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.