Nana Has Wrinkles

Learning, laughing and loving in a world that tells it like it is.
Browsing Life

Well, well, well…

February28

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Today is my 60th birthday, and I am feeling rather giddy.

All the cliches are true–“It’s hard to believe  I’m 60! I don’t feel like 60, I feel like 40! It beats the alternative!” and the list goes on and on.

Truth be told, every age has its highs and lows, but this decade is proving to be a very sweet slice of life–a time of great family joy, continued professional growth, and a bit more wiggle room in the schedule to do my own thing.

Here’s my unsolicited advice, friends–don’t dread the aging process, embrace it. Your selfie may reveal a face that belies your youthful spirit, but I choose to believe that the best is yet to come.

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Micah

February11

 

Micah James Post was born on July 18, 2012. He is coming up on six months old, so why am I just now writing about him? It’s surely not due to indifference or taking the family newborns for granted, but it’s all about a lack of discipline on my part. Sorry, Micah Pie. You’re a wonderful, cuddly, happy little guy, and you deserve much better. Like a well-adjusted third baby, you roll with the punches and happily accept love from everyone willing to share. Welcome to the tribe, little guy!

Shower time!

March20

One of the joys of having raised our children in one place throughout the course of their school years is that they have lifelong friends– young men and women with whom they literally grew up and are still close. A few weeks ago, several of these families had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for one of our dear, young friends.

My assignment was to create the party favors. With my youngest daughter as a consultant, we decided upon a Mason Jar food product of some sort. These old, classic jars are experiencing a strong comeback, with Pinterest and food bloggers leading the rejuvenation effort.

We finally settled upon making White Almond Wedding Cupcakes (recipe here) topped with The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes Frosting (recipe here.) The recipes were both easy to execute, even for me. After cooking and cooling the cupcakes, I split them in half, stuck the bottoms in the Mason Jar, hit them with a swirl of frosting, put the other halves into the jar and then topped them all off with more frosting. Using the Nordic Ware Ultimate Decorating Tool  (only $29.95 at Williams-Sonoma and well worth the price) made this process much prettier than if I would have tried to frost the cupcakes and then insert them into the jar.

To top it all off, I wrapped the jars with twine, added a fork (should a culinary emergency occur), and used the wedding colors to make small tags that each contained a different quotation about love. This was not an expensive or terribly time-consuming party favor, and I think they were well-recieved by the shower attendees. Love to you both, Courtney and Stuart. We can’t wait to celebrate your big day!

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Hope Springs Eternal

March8

After two high school observations, one in the city and one in far, far south county (think Illinois), I got into the car at noon. A happy camper, as I’d seen two new, young teachers create and execute very strong lesson plans, my day got even better when I heard Mike Shannon and John Rooney announce a starting lineup.

What it is about baseball that the sound of even a spring training game lifts my spirits? I come by it naturally, I suppose, as both my Mom and Grandma are/were huge Cardinals fans. My 89 year old Mom knows not only the current players, but the young’uns down on the farm, as well. This picture was taken last year on Mother’s Day, when Jim and I roasted each of our baseball loving Moms in the hot afternoon sun. It was a great day–the Birds won, we all consumed ballpark dogs, and I could swear Albert hit one, although MLB does not confirm that memory. Can’t wait to get back into Busch this spring!

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Nana Gets Crafty

February23

When Pacah was out of town last week, I went a bit crazy on the crafts. Well, not crazy for creative Pinterest types, but surely crazy for me. Inspired by the many design blogs I peruse, and emboldened by the fact that our refrigerator doesn’t do magnets, I felt a need to have a place to post pretty invitations, special notes, pictures, and keepsakes. These pinboards (I believe we used to call them bulletin boards) were incredibly easy to make. Open picture frames, a little chicken wire, some poster board, a yard of cute fabric and you’re done.

The bunny dance flashcards are an homage to the bunnies in front of the board who for years have looked to me like they are disco dancing. Some of the vintage Easter postcards are over a hundred years old, so I’m hesitant to take them out of their plastic slips. Is that like leaving cellophane on a brand new lampshade or covering your best sofa with plastic? What do you think? Should the plastic stay or go?

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Just a little tiny tirade

February16

 Social media is the new black, isn’t it? Even those who onced looked down their noses at these new forms of communication or perhaps harbored a fear of the unknown now embrace the power of this medium. Revolutions are started and overnight marketing sensations begin with one little Tweet or post on Facebook.

School districts wrestle with the impact of social media that comes along with open, BYOD policies. Several years ago, the school at which I taught stopped trying to ban cell phone use during the school day. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference it made to do hall duty and not have to nag at cell phone users to put away their devices. Casual hallway interactions with students became about 100% more positive. For the most part, students embrace the rule that it is okay to use their phones in the hallways, at lunch or during study periods, but not during a class. It is an authentic lesson taught and learned.

Many technology directors mourn the good old days when they had control over “the network.” Back then, they dictated  content on every machine in a bulding, adding software via a CD, entering a registration code and creating a school-wide standard. Now, many educators use Twitter and other web-based social media sites to communicate with students and parents, as well as for their own personalized professional development.. However, these sites are often blocked at school by the almighty filter.

Here is what I don’t understand–why is the filter used for a second grade classroom the same used for a tenth grade classroom? Should one size fit all? Why should a teacher have to ask permission to access any website on his or her computer? This happens all the time.

The filtering effort is obviously an attempt to keep students “safe” online.  The hazards of social media sites loom large. However, students are walking into classrooms with more computing power on their phones than an entire hallway of classrooms had only a few years ago. Isn’t this the ultimate teachable moment? Shouldn’t we teach teenagers to be both responsible and appropriate consumers and producers of digital infomation? Instead, we hide them behind a filter. What sense does that make when the filter can be  easily skirted by smartphones that reside in the majority of student backpacks?

 

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Pining for Time to Pin

February14

In mid-March of 2011, I heard about an awesome new social site called Pinterest. After attempting to sign-up, I was informed that the site was in private beta and not open to new users. I begged and groveled. Ben Silberman, the creator of Pinterest, sent an email thanking me for my interest and giving me log-in information. To say I was impressed was an understatement.

Pinterest allows users to create boards (think bulletin boards) on which to “pin” (save) photographs, gift ideas, craft projects, interesting book titles, professional web materials and anything on the internet that one wishes to save in an organized manner. You can follow your friends or create new virtual friends to follow and share boards and pins with all of them. It immediately sucked me in, and I knew I was in trouble from a time consumption standpoint. I dumped my boards and ignored it for months, but recently returned. My, how it’s grown! You can see from the screenshot that I now only have two boards, but there could easily be a hundred.

I see interesting applications for educators. The impact on students who need both visual and auditory input could be significant. Collections of period photographs, newsreel clips, newspaper archives, or music clips from a specific era would add to a deeper understanding of new concepts in both social studies and English classes. Poetry from a variety of genres could be pinned to several different boards for comparison and analysis. The possibilities are endless. However, there is a lot of junk out there, and not all boards are appropriate for student use. Until a filter of some sort is available, I’m not sure I’d attempt to use this site with students, which is a shame, as Pinterest is trendy, hip and fun.

If you start to play around with Pinterest, be sure to Link with Love. Give credit where credit is due and add a link on your board that refers back to the original creator of the work you are pinning. As Pinterest grows, theft of art, photography, design, and original thought has grown, as well. Kal Barteski, a wonderful artist whose work has been stolen and sold by others, has spearheaded on online campaign to encourage proper attribution of original work. This organization deserves the support of all internet users.

LINKwithlove

It’s a double edged sword, this Pinterest. There are so many beautiful things online. Photography, typography, craft projects, words, books, creative food ideas, and interior design sites are great fun to look at and mark for further study. However, when I keep all of these resources in one place, they nag at me. They make me feel as though I need to do something significant with them. Maybe enjoying them is significant enough.

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Let’s solve that budget crisis, shall we?

February2

This isn’t rocket science, folks. There is a solution to significantly reducing the deficit, but NO ONE is talking about it. In 2006, the IRS reports that $385,000,000,000 of taxes went uncollected.  These are tax dollars owed, as reported by individual taxpayers and corporations, but never paid. That amount of money, at that point in time, would have erased the deficit ($248.2 billion) with $136.8 billion left over. In 2001, the uncollected amount was $290 billion. Why is this collection rate only calculated every five years?

I’m astounded that such a poor effort is made to increase IRS collections beyond the level of 85.5%. Having served on a local school board, I know that taxing entities can never collect 100% of what is owed them. My school district calculates its income from the county at about 96% for that reason.

This story was buried in our daily newspaper and I heard no talk of it at all on television. If I were running for office, this would surely be one promise I would make. Collecting even 90% of the amount due to the IRS would be huge. How many schools could reduce class sizes with this money? How many school buildings could be repaired with this money? How many lives could be changed if only a fraction of these funds were recovered? I guess we’ll never know because no one seems to care. It’s shameful.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-06/irs-says-u-s-tax-compliance-gap-reached-385-billion-in-2006.html

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Dear St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

January19

What is going on with your newspaper? Not the articles, editorials or content (though I could go there if you want me to), but the paper itself. I read the P-D on a table, and rain or shine, low humidity or high, cold temperatures or warm, the paper curls at each corner after just a few minutes of being opened. The thing appears to have a life of its own. New paper grade? Cheaper paper grade? Thinner paper grade? Is anyone else experiencing this phenomenon or is it solely a function of my kitchen table?  Kind regards,  Linda

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Shifting Perspective

January17

Though I’m late to this party, I think I’ve found “my theme” for the new year. Recently, two news anchors I watch every morning switched places around the table. Seeing the other sides of their faces, the slightly nuanced changes in their profiles and hairlines made me see them with new eyes. They both looked startlingly different to me. I am trying to apply that simple shift to other situations in my life. For instance, I used to think it was cheating to use a computer while solving crossword puzzles. Now, I see it as research from which I will learn new words and phrases. A slight shift, but so far it appears to have a powerful reward.

 

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