That's my [extremely frightening] happy face because - I got a job!
It's only temporary, but it is a job.
I'm a "writer" for Vista Maria, a foster care agency.
I start Monday, so I'll have more details then.
Yikes, that really is a horrifying picture...


ode to ice skating

I LOVE ice skating. I have for as long as I can remember. I don't ever remember learning to skate - I just remember skating. When I wasn't skating, I was roller blading (even in the kitchen, much to Mother's chagrin); and when I wasn't roller blading, I was creating "ice skating routines" on the rug in the kitchen. Occasionally, my father would even get out the camcorder and tape these artistic endeavors. The performance that is most imprinted in my memory is my rendition of the Nutcracker, which I'm sure would send the American National Ballet Company into cardiac arrest. Thankfully, this particular production was captured via Dad's camcorder, and our family has shared many a laugh over the antics displayed. Our agreed upon favorite moment occurs when a younger actor stumbles onto the "stage," and begins his own interpretation. I, the prima donna, attempted to regain my composure and out-dance my competition. My best efforts did not stop my young foe, so I gracefully danced and swayed toward the little brother, then quickly hip checked him out of the way - a smile on my face the whole time. Robert was not easily deterred, and a few seconds later, popped his grinning self back onto my stage, so I simply danced in front of him, kicking his shins as I flailed and twirled. Pure elegance. Frank Carroll is calling...

I was also obsessed with watching professional figure skating. My order of preference: pairs', women's singles, ice dance. I do NOT like men's singles. I don't know anyone who does, besides the male figure skaters. I grew up idolizing Michelle Kwan, Gordeeva & Grinkov, Torvill & Dean, Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Meno & Sands. I was awed by Surya Bonaly and Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning, as they backflipped across the ice (okay, the only male figure skaters I like are Scottie, Kurt... and maybe Brian Boitano... and Elvis Stojko). I listened intently to the gentle voice of Peggy Fleming and the tough-love of Dick Button, as they critiqued each performance. I cried when Torvill & Dean were robbed of their gold medal in the 1994 Olympics. That same year, I rejoiced as Tonya Harding placed an abominal 8th. I cried when Sergei Grinkov died of a heart attack at the age of 28 the following year. I was exuberant when Michelle Kwan continued to win U.S. and World Championships, and my heart broke when she was twice robbed of Olympic gold (I will never forgive you, Tara Lipinksi). Seriously... I was obsessed. Case and point: my sophomore year of high school, I asked my parents if I could drop out of high school, get a tutor, and just start training for the Olympics. In my delusional state, I was seriously convinced that I could do it.

Since college, I have fallen away from the world of ice skating, although I still can't help choreographing skating routines in my head whenever I listen to inspiring music. This past weekend, to my surprise and joy (and to Doug's utter dismay), our feeble rabbit ears actually picked up a channel that had ice skating!! Two thoughts crossed my mind as I watched the women's singles: 1. I do not know any of these girls. 2. These girls are barely done teething and toilet-training. How depressing - I'm only 23 and, at least in the realm of figure skating, I'm already decrepit! But I was inspired by those tiny chicken legs propelling the slight frames across the rink, so today, I went ice skating! Good news: I don't need the help of the wall or a cone yet. Vancouver 2010... here I come.


go shorty, it's my birthday.

Thanks to everyone for the warm birthday wishes.

It's basically been party, party, party all day! I started with an interview at a foster care agency, then had soup with my hubby, followed by a pre-employment physical, drug screening & TB test. What can I say? I know how to have a good time.
Tonight, Doug & I went out to dinner with his mom & Eric and the kids, and they came over afterwards to have ice cream cake from Coldstone (no peanut butter this time...).
me & my darling hubby

mmmmm, birthday cake from Coldstone!

LOVE this picture.

Griff & Les love their uncle...

crazy kids
I guess they don't mind their aunt either. :)
Goals to accomplish before I turn 24:
1. Get a job (hopefully before I'm 23 and a week).
2. Learn to quilt... at least a tiny bit.
3. Go to California?
Thanks again to everyone for making my birthday a happy one. :)


picture post...

As promised, some pictures of the Ice Festival in downtown Plymouth. Doug & I went with our friend Tim late last night so we could avoid the crowd. I'd never seen the sculptures at night - they looked awesome!

When I saw this on Thursday afternoon, it was just a dragon head attached to several blocks of ice - now it is a whole dragon!

Stegosaurus! (Sidenote: Did anyone else learn that song in kindergarten: "I am a stegosaurus - I'm a funny looking dinosaur!"?)

Doug pretending to be surprised and confused that his wife is talking to an ice stegosaurus. I mean, he knows they're my favorite dinosaur!
Seriously, we LOVE dinosaurs. :)

Picture for Jayne - horse ice sculptures!

Another horse for Jayne. This time on a bridge, naturally.
It's really just awesome!!
Even the ashtrays are cool.

The boys (Doug, Tim & Kress) went to the Auto Show last night as well. Debbie and I opted out this year. Not that we didn't love it last year... just that... well, this was us last year:

SO we decided we'd let the boys enjoy themselves this year, instead of worrying about which car their wives were hiding behind. So Debbie and I had girl night (we really did get ice cream and sit on the couch chatting)
But here are some of the pics Doug took at the Auto Show:

This seriously looks like a magazine commercial. Camaro "Bumblebee!"

We actually own this car and loaned it to the Auto Show.
This is on our steering wheel. Of the Saab. That we obviously own.
We support the Michigan auto industry!!
Also, for those of you who have never experienced the International Auto Show, I should inform you that it attracts some classy characters...
Including this fulsome feline...
I was truly shocked by the absence of a tail, which I feel would have really pulled the whole ensemble together. This gives the "Detroit Tigers" a whole new meaning.


unemployment, day 3

Awesome things about today!

1. "I'm bringin' bangs back!" (to be sung to the tune "Sexy Back" by none other than Mr. JT) - YES! I now have bangs again! AND, pretty sure that, after an extensive search, I found the cheapest place for haircuts in all of Plymouth... short of cutting them myself. Which, I did mention that idea to Doug, and the resuscitation process that followed was not pretty.

2. On my way to haircut, I drove through downtown Plymouth and noticed that they are putting up the ice sculptures for the Ice Festival this weekend!! VERY exciting & VERY cool. Pictures will be coming, after gird my loins in preparation for the crowds & cold.

3. Ridiculous interview. So, the interview was for an administrative assistant position - at a talent agency. The office was pretty nice, but the people... they seemed pretty self-absorbed and pretentious. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent Victoria, detailing the actual interview: "the guy interviewing me was wearing a black button-up, unbuttoned at the top, with no t-shirt underneath, thereby exposing his nasty chest hair. [...] he seemed like he was in a huge hurry during the whole interview, and ended it by telling me that they'd give me a call later today if they decided i was a good match. i do not anticipate hearing from them any time soon." And I'm really okay with that. Don't get me wrong - I fully understand that beggars can't be choosers... but... come on, now.

4. I was in the library, sending resumes and cover letters as fast as my little fingers could fly and as fast as my little internet reception would permit, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a handsome husband with a peppermint mocha frappucino!!

5. I've already met my book-a-month quota for February, although it wasn't a new book. I was browsing the shelves at my beloved library, when I came across a book I had loved in my early teens - The Face on the Milk Carton. I think I read it in just over an hour. Much cheesier than I originally recalled.

6. I realized that it's staying lighter longer!!

7. I made 2 more ornaments this morning, and have several half finished (i.e. in need of stuffing & hanger only).

And it's only 6:00pm!


unemployment, day 1

I'm calling today my first day of unemployment, even though I was laid off 3 days ago, because today was the first day I would have been back at work. I went into school this morning to gather my belongings. It was awful. As ill luck would have it, they were having a meeting with all the students (undoubtedly to discuss the impending changes of the new semester), and the meeting was being held in the gym/lunch room, which is the room I had to walk through to get to the parking lot. So, I got to carry my box of belongings through a mass of my students and former co-workers...

I spent the day applying to virtually every legitimate looking job on Craigslist, Monster, Yahoo and the Detroit Free Press, as well as some less-than-legitimate-looking ones. But all those resumes and cover letters paid off - I have an interview for an administrative assistant position on Thursday.

I also made a winter collage, 3 ornaments and a hot fudge sundae with mint choc. chip ice cream. I'll leave you to decide which was the most satisfying.

As I'm sorting out my thoughts about being laid off, I've been trying to focus on the pleasant thoughts that come to mind:
1. At least I did not tuck tail and quit and abandon my students.
2. Teaching at that school was nearly impossible anyway, so this may be for the better.
3. It will be exciting to see what God has in store for me next.
4. I don't have to wake up as early!
5. I don't have to deal with rush hour traffic along 96 anymore.
6. Doug gets to come home & have lunch with me everyday.
7. I will have a lot of time to make ornaments and do crafts and practice photography.
8. I may finally stop grinding my teeth in the middle of the night!

Plenty to be optimistic about!


end of a chapter.

We had a wonderful weekend with little friend Megan, visiting from California... on what has been the coldest weekend in Michigan this winter! Poor girl! But she was a good sport. Our delightful weekend included: airport arrival at 1:00am on Friday night, discussions about education, pancake breakfast, boutiquing, afternoon tea at "Sweet Afton," homemade salmon pizza, game night at the Partons (our friend Mike also came over & taught us 2 new great games: a variation on pictionary and a variation on Scrabble!), brownie sundaes, omelettes (made by Megan!), a driving tour of downtown Detroit (accompanied by Doug and Tim), pictures, laughter, trips down memory lane, planning future excursions, and in general, just sweet friendship. I'm so thankful that we've been able to stay in touch even though we live on opposite sides of the continent.

love my little friend.

This next section I write with a very heavy heart.

Yesterday I got a call from Last Chance Academy, informing me that I have been laid off. I haven't really had any time to process this, so I won't write too much on the topic. I don't even really know what to say. The school had to cut back on students, which means they just don't need as many teachers. I know it's nothing I did, and they even told me that I've done a great job, but I can't help feeling like I could have done better. There must be something I could have done differently, something to better help the students, something to make more of a difference...

I feel like a complete failure. I feel confused, disappointed, betrayed, hurt... but above all else, I just feel heartbroken. I know I complained about my job a lot - it was hard and sometimes just flat out awful... but... I love those kids. I invested so much in them, and it's so painful to just be told one day okay, time's up - that's it.


a numbered list of awesome

Top 10 Awesome Things About Today:

10. I took my computer to school & got some much needed lesson planning done during my lunch & prep period... and also during 7th hour, when I had 0 students, and 8th hour, when I had 2 students.

9. I added a cool link to my photoblog! (Much thanks to Sara Luke for her help!)

8. The Office is on tonight! Even if it is a stupid re-run. Stupid writer's strike...

7. Okay, so I actually finished the book 2 days ago, but I forgot to write about it. BUT, I finished my book for the month of January! Abolition of Man, by C. S. Lewis. Very dense & intense, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be Clive.

6. I mailed the Valentine's Day ornaments to Victoria! (errr... 2 days late)

5. Adorable bud vase that I got at Walmart for 97 cents! (Don't hate me, Jeanette... I know it's one of your pet peeves, and I get annoyed with Walmart too... but sometimes you just can't top their deals!)

4. I made it to school and back in the Honda & I'm still alive. I made it to Walmart and back in Bessie & I'm still alive.*

3. I made it to Walmart on Ford Rd., did my shopping, and got back home in just under an hour! Probably no one reading this blog understands the traffic in Canton (even though I love you, IKEA, you have made driving on Ford Rd. miserable!), but this is a huge accomplishment. I wasn't even rushing while shopping, either!

2. Funniest thing that happened today: I splurged & bought myself a Twix bar tonight, and as I was getting out of the car, I was holding the remaining bar inside the wrapper in my hand, and somehow, as I was maneuvering my purse & trying to open the door & take off my seat belt, I felt the bar falling out of the wrapper. I thought all was lost - half of my money gone to waste... my sweet chocolate sullied by the wet, nasty driveway. Not so fast! Instead of hearing the bar thud by my feet, I heard an odd little clunk - as it fell right into the side pocket of the door!! STILL GOOD! Awesome! I really think it's a gift being impressed & amazed at the tiniest things...

1. Megan is coming TOMORROW!!!

*Status of our vehicles:
1. '97 Honda Accord: Over 200,000 miles. Breaks are going... needs new "rotors" - whatever that means. There is a strange clunking noise whenever you let off the gas, and when you apply the brakes, the vehicle shakes. Heat occasionally squeals, but usually only after you've been driving for 40ish minutes. Front right blinker is out. Cruise control periodically stops working.
2. '94 Chevy Lumina: Over 150,000 miles. Tires are... bald. A/C does not work - in fact, the belt grates and creates smoke if you try. Shocks (I think?) are in need of repair/replacement. Every once in awhile when you hit a bump, or go over railroad tracks (good thing there aren't any in Plymouth...), it sounds like someone is taking a hammer to the bottom of the car. Sporadically stalls out after coming to a complete stop and attempting to accelerate (stop signs, traffic lights, etc).

It really makes driving fun! What can I say - we live dangerously.

Will take best offer on either vehicle...


happy early birthday to me!

This evening, when Doug got home from work and checked the mail, a surprise was at the bottom of our stairs...

Granted, it came in a package, but who cares about the packaging when THIS is inside?!
(In case anyone is wondering what the black blob on the bookshelf is, it's nothing illicit, it's simply where I put something I'm sending Victoria, so I didn't want to ruin the surprise. Also, I was too lazy to take another picture and move said object.)

So, HUGE thanks to Dad & Mom for this early birthday present. There is a pretty funny story about this gift. When Doug & I were at my folks' over the holidays, I was browsing for vacuums online, as Doug & I have been in desperate need. We've been borrowing his mother's vacuum, and it started getting a little inconvenient for both parties when our vacuuming needs conflicted. Anyway, so I was just browsing online, trying to get a feel for how much we needed to be prepared to spend. In the meantime, my mom's vacuum has taken a turn for the worse... including a missing wheel, broken attachments, the fact that the ... pole? that is attached to the head of the vacuum no longer stands upright... SO, Dad was online and happened to notice that in his online history, sundry vacuum sites had been visited. Being the clever & perceptive man that he is, and also knowing the current state of Mom's vacuum, he thought to himself, "Ooh, my wife has been looking at these! I'll surprise her with a new vacuum!" Done & done - he ordered the new vacuum, and when it arrived, he proudly presented it to my mother, telling her he knew that she had been looking for a new one. To which my mother confusedly responded, "... No I haven't." To which my father confusedly responded, "But you were looking at the online. I saw the history." Well, my parents are both brilliant Cornell graduates, and they quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together and realized that, ah, it was their daughter who was responsible for this costly enterprise. Being the clever & thoughtful parents that they are, they once again looked at the sites I had visited, and, in the words of Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.

I have the greatest parents in the world. And not just because they give us stuff, although that definitely doesn't hurt their case. Kidding, Mom... kidding.

The way my vacuum sees our living room.
Thanks again, Pappy & Mumsy. :) You guys are consistently too much.


my silent scream.

Our school has lost sight of its purpose. We have a staff meeting tomorrow to discuss all the impending changes, so I’m clinging to the hope that this meeting will bring some dark areas to light. Every time we’re told that things will improve “from this point forward,” my hopes surge again, only to be dashed and disappointed by the immediate return to normalcy (what a word to use!). Normal? Why is this normal? Why is this accepted? Why are students allowed to roam the halls, wreaking havoc at every turn? Why doesn’t the administration provide support to its teachers? Why do I drive home with a clenched jaw and grind my teeth in the middle of the night? I’m frustrated with the administration (if you can even consider 2 counselors an administration!) and the people running the school. I’m frustrated with my students. I’m frustrated with myself. I do not know how to make education exciting for students who are not interested in learning – it took us 2 months to get through A Raisin in the Sun (not a difficult read). The book has beautiful themes displayed by intricate, dynamic characters, and somehow I could not get that across to the vast majority of my classes. I do not know how to continue to love and respect students who show nothing in response. I am out of cheeks to turn. I do not know how to find the balance between treating students like adults and asserting my authority as a teacher. I’m not even sure I deserve the title. I was not prepared for this. I’m left clueless, floundering in front of blank faces that won’t let me inside and refuse to come outside.

[stolen, adapted, however you choose to view the following...]

Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
I have a dream that one day my students will rise up and live out the true meaning of that creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that they will pursue their equality through the profound imparting of knowledge that is only achieved through education.
I have a dream that my 92 children (which is supposed to be 172 children) will not judge themselves on the circumstances of their past, but on the potential of their future.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that in the streets of Detroit, the little girls and boys from competing neighborhoods will join hands as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is my hope.
This is the faith that I go back to that school daily with.
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our school into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together…
If my students are to grab hold of their lives and make a difference, this dream must become true.


promise me in the name of God

Yesterday while my husband was at his first grad class (he's just taking one class, he hasn't officially enrolled in a program yet - hopefully next summer!) I was busy at home... looking at puppies online. I don't know what it is, but lately I have been craving a puppy. Motherly instincts? I have no idea, but regardless, I have been begging Doug for a puppy. Unforunately, our lease clearly states: "NO PETS." A girl can still dream. Well, this dream went so far as to email a person selling a "teacup Yorkie" - seriously adorable. I just emailed the person to see how much they would ask for said Yorkie. I received the following email in response:

"I am glad that you are interested in my lovely pup. [...] But right now i am in Africa with my wife on a christian mission and we have her right here with us. we are going to ship her to you via Express Pets Airline on next day delivery after shippment through a shipping agent and she will cost you $500 including shipping and handling fee [...] Please if you know that you are not going to take very good care of my baby do not reply me becuase i am only selling her out becuase we do not have time to take care of her again due to the work before us here."

I simply wrote back: "Unfortunately, your asking price is more than my husband and I are able to afford at this point. [...] We are also Christians, and I think it is an incredible opportunity that you are able to be in Africa on a missions trip. I pray that the Lord will keep you and your wife safe and bless you and those with whom you come in contact."

Maybe I said too much in that response. Maybe I offered too much false hope. Because this is the email I received in response:

"I want you to know that am so happy and excited that you are ready to take very good care of my puppy,I want you to know that i can allow you to pay 300 dollars if you can promise me in the name of God that you will take very good care of her and you will also swear in the name of Lord Jesus Christ as well she will have a good home."

...Whoa. What ever happened to letting your yes be yes?!

So, yet again, I'm left in an awkward position as to how I should respond. We really can't get a puppy right now; I just wanted to know how much it would cost. Should I just be blunt and break this guy's heart by telling him that? Maybe I'll tell him that my husband just developed a strange, deathly allergy to dogs. Dogs, peanuts... same difference. This dog isn't much bigger than a peanut anyway.

If it wasn't against our lease agreement, and you weren't $300 and IN AFRICA, you would totally be ours.


looking up

I had a really bad day, so I'm following my husband's advice and focusing on something positive - even writing about it!

I posted awhile ago about receiving a journal from a female student that said, "I'm recently pregnant and don't know if I should keep the baby or not."

Well, one day she was one of the last students to leave my class, so I called her over to talk to her and asked her if she had made a decision. She looked at the floor and said, "I'm supposed to go later this week to get rid of it." I basically told her I understand it is a very difficult decision, no one can make the decision for her, but in my opinion she should keep the baby. I also told her that even if she decided not to keep the baby, it would not change my opinion of her - I would still love her.

At this time, our class was still reading A Raisin in the Sun. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it is about an African American family in Southside Chicago, struggling to make ends meet. The mother is waiting for an insurance check from her husband's death, and simultaneously trying to support the dreams of her two children, Walter and Beneatha. The pressure of how to best spend the insurance money and support the dreams of the whole family is slowly driving the family apart. Walter's wife, Ruth, finds out she is pregnant with their second child, and she is terrified that they will not be able to afford the baby and that it will just add more stress to their already difficult situation, so she makes arrangements to have an abortion. Long story short, the family grows closer together through a series of events, and there is a particular line where the narrator says, "Ruth laughs joyously [...] and lets her arms come down happily, slowly, reflectively, over her abdomen, aware for the first time perhaps that the life therein pulses with happiness and not despair."

Shortly after, this student came up to me and told me that she had decided to have her baby.

Now, I'm certainly not taking credit, because I know there were a lot of factors influencing her decision, but it's kind of nice to think that maybe our talk and that line planted a tiny seed, or just provided a trickle of water for the love that was already growing.

p.s. She was also the only student to give me a Christmas card, inscribed "Merry Christmas - to a great teacher."


the day the bat came to school

Today at school I saw a bat.

I had no students in my 3rd period class (I guess some students misunderstood "half day" to mean "optional day"), so I was going downstairs to make some copies. I was wearing high heels, so looking down at my feet, when suddenly, in the corner of my eye, I saw something moving on the stairs right next to me. At first, I simply thought it was a piece of paper that had fluttered when I walked by, so, finding litter utterly abhorrent, I turned to see what it was and potentially pick it up... nope, bat. I froze and watched as the little fricker tumbled to the ground below me. It was either a baby or injured or ill, and I wasn't about to be the one to find out. I looked around, for help, but alas - there was no one to be found, except for a couple male students at the other end of the hallway, seemingly miles away, talking to the security guard behind the front desk.

At this point, the bat had just stopped at the bottom of the stairs, as though he was enforcing a blockade, preventing me from running for help. I was a little panicky, and simply stared at him, whimpering the only word that came to mind: "...Bat.... bat?"

Fortunately, at this point, I looked up and realized that the boys were staring at me. I must have looked ridiculous - frozen halfway down the stairs with my mouth hanging open, grabbing the railing. Having made eye contact, I simply pointed at the floor and tried to call, "Bat!" The boys and the security guard shushed the conversation and motioned for me to yell again. So I yelled, "There's a BAT!" The security guard said, "A what!?" I yelled again, "A BAT!" Perhaps this was confusing, as she replied, "A live bat with wings??" No, I'm freaking out over a wooden baseball bat, lying on the floor... threatening me.

Well, our interaction had been a little loud, and it caused a reaction in a matter of seconds. Suddenly, the students and teachers in the classes at the bottom of the stairway were yelling "CLOSE THE DOORS!!!" and girls were screaming, and boys were filing into the hallway. A male security guard came running to a nearby closet and came out with a garbage can. One of my precious students had been dancing around the bat, taunting it (I am now convinced that some of them really will pick a fight with anything that crawls), and the security guard handed him the garbage can so he could grab a broom. Well, my student wasn't about to wait for the broom and simply dropped the can over the bat. Well... not exactly over the bat... he sort of missed and brought the edge of the can down on the bat's head. Which prompted more screaming and laughing and mass hysteria, basically.

Just another typical day at school!



And now, for one of my more hodge-podge conglomerations of a post. Numbered for your convenience.

1. I can't believe that it's already been 6 months!

Sweet, nuptial bliss. :)

2. Returned back to school today... what an absolute mess. Our school on the east side of Detroit is being closed because we can no longer fund two schools, so, needless to say, there have been some "redundancies." We still don't have a principal, and our school administrator was laid off, along with a few teachers. Our students are already talking about the chaos to ensue once the students from the eastside arrive. Apparently, that was what started the real problems last year - riots out in the street, a teacher pushed into oncoming traffic (but not hit), school-wide fights inside the school, and a student getting hit with a bumper that had been pulled off a car... just to name a few that I've heard from staff and students.

3. Of course, the first day back to school, I would have a zit the size of Mt. Helena on my cheek. Mercifully, only two students mentioned it, both students with whom I have established a good relationship (dare I say my two favorites?). The first came in and said, "Aw, you have a zit!" - in the same voice which someone might remark, "Aw, you lost your first tooth!" or perhaps, "Aw, what a cute puppy!" So I said, "Yeeah... too much chocolate over the break, I guess!" But he couldn't just let it go there. Oh no. He added, "It's so cute!" To which I responded: *insert dead-pan expression* "Wha?" But he kept going. "I'm serious! You look like you're running for America's Next Top Model!" ?? More confusing than anything was the fact that he was totally serious. I guess I didn't realize that so many potential models resorted to acne to advance their careers. The second commentator walked into class and said (after commenting on his status as the ONLY student present in his class today), "You got a zit?" To which I responded, "Yeeah... too much chocolate over the break, I guess!" (Note to self: come up with some more pimple material.) This student tried the sympathy approach: "Yeah, I got some too. Usually I just bust mine." ... This would be the point where Robert's fake "I'm puking in my mouth" noise would come in handy. But after we got that out of the way, we had a lovely conversation for the remainder of class, spanning a myriad of topics. A small sample of our conversation follows.
Student: reading journal question aloud "My New Year's Resolution... does that have to be something I'm going to stop doing?"
Me: "Not necessarily. It's basically a change you want to make. For example, my resolutions are to read a new book each month and to work out at least once a week."
Student: "Girls are always making resolutions to watch what they eat and stuff."
Me: "Yeah, at least at the beginning of the year."
Student: "Yeah, they never hold to it."
[... student working quietly on his assignment... then suddenly...]
Student: "What's lust?"
Me: "Lust?"
Student: "Yeah. I know it's not like, love, but..."
Me: "Um. Well, it's when... you're interested in someone for... your own pleasure. Not for, like, a meaningful, committed relationship."
Student: "Oh, like friends with benefits."
Me: "You could say that."

4. Next joyous occasion I am looking forward to: MEGAN is coming to visit over MLK weekend!!! SO excited to see her!

5. Um, I guess that's it! Oh, one more exciting fact: half day tomorrow!



In all fairness, yesterday morning I got another note with an apology for the "mix up."
In all honesty, I did feel a glimmer of smug satisfaction.
Well, a little more than a glimmer.
Okay... completely exultant and swaggering.


were you aware of this?

So, a couple months ago, Doug & I got a note from the people who have a business below us, asking us if we could turn our stereo down a little on the weekends, as "this is a big old house, and sound travels easily. A client heard Johnny Cash last Saturday and complained." They were pretty cordial (although it was funny that they had to mention Johnny Cash), so we happily complied and have kept our music to a dull roar.

Yesterday morning, we received a second note (on the same yellow legal paper). This time, the note was not so cordial. The note was inside an envelope that merely said "Upstairs Tenants," and it was not even signed.

Just in case this photo is not clear enough: "We would really appreciate it if you would train your dog to urinate and defecate in the back yard -- it looks unsightly for a business, and it's right along the path I walk from my car to the front door. Also, your dog is regularly urinating on our welcome mat at the front door - were you aware of this? We would like you to show some consideration. Thank you."
Um, Doug and I do NOT own an animal of canine persuasion. Or any animal, for that matter. Doug and I got a good laugh out of the note (including questioning whether telling them we don't own a pet would make them think one of us was "urinating and defecating"). I went downstairs twice to talk to the woman who runs the business, but both times, a massage was "in session," so she wasn't available. So I simply left a polite note saying, "Sorry for leaving a note - I came down twice, but you were in massage sessions [...] I got your note, but my husband and I do not own a dog. I believe our neighbors do have a dog, and if you speak to them, I'm sure they would understand your concerns." I also returned her note... which, admittedly, I did because I wanted her to re-read it and feel bad for being rude.

Well, this evening, Doug and I were running some errands, and lo and behold, we found a sheet of yellow legal paper on our windshield, tucked under the wiper. As you may have guessed, another note. Wait, no, not another note - the same note. The same, exact note. So, now... we are at a crossroads. What to do? We've been left with so many options! When we got back from running errands, our neighbors had returned, and Doug asked me if I was going to pass off the note and tuck it under our neighbors' wiper. I believe my exact words were, "No! I am not their dirty little messenger."
Do I write another note? Do I talk to her in person? Toss the note and make her think our neighbors are now letting their dog "urinate and defecate" to spite her?

Possible responses:
"Wrong car! We have the Honda and the Lumina. Try again!"
"Okay, we weren't going to tell you, but the second note convinced us - our plumbing is down, okay?"
"Maybe you should just go talk to them?"
"We still don't have a dog."

So many choices!
But I can't be too harsh, because at least they're recycling! Go green!

business as usual

Dear Victoria....

The pig in the middle is not new - just a reference point for how cute and little they all are.

Hope you like them!



clanking of crystal

Happy 2008!
I love New Years, for a variety of reasons. It is a great chance to reflect things gone by - counting all the blessings we have received, remembering those we love who are no longer with us; it is also a great reminder of our new beginning in the Lord, new opportunities in each of our lives... the opportunity to live each day as it is given to us by our Creator!

So here are my New Year's Resolutions... I don't think I've ever publically posted my resolutions before. Now the whole world (i.e. mom, Mary, Victoria, Jeanette) will be able to call me out if/when I don't follow through.
1. Work out at the gym at least once a week.
2. Read one new book a month. Ever since I started teaching, I've basically neglected reading, other than what we're doing in class.
I have a bunch of other little ones, but I figured if I came up with 2 really good, quantifiable, measurable goals, I'd probably have better luck actually keeping them.
We had such a fun time visiting back home in New York (again!).

My beautiful little sisters!
Amelia and Robert are amused by one another.

Silly girls taking pictures of ourselves.

Charlie loved opening his gifts!
Lincoln takes a turn.

3 generations!

Now I've been doing some serious New Year cleaning. Today I took down all the Christmas decorations. I feel like our apartment looks so empty now!
As promised, my reflections on the first semester of teaching:
It's hard. I'm learning a lot. I'm not a very good teacher. I'm not sure if I really like it. Um, I think that's about it.
Oh - I started a photo blog: www.partonpics.blogspot.com
It's still in the works... I'm not sure whether I'll keep it up or not. I was inspired by the various "Daily Photo" sites that I've seen (my favorite here).
Time to relax with my hubby of almost 6 months! Crazy.
Happy New Year!