Monday, January 27, 2014

Some Ancient Calendar Wisdom

Nope, not from an ancient calendar.

Okay, actually totally from an "ancient" calendar -- the same one I was so excited about when I started this blog!  I found some quotes I had cut out and which made the move with us, but which never saw the light of day in Maine until recently.  Normally I'd spread them out over a few posts based on my mood, what's been happening in my world, etc. etc.  But these are too good -- and I've been sitting on them too long at this point -- to wait any longer.  A lot of them seem particularly relevant to my life at work.  (Awesome new principal notwithstanding, there's a lot of madness at work and I have come home more times than not recently, in fits.)

So, here they are, in no particular order:

Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked and never well mended.
Benjamin Franklin

When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.
William Wrigley Jr.

Miracles sometimes occur, but one has to work terribly hard for them.
Chaim Weizmann

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

In order to be walked on, you have to be lying down.
Brian Weir

Statistics are no substitute for judgment.
Henry Clay

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Robert F. Kennedy

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

Committee, n: A group of men who keep minutes and waste hours.
Milton Berle

I never gossip, but I can give you the names of certain people who do.
Judy Hampton

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas A. Edison

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw

Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play is free will.
Jawaharlal Nehru

Be and not seem.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
Henry Ford


I (Heart) My New Boss

If you've been following my handful of posts since school started, you know that our previous principal left and we had an interim principal through mid-November.  Our new principal has been in place since then, and although many of us were not sure what awaited us, I've had a few opportunities to interact personally with our  new principal.

She is stinkin' awesome.

It's so wonderful.  She's already made some major changes to philosophy/policy stuff -- stuff that was long overdue, and which needed fresh eyes. 

Work's not perfect, not by a landslide, but it's so nice to believe, truly, that positive things are on the horizon.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Update on Mick

Took Mick to the doctor today.  (Had to get special permission to leave work early without taking personal time, but the permission was granted.)  I was pretty impressed with the facility and the patience of the doctor.  Mick's appointment was at 1:30 and she was with us until 2:25.

She was able to take his staples out, which was good news.  He is still not cleared for any activity other than sleeping, resting, and watching non-flashy, non-action television.  No driving, no reading -- his plan is to get as close to 100% brain rest as possible. As the ED (did you know they call it an ED and not an ER now? Apparently, as hospitals have transitioned from the open bays with curtains to separate exam rooms, they've also renamed it from an Emergency Room to an Emergency Department) doctor said last weekend, at least the CT scan confirms that Mick does, in fact, have a brain.  I know it's probably been told 99 million times, but it's funny when you need a moment of levity.

My parents are still here (a full 10% of my readership!).  Because Wednesdays are my longest work days, they took us out to dinner last night. Originally I had planned to cook something tonight, but after Mick's appointment and getting all the way home without so much as a recipe in mind, my parents were happy to pick up some fried chicken tonight.  I just didn't have it in me to go fight the grocery store battle.  My dad always says he wants to be part of the Sweet As Pie test kitchen, and inevitably every time we see my parents, I cook little to nothing!  Tomorrow we're probably taking a trip to Target, and if we can go early enough -- and if I can sustain my dad's early-bird-dinner appetite until normal eating hours -- I will hopefully be able to cook when we get home.

I can't believe it's already been the better part of a week.  At work, our quarter ends Friday and midterms are next week.  Quarter grades are due Wednesday morning, so this weekend I have an inhuman (impossible??!) amount of grading to do.  My parents are leaving Saturday morning, and my in-laws are coming for the night Saturday night.  I'm not sure what next week will bring, but at least it is a short week.

I've been swamped this week, even with having my parents here, so I've not written much. But I did cook a Trisha Yearwood recipe last week.  I am hoping to get some time this weekend to post a bit and fill in some of the details about last weekend.

Oh!  And in some more happy news, it's been above freezing most of this week!  After what has so far been a relentless winter, this respite has been wonderful.


Monday, January 13, 2014


Warning: one of these may turn your stomach. If you get queasy, turn away now.

This was part of our Saturday.

Note the nicely sanded driveway, courtesy of our local fire department. Underneath the nice sand is so much ice you could put on skates and play hockey.

This was the end result of our Saturday:

Mick is fine. Details to come.  I am just exhausted, and this is going to be a long post.



WHM has been asking for about three months now.  All he wants is to play hockey. Hockey, hockey, hockey.

His preschool teacher -- long story here -- was amazingly generous and gave us all of her 5-year-old son's gear. (His older brothers play college hockey and he wanted to play but didn't like it. His gear was essentially brand new, and we were lucky enough to get it.)

Mick signed up WHM for one local learn-to-skate program, and then found out about a second learn-to-skate, learn-to-play program across town.

(We live in Maine. Need a rink? We have 'em. Oh, what's that? Your kids are going to play for the Bruins one day? So are everyone else's.)

Fact: for our entire marriage, Mick and I have talked about hockey, and how if we were ever hockey parents, HE would take the early ice times.  Fast forward to WHM's hockey clinics, and Mick has a job that requires 4 hours a week -- on Saturday mornings.

So … guess who gets to take WHM to hockey?!

Anyway.  Last weekend, Mick was a trooper and got WHM to the first rink, all dressed and on the ice. Then CAM and I followed just about 30 minutes later and took over from there.  That allowed Mick to see the bulk of one clinic, and then I took over and got WHM across town to the other clinic.  In between, we managed to fit in a kids' workshop at Home Depot.  It worked out well!

Poor WHM.  The first clinic was a bit disorganized and he truly in his four-year-old precious little mind expected to get on the ice and skate. No matter what we prepped, he simply didn't believe it.  So by the time CAM and I got to the rink, WHM was sobbing -- not from being intimidated, but from poor frustration.

We packed him up and after our workshop, got to the second clinic.  THEY WERE AMAZING.  The local hockey team buddied up with all the kids and WHM had the captain of the hockey team with him, one-on-one, for an hour.  It was enough to make me almost cry. While the other clinic wasn't quite "up to mid-season speed," this one barely gave me a moment to process.  More importantly, they barely gave WHM a moment to process.  I walked him to the boards, and a coach came over, talked to him, and whisked him across the ice to the center line before WHM could even say "bye."  He LOVED it!

Here are some pics.  I'll try to post videos as well.

In the meantime, all WHM has done every day is to come home from school, put on his hockey pads, and "skate" in his socks.  He also takes his hockey stick up and down the hallway -- sometimes he's lefty, sometimes righty.  He's still working out the details.


Mick getting WHM all set at clinic (and rink) #1.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mistakes …

… are proof that you are trying.

I saw that on Pinterest, and I really like it.  It's a good philosophy that I think applies to virtually everything. I have made lots of mistakes and I really appreciate the sentiment that I'd have never made them if I wasn't at least trying. Trying is better than not trying.

If I still had a classroom, I'd post a big poster: Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying.  I'd print it on sticky notes and attach them to tests.

(Actually, now that I said that, I think I may do that last part anyway.)

(Heck, I may just make five copies of the same poster and hang it in every room I visit.)

Anyway, I like it and wanted to share it. Hopefully you find some inspiration in it as well!


Ah, Work

After a Christmas vacation that was supposed to end New Year's Day (as in, back to school January 2), but snow days January 2 and 3 and then a bonus ice storm day yesterday, January 6, we finally had school again today.  As I told Mick this morning while we were getting ready, the thing about my job is I wish I didn't have a job.

Today mostly proved me right on that one, and I have the headache to prove it.

But then there was this conversation on the drive home with the kids today:

(the radio starts playing a Taylor Swift song)

CAM:  Mommy, it's Taylor Swift!
Me: I knoooow, honey!  Yay!
CAM: You know what?  I am Taylor Swift's biggest fan.
Me: I bet you are, honey-bunny.
CAM: You know why? Because SHE is my favorite singer.
WHM: What about Sweet Home Alabama?

That right there?  That's why I love my life.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Obligatory New Year's Post? Not Really.

Happy 2014, everyone! It is so trite to disappear for so long and come back today, but it's also fitting. We get this fresh start and the promise of a blank slate, and my goodness, I'm taking it!

I won’t even begin to apologize for my extended absence.  And I don’t typically make resolutions, and we all know I have broken many a promise to “write more soon” here.  But I do make goals, and I am hereby promising and resolving that I have made some goals for this new year.

First of all, I will get back into writing.  I’ve even had a few folks comment privately to me that they miss my check-ins and that I need to write more.  Who knew?!  Thank you, my dear friends, because you made my heart swell a little by telling me you not only were following (or at least checking in) every now and then, but that you enjoyed it.  Thank you.  That’s not pride; that’s humble thanks.

I’ve been down a lot last year, and I stopped writing for a few reasons.  Primarily, it was because I stopped having much fun to say – or at least, I was told I did too much complaining.  I am quite sure that’s true (although I’d like to reserve the option that my honesty is not always complaining, even if it was sometimes interpreted that way. Perception is reality, so if it’s coming across as complaining …) 

I also obviously keep a very different schedule than I did in Georgia, and my computer time here has been mostly in the evenings, sitting at the desktop in the living room. In turn, this means that if I am writing, I am not participating in family time.  Not that we do much of “family time,” but we are at least all together, and if I'm on the computer or Mick is engrossed in his iPad, we're not really present. Since that was my only real free time (I can’t/won’t -- mostly can't, but wouldn't anyway -- blog at work), blogging took a back seat to try to keep my priorities right. I am not sure how I'll work out my schedule, but I will figure it out.

Second of all, one way or another I am going to get back to cooking.  I fell off the wagon about Sweet As Pie.  And that happened for a few reasons.  First – the grocery shopping!  My word, it has become such a chore for me to grocery shop since we moved to Maine.  I can’t quite figure out why (although neither Hannaford nor Shaw’s is even in the same universe as Publix), but I don’t enjoy it. And the prices!  Oh, the prices. So a simple cooking club recipe has gone from something I shop for after tutoring and cook the afternoon after pre-school to a daunting endeavor requiring budgeting of both time and money, and the patience to grocery shop, to boot.  But I’ve also made no secret of not really liking the lack of cooking through a book anymore. There were just too many un-vetted recipes.  Recipes that were in poor formats where I first had to translate what, exactly, they wanted me to do, or recipes that were “diet” or just Pinterest nonsense – let’s be honest, more often than not, Pinterest recipes are failures.  I just couldn’t get my heart into it. That’s not to “call out” anyone who picked any diet or healthy or “fit” recipe.  I think those are noble, and the recipes may well have been tasty and healthful. It just wasn’t for me.  Gosh, this sounds so incredibly mean.  I don’t even know who picked what anymore, so I assure anyone and everyone that this is nothing personal.  It’s just that for me, the cooking club was about trying new recipes for meals and sides and desserts, and homemade granola or "diet" mushroom pizzas that cost nearly $20 didn't exactly whet my appetite.  So, between my lack of enthusiasm for the cooking club and my lack of enthusiasm for the shopping (and, let’s be fully open here, for even cooking at all anymore sometimes – sometimes, I just hated everything about everything), it just faded away.  THAT will change this year.  Even if I make my own “Cook Through This Book” club of one, I need for my own sanity to get back to cooking. It's not as if we don't go to the grocery store; I need to just make my lists better and with more lead time to make extravagant recipes fit our budget better.

So there are two Not Resolutions: to write more, and to cook more. I am also going to try to tackle some of the things on my “101 Things” list, the deadline for which is rapidly approaching.  Anyone want a cake from one of my Williams-Sonoma pans?!

from Looking for Mary, by Beverly Donofrio. I found this book at Goodwill a few months ago and have been reading it on and off. This paragraph really stuck with me.  It's not really as random as it seems; she'd gone on a hike and when she got to the end of the trail she was angry that there was no "scenic overlook."  It was only when she was kicking dirt and turned to come back that she saw it.
I’m still me, and I still miss “home,” wherever it may end up, but I’m trying to keep things positive.  There was a time when a friend described me as always finding alternative perspectives and looking for the best of people.  I have lost some of that and am trying to get back there.

I am having a simultaneously better and worse year at work this year compared to last, and that’s certainly something that warrants some more exploration and explanation. Mick is still without a real full-time job, and our struggles there continue, but we've settled into a bit of a routine and we've figured out at least where we don't want to be, even if not quite where we want to be!  WHM is thriving in his pre-school – yes, the full-time program that I literally sobbed about for hours because I didn’t want to send my baby to full-time school, has turned out to be absolutely amazing.  CAM is also loving her first grade class and she has a teacher who’s been doing this for 37 years. Mrs. J is nothing short of amazing, is everything a great teacher should be, and I have come to the conclusion that despite all my misgivings about so many things the past 18 months, God put us here for a reason, and that reason may well have been these two teachers and this school experience for CAM and WHM.

And that’s about it.

I turn 40 this year and there are a lot of blessings in my life. I've struggled for 18 months with feeling like a failure in just about every way imaginable, and it's killing me. I've got to make this year count.  I said when I started teaching at 26 that I didn't want to wake up one day and be 40 and be floundering ...  and well, it's looming.  I have the power to change things, and although sometimes I wake up and have no idea what to change because I don't know what I want to do, I do know that I can do better in a whole lot of ways.

I'm taking on this world this year, because one day, I want to hand it to my kids.

And in the meantime, I’m back on the blogging and cooking wagon … I promise