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!