Saturday, October 31, 2009


The blanket has doubled in size since yesterday. Just one more brown section and then I'm done--but I just ran out of brown yarn. Dang. I knew thee skeins weren't going to be enough but that was all Wal Mart had on Thursday.

Here's another view. It's coming along.

I'm going to go shower and then the monkeys and I are going out to get candles. We haven't carved our pumpkins yet but it's this afternoon's scheduled activity. I'm sure I'll have some fabulous pictures for you later.

Love ya. Mean it.


-- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, October 30, 2009


Today I am trusting in the peace that I know will come as soon as I settle into this new routine.

I am grateful for a wonderful family and the chance to spend Halloween together this weekend.

I am inspired by the beautiful colors outside and I've been bitten by the crocheting bug again.  Look out, it's Craft P!

TGIF idea from Ordinary Courage.

What are you trusting in, grateful for, and inspired by this week?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I love Wal Mart.

Where else can you get a basket full of yarn, pringles, and Diet Dr. Thunder?

I just stocked up on enough yarn to make three more blankets.  Operation Christmas present is now underway.  Good thing yarn is cheap and abundant at the Wal... I bought what I could today because I know that the closer we get to Christmas, the more likely they are to be out of the colors I'll need.

Today's a rest day--no running or ballet--and I'm excited about sitting on my patoot all night, crocheting, and watching TV.  Awesome.

Speaking of TV, you have to watch this music video starring Mindy Kaling (Kelly on The Office).  It's hysterical.  I don't know if it's just for a webisode or if it's going to be on the show tonight, but it's really funny.  I love that it's featuring "Nard Dog."

Aw man, they took it down--my youtube link was bad. You can see only it on now. Here you go.

Mindy Kaling's also one of my favorite people to follow on twitter.  I consistently laugh at her tweets.

This one's on Youtube too, but I can't find one with the embedding feature enabled.  You'll have to leave and click through to see it.  I love Disney... love Pixar.  Can't wait to take the kids to see this next summer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cool running

Get it?  Cool?  Because it's cold out?  And I was running?  And running is cool?  (Okay, H, stop explaining your jokes.  They weren't funny enough to warrant any additional effort.)

Can I just tell you that I tell jokes at least three or four times a day and nobody laughs?  It's one of the best parts of teaching.  Cricket, cricket.  Take that, Confidence!

Can I also just tell you that I'm pretty sure my right leg fell off at about 2:30 PM today and my left leg fell off about 3:12 PM?  Did anybody see them somewhere along the boulevard?  My, that just sounds wrong.  Scratch that.  Okay, they didn't fall off but I wanted them to.  I wish human legs were like lizard tails and I could just sprout some new ones.  These gams were filled with lactic acid by this afternoon and I felt like the Human Bruise.

I didn't even pick up Roo from school--I sweet talked E into doing it and I came right home to crash.  I don't even have a handle on how long I slept, but it had to be two or three hours.  When I woke up I realized that there was probably only an hour of sunlight left so I decided to hit the road.

I was exhausted and sore and hungry for dinner, but I decided in the moment that I needed to go.  I've been missing running this week.  I scheduled some track work for Monday but when my car wouldn't start I forgot my shoes and the whole day was a little off.  Today was my chance to make a positive choice.  Done.  It wasn't the greatest run, but it was a run and when I mapped it after I got back I realized that I ran farther than I meant to.  4.8 miles down, and they didn't really feel like much at all.  I'm proud of myself for that.  I'm getting closer to working up to a steady 5 mile basic run for the week.  I feel like if I can do that two or three weekdays it gives me a nice base and I can get a long run done on the weekend.

It was cold though, y'all!  It was probably my least favorite climate: cold and windy.  Ick. Tonight it was apparent that I'm not properly outfitted for the cold weather.  My running was enough to keep my upper legs and hips warm, but I had cold hands and calves and the last mile or so I was freeeezing as the sun dropped down.  My cotton long-sleeve shirt and T-shirt had soaked up my sweat (sorry, gross) and I was really cold.  I'm totally putting a vest, some full-length compression tights and a long sleeve tech tee on my Christmas list.

The best thing about tonight's run?  The fall smells.  The wind gave me a fat headache, but it gave the air a nice freshness.  I could smell fires in fireplaces and hearty meals.  The trees smell different too, and their leaves were beautiful shades of red.  Funny--if you would have asked me even last year if the leaves changed here I would have said not much.  I love that I have spent so much more time outdoors since I started running last Spring.  There's so much peace and beauty in nature--even the nature that's right outside my house.

Before I go, two (disparate) quotes from the last two days that I love:

"If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough."
~Jillian Michaels

"A life hemmed in prayer is less likely to come unraveled." 
~Random fence sign on my run tonight

Peace out, Cub Scouts.

Teaching ballet again: How's that going?

It's... going.

Last week I was sick on my second scheduled day of teaching, so this was my first actual week of teaching both nights. Like I said yesterday, I'm having a hard time with my energy level. It's not those two hours each night that are the problem. I'm just not used to going somewhere late at night anymore. Late = 5:00-7:15, by the way. I'm a total homebody. I loves me some TV and I loves me some dinner at 5:00 at night. I'm also a total sweatpants girl after about 4:00 PM. Major adjustment: getting myself ready to greet the world again at 4:00 PM and then being intelligent and nice for two plus hours.

I know I can do it. I'm psyching myself up. When I was dancing with CORE, I had rehearsals until 11:00 at night some weeknights. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago--how is it that it's so challenging for me now? I think I got too used to getting home and being done for the night. It's the reason I can't go home for lunch--if I go home, my body thinks it is finished.

Enough about me being a wimp. The classes are going so well. Of course it's taking me a bit of time to adjust and see exactly where I need to be as their teacher--I need to get a sense of how strong they are and what they know--but the girls work so hard and they have such sweet, grateful dispositions. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy that. They're a nice departure from the students' attitudes of entitlement I've dealt with teaching dance in the public school system for the last four years. It's nice to work with girls who understand the discipline and respect of dance.

My body is completely sore. Dance, namely ballet, uses an entirely different muscle set than running. I found this out when I started running in April, and I'm finding it again now that I'm trying to go back to dance after such a long hiatus this summer. I really wish there was more overlap. I'm consuming mass quantities of Ibuprophen today just to get through. I am already planning a nice hot bath when I get home. No idea how I'm going to get through my scheduled 4.5 mile run tonight. There will probably be crying.

The thing that I am finding is most out of shape for teaching ballet is my brain. When I transitioned from a small studio to my apprenticeship at Sacramento Ballet, it was my brain that took a while to adjust to the increase in complexity of combinations and memorization of choreography. The same thing happened when I went back to dance after having my babies and auditioned with CORE. The contemporary dance world was completely foreign to me, and it took an adjustment.

Now I'm returning to ballet that is based in Cecchetti technique--a very, very, very specific and academic code for teaching ballet--and my brain has to remember some very detailed and very old technical specifications. By the time I was in college I'd studied the technique extensively and earned my Associates' qualification in Canada with Cecchetti USA, (wait, I guess that it wasn't Cecchetti USA yet--it was still the ISTD... but you don't care about such details anyway...) but then of course as time has passed and I've trained with non-Cecchetti companies I've lost a lot of that knowledge. Good thing I saved my detailed notes--I'm just having to go back over them with a fine-toothed comb. I've had many hiccups in the last week or so--I'm finding that coordinating my combinations with counts and music has been a challenge in a way that I haven't seen in a long time. I feel like a baby ballet teacher all over again. I'm hoping that I can find my feet (and my confidence) again soon.

I feel like I could use a full body ice-bath right now. Or a vat of Icy Hot. Or a massage--but who am I kidding, that costs a ton of money and right now we don't have two nickels to rub together. Yeeeeooooowwwwch. Pain = gain, right? Or loss? Or strength? Or something? Anybody? Bueller?

It's good. It's good for me, even if I'm completely exhausted and I don't have a voice. I'm so completely excited about a night off tonight where I get to eat dinner at a decent hour and work on the invitations for Addie's birthday party.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The nap blankie

It's a cloud. It's a queen-sized cottonball, wrapped in a worn polyester shell.  Tiny orange and pink flowers fleck the pale fabric like cupcake sprinkles. Every edge: rounded, warm. It exudes the smells of my grandma's house--gingersnaps, jam, Chex Mix, laundry soap and love. It's all I can think about on this windy day: The nap blankie. I want to swaddle myself in it like an infant and shut out the world.

Unfortunately, the nap blankie lives with Grandma and Grandpa. It is also the single most coveted item in that house, equally loved by uncles, nieces and grandchildren alike. My grandpa keeps threatening to divvy it up and give us each a chunk. I am convinced that this is a Solomonic test to see who loves the nap blankie most. I do. I mean it. The magic lies in the quality of its fibers but also in its size. To cut it up would be to end the essence that is the nap blankie.

At our family garage sale I slipped into the house for a nap and snuggled into the nap blankie.  Henry saw me and said "hey, that blankie is for me and Ad!"  Nope.  No way, son.  Know your place.  You're going to have to fight off a lot of family members before you can claim that Golden Fleece.  (Is the Golden Fleece a good thing?  I think it is, right?  E, that question is for you.  I don't know my Argonaut-related references well enough.  Stop laughing at me.  You're the nerd.)

The nap blankie is all I can think about today.  I am really having a hard time maintaing the energy necessary to work two jobs.  I am loving the kids at ballet and loving teaching them, but I am exhausted.  Wiped out. Pooped.  Finished.  I miss Roo and Bud.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to summon the energy I need to teach tonight.  I want to help my family by working another job, but this might be too much for me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A year ago

 Buddy's knees, one year ago.

E and I just finished reading Dan Brown's new book, The Lost Symbol.  In the book, professor Robert Langdon has an eidetic memory.  "Eidetic" was a word unfamiliar to us both.  It sparked a conversation that involved some  iPhone vocabulary research.  Eidetic means "pertaining to visual imagery," but the second definition is "pertaining to eidos."  Eidos?  That means "the formal content of a culture."  Cool, no?

While I don't have an eidetic memory--far from it--I do have some kind of related curse that involves a near-perfect memory of my feelings and what people said to me at any particular time.  While that's a special thing when it comes to days like the birth of both kids or our weddings (yes, both of them), it means that I've spent a lot of time pondering.  The night before Addie's first birthday I was a wreck.  I was just overcome with emotion; the memory of the night of her birth was so positive, but it was powerful and overwhelming.

I am overwhelmed again.  One year ago this month, E moved out.  Specifically, it was October 11th, 2008.  I was nervous about living out another October because last October was so bad.  Several times last month I broke apart like a puzzle just thinking about it.  E has been really comforting and has been reassuring that this is not last year and we are not facing the kind of deeply-rooted problems that we were then.  Knowing that is reassuring, but it hasn't kept me entirely confident.  You know what a worrier I can be.

There's nothing scary to report; life has marched on without a single nod to the pain that was in our lives a year ago.  E is supportive, loving and patient.  I try to do my best.  The memory hasn't been on my mind every single day, but it's there.  On Saturday when I saw my old friends I had the chance to answer some of the "what, exactly, happened?" questions.  I don't mind doing that and just like writing about it here, it helps me to own it.  Honesty has been a blessing.  Writing has been a blessing.  Speaking plainly about the reality of our marriage, separation, reconciliation and relationship has brought me closer to many people in my life--people that I know I wouldn't have had the confidence to reach out to if I hadn't started writing about our struggle.  (It's not an easy thing to go from Hi, how are you? to  let's talk about how I almost got divorced and our relationship isn't picture perfect, but my life is better because I try to find the words here and in subsequent conversations.)

This is a hard thing to write about.  I know that when painful things have come in my life it's always the next time around that I measure and weigh my worries to the point of absurdity.  Hypersensitivity dominated the early weeks of my pregnancy with Addie because I'd lost the pregnancy before.  Until I passed that date I was exceedingly conscious.  Maybe this is like that.  I need pass through it.

So many things are on my heart about what we, and especially I went through during that time.  One of my friends who recently ended a long relationship and has been blogging about the difficult reality of being newly single and it takes me back.  I believed when E and I ended it that I'd be stopping the pain, and instead I just traded up for a new and more solitary pain.  I don't bring this up to say that I needed to find all the answers in E, either.  I needed that time alone and I needed to rely on God and myself and my family in order to get through it.  I feel it's worth mentioning, though, because like he reality of ending a marriage is just one of those things that's not really talked about either.  People like to pretend it's easy to be single just like they like to pretend it's easy to be married.  I was as alone in my difficult separation and in being a scared single parent as I'd been when I was afraid to admit the imperfection of my marriage.  I was terrified that I was the only one who had been in each of those situations, I was lonely, and both times I was petrified that there was no end in sight.

When running, I have a new goal.  I'm working on ignoring the finish line.  If I run and think about getting to the end, I tire out.  I feel my muscles ache.  I want to walk.  I feel defeated and lacking in the energy to make it all the way to the end.  By contrast, when I focus on the joy of the moment for the entire hour or whatever it is, I just eventually arrive and finish.  My whole life, I've been a planner.  I mapped out my plan one day in eighth grade and I was so afraid to deviate from good and smart and right and responsible that I didn't give myself permission to be happy with a life that was unfinished or imperfect.  I had the goal in mind and I convinced myself that until I got there I wouldn't be happy.  One of the biggest areas of growth for me in the last year has been seeing that that's a recipe for suffering, and an immature view of how life should work.

I don't have any answers, I only have the distinct memory of what that painful time meant for me.  In the most awful phase of our marriage, in our separation and my loneliness, and now, even as we're happy and healthy in our relationship I find myself saying that "things will be good as soon as we _______."  I believe there's more peace in living in the moment, rather than living for what's coming down the road.  That's quite a challenge, though.

You might raise an eyebrow about this type of thing, but a few years ago in the depths of our awful relationship and in search for any comfort for my anxiety and worry and pain, I listened to an Eckhart Tolle audiobook on the way to and from Yosemite.  It really spoke to me about trying not to live in the past and what's already happened, or in the future with what may happen.  Tolle says "unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence" (50).

I really believe that this is true.  When I focus on what's already happened, I'm forgetting that I can't change it.  I get it in my head that because something happened before it's going to happen again.  I heard Dr. Phil say once that "forgiveness is letting go of the hope that things could have worked out differently."  Cheesy, I know...  Dr. Phil.  But for me, that's huge.  When I am able to let go of things that are done--to forgive other people and forgive myself--I free myself up to live life without fear that it's going to fall apart.  When I focus too much on an arbitrary date in the future, I forget to be thankful for the blessings I have now.

October has almost passed, and I know that the succeeding months are going to hold some of the same painful fears and feelings.  The memory of those difficult times is still very strong.  Life is good, though.  I'm thankful for change and I'm thankful for where we are in 2009.  Life isn't perfect, but it's certainly better than what it was a year ago.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Running plan, etc.

I did it, as promised.  Saturday morning I had a great four mile run.  Nice and easy.  I hit the driveway listening to a Huey Lewis and the News playlist on Pandora but that just wasn’t working so about five minutes in I switched to Motown.  BEST. PLAYLIST. EVAR.  I had the most cheerful, sunshine-y run.  Running early on a Saturday morning is magical.  The whole weekend lies ahead of me, and I feel like everyone who is out is happy and encouraging.  I could just feel the good energy.

When I hit the road in the morning like that I'm guaranteed to be “done” for the rest of the day--I love that.  It worked like a charm.  One of my Grandpa’s favorite sayings is: Whenever a task is set for you don’t idly sit and view it, nor wish it done, but begin at once… and DO IT!  Grandpa, as usual, is right.  When I have things hanging over my head I turn into a giant wreck.  I wish I could make morning runs a regular thing, but since that day when I fell and was alone in the dark at 5:15 I’ve been too big of a chicken.

In the same vein of crossing things off the list, I made some progress on another front.  This week’s illness set me back on my grading, like way mucho.  The essays that I hoped to finish up by Friday were still in my grading pile, rolling 20 deep.  I knew I had to do those and since my kids turned in another timed essay this past Thursday I figured I’d just do those too.  I’m still a bit unsure about how my grading life is going to work into my ballet life.  Or is it vice versa?  Either way, it gives me a little bit of a twinge in my stomach like I’m about to go onstage.  I decided it was better to do than to plan so I sat at Panera drinking free coffee refills for four hours and finished my entire stack—about 90 essays, three classes of participation rubrics, the entire absent work pile (O, bane of my existence!), and a partridge in a pear tree.  I even made myself sit there and put it all in the grade book before I went home.

By the afternoon I was feeling equal parts jitters (four cups of coffee later) and accomplishment.  I stuffed a hard boiled egg into my face when I got home and took a big fat nap before my scheduled night with friends.  I was lucky enough to have another night with my buddies from my high school dance days—another of the girls, Michelle, is in town so we gathered to catch up and gossip all night.  It was another great night.  I ended up staying to chat with Christina until well after midnight.  I’m tired today, but once again I’m grateful for old friendships and the fact that they’re so comfortable.

otdc1 This is from the last time we were all together. Of course last night, Sarah was back in TX and Megan was back in San Francisco, but Michelle was here visiting from CO.

Here’s the running plan that I wrote about yesterday.  It’s not set in stone yet.  I’m still trying to think about the order of days (which may change) but the mileage will stay the same.  Enjoy.

I know that my Monday runs are incorrectly labeled Tempo... for now I'm too lazy to change it.

I’m off to meet my mom for a walk.  TTYL.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back on it.

It's so hard not to repetitively use cliches in this situation, buuuuuuuuuut... here I am, finding myself on the icky end of a lapse in running.  Again.  The reasons always differ, but I just wonder this:  how is it that I'm so terrible at sticking to this for longer than a few weeks at a time?  Sure, my track record doesn't suck over the long haul but I have this tendency to get sick, lazy, or hurt every two or three weeks and then to have to get my butt in gear all over again.

Well, I guess that's just how I do things.  It's so annoying.

Tonight I got back in touch with the one thing that motivates me to my core; it makes me want to run more than anything in the world.  When I run, it is the thing that drives me home. When I finish, it is the first thing that grabs my attention. It gives me a deep and satisfactory pride that defies both awesomeness and explanation.  It makes me happy: checking off boxes. I live for that chart on the fridge and for marking off each box with a neat little X.  The chart of my progress gives me a warm fuzzy in my soul.  I'm the kid in preschool, joyfully working for that sticker on the sticker chart.

Tonight I made a new running plan.  I realized (and E has said this to me approximately eight times in the past week, so that helps a smidge) that I haven't been so motivated since I finished my first Half Marathon.  I hate to admit this to the entire world, but he's right.  I do better when I have a goal in mind because I know that if I slack off I'm going to hurt myself on the day when it really counts.  That kept me going out for training runs before my first race because I knew that if I didn't keep up my schedule, the Half Marathon was going to be a) more painful or b) dangerous because I could injure myself.  So:

Step 1: Figure out what races I can do.

I am already planning to do Sacramento's Run to Feed the Hungry.  In fact, I've got about half of my AP English class running with me.  Fun stuff.  Today out of the blue I got an offer to do a leg of the California International Marathon relay. I'd been thinking about doing it, but had no idea how I'd find someone who was relatively my speed and level of... um... experience.  Enter Facebook, where I found a great group to run with that fits what I need, exactly.

At the Run to Feed the Hungry I'm going to run the 10K, and at the CIM, probably somewhere between 6 and 7 miles.  Perfect.  I'm kind of happy about running some shorter races for now.  I'd like to make sure I'm really enjoying my runs and not feeling pressured to get in a ton of miles.  I'm also a bit worried about keeping up my training as the weather starts to change--shorter distances give me a little bit more flexibility.

Step 2: Make a plan.

I'll post my plan here soon, but (sorry, this is lame-o) it's on the other computer and right now I don't want to get out of bed and wait for it to turn on.  I can tell you about it though.  I have some new goals when it comes to this plan.

1) Get in some shorter/ faster runs.  I work at a high school.  There's a track.  I should use it.  I'm going to start small, in the hopes that I can get used to this kind of thing.  I'll probably be doing this on my lunch hour once a week.

2) Get my short runs during the week back to about 5 miles.  I'd like it if I can have a good base each week--a "standard" run that I can do without too much thought.  I was running around 4.5 or 5 on my short runs for about a month before the HM, and it was going well.  Those were the runs where I could tune out and just go.  I figure this gives me about an hour of running, twice a week with a longer run on the weekend.

3) Shift my cross-training.  Before, I was doing two walk days.  Now that I am teaching ballet twice a week, I think this is going to take the place of my stretch/ strengthen days.  I don't want to get overwhelmed by doing too much, so I'm going to give myself the option to walk if I want to, in addition to the two nights of ballet.

4) Maintain my mileage on long runs.  'Nuff said.

5) Shift my running days.  I was running T-W-Th-S.  That won't work with my ballet schedule. There's also no way I can run and teach ballet on Tuesdays.  The new plan has me on the track on Mondays, ballet Monday night, ballet on Tuesday night, short run Wednesday, rest Thursday, short run Friday, rest Saturday, long run Sunday.  Run days M-W-F-Su.

6) Long term goal: another half marathon.  Since there are zero, I just mapped out a date for myself to do it again... on my own.  The way I have it set up, the two races I'm going to do end up in the middle of my training.  I want to keep my mileage up so that I can try another half, even if it's by myself.  I'm going to try that just after the New Year.

Lame post without the actual plan, huh?  I'll get on it.

P.S.  This post is scheduled to hit the 'net right when I should be out on the road today.  Let's play a little game called "Did she actually get out of bed?"

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Night at the Carnival






   Yes, those are his rain boots.


I love this picture of Roo.  It’s rare to capture her without her perfect camera face.  She’s such a thinker.  She looks like such a contemplative fairy.


This one’s for Grandma and Mimi.


See what I mean about her camera face?  Still cute though. Even with that crappy flower painted on her face.  Dear high school kid manning the face-painting booth: don’t quit your day job.


Me, my big arm, and my unbelievably adorable nephew, Ty.  I know you want to reach right into the computer screen and kiss those cheeks.  Look at his jowls.  Glorious.


Kids and hot dogs.


Cousins! I’m going to be sad when Caleb stops making that squinty face.

Roo has been telling us all week how she’s finally big enough to get on the big bar.  She had to show us tonight even though she was wearing her costume.  My little monkey.  I didn’t post the pictures of E getting on the bar just after she did, but believe me—they exist.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Social Media Junkie

I lurrrrrve me some social media.  Now wait.  Hold your horses, haters.  It's a wonderful way to connect with more people on a daily basis than ever before.  I seriously love it.  Every day I'm touched, I laugh, and I find all kinds of new amusements I'd never have found without twitter, facebook and blogs.  I've found people at the ends of the earth, people that would have faded from my life without this kind of link.  This blog--this one, RIGHT HERE--has helped me to make so many meaningful connections.

OF COURSE you need to be careful.  OF COURSE I bare my soul on here, but I am actually really selective about the kinds of details I will include.  It might not seem that way, but I am.  Feelings? Fair game.  Deep personal secrets?  Notsomuch.  Just don't be an idiot, and I think the Internet can be for you too, kids.

In addition to my three hour font change extravaganza last weekend, I also worked on some social media junk.  Don't worry.  It's not scary.  You're not signing up for anything that could lead to money-requesting emails from Nigerian princes.  I've tested all of this stuff out and it works beautifully and it is NOT SCARY.  Did I already say that? Check it out.

A few days ago, I created a Facebook page for the blog.  If you like everything all in one place, it puts a brief preview of each post right into your newsfeed. Cool, huh? I got the idea from Tracy on the Cheap.

Click the picture or click HERE to become a Facebook fan of Alis Grave Nil.

Tonight I also made a twitter page for the blog.  If you have my personal twitter, that will continue to link to the blog as well, but this one will be strictly blog-related.  No whining.  Okay, maybe only a little whining.

Click the picture or CLICK HERE to follow Alis Grave Nil on twitter.

Of course there are other ways to stay on top of things without having to click over here every day.  The easiest is to have the blog delivered via email.  Each post will arrive in your inbox as an email.  Every day.  No need to check and see when something new goes up.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to Alis Grave Nil via email.

Another thing you can do to get regular posts is to "subscribe" to the blog feed in a reader.  All this means is that the content I put up is delivered to you in a blog "inbox"--along with any other blogs that you subscribe to.  See that little orange box to the right?  The one with the three white semi circles?  That's on any site with an RSS feed.  Click on it here (or on any site) to subscribe.  If you want to know about blog readers, you can read my post on Google Reader, which I love and I use on my iGoogle page to read multiple blogs each day.  It's like having the best columns of the newspaper delivered to your inbox.  It's like funmail.

CLICK HERE to view or subscribe to the feed for Alis Grave Nil.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  There's still good ol' fashioned "Followers" using Blogger/Google.  See?  To the right, all those cute little square pictures.  You can follow the blog that way too.  Thanks to all of you who already do.  :)

See?  Fun stuff.

Now, another question I get all the time is this:

How do you automatically sync your new blog posts to your Facebook status?

This one's for those of you with blogs.  Obviously.  It's not exactly as it seems.  Actually, I've linked my blog to Twitter, via Twitterfeed.  I've also linked my Twitter status to my Facebook status, using the Twitter application on Facebook.  Sooo... what all this mumbo jumbo means is that every time I make a new post, it goes on my RSS feed, which goes to Twitterfeed, which goes to Twitter, which goes to Facebook.  All this happens (on a good day) in a matter of minutes without any help from me.  I really like it because it's easy and you can customize it.  It's all linked together.  The hip bone's connected to the... thigh bone...

Here's how to set it up:

1) Create an account on Facebook, Twitter, Twitterfeed (just do a Google search for those).
2) Know your RSS feed address.  This is not the same as your blog address.  Click on the RSS icon and it should take you there.  You need this for Twitterfeed to work.
3) Customize the way you want your Tweets/ status updates to look.  I have a preset {new blog post} at the beginning, followed by the title.  You can make it whatever floats your boat.
4) Go to the Twitter application on Facebook and allow Twitter to update your status.  (Side note: I keep trying the selective status app and it appears to suck.  Sorry.)
5) Once it's all set up, you shouldn't have to do anything.  If it doesn't work, you probably didn't get the RSS feed address right.

Another thing I'm trying right now is to use the selective twitter status update feature to update the Blog fan page.  (Yeah, if I lost you before, you're going to need a compass to get out of here now.)  Like I said a second ago, that app appears to suck.  For now, I've been updating the Facebook fan page manually.  That way I know it will look the way I want it to.  I'm hoping I can use the new Blog Twitter page to update that eventually.

Email me if you have questions.  I might have made it worse than it was before.

Thursday morning in pictures:




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sniffle. Cough. Hack. Groan.

I need a flu shot,
but do I already have the flu?
I'll wait and see--
it's what I always do.

Do I already have the flu?
I'm death, slightly warmed.
It's what I always do:
Sniffle, cough, hack, groan.

I'm death slightly warmed,
do I call the doc?
Sniffle, cough, hack, groan.
It's big, fat and feverish.

Do I call the doc?
I've got Swine on the brain;
It's big and fat. I'm feverish.
I'm restless. I'm bored and still.

Swine's on the brain.
I'll wait and see--
I'm restless and bored and still
I need a flu shot.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009



I came across this today and it piqued my interest.  I haven't made up my mind about it yet, but it's definitely a thought-provoking idea.  It's called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.  It's an online challenge to write a 50,000 (yes, you read that correctly) word novel in one month--roughly 175 pages.  There's no pressure, no promise of publishing, no contests, only a challenge.

The challenge operates on the idea of quantity over quality, which reinforces something I tell my students all the time: that it's always easier to work with something on the page.  I think that often the hardest part is getting started.  It seems this challenge isn't widely celebrated, though.  I did a quick online search just now and it seems the idea is controversial.  It seems to me that anything that gets people writing is worthy.  Even if it's crappy writing.

What do you think? Should I do it?  Is it crazy to think I could write that much and still blog and grade and teach and run and be a mom?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grading papers is awesome*

*under the following conditions:
1. You have nothing else to do
2. You're not in a hurry
3. There's no chance the student will whine about the grade
4. The student actually did the right assignment
5. The student actually read the book
6. The student has heard of paragraphs, capital letters, sentences and periods
7. You know won't get a parent phone call about it if the perfect little snowflake gets anything less than an A+
8. You don't have to enter the grade into a computer
9. You have a good pen
10. You have a good higlighter
11. Your house is already clean
12. Your laundry is done
13. You have a comfy chair
14. You don't have to do any math involving a rubric
15. You know the student will read your comments and experience an instant and substantial epiphany
16. You only have one paper to grade

Otherwise, it's a drag!  I wanted to grade papers so badly when I was a kid.  I loved peer editing.  I dreamed of the days I'd read my students' papers and write copious comments in the margin, showing the students that I truly cared about them as individuals and I wanted to help them learn.

There's just not enough time.  Every time I have to grade papers, I'm pressed for time and all I can think about is how much I have to do... how much is left... how I have to just get through it so I can enter grades.  *sigh*  It's so much different than I thought it would be.  Yeah, even seven years in to this gig I'm still lamenting the lack of time I have to spend grading papers.

I'm trying something different this week.  I've tried it before... I mean different because maybe this time I'll make it work.  I have 50 essays left to grade (well, 100 essays, actually, since each kid turned in two separate drafts... but we'll call it 50) so I put them into 5 piles of 10.  It's my goal to grade one pile each day.  I'll let you know how it goes.  I have six more to do tonight (did the first 4 while I was in the Elementary School parking lot waiting for Ad).


I began my comeback tour tonight.  Back in the ballet studio. It was a good night, but I'm pooped.  I didn't get to sit down and rest today until about 8:00. Back at it again tomorrow.  I'll write about it soon.

Right after I find a good pen.

Weekend Wrapup

Things on my to-do list for this week:

1. Rock the socks off some ballet classes
2. Get enough sleep
3. Maintain my regular run schedule
4. Eat things that will help me feel good.
5. Finish grading these papers.

It was a good weekend.  I'm beat.  Before I get to the details, here's a giant scoop of nerddom for you.  Saw this at Sam's Club today and it turned me into a giggly sixteen year old World History student for a minute:

The cart of the people, since 1215.  Just call me the Great Carter.  Suck it, nobility.

Okay, enough of that geeky stuff.  Le week-end.  (By the way, way to go, Frenchies, making up your own word for "week-end.")

Friday I was a wreck and a half.  I did not feel well at all.  I fell asleep early which lead to late night insomnia.  That meant I was awake to witness my own coughing fits and throat scratches and listen to E snore.  Yeeeeuck (me, not him).  I had a hard time sleeping Friday night.  Saturday morning E was up early to go over to the family garage sale at my Grandma and Grandpa's house.  I brought the monkeys over at about 10:00.  I wasn't much help at the sale since I still felt like crawling back in bed.  Even though we didn't sell a whole lot of stuff we made a nice haul.  Good thing, because it's going to groceries, dog food and gas for the rest of the month.  Did I mention how badly I am still hoping E will get a job?  Anywhere?

Saturday night at about 8:00 I picked up The Lost Symbol and thought I'd start reading it.  I'd taken a fat nap that afternoon so I knew I was going to have a hard time sleeping... cut to me finishing the book at about 3:00 AM.  Not great for healing my cold.  It was hard to get up today. In some ways, worth it though. I can't remember the last time I got to read an entire book in one sitting.  Man, I love to read.  Sometimes I forget that, ironically, when I'm teaching reading and writing.  It sucks the love of reading out of me just the same way it does to kids.  It just makes me tired.  It's nice that I've been able to read so much lately.

Sunday I had breakfast with April and Mimi and one of Mimi's friends.  I ate a ton of french toast, as previously mentioned.  Oh, and I'll just own up to this now too:  I didn't run this weekend.  I did manage to get both my short runs in this week, but didn't feel well enough to run a long one.  What is it that they say, that if you're sick above the neck you can still run?  Mine's definitely still lodged in my lungs, so I'm hoping it vacates soon.  I really want to try to keep a normal schedule.

There's a new Sam's Club that just opened near us so we went over today to browse.  We didn't buy a lot, and it was nice to window shop a bit--certainly not as nice as buying, but fun.  I did a bit of pre-Christmas list browsing.  In case you're reading this *ahem* Mom, or Santa's elves, here are some things from Sam's that looked mighty appealing to me.  I even took pics of the tags.  I'm so thoughtful.  Here you go.

CK Ladies Raincoat
Dark Brown or Black
size medium

I don't know now if I took a picture of the wrong color or if it just came out light--but I liked the darker ones.  I wish I took a picture of this on me.  It's a knee-length raincoat with a hood.  Not very exciting, but I need one.  Eh, it will look fine with some boots and a bright scarf.

Nike ladies Sphere jacket
Dark Plum (fave) or black
Size medium

Nike tag.

All kinds of good things at Sam's Club.  I'm sure Costco is just as wonderful right now.  Maybe I need to go in there with my camera too.  I'm still lusting over the Amazon Kindle every day but that's more of a dream than a reality item on the list. 

After we got home I spent HOURS working on my lil' ol blog.  In the end I didn't change that much, but it took me so long to get it how I wanted it.  What do you think? (I typed this and then I realized I can only see the new fonts for the post titles if I'm running Explorer.  On Firefox (which I usually use), nothing.  Grr... Maybe all that work was for nothing.)  :/


I'm writing this Sunday night to post Monday, and I've got about 28 minutes and half a bag of Skittles to kill before Brothers and Sisters comes on TV.  I'm so glad I can vicariously live through the Walkers' bizarre fortune to have every human tragedy occur in their one family.  How is that show so sad, and yet I love it so much?  Maybe if my life was set to an uber-cool acoustic soundtrack it'd feel that way too.  Meh.

I'm working through the Skittles in order from worst to best: Yellow, Green, Orange, Purple, Red. How do you eat your Skittles?