Showing posts from 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude #6

We have three kids running around our house, and we also have three furbabies -- our Golden Retriever, Maggie, and two cats, Dewey and Sirius.  Animals have a way of making you feel happy... cats who curl up, contently purring in your lap, or a dog who moves from room to room with you, just wants to be a part of whatever you are doing.  While I could do without the dog and cat hair everywhere, I do love my pets like my own kids. I'm grateful for the companionship of animals (especially ones as good natured as mine!)

An Attitude of Gratitude #5

That picture says a lot about who I am. I am an Iowa girl, born and bred.  My hometown is a tiny little place in northwest Iowa, Primghar, made up of 900 good, God-fearing, hard-working people... farmers, teachers, small business owners. People who took a true interest in how others were doing and helped out their neighbors without being asked. I am so proud of where I grew up. I'm grateful for the small town values that shaped who I am. I'm happy that both my husband and I were raised in similar towns, and we both share those small town values now while raising our kids.  While I would give anything to raise my kids in my hometown, I am blessed to share my small town values with my family.

An Attitude of Gratitude #4

Tonight has been a very long, tedious night.  I am preparing to have a sub tomorrow, which I just dread each time.  I would much rather be in my classroom sick than to have to plan for a sub to be in my room.  It is just so much work to get things ready and then find a way to explain to a stranger what my kids and I have been working on.  It is just easier to be in the room and make decisions on the fly as needed.  To make matters worse, I will be gone two days, not just one.  I have a PD day with my language arts coworkers and then will finally get into the doctor for an appointment that has been rescheduled twice.  Tonight I worked after school until 8 o'clock trying to get caught up with grading and planning in order for someone to come.  I also needed to clean off my desk...what a job!

My gratitude in all of this is that I have a job.  I don't have to worry about the hunt and the rejection that many are experiencing daily.  I enjoy the people that I work team can…

An Attitude of Gratitude #3

I love traveling.  Going from place to place and seeing new sights always amazes me.  Growing up, I loved to watch travel shows, and I remember thinking Samantha Brown has to have one of the best jobs in the world -- traveling from country to country, exploring new places, and she gets paid to do it! 
This summer my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and Las Vegas for a week, kid free.  As much as I love traveling with my kids, I truly adore the time that my husband and I get to spend alone on trips.  It is so nice to go to nicer places and not have to worry about the kids.  I feel blessed and grateful to have the ability to travel and experience new people and places.  

An Attitude of Gratitude #2

Today my family went to the movies.  This is a very rare treat for us,  due to the cost involved with taking everyone.  We saw Gravity with Sandra Bullock.  What a great movie!  Although sad at times,  I think the overall message of resilience is strong.  I'm glad that we had time to spend together.   Chris and I also saw Last Vegas last night.   Two movies in one weekend.... almost unheard of anymore.   It was a wonderful date night and much needed time together!

A Month of Gratitude! #1

It is November 1st. Isn't this the best month to think about what we are grateful for?  In the spirit of Thanksgiving this month, I'm going to post what I'm grateful for each day.  So with that in mind...

Day 1:

Today I'm grateful for comp days following our yearly conferences.  This week we taught for three full days and then also had conferences from 3:30-7 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as all day from 7-4 pm on Thursday.  This makes for such a long week...especially leading up to Halloween when my middle schoolers are a little wired any way! I'm grateful that our administrators give us a day to recover and rest after many hours beyond our normal teaching duties.  It is so nice to sleep until 7:30, instead of getting up and leaving before sunrise! My body clock must be set though...I awoke at my normal 4:30 anyway, but going back to bed was a nice treat!  What are you thankful for today?

Another week done!

Whew! The past few weeks has been a whirlwind.  I can't believe that midterms are here already!  With volleyball, STUCO, and of course my classroom work and three kids to manage, I feel like I've just been running nonstop.  I am blessed to be busy and working alongside wonderful staff members, so I can't complain too much.  I would like  have one weekend where I can get things done around the house that are desperately being ignored right now.  Soon, soon...all things in time, right?

First Full Week Done!

Our first full week is done and I have to be honest and say that it has kicked my butt!  Between my 7th and 8th grade classes of language arts, being a committee leader, and coaching volleyball--not to mention my own kids and their activities--I have just been exhausted all week.  I love getting back into routine, but I forgot how hard it is to do so!  My body is already back to the 4:30 wake up call...even today, when I just wanted to sleep in!  It has meant some 9 pm bed times, though, because I just had to crash.

I think that my classes are already better than last year, and so far (knock on wood!) the kids are much more receptive to our writing activities.  Attitude is everything!  We are switching to common core standards this year, which is really causing me to think about the level of teaching I'm using this year, which is great!

Time to get busy with all the things around the house that have been neglected this week...have a fabulous weekend!

Another 5K in the Books

My oldest and I participated in the Kansas City Race for the Cure this morning.  It was such a beautiful walk and I am always amazed to see all the people that come out to support breast cancer survivors and their families.  It makes me feel like I am a part of something so important to see the wave of pink and white. Now to get into my school mode so I can get some work done for tomorrow.  I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and hate the fact that I have so much still on my to-do list and not much to cross off...ugh. Time to get busy!

We're Back!

Tomorrow starts another new school year.  While I'm excited to get back into routine and meet with kids, I have to be honest and say that I'm not excited to sit through meeting after meeting for the next three days. Any one else every feel this way?  I've been at school this week trying to get my room ready.  It is almost there, but it isn't where I want it to be yet.  It will get there, but for some reason, I sat in the room and just couldn't decide what to do or where to start. I'm not really overwhelmed, but I didn't have my head in the right place either.  I think a summer that was just too fast played a big part of that. Summer school took a lot out of me...more than I had expected really.  It is time to get back into the swing of things though.  Enjoy your year if you start soon too!

And We're Back!

It's that time again...the calm before the storm so to speak.  Back to school displays are up and the sales fliers are in the mailbox...ugh.  I'm not really excited this year.  I usually love to stock up for things for my classroom, but this year, I'm not feeling it. I don't know if it is because my co-teacher left to try reading instead of language arts with me, or because it means I'll have to start a new co-teaching relationship.  Maybe it's a little lot of both. I totally understand the need for change.  We grade a lot...all the time.  I can't fault her for that...we just had a great partnership that is going to be hard to reestablish again. But it will be done because I can do that or have a long year... and I don't want that!

My kids are at grandma's house for the week, so it is a good time for me to get things done around here before the craziness starts in again.  Two kids in middle school and one more year of elem for the littlest. Time is…

Yeah! Summer...oh wait.

Yeah! School officially was finished yesterday.  This has been such an exhausting week.  We have 1 1/2 days with kids, then I had CPR training Wednesday afternoon after setting up our staff BBQ to celebrate another school year.  Thursday was supposed to be our last teacher work day, but I spent it listening to Dr. Rick McGuire from the University of Missouri speak about Positive Coaching.  His message was great, but I think the 8 hour PD session could have been accomplished in 2, so the repetitiveness just dragged on and on.  Today I started my work for summer school.  Today was all about unpacking boxes and planning lessons.  I feel like I have a good start any way.  23 days of summer school will go by quickly right?  I will miss having the extra days to work around the house, but the extra money will hopefully make up for it!

So summer for me will really start in July.  School work will start back up for PD days and curriculum writing then too.  I guess teachers really don't hav…

End of the Year Craziness Has Begun!

It is the end of the school year for us and the craziness has definitely begun.  I feel like we are trying to get those last objectives taught and still trying to make it fun and engaging.  It seems that the kids believe MAP testing to be the official end of the school year, even though we had another month left to go.  Trying to get ourselves in a happy place is also hard right now...teachers are tired. Kids are tired.  Rinse and repeat.

I'm scheduled to teach summer school.  This will be the first time in a long time. I taught it 12 years ago.  I'm looking at the next two weeks of school and longing to be done, but there is four more weeks after that.  It will be an experience for sure. I am hoping that the four weeks go fast and I can make it a fun and enjoyable time in the classroom. I pick up my materials tomorrow, so I get to find out what I'll be doing then.

I am looking forward to having time to spend at home with my kids as well, so come on July!

A Little Time Off...

So you may have noticed that I have taken a few days away from this little blog.  Life in April has been a little crazy around the homestead here.  End of the year activities are definitely kicking in full gear.  Band contests, choir concerts, meeting, meeting, meetings...and then there is MAP testing too. We will soon be getting ready for state testing at school. Two weeks of testing might just do me in!  I'm hoping it goes by quickly and with as few headaches as possible!

On a positive note, my son will be competing in a state math contest this weekend...I'm excited for him.  He is very excited to show what he can do!  It will be good to have a little family vaca away from town, if only for one night!

Hope your month has been going well.  I'm just hoping to see spring come sometime tired of the cold!

SOL 3/31 I Made It!

Wow!  I made it. Thirty-one days of writing on this little blog.  I am so proud of myself for finishing the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  I don't think that I could have imagined that I would finish a month of blogging. A month of writing.  I have truly enjoyed this challenge.  I remember why I love writing.  I have been able to try new styles of writing.  I have also been able to read some really powerful posts from some really terrific writers.  I have learned more about the subject that I teach.  I have come across great ideas for my classroom.  I have laughed and cried with others from around the world.  Thirty-one days may be a short blip in time, but thirty-one days has helped me to become a stronger writer.  Thank you to all the people who have read and commented.  That has meant a great deal to me.  I have grown to love the community of writers who support and encourage one another. Thank you, Ruth and Stacey, for challenging…

SOL 3/30 Rockclimbing, Roadtrips, and Family

My nephew is getting baptized this afternoon, so my family (immediate and extended) have all traveled to Gillette, Wyoming to celebrate with him.  My husband and I will serve as God parents for baby Zane, so the trip is extra special for me.  From our house in Missouri,  it is a very long 16 hour drive, so we tried to find attractions that would break up the trip.  We drove to Mitchell,  SD and saw the Corn Palace, and continued on. The Badlands were our next stop, where we hiked out on some pretty amazing sights.  God's creation is awe inspiring!  Who knows where we will head on the way home, but it is fun to watch my kids learn and explore. Enjoy some pictures from the trip so far.  I love the question mark on the end of trail sign...kind of sums up how I feel right now.  Things are ending, but it isn't the end of the trail for me.  A fitting metaphor for life right now.

SOL 3/29 Kindness of Their Hearts

This week our school has been participating in Pennies for Patients for the Leukemia Society.  Every day, our counselor has come around to collect the money that my TA group added to our box.  The top prize was a catered Olive Garden lunch, which was quite an incentive for my group! Second place would earn cookies, and third place could win bubble gum.

Every day, I was please that my group added to our fund.  After hearing from several of my co-workers, I was happy to see anything was given. The first day we had a small amount- $1.86.  The second day, they added a little over $6.  Day 3, the competitive bug hit and they brought in almost $40 in just one day.  I was very proud of my group, and they moved us into third place of all the TA groups.  Some groups still had empty boxes after day 3!  Yesterday was our last day to collect money.  As my group began to collect money to count on the table, I was amazed to see what they had accomplished.  They were so determined to win that lunc…

SOL 3/28 Is It Cheating?

On Monday, my students and I had a discussion about slicing.  I offered my students the chance to slice this month, and am very pleased that a few took me up on it (offering prizes must have helped!)  I had a couple turn in their slices because they had finished 31 entries and felt they were done.  I myself have scheduled slices to go out a few days ahead when I felt inspiration hit and could write more than one entry in a day.  But is that cheating?  That was the question.

I don't think it is cheating to write and schedule ahead.  For me, I feel much more at ease to write my posts and know that they are done for the day.  I can log in and link up my slice before school, and then I know that I can go about my day without worrying about getting it done.  I also have started a post, and then felt I needed to step away for a day or two.  Sometimes having that little break brings clarity. I can refocus what I was trying to say.  Sometimes I have several ideas swirling around in my he…

SOL 3/27 My Sweet Maggie

 My Sweet Maggie

My sweet Maggie
With your coat of red,
A big cuddle bunny
At the foot of the bed.

My sweet Maggie
How you love us so.
You are always smiling
Everyplace you go.

My sweet Maggie...
I listen to you snore
As you lay so still
On my bedroom floor.

My sweet Maggie,
With your coat of red,
Guarding us as always
At the foot of the bed.

SOL 3/26 The End is in Sight!

I can't believe it is almost here...spring break!  I have waited for spring break for weeks now.  With our wonderful weather lately, spring break is a welcome thing.  I really was jealous of all of the other school districts in my area who had a week off last week.  Why were we in school and everyone else is all off having fun?

Our district never really has a break, but we always get Good Friday and the following Monday off.  I have really longed to have a little break...just time to regroup and refocus on the end of the school year. The spring seems to drag out, and it could be because the weather has been a little unpredictable.  One day it is beautiful; the next it is down right miserable.

We have two days left after today...two days to suffer  to make it through before we can hit the highway in search of family and fun. Oh course, the 16 hour drive both ways won't be the highlight of the weekend, but we will soldier on!  Road trips are fun, right? We will be charging the…

SOL 3/25 On the go!

Today has been the sort of day when I go from sun up to sun down. We were at school bright and early, then felt as if I rushed around all day. We created flip books for parts of speech notes, so I rushed from table to table to answer questions. Most did well, but some of my friends just can't follow directions!
After school I tutored, and then came home to fulfill mom duties. We are leaving for my brother's house in three days, and needed to find Easter clothes for the kids. Noah was able to search his closet for clothes he liked and fit (hallelujah!) The girls however needed something new. Every dress they own is two short or not church appropriate. So of we went. We also took care of haircuts so that was taken care of too. Luckily, the girls were successful. Me not so much, but I am sure I can dig something out of the closet that will work just fine.  I took so long running around that I missed my monthly bunco night with the girls, but that's ok. There is always next m…

SOL 3/24 Six Weeks Early?

The groundhog is a lying little rat.  Spring is six weeks early?  Yeah right.  We are in the middle of another winter storm dumping inches of snow, and unfortunately spring arrived last Wednesday.  Everyone is so tired of the snow right now--except for my kids at school who eagerly look out the window anytime a single flake flies and ask "Are we getting out early?"  I grew up in Iowa, so I am use to a little snow.  But I am really tired of winter right now.  The snow, the cold, the mud that comes afterward, staying indoors instead of going for walks. I'm tired of all of it.

I think what makes this snow more irritating is that Mother Nature has been taunting us.  She offers 65, 70, even a 80 degree day, and then BAM! She hits below the belt, laughing as the weathermen go into crisis mode again. (I don't know if every city is this way, but the weather anchors go crazy at the slightest flake.  Really, some weather needs attention like that, but do we need 14 live crews…

SOL 3/23 Procrastination

Do you know any procrastinators? The people who know have a big deadline coming up and still haven't started that piece of work that has to be finished on time? I've met more than my share. In fact, depending on the task, I'm one of them. Certain chores and tasks are so unappealing that I'd rather do anything than what I need to do. I've been known to clean my entire house and closets and the garage instead of writing a paper for my Masters or grading 8th grade research papers.  My own kids and students definitely fit into this mold and got me thinking. What are the stages of procrastination?  Can someone tell when it really is time to get busy? Can procrastination be put into stages like grief?  I'm not really sure.  I know that there comes a time that procrastinators kick it in gear to finish that project. For me, it is usually after every other possible task on the honey-do list has been conquered.  But at least I have a clean house, right?  Well, at least …

SOL 3/22 Why Do They Have To Be That Way?

I was gone Tuesday for a school field trip. A select few students went to the literature festival and had a  great time.  Just like always, I left very detailed lesson plans and warnings of who to watch out for, who to rely on as the helpers.  My classes have not had a great track record when it comes to subs, so I always leave PLENTY of work for the students to complete.  This day in particular was MAP review...which is coming up way too fast. I'm sure they were completely engrossed. For the most part I don't worry about my 7th graders.  They do okay.  My 8th graders however...they are whole other story.

I purposely did not go into the school when the bus arrived home at 5 pm on Tuesday night.  I did not want to see the note that the sub left on my desk.  I did not want to face the news that it was a bad day again.  The track haunts me.  Instead, I went home and watched Dancing with the Stars, and pretended life was peachy.  I knew that I would see it soon enough…

SOL 3/21 The Struggle

I see you struggle
Day in and day out.
Life has pushed you around
Beaten you up
Taken your lunch money.
Life is a bully,
Adding punch after punch
To your gut.
My heart breaks
As I watch you in the hall,
Clothes unwashed,
Worn for the fifth day in a row.
The Beats you carry
around your neck,
Bought by public generosity,
Are a symbol of resilience,
That money isn't an issue.
School is your safe place.
Your spot to get away
From the chaos of your life.
In and out of shelters,
School of a constant.
Lately that constant
Is on shaky ground.
That constant is tired.
That constant has put up
With disrespect, and abuse
Of its own.
That constant is rebelling too.
"Find a place for this one.
We've had enough."
I know in a heartbeat
As soon as I see you walk in
What kind of day I'll have.
Calm water or stormy weather
Brewing as you sit down.
A day of compromise, work, growth,
Or a day of struggle, fighting, regression.
The calls and looks, the statements
That start with &…

Education Rethink: Am I Still a Good Teacher? (Thoughts on Bad Test S...

A post from another teacher blogger that really hit home.  It sounds very similar to a conversation we had in my school lately. I encourage you to read on.  What do you think?

Education Rethink: Am I Still a Good Teacher? (Thoughts on Bad Test S...: I received the e-mail on Monday morning. That's the beauty of data transparency. The whole district gets to find out how the sixth ...

SOL 3/20 A Slice from the Literature Festival

Yesterday I traveled to Warrensburg, MO with my oldest to the Literature Festival.  She was so proud that she made it again this year...and was the first in our school to read all of the required books to qualify to go!  As a language arts teacher, I usually try to read as many of the Mark Twain award nominees as possible so I can recommend them to students, but I have really slacked this year for some reason. Finding time to read anything is difficult, even though I love curling up with a book (or Nook or my tablet) to read. I have truly appreciated the many slicers who have posted reading recommendations, and my pile of books to read has grown exponentially. John Green is my current go-to author--A Fault in our Stars. Next up is Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska. I love his use of vocabulary and writes with humor and wit, which I appreciate. I hope my students would appreciate that as well.

We were assigned to see Roland Smith, Judith Fradin, Alane Ferguson,  Antony John, and Do…

SOL 3/19 Searching

I would like to think of myself as an organized person.  I try.  I truly try to be organized.  I've purchased file folders for paper, boxes to hold my children's memories, hangers for clothes and pictures.  I try at school to keep my 7th and 8th grade papers separate and orderly.  I attempt to sort and stack and file when time allows.  In reality, no matter how hard I try to clean, my house is a mess, and I am constantly moving from basket to basket, pile to pile to find what I need daily.  Even when I try to put things aside because I know I will need them later, such as a fun Friday schedule for our flex-schedule half-day at school last week, I end up frantically searching again because I forgot I tacked it to the bulletin board for safe keeping.  Why do I do this?  Why do I frustrate myself by thinking I'm organized, when in reality all I create is organized chaos?  Does anyone else do this?

I've tried various systems, like Flylady, and others that promise to help …

SOL 3/18 Oh, Monday...

This 6 word slice sums up how I feel every Monday.  Grades are due at three (and are done, just need to submit)...field trip with my daughter tomorrow to the literature festival, so sub plans to write.  Better get going to start another week.  Where is the coffee?

Monday, you are one evil mistress.

SOL 3/17 Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  It is the day that everyone wears green (my favorite color) and pretends that they have a wee bit of Irish blood in 'em.  As someone who does have tiny bit of Irish blood, I can happily celebrate with the rest of the world.

I'm not into the drinking and carrying on of St. Patrick's Day.  In college (go Bearcats!), this day always meant Kegs and Eggs and the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day parade (between the two bars on a street...basically half a block).  The drinking part was never my scene.  I felt connected to a culture, though, which was a new thing.

Growing up, I created the family tree like most kid do in elementary school.  I have to say that my family's background is nothing exciting.  In fact, it is pretty dang vanilla compared to others.  On my dad's side, I am French Canadian.  On my mom's side, I am English and Scots Irish- I know that isn't anything like full Irish blood, but it is a c…