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Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga: One Game, One Goal December 27, 2012

Is there any game/app/movie franchise that is not a part of this game? No! Is there any skill that isn’t tested by the gameplay involved here? Well, maybe one or two skills remain untested.  Cooking isn’t really tested well by this game, nor are the beloved needle arts, although my son did rename Darth Vader “Darth Tenderloin,” which I found endlessly amusing.  Suffice it to say that we were successful, not only in constructing the Death Star (which one must repeat whenever one has a burning desire to play Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga), but also in destroying the Death Star, which is no small feat when Han Solo is reduced to an irritated fowl with his hair parted in the middle.  If you want to find out more details about the game, I have included an annoying YouTube tutorial for your viewing pleasure above.

Such are the simple pleasures of a teacher’s life in the few days following Christmas.  I also took a ridiculously long nap, and shoveled a foot of snow (and by that I mean several cubic feet of snow).  More vacay fun: removed the rug from son’s room, where he had thrown up in the middle of the night. Yes, the festivities just keep on rolling.

Our ultra-faithful neighbors across the street snow-blowed (snow blew?) the part of the driveway that I didn’t finish, and for that I was truly grateful. Halle freaking lujah grateful: I whipped up a plate of “Thanks -for- helping -us- out- even -though- you -won’t -let- our- kids- play- together- because- mine- is- a -heathen- who- reads- Harry -Potter- and- has- seen- representations- of- Renaissance- art” Christmas treats! It was very healing. Hopefully they didn’t notice that the star cookies were pentagrams. . .Come on, you’ve received those gag cookie cutter gifts too.

Finally, I must confess that the snowstorm arrives on the heels of my discovering that I have no snow pants that fit my son.  We had so little snow last year that, when we did try to sled, we had to throw on a couple of layers of sweat pants and race up to the hill before the 40 degree temperatures transformed our sledding adventure into a little mini Tough Mudder. This winter (today), my inadequacy is far more evident.   I have hand-me-downs in the attic, but the next size up will by when he is pushing puberty.  In addition, my holiday investments have left the snow pants budget rather depleted.  Please email if you would like to forward me your gently used outerwear, size 8-10.


Good Luck Merry December 24, 2012

Filed under: family,holiday,life,parenting — peachyteachy @ 5:26 pm

Pretty peaceful here, right now.  We don’t have Christmas Eve obligations, and so I don’t have to cook like crazy.  I am making a pot of chili for dinner! Rebel on the loose! Seven fishes can be eaten by seven million other folks–I’m not Italian, anyway, and fish has been known to make me hurl.

I enjoyed being out for some last minute items early this morning, and I have been reflecting on how different things are, here and now, from the way they were when I was growing up.  I’m not referring to world events or periodic apocalypses.  More personal than that.

When I was a kid, we had many Christmases when there really wasn’t much of anything to speak of in the way of presents. And if you are expecting me to affirm that it didn’t matter; that we were together and we had each other and that was enough, well, I am going to disappoint you.  Did I love the cookie baking and the tree and the carols? Yes, I truly did.  I carry on these traditions joyfully today. But the fact is that I was not a virtuous enough child not to notice that, when I called my friend early in the afternoon on Christmas day, there were some major gaps between her description of what she had received, and mine.  For example, one particularly lean year, I received an Avon rose-scented cologne in a glass container that looked like a plaid dress.  And that’s it. I said ‘Thank you,” and of course I was oblivious to how difficult that must have been for my parents.  I resented the fact that my mother believed for a second that it would be a good idea to spend what she had to spend on something so completely removed from anything that I would have liked or chosen.  I kind of thought that she actually liked it.  I was thrilled when it smashed to bits some months later, although it smelled God-awful in my bedroom for awhile.

I have, not surprisingly, made it a point to work hard to make Christmas abundant for my kids.  It is pretty small scale compared with what lots of folks do, but even if I have to wrap little things in big packages, it all feels special and we have a lovely time together with lots of laughs.  My younger son is aware of the fact that things are pretty tight these days.  He said, “Mommy, I wouldn’t want you to get me a Wii U–I wouldn’t want you to spend that money on me.”

For two years after my mom passed, we found a bird nest in our Christmas tree.  It is said to bring good luck. I feel that it connects me with my mom, and those nests are part of decorating the tree each year.  I do feel lucky.  She did the best she could.

Me too.


Shopping for an Experience December 23, 2012

Filed under: humor,shopping — peachyteachy @ 1:54 pm

Yeah, I’m still shopping.

One of these years, I want to be able to spring a vacation trip on the fam, but that’s not in the cards for this Christmas.  Still, there are so many lovely gifts that can provide such extraordinary experiences to their recipients.

  1. A favorite gift of mine is one that comes around commercial land pretty regularly, in the form of a pair of sunglasses—a pair so special, reminds the info-mercial ambassador, that, when you gaze through them, you will see things as you have never seen them before!  “It’s ALMOST like 3-D!” he assures you.  Well, there’s a selling point.  Last I looked, my life tends to occur in three dimensions all on its own.
  2. As a parent who should hold stock in the Lego company, I keep my finger on the pulse of all things Lego.  Imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of an internet ad hawking “life-size legos.” WTF? As far as I am concerned, “life-size” for a Lego is generally right around the 1 to 3-inch ballpark. Does this place actually have something that is in some way more lifelike than the 32,000 Lego pieces with which I interact on a daily basis? Presumably, “life-size” is universally accepted to mean “human-size,” and especially white, male, human-size, as evidenced by the human-sized human in the photo above.  What is that dude compensating for?
  3. On an agricultural note, I have yet to come up with anyone in my circle (for whom I feel obligated to buy a gift) who would appreciate receiving the news that someone else was receiving a living gift on their behalf, whether they like it or not.  You know, the heifer and goat-supplying outfits that empower someone in the third world with the gift of livestock-raising.  Do you get monthly updates on your little cloven-hoofed gift, complete with photos of special milestones, such as the first little tin cup filled with milk, or its first pungent cheese? I might personally enjoy this, especially if, one day, they air-lifted one of MY heifer’s baby heifers–right to my classroom! It could be our class pet! There is no way that it would be any messier than the children, and they could experience life lessons by working for their little carton of milk! We could leave it over on the heat vent and discover the miracles of cheese-making, minus the plastic wrapper!

Sadly, the presents under our tree will not begin to approach the grandeur of these — not even a 2-dimensional pair of sunglasses to rescue us from a pedestrian holiday.  Still, I’m hopeful.  There ARE life-size Legos in the works.




The Healing Power of Chocolate Crinkles December 19, 2012

Filed under: food,life,school,spirituality,teaching,Uncategorized — peachyteachy @ 6:59 pm

I have attempted to start a post a few times over this past several days.  Things don’t feel cohesive, I can’t sum anything up, and I can’t launch into some foray into a topic that doesn’t embody the fact that I am a teacher in an elementary school, a mom of an eight-year-old (who has been sicker than a dog for over a week), and the partner of a man who lost a brother two days ago.

I have been trying to help my class to be good to each other; better to each other.  It’s not happening. I want us to have some kind of pleasant approach to the holiday season, especially since many of them do not have opulent celebrations at home.  It is rough when they are being nasty to one another, and to me.

It is a strange dichotomy to be contemplating where one would hide the students if faced with the presence of an intruder, while the students are threatening, harassing, bullying one another at every turn. It’s hard not to feel guilty when you love them, but often don’t like them a lot. We discussed the events in Newtown quite minimally, as I hoped to steer kids toward discussion with their families.  As a parent, I prefer to be the one who has the primary voice in such conversations.

On Monday, one of my kids mimed gun action in the hallway, complete with putting individuals in his sights (including me) before making sound effects. He claimed “video game.”

Sometimes, writing is therapeutic. Sometimes, baking is.  Tonight, I made some Chocolate Crinkles.  Peppermint MeltAways are on deck. I feel a little bit better. My kid went back to school today and doesn’t have a fever.  Grateful for that every moment. There is a sort-of-straight tree with lights on it in the living room.  Things are starting to feel connected.  I can’t categorize my post as “humor.”

Lately, hugs have been standing in for words around here.


Lennon Wrecked Me for Conservatism December 8, 2012

Filed under: history,music — peachyteachy @ 1:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Does it count as history that John Lennon was shot on this date in 1980?  It does for me.

I was a bit young to catch the first wave of Beatlemania, so I was not part of any grieving masses at my school that day.  It was as if nobody even knew that something earthshaking had happened, that a huge voice had been silenced.

So Lennon died, and Reagan was elected.  Soon it became so much cooler to care about money than about peace.  Love? Pshaw! The domain of the naïve. I know that people love to hail Reagan as this icon of American-ness, but I always got knots in my stomach when he would speak. I’ve never really gotten over it, although lots of peers have morphed into staunch conservatism.

I’ve had to apply for a couple of forms of public assistance in my adult life.  For a lot of that time, I would have fallen solidly within the category of the working poor.  That may have something to do with why I never had the luxury of easing into a more conservative perspective—I would have had to vilify myself! There’s already enough of that to battle when one is struggling to feed one’s kids,  trying to do things right, but not being able to pull those damned bootstraps up high enough.  WAS a Working Class Hero really something to be? I always tried to behave as if it was. I succeeded, sometimes, I think, but I also carried a lot of shame about it.  Truth be told, I still do.

Today, I tell my students that the reason I teach them Standard English is because it is the “language of money”— that, when they get older and go for a job interview or apply to college, they will want to sound smarter than the other people who want that job or that admission.

Still, they plan to fight each other after school, and threaten to punch each other in the face for cutting in line.

It turns out that I am slightly full of crap, when I think about it. While I’m teaching the curriculum which is designed to make these young Americans “competitive” in the world market, I don’t, in the end, want to teach “the language of money.” I don’t really even know the language of money.  I don’t think the competitive language of money is worth much when you solve your problems by beating each other up.

Here’s what I want to teach (or at least teach first): all you need is love. War is over, if you want it. That is not in the curriculum.  I get no points toward my evaluation score for that.




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