Wednesday, September 30, 2009

15 Words

I zealously edit student essays

Blogger edits the list of blogs I follow

Paybacks stink

Monday, September 28, 2009

When is Friday?

It was the kind of week-end that left us exhausted and longing for the next week-end. A sample of what was what:


Boy Scout camping:


9th grade homecoming. Our district has separate buildings for the ninth graders. (I love that concept!) Our school discouraged dates and limos. In other words, it was a really pressure-free, fun dance. And even better? Our tired girl got up Sunday morning to read the scripture lesson at church. She's a great public reader!

And church:

Checkered getting ready to race our pastor. We (meaning Checkered and the kids) won!
I'm not sure if they were frogs or Israelites trying to get out of Egypt. Checkered might or might not have thrown in a few elbows on the turn.

Our prizes for winning? A frog. Yep. We now have a frog.

The rest of the prize: a plague survival kit (Calamine lotion, insect repellent, a flashlight, et cetera.)

After church: Lunch with our favorite youth pastors!

And then there was the activity of Sunday afternoon and evening: setting up a frog tank, watching the Lions get their first win in 20 games (!!!!), choir practice, yard work, and school bags packed.

I need it to be Friday already.

Friday, September 25, 2009

FF: The Eating Edition

I'm making progress on this diet. Nearly three weeks into counting my WeightWatchers points, and after riding the water-weight roller coaster, my poundage is down between 7-10 pounds. I could be more accurate, but that would require more than my cheapo scale. Checkered has taken to weighing in on an industrial scale at work and has invited me to join him there, but using an industrial scale does something to my self-esteem.
The painful research by others: As we get more responsible around here regarding food, here are a few things to consider courtesy of the wonderful newsletter, Nutrition Action Health Letter

Olive Garden's Tour Of Italy is a trip no one should take.
This entree has 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 3,830
milligrams of sodium. If you add a single breadstick and some salad and
dressing and you will have eaten an entire day's worth of calories (2,000)
in one meal.

The Cheesecake Factory: Chris' Outrageous Chocolate Cake. It looks wonderful. It sounds wonderful. But each "five-inch slice weighs three-quarters of a pound and has 1,550 calories and 32 teaspoons of sugar. By the time you hit the exit, your
arteries have 43 grams of saturated fat circulating in them that they didn't
have when you walked in. It's as though you had ordered three McDonald's
Quarter Pounders for dessert."

Now what about those food frauds (as NAH calls them)?
"Smucker's Simply Fruit .
All varieties of Smucker’s
Simply Fruit contain more fruit syrup than actual fruit. And the syrup doesn’t
even come from the fruit in the products’ names, but from
(cheaper) apple, pineapple, or pear juice concentrate.

DanActive 'immunity' dairy drink. This Dannon product claims to help “strengthen your body's defenses.” But the only study Dannon did to see if drinking DanActive kept people from getting sick found that it didn’t!"

Research I've eaten:

*We love chili. Last week we ate Gina's Bean Turkey Chili. Oh my. It was so good that we are having it again tonight. Near disaster was averted though today when I checked the crock pot before I left for work. The chili had been cooking for two hours but didn't smell good yet. Yes, the crock pot was unplugged.

*And then there's dessert!
Gina, through Weight Watchers has taught me that one may use any box of cake mix, 10 ounces of any diet pop, and two egg whites to make a cake or cupcakes. The diet pop replaces the oil and fat!! Mix and bake according to the directions on the box. The cupcakes are 1.75 points each. Top one with fat free Cool Whip to make yourself smile! (Hint: the Red Velvet cake mix I used with Diet Pepsi maybe wasn't the best combo. )

*One teaspoon of Splenda's brown sugar is actually higher in points than plain old Domino light brown sugar. ????

My own painful research:
My high school daughter refuses to wear a flashing light on her head, so rather than have her walk the 1/2 mile dark stretch to the bus stop at 6.30 every morning, I drive her and then I return home to get a boy to middle school. Then I return home and get two more boys to elementary school. To perk up and save some calories, I've taken to drinking a cup of hot tea before my first little commute every morning. A little Splenda, a little beneficial green tea and I'm set. It was unfortunate last week that I used Sleepy Time tea by mistake.

P.S. Pushing a shopping cart slowly but steadily around the grocery store does, in fact, count as exercise. I'm sure the really smart people already knew that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I Might Have Missed

"The dawning of a new day is always ripe with promise."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

15 Words

Welcome to this class Wednesday's newest meme: 15 Words.
The rules?
Describe your life, your day, your mood, your minute ... anything ... using
no full sentences
no coherence
no pix
all in 15 words!!
That's it. Good luck.
You expect me to play?
I HAVE to participate?
Here I go with my first 15 Words.
Mourning Iced Capps
Missing banana splits
blasted diet
my thighs
are still rubbing together
Now go over to Wendy's and tell her how smart she is for creating this meme.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Consternating the World Post by Post

You all did it. In my search for Wednesdays, you treated me to enough good suggestions so that I don't have any excuse NOT to post on Wednesdays now. And rest assured, I've been looking through the dresser drawers, under the beds, in the back of the pantry - everywhere - just trying to find an excuse. I've written myself several epistles all arguing for Wednesday-free blogging, and I must say, I like the lawyerly tone I've adopted. But I've been overruled by my favorite judge: me. I will remain a Wednesday blogger.

The first new idea I'd like to try came from my neighbor and friend, Wendy. Miss Wendy thinks we should have a "Just Words Wednesday."
  • no full sentences
  • no paragraphs
  • no pix

I'm loving Wendy's idea. Here's an example she wrote:

Dreading the week
Having a nap
What to make for dinner?
Dog sitting
Summer ending
For those of you shaking your heads, squinting your eyes, and being just plain, old consternated (English teachers have a built-in license to transform any noun into any other word form they wish. It comes with the highly marketable and high paying degree they worked years to earn. Thank-you for asking.)wondering how this differs for my typical stream of consciousness blogging, here's the answer:
I want to try to do this in exactly 15 words.
So, what's the state of your week or emotions or day or blog or dinner planning or dieting or dresser drawers?
Post it tomorrow in 15 words.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I don't know which part was sweeter.

The request:

"Daddy, do you want to read my new J.R.R. Tolkien book with me?"


the response:

"I sure do, buddy."

Friday, September 18, 2009

FF: The Causal Chain Edition

I once read a novel about the food photography industry. It was fascinating to learn things like the best way to photograph a turkey is to keep is uncooked and cover it with shoe polish. I suppose now with digital photography and editing, a novel about the food photography industry would be pretty boring: "I raced to my laptop, opened Photoshop and added layers. Next, I added more layers!"

That makes me think about
Gina. She has a blog full of delicious Weight Watchers' recipes. But really makes the blog amazing is her food photography. Not all of the recipes I've tried have turned out good enough to repeat, but maybe they would have if they had looked like the pictures did.

That makes me think about
people and why so many of them post yucky recipes to these online food sites. Have you ever noticed how many readers say, "Your recipe was so-so, but I fixed the recipe this way..."

That makes me think about
my child and how we're on a journey to understand what makes him function the way he does in certain situations. Why, when we need to share an update with someone who has graciously asked about him, does that person always want to say, "Oh, that's nothing. He's just like my child blah, blah, blah." I know I'm guilty of the same thing and I'm not going to do that to other people anymore.

That makes me think about
how I've told Checkered for years that HE needed to exercise and how all that TELLING and not DOING have resulted in this current diet (where we have each lot about 10 pounds in water weight, I know, but I would gladly spend the next year in the bathroom if it meant not having to use a rubber band to keep my pants closed and pins to keep my blouses from having those gaps between buttons.)

That makes me think about
Jillian Michaels and her 30 Day Shred. I've been doing the exercises Comcast shows on On-Demand. They include a 30 minute circuit of 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of ab work again and again again. She yells at me about not stopping, but if I don't stop there will be a heart attack and Jillian is stuck in my t.v. and incapable of giving me CPR. You
had better believe I take breaks.

That makes me think about
how this is the first semester ever that some of my students don't leave at break time. Of course, they are killing me with their refusal to participate in class discussions.

That makes me think about
a person I literally ran into this week while we were both trying to go opposite directions through a doorway. I know that person. My child was just in her class for an entire year, but when I greeted her, all she could say was, "Hahweh...." I probably knocked all the air out of her, but I prefer to think she was too shy to speak when removed from her natural classroom habitat.

That makes me think about
science. Did you know that I heard on the news this week that a person may be contagious up to one week AFTER flu symptoms fade?

That makes me think about
my work friend who hasn't taught at the same campus I do for a year and how she said we were now virtual friends. But yesterday, when she ran in high heels the length of a parking lot to hug me and she wasn't even panting from running in those heels (the pesky marathon runners!) I was thinking about how much I love my virtual then real then virtual again friends and how someone recently told me he doubted that my blogging friends were actually real friends.

That makes me think about


Thanks, Sara and Mrs. 4's.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Calling Mr. and Mrs. Fix-it!!!

Does anyone know how to unstick a stuck tuning slide on a trombone? It was such a good deal on Ebay, too!!! I've read that we can let a penetrating oil soak on it overnight, but the risk is ruining the slide in the process of trying to pull it out. Help, please?

Calling all cooks!!!

My mom and I need a good recipe for a big pot of spaghetti sauce. She is a great cook and I imitate her sauce pretty well, but she needs to bring sauce to a church dinner on Sunday and we haven't cooked such a large batch in years. Want to share a recipe with us ??

Thanks :))))

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shopping for Wednesdays

I am shopping. Right here. Right now. That giddy news is enough to make me weak in the knees (or that could simply be my 10 minutes of 30 Day Shred. Yes, 10 minutes. I'm practicing portion-control in all things.) Shopping! No teen daughter to grimace at each item I choose. No middle-school boy to groan should I unthinkingly take his hand. No 9 year old to chant, "I need a pretzel. I need a pretzel." No 7 year old to announce ad nauseum , "This is boring. This is dumb."
Oh yes. I'm shopping but I'm shopping with you all!

What's on the list today?
Weight Watchers' recipes for ground turkey? "NO!!!" come the cries of my family. "Any more ground turkey in a week would constitute abuse!"

The brown leather furniture I would look so good sitting on? No sadly.

The new fridge which is surely going to be needed soon? No.

The new sinks for the bathroom which will accent the new paint which will go up after the wallpaper will finally come down which may never happen at the rate I'm traveling? Um, no.

The scale which only weighs up to 10 100 1000 pounds? Not in this lifetime.

The housekeeper who probably desperately would like to clean my house each week gratis? No? Excuse me while I openly sob here.

What I AM shopping for is a meme, a blog carnival, an idea to make Wednesdays more exciting around this Wednesday-empty computer. I've heard of Wordless Wednesdays and Almost Wordless Wednesdays, but is there anything else out there? Something scintillating. Something captivating. Something...okay, really now, pretty much anything?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday's Trivia

It's Tuesday and I'm brimming with trivia!!! Bring on the laundry facts:

• Men throw in a few loads now and then, but women do 88 percent of the

• In a typical household, more than 6,000 articles of clothing are machine-washed each year. The average wash load
at home contains 16 items.

• People in the southern part of the U.S. wash the most often while those on the East Coast wash the least.

• 50 percent of all loads are washed in warm water, 35 percent in cold, and 15 percent in hot.

• Consumers have an average of eight laundry products in the laundry room: three types of detergent, one regular sodium hypochlorite bleach, one oxygen color-safe bleach, two fabric softeners (a liquid and dryer sheets), and one stain remover.

• People in the East are most likely to use bleach (what are you all bleaching if your stuff is at the dry cleaners??).

SOURCE: Soap and Detergent Association

And lastly, I don't really know what people's laundry habits are regionally, but I know what my neighbor does with his. At first I thought they were ghosts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How is it that I disagree with Rochelle Riley?

Rochelle Riley is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Her writing style is an easy read and her thoughts usually get my brains cells to come to life. But last week, Ms. Riley and I disagreed. I suppose that if I were more resolute in my political opinions, we would disagree more often. I like being flexible politically-speaking and admittedly, can often be encouraged to learn a multitude of ways - issue by issue, but this time, I'm not leaning Rochelle's way.

Like many of us, Ms. Riley was incensed at Joe Wilson's shout-out during President Obama's speech last week. She denounces his timing, his word choice, and his ethics, and she now believes Mr. Wilson owes the American people an apology.

I agree until that last point. Mr. Wilson broke with tradition. He showed rude behavior. He spoke from anger. For all those things, he has apologized to the only person deserving of an apology, President Obama.

Does Mr. Wilson have a right to be angry? I suspect so when I hear that there is currently no provision in the bill for a person to prove citizenship in order to receive health care. That matters to me, too. Will this specific bill, if passed into law, cost me dear tax dollars? Will this bill lessen the caliber of health care I receive now? I sincerely believe the answer to both is yes.

Are there other avenues for Mr. Wilson to express his anger? Of course. But
does Mr. Wilson owe ME an apology for disrespecting tradition and Mr. Obama? He does not. Have the politicians who have booed or hissed previous presidents, thereby interrupting their speeches, apologized to anyone? Have you read about apologies to those presidents? I certainly never received an apology either. Nor have I received apologies from politicians who interrupt presidential addresses with politically-charged ovations or those who openly disrespect a president by not clapping before, during, or after those speeches. And I'm still waiting to hear an apology from the pols who sneer whenever a president is being lauded.

Ms. Riley believes that Mr. Wilson has ruined his political future, but I continue to hear people who feel Mr. Wilson spoke for them that night. As one caller said during a radio show, "It just felt so good!" Perhaps there are many other South Carolinians who feel that way, too.

Mr. Wilson was doing what he was elected to do. He was voicing an opinion and speaking for his electorate. I like free speech. I like it even better when it is done with care and in appropriate settings. And I like it best of all when someone knows that they don't have to shout because they will be truly heard if they speak quietly and appropriately.

You know what, Rochelle Riley? We may not agree on this one, but you're still my favorite columnist.

Friday, September 11, 2009

FF: The I'm Watching You Edition

To the lady who had a cell phone ear piece tucked under her hair, but came up next to me and made eye contact and smiled, how did I know you were talking to the ear piece and not me?

To the karate sensei who came to the elementary school this morning to enroll his daughter, but stopped first to greet all his own students and tell them he was proud of how hard they were working:

To the Weight Watchers people out there who claim they're so full that they can't even eat all their points in one day: I am so hungry that if I could get up there, I would eat my roof. Every.single.shingle.

To my family who has sat on the floor all week because the clean and unfolded laundry has been on the one and only couch? I love you anyway! But, because I know you each know how to fold and put laundry away:

To Blogger, who informed me that I was already following each of the 10 blogs I signed up to follow yesterday and to the sophomores who talked to my freshman daughter on her first day on the high school bus: a virtual hug since any other type would make you throw up.

To the bus driver who is determined to leave the high school before the students from the other side of the building can get to the bus and to the city of Detroit which hovers on the verge of bankruptcy even while its 13,000 city employees demand lay-off negotiations with their 50 labor unions. Yes, 50.

To some mighty special ladies who have agreed to be my healthier living accountability partners (even though I feel that having accountability partners exposes me about as much as if I danced naked at work):

To the student who signs every email, "The girl with the pink hair":

To the stores which put away their school supplies the second day of school and before my child got his final supply list:

To Fiber One who tells me that their products may cause gastrointestinal discomfort: put that in larger print next time so I see it before I eat.

And finally, to


for letting me be fragmented each and every Friday:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Nasty Stop and then Justice

We forced our children into humiliation yesterday by stopping at Kmart for some last-minute school supplies. Kmart! What were we thinking? Could they have been any more embarrassed had we announced their names over the PA system?

"Excuse me. Is there a high school student here by the name of Daughter Flag? Is she really in KMART with her parents and three brothers? If so, could she come up front because a t.v. crew is here to record this to show at the high school tomorrow."

Things did get worse when our middle school boy actually saw someone he knew. They greeted each other in that strange middle school language and then both turned scarlet red.

Okay, back to the post.

On the way in, we noticed these cars parked nicely.

Then we noticed how this car was parked.

On the way out, after spending $5,000,000 for three folders and two notebooks and all the things I deemed necessary for me to begin Weight Watchers, we watched the driver of the white car maneuver to her vehicle.

In a very condescending tone, a big mouth my husband called out,

"Nice parking job."

Then we moved toward our car while watching the driver of the white car as it drove the wrong way down her lane. Checkered shook his head and wondered about the licensing procedure of our state.

The lane the car was traveling happened to be our lane and the white car came right toward us while the passenger offered his/her (impossible to discern) hand signals in commentary regarding what he/she thought of Checkered.

In response, Checkered shared with them yet another insight he had regarding their car. They continued to hand signal us as they merged with traffic and moved toward the busy intersection ... where they discovered that Checkered was right.

They were, in fact, driving with their trunk open.

And so justice was done by Checkered's standards.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


There is a law in Michigan which mandates that public schools may not begin their school year prior to Labor Day. When the law was enacted, it was estimated that this longer tourism season, coupled with businesses having student employees around for a longer season, would generate approximately 10 million extra tax revenue dollars. To date, there has been no proof whatsoever that the added money has ever materialized for the state. One columnist has asked if the researcher who came up with this great money-making plan also has a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.

Nevertheless, Labor Day is over and today is the day.

Godspeed, my children.

Friday, September 4, 2009

FF: THIS IS the longest ff ever

THIS IS Friday, so it's time for Mrs. 4's and Sara to host my jumbled thoughts. They really could be my newest BFF's for doing that.

THIS IS Marlene. She told me I could steal her Facebook image and post it here any time I wanted. I would have loved her even if she had said I couldn't.

THIS IS Hallie and she never said I could steal her FB image. I am, however, going to be a guest on her someday cooking show. She specializes in cereal for dinner. I've branched out to instant oatmeal.

THIS IS Jennifer. She gets more done by sunrise than the Army does. She is also a fantabulous photographer - though she refers to herself as just a farmhand. If, in three summers from now, she isn't the official Obama family photographer, we may well take a ride to Virginia so she can take my daughter's senior pix.

THIS IS my niece. Oh, how I love this girl! We are the only two lefties in the family, and she really gets literature. She also talks to me on FB. That's brave considering how old I am.

THIS IS Jeannelle. I think that if I put her picture on this blog every.single.week she will eventually give in and come visit me -- even if just to forcibly make me stop posting her picture.

THIS IS my dad, Checkered's father-in-law, and grandpa to a whole slew of kids. We're going to help him blow out a few birthday candles this week-end.

THIS IS a picture of two of my children getting ready to walk Pepper.

THIS IS how their brother dressed to walk with them through the neighborhood.

And THIS IS Pepper giving her valedictory address. We were shocked to learn that she's not such a great reader! That may well change where she goes to grad school.