Monday, November 30, 2009


Happy Birthday to my darling niece Adrianne Tamera Lorainne Tami Leavitt Wood! I love her! I love her! I love her!

10 reasons why:

1. She is an incredible mother of four girls (bless her).





2. She knows how to bottle a mean Grandma Ella relish...with cheese!

3. She sews like Betsy Ross! (that's a good thing for all the Canadians reading this)

She made these costumes.
I can't believe what a good sport Dan is.

4. She's still a Canadian. (I think...are you?)

5. She has a great sense of humor.

6. She is a runner. I've tried. I'm not one.
SLC Marathon

7. She leads the Young Women with style and grace.

8. She picked a great husband. (A.K.A. elf...see photo above) Maybe having five brothers helped her in that area.

9. Even when we only see each other about twice a year and live a mere 20 minutes apart, it always seems like yesterday.

10. She is just an all around wonderful person.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I get for thinking!

This is a post I've been rolling around in my head for about a week. It has overtaken my every waking moment when I'm in my car, cooking, or just all alone with time to think. I recently finished reading two great books. I read the book Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn:

and also read the book Push by Sapphire.

These books are complete polar opposites as far as story line. Ella Minnow Pea is a book that is absolutely clean and pure. Push is raw, open, crude, R-rated, and contains profanity...AKA cuss words! So, I'll tell you right now, if you can't handle swears (my favorite euphemism for profanity), don't even bother reading Push. I will not be blamed for your shock. make the choice.

Having made that disclosure, I would like to proceed with my review of these to books. Well, not really a "review" but an interpretation and comparison of the two books. My thoughts. OK? Here we go...

Ella Minnow Pea, takes place in the town of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. The town is the birth place of Nevin Nollop, the inventor of the pangram "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog". He was a revered citizen who had a monument erected in his honor. The monument contains his famous pangram. The island people pride themselves in their extremely high literacy levels and beautiful use of the English language.

As the townspeople move about their business, random letters begin to fall from Nollop's monument. A decree is set by the government officials that citizens can no longer speak or write that letter. If there is an infraction, the guilty person is first warned, second, flogged, and third, banished from the island. As letters continue to drop from the monument, they also drop from the book. (kind of fun to read) The reader witnesses a complete deterioration of a beautiful language.

For example:

(pg. 5) Sunday, July 23: "How different the world would be today if not for the sentence which the lexically gifted Mr. Nollop issued forth! How we cherish his contribution to the English-speaking world of one short sentence that employs with minimal repetition each of the twenty-six letters of our alphabet!"


(pg.188) Wetstae, Nogemger 15: "Insitentallee, ewe are propaplee reating mie last letter to ewe. It is now simplee too tiring to write. To sae watt I most sae in langwage one mae onterstant. I am so sorree"

The only salvation for the island is for someone to come up with another pangram containing less than 32 letters. Then the alphabet will be reinstated and the island can return to the literate place it was before the letters began falling from the monument.

In Push, Precious Jones has been "raised" in Harlem with abusive parents. I was shocked to read what a parent could do to a child. Several times I had to put the book down to keep from sobbing. Precious gives birth to two children...both by her own father. She goes to school until she is 16 and pregnant with her second child (she had her first at 12) where she is expelled from school for being pregnant. She was never a troublemaker in school. She sat. She sat and sat in class and because she never made a fuss, she was overlooked. She didn't even know her ABC'S at 16. She had NO literacy or language other than what her horrendous parents yelled at her when she was home.

Upon being expelled from school, Precious is introduced to the program: "Each One Teach One" which is a pre-GED course. Precious joins the program and is able to find assistance with housing and day care. She enters a class that gifts her with language to find her voice. Her teacher, Miss Rain, has the students keep a journal which she responds to in writing each day.

(pg. 69) 1/18/88
"Dr Miz Ms Rain sll yr I sit cls I nevr lrn bt I gt babe agn Babe bi my fvr"

(pg. 98) 2/27/89
Ms Rain say more now, much more. She wan more from me. More than 15 minutes an she write back. Say walk wif it. The journal? I say. Yeah she say. Walk wif da journl. Everywhere you go, journl go. You know I go walk with Abdul (her son) etc., take journal, write stuff in journal.

learnin lot: to too two. three different 2 words. Each one is diffrent. Four for fore. Three four words.
Ms Rain tell me to koncentrate on my story. When I can not spell a word Ms Rain tell me sound out firs lettr c____and draw a lin. Thas concentrate. Latrer she will fill in rite spelling for me.
But my spelling is impruv. Way way improve."


So those are the basic plots of the two books. You are probably in the world can they have anything in common? Hang on. In my world, they do.

My world is Literacy. Reading. Speaking. Writing. Language Acquisition. It's my job as a first grade teacher to teach children to read and write. It is in my blood. I love it. So, in MY comparison of these novels, I was struck with the notion of the POWER of language whether it be written or spoken or, even, read.

If you are still reading this, you have most likely figured out where I'm going with this book comparison. WORDS!

The citizens of Nollop BEGAN with words and literacy. They were totally empowered with language. There are beautiful descriptions and conversations in the beginning. Then, throughout the book as they lose letters, their very language is taken from them. As a reader, I could feel the helplessness they felt as the book moved forward. They became "lesser citizens" they turned inward.

Push is the opposite. Precious started out helpless. She had no language. She had many, many thoughts and ideas but no outlet for expressing them. As I read the book, I felt the entirely opposite feelings from Ella. As Precious was freed, my mind was freed. Reading her words were difficult in the beginning (even for this experienced reader of first grade spelling)yet, with each page I think I felt a bit like Precious. I was open to her growth. Her power. She gained power as she acquired language and writing.

Ella Minnow Pea wraps up nicely with a lovely happy ending. It is considered a "fable" by those who have reviewed the book. The conclusion of Push?...not so much. There is no resolution in the end. But, there is some hope. She was given wings...Ella's were taken away. All because of the written word...LANGUAGE.

Ella Minnow Pea and Push are the perfect juxtaposation of literacy acquisition. What happens to us with AND without. What happens when we lose it. What happens when we gain it.

In a sense, when we lock ourselves out of literacy, we lock ourselves out of life.
There, I'm done. I feel better. Thanks to those who stuck with me to the end. If it doesn't make sense, that's okay. It's all straight in my mind...especially since I released it here.

Monday, November 23, 2009


(thanks Suep)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why didn't I think of that!

Do you think I'd still have my beloved scissors if I'd had one of these to keep them in?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wisdom of Six Year Olds

This is Ethan.
(Not Harry Potter in case any of you were confused!)
And Me.
(Not a fancy hula girl in case any of you were confused!)
He is one of those great precocious, too-smart-for-his-own-good,
charming type of children.

This is Samuel.
(Not a super stealth ninja, in case any of your were confused!)
He's one of those absolutely sweetest of sweet little gentlemen that
any mother would be blessed to receive straight from Heaven.

This is Katja.
(Not a darling fashionable orange witch, in case any of you were confused.)
She is one of those BRILLIANT, girlie-girl girls, with tons of charisma and cuteness.
She makes teaching a breeze. I adore this little girl.

This incident is about these three dear-hearts:

So...last Monday, there was some trouble on the playground.
Ethan and his friend Samuel were viciously attacked
by this little girl.
that was a total exaggeration. But, it made the story a little better right?

Well, as it turns out, there was a big chasing game going on at recess.
(this is not allowed at our school because of a previous chasing game where hoards of girls chased hoards of boys all over the playground, then quickly changed to
hoards of boys chasing hoards of girls all over the playground
until neither group wanted to be chased and feelings got hurt...long story)

The little gal did NOT appreciate the boys chasing her (who would??) and
let them know it by hauling off and slugging them both a good one.

So, like teachers do, I sat them on the bench outside of my classroom for the big, serious," we-don't-do-that-at-school" talkin' to.
We were all in agreement and everyone said their "sorrys" and "I forgive yous".

Then, to put the final punctuation mark to our talk, I added:
"And, boys, I want you to remember that you
NEVER, EVER, NEVER hit or hurt a girl."

Immediately Ethan replied:
"That's right! They're the ones that gave us birth!"

I released them to go back in the classroom because I didn't want them to see me
trying to suppress my giggling.
These kinds of talks make me so glad that I'm a teacher.
And so glad to share six hours a day with
children like Katja, Samuel, and Ethan.

They are a blessing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Overheard at the "Reflections" Assembly

One second grader to another:

"I HATE girls! The only ones I like are my mom. And my other mom."

Step-mothers unite!! (I'm one of them...a wicked step mother. Just ask my kids.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Want This!

Isn't there a rich millionaire or millionaire-ess who could spot me $700 to make my wildest dream come true? Please? I'll wash all your windows and empty your dishwasher for a whole month.

(Please, Oprah, please read this blog post!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Yup! It's official. After three years of working in retail my body has finally revolted (it isn't "revolting"...yet... just revolted!) I've been thinking about it for some time now. As many of you know, I had a horrendous last year physically. Two major and one minor surgery takes a lot out of a body. Teaching 23 first graders and working 20 hours each week at the mall has finally taken it's toll. Something needed to change. I will miss it terribly.

The top five things I'll miss the most are:

1. Denise (my manager). I do love her. And, she's available!! I am such a matchmaker!
2. McKell! She joined the BBW team the same year as I did and I vowed I would quit when she quit. Guess I had to take the lead. Best part...she has been promoted to my managerial job as CSL. Go McKell.
3. The funny customers.
The ones who got overly irritated when I wouldn't accept coupons that had expired six months earlier. The ones who blamed me for BBW discontinuing Pink Grapefruit lotion. The one who made me clean up her daughter's puke (Honest! Hey!
I can do that at school ma'am!) The ones who called customer service and tell them that they enjoyed their visit to the store, in particular that one employee named "Tami". The ones who smiled and got super excited over the deals. The one who stole product by putting it in their empty 32 oz. drink containers and thought we didn't notice...we did by the way! The ones with all the cute kids of whom I would try to guess the ages of. The loyal customers who came back again and again. The customer who bought a CocoCabana splash perfume and had me wrap it up complete with ribbon and all the trimmings, then turned around and gave it to me since I was wearing my "It's my birthday" button...(I really could go on and on)

(I fell in love with this little cutie customer who was reading to his little baby sister the entire time.)

4. Doing floorsets. I had no idea it was one of my talents. I'm a detail oriented person. Who knew??

5. The delicious, luscious, heavenly scents.

Now, I pass the torch to my son-in-law Tyler
who is now the new co-manager at the University Mall. He is an amazing salesman and will do a fantastic job...not to mention, he gets the benefits that come along with a salaried position... (well, besides the fact that he is married to my darling daughter Erika of Oops! I Craft My Pants {off} which is his best benefit of my humble opinion)

So, I bid adieu to my first (and possibly final) retail job. And FYI, they're hiring!

Oh, and Saturday Night Live had an excellent sketch that reference Bath and Body Works. Very cute. Click here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

It's true.
I made my own laundry soap.
Thanks to my friend Maria.

I feel like a really "Molly" type person.
It was the most fun I've had in a couple of hours!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sung to the tune of "On Top Of Old Smokey"

She lives in New York City,
Away far from me.
Today is her birthday
We call her A-bbie.

She's my dear step-daughter,
Though I call her my own
We swing in the hammock
Without our cell phones.
She has a cute family.
Forrest is her hubby
He's gonna be a doctor,
Then he can fix me.
Here's Abbies cute daughter
Her name is Audrie.
I think she's a cutie.
'Cause she looks like me!

My Abbie has cute boots.
They're made just for rain.
I wish I had some like it
But I'm saving for a brain.

(are you sick of this song yet?...too bad...)
I love this sweet picture.
It shows so much love.
Those naps with his mommy
Eli sleeps like a dove.

(do doves sleep?)

These cupcakes scream "ABBIE...
She'd really appreciate it
So please send her some.
This girl is a great chef
She'll cook anything.
Her talents are endless
She even can sing!
So if you can't tell now
I love her so much
I wish she lived closer
But we'll keep in touch.

I hope you're still singing
This song is quite long
But what is a birthday
Without a great song???

I love you Abbie.
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