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December 2007
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February 2008

January 2008 entries

The Birthday Curse

I fear our children are cursed.  Before each birthday, they endure some sort of facial injury that becomes frozen in time in their birthday pictures.  On Aidan's first birthday, a few days before his party, he fell and gashed his lip.  He had a half-inch vertical cut from his upper lip to his nose.  Just before Gabrielle's birthday, she fell twice and had a shiner for her pictures. 

Just yesterday, (with Aidan's birthday coming on Sunday) Aidan was racing around "the circuit" -- the loop that runs from our kitchen to living room to dining room -- and he crashed into the wall, slicing a Harry Potteresque cut into his forehead.  The worst thing about facial injuries is that they bleed like stuck pigs!  Every time Aidan would even talk, the darn thing would start bleeding again. 

It is starting to heal, but to be sure, the cut will have a prominent place in his 3rd birthday pictures!

After dark . . .

Last night, Mike came to bed and turned out the lights.

Mike: "What time is it?"

Me: "8:50."

Mike: "That's awesome."


Mike:  "What time is the alarm set for?"

Me: "5 a.m."

Mike: "That stinks."

[longer, more depressed pause.]


The Need to Focus and The Misuse of Parentheses

This afternoon after choir rehearsal (and after our kids were accidently locked in the car with the keys by a dear friend who was watching them . . . Aidan actually ended up opening the door for her before we even got the spare keys from home; crisis diverted!) we decided to go see the new VeggieTales movie, "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" (thanks, Grandma Tina, for telling us about the movie!).  [Side note -- just how many parenthetical references is this blog going to have?]

Aidan and Baby Elle enjoyed the movie; it was cute (like all VeggieTales! (yes, I am deliberately adding parentheses now)) and on the way home, Mike and I were talking back and forth about something (can't remember what) and Aidan broke in, saying, "Guys! Guys!  We've gotta focus here!"  It was downright hilarious.  I have no idea where he got that line, but it was perfectly timed and charmingly executed (as Aidan's lines usually are).

Another moment or two passed, and someone cut Mike off while he was driving (the little known 8th deadly sin...) and our little cherub actually said, "Dad, that was freaking stupid."  Ahem.  I think someone (who shall remain nameless) should mind what (s)he says in the car while driving the children.


Last night, I helped to chaperone the Winter Formal (off on a totally different topic already, proving my need "to focus here") and it was a blast.  The kids were happy to see me, and I was pulled out on the dance floor several times by different groups of kids.  It was fun.  I am sure, though, that my 67 College English 10 students are diligently working on my take-home essay test that is due tomorrow.  At least, I am hoping that they are working on it tonight rather than tomorrow . . . it is a bit too long to put off til tomorrow.  And, I am deducting 10 points a day for late tests. (Hint, hint, to any of my sophomores who read my blog!)

So here's to Sundays with the fam, the need to focus, and the fun of parentheses!  *Cheers, mate!*

"In the werrald"

Aidan has started expressing his preference for things that he calls his "favorites in the werrald (a.k.a. world)."  Sometimes he shortens it to simply "in the werrald."  For example, we had pancakes for Saturday morning breakfast today:

Aidan: "Mommy, I love pancakes in the werrald."

Later in the morning, he asked to watch Curious George the Movie, saying, "I like that movie in the werrald." 

Baby Elle, on the other hand, is our little screamer.  Oh, my can you say soprano and tenor gene pool?  Phew.  When she gets frustrated or wants something, she will shriek to high heaven.  We are working on getting her to say, "More, please," which she can do in baby sign language, or "Me-Me" in real talk.  Nevertheless, she is still our little sweetie, and I am certain that the screaming phase will pass . . . ok, I desperately hope the screaming phase will pass.  :)

Holocaust Fatigue

I recently read an article that was sent to me from my student-teaching professor at Bucknell University.  The article was about a phenomenon known as "Holocaust Fatigue."  What does that mean?  Basically, the author of the article reflected on the lack of reverence that students show toward the Holocaust.  She notes that when she was a student (and this was the same for me), she was shocked at the sheer horror of the Holocaust, at the gross consequence of hatred coupled with blind ignorance.  Today's students are interested in the Holocaust, but aren't as moved by the enormity of it.  After I read that, I naively thought, "Oh that's sad.  I am lucky that my students aren't that way."

Fast forward to today in class.  I was telling my class about how I'm striving to coincide their reading of Elie Wiesel's Night with their studying of WWII and the Holocaust in social studies.  One student raised her hand and said, "Mrs. Connor, I am really not trying to be rude or anything, but I am so tired of learning about the Holocaust and reading stuff about it.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  It is sad that the Jews died, but I'm just not sure that it really matters that much anymore."

One student piped up, "When was the last time we read anything about the Holocaust? We read The Diary of Anne Frank two years ago in 8th grade."

I opened my copy of Night, and turned to Wiesel's own preface to the recent translation by his daughter.  I read a quote which struck me the first time I read it; my book is at school, so I'll summarize.  Wiesel refelcts on why he wrote the book in the first place...he says on some levels he still doesn't know, but the most important purpose that the book serves is so that the enemy does not have the satisfaction of one final victory, and that victory would be the erasure of the horrors of the Holocaust from human memory.  (I'll post the direct quote later...I am not doing it justice here.)

The students listened closely, and I think that it hit home.  I am certain that Night will change their lives.  I look forward to helping this particular young woman (and others like her) realize that the Holocaust can simply not be forgotten or glossed over lest it be repeated, even in a smaller scale.

More Wedding Photos

Just a few more photos of Bonnie and Jeremy's wedding. 


I just figured out how to make bigger pictures!  Yay!


A beautiful day!  It looks like June instead of January!


Striking a pose :)  I know...such a shock to those who know me...I am always so nervous in front of people...cough cough.


Like totally BFF's like forever, man!

Running on "E" and the blur that is my late twenties...

I taught my sophomores a story yesterday in which the narrator is a 30-yr-old Chinese woman in the 1970s.  She says that thirty isn't old for a Republic, but for a woman, she is basically "on the shelf."  I was really glad to hear that since I'll be 28 this August...that means I've got about 2 1/2 good years left, right??  Just kidding.  What is the overused phrase?  30 is the new 20?  Does that just mean that our culture refuses to grow up?  I think I'm digressing.  :)  Of course, I'm so tired that I'm not sure.

The 2nd marking period ended on Friday.  I can't believe half of the year is gone.  The student teachers have arrived...bringing back memories of one year ago for me.  I feel as though I am running on E.  I'm up late, up at 5, at school by 6 or 6:30, I come home at quarter of 4 and do the home with kiddos thing until bedtime then run around trying to get ready for the next day to start.  I am up now because I am burning copies of the practice CD for our Church choir for tomorrow's rehearsal...almost done!

I want to comment on Bonnie and Jeremy's wedding, which was a total blast!  When Mike and I checked into our hotel, Bonnie and her family had decorated our room with rose petals (even in a heart-shape on the bed!) and a basket with candles, chocolates, and champagne on ice with glasses!  I was so surprised.  Michael had a similar surprise in mind, I learned as he unpacked his suitcase to reveal a bottle of champagne and a large candle.  :)   Also waiting in our room was a detailed plan of the weekend, as I described in a previous post. 

While there were some mishaps (like the one tux coming with the wrong color vest -- which was fixed by 10:30 a.m. on the day of the wedding) nothing was catastrophic, and the day turned out to be gorgeous!  The service was beautiful, and the reception (complete with a drunk guy from Bonnie's work hitting on plain view of Michael!) was really fun.  In all, a wonderful weekend!  And to Bonnie and Jeremy, we wish nothing but the best for many years to come!

Wedding2 Wedding1

The Challenge of Forgiveness

In Tuesdays with Morrie, one of Morrie's pieces of advice is to "forgive everyone everything -- now!  before it's too late." 

Doesn't that sound peaceful and wonderful?  I have two questions to ask:

1.  What if the offending party doesn't ask for forgiveness?

2.  What if the offending party does even worse -- keep offending you? 

I am struggling with a situation right now in which I know the right thing to do is to forgive a person who has hurt me.  And I have forgiven this person.  I believe that this person has acted in this way towards me because of a deep-seated brokeness in this person's own life.  I really don't think that I am the real target of this person's anger and bitterness.  BUT...that being said, this person just does not stop.  And I am not just talking small little insults or comments; I am talking bold attempts to slander my name and make things difficult on my family. 

And, so I ask Morrie -- how do we forgive when people don't want to be forgiven, or at least when they don't seem to want to be forgiven because of their repetition of hateful acts?

Dialogue Journaling in the Classroom

As I've mentioned before, my sophomores are reading Tuesdays with Morrie.  On Tuesday (appropriately), I asked my students to consider the following prompt:

"Morrie bases his philosophy of life on the assumption that at our core, we are really all the same.  This suggests that as human beings, we share fears, desires, hopes, needs, etc. that are essentially universal.  Do you agree or disagree?  Think specifically about those who are 'different' from you." 

I set the timer for 10 minutes, and they wrote what they thought about the possibility of a universal human experience.  After time was up, I asked them to silently read their journals to themselves.  Why?  Because I want to reinforce the habit of proofreading their work.  Sure enough, I observed many students erasing or editing their writing.  I encouraged them to do read their work every time that they write something, whether it be before they turn in a major paper or before they hit send on the email or instant message screen. 

After they read their work, I asked them to take an academic risk for me.  I asked them to trade journals with someone else in the class.  This may not seem like a big deal, but remember -- they are used to writing for my eyes only, and they are used to writing freely and openly.  I was pleased to see that at this point in the year, my students willingly traded work like collegues and friends. 

They set to task, reading each other's entries, after which I asked them to respond to their peer's work (which many had already begun to do verbally) in writing.  Why?  It is a very important skill to be able to communicate in writing and give feedback to another person's work in writing. 

After they did all that writing, we opened the floor for discussion of the prompt which yield some really great discourse.  I consider it a very good day in the classroom when the kids talk more than I do about the topic at hand.  Some started off by saying we are all the same because when we come down to it, we are all born, and we all die (much like what Morrie says) while others countered with examples of selfish and evil people like Adolf Hitler and Sadam Hussein. 

We had a great day of writing and discussing, and it is so very exciting and rewarding to be able to guide young people in their journey of academic and personal growth!