Monday, February 28, 2005


Apparently, the Mid-Atlantic is bracing for a big Nor'Easter that's going to bring us 6-10 inches of snow. It was snowing lightly about a half-hour ago, and now, nada. Zip, zilch, rien, bubkes. Do the snow dance, y'all, 'cause I'm getting used to being a Stay-At-Home-Mom.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Snow Day! Time for a Guilt Trip.

Oh, the glorious snow day! All hail the Snow, which stops school buses from running! Hail the mighty Superintendent, who holds the power over thousands of people every morning, who chose to be merciful in his might and let us stay in our soft, warm beds this hibernal morn.

I was awakened at 5:30 am by a call from my Assistant Principal who told me that I could stay home today, as the buses couldn't get through the developments. Oh, joy! Oh rapture! Oh happiness unforseen! A day of rest!

Now that the traditional judeo-christian guilt is kicking in, I feel like I shouldn't be so happy. I mean, I had Monday off for Presidents' Day. I only worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and half of Thursday (we got out of school early on account of the snow), and now I'm off today. It was only a two-and-a-half day work-week. Do I really deserve to be so happy, when I didn't really work that much this week? Did I truly earn my happiness through good works?

Plus, we only had, like, 7 inches of snow. Midwesterners and New Englanders far and wide see 7 inches of snow and shrug. Should we, too, not adopt a more blasé attitude toward the stuff? Should we be so freaked out over a little frozen precipitation? If they can perservere, why do we get rewarded with a day of rest?

To add to the guilt, even though it was snowy enough for me to stay home from school, it wasn't snowy enough to stop me from taking my daughter to day care today so I could have some time to myself. I should be a better mommy and keep her home with me so she can spend time tormenting the dogs, building snow creatures, and watching Noggin instead of cavorting with her friends. Truly, the only reason I took her (besides the insane lure of time alone) is that they're doing this really neat unit on pets this week that I didn't want her to miss. Yeah, that's the ticket! Really.

And, I love that quiet house feeling. You know the one I'm talking about. The one where it's so quiet that you can hear all of the subtle creaks and groans of your home around you. You're lulled by the gurgles of the radiator as you read cozily on the sofa. The sound of the teakettle burbling in the kitchen is as loud as a rock concert. You can hear your dogs snore contentedly in the next room. You know, that kind of quiet. There is peace. Zen, if you will.

No little lead-footed child is tearing through the house, inciting the dogs to riot, and shouting for an apple at the top of her voice. There is no television eternally prattling in the background, blaring out advertisements for feminine hygeine products and medications for arthritis and erectile dysfunction. No mechanical talking toys are speaking their truths. There are no disagreements, no whining or tears, no admonishments, no discipline, and no shrieking.

There is only quiet, and the sound of that nagging guilt in my head, which I'm doing my best to ignore. Because it's a snow day. And those are meant to be enjoyed.

Which I shall do, with a cup of Tea, Earl Grey, hot. Tout de suite.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fair and Reasoned Debate

I'm not ranting. Really, I'm not. However, I feel compelled to write about the need for fair and reasoned debate. And politeness. Can't leave that out.

You may be asking yourself what brought this on. Good question, mes amis. Here's the answer: I was visiting a friend's blog, and was about to comment on one of his posts. When I arrived at the comments for the post in question, I saw:

You are [a] censoring fool. [some deleted] Your site sucks. Was I too liberal? Was I too smart? Was I too indicting? Was I too profane? Was I too honest? Was I too disagreeable? [some more deleted] I'm never coming back to read your crap....after all it's only for those who wholeheartedly support what you say, right?

Now, I fully sympathize with Anonymous's anger at having a post deleted. That always hurts. However, just look at the comments - "Your site sucks. I'm never coming back to read your crap..." How infantile can you get? Why not just hold your breath until you turn blue? Do you think anyone in the blogosphere really cares, Anonymous?

What really invoked my ire is that the poster in question called attention to his own liberal status. I, too, am considered liberal. I'm piqued by the fact that, through his own juvenile behavior, Anonymous has tarred all liberals with his childish brush. He degenerated to name-calling and schoolyard taunts. How civilized does that make the rest of us (i.e., liberals) look? It only reinforces the conservatives' low opinions of us and validates some of the criticisms of our most vocal critics (Coulter, O'Reilly, and Malkin, oh my!).

And whatever happened to manners? I was taught that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. I do, occasionally, indulge in what Éligère refers to as a "coup de snark," but not when I expect someone to take what I say seriously. That is the nub, the gist, the rub of what I am saying: if you want people to take you seriously, you have to speak like a reasoned and intelligent adult. You don't call people names because you disagree with them. That doesn't support your position, it merely vents your spleen. It doesn't make you look intelligent - quite the opposite: it shows that you have nothing better to say. Make your snarky comments about things that don't matter - Paris Hilton, Oscar fashions, or the OC.

Until you broaden your vocabulary, spare us all from your immature diatribes.

Hey Jude...

Check out the Onion for Jude's plan for his next 100 days and a recap of his administration's handling of his first 100. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Truth in Advertising...

From Melanie... Posted by Hello

Catch all the spoofs at

If only there was such truth in advertising. I'm addicted to romance novels - can't get enough of them. I just read one yesterday - a futuristic bondage/dominance scene - called Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars. Got any good ones to share? My reading list has a few openings right now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Work, Weddings, and Walking

Had an in-service this last Friday, or as my District likes to call it "Professional Development." It was completely worthless. I sat next to my friend Dave and passed notes. The morning was spent in gossip and idleness. After lunch, we had a conference call with some "expert" on a test that only the upper levels are giving. As Dave & I teach nothing but Level 1, we were understandably bored. It seemed to be catching, as we observed one of our administrators (and not a few teachers) falling asleep across the room.

In other weekend news, I went to a wedding: my next-door neighbors' youngest son just got hitched. He's 32, well-educated, and handsome. It's about darn time, according to his parents. His bride was lovely, of course, and both the ceremony and the reception were fantastic. I liked the ceremony, in particular, because it was completely secular and totally non-traditional. God was mentioned only once, and in the most general of senses. While I am neither anti-religion nor an atheist, I choose not to have a religion for myself. If I wanted one, I'd get one, but I'm doing fine on my own, thanks. I really liked my neighbors' ceremony, because I have never felt comfortable at an overtly religious wedding - including my own. Had I waited until I was older to get married, my neighbors' ceremony would have been my choice. As it was, I was 19 when I was planning my wedding, so anyone that was invited should feel lucky that they weren't munching Doritos straight out of the bag in my mother's back yard.

It snowed the day after the wedding, so we had some fun outside on President's Day. Mini-me and I took a walk up to the Dunkin' Donuts just to get out of the house. I had the iced coffee, she had a sprinkle donut. I LOVE DD's iced coffee - it's so refreshing! We stomped in the slushy gutters, made hard-packed snowballs, and walked in each others' tracks in the wet, melting snow. She was so tired when we came back, she sacked out for a 3-hour nap! Score!!! Gotta love those walks.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Survivor: Pulau

So I'm totally addicted to Survivor. Didn't watch the first one, but got completely sucked in by the Outback (paging Colby Donaldson, Colby Donaldson, STAT!). I've watched every one since, and was a total WRECK when Rupert got voted out of the All-Stars.

Anyhoo, I kind of liked how this one turned out. I completely identified with the tatoo-girl, even though I'm ink-free and pierced only in the conventional places. I was always picked last in gym class... Poor me ;-) Coby utterly betrayed her in the team picking and I hope she stabs him right back later in the game.

I liked Jolanda, but I think she was a tad too bossy. Also, Singing Lady had to go. She was just too annoying. But Jonathan! I admit, I'm shallow when it comes to buff young shirtless men. I really loved all the plotting going on from the very first hour they landed.

Looks like it's going to be a good season. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Look out, I'm incensed!

What do you think Professor Plum would have to say about the lovely flyer that we got in our mail today? If you haven't received it (and odds are, if you're not a teacher in Delaware, you'd have no idea what I'm talking about), here are the first 2 sentences (emphasis mine):

"What would you say about a school where all teachers were given the opportunity to fully teach all students? Where students were not placed in segregated settings because their needs were different than the majority of students?"

Isn't it nice that we're being "given the opportunity?" I love how they put the spin on total inclusion (for the layman, that's leaving special ed students in the regular classroom) - like they've been withholding some kind of privilege. And how about the fact that students are put in "segregated settings" (love the civil rights language, by the way) because they need more intensive help than the regular classroom teacher can provide and not bore the rest of the class that's learning at the expected pace? It's not as if they don't ever return once they've caught up to the rest of the class. I've seen it happen.

Listen to some more (once again, emphasis mine):

"This relatively new knowledge substantiates what many excellent educators have "known" for decades: that allowing for learner differences does not give students unfair advantages - learning is not a win lose situation, but gives teachers the opening to "level the playing field" of education so that all students have the best opportunity to learn."

Okay, so riddle me this: how is a playing field level if I have honors students in with special ed students? I would think that particular playing field could be used for the Moguls course at the next Olympics. And just exactly HOW would one TEACHER with such a class be able to level that playing field? That is an awesome responsibility, and I mean that literally. And you've gotta love how they've spun the line about subtantiating what excellent teachers have known for decades. Like we're wet-behind-the-ears, inexperienced know-nothings if we disagree with their theory.

Now let's talk about the rest of the statement - in particular about "allowing for learner differences does not give students unfair advantages" because, to be frank, this theory is not advantageous for any learner. To address what they are trying to say, if I allow for the fact that Johnny learns best by listening and that Suzie learns best by seeing visuals, then fine, I'm not giving Johnny or Suzie and unfair advantage when I present the material both ways. What they're talking about, though, is far more radical then just allowing for J & S's learning differences, and they know it. It's not just different "learning styles" they're talking about here - it's learning disabilities. Today's special education students have all kinds of accomodations - moreso than those of regular education students with special accomodation plans. As a relative of people with learning disabilities and veterans of the state's special education program, I wholeheartedly oppose what they're trying to do as not being in the best interest of the children that we serve. The beaurocrats are just trying to soft-soap us by telling us that "excellent educators have know [this] for decades" and implying that if we don't agree with it, then we're not excellent educators.

Which is a load of horsefeathers.

I am so sick of the academic utopians spouting theory from their ivory towers. They should come down into the real world and do more than merely observe a classroom. They should have to teach in the US public school system for at least 10 years before they're allowed to start a PhD in Education. Then, at their dissertation defense, there should be a panel of 50 teachers, one from each state, that critique their dissertation and explore its ramifications for their state. Only if they've proved themselves worthy to the people that will one day carry out their plans, should their PhD be approved.

I won't hold my breath, though.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

I'm not an embittered modern singleton posting about the emptiness of a schmaltzy holiday. Nope, I'm fine with Valentine's Day. I mean, my husband, the aforementioned cheap bastard, doesn't do much, but what he does, I appreciate. I even love my card this year. It's an e-card, that really says it all. Here's the site. Send one to your friends today. They're a hoot!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Weekend plans

Because I'm married to the World's Cheapest Man (miser, skinflint, pennypincher, mean), I have to be creative about holidays. Not only won't he spend much on me, but I can't spend too much on him, either. So for Valentine's Day, I asked him to watch the offspring for the day while I go to a Scrapbooking Crop. He loved it - it won't cost him a thing! Well, he may take the wee sprog to McDonald's for lunch, but what's the cost of a Happy Meal compared to, say, diamond earrings?

Anyway... I haven't scrapbooked in a while. I used to be very into it - I was on a couple of Design Teams and used to write articles on scrapbooking for a now-defunct scrapbooking website. Lately, though, I just haven't felt that artistic. So I'm going to immerse myself in scrapping this Saturday (8 whole hours!) and see what comes out of it. I usually post my work at the Scrapbook Playground. Feel free to check it out if you like that kind of stuff.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?

In the C-SPAN interview, Bush expressed doubts that TV oversight is a governmental, rather than a familial, job. "As a free-speech advocate, I've often told parents who were complaining about content, 'You're the first line of responsibility. They put an off button on the TV for a reason.' "

Holy Cow! I actually agree with him about something! I wonder if I have to turn in my liberal card now. Perhaps not, as my Dad (another big liberal) always said "Censorship, like charity, begins in the home - now turn that crap off!"

Perhaps my friend Dave will see this quote and get off the collective backs of the "lefties" and realize that free speech is important to everyone. So says his President, after all. Be sure to check out his post about the value of free speech to the left and drop him a line about it. He loves comments.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I am an Oy-ster. Yiddish words find their way into my speech. Shmuck is a favorite, as is dreck. Occasionally, I have uttered the word "shmata" when referring to some of Paris Hilton's best get-ups. I never realized, though, how often I peppered my speech until tonight.

I was putting my 3-year old to bed. After the bedtime story, the drink of water, and the pats on the back, I leaned over to tousle her hair and kiss her goodnight. My hand encountered a chunk of grit (some kind of rock!) in her hair, and I exclaimed "What the heck is in your hair, boo-boo?" Her answer?


Laissez les bons temps rouler!

It's Mardi Gras! Put on your favorite Zydeco music and beg for some beads! Don't forget to eat a slice of King Cake, or if you're actually down in New Orleans, grab a beignet for me. I'm making do today with student-made King Cake and giving out beads for prizes today.

Seriously, for all the French teachers out there, I got this DVD from Tralco-Lingo Fun called "New Orleans and Mardi Gras: the Experience" and it's fabulous. It comes with a lesson guide with blackline masters for classroom activities. If you were so inclined, you could do a whole week on Mardi Gras. I didn't have the time, so I spent 3 days (2 days more than normal) on it. I had my students separate into Krewes (they named themselves - I had one group name themselves The Cretins, and another The Trojans. They're in middle school. You can imagine the ribald riposte after that name was announced), and I quizzed them all about the DVD - we watched it yesterday. They were fantastic! I gave out all my beads.

I also got mask kits from Carlex, which were outstanding. The kids loved this mini-lesson, and it was a nice break from the more serious stuff. Plus, it was one lovely example of French culture thriving in the US - a rare thing, indeed.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Cookies, revisited

In support of the two teen cookie bakers, I'm posting a cookie recipe. It's a new one to me - just tried it out yesterday. My father-in-law requested a batch of chewy chocolate chip cookies for Christmas. All my previous attempts came out crispy (not that he complained - he never met a cookie he didn't like), so I turned to the Guru of Food Science, Alton Brown for an answer. He gave me this one, which turned out pretty well. I think I'll up the salt a touch and cut the bread flour with regular next time, as the cooled finished product crossed the line from chewy to doughy. Here it is. Enjoy!

And if you decide to leave your neighbors any, please deliver them in person during daylight hours.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Dangerous cookies!

Honestly, just what have we come to that this case has merit?! I'm so upset at the judge in this case, too, for fining the two girls that only sought to do something nice for their whack-job of a neighbor.

I hope from now on the only packages left on her front steps are flaming sacks of dog poo.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

the Iggles

So I live in the tiny state of Delaware, which has no pro football team. We root for the Philadelphia Eagles around here. My family, being mostly from Pennsylvania, pronounces the team's name as "Thee Iggles." Look for us then, on Sunday, to be cheering our brains out for the Filulfia Iggles.

Personally, I think the Patriots have a decent shot at taking this one. Brady looked on top form last game. I usually only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. Last year's commercials were not up to par. I'm hoping they improve this year.


The first time I ever heard this word used was by my friend Brent, who was referring to the state of being he was headed to as he downed his third beer. As it happens, I might also be perquacky tomorrow, as it's Happy Hour after school!

Margaritas, anyone?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

On voracious reading...

My friend Sara and I were talking about our reading habits the other day. I am a voracious reader - I gobble up books like PacMan gobbles dots. I crave the written word like a junkie, waiting for her next fiction fix. Sara, meanwhile, likes to stretch out the enjoyment and is known to...*gasp* hold on to a book for a month or two without reading it! She says that if she knows there isn't going to be another one for a while, she'll put off reading a book for a while so it's closer to the release of the next one. Egads, what self-control!

Not so for me: I was reading a lot this weekend, to the tune of 4.5 books finished in 3 days. I finished the one Lindsey Davis book that I was working on (The Accusers) and started the new one (Scandal Takes a Holiday). That was enough to whet my appetite for a more substantial read, so I started Kelley Armstrong's Stolen. WOW! What a read! If you go for the preternatural stuff (vampires and werewolves and demons, oh my!), this is a book for you!! It's a sequel to her debut novel, Bitten, which in my opinion was not as good as her sophomore effort. I followed this up with the next two novels in the series: Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic. These are more based in witchcraft. Excellent books, and very engaging. I recommend them to anyone who likes the genre, even though they're hardly fine literature.

With that said, it's about time for my annual Pride and Prejudice reading. I was perusing my DVDs the other day, and my gaze landed on the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, which is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the only one to watch. I usually reread the book once a year if not more. There's always something different in every read, whether it be a nuance of language I hadn't noticed before, or a phrase that tickles my funnybone ("I am all astonishment!"). I have to thank my Dad for this gift: I was 11 years old and out of books to read, so as a last resort, I asked my father for his recommendation. I think he was "all astonishment" at my actually asking for his advice, so he consulted his own extensive library and came back with the aforementioned slim volume of Austen. I've been an Austenite ever since.

Northanger Abbey is the only Jane Austen book I haven't read. I just can't bring myself to read it, as I know that once I do, there will be no more. Nothing to look forward to. I guess I can understand Sara's refusal to rush headlong into her books. I'll probably read this book eventually. Just not this weekend.


No, not the indie film with Tilda Swensson (which I loved, by the way). No not the city in Florida. The actor, the pirate, the elf - yea verily, Orlando Bloom.

So what if he's younger than my little brother. A mere babe in arms. He's still HOT.

And now, it comes out, he's free. Unattached. Unencumbered. Single.

My dreams will not be safe now. Visions of Orlando will haunt my sleep, tormenting me with their incendiary glances. I'm going straight to hell, and I'm going to enjoy every smoldering inch of the trip.