off with the old, on with the new!

Peace out to my old [not-so] trusty camera.
Say hello to...

my new Nikon!!
Basically my husband loves to spoil me.
I feel like I have so many things to write about from the various Christmas happenings, so here is a brief synopsis of the past week.

Thursday night, we went out to dinner with Kress & Debbie and stayed over at their house.

Friday night, we had a little get-together, which wound up being only 3 couples - me & Doug, Kress & Debbie, and Doug's friend Al & his girlfriend, Catherine. The girls demolished the boys in Taboo (naturally), and then Kress & Debbie stayed over at our place! We obviously LOVE sleepovers.

Saturday night, Doug & I did our stockings.

Sunday morning we drove back home to New York to surprise my family for Christmas. (Point of interest, at least to us: we made it in under 5 hours!! This is definitely a new record.) We are going back out next weekend, which seems a little superfluous, but after all, "For the holidays, you can't beat home sweet home." Proven so true while we were there! We made cheater gingerbread houses (i.e. graham crackers on half & half containers), we decorated cookies, we carried on our Christmas Eve tradition of lighting candles & singing "Silent Night," we gave more presents that I think we've ever given before - I think everyone went a little over the top this year! It was blissful. I can't wait to go back and see even more family & friends!!

We returned to Michigan the morning after Christmas, and Doug's dad and Beth got here at just about the same time we did! We had the Parton family Christmas dinner & gift exchange, which was fun. Griffin & Leslie were a riot opening all their gifts - I think they were shell-shocked by all the new toys! Let's be honest - when there are only two grandchildren/niece&nephew - easy to spoil! :)
Today, I've been trying to catch up. Cleaning, organizing, unpacking, laundry, more cleaning... I absolutely love the fact that I don't have to work again until January 7th!! Oh, I did promise a blog with in-depth reflections on my first semester. I'll get to that.
I'll end with a picture from my beautiful new camera. This is my African violet, which has not done well with the weather change. However, last week I put a towel under it and doused it in water, allowing it to overflow & suck up as much water as it needed. This seems to have worked, as I am finally seeing new growth in the middle of the plant.

"New Beginnings"


reading is power!

Whilst enjoying one of my favorite afternoon snacks (a hefty helping of Jeanette Parker), a great idea was hatched. It began, as many great ideas do, with a question: "If you could sit down and talk with any dead author, who would it be?" This question - simple, yet profound - was voiced by my sweet companion, as we were perusing the shelves of Borders. We threw out a few names, then decided such a topic was most definitely blog-worthy. Gentle Readers, after much deliberation, I give you my list of Top 10 Dead Authors I Want To Meet.

Runners-up: George Orwell, Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac, ee cummings, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath.

10. Jonathan Swift - What can I say? I love satire... and the idea of eating children (just kidding, CPS!)

9. Jane Austen - I would love to have tea & chat & gossip with Jane. I imagine it would be very similar to my conversations with Jeanette. Maybe the three of us could get together sometime.

8. Shakespeare - I know, so predictable. But seriously, the man was a genius. How could I not want to meet him?! He revolutionized writing, the English language, drama, poetry... what piece of work is that man!

7. John Milton - Speaking of poetry, sweet bliss. Paradise Lost has been known to bring tears to my eyes.

6. Um, this one is possibly cheating, but Anne Frank - she did, after all, write something that was published! But just consider that conversation, and understand why I made this selection.

5. Langston Hughes - I love work from the Harlem Renaissance. Plus, we would get to meet in a smoky jazz lounge and listen to Ella Fitzgerald while we chatted.

4. Mark Twain - Time talking to him would just be a riot. We'd probably take a ferry down his beloved Mississippi.

3. Robert Frost - Quite possibly my favorite poet of all time, possibly because my dad loves him and would quote his poetry while I was growing up. I just think he makes beautiful observations about nature, the countryside, and life in general.

2. C. S. Lewis - I definitely thought that he would be first, and I'm still not sure whether I'm completely comfortable putting him second. What can I say about Clive? Brilliant, poignant, eloquent, humorous... did I mention brilliant?

1. Roald Dahl - Perhaps an odd choice for the esteemed position as the number one dead author that I would like to meet, but I absolutely love this man and his writing. Even as an adult, I love his children's stories - they are just as delightful upon every re-reading! And in case anyone didn't know, September 13th (his birthday) is Roald Dahl Day - mark your calendars.

Also, I just decided that the apostle Paul is definitely an author and would actually be number 1. So, I guess he's 1A, and Dahl is 1B.

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare. ~Kenko Yoshida


[8] mile marker

My first semester of teaching is OVER! I have one thought, and one thought only: "PAR-TAY."
I've heard it said that if you get to Christmas break, you've made it. Not so sure how I feel about that. I will write a post later with insightful comments about my first semester (after I think of some), but this current post has already been predestined, so to speak. In other words, I have already concocted two topics I want to share. 1. Observations on a Shack in D. (HA! I just made that up on the spot... it works, because natives call Detroit "the D"... get it? Variations on a Canon in D? Nevermind.) and 2. Ms. Parton's Battle.

First of all... I've been curious as to the type of neighborhood in which I am teaching. After all, what environment is responsible for producing my students?! I've heard various rumors (one involving a man robbing one of our students at gunpoint...), and I'm about to contribute to the rumors through my own observations. Each day, I sit at my desk and stare out the window (the windows are usually open because for some reason, our building heat is messed up [can you imagine!] and my room turns into an oven). Across from our school there is a rather sketchy establishment - a local car wash. It is open 7am-7pm, 6 days a week, and their business is ALWAYS flowing. I mean, this is a dumpy looking place! It looks like vintage 70s car wash - complete with a HUGE smiley face on the ... garage door (one that goes up and down manually). But the strangest thing about this seedy little joint is the type of business it gets. Landrovers, BMWs, Escalades - nice cars. And the occasional cop car. And while the washing is going on, the door stays down, but when they're drying and waxing, the door comes back up. Perhaps they just don't want to divulge their sudsy secret to the general public. If you ask me, there are some fishy deals going down. But then again, what do I know? Maybe it's the most esteemed car wash in Detroit. Maybe it's the only car wash done by hand. Maybe.

2. Okay, let me explain this next masterpiece. I found a neglected notebook (I can not get away from alliterations for the life of me) yesterday. The only name I could find anywhere was "G BOY." I feel like a terrible teacher, but I do not know which of my students goes by the pseudonym "G BOY." Maybe next semester. Anyway, only 2 pages had been used, each with a mediocre rap (I won't say anything about the atrocious grammar). The first rap was about the rags-to-riches dream, and the second was about being a gangsta, although it had the line, "Shudda stayed in school homie." Well, I felt inspired and decided to write another rap for this wanna-be. I give you "Ms. Parton's Battle" (for our older audience [mom], a Rap Battle is basically a rap-off between two rappers; it is supposed to be free style and in response to each rapper's taunts).

If you've got dreams, go on n' chase 'em
Don't let anyone take 'em n' erase 'em.
"Stay in school" - words from your mouth
Here I'm tryin' to show you what education's about!
Ya got rhymes? Ya got beats?
I got books. I got seats.
So grab one and sit tight -
I'll teach ya how to write right.
When you get out, diploma in hand
You show all these haters who's the man.
Money ain't life, but it don't hurt to have some,
But without a degree, boy, you'll never nab some.
Words are power - you know it 'cuz you're writing,
But words aren't written when your focus is fighting.
You're here in school - this is your chance!
Put your mind to it and make your brain dance!
You've got talent and you've got a dream;
You kow life is more than it might seem.
So get your head on straight and clean up your act.
Hustlin' takes you no where - that's a fact.
Leave the drugs behind - they'll do you no good.
If you get caught - it's the clink! Stuck in this hood.
I'm tryin' to tell you - use your brain and your heart.
Keep coming to class - that's a start!
I'm begging you - reach for a higher level!
All this other stuff is straight from the devil.
When the world gets you down, says you aren't worth it,
Brush that off your shoulder - you don't deserve it.
See, rhymin' is tight - I could do it for dough,
I got the knowledge behind me, and my words just flow.
I did my time at the university -
Worked real hard for that Bachelor's degree.
Now I'm tryin' to show you there's more to life-y
Than money, cars, drugs and a fine lookin' wifey.
How do I reach you and let you know I care?
All these students hate me, just 'cuz I'm there.
Well, I've said my piece - time to abort.
Heads up! Ball's in your court.

... Maybe I am in the wrong profession! Clearly, I have a gift.



Guess who's 25?!
In honor of Doug's 25th, I am posting some embarrassing pictures of him. (I'm sure this will not be without retaliation at some point.)

Doug & I made a delicious steak & potato dinner (sidenote: how much do I love Bacon Bits?! so convenient), and then his mom, Eric & Nic came over for cake & ice cream!

Happy birthday, hubby. I love you!


contented sigh

No school tomorrow!

winter wonderland

Last night, Doug & I were watching quite possibly the worst Christmas movie ever (Ben Affleck - need I say more?), and there was a Winter Storm Warning for our county and the surrounding counties. Dave & Sara (our friends who are the Youth Group directors) called to say that Youth Group is cancelled tonight, and since Griffin and Leslie spent the night last night, we decided church wasn't in the plans for today. I took some pictures of our deck and the road, not quite bold enough to venture into the blustery outdoors. Also, I've developed a nasty head cold, so I figured being outside in a snow storm probably wouldn't improve the situation.

Fingers crossed for a snow day tomorrow! :)


must be time for report cards...

Top 5 Signs That Grades Are Due:

1. Students who haven't come to class since September suddenly reappear, inexplicably excited about education. They have usually been miraculously healed from sundry ailments: flu, back problems, sore throat, colds, stomach aches, and the inability to find a ride to school.

2. Students who have turned in one, or maybe two journals come in with reams of paper, filled with insightful entries about their tumultuous upbringings.

3. Students bring me chips and Lemonheads.

4. I am suddenly "the best teacher in this school." As, I'm sure, is every other teacher.

5. Journal question: "What does beauty mean? What do you think is beautiful?" Journal response: "Beauty is things like stars, the moon, sunshine, and I guess you could even say the sky is beautiful. Ms. Parton is a very good example of beauty."


overheard in the ccmu

I forgot to mention the funny thing that happened while we were in the CCMU at U of M.

While Doug & I were having a quiet afternoon watching t.v. (and grading papers - grades are due on Monday!), we overheard a slightly alarming comment.

"Who gave you the right to take my clothes?!"
-disgruntled old man, on telephone... wearing a blue blazer with blue track pants.


peanut butter playground

WELL. Our plans to attend the Nutcracker Ballet were slightly interrupted...
On Thursday afternoon, our school went on the field trip, which was a disaster. However, it actually wasn't our fault this time - the place that invited us didn't have enough seats for us. The event was taking place on the floor of an open building, and they expected us to stand in a higher level and observe from a distance. Needless to say, the students were not thrilled. Additionally, they were hungry, and unfortunately, the platform was next to a campus Subway. So, we had students walking all over the place, begging to go to Subway, asking if we could leave... it was chaotic. Our school administrator was upset with the whole thing, so we ended up leaving 15 minutes early. We got back to the school and almost all the students decided to leave, since it was almost 3:00.
Right around 3:00, the school secretary brought me a tiny post-it note and said, "Your husband's work called. I don't think it's an emergency, but they want you to call them back." I figured, great, Doug probably had something with nuts and had to take medicine or something - probably just a routine procedure, they have to inform family members. So, I called the office and was told that they had gotten a cake for the CEO's birthday and apparently, it had peanut butter in it. Doug did not know this until after eating a piece, so he had to go to the emergency room. Now, this has happened before, so I didn't panic. His co-worker gave me the number to the ER, and I called them for more info. The doctor got on the phone and said, "Douglas came in, and he was doing very well, but then he got bad. Extremely bad, and he couldn't breathe, so he has been taken on the survival flight to U of M." WHAT?!
Long story short: we spent a long night at U of M. Doug had been intubated on the flight, and they didn't extubate him until the next morning. He was in really bad shape, but praise the Lord, he is fine now! As details unraveled, we found out that Doug's office had ordered a cake called "Midnight Delight," which was supposed to be chocolate & chocolate & chocolate cake - the CEO's favorite from a certain chain. Well, the store forgot about the order, and when Doug's office went to pick it up, they just gave them the pre-made cake they already had. As they were eating the cake, one of Doug's co-workers remarked, "This is great - you can really taste the peanut butter!" At which point, Doug replied, "... What? Are you sure it's not caramel?" After they realized Doug had a severe peanut allergy, they looked at the bottom of the container, only to discover that this cake was not "Midnight Delight," as expected, but instead, "PEANUT BUTTER PLAYGROUND." Awesome.

But he's all better now! Those of you who found out & have been praying - thank you SO much. We greatly appreciate your support & prayers!! Doug even got "his wings" - after being airlifted in the "Survival Flight," patients get a little pin with wings!
In other news: Mom & the girls came out this weekend & we've been having a wonderful time! Yesterday we all had pizza & played Rummikub & had hot chocolate. Today we had a blissful day of boutique browsing & afternoon tea... I am so glad they were able to come visit, especially after the exhausting experience at the hospital. It was nice to have Mom help us out!

We've had a lot of excitement over the past few days - hopefully tomorrow will truly be a day of rest!


it's beginning to look a lot like christmas!

So our tree is up and decorated!
I am going to make a few more "vintage ornaments" to add, which is why it may look a little empty to some.

Here we are, putting on our "First Christmas" ornament. Thanks to Grandma Jackie for this adorable ornament!

Yet another reason we love Doug's job & the people he works for...
Today, the CEO gave us tickets to go see the Nutcracker tomorrow at the Detroit Opera House. Awesome!
Tomorrow we are going on a field trip. Our whole school is going on a field trip... downtown to hear a speaker discuss "Bridging the Hip Hop Communication Gap." My thoughts?
Dear Lord,


Happy December!

What a delightful weekend! On Saturday morning, we went and got our very first Christmas tree!
Here we are, standing in front of our little tree.

It was much bigger when we got it in our living room! We had to rearrange everything, but we're very happy with the results! We are putting off decorating it for a few days longer, until we have hot chocolate and candy canes. Our very first Christmas tree decorating calls for a high degree of festivity!
Yesterday afternoon we went to a Christmas play at Kress & Debbie's church. Debbie was one of the singers, and she had a couple solos, so we went to show our support. She did a fantastic job, of course (& for those of you who don't remember, Debbie sang with Justin at our wedding). We spent the night at their house - such a fun time!! Watched some Ali G, played Battle of the Sexes, Kress made us homemade caramel macchiatos - yum! This morning we skipped church (oops!), had pancake breakfast (thinking of you, Steve & Heather!) and just relaxed.

The boys played Bond while Debbie helped me fill out my "Missing Assignments" sheets for my students. That takes a true friend.

We actually & finally finished reading A Raisin in the Sun on Thursday, so tomorrow we'll be starting the video. I'm a complete dork, and I bought a bunch of Raisinets for the kiddos to snack on while they watch the movie!

Time to enjoy the last few hours of the evening with my husband - popcorn & Sunday night football & crafting!