January 25, 2010

books and books

Ugh, I just finished a TERRIBLE book. It was faux-Da Vinci Code in that it was a modern-day mystery novel set around a historical document or event. I won't lie; I enjoy them. Their attempts at historical/theological scholarship always start off about half-right but then the author just takes it to a new, completely hypothetical and 99% inaccurate place. The scholar in me hates that but the reader in me can gloss over it if the plot's good enough.

This book, however, was just terrible writing paired with a predictable and not-too-thrilling plot. Really? Running away to Canada is your exciting chase scene? It started off by being set at the Beinecke, Yale's Rare Book and Manuscript museum. It's a fantastic building with a warm sheen to it - the walls are made from 1 1/4" thick marble which allows for amazing lighting.

He didn't describe the building at all, which makes me even wonder if he went to New Haven at all. Argh, authors not doing their research!

Anyway. In Tongues of the Dead - Terrible. Don't even bother. At least I finished it, making it my 6th book of 2010. Next up is Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson. The review I read said that it glorifies John Wilkes Booth, even comparing him to Jesus. Why, oh why do I do this to myself?

January 21, 2010

payment plans

My morning:

A girl play acted talking on her phone. Not super unusual, but at one point she "got a call" from her husband. She looked at me and said, "Ugh, my husband is on the other line. Can you hold on for a second?" The girl then walked to a different part of the empty room and stood over there, having a pretend argument (with a lot of attitude) with her pretend husband. Sometimes the way children play astounds me. This is learned behavior and I'm saddened that a 4 year old thinks playing includes fighting with yoru husband on the phone. She also said something about someone being on the line for a payment plan. Kids don't make up these phrases by themselves; they learn them somewhere.

Some of my kids learned "holy shit." As in "Holy shit, I found a card!" I think it's pretty funny but obviously can't show them that. I just ignore it because making a big deal out of it will make it ... well, a big deal. But inwardly I giggle.

My boy who chooses not to speak at school mouthed the word "fall" while we were walking down the steps. I put rhyming words on the stairs so they can step on the rhyme and say it at the same time, which is good reinforcement. Then as we were walking down the hall, he said a few things (which, sadly, I couldn't quite make out) but I knew they were words. It figures he chooses to speak during times when it's loud and you can't quite hear him. He also mouthed "good night" to me as I was covering him up for nap. I'm so close to getting this kid to talk... just a little bit more. I think the biggest deterrant is the other teachers. They make a big deal out of it and send the kid back into his nonverbal shell. He's not going to start talking because he was harassed into it.

I've been doing round 2 of the official benchmarking for kindergarten. Over all the kids have made some great progress - 4 kids weren't getting rhyming enough to even be able to score on the rhyming test in the fall; now all of them have moved beyond that and one girl even scored on target for kindergarten (she moved from none to 12). Letter naming has generally gone up as well; one girl scored 20 in the fall and 10 in the winter, but I think it's not that she stopped learning, just that the test is boring her. We'll see how the rest of them go. I'd like to recommend some changes for the classroom I work in for the next few months, mostly in terms of letter knowledge.

I'm going to be busy for the next few weekends: Erich and Katie come to visit this weeked; I go to Green Bay next weekend; Mom and Harry visit the weekend after that for my birthday. There will probably be some pictures at some point in the future... or not. It'll just be pictures of food.

January 16, 2010


Somewhere outside my back window, someone is hacking and spitting. I can't see it but can distinctly hear it. Yuck.

This is what I did today and yesterday:

zucchini bread

white bread

yam crisps

salt and vinegar chips

Last week:

broccoli cheese soup

The white bread was a little dense, but I think I had problems with the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. I'm going to try again soon. Also, I need to figure out how to get my potato slices uniformly thin for chips. Either they're too thick and don't cook all the way through or are too thin and burn. Argh.

Yesterday I had anti-bias training for work through the Anti-Defamation League. It was pretty interesting, but the worst part about diversity training is that the people who participate the least or who dislike it are those who need it the most. People committed to creating and maintaining inclusive atmospheres (in all aspects of life, not just early childhood education) usually are the ones who speak up and offer constructive ways to make classrooms welcoming. Maybe I'm just sick of people who treat other people's work (and presentations) as a joke, boring, annoying, etc.

The other thing was that as MRC members, some of us have very little power over the classroom space. Or we try to do something but aren't understood by our co-workers who haven't received the same training or focus that we have. It often makes our work harder.

Roller derby tonight. I hope people come and bring books.

January 10, 2010

round and around and up and down

Today I cleaned the apartment and had to take the trash out. I don't know if you remember my back steps, but this is what they look like.

Imagine that covered in 6 inches of snow, all of which needed to be brushed off in order to even attempt going down the ice-covered steps. When I say ice covered, I mean an inch of rounded ice on every step, bubbling up to fit into the arches of my feet. At the bottom is a van parked a foot away from the last step, meaning that when one walks down the steps with a trash bag, one has to either fall off the steps to the right in the direction of the snow pile or one has to use the van to steady themselves to avoid falling into the snow pile. It is not the easiest thing in the world, taking out the trash in the winter. I suppose I could do what my neighbors do - pile it up outside on the porch next to the back door.

Today I am making broccoli cheese soup from this recipe. I'll let you know how it goes. I've been briefly thinking about seeing if we want to do a MRC cookbook for a social events project.

I wish I knew grammar better.

Sometimes we forget about the painful things in our lives until they ambush us suddenly, unexpectedly. It's like they sense we're doing ok and come back to haunt us.

The most played song on my iTunes is Chubby Checker's "Let's Twist Again" from the Mad Men soundtrack.

Andrew made fun of me because I finally put a picture of us in a frame on my desk. Whatever, he's got a beard.

I had two dreams last night, one that this guy was chasing me and someone else around my dad's house, first just scarily and then with a giant butcher knife. I was hiding in my dad's closet behind all the clothes and shoes (where my mom used to hide christmas presents when we were growing up) and then I decided it'd be better to get into the bathroom and lock the door, but just as I went there he ran around the corner with the butcher knife and stabbed me. I woke up before he stabbed me, though. Then I dreamed that the Catholic House was a cabin in the woods and we all lived in one big room with cots lined up next to one another. It was morning and a bunch of us were just sitting in our beds under the covers talking. My cot was next to Josh's. On the opposite wall was big windows looking out into the woods and it was probably November since there weren't any leaves on the trees but no snow. There was also a big screen tv on the wall that we could watch. For some reason, we also were rounding up Santa Clauses and keeping them in a waist high pen out in the yard, which is illogical since they could easily get out. It was like a deer pen, really. We also went to a museum with Bill Murray.

It always seems that whenever I have a scary dream, no one is there to comfort me. Stupid boyfriend visiting his parents. I suppose that's why I conjured up my Catholic House to make me feel better. And it did.

Last week sometime I also had a dream I lost my running shoes after a race. I looked all around, outside where I took them off where the race ended and inside of the restaurant serving post-race food. Eventually I found them with a bunch of other shoes and race stuff outside the bathrooms.

Honestly, I swear my subconscious just does what it wants.

January 6, 2010

50/60 books update

I suppose since it's a new year, I should let everyone (heeey Mom) know how the 50 book project went. Every year I track how many books I read cover to cover and aim to read at least 50. In 2007 the first year I attempted, I fell short by 3 books. In 2008, I read 53 books. In 2009, I read 63 books, my most yet. Here's some numbers on the books for you:

July had the most books with 10
February had the least books with 0, followed by December at 2
74% of the books were read after graduating from YDS
6 books were for academic purposes
9 books on teaching
39 books by women
17 books on feminist/GLBTQ topics or themes
11 books on religion
7 books on race
18,109 pages read

Some recommendations from the year:

Speaking of Faith, Krista Tippett
The Plague of Doves, Louise Erdrich
Loving Frank, Nancy Horan
The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist
A Map of the World, Jane Hamilton

I'd be hard pressed to choose between Loving Frank and The Unit as the favorite for the year. I can't tell you how many times I've referenced Loving Frank (about Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick) in passing conversation, usually ending with "and then they were ax-murdered and the house was set on fire."

For 2010, I've upped my goal to 60. Although I reached that number this year, I was unemployed for several months and went through a lot of books this fall. Although 50 is still ambitious, I would like to continually challenge myself. I'm not sure what the rest of the year looks like, but I'd like to attempt 60 anyway. I've already finished one book - The Family, by Jeff Sharlet.

I'm also contemplating other goals I'd like to achieve this year, but I'm not quite ready to share them yet. It depends on waiting for other people to make decisions about my career. Two weeks from tomorrow!