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Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Apology and An Announcement

I know I owe you all an apology. One thing about apologies is that I feel like they are void if nothing changes. I have not had what it takes to maintain my blog this summer. Motivation is absent. An unknown future has left me not very excited to keep up my blog. And some changes are coming... so here's the announcement:

I will not have a classroom this year.  I will be a reading tutor in an elementary school in the town I live in. I am really excited about this for a number of reasons. I will be working in the school where I student taught. I have heard that not everyone LOVES their student teaching experience, but I did. My cooperating teacher was superb on so many levels. For one thing, she is the best teacher I have ever observed. And I was incredibly blessed in my internships and observations, I saw some great teaching! Some of my colleagues learned more about what kind of teachers they didn't want to be, but I was blessed with being in classrooms with teachers who are changing the way school looks and how students learn. So there's that. And then there is the fact that she is the kind of person, colleague, friend I would like to be. She was a great example of how to be an integral part of my school/work community. I know these things about my cooperating teacher had a huge impact on how I felt about my student teaching experience. But I also loved the kids and built relationships with other teachers in the building. I am looking forward to being back and feeling like a part of this community of teachers and learners. Side note: I ran into one of my Kinder kids from student teaching when we were in Walmart, and I got a hug! Whoot! I was really excited to tell her I would be at her school this year. So I am excited to see the students I taught when I was in student teaching, but I am also excited to see the teachers in the building and to be working under the reading specialist in the building. Oh, I really can't wait!

So, while I am still mourning the lack of "my own" classroom, I very optimistic about not only this year, but that this will lead to a future teaching position in this school district. How exciting is this?! I feel peace about the future and I feel centered. I am hopeful.

And I promise to become consistent again with blogging. I am sorry for my hodge-podge approach this summer. A few things to look for: The future could contain a new blog title that is less grade-specific and the near future will likely contain a post or two or three about our summer. Happy end of Summer, I am loving it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted: Advice for New Teachers

I have been a little bit AWOL recently.  I am discouraged that I do not have a job and instead of setting up my classroom and getting ready with new ideas I am wondering if I will have a classroom, what grade I might be teaching and what I might do if I am not a classroom teacher this next year. But I miss my blog friends and so I am joining up with Flying into First Grade for her Let's Get Acquainted linky.  This week it is about advice for new teachers. I am not so far from being the new teacher since last year was my first year teaching, but I decided to participate anyway! 

Fill out this template and explain your template. You can copy and paste this into MS word or PowerPoint and use textboxes to complete.

Here is my advice: 

Buy: organizational items for your classroom. An organized classroom is worth a thousand words, or dollars, or pictures. It is worth a lot. It is the key to being successful at so many things, like keeping to your schedule, training students to work independently and so much more. 

Always: be prepared. Get your plans done on time and have everything ready. Get out the next day's materials before you go home each day. Another thing you should prepare are emergency sub plans. You can find plans on TpT and print and prepare ahead of time and then if you are gone unexpectedly, it is all ready for the sub. Remember that part of teaching is going with the flow and maintaining some flexibility, so be prepared to change your plans at the drop of a hat. 

Never: bail on a commitment. If you told your teaching team that you would do something or you are assigned a task on a committee or organization, do it, and get it done on time. It is not JUST the right thing to do, it also builds trust and strengthens morale and makes people willing to help you out in a bind. 

Find: a friend in your building. You need a friend that you can trust and that you can go to for advice and to vent. Some days are longer and harder than others, you need someone you can trust to be honest with. 

Make: friends with the custodian and the secretary. This will pay dividends. 

Be friendly and be open to new ideas. Some days you don't feel like being friendly, do it anyway. And people offer advice and share ideas and sometimes you may not think you need them (and you may not) but listen with an open mind, maybe their ideas can make your life easier or fill your students with knowledge.  

Now head over and read up and maybe even add your own link! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Taking a Risk and Showing my "true colors"

I was going to post this in my personal blog and I decided to expose myself, the real me, to all my teaching buddies, my bloggy friends, and the world in general.  This is me. For whatever it's worth.
What is a professional? What does it mean to be a role-model? Apparently I have a mixed-up view of this. My view of this is that I need to show my students not only what is appropriate, with my words and deeds, but what they can accomplish in life. Unfortunately, I have been given the distinct impression from a vast population of "professionals" that it is my job to be this role-model to only white kids from two-parent families with two incomes and no history of domestic violence or poverty what they will learn just from getting up every morning with the role models already in place in their lives. Huh? What is one of the first principles to teaching reading? Build background knowledge.  But we sit here in white suburbia and build this out of our own very limited experience. These are the kids who: may not get enough to eat, know the "f" word before they know how to say please and thank-you, come from tattooed parents, wear clothes passed down from cousins, purchased at garage sales and second-hand stores; where reading is not encouraged because parents are just worried about getting through the day; and structure and routine are nifty little ideas that belong to another class of people; and these are the kids who may not get bathed as frequently as we think they should.  Parents become parents before they are finished being children and were raised  by children who became parents before they were grown themselves. As these kids come through the doors of the public school, we shake our heads and make little clucking noises and say "tisk-tisk." But these are the kids I was called to teach. Don't get me wrong, public school is for everyone and I love to teach every one of my students. But recently I've gotten on the rabbit trail of "what is a professional" and this stemmed from a conversation about tattoos and if we as teachers need to cover our tattoos. I don't really have an answer for that one, but there was a lot of murky, muddy conversation about being professional and "teachers are professionals." My question, one of the many, many questions this stirred in me was this: If I am so busy being a professional, how am I going to build background with the students who need me the most? How do I show them that they are just as important to me as their schoolmates? Because I think the answer lies in being a little less professional and being on an even playing field with not just white suburbia, but with other ethnicities, other economic status's, other sexual orientations, other religious affiliations. This single Mom who lives in poverty is not ashamed of the fact that she fought tooth and nail to be a great student going back to college with children in school and being responsible to feed these children. This tattooed teacher is not going to judge these parents and students because these are my people. My goal is to show them that anyone can succeed, anyone can change, and America is still the land of opportunity for all people.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Liebster Award 2013... amended

I have been honored with a Liebster Award! Yay!

So here is the scoop about this award: The rules for receiving the award are as follows:
- Link back to the original nominator's website
- You must post 11 random things about yourself
- Answer the questions the nominator set for you
- Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate
- Nominate 5 - 11 blogs (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post

I was nominated by Anna at Gluesticks 'N Giggles

So go read her Liebster information now! I am going to post my 11 "random" things and answer her questions.  Then I will go on a quest for fellow bloggers with fewer followers than 200. Here we go:

11 Random Facts about me:
  • I was born on the Fourth of July.
  • I never, and I mean never, planned to be a teacher. Until I was 40.
  • I own a Habitat for Humanity house.
  • Life is sweeter since we got a cat. Okay, he's not 'A' cat, he's my daughter's cat. Santa brought him when she was in Kindergarten (she will be a senior in HS this year), and then he went to live at her Dad's house for awhile (8 years), and we were cat-free for several years and when he came back, I did not realize how much a fussy, moody, sweet, loveable cat can add to your life. Now I realize this almost daily, and for sure every morning when I wake up and he is curled up beside me. 
  • I am a single mother.
  • I hope to own a Harley one day. Anything can happen.
  • I am really a hippie inside. 
  • Pinterest has revolutionized the way I cook (you can find crockpot-anything on there, hooray).
  • Pinterest (and TpT) has a huge influence on the way I teach.
  • I love my little flower garden and my strawberry patch. They bring me peace and joy.
  • Teaching, like mother-hood, has brought me untold joy and is currently the best thing that ever "happened" to me. 
Here are the questions that Anna set for me:
1. How long have you been teaching?
2. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
3. If you couldn't be a teacher, what other career would you pursue?
4. What is your favorite part of summer vacation?
5. Do you have a classroom theme?
6. How long have you been blogging?
7. What is your favorite food?
8. What is your favorite children's book?
9. What was your first job?
10. What is your favorite school related app or computer program to use?
11. What is your favorite non-school related app or computer program to use? 

1. How long have you been teaching?
I have only taught one year. Last year I was a first year Kindergarten teacher in the panhandle of Oklahoma. Now I am back home in Kansas and I don't have a job yet. Yikes. (So say a little prayer...)

2. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
Well, reading. I don't know why. Maybe because in Kindergarten everything is an opportunity to teach reading. I love to read and I love seeing that magic happen for students. 

3. If you couldn't be a teacher, what other career would you pursue?
I considered going back to school to become a social worker when I went back for my teaching license. So I might do that. I have also considered careers that help and support women in domestic abuse situations: counseling, running a half-way house, or something along those lines. 

4. What is your favorite part of summer vacation?
The vacation part? This summer has been a different sort of summer since we moved (again). But I really think it is the freedom from a set schedule and the freedom to connect with others. I love being able to be flexible and meet up with family or friends or other teachers and build relationships. Being free to take my kids on little outings, like a visit to Coronado Heights, or our recent visit to the Underground Salt Museum would be a great example. Being free to stay up late and fire up some charcoal just we can make some late night s'mores and gaze at the stars and sit outside and giggle and chat.

5. Do you have a classroom theme?
I really didn't last year, but I don't know about next year. I would like to. But so far, no job. Not knowing what grade I will be teaching or where I will be at, makes it so difficult. Themes that interest me are: Dr. Suess, Camping, Buggy themes (insects, ladybugs), or a hippie theme.

6. How long have you been blogging?
I started this blog last September (2012). I have had personal blogs for several years before this.  Some part of me thinks I am a writer, and I am also an over-sharer, so I tend of put my whole life out there for everyone to see/read. If you really want too much information about me, head over to my personal blog. I really haven't posted there for awhile, but you never know, today might be the day that I do. 

7. What is your favorite food?
Mexican food. I could eat Mexican food all day every day. End of story. I also love a good steak, but Mexican food... yum. Fajitas, enchilada, refrieds, black beans, tacos...... you get the picture.

8. What is your favorite children's book?
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I didn't even have to ponder that one! I love that book! If you teach early primary or primary you should own it too! Or if you have children! Seriously! Go out and buy it right now. 

9. What was your first job?
First job ever? Waitress at Nancy's cafe. Wait, I think I washed dishes before I waitressed. Yes, dishwasher. You know, when I got out of college (the first time) I milked cows, mostly because everyone said I couldn't do it. But then I got married and got kids and my priority was caring for those kids (I didn't always do it right), but I did a lot of entry level work, waitressing, store clerk, etc. to allow me to take care of the kids. When my now-17-year-old was born I realized I wanted to hold her and kiss her more, and I opened a daycare in my home and then I realized I am good at working with children. (And many years later I realized that is a great characteristic of a good teacher).

10. What is your favorite school related app or computer program to use?
Wow. Great question. I am not sure how to answer. I use a lot of hodge-podge stuff and yet I haven't gotten my hands dirty enough to use a lot of apps or programs. I use resources from the internet ALL THE TIME. We do Scholastic online, last year we had Let's Find Out magazine. I use Youtube all the time for wiggle songs. I printed a lot of writing practice sheets for centers, home-fun, and morning entry work from I think Skype is a great classroom tool and I hope to Skype with a class from OK next year. 

11. What is your favorite non-school related app or computer program to use? 
Gosh, I don't know. I still use Microsoft word a lot and I hope to develop my own centers and activities this year and use PowerPoint. I use Google docs a lot, for school and personal. We make birthday and Christmas wish lists on there, and last year I did my lesson plans on Google docs and then just shared them with my principal and didn't have to print and submit them.

Time for me to create 11 questions for my nominees. It's hard because there is so much I want to know about my friends in my blogging community. What you share shapes the way I teach, research, plan, etc. 

1. How do you balance your teaching life with your personal life? 
2. How do you use technology in your classroom? Tell one great thing and one not-so-great thing (if there is one: what would you change about technology in your classroom, or what doesn't go the way you want it to, etc.).
3. How do you balance your spiritual beliefs with your teaching career? Do you talk about it? Keep them separate? How do you handle those tricky spiritual situations when you are confronted with balancing what you believe with what is okay to discuss in school. Maybe a student asked you a question or wants to pray aloud as a group. Have you faced this and how do you handle it (with poise and grace)?
4. What is your favorite children's book? 
5. What is your favorite just-for-pleasure book or series? 
6. What is your next step in this professional adventure? (Add your Masters? A specialty area? Move into administration?) 
7. Where did you go to college?
8. What grade do you teach? 
9. What grade would you like to try out or teach?
10. What is your favorite professional book that you've read?
11. Do you do anything special for students for their birthday? If so, what?

I was nominated again for a Liebster! I was nominated by The Kinder-Garden! I am answering her questions here and leaving the nominees, random facts, and questions for nominees the same. Here are the questions! 
11 Questions to be Answered
1.  What technology do you have at school?
2.  What technology do you have at home?
3.  What is your favorite subject to teach?
4.  Do you have a favorite linky party you like to participate in?
5.  What grade/subject do you teach?
6.  What is your favorite thing about your grade/subject?
7.  What is your favorite food?
8.  Would you rather be at the beach or the mountains?
9.  Coffee/tea/soda?
10.  Look to your right, what do you see?
11.  If you weren't a teacher, what would you do?

1.  What technology do you have at school? I am going to answer that according to last year. We had a computer lab with computers in it, I had a promethean board (loved it). 
2.  What technology do you have at home? Laptop, Kindle fire 8.9.  
3. What is your favorite subject to teach? Reading. :)
4. Do you have a favorite linky party? Five for Friday! I look forward to posting about my five favorite random things every week.
5. What grade/subject do you teach? I taught Kindergarten this past year. It is my passion! 
6. What is your favorite thing about your grade/subject? My favorite thing is seeing the progress in my Kinders! They come in as babies and leave ready for First grade!! 
7. What is your favorite food? Any kind of Mexican food! 
8. Would you rather be at the beach or the mountains? I really don't know! I love the serenity of the mountains. I love the beach, but not the crowds.
9. Coffee/tea/soda? Coffee! My Kinders were aware that if they want "Nice Ms. Horn" to teach them, I needed to drink coffee. 
10. Look to your right, what do you see? I see out the window and see the bird bath and feeders and my front porch and flowers. Love these things. 
11. If you couldn't be a teacher, what other career would you pursue?
I considered going back to school to become a social worker when I went back for my teaching license. So I might do that. I have also considered careers that help and support women in domestic abuse situations: counseling, running a half-way house, or something along those lines. 

Okay, time to hit up some of my favorite small blogs and learn more about the bloggers! Here they are:

Friday, July 12, 2013

I am a Kansas blogger....

Back in March I joined up with Fifth in the Middle for her Southern blogs by State. And I realized that I am not an OK blogger anymore (and pun intended here, I am not OK on so many levels!). So today I am going to join the Kansas bloggers and take myself off the Oklahoma bloggers. Today I am a Kindergarten without a job. My heart is broken, but my family is healing. I know we needed to be back in Kansas, but I miss my adorable little Kinders, my teaching posse, and my fabulous principal. Today I am praying that God sends me someone just as awesome as my first ever principal that I had for my first year of teaching. I know she is going to the change the face of education in the OK panhandle, and I am so grateful that she has been a part of my life this past year.
Today I am a teacher without a classroom and I know God has something great for me, but I really hate this hanging on by a thread and not knowing what is next. I am praying for a solution to appear soon. And I am searching, and searching for a job that is within a reasonable distance from our home. Today I am linking up through the Midwestern blogger section of Fifth in the Middle to proclaim my status as a Kansas blogger and meet more fabulous Kansas friends.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Country and my Family

I decided to post about the Fourth even though it is past because I think we live in the greatest country there is. I think we are facing some big challenges in America right now, but I still think it is a blessing and a privilege to call myself an American. Here are some things I love....

I love setting off fireworks and watching fireworks. I am not as crazy about setting off fireworks at home as I used to be, old age and all, but I still like it. I love watching fireworks displays. A couple years ago my little girl told me she wanted to become a scientist when she grew up so she could figure out how to make fireworks.

My all-time favorite patriotic song is: God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood. But I also love Katy Perry's Firework song. I think Katy Perry's song lyrics are deep and meaningful even though the video is somewhat cheesy and some of the lyrics in the video are portrayed as sexual even though when you read them, they are not decidedly sexual or decidedly nonsexual. They just are. Anyway.... I like what it says.

I love my American flag and I love that I can still say a prayer.

my home with a flag flying... 

I know I can't say prayers aloud in class but God is part of everything I do, so I am grateful that I don't have to pretend I am someone I am not.

My great-aunt was a firecracker of a lady which was fitting because her birthday was on July 4, the same day as my birthday. If you know me, you think... "ah, that explains a lot!" She inspired me with her love of writing and her poetry and the way she lived life to the fullest every day.

Once I got married, there were two birthdays to celebrate over the holiday since my oldest daughter's birthday is July 6.  Twelve years later my next daughter arrived on July 7th, on a Sunday, just like today. We were planning to go to a family reunion that day, but my Redhead had other plans for us! So we have three birthdays in four days. We celebrate over the 4th of July holiday most of the time and we usually do it up with a big bang!

I don't know where or when it happened that I started getting all sentimental and sappy and tearing up when I hear the Lee Greenwood song, or crying when the National Anthem plays at other all American events like baseball or stock car racing! But I know that I am grateful to live in this great nation. I know she's getting a little tired and things are not working as they should, seems we are lacking in some of the "for the people, by the people" right now, but I am still extremely proud to be an American, to live in a country where I can worship freely, choose my vocation, raise my children in relative freedom, and so many other choices I have because I live in a free nation. I am grateful.

I love celebrating Independence Day. I love blowing up fireworks, watching them, and helping my kids with them. I love that they have an appreciation for 4th of July celebrations as well. The other night, my youngest was coming to watch the city fireworks display with me and she shouts as she's running... "It's the 4th of July People!!!!" Her voice carried so much excitement and joy. I loved it.

I am grateful that we celebrate our nation, and I'm grateful for the birthdays that get celebrated around this time every year. Today I can say that I am glad I was born.  I am so glad my girls were born and I love celebrating them. God bless this great nation we live in.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Next Step in Guided Reading; Chapter Three; Pre-A and Emergent Guided Reading

I am linking up with Marsha at A Differentiated Kindergarten for the Chapter Three discussion of our book study. She posted some awesome resources, so check them out. This chapter was a little more difficult for me to get serious about and it had nothing to do with the chapter. It has to do with interviewing for jobs for different grade levels and feeling like I ma holding my breath waiting to hear back. What if I am not teaching Kinder next year? And then... what if I DON'T get a job and have to wait some more? Yikes! I know it's true, God will take care of me, and I know it is true that He will put me where I am needed most. But the waiting is the hardest part (if you don't believe me, ask Tom Petty).

The Next Step is Guided Reading: Chapter Three; Pre-A and Emergent Guided Reading

I love, love, love everything resource posted on A Differentiated Kindergarten, and she made a FREE chart with matching posters for your word wall so everything matches. It is wonderful. (Thanks, thanks, thanks!). 

Pre-A lessons are for students who know fewer than 40 upper and lower-case letters. This students need to learn to recognize letters and know the sounds. Richardson breaks it down into four components: working with letters and names, working with sounds, working with books, and interactive writing. 

Here is where my colleagues would insert the fab resources they use in their classrooms, but I don't have any self-made resources (I am a TpT consumer, big time), and i don't have a lot of classroom time/experience. What I did last year was utilize to make just about anything I needed. I made student names and alphabet practice sheets. Upper-case and lower-case letters. I made worksheets for differentiated instruction and I laminated names and alphabet sheets for center activities. The other thing we did was practice with playdough. We practiced using letter stamps, and making our names, we practiced forming the letters of our names on a laminated copy of their name or independently. 

Richardson specifically addresses having students trace an alphabet book (including the WAY it should be traced). This seems both overly simple and genius to me. This is what I love about this book. The instruction is both easy to understand, and she explains WHY she does it and that it WORKS, and it is easy to implement.  This is also why I am excited that I am part of such a great community of bloggers because I have already come across great ideas and resources to use to implement the suggestions in the book.

Richardson stresses not putting more than four in a group of the students in the lowest level groups. The emergent readers can be in groups of six. This makes SO MUCH sense to me. 

I like that the author includes a lot of resources in the book. She talks about using a letter/sound checklist and then includes the download of a chart. For me, this makes what I am learning so much more doable. 

One question that came to me as I was reading was this: The book refers to letters that students know by name but not by sound. How many times do teachers come across this? My experience, both in preschool and in Kinder, says that students generally learn the sound first even if they cannot identify the letter they usually know the sound, or more often know the sound. Is this true for other teachers? Or do you generally have students that recognize the letter by name but not by sound? 

I found the chapter to offer practical strategies for teaching right down to how long each activity should take. If I knew that I were teaching Kindergarten next year, I would be creating and organizing resources right now for the sound sorts, the sentence cut-ups, and so on! But alas, I am in limbo and trying to stay enthusiastic and still wait for a job to come to me. 

I found it interesting that the author gave instructional levels as being at a 90-94% accuracy. I love and agree with this. At my daughter's school, they consider instructional level to be 85% and let me tell you, for my daughter, that is called FRUSTRATION LEVEL. Ugh, I HATED making her read at a level that put her tears so much of the time. 

I have so much highlighted in this chapter, and I am excited that it gives me step-by-step instruction on implementing the ideas in the classroom. But the truth is, I am most excited to see what resources my friends and colleagues are sharing.  And I read the chapter, but I am not certain if I am an early primary teacher right now, so it is a lot of mental work just to read it. It will have more meaning when I have a classroom again! 

Even if you are not learning about guided reading this summer or participating in this book study, you will learn so much by reading the posts in the linky! So head on over and find out about this guided reading study and read up! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A House is not a home, unless....

I have been thinking that I want to make a post about my home. A million different thoughts go through my head at any time, thoughts of gratitude, thoughts of contentment, thoughts of how my home makes me a better person. But I sit down here to start typing and I can't put anything into words.

One question I am asked in an interview that I don't really know how to adequately or accurately answer is this: "What makes you interested in (fill in the blank) district?"  Well,  here's the real deal.  Almost any district I look into has characteristics that make me say, "Oooo.... I would LOVE to teach here" but so many times I don't know the district well enough before the interview to know how to answer the question. Because the bottom line is this: I have a HOME and a community that I love and I am willing to commute up to an hour one way in order to live and love in my home.  I feel like it is inappropriate to tell that in an interview, and yet... Here I am telling you, a few dozen of my closest bloggy friends. Okay, in some realm I think it is important because it speaks to who I am. Here is the thing, or things, or a few important things about the thing, or something like that: without this house, which is absolutely our home, I would not have been able to become a teacher.  That is a pretty central to me being a teacher in any district. Five years ago we moved into this Habitat for Humanity house. We were involved in making this house a home from the day in March when the phone call came from a Habitat board member asking us if we would like a Habitat for Humanity house. Shortly after that I received a call from Mr. Wagoner asking me if I would have any interest in a spindle banister because he just got a really good deal on one (Yes, of course I was interested).  The houses I have seen with the half wall type of banister just don't feel as open as my home. One little "love" about my house. It is just one thing I love. I got to pick the flooring, the cabinets, lighting, fixtures. This is all cool. Right? Well, these are just things. But our house is spacious. It's small, but roomy.  Our local Habitat has a layout that is very efficient.  I noticed that the kitchen still gets small really quickly, but more than one person can be in the kitchen at one time. Even if it gets cozy at times. Our living room is roomy.  Our basement is not finished, but we have a tv area set up and my teenager has her own room and we put in a 3/4 bath, so she has her own bathroom. Now these things are pretty big deals when you are 16 turning 17. We've always had a place for my daughter and her friends to hang out, to have a birthday party, to celebrate New Year's, to have a movie night.  I am that "weird mom" and my kids don't have tv in their rooms. But she still has a place to go and her own hideout away from us.  Awesome for us. We like each other better when we each have our own space. And I have a better chance at being "the cool Mom" when her friends have a place to come and hang out. This is pretty important. Not that being a good Mom has anything to do with being cool really, but that she will remember the times with her friends in our home for the rest of her life.

I worked really hard to become a teacher, to overcome my past, my genetics, my circumstances, and I graduated and could not find a job. I just wanted to be a teacher SO BADLY! Then I got an email from a principal in Guymon, Oklahoma. We decided to go and interview. We talked about it and we decided that a house is just a house and I should go do what I love. We learned SO MUCH this year. But one thing we learned is that living a home isn't necessarily attached to a particular house, but the house we left, it is our HOME! We missed it, we grieved for it, we missed it, we struggled to live in cramped circumstances and a less than great home. It hurt our family. I have unspeakable gratitude that Habitat for Humanity of McPherson allowed me to let my friends care for my home for a year while I decided whether or not to sell or come back. I cannot express my appreciation for this little home enough.

When we got back, we laughed, we cried, we danced. We are home. Living in this home gave me the chance to change my life, not raise my girls in a) poverty, and b) sub-standard housing. It allowed me to discover that I AM A TEACHER!! It is not a profession, it is part of who I am.  My home let me discover this. I will be a better teacher because I live here and I can craft here, prepare lessons here, garden here, and cook here. I have cooked more in the two weeks we have been back than I did in months in the house we lived in in the panhandle. So, as much as I know that this place is mud and wood, I also know that this house is our home. From now on.