Saturday, January 30, 2016

Digging Deep {Celebrate This Week 1-30-16}

I'll be honest...Some weeks, it is difficult to find the celebrations.  I think back, looking for some huge or life changing event from the past seven days.  When I do this, I often come up empty handed.

All the "bad" parts of the week seem to stick clearest in my memory.  Why is that?

Some week's celebrations must be the tiny moments of life.  They might slip by unnoticed, pushed out by those other memories.

            But I won't let them.

The tiny moments of celebration from my past week...

* My budget is done.

* The sun is rising a bit earlier every day.  As I write this, it is 6:35am, and I can see the streaks of light push through the sky.

* I got my car washed yesterday.  I think there was an inch of salt on it.

* January (my most unfavorite month) is almost over.

* I ordered a Carpe Diem planner and can't wait for it's arrival.

* I read two books.

* So many well wishes from friends for my birthday this past week.

* I was reminded (several times) of the reasons why I love the class I have this year.

This week's celebrations are not huge and I had to dig deep to find some of them.  But they are there.

For that, I celebrate.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

All Alone {SOL 1-26-16}

On Saturday, I found myself all alone for almost the entire day.

In a house with three teenage kids, this doesn't happen very often.

Ryan was up north in Wausau snowmobiling with his grandparents for the long weekend.  Kara and Hannah were at a show band invitational and Jeremy was doing the cooking at the Boy Scout Winter Jamboree.

All alone for the day....what could I do?

Let's see...

       I could read.

I could write.

       I could bake.

I could do laundry.  (Nah...)

       I could sit and stare out the window.

I could go shopping.

       I could catch up on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I could grade papers.

So many things that I could do.  So what did I do?

I took a nap.  Two hours of uninterrupted, peaceful, much needed rest.....It felt wonderful!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What is Family? {SOL 1-19-16}

This past weekend,  I was talking to my mother on the phone, telling her that our time with our exchange student, Hannah, is half over.

"I wasn't sure I could do it," I said. "Having someone in my house for an entire year who was not family.  It's a good thing she became like family so quickly."

My mom laughed and said, " know, you always have had a wide definition of 'family.' You don't have a problem taking people in and making them family."

I laughed back, agreed and then we moved on to the next topic of conversation.

Later that afternoon, I was reflecting on what my mom had said.  While I had passed over it quickly while we were talking, there really was a lot of truth to what she said.

We have had three exchange students over the past two years.  Two of the three became like daughters to me.  I don't even want to think about what it will be like to send Hannah back to Germany in June.  I'll probably cry for days.

My children's friends become like family.  I have always felt that it was important to get to know who they were hanging out with.  My mom did the same thing when I was in high school (so much so that some of them even called her 'mom'). My kids friends will spend dinners with us, ask for advice, and go out of their way to say hello when they see me out and about.

Some of my dear friends have become like family.  I would walk to the end of the earth for them and I know they would do the same.

So then, I ask:  What is family?

To me, family is:
People you love and who love you
Who support you and you support them
Who are there for you in both good times and bad
Who can tell you what you need to hear,
    {even when you don't want to hear it}
Who listen
Who will be your advocate when you need one
And so much more....

So I guess my mom is right...I do have a wide definition of family.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Choosing to See the Good {Celebrate 1-16-16}

It has been one heck of a week.

Lots of things happened that might make this week go down as one of the worst ever -- if I chose to look at it this way.

But I won't.  Instead I will choose to see the positives.  I will celebrate those:

I celebrate trust.

I celebrate the truth.

I celebrate honesty.

I celebrate acceptance.

I celebrate forgiveness.

I celebrate redemption.

I celebrate new beginnings.

I celebrate strength.

I celebrate patience.

I celebrate love.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Already? {SOL 1-12-16}

It seems like just yesterday
You entered the world,
Red hair and peachy face,
Perfect in every way --

We have a son.

I remember your favorite story:
We read about the llama's mama
Every day
And every night
(And sometimes in between.)
You still know the words, right?

I remember your first swimming lesson:
(You were nine months old).
They said I had to blow on your face
Then dunk you underwater.
I thought I was going to cry --
But you loved it.

I remember pack meetings
And popcorn sales,
And sewing on patches,
(Lots and lots of patches),
Sending you off to camp,
Then one day you grew into an eagle.
The first sign of wings.

I remember your first job:
Camp counselor.
Moving you in and leaving you there
For the entire summer.
(How did I ever agree to this?)
New friends and a life
Separate from us.

Forensics meets,
Battle of the Books,
Blood drives and
AP classes.
Drum major,
School board rep,
National Honor Society and
Peer Helpers.

Now you've handed me
The graduation gown order form
And I stop --
and wonder:

It seems like just yesterday that I taught you to walk,
And here you've gone and grown wings to fly away.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Celebrating Routine {Celebrate this Week 1-09-16}

As I returned to the classroom on Monday, fresh from winter break, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous.

I always get nervous on the first day back after a vacation.  I don't know why, but I think it has something to do my fear of forgetting how we 'do things,' which is absolutely ridiculous.

I've been teaching 4th grade long enough that once I make my lesson plans, I don't have to check them too often.  I know the activities I want to complete, but I am also responsive to what my students need and will often change things up at the last minute.

But on Monday, I must have read my lesson plans over at least six times.

What is my problem? I kept asking myself.

When the students arrived, things started to fall into place.  We did our "Thirty Second Share" of our break time (which we do every Monday).  Then we practiced our math facts with a Five Minute Frenzy (which we do every Monday).  After Art, I started to teach the first lesson in our new math unit, but quickly realized the kids needed a review of what we learned before break so I detoured away from the plan and we reviewed.

The routine returned and it felt good.

By the end of the day, life in our classroom had returned to normal (if there is such a thing).  My kids settled down as the day went on.

I think the reason I felt so out of place was that I had been out of my routine for a week.   But so were my students -- and it showed more in some than in others.

No daily reading, no writing, no math fact practice, maybe not even a hot meal.

More video games, staying up late,  time at the babysitter's, getting along (or not) with brothers and sisters, or maybe just sitting and doing nothing.

Like me, I feel kids thrive on routine.  With a routine, they know what to expect.  There is a rhythm and a predictability to their day.  Routines are calming.

On Friday afternoon as I reflected on our week, it felt like winter break was months ago, not days.  Our daily routine had returned to our classroom, settling us all down.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

OLW 2016: Choose {SOL 1-5-16}

Here we are in a new year which means it's time to pick a new One Little Word (OLW).  I really liked my OLW from 2015 -- FLY.  It suited me well and had a huge impact on my year.

So I waited for my OLW to find me for 2016.

This past fall, Ruth Ayres wrote a post in her weekly Celebrate This Week link up about banishing the word 'should' from our lives.  That got me thinking about all the times I use the word 'should' in my internal dialogue.

I should drink more water.  I should exercise more.  I should do something other than just sit here and read.

Or the variation of should -- "shouldn't."

I shouldn't sit and read -- I have work to do.  I shouldn't spend time writing -- I have work to do.  I shouldn't buy another journal (even though I love it) -- I have journals at home I haven't used yet.

Once I made myself aware of how much I use these two words, I made a conscious effort to stop.

And that's when my OLW for 2016 found me.


This year, I will choose more.

I will choose to read.  I will choose to write.  I will choose to buy another journal.  I will choose to spend an hour napping on the patio.  I will choose to read along with my students.  I will choose which projects I take on.  I will choose to make a delicious dessert.

I will choose.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Celebrating 2015 {Celebrate this Week 1-2-16}

The week between Christmas and New Years is a time of reflection for many of us.  2015 is gone, but there are a lot of memories worth celebrating again:

* We welcomed our exchange student, Hannah, from Germany for the school year.  We love, love, love her and would love to adopt her, but her parents are not thrilled with that idea.
* In May, I helped coordinate the Cartonera Project at my school.  Each and every student published a cartonera (cardboard book) that was displayed for parents to see when they visited for Special Person Lunch and the Scholastic book fair.  We will be repeating this venture again this year (called The Cartonera Connection) and are going to try to expand it to include other schools across the country (and world?!?!).  If you are interested in more information about participating, leave me your email in the comments section and I will be in touch!  It is so much fun!!

This school year, I brought back Positive Thinking Thursday.  Each Thursday, I put a positive thought out on one of the tables in the lounge for anyone to take.  Sometimes, if I am feeling crafty, I might make something.  I'm happy to celebrate that others are taking this idea and spreading Positive Thinking Thursday to their schools as well.

Finally, I celebrate all of the wonderful connections I made and strengthened this year.  I attended All Write in Indiana in June and caught up with friends I had met there before and found some new ones as well.  I also celebrate my two long distance writing friends, Michelle Haseltine and Leigh Anne Eck and look forward to more Google Hangouts with you to discuss our writing (or not!)

Thank you, Ruth Ayres, for your continual reminder to celebrate every part of life!