Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Winter Formal Speech

January 23, 2014

This Saturday is our Winter Formal, and as is my tradition, I give my kids the Winter Formal speech in each of my classes.  It's my little way of trying to help them make good decisions and good choices on an evening when sometimes they get caught up in the moment and forget about potential consequences.  Do I think every single kid will heed my advice?  No, of course not.  But if the speech makes even one kid reconsider making a potentially devastating poor choice, then it's well worth the time I spend in class talking about it.  Here's what I tell them:

This is a speech I give every year in my senior classes, regarding a couple of things I find important to remind kids of before each of the Big Three: Winter Formal, Prom, and Graduation. Pay attention, because this is serious stuff. I give this speech because I'm a mama, and you'll just have to humor me. I have my own kids, but you're my kids, too, so you'll just have to deal with me being a mama for a moment. There are three things I'd like to address.

The first one is, I'm excited to see your pictures from the Formal.  It's wonderful to see you all looking so grown up, such ladies and gentlemen! It's one of my favorite things to see.(I'm sad that I didn't get selected for Formal duty this year, so I'll miss it in person!). However, that being said, one of my least favorite things about the dances is seeing the kind of dancing that goes on out on the dance floor. Having fun or being close and romantic is one thing, but the 'freaking' on the dance floor? Not pretty. Not attractive. Simulated sex on the dance floor is not dancing! And it totally undoes the elegant sophisticated look you took all day cultivating as you were getting dressed up like young ladies and gentlemen. Would you dance like that in front of your mama?  No? Then why do you think it's okay to put on that kind of display in front of your physics teacher or your English teacher.  It's just uncomfortable, you know?

The second part of the speech deals with a much more serious thing, which is the whole issue of drinking. There are a lot of you who think that because you're feeling all grown up and dressed up, and it's a festive time, that it's okay to drink. First of all, let me remind you that IT'S NOT LEGAL. But you know that, and some of you will choose to ignore that. So if you choose to make the first bad decision and drink on the night of the dance, don't make a second bad decision to get behind the wheel of a car. When you are driving home from the dance, so will lots of other people, all hoping and expecting to get home safely.  Don't be the one who changes that due to negligence. I want all of you to make it home alive and to be back here on Monday for school, safe and sound. I want you to make it to your graduation, which you have all worked so hard for.

This is not just about you drinking. If you are with someone who has been drinking, don't let them get behind the wheel. They might be mad at you, but that's okay. They'll get over it. Don't be the one who watches someone drive away, and then later finds out he spun out of control on the way home because he shouldn't have been driving. Decisions like that--one stupid decision--can irrevocably alter people's lives. Forever. Don't be that person. Don't let your friend be that person. Make good decisions. And if you make the first bad decision to drink, make a second good decision, and stay where you are, or have a designated driver. Call mom or dad to pick you up. Call ME to pick you up. I don't care if you call me a three o'clock in the morning. I would jump in the car and come get you to take you home, rather than have you driving out on the road, drunk. I am absolutely sincere about that. I'm not that hard to get ahold of.

The last word about drinking is please don't show up to the dance already drunk. I've had students who have been ejected within 15 minutes of their arrival because they had so obviously been drinking. This is supposed to be a fun night, and getting kicked out of the dance is not fun. Even really good kids sometimes have a lapse of judgment, but you don't want that kind of lapse in judgment to put to waste all the money and time you spent getting ready for this event. And what if you are the girlfriend whose date got caught, drunk? You are either stuck there to finish out the dance alone, or you have to go home. There's also the issue of having to face your parents with the bad news. Even worse, students who get caught drunk at the dance will get expelled under Zero Tolerance. After all those years of hard work, after all that time invested, don't make a decision that could lead to you not walking graduation with all of your classmates when you are so close to the light at the end of the tunnel.

And finally, speaking of graduation, let's do the math, shall we? We are about five months away from the big night, the culmination of all your years of academic work. Winter Formal night is a big night for a lot of kids. You're feeling grown-up, you're feeling you are on the verge becoming a fully independent young adult. And a lot of students feel that this is the perfect time to experiment with other 'grown-up' behaviors. All I'm going to say, girls, is that five months down the line, right about graduation time, you don't want to be the one who is suddenly starting to show evidence that you've accidentally come away from the Winter Formal with an extra souvenir----one that will be with you forever. Boys--you don't want to give in to temptation now to be left with a souvenir you aren't ready to be responsible for for the rest of your life. Be careful. Make good choices.

And have a great time!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Now We're a Matched Set--Or Maybe Tomorrow We Will Be

January 13, 2014

We got Doug a FitBit today.  He's been walking with me to help me meet my daily 'steps' goals, so he figured he might as well be logging his steps, too.  We've been really good about working toward our walking goals since Lisa got me my FitBit for Christmas.  Sadly, the one we got for him appears to have a previous owner, because he'd burned over 2,000 calories before he even got the thing out of the box.  Then, while trying to set it up and sync it to the computer, he kept hitting a brick wall--a non-functioning piece of technology.  Or at the very least, a piece of technology with its own agenda.  We just couldn't get the device to communicate with his computer correctly, although his phone showed some indication of stats logged in the device's previous life.  It looks like we're going to have to take it back and see if we can get one that doesn't have a past.  Maybe tomorrow we'll be a matching set.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Comfort Food

January 10, 2014

I don't like the cold in general, but one of the things I really like about winter season is that Doug makes homemade soup.  Tonight's dinner:  chicken noodle soup.  Delicious!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Math Homework Is Killing Me--And I Haven't Had to Take a Math Class for Years

January 8, 2014

This is an excerpt of an email I had to send to Nicholas' robotics coach, after explaining to him that Nicholas would need to forgo robotics for math lab in order to get some work done that he failed to complete when he was supposed to.

Whatever job he has in his future career path, I pray that it involves a diligent and meticulous secretary who will attend to the pesky details he can’t be bothered with.  I’m retiring from that position when that kid graduates from high school!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Black and Blue, With Tinges of Yellow

January 7, 2014

A few days ago when we took the kids skating, Danielle fell down within minutes of being there--twice.  (Mind you, she's the one we generally consider the coordinated, athletic one.)  Most of the rest of the session, Danielle hung out at the snack bar, but I gave her a hard time about 'wimping out'.  Tonight she showed me the residual effect of her encounter with the floor.  I guess she probably DID hit the floor pretty hard when she maneuvered around those little girls to avoid skating over them.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's What Time?

January 6, 2014

Much as I loved having two weeks off, today I had to say goodbye to late, late nights and lazy mornings once again.  We eased into it a bit, since the students didn't have to come back to school.  They got one more day to sleep in while we settled into a long day of inservice/curriculum development.  Honestly, it wasn't a bad day, since I miss my work friends over vacations, but it didn't start off particularly well.  Despite the fact that I was very, very careful to make sure I re-set my alarms so that I would wake up in the morning, inexplicably I did not take the same meticulous care in making sure my phone was plugged in to recharge itself over night.  In case you were wondering whether or not a phone whose battery has died will still emit a gentle wake-up call in the early morning, I have solved that mystery for you.  No.  The answer is no, it will not.  Amazingly, my husband has an internal clock which wakes him up without electronics, and about 40 minutes after my alarm should have awakened me, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey Babe?  What time did you set your alarm for?"  For two seconds I was back in yesterday-world where there was no possible reason for me to be awake at 6:40, and then I bolted out of bed like there were wolves chasing after me.  Not a pleasant start.  But thank goodness that my husband's internal clock hasn't synced with mine, which thinks I should go to bed at 4 a.m. and roll back out of bed somewhere in the neighborhood of 10.  -Ish.

I still got to work on time.  Ah, back to my home-away-from-home.  And tomorrow, the kiddos come back, and we get back to the business of learning.  I just hope my alarm goes off in the morning.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Time Flies

January 5, 2014

Two weeks always seems like such a blink of an eye on the evening before we have to go back to  work after Christmas vacation.  Seriously, I am not ready for this.  I want to keep staying up until 4 a.m. and sleep until 10.  At least Doug and I got a nice quiet date night tonight before the hustle and bustle of the school schedule kicks back into gear.  We walked downtown and had a lovely dinner at DiCicco's.  We figure walking there helps to mitigate the calories of the meal we ate.  That's what we're telling ourselves, anyway.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Off They Go

January 4, 2014

My sister just left after a four day visit. I love it when we get to spend time together, but I'm always sad to see her go. This time around, Lisa and my beautiful nieces brought along two lovely young ladies to add to the party. As always, no matter what we do, we make our own fun, and this trip was no different. Already looking forward to the next time we can all get together!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Full Day

January 3, 2014

We got the kids all rounded up and headed out to Cal Skate--Roller Town to us--for the afternoon.  Nicholas and Danielle weren't terribly adept, but they managed.  Lisa's girls were a little more light on their feet, but I can't say anyone was especially good at skating.  Luckily, we don't need exceptional skill to have fun.

After skating, we went to pick up Doug at Classic Billiards and ended up letting the kids stay for an hour or so to play a little pool.  Next up was a delicious dinner at Capo's, followed by a very long walk around the neighborhood while blasting tunes and singing loudly and unabashedly.

Once we got back home and settled the kids in to watch a movie, Doug and Lisa and I went to Thai Fusion for a little karaoke.  It was a pretty fun ending to an overall great day.  I love being so close to my sister and my nieces!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


January 2, 2014

Lisa and the girls are still visiting, and with such a big group, we like to find fun things to do that don't break the bank.  One of the activities Lisa and her kids have really gotten into is geo-caching, which is a big old fashioned scavenger-hunt gone high-tech.  You can search out apps on the smart phones that tell you where little 'treasures' are hidden, and you go find them.  The treasures are in small containers out in public places (literally all over the world!), and many of them have a log inside where you record when you found them.  Usually there's a small trinket there, and you can take that one out and replace it with a new trinket for someone else to find.  Some of the treasures come with requests, such as a request that the trinket or treasure make some specific journey (i.e., to travel from the West Coast to the East Coast).  Anyone who can help the treasure make it further along in its journey is asked to deposit it in the next hiding spot along the way to the destination. 

The apps on the phones help to record not only these 'special requests', but also any helpful hints or suggestions, as well as a handy compass to help the treasure seekers. It's kind of funny to see a big group of people staring at their phones (compasses) and wandering around a given area hoping to find the hidden container, but that's what we did today.  We looked for a few that were indicated fairly close to our home, and we actually managed to find 5 out of the 6 we were looking for.  What a great way to spend the afternoon!  If you don't know about this global hide-and-seek, you'd never know how many treasures are out there.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

January 1, 2014

The New Year--January 1st, specifically--is the time of year we all tend to make promises to ourselves that we ultimately fail to keep.  So why do we keep doing it?  Why set ourselves up to fail?  Well, because it's hard to get somewhere if you don't have an idea of where you want to go.  Now, if I don't make it all the way to my goal, or even if my goal changes in the course of the next year, that's okay.  I can't beat myself up about it if I don't reach the end of the line, so to speak, or if my road takes me down a different path.  As long as I get started in the right direction, I can feel good about the progress I've made.

So here we go. 

Yes, I'm going to make the obligatory resolution to lose weight/eat better/become more fit.  I've got some tools in place to help me track what I'm doing via Fitbit, and some plans in place for Lisa and me to encourage each other on this path.

I've used this blog in the past as a means to express my philosophies and observations, but also as a place where I can record family events and memories for posterity, including photos of family and friends.  I've gotten away from that purpose somewhat, so I not only want to keep up with that here for this year, but I want to back up and post previous events and photos that I've missed this year.  Every six months prior to this year I have had Blog2Print create a hardback copy of all of my entries as a permanent record--I want to update and then have those published from 2013.

I want to continue to pursue photography in new ways, as well as explore other artistic formats.  In 2013, I did some photography work for a friend of mine, and I dabbled in painting (in oil and acrylics) and even sold my first painting.  There's definitely more in those fields I want to explore.

I intend to continue to be mindful in how and why I teach, so that I can continue to grow and guide my students to the best of my ability.

Most importantly, I want to continue to work at being fully present with my family and friends, and be the best wife, mom, sister, and friend I know how to be.  The traditions and memories we are building now are the times my kids will look back on in their future, and I hope they are memories of love that they cherish.

To that end, our first pictures in the new year are of our traditional pizza night with my family, Lisa's family, and some good friends.  We've also got pictures from the Lutjens-Smith/Gaetje family Christmas gift exchange.  I'm so thankful Lisa was able to bring her kids (and a couple of their friends--Tia and Kimberly) up on the train today to spend the first few days of the new year with us.