Thursday, October 30, 2008

Walking Cliche' for Halloween

 I'm reposting  something I wrote a couple years ago. Halloween humor for everyone.

I finally decided what to be for Halloween: a walking cliche'. My only prop is a plastic foot, which I will put in my mouth.

You'll recognize me; I'll look perfectly normal.

I thought about getting a bunch of girlfriends together and go trick-or-treating as One Bad Essay. We'll all dress up like cliches.

A mom would only need one prop: eyes in the back of her head.

Another could strap a bunch of fake trees to herself. When
neighbors say, "Hi, how are you?" she could tell them we're
not out of the woods yet.

Still another could carry a rabbit on a pole over her head. It would
be a hare-raising experience.

If that's too much, we could simply dress up as various punctuation marks. I have one friend who is most certainly an exclamation point. A second friend, quite inquisitive, could go as the quintessential question mark. Me? I don't think anyone would want me around. After all, who likes a heavy period?

What's a Girl to do with her Hair?

I need advice. My hair is at that "in-between" stage, supposedly between old style and something new. Trouble is, I don't know what I want. I can't stand it in my face. It's wavy (curly in the humidity), soft, and fine. When shorter, it has more body. It's got just a few strands of grey. Paul doesn't want me to color it because he says I'll be forever coloring it if I start. That's the story I hear from other friends, too. It's pretty forgiving of a bad cut (it grows fast and the curls hide woopsies). I really like my hairdresser and have developed a relationship with her to the point I'm also ready to invite her to the next round of Alpha meetings, and I don't want to risk offending her by going to a different stylist. She is artistic (photography mainly) but conservative with changes, at least in my experience. And best of all, the cut still costs only $18 at this place. (I don't pay to have it blow dried unless it's a bitter cold day or I'm switching styles altogether, which has been a long, long time.)

I want to find a style that's a bit different, without going drastically shorter or having to keep growing this mop. I'm of the opinion that most women over 40 should not wear long hair; there are exceptions, but I'm not going to be one of them.

So, what to do? I have a three-fold dilemma. First, I'm reluctant to go back to my stylist because she hasn't ventured beyond my own suggestions even when I've said, "You're the expert. Try something new." Second, I don't want to risk offending her by going to someone else who might be experimental. Third, I fear of the result of letting a pro I don't know do something terrible in the name of creativity.

The last time I did that was when Sarah was three weeks old. Ben was 13 months old. My world measured the square footage of two cribs and stunk like a dairy farm. I was postpartumly depressed and had been postpartumly housebound with ugly hair. I told this guy, "I trust you." Well, he made me feel wonderful with words like "lift" and "volume" and "pizzazz." Then he started cutting. And cutting. And cutting. He nipped out all the curl, parted my hair on the side, and razor tapered it at the neck. Paul was speechless. He wouldn't touch my butch head for five weeks. (I counted.) I spiraled into a really deep depression. I'm sure it was all hormonal, but I'll never forget the feeling of never wanting to trust someone again with my hair. I've just told them what to do. And now I'm really, really bored with it.

What should I do? It's not just about hair.

Oh! Did I mention school pictures are tomorrow, teachers included?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Joel's First Grammar Test

My first grade son, Joel, had his first grammar test today. He told me it was on nouns and verbs.

Me: How did you do?
Him: Good.
Me: You mean well?
Him: Yeh! I did good. Got all of 'em right.

Metaphorical Scissors

I love this post, which my son Stephen just wrote on his blog. Especially the phrase "metaphorical scissors."

Will my children ever stop bringing conviction--and pleasure--to their mom's heart?

Got 'em Good

Our church is undergoing a name change. It'll be Sovereign Grace Church. The change has been a really big deal in the making, with unfathomable decisions, details, and time involved. One of the exciting things will be the revealing of new signs with new graphics and colors. Among the people most involved in the visual and technical details is a man named Dan.

Today I was working late after school. I heard Dan chatting in the hall with three other men in the reception area near my room. Jim H popped his head inside the door and asked, "Hey, Zo, wanna see our new sign?"

I looked out the window.

"No, not out there," he said. "Out here." I followed him to the welcome center where Dan, Jimmy, and Mark were gathered. They were all admiring the new sign behind the desk.

"Wow! It looks great! I LIKE it!" I said enthusiastically. Then I squinted, leaned closer toward the sign and (feigning disappointment) said, "But--too bad they spelled sovereign wrong.

Dead silence.

They bent toward the sign.
They studied it.
They looked at each other in disbelief.

I burst out laughing. "No, it's right," I said, wishing I'd caught the scene on video.

I got 'em good.

"That's not funny, Zo, " Jimmy said, chuckling. (Sort of.)

"Coming from you, we're all like Is it ?" Jim said, crouching toward the sign.

Mark: "I had to look again."

Dan? I'm sorry I did that to you.

No, I'm not. You should've seen your face.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Museums and Memories

These times are getting more precious, more rare, more memorable, I kept telling myself today. Sarah had honored me by inviting me to join her and her friend, Joy, to visit the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore. Joel, who also loves art, tagged along and, despite several times trying to interact with noninteractive pieces, made a fine companion. I didn't see too many mother-daughter combos down there today, let alone mother-daughter-friend-li'l bro' quartets.

We left right after church, picked up Joy, ate pizza at Serpico's in Perry Hall (not worth a review), and zipped downtown. All right, maybe zipped is the wrong word. We zigged and zagged until we were lost. I hate that. I used to pride myself on how well I could get around the city; I did live on 33rd Street for a year in college. (That old apartment house has been demolished and replaced with Hopkins buildings. )

God was everywhere. Every exhibit--even the Four Days of Creation quilt done by a female rabbi that overemphazed sabbath--spoke of His handiwork. Even the ones who wrote hocuspocusfengshuiMotherNaturelovethewomb crap next to their art could not cover the louder message: This art started with God. No one could bestow such creativity unless He had it first.

Among the jaw-dropping pieces that I won't soon forget:

-Matchstick sculptures. One of the sculptures features a 4 foot guy holding a violin case on his arm. The whole thing is done with matchsticks, food coloring, and glue.

- Yarn "sculptures" done by a Down Syndrome woman who was deaf and mute. She took two special items, cocooned them in yarn, and kept wrapping and wrapping yarn and fabric around them till she had made sculptures. I wondered what she was thinking and feeling and how she communed with the Lord in her silent world filled with colorful yarn and soft material.

-Pencil-tip sculptures. I've never seen this in my life. Twenty-six little pencils (stubs, really) lined up in a glass case ; the artist had used nothing but a razor and sewing needle to carve the alphabet. You had to use a magnifying glass to see the letters. He had other pencil-tip sculptures as well, but since I'm such an alphabet lover, this one intrigued me the most. The pencils were no longer than my pinky finger .

-A Bad Habits quilt (?) in mixed media. The artist had drawn and painted (I think) and used fabric to show many scenes of people practicing different bad habits: procrastination, oogling, borrowing money. Most art doesn't make me laugh aloud, but this one did. Truly whimsical. I would like to do one in similar fashion with good habits, but am not at all confident it'd have the same effect.

Behind the museum is a little courtyard witha wildflower garden and some water-spitting stone heads in front of a wood bench. Attached to the bench is a journal on a cord. The message inside invites you to write anything: it may be used in whole or in part by the Foundation that built the resting spot. I wrote "If you were to die today, do you know where you'd go? Heaven and hell are your only two choices." And I went on to write the message of salvation and eternal life in one paragraph, and signed off with First John 1:9 and Ephesians 2:8 and 9. I pray it's read, not skimmed over.

Sunday afternoon with Sarah, Joel, and Joy. Masterpieces themselves, I simply admired and gave thanks to God.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Inklings, Lesson 2: You Got Syle?

Since a couple of you asked that I pass some Inklings class notes on to you via my blog, I'll share yesterday's lesson. (Thanks, by the way. I'm honored.)

Have you got style in your writing? A working definition of style is "how you say what you say." To improve style, we discussed three areas apropos to the students.

1. Use strong verbs.
2. Show, don't tell.
3. Replace cliches and jargon with original wording.

Regarding numero uno: Sometimes you can't help but use a state-of-being verb (is, are, was, were), but if you can, substitute an action verb. He was a maniac and put the pedal to the metal. Not only have we used a state-of-being verb, we've also used a cliche. Ack! Let's attack the first one first. Instead of using the ole' boring "was" to tell us Tom's crazy road behavior, try some action verbs to engage your reader. Tom used his knees to steer his Chevy on the interstate, swerving in and out of lanes at 85 miles an hour, simultaneously texting his girlfriend and swigging a Slurpie.

FYI: Friends don't let friends drive Chevies.

For the second point on showing vs. telling: That night she acted nervously when she heard someone walking behind her, and went faster to her car in the parking garage. Ir's an okay sentence, somewhat scary, but forgettable. Conversely, details make a difference. Ann heard heavy, steady footsteps behind her in the dark parking garage. She clutched her purse to her chest, bit her lip, and reached for her cell phone.

(Not that Ann is wise in choosing to be in a dark parking garage in the first place, but at least we can see the action in our mind's eye better than we could in the first example.)

Finally, addressing the only thing I hate worse than misused apostrophes: cliches and jargon. Why use phrases that are as moldy as last month's bagels when you can treat your reader to ones fresh from your linguistic oven? For my lovely Inklings, their jargon is filled with Christian cliches. We each made a list of seven examples of Christian jargon in one column, and rewrote them with our own original words in another column. The results? Scrumptious.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to Like a Candidate but not Want to Vote for Her

I like Sarah Palin. Spunky, articulate, intelligent, industrious. Gutsy, humorous, creative, and

We share many of the same values. God. Country. Family. I have no doubt she is good for our democracy and that she can and will, if elected as our VP, accomplish much.

The problem I have is that she is a mom with young children. (Here is where I stick my neck out, expecting to draw shark-toothed feminists. I am a recovering feminist myself, and--like I always tell my Inklings--prepare for your readers' arguments.)

Granted, Sarah Palin has an amazing track record of achieving things in Alaska that have tremendous staying power. I admire her courage, her stamina, and her loyalty. Not since Ronald Reagan have I so enjoyed listening to a politician. Truth and passion without snooze-button rhetoric.

But she has a baby. And she has a very young daughter. She has older children. She is not an empty nester. Who will look after her nest while she's gallavanting around Washington? Is her husband going to become the head cheerleader at hockey games while Mom applies lipstick for press conferences? Who is going to take that special needs child to all his doctor visits and play groups? Who is going to teach the daughters the special things God designs mothers to do? I wouldn't want to be the pregnant daughter of a woman who barely had time for me. And trust me, if it's hard to have a part-time job and still make time for genuine bonding, how would a Vice President of the United States do it?

What if John McCain dies in office? Sarah Palin will become Commander-in-Chief. My main fear about that role is how a woman would be accepted in round-table meetings in certain cultures. She wouldn't. Islamic heads of state would not simply disrespect her; they might kill her. A pretty, Christian woman in second place of leadership over a democracy in the richest country on earth: how much more of a target for terrorists could she be?

I am not saying I'm swaying toward the alternative. No way. Obama scares me. But never have I sensed eminent danger for a VP. Normally they're just a figurehead . I mean, what was the last noteworthy thing a VP did? Oh, yeh. He invented the internet. If Sarah Palin were a man, I'd want her to be the President and McCain the VP. But that's not an option. So I put all of my trust in God's hands, where it squarely belongs no matter what the options are. I pray we get McCain and I pray God blesses him with long life and sound mind. And I pray that Sarah Palin's husband remains faithful to her (and vice versa) and that her children feel more important than anyone or any career in the world.

That's how to like a candidate but not want to vote for her.

Brain Waves. Mine Waves Goodbye if...

I see that I'll have to scroll down more than a few inches past what's on my full screen in order to read a full post.

Stephen, my son, has a fascinating post on the brain--including how men's and women's differ--and he has a poll about attention spans when it comes to reading (or not reading) blog posts.

My brain waves goodbye at about 10 PM also. After that, I'm all thunk out. Regrettably for my family, I'm not all blabbed out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

From Smooth Riders to Rough Riders

My class loved their Model T ride. They made keepsake books with pictures of that field trip. Everyone did a really good job and learned a lot.

Next on the fun agenda is a Teddy Roosevelt party. We would have it next Monday, his actual 150th birthday, but one person won't be there. That's a big percentage of my little class! So we're having it Tuesday, which works out better anyway.

As you may recall, Teddy Roosevelt was our 26th President. He took office the day McKinley died from a gunshot wound. (Ironically, doctors who opened him up couldn't find the bullet. They didn't want to test Edison's new invention, the X-ray machine, for fear of unknown side effects. So they closed him up and he died.) Teddy also refused to shoot a bear once, and when word got out, it started the whole teddy bear toy craze. He led the Rough Riders to victory and was a true statesman, equestrian, happy dad, and loving husband. (His first wife and his mother died on Valentine's Day the same year in the same house, two days after the complicated birth of his daughter.)

So we are celebrating his life.

I put up the menu on the board:

Buffalo wings
Salad (with ranch dressing)
Saddle shaped chips (Pringles)
Dirt cake with teddy gummie bears
Teddy Grahams

The kids were quick to volunteer their moms.
One suggested we turn the desks and chairs into horses.
I am using napkins from a blogging friend, Rachelle, that are SO PERFECT. She was a blogger who won a Russian rag doll in my contest last summer. As a thank-you, she sent me a package of party napkins that have cattle brands of Southwest ranchers printed on them!!! (Rachelle, I hope you're reading this. You have no idea how thrilled I am about these napkins! The Lord had this party in mind way back when!)

I'd love to hear suggestions for games to make it fun. I could make it educational, but I'd rather it be just good ol' brainless fun. We only have an hour. Giddy-up!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How's your Sociometer?

I was at a social event recently when this scene played out: I walk into a room and scan it for a table where I know people are friendly. That includes quite a few. But at one of them I see a familiar face and immediately my selfish mind says, You don't wanna sit there. She only talks about herself. So I decide to sit elsewhere. Soon I'm next to an acquaintance and I ask her how she's doing. Her response is something like, "Okay, considering all the stress I've been under." I ask her to tell me about it, so she does. News that blindsided her. I could empathize; I had experienced something similar a few years back. I tell her I'm sorry and that I will pray for her and I'm sure God has something in store for her that she can't see in the midst of her grief. She agrees. I tell her I hope I haven't just given her a platitude, a pat answer. I truly believe it. She does, too, and admits she's just not there yet. I am loving the depth of conversation.

Then a friend of hers arrives and they ask if I'd mind moving over so they can talk. Sure, I say, I'll move. (There are plenty of people here I could converse with.) The seating arrangement now has me next to someone who is asking me about myself and the changes I've been experiencing. She is full of compliments and questions. I'm loving this a little too much. So I ask her about herself and there are changes with her kids, which I can relate to. You don't see them as much as you like, but your times together are all the more precious.

All too soon she explains she has to leave early. Still plenty of people in the room, I think. Surely I won't feel left out in this crowd. She is gone and I am glancing around the table. My chair is wedged between two empty ones; the tables are close together. I have no graceful way to get up and move about without physically disturbing people or drinks. So I sit. And take mental notes. I note that everyone at my table is talking in pairs. And I am alone. They are bent close to each other. I dig around in my purse for a pen and paper--if I can doodle, I won't feel so strange. But I have no pen and no paper this time. I'm hoping someone, anyone, talks to me. It feels so awkward. I feel alone in a crowded room. It wasn't that I felt sorry for myself (I was pushing thoughts like that away because they take me down the pity path which I hate and so does everyone else). I just felt awkward. Eventually someone did fill the gap conversationally. Our talk was superficial, but better than nothing, under the circumstances.

The whole thing sure opened my eyes again to the questions, How friendly are you? and How observant are you?" My Real Simple magazine came the nezt day. In it was an article on how to handle social situations in which you feel awkward. At the crux of this feeling is selfishness (my words, not RS's). Everyone is more worried about themselves than about others. More self-conscious than others-conscious. Everyone's hoping someone approaches them and breaks the ice.

What about you? When was the last time you felt socially out of place? Awkward? Self-conscious? Invisible? And when was the last time you observed someone who was alone, looked awkward? Have you recently tried to notice someone who could benefit from your friendly greeting? I want to get better at that. I'd also love for other people to get better at it so I don't have to rummage through my purse for nonexistent pens to distract me. What do you like being asked--and hate being asked--in social settings? What ice breaker questions do you keep at the ready to draw people out?

My Son, the New Blogger

My third child, Stephen, has joined my daughter among the ranks of bloggers. I think you'll enjoy his praise-filled, Christocentric posts. Call me biased, but even if I weren't his mother, I'd take note that he is no average 17-year-old. His thoughts and writing style far exceed the twaddle from the keyboard of most young men.

Take a look, and drop a comment in his box. He has an introductory post and then one on the beauty of language. (And, no, he didn't approach me for the topic. He's a natural wordsmith.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Longing for Home

The fall of the year is my favorite season. Glorious leaves of scarlet and gold, the smell of neighboring fireplaces, the clean crispness in the air--it's all so wonderful. I can't get enough of it.

Ironically, those very feelings fill me with longing for heaven. To see God whose glory can't be compared to the most jaw-dropping beauty of a New England landscape. To come face-t0-face with the Fire and the Cloud who led my ancestors into the Promised Land. To know the clean crispness of a life without sin or pending death. What more could I long for?

If I could pick a season in which to die, it would be the fall. Not that I'm feeling morbid or entertaining any depressing thoughts. I'm not. I would just like to be buried under a maple tree with one cloud in the sky to remind everyone of my Cloud. And if my death were to cause anyone much sorrow (hard to believe) and feel like a cloud is hanging over them, I would call from the grave, "A Cloud does hang over you. But He is not a dark cloud. He is your Comforter. Rejoice in Him. He led His people through the wilderness for 40 years. He'll lead you through this. Walk on."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When Giving a Lift Means Getting One

Investing in a stock called Encouragement pays huge and immediate dividends. The stock can be traded any time, any day, unlike the ones on Wall Street that close at the four o'clock bell.

This morning I made such an investment. I called a longtime friend, Sandy, who lives with her husband and six children in New Hampshire. For the past two and a half weeks my heart has been so heavily burdened that I've prayed on the spot every time for her. I knew her mother has cancer, and the last time Sandy and I spoke six weeks ago, her mom was subsisting on Ensure, had the energy only to lay on the couch, and was downtrodden in spirit. I wondered if the heaviness of heart I felt meant that Sandy's mom had passed away.

So I called. The good news was that no, her mom was better than she's been in a long time, and had actually just visited them for the past eight days and were heading to Virginia Beach to visit with friends. Her mom was off chemo, feeling stronger, more lively (enough to play many rounds of Scrabble) and had a peace that didn't exist as of two months ago.

"What else is going on?" she pondered aloud, "that God would put me on your heart?" Well, in short, two people in her church and one in her homeschool group have Stage 4 cancer. All of them. Stage 4. Another friend, in Colorado, is taking care of her husband who was in a serious motorcycle accident while visiting one of his friends in Tennessee. Both legs were shattered, and one shoulder is severely injured. He was too injured to travel, so his wife came from Colorado to the hospital in Tennessee. They are both back home now, but he'll be at least six months in a wheelchair. Their daughter was married just days before the accident and moved to California, a sweet but sorrowful parting that only parents of adult children understand.

That left Sandy realizing that she's been interceding and caring for a lot of very seriously ill people and helping their loved ones find hope. As anyone who knows Sandy can attest, she is absolutely the kind of person who first comes to mind when you need a ray of hope. She was the second person I called --right after my mom--when I got the devastating news after Joel's delivery that I had ruptured all my pelvic ligaments and would not be able to walk unaided for at least five weeks. I was so crushed and so in need of a hug. Sandy lived five minutes from the hospital, my mom lived 45 away. Sandy got there first. She hugged me through the aftermath of the news that, to me, sounded terminal. I can't imagine hearing "malignant. " In my pain , hearing "five weeks of bedrest with a newborn" was too much to bear alone.

So my investment in calling her was that her voice from the first "hello?" went from that of a burdened person to one who had just been lifted by a hot air balloon. (Ooh, maybe that's not the best analogy. I am full of hot air.) She was so glad to know that she had been carried in prayer while tending to so many needing her prayers. What a God we serve! What a beautiful Body of believers we're part of. Time and distance are irrelevant in God's economy.

As a side note, Sandy is rethinking that her nursing career ended before motherhood. She was an oncology nurse before she was a Christian, before she had kids, and before she realized that she would rather have majored in history. Her mom had counseled her to choose a nursing career to give her "something to fall back on." Well, she nurtured her passion for history by homeschooling for umpteen years (still doing that) and God is bringing her to a place where's in contact with the Boston Cancer Center about getting recertified. Pretty amazing how God uses everything -- even a degree that she would've traded for something more immediately satisfying--to work for His glory.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Pastels Rock"

It was such an easy-going, laid-back art day today. The only "plans" I had were to introduce pastels, let them mix primary colors to get secondary colors, and give them the vocab word "medium" as it relates to art. I did all that while sitting at the table with them, talking while we worked. (Played?)

They had to do what I called "A Sunset at the Ocean" as their project. Horizon line, blue water with green and yellow and maybe some gray, whatever they wanted, sunset showing a little gold reflection on the water, a sky filled with purples and pinks and other colors. (I wasn't being a stickler for secondary colors.) It's funny what showing them one of my samples does for my ego. You wouldn't believe how many "oohs" and "aahs" my 15-minute sunset jobbie got. I love it. They are so easily impressed. Sometimes I wonder if it's exactly why I wouldn't teach high school art. My pride would take a serious hit.

As soon as we were finished, the 3rd and 4th graders piped up, "Can we hang these in the hall? Our parents will LOVE them!" So we did (after hair-spraying them). One kid from the 5th/6th grade class said, "This is the funnest project we've ever done!" Funnest, huh? Good thing you're boning up in grammar under my tutelage, too. But one student made the sweeping compliment of the day, "Pastels rock!"

I'm so glad they had a good time. Pastels do rock. They're my favorite medium.

Friday, October 10, 2008

SpontReNEE'ity and "The Matchmaker": Fun Girls' Night Out

My friend Renee' is the quintessential funmaker. A true icon of spontaneous get-togethers that make for great memories. The latest one involving the two of us happened last night. She called the previous evening and asked if I'd like to go with her to see Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker." It was playing at CenterStage and the tickets were free.

Paul and the kids said it'd be fine with them, that someone would be here with Joel.

Thornton Wilder is my favorite playwright, no apologies to Shakespeare. "Our Town" takes the prize for best in show, if you ask me, so I was game for this one. Not that I'm an expert on plays. I'm not. I have attended very few, mostly because my husband can't stand theatre with all its silliness and planned outbursts of song by men in tights.

Anyway, I digress. I did enough quick research to find this play would entertain me without me feeling morally corrupted. It's about vice and virtue, finding love, making adventures, and swapping identities in the midst of it all.

The acting was terrific, costumes brilliant, scenery engaging, plot delightfully predictable. Best of all were the monologues to the audience. Par excellente. I don't have the playbill in front of me, but my favorite actor was an older guy playing Horace's assistant. If ever someone could evoke laughs by merely raising his eyebrows, it is he. One of the main characters was played by a guy who reminds me of Josh Harris. Now that's funny. His sidekick pronounces the moral of the play at the end, in a monologue, telling the audience that life is best with a healthy mix of sittin' around at home and yet havin' plenty of adventure. Adventure is something you find yourself in the middle of and say, "How did I get mixed up in this?" and yet when you're sittin' at home wishin' for adventure, you need to get out and try one. See what you get mixed up in and how good it can make you feel.

That's what Renee' does for me. She calls when it's been so long since I had an adventure that I've started to lose my sense of spontaneity. I think I'll start calling her "spontReNEE'ity." (Okay, that was really corny.)

The tickets were free through If you want to see "The Matchmaker" free, you've got to be spontaneous, as in (I think) the last showings are tomorrow at 2 and Sunday at 2. But check it out in the Events section of

Have yourself an adventure.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sweet and Sobering Stuff from Class

Yesterday in grammar class I was going over a practice sheet on capitalization and punctuation with the students. Everyone was in a lighthearted mood, and there was lots of giggling and fun.
Imagine that during a grammar exercise. Instead of marking their papers for them, I let them mark their own mistakes and correct them as we went along.

One of the practice sentences I made up was this: would you please deliver these flowers on wednesday august 26 2009

The kid who offered the answer got everything right except said that flowers gets an apostrophe between the r and the s.

"Oh, no, no, no, no," I chirped. "I am the Queen of Apostrophes. If you learn nothing else in my class by the end of the year, you must learn how to use apostrophes correctly. There is no apostrophe in flowers the way it's used in this sentence. It's just a plural word. If I had said, 'These flowers' petals are falling off,' then you would need an apostrophe, but not in the sentence on this paper."

One kid asked, "If you're the Queen of Apostrophes, who's the king?"
"Stephen, " said another, who knows my son who graduated last year.

Then I added, "Take another look at this sentence. See the date? Does anyone know what's special about it?"

Kid 1: I think it's some kind of holiday,maybe?
Me: Not that I've heard of. Anyone else have an idea?
Kid 2: It's the day some big building is supposed to be finished being built.
Me: Could be, but I'm not sure what building that might be.
Kid 3: I think it's the day of the end of the world.
Me: I hope not because it's my birthday!

Ooh, for a second I was sobered to think the Lord might return in less than a year, and on my birthday of all days.

Another interchange from the same episode:

Me: Let me give you another example of apostrophes used incorrectly. Take a look at this . ( I wrote on the board : Shirt's 2/$15. )

Me: What's wrong with this sign?
Kid 4: It shouldn't have an apostrophe because there's nothing that belongs to the shirts. It's just plural.
Me: Bingo! You're exactly right.
Kid 5: Who would write that?
Me: Well, unfortunately, a lot of people. I see signs like this in stores all the time. The grocery store people will write "Plum's 1.99 / lb." Some sign makers are ignorant about punctuation, which means they don't know any better.

A little later, summing up with them...

Me: Okay, I'm going to ask each one of you to tell me one thing you learned from this practice.
Kid 3: You're not supposed to capitalize colors.
Me: Right.
Kid 1: You need a comma between the day and month and between the month and year.
Me: Good! You are correct.
Kid 6: If we don't learn how to use apostrophes right, we're gonna fail this class.
Me: Well, you might not graduate from this grammar class, that's right! (All in jest, which I clarified, because they can't always tell.) What else did you guys learn?
Kid 5: People that make signs in stores are ignorant .That means they
don't know any better.
Kid 4: They need you!
Me: (beaming) Aw, thanks!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pheelin' a Phall Photo Phrenzy Phorthcoming

Okay. I'm about to change the name of my blog to "Promises Made, Rarely Kept, Photos Taken, Rarely Uploaded, Do You Care? Check the Box: Yes. No." But that may not fit in the header too well.

Anyway, to let you know (for those who would check the box "yes") I have oodles o' pix on my camera to upload. I just need another Tutorial by Young Son in order for it to come to fruition.

Among my batch of photos will be:

  • a fall tour of my home (the decorated parts that stayed clean long enough for a mouse to say "cheese")
  • ocean vacation shots
  • first day of school
  • Joel's lost tooth
  • graduation 08, 07, oWait...that's going back a ways
  • my fifth wedding anniversary
  • my cheerleading outfit in the 70s
  • my 5th grade class picture
  • my first lost tooth ....which I hope my mom still actually has 'cuz my dental crown isn't holding up too well

Just kidding. I won't do that to the class of '83. Or will I???

I am so far behind I can just sense the boredom rising right up out of my blog page. Thanks to the faithful few who still tune in here, pictures or no.

Friday, October 03, 2008

What Project Next?

I could use some creative input from anyone who's got suggestions to lend in the art department.

My art students (3rd-6th grade) have been studying line, overlapping, texture, and shading. Currently their project due Tuesday is to draw a Fall Fruit Still Life in pencil . As the leaves start to do their fall thing, I am hankering to move on to color in art class, but am not sure whether to do another still life in color before introducing color as a topic, or to introduce the color wheel. We won't have smocks yet (I'm not planning to paint for another week or two) but I could have them work with pastels.

We have 50 minutes for class. That includes the business of collecting and showing off last week's projects, giving a mini-lesson or lecture, leading them thru a project, and cleaning up. I think of it as 35 actual teaching minutes when I'm designing the day's plan.

So many choices. So many lines, colors, dimensions. Ai, yai, yai! I love it!!! (Yes, I do mean to put all those exclamation points, TYVM.)

Any suggestions? My left brain wants to be oh-so-methodical, precept-upon-precept when it comes to teaching art concepts. But my right brain wants to ride the horse bareback through a field of color.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Q&A Wednesday, a Day Later

I came across this question in a fellow blogger's comment box and was so glad she asked:

"Is it egocentric to send a Christmas card with your family picture on it? "

Let me add a few related ones of my own.
1) Is it any less egocentric to have a family photo loose inside the card instead of as an integral part of the design?
2) Is the message you want to get across "thinking of you"? or "I want you thinking of me"?
or "Are we all thinking about Christ with this card?"?
3) If just a picture on the front is accompanied by a "religious" message inside, which speaks more loudly to you?
4) Do you feel obligated to keep all photos that are sent to you? If you feel obligated, do you do it anyway?
5) Do you feel you "owe" people pictures at Christmas?
6 ) Do you feel pressured to send only a "Christian" message and no pictures because of the whole question of egocentric greeting cards?
7) Is there a more appropriate season than Christmas to send family photos with newsletters?
8) Are the answers different based on the number of people/pets in the photo? That is, do you deem it okay for a 3-person family to send a card, but find it egocentric for a single, a couple, or a couple with dogs to send their picture?
9) What about giving pictures as gifts? Is it different if the recipient has asked for a picture vs. that's what you decided you want to give them?

Just asking questions to stir quality thinking. My husband and I have been 'round and 'round about this issue for years. It always ends the same.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gold Diggin' Gal Hits Paydirt

In case anyone was still "watching for watches" for my Christmas breakfast table, I just wanted to say thanks. I have all I need now.

I needed 8, had 3, got a lovely 4th from Krista (thanks again!) and then hit paydirt at a church yard sale. Some guy had a table where he had a bin full of mens' and ladies' broken watches. When I had gathered the 4 pretty ones in silver and gold that I wanted, I asked what he'd like for them. (I didn't want to spend more than 4 bucks.)

It was nearly the close of the day and he said, "Well, I was asking a buck apiece, but seeings as you've got a handful there, how about...oh....uh...a dollar for all?"

Wow. Twenty-five cents each for my remaining lovely napkin rings. Perfect! Felt as if God was smiling during the transaction. Can we safely say, then, that going to that yard sale "panned out" for me?


For this funnie from Joel, clikc on Kidbits.