Monthly Archives: March 2011

Taylor Mali, Slam Poet, Is My New Favorite Hero

Known for his tirade defending the teaching profession, Taylor Mali is my new favorite hero. I love the Youtube video that has gone viral. I love him more when I read his comment about how his What Teacher’s Make poem has been copied and sent and referred to over and over that it is now known, in some circles, to be written by anonymous.

Mali said, “National Public Radio did a story about the adventures of the poem in 2004. Am I disappointed not to have received credit for writing this poem that has inspired so many? Used to be. But the truth will always come out in the end. And if I had to choose between inspiring teachers anonymously or not inspiring them at all, I would choose anonymous inspiration every time.”

Yep. My hero.

When asked at a dinner party what did he make as a teacher he replied…

“What do I make? Teachers make a difference. Now, what about you?”

But do you need a laugh? I mean, a really good belly laugh? Enjoy this. (Mommy alert! Adult language is used. Turn down the volume, please.)


Filed under Teaching

What My Blogroll Says About Me

When I first started this business of blogging I was enamoured with the blogroll. My blogroll. Other blogrolls. You could say I became blogroll obsessed.

If I enjoyed another writer, I’d scan their blogroll to see who they thought was interesting. Sometimes I’d like their recommendations. Sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes their blogroll was full. Other times there were just a few destinations listed. And sometimes, a blogroll was nowhere to be found.

I’ve come to the following (inaccurate, I’m sure) conclusions…..

1. If the blogroll is chock full I’ve either come across a writer who clearly has so much more reading time on their hards – I could never compete. OR it’s full because they’re just a girl (or guy) who can’t say no and lists every single person that lists them on their blog.

2. If it’s a trim blogroll, I’ve discovered a writer who is a) discriminatory – in a good way. OR b) incredibly lazy. (Oops. I think I’ve just discovered my category. One guess, people and I’ll give you a hint. It isn’t a.)

3. Those without a blogroll? I have no clue. But I do know that when I can’t find a blogroll listed on a writer’s blog that I enjoy? I’m disappointed. I like to see who they are reading.

When I first began blogging, I admit to having  a touch of blogroll diarrhea. I added every single blogger that: amused me, touched me, interested me, encouraged me, challenged me. If they added me to their blogroll, I felt obligated to add them to mine. If I wanted to be on their blogroll and wasn’t, I added them to mine and oh-so-gushingly told them so in an email (hint, hint intended.) Yes. I even grossed myself out. That phase was, thank-you-God, short-lived.

When I came to my senses, I realized that I appreciated other blogrolls that seemed to have truly similar quality or content or inspiration. I trimmed mine down to the nubs.

Then, life hit me full force. I’ve neglected my blogroll, as well as my blog. And I’ve neglected many of you. Not by choice. By necessity. (I’m treading water here, people and the waters seem to be getting deeper and murkier.)

So my blogroll remains very trim. Very, very trim. I can’t remember the last time I added someone. Although I have trimmed a few. Abandoned blogs, mostly.

In my blogroll-obsessed days, I kept a list of bloggers who had me on their blogrolls. I was/am touched, of course, that someone deems me blogroll worthy. I continue to keep the list – as incomplete as it is – so I can check in and read and comment – especially if I haven’t seen you in a while.

I was doing this exercise, fairly recently, because I missed Blog World but didn’t have anything I wanted to share on my own blog. I started visiting my list – checking in and catching up with you all. And I noticed, a few of you have dropped me from your blogrolls. (And by you, I don’t mean you, because after all, if you’re here and you deem me blogroll worthy – I’m probably already there. I mean the yous that have dropped me. And by yous, I don’t mean youse – that’s a part of the Northern US vernacular that I just don’t get.)

I’ve been dumped.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter to me. It does. Especially one in particular. So I wrote this one in particular and I haven’t heard back.

I guess it was something I said. (See? I know some of you don’t believe me, but I do, indeed, tick people off with what I write here. And I’m wallowing in such crap now in my real life that I just want to say – Go buy a thicker skin, people! Life is too freakin’ short to worry about the inconsequential opinions I dish out.)

My blogroll is trim because I’m blog-lazy and my life is full. I should add a few of you and I’ve been meaning to get to my blog-keeping chores but instead, I keep adding more bricks to that road to hell….unintentionally, of course.

To any of you who feel you should be on my blogroll, applications will be accepted on Tuesdays from 12:00pm-12:01pm. Forms should be submitted in triplicate, handwritten in blue ink and delivered by carrier pigeon.

My blogroll is a work in progress. Some days I work on it and most days I forget it’s there.

If you want to be seen on my blog? I’ve found that particularly witty comments garner the most hits.

Just sayin’.


Filed under Blogging

Jane! Dooooon’t Strike Oouuuuut!

It has to be some of the most heart-breaking moments in parenting.

When you are unable to shield your child from the cruelties of the world.

Or the playground.


My sweet, little #2son was so sad in the back seat of the car today on the way home from school.

“What’s the matter, buddy?” I asked.

“Nuh-fin’,” he said, staring out the window.

I let it go. He always talks when he’s ready. And I guessed that he didn’t want to talk about it with his big brother around.

Changing out of his school clothes, I knocked on the bedroom door. He was sitting, forlornly, on his bed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.

“In private,” as he rose to shut the door.

It all came pouring out. How all the kids were playing “Snake” on the playground but he couldn’t always hold on because he wasn’t fast enough and everyone was getting frustrated with him because he couldn’t keep up so they asked him (nicely) not to play. He insisted on playing. He kept trying to keep up, but he couldn’t, so then they demanded (not so nicely) that he go play somewhere else, that he was ruining their game.

He was devastated.

He’s in a mixed age classroom, ages 6 – 9. And quite honestly, he’s not terribly athletic. I asked him if he could go play with his other friends. But he said, no. Everyone wanted to play with the “big kids” and they all were playing “Snake” (whatever that is) so he was left to play by himself.

“Did you talk to your teacher?”

He was alarmed that I would suggest such a thing. “No! This is something I should handle myself.”

So I told him about Mary Kay and how, as much as I loved the game of baseball, as much as I knew about the sport and my beloved Detroit Tigers, I was horrible at it. I struck out. A lot. More times than I ever connected with the ball. And Mary Kay batted after I did. Every time I’d approach home plate she’d taunt, “Jane! Don’t strike out!” To this day I can still hear her whine. How she’d drag out dooooon’t and oouuuut. And every time she’d get into my head, I would fulfill her prophecy. To her dismay. And my great embarrassment.

And then, we talked some more. But we really didn’t come up with any solutions. We talked about feelings. We talked about not always measuring up to others’ expectations. We talked about how sometimes there’s not a whole lot we can do to change how people feel or how they handle things.

He gave me a great big hug and said, “Thanks, Mom! I love you so much!”

He felt so much better.

But I didn’t. I wanted to run back to the school and give those kids a piece of my mind. I wanted to confide in the teachers and have them make those kids play with my son. I wanted to turn back time. I wanted to erase that horrible experience from his memory

But what was I hoping to accomplish? And if he didn’t learn how to deal with this disappointment what would happen when, not if, something bigger came along?


These are the moments I hate being a parent. I feel inadequate to protect. I can only arm him with as much love and support I can muster.

And that just has to be enough.


Filed under Motherhood, parenting

Can You Have Your Cake Pop And Afford To Eat Lunch, Too?

Cake Pops.

They’re nothing new.

No, Starbucks did not invent them. There are cake pop cookbooks and recipes (yes, even vegan friendly recipes) all over the internet. Brides have provided them as whimsical, easy treats to serve at their receptions. Dieters have raved about these trendy two-bite sweet satisfying indulgences. There is even a Facebook page devoted to cake pop enthusiasts.

So, to see that Starbucks has jumped on the bandwagon has not surprised me in the least.

What surprises me?

The price.

$1.50 a pop. (Ba-dum-bum! Cue cymbals.)

Are you kidding me? That’s 75 cents a bite.

Per bite.

Now, before today, I’ve never broken down the number of sips in my beloved Caramel Macchiato. And I’m embarrassed to say that yes, I indulge on this Starbucks $4.51 treat more often than I should. Depending on the urgency to get my caffeine/sugar fix, it takes about 30 sips to finish my drink (yep, I actually counted.) That would be approximately 15 cents a sip.

A far cry from .75, wouldn’t you say?

I’m not saying that 15 cents a sip isn’t indulgent. It is. Especially when I can create a suitable substitute at home for about 8 cents a cup. (Yes, I figured that out, too. I used to teach math. What can I say?) 

But 75 cents a bite boggles my mind?

Who is buying into this hype? And is it worth it?

Can you have your cake pop and afford to eat lunch, too?

Inquiring minds want to know!


Filed under Because I'm Curious, Soapbox

The Zen of Daylight Savings Time

Here I sit. Bleary-eyed. Unmotivated. Exhausted.

And it’s almost 11am. Gosh, I could swear it was only 10 o’clock. Where did the time go? (Bear with me. These jokes are going to continue for the next couple of days.)

I loathe Daylight Savings Time in the spring. Loathe it. I start dreading it. I try to prepare for it by getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier. It never works. (Although, I will say that since having kids I notice the effects less and less. Chalk it up to being perpetually sleep deprived.)

So imagine my surprise when the priest at mass Saturday night says, “I know you are all here this evening, but I invite you to join us again tomorrow morning for my favorite day of the year!”

Favorite? Did I hear wrong? My ears perk up. Because tomorrow is my least favorite day of the year.

“Trust me,” he goes on to share, “It’s a blast! Because at about 40 minutes into the mass, people start trickling in thinking they’re arriving early when actually they’re 40 minutes late. The expressions on their faces?  Priceless!”

I can only imagine.

I hate to be late for anything. I had to learn to deal with that personality quirk after children, however. It seems they have their own agendas when it comes to being anywhere – Toddler Time, I used to call it. Now? It has no name. Other than late. But I digress…

Whose brilliant idea was it to move Daylight Savings Time smack dab in the middle of flu and cold season? Certainly not a mother of small children. And explaining bedtime while the sun is still blaring outside? How do the mothers of Alaska do it?

I asked a friend how she felt about this time of year. Didn’t she just hate it?

“No,” she replied.

Oh, you’re one of those who think the extra hour of sunshine is worth it?

“Not really,” she said, “I just don’t have an opinion about something I can’t change.”

Oh, how very Zen of you.

Pfffft. I wish I could be like her. I really do. But no matter how hard I try I can’t get over the fact that I’m losing one whole hour of sleep, one whole hour of my life every single spring. Sure, I get it back in the fall (Hence, my absolute favorite day of the year. Ok, not absolute – but certainly in the top 10!) but is really worth all this trouble?

Daylight Savings Time was established to save energy. The theory is that taking advantage of the daytime hours we will all use less electricity. Go ahead. Google it. There are conflicting studies out there with regards to the validity of this theory. And many claim that there is little to no effect in any energy savings during this time.

Little to no effect.

I choose to believe those studies.

So, again, I ask is it worth it?


Oh, I suppose all of you out there are so very Zen, too.


Well, I’m stepping off this path of enlightenment…

and going back to bed.


Filed under All In A Day's Work

A Particular Post Has Jane’s Unmentionables In A Twist

A while back, a long while back, a particular post of a particular blogger on her particular blog was highlighted on a particular “Hey! Look At This Blogger!” kind of page. (Can you tell I’m trying to be particularly vague here?)

I read her particular post and it’s been gnawing at me ever since.

The post was singled out as being particularly good. And it was. I suppose. But the subject matter still has my protective, Mama Bear gene twisted in knots.

I wanted to comment the day I read the post. But I couldn’t. Emotions were too strong to comment. I was afraid I’d come across too judgemental. (Awww, who am I kidding? Too judgemental? Is there ever an acceptable amount of judgement?)

She was writing of a particular holiday. Her very young son’s class was having a party to celebrate by wearing their costumes. He wanted to be a female character from a certain cartoon. Embracing his love of the character, she helped create the perfect female costume for her son to wear.

(Now you’re going to have to trust me on this because I’m not going to send you a link to the post. Mostly, because I’m a chicken and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I’m hoping she never sees this post. So, you “Hey! Look At This Blogger!” editors? Go away. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.)

In her struggle to honor her son’s costume choice she went above and beyond to encourage his individuality. And I do mean, above and beyond. To the point when, as the event drew closer and he began showing great reluctance to wearing his costume, she pushed and encouraged him to march to the beat of his own (which began to sound like her own) drum.

The playground can be a horrible place. Real life, outside the comfort of your color-blind-gender-blind-we-all-bleed-poop-put-on-our-pants-one-leg-at-a-time living room, can be a horrible place. Kids can be mean. Kids can be, dare I say, judgemental.

Should a 6-year-old boy go to school dressed as a girl?

Yes. If that’s truly what my child wanted to dress as for a certain holiday, I’d let him. Nay-sayers be damned. I’d stick by my son, too.



If he showed the slightest sign of reluctance, I’d hightail it to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night to find a replacement. I would not, could not push him to continue with his original plan.

One six-year-old is not going to change the dynamics of playground teasing. Teasing that could follow him for the rest of his life. If he was wise enough to recognize this? I’d honor that request in a heartbeat.

She didn’t. She proudly pushed him to show up in his first choice costume. And I’m glad she is so open-minded. I’m glad she’s teaching her child to follow a path with heart.

But at what point do we, as parents, back off and allow our children to push their own agendas, at their own pace? Encouraging our children to “do the right thing” is one thing. Encouraging them to express their individuality at the risk of relentless teasing at the tender age of six is another.

(Climbing off my high horse, now.


And apologizing in advance to all and any I may offend.)


Filed under children, Soapbox

Forget Waldo. Where’s Jane?

No. I’m not out lying on a rooftop somewhere. (Although, after yesterday, you might find me out on a ledge.)

I’m a guest writer over at The Kitchen Witch.

So, c’mon! Follow me. You can read my post and then scan some of her more recent posts, if you haven’t seen them already.  (Mmmmm, I smell Strawberry Shortcake!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging

Watching Charlie Sheen’s Career Crumble Before Our Very Eyes

Why does this always happen?

A household name. A star. A celebrity. Hits the big time. Has a lucrative career. And then something inside them snaps.

Is it destiny? Are personalities who crave attention merely ripe for a fall? Predestined for substance abuse? Ego is programmed to override sensibility?

Sometimes you see the snap coming years before it actually happens. Think Michael Jackson.

Other times, it catches you by surprise. For me, it was with Bill Cosby and Tom Hanks.

Sometimes the snap is illegal. Oh, for example, drugs, murder, shoplifting, prostitution, fraud.

Other times it’s just an ego, too big for the interview room surrounded with 14 adopted children, a God-like authority on every subject matter, peppered with condescending comments about the little people.

But it’s undeniable. Something happens when a celebrity gets too big for his or her britches.

They begin to feel, they start to believe, that they are untouchable.

I have admired many a celebrity who seemed so down-to-earth. So real. And then watched them in an interview, years into their career, bantering with Barbara Walters with an over-inflated air of superiority.

Such a disappointment.

But they’re human. I can only imagine what it must be like to be told day after day, awards show after awards show, how wonderful you are. You finally believe it. You believe you are untouchable, a class unto yourself, unstoppable.

The sad cases are the Charlie Sheens. The Michael Jacksons. The O.J. Simpsons. Being told day after day, awards show after awards show, of your brilliance. Believing you are infallible. Believing that your reality is ethical and moral simply because you say it is so.

And we sit back and watch the fall. From our cozy living rooms. Dripping with reality.

And we  judge.

Forgetting the role we have played putting celebrities on that pedestal in the first place.


Filed under Deep Thoughts, Observations