Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This is why we convene with The Mouse

Having fun, in spite of herself, because she was "too scared" to go on the Astro Orbiter. She's thirteen, out in public laughing and "being Goofy" with her daddy. Walt was a genius.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ortega River Run 2008

This race was a second time around for us. ORR 2007 was a chilly, long-sleeve February day. 2008 gave us a misty start, than a breezy seventy degree run throughout the race.

I love the neighborhoods along this route, much of which keeps us close to the water. As the clouds cleared we crossed the first of two bridges. I felt fast and furious (for me) in mile two, and the GPS confirmed it. I ran that split in just under nine minutes, even while singing along to my iPod, "She's just a girl who claims that I am the one.."

While I couldn't maintain that pace, EJG and I finished with self respect, improving on our 2007 time by more than 2 minutes. A year later, still chugging along, and still loving it. I think we're winning the race!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Morning, 11 AM

You wash my back
Then I'll wash behind your ears
The Wisdom of Cats

Is this even legal?

Sibling rivalry

Abandoned for a warm spot

I'll chase you later

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It took us the better part of three hours to run a half marathon on Sunday (that my GPS clocked out at 14.4 miles, thank you very much). I don’t expect to be the front cover of the sports section. I didn’t expect the headline “EJG and JSG Complete Third Half Marathon.” We ran for our health, and for the benefit of a very worthy charity, with no expectations of glory. But our lousy local paper barely made mention of the inaugural national marathon to fight breast cancer, a race that attracted over 8,000 runners from all 50 states and dozens of countries around the world. Sure, the little story they buried in the middle of Monday’s sports section mentioned some winning African natives and a big-time Olympian who happened to win the thing for the women. But covering only the winners doesn’t tell a fraction of the story.
There were more than 8,000 of us out there. 8,000. There were moms and grandmas. There were breast cancer survivors, and there were those, who like me, ran to honor survivors (my mom). Some ran for their future daughters and nieces. We ran with teachers, Starbucks baristas, physicians, and Publix cashiers, all grinding away at the pavement on a Sunday morning. Running instead of sleeping, or instead of bellying up to the biggest breakfast buffet offering. When Americans are slovenly, apathetic, and obese we get great media. How many stories are there on the expanding waistline? Bad news sells the news, and a charitable act that simultaneously benefits the giver may not be spicy enough for advertising sales. So I wrote my own headline today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Working with the Wee Ones

Next year I'll be presenting a topic that definitely resides outside of my comfort zone. I'll be presenting seminars on writing workshop in the primary grades, that is grades K-2. It's not that I fear the little folk, it's just that I can work better on the level of kids who are... closer to my level. I have little tolerance for the baby talking, not to mention the denim jumper uniform, so I am treading into some unfamiliar turf.

I thought the best way to prepare myself for this mindset is to jump into it, so I am spending the better part of the next two weeks writing with first graders. With some trepidation, and a weekend-long checklist of overpreparedness, I entered the room on Monday. "Tell me your stories. Let's make books." And incredibly, they did.

In the intermediate/middle grades I'm more used to, I had to sell the topic as much as I had to teach it. Everything had to be wrapped in a snazzy package, with a promise of some end bonus (yes, you can add clip art when you publish) to get the work started. With first graders, I gave them paper.

Today Autumn was making her third book, a story about a sleepover with her friend Lydia. She asked me how to draw a couch. "I dunno. Why don't you loook it up in the picture dictionary."

"Does it start with a K or a C?" she asked.

"It's a C," chimed in Colt, working on a book about his two cats. "It starts with a C."

There is something about the child who isn't yet jaded, the blank slate where I have every opportunity to make the learning meaningful and engaging. How much I can teach in Autumn's book about a sleepover. How careful I must be to not try and teach everything in her book, because sometimes we make these books because we want to tell our stories. We write because there is joy in sharing our finished products. Pride emblazoned on their faces when they place that date stamp on the back after publishing in the author's chair.

Pride and joy. Hard to disaggregate on The Test, but indispensible for lifetime learners.

Friday, February 8, 2008

All that was missing was the chalk outline

I don’t expect the posh, 5-star resorts. After all, I am just an educator, not a big business tycoon. But sometimes the places I have to stay are completely unacceptable. Last night was one of those times. When I arrived in the room I put out my cosmetics, jumped into my jammies, and prepared my clothing for the next morning’s workshop. Turning on the TV for company, I contemplated the dinner options. Based on the appearance of the hotel, I wasn’t willing to chance the hygiene in the kitchen. I logged on to Papa and arranged for a pizza and diet coke delivery. Then I removed the bedspread (I saw what they found with UV lights on bedspreads) to sit on the blankets and watch Friends while waiting for the pizza guy. I found some disturbing stains that seemed to leak from the box spring onto the floor.

Upon further inspection, the carpet had not only stains, but also cigarette burn marks and strange discoloration on the chair.
I couldn’t determine the source of the stains, but I have read about the habits of bed bugs. I learned that they begin their feasting when lights go out, so there was no way the lights were going out. I attempted to sleep with the lights on, fighting myself against imagining what might have occurred in this bed. When dawn broke I stood in the nasty shower in my yesterday socks, exhausted from my sleepless night and wondering how I would last through the day and my two flights home. Bleary eyed, I noted some more dubious stains in the shower. Then, just for fun, I realized that in my stupor I had conditioned my hair with body lotion.