27 April 2009

Folks, ya can't get swine flu from eating pork...

Ok - here's the thing... Swine flu is a respiratory disease. You have to be in close contact with an infected pig or person... by the time that pork-roll sandwich gets to you - it isn't breathing. So - those of you who eat pork and pork products may continue to do so without worrying about the swine flu. You can not get the swine flu from eating pork. That said, you may wish to look into the impact of the heavy use of antibiotics and hormones in the meat you eat... Just sayin'.

Oh - and did you know that no one in the US has died from Swine Flu?? I think this is a lot of hype. Seriously. Wash your hands. Carry on. Oh - and don't go to Mexico... Duh.

26 April 2009


It's been a while - I know. But I finally popped into the Weekend Wordsmith and decided to share my poem based on the prompt "Champagne". Hope you enjoy!

I lift my glass
to toast the ordinary day.
The sights, the sounds, the opportunities,
The little things that go unnoticed -
A child's laughter, my favorite song on the radio,
The softness of the cat weaving through my ankles...

The first perfect strawberry of the season,
The perfectly blended orange, purple sunset.
It would be a mistake to overlook the extraordinary
in the ordinary... So...
I lift my glass
to toast the ordinary day.

Isn't personal style meant to be personal?

PERSONAL: of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.

I don't know about you, but I am the sole decision-maker when it comes to my style. All of my style. My hair, my clothing, how much cleavage I show on a given day, which shoes to wear, how many earrings I wear in my ears, which color socks I want to wear with my blue suede shoes, what perfume to wear and if I get a nose ring or not. I decide because I am an adult. I must now base my decisions on appropriateness for a classroom on the days I will be IN a classroom, but apart from that I can not think of one person who gets a vote on my personal style other than, of course, me. Because it is MY personal style.

"But what about Ron?" you may ask... fair question - and here's the thing. I love Ron and I respect his opinion. But just because he is my husband does not give him a vote in my personal style. I like to think that he loves me for me, my personal style being a reflection of me. This means that if I decide to re-pierce my belly button (I had to remove it when I was pregnant), I fully expect that he will embrace that decision. If I suddenly decide that purple hair would be fun this summer, he must accept that. If he doesn't - well - that is indeed unfortunate and I truly hope he can find a way to adjust.

Look - when Ron started talking about shaving his head I was a little "OMG - what would THAT be like?" but I smiled and I said "Baby - you need to do what you feel is best for you." and eventually, after probably 18 months of personal deliberation, he shaved his head. And now I say "Good call, Love! You look hot." You know why he looks hot? Because he is confident, because he made a decision that was based on HIS needs and in his time. It is his personal style. He owns it.

Personal style... yours alone, or must you share? What say you, my bloggy and FB friends?

25 April 2009

Living Love

I said good-bye forever to a dear dear friend yesterday. My heart is too sore to write something fitting for my sweet Gunther - but this essay explains it perfectly.

Living Love
If you ever love an animal, there are three days in your life you will always remember... 
The first is a day, blessed with happiness, when you bring home your young new friend. You may have spent weeks deciding on a breed. You may have asked numerous opinions of many vets, or done long research in finding a breeder. Or, perhaps in a fleeting moment, you may have just chosen that silly looking mutt in a shelter--simply because something in its eyes reached your heart. But when you bring that chosen pet home, and watch it explore, and claim its special place in your hall or front room--and when you feel it brush against you for the first time--it instills a feeling of pure love you will carry with you through the many years to come. 

The second day will occur eight or nine or ten years later. It will be a day like any other. Routine and unexceptional. But, for a surprising instant, you will look at your long-time friend and see age where you once saw youth. You will see slow deliberate steps where you once saw energy. And you will see sleep where you once saw activity. So you will begin to adjust your friend's diet--and you may add a pill or two to her food. And you may feel a growing fear deep within yourself, which bodes of a coming emptiness. And you will feel this uneasy feeling, on and off, until the third day finally arrives.

And on this day--if your friend and God have not decided for you, then you will be faced with making a decision of your own--on behalf of your lifelong friend, and with the guidance of your own deepest Spirit. But whichever way your friend eventually leaves you---you will feel as alone as a single star in the dark night. If you are wise, you will let the tears flow as freely and as often as they must. And if you are typical, you will find that not many in your circle of family or friends will be able to understand your grief, or comfort you. But if you are true to the love of the pet you cherished through the many joy-filled years, you may find that a soul--a bit smaller in size than your own---seems to walk with you, at times, during the lonely days to come. And at moments when you least expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, you may feel something brush against your leg--very very lightly. And looking down at the place where your dear, perhaps dearest, friend used to lay---you will remember those three significant days. The memory will most likely be painful, and leave an ache in your heart---As time passes the ache will come and go as it has a life of its own. You will both reject it and embrace it, and it may confuse you. If you reject it, it will depress you. If you embrace it, it will deepen you. Either way, it will still be an ache.

But there will be, I assure you, a fourth day when---along with the memory of your pet---and piercing through the heaviness in your heart---there will come a realization that belongs only to you. It will be as unique and strong as our relationship with each animal we have loved, and lost. This realization takes the form of a Living Love---like the heavenly scent of a rose that remains after the petals have wilted, this love will remain and grow--and be there for us to remember. It is a love we have earned. It is the legacy our pets leave us when they go. And it is a gift we may keep with us as long as we live. It is a love which is ours alone. And until we ourselves leave, perhaps to join our beloved pets--it is a love that we will always possess. 
~ Written by Martin Scot Kosins ~ 
Author of "Maya's First Rose" 

I miss you already, Gunther. Pretty sure I always will.

18 April 2009

Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks...

Okay - let me start with this disclaimer: It is not, on ANY level, my intention to impugn Ron's efforts with our yard. He works hard. Very hard. He spends a lot of time on his days off trying to work on our yard. So please, no one get the idea that I blame any of this in any way on him.

That said... I hate yard-work. If you read my 25 Things on FaceBook you know how I feel about gardening. This is similar. I grew up in an apartment building with a doorman so the idea of running around on a mower and pulling weeds and, heaven help us all, picking up sticks is completely foreign to me. Sure, we could cut down these beautiful centuries old trees and maintain a beautiful, golf-course lawn - but then we would displace all those indigenous species and I just don't think that is a fair trade-off. Unlike work inside the house, yard-work in a "natural" yard in the Pinelands of New Jersey merits precious little results.

For example - when I clean the bathroom, I am left with sparkling white surfaces, smudge-free mirrors, fluffy towels and a lovely smell. When I spend two hours wandering around our back yard picking up assorted styles and sizes of sticks, I am left with two monstrous piles of sticks which never.go.away! This past Monday Ron spent a fair amount of time our there with a chipper working on these piles. He swears he made a significant dent in them - but seriously, there are still two very large pile of sticks in our yard. And it makes me crazy.

Our original plan was that we would burn these sticks when we go camping. Well, we have a diabetic dog who won't poop or eat when not at home so we no longer GO camping. So much for that plan. I just wheeled two large garbage cans full of sticks out front for the township folk to take away... and the piles do not look any smaller. It is Grape Nuts Syndrome at its best. No matter what you do, there are still more in the bowl.

14 March 2009

It's Just Nature!!

This past Friday, I spent the day subbing for PirateTeacherFriend. I enjoy being in that room for several reasons - I know that PirateTeacherFriend is happy with my efforts and has confidence in me (heck - it was his idea that I sub to begin with, so it is only fitting...) so I can relax and just do my thing. I also enjoy his class - there are some very bright and interesting little minds in that second grade room - and it doesn't hurt that they like me in there too... And sometimes, PirateTeacherFriend asks me to bring a movie...

Well - I arrived with "Stellaluna" (both the movie and the book), a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, some worksheets and even an outside game similar to MarcoPolo to help the kids learn about echolocation. Just in case. Instead - I notice I am being asked to show the students "The March of the Penguins" since it ties in nicely with the Language Arts unit. Makes perfect sense, and in theory a wonderful idea. Seemingly innocent request... right?

Have you SEEN this movie?? It is incredibly sad even when one is not knee deep in hormones. It is a documentary, so even though it is only 80 minutes long, it FEELS much longer... For seven year olds... it gets even better - gasps of horror as the leopard seal gulps down a penguin... "Is it DEAD??" when a little chick freezes in the Antarctic's subzero temperatures - sniffles when the adult penguins abandon their young at the end of the film... Not what one would call a "fun" day - not hard, mind you, just not fun...

At the end of the movie... I posed a question: "Those of you who were horrified when the leopard seal ate that penguin, please tell me how that is different from you eating a hamburger..." One of the aforementioned bright, interesting minds raised his hand and said, "The hamburger is dead and the penguin was living."

'nough said...

18 February 2009


They said it would happen. They said I would probably find an assignment while subbing that I would not return to... I thought it might have been PE - but I would do it again even though it was not my favorite thing ever. I had one fourth grade assignment that was more than a little rough - but I would still return to that room and try it again. I had a fine day in the "behavioral room" a traditional "I'm not going back there - you can't make me" assignment for subs. So imagine my surprise to learn that the one thing I will not be doing again after tomorrow (because I have already given my word) is returning to a Pre-K room. I finally found the one thing that will make me exercise my right as a sub to just say no.

"Boys and Girls, this is Happy the Tooth! Do you know why he is happy?"
"That's his name"
"Yes, that's right - his name is Happy and he IS happy - because he is healthy. How do we keep our teeth healthy?"
"Exercise helps keep us healthy, that's true - what else?"
"What kind of food"
"Boys and girls, raise your hand if you think cupcakes are a healthy choice for our teeth." Half the class raises their little hands and the other half does not.
"I think we can choose something better" One student has a quivering lip...
"My tooth isn't happy"
"It's ok to have a cupcake once in a while if we BRUSH our teeth - but we should try to choose things like apples for snacks to keep our teeth super healthy"

Maybe it is crazy - but spending the day talking about Happy the Tooth and telling 3 and 4 year olds to keep their hands to themselves 6 million times in the space of an hour and trying to figure out how to play with them is not my idea of a day well-spent. Don't misunderstand me - on NO LEVEL am I impugning the efforts of those brave souls who do this on a day to day basis. In fact I admire and respect their ability to reach these little hearts and minds - but I am not able to fill their shoes even a little bit and maintain any kind of sanity.

A little while later - believe it or not - we had one student lose her first tooth ever. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle - out comes the tooth. Hurray! Little Suzie lost her tooth... Little Mary sees blood and starts screaming because Suzie is bleeding. OMG. Someone please - shoot me. It is a quicker death...

I seriously don't know how anyone can do that day after day after day....

So I am crying "Uncle". Tomorrow will be my last day in Pre-K. Ever.

(A special thank you to TaiChiInstructorFriend who was able to put up with my crabipotimus attitude last evening and restore my good humor... )

16 February 2009

I want to be a farmer...

We are webkinz-addicted here. All three of us have Webkinz and keep up our own little worlds on a fairly regular basis. I could say that I have one to keep my finger on the pulse of what the kids like - but that would be somewhat less than honest. Truth is - the games on there are about all I can handle - Cash Cow being my super-fave. What is really funny is that Ron has one. Actually, he has two. For months he ignored his - until recently he found a game on there that he likes (I think it is Zingoz POP or something to that effect) and has been on there periodically.

So - one evening a week or so ago, I walk in to the living room and there is Ron on his MacBook Pro surfing the web happily. He says to me "I think I am going to be a farmer." My brain immediately assumes he has lost his damn mind. I mean seriously... he just gets this big promotion to Director and he wants to be a farmer?! But I say "Like with corn?" and he says "And pumpkins and watermelon". Clearly - he has given this a lot of thought. "Oh - okay" I say as I return to the kitchen to quietly mull over what could be going on with my normally sensible husband.

About 15 minutes later he comes to the kitchen and says "You can buy an outdoor room - right? A yard?" "For what dear?" "For my farm." And then I realize - he means for his Webkinz! Holy CRAP! All along I think he is talking about a MAJOR life change when really he has found a way to earn KinzCash on Webkinz... He grows fruit and veggies on Webkinz and sells them at the "W Shop"... THIS is what he meant when he said he wanted to be a farmer.

Huge sigh of relief...


09 January 2009

You just never know...

I had a great day subbing yesterday. I was a sixth grade resource teacher for a planning day (this is a day when resource teacher and reg ed teacher collaborate to create lesson plans suitable for all students). In speaking with the teacher I was replacing for the day, she let me know that my only real concern would be one boy with ADHD who couldn't sit still for more than ten seconds at a time. Generally, ADHD behaviors don't bother me. I know what they are and let them go unless and until the affect another student. Okay - there is the back story.

So the small group of students arrived. I introduced myself and this boy (we will call him Steve) blurts out "are you the one who made that crane?" referring to the paper crane sitting on his teacher's desk. In the beginning of the year I left one every time I subbed in a room. "I am that one" I replied. "Would you make me one?" The delight and serious desperation on this sixth grader's face told me I had been given the gift of a much easier day...

"Steve," I replied "I will make you a crane with my best paper if you can find a way to help me out a little in here today." "Sure! he said - what do you need?" "I need you to do everything you can to be quiet and not disturb the students around you and share what you have in that awesome brain of yours - can you do that please?" "Okay - and then can I have a crane?" "Yes Steve - at the end of the day, you may take the crane home. I will make you one at lunchtime and put it right here so you can look at it."

For the rest of the day, all that was required was a quick reminder "Steve - you aren't acting like someone who wants to take this crane home." and Steve immediately did his version of sitting still. (Hey - if you have to sit on the chair with one foot tucked under you and bouncing a little to stay quiet and focused, so be it.) Honestly, I only had to remind him maybe three times... I had a great day... Just goes to show - you just never know... Sixth grade boys and origami cranes... plan only to be surprised

03 January 2009

It wasn't her fault...

If anyone is still reading here - this is part thirteen of Rebecca's Saga - which will be needing a better title very soon - I am open to suggestions!

The morning after the downpour found Rebecca on her sofa, the TV still on and a small knit throw wrapped tightly around her. She heard the weather man promise sunnier skies and highs in the mid 80's. Her head was splitting. Rebecca guessed that drinking half a bottle of wine by herself had not been her best move to date. She crawled into the bathroom fumbling for the Advil bottle and headed into the kitchen to make some coffee.

She waited impatiently while the coffee brewed and perused her lengthy to-do list. She realized that she still had plenty of work to lose herself in. Plenty of work to absorb her pain. She didn't need to be involved in this whole Becky, Vince and his sister/her mother-the-drunk disaster! She had floors to sand and walls to paint and cabinets to replace... flowerbeds... sidewalks... it was just so much, she thought... how will she ever get it done? She poured a cup of coffee and slowly sank into the papasan chair in the front room. The mantle clock sang out the Westminster Quarters - so it was quarter of - but quarter of what? She dozed off until they chimed again - 10 times... 10:00 am. She honestly couldn't remember the last time she had slept until 10:00 am and she remembered why - her whole morning was basically gone.

She finished her coffee and decided to end the suspense once and for all. WHAT was under that terrible linoleum? She needed her iron to heat the linoleum to weaken the aggressive adhesive. Unfortunately she was still unable to locate it in all the boxes. How much could an iron cost? Maybe she should just go get a new one. "One more time - just dig through all the boxes one more time." she told herself.

Paper lay all around her on the floor of the attic. She unwrapped box after box - item after item - no iron. Candlesticks, books, old CD's - no iron. Then she found the small cedar box. Carefully inscribed on the top were the words "Adel Rose Hayward". Rebecca's hands trembled as she ran them over the top of the box. For a while she just sat with the box in her lap. The last time this box was opened... she remembered it had been a clear, crisp spring morning. Tulips bloomed in the flower beds of the condo and birds sang. Beautiful... but not as beautiful as the small perfect baby who slept on her shoulder. There was something about this child - she was so sweet tempered with beautiful blue laughing eyes. When she slept on Rebecca's shoulder Adel brought a kind of peace to her that she never thought possible. Rebecca opened the cedar box and carefully dressed her daughter in the christening gown sent by Rick's parents who were on business in Italy. It was a beautiful gown - long and lacey - arduous to put on an infant. Such a happy day. They had been so proud, she and Rick. They were a family. Everything felt shiny and new and full of promise. Who would have guessed they would only have six more months?

Rebecca opened the box and carefully took out the gown. So small - so pretty. She held it tight to her chest rocking back and forth. That last day... cold and rainy, wind aggressively blowing leaves from the trees, not ideal conditions for travel. Why did she HAVE to go that day? Why not wait for a clearer day? Was it so important t return a movie on time? Couldn't it have been late? No - no it couldn't. Rick would never have liked a movie being returned late. She blamed him a little, but she knew that she decided to return the movie because she was sick of being stuck in the confines of their condo. She wanted to get out just for a little - returning the movie seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the end, it hadn't been her fault. She was turning on a green light. The guy in the Suburban ran the light. The police report spelled it all out. He was looking at his GPS. He admitted it. Wasn't her fault. The car slid into a pole - wasn't her fault. The weather... It wasn't her fault... Rebecca was curled up in a ball on the floor sobbing. Tears and sweat streamed down her face. She continued to hold tight to the gown - crying until she fell into a fitful sleep.

01 January 2009

Welcome 2009!

I am a little late with this post - but have been working on it for about a week or so in my head... I don't do resolutions, I do goals. Resolutions bring out the rebel in me and I feel compelled to screw it up. Goals seem so much more "people friendly". Yeah - I know - it's a game of semantics. But it works for me, so whatever.

Some of these goals are big, some small - some are even a little superficial. But I want to work on all of these things.

Okay - My first goal is to get back to school. I need to work very hard this year to make sure this happens - the only remaining question is how does one get from a BA in Anthropology to teaching Special Ed. Hmmm... methinks I have my work cut out for me.

Second goal - I need to work more diligently on my TaiChi so that the next time TaiChiInstructorFriend goes on vacation and asks me to take the class while he is gone I will feel that I can do it. I am rather upset with myself that I couldn't bring myself to do this this time - I won't disappoint him again.

Closely related to my second goal is the third: To bring the number of regular participants in Yi's White Crane TaiChi Club up to ten. I have an action plan - and any of you who are local to me and have not at least TRIED the class - well - I would be grateful if you would help me out a little with this goal.

Fourth - very cliche and intentionally left off of last year's list is to lose weight. 61 pounds. Probably a little much for me in one year but you know, if you are not challenged to do the impossible, you will never do what is possible, right?? So we'll see how that goes.

Fifth - and this was not my idea, but I think I will try it anyway. I want to have something I have written, published. Preferably in print. I am told a magazine piece may work for me or possibly a poem. Look for more ramblings and attempts along these lines here.

I think that is plenty for one year. It is always interesting to see how it all shakes out...

Real quick...

I want to let you know that if you love hummus, like WIlliam and I do, but hate how expensive it is... you should try making your own! It is seriously easy - check it out at Our Kitchen Klatch!