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November 2007
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December 2007 entries

Hmmm...Close enough!

Tonight, as Aidan was going to bed, Mike and I led him in his evening prayers.  He tends to make his sign of the Cross a little low -- it's more like hand to head, belly, and then side to side on the tummy.  Tonight I took hold of his hand and said, "Head, heart, shoulder, shoulder" while helping him make the sign.  I let go and he tried on his own, saying, "Head, shoulders, knees and toes...Amen." 


Juno (emphasis on the NO!)

While critics have lauded the new movie, Juno, (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071213/REVIEWS/712130303/1023) I must play the role of Virgil and insert some common sense into our culture.

This movie is about a 16-year-old girl who decides that it is high time that she become sexually active, just for the sake of being sexually active.  She talks her best guy friend into having sex with her (one review describes him as "reluctant") and Juno ends up pregnant.  She goes with a best girl friend to an abortion clinic and decides against an abortion (yay, a good point, I agree).  The movie follows Juno through the 9 months (well really it's ten -- do the math...40 weeks, 4 weeks a month...I digress) of pregnancy, and Juno begins the process of interviewing adoptive parents.

As I said at the beginning of this post, many think this comedy is great and that it could very well be the best movie of the year.  I am, as usual, concerned about the message we are sending our young people through this film.  Is 16 really the best age to decide to become sexually active? And with just a friend, not a spouse?  And is pregnancy really just a joke?  If we get pregnant, we can just browse the classified ads?  Of course, I am writing all of this without having seen the movie and without knowing the ending, but everything I've read supports my reservation concerning this film.  Are the laughs worth the price of the cultural message of sexual irresponsibility?  I don't think so. 


The YuleBlog

Reflections on Christmas:

·         Christmas Eve brought us two very beautiful Masses at the Church.  This year was a refreshing change from the last couple of years.  Things went smoothly: there were no misunderstandings, no unnecessary criticism, no tension, no stress.  We are blessed with a noteworthy group of people in the music ministry: our choir is talented and hard-working; our organist/accompanist is capable and survived her first Christmas Eve at the manuals beautifully; we have a skilled group of flutists and other musicians who graciously offer their music to the Lord. 

·         This year, I played the organ at the 7 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass.  I’ve been playing for 5 months, and truth be told, I never had any intention of playing the organ at Lourdes, though I have been involved in the music ministry for 7 years now.   Though my first of teaching is hardly the time to start a new instrument, I have enjoyed learning to play and supporting the congregation in a different way.  I was pleased with how the 7 p.m. Mass went, and I thank God for giving me the skills and courage to play.

·         The children were thoroughly spoiled this year, and they loved every minute of it.  They now have more toys than a daycare, and Santa heard Aidan’s request for “dinosaur animals.”  I think his favorite present is a mechanical tyrannosaurus rex that walks and roars.  When it gets warmer, I think he will love to play with his battery-operated John Deere Gator.  Gabrielle got several new toys, games, and dolls.  I think one of her favorites is her My Little Pony…funny, though…it has wings, so Aidan says it’s a dragon! 

In all the past few days have been hectic yet blessed.  Merry Christmas to all!


Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

On Sunday, following our 10 a.m. Mass, our church had a party for the children.  Saint Nick came, and Aidan was in awe.  Until that point, he hadn’t mustered the courage to speak to St. Nicholas/Santa Claus.  It became clear that St. Nick was going to move on to another table, and I could see Aidan thinking, ‘This is my last shot!’  He stood up and blurted out, “I want some dinosaur animals, and I live at 209 Confair Parkway!”


"You Got a B in Chemistry"

A dear friend, a non-traditional college student and mom of 4 girls, recently earned a B in a challenging chemistry course (Even bigger news -- she got an A in English!!!) and to celebrate her success, she and her family had a party at their house on Saturday.  After 5 p.m. Mass, Mike and I bundled up the children and headed out to the boondocks, where our friends live.  We had a great time, and because we had to do morning Mass on Sunday, we were heading home at about 10 or 10:30.  Before we left, the girls of the family (and another family) announced that they had a song to share.  Armed with a guitar and the voices of angels, the girls sang a song they wrote, errr, re-wrote.  The tune was "The First Cut is the Deepest" by Sheryl Crow.  The lyrics were about how hard Shelly worked this past semester and how she "yells at us all the time."  haha. 

The best part was the chorus -- Think "The first cut is the deepest" but hear "You got a B in chemistry."  Too cute.  It was witty and charming, and most of all from the heart.  These girls understand that the decision for Shelly to go back to college (which meant that she could no longer homeschool her daughters) was not an easy one to make, and they expressed their pride and love for their mom in a creative and endearing way. 

Congrats, Shelly!  Not only for the great grades, but for raising really great kids!


Forget It Friday

Most of us teachers pretty much gave up the idea of doing any actual teaching on the Friday before break.  I had a film playing for my sophomores, but most of them ignored it.  Instead, it was more of a community-building kind of day.  Sure, there are some hard-core teachers out there who think that student-teacher rapport is not that important in the classroom, but I would argue that they are dead wrong. For insEnginetance, if a student knows that he can bring his engine to your classroom and put it on your desk ("It's clean, Mrs. Connor, don't worry!") then chances are, he'll be willing to work for you during English class.

Also, if a student knows that you are silly enough to put on reindeer antlers and pose for a picture together, he might be willing to read that novel you assigned over Christmas break...

Ben

And, well, there will always be that charmingly odd child who will spend the class period reading while the rest of the class isKevin having a holiday party: 

Things I Learned on Friday, Dec. 21, 2007:

* My third period class has an odd obsession with duct tape.

* Plastic cups suspended from the ceiling create a certain "atmosphere" in one's classroom.

* The engine really was clean.

* The Terry Tate: Office Linebacker video on Youtube is really funny.


Awww shucks....

I have been teaching English to a very bright and compassionate young man who is homeschooled by his inspiringly talented and capable mother.  We just wrapped up our fall semester.  We read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and took a field trip to the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble's production of the play last night.  The troupe did a highly commendable job, and they are performing shows after Christmas this year.  I recommend seeing the play if you can make it.  Here's the link: http:.//www.bte.org

Here's another link to a very nice post about my English class with Jackson:

http://donnahowey.typepad.com/moments_like_these/2007/12/bah-humbug-no-m.html

Thanks, Donna.  :) 


"The Road Not Taken"

I had the opportunity to teach Robert Frost's famous poem, "The Road Not Taken" today.  I truly enjoy teaching poetry to young people.  This particular poem about romanticizing the past is grossly misinterpreted.  Most people even re-title it, calling it, "The Road Less Traveled By."  Here's the text:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.         20

The first three stanzas depict a decision that the speaker has to make between two "paths."  My students readily made the metaphorical leap to acknowledge that the poem goes beyond a walk through the woods:  Our speaker has a life-changing decision to make here.   He compares the two paths and decides on the second path.  In the last stanza, the speaker admits that he will tell this story later in life and tell people that he took the road "less traveled by and that has made all the difference." 

As I expected, my students rushed along with the popular interpretation of the poem:  the speaker chose the noble path, the one less traveled by.  He was unique and didn't go along with the crowd.  I asked them to describe the two paths.  The one that he chose, they said, was "grassy" and no one had walked on it yet.  Our speaker is a real trailblazer, isn't he?  I asked them to describe the other path, and I was met with responses that had no basis in the poem, but had firm grounding in the hearts of my students.  The other path was "dirty" and "common" and "worn down because so many people walked on it." 

I asked them to support those claims, and of course, because they aren't in the poem, they couldn't.  Through the course of our discussion, the students slowly began to realize that the paths were "really about the same."  In fact, the poem says, "Both that morning equally lay."  Yet, one by one, the students had ignored 3 or 4 lines of poetry that said the two paths were equal because they wanted so much to believe that the speaker had made a noble decision.  Slowly, evidence for contrary came: "Wait, it says 'yellow' wood...that could mean he's a coward -- like yellow-bellied."  And another, "But...yellow could also just mean fall, a season of change."  And still another, "Yes, but he says they are the same path and that he's going to reinvent his story when he's older."

I pointed to the pause ... the "and I -- / I took the one less traveled by" and some said it was a pause because he is hesistant to lie, some said it was a pause for effect.  I pointed out the "sigh" with which the speaker will be telling the story -- a sigh of regret to some, of contentment to others.  The title -- "The Road Not Taken" -- some say Frost called it that to emphasize his regret over taking the other path; still others say it means "the road not taken by others."

The best moment of the discussion, though, was when the bell rang and the students spilled into the hallway, still debating the meaning of the poem.   


The Bloggings will Continue until Morale Improves

Mike: "When I pick my bloggers, I flick them across the room."

Denise: "Who let the blogs out?"

Mike: "I used to play with Lincoln Blogs when I was a child."

Denise: "When driving in hazardous conditions, it is best to use your blog lights."

Mike: "Blogdarnit."

Denise: "I earned my master's degree from Blognell University."

Mike: "The blazing YuleBlog lies before us.  Strike the harp and join the chorus."

Denise: "The Blogs on the fire fill me with desire to see you and to say that I wish you Merry Christmas [cue back up singers] Merry Christmas, darling..."

Mike: "Hey!  It's my turn.  I want a lebanon Bloglogna sandwich!"

Denise: "It is complete Bloglam in here!"

Mike: "Jesus was born in Bloglehem, wasn't he?"

Denise: "Your sister goes to Blogsburg University."

Mike: "What does that have to do with Jesus' Blogday?"

Denise:  "Blogged if I know."