Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

And we're off! The Towncar has been picked up. The GPS is programmed. The presents are in the truck. The boys have food and water and the adults have Cheez-it's and Diet Mountain Dew. The camera does not need film but has batteries. All the pills (and there are many) are in their respective cases. The laptop and cell phones have been charged. Oh, yes -- we even managed to pack some clothing, mostly comfort stuff and a couple of pairs of happy pants. See you on the other side of Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Going to Get Christmas

Christmas in our household is with the best family member of all, the one who respects our foibles and loves us in spite of them.

The one who says bring the dogs even when she really only likes cats.

The one who puts out the Schnauzer dog decoration dressed in traditional Santa costume among her much more classical nutcrackers and Christmas cats.

The one who gives up her own bed and sleeps on an inflated air mattress so the family is comfortable.

The one who puts up the Christmas tree and gets out the red place mats and the Christmas tableware and turns on the fireplace even when the weather is 60 degrees so we can FEEL Christmas.

Christmas in our household is shared with the one we love -- and who loves us in return.

We leave on Monday to celebrate Christmas. We can feel the love already!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Beautiful School

I teach in a grand building -- epic in scale, amazing in detail. Because it's on the historic register the building is in lovely repair and the architectural sense of it is kept pure.

At Christmas time the maintenance staff stock up on logs and burn fires every morning in the huge fireplaces built at both ends of the main entry / reception hall. In the center of the hall, students erect and decorate a bulldog Christmas tree.

This Christmas as the students entered through metal detectors (we still pay homage to modern safety) and went through to the reception hall, both the band and the choir were there greeting them with seasonal music. It was GREAT!

On Friday we had a party in my classroom -- a spaghetti lunch for third block who had met their commitments for the class with flying colors and actually finished their novel the day before. We also had a gift giving -- hubby made the spaghetti and assembled gift bags for every teen. Because Christmas is on Thursday this year, the kids were saying that most families were celebrating after Christmas - when they had paychecks.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Miracle?????

On Wednesday I came home, settled in at my computer desk with my $149 text book, and accessed the on-line final for my graduate course. About three hours into it, I suddenly realized I really didn't give a flying fig whether I passed or not, quit researching every question carefully, declined to edit the final answers (on one of the matching questions I entered E twice and thus missed every one of the items), blasted out the essay answers and submitted the darned thing.

Because the program will not grade the essay answers -- but counts them wrong until the professor does -- my score came back as a 73% correct. That's a C folks. A low C. Going into the final I had managed to eke up my essay / test/ discussion grades to a 91% of the points allotted - so I figured even if I got a C on the final, I'd get a low B in the class. That's enough for credit -- so I resigned myself, actually quite happily, to blowing my 18 hours of 4.0.

Imagine my surprise when I accessed my grades tonight to discover that I actually got a 96 on the final -- and thus managed to, just barely, maintain my A for the course -- and keep my beautiful 4.0 grade point going for another three hours.

Huge sigh of relief: class is over for this semester, I'm taking a break next semester and working on curriculum development, and my nights for the next semester can be devoted to doing the wash, reading good books, watching bad TV, and playing computer games. Now that's a sweet Christmas gift!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Beautiful Voice

For me, his is not THE Voice -- that voice belongs only to my husband. However, this voice belongs to Hubby's best male friend and they have been singing together since 1966. He came as best man to our Wedding (left) and he came again to sing for our 25th anniversary (below). We meet now, every couple of years, and we celebrate the milestones of our lives both together and apart.

Celebrate this beautiful voice with me:

A Glimpse of Mr. Nabors

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deep Sadness -- and Helplessness

I just came out of a meeting with a sweet and spunky 16 year old. She should be a sophomore but she failed too many classes last year and is still classified as a freshman. She's always been fun to work with but this year she's really turned herself around. She's passing everything she's previously failed, and though she came to us with a rep for fighting anybody at the drop of a hat, this year she hasn't had one fight or even the hint of one.

The past month I've gotten hints that things were going wrong in her life but I didn't push her for information. She got a new coat over Thanksgiving and was so proud of it. She's sailing along in World History where I tutor her and she's passing English 1. She's even making great progress with algebra benchmarks. But yesterday she asked me to fill out her parental questionnaire on Romeo and Juliet and sign as her mother. I asked what name she wanted me to use and she was fine that I used my own name. In other words, I was the surrogate mother.

Today she came in to tell me that last night had been hard and she'd been crying most of the night. I asked why and the flood gates opened.

She's not living at home but with a girlfriend of her older brother -- there are 9 children in the home. She only goes home to see the little ones on Saturdays. Social Services was notified of the mother's failure to parent the little ones by the elementary school this week. Now she's afraid they will all end up in foster care.

The mother was "sent away" for drug addiction when she was 12. She lived with her father for a while but the new family didn't really "like her." Now the mother has new boyfriend. He was once homeless and he beats the mother so she won't stay in the house. This is why she's living with the girlfriend of her older brother. The girl she lives with is 25.

A week from Monday the girlfriend is taking off to visit her family. My student is staying in her apartment all alone. Christmas dinner will be Maruchan noodles -- that soup in a cup thing. We're off for two full weeks and during that time she will be completely alone. No presents. No holiday dinners. No decorations. No carols. Just a cabinet of noodles and an empty apartment.

I have no idea how to help. We visited with the psychologist and we're going to try and get her an official paper to stay with the brother. We're putting the social worker onto the case to help counsel her.

But what a dreary, lonely Christmas.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Midnight Snack

As I get older (and older), I don't sleep so very well. Things that wake me up include: trips (multiple) to the bathroom, night sweats, the need to turn over and a bad back and very sore hips and knees which require the correct support to move them, and two doggies that insist on lying lengthwise in the middle of the bed thus pushing the humans to the far edges. This year I've added in the fact that I get home from school so exhausted that I can't stay awake beyond 6 p.m. so by midnight I've already had six hours of sleep.

Thus tonight I sit here in my computer room at 12:45 with a huge container of reheated Mongolian beef from the best Chinese restaurant in the city before me, a diet coke, and a fork -- ready to dive in.

Sometimes it's good to have interrupted sleep.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Interestingly, my high school is in the middle of a big old controversy. Seems my vice-principal may have done something to upset a very outspoken liberal gentleman.

Check it all out here:

dooty and honor

The Pitch

Hubby and I drove by the offending sign daily -- and I had asked the VP just why his name was printed in a pile of chicken poop, but he said he didn't know and didn't care.

The staff at school had been speculating over it for awhile. Then a local paper printed the story and the kids were sharing the web address for it all around school.

Today however the chicken poop sign was gone from the guy's front yard. Amends (or threats) must have been made by someone, somewhere.

Watch out where you toss your trash! Us liberals can get very testy.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Thanksgiving was wonderful. We went to Branson, Missouri, ate at the cheap buffets, took in two shows, shopped till we dropped (not long for either of us anymore) and had a delightful time.

The boys traveled well. This was Luie's first big trip and we took our little Aurora instead of renting a big car. Gus had the hardest time because some of the trip he was stuck in the backseat with Luie, who like any respectable one year old needed constant attention. Gus was forced to bite and growl and wrestle until he would poop out and finally bar his teeth and snarl in a "get off me, you dolt" tone, forcing Luie into submission.

We did a heap of shopping but very little for anyone other than me. I got a whole new set of clothes to wear to school, three watches, two rings, a Christmas pin, and a packet of fudge. And 14 new pairs of socks! Hubby got a couple of books. We got the Houston crowd some knick-knacks as stocking stuffers. The big outlet mall was open on Thanksgiving from noon to 6 p.m. and the smaller mall opened at midnight on Thanksgiving day. Both malls were jammed packed.

We saw two shows, one far superior than the other. Six brothers who make their own instrumental music and sing a-cappella a wide variety of music have a new show called, of course, SIX. We loved every minute of it. The other show, "Red, White, and Blue" was a variety type performed by seven of the younger dancers / singers of the really big shows (Williams, the show boat, etc.).

We got in to Branson on Wednesday afternoon and came home Saturday afternoon, feeling rested and happy. We were glad to have had a vacation.