Not bad for a fat girl


To NaNo or Not to NaNo

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbNovember is rapidly approaching, and I’m starting to get lots of e-mails from the folks over at NaNoWriMo. For those of you  unfamiliar with NaNo, it’s short form NaNoWriMo, which in turn is short for National Novel Writing Month. The NaNoWriMo folks have claimed November as theirs, and invited the whole wold to join them. Last year I accepted that invitation, and I wrote the manuscript of a young adult novel. In a month. Yes. I did it.

That manuscript is still very raw, in fact I haven’t done much of anything with it. I know so much more about writing now than I did a year ago, and what I’ve learned has left me feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of all the revisions that lay ahead. Gulp. But does that mean I can’t write something new? Of course not!

Completing NaNoWriMo was a huge accomplishment. It showed me that I did in fact have at least one book in me, and that I could find the time to create it. It also showed me that even when I was feeling stuck, I could make myself move forward. It was an important lesson. Of course it wasn’t without its freak-outs along the way.

Another lesson that it taught me was that I spend too much time on activities that give me nothing in return. I think many of us do. My main time sucker (and maybe yours too) tends to be surfing the internet. Watching tv is a big one for a lot of people too. Still, no matter how busy I felt, I was always able to at least put in at least twenty to thirty minutes on work days, then fill in with some extra time on the weekends. I knew that skipping days would stress me out too much in the long run, so I avoided it at all costs.

So now here I am, Mid-October, and decision time is looming. Yes, I think I’ll try it again, and this time I’ll incorporate some of the information on story structure that I’ve learned over the past several months. I have a new character that I need to get to know, and I need to create some really interesting things for her to do and say. I also need to stock up on Hot Tamales, they are my go to candy for writing inspiration and energy.

Hopefully this year’s 50,000 plus words come more easily than last year’s, but I’m not counting on it. Writing a novel is a really difficult process, but by announcing it, I’ve just taken the first step. Wish me luck!


Why Being Fat Sucks – Round Two

Seriously, it’s no fun. Here’s the next installment in the being fat sucks series (see part one here).


1. Socks dig into your legs.

2. Your bra side panels sometimes get sucked into the caverns created by your back fat.

3. You have to strategically plan your path through a crowded room.

Trust me, the fat woman is mortified.

Trust me, the fat woman is mortified.

4. You bump into every single person along the aisle of the airplane as you walk by.

5. What looks cute on your friends looks absurd on you.

6. Getting out of bed is literally the first challenge of the day.

7. You learn to avoid mirrors, thus failing to notice spinach in your teeth and other ugly details.

8. Your seatbelt never sits quite right so you’re always adjusting it.

9. You worry about riding in other people’s cars, also because of the seatbelt issue.

10. Zip-lining? Forget it.

11. You actually read the weight limits on ladders before you step on them.

12. You avoid folding chairs like the plague (and keep your own super duty chair in the car, just in case).

13. You imagine you would kill the poor mule if you were to sign up for the mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

14. Your feet hurt.

15. You get winded far too quickly.

16. You avoid being in pictures, even of events that you want to remember. When you are in pictures, you dislike what you see.

17. Clothes generally either feel tight or sloppy.

18. Even purse straps seem too small.

19. You feel like servers judge your order in restaurants.

20. The sides of chairs leave marks in your legs when you get up.


Throwback Thursday – The Candy Store

There used to be a store in my neighborhood where a kid could ride his or her bike and stock up on candy for very little money. It was located about two blocks from my home, and about a block and a half from the high school. It was owned by one of my classmates’ parents, and the store shared their family name. In fact the family lived behind the store in the same building. That place was important in our neighborhood, from childhood right through graduation. A lot of kids spent their allowance and their lunch periods in that store. Here are some of things I remember buying there as a kid:

1. Wax bottles- Who knows what exactly those tiny bottles held, but they were so darn appealing.

2. Candy dots- Yes, you always ended up with paper in your mouth, but somehow it seemed worthwhile anyway.

3. Wax lips- No need for Botox with these around.005c124e59a58256

4. Fire balls- From spicy to sweet the pain was delicious.

5. Candy necklaces and ring pops – High fashion for the sugar loving set.

6. Bazooka Bubblegum- It was usually hard as a rock, but the comics were hilarious.

7. Cracker Jacks- Although I didn’t like peanuts, I loved the little prizes.

8. Fresca- It came in a tall glass bottle, and nothing was better on a hot summer day (never mind the saccharin).

9. Bottle caps- These little candies were shaped like soda bottles and were fun to eat.

10. Comic books- I usually went for the candy, but once in a while I picked up Archie or Richie Rich.

Thanks Mr. and Mrs. B, for running a store that a generation of kids holds in their hearts.

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I Didn’t Want to, But…

The actual real banana bread on my counter.

The actual real banana bread on my counter.

Here’s an update to today’s earlier post. I was in an oh-so-lazy mood this morning, but for whatever reason, I ended up having a fairly productive day after all. From my don’t-want-to list I managed to get the laundry done (yes, even put away), empty, load, and run the dishwasher, and buy (but not build) the storage cubbies.

Not only that, but I also managed to get some anchor charts done for reading and writing lessons for school, and I even picked up some medicine and a few groceries. I know. You’re impressed. You should be.

From my want-to list I messed around plenty on the internet (facebook: check, pinterest: check, candy crush: check, pet rescue heroes: check) and I managed to watch a movie with my sweetheart. I also baked a banana bread, which isn’t exactly the kind of decadent thing I was imagining, but it sure turned out delicious. I also spent some quality time with my puppy girl, even if it wasn’t on a walk. Then I finished out the evening by reading more of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. All in all a successful and relaxing day, I’d say.

Tomorrow we return to school after our week off, and I have my lessons ready to go (for the most part). I also have a new strategy I want to implement with a particular student who has been have some difficulty lately with behavior, and I have a fun activity planned for my after school math group. It’s going to be a good day. I can just tell.


I Just Don’t Want To

All those good intentions I have? Screw ‘em.

The still packed boxes from my move two and a half months ago? Forget about them.

The laundry that needs to be washed? The dishes that need to be put away? The groceries that need to be purchased? Nope, nope, and nope. I don’t want to deal with it. Any of it.

I also don’t want to deal with the fact that I’ve been doing a crappy job of caring for my physical well-being. There, I said it, but I’m just not in the mood to deal with it. Stupid, I know. But true.

My mental well-being, on the other hand, has been pretty good, thanks in large part to the fact that I’m just finishing a week off of work, part of which I spent with my son exploring our beautiful state. Still, there is a little too much chaos around me in my home for me to really feel settled. I don’t like having lots of stuff around, which is ironic, because I have lots of stuff.

Here’s what I SHOULD do.

1. Wash and put away all laundry.

2. Empty the dishwasher.

3. Fill at least two boxes with donations (clothes that don’t get worn, those curtains I’m never going to hang from two houses ago, that set of knives I’ve never opened, those ugly picture frames I’ve somehow accumulated, they all need to go).

4. Get that additional storage cube thingie and build it so I can fit my stuff into my studio appropriately.

5. Unpack the last few boxes.

6. Take the dog for a nice long walk.

7. Work on revising my manuscript.

I know that if I did those things I would feel more settled and accomplished, and less at odds with my environment. I have no desire to do any of it, though. Here’s what I really feel like doing instead.lazy-dog-pool

1. Spending the day in my pajamas.

2. Playing Candy Crush and Pet Rescue Saga.

3. Reading ( This week I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Butter by Erin Jade Lange. Now I’m reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Yes, they are all Young Adult novels. I don’t care.).

4. Creating a menu of delicious meals that a) someone else should cook, and b) are sinfully unhealthful.

5. Baking (and then eating) something extraordinarily decadent.

6. Pinning all sorts of cool stuff on Pinterest.

7. Sewing with some of the great new fabric I added to my stash during my road trip.

8. Hanging out with my sweetheart, maybe catching a movie on tv (pajamas, remember?).

9. Loving on my doggy.

10. Stalking all my facebook friends. Nah, not really. I comment on their stuff a lot.

The reality of the situation is that I’ll more than likely do things from both lists. After all, it is the last day of my vacation, so I want to enjoy it, but stuff needs to get done, so I might as well suck it up and do it. I still have all day stretched in front of me, so why not?


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Alone vs. Lonely

I am home alone. This is a rarity. If the whole family isn’t home, I’m usually either with my son or my sweetheart. Occasionally I get home from work first on a day that my son is with his father, so as I’m puttering around, unwinding from the day, I may have fifteen minutes to myself, but they are full. I come in, put my work things away, let the dog out, feed her, use the bathroom, check the mail, and *poof* the alone time is gone.

On the days my son isn’t with his dad, I’m his driver. We walk out together in the morning, and we walk back in together in the afternoon. When he’s gone for the weekend, my sweetheart and I spend a lot of time together. We like it that way. We run errands together, we go on dates together, we do projects around the house together, and we just generally enjoy each other’s company.

55171_20130814_162130_tumblr_magk3i9S7I1ru61w7o1_500_largeMy family, however, understands that I’m a bit of an introvert, and that I need some time and space to myself.
I have a wonderful “studio” in our home where I can retreat for a bit. After a while one of them might wander in, and that’s fine. I’m not a hermit by any definition of the word. I love them both dearly, and enjoy spending time with them.

There’s a difference between being alone by choice and being alone by circumstance. I learned that lesson when I got divorced. I was okay with the idea of being divorced. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I understood it, and figured that in the long run it would be best for all involved. It has been. But what I didn’t understand, just couldn’t wrap my head around, was the idea that I should be forced to be 100% utterly alone as a result of circumstances that were beyond my control. I’m talking about my son’s time with his father, of course. My rational brain knew that they deserved to spend time together, and that my son needed his father in his life. It was the primal brain, however, that screamed out, “THIS IS UNFAIR!”

The weekends he was away were torture for me. It felt like the most horrible type of punishment I could imagine. I went from what I considered a normal family life, with a husband and a son, to a completely single entity for those ghastly weekends. How could I be a mother for x number of days a month, but not a mother for the rest? Oh sure, I was still his mother, but I couldn’t parent him. I tried not to think about it too much. I tried not to be critical of his father’s parenting (he’s not a bad father at all, in fact there are a lot of things that I think he does really well in terms of his relationship with our son). I tried to just separate myself from the whole situation when he wasn’t with me. I was always available for my son, but he didn’t need me when he was with his dad. It’s been several years now and to this day I rarely speak to him when he’s with his dad. It’s not that I’m not interested in what he’s doing, but I don’t want to infringe on their time together.

That first year or so of that utter and complete aloneness when he was gone forced me to make some decisions about how I wanted to handle myself. I could have spent those entire weekends in front of the tv, binging on movies and ice cream. I didn’t. I started to find things to do and people to connect with. It started to hurt less and I started to find peace in the alone time. Still, I didn’t like it. I loved having a family. I loved going on outings and sharing family dinners and playing in the pool together and watching movies and celebrating holidays and going on vacations and all of those things that families do. I was heartbroken that it all came to an end, both for myself and for my son. I felt like we were being robbed. Still, I had to make a decision to either wallow in it and make myself even more miserable, and take my son down with me, or deal with it. I’m a grown up. I dealt with it.

Time has passed, and there is a new man in my life, and family has a new definition. No, we’re not married, but the three of us are a family, just as my son’s father and his extended family are still part of our family. It’s not what I expected, but it seems to be working out okay for us.

Long story short, I enjoy those few hours alone at home when nobody is around, but I enjoy them because they’re not forced on me. I’m alone, but I’m far from lonely.



Do’s and Don’ts of Parent Teacher Conferences

It’s conference week in my school district, which means that I’ll meet with all 31 of my students’ parents. That’s 31 conferences, right? Nope. Some parents can’t stand to be in the same room with each other so in some cases I hold separate conferences for mom and dad.

Conferences start before school, then I teach for about 5 hours, then they resume after school. Yesterday I held 14 conferences and spent twelve and a half hours at school, with about a 25 minute lunch break (that’s normal) and about a 40 minute dinner break. I have a conference scheduled to begin at 7:30 this morning, then I will do it again (but there are only 9 scheduled for today). We do this twice a year.

In between these conferences I complete and share formal progress reports for all of the students, and I make numerous phone calls as things come up for students. I’m not complaining, I’m seeking to educate.

I know that the conference time is short, in most cases around 20 minutes, but if you do the math you can see why. I also am not planning to use this time to discuss the relative merits/limitations of the curriculum. That is a separate conversation that we need to schedule for a separate time, and honestly, it’s better suited for discussion with an administrator. My district has adopted particular curriculum. As a teacher in my district I teach that curriculum. You are welcome to challenge it with the administration and even the school board if you feel strongly enough. Personally I’m not teaching anything that I feel is damaging to your children, and I am not likely to change it because you don’t particularly care for it.

One issue I’ve been hearing over and over is about the way the math is being taught. I know it’s different than when you went to school. I know it’s confusing to you and you’re frustrated that you are unable to help your child with the homework. We’ve talked about this since meet the teacher night. Your child is learning in spite of your frustration. Demonstrate some flexibility of thinking and some open mindedness,and  your child will learn from your example. Eventually she’ll be able to do the math the way you were taught. We’re just laying in some foundation work that you (and I) didn’t get in school. We really believe that it will help her understanding of math, and that she won’t attend her own children’s conferences some day announcing, as so many parents do, “I can’t do math.”

Please know that I enjoy and admire your children, but they aren’t perfect. They have quirks and behaviors that sometimes distract themselves and others from learning. I share these with you in order to enlist your support as we work to help your child learn self control and independence. I’m not picking on you or your child. I want all of my students to be at their very best and to learn as much as possible so that they can be successful in life.

Parents, I promise you, in most cases your child’s teachers are not the enemy. I’m certainly not. I work very hard to ensure that each child is getting what he or she needs, but please understand that I work with many other students in addition to yours. I offer individual attention to students every day of the school year, but I also have obligations beyond teaching. There are lesson plans to be created, work to be assessed, reports to be completed, children to be evaluated, trainings to be attended, continuing education to be completed, and so much more. I know that there are some of you who would like your child’s teacher to give up his or her 25 minute lunch or stay after school tutoring your child, but sometimes we’re simply not available. Oh, and we have families too.

What NOT to do.

What NOT to do.

If I sound like I’m ranting, I apologize. I can’t tell you how many wonderful families I have had the privilege to work with over the years, and how fantastic my current group of students and parents is. This note isn’t for those people. They’re doing everything right. Here’s how to do parent/teacher conferences (as demonstrated by some of my favorite families):

1. Be flexible with your appointment time if at all possible. Many people have difficult work schedules and multiple children in school. I really work hard to accommodate everyone’s schedules. If you don’t care what afternoon you come on, it makes scheduling a lot easier for me.

2. Come with an open mind. Try to remember that your goal and my goal are the same. We both want what is best for your child based on his or her abilities, limitations, gifts, needs, and so on. I know all students are not alike, and I work hard to help each student grow and learn.

3. Let me be the bad guy if there are issues. Yes, I want your support. Yes, I want you to hold your child accountable for his or her learning and behavior, but don’t go overboard. These are kids, and they’re your kids. Be proud of them and love on them, then correct them. Don’t let them play you, though. They’ll throw anyone under the bus if they think they’re in trouble. All kids lie. It doesn’t make you a bad parent.

4. Be prepared to leave with some homework. I’m going to enlist your help at this conference. I will suggest some things that I’d like you to try at home with your child in order to help him or her. It may be that I ask you to read aloud with him or allow her to cook with you to practice measuring and following directions. I won’t ask anything crazy of you. I want your time with your child to be loving, fun, and productive. You’re busy. I know. I’m a parent too.

5. Don’t be upset if I tell you something you don’t want to hear. Ok, be upset, but don’t be upset with me. Your child may have stopped turning in work, or may have some indications of a possible learning disability or attention issue. Your child may have been distracting others. I don’t make things up about kids. I don’t have to. If I share something that is uncomfortable or difficult, I’m sorry. I don’t enjoy sharing bad news, but I do often have ideas about how to approach whatever the problem is. Remember point two, please come with an open mind.

Want extra credit? Bring a small gift. I am always delighted and surprised when families present me with some small token of appreciation. This morning I received a tray of homemade cookies. It’s a lovely gesture that is much appreciated. Even tissues for the class are appreciated.

Tomorrow I head back for my final conference for this quarter. I get to do it all again in the spring. I’m not ready to think that far ahead. Right now I’m just plain tired.





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