Monthly Archives: August 2012


I have so many things to do that I’m going to blog. It’s that or curl up in a ball in the back of my closet and hope nobody finds me for a couple weeks.

Actually, my closet is such a disaster there is no possible way I could wedge myself in there–barring liberal amounts of Vaseline. Cleaning that out is one of those items on the to-do list.

Way, way, way, way down at the bottom of the to-do list.

Which means I’ll probably procrastinate by doing that, right after I do this.


I will write those three syllabi…es? (See, I’m so overwhelmed, I’m hypercorrecting myself.)

will plan, at the very least, a decent first-day lesson for those three classes. Preferably the first two days. Three?

I will find that phone number for the health insurance people.

I will find enough time during business hours to outwait the answering system, and make sure my son’s ridiculously expensive, out of town diagnostic testing is covered, at least partially by someone other than primarily me.

will find a sub, and figure out how to schedule a sub, and write sub plans for the fourth day of school so that I can accompany said son to the big, bad, children’s medical hospital so he doesn’t have to go by himself.

I will Google-map and print out directions to said hospital so I can actually make it there in time after my sub arrives.

will log on tonight to the college math course I’m teaching online and do that… thing I’m supposed to do tonight. Thing? Things? Several things.

will  reschedule that portrait session the ID people want me to already have done, but I didn’t get done because the local portrait studio couldn’t figure out how to get the correct background to come down, and so I came home kind of relieved because honestly, I look like… well, like I feel, today.

will contact Warden School District to find out why they haven’t sent those forms to my current district that I pled with them, and drove all the way out there to pester them in person for over six weeks ago.

will go shopping for all those things I forgot to buy off my children’s 199 item supply lists. (Coffee filters are forgivable; but how did I forget looseleaf?)

will… do that other thing that now I can’t even remember… oh, contact my own high school in hopes they have immunization records for me from two decades ago. Alternatively, I’ll need to schedule a time to become a human pincushion so that I don’t have to stay home from work every time a contagious illness breaks out.

will make eye appointments for the two children who yesterday failed the vision part of their physicals so atrociously that the doctor was stunned they could find their way across the room.

will make sure my son’s college schedule is correct, because, well, he is intrinsically male.

will sort out the financial aid/billing snafu at my daughter’s college, because, well, I don’t have six thousand more dollars by Friday and I swear, $22k should have covered it. Maybe they still have her listed by her middle name or something. Fixing it 23 times in the computer probably isn’t enough.


I also will make sure my son’s tuition is taken care of by Thursday, lest that painstakingly-wrought schedule be wiped out at midnight because of overdue tuition.

will get up early enough to get to my three (read them, three) different classrooms are adequately set up for the first day of school.

will figure out how to submit a help-ticket to the technology guy about that computer issue. After that, hopefully I’ll be able to check and deal with all that email that district people keep telling me they sent my way.

I will  not rip the head off the next child who asks me where the scissors/glue/notebooks/shoelaces/bandaids/their own toes are.

will figure out how to be a reasonable mother-on-the-first-day-of-school tomorrow morning, when 1/3 of my children are attending brand new schools. (That’s not counting the two college kids, who are, but not tomorrow.) They probably all want breakfast and lunches and dinner.

I should probably eat something at some point, too.

Running? Pffft.  Garden? I’m going to be magnanimous and turn it over to the wildlife. Mountain of mail? None of it looks terribly official. Laundry? Holy smokes. Nobody has anything to wear tomorrow. I better stop making this list and get busy whittling away at it.


Note To Children:

When I said to pack light, I didn’t mean:

  • 15 pair of socks
  • 2 pair underwear
  • 2 shirts
  • ZERO shorts/pants/anything besides the gnarly shorts you left home in



Checking In

Okay, so we packed light.

But who could have predicted a hurricane in the mountains?




Oh, but it’s beautiful. Even my kids are impressed with “the graphics” up here.

Still Here. Kind of.

Holy smokes! 

Finally got into the school today. Brought home an avalanche of books. 


I’m pleased with the classes they’ve assigned me to, though–even if I don’t even have one duplicate, so I have to plan lessons for each period. More later. I’m on extremely spotty internet service for the next two weeks.

Because 27% is Kinda Pathetic

It occurred to me today that it’s been almost a week since the election. Results are probably trickling in. And since I was actually on the ballot, I thought maybe I should look those results up.

I can’t really tell you if I was hoping to have won or lost. It’s nice to know people trust you enough to check that little box by your name, sure. But a race like the one I was in (PCO for O’Sullivan Dam 1) is a little like a referendum about who gets to wash the good china after Thanksgiving dinner. You won’t vote a complete idiot in, but secretly you suspect they might be one for volunteering for the job. They aren’t getting paid, they do so at considerable risk to personal comfort, and you certainly aren’t going to offer to help.

Because we all know who is going to get the blame if things get slippery.

Although, there are (questionable) perks to volunteering for the dirty work. One of them is that I have access to voter records within my precinct. And while I obviously won’t share specific information, I will share this: You would be amazed at how many people don’t vote.


My own track record is a bit spotty. Ever since they did away with physical poling places in favor of mail-in ballots, I struggle. (It was pretty hard to misplace the Grange, you know? And I didn’t have to remember a stamp.)

But people all over the world and all through time have fought and died for the right to self-government. And yet something like 58% of the people in my precinct haven’t voted in years. Only 27% turned in this most recent ballot.

Seriously folks.

I know it’s a pain to research all the candidates and issues.  I know it’s a pain to keep track of the ballot and get it in the mail.  That’s why I’m nagging you, again. You didn’t vote in the primaries last week. Fine; I’ve missed a few myself. But there’s another ballot coming your way in a couple months, and I’m probably not going to let up about it. Those of you who did vote gave me a green light to harass you mercilessly for the next 2 and a half years.

Okay, not really. I’m not actually looking forward to cold-calling any one of the 1600 voters in our precinct to find out where, exactly, their concerns lie, and how I can help them find their voices. Not because I don’t want to help, but because I know I tend to hang up on anyone who begins a phone call with, “Hi, I’m your local _________”.  Going door-to-door doesn’t really sound much better. Or less time consuming.

But if that’s what it takes, I’ll do it. I really don’t care what side of the issues you are on or who the signs in your yard support. Get involved. Tell me how I can help if you don’t know where to start.

Educate yourself.


We can do better.

A la Cart(e)

Stupendous news:

I get to be one of the “cart teachers” this year. Yes I do. Our high school is bursting at the seams, and there simply aren’t enough classrooms. I had one, teeny-tiny moment of panic (okay, maybe it was slightly more than that) when I heard this news, but then I started thinking of all the ways this could be brilliant:

1. No homeroom.

2. I don’t have to have any extra pencils, pens, rulers, calculators, tape, paperclips, shoelaces, antacids, or fingernail clippers on hand. Sorry. I’m a cart teacher; I can’t haul around enough supplies to make up the difference if you don’t come to class prepared.

3. No expenses for classroom decor.

4. Awesome incentive/excuse for requiring high-tech homework submission methods. Surely I can set up some kind of electronic drop box, and have my students submit and receive feedback on most work that way.

5. No worksheets. I’ve never liked worksheets but this is the clincher: I refuse to haul reams of paper around the school every day.

6. Frequent mini-workouts. What regular teacher has an excuse to speed-walk through the hallways between every class period?

7. No predictable telephone number. Ha! See? That could be a good thing.

8. Pockets.  My own teenagers will probably die of embarrassment if they find out, but I’m thinking, isn’t this the perfect excuse to go back to my apron wearing days??!  The one thing I miss about childcare when I’m in a classroom is having those huge pockets handy. There’s nothing like having a magic apron on–so many surprises you can pull out of thin air. I’m teaching a la cart, no? I think aprons are totally justified.

9. And speaking of operating a la cart(e): what better classroom theme could possibly appeal to teenagers than food? I can see how food could be a perfect metaphor for so many aspects of a classroom–individual, unique learning styles; ingredients that go into making a greater whole; patience; following directions; the need to clean up after each session–it’s pretty much limitless. And I can bring cookies. I promise not to wear a chef’s hat. (Can I threaten them with a rolling pin? No?)

10. And last, but not least:  I’m definitely going to have to do some serious shoe shopping. And who doesn’t like that?


Today I borrowed my son’s new (to him) truck.

I drove it one mile before I found myself stranded.

I swear to you, it was not my driving.

Freakish bit of mechanical failure, that.

Quick call to son to come to the rescue, another call to mechanically minded brother, a bit of crawling around on one’s back under the engine (one’s son’s back, mind you) and all is once again well. He drove his truck home and I was restored to my blessedly reliable minivan. Which, by the way, I drove all over town today, rounding up paperwork for not one, but TWO new jobs.

That’s right. Five months of uncertainty and unemployment agony, and now, within the space of five days, I’ve had two job offers: teaching English full time at the high school, and also, a part-time gig teaching online math/ESL for BYU-Idaho.

The best part is that the high school position comes through with my first paycheck the very same day our annual property tax is due, and the BYU one will arrive in the nick of time to cover our annual auto/home owner’s insurance premiums the month before that. Neither of which I had any idea how to pay less than a week ago.

God hears and answers. He proves it again and again.

Amazing People Part I

I just got off the phone with my home/auto insurance agent–and I realized that every time I get off the phone with her or come out of her office, I’m a little bit happier. She’s just a really great person to deal with. She recognizes me instantly and knows all the little details about my home and cars and life that I don’t even know without looking up myself.

She always saves me time and money–even when it probably puts less in her pocket. Seriously. Sometimes she talks me out of more expensive insurance. What insurance agent does that?

Anyway,  I wondered if anyone ever told her she is amazing. So now I am. Debra Graser, Allstate agent extraordinaire, you are not only the best insurance agent I’ve ever worked with, I just really like you as a person.

Then I got to thinking about other people I’ve maybe never really said thank you to, and the list got incredibly long.  I think it’s time I said thank you to more of them.

Point being, I feel a series of posts coming on… I hope none of the people I have in mind will object to being mentioned here, in the next few weeks. I promise I won’t post (very many) obnoxious pictures of you. 🙂

There’s no Place Like Home

Every five or six years we talk ourselves into venturing over the mountains to visit Seattle. This time it was our youngest; he’s been begging to visit a zoo. And we said to ourselves, It’s a Monday, how busy can it really be?

Thirty minutes to go a mile? Yup. The crazy pedestrians in fishnet shorts and flip flops were even leaving us in the dust.

But we saw the zoo. My son got inches away from a brown bear who seemed convinced that if he head butted that glass hard enough, enough times, he would make it through to the outside world, and we watched an impromptu water/music show complete with drenched, suprised octogenarians and Beethoven’s 9th.

And like after every other trip, as we drove back into town we remembered how much we love Moses Lake, where the worst thing that ever happened to traffic was the clock they put up on Third avenue:

The best part is that I can’t imagine any scenario in which I’ll ever need to go back–my youngest has now seen the longed-for zoo,  and my older ones have all agreed that they have to take their own children to whatever zoos they deem appropriate, without my assistance. And that if they ever live in a metropolis with a population larger than 40,000 or so, we will may rightfully disown them.

300 Brownies and a Good Neighbor

I’ve never been all that enamored of the “it takes a village to raise a child” broohah. In my experience with daycare and in the schools and with all the various social programs available in our state, it takes something more fundamental to raise a child–it takes a family. One who hasn’t bought into the idea that it’s really the village’s fault if their children don’t turn out terribly well.

Having said that, however, villages are made up of families and I’d like to thank all the villagers who help me raise mine. Today, particularly, I’m thanking Jane Payne, and her husband Calvin.

My sons have been at scout camp all week along with something like 2500 other boys, and the Paynes kept them fed. I knew Jane was an incredibly dedicated teacher; two of my children have been in her classroom, and I’m sending a third her way this year. I didn’t know she was also a chef extraordinaire. (Although I’ve heard rumors about her brownies in the past.) You can get a small inkling of what their job was like this past week, here.

(Oh, and did I mention they didn’t get paid??)