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in my life

I’m in the midst of my summer training. My brain is full of Montessori lessons. I can’t wait to share some of these with my students in the fall. I love the clarity of the math lessons. I don’t love how slowly we go through them, however. I’m dying to get some lessons, like the geometry stick box! But I must wait. Right now, we’re doing multiplication of fractions and I’m abusing the internet at the local school where my lessons are being given so I can post. We’ve gone over each problem twice, you see, and at this point my attention span only lasts one iteration.

The workload is pretty enormous. Don’t be deceived by the fact that I’m posting that this is a cakewalk, but I can’t reliably work on my homework while in lecture, whereas I can post. And I don’t want to abandon you, loyal reader, for months at a time again.

So what would you like to hear about? Feel free to leave a comment on what you’d like me to address over the summer, in the snatches during class where I must type.

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So I didn’t do any yoga for two months. It took only one about six weeks of not doing yoga for what I refer to as my janky hip to start low level hurting all the time. Last week I found a little studio in KC and renewed my yoga habit. Been to three classes, and hip is feeling great. I need to remember that: absence of yoga makes hip hurt.

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I wonder if I search the first lines of my posts how many of them would begin by excusing my long absence from posting with an explanation of how busy I’ve been. Well, here we go, this is no different, but since you’ve doubtless seen that part before, I’ll skip past the making excuses part and get straight to the summary.

At the end of April, the day after I had completed some fabulous and yet draining observations at Near North Montessori school, a storm passing through St. Louis uprooted two trees and they fell onto our house. The damage is pretty extensive, and the repairs have not begun yet, over two months later.

At first the insurance company put us up in a hotel, but when it became clear that we were going to be out of the house for months rather than weeks, they had us move to a rental house. So on top of working a regular daily job since January, traveling to my midwinter training in Kansas City for a weekend in January and doing a week and a half of observations in Chicago in April, I have moved twice since I last posted.

Now I’m in Kansas City for the summer, while my family lives in a little rental house in St. Louis. The bulk of our belongings are packed away, and we literally do not know where they are. We have only what we took when we left the house for what was supposed to be just a few weeks. We still have access to our basement, and everything there, but that’s it.

As can be imagined, there’s a lot of upheaval and disorganization created by this state of affairs. This is not a tragic event, by any means, but it is an inconvenient one. Having to move twice during the last six weeks of school, the same ones filled to the brim with extra events and activities, as well as trying to do my homework for the summer was rather hectic. Homework, by the way, which I did not complete, so I have stuff to hand in pending even as I type.

So…yeah. Busy.

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Tomorrow is a new day. Six years on, but today was a tough one anyway. Miss you, Simone.

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So it seems somewhat silly to repost here about PodCastle’s upcoming flash fiction contest, because let’s face it, who is going to find out about the contest here that didn’t already know about it from somewhere else? However, since the prior Escape Pod contest resulted in one of my two published pieces, I can’t help but feel a warmth and fondness for the whole endeavor.

Yes, after many years, Escape Artists is doing it again: a flash fiction contest voted on by listeners. Actually, there’s a separate contest for each of the podcasts, so technically it’s three flash fiction contests. PodCastle goes first, and subs open April 1 (on the two year anniversary of PodCastle!). Get your pencils sharpened and write us something new and glorious! Editors will quietly stand on the sidelines while listeners of the podcasts vote up their favorite submissions. Each writer may submit up to two flash pieces to each contest (so two times three: that’s six opportunities to flex your succint writing powers). May the most evocative, well-written piece of flash fiction win! Details about the schedule and the rules and the voting procedure can be read in the relevant forum post. As an editor of PodCastle, I cannot participate by submitting stories (or even voting, actually), but I’ll be observing, reading, and smiling. Go to it!

Meanwhile, I’m on spring break, and instead of doing my taxes, or something useful, I took care of all the submissions that had returned to me but I had failed to send out again. Total number of items I subbed? Five. Number I already had out? Two. Five plus two? Still seven, even with new math. Which…I’m not sure about this, but I think may be the most things I’ve had ever out at one time. Pretty awesome!

Have I been writing? No, not much, not really. But I am thinking about writing. Ideas are arriving in my head uninvited. I spent thirty minutes at Sophia’s piano lesson making a list of all the things I need to know to start working on the next novel. Long list of research ahead of me. Questions to be answered, such as: are there any underground rivers or lakes with significant salinity (say, 2 percent or more) ? Some of my unedited stories have been calling to me to fix them. And the post-apocalyptic Córdoba story has recently reminded me it is not happy about being shoved in a closet unwritten. Even Chelia has been making appearances, asking me to revise her story and finish the prequel.

Also as part of spring break, I aggressively tackled the submissions pile at PodCastle. We are within ten subs of having nothing to review in the editorial consideration folder, which is the lowest pending subs point since January, when we took over PodCastle. There’s no slush more than three days old (though honestly, credit for staying current with that goes to the ever awesome Ann Leckie). In other PodCastle (and Ann Leckie) news, Ann Leckie month seems to have gone off beautifully, bringing a different sensibility and range of stories to the podcast, and showing us what PodCastle would be like if she were running it. And if we learned anything during February, it was that Ann should definitely run her own magazine! Meanwhile, co-editor Dave and I are excited to see some of our favorite story selections finally coming into the rotation (production lead time is longer than you would think), such as Samantha Henderson’s chilling “The Mermaid’s Tea Party“. We’ve got some more great stories coming up, ones that we are really eager to share. So, as always, if you have fantasy story reprints, we’d love to see them! Check our guidelines, and send us the story we wish we’d written!

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Hello, friends!

It’s been too long, hasn’t it?

The operative mode of my life right now is busy. I want to let everyone know, however, that I’m getting my own classroom in the fall! It will be a tiny classroom, far from the ideal number of students for a Montessori elementary, but we expect it to grow in time, and personally, I’m so incredibly excited about it that I cannot describe how I feel. Euphoric, maybe? Grinning like a damn fool? Eager, pleased, jingling with joy? All of that.

The other day I gave a group lesson for the first time. — Explanatory note for the non-Montessorians among you: at the primary (3-6 years) level, children are given individual lessons, at the elementary (6-12 years) level children are given all their lessons in small groups instead — The students loved it, and they started working with the material immediately, and worked with it for days straight. It was great! Love those materials, love seeing the kids work with them. On Friday, a student actually asked me if she could please also have a spelling test, like the other student whom I give spelling tests to. Yes. She ASKED for a spelling test. Children (and people, really, but that’s another discussion) want to learn and want to be challenged. I see it every day. I love it.

The first of the six changes went off without a hitch (that was walking Sergei regularly, using the trigger of when I get home from work), but then I didn’t start in on my second change, because I didn’t know how to break it down into baby steps so easy I couldn’t fail. More on that when I figure out what to do next. Anyway, if I only end up with five changes this year instead of six, I will still feel quite accomplished. I’m still walking Sergei every school day but Thursday (because yoooooga makes walking him complicated), even when it’s miserably cold, or miserably raining, or miserably sunny. It has not actually been miserably sunny much, or at all.

The editing gig is working wonderfully. I’m gratified to see some of my and Dave’s story picks making it out into the world to be heard and commented on by listeners, because the lead time on story selection and production is a lot longer than I would have imagined before I started running the podcast, so even though we’ve been working since January to make sure the podcast comes out as it should, not much of what has come out thus far is stuff we picked out on our own (also there was Ann Leckie month in February, which was awesome. You need to check out Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz go to War Again by Garth Nix to see what I mean). I’m excited about what we have selected and in store, and excited that we’ve picked several stories where narrators, when asked, have responded gushingly with “I love that story!” Narrator, we love that story, too!

So that’s me in a nutshell. How about you?

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I took the dog out again today!

Have I mentioned that I’m the playground lady at school? Yeah, how weird is that? And it’s Montessori, so there’s all that connectedness to nature focus, which means we go out every day without fail.

For two days I have driven over the Missouri, amazed at the huge blocks of ice floating in the dark murk of the river. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything quite like it, that half clogged with ice river, its frozen patches floating up white and slowly drifting, supported by the muddy flow, deeper and shadowed. It’s quite a contrast, lovely to behold, and I have to remember that I’m going 70 over the bridge and need to pay attention because the sight of the river draws my eye.

Also, every day I watch the oncoming traffic, crawling or sometimes stopped, and I think the person who told me that it wasn’t so much of an advantage driving against traffic was out of her mind.

There’s this cute kid (heh, that’s not really identifying, they’re all cute in their own way) but she’s new and she’s totally into the Montessori thing. Some kids just seem to fall right into the paradigm, they just get it on a deep fundamental level. Others have to be coaxed a little more, but this one kid, she gets it, and I wouldn’t even think she’s new except for: they told me she was new to the classroom, and after each cycle of activity she comes up to me and says, “What can I play now?” Should I tell her she’s actually working, not playing? Naaaaaah.

Oh, only one toilet accident today, and that was an older kid, so I could just tell her to go clean up, get her spare clothes out of her cubby and change. So that’s about as hassle free as it’s possible to get.

I’m really tired. Is it too early to go to bed?

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Took the dog out again today. Thought about how nice it was that I wasn’t going on a twenty minute walk with him. Believe that’s probably not in the spirit of forming a habit. Just realized that I’ll be gone on Friday and won’t be able to take him out then.

Down to two toilet related accidents today at work, even though I made every effort to put the child who had both accidents on the toilet. And he went! But then, as happens, he had to go again and didn’t make it. Twice. In four hours. At least it was all urine and no excrement today.

Wow. I really hope this blog doesn’t turn into a litany of the eliminatory antics of a bunch of three year olds. Let’s hope I’ll have not much to say in this regard in the future!

Tomorrow, I’m on my own, without the prior assistant, who is going on to her own job now.

Also, amazed at how the properly prepared environment invites the children to work. I know, that’s straight party line Montessori, but it’s just that it happens over and over and over again in the classroom and it never stops being cool.

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