Block party!

Inspired by a story by Jewell Parker Rhodes, I had a block party for my seventh and eighth grade literature class. Rhodes wrote about her childhood experiences in Pittsburgh in the 1950s-60s, notably that her neighbors were "family" and how it felt to be able to call for a summer block party. The students jump roped, played jacks and hopscotch, shot baskets, hula hooped and ate vanilla ice cream drenched in punch, all to a soundtrack of 60s music like Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations.

It was a great celebration of spring and a reminder of the fun of old-fashioned games.


Easter treats

For Christmas, my friend Sarah gave me a little something called a "bath candy." When I used it, I became hooked. Made by a little company called Blissful Bath in Woodbury, Minn., it was a wonderful indulgence, a fizzy, fragrant and fabulously moisturizing bit of relaxation. I decided to give Blissful Bath's fizzy cupcakes to my mom and sisters for Easter. They were so pretty, I had to take a picture. Don't they look springy?


My philanthropic week

It's easy to take some things for granted, like good health, family, friends and even my faith in God. I've noticed that when I focus on someone else, my heart is more full and life's little annoyances somehow get a little smaller. To that end, I'm helping raise money this spring for two worthy causes.

The first is the MS Walk 2011 on May 1. Multiple sclerosis affects the brain and spinal cord. People who suffer from this disease must deal with the unexpected because episodes can cause symptoms in almost any part of the body. Currently, there is no cure for MS. 

The second event is Bowl For Kids for Big Brothers Big Sisters on May 5. I can't imagine what growing up would have been like without caring adults and mentors. Every child needs that kind of support.

So, I'm asking for your help. Would you be interested in supporting one or both of these causes? I appreciate any donation (tax-deductible) to either organization. To donate by credit card, simply click on the links to be directed to the secure site. Or, you can send me a check if you're more comfortable with that.

A special thank you from me
I've created a special thank you gift for helping the cause. I designed this colorful handmade set of bottle cap magnets based on I Cor. 13 to celebrate springtime.

I will send a set to every person who donates to one of these causes by the end of April. If you're a friend I haven't met yet, please e-mail your address to me: jilltiefel-at-yahoo.com.

Plus, if you share this post via Facebook or Twitter, or on your own blog, you will be entered into a drawing to win a bulletin board made from recycled wine corks. Just add a comment and let me know you helped spread the word! Thank you!


Book sale!

Library book sales shatter my self-discipline. I have to go into the sale with a set amount of cash, sans ATM card or checkbook, otherwise the consequences would be disastrous. I can't rush through the sale either. I have to have enough time to properly look through the stacks of books or I will feel as if I missed something critical.

I am pretty excited about one of my finds at the recent library book sale: The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I began to peruse it and couldn't put it down. The book answered questions that I never knew I had. For example, where did the expression "the real McCoy" come from? When can one properly use the phrase "comme il faut?"

This experience reminded me of one of my favorite television shows. Unfortunately, Sports Night only ran for two seasons. The dialogue was sharp, the characters were complex and the humor was pitch perfect. In one episode, Natalie consults the dictionary to confirm the proper usage of "momentarily" and gets hooked.

Natalie: Aha!
Jeremy: What?
Natalie: According to the dictionary, "momentarily" means "both for a moment" and "in a moment."
Jeremy: Well done.
Natalie: "Monad," by the way, is "an elementary individual substance which reflects the order of the world and from which material properties are derived."
Jeremy: Thank you.
And later...
Natalie: "Monestrous" means "experiencing estrous once a year or breeding season."
Will: What's "estrous?"
Natalie: Let's find out.
Jeremy: Give me the dictionary.

Yes, I do have a dictionary-reading obsession. No, please do not schedule an intervention. At least not yet. 


Pet peeves

A student of mine wrote an article about teachers' pet peeves for the school newspaper. I shared the article idea with my family at a gathering and was surprised at the active conversation it sparked. Everyone has some pet peeves. I've noticed that we tend to think that others' pet peeves are ridiculous, yet our own seem to have merit. Would you like to poke fun at some of the lame things that aggravate me? (I've already mentioned my dislike for John Tesh's radio show.) Read on for your chance.

Tina Fey. I know, I know. How can you hate Tina Fey? I don't. I just am tired of seeing publicity shots of her with her eyes rolled. You're going to hate me for mentioning this, because now you're going to see it everywhere. It's just strange. Can't you look into the lens? How hard is that?

I love Liz Lemon

The degeneration of the English language due to texting. Ugh. When did it become so hard to actually type "how are you?" Are you really saving that much time typing "How R U" instead? I've heard it said that "LOL" is the ultimate communication filler. Don't know what to say? LOL! Want to be sarcastic? LOL! What happened to the good ol' smiley emoticon? IDK.

Cards and posters with anthropomorphic puppies and kittens. I can't help wondering what the photographer did to this kitty to get this face. There's no way this poor cat is wishing obesity on his feline friends.

Kitty Kiss

The Reply to All button. Here's the deal: this button is never properly used. According to my (non-)scientific observations, approximately 15% of people do not understand the true purpose of this button. For example, if an e-mail is sent to 50 people, eight of them will hit this button and send increasingly meaningless e-mail to the others. No one cares. Abuse. Abuse. Abuse.

What are your pet peeves?