Monday, December 27, 2010


I like to learn new skills. Whether it's practical like knowing how to properly take off surgical gloves or archaic like hand-spinning wool, I tend to tuck each new tidbit of knowledge away with a "there's something else that might come in handy after the apocalypse" thought. Yes, when civilization as we know it comes to an end and the Michaels and JoAnns are picked clean by zombie grannies, you are welcome to come to me for your knitting needs for I will still be able to provide yarn.

Today I pulled on the metaphorical boots of my Viking/Pioneer/Farmer Woman ancestry and learned a new skill.

The toilet at my parents' office overflowed. It was kinda gross. After calling several plumbers, my mom (who provided my aforementioned genetic strappiness) and I went to a hardware store and got a toilet snake.

I wielded the snake. My mom wielded the bucket of ammonia and a mop. In the end?

Toilet: No longer clogged.

Patient-who-flushed-paper-towels-down-the-toilet: Cursed by us all.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Begining To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Yes, that's right, beginning.

For my family, Christmas proper will actually be happening Thursday at the Mountain Town condo. Rachel was working and Andy and Jenn spent the holiday with Jenn's parents, so it was just me, Mom, and Dad (and Natasha, of course) in Grand Junction for the official holiday.

We each opened a few presents - Mom's present to Dad wouldn't travel well, Dad had some car-trip stuff for Mom, and they both insisted that I open two gifts right away. I was all in favor of waiting, but saw their insistence that I would want this one now when I opened the package to find a shiny new iPad!


The second package was my remarkable dad's solution to the pickle I had presented to him a few weeks ago. I had asked him about his iPad experience, since I was looking for a new gadget for traveling. The iPad seemed much better suited to travel in terms of size, portability, and setup, but since I usually blog-on-the-go, I wondered about the ease of typing and whether a smaller, sturdier laptop would be the better (albeit less luscious) option. The solution? My dad found an iPad cover/Bluetooth keyboard combo!

Most awesome indeed.

We hosted the annual game day Christmas afternoon, enjoying lots of tasty food and some new board games with my parents' circle of friends, Brian, and Jenni. A quiet way to spend the holiday, but not too bad considering the lack of siblings.

My dad has been either operating or tucked away in the basement working on some project I am verboten to know about most of the time since I got here. My mom has been doing various projects herself, plus assisting me a bit with my own craftiness. I hope to post some photos of my current project after our Christmas.

Oh! Also, Natasha flew in a plane for the first time! My mom booked me on a charter flight to get down here Thursday. After hearing about the two chemical-filled tanker trucks that overturned at Vail Pass on Tuesday and shut down I-70 for several hours, I called to thank her again for enabling me to skip the drive over this year. Nash flew for free with this company, and it is totally a case of luxuries once tasted. No security, no parking hassles (thanks again, Rachel!), and I didn't have to be there until 20 minutes or so before the flight. It couldn't have been easier. Natasha didn't seem all that frazzled, either.

She did, however, find the Christmas present my mom got her - she dragged the cat toy-stuffed stocking out of the shopping bag on the table onto the floor and was rubbing her face vigorously against it when we found her. We opened it, and she enjoyed a joyously drugged-out afternoon.

Happy Holidays, my friends!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brush Up Your Shakespeare (Again)

I found the other Macbeth student plot summary that I wanted to share with you guys:

In McBeth there is a king and prince. Also 3 wierd sisters who can tell the past and future. The 3 wierd sisters told McBeth that he would get 2 medals and then become king.. McBeth ended up going home and killing the king in his own house, with the king as a guest... Then the kings son ran away to England witch was very bad because know hes a guest.. McBeth got his 2nd award witch made him mad with power. He hired 2 assins to kill Zack & Tyler, but only killed Zack. Wen he finally because a king he had a dinner and then saw his ghoast. When he say this he went crazy.. Later we find out that McBeths wife has been sleeping walking rubbing he hands trying to get blood that wasn't there clean. Once his wife dies a batttle comes McBeth dies and the kings son who fled is now KING OF IRELAND :)

Granted, she did a better job following the plot than the last one. Still, we don't have a Tyler in the class and she seems to be a little fuzzy on the geography of the British Isles....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Hope I Get It

The musical's cast and, thanks to Facebook, the cast list is circulating among the students as I type.

We're doing You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, by the way. We double-casted the leads (we had enough guys to do that!). I was always happy with the double-casts at DPJH, but this is high school and it's never been done that was here and so on and so on. I hope it'll work.

I'll give a better report of the week when I get back home (I'm crashing at the condo again).

But it's done, it's out there, and I'm excited to get the rehearsals rolling!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

I offer my speech and drama classes extra credit to go see plays. Knowing how easy it is to pick up an extra program or ticket stub for a friend to get credit, I have a worksheet for them to fill out for the points. The first question asks them to summarize the plot of the show.

These are often just plain fun for me to read, and I've been sharing the Macbeth evaluations from the Drama 1 kids with the Advanced Drama kids. Here's one of my favorites:

The King wouldn't allow his daughter to be with Mcbeth & she wanted to kill her father and have Mcbeth as King. So mcbeth kills the King and he becomes King but mcbeth gets killed in the end by his own men after he ordered them to kill his wife and servants. In the end Seans character became king because the men rebelled against mcbeth because he kept killing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Far From the Home I Love

I've been feeling blue the last few days. It's the result of a variety of things, including a dual homesickness.

I'm wanting to be with my family and doing Christmas the way we usually do. I'm excited for auditions this week, and I like two of my classes well enough that I'm glad to have more time with them before they're dissolved at the end of the term. But still, I'm tired, I need a real break, and I miss my family. We're also trying to figure out how to do Christmas together this year properly, and I'm sad that no matter what, we're just not going to be able to do Christmas like we've always done. I knew that it had to end someday, and I figured when Rachel announced her pregnancy last year that Christmas 2009 would be the last of the way we used to do it, but I'm still really bummed that this year's just not going to be the same. Which I think is why I've been feeling, well, lonely this week.

It finally started to feel a little bit like Christmas for me yesterday when I ran some errands. I went to the spice store for some gifts for people, and walking around downtown Littleton buying presents and sipping mulled cider finally gave me a little of that sens du Noel.

December always makes me homesick for Germany, too. Of all the places I've lived in December, Germany is the most Christmasy to me. I think it was the Christkindelsmariks - the yellow glow, the wooden booths, the Santa figurines, the glass ornaments, the smell of wurst and cider and frost, and the sound of people and oompah-bands. All I have to do is take in a lungfull of cold air or see some frost clinging to pine-covered hills and I miss it horribly.

Jason and I were talking potential vacations tonight. I wanted to discuss travel plans, since another reason I'm blue is that I don't have any major trips set right now. All kinds of possibilities, but nothing I can firmly point to and say, "There. There is where I get to go in a few months, so keep on working1"

We know we want to do at least one trip together this summer, but in batting around other ideas we came on the possibility of going to Strasbourg over winter break next year.

It's not impractical - I actually get out of school on Dec. 16th, so we could fly to Europe, revel in the markets in Strasbourg for a week, and fly back to our respective families in time for Christmas (with suitcases full of treats, of course). Jason said his family wouldn't mind him losing a few days with them if he brought back goodies. I told him that if I told my parents I was going to Strasbourg in December, there's a good chance they would tell me they're coming along. (We're both okay with that, by the way, Mom and Dad.)

And so instead of doing the projects I should be doing tonight, I looked at photos like this:

And my heart is just welling up with homesickness.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I Remember It Well

This week, this very week, I have absolutely no after-school activities.

For the first time since early September and until after the musical next spring, I don't have speech practice or play rehearsals or anything to keep me from going home after teaching.

I'm almost giddy with the joy of being able to do laundry and such.

Another perk is that I get to carpool again this week (although it's not so much a perk tomorrow when I have to leave at 5:30 AM because John has an early department chair meeting). Today on the way home, Tiffany told me that they were talking about Russia in her World History class today. Apparently, some students said, "Russia! Ms. Waterhouse lived there!"

Tiffany: "Oh, that's right, she did live there or go there or something. I went there, too. See, here are some pictures I took of Lenin's-"

Students: "Yeah, she, like, lived right next to an insane asylum, too!"

Tiffany: "No, I'm pretty sure it was an orphanage."

Students: "No, it was an insane asylum. She told us all about it."

Lesson learned: Students will recall things I tell them in class over a year later if it involves crazy naked Russian women.

Now I just need to figure out how to work that objective into all my lesson plans.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Touch of Class

Dear Class o' Mine -

Look what you did.

You did Shakespeare. You did Macbeth! You did it with only 10 people in the class. You made it something that got the whole school talking.

You made it creepy and haunting. You made the special ed teacher spend the rest of the day explaining to her students that you were all okay and you did not need to go to the hospital.

You made everyone "Ooh" and "Aah" over the ridiculously simple staging of the death of Duncan.

You made it through the fight scenes with only a few small injuries.

Also, you broke three swords.

You kept the show going after one of you whacked his head on the stupidly-designed fusebox backstage, raising a significant lump, blurry vision, and ringing in his ears. You were ready to jump into his place on stage and take over his lines, but then you rallied behind him when he insisted on finishing the show, and you insisted on hugging him before his mom took him home.

Then, you wrote him a thank you card because he finished the show.

You wrote a thank you card for another of you who had a hellish emergency at home right before the show. You recognized that he chose you over his family, and you wrote him a card without my even knowing you did to say 'Thank you for being there for us.'

You knew that one of you had such bad stage fright that he didn't show up to the evening performance of Earnest. You forgave him, you encouraged him, and you made him understand that all he had to do to make you happy was show up. And so he did. And you celebrated him when he said all of his lines in just the right places and did just fine for all three shows.

You filled the stage with puddles of blood the last night.

You stopped caring about what you look like or what people will think and just did the costume changes as fast as you needed to and to heck with whoever was backstage with you at the time.

You insisted that I bring in extra students for the fight scenes, then you didn't insist on it being your friends but rather "good actors from the other drama class". And thus you changed the lives of a small group of freshman and one very lucky 4th grader who is so proud of the "McNugget" nickname you gave him that his parents must have had a hard time this weekend getting him to change out of the tights and tunic.

You gave your troops a pep talk in the dressing room before leading them into battle in the opening scene, telling them that they were about to "die heroically."

You had people commenting on your "professionalism," your "focus," and on how "tight" the performance was. And I think you knew how fantastic those particular comments are.

You told each other to breathe deep, to focus, to take care of each other, and to be aware of the space around yourselves. And so you quoted me to each other without knowing that I could hear you.

You argued about what the lines meant, what the words meant, what the story meant, and whose fault the murder was. You argued with ME about it and you argued with each other, and I loved you for it.

You spent the entire intermission of A Christmas Carol, which we went to on a field trip this week, discussing all of the ideas we should steal for our show.

You stayed late at rehearsal practicing the Macbeth death because you so badly wanted him to die in just the right pose so his hand landed just next to dead Lady Macbeth's hand because the symbolism of that was just so cool.

You made people cry when Macduff found out about his family.

You insisted that I come to your party after the last show. You wanted me to be there, and then you didn't need me to be there because you had each other.

You called yourselves "a family" today during check-in. And each of you made sure to give every person individual kudos when we did our post-mortem discussion.

You reinforced each other. And you made me so incredibly proud to be your teacher.

Look what you did.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Blood Brothers

The field trip today was awesome!

My cold is slowly going away!

Macbeth isn't quite there yet, but will be!

The blood looks fantastic!

So does the fog with the lights!

The final fight scene makes all my director's bones tingle in a good way!

We put in a shadow-puppet-kind-of-scene!

The flash paper looks awesome!

No curtains or hair have caught on fire yet!

I just blew out (blowed out?) a dozen eggs!

Now I'm hunting for battle music!

Maybe the soundtrack to Braveheart!

Because of Scotland, you know!

I'm really excited about this play!

My Advanced Drama class rocks!