Saturday, April 30, 2016


Is this post real? I tell you, I've written plenty of posts in my head during my morning shower, while sitting at baseball games, while doing dishes. It's incredible to think I'm actually sitting at my laptop pressing keys with my fingertips creating a real live blog post after so long.

Here are some remarkable things that have really happened since last I posted:

Our spring chores are nearly completed thanks to able-bodied minions who can pitchfork mulch into wheelbarrows and wash windows and carry heavy loads. A mother dreams of the day when her children can do these helpful things. I can't believe how ahead of schedule we are this year! It's only due to what Mr. G refers to as "slave labor" that this has happened. Mr. T is willing, Mr. B is easily bribed (when he's not off fishing), Mr. G whines incessantly and insists that our treatment of him is brutally unfair.  The daffodils have bloomed, we opened some windows to embrace the fresh air, we even walked around wearing shirtsleeves.  In fact we've accomplished so much that I told the crew they could have this weekend off and we'll save the biannual cleaning of the garage for next weekend. 

I brought Mr. G to the doctor to confirm suspicion that he has Osgood-Schlatter Disease (which sounds dreadful but is really common and not-life-threatening). While we waited in the examination room, we took turns measuring one another. After double, then triple-checking the ruler on the wall I was surprised to learn I'm actually a whole inch taller than I've believed myself to be since sixth grade! All my life I've marked myself as 5'3". Turns out I'm still growing! Or maybe yoga has stretched out my spine an extra inch. Whatever the cause, the discovery thrilled me.  Meanwhile, Mr. G's knees seem to be recovering now that basketball season is ended. The doctor's orders are to rest as needed, continue with regular activity otherwise.

Senioritis has crept into Room 212. I'm throwing every good thing I've got trying to keep these kids engaged as we hit the last stretch of the school year (a handful are exceptionally ornery but this is a Mostly Good class). English 12 had their Vietnam War simulation this past week, an activity that involves hours of preparation booby-trapping the lecture hall with black thread and paint cans to they can practice teamwork and communication skills. AP Language & Composition tests on May 11th and after that point it's all Harry Potter and this year they want to watch all of Dead Poets' Society since I made them watch 3 clips while introducing Transcendentalism to them (we end on Walden).  I suggested we could spend the last 2 weeks of class marketing my new book, taking pictures of them reading the proof copy in various poses and posting the pictures on social media.  They had some good ideas--on a horse! behind the cash register at Kwik Trip! on a log in the woods! (very Thoreauvian!) but that seemed exploitative so I'll hold off on the marketing until after they graduate.

Ah, that book. The back cover hit every possible snag and delay. I should have a proof copy from the printer this week. Then it should be on sale in two more weeks. God has really used this opportunity to help me learn patience.  I have not ground my teeth to stumps. I have not set fire to my laptop. I have not forsaken hope that it will emerge from what seems to be a Bermuda Triangle of book design. Someday I believe I'll even have a JPG of the cover to show people.

Meanwhile, I finished editing someone else's book, Doorway to Murder by Carol Pouliot. You will love it and I will tell you all when you can buy a copy while giving one away here this winter. Stay tuned.

We hit a new low in Room 212 last week. I asked my AP students to choose any single paragraph in "Sounds" by Thoreau and identify how he uses figurative language and explain its effect on the text or reader.  After a few minutes I began asking for volunteers to share. Five tries later one sweet girl raised her hand and said, "Ms. W, I don't think we know what figurative language is." These kids have had two years of AP between Literature as juniors and Language as seniors. For a moment I was convinced I was the worst teacher on earth or first hour was totally fried. I explained that figurative language includes the use of metaphor, imagery, allusion ...  light bulbs went on all over the room and then we got things rolling in a forward direction again. Whew.

Mr. T got a PR in his track event, Mr. B broke a bat during a softball game last night, Mr. D's team has only lost 2 games this season and I've managed to get every person dropped off or picked up on time for all of their events and practices--with all of their gear to boot.  There should be some kind of medal or ribbon awarded to the parents who accomplish that feat, especially when dealing with multiple offspring. In fact, I just spent an hour on the phone with Mr. D this morning, navigating him through Milwaukee's suburbs as he got lost driving Mr. G to a baseball tournament. I felt like ground control guiding him along with Mapquest. You should come up to Barker Street. What intersection are you on right now? Okay, in three exits you will turn LEFT ...  Heck, I need a TROPHY for that successful mission!

That's the news here. We can begin a countdown now to my next post, last day of school, my book release, the days remaining until the next Star Wars movie, the final paper to grade for the school year ...

Spill it, reader. What are you counting down the days until?


  1. After reading this? I'm exhausted. I think I'll just sit here and do absolutely nothing. I sincerely hope you have vacation planned. Like a motel room where you can sit all by yourself and take a breath. Busy times. Enjoy.

  2. I'm laughing at your description of senioritis and figurative language! I push figurative language hard with my intervention group. They are the most likely to presume everything is literal and then get caught completely misunderstanding the material.
    I don't have minions, but I've started digging around outside! I planted onion and garlic bulbs last fall, and now that they're coming up I honestly don't know which is which. I'll wait until they're bigger and I can smell them.

  3. I have one more big event to manage before Chicago!

    We have to beg to get one of ours to mow the tiny lawn - you've done well raising your landscape team!

  4. You got this. You're in the home stretch now!
    Congratulations on the latest book release!

  5. We keep finding new things to count down to: Breaking ground on our new porch (in the next week or two). Both of our girls surviving Testing Hell in the next 5-6 weeks (AP exams, statewide standardized testing that impacts their grades, final exams in early June). Leaving for summer vacation immediately after school finishes. Coming home and seeing our finished porch.

  6. Slave labor is the best! Since the 23yo has no paying job, he is my husband's "willing slave" for things like fence repair, carpet cleaning, gutter cleaning... the list might be endless. You can tell Mr. G. he's got it easy; dropping out of college and not getting a job is much rougher.
    Your students are lucky to have such a creative teacher. May she survive their senioritis and may her book cover problems be solved so her many readers can hold it in
    their hands.
    My brother lives in Milwaukee suburbs and sometimes even my GPS is of no help. You have my sympathy!

  7. I had to google Osgood-Schlatter disease. I'm glad it's nothing serious! I hope your book release goes well!
    I am counting down the days to the last day of school because it's so nice not to have homework stress in the house. My daughter is on track to graduate from art school in two weeks, so I'm counting down the days until that as well. I have a huge scary project deadline in October, so I'd like the summer to last forever.

  8. Sheesh! I don't know how you do it all. You deserve an award for MANY things.
    I'm counting down the days until summer vacation. :)

  9. I'm counting down to coming to YOUR HOUSE in Wisconsin for our annual Screw Iowa Writers novel critique session. And we sure hope to be able to celebrate your new book IN PRINT by then!
    You deserve a medal or trophy for ALL you do: for your own kids, Mr. D, your students, your colleagues, your home, your community . . . I'm impressed you get a shower in here and there! Looking forward to meeting your friends in person, too!

  10. As much as I love teaching, we always end up with a count-down calendar at the end of spring semester. It's think it's that word "spring": students just get jumpy, ready to go outside. Attendance at lectures really plummets if the weather is nice!

    Emma is going on a vacation with a friend's family in early June --Rob and I will be all alone for a WHOLE week! First time in 15 years :-) And Emma will take Driver's Ed in July. Landmarks.

  11. My slave labor has all moved out. I only have one slave left, and she balks at any real labor.

    Your description of what's been going on with you is just mind-boggling - doesn't seem possible for one person!

    I thought that guiding someone from a remote location only happened in movies. That's cool (if nervewracking) that you were able to do it, and yes, I nominate you for a trophy.

    I am looking forward to the book!

  12. Here's to you finishing another loooong school year :)

  13. I have lingering effects of Osgood-Schlatter Disease, but mine was diagnosed towards the end of a pretty big growth spurt, in fact, my last big growth spurt (I only grew another inch or so after it was diagnosed). I had to give up basketball and was never really able to run comfortably after that. I hope he has a better outcome!
    My gardening partner was able to get her boys (21 & 16) to help her with her portion of our garden, which they knocked out in no time flat and it looks flawless. My half? Oh my. I need minions.
    Counting down to the end of school. Of course, summer is taken up with summer school and then camp, but I do hope to get in a beach trip and at least a few days of sleeping in. We have a trip planned to DC while the girl is at camp that I'm looking forward to!


Spill it, reader.