December 2005 Archives
December 11, 2005
Traditions. We all have them. This time of year is chock full of 'em. They get pulled out of trunks and attics and closets, wrinkly, moth-eaten and more than a little musty. They take up room, pushing other things out of the way, generally making a nuisance of themselves while loudly demanding we PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. It's not until we accept them and just let ourselves get swept up in the familiarity of traditions can we truly enjoy them.
Unfortunately, I'm smack dab in the middle of the nuisance phase. Today is the one day I have to get the house ready for Christmas and maybe it's too much pressure to expect it to go smoothly. I'm trying to get into the spirit, be joyful, joyful, and I'm trying to drag two sullen teenagers with me. And they are kicking and screaming, literally. I just broke up the umpteenth argument [which broke out after my son (inadvertently?) kicked my daughter in the head] ... Oh yeah, it's been that kind of day.
I spent the last 3 hours wrestling Christmas lights. Yes, that is a tradition. Ever since my father moved out of our house when I was 8, I've been the 'official' light untangler. I still remember my mother throwing the ball of lights on the floor in frustration that first Christmas without him, yelling "Forget it, we're not having a tree! I can't do this!" (hmm, sounds vaguely familiar)
I clearly remember thinking that if I didn't untangle the lights, we wouldn't have Christmas. Well, I did my best to get the lights working. I couldn't get the outside lights hung on the bushes like my dad did so we didn't have those but I took over the inside decorating, patiently undoing the lights and replacing burned out bulbs. Once she saw the lights were working, she went ahead and decorated the tree ... and we had Christmas. Because of this, I'm fastidious about how I put my lights away because I know it'll just be my headache to deal with the next year.
I have no idea what happened last year but they were totally FUBAR ... a humongous blob shoved in the trunk. New strands of light cohabitating with old strands, giving birth to bastard tangles, all waiting to snatch my afternoon, and my Christmas sprit, away.
I finally got the lights untangled (and threw out all the broken, backup lights I used to keep for replacement bulbs because SOMEONE had tossed them all in together) and the tree up and decorated and now we're going to wrap presents while we watch Survivor. I only yelled in frustration 2 or 3 times but I did tell the kids that I was just frustrated about the lights and that I wasn't going to give up until I finished.
Another tradition is Christmas music. When I was a kid, I used to listen to the Firestone Christmas Albums endlessly from Thanksgiving to New Years. Music alwaysputs me in the mood. When I was married, however, Christmas music wasn't allowed in our house, secular or not. Neither were Christmas movies. It was almost impossible to begin my own Christmas traditions with my kids but I did my best.
Today I had the music going and I was hoping the kids would catch the spirit ... but my sullen teenagers had their own agendas. Oh well ... I can't even talk about how hurt I was today. I just hope I got my message through.
I want us to be a family. I want my kids to have better memories of Christmas than I do. I'm tired, though. I don't know what else to do.
December 10, 2005
Stick a fork in me, I'm done.
Just turned in my final exam (only 1.5 hours late, but who's counting?) and boy is my brain tired!
This was a busy week, full of final projects and papers and this 'thinkpiece' of an exam. Excellent classes, both of them ... very practical work, especially the end projects. Going into my final project, I had a 99 in my Planning for Technology class. In my Intro to IT class, I had all A's and 2 or 3 A+'s, including two of my 4 final projects. Now I just have to wait for those last two grades to be posted.
Oh, I know I have A's, I just like to see it.
Yes, I'm a grades junkie. If I feel I'm not doing well, I'll just give up and withdraw rather than get a bad grade. If I get a point or two off of a project, I will resubmit. I don't know how I got this way. I was terrible in high school and just did what I had to do to get out of college the first time.
Maybe now it's because I have something to prove. Every perfect score I get is a giant flip of the bird to everyone that said I would bever be good enough. I don't even care of they know how well I do in school. I know. I'm proving to myself that I am better than they said I was.
I also have more to lose. Every day in school is one step closer to my goal. I don't want to drag my feet, I'm ready to move up, move on.
Why am I so anxious? I don't know. Maybe that's a result of wasting 15 years of my life miserable, stagnant. Maybe because I spent another 5 years waiting for something that, in the end, wasn't nearly what I thought it was. Moving on? Why yes, thanks, I'll have a steaming plate of that.
So, classes are done for the time being. They start again in January. Not even looking at the calendar yet.
Also, it's 5 more days of work until The Break. *EEP!* I'm giddy with anticipation. I have a Tech Ventures thing tomorrow (oops, today) and then I'm all about Christmas and Joy and Love and Peace and SLEEP. We'll head out of town on the 17th to visit T and the 'rents and the cows and (maybe) friends. Visiting T's church on the 18th which I'm really looking forward to. Not to put too much pressure on myself but it's the first time in, oh, 20 years that I've stepped into a church for a service. No worries ... I'll be with my kids and his Dad, watching him and his Mom sing so I'll be in good hands.
Once we come home, it's wall to wall Christmas here ... then T comes down for the rest of vacation. It doesn't get better than that, New Years with the one I love.
In other news ... I've been out of karate for a month now and I've gotten my ass chewed out this week ... I deserved it ... and I will go back, I've just had a rough patch between work and school and bronchitis and ... yeah, Chris, I know, a million reasons not to go. I'll prolly have to put off going back until after New Years. *i can hear it now*
I'm stretching again, though. Lee reminded me that I need it at my age *gee, thanks* and it will help relieve stress, something we have no shortage of around here.
Well, I better get back to baking ... first batch of biscotti is just about done. Making Double Chocolate Pecan and Almond Mandlebrot for tomorrow. Jealous? Oh yeah, you know you are.
December 5, 2005
I just finished wrapping presents. The kids are in bed and so are the cats. I just wanted to take a moment or two to enjoy this quiet.
So far, this has been the most enjoyable holiday season in ... well, I would say years but that would be an understatement. I don't remember a Christmas that felt so right. Only one thing could make it better and that will happen on Tuesday.
Merry Christmas. Enjoy your families. Tell someone you love them. That truly is the greatest gift.
December 4, 2005
One class down, one to go. I've just sent in my benchmark project, which is pretty impressive if I do say so myself. I still have to finish my other class, including a 3-5 page research paper on the role of women in computer science (I've got to get a catchier title), a 2 page paper summarizing an interview that I am waiting to come in my email (ANY TIME NOW WOULD BE GREAT, REALLY), a professional webpage about yours truly (gag) and a final exam. Then I will be D O N E.
What an emotional semester. I'm ready for it to all be over.
On a happier note, I finished shopping for T's parents today. I also *almost* finished shopping for T ... it's so much easier shopping for people that aren't attached to you at the hip. Yes, you can take that to mean that I haven't shopped for the kids yet. I know, I suck. Honestly, I was out today, all ready to do some shopping since both the boy and the girl went to their father's house this morning. I barely got to Target and started shopping when I got a call that the girl was on her way back to town to come home. All I had time to do was finish up for T's parents and check out before she was there. I feel bad because I was aggravated and I think I made the girl feel really bad, even though I reassured her over and over that it wasn't her fault.
We went to Old Navy afterwards and did some clearance rack shopping (scored a black velour set for me and a couple of shirts for her), then we stopped by Starbucks for a venti Caffe Americano for me (read: pure caffeine with a squirt of hot water) and a venti Hot Chocolate for the girl (read: high test blend of chocolate and sugar that meant I was peeling her off the ceiling for the rest of the afternoon). I had planned on going into Starbucks and staking out a table so I could work on my papers with a caffeine IV until they dropped the girl off, but you know what they say about the best laid plans and all. Yeah, they get fracked by vindictive ex's.
We swung by the Dollar Store afterwards to pick up some paper she needed for school and some candy (which, of course, we were going to wash down with our caffeinated beverages ... what? is that bad?) Then it was back toward the house with a quick swing through Sonic for some chicken salads.
By the time we got home, it was 4 and, umm, yeah, I had wasted the entire day. So here I sit, plugging away, listening to Christmas music non-stop (hey, whatever works) and creating web pages, just hoping to get done. *ack*
December 1, 2005
As the semester winds down, I'm noticing how mentally tired I am lately. I realize now that one of the reasons I don't have a chance to do anything that is truly innovative here at school is that, since I've started working here, I've been in school. Ok, I actually had a year off so that is not exactly true but, during that year, I was trying to turn this media center around and get things set to right.
*have I always talked like this? How did the local colloquialisms become such a part of my vocabulary? Yesterday, I actually said I had to have a 'come to Jesus' meeting with someone that was having an attitude problem. Wow ... I'm feeling the urge to go out and 'bang a U-ie' just to reassert my Bostonian roots.*
What I wonder is ... how do people do it all? How do they have time to be innovative and current and grow both personally and professionally and not have their head feel all explodey?
I'm playing Jeopardy with my 2nd graders this week. My version is low tech ... I write the terms on a rolling white board and group the students into teams of 2 or 3. They use dry erase lap boards for their written answers and have to work in teams to figure out the answer to the questions that I ask from the terms on the board. Teams get a point for each right answer and the team with the most right answers wins. The twist comes in the sportsmanship. If a team has sour grapes and is making fun of others that aren't doing well or starts fighting amongst themselves when they are losing, they lose points. It sounds complicated but, really it isn't. Everyone gets something and the winning team gets two somethings.
This 9 weeks, the terms are all literary: Title, Author, Illustrator, Title Page, Call letters, Dedication, Publisher, Copyright, Folk Tales, Fables, Genre, jacket, Inside Flap, Spine. These are terms that we have talked about for 3 years now (I have had these students since Kindergarten) so the kids usually do well, unless I happen to get a team that has a brain drain. Since the teams are picked randomly, though, you never know where the strong team will be.
This has worked well for me for 3 years now but I know there has to be a better way to do this, something that involves using technology in the presentation of the game ... I just haven't come up with it yet. I have a laptop now that I could hook up to an LCD projector but the presentation of the game would have to change dramatically and I'm not sure I want it to change too much unless there is a MUCH better way to do it that still incorporates all the important elements. Any Ideas??
Anyone? Anyone? Beuller??