Local News

Just heard this story on NPR's Morning Edition. I drive right by this preschool every morning. It's the district between the one we live in and the ones I work in.




Just got the best news. I walked into school today (my afternoon job) and the principal stopped me. Please pardon the screenplay format two posts in a row.

She: I was going to call you. We're having a Science Fair at 1pm today, so we won't really need you for computer classes. But, you can see the fair and then leave early if you have somewhere else you need to be.

Me: Um...OK. [realization hits] Wait! This is perfect! My kids' Primary Grades Chorus Concert is this afternoon. I'd already told them I wouldn't be able to make it. Oh, this is perfect! Thank you!




Gospel According to Matthew


He: We had water in Sunday School today. It was real water and we drank some, but I got some on my sleeve.

Me: Hmmm...water, eh?

He: Yeah, 'cause there was this lady and she used to be not-so-nice, but now she's nice. And she was getting water and Jesus said, "You can have some of my water." And He gave her a drink and she was never thirsty ever again. And she went and told everybody.

Me: Wow...Jesus had some pretty good water, huh?

He: Yeah, and it wasn't even real water. It was love. And she got some real water and she got the pretend Jesus-water, too. But we had real water in Sunday School.



Photo Update Bonanza!

Let's see...January and February involved

Sasha's First Birthday

The Pinewood Derby

A Weekend in the Poconos


ps. Click on them to pop over to Picasa and read captions, see bigger images.

pps. Just got an email from our Cubmaster about this article in the local paper. Check out the picture for my two munchkins and their hand-made walking sticks.


Sad Day at School

The father of one of my students died in a car accident last night. It's a very small community and a very small school and we're all shaken by it.

Extra-hug your kids tonight.



Proud of Myself

I skied for the first time1 this past Friday. Woo, me!

I know ... growing up in the Snow Belt, having access to a free place to stay in the Poconos for the past 20 years ... why haven't I skied before?

Lord knows I've wanted to. In middle school, all the cool kids hung out at Mount Pleasant2 schussing and swooshing and snow-bunnying themselves all over each other. I didn't know how to ski and missed out on so much social life, apparently. You wouldn't think it would matter, but it did. Middle school is insane like that.

And then later when I was with Joe and we'd bustle off to the Poconos whenever we wanted to3 I still didn't ski. Partly I feared looking like a complete loser in front of my boyfriend/fiancé/new husband, partly we just plain couldn't afford it. Lift passes, rentals, etc. sure add up fast.

Well, this weekend we went for it. We spent all day Friday skiing all over Jack Frost Resort up in the Poconos. I had my stubby child-like skis4 on, my ski poles at the ready. In my red Land's End squall jacket and grossly-oversized black bib snowpants I did not in any way resemble a snow bunny. But, I was out there. I made my pizza slice and "carried my food tray" and slowly got the hang of it.

First Run — was going OK, keeping my balance beautifully and even managing to steer a tiny bit when I saw Emily wipe out. The Mother Bear in me took over and I attempted to maneuver to her rescue. When this clearly wasn't working, I took a deliberate dive in order to stop somewhat near her and give her a hand. It was ugly. (my fall, that is. She was re-skied and back down the hill in no time.) I took awhile getting back up and got down the hill in short order, snowplowing valiantly coming to a complete stop about 20 yards from the lift line, so great was my fear of having too much velocity at the end. I then awkwardly waddled my way over to the line. My best friend's 9-year old daughter rode with me on the lift to show me how to do it.

Second Run — Started out really trying to concentrate on the wedge and turning with the whole upper body. Wanted to do nice wide zig-zags all the way down the hill. Fell. Three times. Once quite badly, involving skis flying off and hand throbbing and head bonking. Almost cried because the three-year olds were just whizzing down the hill and I was struggling just to get it together. And Joe had assured me, having done both, that I'd have no problem with this, as going down even small hills on cross-country skis was "way harder." (Emily was basically ignoring all instruction whatsoever and just whizzed down the hill, her 44-lb frame light enough that just plain friction slowed her neatly to a stop right before the lift line. Matthew was struggling just to stay upright for more than 30 seconds at a time. Joe was having Zero Fun dealing with Matthew. Dana and Julia whizzed down the hill and even went down the longer Blue Square level, while calling out to me helpful hints like, "Pizza! Pizza!" and "Tray! Tray!".)

After That — Eventually caught on to something right. I zigged and zagged slooo-o-owly down each hill, managing to steer around fallen skiers and even timed the slowing and stopping at the bottom of the hill closer and closer each time. Started to feel the weight on the lower leg and even to turn my skis together without maintaining the pizza slice down every run. Keep in mind this was all on the Green Circle hills. The ones with names like Snowflake and Powder Puff and Frosty. By the afternoon, we put Matthew into a group lesson so Joe could actually ski a bit. Emily continued to whisk straight down the hills paying no heed to any technique.

Finally — my last two runs of the day were down the Blue Square level hill, Ridge Run. There were a couple of nice collect-your-breath spots partway down the hill, which I took full advantage of before proceeding down the steeper portions of the run.5 I was so proud of myself and despite teasing her about it, really appreciated Dana's rooting me on the whole way down both times. Her atta-girls really helped.

And I didn't even wake up completely sore and exhausted the next day. Slightly stiff through my back, some tender knuckles and a ski-shaped bruise on one thigh from the afore-mentioned Bad Fall. Nothing major.

I'm looking forward to going again. I'd like to go without the kids so I could just concentrate on my body and what it's doing and not having to look around the monitor their potential broken bones. (by the way, I don't have any pictures of any of us in skis, as I left the camera in the house...whoops!)


1 Downhill, that is. I've cross-countried plenty of times. Used to own my own skis, in fact.
2 Later known as Mountain View. Closed in 1992.

3 Clearly this was Before Kids and certainly Before Dog
4 The Rental Ski Choosing Guy literally
said, "People will laugh at you, but you'll have an easier time controlling these."
5 To be fair, I did fall down once on the second run, but it was deliberate and gentle. I had too much speed for my liking coming into the almost-level section and foreseeing a massive catastrophe on the upcoming curve, I elected to make a controlled fall (which wasn't a wipe-out, honest!) instead.


Love to the Hundredth Power

Happy Valentine's Day!

And ... here at Stow Creek, anyway* ... Happy 100th Day of School!


* My kids' hundredth day was back on Monday due to the vagaries of different district calendars.


Monday, Monday

Actually went to be on time last night and woke up more or less on time. What a WONDERFUL feeling that is. To wake up actually rested.

Of course, awake is not the same as out of bed. It was a brisk* 12° outside this morning. Even our nordic-type doggie didn't want to be out there for very long. (I checked the temps in the Poconos, where we'll be this coming weekend. A balmy 0° with a windchill of -20°**. Wooo!)

Had such a fun weekend. Friday night we hung out at home and Seth came over (which hardly ever happens anymore, as he now lives in Chicago). We did our usual Geek Night of watching torrented Torchwood and recorded Stargate:Atlantis.

Saturday we spent all day at the Belleplain State Park cabin with the Cub Scouts, intending to spend the night***. We hiked, learned knot tying (I led that workshop), cooked indoors and out, played soccer. It was a fun and tiring day. That night we decided to bug out after dinner and went to the Fantinis house for pinochle and snacks.

Sunday we had no real plans. We all woke up late and lounged around. It was a quite cold and very windy day. We finally came up with "Let's take the kids bowling." But the local lanes had leagues all day. Then we came up with, "Let's call Seth and see if he wants to bring his girls over to play with the kids." But kind of thought he might rather just hang with the girls, himself. Karma stepped in. Joe had just gotten into the shower when Seth popped in and asked, "Hey ... I'm taking the girls bowling, wanna come along?" So we went to some lanes a bit further away and had a ball. Everyone wins in Bumper Bowling! I perfected the ricochet strike.

And, if you've never played Rubberneckers with a carful of folks, I highly recommend you give it a try.

Last night was definitely the highlight of the weekend, however. We stopped by the local Five Below and bought a bunch of movie-theatre style candy boxes ($1 each!), made some popcorn, got into our jammies and ... watched Star Wars. It was the kids' first time, and they were enthralled. Even Joe and I got chills at the opening "20th Century Fox" fanfare/drumroll bit. It's just always going to be such a great movie. And, it's amazing despite never having seen it before how the kids knew most of the characters. "ooooh, that's Darth Vader!" Their favorite character was R2-D2 (although they really liked the jawas, too).

Well, back to work. Time to teach touch-typing to seventh graders.


* Understatement!
** Going to use the ° as often as possible in the post. I mean, why look up the html code for a character and only use it once?
*** We were supposed to be there Friday night, too, but it had way too clearly been a long exhausting week for all of us.


Political Stuff

I'm in the running to be a Cumberland County representative to the national NEA convention in DC this summer. I'm excited about it, but not really in a rah-rah pro-union kind of way, really. In a Presidential Election year, we're sure to get the candidates. The teachers aren't a union you blow off. Not that we're the Teamsters or United Auto Workers, or anything, but ... don't mess with us. ;)

And...Chris...remember spoentaneously deciding to go to that Clinton-Gore rally in '92? Mom and Dad were out and we kind of said, "Hey did you hear about that thing?" "Yeah, wanna go?" "Um, yeah, I kinda do." So we did.

The Secret Service making folks get down off the roof of the Bob Evans. How late the bus was and then they pulled into the blasted sounds of Fleetwood Mac? You even held me up at one point (I know!) so I could see over the throng. Then after the speeches, we noticed the VIP section was becoming less-rigidly monitored and we bopped right up to the rope line.

I remember shaking hands with both the Clintons and with Al Gore, but I don't think I got Tipper. I remember people kept trying to get Gore to autograph his book, but that the Secret Service wouldn't let anybody hand him anything.

And once, working in a Philly high-rise, we legal secretaries all looked down twelve stories or so to see first-term President Clinton glad-handing pedestrians as his motorcade cruised slowly along behind him. And I've seen a few motorcades zwooosh by in DC in their insanely-fast but ridiculously orderly sort of way.

I always have thought it would be awesomely amazing to be an actual Party Convention Delegate. I looked it up today, but I think the NJ deadline for applying was back in November or December. The site was a bit unclear. I emailed them anyway, but I'm pretty sure that ship has sailed. I'll just have to sit up-front at the NEA things.



Most American Activity

And also...if anyone's still undecided.... there's this.



Teacher Insight

Billy, when you grow up, you're either going to be governor or get in a lot of trouble. It all depends on whether you learn when to talk and when to keep quiet.
--Sixth-grade teacher Kathleen Schaer to Bill Clinton, as recounted in My Life