The Texture Of Things

Victory! Is! Mine!

January 29th, 2008

We’re still sick, but well enough to head to the grocery store for some much needed provisions (read: Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts), so we did just that.

We came home, had dinner, and then it was time for The Bath. (The tot LOVES baths, and I have come to dread them because she’d stay in there all day and night if I let her.) As she was getting undressed, I pulled out a Heart and began unwrapping it.

“Can I have that?”


“That. Can I have that?”

“Ooookaaay. It’s chocolate on the outside and peanut butter on the inside. Here – touch it.” I held it out, expecting a one or two finger touch.

She grabbed it, turned it all around, and scratched the back.

“Oooh! It’s scratchy!” (Adjectives, so problematically all the time.)

She handed it back and I took a small bite. I held it up for her to look at the peanut butter.

“See? Peanut butter.” We’ve been having a lot of peanut butter lately, hoping to – I don’t know – get her to eat it eventually. :sigh:

She nabbed it from my hand and took a bite. Part fell out of her mouth and she handed the candy back to me.

“You got some! Did you get a bite in your mouth?” Glee or incredulity, I’m not sure which I felt more of. Of which I felt more? Whatever. Happy Happy Joy Joy.

She swallowed. (Miracle of miracles, this alone.) “Uh huh!”

I held the point of the heart up. “You could bite this part now, if you want.”

Again she grabbed it and ate the heart point.

I could tell from the look on her face both times that the mooshy texture in her mouth was not exactly great, but man oh man, she held it together and ate it.

This is so awesome. Now, if we could just get her to eat bread.

Not Dead. But feels like it.

January 28th, 2008

Here’s the thing. We have the respiratory plague. We cough, we sneeze, we don’t sleep, we don’t blog. Even Nyquil won’t help that.

Or maybe it will….

I don’t know – I haven’t taken it yet.

Anyway, here’s some milestone-y moments from the texture house.

1. The tot is finally, finally beginning to use the word “because” correctly. Now, every 20th use of the word makes sense.
Before: “I’m sad because I’m sad.” A little deterministic, dontcha think?
Or: “[Toy name]* hurt her head because I need a drink.” Oh, you and me both, kid.
Or: “Is it Monday Night Football? Because Daddy’s at work now.” Um, yeah.

The other day: “There’s five Backyardigans in here [meaning a box she keeps them in] because Uniqua is in there too.” Normally, she only keeps the other four in this box.


2. The tot is figuring out how to blow her nose. Ah, the joys of snot! But Ah! The Joys Of Her Blowing Her Own Nose! She still needs help, but at least she’s making progress.

3. HG and I continue to be employed, which is kind of saying something given our state’s economy. Blackboard is not as hard as I thought it would be, just different. Getting a decent night’s sleep in this house is harder than entering grades, although lately that’s not saying much.

*I can’t reveal the toy name because she names her toys the weirdest names, and one mention of such a name will result in everyone I know and their neighbor finding this blog. Email me if you are curious.

Dear Packers,

January 12th, 2008

You are killing me.
It’s only three minutes into the game, and you are about to be down 14 to nothing.
Stop it.


edited to add:
P.S. Thank you for taking lead just now in the second quarter. Please keep it.

edited to add, yet again:
P.P.S. I love you Brett. How could I ever doubt you?

An Afterward for an Afterward

January 11th, 2008

I have to follow up on this post.

You know that day when I lost my shit with the tot and managed to give us both a time out before I lost it more? Yeah. I totally missed the point that day. What’s worse is that I didn’t realize it until three days later when I was telling the story to a coworker over lunch.

What happened was the tot got a hold of my pen and started writing on some papers I had been grading while I was taking a break. That is still an infraction in this house. Where I missed the point is that the tot was trying to help me, trying to do what Mommy does, trying to be big.

I figured this out in the retelling to my coworker when I described what the tot does when she draws on the papers. She makes tiny marks in the right margin that look like tiny circles and spirals. She scribbles long horizontal wavy lines along the bottom margin. She is, in effect, mimicking the comments I write on the essays.

There is no win here, but I did what I could, and I hope it’s enough. I got her a clipboard of her own and set aside some of my pens that she can use. I found essay rough drafts that some students didn’t want back. I sat her down and apologized for losing my shit (that’s a paraphrase), and I asked her if she would like to help me grade some papers. Her eyes lit up and she said yes and she sat at the table and scribbled on the essays I gave her and she seemed happy.

This is a new mommy-daughter thing we do now, grading papers together, and an important result is that she now asks if she can “grade” something before she draws on it. Not always, but most of the time, and that is lovely.

But the long term damage is done, I think. What will she remember? My sincere apology that came, for her, out of nowhere? Or the feeling of helping and doing something new and fun turning into the terror and heartbreak of Mommy shouting, scolding, and so mad she can’t talk to you?

I know which one I’d remember.

I can’t change that now, of course, and it won’t be the last time I fail to judge the scene correctly and act accordingly, but it still sucks.

Dear John

January 10th, 2008

I maded you a cheezburger.

funny pictures
moar pictures

If This Were the Cheezburger Factory…

January 10th, 2008

We’d call this “Joke: Epic Fail”.


Much love to all my homies,
I was just kidding around.
If you’re sad now, go look at some LOLcats.

A Dear John Letter, of sorts

January 10th, 2008

for an old friend of mine whom i recently told about the blog
edited to add a post script

Dear John,
Fuck you, ass hole.


P.S. Love ya, honey! smooches and hugs and fluffy bunnies!

P.P.S. Please read the comments for further clarification, if you need it.

Questions Answered

January 6th, 2008

In the comments for the last post, Successful Reader coffeypot asked some good questions.

Successful Reader? Yes. If we accept my idea that Successful Readers do not always understand the text and if we accept Steph’s idea that they “disagree with what they read (or play the doubting game, or talk back to the text),” then yes, Virginia, coffeypot is a prime example of a Successful Reader.

First, his comment, which I quote here in its entirety:

Give them comic books, or something with pictures in it. Seriously, is this a required class or an elective? I think that would make a difference in how you present the subject. If it’s an elective you will have students wanting to learn or at least have an interest vs. those who are there because they have to be. Or am I missing the point here?

Let me clarify.

First, this is the course that comes before Freshman Composition I, so it is required for those who place into it – meaning, for those who were (through entrance exam testing) determined to not be quite ready for Comp I, which is a prerequisite for just about everything. In short, yes, it’s a requirement, but not for all students.

Second, the text is determined by the college. This term, it’s this book. I have to teach it and they have to read it and write their essays on it. As my commentary on the book, I will offer this: I love reading, I love science, I generally love history, and I am struggling with this book. It is hard to get into, hard to stay into, and at this point, hard to love. It is a good book; it just wouldn’t be my choice.

Third, don’t dismiss the comic book idea here, people. I already intend to bring in picture books, as I have done in the past with my Comp I and Comp II students. Put Me in the Zoo has a nice demonstration of introduction, argumentative thesis (specifically, position argument), and topical organization. The conclusion would fail for a college level course, but the book gets the point across for students who struggle to see how a thesis drives a whole piece.

That, I think, is another post.

I also have a handful of other children’s picture books that reveal different meanings if read from an adult’s perspective rather than a child’s. The Birthday Fish and Dear Juno are two that spring to mind at the moment.

So, I am not “above” bringing in easy reading if it can demonstrate something useful to more advanced readers. For me, that’s picture books, because I have access to a ton of them and I’m more familiar with the stories. Comic books have never been my thing, beyond reading The Watchmen for a college reading circle. (For the record, I was skeptical about the comic book/ graphic novel, but it was fantastic and I recommend it to everyone, particularly literature lovers.)

Coffeypot raises another good point about purpose, too. A reader’s purpose changes, based on what s/he is reading and why. A textbook chapter before a big test? A comic book for fun? Assembly instructions for jet pack? For this course, it’s a history text to write English papers on.

Okay. I’m done rambling. I need to finish writing my syllabus.
Much love and peace out, yo –

Good Readers,

January 4th, 2008

I need your help. I am preparing my course stuffs for the impending semester, and this time I’m teaching a developmental reading and writing course. I haven’t taught this kind of course since I was pregnant, and all of my memories of teaching during that time have evaporated into swiss cheese.

Nice mixed metaphor, eh?

I know that to figure out what reading strategies to teach, I must first identify the reading behaviors I want my students to cultivate. To do that, I thought about myself as a reader, I watched the tot reading (I’m not kidding), and I recalled things I have taught to all of my students about improving reading comprehension. I’ve come up with a rough list that I’d like to post here. If you think of something I’m missing, please share it with the class. I ‘pperciate it.

Good Readers:
read and re-read
read aloud
make notes
summarize important points
anticipate what’s coming
check to see if that guess was right

Good Readers:
don’t always understand everything
ask questions about the text
read with a purpose (e.g., gather info for a paper)
guess at a word’s meaning based on context
look words up

Good Readers:
make connections between the text and existing knowledge
make connections between the text and other books, movies, essays, etc.
read titles, headings, footnotes (not necessarily every footnote)
think or talk about what they’ve read

Read a little every day
to grow your brain a lot some day

January 3rd, 2008

I know most of you think I’m a genius. I’m not. I just have the luxury of choosing what I put on the blog. Still, there are moments when I’m pretty sure I’m average, putting me ahead of about half the populace. There is, of course, still room for error there.

Last week, I emailed my request for a Blackboard site for my upcoming class. Blackboard is an online, um, thingie that will let my students, um, do stuff like check their grades and download handouts that they’ve lost. Again. On my end, it’ll act as an electronic gradebook, saving me (I’m not exaggerating here) at least three hours of my life come the end of the semester and I have to figure grades. I think an exchange of three hours at the end of the semester for a half an hour every week for 15 weeks sounds like a pretty good deal*, so I sent the request along with a small prayer that the learning curve is not as steep as I think it will be.

The request is a form on the faculty side of the school’s website. I entered all of the information, including the dates of the course, registration code and the course ID (which are unique each semester).

What do you think I got in my inbox today? An email that looked a little like this:

To: amy
Fr: School Web Dude in Charge of Setting Up Blackboard Sites
Date: Today
Subject: Winter ’08 Course Site

Email body:
Please verify the semester for this new course.
Thank you.

[Information from the form I filled out, with semester info missing even though I had filled it in.]

end transmission


I don’t know about all you all, but if s/he had enough information to make a calculated guess about the semester for the email subject field, plus the registration information, I’m not sure why I needed to verify it. I did verify it, of course, but I felt like the whole exchange is a layer in a giant practical joke.

To: School Web Dude in Charge of Setting Up Blackboard Sites
Fr: amy
Date: Today
Subject: RE: Winter ’08 Course Site

Email body:
Winter ’08 (Jan-April 2008).

end transmission

Am I missing something?

* That’s math, y’all.

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