Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kira in the Car

You know what I think goat owners should feed their goats?  Ground up goats.  
(I don't think she likes goats very much)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reluctant Readers

I've been talking about "avoidance" a lot with my reading class lately.  The class I'm teaching is an intervention class aimed at kids reading below grade level.  Of course, some of them loathe the idea of being in the class because everyone in the school knows that kids in my classes are reading at lower levels than most of the other kids.  They don't want the stigma of having everyone think they are stupid.  Who does?  They aren't stupid.  They are extremely clever.  They have been avoiding reading as much as humanly possible since first grade.  I know because I've known many of them since they were in kindergarten.  They are the kids who have to go to the bathroom, go to the nurse, go to the office, get a drink, sharpen their pencil etc. etc. etc. every time they have been required to read in class since day one.  I don't know why they start avoiding it in the first place.  Learning to read is hard.  Maybe that's it.  But over the years it has taken a toll and they are now starting to face the consequences.  I feel bad for them because they are frustrated, but I'm also exasperated with them because they work so hard to avoid learning anything new.

So we've been addressing the problem of avoidance.  Part of my program splits the kids in to three groups and during our time together they go to different stations.  One of the stations is on computers set up with reading software that is awesome.  It modifies itself to their level and works individually with them on reading passages and answering comprehension questions, vocabulary, and spelling.  Of course they always want to go directly to the spelling so they don't have to read anything.  They seem to like the software though.

Another station is the individual reading station.  They pick a book from the class library (high interest, short, age appropriate books supplied by the program) and get twenty minutes to quietly read in a section of the room with bean bags and comfy chairs.  I have been watching them while they do this and for the most part they don't actually read.  They sit in the chairs quietly (because if they don't they have to go back to their desks), and they hold a book and they stare.

The last station is the small group station where one group at a time comes to me and we work in their text book together on the skill we are trying to master.  They are like popcorn in this group.  It's less like teaching and more like playing whack-a-mole.  They work together like a pack of wolves to keep from doing the task at hand and keep me from focusing them on "finding the main idea."  I have to say, their diversions are entertaining to me because of their pure ridiculousness.  When asked to use our target word in a sentence one girl said,"Wanna see me do a backbend?" and before I could say no, I wanted her to use the word "consequence" in a sentence, she was doing a backbend.  It was pretty good.  When asked to identify the topic sentence in a paragraph, one boy said, "I wrote a song, can I sing it?"

They all are capable of reading, like I am capable of running; but much like me and running, they will avoid it at all costs.  So I have to ask myself, what in the world could possibly motivate me to run because maybe that is the answer to how to get my kids to be more open to reading.  The truth is that the only thing that could cause me to run is if something dangerous was chasing me.  So I guess the answer to the "how would I motivate myself to run" question is pure self-preservation.  I don't think that translates to getting 6th graders to read.  I wonder if Scholastic has any cute "READ OR DIE" posters I could hang in my room.

Well?  I'm open to ideas.  Were you a reluctant reader when you were a kid?  Obviously none of you are now because you're reading this blog, but maybe you used to be.  What can I do to get these kids to do my bidding?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's almost my birthday (I think)

It's almost my birthday.  Well, I think it is anyway.  In the past few years there has been some question of when my birthday actually is, and how old I actually am.  My parents have secrets.  My parents tell me they met in January of 1969, had a whirlwind romance (gross), and got married in June because they couldn't stand to be apart.  Then, as their story goes; in the fall of 1970, a full fifteen months after they got married, I was born.  When I was a teenager I thought about the story a little more carefully.  They met in January and got married in June....hmmmm.  That's weird.  Who gets married to someone they've only known for five months?  Then I looked more closely at my mother's wedding dress.  Empire waist.  Hmm...

Interesting choice.  Sure, it was in fashion in 1969, wasn't it?  But still.  See where I'm going with this?  I suspect I was born in September of 1969 and not September of 1970.  I could never get my parents to admit it though.  In fact, whenever I bring it up (every year) they get a little impatient with me and tell me, "You were born in 1970, NOW DROP IT."  Somebody doth protest too much, Mom and Dad.

The other birthday bombshell is that September 29 is not my real birthday.  September 30 is.  I learned that last year in an email from my dad:

"Here's what I remember about your birthday. In September 1970-do the freaking math will you!........ You were born in a Catholic hospital in St. Cloud with nuns in attendance. Mom was in labor for over 24 hours and she passed out between labor pains. At one point she told the cute little red-headed nurse she wanted to go home. The nurse looked at me and said, "Do you want to take her home Mr. Lindahl?" I didn't.  You finally popped out in your own good time and all was well except we missed some insurance deadline for coverage by an hour or two so the good old nuns changed the dates of your birth to get us the coverage we needed. You ended up costing us not much. Whew! You may have been born on the 30th of September but it was in 1970 NOT 1969. Sometimes you acted like a little bastard but you actually are not one. Happy birthday and legit or not, I love you! Dad"

Notice the defensiveness about the birth year?  Interesting.  Oh, and of course I didn't know until I turned 41 (42) when my birthday really was.  They kept that secret for over forty years.  That just makes me wonder what else I don't know about these mysterious people I call my parents.  What else are they hiding???

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Might Be Really Sick

Something is happening to me and I don't like it.  My skin is raw and tender and dry, and my tongue is so tender and chapped that I could barely eat the chili cheese Fritos I had with my lunch.  Barely.  I'm actually kind of regretting the Fritos because I don't think they were worth all this pain.  Mitch says that it sounds like an allergy and I said, "But what in the world could I be allergic to???" and he suggested it's the neighbor's dog that I have stolen made friends with.

I let her in our house every night to sit on my lap and watch TV (we like the same shows).  Mitch isn't crazy about it because he is afraid we are going to get busted by the neighbors and he's sure that she will just happen to be on Mitch's lap when the angry neighbor looks in the glass door and sees his dog with her new family.  I don't think I'm allergic to her.  I'm not allergic to dogs, Mitch, I mean, "DOCTOR."  And my tongue is the most affected part of my body and I don't lick the dog.  You'd think if I was allergic to her I would have itchy hands or an itchy lap, but I don't, Dr. Oz; I don't.

If I was going to self-diagnose (which I always do) I would guess that I probably have the beginning stages of leprosy or scurvy.  Or maybe Vitamin D poisoning.  Mitch, are you lacing my food with extra Vitamin D???  My plan for dealing with this problem is to do nothing different and escalate the whining and complaining.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Boot Dance

I'm finally NOT overwhelmed at work so hopefully I can be a better blogger.  So far, two weeks in, I am loving the job.  I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm a pretty good teacher.  The hardest part of the job is acting like an adult and being professional around the other adults.  Seriously, that is really hard for me.  I wore some new boots to work the other day and someone complimented me on them and I had to stop myself from doing a tap dance in them.  Specifically the move where you twirl your arms like windmills while your legs are doing jumping jacks.


That was my first instinct.  Something like that happens every second of every day I'm around a coworker.  Now you understand why I have been avoiding the work-a-day world for so long.

The kids are a lot of fun.  They openly enjoy a good boot dance.  They are just now learning how to run their locker combinations.  I told them they will dream of forgetting their locker combination for the rest of their lives.  One girl was coming to class late all the time with a huge pile of books and I found out she had given up on her locker and just decided to carry everything with her all day long for the next three years.  I've been making her practice opening her locker and now she can do it like an old pro.  Yesterday the kids really buttered me up by telling me that I look like I'm 37 and feigned shock when I told them I'm almost 42.  (Who says they don't have social skills!) They said that I look good in yellow, and that they like my fingernails.  One kid asked me if I dyed my hair.  I told him if I didn't, it would be mostly gray.  He said, "You can't even tell you dye it."  Which was weird, because how did he know to ask me if I dye it in the first place if it looks totally natural?  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When Animals Attack Sam

I've had another marathon week at work.  This "having a job" thing is really cutting into my blogging/sitting around time.  Luckily I had time to snap a few pictures of the panto-horse attacking Sam.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I think I have been having a bout of mania.  I can't seem to stop my mind from racing a million miles a minute and I have gotten more done the last week than I have in the past six months.  Now I see the allure of crystal meth, I have all the productivity but without facial scabs and rotten teeth...  Well, without facial scabs.   I don't even want to list the things I've done because A) it's boring, and B) it would just make me tired to think of it all again.  Does that sound braggy?  Because it kind of is.  However, I would really like my mind to slow down and relax a little bit but until I get settled in my job, I don't think I will be able to.  Oh well.  Better than being depressed and not being able to do anything.

I had book club this week.  We met at a Thai restaurant and when I told Mitch he said, "Whoever chose that place doesn't have any nerve endings in their mouth."  He went there once and apparently what he had was spicy, which isn't saying much because we think ketchup has a little too much zing sometimes.  I had something delicious and non-spicy.  The ladies were hilarious, as usual.  I actually did a spit take with my water at one point because some of the ladies were talking about people jumping off a tall building in Duluth where some of them work.

this building

Apparently one time a woman went there for a medical appointment of some kind and while her husband was in the waiting room she went up to the roof and jumped.  Someone said, "I wonder if he saw her do it?" and the lady who told the story said, totally seriously, "I don't know...  I don't know the speed at which she flew by."  That's when I almost choked on my water.  It was funny.

We also talked about my cute dentist.  I told them that Mitch thinks the next time I'm there and he has his cute little hands in my mouth, I should lick his fingers and make eyes at him.  The ladies all think that is a great idea, which makes me wonder if they are really my friends because I'm pretty sure that wouldn't end well for me.  Or maybe it would..... hey...

Hopefully this week I will get a handle on my new life and get back to my old self.  Until then I will get all the things done that I have been putting off for the past five years.

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

School Picture Day

It was picture day at school today.  Of course, I forgot all about it and Kira looks like she slept on the streets last night.  Now that I am staff at the school, I had to get my picture taken too.  I've mentioned before how unphotogenic I am.  It's amazing, really.  I knew it was going to be weird but I'm resigned to looking like a fool in all pictures for the rest of my life.  I sat down on the little stool and the girl taking the photo kept looking at her monitor and then looking at me like she couldn't believe what was happening,

and she tried to position my head in all these weird, unnatural positions.  She took the first picture, looked at the monitor and actually blurted a laugh.  She said, "Let's try that again," and she repositioned my head.  She said, "Point your nose this way... too much, too much, back a little... other way a little.... okay.... um..........okay," and she took another picture.  This time she managed to not laugh out loud, but I was watching closely and she definitely stifled another one.  So we tried again.  This time she had me turn my head much like I had the neck flexibility of an owl, had me look slightly downward and avert my eyes from the camera.  She judged that that was the best of the three and sent me on my way.  It's going to be hilarious, I can just tell.

Kira is very photogenic, however, lately she has taken a couple of doozies.  The first was when we went to Valley Fair and she went on one of her first roller coaster rides.  It was a GIANT roller coaster and she was terrified.  On one of the hills there is a camera that takes a picture of all the people on the ride and they can look at it when the ride is over.  Mitch was making a fun face, Sam was super cool and pointed at the camera, Kira's friend was smiling, and Kira said she was making a "terror face."  I made her show me and it is hilarious.  She won't let me take a picture of it, but it is something like this:

Or this:

The other picture she took that sounds pretty funny was taken on the first day of school.  The last twenty minutes of the day all the kids in the whole school went out on to the soccer field for a huge group picture.  This is what Kira said to me when we got home, "Mom, for the big picture I was so happy because I got right in the front row.  I was feeling pretty cool.  Then right when he was about to take the picture I could feel a sneeze coming on and I thought I could hold it, but I couldn't so in the picture I'm doing this:"

But Kira's version has more teeth and less snot. That, of course, isn't Kira, because now that she is almost a teenager, she is too cool to let her mother take pictures of her making weird faces and posting them on the internet.  What is wrong with her?

I will post my school picture when I get it, and the big sneeze picture too, and I will try to get Kira to make her terror face and sneeze face for the blog but don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Okay, I've got some time to write for a few minutes because Kira is supposed to be cleaning the kitchen and I have to sit here and watch her and remind her of something she skipped about every ten seconds when she enthusiastically says, "Ok, I'm done!" when all I really want to do is go downstairs and play Mario Kart.

So, as I told you earlier, I got a job.  I wasn't going to take it because the job I applied for was a .4 position, (less than half time, paid hourly, no benefits).  After my interview they called me up and offered me a .8 position, which is mostly full time, pretty good salary, and benefits.  I still almost said no.  The .4 job I applied for was to teach reading to 7th and 8th graders for two class periods a day.  The two periods that it happens is over the lunch period and the kids in the class are all coming and going at different times.  Yuck.  I thought the .8 position was to teach twice as much reading to 7th and 8th graders.  Ugh.  But I lucked out.  I get to teach reading to sixth graders, who are still incredibly cute.  Something happens between 6th and 7th grade and kids get mealy and stinky and snotty and they are not very much fun, collectively.  I teach two sections of 6th grade language arts, so I'm with kids four hours a day and the rest of the time I am frantically trying to do in one week what I would have done over a whole summer had I been hired before the summer.  But I wasn't.  I get my own room and don't have to share it with anyone which is so nice.  I don't have to travel between schools like a lot of teachers do either.  And I get to teach 6th grade!  Did I mention that?

I know about half the kids in my classes from when I subbed over the years.  Some of them I have known since pre-school.  I think after I get caught up and am not feeling so overwhelmed, it will be a sweet job.  

The Big News

I haven't been very good about blogging just lately and that is because I've been super busy.  Why have I been super busy?  Because I GOT A JOB.  I know, I know; you're thinking, "But Sarah, blogging IS a job!" and I totally agree, but I've discovered the main flaw in having a personal blog be my primary occupation for the last several years.  It doesn't pay anything.  And I'm not just saying that in a complainy way, it literally, it doesn't provide any money.

I got hired as a mostly full-time teacher at Kira's middle school.  I was officially hired yesterday.  Yesterday was also the first day the kids had class.  So I had no lesson plans, no materials, no nothing.  It's going to be a rough couple of weeks getting started.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Love Duluth

This afternoon the family and I went on a St. Louis River tour with the St. Louis River Restoration Initiative.  We took a big tour boat through the Duluth Harbor and up the river a ways.  It was a beautiful day and we had lots of fun.

This is a train bridge that goes across the river and when a boat comes the center of it pivots and makes room for boats to go through.  There was a guy in the little bridge-house watching us.  I waved at him but he didn't wave back.  We came really close to an iron ore ship too, but I was too busy eating meatballs to take a picture.

The part we toured is an estuary so we saw lots of birds and I saw a fish jump out of the water, but nobody else did, and the tour guide said there are fish as big as five feet long in the water.  Yikes.

Of course, we were on a boat so it didn't take Kira long to figure out that we were held captive so she tortured us all a little.  Mitch got butt bumped about 5000 times, I got my tenders pinched, and all she had to do to drive Sam crazy is touch his back.  I have to admire her ability to ride the line of being annoying enough to cause exasperation, but not annoying enough to get thrown over the side.  That's my girl!

The best part of the tour was when we pulled back up to the pier.  There were about 50 people looking over the side while the crew tied up the boat and this guy busted out on his unicycle and rode down the middle of the street.

It's not a quiet street.  He was in the middle of traffic.

I love Duluth.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Kira has a checkered history with bees and wasps.  The other day she noticed some wasps were starting a new hive in the peak of the roof of the garage.  She got the hose and power-washed it until it came off.  It was rather annoying because for about an hour after she did it the area around the garage and back door were swarming with angry wasps.  She took a chunk of the hive and put it on the deck railing right next to the door we mainly use so she could look at it.

The wasps came back to it and now we have a wasps nest right at hand-level in the doorway.  Mitch said, "They are very calm.  I touched one today."  I said, "On purpose?!"  Yes, he couldn't help himself.  He said it didn't even move.  It just sat there and accepted a friendly petting from Mitch.  He's like Dr. Doolittle but he won't even let me get a cat because he says, "It will literally kill me."  Wa wa.


A dog has adopted us.  Her name is Tilly and she comes over every morning when her owners let her out.

She hangs out on our deck all day and charms everyone except my dog, whom she bullies.  We live out in the country and when I go for walks I sometimes get snarled at by big dogs running loose.  None of them seem to be dangerous, but they are certainly scary sometimes.  The other day Tilly went on our walk with us and when the big mean dogs charged up to us barking their heads off, Tilly's teeny hackles went up and those big dogs stopped short and went back home and left us alone.

She has short-man syndrome but unlike most short men, it actually works for her.  She's our muscle.  And she's so cute because her little front legs are kind of bowed.

Kira washed her today because although she is adorable, she STINKS.  She rolls in everything gross.  One day she came over and she was green.  I don't know why.  She must have rolled in cut grass or something, but she didn't smell good like cut grass.  She usually smells like a poop-covered old corpse.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I never have to watch Lethal Weapon again!

I finally finished!  Well, technically, I fell asleep before the big ending of Lethal Weapon IV, but I was present while it was playing, so it counts.  Here's a review:

Gas station explosion...Riggs haircut... Murtaugh abused... house explosion... car explosion... boat explosion... another car explosion... Murtaugh is too old for various forms of shit... pregnancy... babies... Chinese people...shooting... laughing gas... promotion... Chris Rock's big teeth... blah blah blah blah...

Don't be fooled.  He IS too old for this shit.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Deals

Happy last day of summer!  What are you going to do today?  I got this flyer in the mail so I think I am going to take advantage of some of these Super Saver(!) deals.

Specifically I am going to save 37% on an 18 inch machete (with nylon sheath).  I had no idea machetes were so cheap.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Streaking! OMG!

I had to call this post streaking because if I told you what it was really about you wouldn't have read even this far, but I promise that if you read til the end, you will get a surprise.  Okay, I know you guys don't like my reviews of old eighties buddy movies, but too bad.  I can't just stop at two Lethal Weapon movies. I have all four movies (on VHS) so we are in this for four reviews.  Live with it.  

First of all, let me say that I'm really getting sick of watching Lethal Weapon movies.  Mel Gibson is a dick and so is his character, Martin Riggs.  I love Danny Glover but how in the world could he stand working with Mel Gibson?  And also why does his character, Roger Murtaugh, love Martin Riggs so much?  He's an inconsiderate maniac freeloader.

Okay, let's get this over with.  The plot this time is that Murtaugh has eight days until retirement.  Every day he gets closer to retiring, Riggs puts Murtaugh's life in danger in some ridiculous way.  He almost gets them both blown up in a building because he didn't want to wait for the bomb squad (who we know from the last movie can't actually prevent explosions, they can just delay them for one second.) He got them into a car chase with two armored trucks.  One day when Murtaugh was making lunch for Riggs from the lunch truck he apparently works at during lunchtimes, Riggs started a shootout with some gangbangers and Murtaugh had to save him by shooting a teenage boy.  Thanks a lot, Riggs, you dick!

Anyway, a dirty former cop named Travis is using his knowledge of police procedures to steal weapons collected as evidence.  There are a lot of guns collected by the police department.  Like, warehouses FULL.  So the story is that they are trying to find this guy and stop him.  Renee Russo is an internal affairs officer on the case.  She stores her gun in her pants.  The police in L.A. in the eighties had to use their own cars and they couldn't even afford holsters so they had to stick loaded weapons in the back of their Guess jeans.  Nice.

Murtaugh's real estate agent, Joe Pesci, tells them that they will be able to find Travis at a hockey game because he has season tickets so they go to the game but they don't know what seat Travis is in (good police work!) so Riggs gets on the speaker system and tells Travis that they are there and that they are after him, I think hoping to flush him out but guess what, it doesn't work.  Riggs gets Joe Pesci shot.  Nice going!

In the middle of the movie, Murtaugh is feeling bad for killing the teenage gangbanger so he gets drunk on his boat.  Riggs is worried so he goes to check on him.  He throws Murtaugh's booze overboard, punches him in the stomach, and then yells at him.  He is a TERRIBLE friend.  They hug it out and Murtaugh ends up apologizing to Riggs!  Hey Murtaugh, get out of this relationship, it is abusive.  You are too old for that shit.  If Murtaugh was a woman this would be a Lifetime movie.

At the end Travis kidnaps the captain of the department and goes right into the belly of the beast, which I guess is the main evidence locker for all the guns that are confiscated.  Riggs, Murtaugh and Russo figure out what is going down and they take a young whippersnapper who is turning 22 TODAY(!).  He is wearing a red star trek shirt.  Just kidding, he's not really wearing a star trek shirt but you know what I mean.  No reason for him to be introduced at this point in the story other than to make us feel bad when he gets killed, which he does. (Happy Birthday!)

More happens. Specifically a needless inferno caused by Riggs to finally capture the bad guy which he barely does.  Finally it's retirement day for Murtaugh.  He celebrates by shooting Riggs in the face.  Just kidding.  I wish.  But really, he has changed his mind about retiring because he can't bear to leave Riggs because Riggs really needs him so he is going to give it ten more years.  Roger, you're an idiot.  Riggs is going to kill you.

Okay, time for your surprise.  If you can answer the following questions about this post, I will send you my VHS copy of Lethal Weapon III:
1.  What three things can't the L.A. police department afford?
2.  What kind of pants does Renee Russo like?
3.  Who is the worst friend in the world?

One more to go!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My New Friend

I got a Venus Fly Trap yesterday.  I've never actually seen one in real life and I've always wanted one of my own to feed hamburger to, and finally yesterday my childhood dream came true when I saw one at the grocery store.  It was in a plastic container which I assumed was for my own safety.  I wanted to replant it into a pretty glass jar I have but I was afraid it would bite me so it was kind of a messy process.  When I told Mitch that I had trouble replanting it because I didn't want to touch it he said, "Did you think it would... bite you???"  I just looked at him because yes, that is obviously what I thought.  Who wouldn't?  They BITE.  That's their thing.  Then he said, "You know it's a plant, right?"  Yeah, I know it's a plant.  A biting plant.  And I don't want to get bitten.  Jeez, what's so hard to understand?

After I replanted it and got it all situated, I turned on the outside light and waited for moths.  It always seems like moths immediately appear around a lightbulb, but when you're waiting for them, it takes a while.  I lost patience and went in the house and looked for a fly.  I found one, slapped it just hard enough to stun it and then picked it up with a tweezer and tried to feed it to my plant.  Apparently my plant wasn't hungry because when I put the stunned fly in it's jaws, it didn't snap shut like I was expecting (hoping).  It just sat there and then the fly came back to his senses and flew away.  Your loss, Flytrap!  The directions that came with it say specifically, "Do not feed your flytrap meat!" which I assume is because if I feed it meat it will grow like it's on steroids and be aggressive and dangerous.  When it gets used to its new home and gets hungry I'm going to feed it some raw hamburger.  I can't wait.  I want this plant to grow to frightening proportions and then I'll get a sign to put next to my door that says, "Beware of the plant"

my dream

my reality... (for now.)