Monday, November 16, 2009

Thoughts on Gross...


You can't be an elementary school teacher and not have a high GTL (Gross Tolerance Level). The type of gross you deal with depends upon the grade level you teach. In my humble opinion, pre-school, kindergarten and primary teachers are saints. The level of gross they deal with each day is daunting. My classroom is right next to a Head Start pre-school room. Not only do those teachers get to wipe runny noses and brush toddler's teeth, they get to change diapers too. That's right. Pre-schoolers don't have to be potty trained to attend public school. Yuck.

First and second graders are all about holes and fingers. Fingers in their ears. Fingers in their noses. Fingers in their mouths. And they like to use their sticky fingers to poke the teacher to get their attention. Thank goodness they're cute. You can forgive a lot when cute is involved.

Gross takes on a whole new meaning once boys reach 3rd and 4th grade. Out-grossing one another becomes the goal. Recess can be quite an educational experience. If you notice a huddle of boys in fits of laughter in the corner of a playground, it's a good bet there's gas coming out one end or the other.

You haven't lived until you've been cooped up in a hot classroom with a group of 5th or 6th graders who just came in from gym or recess. The smell is unbelievable. You can try to talk to them about personal hygiene, but please know that you will lose them at the mere mention of the words "body odor." Uncontrollable laughter will ensue. You'll be lucky to get them to hear they must wash before they put on deodorant. It's a preventative, not a cover up... HAHAHAHAHAHAH...

Lots of people get tickled at gross. My mother-in-law would become incapacitated by silent, gut-wrenching giggles at the word fart. She would laugh so hard she couldn't breathe, and then she'd snort and start all over again. One Christmas someone, probably one of the sisters, got her The Book of Farts. She laughed so hard all day that her sides hurt by dinnertime. I miss that lady.

My mother would not laugh at the word fart. No. Instead, she would tilt her head and raise an eyebrow at you. She probably didn't dare laugh since it would only encourage my dad and brother to raise the gross ante. They're pretty good at that.

If you're wondering why in the world this topic came to mind, you can blame Lisa Yee and her facebook entry from yesterday. That's right. Lisa's facebook entry began: "Regarding snots and boogers, which ones are hard and which ones are soft?" So far 57 people have chimed in with an opinion. Thank you, Lisa, for some very vivid dreams last night.

I'm done with gross for now. Really, I am.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Goodbye, Humphrey!

Saturday was a sad day.

My dear friend, Humphrey, an iBook G4, said his final goodbye. He was a wonderful and reliable laptop. We've surfed the net, watched movies, played with my pen tablet, and written many stories together. Only once did he get sick. He required a brain transplant. He was a gentleman through it all, timing his surgery just 30 days before his warranty expired. This past year he began to suffer from Sometimers, which just recently turned into a full-blown case of Alzheimer's. I dared not ask him to remember anything. Instead, I gently introduced a new friend named Flash. Flash and Humphrey worked well together.

Rest in peace, my friend. You will be missed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What a Weekend!

This weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh to the WPASCBWI Conference, heard Bruce Coville speak - twice (fabulous!), had my first conference manuscript critique (very productive and encouraging), listened to Steven Meltzer talk about Dutton Children's Books, had lunch with Danielle Chiotti from Upstart Crow (okay, she decided to sit at my table and we struck up a conversation -very nice lady), toured Pittsburgh with a long, lost high school friend, said farewell to my laptop, traveled to Springfield, Ohio to celebrate Dad's 75th birthday, and finally made it back to Cincinnati this evening. All in all, I logged 604 miles, and I'm a happy gal.

More on the weekend tomorrow. For now, the pillow is calling...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Writer Stuff

I am in heaven.

I'm facilitating a high school workshop that focuses on the process of writing a novel. I've never had such an enthusiastic group of students. They are eager, receptive, they participate, take risks, and they're talented! (Hurrah!!) Tonight was our second meeting. I shared Maggie Steifvater's blog post about 'How Maggie Writes a Novel," and we began the critique process. I can't wait to see what they bring to the next meeting.

Tomorrow I leave for Pittsburgh to attend the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI Conference. Friday night is a "write in" night. I've got a date with my laptop. The conference is Saturday. I'm pumped! Should be good.

Daughter just came in to inform me that she's almost made it through the whole week without her stomach growling in English. Ah... the trials of 6th grade.

Keep writing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sew Much Fun...

My daughter loves Pirates of the Caribbean. Especially Elizabeth Swan. So it was no surprise when she announced last August that she wanted to be Elizabeth for Halloween, and would I PLEASE make her a costume??? Sure. Why not? I had plenty of time. What did it matter that my sewing experience was limited to an octopus pillow I made in Jr. High home economics, a crib cover for my son (who will be 20 in December), a pair of pj's that I made in a sewing class I took 3 years ago, and a quilt square? As long as I was able to take my time, it should be fine. Right?

I agreed to make her a costume then promptly forgot about it. She reminded me last Sunday that Halloween was only six days away, and that I hadn't started her gown yet. No panic necessary, I thought. I can work on it a little each day. I had lots of wedding satin left on a bolt in the closet. I'd had my gown made. The bolt had sat in the closet for 24 years waiting for a good project. This one would do. We went to the fabric store, chose a pattern, bought some brocade, lace and notions, and headed home. I planned to cut out the fabric that night and start sewing Monday. Everything was going as planned until I laid out the pattern to cut the skirt. I was 1/2 yard short of satin. No problem. I'll go back to the fabric store tomorrow after school and pick up something that will work.

I found what I needed - costume satin! Big mistake. It frays, runs, and is ridiculously slippery. I melted the first seam I tried to press. I suppose you get what you pay for... I worked diligently on the bodice. My seam ripper and I became good friends. Better friends than necessary, actually. When it was all said and done, I was glad to see him go back to the sewing box.

It took the entire week's worth of evenings to complete the dress. I finished the final hem 10 minutes before Trick-or-treat. I don't know if I'll ever attempt to sew something this hard again, but daughter loves it. And that's what counts!