Saturday, November 26, 2011

How I've Done

Last week a facebook friend posted asking if anyone else was thinking about New Year's resolutions yet. I wasn't (but now I am), but unlike pretty much every other year ever, I actually remembered the one I made this year. And actually thought about it throughout the year. I'd originally intended to keep myself really accountable by posting about how I was doing every month or six weeks or so . . . which, obviously, didn't happen. But I still think I've done a pretty good job at being myself. Some days better than others, naturally.

I don't think I've changed much - I'm still a great big bag of my own neuroses, paranoia, quirks, and silliness. But I feel like I'm more comfortable with the fact that this is who I am (most days, anyway). I still crave acceptance and approval, but I'm growing more okay with not having the accolades constantly pouring in, you know? For some reason my default reaction has always been the worst possible scenario. No one likes my latest facebook status/picture/video? I'm being shunned - by everyone on facebook. No one comments on my blog? Everyone has stopped reading - even the random Iranian(s?) who've popped up a couple dozen times and I couldn't possibly know because I'm pretty sure I don't know anyone in/from Iran.

I've always been pathetically insecure, and for a while a few years ago it was getting steadily worse. In high school I had some friends who . . . well, I don't think they really considered me a friend. I could list dozens of tiny little things that by themselves mean nothing but put together seem to create an ominous pattern - but that would sound melodramatic and to be honest I only remember specifics for a few things and that I saw the pattern a few years after graduating. And the whole situation can really be summed up pretty easily with one story. Our senior year two friends decided to start writing a book together. It got passed around among all of us as they wrote, and it was really funny. It had a ginormous cast - the large group of drama and marching band nerds that hung out together - and we were all secret agents from various countries and all after the same thing. I don't remember at all what it was, but honestly it was pretty irrelevant. The story was mostly about our character versions interacting with each other and inside jokes and that sort of thing. And then came the day that someone asked where these two got the idea in the first place.

"We wanted to kill Lacey."

The very end of the story, which they never reached (to my knowledge), was going to be a fiery plane crash that took out my character, completely bumbling, inept, and never getting a single thing right, and another friend's, the competent spy whose sole assignment was following my character around and cleaning up after "me."

Okay, I will admit that I have my blonde moments - but who doesn't? And that I did sometimes play up the ditz in an unsuccessful attempt to get the attention of . . . well, to be honest, any guy. But on the other hand, I took honors chemistry and managed a decent grade. I took four years of French. I did concurrent enrollment for college level English classes and I aced them. While other people's characters were pretty true to their real life counterparts, mine . . . wasn't. Rather, it magnified all my negative qualities while essentially eliminating any redeeming ones.

The two girls writing the story and some - but not all, thank heaven! - of the other readers found both my characterization and the inspiration for the story hilarious. I told myself it was a joke and all meant in fun, and smiled and laughed when it came up in conversation. I think I may have even believed it sort of, because I spent most of my time in college as the quiet one in the corner, more welcome and more liked than I would realize until it was all over out of fear that I would do something that made my new friends want to kill me too, even if it was only literary. I slowly realized that the story was not really friend behavior, and was able to open up a bit my senior year of college and then a bit more in Florida.

I don't think it's melodramatic to say that I carry what happened in high school with me to this day. Just a little bit. I don't think about it often, but occasionally something will happen that leaves me certain that I'm secretly hated by the people I'm with, and that they're just wishing I would go away. I'm pretty sure I'm just imagining/misinterpreting things, but there's no escaping the way your past colors your present, so I just do my best to work through my personal crazy. And trying to focus on that this year . . . I may not be the best of judges, but I think I've made some progress. And progress is always good.

Best part? This is totally the kind of resolution that's never done, so you can reuse it every year. Woo hoo! :-) However, in the name of variety, I'm thinking I'll start this too. Should be fun . . . eventually!

P. ost S. cript
How crazy awesome is this?!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Random Take Three

It's Thanksgiving . . . you know, in case you missed that. Or haven't been entirely creeped out to the point of nightmares by that creepy Target Black Friday Commercial Lady. Seriously - she. Is. Creepy. Exactly the sort of ad that makes me want to never EVER come within 20 miles of a Target for the rest of time.

Anyway, here it is folks, the moment you've been waiting all year for, lol. Top ten crazy things to be thankful for!

1. Crock pots. Our baby size turkey comes with crock pot instructions, so we decided to try it out this year. Here's hoping it goes well! It was kind of fun to get up at six to get it started . . . I remember when I was little it seemed like mom had to get up at practically midnight to start cooking. Because, you know, anything earlier than about 7:00 is midnight to a six year old. In fact, at the elementary school I went to every year all the first graders would write an little essay about how to cook a turkey. They generally all go something like "you have to get up at 2:00 in the morning and cook the turkey at 900* for eleven hours" and such. That . . . would make for a rather crispy turkey, no?

2. Laundry facilities I don't have to go outside to get to. AMAZING!!!!

3. A kitchen I can actually walk around in. AMAZING!!!!

4. Learning new things all the time. For example, do any of you know what tomorrow is? Totally had no idea until Tuesday, and neither did the teacher who told his class about it until a few days before that. But apparently Evacuation Day was a pretty big deal until Thanksgiving basically replaced it. The stuff you didn't know you didn't know, eh?

5. Tradition. I'm watching the Macy's parade at the moment. Mom's always complaining about how it;s not the same as when she was a kid, and I'll admit there's a lot more show numbers and stuff than I remember from when I was younger - but I still love it. What can I say, I'm a junkie for parades.

6. Aglets. Mostly that I know what they're called now. And because Phineas and Ferb rocks.

7. Pinterest. I've found tons of cool recipes and smart ideas to try - I've even tried a couple, and so far so fabulous. :-)

8. Getting all the Christmas stuff out tomorrow. So. Excited.

9. Thanksgiving dinners for two. Simple and pleasant. Every year I'm a bigger fan.

10. A slight carry over from last year - having projects to work on. They give me something to do in my copious amounts of alone/down time. And make me feel accomplished. Also - having so many people to give them to that I just can't keep up? Awesome.

P. ost S. cript
A slight change up today - I took this video a little while ago because Luke has been cracking me up all month with this. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feeling Guilty

I think working with older kids is either making me heartless or bringing out my mean and vicious personality. Or maybe I'm doing this right and it just feels like I'm being mean. (feel free to loudly and vehemently support that third option, lol.)

So. Fourth grade. Math test today. Last day before Thanksgiving break . . . cruel, but it would be crueler to save it for the first day back, no? Anyway, I'm walking around answering questions - and to state the obvious I can clarify a question they don't quite understand but can't tell them what to do if they don't remember.

There is a kid in this class who spends math time either spaced out, doodling, or trying to talk to other kids. Every. Single. Day. I kid you not. Every day someone - the teacher or me - calms him out for not paying attention. I've watched him pull his warning card, right down what he did on the "I had to pull a card" paper, go back to his desk and go right back to the doodling or whatever he just got in trouble for. It kind of boggles my mind. It's so crazy . . . a good chunk of the time the first half of the assignment is done as a class and then they get turned loose to finish it. And this kid freaks out because not only does he not know what to do, everyone else is way ahead of him. And when you ask him why he didn't copy the work down when the teacher was doing everything step by step he never has an answer.

So today when he asked for help my answer, naturally, was "this is a test, you have do it by yourself." This nearly brought him to tears as he tried to explain that it was too hard to do by himself. My answer? "That's what happens when you don't pay attention."

I know that was the right answer. And I wouldn't change it if I could go back. And that by fourth grade he should have figured out the whole connection between paying attention and learning thing. But for a moment I thought this kid was going to have (or perhaps fake) a panic attack. And now I feel evil. Because, you know, I was totally supposed to hold his hand through the whole test and practically do it for him . . . because let's face it, half the time he gets things like "3-1" wrong. Heaven help this kid when he gets to high school.

Woo hoo.

On a lighter note, I told you that you'd be hearing from Georgette again!

So among other things 5th graders do linguistically, they learn a lot of root words and prefixes and how you can combine them and they mean similar things.

For those of you totally not following - recently they did "graph." As in photograph. And "graphy" and "grapher," which can be combined with "photo" to talk about pictures or "carto" to talk about maps. With me now?

The one they're currently working on is ology/ologist/ologic. And they had a worksheet with those roots and prefixes that included bio/herb/geo . . . and arche. Obviously, most of them needed these prefixes defined and from there they could more or less figure things out.

So I'm explaining that "arche" means old, so archeology is the study of old things. And the kid I'm explaining it to says "like what?" and before I can answer Georgette jumps in with "PEOPLE!"

I about died.

Okay, so technically she was right . . . except she wasn't talking about remains of people found at Pompeii, you know? She was thinking people . . . ummmmmmm . . . of ages . . . similar to . . . some people who read this blog. Yeah, we'll put it that way. (take that, dad!) I'm still giggling. She's a really smart girl when she thinks - she just doesn't think until after she's said something, generally speaking. Good times.

So in conclusion: I'm a horrible person and Georgette is not a spaz, she just has no 5-second delay button yet. Yay.

P. ost S. cript
There are no words for this kind of awesome sauce.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Okay, Burn Her Already. Or Something.

So. Fifth grade. They study US history, as you may recall. And the particular fifth graders who's story I'm telling are covering the Revolutionary War at the moment. (And I am determined to be able to show you all an awesome video of them singing Miley Cyrus' timelessly classic hit "Founders if the USA" . . . which will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You're welcome, lol.)

Apparently this is a yearly thing - the kids come in one day and their desks are gone (out in the hall), their teachers have been "replaced" by "Mr. (/Ms.) Cruel," and overall classroom conditions are sort of vaguely unpleasant. To get things back the way they should be they have to write their own Declaration of Independence from Mr. Cruel, turn it in to the principal, and she has to accept it.

This? Is awesome.

I? May be slightly evil.

I spent most of yesterday trying not to giggle as I watched those kids have to sit straight - no backs touching the chairs! - and use chalkboards - nice cursive, if we couldn't read it they had to do it again. Most of them just kind of took it, but to hear some of them moaning and groaning you'd think the Geneva conventions had been violated or something. But it was really amazing how quiet the classroom was . . . no raising hands or shouting out answers, if they had something to say they stood up and waited. It was kind of weird, but awesome. And no one was allowed to ask for help, so I think a few kids discovered that they actually do know how to add and subtract fractions after all - yay!

Most interesting was watching them alphabetize their spelling list - again, on a chalkboard on their laps and in "elegant" cursive. It took some of them a lot longer than it would have taken with pencil and paper on a table, and a few of them had to do it over and over again because they spelled one word wrong or got to in the wrong order or their handwriting was illegible. I'm sure you all remember my opinion of rosy-tinted everything-today-is-awful internet nostalgia, but I'll never deny that some things were probably better back in the day. It's just too bad we couldn't go really old school and pull out the switches for misbehavior, lol. Instead they have to do push ups . . . which, ultimately, is probably more beneficial than a beating, you know? And I have to admit that I felt a little bit of maniacal glee in making the kid who enjoyed the push ups and was trying to get "punished" with more write lines - "I will not pull Sally's pigtails." style. In cursive. And I made him redo it when I couldn't read it.

(side note - this is a boy who uses text speak in his writing assignments. Pretty sure I created his own personal circle of hell. *insert evil laugh here*)

The best part of the whole project has been the conversations I've had with the kids. They generally start with comments about aren't they glad they didn't live 200 years ago, and was it this hard when I was in school doing it this way? To which I can only respond with a quite incredulous "Just how old do you think I am?!?!"

The good news: they've gone no farther than 9 years too high.

The bad news: they're old enough to realize how close they are to 17, so no one's erred on the ten years too low end. Most of them are actually pretty close.

Anyway, that leads to a conversation about how they started transitioning from chalkboards to white boards when I was in 5th or 6th grade. And did they have phones then. And when I said yes the first assumption was that I had a Zack Morris brick cell. And when I said explained that cell phones weren't very common and we had a regular telephone and one of the kids said "you mean the kind that goes on the wall?" I said yes, but I have to wonder whether the picture in his head was something like this or something like this.

Then there was today. Someone mentioned Mr. Cox, and a couple of others kids jumped on the whole "it's not Mr. Cox, it's Mr. Cruel!" thing and that led to wondering where Mr. Cox has gone. (their teacher is clearly the same, but the story is that he had to leave suddenly, but was very sad and stuff) And that led to silly stories about their teacher being a superhero or some James Bond-esque spy on a secret mission and fun stuff like that. And then along comes (Claudio), who has made a bit of a reputation for himself when it comes to saying off the wall things. And he declares that there can only be two reasons for their old teacher to be missing: "either he's dating, or he's sick."

Because, you know, people who are dating have neither time, inclination, nor reason to do anything else.

Maybe you just had to be there, but I've pretty much given up trying to hold in the giggles when kids say those darndest things. I had him repeat it a couple of times - I couldn't believe I'd heard him right! - and then I was only there to be gawked at for a few minutes. None of the kids got what I found so funny, but they definitely get a kick out of how red my face gets when I laugh that hard.

It's entirely up to the principal whether she accepts the declarations and gives the kids their "freedoms" back or not. (btw, did I mention there's no recess, they have to march around the block instead, and lunch is ten minutes and then it's right back to work?) She's a stickler for grammar and such (yay!) and one missed sentence capital will get the whole thing rejected and they have to do the whole thing again. On unlined yellow-y paper that looks kind of Declaration-y. Clearly spaced, line-wise and paragraph-wise. In nice, legible cursive. My class has already had one (possibly two) drafts rejected. Apparently the longest this has ever gone on is just over a week. I kind of want this to keep going on . . . it's so much fun to watch!

Like I said, I may be slightly evil. :-)

P. ost S. cript
Talk about begging for Mythbusters to try it! How does this even happen?!?!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Epic Ecritures

(Note: ecritures = French for writings. Because no way was I only going to be 2/3 alliterative, lol.)

1 ~ Singing Rebecca Black's "Friday" to the tune of Justin Bieber's "Baby"? Epic. I'm not sure if it's epically awesome or epically horrifying . . . but it's definitely epic. (btw, did I spell Beiber right?) Turns out sometimes 5th graders aren't obnoxious, but actually funny!

2 ~ Today in 5th grade: listing things that fall into the category "things with wings." The group I was with came up with only bird and plane (and one kid had bat). So I asked them to come up with one more that was neither bird nor plane. This ensues:

Kid 1: Eagle!

Me: That's a bird.

Kid 2: A flamingo!

Me: That's a bird.

Kid 3: A jet!

Me: That's a type of plane.

(Georgette): I know! A wingless bird!!

Me: *blank stare. about three beats*
*cracks up*
(thinking) aaaaaaaaaand two strikes with one swing!

Georgette gets a code name because I have the feeling this is not the last you'll be hearing from her, lol.

3 ~ Passing a random first grader in the hall - her eyes get big. "You were the princess kitty on Halloween!!" Dude, even the kids who don't know me know who I am. Pretty sure I've achieved rock star status or something. :-)

4 ~ Conversation with Luke today:

Luke: When is Thanksgiving?

Me: The 24th.

Luke: What day?

Me: *blank stare*

Luke: I don't know what day of the week that is!

Me: *face palm*

Sometimes all I can do is roll my eyes and think this. (at part 1:17)

5 ~ Bit of trivia for you - about 90 years ago an American woman came up with the idea for wearing poppies in November for Veteran's Day (then Armistice Day). Apparently it caught on pretty big. It's still big in Europe . . . in America . . . not so much. Interesting, no?

6 ~ Assuming I could put together an accurate recreation of these . . . things . . . would this not be the most horrifyingly creepy Halloween costume ever? That smile . . . those elbows . . . they're going to give me nightmares!!

7 ~ The Mark of Athena? Needs to be out now. Not exactly Deathly Hallows level of need . . . but DUDE, I hate waiting for books to come out!

8 ~ Throwing jeans in the dryer in the morning so they're warm when you get out of the shower and dress? AMAZING!

9 ~ Obnoxious neighbor story. So our downstairs neighbors sort adopted some stray cats forever ago (meaning the cats showed up and the neighbors fed them). Then our diagonal downstairs neighbors moved in and didn't have any objection to the cats. Then we move in. Fast forward to about six weeks ago. Diagonal neighbors have purchased a fancy new car and now the cats are suddenly unacceptable because apparently one of them threw up on their old car once. And their new car is, like, unwashable or something. So they complain and the landlords say get rid of the cats, which is sad because everyone else loves the cats and they keep the mice out of the outdoor storage sheds. Almost as soon as the cats are gone the fancy new car inexplicably disappears never to be seen again. And last week the universally disliked (and not just for cat-related reasons) diagonal neighbors move out. Seriously? You're too lazy to wash your new car so you get the cats disappeared and then you move out? Dear ex-neighbors: you suck.

10 ~ Scraping windows also sucks. Totally trying this sometime soon.

11 ~ Black Friday starts at 10:00 on Thursday?! Is there no low too low for someone out there to sink to in order to make a buck? Here's hoping no one shows up for at least a few hours . . . but I doubt it.

P. ost S. cript
A fun little video, particularly for the Tiger Mother readers out there, lol. And it takes some serious talent!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

For Your Entertainment

Well, I laughed.

So when people talk to me about my blog the thing I hear most often is that it's really funny. Apparently I missed my calling as a stand-up comedian or something. And I feel like I haven't been very funny lately and that I ought to apologize for that. And excuse myself in the future by saying that I'm discovering that 4th and 5th graders are generally not as cute and funny as smaller kids . . . mostly they're just obnoxious.

Anyway, to make amends, I present you with three (hopefully) amusing stories. At my expense. Enjoy. :-)

1 ~

So back when I'm trying on my Elizabeth Bennett dress and discovering I suddenly have the shoulders of a . . . whatever football position it is that people talk about having big shoulders like . . . well, my first thought for alternatives was my other formal dress.

You see, back when I was in high school, my mom was in some ways a perfect Mormon Tiger Mother. Meaning her oldest daughter (me) was going to go to every formal dance ever and would need the most fabulous dresses ever and so we bought four over the course of time at massive blow-out sales that meant I got 4 rather expensive dresses for two-figure prices. Which is pretty awesome.

I got pity asked to junior prom a week before (good thing I got a dress so far in advance, eh?!) and didn't go to another formal . . . ever. Except for one semi-formal, the only dates I went on in high school were girl's choice. Same goes for college - minus the semi-formal. As Mormon Tiger Daughters go, I was an epic failure.

On the plus side, I have this lovely burgundy-ish formal dress that I've never worn. I was planning on wearing it for Valentine's Day, which Ellis also does up in epic style, but I figure I can wear it twice. So I try it on.

The good news: It still fits, ten years after buying it. And possibly even better than when I got it. Woot!

The bad news: I can only assume this is because it's just been sitting in a closet for a decade, but as I get the zipper nearly all the way up - it snaps. As in the flippy thingy you grab onto snaps off the part that does the actual zipping. And as I try to use the little piece of flippy thing that's left attached to the zippy thing . . . it crumbles into dust. I kid you not.

So here's your lovely and amusing mental picture: it's, like, 10:00 on (I think) Friday night. I'm stuck in a formal dress, the zipper of which will not go down now that I have no flippy thing to grab on to. Luke is at work and won't be home for a couple of hours.

I'm sure you can all picture the look of "oh crap!" on my face. Go ahead and giggle for moment. I'll wait.

Okay, long story short I'm not really sure how I did it, but I got the zipper down and the dress off, although there was at least ten minutes there where I thought I was just going to have to wait until Luke got home to help. And now I'm pretty impressed with the way I can contort my arms when I really need to.

Also - is there anyone out there willing/able to replace the zipper sometime in the next three and a half months? I'd still like to wear it for Valentine's Day.

2 ~

So Monday. When I was doing the scaring. I had to crouch pretty far down to get all of me behind that bench. I was pretty much curled up in the fetal position, both so that my cat ears and tiara wouldn't be seen, and also so my head would be down to the part of the bench it was easier to see through to know when the perfect moment to jump up was.

However, in order to jump up quickly, I kept my right leg up. And put most of my weight on it. And jumped up rapidly on the one leg. Repeatedly.

I'm too old to be doing that.

You know the muscle in you thigh? Not the quadriceps, the one in the front. I think I pulled my right one or something, because, holy crap, I have been feeling that since . . . well, shortly after I posted my last post. I'm fine when I'm moving, or when I'm still - but starting and stopping the motion . . . yesterday I thought I was going to die. Okay, maybe not that bad, but I have been limping. Not a lot, I'm sure no one else has noticed. But dangit, I have!

And . . . I may or may not have exaggerated it a bit at home for a little sympathy. :-) Not that it's really necessary, I've discovered I married a man who jumps to wait on me hand and foot if I so much as sneeze. Which kind of makes the fact that he's the one who gets sick the most often a little frustrating, ya know? :-) I'm feeling better (but still stiff) today - yesterday morning I could barely bring myself to get out of bed. Clearly I'm just not . . . ummmm . . . 26 . . . anymore? I mean, seriously. This sort of thing isn't supposed to start happening, like, another FIVE years at LEAST, right? This story? Is the story of my life in a nutshell.

3 ~

'Kay, so among other things I do in 5th grade, I do fluency timings. Basically, a fifth grader should be able to read about 150 words a minute and I time them on passages to see how close they are to that. A couple of the timings aren't passages, but lists of phrases - mostly things commonly seen on road signs or other signs out in the big blue world. (ten points unless you're Eric, lol) Things like "no passing" or "construction zone" or "pedestrian crossing" or whatever. Anyway, one of them is "no minors" which (Phillip) reads as "no mirrors." So afterward I tell him to look at it again, and he gets it immediately because his problem was, as I figured, just going too fast and misreading. But then he asks me what it means. So I explain the minor is the opposite of major and means something smaller or less important or lesser or lower or whatever, and then I explain that in context it meant someone younger than 18 and that he is a minor. This look of excitement and light bulbs clicking on comes to his face and he says all pleased with himself, "And you're a major!"

It may not see as funny when you're just reading it, but I cracked up. And through the giggles (this kid is used to me laughing at him, he's pretty quirky) I stumble out with something garbled like "well . . . yes and no . . . sort of . . . I guess . . . kind of . . . " and I'm thinking something like well, yeah, TECHNICALLY I guess, but the word is . . . wait . . . what is the word? What am I? Seriously? Did I seriously just ask myself that? I'm an . . . adult . . . is that word? Adult? Wait, yeah . . . yeah?

Or something like that. I hope my explanation was clear, because I get the feeling that this kid says he gets things even when he doesn't quite get them. I think I said something about how major wasn't the opposite of minor in this case and people over 18 are just called adults. Or something. I was giggly and a little flustered.

So . . . here's hoping this was funny enough to hold people over for a while. I'm certainly laughing at two of them. And I'll probably be laughing at the other one in a couple of months. :-)

P. ost S. cript
So . . . I totally should have posted this Monday and saved the monkey for today. But here's a little bit of late kitty Halloween fun. :-) We watched this last week, and it's seriously still kind of scary!