Thank a Teacher

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week! In honor of all of you who shape and mold young minds, I started thinking back on all of the teachers and mentors I’ve had in my life. Everyone has stories that immediately come to mind when they think about their education, which just goes to show how powerful teachers are.

It all starts in preschool, right? That was the year of accidents. My teachers wiped up my busted nose after I tripped on my own two feet crossing uneven pavement on a field trip. They comforted us when Kelly slipped off the monkey bars and broke her arm. As it is for many kids, preschool was my first introduction into formal education, and they helped orient me to the world of learning that was still to come.

I loved my kindergarten teacher so much that I once called her, “Mom” and then died of embarrassment. Enough said.

I had a fifth grade teacher who taught us about the stock market. We even broke up into teams and “played,” buying and selling shares based on the actual daily market fluctuations. My fifth grade understanding of the stock market is still my current level of actual trading knowledge.

In high school I had a slew of incredible teachers–my US History teacher was just about the best teacher I’ve had period. His class was so incredibly difficult, and he never let up. All of his students rose to his challenges. He made us tough, dedicated learners.

In college, I think I’d simply list every professor I had. Every single writing and English professor I took a class with carved a new mind out of my original one. I’m forever different because of the teachers and people they are.

I never saw any of these people up close, really. It wasn’t until I married a teacher that I saw behind the scenes just how dedicated, generous, and passionate these people are about their work, schools, students. My husband is, of course, my favorite teacher of all, and seeing him with his students, knowing what he does at home to support their lives and education, gives me a deeper appreciation for the work of the teachers who shaped my life.

“Thank you” seems inadequate to say to all of these people who take on such important work and give so much, but here it is. A thank you from Grammatical Art to all educators. “What we learn becomes part of who we are.” –Kathy R. Jeffords

Reflecting a Positive Self-Image

As a mom, I think a lot about what my kid is going to be like when he grows up. Right now, he’s pint-sized, not just because he’s a toddler, but because he’s short and skinny, on the bottom of all of the growth charts. So I wonder, Will he be the shortest kid in his class his whole life? Will he get picked on for being little? Will he be judged based on his size for the rest of his life? These are silly things to worry about, but hey, there’s something wrong with this mom if she’s not worrying.

What’s more, I think a lot about the type of human I want my son to be as he grows. Looks are only superficial, and there isn’t much I can do for him except make sure I don’t give him a horrible hair cut. I really want him to be bold, empathetic, generous, hilarious, and motivated.

Every time I go shopping for clothes for this little guy, I’m bombarded with “shirts with sayings.” I swore I’d never put him in something that says, “Ladies’ Man” or “Future Heartbreaker,” and I haven’t. The truth is, it’s even worse for parents of girls. The emphasis on appearance and the over-sexualization starts pretty young these days. That’s why I’m in love with our collection of gold foil tees. They’re emblazoned with the best kind of words to describe the type of person I want my little human to be: strong, kind, powerful, funny, smart, and brave. They also, incidentally, describe the woman I strive to be (thank goodness they’re available in adult sizes, too!). Imagine the effect it has on a child’s self-image to see the word “strong” or “brave” reflected back on them in the mirror. Imagine the effect it would have on you.

strong chart

Constellation Collection Official Launch

Just in time for NASA’s launch of their entire media library (publicly accessible and copyright free!), we’re announcing the launch of our brand new Constellation Collection! These shirts and prints are debuting at just the right time. Spring is here, and it’s prime star gazing weather. The gorgeous designs feature Andromeda, Crux, Orion, Sirius, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.

The prints would look beautiful in an office, baby or child’s room, the living room, heck, even the kitchen! They’re available in various sizes as small as 5×7 inches and as large as 30×40 inches.

orion

The shirts are available in men’s/unisex, women’s, and v-neck styles, sizes XS-4XL. (*Please note that the women’s sizes run very small!)

andromeda v neck

And don’t forget that we also have our Northern & Southern Hemisphere Constellation Map as prints and on shirts and totes, too!

northern tote

Anyone have a favorite constellation? Come on, we know you do.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

GOTCHA! Thought this was going to be a holiday post, eh? Nope. The most wonderful time of the year is, in fact, when Grammatical Art puts up new merchandise! That’s right. Natalie has been hard at work adding brand new designs in addition to expanding some of her print designs for shirts, v-necks, and tote bags.

What’s brand new? Awesome tea towels and tote bags (designs are available on both) like these:

orange-720x964watermelon tote

And designs that are now available on shirts and totes:

electrical navysplice v neck grayscience beaker tote

These are just a very small sampling of the 20+ new designs and styles. And yes, they are available just in time for the holidays (the second most wonderful time of the year)! We also have even more rolling out in the coming days and weeks.

Make sure to check back here for our upcoming Black Friday deals! This year’s are amazing.

 

Totes Magotes

I’m a bit of a bag lady. By my front door as I type this, there is a hook that has about 15 bags hanging from it. And these are just my reusable bags that I take to the grocery store. I have fancy bags (like my gorgeous Kate Spade beauties), diaper bags (yes, plural), backpacks, duffel bags, suitcases, messenger bags, computer bags, and loads of purses and clutches. I can’t get enough. And though I do give away a bagful (see what I did there?) to Goodwill every spring, I still feel like each bag serves its purpose.

And yet, while I dance around and make it rain with all of my bags, there are still some I do NOT own.

Like one with my name on it:

personalized tote5

Or one with a swear word (!):

fck-tote

Or the most coveted of all, one just for my library books:

library tote4

What kind of a librarian doesn’t have a tote bag in her collection that features the word “library” and is intended for carrying books? One who’s about to get out her credit card and purchase one stat, that’s who.

So, I encourage you to take a long, hard look at your collection of tote bags and purses and fill in what’s missing with one of these (or one of our other) awesome bags.

And since this is a grammar blog, let’s talk about totes magotes. Not “totes my goats” as some may confuse it, “totes magotes” is attributed to the 2009 bromance I Love You, Man, although there is some debate about whether or not it’s been around for much longer. I’m sure you all know what it means, but basically it’s a phrase that emphasizes the word “totally.” You may also hear “totally magotally.” But you probably won’t hear it anymore because no one has said “totes magotes” except for me since 2010.

Go forth and collect your tote bags!

Grammar for All

It has become a (sad) game to find bad grammar out in the world. Items found can be as innocuous as a sign on a bathroom door to a piece of art that you are meant to hang in your kitchen that says, “Mom’s are the best chefs.”

Nope.

Of course, it’s all over social media, blogs, websites, The Interwebs. But that doesn’t stop me from smiling a little when I see something like this:

tricker treating

Ah yes, the timeless tradition of “tricker treating.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about grammar and how the ways we use it reflect back on us. In one of my Facebook groups, someone posted a question about hiring a photographer who had used poor grammar in a message exchange. My first reaction was I absolutely would not hire someone who has poor grammar. When I was planning my wedding, I dismissed vendors who had websites or advertisements riddled with grammatical errors.

But this post gave me pause. Grammar is complex. Some schools teach it thoroughly, intensely. Some don’t. Some people have a mind for all of the rules (many of which confuse and evade me). Some don’t. The mode of communication matters. Is it bad grammar on a website or is it bad grammar in a casual text message?

What fascinates me is that everyone has a relationship with grammar, whether they want to or not. We all write, even if it’s only in text messages and on social media. Some people don’t have a clue that what they’re written is at all grammatically incorrect. And does it really matter if it is so long as it’s understood? If I moved to Spain and attempted to speak in Spanish and misspoke here or there or with my thick American accent, would anyone criticize me so long as I could be understood? Probably not. Grammar is a language that belongs to all of us. Maybe common grammatical errors are sort of like written slang. It’s an evolution.

And while some grammatical errors make me shudder (the abuse of the apostrophe chief among them), I totally know what tricker treat is. I might be committing grammatical suicide, but is it a big deal if it’s spelled that way on Facebook?

Tell Them from the Start

I’m writing this with the presidential debates in the background. I won’t get political here, but I will say that as a woman who as a girl didn’t even know that a woman could run for president, it’s pretty darn cool to see a woman on that stage.

I have two sisters. Growing up, it was always a girls’ club. We loved all of the same toys, music, movies, games, you name it. Even though we’re so similar and grew up in the same household, I’m different. I’m the sister with no science gene. None. Zip. Nada. I muddled through science classes in high school, and in college I took geology for my graduation requirement, y’all. Geology. (It’s worth noting that my boss took just about every advanced science class offered at our alma mater, and I took geology.)

My sisters are scientists. Claire just finished her PhD and is a post doc for a lab at Children’s National Hospital in DC. Kate double-majored in Biology and Creative Writing. I’m constantly in awe of these women in science. And though I don’t know what they deal with as women who work in a male-dominated field, I know it’s not always easy. I know people make assumptions about their roles in the lab or their level of knowledge. I know that they’re working subtly, quietly every day to change the roles of women in science.

So, even though I’m not a scientist or even remotely science-minded, I want more women to find a home in STEM fields. I want girls to become science literate and science confident, even if they don’t want to be scientists.

Science: girls do it better. Tell them from the start.

toddler-sciencegirls-hot-pink

The Autism Spectrum

Whenever someone hears that my daughter is on the autism spectrum, he or she typically asks me, “How autistic is she?”

They seem to be asking how severe the autism is. Is she really autistic or is she just a little autistic?

Well, it’s not that simple.

I admit that I used to think of the autism spectrum as a linear being: You could be severely affected or maybe a little and maybe somewhere in between. That’s also typically how it is described, even by professionals.

When my daughter was initially diagnosed last year by a developmental pediatrician, there were symptoms and behaviors checked off a list during the evaluation; if you met so many of the criteria, you were considered to be on the spectrum. In my daughter’s evaluation, if she met 4 of these areas, she made the spectrum. My daughter met 12 out of 13. So if you were to think about the spectrum as a lineal chart, 4 would be a little autistic and 13 would be severe, right? This meant my daughter was categorized as severely autistic with severe developmental delays.

This type of diagnosis shaped how I thought about my daughter’s autism: My one and only child has autism and on a scale of 1-10, it is a 9+. I thought she was severely autistic. Then Rebecca Burgess came out with a phenomenal comic and my entire perspective changed.

The spectrum isn’t linear, it’s more like a circle. You can be on-target or advanced in one area, but struggle with another. This not only shows areas in which a person can struggle, but it also shows their strengths; it’s a really great way to look at the spectrum. Also, it shows how each person isn’t just a number on a lineal scale; they fit somewhere on a very complex chart. Since this chart is a much larger space than a 1-10 lineal chart, one can also see how people on the autism spectrum can be so different from one another. The saying goes, “When you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” That’s because each person is so unique.

Now that we’ve completed story time, I will get to the point of this post. This is a great way to look at the spectrum and I want to get the idea of this better spectrum out there. That’s why I am going to sell shirts and totes with this exceptional visualization of the spectrum. I have been fortunate enough to be able to work with Rebecca Burgess to bring this idea to life.

As you may know, I designed and printed autism awareness shirts last year and 100% of the proceeds went to a non-profit school that specializes in the education of children with autism (and other developmental delays). Since it was a great success and we were able to raise $2,000 in a very short time, I would like to do the same thing this year. I want to sell these tees and donate all of the profits to this amazing school that continues to change my daughter’s life for the better every day.

You can get the products here:

autism spectrum new men's autism spectrum new women's v neck autism spectrum new tote

Hey Biatches, the OED Added New Words

OMG, y’all. The Oxford English Dictionary added new words. More than 1,000 entries have been updated and some 1,200 words or meanings added, according to an article on the updates by NPR. The editors of the OED typically wait years before they ultimately decide what words and meanings to add, making the “newness” of some of these words sort of silly. Once we start writing down and spelling out words that may only have been spoken or used jokingly, the editors start to take notice. The process of legitimizing and recording a word begins.

Some of the best additions for this go-around include:

  • cheese eater (n.): a person who eats cheese; a person who appreciates or routinely consumes cheese
  • ‘Merica (n.): America. Note: Originally and chiefly in representations of nonstandard speech. Now frequently also in ironic or self-conscious use, emphasizing emblematic or stereotypical qualities of American traditions, institutions and national ideals.
  • moobs (n.): unusually prominent breasts on a man, typically as a result of excess pectoral fat.
  • uptalk (n.): a manner of speaking in which declarative sentences are uttered with rising intonation at the end, a type of intonation more typically associated with questions.
  • YOLO (int.): “You only live once”; used to express the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future (often as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behavior).

YOLO cracks me up in particular because it’s grammatically incorrect to say “you only live once” (it should really be “you live only once,” so YLOO). But hey, so goes the evolution of language.

There are also some racy, NSFW ones like biatch and jagoff. I might be most proud to see jagoff in the OED as a Pittsburgher (it’s a classic work of Pittsburghese). I’ll let you use your imagination on the actual definition or look that one up yourself. 😉

What’s coolest about all of this to me is that it demonstrates how fluid and flexible language is, which is one of my favorite things about it. We are, all of us, allowed to own it, bend it, tweak it, use it how we need to. There is certainly a difference between a creative evolution of a word and the bastardization of a word, to be clear. And I know there are purists among us, but I am a huge fan of this malleability. I once had a professor spend an entire class lamenting the misuse of impact. What was once a noun has now also become a verb, likely because people wanted to avoid misusing affect/effect. I for one say, “So what? Who cares?” Documentation adds validity, so now that it’s in the OED, go ahead, use it. YOLO, after all.

 

When Bad Grammar Happens to Good (Grammar) People

I proofread text messages. Most of the time. I absolutely proofread emails. Big, heavy, important emails I proofread by reading them out loud just as I was taught to do in my college writing class. Sometimes, if they’re really important, I have someone else proofread them. This is how obsessed neurotic careful I am about my grammar.

It’s always been important to me to be sure I’m communicating as clearly as possible. There’s nothing more confusing or frustrating than muddling through someone’s ill-written, typo-ridden email, text message, Facebook post.

But, hey, everyone’s busy. Sometimes, you’re jotting off a text quickly and autocorrect gets the better of you. You’re typing a response to a simple email and there are more than one or two typos. Stuff happens!

But then there’s the time that you post something for all to see on a blog, website, even your social media. You think it looks great, and then you go back and notice a mistake. And there’s a pit in your stomach. You think to yourself, How could I have done that? I proofread that! I don’t make grammar mistakes.

Well, bad grammar happens, even to people with good grammar skills.

I wonder if it’s gotten worse. Editing is so easy, even on social media! That is, unless you screw up a tweet, and then your only option is to delete it and re-type it. Did people take grammar more seriously when they were using typewriters? Quill pens? The dread you feel when realizing you’ve made an error in pen in a thank you note to your grandmother is way worse than realizing you made a mistake on your blog. What do you do in the thank you note? Cross it out and rewrite it so that it looks like scribble art? Maybe we’re lazier about checking our writing beforehand because we have a lot of ways to check it after the fact.

Trust and believe, even though you can edit a blog post, the feeling of dread is still there when you catch a grammatical error. It’s even worse when you work for a company called Grammatical Art and you have a glaring typo on a blog post you wrote for said company. I mean, I didn’t do that, but a friend of mine may have.

So, even though sometimes bad grammar happens to good (grammar) people, you’re still allowed to wear this shirt.

grammar queen