Celebrations – It’s Saturday!

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth for reminding me to celebrate. Share your celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

1.Good Music: Pandora has been making my afternoon grading session much more enjoyable.  I’ve been toe tapping and bouncing back and forth all day at my local Panera. (I’ve probably been getting some stares too, but I don’t care.)  It makes me laugh when I remind myself that I should like what I’m hearing since I’ve selected the stations.

2. Growing as a Teacher: I had an informational session for the National Writing Project this morning, and I was reminded how my kids must feel in their classes.  It was hard.  I felt out of my comfort zone.  I was so excited, but I had so many feelings of insecurity.  What if I can’t do it?  What if I have nothing to contribute?  What is my writing is horrible?  It was scary to sit with strangers and write and hear their words; I couldn’t help but compare.  However, as much as I had an inner struggle, I noted this in my writer’s notebook. I already feel more empathetic for my kiddos who want to do what you are asking of them, but they are scared, unsure of what you are asking, or just need some time to process.  My friend told me to think of this experience with a growth mindset and to consider that I wouldn’t be learning if I surrounded myself with people who weren’t smart.  She said it’s a good thing I will be with intelligent people, even if it makes me second guess myself.

3. Surprise Meeting: Two of my former students just ran up to me while I was sitting here.  They are all grown up and have turned into such beautiful young women.  It feels nice to see old faces and to think of our time together fondly.

4. Proud Teacher Moment: I almost cried on Friday when my most challenging class did an amazing job during our first Socratic seminar.  It was unbelievable.  They were in their element.  They usually need the most redirection of all of my sections, but they didn’t need it for this form of learning; they were fine without me.  I was so proud, and I couldn’t help but realize that maybe what I’ve been doing doesn’t fit them/their personalities.  It’s me that has to change, not them.  It was an awesome way to end a Friday.

5. Finished Testing: We completed our language arts testing last week, so I feel like I can share some fun, authentic writing ideas with my kids that I’ve been wanting to try.  We started playing around with blogging on Thursday, and they loved it.  Most of the other teachers have been complaining about students’ behaviors, but I feel like my kids have been enjoying what we are doing, so I’m not having that issue.  I feel re-energized and excited about the rest of the year.  Thank you, Christy for inspiring me to try out a 30 day writing challenge with my students.  It was a big hit.

Saturday Celebrations

Discover. Play. Build.

I haven’t celebrated or written in a long time.  It seems like I end up in a funk, and I’m scared my words will show the state I’m in.  I like how Ruth says to celebrate in the “muddle.” Maybe I should have been doing that these past few months.

Either way, I’m here to celebrate now:

1 There’s been a breakthrough at my house that can’t be undone.  I’m moving forward.  It’s been a long, painful journey, so I’m excited to start fresh.

2. I ran into Leigh Anne last week at the Write to Learn Conference, unexpectedly.  It was so nice to see her and catch up.  I was reminded of the kind community I love and want to be a part of.  I loved when she said she was looking on my blog and almost commented on an old thread to check on me and get me writing again.  I’m grateful for my All Write friends.

3. A woman I taught with in China was also at the conference.  I almost screamed when I saw her name tweeting about the session she was in.  We were able to find each other and chat and decided to plan a future date to swap stories about our adventures last summer.

4. I began a new book that I got at the conference that I love.  I’m so excited to implement what  I’m learning.

5. My school has been very receptive of the ideas my coworkers and I have about things we want to do next year.  “Next year” has become my new favorite saying.  I am ready to have some downtime to reflect on this year and make next year even better.


Shalan and me outside our classrooms


A night on the Chinese town

6. A different friend from China that taught with me last summer is coming in town next weekend.  She’s hysterical, and I can’t wait to spend time with her again.

It’s Saturday

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share your celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

There’s so much to celebrate:

I love my job.  I keep pinching myself to make sure it’s not all a dream.  I never realized I was teaching above my 5th graders’ heads before, so it’s been a comfortable/easy transition to 7th grade (I can reuse most of what I’ve done before).

My kids make me laugh.  I made an amateur middle school mistake (they keep you on your toes) of labeling a paper with #2 when the first word was “Crap.”  I kept saying, “Look at paper number two, the one that starts with the word crap.”

My kids giggled and pointed out, “Isn’t it funny how you labeled the story with the word crap as #2.”  They were rolling making this toilet connection to my student examples for revision.  I couldn’t help but join them.

Yesterday I caught myself making that “What are you doing/supposed to be doing face?”  This is the face that makes me scrunch my entire face, especially my forehead as I give a little darling the stink eye to remind them to get back on track.  My coworker and I joke that this face is why we have fine lines between our eyes.  As I caught myself making this face, I couldn’t help but  laugh.  I jokingly told the student he was the reason I may need Botox someday.  He thought this was hysterical, and he walked out of the classroom smiling as he repeated, “I’m the reason Ms. F. needs Botox.”

I perused through old files to try to reuse something from last year, and I felt a pit in my stomach just thinking of how challenging last year was.  Even looking at old lessons from then made me start to feel sick.  I realized just how tough last year was, and I was even more grateful for my new situation.  I feel so blessed.  It’s like I hit the school lottery.

My parents are wonderful.

My mom bought me an Ipad “just because.”  There was a promotion when she upgraded her phone, so she thought of me when they offered it.  (Now I just need to learn how to use it and get a case so I’m not worried about dropping it.)

I called my dad to tell him my coworker asked if I’d help coach the girls’ basketball team. He now calls me “Coach” and has promised to attend all of my games.  It’s so sweet.

I must admit I’m as excited as my dad to help with the team.  Basketball is my favorite sport, so I love that I’ll get to help out.

I go to bed each night with a long list of things I’m grateful for.  I smiled last week when I couldn’t think of just one thing that was the best part of my day.

It’s Been A While

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share your celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

I have so much to celebrate.  My recent trip has changed my view of the world, is making me crave more world travel, and has given me so many stories to someday share.  I love my new job.  (I can’t believe I ever taught elementary school.  My friends who said I should be a middle school teacher, when I was teaching in an elementary school, were right.)  

1. My new job is exactly what I dreamed of.  It reminds me to ask more for what I want and put it out there.  (Everything I want exists.)

2. Teachers are such a kind group.  I’m not afraid to ask questions (sometimes I might feel stupid that I don’t know the answer), but I’ve found a wonderful network of people who take the time to answer.  Thank you specifically to Christy for answering my calls, emails, and sharing your brain.  I’m already a better teacher because of our conversations. 

3. I’ve gotten to spend some unexpected time with my family this week.  My sister is playing softball for her high school, and all of her home games are a few minutes from my new school.  I’ve been wanting to spend more time with family and friends and to have a more healthy balance during the school year, and this has enabled me to do so.  Last night she got called up to play on varsity and had an awesome play at third base.  She’s become so focused on what she wants with this team and even her career.  She always asks my dad to practice with her and keeps asking me for phone numbers of people I know that are veterinarians (the job she wants).  I love that she is starting to take ownership of her life and what she wants. She reminds me of the value of putting in extra effort, and I’m in awe watching the amazing person she’s becoming. 

4. I’m slightly on top of things.  Although I’m unsure of units and specific details, I feel somewhat organized.  People have even come into my classroom and told me how neat it is!  This is so not the normal me.  (My mom would be so proud.)  I’m finally taking the time at school and at home to spend an extra moment putting things away.  It’s making a huge difference, and I really want to keep it up. Even if my list is a million things long, it helps me to feel less overwhelmed. 

5. My kids aren’t readers, well most of them aren’t, but they are starting to bite.  I do book talks every Tuesday and Thursday, and I raffle off the books I talk about to the interested parties.  They are getting excited and slowly, I hope, developing into a group of kids who might read.  I know they’re starting to see the value at least.  I displayed the startling “Why Can’t I Skip My 20 Minutes of Reading Tonight?” poster, and that seemed to at least get them to see that reading can, and does, make a difference.  I also used suggestions from Donalyn’s session this summer on how to conference.  It was so fun to begin that yesterday.  I love how honest my students are.  I used Donalyn’s question suggestions from her conference format, and I had small laughs with many who were afraid to tell me that they preferred video games over books.  I know I’m up against some tough competition with all the social media and tech gadgets, but I’m ready for it.


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share your celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

It’s been a week since All Write, and my mind is still buzzing with ideas for next year.  After returning I haven’t stopped going- I hosted a baby shower and had busy week preparing for China.  (I leave on Tuesday!)

There’s been so much to celebrate:

1. I loved seeing and connecting with old friends at All Write.  It was wonderful being back in Warsaw, and it was nice knowing more of what to expect.  It really is like summer camp like Ruth says.

2. I met new friends in person there that I connected with online (Leigh Anne).

3. I got the most beautiful, thoughtful bracelet from Elsie.  I’m still touched at the sentiment behind my OLW bracelet and love being reminded that I wanted to thrive this year.  Thank you again, Leigh Anne.

4. It was funny having a laugh with Christy as I realized we both were hoping our session with Kelly Gallagher wouldn’t end.  I yelled “NO” and she was checking her watch as we realized our time with him was almost finished.

5. I got some great new professional books suggestions from Christy, Mary Helen, Tammy, Elsie, and Linda.  I’m so excited to participate with Linda and others in a book study with Read Write Teach.  

I’ve been crossing my fingers that my last minute orders will arrive before I leave.  I’m wishing I could bring a book suitcase :).

6. I was reminded at All Write that I don’t always see myself accurately.  I am always so self critical, so it was neat to see myself from Leigh Anne Eck’s perspective. She pointed out how brave some of my travels were.  I had never thought of myself as brave, so it was interesting to consider this.  I couldn’t help but realize we don’t always see ourselves the way others see us.

When Ruth shared her personal story and acknowledged her past struggles, I couldn’t help but notice that she does this too.  I was in awe of her parenting and patience, and I wished she could see what we see when she doubts herself.   I guess we can all benefit from seeing ourselves from someone else’s perspective from time to time.

7. I feel grateful I have the most wonderful mom who always is looking for ways to help me and make my life easier.  She has gathered countless items to help me with my trip.  I don’t even have to ask and she’s ready to give.  I’ve left her house with everything from suitcases, Easter eggs for a lesson I’m doing, every toiletry imaginable, and much more.

8. I took some time this week to read even when I had a long to do list.  I read The Fault in Our Stars in one sitting this week.  I loved getting sucked into this book and sobbing out loud.

9. I went garage saleing with my grandma.  Her dry sense of humor makes me laugh, and it’s always fun spending time with her.

10.  I shared some ideas with a teaching friend who wasn’t able to make it to All Write.  We’ve come up with a list of important things we want to work on this year (a vision with sub categories), and we are swapping notes tomorrow.  I love having someone who shares my passion for teaching and pushes me.

11. I played in a golf tournament (first time playing in 5 years) and was not completely horrible.  My goal in a 4 man scramble being the only girl was to use one of my drives on a Par 4/5 hole.  I hit one right down the middle, and we ended up using my shot.  I also had the women’s longest drive for the first half of the tournament.

I was really nervous because my dad put me by myself with a group of his friends to play because he was already playing with another group.  He apparently told them I played in high school and was talking me up.  I almost died when I heard this.  First of all, I was horrible in high school and that would maybe matter if I wasn’t in my 30’s.  My high school days were a while ago.

I could go on and on, but I have to pack!

I Can’t Believe It’s Been Over a Month

Wow, I just logged on after a very dry spell.  I can’t sleep this morning, so I’ve been perusing the web and checking out my blogger friends’ recent posts.  I didn’t realize how much I have missed them and am sad I feel like I’ve missed out on sharing in their celebrations and weekly updates.

I’m not sure why I haven’t written.  I think I’ve actually started a few posts, but then I got distracted.  Life has been crazy this last month.  I got my back checked out after having persisting pain several weeks after my accident.  It turns out I have some damage from the impact of being hit, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the chiropractor.

I had no idea backs/necks were this complex.  On Mother’s Day weekend I could barely sit without crying, so I knew I had to do something.  I assumed I would just go and get popped back into place and that would be that.  Ha- I’ve spent pretty much the past month there.  I’m finally feeling back to normal on most days.  I love the doctor and his staff.  They are very welcoming, but I didn’t pick the most convenient location to my house (again because I thought I’d only go once).  My commute and visit take about an extra 2 hours each time I go.

At first it was 4 times a week.  Thank goodness it was the end of the school year.  Now I’m down to 3 visits a week (yay- making progress).  At first it wasn’t so bad, they adjust me (weird machine tapping on my back), and then I lay on a bed that rolls down my spine.  It’s pretty relaxing, and I sometimes even fall asleep.  But after the first few visits they made me start doing neck and back exercises too- ugh!  I don’t like that part, but I think it’s making me better.

School just got out the middle of last week, so it feels like summer hasn’t started and I haven’t stopped.  I’ve been busy getting ready for China and trying to get my paperwork and everything in order for my new job.

I enjoyed reading the celebrations on other blogs, and it was nice being reminded to slow down and reflect on all the things I have to celebrate:

  • All Write is this week!  I’m beyond excited to connect and learn.
  • I’m stopping off at an old friend’s house on the way to All Write.  It will be great to catch up.
  • I finally got my car back after a month and a half with a rental. (I will post pictures of my rental later.  It was the smallest car I’ve ever seen, and it made me laugh every time I saw it.)
  • China is so close, and I’m almost ready.
  • I’ve set up skype and viber accounts, so I can communicate with my family while I’m away.
  • I had a wonderful father’s day with my dad and family.
  • My former students and sister came over to help me organize my classroom library and put my books into an online checkout system.  We did 800 books in one day, but there are still more to go.  We made great progress, and my sister spent the night to finish the rest of the library today.
  • I’ve never been this on top of things and productive.  I’m a little overwhelmed, but I’ve been breaking tasks down into smaller parts and getting things done.


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share yours at Ruth Ayres Writes.

It’s nice having a reminder to celebrate and be grateful.  This week was tough, so I’m happy to have the chance to reflect the good that was in it too.

1. My roof is fixed, and I can finally put things back up on my mantle.  A bucket has been catching water for a few weeks, so it’s nice to look more like a home when you walk in and to not have to worry every time it rains.

2. I have rental coverage on my insurance, so I have a car for a month and am able to get around while they figure out whether my car is totaled.  The car is the same brand as my car, so I feel somewhat comfortable in it (even though I’m extremely anxious driving now).

3. We were able to make out more of the license plate that hit me (it is imprinted into the back of my car’s bumper).  I’m hoping this helps us find the guy who hit me and ran.

4. My grandma is in the hospital, and she has to have her thyroid removed.  The doctor told her that she will need to recover in an assisted living home.  My dad is thinking this might help her make the transition from her house to a home where she can be more safe.  Her memory continues to decline, but she has been adamant about not leaving her house.  My dad and uncles keep honoring her request, but it is no longer safe.  I’m hoping this might convince her to move and will help my family feel more comfortable about it too.

5.  It’s May- this means the end of the school year is near and China and All Write are getting closer!

6. My mom found several great books at a garage sale and called me and bought everything the woman had left.  I need books like I need a hole in my head, but I’m always excited to get more reading material for my class library.  I love how my mom is always looking out for me too.  She is so thoughtful like that.

7. I sold my first item on ebay- a college textbook I discovered in my closet.  It’s nice to earn some extra cash for something I didn’t even remember I had.




I’m Still Here

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Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share yours at Ruth Ayres Writes.

1. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve blogged, so I’m celebrating making time to write.  I’ve missed writing and sharing with my new, little community.

2. I sent in my payment and paperwork for All Write, and I couldn’t be more excited.  Last year was such a wonderful learning experience.  I met many new friends/mentors, and I’m counting down until I can learn alongside them again.  This blog was inspired by the people I met there, and I’m delighted this year I will be able to say on Wednesday night that I have a blog too!

3.  It finally feels like there’s light at the end of the tunnel at school.  Each flip of the calendar reminds me I will prevail.  I know when I’m in the mix of it I can’t see clearly, but as I get closer to the end- I’m starting to appreciate my learning/growth that has occurred.  More than anything the year has taught me what I want/need to be a successful teacher for my students.  I also have a new appreciation for my upbringing and the love my family gave me.  It seems like such a small thing, but I have been able to witness the impact neglect can have on a student.  It has been heartbreaking.

4. My China trip is starting to become really real.  My friend and I attended orientation for our trip a few weeks ago, and I learned more details about my teaching experience there.  I will be teaching Chinese educators ways to teach English to their students.  I will have my own translator/assistant- which is kind of fun/funny.  Most of the details have me pumped about the experience with the exception of all the rules and customs I need to try to remember while I’m there.  For example, in the Chinese culture saving face is very important, and they will want me to be very happy while I’m there. So, I need to try to always appear happy.  Since Chinese people typically have trouble reading facial expressions, I was advised to try to smile even when confused to avoid offending them.  Ha- I’m not sure how I will smile when I have no idea what people are saying :).

5. My spare bedroom got a makeover that makes me smile each day.  I forgot to take a before picture, but the paint was not my taste from an old roommate that I had never changed.  The room became a catch all for everything.  More importantly it is where I get ready everyday, and it wasn’t really functional (I sat on the floor to do my makeup).  We changed the paint to this beautiful light gray color (it was a recommendation from a friend who said gray is the new tan), rearranged the room placement, and added a vanity for me to sit and do my makeup.  The room has much more function, and I love getting ready there now.  Plus, I cleared all the clutter out, and I got rid of a ton of things.  It almost looks bare, but I’m being careful not to fill it with junk.  I also inherited some mirrors from my grandpa’s house that I’m planning to spray paint (I spray paint everything) and add to the walls soon.  I love having a piece of him that I will see every morning in there.  I’ll take some pictures once I add a few more things.

6. This weather makes me so happy.  I love driving with my sunroof open, and there’s something about nice weather that makes me turn up my stereo a little louder.  Thursday I drove to work blaring my favorite song, dancing like a crazy person.  I looked like the person you see at a stoplight dancing like they are at a techno club, and you wonder if they are on drugs.  I didn’t even care that I was getting stared at.

Happy Saturday.  I hope you have a beautiful day of celebrations and driving and dancing :).

Celebrate on Saturday

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share yours at Ruth Ayres Writes.

1. When I went to the link up page at Ruth Ayres Writes, I couldn’t help but get lost in her beautiful posts.  I love Ruth’s candid writing and the way she honors God.  Thank you Ruth for sharing so much and reminding me to have faith.  I have a lot of changes coming my way, and Ruth’s posts were exactly what I needed to remind me it’s going to be okay.

2.  I’m celebrating the first day of my spring break!  I’m so happy to have some time away to regroup, catch up on some sleep, visit with family and friends, and read.

3. I’m also celebrating surviving my job until spring break.  There was a moment when I didn’t think I would finish out the year, so I’m grateful I’ve made it this far.

4. Today my friend and I are going to orientation for our teaching in China program.  I’m excited to learn more about my upcoming adventure.

5. I’ve been throwing around the idea of a road trip this coming week.  I love the spontaneity of a trip like that.  It’s fun to pull up google and decide where you want to go.


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us to share our celebrations from the week each Saturday.  Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me to celebrate. Share yours at Ruth Ayres Writes.

1. I took some time today for myself and got lost in a great book.  It was the perfect way to start my day.

2. After having a horrible nightmare about my grandma dying, I called her first thing and invited her to lunch.  Her reaction to my call and her telling me it was the best invite she’s had in a long time made my day.  She told me, “You are like a breath of sunshine for me.”

There were brief moments when she seemed not so forgetful.  I couldn’t help but laugh when she told me she only weighs 89 pounds and then got in her, “How much do you weigh?” question she has asked me for years.  She is obsessed with my weight.  To most people I’m extremely thin, but my grandma has always commented otherwise.  She added in today, “Thank God you are not thin like me.”

It was nice to feel like she was her old self for a few moments, even if it was at my expense.

3. I have one more week until spring break!  I think I can, I think I can.  It feels like I’m going to make it.

4. There’s a wonderful buzz of people in my neighborhood for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  It reminds me that spring and summer are almost here.

5. Several days this week I’ve enjoyed driving with my windows down and blaring a favorite CD and singing along.  This makes me so happy.

6. I finally felt like my students were/are becoming readers this week.  I made some changes to my class and stuck to my guns about what I know is best, and I feel like it’s paying off.  The kids are reading and talking about books, and my heart is happy.  I hope it continues.