Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's a Bird! {SOL 6-30-15}

We've probably all seen them in home improvement stores.  Birds that enter through open doors and fly around until they can find their way back out.

Never did I think this would happen...to me...in my home.

On Sunday afternoon, I walked from my living room into my bedroom.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something black begin to fly around.  I screamed.  I freaked out a little.  I called for my kids to come help.

After I regained my composure, I was able to see that it was a Barn Swallow.

What the heck?

Apparently, my lovely little dog Rosie decided she needed to let herself out for her daily sunning on the deck.  She slid the door to the deck open about 12 inches and it stayed that way for quite awhile.  This bird, not knowing what was beyond the door, decided to investigate.
We were finally able to shoo it back outside.  I'd have to say that I've never seen a bird fly away so fast.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

That's What Hugs are For {Celebrate This Week 6-27-15}

Hugs are for welcoming back someone you haven't seen for awhile.

Hugs are for saying, "Welcome to our family!"

Hugs are for the reassurance you need when times get tough.

Hugs are for holding onto to someone, soaking up the moment and etching it into your memory.

Hugs are for showing someone how much you love them.

Hugs are for making a connection with another like-minded soul.

Hugs are for celebrating.

Hugs are for saying goodbye.

                This week, I have many hugs to celebrate.

And for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Being with Those Who 'Get Me' {SOL 6-23-15}

Do you ever feel like sometimes others don't "get you?"

Don't understand your passion for learning?  Look at you funny when you talk about a book you read over the weekend?  Question the pull you feel toward always trying to improve your craft of teaching?

I sometimes feel this way, and when I do, it can feel very lonely.

But I am lucky that I have people in my life who DO understand me.  People who push me, ask questions, offer words of encouragement, celebration or support -- people who know.

That is one of the reasons why I love connecting with others through conferences like All Write, which I attended this past week.  Imagine spending two days with people who feel the way you do. Who love learning, reading, writing and connecting with others as a way of life.  Others who understand.

On Wednesday night before All Write began, I was lucky enough to go to dinner with some friends, Ruth Ayres being one of them.  The conversation around the table focused on the connections that had been made with each other through Slice of Life Tuesdays and Celebrate this Week.  Through these weekly check ins, we heard each other's stories, learned things about each other, and became friends.

Ruth turned and asked me why I attended All Write.  Being the 'new kid,' I mumbled something about the opportunity to learn new things.

But it really is about more than that.

Meeting up with my online friends face-to-face, if even only once at year,  is a time for being with others who get me.  Others who understand.  It is affirming and confirming how I feel.

It feels good.

So while there are AMAZING learning opportunities at All Write (and they were amazing!), it was the connections I had with others that will give me the spark and the fuel I need to boost me through another year.

I am grateful for the people I have in my life who do this for me, whether they are there every day or only once a year.

Monday, June 22, 2015

What I'm Reading {6-22-15}

Last week, I was reading heaven when I attended the All Write conference in Warsaw, IN.  Not only did I connect with several friends that I knew only through blogging, I learned from some of the masters of reading and writing instruction and came away with a TBR list a mile long.
Andrea of Mrs. Payan Reads
Linda Baie of Teacher Dance

The Honest Truth =  5 Stars
On my way to and from All Write, I listened to Dan Gemeinhart's The Honest Truth.  I'll have to admit, I didn't know exactly what to expect with this story, but I had heard amazing things about it.  It did not disappoint.  It is the story of a young boy who is faced with a life threatening illness and fights to live life on his own terms by climbing Mount Rainier with his loyal dog, Bo.  While I felt there were parts of the story that were being dragged out, at the end I realized why this was done and was super impressed with the surprise ending. (And if you love dogs, you will surely fall in love with Bo.)
Conferring with Readers
Jennifer Serravello was one of my favorite speakers from All Write.  In this book, Jennifer walks us through the ins and outs of conferring with our readers.  The writing is clear and purposeful and is giving me some fantastic ideas for when I return to the classroom in the fall.  If you need help with this skill, I definitely recommend this book!
I came home from All Write with a cart full of books in my Amazon account.  Let's just say that I am looking forward to the mail delivery today...

What are you reading?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Where I Write {SOL 6-16-15}

Now that summer is here, I have time to nurture my creative side which means LOTS of reading and writing.

The reading part I've got down pat.  My TBR pile seems to be growing taller instead of shorter.

The writing part, however, has been a little difficult for me.  Inspiration has been eluding me, despite my best efforts to make it show up for our writing dates.

In the past, I have usually done all of my writing in my office upstairs in my house.  It is a beautiful room (it used to be my sewing room) that my husband repainted my favorite color.  It has a large window and two skylights so there is lots of natural lighting.
I love this room and spend a lot of time in it.  But I thought...maybe I need to try writing in some new and different places to get my writing spark back.

Yesterday, I went into a neighboring town to the Coffee House to try writing.  I loved it here and did do a little writing.  But mostly, I sat and took in what was going on around me -- people working on their laptops, a group of women discussing a book at the back of the room, a toddling boy's relentless attempts to break free of his parents' watchful eye.  This is a place I will definitely return to for more writing.
This morning, I wrote my morning pages on our front porch, another place where I have never written before.  While I sat and wrote, birds bickered with each other over the bird feeder that hung near the crab apple tree off the corner of the deck.  To my surprise, two Red Headed Woodpeckers even came over for a morning treat.  
So I have decided that one of my summer goals is to write in as many different places as I can -- at the beach, in a park, at the farmer's market, in a library.  I will try to snap a picture of each place I write to keep a photo journal of my writing journey.  If nothing else, maybe the change of scenery will help get my writing spark back.

Where do you write?  Please snap a picture and post it to Twitter using the hashtag #iwritehere.  Many people have already shared their favorite writing places (including some authors you may love) and there is much inspiration to be found.


Monday, June 15, 2015

This Week's Reads {6-15-15}

I swore that this summer, I was not going to build a "TBR" pile. I was just going to pick up any book I wanted and read it.

That was then....

Now, I have TWO TBR piles going and I don't see it stopping any time soon.  Ughhh....

This week:

Tomorrow, I will facilitate a class on growth mindset with several teachers from our district as a part of our summer PD.  This is the text we will be reading.  I love Ricci's practical suggestions and her clear explanations of the research behind growth mindset.
This book was made for explaining growth mindset to students.  I read it to prepare for tomorrow's class, but know that it will be one of the first books I read to my students this fall when we talk about growth mindset.

I'm reading Paper Towns in hopes of getting my teenage daughter to read it before the movie comes out next week.  I'd have to admit that I am having a tough time with it though.  I find it to be so much like Looking for Alaska and there are lots of other books I want to get to.  I'm considering abandoning it.

I've been having a rough time getting my writing kick started this summer.  The craziness of the end of the school year got me out of habit.  Last summer, I read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron and found so much inspiration in it that I knew this book would help me.  It basically is a 12 week "course" on how to restart your creative self.  There is one chapter dedicated to each week with activities and reflections.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Celebrating Life {6-13-15}

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for hosting this weekly celebration of life!
This week's celebrations are more like a laundry list.  There are so many things to celebrate!

This week, I celebrate:

* My peonies are finally blooming!

* Everyone in my house is now out of school for summer.

* My son has a summer job at Six Flags Great America that he loves.

* We found out that we will be hosting an exchange student from Spain for two weeks.

* On Wednesday, we ate dinner on the deck.  My husband, Jeremy, and I sat outside after and talked until it was almost dark.

* I did a little writing.

* I redesigned this blog.  Love the sunflowers!

* One more week until my sister and her family who live in Dallas arrive for a visit.

* Five more days until I leave for the All Write conference in Indiana.  (If you are going, let me know in the comments so I can look for you.  I'm soooo excited!)

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Because It's Scary {SOL 6-9-15}

I am teaching my daughter how to drive.

For those of you who have been through this before with your child, you know how absolutely horrifying this can be.

Not that my daughter is a bad driver.  As a matter of fact, she's pretty good.

The scary part is really more about letting go:  of my baby, my car, my control...

This past weekend, we went out practicing.  She had gotten pretty good at just driving around the subdivision streets and the empty school parking lot.

"Do you want to drive down to the school?," I asked.

"I don't know....that's kind of scary.  I'm not sure if I'm ready for that yet," she answered.

Taking a deep breath, I said, "Well, if you're scared, that's the perfect reason to do it.  Let's go."

So we did.

She drove all the way down to the school.  This required her to go through a stop light, merge lanes and turn left in traffic.  Truly scary stuff for a new driver.

She did a very nice job.

I guess we both learned how to overcome our fear that day.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Celebrating This Week {6-06-15}

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for reminding us to take time for celebration.
This past week, my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  It's hard to believe how quickly time has flown.  Babies, new houses, new jobs, vacations, holidays...So many memories that have become the building blocks of our time together.
This past Tuesday, Rick Wormeli was the speaker at our in-service.  Rick brought a message about grading, growth mindset, and student achievement that was music to my ears.  His words validated so much of what we are already doing at our school even though it is not mainstream culture yet.  It's just what I needed to hear.  Rick is the author of this book (among others), if you want a taste of his message:
What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Heartbreaker {SOL 6-02-15}

Love is hard, especially when you are 15.

How do you comfort and counsel someone who is going through their first break up?

What wise words can you share?

What hope can you deliver?

How can you take the pain away?

My daughter laid down on the floor in my office, her head resting on an overstuffed pillow she pulled out from a pile.  She told me it was over and began to cry.

All I could do was lay down with her and hug her, gently rubbing her back in small circles like I did when she was a baby.

The tears fell and the words started pouring from her mouth.  I just let her talk as I rubbed her back.

Soon, the words stopped.

Her breathing slowed.

The sniffles became fewer.

The swirl of my fingers on her back helping her find her peace.