Saturday, January 31, 2009

NOW I get it!!!

Once in a class on economics and public policy I failed the midterm. Let me restate, I walked into to class thinking I had studied and read all the chapters likely to be on the test. I opened my blue book to begin to answer the 3 questions and realized I didn't know the 2 of 3 questions. The question that stuck out and is a story I tell my students about "no professor is going to make you a study sheet, so you need to develop good notetaking strategies as you read" was a question about Say's Law of economics about the interaction of supply and demand. Needless to say I bucked up and became a better student after bombing the test and a really uncomfortable meeting with my advisor. So I laughed out loud as I read Paul Krugman's blog post this morning about Keynes theory versus Say's law. If I could only time travel back to 1995! I would be such a better student after being a teacher!

On a totally different note, I toured another Montessori this morning with Ben. He loved the materials they had out for children to play with while the parents (all who I think I taught their relatives at my old magnet high school) talked to the teachers and school director. I have a one-on-one interview later in the month, but I think it would be worth the 30 minute drive if we are picked in their lottery. Heading to another open house tomorrow while everyone else is pre-superbowl partying I'm being a overzealous parent sitting in a little chair taking copious notes!

Friday, January 30, 2009

PART DEUX and a FINALE for Friday

I have hit the wall folks. I didn't think about it being a really long week until I figured out all that has gone down this week. Over the past couple of days I have been dwelling on 1. Ben not sleeping at school 2. Where Ben should be this fall?

Needless to say I am stressing myself out when in actuality both are not big deals in the scheme of things. I was met at the door of his school tonight by the assistant director to discuss #1 as well as two accident reports (both of which he caused). Oh brother! I thought since he had gotten up a whole hour earlier this morning he would of course sleep today. NOPE, once again he was up the whole time. So some time this weekend will be spent looking for last ditch sleep efforts. Ideas?

I have now booked myself into the preschool Hall of Fame for number of visits. I have multiple visits upcoming including 2 open houses this weekend. I am tired even thinking about going to all these dog and pony shows, but the payoff is too important.

I am really, really tired tonight in abnormal way. I don't think I am going to make to our Friday night ritual of watching a weeks worth of Daily Shows/Colbert Reports. Not doing caffeine is contributing but adding it up it's been a busy week...

1. Finished giving and grading final exams
2. Calculated final grades, prepared failure letters for 28 students, contacted them, moved over 100 text books, kicked off a new semester with so many kids in 2/3 classes that it looks like a refugee camp (this task included seating charts, tons of copies, and pulling each child's records before day one Wednesday)
3. Today I stayed until almost 5 pm and got everything ready for next week PLUS finished the last of a major clean out of old student files.

On the Personal front I....
1. Got the last of holiday returns done
2. Got my hair cut
3. Finished Jan book club book and went last night

I really liked Laura's (and Lit and Laundry) idea of tackling a few projects each week instead of the shot gun approach I typically go for. So promise myself for next week since I have lots of after school and night commitments, that I am picking 5 things to do for School/Home. Let me get back to you on Monday after I collapse tonight!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

oh this is not good

check out Ben's daily sheet today indicating a 10 minute nap! If you notice the time it's 2:55-3:05pm. Ok, so my question was why let him sleep at all, especially since they are suppose to be up and at outside playtime by 3pm. I asked his teachers again about what is going on, where he is sleeping in the room, is he getting up and disturbing others, can he sit quietly on his cot and look at a book if he's not asleep. Again I felt that they were blaming us for him not sleeping and that he is starting to drop his nap much to their dismay.

I agree that we can do some things at home, such as making sure that Bill takes him in no later than 8:30 and making sure he is going to bed earlier. On the days that he is not sleeping we are starting bedtime earlier with an abbreviated night time routine. The one redeeming note on here is the statement that he was dry most of the morning. We almost made it to bedtime without an accident. So I guess Ben's like his mom, can run on little sleep. The problem comes that in a group environment, he is expected to conform. I am thinking Montessori is looking better and better....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Decisions, Decisons....

I am turning into the parent that I have often complained about after a decade of teaching. You know the one who is already planning their child's grad school experience before they are potty trained. Or the parent that sends 5 page emails at 3am stating all the modifications you should make to give their student an advantage (yes this really happened to me.) I admit that I am likely taking an interest in Ben's future education opportunities a little bit too seriously.

We want Ben to attend the WCPSS magnet school program once he enters kindergarten. After teaching at a Magnet G/T Performing Arts High school I can honestly say there are so many doors that open because of a magnet experience compared to a typical neighborhood school that it is worth the extra effort now to ensure that he is on a path to success.

After months of increasing unhappiness at our current day care I have started a search for a new school. Monday I interviewed and toured a local Montessori school. I really like the Montessori approach and I think it would be a good fit for Ben. He does well with older children as well as working alone independently.

What I didn't like about this school in particular was that the school is so new that they don't have a great number of families yet. They are not in a permanent building and frankly the whole visit seemed a bit staged for my tour. So I am moving on to other Montessori schools in the area as well as some other options for fall.

With the area preschool lottery about to begin I want to secure a place for Ben this fall before the end of February. I am certain that my efforts to find an appropriate and fitting place for the all important 2 year lead-up to preschool will not be in vein. I am planning over the summer what magnet elementary schools we want to visit this fall as well as the Magnet Fair in November. I know I won't be alone as from working this event back at Enloe days I met PREGNANT moms asking about our HIGH SCHOOL programs. THAT my friends makes me look like the worst mom on the block!

Ben told me tonight that his name is "Ben Elmo" so I think we have lots of time to work on pre-kindergarten learning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ben v. Vegas

Poor child! Bill texted me this picture after hearing all hell break loose just before they left for school. From his interrogation of Ben, it appeared that Ben pulled her tail and she scratched him all down the side of his face and neck. At least he got a cars BandAid out of it. What's next, mixed martial arts vs the cats?

Friday, January 23, 2009


Oh what a week it has been. To think that I have been in DC, home to give an final exam, and now I am in the mountains of NC at NCCAT teacher retreat all in one week? Throw in a massive foreign policy change I don't think this week could be any better.

Bill and I took Ben to school and then went out to breakfast before I got on the road. I was a little late in getting here, but it was worth it to spend some much needed time together.

As usual the weekend is jam packed with crunchy granola activities geared at trying to keep us in this profession. The weather was nice enough to take a 45 minute walk/run (heavy on the walk side) through Western Carolina's campus after dinner. After DC weather I am the woman-kinda!

I'm having breakfast with 30 year veteran Montessori teacher among our cohort to ask what I should be looking for when I tour southern Wake Montessori this Monday. More on if we are changing next week.

AHHH.....Minus missing my family and friends I could live here.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change has Come!

Where were YOU on 1-20-2009? I was there... with TICKETS

How to describe the wave of sound passing over as 2 million people are chanting OBAMA? ABsolutly Surreal Standing IN the middle of history will go down as one of the most awesome moments of my life as well as a SWEET 34th birthday present.

The whole trip seemed to radiate good karma in part due to Laura's planning. Our trip included manageable traffic and transportation options getting to and from the big day, staying with Laura's blogfriend Beth, and when we picked up the tickets we met Senator Conrad in person.

We walked and mapped out the Capitol on Monday for inauguration day logistics, saw Steven Colbert's portrait in the Smithsonian and the Lincoln memorial at night...

A happenstance meeting for drinks with another blogfriend of Laura's led to us finding the Obama swag superstore and my finding of the motherload of souvenirs.

Inauguration Day itself was insane with crowds. We luckily only spent an hour in line for security before finding a great place to stand just behind the reflecting pool. We had an unobscured view of the podium and when leaving the DC area amass the crowds and bitter cold we were often ahead of the worst of the waves of people as we made our way home.

So where were YOU? I was making unforgettable history! Change has come and we saw it firsthand!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We have the Golden Tickets!

This American Life did a show yesterday about expectations for the incoming Obama administration. Many of the interviews included a comparison to the Bush tenure. A must listen for anyone on either side of the fence about Obama.

Laura and I are leaving in a matter of hours for what I hope will be one of the best moments of my life. I have had many strong feelings about how the country that I stand up and teach open minds to love and honor has acted less than honorable in the last 8 years. January 20th @12:01pm is a new chapter in US history.

I believe that Bush acted in what he thought was HIS best interest or that of his advisors. He has had to make tough decisions that I would never want to ponder my response. So in that vein I am leaving the following experiences of where my life and the Bush administration have crossed-

For the Voters of the 2000 Election- Proof that the Constitution is the Ultimate Plan B in cases of emergency. Who would have thought anyone cared about the Electoral College since gov't class.

For my 2nd block students at Lee Co High School on 9/11/01- I am sorry that I could not give you an explanation as to why and how. I would have done anything not to be part of your personal history of "where was I at when I heard the news." It was all I could do that day to be the adult in the room just to read it news and not intprepret it.

To my 4th period students at Enloe- Your discussion about race and poverty in the most intest days of Katrina taught me more that you will ever know. It killed me to watch you realize the cold truth about priorities.

For my high school friend, Capt Kimberly Hampton, US Air Force who died in the line of duty in Fallujha in January 2005. Know that your picture hung in my civics class for a year after your death in your honor. When your story anchored a national story about women in combat I knew that you have given your life not only for our country but women's rights too.

For the Voters in the 2004 Election- A campaign that focused on Gays, Guns, and God scares me at the propaganda techniques that exist in American politics.

To the Major News Networks- Thank you for finally deciding to ask the hard questions. You redeemed yourself after falling asleep at the wheel. NPR, Frontline, The New York Times, and 60 Minutes should have been your template from Day One.

For the Teachers who have Left the Profession post NCLB Inception- The best the brightest are leaving. I have turned into that teacher I never wanted to be.

To my AP Gov students both in 2001-2003 and 2008. I hope you find your political voice and choose to be engaged. Complacency breeds evil.

To my son Ben who was born during this administration. I hope you too will love politics as much as me. The first thing we ever watched together was Meet the Press in the hospital. In your lifetime I hope you will have faith and confidence in your government.

For my husband Bill- I didn't think we would EVER be on the same page about politics. Your realization that Obama was the best choice and your decision to move away from your party helped me realize that the more we as citizens collectively meet in the middle the more likely we will repair our county at home and abroad. I appreciate your support of me and this trip.

Let history determine the fate of the Bush Presidency. I have faith that we are a bigger and better people and can move forward.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Microsoft Moustache Competition

I have not seen much of Bill this week. They are on a major deadline so he has been away at night and also this weekend. I guess this is repayment as he is going to have Ben most nights next week while I am gone to DC and then NCAAT weekend session. He is playing around with the idea of taking Ben to a monster truck show next weekend if he can find a way to protect his hearing. Ben by the way loves monster trucks and talks about them as they were crack.

So as if they weren't under enough stress to meet the deadline, they decided to have a moustache contest. I don't think this was Bill's idea but he readily jumped on the bandwagon. After all it during his freshmen year that his roommates encouraged him to shave curse words into his beard and go to class.

Bill decided to go with a lambchop/biker beard combo. I think all he needs is a baby blue leisure suit and it would look like 1977 around here. We are meeting up with friends tonight for dinner. His plan is to totally play it off as long as possible as if nothing is different.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Donut Bribery

Today was the last day of regular classes and it was the last day I would have with my AP Gov students as most are exempting the final. After consuming 2 dozen Dunkin Donuts I picked up, they read their, "this I believe essays". WOW o WOW at what they wrote. Students anonymously shared their work and we voted on the entry I am going to submit to NPR's All Things Considered.

I am a huge fan of this Monday afternoon segment of the show and recently played one of my favorites, "always be nice to the pizza deli every guy" as a model. Likely their essays will only be heard by our class today, but I think the final exercise was a beautiful way to end the class. With her permission, here is an excerpt of what my student wrote.

I believe in coloring outside the lines. Remember the days when you were five and you picked up a handful of crayons and just started to color. All you had to be concerned about was whether the sun should be pink flamenco or mac and cheese orange or that it the fridge would have enough room to display all your artwork...If our five year old selves decided we wanted a hot pink barn with teal and orange strips, we colored it exactly like that. Coloring outside the lines is a simple joy of life, it has no rules. Besides, what else are you suppose to do with all the empty space on your fridge.

I could not be more proud of my kids, the effort they put in on this class, working on national presidential campaigns, and most of all the sense of community they created on a daily basis. I am also proud of myself for teaching, challenging them, pushing the envelope playing devils advocate when it was really hard, and most of all serving as a vehicle to encourage them to become politically active. I got lots of "this was an awesome class" as well as "it was so much harder than I ever thought, but so worth it" and for these sentiments, I am thankful to know my hard work was appreciated. I am sad to see them go but so, so fortunate that for a brief moment our lives crossed for common purpose.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I wrote this post last Friday in a moment of sheer frustration. I debated actually publishing it, but it actually makes me feel better to say it out "loud" ....

The rational voice in me for the last couple of days has said, " we weren't even really trying this month, you took the increased clomid dose just as a trial run, you didn't count days or take your temperature consistently, you didn't even buy an ovulation test this month" so why would you think you were pregnant? You even drank at holiday parties so you don't deserve for this to happen has even been cycling in my thoughts.

But being a a several days late, plus being really nauseated over the last couple of days gave me that little hopeful thought of what if???

All thoughts came to a screeching hault this morning :-(

Real Simple this month has an article entitled Resolutions of What NOT to do in 2009

For me I think not stressing about getting pregnant this year tops the list. I have let a miscarriage in summer 2005 totally dominate my thoughts about getting pregnant again. It ruined any joy to be had for the nine long months of daily worrying before Ben arrived safely. It freaks me out to even begin to think about going through that self-imposed misery again.

My rational self tells me you know the increased odds are against you for getting and maintaining a pregnancy having PCOS plus insulin resistance. I should just be thankful that I got pregnant with Ben fairly easily in comparision to so many. My deemed initial "high risk" pregnancy complete with daily blood testing and DVT scare at month 7 was easy breezy compared to what could have been.

So I refuse to see or judge myself each month that something does or does not happen in 2009. My AP class is working on "this I believe essays" as a final assignement. We are going to vote on and submit the best one to NPR.

For me I think my essay would be titled, "I believe in 2nd, 3rd,even 92nd chances for the impossible to happen". I have to believe that our family will be blessed beyond reason because we already are

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tales from the Little Potty- Vol 3

Highlighted on Ben's daily sheet today in bright highlighter was this statement "Ben fell in the potty today." I know that I shouldn't laugh as it was probably traumatic for him, but the image cracks me up. Everything was soaked to the bone, down to his shoes poor guy. Supposedly he has been working on sitting on the big potty and pushing his penis down after peeing all over his pants for the past few days and today he fell butt first into the bowl.

On the positive he is frequently waking up dry from nap and has been asking to pee in his little potty when he gets up in the morning. He is also staying dry longer between accidents. Tonight we had the poop-plosion and he even tried to help clean up, sweet boy. On the down side I hoped to relax into American Idol and nip/tuck instead of moping the floor, more laundry, and scrubbing Ben down from head to toe.

I didn't want my kitchen nor my son to smell like used wine at the bus station. Just another day in the life of a parent, right?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Open letter to Mickey Rourke

Oh Mickey-

Why didn't you call me after your win for The Wrestler last night. The collective "what the ****" from both the audience and viewers at home should have been a tip off that among the beautiful people last night, you seemed a little lost and must have stumbled (literally you lost your shoe on the steps to the podium) onto the awards show in hopes of finding Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab.

You thanked your dogs. Let me repeat myself after admitting that you are a total D-list celebrity if that,proceeded to thank your dogs. For a minute I thought the sentence was going to end, "for licking my balls when I was lonely for human touch".

But alas what was the most bizarre acceptance since Angela Jolie proclaimed her love for her brother at the Oscars a few years back you seemed in your element. Too bad for your other nominees who had likely the worst night of their career loosing to you. So with that I wish you tons of luck on your next picture as you have proved that even the forgotten Nick Notle-esque are still bankable to someone.

I will have to say you have lost whatever I found remotely sexy from Wild Orchid which I do believe my girlfriends watched about 100 times in high school for the sex (not the acting I can assure you). But then our lives revolved around comparing our lame boyfriends to you, man of men circa 1989. Oh silly girls to see you now.

I weep to hear you are in IronMan 2. Maybe a more appropriate title should be, "Can we get any more washed up stars in a movie? Is Todd Bridges from Different Strokes available, oh wait, he's dead. I guess we will have to settle for the short one."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chili Haystacks and Watchin' the Globes

For Week 2 of Crock Pot Love I made Chili Haystacks for dinner with the Pressley's last night. We were almost an hour late as I finally sold my 2001 Honda Accord and it took longer than expected. As always had a good time letting the boys play and sitting around their kitchen table laughing.

Tonight I am watching my favorite of the awards shows, The Golden Globes. I like them better than the Oscars or Emmys because you get TV and movies in one show. You don't get the icky categories like, "Best Animated short from Azerbaijan" or "Interpretive Dance to Best Movie Score."

I was all too happy that both Mad Men and In Treatment were up for several awards including both for Best TV Drama. Mad Men won, but I was so happy to see In Treatment up for multiple awards to keep the buzz going for this little known show. It is not back on until this fall and I can't wait to see the new characters they bring on against Gabriel Byrne. He picked up an best actor award for his awesome role. Four of the main six of this years cast were up for something so it will be good!!!

I am also SO going to see Revolutionary Road after seeing all the clips. One more, too fitting for Heath Ledger to win posthumously. He will always break my heart as the son in Monster's Ball, but he stole the show in The Dark Knight. Onto the food!

Chili Haystacks- source Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook-2008

2 lbs browned ground beef or ground turkey
1 small onion chopped
2 oz cans of tomato sauce
2 15 oz cans chili beans
1 10 oz can of enchilada sauce
1/2 tsp chili power
1 tsp garlic salt
pinch of pepper

Combine all ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook on High 1 hour or low 2-3 hours
Serve with crushed corn chips, cheese, sour cream over rice or potatoes

I like corn bread with chili- Here's my Vinson style change to the basic cornbread mix, mix in one beaten egg, 1 small can of evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of corn (can use mexi-corn for zing), 1 tablespoon of honey- Make into muffins. Bake accoring to box

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jump the Shark?

Oh the possibilities! As I was watching the kick off to the final season of nip/tuck last night I could only think where will this show go in thier final episodes. This show by nature from seasons past seem to be able to pull off plotlines that in any other show would deem it to have "jumped the shark".

Where else could a whole season center around serial killer that rapes and carves up his victims only for it to be a derranged brother-sister team complete with a strap on. My personal favorite episodes are: Adelle Coffin As Sean comforts a dying Megan and admits his affiar and the quintential episode from the Carver season Granville Trappwhen you get Christan's self-loathing at it's best.

So I can only hope that by the series finale later this year I won't be diasppointed. While no ending can ever top the last 10 minutes of Six Feet Under which I can watch over and over and sob just as hard as the first time viewing, I'm sure then end to nip/tuck will be a blow-out sex fest followed by an totally unrealistic ending. Oh Goody!!!!!

Since we are turning off our cable by end of month, I was a little concerned that I wouldn't get to fest on this season, but luckily all episodes are online.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

100 posts!

Happy 100 Posts to Pieces of Me!

As a person who has zero confidence in my writing abilities, I am really proud of this accomplishment. When I started this blog is was in attempting to keep myself accountable on my 2007's 70 Things in 69 Days mega summer to do list. I made it a priority to try and post at least 3-4 times a week when my Giant To Do list rolled out for the summer 2008 after letting it die with the school year in 2007.

I am proud to say that I kept my goal despite alot of time spent on my AP Gov class this fall. Bill has agreed to help me format and bind my first 2 years for my upcoming birthday. My 2009 goal is 150 posts by year end. Thanks to friends who read and comment. Who would have ever thought Bill's 2004 t-shirt reading, "I'm blogging this" that he wore proudly and had to explain to me would become a part of my life and connection to others.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

As we pulled into our neighborhood this afternoon the street was blocked with firetrucks and emergency vehicles. Not knowing immediately what house they were at I screamed, "Oh my God" as we made our way to our house. My little parrot proceeded to say this over and over as we got out of the car and walked towards our house.

I told Ben let say, "oh my Firetrucks" instead, which didn't really work. Luckily the family was not home and no one was hurt. Ben was totally obvious to the smoldering ruins but instead was enthralled by the sight of the firetrucks, hoses at full blast, and a big digger that was tearing off the flaming roof.

For me it was one of those, "I am adult, not a kid amazed at firetrucks and this is really horrible reality for someone". All that all I wanted to do was bear hug Ben and assure myself that this could never happen to us.

What do you think Ben said as we were reading a Dora book tonight that had a firetruck? Bingo and collect your prize at the door.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"We have lots in common... we both like soup"

Title Source- Best in Show Stiffer's mom to her 90 year old husband whom she has nothing in common but waiting on him to die for his $$$

Until I can get my 52 Weeks of Crockpot Love gadget to be live I will post whatever recipe I did as an entry. This first week I have spent time flagging recipes in the cookbooks I borrowed from the library. I am going to buy Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker Cookbook as well as the Bible of cookbooks Fix It and Forget It as both have lots of items Bill has agreed to try.

I decided since it was cold and rainy on Friday to make a Hendricks favorite-

Veggie Patch Soup- By Marilyn Hendricks

Ingredients- 1 64 oz bottle of V-8 (regular flavor)
1 large size bag frozen veggies (or several well rinsed cans)
2 cup of cooked rice, barley, or pasta
2 cups of beef broth
1/2-1 lb lean stew beef cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar (I used splenda)
salt, pepper
I also added marjaram- 1 tablespoon

Put all ingredients into the slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours or High for 1-3.

Great with grilled BLT or cheese sandwiches, or corn muffins

Friday, January 2, 2009

This Girl is On Fire

Instead of working on my Final AP Gov project tonight I decided to add/delete from my blog. I have gotten into writing more frequently and Bill is going to format my first 2 years (almost 100 entries) into book form for my birthday. So I am adding the following new gadgets to update weekly as well as some new buds on the blogroll

52 weeks of Crockpot based on the blog A Year of Crockpotting. I got an awesome deal on a new crockpot during the holiday sales and armed with a bevy of library books I am on a mission to use it once a week. My moms group is doing a crock pot tasting party instead of our usual night out this month so I hope to come away with even more ideas. I hope to make this a live link with the recipe with Bill's help.

Overdue to Read More.... A plan to read more than my monthly bookclub book. I made a wish list of all the books I would like to read this year. I am shooting for 25 total including audiobooks.

Adding to my Blogroll- The Pressley Press - Family friends, Linker Girls< - Childhood Friend in Charlotte, NC, Freakonomics Blog - You MUST read this book, Conscience of a Liberal- NY Times columnist Paul Krugman. If only Paul and Maureen Dowd could be my parents.

I am also trying to break my old school newspaper a day habit and going solely online. I already read the NY Times online most days as a subscription costs more than a kidney transplant, but I am trying to give up my daily local paper too now that I don't get it free at school. Bill would be proud as I am the last luddite alive according to him.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bring It On "09

Our quiet night to ring in the New Years turned into dropping by friends seafood boil where I wound up doing 4 shots before we left much to Bill's surprise. It was loud, crazy, and remind me of college days of yore.

We did ring in the New Year by tucking Ben into bed together. My hopes for 2009 are high. Talking to Laura yesterday about our upcoming Obama inauguration trip was the icing on the cake to get syked about this new year. We are so going to rock at the ND party in our matching t-shirts!

So my list of resolutions are short in hopes of accomplishing them all-
1. Work on Baby V part deux
2. Make some type of resolution about my job
3. Potty train Ben
4. Make use of the new elliptical
5. Be a more supportive spouse and show appreciation more often

Here's to a Year of Great Expectations