Friday, October 28, 2011

Oh, Dear! What Do I Think I'm Doing?

Perhaps you didn't know it, but November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). There's even an organization. With a website! Participation in NaNoWriMo involves an insane goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  I know all about it having failed spectacularly at it one time. My daughter, on the other hand, does a wonderful job of novel writing each November and is currently nagging encouraging others to participate with her. She has not, however, asked me even one time if I'm going to participate this year. She knows better.

Sign up yourself! It's fun; trust me!

So, while I am not participating myself, for the third year in a row I am forcing facilitating participation from my 8th grade Honors Language Arts class. NaNoWriMo has a Youth Writing Program geared to kids. It comes complete with lesson plans for the teacher, handouts for the students, and buttons. BUTTONS! They get to have buttons identifying them as novelists! So in addition to teaching grammar and vocabulary and persuasive writing/speaking, I am throwing in novel writing. I have 37 students and 12 computers. We will have to break into 3 rotating swarms groups of adolescent chaos. It's endless fun.

Sign your kids up! Keep 'em out of your hair occupied for a month.

But none of that is what I came here to tell you about. Here's the ridiculous thing I have done.

Why do I get myself into these things?
See? In addition to being National Novel Writing Month, November is also National Blog Posting Month. Who knew? The idea is that participants should submit a blog post EVERY DAY  in the month of November. 30 blog posts in 30 days! One a day!  What am I thinking? Perhaps you haven't noticed, but I've barely been posting once a week!

But it's too late. I signed up. My name is on a list somewhere deep in the bowels of BlogHer. I'm committed. Okay, let's all say it together: I SHOULD be committed! This is nuts!

On the upside, as I understand it, there will be writing prompts each day, so I'm not going to be left with only my own creativity to get me through this. And after a hard day of directing traffic in my classroom, I can clear my mind by focusing on the writing prompt. I hope.

So, there it is. I'm stuck, and I refuse to fail as I did with NaNoWriMo (it was a great story with magic and romance and ....words and everything!) Check back here every day starting Monday and see how I'm doing. Leave some words of encouragement.

OH!!! Stupid me! I should have saved this post for Monday! Then I'd be guaranteed at least one post in NaBloPoMo!  Sigh.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What Star Trek Invention Do YOU Want?

 English class pop quiz: When is it proper to use "would of," "could of," or "should of"? (Answer at the end of this post.)

So the other day I was driving home from work, exhausted from herding cats teaching junior high school while fighting some massively terminal form of laryngitis. Freeway traffic was heavy, and for some unknown reason people insisted on driving somewhere near the speed limit. We all know that the speed limit is for those unskilled drivers who can't handle 75. Right? Don't we?


Anyway, as I was patiently driving home with all the other safe drivers, I found myself wishing there were some faster way to get from here to there. After all, when one is exhausted to the point of being a danger to other drivers tired, a 25 minute drive seems much too long. Yes, I realized, what I need is a STAR TREK TRANSPORTER!

Who doesn't need one of these! Especially us grandma types with babies on the other coast where we never get to see them! Awesomeness! Just push a few buttons and pop over to New Jersey for dinner with The Model!

Even The Monster is 30 minutes away. If he starts walking, I could be there for every step! Of course, it would mean fewer opportunities for the endless chatter lively conversation one enjoys when riding with the grandchildren.

Then I started thinking what other Star Trek inventions it would be cool to have. After all, we really do have the original Star Trek communicator:

And we have Lt. Uhura's earpiece AKA Bluetooth:

So what Star Trek invention would you most like to have? Me? After the transporter, I'd kind of like to check out the food replicator. It's kind of a microwave on steroids. Just tell it what you want, and out it pops.

"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."
Oh, yeah!!

English class pop quiz answer: Never. NEVER. NEVER, NEVER, NEVERNEVERNEVER!
Should've, could've, and would've are contractions for should have, could have, and would have. Although they sound like "of," they are NOT. "Should of," "could of" and "would of" have no meaning at all and should never be used. In informal writing, it's okay to use the contraction. In more formal writing, use the two word phrase: should have, could have, would have.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Well, What Would You Do?

I have laryngitis. I went to school and taught 8th graders while I had laryngitis. Then I came home and ate lots of chocolate. It seemed reasonable at the time.

Seriously, it was not as bad as it could have been. (Let us pause here and consider how little that last sentence actually says. Picture yourself teaching 37 8th graders. Teaching them English. While you can't talk. So what I'm saying is, it didn't actually reach the seventh level of Hell. Midway through the sixth, maybe.)

But that's not what I came here to tell you. I came here to tell you about the grandchildren. Saturday was The Athlete's 3rd birthday party. You all remember The Athlete, of course. Here she is:

When she's not doing backyard gymnastics she looks like this:
The Athlete is super strong and made of muscle. She can climb anything and usually does. BUT, she is totally a girly girl. She loves playing dress up and Minnie Mouse is her favorite person on earth. So for her birthday she got lots of girly stuff.

The Athlete and her tiara.
 The Princess drove with us to her cousin's party. She jabbered endlessly entertained us all with her lively chatter for the entire 90-minute drive. As lively as only a 5-year-old can be.

Princess (pointing out the window): Are those really cows?
Me: Yes, of course they're cows.
Princess: I thought they were yaks!

.....because California is known for its yaks??? And where did she hear about yaks anyway?

Princess: Look. Look.
Me: What, sweetheart?
Princess: Nothing. I'm just saying look.

Well, of course. Silly Grandma.

So I just smiled and hugged her. Well, what would you do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wicked English Teacher Wednesday

Today’s English Class Pop Quiz: How many words in the English language end in f-u-l-l? (Answer at the end of this post)

Okay, class. Here are some sentences found around the web today. Let’s analyze them to identify the errors they contain.

“It feels me with rage.” Unfortunately, while this sentence evokes some extremely interesting mental images, the writer was not discussing tactile contact with an infuriated gender-neutral…something.

Kids, one’s emotions are feelings. One has fillings in one’s teeth. You feel frustration and anxiety. You fill your tummy with chocolate, especially on rally days when your students come to school dripping with glitter, wearing tutus (yes, even the boys), and acting like they’re already at the rally ALL. DAY. LONG!! Then you fill your tummy with lots and lots of chocolate and take many slow deep breaths and even then….Okay…sorry. Back to the lesson.

“…but it will pass though.”  Class, today’s new word is “redundancy.” Let’s look at the first and last words of this excerpt.  “But” is a word used to show contrast, whereas “though” is….a word used to show contrast. “Redundancy” is a word used to identify unnecessary repetition. Now one might think that “Class, open your books to page 95….Johnny, we’re on page 95…Roxanne, we’re in the brown book on page 95…Girls, put your hairbrushes away and turn to page 95…Angel, pick your head up off your desk and turn to page 95..”  would be an example of redundancy. Notice however that the definition of redundancy is UNNECESSARY repetition. Believe me when I tell you that all of that repetition is absolutely necessary. Every. Single. Day.

“Mango wood can take a beating and retain it's beauty.”  Ok, since we’re talking about the beauty possessed by the wood, we do not want to use an apostrophe in its. Its without an apostrophe is a possessive pronoun, just like his, hers, and ours. It’s with the apostrophe is a contraction for it is, as in, “It’s too noisy in this classroom.  It’s not too late for me send you to the principal’s office. It’s not okay to pass notes during the spelling test. It’s about time for me to fill my tummy with some chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate!”

Ok. Class dismissed. Where did I put that candy bar?

Pop Quiz Answer: Exactly one. Only the word full ends in f-u-l-l. All those other words, such as wonderful, beautiful, spoonful, shameful, etc. end in one L. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fun With Adult Children

As many of you moms of teens know, exasperating your kids is one of the easiest and most fun activities around. It takes very little to get a 16-year-old girl to roll her eyes and sigh in the most entertaining fashion. Trust me when I tell you I have enjoyed this activity countless times. Now that my own teen girl has grown up, gotten married, had children, and turned 30 these opportunities are much rarer, but when they arise, I take full advantage of them.

Moms of teens, let me assure you that getting under your adult child's skin is just as much fun, although it takes a little more work.

Case in point: As many of you know, my daughter (the aforementioned 30-year-old married mother) is the author of the blog Near Normalcy. Okay, all 9 of my readers know this, but my future readers (how optimistic of me) might not, okay? Anyway, this very blog which you are reading was inspired by the enjoyment that Alyssa (the aforementioned author of Near Normalcy --you are reading her blog aren't you?) has derived from writing her blog (Near Normalcy , you're welcome, Alyssa). Therefore I consider her my blogging well as a source of seemingly endless fun.

Update: That's us. She loves me!

Last night the following text conversation took place. Notice how quickly, skillfully, and unobtrusively I worked my way under her skin.

Me: Where did you buy your domain name? And why?

Alyssa: Godaddy. Because grownups own their domains.

Me: Hmmm.

Me: Why do grownups own their domains?

Alyssa: Because no serious professional famous writer blogs from a blogspot address. Do you even read my blog? I covered this.

Me. I'm old and forgetful.

Me-50 minutes later: I'm just sitting here reading through all your old blog posts so as not to be accused of child neglect. On 7/27 you talked about your stats and said you had one page view from Germany. Well, that's just weird because I have had one page view from Germany too. What's up with that?

For some reason, Alyssa chose not to reply.

Me-45 minutes later: Several of the blogs you follow don't own their own domains.

Alyssa: You don't have to buy your domain if you don't want to! I wanted mine. That's really all there is to it.

Me: I know I don't have to. I'm just trying to understand. I'm up to August on your blog. You just sat on the birthday saddle.

Alyssa: Well, now you're just stalking me. Weirdo.

Me: No, I'm studying you because you're my blogging role model.

Alyssa: I mean, do you not see how much better "" looks vs ""??

Me: I'm not sure I see the betterness there. But it is shorter.

Alyssa: I don't understand how you can not see the betterness. A ".com" is the real deal. Any yahoo can have a blogspot.  ".com" is a WEBSITE.

Me: But I have a ".com". It just has a blogspot before it.

Alyssa: Sigh.

I could see the eyeroll and hear the exasperated sigh from 30 miles away. Score!

And because that was so much fun, I sent this text this morning.  "Ok. After some thought it occurs to me that one should own one's domain because if one needs to leave one's blog host, one's readers would still be able to find one's blog."

Alyssa: Yeah. Ok.

See, moms of teens! The fun never has to end!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Meet the Grandkids

The Hillbilly and I are the proud grandparents of four beautiful children. I don't just mean "beautiful" like other people think their grandchildren are beautiful. MY grandchildren actually are beautiful. Honest. Take a look.

In order of appearance: Granddaughter #1, The Princess

Granddaughter #2, The Model.

 Granddaughter #3, The Athlete

And the baby boy! The Monster. Don't let the angel eyes fool you.

And Granddaughter #4 is on the way. No pictures yet, but when she gets here in January, I'm sure she'll be beautiful.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

At the Risk of Sounding Cranky...

Ah, life’s little irritations. Anyone can post on the Internet now and say anything. They can leave all sorts of bad writing examples lying around for innocent young children to stumble upon. Case in point: I was reading  a photography blog today. Good stuff…on photography. But I stopped in my reading tracks when I came across, “In this image the baby didn’t want to keep upright so mom put her finger on their head to keep them steady.”

Give me a minute while I slow my pulse down.

Ok. There we go. We won’t discuss the non-capitalization of “mom” used as a name. We’ll ignore the missing comma. It happens (and of course you know where the missing comma goes).  But Honey, you were the photographer! The baby in question was naked! Clearly you know the baby’s gender, so why would you violate pronoun-antecedent agreement for no apparent reason?

Or is this just an English teacher gripe? Does no one else get worked up over these things? How about when this photographer reminds us to treat babies with “the upmost care”?
Fine then. I’ll just go lie down now. Wake me when the world comes to its senses.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And Crazy Starts with Me

When I started thinking about fixing to get ready to maybe consider starting a blog, I thought I should try it out by keeping a private log first. Just to see how it went. Well, here's what I wrote:

So I’d like to start a blog. Of course we all know I don’t have the self-discipline for that, so I’m starting it here, where no one can see it.
First I have to find my bloggery voice. I think I have one; it’s the one I use on Facebook that makes people laugh.
Then, of course, I’ll do what I always do: read about it.
There’s an interesting topic. Why do I prefer reading to doing?
1. I can’t make mistakes that way.
2. It takes less energy.
3. Reading is my escape from reality
4. Reading makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something when I’m not.

BUT… writing makes me happy. I enjoy speaking in my Facebook bloggery voice. It makes me feel good. So I’m going to give it a whirl. Right here where no one can read it…as soon as I finish reading Grow Your Blog - Proven Ways To Add Followers Every Single Day. I’ll let you (no one) know how it goes.