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.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Cooking Lessons Gone Wrong {SOL 9.06.16}

My children come from a long line of seasoned cooks, bakers and kitchen experimenters. For us, FOOD = LOVE and if I cook for you, I really like you.

But it wasn't until we were getting my son ready to go away to college that it dawned on me that I never really taught him how to make his way around the kitchen. He took a cooking class a his freshman year in high school, but that pretty much taught him how to master the microwave. (I am NOT kidding...microwave cinnamon rolls???)

His cooking lessons will have to wait until next summer, but it's not too late for my daughter to learn.

Her lessons began last night -- Chicken fajitas were on the menu. A great start!

I had picked some peppers from the garden to use -- two red sweet peppers and a spicy green poblano. I unearthed an onion and was excited that all of the veggies would be homegrown.

I showed my daughter how to clean the onion, cutting off the root and peeling off the papery layer of outer skin. Then I showed her how to clean the seeds from the red pepper and how to slice it.

She set the onion aside and started with the red pepper. She carefully scooped the seeds, cut the membrane and sliced the pepper into strips.

Next, came the poblano. As she was slicing, she noticed that this pepper smelled spicier. The fumes from the pepper tickled the her nose and throat, causing her to sneeze. She grabbed a tissue to wipe her nose, washed her hands, and went back to work.

A minute later, she noticed her nose was starting to burn...the oils from the poblano had gotten on her skin. Ouch! She must have touched her arm as well because that was burning too.

Next came the onion...and you know what happens when you slice an onion.  Yep, the crying
got her too.

Soon she could no longer see clearly (thanks to the onion) or breathe without burning (thank you, poblano).  I sent her away and told her I would finish.

Kara's first cooking lesson was pretty painful. I'm not sure she will be excited to join me in the kitchen for lessons again anytime soon.

Maybe we will stick to desserts for awhile.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Celebrating This Week {9.03.16}

This week, I celebrate....

The first week of school went well and it is so, so good to be back with my students for our second year together. Seeing them all on the first day of school was like coming home.
My son, Ryan, is doing well at college. We still talk every day and I can hear happiness in his voice. (Something I haven't heard in awhile.) Being in the marching band has kept him busy and connected him with a "tribe" that is helping to ease his transition to his home away from home.

My daughter and I had a nice visit at a local university -- her first college visit. She really liked the school (and so did I!).

My garden is bursting. On Wednesday night, I picked 24 cucumbers, 5 cantaloupes, 5 eggplant and a huge bunch of zinnias. My in-laws came on Thursday to help my husband can our tomatoes which resulted in 14 quarts using what was ripe at the time.
This old guy, Toby, is 13 1/2. It's been a rough summer for him. He has gone deaf and has many hip problems. The vet told us last spring that he was in liver failure. Despite all these problems, he has been showing more energy and eating more these past few weeks with has given him new life. We know his time is limited, but we celebrate that he doesn't appear to be suffering and his plan seems to be that he will carry on with life as usual. (He even photo bombed Kara's first day of school picture on Friday.)

I hope you had many, many celebrations this past week too!



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Old Beginnings {SOL 8.30.16}

Summer is officially over, but I'm not too sad. Sure, I will miss my free choice days where I could go or do anything. But I'm ready to get back to school.

I am moving up from 4th grade to 5th grade this year and I am really looking forward to it. I'm looping with my class from 4th grade. They are an awesome group of kids and I'm looking forward to seeing what this year brings.

Looping with the same group of kids greatly reduced a lot of my nervousness over this new school year. I already know the kids and they know me. Instead of spending the first quarter of school trying to figure each other out, we can hit the ground running. It's an added benefit that their parents know me as well and are familiar with how the classroom runs as I also know a bit about their family routines.

It just makes things easier -- for all of us.

Not having that nervousness for a new class has made getting ready for this new school year easier. I can begin to plan because I have a feel for where each student was last year. Of course, I am leaving lots of room for summer growth as we all change over time.

I can't wait to get started.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Years are Short {SOL 8.23.16}

When you are holding your newborn baby in your arms, staring into its barely open eyes and listening to its sweet coos, time seems like an infinite thing.

When a wise friend tells you to cherish every minute because time moves quickly, you brush their words aside because time seems endless.

When you ask your sweet child what he wants to do when he grows up and he answers that he wants to be a superhero, you gently laugh to yourself because you can't imagine a time when he will have to be something other than your little boy.

When you sit through band concerts, scout ceremonies, parent teacher conferences, volleyball games, birthday parties, and play dates, they seem like mere appointments on your calendar that you check off in a blur.

When your little one learns to walk, takes the bus to school, goes to sleep away camp, gets his driver's license, and graduates, you don't realize what is happening.

Then comes the day you were warned about.

That day that seemed like it could never, sometimes would never,  come.

That day that is the culmination of every day that came before it.

Your sweet child leaves the nest.

And you realize that the days may seem long, but the years are very, very short.