Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Can We Hang It On the Fridge, Mommy?"

I know, I know...I am spending way way way too much time on the computer this summer. I should be outside, enjoying the...heat!?! But I have discovered two new computer hobbies: blogging and now digital scrapbooking. In fact, Alice wrote a blog entry about what a scrapbooking maniac I've become.

And, because I'm new at this and proud of everything I create like a first grader is proud of their fingerpaintings...I thought I'd show a couple of pages off to you all.

Tell me what you think!

The Monochrome Blonde Kit by Vicki Stegall
Astro Girl Kit by Kellie Mize
Asian Spring Paper Pack by Dana Zarling
Free Fall Kit by Shawna Clingerman
April Free Pea Kit (altered) by Rhonna Farrer

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yesterday marks the 25th birthday of my friend, Alice! I was going to post this earlier, but, let's face it, birthday festivities take precedence over blogging. It was a great day, I hope, for her. So everybody get online and wish her a happy, happy birthday!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Confessions of a Late Starter

Everybody stresses how incredibly jealous they are of my summers off. Even I am jealous of myself during the middle of the school year. But the truth is, I think I need somewhere I have to be every day so that I don't sit around and procrastinate showering in the morning. I tend to mosey in the mornings. I sleep in. I hesitate to get ready because...well, I'm not certain why I do it? I think it has something to do with the knowledge that I have my day to do with what I'd like to, so I spend my mornings thinking it is best to check my email before showering/brushing my teeth. If I have no place to look presentable at...why bother? And I think this is where you can get yourself in a funk. You can feel awfully bummed if you look like the schlump I happen to look like at this moment.

Now, I know I could have more self-discipline. I even start the summer off giving myself pep talks about how disciplined I am going to be this summer, "Okay, tomorrow, you are going to wake up go hiking/to the gym, read more..." But here I am at the end of week three and instead of waking up and working out and showering and doing all that great stuff that makes you feel like a normal human being...I digital scrapbooked. And now I'm blogging.

That's right, while the roomie, Alice, had a job interview, I got on her computer and decided to scrapbook. So here it is 1:30 in the afternoon, I'm still in my PJs and I have yet to eat breakfast, let alone shower and brush my teeth. And at this point, I'm getting ready to head up to my mom's to go swimming. So what's the point of a shower now? :)

The good news is, I made some cute pages! Including this one...

It's time Kit (Altered) by Sande Krieger
Little Black Dress Paper Pack by Kellie Mize

Thursday, June 21, 2007


It has been nearly three months. Nearly three months and Alice and I have yet to set up our house completely. Don't ask us what we've been doing, anything but making the final touches on the place. So, yesterday, amidst our clean-a-thon that is still in progress, we've been hanging up all the wall decor, drapes, etc...finally! And, I must say, I am not sure why we've waited this long other than perhaps it is one of those projects that if you procrastinate it long enough it starts to feel overwhelming and like a much bigger deal than it actually is. I think the house is looking much better and thought you might like to see some images of our handywork and decorating savvy... :)

These are both images of my bedroom. We are still working on the bathroom (the cheap towel racks the landlord put in broke right after we moved in), living room, and hallway. But my room (or at least these 2 walls) is done! Enjoy...

P.S. Let me also make a public THANK YOU...YOU ROCK! to my dear roomie Alice who helped me figure out how to change the appearance of my blog. Doesn't it look great!?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fighting the River

The weekend before Father's Day I went to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho for a girls' weekend. It was a great time and I always love spending two days in a seedy motel eating junk food and gossiping with the ladies. This year, however, there is one adventure that remains at the forefront of my mind. I call it "Fighting the River," but subsequent titles might include "My Near-Death Experience" or "Why Individuals with Large Posterior's Should Avoid Sticking Aforementioned Posteriors in Flimsy Floating Devices while Floating Down Anything with Rapids." The list could go on, but I think you get the point.

So, imagine, it is late Saturday, main street Lava, you've eaten a wonderful breakfast, you feel alive, you feel young, you feel invigorated. In the background you can hear the whoops and hollers of tubers in the river running under the bridge upon which you walk. You turn to your friend, we'll call her "Ramba" (the feminine version of Rambo) for dramatic purposes, and say, "Friend, I think I would like to go tubing.

So, that is that, the decision, the commitment to end your life has just been made. You rent your tubes, you purchase your sorry excuse for a shoe more appropriately described as a contraption of loose netting, thin bungee cords, and rubber glued haphazardly together and placed upon the foot...temporarily. You change into your swimwear. You launch after a short debate with "Ramba" about launching locations. You: opting for the spot after the waterfall, though more rapid in flow. Ramba: insisting that the calm spot is safest for a launch and that the rapid torrent of water 20 feet downriver is "not that big."

And, ah, the day is hot, the water is cold, the tube seems sturdy enough. Yes, things seem nearly perfect. That is, until you plummet down that "not that big" of a waterfall. You wedge more easily out of the tube than you wedged into it, actually. One word comes to mind: hydraulics. But you keep your death grip on the tube's handle. You stand and walk to shallower, calmer water. You have survived your first dip...certainly it can't get worse.

You were wrong, however. It does get worse. Ramba laughs and spins. Her aunt, Lisa, seems to be enjoying herself equally. You ease down the river in mellow spots and hold on for dear life anytime you see foam--because foam means churning water that could potentially swallow you and heave you out of this tube, also known as a Death Ring with Handles.

You pass by your land-safe roommate calling out your name without even noticing her. Yes, your wise roommate who sits on a comfortable chair on comfortable, stable grass. Your roommate who had the good sense to say "I'm not going tubing." You don't even notice her because YOU are in survival mode. Because you are stubborn. Because this death float is your vacation experience and you are going to enjoy it, damnit, even if it kills you because you rented the tube for five bucks and purchased yet another pair of water shoes for $10.83.

And so, rapid after rapid, you manage to stay afloat. That is, until, you don't. And this rapid is a doozy. It spits at you as you approach it, backwards. It flips you. It rips your Death Ring with Handles from your white-knuckled grip. It knocks you over when you try to stand up and it begins to carry you along a bed of river rocks on your abdomen. And then the piece of crap netting/bungee/rubber/glue contraption, half of the $10.83 you spent, rips from your foot. If not for your extended pinky flailing for the life of the body it is attached to, you would have lost the shoe completely.

And so you try to get the blasted thing back on your foot. Only to have it ripped away, again. Only to be knocked to your knees and scour your body along the river bed face first. You feel the sting on your knees, on your ankles, on the soft skin of your stomach that was once so carefully covered with your tankini. You try to stand. But the river knocks you over. You are dragged for 20 feet along the bed of the devil river.

Meanwhile, Ramba floats on, laughing. Meanwhile, Lisa and a passerby have the good sense to stop 40 feet ahead of you on the banks of the river, catch your tube, and watch. And cringe. Grateful they are not in your shoes, or shoe, really.

Meanwhile, you are certain death is inevitable. You let out a prayer. You try not to cry because now is not a time for crying. You promise yourself that you will get a hot shower, neosporin, and clean, warm, DRY clothing at the end of this. You've just got to maneuver your way to the banks without getting knocked over.

You make it, you exit the river, with one intact shoe, one shoe that is not so intact. But your feet are firmly planted. You aren't going to be knocked over. You walk on private property and give the owners a look that lets them know they better not mention the part about you walking on their private property. You walk back to main street, to the exact spot you had this half-witted idea. And you see her, that wise roommate, drive by. And through the crowds you scream her name louder than you've screamed anything in your life. Her window down, she hears you, stops, and you get in the car and tell her all about it as you drive downriver to pick up the survivors at the end of the river run.

And the watershoes? They probably rest at the local landfill in Lava Hot Springs. I left them in the motel room on purpose.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Writing Project

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a week long workshop for teachers. The program is in conjunction with the National Writing Project and its mission is to aid teachers across the curriculum in implementing writing into their classrooms. The idea is that if you are comfortable writing, then you will be more comfortable in helping your students learn to write. There is a focus on writing to learn as well as a focus on getting teachers writing. Needless to say, I wrote a great deal this past week. I used to write all the time during college. Mostly poetry. But, for all kinds of reasons, I've been slacking. And it has felt like something was missing.

Anyway, I had to write a one-page reflection on my experience at the end of the workshop (after all, they had to load us up with homework--we received 2 graduate credits for the workshop). This is what I wrote, I thought you might like to read it. My sister has been harassing me for a while now to post something new, so, Mizz Stine, here you are:

I have two passions: teaching and writing. Each of these passions fills that hollow space inside me that needs filling. However, as a writer, teaching can be draining and as a teacher, writing is equally as draining. My two passions split me. It is hard to find the balance between two things you love.

This past year commemorates my first full and complete year as a teacher. It has been a time of survival, stress, long hours, sleep deprivation, midnight breakdowns, and waning confidence. Writing has slipped from the front of my mind’s range, to the back burner, and finally off of the stove completely. Until this week.

I guess you could say that the Writing Project’s workshop is exactly what I’ve needed to feel like myself again. For months now I’ve been slinking through an identity crisis. I moved from the familiar mountains, manicured lawns and suburban landscape of my childhood to a hollow, confusing city where I felt small and skittish in an apartment where the sirens never seemed to stop screaming. I couldn’t say I was a student anymore, something I felt damn good at. No, now I was a teacher, something I consistently screwed up at on a daily basis. Nobody knew me. I clung to my students and my roommate-best friend—my one security blanket from Ogden. And while the city has become familiar and I’ve started to carve out a space and routine that feels like me, I’ve still felt something missing. And all along it has been writing, writing, writing.

I am a writer. The workshop reminded me of this. I sat down Monday night to write my daily reflection required for the course. And I just wrote. I continued writing. I felt like I was back in my own body, a pen in hand scrolling out words—things that have been bottled up, waiting for me, ideas that I thought I’d lost. By Wednesday, I was back to that place where writing ideas and inspirations keep appearing—in overheard conversations, in music, scattered along the interstate. I was grabbing spare pieces of paper again to catch all the material! My “seed journal” where I capture my ideas is back in my purse. I’m filling it up all over again.

So, here I am, trying to reflect on my experience over the past week. And all I can do is feel grateful and say thank you. Thank you to Lynda and to Anna, our group coordinators, for their roles as mentors and for showing what it means to teach AND write AND care. The concern they have for their students and for their writing is inspiring and lets me know it can be done! Thank you to Gary and Margaret for co-directing this project—and for knowing that this is something some of us just need. And, most importantly, thank you for confirming to me that what I do in my classroom is headed in the right direction. You all gave me valuable resources to bring back to my students. I started teaching to turn students on to writing. Writing is always a focus in my classroom, new tools are always welcome and always necessary.