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a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Friday, January 31, 2014

31 THINGS day eight

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.

created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards
day eight | transportation

some fun facts about transportation and me…

I drive a Subaru Forester.  A silver Subaru Forester.  I love my Subaru.  Every time I am ready to trade in my car, I get a new Forester. 

My husband, a die-hard JEEP guy when we first met, has converted.  He now drives a Subaru Outback. 

However, my transportation of choice is my own two feet. A couple years ago, the Village Hall moved two blocks away from our house and brought with it a beautiful walking/biking trail.  My feet have been itching to hop off the treadmill and onto those paths.  They are hoping the groundhog will be on their side. 

My bicycle is a close second choice.  It has a bell and a basket.  That is tough to beat.   

The first time I ever rode a train, it was in New York City. 

Even though I have lived in the suburbs of Chicago most of my life and went to college in the city, I have never been on a train in Chicago. 

My first plane trip was when I was 7 years old, to Disney World.  My most recent plane trip was to visit Nancie Atwell’s Center for Teaching and Learning in Maine several years ago. 

I prefer road trips to air travel.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

31 THINGS day seven

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.
created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards
 
day seven | work

I love the work I do. 

In my final year of college I was told by the head of the English department at my university, “You are going to find after five years of teaching fifth grade that it is not a sufficient challenge for you.  What will you do then?” 

Although I suspected he was ultimately paying me a compliment about the potential he believed I possessed, I couldn’t help but feel deflated.  I wondered if he was right. 

Now that I have been teaching for nearly 14 years I can say with confidence that Dr. Ramsey was wrong (and not just about the fifth grade part).  Teaching has always been and will always be a sufficient challenge for me.  How could one ever master the skills needed to work with thirteen and fourteen-year-olds?  How could one ever master the art of teaching reading and writing?  Answer: One can’t.  It is simply not possible. 

Although my favorite part of teaching is working with students, lately I have especially been enjoying the planning part of teaching.  There is something about crafting a lesson, working to create one of those moments, that is exhilarating.  I love the anticipation of a lesson almost as much as the aftermath.  Almost.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

31 THINGS day six

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.
 
created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards


day six | you

10 THINGS ABOUT ME TODAY:

age | 35

favorite part of my day | The last few moments before deciding to sleep.  These moments are spent reading, cuddling the pups, or laughing with Mark. 

loving | New challenges (31 Things, Artwork, Writing).

longing for | Warmer weather.  At this point, I’ll even settle for a humid spring, my least favorite of the seasons.

inspired by | *New authors (*new to me).  Students who take risks and choose to challenge themselves.  My one little word: lift.

dreaming of | Staying centered.  Making my plan work.  Having reason to feel proud at the end of the school year. 

needing | Routine.  Too many days off of school means I am fluctuating between productivity and hibernation.  Routine means balance.

navigating | A new approach to instruction.  Planning and assessing differently. 

struggling with | My hair (trying to stay committed to letting it get longer).  Using my time efficiently.

knowing | Life is good.   People matter.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

31 THINGS day five


 
I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.

created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards


day five | conversation

Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to Mark and my mom:

mark | Most of my conversations with Mark happen while we are preparing dinner, right before we fall asleep (that is when we laugh the most), or when we call back and forth from the couch downstairs to the office upstairs.  Although, we have to be careful when we talk about school.  Working in the same place means we can get into some pretty intense discussions.  Our venting and problem solving can sound like we are angry with each other, and it makes the dogs nervous. 

mom | I talk to Mom by landline, iPhone, or texting.  Often, I call her while I am on the treadmill.  Although that is a multi-tasking move, I am probably most present when I am on the treadmill.  The walking becomes automatic and I focus entirely on the conversation.  I am even able to sustain attention when Mom talks about insurance if I am on the treadmill.  I also tend to call Mom while I am driving.  One of her favorite things to do is tease me about how much food I am ordering at the Patio drive-through.  And we can spend hours laughing about a single word: spandex.


Most days, I talk to more than just those two:

students and colleagues | On school days, I spend lots of time talking to students (some of my favorite moments are spent this way) and to colleagues.  

friends | On a really good day, I will also find time to converse with a friend.  I am lucky enough to have some amazing women in my life.  Conversations with Dena, Beth, Michelle, and Ruth make me feel connected to who I am and remind me who I want to be.

blog buddies | I make a point to spend time staying connected to my friends in the blogosphere.  Maintaining these relationships is something I do selfishly, to take care of me, because these connections keep me grounded and nudge me to grow.

Monday, January 27, 2014

31 THINGS day four

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.
 
created with Photshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards


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day four | spirit

and He walks with me, and He talks with me
and He tells me I am His own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.
lyrics from in the garden  (the version I know and love is by the Statler Bros.)

Although I do not consider myself a religious person, I do consider myself to be a spiritual person.  I am shamefully ignorant of religion, of religious doctrine, of the tenets of religions.  However, my ignorance has not hindered my appreciation (perhaps even nurtured it) of spiritual beliefs. 

The result is that I have a hodgepodge of beliefs that don’t fit neatly into any particular sect. 

one | If I am going to pray, it is likely going to be to Mother Mary, St. Francis of Assisi, or St. Joseph.  These three really seem to be the ones in charge.

two | We are closer to God while singing than we are while engaged in any other activity. 

three | When the sun shines visible rays to earth, that means souls are traveling between earth and the heavens.  Souls travel both ways, but we can only interact with souls when we are most open to this interaction: in our sleep.

four | My Mother-In-Law taught me to believe in the power of a Novena.  Working in a kindergarten classroom at a Catholic elementary school taught me to believe in the power of children’s prayers.  I am convinced God weights them differently. 

five | Everything happens for a reason.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

31 THINGS day three

--> I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.

 
created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards

day three | read

Seven Facts About me + books

one | The last brilliant book I read was Winger  by Andrew Smith

two | I am currently reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  by Ransom Riggs.  I am so charmed by Riggs’s use of language that I am moving very slowly through the book, even though the brand new sequel is waiting for me.  I have even started copying some of my favorite lines in pencil on the inside of the front cover, which do out of admiration for an author’s craft.  This might be the start of an author obsession, as I recently stayed up until midnight on a school night to read his book Talking Pictures

three | At any given time, I am usually in the midst of reading one young adult book and one professional book. Occasionally I have been known to pick up a book written for grown-up people.

four | While I am reading miss Peregrine,  I can’t stop wondering what mark thought while he was reading the book.  It is not often that he reads a young adult book before me.  I almost feel wronged that he didn’t gush about how fantastic this book is and urge me to read it sooner. 

five | I often think of which student(s) might enjoy a particular book as I am adding it to my amazon cart. 

six | I plan to read Gone With the Wind  before this school year is over.

seven | I read books in hard copy, on my kindle, using the kindle app on other devices, and in audio format.  I like to try different genres and formats, but I am drawn to books that involve death, books written in poetry, and books that take place at boarding schools. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

in which I CELEBRATE reasons to smile


celebrate with Ruth Ayres and friends every Saturday
one | Though I am not one who buys into the idea that numbers are a worthwhile way to represent humans, I am celebrating test scores.  If the Powers that Be are going to place students in classes based on numbers, judge my effectiveness by numbers, and communicate progress to students through numbers, then I am happy these numbers reflect good news.  The average MAP test scores for my three classes improved:
Voices Strong +7 points
8th grade Language Arts +6 points
Honors Language Arts +4 points

two | I am participating in 31 THINGS: Documenting the Details of Real, Everyday Life Through Wordsand Photos, a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes.  It is a challenge I am thoroughly enjoying and learning a lot from.

three | Sometimes a lesson just comes together flawlessly.  Kind of like on American Idol when they talk about ‘creating a moment.’  I have had several of these experiences lately.  Each deserves its own blog post, so I will not reveal details here.

four | Because I was inspired by Deb at Coffee with Chloe, I have started a speech team at our middle school.  We are starting very small our first year, but I am not sure my heart knows that because it feels so rewarding to work with students performing through words, voices, facial expressions, and subtle gestures.  What power!

five | Although I haven’t stuck to my writing plan, I am celebrating anyway.  Just the fact that I have a writing plan to stray from is big news.  The fact that my writing plan has also encouraged me to exercise more (it is my only acceptable means of avoiding writing) is also worth celebration!

31 THINGS day two

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.


created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards


day two | morning routine

5am | Crickets chirp from my iPhone to wake me up.  I inevitably tap the screen and edit the alarm to go off again at 5:25am.  Late nights are more my style than early mornings.

6:25am | After getting ready, I gently nudge Mark awake by softly calling, “All done, your turn,” to indicate I am out of the bathroom we share.  I find my clothes in the dark, freshly ironed the night before and hung on the closet door.  Once Mark is up and moving, I turn on a light to select shoes and jewelry for the day.

6:45am | Roosevelt follows me downstairs.  Aurora likes to linger at the top of the stairway, peering through the railing before deciding to join us for “breakfast time.”  I refill their bowls, break-up a Beggin’ Strip® to sprinkle over the top of their fresh kibble, and refresh their water bowl.   

6:50am | I pack my lunch and gather my things for school.  I shuffle between packing my backpack, letting the dogs out, and getting ready to make my breakfast smoothie.  I press the button to start Mark’s coffee, ready just in time for his arrival downstairs.  I select just the right travel mug for the day and prepare a Jamba Juice smoothie to fill it with. 

7:10am | Mark finishes packing up his lunch and morning coffee.  He rarely talks during this time, but I usually take advantage of these brief moments of his undivided attention to share my thoughts about the day or a leftover story from the day before.  Then we grab our coats and head out the door, each taking our own cars to head to the same place. 

7:28am | I reach the building first and wait inside to open the door for Mark.  We walk down the hallway, me pulling a wheeled bin, Mark with squeaky shoes.  He heads to his room, I head to the elevator.  And our days begin.

Friday, January 24, 2014

31 THINGS day one

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here for the next 31 days.
created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards 
day one | jewelry

wedding ring | my simple silver band is a physical manifestation of my unconventional tendencies.  As a teenager, I wore a silver band stamped DESTINY on my wedding ring finger—my way of taking a stand against the conventional belief that a ring on that particular finger has to mean you are married.  When I finally decided to give in to the convention of marriage, I knew I didn’t want diamonds—now I get a new ‘wedding’ ring each year as an anniversary present, which is a contrast to my sentimental tendencies. 

necklaces | I wear a necklace nearly every day.  Necklaces tell stories and can represent, maybe even influence my mood for the day.  Each day I select, from my ever-growing collection, just the right necklace to finish my outfit, to suit my mood.  Each day, I am reminded of the story behind my necklace of choice.  Maybe it is the story of my husband shopping for me in the town where we were married.  Or maybe it is the story of my mother gifting me a necklace along with a card that reads, “Wishing you morning music, featherlight wings, and a blue sky full of sunshine.”  Maybe it is the story held within beads crafted from the ruins of an old church in Mexico.   Today I wear the first piece of jewelry my mother-in-law ever gifted me—and it is my favorite piece from her.  I love the way wearing it makes me feel her presence in my life. 





Saturday, January 18, 2014

in which I CELEBRATE my mom


celebrate with Ruth and friends every Saturday
Today I celebrate the most important person in my life: my mom.  Today is her 60th birthday.   Happy Birthday, Mom!

George Carlin says that 60 years old is 16 degrees Celsius.  So in celebration of my mom’s 60 years, here is a list of 16 items that make me think of her:
1.     dogs (especially the spotted ones and the red ones)
2.     books by Erma Bombeck and Janet Evanovich, also Gone With the Wind
3.     Coca-Cola
4.     accordions
5.     corn on the cob
6.     hand-sewn clothing
7.     peppermint candy
8.     The Statler Brothers and Traveling Wilburys
9.     all things Apple®
10. Ron Paul
11. rhyming poetry
12. planes landing safely
13. low-top white Reebok tennis shoes
14. blue eyeshadow
15. Jean Naté
16. Sheldon Cooper, Tim Gunn, and Marilyn Milian
mom and baby me
me with mom
mom and me
mom as "pastor" at my canyon wedding (with my niece as a flower girl)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SHINE ON


It’s a sunshine (blogging award) day! 

Rule #1 | acknowledge the nominating blogger(s)

A couple weeks ago, Terje at Just for a Month nominated me for the Sunshine Award.  Her nomination was just one of several ways Terje nudged me to return to blogging.  Others included sharing pins on Pinterest, e-mailing, a Liebster nomination, and even this special New Year’s message: Head uut aastat!  Terje’s nomination means so much to me because I hadn’t been blogging for about a month and she still thought of me.  How wonderful it is to have a Sunshine Fairy visit me all the way from Estonia!

Today, I got a message from Ruth at Ruth Ayres Writes letting me know she, too, nominated me for the Sunshine Award.  Her nomination comes with a not-so-subtle nudge to write, write, and write some more.  If you know Ruth, you understand what a compliment it is for her to miss your words.


Rule #2 | share 11 random facts about yourself

Rule #3 | answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger(s) have created for you

Questions from Terje:

1.             One thing you wish adults would have told you about growing up?     | it takes time

2.             If you could travel in time, would you go to the past or the future? Why?     | the past, I will understand the future when the time comes

3.             How would you describe yourself as a child?     | imaginative; I would spend hours playing pretend: rocks were dinosaur bones, my bicycle was a school bus, the carpeting was a matchbox car community, Barbies were characters from my favorite television shows

4.             What is your happiest childhood memory?     | some of my happiest times were spent sitting around the kitchen table talking to my mom and sister while my dad pretended to watch tv, but would really listen in and interject from his recliner every now and then

5.             How have you surprised yourself?     | I am married

6.             What are you avoiding?     | updating my school webpage, entering grades (tedious schoolwork)

7.             What are the advantages of getting older?     | gaining perspective, ability to sweat less of the small stuff

8.             What is one habit you would like to learn this year?     | setting (and achieving) realistic daily goals

9.             What inspirational things did you read, see or hear last week?     | with my students, I watched the clip from Dead Poets’ Society where Robin Williams talks about why we read and write poetry (which I noticed is also the audio for an ipad air commercial)

10.          How much is your life like to what you dreamed it would be?     | this is going to sound terrible, but I could never picture my life past college, so I was convinced I would be hit by a bus as soon as I graduated—luckily, I was wrong.


Questions from Ruth:

1.       What is your favorite office supply?     | Pens. 

2.       If I were to make something in my kitchen for you, what would you want it to be?     | A painting…you sometimes do that in the kitchen, right?

3.       What makes you feel loved?     | A warm blanket fresh out of the dryer

4.       If you were a piece of chewing gum, where would you want to be stuck? (Special thanks to Brit Montgomery, third grade teacher, for this little gem of a question.)     | I would like to be retroactively stuck underneath a table in The Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb, Maine

5.       What is your least favorite chore around the house?     | Laundry

6.       What's your favorite kind of exercise?     | Walking long distances outdoors, preferably through the woods

7.       What do you collect (or wish you collected)?     | antiques, buttons, loose change, books

8.       What's one of your favorite posts YOU'VE written? Please share the link.     | This one.  It has been on my mind lately because I think I recently figured out the purpose for this moment in my life.

9.       What's your favorite quote?     | other than the quote on my blog header, I am partial to: “If I am not happy in this time, in this place, I am not paying attention.” –Jodi Hills

10.   What are three words to describe you as a teenager?      | independent, focused, happy


11.    What are three words to describe your life right now?     | work in progress


Rule #4 | list 11 bloggers you would like to nominate (and let them know you’ve nominated them) NOTE: you may not nominate the blogger who nominated you (also known on the playground as the “no tag-backs” rule)

I am a bit of a rebel, so I am cool with breaking with Rule #4.  I broke the no tag-backs rule.  Twice.  And I know Elsie was already nominated, so she is also exempt.  The rest of these bloggers are under no obligation to respond, but I posted those questions just in case…

Boggers who I felt shine on me when I took a break from blogging:

Bloggers I know in real life who shine on my daily life:
Dena (high school bestie)
Jessica (colleague/friend)
Mark (husband)

Future bloggers who shine on my daily life (all colleague/friends):
David
Kate
Kathie
Michelle


Rule #5 | post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer

1.     What is your spirit animal?
2.     If someone who loves you described you in three words, what would they say?
3.     What is one of the best gifts you have ever received?
4.     What is your comfort food?
5.     If you could meet any character from a book in real life, which character would you choose?
6.     What is one of your favorite places?
7.     If you were a piece of furniture, which piece of furniture would you be?
8.     What is the last book you read?
9.     What is the song you are most likely to be caught singing along with?
10. What is one of your daily rituals?
11. Do you have a favorite article of clothing?  If so, what is it?