My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.



December 29, 2015

Cookiepalooza #SOL

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Two Writing Teachers

One of my favorite holiday traditions is baking cookies.  When my girls were little, we would spend all day Christmas Eve making a huge mess of the kitchen.  The cookies we baked (if they cooled in time!) would become gifts for the neighbors and dessert for my aunt and uncle's Christmas Eve party.

Last year we moved the cookie baking date back to December 23rd.  I prepared dough and a few of Lindsey's friends came over to help.  One new friend had a joyous time manning the pizelle maker, while others rolled chocolate crinkles, peanut blossoms and cut out sugar cookies.  

Cookiepalooza was established.

This year, both girls invited multiple friends.  We had veggies and dip (to balance out the cookies we planned on consuming) and Oberweis chocolate milk (for cookie dipping).  We also decided that it would be fun to have a graham cracker house building contest.  

The house was a noisy, flour-y mess.  Smiles, laughter and piano music (thank you, Jeff!) filled the air.  I burned calories (and just a few cookies) running up and down the stairs between our two ovens.

At the end of the night, everyone took some cookies and helped clean up.  The sweet smell of candies and frosting filled the air.  It was a great way to improve my spirits and get in the holiday mood.






December 1, 2015

"Can you read this? Pleeeeeease?" #SOL15

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Two Writing Teachers
My first reading group of the morning are four sweet, yet challenging, boys from one of our first grade classrooms.  It's taken nearly two months to develop a routine for them to get to my room, let alone work in our reading intervention program.  I'm happy to report that all of us (I'm the most likely to get distracted!) are following the routine pretty smoothly.

I use a lot of hand signals and facial expressions to get their attention and encourage them to quietly grab their bags and head down the hall to my room.  Usually one of their exuberant classmates announces my arrival when she sees me in the hallway.  Sure, it's fun to be "famous" (LOL) but I'm encouraging her to silently smile when we meet eyes.

Once the boys get to my room, the routine is to "warm up their reading brains" by reading a book.  I usually have to use some stickers as positive reinforcement (Book bag?  Sticker.  Reading?  Sticker.) but they are settling in pretty easily.

Today M brought a Hot Wheels book with him.   He was very excited to have this book from the library.  He asked if he and C could share my wide teacher chair to read.  The two of them sat and poured over the pictures, making quiet conversation about cars, drivers and sharks.  The other boys were reading their little books, finding success with more words than usual.

It was a sweet, happy reading moment. <Sigh>

When I asked them to grab a white board for word work (usually their favorite) activity, M looked up.  "Can you read this?"

"How about after we finish word work?"  I replied.

"Pleeeeeeease???" responded three of the four boys.  The fourth clasped his hands in front of himself and made puppy dog eyes.

How could I resist?  I read the book aloud to them, and they sat, enraptured by the story.  It made me smile to see them caught up in a story, even if it was about miniature cars being attacked by sharks.

M held up another book.   "How about this one?"  he asked.

"Let's read it tomorrow!"  I responded.

"OK - I'll leave it here.  Don't let anyone take it.  Promise?" M insisted.

Don't worry, M.  I plan on taking a few minutes of our time together each day to read to you.
It's important.  It's essential.  It's magical.

Scholastic Reader Level 1: Hot Wheels: Shark Attack
Image from Scholastic

November 10, 2015

Finding the groove #SOL15

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Two Writing Teachers
It's November.  Time for the air to get chilly, the sun to set early, and my head to 
explode! 

Now don't get me wrong, my head exploding can be a good thing, a bad thing, or a bit of both.

It's the feeling of wanting to jump on EVERY SINGLE good idea I hear and wanting to be part of

all the cooooool

                    learning

                                       and new books

                                                         and shared reading experiences 

                                            in classrooms around my building.

But, I have my own programs and students and testing and reading and learning to do as well.

Hmpf.

It's a good problem to have.  

*********************
In other news....

I'm finally finding my groove.  I've got a mess of data and notes that need to be organized
 (same mess, new school!)
 I have a rhythm to my day.
(and there's a few minutes for a bathroom break!)
My students are gems
and my coworkers have accepted me into the tribe.

It's November. Time to make sure we all take care of ourselves, soak up ALL the sunshine we can, 
and take time to smell the Mr. Sketch markers.

October 27, 2015

Morning Effort #SOL15

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Two Writing Teachers
I'm really excited to be working in a new school this year.

I'm really exhausted since I'm working in a new school this year.

I'm back in the reading support game, but lots of new materials, procedures, people and spaces.

Today I slid out of my car, feeling every day of my forty-six years.  The humidity, cold air and dark morning did nothing to make me feel better.  I reallllyyyyy didn't want to get out of bed this morning.
I left my bags in the car and slowwwly walked over to my colleagues at the car line.

"Hello, pumpkin!"  called Michelle L.

"On the struggle bus today, Chris?" teased Michelle Z.  (She knows I tend to drive the struggle bus!)

I whined a little lot and considered getting back in my car.  MZ offered to tell the office I was going home sick.  ML encouraged me to do what I needed for me.

I decided to stay.

What changed my mind?  My 3rd graders.  They are my final two groups of the day, yet they come each day (mostly) without whining or complaining.  They are eager to have their reading time, write with pens! and leave with a pile of books each day.  If they could have stamina, so could I.

(D does ask every few minutes, "Is it 5:00 yet?"  He knows he is released from small group at 2:25, so we need to work on his clock-reading skills, hee, hee) 

I welcomed a bunch of kiddos to school, went back to my car for my bags, and I walked in with a kindergarten student who was dragging tail (and his Alvin backpack).

"I'm glad you came to school today," I told him.

"You, too," he said.

October 6, 2015

Push and pull #SOL

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I've had some interesting conversations with fellow parents of teenagers, especially those in their senior year of high school.  We've decided that we may be the WORST parents in the WORLD, but then again, maybe it's just the stress as we consider that our children are graduating.  In a few months.  Oh. No....

We've talked about the stress the kids are under:
sports,
academic,
social,
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE,
peer pressure,
HURRY & CHOOSE WHAT YOU WILL DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE,
social media,
fashion,
DID YOU CHOOSE YET?

Wow.

I don't envy any of these kids.

Some of the kids are "push" kids... these kids just need a little push to get their motors started and rolling down the right path.  Other kids (like some of this year's seniors) are "pull" kids.  The kids who we have pullllllled through homework and social skills and making good choices and helping them develop their lacking executive functioning skills.

Ugh.  I'm tired.

It's time, fellow parents of HS seniors.  Let us release the ropes of parenting (or in my case, cut the enabling cord) and let our kids FALL.  We've done it before.  Remember when they were learning to toddle around the house?  We let them!  We were there to pick them up, kiss the scrapes and help them move on.  We can do it again.  Really.

Well, we can at least try.

We can be there for each other when the stress gets to be too much.  We may even laugh about this school year one day, MANY years from now.

It's time to let them figure it out and find out what they are made of.

They can do it.  So can we.

September 1, 2015

Giddy about Gardening #SOL

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C'mon.. you can do it!
One day in June the family piled into the car and went to Home Depot.  We usually don't shop the home improvement stores as a unit, so we must have decided to randomly stop after a meal out.

As we wandered the store, we came upon the seed rack in the garden section.  We started looking at seeds.  "It's too late," my husband warned, "but you should see what will grow in the back yard."

Ah, the backyard.  Our neighbors installed a stone retaining wall two summers ago.  We have not decided what to plant at the foot of the wall on our side, so we've just been mulching the area.  

Hmmm - could this be a place for a garden?  

We decided on the spot that we would plant seeds in our new garden.  My husband picked cilantro and peppers (he loves pico de gallo), I picked carrots, and the girls chose watermelon, cantaloupe and spinach.

That day the seeds went into the ground.  Weeks later the sprouts came up.  Then flowers... and ... you get the picture.  We were actually growing a GARDEN!  We added a tomato plant and jalapeno pepper plant.  (Jeff really wanted to make pico!)

We've been pretty good about taking care of these little plants.  I've been completely mesmerized as I've watched tiny seeds grow into seedlings, sprouts, plants, flowers and now FRUITS and VEGETABLES (thank you, first grade science curriculum, for the inspiration and vocabulary).

Will we ever get to eat a juicy watermelon this year?  Doubtful.  I don't even think the cantaloupe will get past the flowering stage.  We have enjoyed tiny carrots, lots of cilantro, and some spinach.  We may try fried green tomatoes, and I'll have to find out how the peppers grew... I don't eat jalapenos!  I can't wait to plan what we are planting NEXT year!

Tomato plant

Spinach

Jalapeno

Watermelon!



  



August 25, 2015

"That's the Lady!" #SOL

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Today was day five of school, and I've been in lots more classes, and assessing more students.  I'm quick to smile and wave at kids in the hallway, and when I quietly slide into classrooms, I have many kids volunteering to read with me.  (How awesome is that!?!?)

I'm also one of the people who works the morning car line.  With four of us directing traffic and receiving kids, it's getting easier each day.  It's fun to treat kids like celebrities as they arrive at school.  I make sure to have a smile, help little ones exit the car, and wish their parents a great day.

Today as I walked past some primary kiddos, one girl pointed at me and called out to her classmates, "That's the lady!"

"Who me?" I replied.

"That's the lady who took me out of my car today!" she told her friends.

"Did I do a good job?" I asked her, with a sheepish smile.

"Uh huh!" was the answer.

Day.  Made.

August 22, 2015

Connections. Passion. It's all good.

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Connections.

After six days of new teacher orientation, staff meetings, unpacking boxes and learning names, I was READY to welcome students to school this week.  I joined the Car Line Crew in the mornings, and I have the opportunity to greet students as they arrive at school.  I joked that I felt like I was a footman at a gala event with a red carpet!  I grab a door handle and out pops a celebrity student who has been delivered for a day full of learning.  

My new school services preK four-year-olds through fourth graders, so the kids are adorable and excited to be at school.  They are lined up very early each morning.  The students and staff have such connections to each other - it's really a big family.   At the end of this week I received two hugs from kids passing by me as I sat in the hallway assessing other students.  They had just met me!

(Side note - I have been smiling so much that my face hurts!  I feel like Dug from "Up")

Passion.

All of the staff - returning, veteran, new and seasoned - have a passion for teaching, a driving force to help our students succeed, and a helpful attitude.  Everyone has been patient and good listeners as I tell them my goals and my background.  Even though they may not be excited about some assessment or instructional directives, they are keeping the students in mind.  It shows!

It's all good.

To take a quote from Pete the Cat, it's all good.  Students are wondering who I am, but they are quick to return a smile.  I've walked the wrong way to my classroom and passed one room twice trying to find a teacher.  I am trying to be respectful when making suggestions, realizing that the way I've done assessment, grouping and data mining may not be the only way.  I'm working extra hard to keep my former students and colleagues in my heart and off my mind, but I feel their encouragement.  I can do this.






August 4, 2015

New beginnings #SOL15

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I made a decision this winter to pursue a reading position.  To get back to my passion, and to work as a resource teacher again.  I started sending out resumes and writing essays, and I started to feel lighter and excited.

I went on a good amount of interviews.  While I was nervous, I also felt content.  I love to talk about books and reading.  I feel confident about working with teachers to help grow their craft.  I know in my heart that a resource room is my comfort zone.

Then I was offered a job.  I agreed to work at a school far from my other district.  Away from my friends and students who I've worked with for twelve years.

How am I feeling?  A mix of excitement and nervousness.  I have a million questions and thousands of ideas.  I'm sorting my books and making notes and getting excited.

I've got my friends, Michelle and Karen on Voxer, so I'll have my literacy support system at my fingertips.  I also have my PLN on Twitter and all the slicers. (right!?)

I can't wait to get started this year!

From Crazypaperfreak

July 10, 2015

Digital Learning Chs. 1 & 2 #cyberpd

Text available from NCTE

Happy collaboration time!  Thank you to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for hosting this summer's edition of #cyberpd.  A place to read a professional book with other like-minded people and have a great conversation!  Grab a copy of Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 by Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson and join the discussion!

*****

Chapter 1 & 2 

This year I taught a classroom of first graders.  Everyone had a tablet.  The kids loved them.
I was not as excited.

I really thought I needed to hold back the reins on the tablets or my six- and seven-year-old charges would become completely dependent on their devices, needing to use them 24/7.  Yes, I am the same person who encouraged blogging and online reading just a year ago, but this felt different.  Would I be able to model the "right" kind of digital citizenship and using tablets as a tool?  I wasn't feeling confident, so I reluctantly let my students have access to these shiny, speedy digital tools.  I tried my best to provide guidance and anchor charts, yet I worried that my students would end up shunning our extensive library of books.

While reading the first two chapters of Digital Reading, I kept writing down the same word over and over on my sticky notes...
intentional
We (I, I, I) need to be intentional when making decisions about our instruction, our beliefs and our students.  First, we must decide what is digital reading. I love to read blogs and read lots of them.  They are snapshots of real people dealing with real situations, and I enjoy the insight into their thinking and feelings.  I have encouraged my students to write blogs, but I've never intentionally
showed them other blogs (written by kids and adults) that they can read and use as mentor texts.

*****

Digital Reading Workshop
During my many years of reading instruction, I've encountered many students who are "passive consumers" of text (p.13).  This book reminds me of the importance of teaching students to reach for deeper understandings of all text they encounter, no matter if it's digital or hardcopy.  I appreciate the authors' commitment to creating a digital reading workshop model focused on:

authenticity - ensuring students see reading as an experience that doesn't just occur in the classroom

intentionality- purposeful instruction; students make meaningful choices about text they use

connectedness - help students connect to peers, other readers, authors and the world using digital tools

****

As much as I'm guilty of seeing technology as an extra "thing" to manage in the classroom, I have a better understanding of myself as digital reader and communicator, and how I must intentionally guide my students in finding success, no matter what text or format they choose.  I look forward to gaining more confidence and knowledge about digital reading from our book study!

June 23, 2015

One Little Word

The message was received this winter, or maybe it was in the spring.

I think hope is a wonderful choice for your One Little Word**.  Hope floats.

Then my friend sent me the graphic.  Aha!

I have been clinging to the string of the balloon, keeping my chin up, continuing to push forward and follow my passions.

The balloon and my attitude kept rising up, up, up.

This summer has already been busy and I continue to be hopeful.

Hopeful for the present and the future.

Hopeful that I can do what I'm wired to do.

Hope is a wonderful choice for my one little word of 2015.
Even if it's nearly July.

Everyone needs hope.

**For more information on One Little Word, see this link:

OLW at TWT

June 16, 2015

Prioritizing #SOL15

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It's summer.  Time to relax, reflect and re-energize.

It's also time to
hop around the house,
starting one project
then another
adding to a list
leaving laundry on the couch to fold later.

It's time to
keep the refrigerator filled with food
and the spinning cabinet filled with snacks
and keep track of one daughter's work and school hours
while encouraging the other daughter
to stay focused on her job search and chores.

It's not hard to find things to do.
I feel like the house needs lots of attention.
But then so do my books
and social media (to get more book ideas).

It all comes down to prioritizing.
It's something I'm working to become better at.
Sure, everything gets done
but maybe not in the order it should.
Everything then becomes a priority.

How do other people figure out
what needs to be done
first?

June 9, 2015

One day left #SOL15

This was the picture my mom took in August after we worked in my classroom all day.  It's not really flattering, but it's an important picture.

I see hope, fear, exhaustion and excitement.  My first year in a classroom bigger than 8 x 8 feet.  A new adventure.

Tomorrow is the last day.

I still feel hope - will the kids remember the high points of this year?  Daily 5, field trips, making friends.

I still feel fear - did I do enough to prepare them for 2nd grade?  For college and careers?

I still feel exhaustion - teaching is a full-bodied, brain-draining profession.

I still feel excited.  Each morning is a new day, a fresh start.

Tomorrow is the last day.  It's been a year of roller coaster emotions.

May 12, 2015

Grateful #SOL15

Grateful

for sunny skies
cool weather
and blooming flowers.

Grateful

for a silly bird
who made us laugh
and smile
for a few years.

Grateful

for a warm, comfy bed
at the end
of a long day.

Grateful

to be surrounded
by supportive,
understanding
and kind
friends and family.

Grateful.

April 11, 2015

Celebrating Writing



Today I'm writing, here, on my blog, and there, in other places.

Here, I can share my thinking, my fears, my dreams.

There, it's informational writing.  It's important.  It's very intimidating.

Thankfully, I've been writing here since April 2011.
I've figured out that the hardest thing about writing is sitting down and writing.

Because of writing here, I am able to write there and not be too afraid.

Today I'm celebrating my writing stamina and my courage.

Today I celebrate all those who inspire me to write and share and press the publish button.

I am forever grateful!

April 7, 2015

Defeated


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Defeated.
Unbroken.

Frustrated.
Calm.

Distracted.
Focused.

Headache.
Meditative.

Anxious.
Relieved.

Angry.
Change.

Lost.
Prioritize.

Scared.
Fearless.
...
Try.
Attempt.

Believe.
Confident.

Improve.
*****
Backstory:  I wanted to slice today, but I was feeling defeated.  I challenged two teens to reframe my thinking.  Thanks, A and E for the positive words in italics to balance my negative feelings.

March 31, 2015

Finished SOLC #31

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Finished is a word I rarely use.

I hear, "I'm done!" from my first graders way too much.  I want to say to them, 
"You're not done (because you're not a casserole), and you will never truly be finished, 
unless you give up."

To me finished means...

you stop changing
you stop growing (emotionally, socially)
you stop learning.

Finished means you have moved on and never want to return 
to this project, this person, this anything.

I prefer to use the words in progress.

I'm in progress of becoming more organized
(all right, who am I kidding)
I'm in progress of becoming a better 
mother
teacher
friend
listener
wife
exerciser
(I walked a mile today!)
eater.

I don't know if I'll ever be finished with anything
or anyone.

The Slice of Life Challenge is over today,
but the writing continues,
on Tuesdays,
or any day you care to write.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.  

March 30, 2015

Under the Wire SOLC #30

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I made it.  I'm writing.
Just under the wire.

Long day at school,
Excited but exhausted kids.
Had to keep going.
Couldn't let them put their
heads on their 
desks
but one did.

So excited to see friends, 
yet exhausted from 
ten days at home.

Hooked them with read alouds.
Encouraged on-task behaviors
with coupons
and encouragement.

Money at math time!
Read to someone!
Silly read aloud before specials!

Now I'm exhausted
and they are home
in bed
recharging their batteries.
While I
just home from orchestra
find a minute
or two
to slice.

Now off to bed.
Good night!

March 29, 2015

Sunday Night Stress SOLC #29

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It's Sunday night.

Time for a million things
 to run thorough my mind.
What do I do first?  
What do I do instead?

Just a few more minutes 
of basketball,
Really, 
then I'll finish dinner
and get upstairs to organize the school bag.

Click on Pinterest.
So many ideas for math centers.
No time to make them tonight.

Write everything down, 
all the plans for the kiddos
who I haven't seen in 10 days.

Planning to have them share
Will there be enough hours tomorrow
for them to become reacquainted
and still have quiet time to learn?

It's overwhelming 
coming back from a break.
The break is relaxing,
but reentry is stressful.

I'm armed with read alouds
and sticky notes
and goody bags full of 
new crayons, pencils, glue sticks and erasers.

We will do what we can 
in the hours of Monday.
Then pick up where we left off
on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Friday will be a day off again.
Only to come back Monday
to more stories, smiling faces
minds ready for learning
again.

Sunday night stress.
Is more like excitement
and anticipation.
I missed them.

March 28, 2015

Gratitude List SOLC #28


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It's Saturday evening and I am home.  Hubby and I went out for dinner.  Allison is with her friends and Lindsey is at school with her friends.  Tweety, the parakeet, is sitting on my shoulder. (I think he missed me the most!)

As I look back on my spring break, I'm grateful for so much:

1) Parents who are healthy and enjoy traveling 2000 miles in their RV.  My dad has been sending me funny pictures and text messages during their 6-week trip.

2)  A brother who embraces his role as parent-in-charge of his boys and seeks to keep their minds and bodies active.

3)  Two daughters who are brave, confident and forging their own paths in life (with some advice from their favorite mom).

4)  A husband who knows when to remind me to stay focused and when to leave me alone when I'm working on important tasks.

5) Friends who I can call and text and visit at any time, about any subject, in any mood.

6) A group of writers (The Slicers!) who stop by my blog to read and share comments.  (Thank you!)

7) A warm, inviting house (usually full of teenagers!) in a friendly neighborhood.

8) Students and colleagues that offer me smiles every day I walk into school.

9) Bookstores and libraries that have all the books I'm looking for, and authors who keep writing awesome books.

10)  Sunny skies when the temperatures are low to keep us excited for spring to really arrive.


March 27, 2015

My Girls SOLC #27

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Allison got home from NYC yesterday, exhausted and happy to be home. I was proud that she made the trip on her own!  (Whew!). Lindsey has been back at Iowa this week, getting back into the habit of studying after spending a week at home on her spring break.

Today Allison and I jumped in the car for a road trip to Iowa City.  We have been traveling to college campuses during spring break for a few years now, so this trip felt right.  Tomorrow we will watch Lindsey play club lacrosse against Iowa State.  (Go Hawkeyes!).

We did the usual car ride routine, taking turns at the wheel and singing at the top of our lungs.  It was nice to hear all about NYC.    Our playlist was 100% Taylor Swift songs this trip.  She is quite the storyteller, and we love her music.  The conversation turned to what TSwift songs describe current and past relationships and situations. We had some good laughs and I pretended to be ill when Alli gushed about her special guy.

Tonight we enjoyed dinner at a local place and were joined by two of Lindsey's friends.  We grabbed cupcakes from Molly's (yum!!) and are now watching all the March Madness games.

I realized today how old these girls are (halfway to 19 and 17!) and how fast the years fly by.  I do treasure the time I spend with them...even when they argue.  Gotta love 'em!


March 26, 2015

Spring? SOLC #26

 I went for a walk this morning.

It sounded like spring.
Birds were chirping
and flying between trees.
Dogs were barking
at all the people out walking.
Squirrels chattered and
shook tree branches
as they climbed.


It looked like spring.
Leaf buds were popping
out of tree branches.
Green blades of grass
outnumbered
the dried, brown clumps.
Clear running water
flowed through the creek bed.




It felt like winter.
The "real feel" temperature
was 26 degrees.
The wind was
out of the north.
The snow piles remained
from Monday's surprise storm.

The weather forecaster
promises
warmer weather
next week.

Here's hoping for
true spring
to arrive
SOON! 
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March 25, 2015

Dear Friend SOLC #25

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Two Writing Teachers

Today I traveled an hour away to see a dear friend.  We met in 1993 at a marketing firm when I worked on the help desk and she was part of the computer purchasing team.

Carol and I are friends who won't see each other for months, yet pick up where we left off.  She's got a great attitude and no agenda.  Whatever we decide to do, minute-to-minute, it's great.  If she has a better idea, she will offer it.  No biggie if you want to do something else.

Our conversations run the gamut from husbands (every wife needs a little venting time to truly appreciate her hubby), to kids, to home repair and HGTV, to cooking (or baking - it's more fun), to family drama. 

I like spending time with Carol because as much as she's a great talker, she is a great listener.  She lets me think out loud and dream and problem solve.  When I say I shouldn't complain about small problems when other people have big problems, she tells me,

"That problem is big to you.  You are allowed to feel however you need to feel."

Carol has seen all sides of me:  techy nerd, out-of-state resident, new mom, career changer, software widow, mom-to-teens.  She continues to be a friend, and nothing I do or say will change that.

I'm glad to have her in my life, especially when she sends a fun text message.  She reminds me to live in the moment and appreciate what is going well.

March 24, 2015

Visit to the Chiropractor SOLC #24




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Today I visited the chiropractor for the first time.  Dr. Dana was recommended to me by Lynn as someone who is caring and careful.  We spent the first 30 minutes of my appointment going over anything that might be troubling me.  We talked about how stress affects our bodies and then our muscles learn how to compensate.  It felt strange listing every single little thing that I feel is "wrong" with my neck, wrists, knees and shoulders, but this gave her more information on what to help me resolve.

Next Dr. Dana used applied kinesiology to move my legs and arms to see what was working and what wasn't.  It was fascinating to talk about how everything is interconnected in our bodies.  She could press a spot on my back and make my hip work differently.  Very interesting!

I have some soreness from some of the stretching and muscle activation, but nothing awful.  I promised Dr. Dana that I would walk this afternoon and not sit too long.  I also have to drink lots of water to flush the toxins.

I'm glad I took Lynn's recommendation to try something new!  Here's to moving forward with better health.

March 23, 2015

Back to Reading SOLC #23


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This year I haven't spent enough time with books.  Yes, I'm reading picture books to my class every day (it's the BEST part of our day), but I haven't done much reading for myself.

Before I tackled shoveling the 5 inches of snow that fell today (UGGGHHH), I spent a good amount of time on Goodreads, trying to find my next read.  My favorite genre is young adult/teen fiction.  Give me a juicy boy-meets-girl story any day and I'm one happy camper.  (I'm a hopeless romantic.)

Thanks to spring break, I already devoured Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I'm pretty sure I've read this book before, but that didn't matter -- it was great.  I was excited to learn that there are three more books in this series (hooray!).

If you have any teen or young adult reads that I need to binge read this week, please leave them in the comments!  I have read most of John Green's and Sarah Dessen's books, the Hunger Games and Divergent triologies. 

On to my next book!  

March 22, 2015

Homebody SOLC #22



Yesterday I sent one to NYC.

Today I sent one west, and another one east.

I am staying home.

To sleep and sleep some more.

To read and write.

To dream and contemplate.

To make messes and clean.

This week I'm the homebody.


March 21, 2015

Sending Her Off SOLC #21

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Tonight Allison will hop on a bus with her school choir and travel to New York City.  \
This is her big first trip without parents or grandparents.  She has to be in charge of herself.
She's 16, so this should not be a big deal.  

But it's a big deal.

Allison is my younger, right-brained, clock-ignoring, carefree, Mixed Cereal daughter.  I (unfortunately) have been her alarm clock and task adviser for 16 years.

The girl has an alarm clock that lights up like the sun and creates bird noises that could wake the dead.  Do I let her learn how to get out of bed?  Nope.
I walk past her door every morning and tell myself, "I WILL NOT WAKE HER UP TODAY!"
And then I go in and give the Morning Speech.

Ugh.  If she misses something on this trip, it will be all. my. fault.

I've been encouraged told straight out by experts and friends to let her fail.  Let her be late.  Let her face the consequences.

But I can't.  I haven't.  I should have.

So now I will send her off to NYC.  I hope and wish that she will use some of her own time management skills (and her new watch) to stay on time and not be left behind.

oh boy.





March 20, 2015

Not Enough Hours SOLC #20

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Well, I can't believe I'm saying this on the day our spring break starts.
Sometimes there are not enough hours in the school day.

Yes, I am crazy.  

My classroom of six and seven year olds was bursting with excitement and nervous energy this morning.  You could feel it.

It was a short day, yet a long day, but not long enough.

The morning started strangely as I wasn't by my room right at the entrance bell.  C was a bit nervous.  "I was sure we would have a guest teacher because you weren't here but you told us you would see us today and you are here."  Yes, C, I'm here!
Then there was an announcement about raffle tickets and earning the chance to throw a pie in a teacher's face.  That set off a flurry of conversation.  Then we moved to the carpet for a read aloud and five kids were itchy, scratchy, CAN I PLEASE GO TO THE NURSE?
The nurse came to us.  One child was sent home.  Others were soothed with lotion and ice packs.

After hosting three of my sweethearts for lunch (fun!) and helping another child get lunch because he forgot to get in line for pizza (I'm so glad you told me!) it was already the afternoon.

There was book shopping for book baggies and reading and writing and rock-paper-scissors over who got to take the pigeon book.  Then they were whisked away to specials.  They came back and went home for spring break.

I ended the day picking up, straightening, thinking of where I'll start when they return.

Some days are too long.  Some are too short.  Today wasn't long enough


March 19, 2015

Currently SOLC #19

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Currently

I'm in the family room with a gaggle of teens.

We have the first round basketball games on the big screen.

The random comments,silly stories and one-liners are flying around the room.

I'm balancing on an exercise ball, trying hard not to fall over, typing away at the blog.

Everyone keeps checking their brackets, yelling at the screens.

It's an interesting kind of bonding.  It's fun.  

I'm sure they are all ready for me to head back upstairs.

But I'm gracing them with my presence.

Lucky kids!

Watching basketball with the kids is a good detox

On the night before the last day of school before spring break.

Currently 

I'm in the family room with a gaggle of teens.


March 18, 2015

March Madness SOLC #18

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I can be a full out sports fan or I can be casual about it.  I love to watch football, even though I don't know all the rules (and annoy my oldest daughter with my questions).  Basketball is fun to watch because of it's fast pace.

For the past few years, my family picks their favorite team from each March Madness division.  Lindsey (oldest) is our athlete and sports fanatic.  She has no problem picking teams - she actually knows their stats.  Allison (youngest) picks teams based on their location or mascot.  Jeff has absolutely no interest in sports, but he has enough information from coworkers and rankings to pick some decent teams.  I remember names and reputations, so I pick Kentucky, one underdog, and two middle performers every year.

We keep track of who's team survives the farthest through the tournament.  We have fun trash-talking and bugging each other about their picks.  The winner gets to pick a dinner out (and dessert!), so the stakes are small.  

It's fun to have a little competition in the house.  We are also usually home together at some point during the tournament because of spring break.  March Madness is an enjoyable distraction for the family.

March 17, 2015

One Lucky Kid SOLC #17

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We started the day in first grade reading a little story about St. Patrick's Day.  It was a quick little easy reader about shamrocks and good luck.  I had paper shamrocks for the students to wear for some good luck, and I asked them to finish writing this sentence:

"I am one lucky kid because..."

Now, I chose to model that I was lucky because I had a bowl of cheerios with bananas for breakfast.  They helped me spell breakfast and wondered why that made me lucky.  I told them it was because we had beautiful, yellow bananas at my house (woo hoo!).

Then the kiddos jumped into writing.  I had many lucky video game, toy and American Girl owners.  One girl has a new puppy.  A few wrote about birthday parties.  My favorite paper, by far, was G's:

"I am one lucky kid because I have whipt crem and butr."

Then she drew a fridge.  

I like your thinking, G.

March 16, 2015

Hahahaha That's Funny SOLC #16

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It's nearly 11 p.m. central time.

I'm exhausted.  I'm uninspired.

But I'm here, writing anyways.

We are over the halfway slicing hump.

(Too bad it's not a Wednesday.  "Mike... Mike... Mike.. guess what day it is!??"

Came across something funny on Facebook today.  If you put your name in this program, it told you what your name meant.

Here's mine:

Chris
you are balanced, orderly and organized
you like all your ducks in a row
you are powerful and competent,
especially in the workplace.
people can see you 
as stubborn and headstrong
you definitely have a dominant personality.

I agree with the last sentence.  The rest is just plain funny.

time for bed.

March 15, 2015

Balance SOLC #15

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It's SO sunny and WARMish outside today, but I've got papers to organize and plans to write.

Time for some balance!

My plan: 
1) Set the timer for 45 minutes.  Type, think, write, sort, brainstorm, plan.
2) Spend 15 minutes on activity.  Switch laundry, read book outside, walk, scrub dishes.
3) Repeat.

Before I start this cycle, a morning bike ride or walk is being considered to get my heart pumping and my brain nourished.

I wonder if my plan will work.



March 14, 2015

Sunshine Walk SOLC #14

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At 10:00 a.m. I decided everyone should be up and awake :)

I promised a coffee to my oldest daughter (home for spring break!) if she would walk with me this morning.  I tried to get younger out of bed, but that wasn't happening.

The walk, the coffee and the talking were great.  We got all caught up on all the college news, drama and happenings.   We stopped at the pond to sit a spell.  We walked to the park and tried out the swings.

I started the day with a clear head and a light heart.

Lindsey hamming it for the camera


March 13, 2015

Luck? Fate? SOLC #13

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Are you trixadexaphobic
or does the thought of Friday the 13th
not even make you flinch?

Do you believe in fate
or do you think your future 
can be changed by each decision?

Do you throw salt over your shoulder
and knock wood
or cross your fingers?

It's the 13th
and it's not the date
that makes the day
wonderful
or 
completely crappy.

It's the decisions,
the mistakes and
the successes.

It's what you do after 
the bad decisions
that help you see 
that it will 
all
work 
out.

The way it's supposed to.

March 12, 2015

Writer's Helper SOLC #12

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In our integrated science unit, our goal and summative task is to have students explain cause and effect of fast and slow earth changes.  The first grader l.o.v.e. talking about fast changes (tornado, hurricane, VOL-CA-NOOOOOO!).  They get a little excited about slow changes, but only when I write the word erosion very slowly on the anchor chart.

Today I had them pick a fast change and a slow change.  Then we put our notebooks away.  This afternoon, we looked at pictures, talked with our buddies and then tried to write how the fast or slow change affected the earth.

Yup.  Tricky.  But not impossible.
As I was circulating and helping, jotting and talking, encouraging writing and discouraging a few arguments, I saw a little bit of magic happening at the table.

M has blossomed into a full-fledged author.  I am not kidding when I tell her that I want the first copy of the first (and second and tenth) book she publishes.  She spends nearly every day writing.  It's really exciting to talk with her about her writing.

S has a great attitude and helpful personality, but S isn't a writer yet.  She has great listening comprehension and understands what we're talking about, but the words (and sometimes letters) don't yet flow from her pencil.

I encouraged the kids to work together, talk together and write together.  S ended up next to M.  I watched M do what I do for S during writing time:

S:  I want to write about volcanos.  They melt the trees with the lava.
M:  (writing on a sticky note).  Okay.  They melt the trees.  Here you go.
S:  Do I write that?
M: Yes.  I wrote it, now you copy it.
S: Thanks!
M:  Ok!

I think my eyes were a little shiny as I made a little gasp.  Both girls looked up.
"Thank you for working together.  My heart is full of excitement about your writing!" I exclaimed.

Ok.  I'm a drama queen.  But words couldn't express how proud I was of the girls working together to find success for all of them.

Little N next to them spoke up, "Can I get some help over here?  This is hard work!"
M and S:  Okay!