It's that time of year again . . .

Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season. (Well, in my opinion, it's a bit early for all the songs and decorations--it's not even Thanksgiving here in the US!--but it's never too early for the spirit of giving, gratitude, and joy!)

I'm a math teacher and tutor, and spend most of my time these days developing an individualized curriculum to use in my remedial math class, as well as in the future. Someday, I hope to have my curriculum completed and be financially stable enough to use it part of the time to volunteer as a tutor for underprivileged children. There's nothing better than seeing a child's confidence grow as he or she realizes, "Yes, I CAN do math!"

That being said, I'm afraid several of my wishes have to do with math or teaching, lol. Bear with me. It's my entire life these days, it feels like.


1. Program me a piece of software? This is, perhaps, an unusual request. It's also one borne of desperation. I spend four hours every weekend creating homework and quizzes for the following week. Each piece of homework and each quiz is individualized, customized to what that child has mastered. None can be reused another week or for another student. I'm using tables upon tables in Writer documents to keep track of which questions I've used for which child when. What I really need is a custom-built piece of software that's a combination database and frontend, allowing me to mark which concepts a child has mastered and randomly generate a specified number of questions (which it will pull from the database that I've stocked), dumping them into a document and leaving me with no more work than the formatting. My entire family would thank you; they would prefer to see more of me on a weekend (and less of the stressed me too!). There's nothing else out there, as far as I know, that will work with the curriculum I'm developing--it has to allow the specific categorization of questions that my curriculum uses. I typed up a document of specs here if anyone would like to see it. I've had one person do some plotting out of it, but they ended up with 60+ hour workweeks soon after and haven't had time to work on it since. I don't suspect I will see it any time soon from them, but they'd probably be happy to collaborate if you use a repository of some sort and want to synch code.

2. Program me a different piece of software? Yes, another piece of software! This one is less necessary, but very much desired by me--and several friends, when I described it to them. I have yet to find a music player/organizer that has separation of genre labels vs. tags, multi-genre labeling, filtering on said labels, etc., all of which I very much want in a music player. So I typed up a 14-page document describing what I thought it should do (plus a few sketches which are tucked away in a drawer). I also have old code that a boyfriend started for the program, but never polished beyond the basic engine and one or two columns in the library.

3. Any math workbooks you haven't used? I'll always keep my eye out for a useful math workbook. I don't use lesson plans so much, since everything is individualized (I can teach a concept on the fly), but I do collect workbooks and worksheets (textbooks too, to a lesser extent, but workbooks are more useful). I have an electronic collection already, but I'll always take more. I never know when I'll spot the perfect page of practice to help a concept sink in. I can't create them all myself, lol.

4. Any mechanical puzzles you have laying around? Used or new, I'll take anything suitable for elementary children up through 8th grade (13 to 14 years old). You can see some examples of said type of puzzles here. If you only have something harder, feel free to send it my way anyway! My students will pay me (via my classroom's "currency" system) for the opportunity to willingly put themselves through that sort of torture--those puzzles seem to have that sort of grip on children. Something about the physicality of it, maybe. Either way, I don't mind stretching their brains. :D

5. Donate to ADRA. It's a development and relief agency that goes into countries after a disaster--and stays there for years to help the infrastructure recover. They're also involved with everything from protecting vulnerable girls in Asia against sex trafficking, to digging wells for villages without clean drinking water, to providing goats and chickens to families to help them with food and income, to feeding, sheltering, and educating children all over the globe (orphans in Ghana, street children in Kazakhstan or Moldova, Tanzanian children with albinism, etc.). The easiest way to give is through their Really Useful Gift Catalog--you can pick the project that appeals to your heart the most and give specifically to that one.

6. Got any old hymnals, particularly shape note books? In the last year I have learned about shape note singing (also called fasola or Sacred Harp singing, after a common book in the tradition), and I love it! I currently have both the Denson and Cooper revisions of The Sacred Harp (I'll have the newest Cooper edition in just a couple months), but none others. If you're having to choose between a four shape or a seven shape book, four shape is my preference, but I want to collect seven shape books too so if that's what you have and you want to share, please do! And if the hymnal is a plain old ordinary round note (and you're wondering, just what IS this shape note stuff?), I'll gladly take anything published before the 1900s, no matter what shape the notes are. (If you can't bear to give up your beloved shape note book, I understand, truly, I do--and you're welcome to tell me about it, lol.)

7. Write me a fic! You can find my Dear Yuletide Writer letter here (which discusses Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, Stick It, and Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain), if you know anything about that challenge, but I'd also happily take fic for Rizzoli & Isles, X-Men movieverse (first two movies only), Narnia (bookverse only), or The Pretender. Feel free to ask me about my view of the canons in question--I have previous DYW letters for R&I and The Pretender, and will gladly talk about my love for any of the fandoms!

8. Doc, the TV show? This is the TV series starring Billy Ray Cyrus as a doctor. My mom LOVED it when it was on, and would love to see it again. I managed to find the first season but don't have the rest of the show.

9. Sew me a skirt? I have a jean skirt that I absolutely adore. It's super long, very full (I can sit cross-legged and the skirt goes over and around my legs entirely), and swishes wonderfully if I twirl around (plus the jean fabric makes it wearable and very comfortable for long periods of time, where I normally am ready to get out of skirts pretty quickly). Unfortunately, the elastic waistband is gone, and the stitching is such that it would be a nightmare to repair. I kept it because I hope to someday find a skirt like that, but I've never seen anything remotely similar in any store I've been to (I probably got it at Goodwill originally). I'd be happy to provide necessary measurements and whatnot (the cut is very plain so it's not horribly complex), but I am so swamped that even if I could stand to try sewing (it drives me up the wall, lol), there's no way I could find the time to create this. I have an aunt who could do some alterations if it were too large, but she doesn't have the time to create something new like this, which is why I haven't gotten a replacement in the many years I have had to do without wearing it. (Thankfully I haven't changed in size in the meantime, so it would still fit perfectly.)

10. Something from my Amazon wishlist? This request is a Holiday Wishes tradition for me, lol. I don't care if items are used--if they qualify for used on Amazon, they're in good enough condition for me. (I also don't care if you go through Amazon or not to get anything on there.) Feel free to surprise me! Wishlist is here.

My e-mail address is doranwen-AT-yahoo-DOT-com (hopefully that will avoid some of the bots skimming for e-mails). I don't mind being surprised--feel free to ask for my address, and I will not ask what you're sending me unless you decide to volunteer it. :D
Picture of the waistband?
I have some mad sewing skills. I'm willing to consider fixing your favorite skirt with new elastic, although I do know that sometimes the elastic is sewn into the waistband so you can't easily remove it. If you sent me a photo of a section of the skirt that needs new elastic, I could tell you if it were feasible to fix it. I've taken apart some number of these kinds of tricksy waistbands and refitted them with new elastic.

Interested? Send me a pm and I'll give you contact info :)
Well, take a look here and see if you think it's worth trying to repair: (I deleted my previous comment because I realized just how gigantic the picture showed up, lol.)

I have to wonder, because some of the fabric is starting to fray at the top (the skirt is not worn out yet, but it's well worn--you can see some of that in the picture), whether it would be better to just make a new one. But since there's no guarantee of that, if you think you can restore that one to wearability, lol, I'd love it. (Right now it just crackles when you touch the waistband because of the dry rotted elastic.)
Is there a particular age range that you're looking for with the math workbooks? I have a few that I'd be happy to send you but they're all for fairly young children. If you're interested, though, just send your address and a reminder of what I promised to auralily2000 at yahoo.com.