Sunday, March 11, 2018

This plate has a story to tell:

This is the final resting place of one of my plates.  Shattered and scattered for almost a whole block of South Ohio Avenue.  How did this happen?  I'll get to that, but first...

When I was 23, I bought my first house.  It was a tiny two-bedroom in the slums.  I used old mismatched dishes from garage sales, reasoning that I would put fine china on my bridal registry.  Shortly thereafter, I gave up on ever finding a man to marry me, so I bought my first set of matching dishes: a lovely set of Corelle at an outlet store.  Literally the next week, I met Mike. He must have been attracted to my dishes.  We got married without ever registering for fine china, because after all, I had my $45 set of Corelle.

I don't think we broke any of it while we lived childless in that little house in the slums.  I think some of it got broken in the move to our first house that we bought together.  Then we moved it to our first house in Morton a few years later.  The next move was just across town to our current house.  By now we had children, and they had probably broken a few dishes in the course of being children.  But by far the biggest number of casualties occurred on the tile floor in this kitchen.  I'd never had a tile floor before and hope I never do again.  It's like a dish magnet, and it has no mercy. 

So we were down to only three plates when the tragedy occurred. Yesterday Noah was outside playing basketball and eating a burrito.  He left the plate on top of the car.  Then we went to Pekin.  Noah was driving.  We made it a few houses down the street when we heard a crash and I turned around and saw shattered glass.  I asked Noah if he had hit a glass bottle or something, but I thought it was odd that I hadn't felt a bump.  That's when he remembered the plate.  He said, "I apologize to you, and to the plate, and to the people who might run over what's left of it."

This year we celebrate 22 years of marriage.  The set of dishes I bought as an old maid gift to myself has been whittled down to two plates.  It's kind of ironic.  Soon our teenagers will fly the nest, and it will be just the two of us left with one plate each.  I refuse to buy any more good dishes until we live in a house without a tile floor.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


I am a non-waster.  My kids accuse me of growing up in the Depression.  I didn't, of course, but I was raised by this guy, who did:
 I hate to waste anything, especially food, which is why I still have a bag of split peas that I bought for my biology class a few months ago.  We extracted pea DNA from a few of them, and it's been a challenge to use the rest of the bag, because I despise split peas.  But I don't waste food, so every time I make soup, I throw a few split peas in the pot.  Not many, because I don't want to see, smell, or taste them, but they get lost in the rest of the soup.  There's only about a quarter of a cup left in the bag now.
 There are about 20 split peas in this whole pot of soup.

I don't even waste the parts of food that we consider inedible.  These rinds are going out to my compost pit. 
 These are cards from the spelling curriculum I used several years ago.  The backs are blank, so I write my grocery lists, notes, etc. on them.
 I have a scratch paper file that is full of any junk mail that has a blank side.  Noah uses it for figuring long math problems.  Then it goes into the recycle bin, along with lots of other stuff:
 A true non-waster would make her own vegetable broth from vegetable scraps (and sometimes I do), but sometimes convenience wins.
   When I've squeezed out all the toothpaste I can, I cut the tube open and scrape out another week's worth.  Same with lotion, shampoo, conditioner, etc.
I don't even waste my cats' fur.  When I brush them or give them a trim, I throw their fur out in the yard for birds to use as nesting material.  Last spring I watched the parents of these baby robins pick up bits of cat fur from our yard, carry them back to this nest in their beaks, and weave them into it. I love the fact that these little birds grew up surrounded and warmed by my cats' fur.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Just another manic Monday

It's cold, windy, and rainy, so I know the school pickup is going to be crazier than usual.  I leave early to get a good spot, but all the spots (good AND bad) are already taken by the time I get there.  I  circle slowly with all the other vultures, waiting for the doors to open and vomit out our junior highers.  Twenty minutes later, an angry, waterlogged creature whips open my door and starts complaining about where I parked.  We argue about that most of the way home.  Then she wants to know what's for dinner. 
Me: Soup.
Sarah: What kind?
M:  Potato, sausage, and kale.
S: Real sausage?
M: Real veggie sausage.
S: *SIGH* I'll just find something else.
Now we're home, both kids at the desk working on their individual algebra lessons.  They both hate algebra.  I like it, but these people are getting close to making me hate it.  They both want my help.  Sarah looks at her problem, full of variables, signs, and numbers, and asks, "What kind of witchcraft is this?!"
I shush her and ask her not to distract Noah, who still has a lot of work to do.
Ten minutes later, Noah is having a fit about his problem, and I shush him and ask him not to distract Sarah, who still has a lot of work to do. 
After I help Sarah untangle her witchcraft, I try to make cornbread muffins, but I have to continually mediate the sniping going on in the school room.  Not my favorite kind of day.


In our Korean lesson today, we were reviewing how to say, "This is not a hospital" in Korean.  After struggling with it for awhile, Noah burst out in exasperation, "When am I ever going to need to say this?"

I said, "Maybe when you're a parent, and your helpless teenager asks you for a bandage, you could say, 'This is not a hospital; get your own bandage!'"

He said, "I could walk into a restaurant and announce, 'This is not a hospital!' I can't see that ever being helpful information for anyone.  In fact, if we're in Korea and I find myself in a situation where I need to say, 'This is not a hospital', I'm just going to go home."

Monday, February 26, 2018


Noah and I were eating lunch, and I offered him a clementine.  I said, "Clementine, my darling?"  He took it and looked at me funny, and that's when I realized that he's way too young to know the song.  I said, "There's a song called 'My Darling Clementine'.  It's really old.  You probably don't know it." He said he didn't, and then I remembered that he does know a version of it, so I said, "You probably know it as 'Found a Peanut'." He said, "Oh yeah, I know 'Found a Peanut'!  You mean that's not an original song?  My whole life is a lie."

After lunch, we went for a long walk, and to distract us from the monotony (and since it was fresh on our minds), we sang "Found a Peanut" with all the verses I could remember.  That got us down the street, but there was still a long way to go, so we played a game that I used to play with the kids when they were learning the alphabet and working on focus and memorization.  We also played it whenever we were waiting in line, since there were no cell phones or other electronic time-killers back then.  I call the game "Going on vacation", and it involves 26 characters going on a vacation, each bringing an alphabetically appropriate item in addition to the previous characters' items.  So today it went like this:
Amy is going on vacation, and she is bringing an apple.
Bob is going on vacation and he is bringing an apple and a banana.
Carrie is going on vacation, and she is bringing an apple, a banana, and a cantaloupe.
By the time we got to Zoe, she was bringing an apple, a banana, a cantaloupe, a donut, an eggplant, a frankfurter, some goldfish, a hamburger, ice cream, jelly, a kiwi, a lime, a mango, nutritional yeast (because who goes on vacation without that?), an orange, popcorn, a quince, a radish, a sandwich, tofu, unseasoned ramen, vanilla, a watermelon, Xanax, yams, and some zinc.
Noah said, "I bet Amy felt pretty under-prepared bringing her one little apple when she saw all that Zoe brought."

Friday, February 23, 2018

Noah's view of women: mad, mucousy sharks

Noah: Are you mad at me?
Me: Not at all. Why?
Noah: I don't know.  I don't understand women.  They always seem mad.

A couple minutes later, I'm teaching about sharks.
M: If a shark loses a tooth, one of the teeth from a row further back in the mouth advances to replace it, and another grows in place of that one.  The back rows of shark teeth are backup teeth.
N: Just like Sarah!
Later I'm teaching about lamprey eel larvae in biology.
M: They feed by producing strands of mucus that trap food particles floating in the water.
N: Just like Sarah!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chinese Korean

Mike: Please clean your room this morning before you start playing video games.
Noah: It got messy yesterday, because I couldn't clean because it was Chinese New Year.
M: What??
N: We learned in school that it's bad luck to clean on Chinese New Year because you might sweep out the good luck.
M: Ok, but you're not Chinese. You're Korean.
Janel: Yesterday we decided to be Chinese for the day.
N:  It's good to have cultural empathy.