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.