Friday, December 31, 2004


Since today is the last day of 2004, I decided to take a minute and reflect. Deep...I know.

2004 reveiled itself as the year of semi-change. Somethings changed, somethings remained the same. New experiences, old experiences. I have to say that even though I have experienced loss and sadness in 2004, I have also experienced happiness and success.

My idea of success has nothing to do with professional or financial success. Instead, it has to do with personal success. 2004 was the year that I went beyond what I thought I was capable of doing and doing a handful of things that I've always wanted to do.

Like anything in the media, I thought I would share with you my lists of 2004. Enjoy.

10 Things that Remained the Same in 2004
1. I still live in a basement apartment in Iowa.
2. I still adore my husband and everything we do together.
3. I still teach elementary school.
4. I still adore my close friends and make a point of talking to them at least once a week.
5. I still struggle with weight loss.
6. I still have an addiction to Diet Coke.
7. I still long to do more (personally, professionally, artistically, emotionally, spiritually, educationally, geographically, atheletically) in my life.
8. I still talk to my mom everyday.
9. I still enjoy grocery shopping...a little too much.
10. I still loathe airports.

10 Things That Have Changed or I Have Tried in 2004
1. I started to write my blog.
2. I took the pottery wheel class that I have longed to do since 1999.
3. I traveled to New York City by myself to visit my dear friend, Amy.
4. I have made a couple new chums, Jodi who likes to dish with me, and Julie who likes to teach me about scrapbooking.
5. I teach 4th grade after teaching four years of 3rd grade.
6. I have a new hobby, scrapbooking.
7. I went to a professional baseball game.
8. I volunteered my time with a political action committee and went door to door trying to get John Kerry elected.
9. I lost two of my grandparents to cancer.
10. I tried goat cheese and liked it. I tried hummus and loved it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

I Need A Break

Dear Blogger Friends,
I am putting my blog on hold until January 4. I will return from ND with lots of adventures to write about. I considered (AGAIN) for a moment about ending this blog. I decided not to end it. I decided to continue but to give me a needed break. I think this will give me lots to write about when I return. Also, I plan to write more and write better...(hmm...not a good start) when I return. I also plan on writing with some more spice and opinions, so be warned...your opinions of me could drastically change.
So, even though I was going to quit, cold turkey, I am going on a break. I will return January 4. I hope you have not given up hope with the Midwestern Position.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas Baking

Like everyone else, I am busy preparing for the Christmas holiday. Today, I baked up a storm...or rather, dipped up a storm in some cases.

I made roll-cutout cookies. These are the best. They are so soft and have a yummy almond taste. It is the same recipe that my mom has made for years, and I swear, they are the best cutout cookie.

I dipped some pretzels. I know you can now buy white dipped pretzels anytime of the year at the grocery store, but that takes away the special-ness of the this treat.

I made some buckeye balls. I have no idea why they have been given this name, but they are so rich and creamy. Delicious. This was a new recipe for me and it turned out. It will go into my holiday repetoire.

I made some maple fudge and some toffee, yet the toffee did not turn out. Toffee is tough because you have to boil it to a certain temperature. Obviously, I did not boil it hot enough. I even used a candy thermometer.

Finally, I made peanut brittle. This was a sentimental thing. My grandmother who passed away last month made a great peanut brittle. She was also an avid letter writer and in her last letter she mailed me her recipe. I thought that was very special and I'll always keep her handwritten recipe. She use to say that her secret was that she shelled the peanuts herself rather than buy them already shelled. If her peanut brittle did not turn out, she was known to say, "Well, must have been a bad batch of peanuts." Funny. Mine turned out so the peanuts must have been okay. I plan on giving it away as gifts just like Grandma used to do. I know realize the hard work she put into each batch of peanut brittle because for one recipe, it only filled one pan and she gave peanut brittle to everyone at Christmas. She must have had to make a lot.

There is something special about Christmas baking. I have the strongest memories of my mother and her two sisters spending an entire Saturday at our house doing the Christmas baking. Mom always rolled and cut the cookies. Sandra always baked, watched, and took out the cookies, and Joy always sprinkled the cookies. My mom would make homemade peanut butter cups, peanut butter blossoms, and melting moment cookies, which are like shortbread. Sandra always made fudge at Christmas. I think I learned a lot just by observing during the annual bake-a-thons. I can use a rolling pin pretty well and I think it comes from years of watching my mom yield one.

I think baking is a family traditon that will remain strong in my generation. Baking connects me to my family and to the past. The idea that I use my grandmother's recipe and who knows, maybe it was her grandmother's recipe is endearing to me. Maybe someday, I'll teach someone else how to bake like I have been taught by the women in my family.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


My good friend is on bedrest. She is six months pregnant and cannot do anything but use the bathroom. Her blood pressure is an issue, along with her swelling.

I feel for her. Tonight, I brought her ginger ale and ice cream. We played Frogger and ate spaghetti together. We dished about work. We were also trying to brainstorm how she can be entertained for the next three months as she waits for her bundle of joy to appear. Some might think that bedrest would be excellent. You could rest, read, watch TV, just veg out. She is restless and needs some new entertainment. I offered her my seasons of The Sopranos. I have also recommended Six Feet Under.

Can you give me some ideas that I can suggest to her.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Boob Tube

Sometimes my husband will say after watching a television show, "I am now dumber for watching that."

Isn't that the truth?! Not that he is dumber, but that we can sometimes spend time watching television that has no intelligent or significant qualities. Don't get me wrong. I am guilty of this on a number of accounts. For example, tonight on Storm Stories on the Weather Channel, they documented the 1997 flood of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Um...I was there. Why did I have to watch it on television? I felt like I had wasted an entire hour, but by the time I had wasted it, it was gone. Gone forever. An hour that I will never get back.

My only consulation is that I spent about two and half hours watching PBS on Sunday about the Lewis and Clark expedition. I actually learned something during that television time.

My new fall resolution was to watch only one hour of television a day with the exception of news at 10 PM. Also, this rule does not apply to Sunday nights since I have far too many shows at the 8 PM time ranges from the absurd, Desparate Housewives to the smart, Significant Others on Bravo.

If you have never seen Significant Others, I recommend it. It is an improve comedy show about four couples in therapy. It is totally unscripted and I laugh out loud. This show also is special because it is one that Tim and I watch together. We only have a few of those now. I have sort of cut myself off of Law and Order because NBC has enabled my addiction to this genre of television. I can only thank my lucky stars that I did not fall into CBS's drug, CSI.

I am never embaressed by my television watching. I have come a long way since my years of watching Growing Pains and Doogie Howser. My mother always says that I was like a walking TV Guide in my early teens.
My Favorite Shows (in no particular order and some that are no long on the air, but I wish they were)
1. Significant Others-BravoTV
2. Pioneer Quest-PBS
3. Colonial Life-PBS
4. American Dreams-NBC
5. Scrubs-NBC
6. Desparate Housewives-ABC
7. Biggest Loser-NBC
8. Seinfeld
9. Family Guy
10. Six Feet Under-HBO
11. Sopranos-HBO

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Apartment Living and Complaining

Things I dislike about living in an apartment...

1. I have no place to put my drying racks. I know that sounds like a nitpicky thing, but who wants to stare at clothes drying.

2. My neighbors who like to smoke marijuana.

3. My upstairs neighbors who let their alarm clock go off at 5 AM and don't wake up to shut it off. Then, they turn on the snooze, get up, get in the shower, the alarm goes off, but they are in the shower so they don't turn it off until they are out of the shower, then they run (boom, boom, boom) to the alarm clock. UGH.

4. No window in the bathroom.

This sounds negative. That is okay...somedays I feel negative. Yesterday, I felt positive, today...negative. Catch me on a positive day and I will go on and on about how much I like my little basement apartment with it's white cupboards, big living room, and cozy feeling.

PS...after reading my post from yesterday, I realized that I may have sounded a bit like I was living in the past...I am not. I like the present and can't wait for the future. However, I think it is always interesting to think about where we came from and how it has shaped us today. Thanks, Mathman, for helping me think about that.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ol' Days

Does anyone ever look back on high school and say, "I'd do everything exactly the same. No regrets?" I wouldn't. There would be lots of things that I would have done differently. Some that I would have done the same.

The reason this comes up is because I was part of an important high school ritual this evening...the high school formal dance.

My youngest friend, Kelley, prepared for her formal dance. First, I am very proud of Kelley for going against the idea of having a date and instead, going with a group of girlfriends. This is what I am talking about when I say "regrets". Kelley will probably have a terrific time with her girlfriends without the pressure to get along, spend time with, or entertain her date. My friend Amy and I often speak about how we should have gone to our senior prom together and leave our male dates at home. We would have had a better time.

My date was a former boyfriend who had started dating a new girl from school. So, he spent the entire night dancing with her. I actually did not mind because I just wanted to dance with my other friends and talk with people. Amy went with our friend, Rimon. This was fine, but it was probably like any other Saturday night out with friends...just better dressed.

My point in all of this, with my youngest friend, Kelley, I try to share with her my mediocre wisdom about high school. I am glad that she went to her dance without a boy. There is plenty of time for that...but, maybe people who never dated in high school regret not dating...maybe they wish they would have dated more people. I don't know. Maybe the grass is always greener.

There are many things that I do not regret about my high school experiences. I made the best friends in high school. I know this because they are still my closest friends.

Some might think it strange to write about this topic, but tonight as I watched Kelley take her pictures and show her anticipation for the evening, it got me thinking about those days and everything that goes with them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sweet Baby James

"Sara, you listen to TOO much James Taylor to ever get angry."
-Annoying Boy in High School

It was a shock to my system to receive such a judgment from a boy my senior year! Could it be true? Could it be possible that a love for Sweet Baby James could have mellowed my feisty spirit to a point of disrepair? What about Paul Simon? Can Paul Simon affect my soul and sense of angst?

Whatever the answer was, I did not spend too much time thinking it over because I would never give up my love of the 70's songwriters. I have continued to feed my habit of part bluegrass, pinch of blues, and with a slice of pop thrown in for good measure. Tonight, I picked up my James Taylor Christmas CD from Hallmark. Every year, they offer a special where if you purchase three cards, you can buy a CD for $6.95. The CDs are usually artists of mediocre standing. I have purchased Amy Grant and Natalie Cole. So, you could imagine my pleasure when I was presented with my James Taylor CD. Ooooo...good listening tonight.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Holiday Treat Recipe

Try this yummy, easy holiday treat! It is a great gift giving idea. Make it and put it in a holiday bag. Homemade gifts are the best!

Toffee Popcorn Crunch
8 cups popped popcorn
3/4 cup whole or slivered almonds
1-1/3 cups (8-oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits
1/2 cup light corn syrup

Heat oven to 275°F. Grease large roasting pan (OR two 13x9x2-inch baking pans). Place popcorn and almonds in prepared pan.

Combine toffee bits and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until toffee is melted (about 12 minutes). Pour over popcorn mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Bake 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from oven; stir every 2 minutes until slightly cooled. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container in cool, dry place. About 1-1/2 pounds popcorn.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Bells Will Be Ringing"

Things I noticed while ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at the local grocery store...

People are generous. One lady put in a 20 dollar bill! I tried to keep track and an average of 3 out of 5 people put money in the bucket. Plus, at 6 pm, the bucket was plum full with bills and change.

People avoid eye contact if they don't want to put money in the bucket. All I was offering was a smile, a 'Hello', and a constant ringing of the bell, yet some people didn't say 'hello' back.

Sometimes people hug strangers. I never start the hugging, but I was hugged twice for just standing there ringing the bell. Anyone could do it, but two women thought I deserved a hug.

I was called SANTA I look that big?

The burliest and manliest men put lots of money in the bucket.

People will stop what they are doing even though they look very busy and put money in the one point, a woman's cart started to roll away from her and she was too busy looking for change in her purse. Luckily, I grabbed it or it could have been ugly.

Little kids love the bell. Little kids love to put money in the bucket. Little kids love to hear grown-ups say "Merry Christmas" to them.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Salvation Army this Christmas, check out

Finding My Religion

Growing up, I attended church and Sunday school on a regular basis. As a child, I proudly sang the songs "Jesus Loves Me" and "This Little Light of Mine" in the front of the church in my very best dress. The youth group and summer Bible camp influenced many years of my teen years. Every summer, I went to Bible camp where I had met friends and looked forward to seeing them every year. My friends from school also attended camp with me so I had the best of both worlds at camp. Every Wednesday night during the school year, I would go to church for youth group where we'd play games, discuss issues, and enjoy that special time together. As an adult, I attended school and even taught Sunday school myself when I lived in North Dakota.

I lived a charmed childhood and adulthood where I had experienced very little loss and was given very few times to question "it all". On mother's side of the family, they had their faith tested through the loss of their father when they were just children and the loss of their brother when they were adults. They continued to believe and trust in God. My mother and her sisters held true to their faith and taught it to their children.

Since moving to Iowa and experiencing loss several times since the move, I have come to question the purpose and the belief in organized religion, and more importantly, my place in it. I wondered if there was a place for me in organized religion with my views and beliefs. All I see on television is fundamentalist Christians that judge and criticize the way others live their lives. I have found hypocrisy in the lifestyles of the people around me who claim to be "good Christians". I didn't want to do that. I wanted to belong to a church that I truly believed in. So I waited. I didn't even search for this church. I just wanted to think, plan, and organize what I truly believed in before I began the search for my place in religion. I have been to extremes with religion. I have thought "maybe we are just here without a plan or God?" and the other extreme was when I was in the prime of my adolescence belief in youth group.

Even though others have heard me question and think about religion, I am ready to begin a religous journey again. No, I am not a Bible banger...not even close. What I mean by that is that I am ready to go to church again. I am ready to start to educate myself and build my philosophy of faith.

I believe that God does work in mysterious ways because just as I was thinking about this idea this past week, the major television networks decided to not show a commerical from the United Church of Christ because it illustrates their all-inclusiveness of families of all types...including homosexual people and families. This is unfortunate and sad for the United Church of Christ because their message is important and won't reach as many people, but there can be a slight silver lining for me. Because of the publicity this received, I found a church that believes in the same open-armed ideas that I believe. I have had such a bad taste for organized religion and the stance they take with gay rights, abortion, and many other ideas, that I haven't found a church with my ideals. So, on Sunday, I plan on attending church at the United Church of Christ.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


I think my new neighbors across the hall are smoking weed tonight. We have never had problems with smells coming into our apartment until tonight. And of course, it is weed. Since we are overly reasonable people, we do nothing about it the first time. But we have discussed it, and we will act if it happens again. (Good of us to be so strong, right? Putting our foot down and all.)

It is not that I am against weed. It is not that I don't want people to do what they want with their lives/brain cells/intelligence, but I just don't want smells in my apartment. Last year in our old apartment, we lived above a family who only cooked smelly garlic and vegetables. I wanted to die. It was as if garbage lived with us. We've had no problems until tonight. I want the smells to stop, please.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Making Copies

It is amazing what a little neon paint will do for a business. Take the newest copy shop to my little Iowa town. I noticed the neon pink "3 cents a copy" months ago and remembered it when it came time to copy my Christmas letter. My copy shop is in a semi-abandoned strip mall. I walk in not really expecting a KINKOS, but getting so much less than that.

Now, I don't want to sound negative because this is my new favorite place in town for so many reasons. First, I am a rescuer. It is in my nature to help others when they so desperately need help. This little copy shop needs help. Let me create a mental image for you...

You walk in. There is a young man, early twenties working behind the counter. He is a tad hairy on the face and in need of a good combing. I can see and hear that I have interrupted some sort of video game on the computer...probably a role-playing game. The copy shop does not have signs clearly labeling the capabilities of this copy shop. Instead, it has multiple copies of all sizes of Asian animation. A customer must admire these animations in order to understand that lamination, enlargements, and color copies are available. The rescuer in me wants to put up clear and concise signs stating what is available in services at this strange, little copy shop.

Part of me believes that this copy shop cannot be real. It has to be "a front" for something else. It is as if this young man bought himself a copier, some ASTRObright paper, and a sweet laminator and said, "Hey, I'll open my own business and make some copies while I play my wizardy type games all day."

He was so pleased when I returned today with as he calls it, "The biggest order that he has ever filled." All I wanted was 23 copies of my Gift-From-the-Heart cookbook that I had compiled for some Christmas gifts. I wanted the covers laminated, and the book bound. When he showed me the first copy, he was as proud as my ten year old students showing me their work. I said, "Good job!" Just like I say to my ten year old students showing me their work.

I am glad that I found my Asian Animation-I just opened my own copy shop-local copy shop. I will always give him my business. Plus, it is 3 cents a copy!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Rocky Mountain High

This is the view from Tim's parents backyard...nice.
The View
Originally uploaded by midwestern.

I have returned from my Thanksgiving holiday in Denver. Being my first time to Colorado, I had high expectations. First, I'd like to say that people who visit Denver try very hard to dress the part. For example, I saw so many women who wore these very faux furry boots and faux furry vests with some jingle-jangle hanging off them. There is no way these women were going skiing in these get-ups. I did not wear any Denver-ware.

Here are the highlights from our trip to visit Tim's parents...

Delicious Thanksgiving dinner cooked by Deb, Tim's mom. She made turkey, chestnut stuffing, salads, and pumpkin squares. Javier and Erin, our college friends, were also invited for dinner and it was great to catch up with them. We played dominoes which was our favorite game back at UND.

On Friday, we went shopping and had a fantastic meal at an Italian restaurant. We shopped and spent the day just checking out the shops in Flatiron. We came home and took a brief rest before we ventured downtown to eat and see a comedy show.

Dinner was at the Capital Grille where I ate the yummiest au gratin potatoes I have ever eaten. The comedy club was just around the corner. The headliner was Rocky LaPorte, but several local comics warmed up the audience (doesn't it sound like I know what I am talking about when I talk about comedians?). He was terrific. The best part, besides it being funny, was that it was smokefree.

Saturday, we went to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature where we went to an ancient Egypt exhibit. Besides being facinating, it made me aware of how much of this world I am unfamiliar with. I know nothing about ancient Egypt. Now, I know a little. It was a long, but fun day.

Finally, our vacation with family came to an end on Sunday when we returned to the airport, home of people dressed in funny little ski outfits. I tried to go on an earlier flight back to the heartland, but it was of no luck. That flight kept getting delayed because of weather, but I was entertained by the crabby men who didn't realize that life goes on even if their flight is delayed. I wanted to shame these men. They kept going up to the ticket agents and yelling and giving them dirty looks. Don't these people realize that they are so lucky to inside a warm place with plenty of food. We were fine. They tried to talk to me and get me wrapped up in their disgust, but I would have none of it.

"Relax. You're fine," the level-headed girl said to the exasperated man.

Finally, I arrived back in Des Moines at 10:00. Luggage here? Check. Toni and Bill here to pick me up? Check. Groceries in my fridge so I have a breakfast tomorrow? Nope, two out of three ain't bad.

It was a terrific time with family.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Hey, my dear blog friends! I developed a quiz to see how well my readers, friends, and family know me. Good luck. I would also love to take a quiz on you! Thanks to Amy for introducing me to this lovely way to waste time.
Take my Quiz on!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Quiz Time

I am sometimes suckered into taking online quizes that only affirm my total self-absorbed nature. Try this one. Here is what I came out as...does it sound like me?

You are a XPIT--Expressive Practical Intellectual Taker. This makes you a Manager.

You are cool, thoughtful and intelligent. Your approach and your sense of humor are under-the-radar, your charm is undeniable. You keep everything under control. You have distinctive vocal mannerisms. You may not have much interest in approaching strangers, but when you do, you are successful.

Your greatest asset is that you tackle conflict as it rises -- you don't ignore it and let it brew. If you have a partner that *does* let it brew, it will make you crazy! You can find yourself fighting for two -- trying to anticipate your partner's needs and draw their feelings out -- which is exhausting and, well, not your job.

You would never cheat. You would make an excellent spouse. When your spouse's friends met you, they would think, "Crap, why couldn't I get that one?"

I would have to say that the part that says I do not let confict brew is very correct. If you ask my friends or family, they would tell you that even though I sometimes make things uncomfortable, I tell it like it is. The part about never cheating is true because it is not in my nature and I have the best husband in the world. He is a gem. He is the rare breed that encourages me to improve myself without being threatened by that. He encourages my independence and creativity without feeling like it is taking away anything from our relationship. I think my vocal and speech mannerisms are strong. My friend, Amanda, says that I instant message the same way I speak. She always says that she can hear me saying it as I write it.

So, take the quiz and tell me what it says about you and if you agree or not.

PS...I am going to Denver for the holiday weekend so you won't be hearing from me for a good four days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Shelly and Sara

As a little blonde haired girl, I walk down my street just two houses down with my mother. It is time to have coffee and visit with the neighbor lady, Maxine. My excitement is high because I will play with Maxine's daughter, Shelly. This is special because Shelly is older and smarter and plays more fun games than my other friends, like Jason across the street who makes her play Star Wars action figures or Kristi who always cries.

Shelly makes up the best Barbie stories. I dress them and she narrates. She likes to pull the cushions off the couch downstairs and make a fort. She isn't afraid to climb the trees behind our houses or argue with the boys. Where I might not want to join the wiffle ball game in progress in the middle of our street, Shelly jumps right in.

There comes a time when my mother and I go to Maxine's for coffee, but Shelly is not there. I am told that she is at school now and won't be home until 3:00. So I wait. I wait for two whole years until I can go to school with Shelly and ride the bus with Shelly and have after school snacks with Shelly.
Over four years had passed since I saw Shelly this month. Living on the same street, so many of our childhood lives mirrored each other. Our older brothers were partners in crime and made it their quest to torture and commit acts of childhood cruelty upon us and any of our friends. Our mothers coffeed together until we went to school and then, worked at the same business. Our fathers enjoyed the pride they felt standing by their grills most summer evenings outside in our front yards. Shelly is present in most of my vivid childhood memories.

Since Shelly was older, she had a ten-speed bike a few years before I did. Shelly was there the day I finally received by baby-blue Schwinn 10-speed bike. I am sure she was there the day that I got my hot-wheel when I was a pre-schooler. Shelly shared her wisdom with me throughout her life since she was two years older than myself. I recall my first junior high dance where there were so many unwritten rules and so much anxiety. I am not sure if Shelly shared the etiquette of teenage dancing with me, but I am sure that I felt better having her there.

After four years passing and 28 years of knowing each other, we connected with old stories and new laughs.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Pre-Winter Remembrances

Well, I think I will continue my blog. I will try to update it at least every two days. I will not feel pressured to update it everyday since I have been reassured that I do not have to do this. I will try to write interesting and meaningful, yet self-absorbed blog posts.

Today is one of those dreary type November days. The ones that are cold, yet there is not a flake in the air. It is hard to appreciate such chilly weather unless there is the beauty of snow to back it up. Since I was raised in North Dakota, I am no stranger to winter weather. I am not talking about 10 degrees "Oh, man, it's cold" weather. I am talking "the wind chill is 80 below zero and we are calling off school until it warms up to 60 below" weather.

When I was teaching in North Dakota, I did recess duty everyday. I did my best to maintain an attractive winter wardrobe, but it was tough. Most of my colleagues knew me by my large navy blue wool coat, red plaid scarf, and big boots. We HAD to go out to recess unless it was less than 30 below zero. I tell my colleagues this fact and they can't believe it. Thank goodness for multiple sources for information because I would check several weather websites until I found one that said it was less than 30 below. I could bear the cold, but some days, I just didn't want to. We'd stay inside and play boardgames together and that was fun too.

One element to winter that I miss in regards to the recess field is the big, huge pile of snow that is created by snowplows every morning that they plow the parking lot. Students would create slides and steps. They had strict justice to what the rules of the hill were. They were never allowed to play "King of the Hill", but we knew that once the dismissal bell rang, they were pushing each other off left and right. Who wouldn't?

My second year of teaching, we had our first blizzard on October 24. I walked to school so I was stuck walking home when school got let out early with snow up to my waste. I couldn't even walk in the streets because they were not plowed yet. It was great. I loved it. Then, you take your winter clothes off and lay down on the couch and take a big nap.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Quitting Time?

I am thinking about ending my blog.

I just don't have the time to write everyday like a blog requires. I also do not have as much to write about as I did before.

Maybe I am going through a busy phase right now where I need to prioritize how I spend my free time. It could be that the holiday season with travels puts me into this frenzied mood where I have to prioritze, but I need to know what you think? Should I stop?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Favorite Things

I wonder how others look at Christmas? I wonder if others take as much joy in the preparation for the holiday season? I think I learned this from my mother because it is her favorite holiday. The food is important. The giving is essential. The family time is key, but it is not just one element of the Christmas season that makes it special. For as long as I have ideas to share, I will be writing about Christmas. I believe people are very opinionated and passionate about Christmas and the holiday season. Feel free to voice your ideas even when they disagree with mine. I will write about other things too, but everyday I will add a Christmas thought.

One of my favorite things about Christmas...

Finding the Perfect Gift
The effort I put into listening for an entire year is exhausting. I try to listen to subtle hints or conversations that might yield clues to the receiver's hobbies, interests, or decadent desires. I try to choose a gift that is practical if they are a practical person. I try to choose a self-indulgent gift if they need it. I am not a person who is looking all year, but only in the months of November and December are my eyes searching for thoughtful gifts. Now don't be fooled. I don't always succeed. Sometimes people are more difficult to find the perfect gift. The most difficult people to buy for are those who have everything and those who are more particular about what they enjoy in life...that is a nice way to say picky.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sara's Quirks

I live a life of secret quirkiness. Some would agree that it is a secret and others might say that I wear that quirkiness on my sleeve. This blog, for example, when people at work find out that I write a personal blog everyday, they just shake their head and say something like, "Of course you do, Sara." They are not surprised. Yet, I might make a bolder statement regarding my likes and dislikes in our world and they are shocked...sometimes offended.

My Dislikes In This World

  • Clapping-I know. One might say that there is no reason behind it, but I would rather let others do the clapping for me.
  • Cilantro-What an offensive spice or herb...I have no idea either way. America seems to be on a cilantro kick because it is in every kind of salsa and salad.
  • Gold-aesthetically, it does not please me. I prefer silver.
  • Furry Blankets and Flannel Sheets-I cannot tolerate this. I have anxiety everytime I stay at someone's house who doesn't know this about me because I fear that when I pull back the covers, a furry, fuzzy, flannel mess will be awaiting me. Fleece fits into this category as well. My only exception to this rule is velvet.
  • Tardiness-Oh, if you have been around me when people are late...It drives me crazy. In my lifetime, I have collected a few less than punctual friends and they know this about me. They try harder than anything to be on time, but rarely are. In my age, I have mellowed a little and I am trying to be more empathetic to tardiness, but I still struggle with keeping my body language under control with this.
  • Tired Friendships-I have no time for them. Either you call me and I call you, or let's call it quits. Either I try and you try, or let's call it a day. There is nothing wrong in letting a relationship take its natural course even if that means it ends.
  • Saxophone Solos-It is painful to my ears. I might enjoy a song, but if it has a sax solo, it is over.
  • Flip-Flops-The strap between my toes is unacceptable. I have tried several times to embrace this shoe, but it is of no use since I only end up throwing them across some room.
  • Redundancy-There is nothing worse than sitting in a meeting with people who want to have their voice heard even though two other people said the exact same thing as they did. There is something to be said for wise silence.
  • The Fearful TV Media in Iowa-Every story they report makes a person believe that the end is near. Their reports usually start with something like, "Before the next time you eat out at a restaurant, you will want to watch this or you could end up on your deathbed." I am not exaggerating.

Even though I have listed several things that I dislike, I remain a positive person who just has a few quirks. I am sure that some will disagree with me, but thankfully, my dislikes are not items that will divide my readership.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Family Folklore

"You can tell a lot about a man's character by his woodpile." - Grandpa Robert

The woodpile philosophy is one of many in a collection of ideas and notions in my family. One would be hard-pressed to find many people with woodpiles, but where my family is from, this is a tradition that is kept alive no longer by necessity, but rather by ritual. My Uncle Lee's woodpile is exceptional this fall (see picture). These fall traditions are the core to my father's side of the family in a part of the world that many do not have the priviledge to know.

A reverence for the past and the faithful acceptance of the present creates an environment in northern Minnesota where little changes and even fewer people are blessed to experience it. With each year, the logs are cut and placed in a pile. The pile is placed with careful thought and exactness. As the leaves turn orange and brown with a speed that if one blinked they would miss it, men and women prepare to wear their own blaze orange in hopes of catching that year’s big story. A yarn that will be rewoven every following year as family and friends return for the hunt. The patience and calmness that the people of this community exhibit during hunting season impresses the outsiders to the point where they take their two weeks of vacation to be a part of the hunt.

A person has to have this reverence for nature in order to remain in a hunting stand for hours without speaking to the person next to you. To watch an open field, waiting for the deer to cross your path. One might say that it is cruel to hunt deer. However, I have never known people more humane and compassionate to animals than these hunters in my family. They hunt because of the tradition. They hunt because of the way it binds our family together once a year. They hunt because they appreciate the deer and all that it has brought to our family over the years. More than just meat and skin, but an almost family folklore each autumn.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Listening more than Speaking

Today, I flew home to Des Moines. I had a short flight from Grand Forks to Minneapolis. The flight left at 6:30 am so I slept the whole way. That was nice since it was the crack of dawn.

Then, I had a connection flight from Minneapolis to Des Moines. It was one of the small propeller planes that are a bit scary. I sat next to this woman who was returning from a trip to Hawaii. She started a conversation with a young man who was teaching at Iowa State. They started to discuss education type related topics. He taught statistics. The man was a very good listener to this woman who decided it would be a good time to vent her frustrations about elementary teachers and their lack of knowledge in math. She went on and on about how students do not know math when they come out of elementary school and it is because teachers lack a conceptual understanding of what they are teaching.

I had a thought as I couldn't help but listen figuring the small proximity in the prop plane. First, I thought about how you never know who you are sitting by. I mean, this woman was going on and on about the knowledge that elementary teachers are lacking as she sits next to one for one hour. It was a good reminder for me to think before I speak. You never know who is sitting next to you or who someone knows that you are talking about. I remember working out at an athletic club when two women started talking very loudly about a local principal. They had nothing nice to say about this principal. Well, what these women didn't know was that the principals' sister was my friend and was working out right next to them. I felt uncomfortable because it obviously upset my friend, but it was a good reminder about talking about others.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Digital Camera Advice

I am researching digital cameras for my parents. I bought my camera with very little research, but I am very happy about my purchase. I own an Olympus. Does anyone have any advice when I recommend a camera to them or any websites that are helpful in making the decision. I kind of want to tell them to buy the same camera as myself, but I thought I should be a little more thoughtful about this since it is their money.

Also, I apologize for not writing. I am not at home until Sunday night, but I have lots to say when I return home.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I am a 16 year old stuck in a 28 year old's body!

Today, one of my students asked me how old I was. I told her that I was 28 years old. She said that I did not look 28. She thought that I looked younger. Excellent.

I have said for a long time that I feel that I am stuck in a 16 year old's mind. Yes, I hold down a professional job, graduated with two degrees, and have been married for over four years. Yet, I still have elements of my personality that reak of adolescence.

Even though I try to educate myself on a number of diverse topics, I also find myself gravitating toward the embaressingly immature. For example, during the first Presidential debates, no matter how involved I was in the political process this year, I was more interested in the Surreal Life on VH1 than the debates. That doesn't seem very smart or mature to me. My love of costumes (Halloween, bachlorette parties, any other event where I can wear one) seems a tad immature, yet it is so humorous to me. Sometimes I think my toilet humor is also a bit 8 year oldish. I think my occupation has something to do with that...and my husband.

My 16 year old friend, Kelley, once referred to a co-worker at her store as "old". This co-worker was 30. I told her, "Kelley, I am 28. Then, I am old." She said, "No, you are young at heart." Thanks, Kelley. I do not consider myself old, yet I am no longer young and hip either. My love of karaoke has been referred to by my own co-workers as a young thing to do, but don't people of all ages like a good time. Please, never let me get to an age when fun and laughing is too old. I don't think this will happen since I have friends and family of all ages and they are a blast.

I have moments where I ask myself, "Will I ever grow up?" I don't think the fact that I have a job, a car, a husband will determine when this moment will arrive. I still think of myself as that 16 year old who views the world as possibilities rather than destinations at which to arrive. I don't like the idea of time passing and years going by. I like to think that I am ending a decade of change and will begin my 30's (in two years that is) with the same energy that I began my 20s. I think I will begin the 30s with even more hope of possibilities because I have some knowledge under my belt. Even the fact that I have become this self-reflective about my 16/28 year old spirit makes me think I am in my teens...actual grown-ups have better, more important things to think about, right?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Eyes for Lies

Maybe I am naive, but I always think people are telling me the truth. I think it is because I am painfully honest at times and quite unforgiving of when my trust is broken. So, it may be to my benefit that my blogland friend, Fredette, is pursuing a new professional and creative project. At Eyes for Lies, she will parlay her skills as a human lie detector into helping the duped, the deceived, and the swindled.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Craft Redemption

What do beads, crowds, and booth after booth have in common? Yep, you guessed it! I went to a craft show yesterday. Not just any run of the mill, church basement kind of craft show. Oh, no. This was the North Pole craft show in Ankeny, Iowa.

I hear that lovers of crafts come from other states just to experience the North Pole craft show. Usually, I do not get much out of craft shows. I enjoy the apparent effort that was put into each craft, but usually there is not much originality with the crafts. However, I was surprised. Even with the usual crafts, there were some diamonds in the rough. Take Santa (see photo), you can't really tell, but he is sort of paper mache, but much cuter. He didn't look like any other Santa at the craft show. His booth was hidden in a corner with not many visitors, but once I found him, I had to buy him. I know that I could have bought a Santa at Target that looked the same, but someone made him.

The jewelry that was available at the craft show was an additional surprise. It wasn't cheap or ugly. These craftspeople were real artists with their jewelry. Of course, you come across a few duds, but I was impressed with the quality.

Finally, my most treasured item found at the craft show was a bag of MAPLE BUTTER potpouri. Have you ever heard or smelled of such a scent? I had not. I usually endure the scents of vanilla or flowers, but this was like someone was making warm maple caramels in my kitchen. I could not resist.

I think I might have a new appreciation for craft shows. I will venture out to a craft show now searching for that hidden treasure buried among the dried flowers, disturbed looking yarn animals, and hand-painted ornaments.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Karaoke, Again, Sara?

The lure of the microphone was strong last night at the karaoke bar. A group of us gathered from work to enjoy some singing and conversation. The only problem is that only a few of us sang karaoke.

How can people sit there and not want to sing a song. The choices are limitless and the crowd is supportive. The only other person who sang was Jeff, but that was no surprise since he sings with his guitar in his classroom. He belted out "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Love Potion #9". The first is always a crowd pleaser.

There were two young women running karaoke last night. They were cute and excellent singers. They were so good that it almost made people NOT want to sing because they would sound horrible after these two girls. The two girls had great karaoke taste if you ask me since they were singing all my standards..."Midnight Train To Georgia" (which I plan to never sing again after hearing these two girls do it), "9 to 5", and "Son of a Preacher Man". These are my favorites.

Don't worry one sang my favorite karaoke song, "Jeffersons Theme Song". I feel like a bit of a karaoke super hero when I sing that song. Either that or the karaoke gods smile on me because I am always called up to sing "Jeffersons" right when the crowd needs it most. There was a succession of slow, emotional country ballads which brought the crowd a few claps, but then Super Sara swoops in gets the crowd going with the hand-clapping version of "The Jeffersons"!

It was pretty busy last night so I only sang two songs. "These Boots Are Made For Walking" was a goody because there was a Divorce Party (opposite of a bachlorette party, I guess) there last night. When I started singing, these women came up to me and started putting feather boas and leopard print, long gloves on me. I looked the part and could now be a part of their party.

I think I have written more about karaoke than any other topic on my blog. I would like to pose a challenge to all of my readers...find a karaoke bar, sit and have a few, and choose a song and sing it. You might be surprised how fun it can be to be a karaoke star for one night.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I want to throw away the Viking bobble-head doll

Why do I do this?

I have the day off of school and I am wasting it.

It started out quite nice. I slept in and went to work out. I came home and began cleaning my apartment since I had kind of let it go with all of the work on the election and conferences. Anyway...I started cleaning and I can't stop. Cleaning turns into organizing, re-organizing, rearranging, reframing, and on and on.

Right now, I have cleaned and rearranged the living room, cleaned the kitchen, and currently...I am sitting in the study surrounded by piles of books that I need to reshelve or bring to goodwill. One of the reasons that I do this every once in awhile is that I detest clutter. I do not have any collections for this reason. I buy things, but do not become attached to them.

I have no problem throwing or donating items that I feel do not have a place in our little apartment. Let me give you an example...folders. As educators, Tim and I have many used, old folders. Sure, we could reuse them, but right now they are sitting on a useful shelf that I could put a candle or some books. They are out. I have a few things that I should throw, but do not. For example, the broken bobble-head Vikings player. Tim is attached to this, but I would like to throw it out. It stays.

My goal is to be finished by 3:30 so I can go and do something fun. Shame on me. This is my own fault.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Odds and Ends

Don't give up on me...I have been super busy with parent-teacher conferences and of course, the election.

The other day, I was walking in the hall at my school when I saw a line of first graders. One little girl was wearing her tye-died American flag t-shirt since it was election day. The children were actually standing in line to cast their school ballots. I bent down to compliment her and this is how the conversation went...

Ms. Sara: Wow! I really like that tye-died American flag t-shirt.

First Grader: Who? Me? (Big Smile)

Ms. Sara: Yes, you. I like how it looks like a flag.

First Grader: I love you.

It was the best. It made my day all day. She wasn't ashamed or embaressed to ooze with affection or kind words. The kids around her didn't think this was a strange response to my compliment either. Every once in awhile I get the payoffs that come with being a teacher.

On a different note, I thought I had sworn off reality television this fall, but like any junkie, one taste and you are hooked...again. Last night, I tuned into PBS where they had a dating reality show called Regency House Party. The concept is like any other dating show, but the participants must adhere to strict Regency (1811-1820) dating rituals. The participants are also given roles in society which will effect their interaction with certain know, money and priviledge and the working class, nouveau riche. Like all reality shows, some people get into it and some do not. I loved Pioneer Life and Colonial Life, so this is a new twist on the historical reality shows that might actually teach a viewer something.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Happy Halloween! I carved this beauty myself. We enjoyed a weekend in Minneapolis. We experienced Halloween with our friends, the Jaegers and their four year old daughter Emily. It had been years since I had carved a pumpkin, but I loved it. I loved it so much that I carved three, a scary pumpkin (see photo), a happy pumpkin, and a cat. I will not be one of those people who are against Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2004

My One Political Rant

"When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow."
-Anais Nin

I recently read a blog where the woman accused liberals and Democrats of not educating themselves. She referred to us as "sheep". She stated that she reads several non-bias news organizations. That is hard to believe because most news organizations are bias one way or another...but that is a whole other ball of wax that I do not want to start.

Today, with only four days left until the election, I want to point something out. First, I usually like to tell people reasons why I am voting FOR John Kerry. I try not to state all of the negatives about GWB. However, that is not that kind of day. It is time to cut the niceties. It is time to get serious because this country is going in the wrong direction under his leadership. I am going to state my main reasons for casting my one ballot for John Kerry.

1. I felt lied to about the Iraq war. I got tired of hearing reason after changed reason why we are there. Dick Cheney and George W. Bush assured the American public that this was a just war. Now the 9-11 commission says there is no connection
between Iraq and the 9-11 attacks

2. I think the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq was mishandled by the Bush administration. How can a President fly to an aircraft carrier and say "Mission Accomplished", then have 1000 more service men and women perish. Then, he says he doesn't regret that day on the aircraft carrier. Isn't that a slap in the face to the service people's parents? What did their children die for if the mission was

3. I disagree with his "No Child Left Behind" policies. He has underfunded it. I don't care if people say he has funded it. It is underfunded. I am on the frontlines. I see what overtesting and high-stakes testing is doing to quality of instruction. Teachers are no longer focusing on critical thinking skills, but instead focusing on drill and
skill. Does it make sense to have a six year old take a standardized test to prove that I am a quality teacher? There is a better way to do this.

4. I want a President who works for all Americans...not just the religious, the well-paid, the nuclear family, the never question the President citizens. He should be made accountable. In my job, I am made to be accountable. He should too. I want a President who values all Americans...the disadvantaged, the single parent, the woman, the child, the Muslim, the non-religious, the worker, the student,
immigrant citizens. He has alienated citizens by using his "either for us or against us" type stance on everything from terrorism to tax relief.

5. Finally, I do not buy that he is the only man on this planet who can fight terrorism. I don't see that he is a superhero. It only makes sense that any man or woman can do this who has a stake in America, the world, and human beings. I feel that we can be tough and respectful at the same time.
I know that this may ruffle a few feathers. Oh, well. I know this might shock people who know me as mild mannered Sara. Some it won't shock at all.

I hope everyone can appreciate the awesome concept of one person for one vote. The idea that we are offered the first amendment to voice our opinions and disagree with others. You can disagree with me. Many people (Democrats and Republicans alike) enjoy writing comments where they try to make the blog writer look stupid. Bring it on. Like my husband says, "Opinion are like a_ sho _e s , everyone has one."

If you need more information, check out this article written at Yeah, I know. Biased. Save it.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Chaotic Bliss

One of the things that drive me crazy is chaos. Nothing is more chaotic that an elementary school Halloween Party!!! You may recall these from your childhood. Parades of school through the school building. Costumes, popcorn balls, loads of candy, and lots of sugar. Today, we had our party and it was utter chaos, but I have seen worse.

Last year, I had a mother who was so kind and helpful to plan our entire Halloween party. She made cute BINGO cards, had great treats, and wanted to do a craft...make slime. I am not sure when slime became a craft, but that is what we did. It was so messy, such a disaster that I lost all composure as a teacher and sent the children home in their costumes. My classroom was a total pit. I spent an hour picking up and cleaning up. The mother left the mess for me. All the love and appreciation that I felt was gone when she decided that she had helped enough and left me with the slimy mess to clean.

So, this year, I decided that since I was now teaching fourth grade, it was the year to cut the classroom mom helper cord. When parents asked me if they could help, I said, "Well, it is going to be a small party with only an hour of partying. You can sure send a treat though." The parents were sad.

I have to think that the parents were sadder than the student, that is, if the student cared at all if his/her mom was there. It is the mom that wants to see it all. They want to take pictures and kiss all over their costume-covered kid. I am a teacher who believes that there comes a time when parents need to let go of certain childhood traditions. No, I don't think they should let go of trick-or-treat or enjoying the costumed fun, but enjoy it at their house. It only makes more work for me and that is my number one pet peeve right now in my life.

So, the Halloween party without parent help was a big, chaotic success. We ate two different kinds of cookies, ate tons of miniture candy bars, drank juice, played some "Heads Up Seven Up" (the silliest game ever invented), and took lots of pictures...silly ones, of course. I was a witch with a black cape and purple and black pointed hat. I have the same students from last year and they all thought I would be a cow-girl again...oh, no. I am very festive. I thought the witch costume was appropriate this year.

In closing, let me say how lucky I am. How many jobs do you get to dress up and have a costume party? How many jobs let you pig on miniture candy bars? For one hour, I was not a teacher, but a kid at a costume party with parades and treats. Awesome.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Be Nice.

I got yelled at for the first time today as I canvassed my neighborhood for It wasn't that mean, but very rude. I can understand that people are sick of political stuff this fall. It has been intense, however, I am just a neighbor asking two simple questions. I ask, "Who will you vote for in the Presidential election?" and "What is an important issue for this fall?". I always tell the people that I can appreciate it if they want to keep their vote private. I am always very respectful and cheerful.

I deeply care about this election, but I am not taking it personal. I get that each person gets one vote. I do not call Republicans names or question their intelligence. I care about different issues than they do. I sometimes speak about how I feel about GWB and the GOP...the politicians and pundants.

I was reading this blog the other day and the woman was just mean about Democratic voters. She called them "sheep", "simple-minded", and "ignorant". WOW. Harsh. I have heard people call Republican voters the same thing. I am not sure what it was about this stranger writing these words, but they were close to home. She was writing about the endorsement of John Kerry by the Des Moines Register. She is a Midwesterner. She is woman.

This is what I want...

I want to be able to discuss politics among regular folks (not pundants or politicians) in a respectful, perspective filled manner. I want people to discuss politics with the goal of sharing ideas, not insulting or changing of minds. If one is voting for GWB, they are not going to have their mind changed. Same with John Kerry. I think a lot of people just want to make the other political party "look stupid". I think I am becoming jaded with the process. I will never become one of the people who don’t vote, but I just want people to be nice, kind, and respectful. This is what I teach in school to 10 year olds and they can swing it. It would be nice if grown-ups could do the same.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Happy 27th Birthday, Amanda

Some stories in our lives never get old. The story "The First Day Amanda Met Sara" is a classic in my life. I hear it everytime I see her mother. I hear and tell it every other time I am with Amanda. It just never gets old. It is now a cliche for our friendship.

Think way back to is the first day of ninth grade junior high. I am a long time resident of the school with a tight circle of friends. I know the ins and outs of the junior high social scene. I am not a popular girl, but I have some good friends. I do not abide by any social order other than the one set by my quirky group of girlfriends...they are not popular either, we are viewed as "strange, bizarro" at best. We like choir, band, and dance. We don't like cliques, hockey boyfriends, or being mean.

Back to, this new girl sits down next to me in what is going to be the dreaded Mr. Berg English course. She looks like any new girl. Many new girls entered our circle of friends because one of us always took it upon ourselves to "take them under our wing". Most of my friends had a kinder way of doing this than I did. It wasn't that I was mean, I just wasn't as smooth of gentle as they were.

So, Amanda sits down. I probably introduce myself. I tell her to "lose the trapper keeper." I thought this was great advice. No one else walked around with a trapper keeper at Schroder Junior High School. I thought I was doing this girl a favor. Now I realize that I probably only increased her fears and anxieties about unwritten rules.

No matter how rough around the edges I was, we became great friends. We share many of the same life experiences but with our own personal twist. No matter how much time passes or events occur in our lives...highs and lows, we are connected through these stories and life experiences.

"Perhaps the most delightful friendships are those in which there is much agreement, much disputation, and yet more personal liking."

-George Eliot

Saturday, October 23, 2004

I Scrap and Stamp, Therefore I Am

I am now a scrapbooker.

I made the leap today. I have been a stamper for sometime. I have been told that if I enjoy stamping, I would enjoy scrapbooking. Well, I am not very good compared to the elaborate scrapbooks that I have seen, but I want the pictures to remain the focus.

I went to a scrapbook workshop today and learned a few simple techniques. I decided that it would be unreasonable of me to scrapbook all of the pictures that I have taken in my adult life. So, I started with trips and vacations. I scrapped by New York City trip and my San Francisco trip today. I was excited to go home and scrap some more vacations. First, I brought out my Walt Disney World pictures and started to cut and crop. I finished the page with much pride. Then, I went to find our Las Vegas pictures. I didn't find enough to make a page. I paniced! Had I not taken pictures of the last four years? When I looked at my pictures, I saw lots of pictures of karaoke and weddings, but very few pictures of my family and vacations!

Thankfully, I have the digital camera now and take ten times the amount of pictures that I used to take. I just ordered the pictures from our St. Louis trip so that will be another page in my vacation scrapbook.
By the way...I did this scrapbook page all by myself and I am rather proud of it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Tough Day...Terrific Night

Today was one of the few days where I couldn't get out of my negative slump. Maybe it is a combination of many things. First, I have not seen the sun in days. I think it has been over a week since I have experienced the sun. I do not think that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it does bum a person out.

Work today was hard. I guess the good thing about work was that all the had stuff was not related to kids. It was all the other junk that you have to deal with when you teach school (committees, trainings, other teachers). The kids were the only part of my day that was good at work today.

Now, I will look on the bright side...I get to wear jeans to work tomorrow. Terrific! I just finished with physical therapy and I loved it. I love the pushing and pulling. I even like it when it is the good kind of hurt. The kind where it is stretching and it feels great. For years I thought that I didn't like massages. I think it is because of a bad experience I had in high school choir (we always had to do one of those train shoulder rubs and I took issue with these boys touching me...I always said, "No, thanks"). Now that I have experienced the touch of professional person touching me, I like it. My physical therapist is not a masseuse, but I might treat myself to a massage someday.

I had my favorite "Tim is not home" supper...pop tarts and milk.

What am I talking about?! My life is great. So what I had a tough day at work...everyone does. I get to come home to a cherry pop tart and spend some quality time with myself. Fabulous.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Christmas in October

A Hand-Stamped Creation by Sara

I am not sure if it is the food, the presents, or the traditions, but I really like Christmas.

You are probably saying, "CHRISTMAS!!! Can we get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first?"

I know, I agree...but I can't help it. I am never one of those people who hate that stores put out there Christmas stuff in October. There is nothing I like better than looking up holiday recipes, thinking about what I might give someone special for Christmas, or creating my Christmas cards.

This year, I am working on a few homemade, gift from the heart type presents. I am going to try to give at least one homemade present to each person. I am also going to try to be extra thoughtful with my choosing of the presents. I am also starting early with buying and making my presents.

Today at the grocery store, I walked down the bake goods section and had to work hard at not wanting to buy lots of supplies to start baking. Two years ago, I went through a fudge phase where I made oodles of fudge...peanut butter fudge, maple fudge, chocolate get the idea. I am going to do fudge again, but try some other things too. I always obsess about homemade candy. Christmas time is the one time I get to indulge my dream of owning my own candy store some day. So, I make candy and cookies and everyone enjoys them because where I am from FOOD IS LOVE.

I don't think that I have fallen into the commercialization of Christmas, but maybe. I can't help myself from looking at ornaments and gift wrap. I like to think about the perfect gift for somebody.

Maybe I am a little crazy, but I enjoy the season so much that I might as well start early.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Respect and Honor Each Other...

October 16, 2004
Congratulations, Scott and Sara!

I have just returned from a fun filled weekend in St. Cloud, Minnesota where I helped my friends Scott and Sara celebrate their wedding day.

I have witnessed many of my close friends get married. Something strange occurs on each of their wedding days, and I am so glad for it. Each bride and groom were completely focused on the meaningful event that was occuring. It is too easy to be thinking about the cake or the centerpieces, but they were thinking of each other. This is exactly as it should be.

Since I was one of the first of my friends to get married, I always hand out advice (even though we've only been married for four years). I usually share this piece of advice...

No matter what is going on with the photographer, the food, your family members, they are not the reason that you are there. Keep focused on your
groom/bride and remember to spend as much time together on that day as
possible. You'll have the rest of your lives together to be together...but
only one wedding day together.

Sara and Scott did exactly that. Just by observing the day, I could feel that gratitude, awe, and love that they felt for their day.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Inspired By Leonard

I have gotten my senses back. I am no longer in the depths of stress. I have gotten over myself.

Today I met with a man through who wanted to help with the cause. I went to his house to discuss what he could do to help with Leave No Voter Behind. I was inspired.

Leonard is an older than middle-aged man who has lived in cities like Detroit and Cleveland. He suffered a stroke six years ago. He has difficulty with movement on the left side of his body and has no short term memory. With this short term memory loss, he has difficulty with organizational skills. With all of these challenges, he is so motivated to make a difference in this world. He volunteers with the public radio station, the democratic party, and America Coming Together. He doesn't let his disability hold him back from a role in this democracy.

I sat with Leonard for about 40 minutes and discussed politics, our histories, and whatever else came up. It was nice to meet someone in town who thinks like I do.

So, I won't be around for a couple days because I will be celebrating the marriage of my dear friend, Sara. She is marrying Scott. Scott is the fellow who introduced me to the possibilities of a blog. His blog was the first that I ever read. Now, sadly, he doesn't do his blog. Maybe after the wedding, he will have loads of time on his hands and start the blog again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Time is Not On My Side

I am acting like a chicken with her head cut off...

It is one of those crazy weeks where there truly are not enough hours in a week.

Work...lots of meetings and trainings. Duty is one of the unknown jobs that teachers do. I have duty in the morning where I wrangle children for 15 minutes before the bell rings for school to start. It is totally fair that I have duty because we have a rotating schedule, but this is a week where I could have really used those precious 15 minutes to do other teacher stuff. Then, I also have duty for lunch this week...also rotating schedule. That is another 15 minutes a day where I could be doing teacher stuff. So all together that is two and a half hours of teacher time that is being used up...I know, I should not feel sorry for myself.

I had physical therapy for my bum hip and I am pleased. I always feel like I am not sick enough or in enough pain to go to the doctor. I always worry that they will say, "Why are you here? Don't you know there are REAL sick people out there?" But the therapist was a gem. She helped figure out part of the hip problem. It turns out that my muscle or ligament (I can't remember) is weaker on my right side. I also favor my right side in standing and walking. It is swollen right now. She taught me some stretches. So that was time spent well.

I also have a ton of stuff to do in preparation for my friend's wedding this weekend. I will be leaving town on Friday and will not return until Sunday night. I will be sporting a bridesmaid dress that was my enemy for awhile before my friend altered it and made it fit me...chubs and all.

Whoa is me...

Monday, October 11, 2004

Pain in the Hip

I think I wrote earlier this summer about how some might call me a hyperchondriac, but I consider myself more of a "in touch with aches and pains and knows where to find the answers" chondriac.

That is my disclaimer...

So, I have had this bum hip since college. My first memory of it was when I was getting up from watching television when I was in college. I have always attributed it to "the weather". Recently, this bum hip has become quite a nuissance. I notice it more after I sit at my desk while my students are at PE or music. I find myself limping down the hallway. I look like I need a cane.

I finally went to the doctor. I always feel a little guilty going to the doctor no matter the reason. I always think, "Oh, no, there are people out there who are REALLY sick. Don't waste the doctor's time." Luckily, I have a few doctor friends who tell me that I should go because that is the doctor's job after all.

It turns out that I have some sort of ligament problem. She thinks I might have injured it years ago and it gets worse and sometimes it gets better. I was really hoping that the doctor would be able to give me some home remedies and therapies to do in the comfort of my own living room. She suggested some professional physical therapy. That sounds so serious. I am not in THAT much pain. People with real problems go to physical therapy!!! I feel dumb when she suggests this, but I am going to do it anyway. My best hope is that the therapist can give me some exercises to make it feel better.

Now, I just have to get something for my bum shoulder...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Pie Time

I made this pie. It is cherry. I was going to take a picture of it before it had been eaten, but I went on an errand and when I returned, Tim had already started to enjoy this pie. So, I took the picture anyway. Tim likes sweets for breakfast and I enable his bad breakfast choices by baking him pie.

Traditionally, October is apple pie month, but since I have yet been to an orchard this fall, I opted for canned cherries. Not as quaint, but still tasty. I am surprised that we haven't done apple pie or apple crisp. I love apple crisp. We have just had such a busy fall. Tim had a conference this past week in Minneapolis where I was left alone. It was kind of nice for a couple of days to be alone. I ate horribly. It is a good thing that I am not a single gal because I might eat terribly everyday.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

(Big) Dogs are Scary

Today, as I was canvassing my neighborhood for, I had my first run-in with a dog...a beast if you ask me. Now, I have come a long way in my opinion of dogs. There was a time in my life when I was so riddled with fear, I would choose my childhood friends based upon their ownership of a dog or not.

While visiting my Aunt Darlene on her farm in northern Minnesota, my fear began. My mom can't believe that I even have a memory of this, but I do. It is the memory of a two year old child who was out playing in the yard as her parents and family visited in the house. Who knows where my brother was...he was probably supposed to be watching me, but was playing elsewhere as any six year old would. Darlene's dog, a sandy-brown poodle, attacked me. Of course, poodles are tiny dogs, but to a two year old, it was huge. She bit onto my pant leg and growled for what seemed years. I screamed and no one heard my cries...or so I thought. Finally, an adult came out and scolded the poodle and I hated dogs from that point on. I wanted nothing to do with them.

Well, it took YEARS for me to want to be around a dog. Kirby was the first dog that became a friend. He was a Bichon who often tried to make my leg his girlfriend, but I still liked him. I was a lot bigger and knew if attacked, I could handle it. Of course, I like small dogs now. The big ones still really scare me.

So, today, when I saw this huge Pit Bull, I freaked out inside. He must have felt my fear because he saw me, looked like he was going to attack, and started to show me his teeth. I screamed a girly scream. His owner came over and yelled at the dog and then hit him. Then, I felt guilty for the fact that the dog was hit. However, I was glad that I was not mulled. My heart was pumping so fast that I had to stop canvassing and come home and regroup. During my walk home, I realized that the dog did not attack me because there must have been an invisible fence. But I didn't know that. I hate that when they don't say and people on walks just have to hope for the best.

I had a Diet Coke and calmed down.

I have a long ways to go until I can say I really like dogs...all dogs.

Friday, October 08, 2004

What Ana Made Me Think About

It has been a long time since I have hung out with a two year old, but it was more fun than I had all day. Ana-the two year old, tried to give me the cold shoulder like she didn't like me. Her mother refers to me as "Silly Sara" because in an earlier day about a year ago, I taught Ana that she can put the boogers that she picks in her pocket. I thought she would forget because she was just a baby. Well, she didn't forget. Tonight, one of the first things she told me was "to use a tissue." I thought it was funny then and I think it is funny now.

Soon, Ana and I were pretending to sleep and wake each other up. We were eating chicken fingers and talking about food that we love and food that we hate. We were tight.

We danced to songs about peanut butter and jelly, the days of the week, and our letter sounds. I forget what little people are like. I spend my day with bigger little people...nine and ten year olds. Our days are spent trying to learn reading, writing, math, and more. We spend very little of our time dancing and singing. Maybe we should do more of it...who knows.

Yesterday, I found out that two of my high school friends were expecting babies. I am always shocked, but why should I be? I mean, for pete's sake, I am 28 years old. People my age have babies all the time. I am shocked because they are always married a lot less years than Tim and I have been married.

I am 28 years old and do not hear my biological clock ticking. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever hear it, but spending time with Ana made me have a lot of fun. I am not naive to what motherhood would include. It wouldn't be all dancing and having fun. However, I know that I like little ones.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Thanks, MoveonPAC and Jeremy!

I don't want to say that good things never happen to me because that is simply not true. Good stuff happens all of the time, but today, something really great happened.

As you know, I have been volunteering with MoveOnPAC which is working on a project to get Democratic voters to the polls. I have been busy going door to door. Well, today, my project manager, Jeremy, called and offered me two FREE tickets to the America Coming Together Benefit sponsored by MoveOnPAC. Dave Matthews Band and Ben Harper were playing!

Now, I got the call at 5:00 and the concert was at 7:30 and this is a school night, but how can one resist such entertainment bliss?! I called up my pal, Jodi, and we grabbed some Burger King and drove up to Ames for the show. It was such a positive vibe in the venue.

We had terrific seats and enjoyed the show.

It is so rare that I venture out on a school night to do anything other than eat, shop, or to the library, but this was perfect. Exactly what the teacher needed. Tomorrow, Jodi and I can go and teach a little 4th grade with a new zest. I can also get back out on the streets and get some more votes for John Kerry!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Go West, Stay Midwest?

This is my third year in Iowa. Before living in Iowa, I lived for 25 years in North Dakota. So, I have never lived anywhere but these two states. So, for a person who has had a pretty stationary life, I feel like I might be a transient at heart. I feel like I might be ready to move on from Iowa.

This will probably become a reality because Tim, my husband, is looking for a job. Last spring, I didn’t feel like I was ready to move. I know I will feel ready this spring. It is exciting to think of all of the possibilities that lay ahead. I like to think of it as an adventure.

Tim does research and teaches chemistry at the college and university level so we could end up anywhere. Even though a coast sounds exciting to me, I still would like to live near family and friends. I don’t want to be a person that can only see people on holidays, weddings, and funerals and I have already gotten closer to that than I want to.
SO, I am torn. A part of me thinks an adventure in a new part of the country would be good for us. Another, bigger, part of me says, “Think Minnesota!” So, only the academic gods will tell.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

30 Days Left

Today I became a Precinct Leader for I feel so much excitement and motivation to help with this project. My job will be to visit neighbors who are democrats, but have had a history of not voting. I will encourage them to vote on November 2. This grassroots effort is getting back to the way politics is supposed to be run...neighbor to neighbor, talking about the issues that matter to them. With 30 days left until the election, I am ready to help defeat George W. Bush and help this country get on the right path in education, economy, and families. If you live in any of the swing states, you can help defeat George W. Bush by contacting and volunteering your time.

Swing States
New Mexico
West Virginia
North Carolina
New Hampshire

Friday, October 01, 2004

Shop Talk and Fall Talk

I love a Friday when it is cold and all I have to look forward to is an evening at home. Today in Iowa is much colder and definately more windy than usual. I like autumn best out of all of the seasons because of everything associated with fall. I love the apple desserts, the changing leaves, and the harvest of all things. Football season starts, those comfy clothes that we hide ourselves in, and dark mornings help welcome autumn to my world. I think that I also like fall because it is connected to school.

This was a hectic week at school. My students' new thing is to ignore their teacher. I could stand up in the front of the classroom and be shouting "FIRE!" and they would continue their discussion about the rules of kickball or who they should sit by at lunch that day. I need a little break this weekend from all things 9 year old. I will only do very adult things. I will stay up late, sleep in late, go out with friends, sing a little karaoke, and relax without having to say the words, "Take your seat, please." Even though I really like my job, like anything else in life there are highs and lows. I am in a low professionally speaking, but that could pass within hours. I don't tend to stay in low places for long...I usually get distracted.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

To Serve or Not Serve

Could this be true? Is this revealing to anyone else in this political world with accusations flying this way and that? This was sent through an email to me and I am astounded and not surprised. I have no source to back this up, but I wish I did. I wish I had the time to check it out. I am not saying every person needs to serve. What I find so interesting about this list is that service must influence a way a person thinks about what a government is meant for. I know that service influenced my own family. My great-grandfather served. My grandfather served. My father served. They all believed that the government is meant not hold people back, but rather, to build them up.


Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
John Edwards: did not serve.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star &Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Forc e 1955-57 Chuck Robb: in Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments.
Jimmy Carter: seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: served in H ungarian underground in WWII.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea


Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve. House Whip,
Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. (The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism)
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
Don Rumsfeld: Navy flight instructor.
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete).
Ronald Reagan: non-combat role, making movies.
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart. Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bob Dole: Veteran.
Chuck Hagel: in Vietnam.
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves.
JC Watts: did not serve.
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot, WWII. Tom Ridge: in Vietnam.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve

Pundits and Preachers

Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
Joe Scarborough: did not serve
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Let's Get Real, Sara

The other day, I was taking a picture of a huge, I mean huge, bruise on my leg. It is on the outside part of my knee, almost on my inner thigh. You might ask, "Why are you taking pictures of your bruises?" Well, it was so big that I thought I might email it to my friends and say, "Hey! Look at this big bruise!" Anyway, I am getting sidetracked....
Then, when I went to look at the bruise, I was so grossed out at what my thigh looked like, I had to erase the picture right away. UGH. That was MOMENT #1 in the "Let's Get Real" campaign.

MOMENT #2 came today as I weighed in at school for our Loser's Club...a clever name we gave ourselves. Little did we know that we should have named ourselves the Gain Some Club. Each week, we weigh in. You pay $1 if you gained. You pay nothing if you lost. The biggest loser at the end of the month wins the cash. This month is was $20. That is a lot! But, I did not come close to winning the money because of the funeral and traveling. Oh, and I love to eat. Let's not forget that.

The winner was a woman who only lost 2 pounds. So, none of us were that impressive this month. So, I did some reflecting and relaxed that weight loss is going to have to be like anything else in my life that I have worked for.

I have to write a plan.

I have to be accountable.

I have to be aggressive.

I have to be relentless.

I have to want it BAD.

I have to work hard.

So, after months of talking about joining the YMCA, today I actually did it. I went to the YMCA, joined, and have an appointment to meet with a trainer tomorrow. I have also contacted someone about adult swim lessons. I know that I have written numerous posts about this struggle. Again, if this is my only big problem in life, I have it made.

People strive to beat things all of the time. People who have mountains to climb, climb them. So can I. I am being very dramatic about this, but I think I have to be. I think I have to let this control my entire life or it will get away from me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Paths of Friendships

Friendship is a funny thing.

Why do some people stay in friendships when other people abandon friendships? Why do some people hold back when it is offered to them? Why do some people retreat to unhealthy friendships? Why do we put more work into some friendships and less into others? All questions that point out success and failure in friendships.

Or, is there such a thing as success and failure in relationships? Or is all about change?

I guess, I am one of those people who stay in friendships no matter the highs and lows. I love the history of a friendship. The roots and beginnings of a friendship are important to me when I reflect. I love to think about why people come together and build a relationship. Friendship's beginnings have been very different to me than any romantic or family relationships that I have had in my life. With romantic relationships, I was able to see every step of the process, and family relationships have always been. But with friendships, it evolves without a person really realizing it.

It took me many years to realize that I was able to CHOOSE my friends. I thought they just happened and were handed to me through connections and associations.

When I was seventeen years old, I realized that life doesn’t just happen to me; I was able to choose my path. I had the same group of friends for many years and they were terrific. In that group of friends, I had made some meaningful memories. I had made some kindred spirit relationships. Yet, I was growing restless with the familiarity of these relationships. As a circle of friends, we had experienced camp, school, and all things adolescence together. I craved some independence and some risk taking in relationships.

An opportunity shown itself for new relationships in a week at Girls’ State. Girls’ State is a chance for young woman from all around the state to gather at a university to learn about politics, government, and leadership. I did not know a single person and that had NEVER happened to me before. I always knew someone or had some connection that I could bring with me. I was alone and it was nice. Even though I no longer have contact with any of the girls, I learned a lot about myself during that week at Girls’ State. I learned that I could make new friends and I could choose them. It seems kind of silly now that I am an adult, but I never thought about the process before that time in my life.

My thought process went something like this…and still does...
“Hmmm…he/she is interesting. I like what he/she is saying. I think I’ll hang out with him/her and see what I think. I hope he/she likes me too.”

That same way of thinking still holds true for my friendship building. I try to put myself in new situations where I meet people. I can recall instances when I might meet someone new. I remember the first day of my senior year of high school when I decided that I wanted to be Amy’s friend. She fit the bill for me. She was interesting, smart, and funny. It was only later that I realized that she was more than that. Many summers later, I met another kindred spirit, Rachel. She was in a writing group with me and she was unique, smart, and compassionate. Again, so much more than these simple descriptions. Even though I started out with a drive to develop relationships with these people, they had a reciprocal spirit of friendship. They accepted my friendship.

Usually, I can decide instantly if they are a person that I would like to be friends. Sometimes, these new friendships grow slowly and some are a whirlwind. It takes very little to be my friend(even though I have some friends who might disagree with this). A few interests and laughs in common and there it is.

The older I get, the more I look at friendships with two faces. My first face wants to keep friendships just the way the have always been…no change, just stay the same. The other face says to make new friends, keep the old. The second face depends of old friends to change, but cherish the old memories.

So, even though I embrace new friendships and look for opportunities to find them, I consider old friends sacred.

But, as one of my favorite Indigo Girls’ lyric say “We're better off for all that we let in”.