Sunday, January 16, 2011

TSS - 1.16.11

Well, we are trying to thaw after the winter storm last week.  While the Midwest did not experience the record-setting snowfall of the Northeast, we did have about seven inches and sub-zero temperatures, which resulted in two glorious snow days off school.  I must admit that I was ready to get back into the school routine by Wednesday, however, and while I love a good day off every now and then, my lesson plans really can't easily accommodate another, so I hope all other storms occur over the weekends.

I actually used my snow days to their full advantage.  I watched Fellowship of the Ring, which has been on my to-do list for over a year.  After a couple of slow starts ( I fell asleep after about ten minutes - which is my typical posture when I watch a movie), I actually finished the movie Monday night and liked it far more than I thought I would.  I think my step is to watch the extended version (which I understand is significantly longer and closely follows the book) and I then I might be prepared to try my hand at reading the books.

I also started scrapbooking again - a favorite hobby of mine which I have ignored for nearly four years.  As is my typical fashion - I do have a deadline that I need to meet, which is why I initially started this project - but I am working  hard at learning to enjoy the activity rather than focusing purely on the goal.  I have made albums for each of my children when they graduate high school.  This is an album for them to take when they move away from home and it basically summarizes their life:  one two page spread for each year of their life.  I definitely have a scrapbooking style with which I am comfortable - very symmetrical, simple and clean.  While I know that I eventually want to try to spread my creative wings and branch out into other scrapbooking styles, I think I will enjoy the comfort zone on this project.

In my post earlier this week I mentioned that I would like to reconnect with my love of music once again.  I tend to maintain silence in most everything I do - and while I need silence to fully concentrate on some activities (reading and grading, for example), I am thinking that too much quiet is not good for the psyche.  I know that some are enthralled with the concept of the iPod -- downloading their favorite music to have readily available 24 hours a day.  But my problem is that I have been too far removed from the music scene for so long that I have no idea what I consider my favorites anymore.  So.....I have started listening to Pandora and am truly enjoying their selections for my specified preferences.  I am starting to make a list of songs that I may like to have on-hand to download to my iPod in the future, but for now I am more than willing to let the Pandora experts select my music for me.

The start of a new semester is always exciting for me - I guess it is that proverbial clean slate with infinite possibilities.  I think the one class that has inspired me the most so far is the 8th grade grammar class.  As I have mentioned before, this class focuses on the mechanics of grammar and writing - and the literary element is a year long study of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Last Friday I showed three different movie interpretations of Act I scene i - in order to give students the idea that there is not one right way to perform Shakespeare.  His lack of stage directions is actually quite liberating.  This past Friday we discussed those three interpretations:  what we liked, what we disliked and what we might like to incorporate in our own presentation.

As a result of this class discussion they have decided to present a modern-day rendition of this play.  Some ideas that have been bantered about include a New York City setting - with Theseus and Hippolyta as corporate CEOs of rival companies.  Central Park would serve as the forest, and communication devices such as cell phones and GPS systems could be included.  I think they are showing tremendous creativity and I am very much looking forward to the development of this idea.

I also followed through on another promise to myself and I started reading Little Women this week.  And, as seems to be the case with nearly every endeavor these days, I had another epiphany.

I must confess that after the first chapter I was really not enthralled with the book.  It was just too perfect.   All the daughters got along (which is NOT the case in my own household); they are thrilled if the only Christmas gift is a small bouquet of flowers; and they truly revere their mother(?!)  I don't was that it all seemed too simple.  And then it dawned on me:  I long for the simple life, or so I say.  And yet here I am reading about that lifestyle and I find that I am bored.  What does this mean?!  Could this mean that I truly do not want the simple life after all?  Or could it mean that I need to learn to slow down long to read about the simple life before I can ever hope to have it myself?

I chose the latter interpretation.  I have continued to read the book and am now on Chapter Four (scrapbooking has taken up most of my free time this week).  Now that I have postured myself to believe that I am reading about a lifestyle that I wish to emulate, I am thoroughly enjoying the book.  In fact, I think that the proper way for me to read the book is probably at a rather slow, non-rushed pace.  That would be keeping with the simplified theme that I am trying to adopt at that late stage of life.

I have not progressed as much in this area as I would have hoped, but ideas are percolating.  I think I worked so hard during NaNoWriMo during the month of November, which was quickly followed by the chaos of December (finals and holiday preparations) that what I thought would be a month long sabbatical has actually resulted in a two month break.  I have begun a daily devotion journal that I (so far) have maintained, but that is not a concentration on writing; that is a concentration on spiritual growth.

I hope to soon re-incorporate the morning pages that Julia Cameron suggests as a mandatory exercise in order to free the brain for creativity (I am also working my way through her book, The Artist's Way, as well).  I have also started to revisit my Degas novel.  I know that I still have research to do, and ideas to formulate, but I sincerely want this to be my NaNoWriMo novel of 2011.  I think if I allow myself to keep this on the back burner - that is visible but not a priority - for this next semester, I will be ready to do the necessary research over the summer which will equate to a well organized outline by the end of October.

No, I am not as focused on writing as I would like to be, but I am trying to be kind to myself and allow this break to not be the end of an interest, but rather, the beginning of a very long journey together.


  1. Hi Molly, I'm so glad to see you allowed yourself to do some enjoyable and relaxing activities this week. Have a peaceful Sunday!

  2. wow Molly, I can't believe that they closed school for 2 days with 7" of snow. Most of the schools here were only closed (1) day for 18", some had a (2) hr delay on the second day.

    I sounds like you made the most of your time off as well. Have a great new week and enjoy tomorrow off as well. (I will)

  3. There when you started talking about music I was going to pipe up and mention Pandora. Isn't it great? I love that you make each of your kids a scrapbook of their lives. I wish I had the ambition or creativity to do something like that!

  4. We got 8 inches of snow and the kids here were out of school all week - of course Friday was a teacher workday that had already been scheduled. We didn't get mail for 3 days and UPS/FedEx didn't run for 2. In other words, things came to a grinding halt around here. We still have snow on the ground and a few patches of ice on the roads. I am so ready for it to be gone already.

  5. Sounds like a great week! Love seeing the pictures of time at the lake - weren't those fun days? A week of focusing on scrapbooking sounds delightful and creative!

  6. Scrapbooking sounds like fun....I have photo albums I have maintained, but they're not scrapbooks. When I was a kid, I had a scrapbook, which I really enjoyed. But today's scrapbooks are really art.

    I read Little Women several times as a child, and then reread it last year for a challenge. I enjoyed it, but only because of the familiarity of the moments throughout, which felt nostalgic to me. But after reading several books about LMA, I came to believe that she had actually idealized her own experiences, casting the family members in golden hues—perhaps to help deal with the pain and loss of those times for her.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

    Here's my salon:

    (click on my name)

  7. Things won't remain perfect for the girls in Little Women for long.

    I like the New York setting ideas for Midsummer Night's Dream. My 7th graders will read this later this spring. I've got the unit from the Folger Shakespeare Library to do with them. I'm very excited about it. Lots of wonderful lesson plans that include acting out the play. You may want to check it out if you don't already have a full set of activities.

  8. Glad you got those snow days! We had a LOT of snow this week, but no snow days...
    Thanks for mentioning Pandora! I'm going to have some fun with that.

  9. Yay, you are scrapbooking again. I am so pleased to read those words and see your beautiful layout.

    I found this really helpful for my writing this week. I thought it might interest you too.

  10. Oh Scrapbooking. It's on my list but unfortunately these days at the bottom. I would like to get proactive about it when the baby come so I'm not like my mom who's currently trying to sort through 30 years of picture and tidbits to start scrapbooking.

    Enjoy Little Women. It wasn't my favorite but I do love the movie(s)--one with Katherine Hepburn? and the other with Winona Ryder. And have a lovely, much warmer, Sunday. I'm already missing our snow but glad it's not so cold anymore.

  11. Sounds like so much is going on with your week!! My friend scraps much like you, where I sometimes am all over the place. I do prefer the clean and simple approach though. We got tons of snow but thankfully it didn't stop our plane from leaving for my son's boot camp graduation!

    Have a great week Molly!

  12. Such a productive week you have had, Molly. and good for you for doing things for yourself.

    Here in the Chicago area, many suburban school districts are opting for delayed starts, giving teachers and students time to get to school. There is nothing like having a snow day, however, is there? One of two and we feel a gift, much more and it becomes hectic to catch up.

    Little Women is one of my favorite books, but, I think it takes on different meaning at different points in our lives. It is slow moving, which is uncomfortable at the start with our hectic lives, but, it grows on you. I hope you enjoy it. Have a good week.

  13. Definitely read Little Women at a slow pace...and absorb it as you go...I do agree with your commenter C.B. James though...things won't stay perfect for long. Each daughter experiences her own struggle with identity and later Marmee will reveal things about herself (to Jo)that are not quite so perfect either. Their own version of "perfection" also has pretty severe consequences for them in society...the girls (especially Amy and Meg) do NOT always handle this very well. Stick with it :)

    We had one delayed day due to the "possibility" of ice on the roads. In Mississippi we totally lose our minds when it snows :)

  14. I started reading Little Women this week as well.
    And so far, I'm not diggin it so much. I'm hoping that as I read more I'll get to like it better.

  15. Sometimes it's good to take a break from something you really want to do. Then you come back with a bang. Don't worry about the 2-month break from writing, you'll pick the pen soon enough.

    I want to read Little Women, but I'm with you. Much as I want the perfect simple life, if I read about it, I'll snort!

  16. We haven't had more than a sprinkling of snow here west of Dallas. I too have started listening to Pandora. It's nice to have a music collection made especially for me.

  17. That is a great way to look at your time away from writing. I'm having a difficult time getting back to my own writing after taking a break in December. I have had some family issues come up and I'm having a very hard time getting down to writing, even though I know it is a great distraction.

  18. I think that is wonderful to make a scrapbook for your children that way!! And when I do venture into scrapbooking, I have the same style.

  19. I haven't read Little Women for a LONG time, but I read it over and over again when I was growing up. I'm kind of afraid to revisit it...and not feel the same way about it.

    My recommendation is that you watch all three Lord of the Rings movies ONLY in the extended versions! And I love them all, more than the books :-).

    Have a good week, Molly!

  20. I love Pandora, and have discovered a lot of wonderful new music on there that I had never heard of before.

    Little Women is one of my favorites from my teen years. I hope you enjoy the rest of it!

  21. Lucky you to get 2 snow days! Our predicted snow came in the evening and dumped over 2 inches, then a warm front moved in during the night and it all began to turn to slush before we were even up. By noon, the snow was gone!

    Glad you were able to make good use of your days off, but sorry you are not totally loving Little Women. I read it in high school also and wonder what my reaction would be? Hope you have a great week!

  22. My husband, son and I watched The Fellowship of The Ring over New Year's a few weeks ago. It appears to be a Christmas time tradition with us, as it was released the winter my son was in sixth grade. I know what you mean about falling asleep though. I feel that I should increase my music listening as well. I adore silence (after too much talking all day?!) but almost to a fault. Reconnecting with classics, my favorite, would be a wonderful treat. Thanks for the reminder!

  23. Sounds like you have found good balance in your life! That's awesome that you made time to do some scrapbooking!

  24. Beautiful goals! BEST to you. :) I haven't scrapped book in years and I have other crafts I have started and not worked on in forever so I understand appreciate and admire you. I have the Artist's Way book, too and have yet to do more than flip through it a couple of times. sigh. And here it is almost late afternoon and I've been sitting in front of the PC all day! Except for the 2 hours I shoveled the drive. I think I'll go read more book on the treadmill. Wishing you HAPPY CREATIVITY! :)

  25. You always make me feel so lazy! I'm so tired of the snow every few days but I don't really feel like I can complain given what the East coast has been getting. For our area, this has been a pretty mild winter so far!


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