Friday, March 31, 2017


Hallelujah! I made it. I successfully posted every day this month! I am proud of myself and also a bit relieved that I do not have a daily assignment weighing over me. Today, I’ve decided to list a few lessons learned. Here they are, in stream-of-consciousness order:

  • I have a lot of long thoughts. My first few posts went on and on.
  • I got more out of writing long posts, but I don’t think people liked to read them.
  • I still am not a big fan of writing daily or journaling. It takes a lot out of me and requires a lot of personal censoring when you blog online.
  • I am proud that I kept it up, though, since this is the longest I’ve consistently written.
  • I’ve never commented online before and it was OK. Sometimes hard to write a comment when I don’t have a lot to say. Comments sometimes took longer than blogging for me.
  • I feel like blogging (for me) got in my head - I would feel disappointed if I didn’t get comments.
  • I liked reading others’ posts about struggles I understood or humorous anecdotes. I am not one to celebrate.
  • As time went on, I wrote shorter posts because I resented the time spent on my computer. I think this will motivate me to spend less time stuck on the internet, which is good.
  • I did feel like I didn’t always have a lot to contribute - I can write a lot about myself or my feelings, but who wants to read it? I live with my dog so there’s not a lot of action when school is out.
  • It made me want to read more - I have tons of books I have to read sitting on my shelves. This made me want to read them.

Overall, I am happy that I participated and went out of my comfort zone for the experience.  I am not sure if I will keep up the blog - maybe just the Tuesday posts will be more my style. Now that Congress is going to nullify our internet privacy, I am thinking of spending WAY less time on the internet - not that I am doing anything salacious - mostly shopping on Amazon for school or Zulily for home. I am already creeped out that items that I place in my shopping cart on one website show up as ads on my Facebook feed. Sorry - this was a tangent, but it is making me reevaluate my need for technology. Maybe I’ll go back to a quill and parchment?
We will see.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Broken Promise

I was hoping to get a bit of yard work done during this spring break, but, alas, it was not to be. It's been cloudy, rainy, and a bit chilly this whole break. Today's it's rained so much that I have little ponds in my backyard and the side of my house. Hopefully, all this water will result in some lovely May flowers.

In earlier blog post, I discussed my game plan for this summer, which is to refrain from buying a lot of perennials this year, in favor of maintaining what I have and controlling weeds.

Well, that is already a memory, as today I received a tiny Meyer Lemon patio tree in the mail! I'm at it already. It came in a gallon container, with fragrant blooms already gracing the branches. Guilty as charged. I couldn't resist the challenge of trying to keep a citrus tree alive in the Midwest.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feeling unmotivated

Yesterday, I spent about three hours on my computer, creating spreadsheets of student data for our gifted identification later this month. I'm glad I got that part of the work out of the way, but I know I still have papers to grade, parent letters to organize, and testing instructions to read before we go back to school next week.

I've been doing some house and car maintenance work today, and I have more to do. I have to admit, I am feeling a little resentful about blogging today and don't feel like spending a lot of time on my computer again tonight, so this is it for right now!

I'm going to read for a while.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Break (the first sun of)

she peeks out
after hiding sheepishly
for four days

And down the D goes
And down the D goes

There were
moments of hope
yet she waited

she is here
brilliant and
and daffodils
worship her  
an army of tutus

In relief we retreat
going in 
going out
'til she once again
says her goodbyes 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The inevitable panic

Today is the first weekday of Spring Break. This week promises to be full of rain and (if the weekend is any indicator) incessant barking at squirrels.

This is my “panic day.” Whenever I have a break that is more than 3 days, I have 2 days of just chilling out, being lazy, doing things on my own time. Then, on the third day, I panic. I have so much to do! I don’t want to make a list of it because then I am just disappointed when I don’t accomplish everything or I feel pressure.

All of a sudden, on this third day, I start to feel like the break is going by so quickly. I try to plan when I will do the household chores - do them all at the beginning? Or give myself time to relax? I mentally think of friends I need to meet - will it take too much time out of my precious time off to drive out of town to meet them? I think about school work that I have to do - usually I try to NOT do work, but this year it is unavoidable, due to some special events occurring the week after break.

I should start scheduling this day in for myself. Two days of rest, one day of panic, then enjoy the rest of break if you can.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Laidlaws Rule, or Fun with Memes

The other day, I came across a posting on Facebook about “Laidlaws Rule.” Basically, Marc Laidlaw, an author and Twitter tweeter, started this meme on March 2, 2017. He tweeted the following tweet:

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 10.34.30 AM.png

The “Twitterverse” picked it up and ran with it. You can see what Laidlaw has to say about it and where his idea came from here. Here are some choice responses:
Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 10.37.42 AM.png

Since I tend to have an absurd and, at times, morbid sense of humor, I LOVE THIS. It is my favorite thing. I could spend hours on Twitter at #LaidlawsRule.

I decided to try it, myself. I am currently reading:

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 10.43.55 AM.png

"I don't know how you're going to learn this, but it's on the test," said the professor of a graduate class on neuroanatomy that Doug was taking. And then the murders began.

Not bad! Doesn’t it make you want to continue reading? What happened in that neuroanatomy class??? Makes me want to keep writing!

Here’s another try:

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. And then the murders began.  Little Women

What about you? What are you reading? Does #LaidlawsRule work?
It’s a rainy day here, let’s have some fun!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

A belated birthday wish

Yesterday would have been my grandpa’s 93rd birthday. I went through the whole day with the thought in the back of my mind, but when someone is gone, and they lived a long life (he was 89 when he passed), that knowledge is something you carry with you. There’s nothing really to say to anyone, though you go through the day thinking about that person and wishing they were still around. Even when they had a long life, it’s never long enough for me.

So today, I just want to wish him a belated birthday and share some gratitude.

While I was a bit of a handful and “sparkler” when I was younger, I was somewhat afraid  (maybe intimidated is a better word?) of my Grandpa. He was very similar to Archie Bunker to me for many years. He had a special chair to watch TV from, and no one would dare sit in it. He didn’t like lines, because it reminded him of the Army, and he didn’t like the Army. He loved Oreos and Caramel pie. And the Cubs (I SO wish he was still alive to see them finally win!).

me and grandpa.jpgAt some point, maybe when he retired - he became much less intimidating to me. Maybe it was because we shared a love of swing music and I would ask to listen to it in car rides. Maybe it was because I was interested in hearing about books he read (He loved to read books about American history). Maybe it was because I gave him a talking Ronald Reagan doll for Christmas one year (our political views did not align, so I think he doubly appreciated it - I still have the doll). As I got older he would tell us stories about how he built his first house, how he saw Frank Sinatra in concert, or how he hitchhiked back to IL from California in WW2.

In any case, as I became older, I realized how much he thought of me. I joke about how he called me a “sturdy” girl once, because even though it’s sort of offensive, I felt glad he noticed I was pretty strong. He would come to all of my performances in high school musicals, college recitals, and CSO Christmas shows. Every Christmas he would ask if I would sing “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Puccini. He didn’t listen to opera, but he loved that aria when he heard me sing it at my recital. And when I became a teacher, he thought I should go for a principal position, because he saw me as someone who could take charge.

These things mean a lot to me, knowing that my Grandpa was raised in a society that placed more value on boys than girls. I know my mother had some difficulties being the only girl, and the oldest, in her family. She had different expectations than her brother. So I appreciate that my Grandpa always recognized my abilities, my intelligence, and my hard work in life.

And I wish him a Happy Birthday.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Dreams invade my life

Today is our last day before Spring Break. WOO!!!

Of course, last night I dreamt about students all night long, and not in a good way. I’ve been having issues this year, keeping one of my classes focused. They aren’t bad kids, but they just feel their lives are much more important than the subject I am teaching (a core area). For example, while some students were finishing an assessment yesterday, I had one student stop, catch his friend’s eye, and WAVE at him.

“HI FRIEND!” he says in a very “outside” voice.

When I tell him that isn’t appropriate, the response is “What? I was saying hi to my friend!”

This is a sixth grader.

So this week I created “Think Sheets” for them, since I am assuming this behavior is going to get worse as the end of the year nears. This has been a struggle all year. I only see them for about an hour a day, and they are in their last year of elementary school  (Our school is K-6), and this is the time when some of them see their friends, since they come from different classes.

Back to my dream. I dreamt I had about seven of the kids in my class, and they were doing an assignment with a sub (I have a half-day sub today). I come back, and try to finish the assignment. As I’m asking them questions, it becomes clear they have been goofing off and did not even do the work (It was an activity on area of triangles).

I become mad. I start yelling at the kids (which I don’t do but honestly, this year I have been close). I start yelling at them about how important the subject is and that they can’t just write down whatever and think it’s ok.

And then a student(a different one from the story above), who I’ve had for years, makes jokes. He’s making jokes, and I’m mad so I send him out of the room to sit in the hall until I can get the principal. And I tell him, if you see the principal, tell her why you’re in the hall.” And he shrugs and says, “OK”. (which does not help).

After the class leaves, I take him to the principal’s office. I ask him if he has seen his recent aptitude test scores (Very high. Very, very high. This is based on real tests we just completed). He says, “I think so. I don’t know” and shrugs again. So then, I intend to have this discussion that we know how high he is now, and that he needs to begin demonstrating that ability through his work (he is a very sloppy, minimum-effort worker).

But I don’t have time to start this big, inspirational talk.

I wake up. I wake up cranky because I spent my sleeping hours worrying about students again. I guess I’ll just try to remember this is the last day before break. Breathe deeply….pray for no school dreams over break.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

I want all the dogs

I can’t get another dog. Not right now. I have a dog that I love. He is adorable. He is soft and fluffy. He smiles at me and tries to grab my hands in his teeth when I come home (maybe he is telling me to “shake”?). He cozies up to me on the couch, making sure to lean on me just a little bit.

For  a short time last year, I had two dogs at once. I had my darling, Minnie, AKA the Minister AKA Minnetonka AKA Minmin. Minnie was a miniature schnauzer that I adopted six years ago. She was the sweetest thing around, with an adorably sad expression on her face. When I adopted her, she was estimated to be 5 years old, but it soon turned out she was probably 7-8, had hypothyroidism, and had epilepsy. She was a sweetie but she was on medication the entire time I had her. The last year of her life she had heart failure and fainting spells, and then she came down with vestibular syndrome (old dog syndrome), where she couldn’t tell where her feet touched the ground and had vertigo. It was a lot of work and ups and downs with Minnie, but she kept me company when my grandfather died and when my dad died, and when I went through job layoffs.
When she was diagnosed with mouth cancer last spring, I knew her time was short and I would have to put her down. Her quality of life was just decreasing, though she still had a bit of spunk. Anyway, I miss her.

So from January to September last year, I had Arlo and Minnie, and they got along fine - they both sort of smelled each other and kept their distance. But it was hard having two dogs and now my mom watches Arlo while I’m at work and she has her own dog, as well.
But still, I find myself getting updates on Facebook from dog shelters that I subscribed to when I was looking for Arlo. And then I go to Petfinder just to “see” what dogs are out there.

I want all the dogs.

And if I can’t have them, I want other people to have them so I can visit them. So I share the photos in my Facebook feed, and I tag friends that I know want dogs in the future. (if you want to check some out, go to!)

I’m not sure why I’m writing this tonight; I guess I’m just feeling like I need to confess rather than go on Petfinder right now to look at dogs. I’ve already shared two dog photos on Facebook tonight!

Here’s some of the dogs in my life:

  JOEY (mom’s dog)          MAEBY (sister’s dog)

INDIANA (another’s sister’s dog)               ANGUS (sister’s dog/MAEBY’s brother)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Moment of Joy

Here is my nephew Axel. He is hilarious. These pictures brighten up my day, and I think we need that sometimes, so here ya go:

What made you smile today?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Walking in My Shoes

This month, our school is exploring the concept of empathy, with the theme of “Walking A Mile in Someone’s Shoes.” As part of that, and because we are also celebrating the we are “more alike than different” for World Down Syndrome Awareness day, I’ve been challenged by to write about  walking a mile in my shoes.

It would be...deceptively comfortable. Mostly because when I discovered Dansko/Sanita clogs in 2005, I have rarely worn anything else - if it is, it’s a pair of TOMS (also comfortable) or running shoes. While the Dansko/Sanita brand is expensive (for me), the shoes are super kind to your feet and can be quite stylish. My favorite styles have wooden soles. The first time I wore my Dansko shoes, I felt like I was walking on a pillow - a firm, sturdy pillow that propelled me forward. I would sometimes walk home from work, which was about 5 miles, from the Sears Tower to near Wrigley Field, back in the day. And it was comfortable!

One of my friends had to wear Dansko clogs for a back problem and she was horrified. She thought they looked like orthopedic/medical shoes. I don’t see it. I love them. And the various versions. I feel like they have quirky personality, good quality, and they don’t suffer fools. They don’t need to be slight and dainty, pointy and strappy, or super tall and pain-inducing. They are Danish! Practical, straightforward, and blunt.

If you walked in my shoes today, you would have walked 3.3 miles, according to my Fitbit. You would have carried a load of chromebooks from one end of a school building to another. You would have walked a dog (and will again!), you would have paced around a classroom while students were taking assessments, trying to keep them focused so the test didn’t take four days. You would have walked back and forth many times, to visit teachers and classrooms, for various reasons. You would have walked in mismatched socks (again for World Down Syndrome Day).

If you walk in my shoes, you would see each day is different. There is usually a lot of walking, but for different purposes, and I like that. Walking in my shoes isn’t too bad, to be honest. I’ve got the walking part covered and supported.

It’s the thinking part that causes problems. (and maybe sometimes the talking…)


Monday, March 20, 2017

To honk or not to honk?

Having lived and worked in two major cities over the years, I have adapted some aggressive city-driving behaviors. City-walking as well, to be honest. Occasionally, it results in embarrassment, which happened tonight.

I was going to an event at a local junior high school, and I was running late. Not really late, but close to arriving at the very moment the event started. So, while I wasn’t speeding to get there, or that stressed about it, I was hoping to arrive in time to find a seat by my friend.

I was about three minutes away, and about three minutes from start time, when I came up to a left-turn on green light only lane. It was red. The main light had just turned green, so I knew I was going to have to wait through one cycle of all the lights. I started to get a little antsy, thinking about how I was SO close, but knowing it really didn’t even matter, to be honest.

When the light finally turned green, the truck in front of me stayed put. Didn’t move. I could feel the light suddenly turn to yellow, with my car still stuck in the lane. So I did what we you do when you’re driving downtown. You honk. I let out one brief, loud, duck-quacking honk. The driver realized the light was green, and we both went through.

I thought I was home free, when I watched the car that I just honked at (some might say rudely) turn into the very parking lot where I was heading. Maybe it was doing a U-turn?

Nope, I watched as it drove into the parking lot. Trying to avoid the embarrassment of meeting the driver face-to-face, I parked right as I entered. I hurriedly walked to the door - as I noticed the driver of the truck did as well. We were going to meet at the doors at the same time. What was worse, I recognized the driver as someone who worked in my building occasionally. I tried to decide if I should open up and admit that I was the one to honk at him, or if I should joke about it, or ignore it. Luckily, I didn’t have to decide, as he stopped before entering and I passed him without incident. But I know he knows I honked at him, and later on, as I passed him on the way out, I sheepishly said “Good night,” hoping he wouldn’t call me out on my honk. And he didn’t.

Some might think it’s OK to honk at people when they aren’t paying attention, and I really do. I prefer if people honk at me if I don’t realize the light changed. The problem is when you do it and you realize you’re driving to the same location. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this issue THIS YEAR, even.

What do you think? Do we just ignore the honking? Do we ‘fess up?  Do we bury the embarrassment inside and blog about it later?


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gardening Fever

Today I feel like we’ve turned a corner, and spring is truly on the way. I heard birds chirping happily as I walked my dog this morning, I can see the beginnings of my perennials peeking out, and we’re one full week into daylight savings time.

When I bought my house five years ago, I was super excited to begin gardening. I have a good-sized yard, and there wasn’t a lot of landscaping done previously, so I had a blank palette to work with. Growing up, our yard was a weird shape, and had this huge tree that I hate because it blocks out all of the sun. The house faced north, so we didn’t get a lot of light inside at any time. It was very dark and I always hated that.

My own house gets plenty of light, inside and out. I have a few shady spots on the north side, but my backyard, front yard, and the south side of my height is full of light for most of the day. So I imagined myself planting lots of flowers and having this beautiful yard and spending time outside in the summer. (I always want to be an outside person). My friend was a landscape designer and made me this great plan that made sense and was aesthetically pleasing and all. And I blew it.

I couldn’t wait. It started with the local arboretum plant sale. They used to have a pre-sale with a plant catalog, and you’d get this glorious poster-like catalog in the mail, with all of these color photographs of unusual and spectacular plants. So I ordered a bunch. Then I planted them. Wherever I wanted. And they did well, for the most part, but it was not super organized.

I kept it up. Stopping at Home Depot, I’d pick up a hydrangea. Or some coreopsis on sale. I kept buying and going to plant sales. And over the past few years, I’ve now accumulated an interesting array of native plants, butterfly and hummingbird-attracting plants, hydrangeas, and shrubbery. One of the biggest reasons I will buy a plant is the name - anything with a reference to Norse mythology (Freya bellflower, Thor spirea, Viking chokeberry), Kennedys (John F. Kennedy rose), or literature (Sense and Sensibility Lilac, Sirius Black Clematis). It shows you just how irrational I am at gardening.

Every year I tell myself that I am not going to buy anything new. I’m going to plant seeds (which I need to start now), and just try to get ahead of the weeds and shaping the beds. (I’m trying not to use Roundup, and, as you can imagine, I have a weed/dandelion problem). So this year, I am once again hoping to just make the most of what I have, and focus on maintenance. Even though I don’t have the perfectly organized yard that I imagined, I get lots of colorful flowers, visits from bees, birds, and butterflies, and have managed to keep many plants alive over the years.

I will definitely be purchasing herbs and annuals for my pots, though. I love lantana and lavender and that just won’t grow in my yard. And of course, the reason I thought of writing about this topic was that I came across an online plant sale...we’ll see if I can keep to my goal…

The memory of the excitement of a new plant purchase is coming back...uh oh…


Saturday, March 18, 2017

The general welfare

I will be honest. It’s a weekend and today I have been resting because I was up late last night, watching a performance of Sweeney Todd.

While I’ve just been sitting around the house, doing laundry, but not much else, I’ve been trying to think of what I should write about today.

There is something pressing on my mind, lately, and, while I don’t want to get overtly political, I just want to dedicate this post to the Preamble to the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

So, you may notice that this statement basically sets up the purpose of the Constitution of the United States. If we consider the founding fathers’ motives in setting up our government important when interpreting it, then I suggest looking at the statements following “in Order to form a more perfect Union”, which are:

  1. Establish Justice - set up the system of laws
  2. Insure domestic Tranquility - keep things peaceful, see #1
  3. Provide for the common defence - defend citizens through organized fores
  4. Promote the general Welfare - work for the well-being of citizens
  5. Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity - ensure that our country and laws continue in years to come (could consider the Bill of Rights to have done this)

With that out of the way, lately, I keep hearing “promote the General Welfare” in my head when I watch the news. I’m discouraged by the political discourse which conveniently ignores this purpose of government, and, instead, apparently values #3 above all. Our nation spends significantly more money on defense than any other nation, and the most recent budget proposal increases the spending, while basically reducing funding to all parts of the government that do #4.

I contend that if we do more for #4 - continue to regulate the environment, work with our allies through the state department diplomacy, fund public education, fund health care, fund research, fund MEALS ON WHEELS for Pete’s sake! - we will do more for the “Insure domestic Tranquility” (#2 above) than any amount of defense spending could do.

I understand the budget would have to be approved by Congress as is for these cuts to happen, but I felt the need to use my post for today to promote the General Welfare clause, and encourage others to consider that one of the roles of government is to provide programs that help the poor, raise people up, provide education, promote scientific research, and generally ensure that our citizens are not left to suffer. I am so disheartened that those running the country could so easily turn their back on fellow Americans.
Some additional reading on the topics: