Sneak Peek

There's been some updating going on at the casa. Check it:
First we have the gigantic frames with some fun prints inside. They decorate an entire wall.
Next, the fireplace transformation is complete. Primed, painted, and decorated. Bam! I haven't yet found a suitable mirror for above the mantel, so I'm not going to show the 'place in all of its glory. Just yet. Soon, I hope.
OOh. Trim. Ohmygosh. How we love the trim. This is what it looked like just set against the wall. Can you imagine the beauty when it is finished? Wowza.

We painted the front room a color called Ashen, but I prefer to call it Frappe. Oh la la. We love the color. Trim to be added this week. Also watch for the UGLY chandelier to be replaced with something much more Emilie. She's the Euro snob, remember?
Another fireplace picture. These glass whatevers came from SalArmy. I heart them. They sit atop the mantel.
Oh, the windows. How I love the windows. The roman shades I got super cheap on clearance at Lowe's. The sheer curtains are from Ikea. Super cheap, super chic. Can I get another Oh La La? No?
Look how cozy this little area is! I usually work on lesson plans in this little nook. Love. It.

So these are just some of the updates. Still to be finished: Rug for the back room, sanded and refinished tables, mirror, and lots of stuff in the front room. Be patient, my Russian friends, be patient.



That is for the one RUSSIAN reader that stumbled upon my blog.

How cool is that? I'm internationally known!

Probably they googled "Polish" and "knobs" looking for a racy girly site and found a white girl's blog about diy and commentary on life.

I'm sorry to disappoint.


Brought to you by the letter H: Humbled and Honored

If you don't like the mushy, gushy, inspiring, feel-good crap, stop reading...Now.

Today I got a call from a parent. She and I were discussing her son and his placement next year. Out of the blue, she asked if there was any way at all to get her younger child into my class for the upcoming year. She said she really wanted him to be in my class.

That she couldn't imagine anything better than having her two sons having me for a teacher.

Is that not the best thing ever? I've had a few requests before, but this is the first parent that actually called me to ask. Here is a woman trusting me with her most precious things ever.

We're always told that parents send their everything (hopes, expectations, etc.) with their kids to school. Those kids that we get are the best they have to offer. It's not like they keep the good ones at home or something. She is trusting ME to help her children learn, explore, teach others, and grow. She's trusting me with their future.

I feel so incredibly honored.


My New Band

I'm going to start a new music group.

The name?

Rock Satan's Baby.

How cool is that?

Jeremiah will be the drummer, bass player, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar. I will be singing, playing the tambourine, and making sure there is enough cow bell (name the reference). Our focus will be Polish Punk Rock, so expect to hear lots of songs about ginchies, punchkies, babushkas, etc. Expect to see boyfriend wearing eyeliner and skinny ties and looking a bit emo. I shall wear my hair stick straight, plus lots of black clothes, and lots of makeup. I will not, however, wear skinny jeans. I don't think that would be fair for anyone.

But all that aside: We will rock. You will love us.

So I just have to tell you where I came up with the awesome band name. We were watching Rosemary's Baby on Friday night. I often offer up commentary while a movie is playing, which I think makes me even more lovable, but you'd have to speak with Jeremiah to find out his opinion...

Spoiler Alert (on a movie that is older than I am): as we are watching the end, the crazy witch people are encouraging Rosemary (poor chick didn't stand a chance, did she? I would have left when he started making those comments about the haircut.) to embrace her child and the fact that the devil himself chose HER (what an honor, I tell ya') to have his baby. At this point she heads over to the black crib (bassinet? can you tell I don't have kids?) draped in black scarves and it is very dramatic. She heads over there because the other woman that is trying to rock the spawn of Satan is rocking him too quickly. So she does it. She Rocks Satan's Baby.

Band name of the most awesome proportions EVER.

p.s. Please don't tell boyfriend about the eyeliner. Or the skinny ties. Or the fact that he might be wearing the skinny jeans. We haven't really discussed wardrobe yet.


Cecum or Spleen?

Last week as Spike hopped down the stairs (typical, as his legs are an inch long. How else would he get down them?) he farted. On every. single. step. So funny. But combine that with the lethal gases he emitted the previous evening and we've got a problem. Some concerns.

Then, to add to our worries - Spike did not eat breakfast.

Spike eats everything. His diet often consists of transmission fluid as an appetizer followed by paint primer with a side of blanket, and a dessert of poop. Poop. And some pool water, because you know, it cleanses the system better than regular water.

Anyway. He wouldn't eat. Boyfriend was worried, I was worried. He left work to check on him and decided to take him to the vet. We heart our vet. I would drive lots of miles to get to them. They were wonderful with Atticus and Scout (I took Scout when she was going potty outside her boxes and they had to draw out her urine with a needle and she no-likey and I could hear her scream and yowl from another room. The vet came in, grabbed her kitty case, and said, "I'm just gonna grab this and put her in it. She's a little pissed off right now." So funny. It was at this point that Scout ended up on Prozac. The vet made me choose beef, chicken, or fish flavored Prozac. Seeing as how I don't care for fish, we don't eat red meat, I ended up choosing chicken. I hate speaking for Scoutie, but she seemed okay with it.).

Plus, they were wonderful when Scout died so suddenly in February. They even did her paw print in clay so I can keep it forever. So nice.

Anyway. Back to the emergency. They do x-rays. They don't see anything but an enlarged spot in his belly. Jeremiah calls (I can hear Spike barking from the x-ray room) and tells me it's his spleen. I ask tons of questions, get very few answers. I decide that Jer is NOT going to be helpful enough for my liking and I decide to call the vet later myself.

The vet is available to talk (so nice. heart my vet.) and he laughingly informs me that it wasn't his spleen but his cecum, which is an intestinal type thing. He ate something that caused an infection, which caused the endless gas and bloating.

The only other information Jeremiah gave me? That was wrong, too. Mr. Vet told me that he gets A LOT of women calling to check on things after their significant others have brought in a pet. We had a nice laugh about that.

Jeremiah is now required to cook Spikey Spikersons a meal (twice a day) of rice and scrambled egg. Can I just say? Do you know what I had for breakfast? Burned toast that was flourless and nature-y. Tasted like tree bark. I'm tempted daily to eat the breakfast so lovingly created for the wiener.


Highway to Hell, or, Why I'm Not Allowed to Grocery Shop Alone

If you haven't heard yet, many of the drivers in Arizona can't drive well. It's a fact. I had to take a wonderful class on the history & culture & government in AZ. Had to. In order to be highly qualified. Whatever. The only thing I remember from my class is that AZ has one of the highest (if not the highest) rates with regards to car accidents. Cheery, right?

I don't know. I might still be bitter about the accident last year when I was on my way home from work, sitting at a red light when two cars in cross-traffic ran their red light, came out of the intersection, and HIT MY CAR. Zero miles per hour. Stopped. Still I get hit. They came at me from the front and hit the passenger side and my hatch. Subaru intervention, I was fine.

And I might be remembering the time I came home from work only to find boyfriend hopping around with a naughty grin on his face. "Guess what happened?" he says impishly. Apparently, he was driving home and being tailed when someone cut him off. He had to slow down, the car tailing him wasn't paying attention, and in an effort to not ram into boyfriend, he did a swerve, overcompensating and running into the median. I'm picturing a blockbuster movie car crash, are you? Boyfriend looks in his rear view mirror and sees flames and wreckage...Just kidding, but the drivers here are bad. To the point where you can take a bit of joy in seeing a tailgating idiot ruin their car (while not hurting anyone else).

Flash forward to yesterday at the grocery store. I met boyfriend there because I had a previous engagement. I am behind a soccer mom in her shiny new SUV. Looking all soccer mom-y. She passes a spot. As she passes it, I see the spot. Turn on my turn signal. Wait for her to creep forward so I can have it. Then she sees it. Slams on the breaks, starts backing up. Oh hell no. One thing you must know about me is I am one stubborn chickie. I sat in my car, turn signal on. Still no signal from Soccer Mom. I wait. She waits. I win, because she tries to swing forward and back in to the spot and that is when I take it! Three cheers for Emily. No? Am I the only one cheering? So sad.

I get out of my car and start walking, wishing Jeremiah was there because he (or his tattoos, whatever) help(s) dissolve a lot of conflict. I don't know why (funny side dish: unloading the trunk with the garage door open awhile ago, we watched as the Jesus people pimped Jesus door to door (which, by the way, I don't think Jesus would have appreciated, honestly) I'm getting feisty because I know our house is next. Jeremiah picks up the tire iron, turns around, and they walk right on past. It might have had something to do with the flames etched into his leg. Maybe the tire iron? Maybe both.) So anyway, no boyfriend to help me. This lady comes flying after me, like that scene from Terminator when they are in the car and look out the back window and bad terminator is catching up with them. You know the scene? It was like that.

She catches up and says "YOU are the reason for all the bad drivers and YOU, honey, are the reason people get so angry. I had that spot picked out before you even turned down the aisle!" It is at this point that I know she doesn't know my mom, because mom always says you lose your point when you exaggerate and this lady was clearly exaggerating because I was behind her the whole time. Secondly, well, she was starting to piss me off. I was all, "Oh no you didn't." I whipped around. "You did NOT have that spot picked out! You saw that spot after you passed it and then decided you should be able to back up to get it. Not ONCE did you turn on a turn signal! You passed it, too bad. My spot." (And you know what? Where I'm from, people signal their driving intentions. She didn't. Who's the bad driver now, right? Plus, did she back into her new spot? Take a guess.) And then she said "blah blah blabbity blah." And she might have called me honey again. To which I responded, "You? Are full of it!" and walked away. I did some hand waving, too.

This is why we usually strictly follow the rule: Emily shalt not shop alone.

p.s. I did not use any naughty words because she was towing a very embarrassed teen daughter and I am NOT that kind of person. But I will wave my arms around, because I am still that kind of person.

p.p.s. 5/13/10 - I was just riding with a co-worker who was talking about the process of getting her son a license. Apparently, here in AZ, you do NOT have to take any classes. You do NOT have to drive with an instructor. You do NOT have to document road time. You just get a permit, take a test. Then you get your license. You scare me, AZ. You scare me. No wonder there are such horrible drivers here.


Food Baby

We didn't have students today, we had morning meetings at another school instead. On the way back to our school, a co-worker suggested a Chinese food place called Happy Food. Well, holy crap. How can you not give it a try? Look at the name. Happy. Food. I figure it can't be any worse than the crap (being pawned off as Chinese food) that I've tried at other restaurants here in Phoenix, so we give it a go. "Just a warning, they're really rude," my friend warns.

Oh, people.

You have no idea.

When it was my turn to order, I got my beef and broccoli, but hemmed and hawed over my two other choices. The Chinese food nazi was not okay with my indecision. So I shouted out "Wontons! Give me wontons, please!" Her response? "NO! You must order two things!" Excuse Me? When have you ever been denied your food choice? My response to her response? "TWO orders of wontons, please!" Chinese lady says, "Who would do that? (me, the idiot) Must order two DIFFERENT things! Why you order two things same?" (I need to stop and interject. My friends at this point are sitting in the waiting area, laughing their butts off. And by the way, wontons? Not what I thought they were.)

So she MADE me choose two different things because I insulted her by choosing the same things. I got an egg roll - I knew precisely what it was and how much I disliked it. I decided to give it to boyfriend.

We get the food back to school and oh, my lord. Say hello to heaven, people. Say hello to heaven*. It doesn't beat the Botulism Pagoda in Michigan, but I ate everything (hence the food baby). Except the egg roll. And the goopy thing in the wontons. I'm sure, based on where Happy Food is located, that my beef wasn't beef. It was probably feral chihuahua.

Who knew that they could be so delicious?

*Can you name the group?

Editor's Note: This is Boyfriend's response to my excited, very foul-mouthed email proclaiming that I've found a good Chinese food place in the desert and I have some small concerns that I might have eaten Atticus's brother:
Wow….I guess I’m not surprised that it’s near your work. That’s where the best places are. Although, if it’s Chinese food, I would think it would be Pugs, not Chihuahuas. I hope you’ll have room for food baby twins because it’s Pizza Friday!
I love that one, boyfriend isn't offended when I call him names when I'm in a state of food babiness and two, his response proves that he doesn't find it out of the ordinary to get an email laced with obscenities and excitedness over ghetto-y Chinese food. It is, after all, an email from me. He just goes with it. Plus, do you see the capitals on Pizza Friday? We take our food very seriously at our house. No matter I'm so full I can feel a pug/chihuahua kicking in my stomach. It's Pizza Friday, damn it.


Good Dentists

I know that many of you might have already heard this and some of you don't care. That's fine. Here's a teacher-y post I found here that seems important and might help some people understand the stresses that teachers face, especially now with budget cuts and other woes.

My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget
Check-ups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and
I've got all my teeth. When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd
heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure
effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said. "No," he said. He didn't seem
too thrilled. "How will they do that?" "It's quite simple," I said. "They will
just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and
average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best
dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get
better," I ! ; said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to

"That's terrible," he said. "What? That's not a good attitude," I
said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in
this state?" "Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who
is practicing good dentistry." "Why not?", I said. "It makes perfect
sense to me."

"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists
don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we
can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of
patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-
class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see
me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much
preventive work. Also, more educated parents who understand the relationship
between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which
is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much
difference early use of fluoride can make?"

"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe
that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job,
and you needn't fear a little accountability."
"I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as
good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is
going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where
I am needed most."

"Don't get touchy," I said. "Touchy?" he said. His face had
turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his
teeth. "Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated
average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these
ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability
and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left
with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even
worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other
excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"

"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-
making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a
leading member of the DOC," I noted. "What's the DOC?" he asked. "It's
the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay
persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved. "Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.
The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would
you measure good dentistry?" "Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my
processes." "That's too complicated, expensive and time- consuming," I
said. "Cavities re the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line.
It's an absolute measure." "That's what I'm afraid my parents and
prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.
"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you
some." "How?" he asked. "If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who
is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly. "You
mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how
to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had
much more experience? BIG HELP!"

"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally
at all." "You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools
and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no
regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and
stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one
would ever think of doing that to schools."

I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to
write my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school
analogy. Surely they will see the point." He walked off with that look of hope
mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so
often lately.

If you don't understand why educators resent the recent federal
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, this may help. If you do understand, you'll enjoy
this analogy, which was forwarded by John S. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools
for the Lancaster County, PA, School District.

Editor's Note (that's me!) : I know that I chose my job and most of the time I love it. I know that many jobs are stressful. This is just to help some people understand demands placed on teachers...those people that think we get three months off in the summer, are just babysitting during the day, and work less hours than other professionals.


Swamp Butt

Have you checked the weather lately for Phoenix? High today of ninety-four. Tomorrow? Ninety-seven. It is that time of year when boys and girls city wide prepare for what my friends here affectionately call swamp ass. It is when your butt never dries out. Like a swamp. It is very uncomfortable. Even moisture wicking undies can't keep up with the sweat. So wherever you are in the world, be happy. Because you could be swamp assin' it for SIX MONTHS like those of us in the Valley of the Sun.

Side Dish II: I am going to Vegas in June. That's right, Vegas, Baby! This blog is going on the road, via the unfriendly skies. Be prepared. Be very prepared.


Field Day

Have you ever fallen on your butt in front of 20 third graders? No? Yes?

How about 150 third graders? Because falling flat on my butt in front of my students was not enough. I needed to really embarrass myself. The only thing that beats the butt-landing was dad on the dunes. Hey, remember that? Still makes me laugh. That was 100 times funnier than me falling.

But let me tell you about the butt landing so you can be in the moment with me.

Field Day. Friday. 9:00 in the morning. Sun shining (well, duh). Kids hyped up. My whole class wearing tie-dyed shirts. We chose red but most ended up kind of pinkish red - watermelony. Do you feel like you're in the moment? Good.

So after the students did tug of war, we decided the four female third grade teachers should go against the two male third grade teachers. Four against two (one is a triathlete and one is a big former police officer). We start. We start sliding towards the middle. We're losing. Quickly. The P.E. coach joins our side. Huge guy. We start to win. We win. The male teachers drop the rope. You aren't supposed to do that. I was still pulling. I fell. On my butt. In front of everyone.

It didn't hurt at all (I've got extra padding).

Here's where the story gets good (or for those of you that enjoy the thought of me falling on my butt, the story is probably already top-notch). As my friends/coworkers stand there laughing at me and slowly come to my rescue, my students come running to me from their designated area (that they aren't supposed to leave). They grab elbows, hands, legs, whatever. They get me off the ground. They surrounded me, hugging me, brushing me off. Oh my gosh. Remember the scene at the end of Rudy? Or Iron Will? Or any underdog movie? That was me. Surrounded by twenty-one eight and nine year-old kids, cheering for me.

And that is it.

That is why I teach.