Celebrations

Discover. Play. Build.

After a rough two day week, I’m starting my celebration with a love of Saturdays.  You might laugh at 2 days, but I’m telling you it felt every bit of a full month of work.

The lazy morning and ability to stay snuggled in bed, followed by a walk down the street to a new breakfast restaurant, makes this day one of my favorites.  I enjoyed beginning a new book to talk about with my students, and I’m leaving shortly to spend the afternoon with some dear friends.  I can’t wait to laugh with them until my stomach and sides hurt.

My other celebrations are a bit of a stretch.  I’m realizing when you have a crazy class your celebrations shift slightly and you have to search really hard for them.

1. I’m grateful that the first bloody fight in my classroom resulted in only one student bleeding instead of two.  (I can’t believe that this is normal/happening in places, especially my classroom, but I’m trying to find some silver lining.)

2. I’m grateful my new student I just got a surprise email about is a girl.  We are heavy in the boy department, and I’m hoping that girls don’t get in fist fights.  Right?

3. Someone said February is supposed to be a rough month for snow, so more snow days might help keep me sane.  I’ll be wearing my pajamas backwards and partaking in any other silly activity to do my part to help this happen :).

I’m feeling hopeful and realizing I can do this.  I’m so grateful for the wonderful supportive networks I have around me.  Four months seems like an eternity, but it is NOT, and I’m going to make it.

Happy Saturday!

 

Unexpected Surprises

This week has been full of unexpected surprises.  First, I had a snow day that turned my 3 day weekend into a 4 day weekend.  (These snow days are getting pretty regular though, and I’m coming to expect them.  However, I was not expecting Tuesday off.)  

Then, I got to visit with Leigh Anne (a new friend I met at All Write).  It was so wonderful to talk school and blogging and life with someone who gets this little community I’m so happy I joined.

Today an appointment got canceled, and I was able to make it to my sister’s high school basketball game.  They were awful, but it was fun to see her on the court and to do the play by play with my dad.  We swear we have all the answers from the sidelines :).

I also got the most amazing text from a former parent.  She sent me a picture and asked, “Do you know what this picture is of?”  She went on to explain that it was a bookstore and how her daughter, my former student, saved all of her money to buy books at this independent bookstore when they went to the mall.  She said she even asked for books for Christmas and then the mom thanked me for changing her daughter’s life and making her a reader. I honestly can’t read the text without crying.  

This email, these surprises, could not have come at a more perfect time.  I’ve been so sad, so grumpy, and just like that God reminds me to hold on.  He sends me love and encouragement through unexpected channels.  I’m so grateful.  It’s nice to be celebrating before Saturday this week.  

Late Slicing and Celebrations – Better Late Than Never

A week has gone by and I haven’t sliced or celebrated.  It was a rough week.  Because of all the snow St. Louis got, it was the first 5 day week since before Christmas break.  The kids were crazy, I was tired, and my bosses seemed to have a laundry list of to dos they wanted implemented immediately.

Tuesday came and went, and I honestly didn’t even know what day it was.  I was grumpy, and my resolutions I had had the time to work on leisurely during the snow days were going out the window quickly.  I definitely wasn’t THRIVING, and I was mad.  Mad at myself for not being more balanced and mad that I couldn’t let some things go to try to take better care of myself.

Friday I stayed at work until almost 10 pm to try to work on the checklist I was given Tuesday by my administrators, so Saturday I felt like I was honestly going to die.

Some great celebrations/awareness happened somewhere in the middle though:

1. Rafe Esquith (Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire author) invited me to come and see his children perform Cymbeline in May.  I’m so excited.  My friends and I are trying to coordinate the dates right now.  He is one of my favorite educators, and I’ve been lucky enough to not only meet him, but to consider him a friend/mentor.  We correspond regularly.

2. My friend told me something obvious that has really resonated with me.  She said the people and things in our lives should make us well.  I know for some this may be a no brainer, but I struggle with this.  I’ve begun to ask myself, “Does this make me well?”  If my answer is no, I’m considering how I can make changes.  I’m also trying to remind myself that God keeps showing me things that aren’t quite right so I move on to what He has planned for me.  I’m finding peace with this instead of resisting and being upset about what doesn’t feel right.

3. A co-worker stayed with me late on Friday helping me to rearrange my room and make a dent in my to do list.  She wanted nothing in return, but she knew I needed help.  I’m so grateful for her time and guidance.  I’m still not done, but it is much farther thanks to her.

4. I called my dad to say hello and he said, “Did you get married?”

“No, Dad, why?”  I asked him.

“Well, I was talking to my friend, Joe, and he said he’s going to be a grandpa again.  I told him I’ll probably never be a grandpa; my daughter isn’t even married.”

“Oh, okay.  Well I just wanted to call and say hi, and I miss you.”  Thanks for reminding me I’m not married and childless I thought to myself.

This conversation initially offended me, but then it became a gift.  It kind of goes along with my 2nd celebration.  God is giving me little reminders of where He wants me to be moving.  Sometimes He speaks to me through others.  I’m grateful my dad reminded me to check in with my current situation and see how I want to move forward.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Jen

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Nomination

Discover. Play. Build.
Today I’m celebrating putting myself out there and sharing.  I didn’t feel like writing today, but I knew a few people might check and wonder why I hadn’t written.  Thank you to my new friends who keep encouraging me to write and put myself out there.
I was nominated last week by Leigh Anne  (one of my new blogger friends) http://adayinthelifeof19b.blogspot.com/ and Linda Baie http://www.teacherdance.org (new friend I met at All Write) to share some random facts about myself.
Here are the rules:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating bloggers
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger creates for you
  4. List 11 bloggers (I’m pretty sure I don’t have any additional blog friends other than the ones who nominated me, so I’m skipping this step.)
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
11 Random Facts About Me
1. I wanted to be an Interior Designer when I was younger and in college, but I changed my major when my parents told me I didn’t even need a degree to do that.  (This is not true, but I was impressionable and cared about what they thought.)  I loved the one class I did take and wish I would have taken more.  I still love decorating and design.
2. I love old people.  My first job was as an activity coordinator for clients with Alzheimer’s.  It didn’t dawn on me until later the similarities between this and teaching.  I think I loved this because I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was growing up.
3. I was an only child until I was 18 and always dreamed of having a big, crazy family.  I wanted a loud house with lots of chaos.  I’ve got to get working on that.
4. My best friends are the same best friends (with a few more added in) since grade school.  I love them like they are my sisters.
5. I love learning and have various interests I hope I always pursue.  This year I want to start taking piano lessons again (I began over the summer).  I’d also like to take a graphic design course, sewing lessons, and Chinese.
6. Teaching is my second profession.  I had a mid 20’s crisis trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I used to sell engagement rings, but sales was not for me.  During this time I pursued nursing (I was taking some intro classes) until my dad got hurt, and I was reminded I can’t look at blood.  Nursing seems like a great gig, but I can’t get past the blood.  I cried to my mom because I didn’t want to be a quitter and drop my nursing class I was taking at the time (I’d never dropped a class before that).  She gently said, “I’m not sure why you are studying nursing- you always wanted to be a teacher when you were younger.”
7.  I can stand on my head for a long time.  (I usually bust this move out once a year with my students.)
8.  I’m not a picky eater.  I love pretty much everything, but I can’t do broccoli.  I try it every couple years just to make sure, but I still don’t like it.
9.  I have a book ordering problem.  If someone mentions a book, I will most likely order it.  I get overwhelmed by all my books though, and I don’t end up getting to all of them or finishing some of them.  It seriously looks like a book store puked in all of my closets and basement.
10.  I’m not a car person.  I drove my last car for 13 years.  When it was time to get a new car, I couldn’t decide what type to purchase, so I just bought the same car in a newer version.
11.  I’m a procrastinator.  If you tell me I have until 12:00, I will be working until 11:59.  I try to work ahead, but there’s something I love about the rush of waiting until last minute. I’m working on improving this in 2014.
11 Questions from Leigh Anne
1.  What is the best gift you have ever given?
I gave a friend coasters from significant spots of her relationship for her wedding.  The coasters included where her and her spouse met, got engaged, their wedding venue, and a favorite place they go out.
2.  What is the one thing you would change about yourself
If I could, I would change my inability to make decisions.  I would also like to speak up more for what I want.
3.  Which teacher had the biggest influence on you and why?
I loved a college biology teacher  who made an effort to know all of her students.  She taught to hundred something students in a large auditorium, and she still made you feel like she knew you and cared about you.
Currently Ron Clark and Rafe Esquith influence me the most as a teacher.  I’ve been fortunate to meet them both (I visited RCA), and I continue correspondence with them still.
4.  What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
I wish I knew, because I’d start doing it now.  I pray I have a family and a job that I love.  Ideally it will have a mix of being challenging and allow me to be creative.
5.  What is your most favorite teaching moment?  If not a teacher, family moment?
My favorite moment as a teacher was when one of my students, who I assumed was always a reader, told me she didn’t love reading until she was in my class.
I met her last month for lunch and she brought her tattered reading notebook and is still a reading machine.
6.  Hot drink or cold drink?
I love hot tea.  I didn’t like it until a year or so ago, but now I have it almost every morning.
I think the question is what do I prefer – hot or cold, but it really depends on the season, so I’m sharing my favorite of both.
My favorite cold drink is a mix with Guinness and Strongbow (or any Cider type drink).  When the two mix and settle- there is nothing quite like it.
7.  What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about improving myself.  I am always seeking ways to improve my teaching practices and myself as a whole.
8.  What are you reading currently?
My books to be read is always bookshelves deep.  Right now I’m focusing on Essential Questions, The Happiness Project, and Last Time They Met.  The last book is sure to make me cry.
9.  Which season do you like the best and why?
I love fall and spring the best.  There’s something about the start of both that I love.  Fall marks the beginning of a new school year and football, and spring is a new beginning with beautiful flowers.
10.  Did you have a favorite outfit as a kid and what did it look like?
I have some pretty horrible photos of me in stretchy biker shorts and crop tops.  Most of them were neon too.  I’m guessing by the photos that I loved these. Looking back it was pretty hideous, and I can’t believe my mom bought me shirts with my stomach hanging out.
11.  How/why did you start blogging?
I started blogging with the encouragement of people I met at last summer’s All Write Conference.
11 Questions from Linda
1.  If you could eat any dessert, what would it be?
If I could have anything, I would pick Creme Brulee or carrot cake.  I have a really big sweet tooth though, so I’d be happy with anything.
2.  Are you an avid reader?  What is the influence that led you to be one?
I love to read.  I would rather read than watch TV and sometimes go out.  I think I always liked it growing up, but I especially love reading the books my students are reading.  This is one of the things that has most influenced my teaching.  I started reading more of their books and realizing the importance of doing this after reading The Book Whisperer.
3.  Do you like to travel and stay busy going and going, or travel and relax, read, be still? Explain.
I love to travel.  I want to see things, so I like to be on the go.  This past summer I went to New York and some surrounding cities, and we were on the go.  I didn’t want to miss anything.  I like to relax too, but I’m pretty fair skinned, so there’s only so much tanning my poor skin can handle.  It’s hard for me to sit still for too long too without getting restless.
4.  If you could have any famous person come to your Thanksgiving dinner, whom would you invite and why?
Good question.  I don’t know.  My family is really into sports, so maybe we’d invite a coach from one of our favorite teams to talk sports with them.
5.  What is one thing in the past year that pushed you into changing something in your life?
Feeling stuck has pushed me into working more on myself and trying to figure out what I want in life.
6.  What is your favorite season?  Why?
I like spring and fall.  I love spring flowers and longer days and the changing leaves in fall.
7.  Do you have a favorite poem, or poet?  Please share.
No, I haven’t gotten into poetry (I’d like to).  I do like Kenn Nesbitt’s poetry for my kids though.  His poems always make them laugh.  I also love Love that Dog and Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech.
8.  What is the funniest, maybe embarrassing, thing that ever happened to you?
When I was about 12/13, I was swimming at a public pool with my best friend.  We had matching bikinis, and we really thought we were something.  The lifeguard at the pool was a very good looking, much older teenage boy.  I couldn’t help but notice he was staring at me.  I initially thought it was because he thought I was cute (ha).  My friend yelled over at me to alert me that my top had fallen down after I jumped off the diving board.  So, he didn’t think I was cute, but he was staring at my exposed chest.
9.  Tell about a mentor in your teaching, or in your job?
I am lucky to always find great mentors where I work.  At my first job, I met lifelong friends and wonderful mentors in Jessica Cremer, Kathie McCann, and Gwyn Savens.  They are all wonderful teachers who are willing to listen and offer suggestions.  I am a better teacher because of them.
I’ve also been lucky to meet Ron Clark and Rafe Esquith.  I’ve learned a great deal from them, and I continue to seek them out for advice.
10.  What is a favorite book from childhood?  Why do you believe it’s a favorite?
I had a book that I use to love (I can’t remember the name of it).  It had a picture of a dog on it.  I checked it out over and over again from our school library.  I’m not sure why, but I think I loved it because I didn’t have a dog and wanted one.
11.  Where would you most like to be found on a Sunday afternoon?  What are you doing?
On Sunday afternoons I’m sitting in my living room surrounded by schoolwork.  This is crunch time prepping for the upcoming school week.
I’ve included some questions if anyone wants to answer.
1. If you could live anywhere other than where you live currently, where would it be and why?
2. Would you rather smell fresh cut grass or bleach?
3. What is one thing on your bucket list?
4. Who is a blogger you’d like to sit down and have a drink with?
5.  What is one thing you are embarrassed to say you indulge in?
6.  What is something around your house you keep putting off and why?
7.  What’s one of your best qualities?
8. If you could be any other profession, what would you be?
9.  What are your favorite and least favorite family traditions?
10. What quality do you most hope to instill in your students or children?
11.  Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Another Snow Day

I just looked down at the clock and panicked when I realized it was after 5.  I can’t believe how today has gotten away from me.  I hadn’t sliced, made dinner, or finished a million things on my to do list.

Today was my 2nd snow day of the week, and I was productive.  If you are a teacher you understand though that you can work all night and still have more you’d like to do for tomorrow.  There’s never enough time; there’s always more to do.

Then, I got the call.  The superintendent started by saying, “It’s me again.  There’s some trouble with the buses, so there will be no school on Wednesday, January 8th.”

Halleluja!  These last few days have been a true blessing.  There’s been a little bit of work mixed in with a whole lot of relaxation (last night I didn’t even have to change into my pj’s because I never got out of them :)).  I wasn’t expecting a 3rd snow day, but I will take it.

I love the time I’ve had to indulge in some reading and rediscovered some websites and ideas I’ve wanted to try out for myself and incorporate in my lessons.  Today I rediscovered http://www.futureme.org/ a cool website where you can write yourself a letter that will arrive to your email at a later date.  I wrote an encouraging letter to myself to arrive one month from today (snow days can’t last forever- so I’m sure I’ll need it by then).  My students are also going to write themselves with their goals for 2014.  They’ll send it so it arrives at the end of the school year.  This should offer a nice reflection piece.

It’s been wonderful to slow down and have time to think and prepare.  I’m going to keep working tonight and on my snow day tomorrow to try to get ahead.  Hopefully this will help me to have a clearer mind even if we don’t get anymore snow days.

Saturday Celebrations

Discover. Play. Build.

1. Surviving the Grocery Store

It would be an understatement to say the grocery store was crowded today.  Below freezing temperatures, snow, and horrible wind chills are in the forecast here, so everyone has been rushing to the store to get their milk, eggs, and bread (we’ll all survive on french toast I guess).  I felt like I was pulling into the mall parking lot on Christmas Eve.

Once I finally found a parking spot and made my way into the store, I had to wait inside the entrance just to get a cart.  One woman got tired of waiting and  reluctantly grabbed the lone cart with the built-in car seat.  It was hysterical to see her and her non-existent baby as we crossed paths in the store.

I bought some stuff to make my first crockpot stew and a few other items, so we’ll have food in case we get snowed in.

2. Laughing at Myself

There’s something about laughing at yourself out loud that is so funny.  I’ve mentioned before I’m teaching in China this summer, so while I was at the library, I picked up a Chinese audio CD.  I popped this is while I was driving around running errands.

The CD begins with a Chinese conversation between two people followed by an English speaking narrator guaranteeing you will learn what the people said and how to say it yourself (ha).  Listening to the conversation and the guarantee was funny enough.

Then, the narrator began prompting you to repeat certain phrases.  He would start by having you say parts of the phrase. Afterwards, he prompted you to say everything together.  He kept saying, “Say excuse me.”

I would awkwardly repeat the Chinese phrase of what I had practiced.  However, after a few more times of being told to repeat the phrase- I was yelling, “Excuse me.  Excuse me.”  I realized instantly I was no longer ‘speaking’ in Chinese, but had quickly resorted back to English.  I’m pretty sure this CD is going to provide some comical car rides.

I should also add I realized after listening for awhile I had selected the wrong Chinese dialect, so I wasn’t even learning the language of where I’ll be.  This provided additional laughs.

3. Time at Home

The idea of being snowed in and forced to stay at home sounds wonderful .  I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a snow day Monday, so I’m prepping to be at home for the next few days.  I ran all of my errands and tried to do things outside of my house today while I still could.  Repeats of Scandal, a large stack of books, grading, and organizing are all calling my name.  I’m looking forward to Sunday (usually my most dreaded day of the week) and being able to work on things at my leisure.

4. New Friends

I love the connections I’ve already formed with my first few blog posts.  People have been so welcoming and encouraging.

I’m also excited about plans this week to meet up (snow pending) with a new friend I met at All Write last summer.  As I called to chat with her today about the weather and how it might impact our plans to meet, I love how she gently reminded me as we were getting off the phone that today was Saturday.

I could tell she was saying she noticed I hadn’t shared my celebration yet.  I’m so grateful to have people who are encouraging me on my path and making me accountable to keep writing.  Thank you, LeAnn.

5. Finding My OLW

I felt stuck when it came to choosing my word for the year.  When I was talking with a friend the other night- she said, “I want to see you thrive this year.”

I barely heard what she said afterwards because THRIVE THRIVE THRIVE  kept playing over in my head.  There’s my word, I knew it instantly.

I’m excited to reflect on what I’m doing each day to ensure I’m thriving in 2014.

Happy Saturday.