Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let the Stable Still Astonish

by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child--
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mrs. Cheney's students research

My 8th graders are in the middle of the beloved and much anticipated research paper. When I introduced the assignment, they clapped their hands with glee. Hands shot up with questions to be asked. Questions like, "Can I write more than six pages?" and "Is it okay if we only use primary sources?" and "What? The internet? We don't need the internet to write a research paper!" and "Plagiarism? No thank you! That's against the law, ma'am!" Yes, the fact-finding, note-taking, outline-writing, MLA-formatting excitement exceeds Christmas cheer in Mrs. Cheney's 8th grade language arts classes.

The best thing about the research paper is the process of discovery. I'll share a couple of examples with you:
  • I can't believe there aren't any books about Zac Effron in this library!
  • It's says here that Bob Marley liked to smoke pot!
  • All the websites about (guns, Nazis, Hitler, white supremacists, cocaine, Hugh Hefner (?!?), Ecstasy, etc.) are blocked!
  • Mrs. Cheney, this website is all about some guy who has the same last name as you! Are you related? (It was Dick Cheney, of White House fame)

Ahhhh, good times, good times!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mrs. Cheney's Students Write (answers to a quiz)

Thanks to a great suggestion from my mom (who was/is a great teacher), I am now giving my students weekly quizzes on Channel One (a 15 minute current events program shown daily in most secondary schools in America). I teach note-taking skills, the students practice by taking notes on Channel One, then I give them a weekly open-notes quiz.

Here are some student answers to this week's question number 2: Why did the British teacher in Sudan get in trouble?
  • For letting her class name a teddy bear Mahamahama.
  • For letting her students name a teddy bear after some Mustom thing.
  • She let a 7 year old student name a teddy bear Ohsamabenladin.
  • The teddy bear took offense to a lot of people.

I have 8th grade research papers due in two weeks. I look forward to filling this space with quotes for your enjoyment.

Also, there is a Box Elder bug flying around my room here at Box Elder Middle School. Ha!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Bells are Ringing!

The house is cozy! I love to sit on my couch with a hot rum punch (sans rum, of course) and gaze at my beautiful tree, so newly separated from its roots. Ahhhh, I love Christmas.

So here are some pictures, keeping in mind you don't get the full effect because I don't know how to take lit-up-Christmas-tree-at-night-with-no-other-lights-on-in-the-house photos with my camera. Still, you may get a small idea of my comfy cozy house. You may even want to pop in for a visit sometime. The hot rum punch is really good.

Ah, such a pretty tree . . . too bad it is a carnivorous tree who did this to MY ARM!!!

Not so pretty now when you know it might eat you, is it?

Just kidding tree. I love you. I forgive you. I will water you every day. I will make sure the cats don't eat your branches. Please stay. Don't run away.


I have other pretties in my house too. Take a look:

I love all the wood in my house. I also love Brock's antique lamp collection. Very fun.
My sister made the Santa below. Isn't he the cutest Santa ever???
"And what would you like for Christmas this year little girl? Oh, you're a boy? My bad."

Brock's brother gave us this hand-painted nativity. I am super in love with my new favorite nativity ever.
I made my angel a few years ago. She's still cute.

We have all six girls for Christmas this year. Still need two stockings.
Brock wants to sleep under this on Christmas Eve. Do you think we'll finish in time?

How did THIS get here??? I keep asking myself every day when I see it hanging on my wall. Coming attraction: Funny Story About the Jackalope parts 1 and 2

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And now for something completely different


The chickies decorated a cute gingerbread house. Thanks again, Grandma and Grandpa, for bringing fun activities for the girlies to do. They had a fine time!

Can you see my kitchen sink in the background? It is EXACTLY like the kitchen sink in A Christmas Story. We have the same push button light switches as they do as well. I love my old house!

Brock and I played in a bell choir for a Christmas worship service his family hosts every year. It was a beautiful service, and we had a grand time playing the bells.

Emma, ready for her first orchestra concert of the year. She was concert mistress. So there!

You can kind of see Emma's right arm at the end of the front row. She's a cutie violinist.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I heard that Mrs. Cheney has a crush . . .

Teenagers are funny. Every once in a while I think I have them figured out, then BOOM-- they are doing something to crack me right the hell up or tick me right the hell off.

Today is the last day of the trimester, so that means I get a whole new 160 names to put to faces next week. It also means the 160 faces I have been talking at for the past 12 weeks will move on. Kids get brave when they know they are moving on. So this morning, a 9th grade boy raised his hand and asked, "Do you have a crush on Mr. Thomas?" I just kind of stared at him for a minute, because, quite frankly, I was trying to figure out who Mr. Thomas was. The only Mr. Thomas popping into my brain was my high school math teacher, and there were certainly no crushes there. Yikes!

Apparently, the rest of the class wanted to know the same thing judging from their head nods and sudden silence.

I said, "I'm married."

They said, "So what?"

I said, "My husband is the love of my life."

They said, "That doesn't matter."

I said, "I don't even know who Mr. Thomas is!"

They said, "You know, the science teacher."

Oh yeah, Mr. Thomas.

He is kinda cute.

I have to admit that I was relieved that at least they thought I had decent taste in men. But still . . . a) why the heck would they think that? and b) why the heck would they care? and c) I hope to high heaven Mr. Thomas hasn't heard this rumor!!! Yikes!

I realized later in the day that I was likely the one who gave birth to this latest locker-buddy gossip--inadvertently, of course. A couple of times a week my students play this game called Grammar Punk. They get to grab sticks out of a container, and the sticks give them criteria for writing a sentence. In one of my 8th grade classes, the sticks we pulled were: teachers, 1, proper noun, t, o. That means we were supposed to write a sentence with one proper noun (with a t and an o in it) about teachers. I always write a sample sentence, and I do my best to make my sentence one the kids might get a kick out of. So this is what I put on the white board:

I toilet papered Mr. Thomas' house.

Of course toilet papering someone's house equals true love forever (written with the T, L and A all hooked together) for an 8th grader. So the very logical leap would be that I love Mr. Thomas.
Teenagers are good at making such logical leaps.

Just like that time when my best friend in high school asked if my mom (who taught at our high school) was having an affair with Mr. Campbell. Their rooms were connected by a storage room/office space and sometimes my mom and Mr. Campbell were in there at the same time.

And there was that time when she t.p.'d Mr. Campbell's house . . . *rubbing chin* hmmmmmmmm

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mrs. Cheney's students write


Many times when 8th grade students don't know how to spell a word, they will give it their best shot, right click on the misspelled word, then choose the first option on the list without a thought. As a result, I often get sentences like this one, from an 8th grader's autobiography:

"It was a good year, both fiscally and mentally."

Pretty sure he meant physically. How was he to know it didn't start with an "f"?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mrs. Cheney's students write

It's autobiography season in Cheneyville. In an effort to get my students to write creative introductions, I banned the phrase "I am going to write . . ." and the word "autobiography" for this assignment. And so, of course, the first (that's right, FIRST) paper I read started:

"I am going to write an autobiography about myself."

And to remind you the difference one measly letter can make (italics added):
  • "We were going to see the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. the Colorado Rookies."
  • "Instead of hitting the log with the ax, I hit my hand. I cut my thump almost all the way off."
  • "We were disappointed because the building was not open to the pubic."

I should hope not!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The name of my blog

In case you're wondering, I pinched it from the great Billy Collins. See his poem below.


by Billy Collins

Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It’s the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on the surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it into the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pretty maids all in a row

Jane, Kate and Emma reading Harry Potter books 1, 4 and 7. What a happy English teaching mom am I!

Jane's water color/construction paper creation inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Split decision

In unanimous confusion
he presents his proposal
and distributes the diagram
(in triplicate)
'round the table--
the diagram in which
he illustrates where the cut
will be made
starting in the center of the head
straight down the center of the body
following the dotted line.
Two perfect halves.
A net gain for him.

No, I say.
The cut must be made here,
'round the belly.
I get the upper;
you get the lower.
Here is my proposal
(yours is the top copy).

And Soloman scratches his beard
in unanimous confusion
and says, "Well,
I guess someone should get a knife."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mrs. Cheney's students write

From a personal narrative written by an 8th grade girl:

"Everyone wanted me to blame myself for my parents' divorce so they could feel good about telling me it wasn't my fault. The only problem was I never blamed myself. I blamed a random girl at church."

I thought this was such an interesting perspective: a child who understands what the adults are thinking without being explicitly told. She's probably right about people actually wanting her to blame herself so they could feel like they had done something good for her by correcting her misconceptions. I think most kids are smart little stinks.

Once he wore a tie

Monday, November 5, 2007


With a squish, suck, pop!
my sneakered feet tromp, slurp, slosh
through the marsh to the frog ponds.

The buzz buzz around my shoulders goes nearly unnoticed,
until a tubed tongue prickles my wrinkly dry-skinned elbow
a moment before the slap, brush, rub of my hand.
I remember too late about my
too warm, reddening skin which lazed the afternoon away
in the too hot, yellow sun.

I dip two curved fingers into the meandering muck
and smear the slime on the birth of the bite
for an itch fix.
The mountain evening cool soothes my skin.

The frog pool’s shaded shelves,
overgrown with sweet grass,
try to hide them,
but my practiced eyes find
two bumps breaking the smooth skin of the water,
arms and legs splayed out from the body below,
cooling in the evening’s draining sun.

I inhale them.
They smell like water
left to stand in a bucket
for a few hot summer days.
The smell of living green.

I squat, hands sinking in the soil between turned out feet.
I spring forward.
My fingers close as the frog kicks
and swims through them.
My fingers grow green
with a web of hairy algae dripping down my arms.
The sweet grass stings my sun-baked, mud-caked legs.

My dusty lids grind over my hot eyes,
and I see myself,
arms and legs splayed out,
suspended in the water,
my eyeballs alone above the water’s skin.
My own skin is slick.
I smell like living green.

A woodpecker rattles.
A bush rustles.
A fish rises in the stream.

My transparent lids glide over my cool eyes,
and I kick through the fingers
closing around me.
I settle in the mire below
With a

Friday, November 2, 2007

This is Halloween

Here is my Halloween show-and-tell. For the first time in a lah-ah-ahng time, I made Halloween costumes. Well, at least I made the kimono and the poodle skirt. Emma and Kate had great fun helping me, and Jane had a blissful Halloween in her purchased princess dress and crown.
We had Brock's kids the weekend before Halloween, so we had a big party. By big, I mean 18 little girls between the ages of six and twelve. Big.
I'm exhausted.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Girls just wanna have fuh-uhn

Today is 80's day at Emma's school.

If you dyed her hair brown, she could be me in 1985. Except for the part about me never having been that skinny.
Yes, those are THE parachute pants I owned my sophomore year of high school (swish, swish, swish). And yes, that is a "Gag Me With a Spoon" t-shirt I owned in jr. high (I was voting for the Rick Sprinfield concert muscle tee, but she chose this one instead). And yes, those are Cherokee wedge sandels I owned when I was 14. And yes, yes, yeeeeee--eeess!!! I wore my hair EXACTLY like that during my teenage years. And the braces? You know it, bay-beee! I had them on for four painfully awkward years.

The only difference is--she makes it all look cute.

I told Emma she's one lucky duck to have a grandma who kept these lovely keepsakes. She will be the coolest kid in school today!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How to Kill a Mockingbird?

9th Grade Male Student: Hey Mrs. Cheney, are we going to read How to Kill a Mockingbird today?

Mrs. Cheney: You mean To Kill a Mockingbird?

9th Grade Male Student: Yeah, How to Kill a Mockingbird, are we reading it today?

Mrs. Cheney: Yep. We're going to start on the chapter about shooting the mockingbirds with sling shots to knock them out of their trees. Then, in the next chapter, we'll talk all about the advantages of the various methods of torturing mockingbirds including, but not limited to: forcing them to listen to country music from 2-5 a.m. while they are trying to sleep, telling them they are nothing but a bunch of dirty magpies, and showing them pictures of snarling pitbulls and 12 year old boys armed with BB guns. Then we'll move on to mockingbird-specific disembowelment techniques discussed in chapter 5.

9th Grade Male Student (after a pause, with a nod of his head and a slight smile): cool.

Monday, October 15, 2007

She's all grown up and saving China!

Emma and I "ran" a 5K race on Saturday. It was a first for both of us. I have run three marathons, but I have never run a 5K, and Emma has never run any sort of a race. This run was the Red Ribbon Run in Hyde Park. I would guess that about 70% of the runners were school-aged children. Only a few of us old-fart parents ran with our kids.
Emma was a trooper. She didn't train at all outside of her P.E. class, so it didn't surprise me that we were pretty darned slow. I jogged the whole way, but Emma stopped to walk several times. The best part of the run was the opportunity it gave us to participate together as mother and daughter. These moments are very rare for us. I was thrilled to create this memory with Emma.
The cutest part of all of this was Emma's reason for wanting to run the 5K in the first place. She wasn't looking for a feeling of accomplishment, she wasn't looking for a runner's high, she wasn't even looking for a chance to work on her physical fitness--she was looking for extra credit in P.E. She wants straight A's, and P.E. is the only thing that is holding her back. She had nearly 100% in all of her classes during 1st term, with the one lone exception of P.E. That A- brought her down, man.
She is just such the cutiest thing I ever did saw.
Congratulations on finishing the run, Emma. Here's to a perfect report card in November!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I have the best husband in the world!

Brock and I went to the afternoon session of the general conference of the LDS church on Saturday. I felt a little disappointed in the content of the talks (everyone seems to be panicking over the image of the church thanks to Mr. Romney), but at least being in the conference center made it all the more engaging. I learned that even apostles sometimes whisper to their neighbors in church. After Elder Wirthlin's shaky sermon, the apostle section of the stand was abuzz with worry. Doctors were coming and going, and I was speculating that Elder Wirthlin had died right there in his seat as soon as he sunk his brittle bones into the plush red cushions. Soon the buzz died down, Elder Wirthlin continued to sit, and I learned again how to answer questions coming from my non-member friends.

We had a bit of rain on Saturday. And it was cold. As we scurried from our parking space to our warm, waiting seats we passed through the inevitable parade of antis. This was to be expected, of course. What would conference be without antis? They are like the Cousin Eddy of the church. We know they'll always be there, that we shouldn't take anything they have to say too seriously, and that they'll be wearing tight green polyester pants, white patent leather shoes, and a white V-neck sweater with the outline of the black dickie underneath showing through. Brock took advantage of the opportunity to point his finger at them and laugh Nelson-style. Yeah, yeah, he is well aware that he shouldn't engage in such activities, but he is Brock, and Brock likes to do his own thing.

It was pretty funny when one of the antis saw Brock laughing at him and responded by telling him to get a haircut. See, antis and Mormons DO agree on some things.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mrs. Cheney's students write

I spend a lot of time teaching my students to write. This week we're working on using figurative speech, specifically similes, metaphors, and personification. I'd like to share a few of the sentences my students composed.
  • She hit the tennis ball like a train hits a cow.
  • The boat moved through the water like my dad's diesel going over an overpass in Salt Lake.
  • I hurried down the sidewalk like a bunny getting shot at hurries down a path.
  • The stream flowed quickly like snot runs out of my neighbor's nose.
  • The stream flowed quickly like the fingers of that girl texting in the corner.
  • The stream flowed quickly as if someone flushed a huge toilet.
  • The dog was smart like Malcolm X.
  • I hurried down the sidewalk, its hills and grooves like my dad's stomach.
  • The stream flowed down the mountain as if it was a man late to the next life.
  • The carpet was soft like my grandpa's belly.
  • I hurried down the sidewalk like a hobo after a ham sandwich.
  • I felt sad, as if I lost my iPod.
  • The building looked sleek and new like my dad's head.
  • The building looked sleek and new like my hair after I got it straightened.
  • The boat moved through the water like a comb through my hair after I just put tons of conditioner on it.
  • The building looked like it had just got its braces off, so sleek and new.
  • The carpet was so soft it was like walking on clowns.

Ha! These kids make me laugh. I love my job.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What could be more meaningful than words?

A year ago today I was in freak-mode, frantically throwing together the last-minute details for my wedding (which I was counting on being perfect--a sure sign that the marriage would also be perfect). A voice (female and deceivingly lilting) inside my brain persistently reminded me (with perfect enunciation), "98 hours, and counting . . . 97 hours, and counting . . ." My pleas to her to shut the hell up were summarily ignored. With two days to go until showtime, Brock's ring, which I had stupidly ordered from Ireland, still hadn't arrived, and my stress reached the eye-bursting, brain-fraying, vein-popping, ear-steaming level. Poor Brock wondered aloud why I wasn't just sitting back and enjoying the moment. And then, after my hair caught fire and my fingernails shot right off my hands and stuck into the walls, he wondered silently.

The good news is that I've forgotten all about that time. Our wedding was perfect, and our first year of marriage has been happy, fulfilling, loving, sexy, fun, spontaneous, tender, silly, serious, comforting, edifying, loyal, respectful, kind, adventurous, intelligent, patient and eternal. Cliched as it may be, it feels as though we've always been together, that we're made for each other, that we'll be together forever.

During the few days before the wedding last year, I wrote this poem for Brock:

We are a river recovered
from the fall
when we were once water interrupted.
We are confused mist, now settled
after the churning slowed
and the flow resumed, finding relief
in our deep and constant union.
May we join in our river’s bed together
and discover joy in our journey.

We are a poem personified,
penned by one of the greats.
A Hopkins, a Collins, a Frost.
We are used words, which
when rearranged with talent and skill,
become fresh and alive, an obvious fit.
We are a sonnet, a ballad, an ode.
May we couple our words together
to compose our eloquent epic.

We are heaven’s cloths
woven from unraveled threads
forming patterns
with our combined colors:
golden joy, rosy exuberance, creamy confidence.
We are beauty renewed,
embroidered with our finest floss.
May we weave ourselves together
to complete our emerging mural.

Our first anniversary will be this Sunday. I need to come up with something to show Brock my love, my adoration, my devotion. He takes such good care of me emotionally, intellectually, physically. He is my life. How do you show your other self that he is everything to you? That you'd be a bag of bones without him? That he has saved your happiness? (Especially on a teacher's salary?) I'd like to write another poem, but the right words just aren't coming. Or maybe it's impossible to put together a sack of letters that form words meaningful enough to be valid for our love story.

Or maybe love stories are more meaningful than words. I am remembering Hamlet when Polonius says, "What do you read, my lord?" and Hamlet replies, "Words, words, words." I feel a little offended by Hamlet's flippant reply. I love words. I sigh contentedly when I read well-placed words, especially in poetry. The English teacher in me indignantly defends the value of words, especially when teaching students how to express themselves through writing. But when faced with expressing my own deepest feelings, I am compelled to admit that words may not convey the emotions I feel.

Instead of attempting to assign words to my emotions, maybe I'll go with plan B. What is plan B, you ask? Use your imagination. I'm sure it will come to you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ohhh, Pretty!

Brock and I did some work on Emma and Jane's room over the weekend. I love how it turned out. The yellow is creamier and more pale than it appears in these pictures. It is the perfect yellow for our old house, especially when it's paired with the bright white moldings.
We had to come up with several window coverings, as you can see, so we hit the antique stores and found some great old linens. Paired with a white muslin panel beneath, they make the perfect curtains for our girls' room. The linen you see on the door in the first picture was actually one I had in my cedar chest. It was made by my Grandma Kelley, I believe. I love having a place to display it, rather than allowing it to lay hidden and unused. I all, we spent about $40 on all the window coverings.
I am in love with this room!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ah Nuts!

I have the best assignment in my church. It is called "Relief Society Teacher." Here is a list of reasons teaching relief society is the coolest job ever:

  • I teach one 40 minute lesson a month.
  • Once I get the sisters talking they take over and I can spend the rest of the lesson nodding, smiling, and pointing to the next raised hand to comment.
  • The group is actually officially called The Relief Society (I thought it was called Release Society when I was young--relief is much better, don't you think?).
  • It keeps me out of the nursery.
  • I don't have to do any paperwork.
  • I don't have to go to meetings.
  • I don't have to report to anybody.
  • I get to say whatever I want and nobody can do anything about it.

Okay, well, maybe that last one isn't all the way true . . . but I do get to steer the topic in a direction that I find useful and that makes me happy.

Last month's lesson was called "No Other Gods Before Me." I read through the material and found some bits and pieces I could use to jump start the discussion. The lesson included a story I remembered hearing when I was a youngster--about these special traps used to capture monkeys. The gist of it all was that if you take a box, cut a small hole in the top, then put a nut in the box, the monkey would inevitably reach his hand in the box to retrieve the nut. Then when the monkey would try to remove his hand from the box, his newly formed fist would be too large to extract from the hole. The simple-minded monkey would never be able to figure out the whole drop-the-nut-and-I-can-be-free strategy, and thus he would be trapped by his own actions. You see how it fits, right?

So I told the story. Except for not exactly like I just wrote it. Especially the part about the monkeys refusing to let go of their treasure to free themselves from the box. What I said, and I quote (as if you couldn't tell from the quotation marks I'm about it use), "The cute little monkeys were trapped because they wouldn't let go of their nuts."

Yep. I said that. In relief society. With little old ladies all around. And. To. Make. It. Worse. . . Somebody giggled. I honestly didn't realize what I had said until I heard the giggle. I thought to myself, why is someone giggling?? Monkeys are being captured!!! That's not funny!! And then my face turned BRIGHT red (as it is prone to do when I make a complete idiot of myself in front of others).

I should have just gone on with the lesson and ignored the giggle. That's what my brain told me to do. But I also have this thing called a mouth which spouts various embarrassing crap when I'm flustered. "Ummmm, that was a poor choice of words, huh?" It's a good thing my eloquence got me out of that sticky situation. I know how to put the "relief" in Relief Society, I tells ya. Without that quick thinking, I might be known forever more as the teacher who used allusions to monkey genitalia in church. *sigh*

I'll bet those sisters are already charging their hearing aids so they can hear what I have to say in next month's lesson: "The Law of Chastity."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Last weekend we had the rare privilege of having all of our kids together. To celebrate the occasion (and also my birthday) we took our brood to Lagoon. Thanks to Grandpa Cheney's employee discount, we didn't have to mortgage our home to pay the entrance fees. We had a grand time, even with an on-again-off-again afternoon drizzle.

Some of us were brave enough to go on the new ride, Wicked.
The yellow tower you see is the track that goes STRAIGHT UP and then STRAIGHT DOWN. I closed my eyes on the way up, but opened them going down. Yes, yes, a little backwards, it's true--but holy hell, the up was scary. The down was just roller coastery fun.

Kate, 10, and Maryanne, 8, were the only ones brave enough to go with me. They laughed the whole ride through.

They gave Wicked a thumbs up. So did I!

Grandma and Grandpa met us for a ride on the carousel. Grandpa spent most of his retirement on ice cream cones for the kids . . .

which nobody finished.

We got a little wet from a typical Utah autumn shower (to celebrate the coming of the season, I suppose), but we had scads of fun. Just look at the faces below. That's happiness!

And of course, we never pass up the opportunity to embarrass our kids in public!

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, September 24, 2007

I see London, I see France

I got the best card for my birthday on Saturday. Two boys with baggy, saggy jeans revealing a couple inches of boxers over the waistband are pointing to a boy with a shirt tucked into his belted khakis. One of the overly-panted boys says to the well-dressed boy, "Hey doofus! Your underwear isn't showing!"

As a teacher, I am surrounded by boys who are constantly hitching up their jeans to prevent gravity from taking over. The vice principal of our school keeps zip ties handy as a quick fix for boys whose pants are so loose they show their undies (two belt loops joined by a zip tie makes for pants that stay put). The girls also show their unmentionables, but not because their pants are too big--they are just so ultra low and so ultra tight that when the girls are in a seated position, they are plumbing it. A computer lab full of these girls slouched over their keyboards has so much crack in it that if a group of addicts from Pioneer Park accidentally wandered in (hey, it could happen) they would thank their lucky stars for a Christmas dream come true.

During my first year of teaching, I got stuck with the "at-risk" students (they had no hope of graduating, so they all got stuck in the same room out in a trailer in hopes that they wouldn't infect the kids who still had a chance, and I was their lucky babysitter). These kids were shameless. And they were proud of their anti-social behavior. Eventually, I got in the (bad) habit of using sarcasm when I was attempting to manage the classroom. One day, a punk senior kid named Rhett (I really liked the kid, but he was definitely a punk) came into my classroom with his pants so very low he had to walk with his feet about 2 feet apart to keep his too-baggy jeans on his too-narrow hips. At least six inches of blue plaid showed below his shirt and above his jeans. I couldn't imagine how UNcomfortable it must have been for him to have to walk like that just to avoid the embarrassment of losing his jeans.

I said to the punk, "Hey Rhett, you're panties are showing!" in an attempt to humiliate him into wearing a belt, or buying pants that fit.

"They're not panties," he unabashedly replied. Then with the very slightest amount of effort, he flicked the waistband of his jeans toward the floor and WHOOSH! he was standing in a puddle of pants. As soon as I realized what his intentions were, I covered my eyes with my hand. I was sure I was going to lose my job since my sarcasm was the tool which lead to a student exposing himself.

But the rest of the class laughed. Rhett laughed too. I peeked through my fingers and found Rhett standing in blue flannel pajama pants with his jeans pooled around his feet. There really weren't panties, and I really was going to be able to keep my job after all.

I'm now teaching at a middle school--8th and 9th graders. They are pretty good kids for the most part, but they are old enough to have figured out about the huge pants deal. I see just as many "panties" here as I did at the high school two years ago. Just the other day I was in the teacher's lounge during my prep period when I heard some boys talking in the hall. One boy said quite urgently to another, "Hey, pull my pants up!" I peeked into the hall, and there was a line of boys carrying desks over their heads down the hall. One unfortunate boy was rapidly losing his jeans and with both hands full he was unable to remedy the situation.

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Will they never learn?

There seems, however, to be a change a brewin' these days. And as most things go, this one is another extreme. The latest fad for the "cool" guys at my school is to wear girl jeans. Yep, jeans made for girls. And the preferred cut for these forward-thinking boys? The skinny jean! And they wear them tight! Oh my! The good news about this fad is the undies will always be covered. The bad news is that people are buying skinny jeans! I can't imagine that any self-respecting woman would wear these jeans designed to accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive, but if our teenage boys are buying them, the manufacturers may have the false perception that women actually like these jeans which may result in the increased availability of the skinny jean.

The sky is falling!

The sky is falling!

My hips just can't take it. Here's to wearing skirts. (pencil skirts be damned!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

For the whole world to see . . .

After lurking about in the blog world for months, I'm finally joining the in-crowd and getting one of my own. How about that?!