.  But that goes with the territory, doesn't it?  If the place had smelled like anything other than the earthy aroma of dog food, dog-after food, and wet-dog fur, then we would definitely be in the wrong place. There is something wildly damp about that place.  Someone is always hosing something down, and even in December, I remember the humidity was like being covered in an iced blanket.  Besides the goose bumps and the ability to hold my nose with two frozen fingers, the assault on my ears came hard and sharp.  So many yips and yowls and yells that I needed both hands to cover the holes in the sides of my head, but who can decide which was worse: to smell that or to hear those?  Nevermind with the whole thing, then.  I would not back down and I would let all of those senses invade me all at once.  I would get the whole doggy experience, and I did.

We walked down the newly-washed hallway, peering in one caged kennel after another.  Some of the dogs rose up and danced on their hind legs, their front paws clawing the chain fencing.  We petted so many heads; we bent down and had so many tongue licks--theirs, not ours--that we wondered how we were to ever make a choice. The poor puppies scooted down the length of chain door as we put our heads down and moved to the next one.

All of the dogs were awake, pouncing, bouncing.  I think a couple of them actually skated, because the floors of the newly washed-out kennels were a bit cold (I don't know that for sure because we are working on a fourteen-year-old memory here).  We moved on and on and on.  However, with all of this noise and chaos, there was one puppy who was not moving.  In fact, she was completely zonked on her side sound asleep.

"That one," we told a volunteer.  "We want to see that one."

That one had been a very black-furred puppy who was a little bit dazed to be awakened, but then snapped out of that.  She was taken with us to a room to see if we bonded, and by the time we were done with puppy time, I think The Husband and I had come to the same conclusion:  any dog who could sleep through all of that chaos was weird enough to come home with us.

And so it was.  Merry Christmas to us!  She was a female, mixed SOMEthing.  We at first thought lab mix, but as she grew, we changed to perhaps a Chow and German Shepherd mix. I had already picked out a name before we had even met, and so we told her that her new name was Cady or CadyDog.  I liked the way the name sounded like "katydid."

CadyDog's first car ride home was directly on The Husband's lap, and there they were bonded forever.  He was her mother, and he was the one she went to the most, and I am grateful, because he also dug icky junk out of her mouth when she ate something squishy when she couldn't get it out on her own. Cady liked to sleep on her back and you could count down the exact moment when that sleep position would make her sneeze.  Is this common in all dogs?  I don't know, but it was a funny quirk that we counted on and expected.  In our old house on Pinecrest Street, I taught her how to return a tennis ball, go get it, return it. We thought it was funny when she was tired that she would take the ball, chew it voraciously, then become so engrossed that she would plop her rear end down and be in real business.  We didn't think it was so funny when she was tired and she would take the ball, chew it, then go find a tree that we had just planted and tear that down like it was a stick for her amusement.  She learned eventually.

Cady learned to not chew down trees, to enjoy walks, to make sure all of her people were where they needed to be before she went to sleep, which was usually at the foot of the bed or between us and not giving us any space to stretch out, and to chase down all evil and malicious small animals that invaded our yard.  She loved jumping and snapping at bubbles, and her first snow was very puzzling.  Eventually, she pranced in it as if she had created the stuff.  Cady patrolled the yard and as a puppy, she barked at leaves.  Yes, her people needed protection from those pesky, floaty things. She went On Alert and her people would Be Safe.

Along came a new house, then a new baby, and with everything else, eventually old age.  Age settled on her from the inside out of her bones and joints until age finally took over everything else. She stopped giving kisses, she stopped wanting to eat, she stopped wanting to be inside with her people.  She stopped being our on-patrol CadyDog. She could barely walk, barely see, barely survive. The veterinarian said that the look in her eyes seemed to make no connection to anything right now. 


At the last, I tried to get her to give kisses like we used to do. 


There was no connection.

So in that end, we said goodbye to our CadyDog.  If we counted right, she'd turn fifteen--a good age for such a large dog. Just a week ago, she barked two times when a much younger dog visited our house, and that was the most frisky she'd been in a good couple of years.  I'd like to believe that there is such a thing as Dog Heaven, because if any good girl ("Are you a good girl?  Who's the good girl? Yes, you ARE a good girl!") deserves to run again and chase birds and bubbles, then CadyDog is the one.

So, for the fuzzy, black-furred puppy who could sleep through the raucousness of a full dog yip-zone, she sleeps again.



7.11.2012

No Push-Up Bra or Thong. Just Professionalism.


Really.
I should know better than to read articles about teachers, because I have this weird, sick need to read the comments that go along with said piece of writing. I do not know where this comes from, because inevitably, I get angry, I hurl myself in a corner with my arms chained around my knees, and no amount of rocking will calm me down until I get some dark chocolate. Okay, that part's not true, but it's still okay to give me chocolate if you feel it will help.

The latest article "Wichita teachers tell school board to end salary freeze" is on Kansas.com and the link is here: (That article I just mentioned), and like an idiot, what I did was click on the Comments tab. Dang it!  ANY time an article comes up about teachers on Kansas.com, we are assaulted with a wicked barrage of insults. If half of those comments were true about me, I think I really would hide out in the corner and nothing from a cacao plant could help bring me out of this one. One such comment so spoke to my heart and soul (for that soul is squishy and tender) that I had to write about it. It glared at me from the ninth page of comments. No, I did not read all nine pages, I promise. Here is a partial comment from a nameless citizen who is expressing his freedom of speech in a public forum for anyone with an Internet connection to see, and therefore, does not need to proofread, nor does he need to consider anyone's reaction to said comment: If your [sic] not making enough money in the CHOSEN field of being a teacher then get a full time job!!

The emphasis of the word "chosen" was his, as well as the extra exclamation point to really drive home the point.

I don't have a full-time job?? Holy chalkboard, Batman! How did I not know this? Imagine all of those hours that are now suddenly freed so that I can do things like--eat breakfast at the table, or take nice long walks when it is convenient for me. How about talking on the phone with friends (ooh, that sounds so 80's).  I certainly feel like I have a full-time job--even in the summertime. I do refrain from hanging out at the kiddie pool with my margaritas and bon-bons most of the time, but I do shave off some time to actually be with the kid and do important things like bathe and eat lunch. If teaching felt even more of a full-time job, why I might have to cut out something not important--like breathing. Obviously, the opinion came from a poster whose tone is against teachers, and it is the above comment that sends me over the edge into Tear Off My Earrings/It's ON Now-Land faster than anything else. I do wonder (seriously) when the last time he has been in a classroom.

The teachers I know are professional.
The teachers I know care about their students.
The teachers I know work hard during any breaks they have.
The teachers I know take classes during the summer and continually strive to improve themselves.
The teachers I know have chosen to be teachers because they care about what they do, who they are, and who they reach.

Of course, there are those teachers who don't do any of the above, and that's a shame. But someone must have worn their push-up bra and thong with the word Idiot on their workout pants on the wrong day.

Where's that chocolate? Bueller?

So, what should a self-respecting blogger do?  Write a poem, of course! The only problem is that I couldn't decide if I wanted to write similarly to an Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats or emulate Shakespeare and get all punny and what not or write my po'm in the style and despair of ol' Em Dickinson.

In the end I decided on the literary genius of this current culture's idea of soul, meter, verse.  I felt that emulating these authors would truly get to the heart of what I was feeling.  I feel I made the obvious choice:


Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO. 

I was quite liberated with my improper grammar and taking extreme liberty with syllable counts, but that's show business.  Here you go. Enjoy!



I'm Workin' and I Know It


When I walk on by, kids be learning like you know why
I teach to the beat, writing on a notebook sheet; gotta write neat, yeah
This is how I roll, chalk print, verbs outta control,
It's Catlin with the big grin
And like my school year this is where I been

Ah ... Girl look at that brain
Ah ... I work out
Ah ... Girl look at that brain
Ah ... I work out

When I walk out of school, this is what I see
All the commentators stop, and they staring at me
I got passion in my heart and I ain't afraid to show, show it, show it, show it
But I'm always workin' and I know it.

Yeah
When I am on summer, I can't fight them off
And when I'm at the beach (Kansas, y'all!); laptop bat'ry give me an hour
This is how I roll, the work never ends; it's what I do
We're headed to the mall, but I got work to brew
No shoes, no shirt, and I still am on the clock (watch this)



Ah ... I work out (the brain)
I work out (the brain)



When I leave from the school, I can't go on no spree
I make some bucks, but no time to spend; I'm working late, you see.
I got no time for a life, and I ain't afraid to show it,

but I'm workin' and I know it.
I'm workin' and I know it.

Check it out

Squiggle, squiggle, squiggle , squiggle , squiggle yeah
Squiggle, squiggle , squiggle , squiggle , squiggle yeah
Squiggle on the board, man
I plan the squiggle, man
Yeah
I'm workin' and I know it.

Original lyrics by Stefan Kendal Gordy, GoonRock, Erin Beck, George M. Robertson and Kenneth Oliver with my apologies.

I love teaching, and I love my students.  I feel I am in the right field even though I am exhausted much of the time, but it's a good exhaustion.  I wish I could talk to that commentator mono a mano, but even then, I don't think it would do any good.  I'd love to change the public's perception of public-school teachers, but I think there are probably a few who have given us all bad publicity, and that's difficult to fight.  No matter.  I will keep on doing what I am doing only strive to do it better, as usual.

And I am no longer reading the comments' section after articles!
(... Ah ... gotta get back to work. )

7.09.2012

Puns are Like Poop


I love puns. I love teaching them, I love waiting those few seconds for someone who has just learned them to Get The Joke after hearing one. Puns are miraculous and beautiful. Part of the magic is that they can provide chuckles, even if those chuckles have intermingled groans in them. For example, read these little gems:

A dad takes his little boy to the zoo. They stop in the African section and an animal roars. The dad says, "Oh, don't listen to him; he's lion." (Slap your knee. that was funny!)

Here's a Star Wars pun: What is the internal temperature of a Tauntaun? Luke warm.

They can also be used in serious writing. From Romeo and Juliet in Act I, scene IV: Romeo: “Give me a torch: I am not for this ambling. Being but heavy, I will bear the light.”

Here's a sad pun: Nastia's chances in the Olympics are not Liukin good. (GROAN)

My issue with puns isn't really the puns themselves, because I love even the bad ones; however, there are those who do not like even the worst of the worst, and when writers create bad puns, the apology comes in the form of the phrase "excuse the pun." I think the fact that a person could come up with a pun on the spur of the moment is like finding a five-dollar bill in a pocket of a pair of pants while doing the laundry.Perhaps the writer uses that phrase to be sure that others get the joke, too. It is kind of like a two year old who poops in the potty and must show off the poop for all to see before seeing it disappear forever. Don't worry, another one will come along. Puns are part of who we are. We may not understand them at first, but we do know how to create them.

I will not excuse the pun. Obviously, it should not have been excused or else the person would have clicked the Backspace key for as many letter strokes as the pun took. I say embrace them. Give them a good hug and a squeeze for seriousness. If you have the balls to juggle with words, don't excuse them.

7.05.2012

The Child is in Payback Mode, or, Em's Mama has Mad Ninja Warrior Skills


The child is now a little bit fearful of her food. Well, I should write that a different way. The child is a little bit fearful that her food will disappear, because her mother's mad ninja warrior skills may make her food--most notably, the DESSERT--disappear.

We had the best gut-busting laugh yesterday, and since school has let out and I've become a full-time house sitting, house cleaning, pick up after every. little. thing. Mom, I haven't really had a good laugh. Nothing has been laugh worthy. Have you seen the messes a family of three can produce? Do you know how much these people EAT? I feared that my sense of humor was being held captive with the dust bunnies under the bed (a place in which I have NOT cleaned. Yet). However, I think my sense of humor must be somewhere else, because I have not received a ransom note.

*****
Cents uv funni
Bak for 1 meelyun dolars
Or else!
*****

I digress, as usual. And obviously the dust bunnies need an English teacher.

During the holiday, we are all home, enjoying each other's company and me especially enjoying everyone's messes, and we eat together at the table. A lost art, I know. What do you say to each other after eating with one another each and every single stupid day? That's where the ninja skills come in and a little covert ACTION. Who needs this meal to be FUN? *I* do.

The child and her father are deep in a conversation and for dessert, the child opted to have a piece of dark chocolate. She isn't eating it, and I'm not sure why it takes her so long to get it into her mouth, but she does like to enjoy her desserts. She does not have her eye on the piece, nor does she have her hand on it. The dark chocolate is free. Whatever she is talking about with The Dad is so engrossing, but, like usual, I am not all that engrossed. One cannot be that engrossed and still be a dun dun dun! Ninja!

I put my hand out onto the table just to gauge her peripheral vision. (Yes, I actually did think that).

I took my chance. It was recon time for mission "Choc Attack."

Did you see that swipe? No? Neither did the child. I just simply moved it to my napkin.

I was totally ninja.

When the child broke her conversation with her dad, she looked at where her dessert should be, and her expression was of the most puzzled look I had not seen on her face since the potty training days.

Did I eat it already? I know I just had it! Where did it GO??

All were the thoughts I knew that ran through her little head all at once. Perhaps the chocolate was with my sense of humor with the dust bunnies. The ante was going up!

*****
Cents uv funni & slimy peece of chokolut
Bak for 5 meelyun dolars
Or else!
*****

When the child realized that I had it AND that I had been sneaky enough to get past her 11-year-old super-duper triple trained x-ray vision, and seeing the actual realization that her mother had some Skillz (yes, with a "z," because that's how I am rollin' this morning), the moment was priceless. I tried to hide the tears that rolled down my face, but they felt so good coming up from the dark pits of my belly.

The child may never trust me again where her dessert is concerned, and the only thing I have to say about that is--who needs dessert, anyway? Apparently she does, and I can already see the little cogs in her summer break head creaking. The child is in payback mode, so I have to watch my back.

I need another mission.

7.01.2012

Thoreau Me a Line

I went to the woods (which is in front of our house in a small flower garden) because I wished to live with purpose (apparently my every day way of life isn't sufficient right now). Living with purpose meant not to do anything (paradox?) and just to sit and enjoy sitting still and not working. Not being anything but a seat warmer.

I sat there until my right cheek went to sleep, though, and I'm not sure if that's a purpose part or a deliberate part.

Like many teachers, I work many hours. The last time I really timed myself during the school year, I was closing in on up to 16 hours a day of working, Monday through Saturday. Sundays, I give myself a break and work around 4-5 hours. I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it (or out of necessity), but working to me is like a drug. I don't do anything half way, and I think that's part of my work-a-holic problem. Even when I read books, I have to read two or three at a time to keep my brain busy. There is always something to do and always something to figure out or clean or plan or write . So, my act of sitting on the front porch was an act of war on my whole being Me business. The act of sitting still for even a moment kills me, and staring at a bird house is torturous. Why a birdhouse needs staring at, I do not know.

So, I am trying to consider good ol' Henry David. Thoreau me the ball. I think I saw a blade of grass grow.

Guess I will need to mow tomorrow.

I breathed in. The breeze felt good.

How did I miss those weeds? I should get out there and--

Nope. Breathe. Look at the bird house. The willow tree ... it looks like a droopy umbrella in there

The tree is dying. I think we need to get those branches--

Something tells me this Thoreauness isn't working quite yet. But, after a few minutes, I let myself have one more complaint and then turned the brain off. I think I even drooled a little bit. I must have had some coffee, because my mug was half empty. Just for good measure, I breathed in three good breaths and pretended that the birds weren't staring at me. In a menacing way, by and by.

It was great.

So, Henry David. The next time we do this, bring your clippers, your lawn mower, your chainsaw, and a mug of water, because while I sit back and contemplate bird houses and those beady little eyes those things have, I have some work for you to do.

I took my numbed rear end inside to work on something. :)