Saturday, October 15, 2016

Celebrating a Visit {Celebrate This Week 10.15.16}

All week, I have been looking forward to Friday...and not for the usual reasons.

Yesterday, our son came home from college for his first visit. While it has only been two months since he's gone, it seems like two years.

Normally, college freshman don't make it home until Thanksgiving. However, Ry is in the UMN Marching Band and -- believe it or not -- they scheduled a concert for the weekend of Thanksgiving. (Seriously???) So he will come home on Thursday for Thanksgiving and then have to fly right back on Friday.

Since his Thanksgiving visit will be so short (and crazy busy, I'm sure) and since flights between Milwaukee and Minneapolis were about $120 round trip, we thought it would be okay for him to come home for the weekend.

And it is so good to have him here! Aside from spending time with him, he is making sure to eat up all the frozen pizzas, french fries, and pizza bagels that have been sitting in the freezer since he left. Ahhh....I'll get some space in my freezer back!

See....everybody wins!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Surprise in the Mirror {SOL 10.11.16}

Last week, it rained practically every day. If it wasn't raining, the sky was heavy and overcast with clouds.

To get to work, I drive west. Usually this is a good thing because it means I don't drive with the sun in my eyes.

But last Wednesday, I wished I was driving east.

As I came to a stop sign at the end of the road, I glanced in my mirror to see if anyone was behind me and this is what I saw:
Such a stark contrast to the sky ahead of me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Washing by Hand {SOL 10.4.16}

We have a dishwasher, but I find myself using it less and less these days.

I have come to enjoy washing dishes by hand.

If I have the time, I will fill the sink with hot, sudsy water and wash away! There's a certain satisfaction that comes from swirling the washcloth around a plate, rinsing it clean, and setting it to drain and dry.

I find it comforting, almost meditative. It gives me time to think about what I just prepared and who I made it for. What will I serve with it? How long do I have to wait to try it?

Plus, there's something soothing that comes from dipping your hands into the hot water, especially on cold days.

You just can't get that from a dishwasher.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Celebrating Strength {Celebrate this Week 10.1.16}

In the midst of struggles and troubles, it is important to remember the celebrations. They are what feeds us and keeps us going.

This week, I celebrate:

* We were in Minneapolis last weekend visiting our son for Band Parents' Weekend. It good to see him, but it was even better to see how settled he's become in this new space. It is comforting and puts my mind to rest.

* The launch of my companion blog, Sweet Teaching Life. I will be posting reflections from my classroom there. I am pushing myself to write more and felt I needed a space devoted just to my teaching thoughts. I hope you will stop by sometime.

* I went down to my garden last night to pull an onion for dinner. Most everything has died back. What was once so lush you could not even walk through it, is now spindly and brown. I celebrate not only the vegetables and flowers that my garden gave me this summer, but the joy it brought me as well.

* Setting long term goals is easy at the beginning. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm that provide the momentum to get started. To be able to keep working on those goals weeks down the road is when it becomes tough.  This week, I had several moments when I considered giving up on a long term goal I am working on -- but I didn't. I celebrate those moments of deliberation because they gave me the opportunity to prove to myself that I am strong and can do this. (I also celebrate the decision to keep going too!) I found this graphic in my email feed this morning and I thought it was appropriate:

Wishing you many celebrations in the days to come!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Time for Tough Love {SOL 9.20.16}

Why do we feel the need to hold onto things that we don't use anymore?

I am guilty of this.  Really guilty.

This past Saturday, I decided to do something about it and made some tough love decision about the items in my closet.

If I hadn't worn it in the past year and I didn't feel any kind of connection with it, it went in the giveaway pile.

Shoes that hurt my feet were a no-brainer.  Into the give away pile they went.

Cute tights that were stretched out? Thrown away.

How many white tank tops does one person need??

How about pajamas? Are five pair too many?  (YES!)

Do I really need four pair of black flats? Probably not.

And on and on it went....

When I was done, I had two garbage bags full of shoes and two more full of clothes to take to my local Goodwill center.

My closet is now neat and trim and I can actually see what I own.  What I wasn't expecting was the calm feeling I now experience when I walk into my closet. I think all that "stuff" was causing me some anxiety I wasn't aware of.

Now, the trick will be to NOT fill it up again with more stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sometimes I'm Lucky {SOL 9.13.16}

Sometimes I'm lucky....

To overhear a student share an enthusiastic (and unsolicited) book recommendation with a fellow classmate.

Sometimes I'm lucky....

To spot a hummingbird drinking nectar from a hollyhock, just as I am heading off to school.

Sometimes I'm lucky....

To see the excitement of my class when every student scores 95% or higher on our first timed multiplication quiz of the year.

Sometimes I'm lucky....

To have my students moan and complain when I put the bookmark back in our read aloud book because they want to know what happens next and can't wait until tomorrow.

Sometimes I'm lucky....

To get a hug or a "hello" from a younger student who passes me in the hallway, even though I don't know them by name.

Sometimes I'm lucky....

To spy tree frog who is peeping in my classroom window.

Sometimes, if I'm really lucky, all of these things happen in the same week.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Celebrating Routines {9.10.16}

Routines are a good thing.

I think that deep down inside, we all crave a predictable routine. A knowing what-comes-next can help us feel safe, calm and content. It frees our minds up to be able to focus on other things.

When we don't have a routine, we can feel unsettled. Sometimes, I feel shaky and unable to focus.

For me, the beginning of the school year can be a bit unsettling because my mind naturally wants to find our daily routine. When I find it, I feel like I have so much more ability to notice the bigger picture instead of the smaller what-comes-next steps.

The lack of a daily routine can affect our students too. The long days of summer, full of freedom and without a daily schedule, can wreak havoc. When they return to the classroom, they also are searching for the familiar feeling of the classroom routine. They feel safe there. Routines also give them a sense of control and a predictability that they may not have otherwise.

My son called the other day from college. He had just sat through his first college class - Trigonometry - and called to report that he thought it was going to kill him. He felt overloaded by his class load (even though he had been through one class), his extracurricular responsibilities (marching band), and getting used to living away from home with strangers.

He was unhappy.

I let him talk, then tried to assure him that the reason he felt this way was because he was craving a predictable routine that he had not yet found. "Give it a week or so," I told him. "You'll feel better soon. You just need to know what's going on."

I talked to him yesterday. His voice was much lighter. He cracked a few jokes and complained about the 5:30 am call time he had for today's football game. He told me he'd FaceTime with us on Sunday and that he had to go meet his roommates for dinner.

I nodded to myself, recognizing that he was starting to find his routine.

We are finding our routine in our classroom as well. Next week's lesson plans have us diving into our full curriculum. I can finally put our daily schedule on the board with confidence that we will be able to actually follow it.

Routines can make us all feel better. I'm starting to find mine and I hope you are on your way to finding yours.

For this, I celebrate.