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Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 30th, 2015

Tonight I sat here reflecting and connecting the dots. The other evening I was privileged to be part of a gathering of teachers. All of them were people I know in another life. (Gail, I bet you didn't know that). But let's start with that one, since she probably doesn't even really remember this part. A long, long time ago(if your tempted to break out into song, then you know what my life is like), I knew Gail. Her last name was different. Mine was too. I was just a youngster then. My grandma was oh-so-very-sick fighting cancer that was ravaging her body. My Mom had to go be there with her, and us kids, we stayed with Dad.... well, no, not really. We were parceled out to different family members for short periods of time and we even got to ride the bus! (how exciting!) And I think we spent the night, ate breakfast, and then rode the bus with this family who attended the same church that we did. I remember Gail and her sister, Dawn, and eating breakfast there. Gail and Dawn were older than me, high school maybe, and so everything they did was magical to my seven year old mind. As a seven year old, I didn't really dream of being a teacher. Not much anyway. What did I dream of? Being a veterinarian. Today in training we talked about poverty and the "poverty mindset." And one indicator that a person might get out of poverty is having a hope for the future, having a dream in mind of what the future is supposed to look like. And we talked about how some kids don't have that, that we have to help them build that, give them a future to work toward. Anyway, teaching wasn't my "hope," but I had one, I wanted to become a veterinarian when I grew up. And when I went to the farm, I had such a good time, and I remember this ethereal high school girls.... one of those girls is the new teacher friend I met the other night. So we really are connected. This would be an appropriate place to insert Jeremiah 29:11: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Fast forward a few years. Now I am yearly married to a man who is a little older than me (not information REALLY worth sharing except to say, my ex was a classmate to either Gail or her sister Dawn) and we are raising his two girls. The first year we have them, they are entering Kindergarten and First grade. The next year, the older one of our girls is entering second grade, and gets the most wonderful, loving, compassionate teacher in the world, Mrs. Becker. I met Mrs. Becker in 1991, she was our daughter's teacher for the 91-92 school year. History. I was a young, scared, under-informed, inexperienced, overly opinionated step parent and wife. I needed an ally. And Mrs. Becker was in my corner. Bless her soul. Flash forward to 2014, I reconnected with her on social media and just in the last month have gotten the privilege to see her again IRL (in real life).

Life happens and a few more years pass. And sometime after 1996 and the appearance of a certain red-headed baby on the scene, I met and become friends with Alyce. We met through my home daycare and that young man of hers should feel fiercely loved, his Momma was vigilant to watch out for his best interest. (Alyce has two boys, one of them is driving already, but there was just the one, the older one, when I cared for him in my home daycare). Through Alyce and another mutual friend of ours, Jonette, I met Marilyn. Marilyn worked in a special education classroom at the time and as the years passed I learned to know her through home school also, and church, and well, a lot of ways. I have this one thing to tell about Marilyn..... Marilyn tells the truth. She is totally a tell-it-like-is-not-like-you-wish-it-would-be kind of gal.

Now this girl, here, Carrie Lynn Horn, kept right on moving and lost touch with these people at various times in various stages of living life.  In 2012, I rediscovered my friend Alyce, and we connected again. What kind of friend would sacrifice her day to help a friend pack up their home? Alyce would. She is THAT kind of friend. We got together the other night because we are all teachers. We are all looking for encouragement. For me, there is significant encouragement to persevere when I see the change in my own life. That was then, this is now. I hope my friends and colleagues see the difference, I hope they realize I am not the same me that each of them knew sometime long, long ago.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Today I can get up with a grateful heart and focus on the good in my life. It has always been there, but as you know, whatever you focus on, increases. When I look for the good, good increases. So what do I want to focus on with my magical magnifying mind today? I choose to focus on the blessings. I have spent much of my adult life at odds with my family. "They don't understand me...." (insert whiny voice), or just the idea that I disagree with their thinking. Somehow that can turn into a poor me situation. Yeah, sad, but I am speaking the truth. But we just spent the weekend together and it was amazing to spend the weekend with the fam.

Today I am grateful because I know that my parents are not invincible (or immortal). They are not going to be here forever.  I love them and I don't want to "miss it" because I was busy being "right."

Today I'll choose to be happy instead of right.

And I'll continue to grow in gratitude.

I'm grateful for so much! Here are just a few things.....

  • Today I am grateful that I am getting to know family members that were once on the opposite side of the fence from me. I don't have to be "right-wing" and I don't have to view them as "left-wing." We are family. Not to mention that my views are changing, but does it really matter? 
  • Today I am grateful for family get togethers. even if I do forget to make the homemade ice cream until 30 minutes before the guests are supposed to arrive. Yikes! 
  • Today I am grateful that every day is new. I don't have to pile yesterday's mistakes onto my plate for today. I'll make enough mistakes today.
  • Today I am grateful for being welcomed and cared for by my school family. 
  • I am grateful for my children. All of them.
  • I am grateful for my furbabies. They make me happy. :)
  • I am grateful for internet friends.
  • I am grateful that some are willing to set up meet-ups so my social media friends can become my real life friends. 
  • I'm grateful for my hair stylist. She knows all my secrets. (on my way to see her now, cheap therapy and I'll look younger and more beautiful than ever when I leave).
Happy Tuesday everyone! That's my life today! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Assess Me, week One....

I love linky parties. And I found a new one. How cool. I have been considering trying to start something on my own blog, but it seems like my ideas are just ideas that someone has already had. So I am not sure what I'll do. But The Tattooed Teacher is having a get to know you linky, so I am joining up!
Download your own copy if you want to play! Or just read what everyone fills in. Here goes.... 
The directions say we don't have to expand on this, but we can! And I love talking about myself. Oh no. Did I just admit that out loud and in print?! Apparently. 
1. Do I talk to myself? Of course! I am one of the smartest people I know and I certainly wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to tell myself something, especially when it involves telling myself how much I messed something up! Ha. Seriously, I would never remember everything if I didn't talk to myself. Me, Myself and I keep a running dialogue. 
2. Are you Superstitious? I would like to say no. But it's just not true. I really am superstitious. 
3. Do you crack your knuckles? Not as much as I used to, because now I am experiencing the effects of all those years of cracking my knuckles. If you can break kids of cracking them, great, because it's a hard habit to break and it's really true, it contributes to arthritis. 
4. Are you hungry? Okay.... I just got up, I'm not very hungry. But as a general rule, yes. Food is the love of my life. So I am always hungry.
5. Is your television on? Blissfully.... no. And a little surprisingly. We are a tv watching bunch. But on the drive home from St. Louis yesterday we discussed limiting TV time. 
6. do you have your wisdom teeth? no. I had them all surgically removed. 
7. Have you showered today? I am going walking after this, so no. 
8. Have you been to disney? Yes, and I would love to take my girls to the Magic Kingdom. *sigh* Maybe someday.
9. Do you wear glasses? Yes. When I was a teenager I went in for my eye exam and my eye doctor said.... "'re still driving?!" I think that means I need them. 
10. I live in a small town that I went to college in that is just 25 miles from "home." 

Here we are, just days from the end of the blogging challenge. I have loved blogging, but like Michelle earlier in the week, I am needing to take a break and keep it light. I have a ton of "deep subjects" that I am passionate about, but today I'm keeping it light. Don't forget to read about our lives at Big Time Literacy.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Big Time Blogging Challenge Day 26

Three attempts to start this blog tonight. Attempts to make it sensible and explain all my random thoughts to you. And my thoughts just are not logical and don't go it some rational order. I had an idea for a blog title. My idea was.... I live my life in movie quotes and song lyrics. Sad, but true. An off the wall for instance, we were decorating cupcakes for company. There were different shades of color we could make by using different dye combinations. So I asked my daughter if she wanted neon purple or deep purple. Then I said, "oh man...." and she says "what?" and my oldest and I start in... Duhn duhn duhn, duhn duhn dada, duhn duhn duh  da da. "Huh?" "Smoke On the Water baby....!" Okay, that seemed much more catchy replaying in my head earlier than it does now. But we are known for breaking into character from movies, quoting lines and using accents as well as defining moments with song lyrics.

Sunday letters is a favorite of mine, but tonight I am not focused. I guess I could focus on that.

Dear Brain Waves,
Please come back to the same place at the same time. Maybe then the message would be more clear. (I can see clearly now, the rain has gone....). Oh boy, here we go again. Wait! That is a different song with a much different meaning/feeling attached. Did you know that it is most helpful to head bang while singing "Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I've ever known...." And be sure to crank it up loud.
the cross-wired body that houses your crazy waves

Dear New Teacher,
Remember Rule 62. Don't take yourself too damn seriously.
the serious one in room 103

Dear Veteran Teacher,
You either. Rule 62 applies to you as well.
with all sincerity,
Ms. Horn

Dear Children,
If I hear you whine or complain about one more of the many gifts and blessings in your life, well, ugh. I don't even know what to say. You will be grounded. From what? I don't know. Whining. Or maybe I'll sentence you to speak in only your whiny voice for an entire day. Oh. Right. They say the first rule of parenting is not to sentence kids to a punishment that you will pay for. Never mind then. I might ground you from talking for a day.

Dear Family,
Thanks for the weekend. Sorry I am such a high-strung driver. It's a good thing I have it all together in the other areas of my life.
As you know,
the signee of this letter is a liar.

Good night folks. It was a great weekend. Oh wait. One more.

Dear Uncle Paul and Aunt Marilynn:
Congratulations on 50 years of marriage! And congrats on pulling off such a beautiful celebration! I can see how well your children were raised and I can see the grandkids are becoming responsible young people as well. I enjoyed every last bit of your celebration. And it is quite a feat in this day and age to make it to 50 years of marriage. The best in yet to come!
your Kansas niece

Okay, now I really am quitting. But don't let that stop you! Go to BTL's page and see that the scoop is for new teachers.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What is my cause??

Day 25 of BTL's blogging challenge. The prompt says: Blogging activists, what is your cause? I don't know if I will say I'm an activist, but I'm extremely passionate about something. Read on to find out. You probably know if you've read my blog much or you are my social media friend (facebook.... I don't have the hang of twitter yet).
Do you know what I am going to talk to you about? Poverty. The effects of poverty are far reaching and if you are white and live in suburbia, you probably don't think about it much. There are many pieces that I don't think about much. But I am learning to be mindful. There are some things about the poverty mindset that I've never been aware of, but that affect me, as I live below the poverty line and am a product of poverty. Education is key in overcoming poverty. Not just education for those in poverty, but in order to help us overcome poverty, we need to educate the educators and the mentors. The people will shape the future. That is all of us. As a teacher, I feel especially close to this. As a woman who is working like crazy to dig out of poverty and teach her kids how to live the American Dream and pursue a middle class life, I feel especially close to this issue.

There are many articles circulating on the effects of poverty on the ability to learn and on behavior in the classroom and if you have a chance to read reputable sources, do it. Just think about this for a minute.... if a child is afraid that they might lose their home, or sleeps with 2 other people in a little bed, or maybe doesn't get to eat when they are not at school, they might have a hard focusing at school. Did you know that more children than we care to admit, only eat the meals that they get at school? They come to school hungry and leave knowing they won't eat again until the breakfast served to them at school the next morning. Many students may or may not have running water. As teachers, we find it easier to love those clean kids and we want to say to parents: "Send your kid to school clean for crying out loud!" But the truth is, we don't know what situations they might have been in recently. I've never been in dire straits like this, but I know my kids pick up my stress when I haven't been able to pay our utilities in a timely manner and I'm worried about whether or not the lights will on when we get home. Then we all worry.

New research shows what chronic or constant stress does to brain development. It changes the way we look at the world and it changes a child's ability to learn. I am passionate about taking care of these kids~ physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Their little spirits are already bankrupt and they already have a strike against them when they start school. My prayer is that my class will be safe place to be.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Big Time Bloggers

In a couple hours we will be on the road for a family reunion/celebration in St. Louis. Last night the St. Louis Cardinals played my Royals. Oh how I wish I could have attended that game with my cousins! For day 24 of the blogging challenge, we are writing about great bloggers or who we follow in social media. Due to the already mentioned trip we are embarking on, I will be keeping these short and sweet and let you discover them for yourself! Join us over at BTL to read about great bloggers!
First of all, I follow a long string of bloggers and I never know from week to week which one will impart that gem of wisdom that week with what they write about or products they give away. Here are a few of what I am calling my Big Time Bloggers. They may not have made the Big Time but they are influential in my blogging world (and influence my teaching).

  • Big Time Literacy with Michelle Brezek. The inspiration behind this challenge. Michelle is always learning more about literacy and writing and blogging about it and putting it to use in her life. She also does a lot interactive blogs or linky parties and I love Sunday Letters. Check them out sometime. Here is a link to one of them. 
  • Mrs. Bartel's School Family composed by Alyce Bartel. Alyce is my IRL friend and my bloggy land friend. She is the one who came and helped me pack to move to OK as a first year teacher and when I asked for advice she said, "read blogs and join linky parties." 
  • The Kindergarten Smorgasbord with Mr. Greg. Greg Smedley-Warren, who is funny, innovative, down to earth and thinks and acts outside the box. This guy is passionate about teaching and learning and I love following him. He introduced me to the concept of alternative seating (not there yet, but it's in the back of my mind now).
  • Simply Kinder. I am part of this facebook group. Facebooks groups are a new thing in my life in the last six months or so and they have been a game changer for me. Last year I was in a school situation where I had no other primary teachers to talk to and I needed to find some support! 
  • Kindergarten Teachers Unite! is another facebook group. Check them out too! 
  • First Grade Gab Group is the first group I found and it was a lifesaver/game-changer! It's a closed group (as they all are) and what I post can only be seen by group members. It feels a little safer than just regular fb and other social media. I don't want to air my problems everywhere but sometimes a girl's gotta vent. in a safe place. with no judgment. without hurting others and putting it all out there. Love this group! I am not teaching first grade this upcoming year, but I don't want to give it up! 
  • Doodle Bugs Teaching with Casey. She hosts my all-time favorite linky party: Five for Friday, where teachers post 5 random things from their week from school or home and tell about them. 
  • Oh' Boy 4th Grade with Farley. She hosts a monthly linky called Currently. It gives the chance to tell what are currently up in several categories (listening, loving, needing, wanting, etc.). It is short, sweet and to the point. There are rules to her linky that I try my best to follow as a general rule. 
  • Two Writing Teachers and their Slice of Life. They have a daily blogging challenge in March, which I view as a hard month to faithfully blog because of parent/teacher conferences and Spring Break, but I did it this last year and didn't make everyday, but felt successful at it nonetheless. They do a weekly Slice of Life on Tuesdays, check them out. 
So the pups have to be at the vet at 8, and there's a van that still needs packed. And a Mom that actually needs to do a little packing yet too. Happy Friday folks, and check out the blogs and other social media connections that influence my writing and my teaching. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Daring Greatly and some randomosity

Completely random thoughts:
I feel pretty when I feel skinny.
I know this is a control issue. When I control what I intake, I exert some amount of control over my otherwise uncontrollable life. It's actually about power. But my stomach is empty. I feel thin, and that starts a chain reaction that empowers me to think of myself in a positive light. Then I feel beautiful.

What if I posted and entire post of random thoughts. It wouldn't be so hard to write then I bet! Since I am a new twitter person (what are tweeters called?) I now think in the form of hashtags in my head. #nomorewritersblock is the first one I thought of. I really don't know how it all works on twitter, I'll most likely make a fool of myself. But... wait for it..... #thisfooldon'tcare.

Today is Daring Greatly day, or whatever else we write about for our blogging challenge and I'm a week behind. But I'm determined to finish the book. It is getting compelling now. I am scribbling notes in the margins. So... Michelle is on Chapters 5 and 6 this week and I'm still finishing chapter 4. In my defense, Chapter 4 appears to be longer than 5 and 6 put together. Link up and read what other bloggers are posting about this challenge, and see what Daring Greatly chapters 5 & 6 are all about. Me, I am posting reflections on Chapter 4.
Chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armory. This is just what it says.... what arsenal and armor do we use to hide our vulnerable and weak parts of ourself? The author names three different kinds of armor: Foreboding Joy, Perfectionism, and Numbing.

Foreboding joy is about how when we begin to experience joy we then squash that feeling with a feeling or sense of foreboding. We've all done it. This one got REALLY BIG in my life when my best friend lost her baby to SIDS. I remember dropping my daughter off at the Y for a swimming birthday party and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't rejoice in her joy and laughter, all I could think about what that God might not bring her back to me. My daughter's life is not in my control and that reality shadowed every moment when I should have been drinking in the joy of her beautiful life and I couldn't just rejoice in her.

Perfectionism. I don't think I have to explain this one. But when the author talks about ways that perfectionism robs us, I really related with this: "....research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement. Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities." The terms "life paralysis" and "missed opportunities" really rang with me. I have often talked about living life with a paralyzing fear that prevents me from really living. I go through cycles where I am better at overcoming than at other times. I have said that part of the miracle of getting our habitat house is that I actually applied. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I can easily defeat myself before I even start on something.

Numbing. Anything that keeps us from feeling the pain. It could be staying busy. It could come in other forms.... pills, television, technology, etc. Apparently, according to the author, the identifier of what numbing is would be why you do something, not what you do. "Where is the line between pleasure and comfort and numbing?" The author's example includes this: "you can eat a piece of chocolate as a hold wafer of sweetness-- a real comfort-- or you can cram an entire chocolate bar into your mouth without even tasting it in a frantic attempt to soothe yourself-- a shadow comfort."

The author goes on to discuss the antidotes for each form of armor and how we can practice overcoming. I really, really want to gain the tools for overcoming my fears and to say I am enough and I've had enough. I try to show up, but let's face it, I am more disengaged than I care to admit. Sometimes it makes me cry, but so far it hasn't motivated me to actually BE PRESENT in the lives of the people I love. Ouch. That was pretty doggone honest right there.

This chapter is when the rubber starts to meet the road and there starts to be some hope. And after the beating I took reading chapter three and feeling hopeless and helpless I needed it.

On a little side note.... I took one of those goofy quizzes on fb, what 70's theme song describes you? I got Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." Appropriate? I think so.
Did you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd lay down and die? Oh no, not I!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What I'm Loving....

Today's prompt is "What I'm Loving Wednesday." I got really excited about this prompt, I don't know why really, but maybe because I've had some writer's block and some general "blah" (some people call it depression, but if I call it that, then it will really be real), and hearing the prompt is encouraging in itself! I want to hear what you all are loving. Oh so seriously! Is it the book you are reading? (Shame on me, I am over a chapter behind in both of my book studies, inspire me). Are you loving your yard? Your pets? Your latest classroom design? Some special little thing? Your kids? Your best vacation idea? Well, you can read about and post about these at Big Time Literacy. I am linking up, so just click on over!

Don't laugh at me (too much anyway). But I can't wait to show off what I did for fun last night. The kiddo (more commonly referred to as Punky) wanted to craft last night and reminded me that I said we could bead the next time we had a craft night. *sigh* I wanted to make stuff for my classroom.... but okay, if this one little thing will make her happy....

But I did start off with a school related "project" of sorts. My partner and I have been talking about first day pictures. And I decided that it is a good thing to do, so.... yesterday at Walmart I bought this blank chalkboard plaque.

And some liquid chalk. Who knew? This stuff is magical!! I don't know about the nature of this board and if I can clean this off after our 1st day photos, but if so, that will be even cooler! (more cool? idk.... just go with it).
TaDa!! Here it is! I had SO. MUCH. FUN making this! We are photo ready! As it is now, students will just hold the sign, but I just had an epiphany of sorts.... what if I got a longer piece of twine and they could put it around their neck? (Good idea? or no?)

On to the beading aspect of the evening....

Here's the turquoise and blue (and of course a little bit of purple because, let's face it, life is better with a little purple in it) necklace I made. It's a little bit short, but not choker short, so it's all good!
And last but not least next to last, hmmm, but certainly not least.... my folks brought back a little charm they bought from the Zuni tribe when they were in AZ this past winter. Mom encouraged me to switch out the charm on a necklace they had gotten me previously, but I knew right away that I wanted to make a simple inner necklace to go with a longer necklace I put together last year. So.... the outer necklace is not new and most of it is a recreation of a previous necklace, that had two strings that were connected. I didn't connect these. One obvious reason being that I made them at different times. The outer necklace was remade because of the little black pieces that lay outward, the center one broke. So I looked and looked for a replacement piece. I finally found this piece that is in the center now. And look, it was meant to be together with that charm that my Mom and Dad got for me.
I wish my pictures were not blurry. But that is the life of a girl who won't (can't) spring for a more expensive phone and just lives with the camera in the phone. *sigh*

Last but not least for real this time).... my compadre (Punky), made a necklace and gave it to me. She likes to heal others and she really tries to make the world a better place by giving gifts and acts of kindness. Some hurts can't be healed with necklaces and parties or even massages (although I never mention that part because I love to have a back or shoulder massage).
She did a nice job of making something simple and yet appealing. I promised her I will wear it. And I will.

I don't wear jewelry in everyday life, I wear it as part of my teaching life though. It is part of my "uniform." I wore necklaces sometimes when I worked this summer as a waitress also. But today I will be a jeans and t-shirt gal and I'll just go naked around my neck. How about you? Do you like jewelry? Necklaces? Rings? Bracelets? Or do they cramp your style and make you feel a little bit suffocated?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Slicing our way through life....

One slice at a time. How do you eat an elephant? That is the secret to getting through life. Taking it one slice, piece, portion, minute, activity, day at a time. Yep. But today, I woke up running at full steam. The thing about this is that it is paralyzing to live with your brain on full steam and going in a million different directions. But I think the crux of it was really spoken in the words of my friend Michelle at Big Time Literacy, "..... writing every day is hard work!" I think this end of the my deep thoughts for today. I took the kid school shopping (the child support she receives only sporadically is currently being deposited), I cancelled the fence we really need because of money concerns, did a little research for my license renewal, and I'm getting ready to spend some quality time with kiddo who went shopping with me. My mind feels like mush. *sigh*

Monday, July 20, 2015


What am I grateful for lately? That is Michelle's BTL challenge prompt today. Read what we're all grateful for at Big Time Literacy.
Today I am grateful that my daughter is back home safe and sound. Irony is one of those strange things.... I am already aware of what it is like to live in a house of THREE high-strung women and how challenging that can be. Today I will choose to embrace the challenge because I missed this kid like crazy.

I am grateful for a job. Not just any job, but THE job: teaching. I love being a teacher. I love the "aha" moments, I love being a stable and steady force in students' lives, I love seeing kids' abilities take off and charting their progress from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. These are things I love no matter what. This year, I am excited to be in a little bit bigger district, I am not going to be downsized by budget cuts. With every pro there is a con, but this is one pro of my current job. Another one is that they believe in giving new teachers to their district adequate training to be prepared to hit the ground running! Hooray!

I am grateful for cars that run, feet that can walk, a mind that still works (most of the time), children to love (and worry about, and train, and fight with and play with and hang out with).

I am grateful for my pets. They are expensive and they can be a pain in the rear, but no one loves me like they do and there's no feeling like getting home after a long, hard day and being swarmed by animals who love and miss me.

I am grateful for family. Those I talk to and see often and those that I don't. Some family is not involved in my life and I am not in theirs, and I love them anyway and I'm grateful they were in my life.

I'm grateful that God made me a mom. I am not always eligible for Mom of the Year/Week/Day (as in..... never), but I feel so lucky to have these kids to love.

I'm grateful that I have God in my life today and that He knows my heart and forgives my shortcomings and wants me to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. I am grateful today that God doesn't form that better self through tyranny and harsh judgments, but from a place of love and acceptance.

I am grateful for some things in my personal life that I won't mention here. But I'll say this, the country song is right: if you're going through hell, just keep on going.

Life is good today and I'm really grateful when I can see that and soak it up.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Today's prompt says.... "A Review of __________." And like yesterday, there's no measuring stick of other blogs to read for a template, so I am reviewing just anything I feel like reviewing.

I have been a roller coaster of emotion recently and so I decided on a spiritual refresher. Am I Hungry? Am I Angry? Am I Lonely? Am I Tired? When I am out of sorts and my emotions are topsy-turvey, I should look at these guidelines and not make any rash decisions. Sometimes the answer is a simple as going to bed and waking to realize I wasn't in a crisis at all, I was just tired, or even exhausted. Sometimes I forget to eat. If I'm busy, or being obsessive about something or fully engrossed in something (like blogging or reading), I might not recognize hunger signals until I am cranky and everything becomes a crisis. I might an emotional puddle of emotion that can be solved or at the very least greatly diminished by eating something edifying to my body. Am I angry? I have spent a lot of my life being angry. That simmering anger that is always there under the surface. It is a joy killer. I hate that. But I am a long ways from where I used to be and hopefully I'll stay willing and humble and I will continue to become a better person who doesn't want to live in anger all the time. But if I am angry, I need to talk about it, vent, pray, and possibly even work on myself a little. I have to acknowledge that it's there first so I can work through it and let it go. Now here's the biggie for me. Lonely? Am I lonely? The answer is: of course. And one of my friends told me that I might have to learn how to just be lonely for awhile. Yuck, not what I wanted to hear. But this isn't just talking about the lonely of a relationship, or lack thereof, that I tend to believe will fix all my ails. But the lonely of needing human contact, of needing friends to connect with, or needing to feel loved and lovable. Feeling loved and lovable doesn't necessarily come from romantic love. Especially considering the people I've chosen to blindly trust in the past. My SMO (standard method of operation) is to be untrusting, of everyone. Except that is overwhelmingly lonely. So I have to trust someone. Generally I tend to choose the most emotionally dangerous person in the room and blindly give my trust and love to that person and then I am surprised when things don't work out. Having said this, I haven't attempted to give my heart to anyone for AWHILE. I dated someone a couple years ago, and I felt things emotionally, but a lot of it was that my hormones went "Woooo-hoooo!" and it's hard for me to sort the two out, I would tell you that there was both a friendship and love (or at the very least heavy "like", or "on-the-road-to-love") type of feelings there. But in the end, we might not be that much alike after all. *sigh* Or we might be more alike than what I care to admit and that might be why it didn't work. Anyway, I am not real big on dating and the reason is this: as much as I try to change who I am and who I pick to trust with my soul, I am still attracted to the wrong guy. And.... there is this little kicker~ nice guys are boring. And I want a little excitement. I'm tired of bland and boring. Let's have some fun!! lol! Which brings me to this little gem.... I have become aware (I think some wise soul enlightened me about this) that I have some wires crossed and when the warning sirens go off and the "Run like hell" siren starts sounding in my brain I mis-take it to be the "Hmmmm.... this looks interesting" alert. So.... looking at the lonely piece of this is not really all that simple. Overcoming loneliness doesn't necessarily mean romantic love or a relationship/boyfriend/lover.  But it does mean vulnerability and being open to friends and to being willing to expose my soft side, and be the authentic me, even when it isn't pretty. And I am getting comfortable with this. But sometimes.... sometimes I want to know that I am still attractive, that there is someone out there for me, that I won't grow old alone. Sometimes I miss having a best friend who is biased by romance and in my corner. Sometimes I am desperate for this to happen again for me and in those times, the truth is, I need to take a step back and do something else to relieve the feelings of loneliness. Because that desperation, that is an old habit/trick. I need to steer clear of that. It will feed me to the wolves every time. I'll make a bad choice and I'll end in ruins by my own hand. But lately I've been lonely. Feeling so alone and like I'm losing the battle. The "I will survive" battle. I am combatting this by spending time with my bff's. I have a life long best friend who became my bestie when we were in the First grade. Thanks to boys mostly, we spent some years not being besties. But we figured that nonsense out and now we are besties again. There is no one else who knows my childhood as well and can laugh and joke about childhood or who can relate to the trials we faced growing up. But I also have a soulmate best friend. We were instant best friends when we met some 9+ years ago.  So I have been connecting with my best friends, the people who know the me that is not graceful or pretty. Sometimes I just need to know I am connected to my family. My big girl was gone for 3 weeks, yes, 3 weeks!! And her phone gave up the ghost. So my only contact was messaging on the computer. I didn't hear her voice for 3 whole weeks. I didn't know how much that wore on me until I heard her voice and started to come back to life. I was "fine" when she went to college and we didn't talk all the time and I went longer than 3 weeks without seeing her, but I never went so long without hearing her voice and without having communication at my fingertips. Of these four things to be aware of, I think Lonely is the most complex and hardest to combat. But I'm doing the work, I'm baby-stepping. And I am working to remember H.A.L.T..... hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

This I believe....

Today's blogging challenge prompt is called "This I believe." I went blog-stalking but didn't find any examples so that leaves the interpretation of this WIDE OPEN. And my mind went a little bit crazy. So I have to tone it down and focus. What is it that I believe that I want to share with the whole world?

(Click the picture to go to Big Time Literacy's blog post today and find links about what others believe....)

Here goes....

I believe in love. Maybe that is why I love my hippie themed blog so much and why I really just want a hippie themed classroom. Peace, love, joy. Okay, that is probably an over-simplification, but I'm not so sure. I built my personal teaching philosophy off of what I experienced as a student. And what I remember is that as long as I felt special, valued, and smart, I was. I was a hard working student that learned and produced the correct answers and explored and participated. Once those feelings were either squashed or simply not reinforced, I started to fade. I wilted (in the terms of Kevin Henkes in Chrysanthemum). I was reading an article this morning about teaching emotional intelligence in school and the lead-in posted by one of social media (fb) friends was this: "You know what my son remembers the most about his first time in first grade... how he felt. And that's all I have to say about that."  Yeah. Amen. That is what all of us remember most about every school experience we've had. So whether we should or shouldn't tell kids how smart they are, or if we do everything in exactly the perfect sequence to charm them into learning, or whether we make a plethora of mistakes, if we do it in love, they will learn is spite of us, not because of us. Yes, best teaching practices are important. But last year I know I made a bundle of mistakes, but my kids all grew by leaps and bounds and they made incredible progress. That comes from a place of love and acceptance and from relationship. Building that relationship with kids is SO important. This tears down their fear. They are willing to venture forward and make mistakes knowing you might tear apart what they did and the mechanics of it, but you'll never stop believing in the person they are and the abilities they have. 

I believe.... in spirituality. And taking care of my spirit. That mostly won't come from friendship or reading books or practicing yoga. It will mostly come from building a relationship with a God of my understanding that loves me unconditionally and wants good things for my life. That power, that essence of an entity that is greater than myself, will fill me with quiet, with peace, with love, and with calm of relationship. Truthfully, sometimes it does come from friends or other people. I know that my higher power works in mysterious ways. I know that because I see it often. So what I know is that I need God, but I what I can't tell you is how it works. 

I believe in practicing gratitude. and acceptance. One of my friends tells me consistently, "you don't have to like it kid, you just have to accept it." *sigh* Okay..... 

Today I am grateful for good times and bad, happy and sad. The sad moments, days, weeks, make me ever so much more mindful of the good that is already in my life and what is still to come. Today I am keenly aware that I have miracles in my life, and that being a teacher is truly my calling. How many of my friends, family members and fellow citizens go through life just doing a job and not getting to experience that one true calling? A lot. And I found mine and I am going to cling to it and love it. So when morale is low, and since teaching is a profession under direct and constant attack these days, morale IS low, I will remember that I love being a teacher and it is privilege to do what I love. 

I have been in suspension for a few days now. I couldn't fight the summer blues. Or whatever this is. Grief maybe. And I had an awakening in my spirit yesterday afternoon when I heard my 19 year old's voice on the phone for the first time in 3 weeks, and I wept. It was then that the fact was driven home to me that I cannot live without her. And today my life is starting to make sense again and it's starting to have some highs and lows and not just be stuck in the middle, in grey matter. Today I am thanking God that she is home safe and that I have the gift of my children in my life. Look out world.... I'm BAAAACCCCKKKK!!!! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Challenge, day 17, Poetry

Today I was driving to meet up with a friend for some much needed llbff (life-long best friend forever) time. And as I drove, poetry kept welling up in my mind. I took it as a sign that I am in a broken place, because the poetry hasn't gushed freely for a long time and when it did, it was because I was so broken I couldn't hold the pain inside. My walls were broken, the vessel leaky. Whatever you might want to say. I couldn't keep the pain from rushing out onto the paper like water escaping a leaky pitcher. Ironically enough, today's suggested prompt from Michelle for BTL's blogging challenge is.... drum roll... poetry. So after talking and eating and laughing and eating and pondering and eating and defining the meaning of life and eating and analyzing the world as we know it, I will try to put the thoughts to paper. Okay, well, you know, pound them out on the keyboard to be exact.


I awake and watch 
as my life slips away,
sifting through my fingertips like sand. 

I can see the splendor
of color and contrast. 
I see the sky and the sun and the clouds.
I see the amber wheat fields,
the freshly turned dirt.... 
skies of blue and clouds of white.

I can see the laughter 
and hear the rain, 
I am vaguely aware
of the heartache and pain. 

But as I witness the contrasting colors
of my life 
which conjure up emotion,
both joyous and sad.

I'm overtaken.

Things move in slow motion
and the world fades to grey 
right before my very eyes. 

I feel an understanding 
slowly wash over me.
This, I realize, 
is the dread I've heard of, 
the fate worse than violence or death.

This is apathy. 
This is grey, 
lacking the colors of peace, tranquility, joy, or hostility.
This is the bland forever land 
known politely as 
I don't give a damn. 
-Carrie Horn

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What I wish someone had told me, a linky party

I have seen some fabulous advice floating around for teachers. But I have been thinking for a while now that I'd like to link up and share my not-all-that-vast amount of knowledge about teaching Kindergarten and what new Kindergarten teachers need to know. But the truth is, I've gotten some of the best advice and gleaned some great knowledge from teachers who were not teaching my same grade level. There is a lot of universal teaching gems that are relevant for every grade level. So I am coming to all of you, the experts. I am entering my fourth year of teaching, my third year in a self-contained classroom, and my fourth year in a new situation/school. (Whew, can you say "exhausting!"???)

But I'm gaining some self-confidence and I know a few things about what works. I know that my little friend who graduated with me and said...."Tell me what to do with students that first week before curriculum is introduced and no one say 'procedures'!" I know she got eaten alive by 5th and 6th grade students when she started. I know that I can't afford to be that arrogant. I know a few things (It surprises me how simply staying alive and moving through life has educated me and made me an expert of sorts). I know that classroom management is the key to a successful year. I am excited and terrified all at the same time. I hear experienced teachers talking about students who throw chairs.... eeks! And I know I have no desire for my start into Kindergarten to be like this. It's not actually my start. It is more of a homecoming. I student taught in Kinder and my first year of teaching was in Kindergarten. And I know this: I. LOVE. Kindergarten. So after a brief detour.... one year as a reading assistant (guided reading/reading interventions), and one year in a PBL multi-grade classroom.... I am back!

I am nervous. My teaching partner is super organized. I am so excited. But my jumbled up organization probably doesn't look like organization at all to her. Believe it or not, my classroom will look very organized and I'll know exactly what procedures I want to teach and my kids will practice, practice, practice. Which brings me back to my real point.

What are the most important things that a new teacher needs to know. Or a teacher who is changing grade levels. So tell the story from your grade-level point of view. What is the most important thing that someone told you, taught you, or you WISH they had taken the time to let you know when you ventured into your current teaching situation? We are the experts and we are the ones who will help our colleagues be just that, colleagues, and we'll influence whether they "Keep Calm and Carry On" or turn tail and run for the hills.

For me, the answer is, procedures, procedures, procedures. You have to teach Kindergarten students how to do everything. What does it look like to keep your hands to yourself? What does it look like to line up? To cut? To glue? To follow directions? Every procedure/rule/guideline has to taught. And re-taught. Over and over and over again. Don't expect them to know just because you do. It might be an unrealistic expectation. And I was taught that this will cause trouble.... having expectations on others.  So.... just expect that they don't know what YOU want, and teach it explicitly, implicitly, and over and over and over.

P.S. Praise and encouragement. I remember thinking.... "I am losing them, they are going off the rails" one day during student teaching, and I asked my mentor what was going wrong. She said, "have you caught them being good? You might try increasing that, that is what I do." And I had one little guy... it was HARD to catch him, you only had a 30 second to 1 minute window before a less desirable way of getting attention was going to surface yet again. So I had to really keep an eye out and sometimes it was not what anyone else in the class might be getting praise for.... "(Johnny) I see you are sitting in your chair! That is wonderful! You may put a sticker on your chart!" Every kid is different and if (Susie) is sitting up straight, it may not be a praise-worthy feat, but there is something that she needs praised for, even if she is a model student. And there is something I can find to praise that not-so-much-of-a-model student as well. I better be on my toes looking for it. It doesn't take very many "I love how (Judy) never gives up! She just keep working until she gets it!" until all students are applying themselves even when the going gets tough. So I guess that is two things: Teach procedures and practice them... often and to great lengths; give authentic praise often.

Link up and share your knowledge! Or what it is that was missing, that one thing you wish someone had told you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Beginner's Guide To....

Today's prompt for our blogging challenge is: A beginner's guide to....  I thought about filling in, "the galaxy." But I think that is the hitchhiker's guide and I've never actually read that book. So I took a short mental inventory into what I could write a beginner's guide about and..... I couldn't really figure it out. There are just so many areas that I just have so much more to learn.

This is your introduction to the beginner's guide to sarcasm.
Step one: put those cheesy jokes in the back of your mind and hold on to them. You might need them. Be careful though, they are gateway jokes. They get young innocents to thinking along devious lines and figuring their own road to sarcasm. Keep a hold of those smart*** sayings that may not make sense to others but keep you laughing. But of course, now my minds is blank, I can't remember anything funny at all. I remember when I was kid and the phone would ring and my dad would sit there and say out loud as I answer it "pool hall, 8 ball speakin'", but everyone's jaws dropped when I answered that way when I was around 10.

You know, I don't really think I can school you in sarcasm. Sorry. I think you have to have been born with it. I see it in my daughter, sometimes she just can't help it, the orneriness takes over and she has to just go with it.

So I guess my beginner's guide is blown. Sorry folks. I don't think I'm qualified to comment. You can pick up some sarcasm from me, I will share freely. I'll run my mouth and either irritate you or endear you forever too. It's all part of the free service I offer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Slice of Life....

Today I am slicing with Two Writing Teachers as part of my blogging challenge with Big Time Literacy.

I have a summer job this year. *sigh* And this last weekend, I sucked at it. Seriously. I have waited tables for a lot of years, but now things are different for me. For one thing, my heart is just not in it. My heart is teaching, planning, and collaborating. And lets face it.... serving is a brutal field of work. I don't just mean the long hours, grueling pace, the sore feet and muscles. Either you have it or you don't. And those who have it, well, freely pass judgment on those they deem not worthy. And as you know, service jobs depend heavily on appearance. Maybe you don't really know, because maybe you've never really thought about it. But your tip is bigger if your server's appearance is appealing to the eye. So if they appear unkempt to you somehow, it diminishes the tip. If your server is less attractive or has physical flaws (or is not young,hip, and trendy), there goes the tip. For real. We think we're not that shallow, but we are. So what does this have to do with anything anyway?

Well, I've been reading the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. She has been talking about how shame affects us. One of the ways we deal with shame is that we react to shame by attaching our self-worth to what we do for a living or to our talents and how people react to us. She says "You've handed over your self-worth to what people think." This is totally me. I underlined it. So last weekend at work, when I was sucking, I clothed myself in my insecurity~  wrapped it around me like a warm coat on a cold day. And I realized that my success is largely based on the "warm fuzzies" I get from those around me. If I work with people who ignore me or treat me like I am part of the problem, I get really flustered. Often I can't overcome what it does to my self-confidence. Last Saturday I couldn't get people in the kitchen to help me correct the problem when food came out wrong early in my shift, so then the entire evening I felt like I was one step behind and like I was trying to get my mojo back. I had that "aha" moment thinking, this is exactly what the book is referring to. I have to take back my power. But how?

I don't know the answer. But a lot of my life lately is reading, analyzing, working, analyzing, planning, analyzing. And some of it feels good, some of it just feels like work. And like.... blah. That's a descriptive term, right? The truth is, I might need some medical help to overcome my "rough patch" (more commonly referred to as depression) but I am reluctant and hope that exercise, blogging (which is sort of like therapy), and eating better (I'd say eating right, but then I think about what I had for lunch.... hmmmm), and more sleep will be enough to overcome this obstacle that brings me down and sometimes binds me up.

That is just a slice.A slice of my everyday life.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Maintaining Balance

Today's prompt for Big Time Literacy's blogging challenge is about balance in our teaching lives. What a great subject. Because if anyone struggles with balance it would be teachers.
First of all, I have to say... I love Michelle's list! Make sure you go read it! I aspire to the ways that she achieves balance. I have it in my head that this is the year that I'm going to be great at setting boundaries, being balanced, getting organized. But so far I haven't been really successful at the concept of balance. Last year balance meant leaving the school at 5 with almost an hour commute home after that. I guess that was balance. That was the agreement I made with my kiddo to keep the peace. But we'd get home, make dinner and then it was pull out my bag and start on whatever I brought home to grade or to plan or give feedback on. So more than tell how I keep a balance, I am going to discuss my aspirations for how I hope to keep balance this coming year.

Networking/Teaching Friends
I have already met some people in my district and one of the things I am really looking forward to is that it is a bigger district than my last district with more opportunity for networking, collaboration and friendship. My partner and I are planning together and we are meeting with another teacher from another building and planning our first few days of school together. This past year I have made some really great friends via the internet, through a couple facebook groups I am a member of, and joining some book studies this summer and meeting new people, and the blogging community I am a part of. I've always been really fortunate to have had strong teachers in my life, in college I had incredible mentors, and with the exception of last school year, I have always had great teachers modeling for me what teaching should look like. I have no doubt that if I look for these great mentors and friends, I will find them again, the ones I can vent to, run ideas by, talk to about school and plan with. This makes my job easier and helps me not have to carry my burden alone. 

Self Care
I have a fellowship of friends that keep me sane. I would love to go into more detail about this, but I really don't know if I can explain it in this forum. It's somewhat like a church small group, and somewhat like small group therapy. Always supportive, keeps me on track and keeps me grounded. I try to get involved with this at least once a week. 

Health and Wellness
I have a goal to NOT bring school home this year and only work on school at school. This will cut back on the need to grade papers at night, and will hopefully increase the chances of going to bed at a decent hour. I also plan to get up at an earlier time this year and eat a good, healthy breakfast. Something that will give me stamina, maybe oatmeal, and eat it sitting down, maybe will reading a daily meditation. Eating right. I hope so. As it becomes harder and harder for me to control my weight, it is more and more important to change my diet, but it's important to be healthy too. My kiddo is gluten free and so if I fix us healthy meals, she'll be in better shape too. I am trying to get ready for a 5k. That would be a walking 5k, not a running one. I hope to add daily walking to my early morning routine right along with that breakfast. 

That's the short list of my hope for achieving/maintaining balance. I think this list might be a little bit like a New Year's Resolution list. And I think that it may be more pie in the sky than actually achievable. We'll see.... 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Letters

Time for Sunday Letters with Michelle and all my friends over at BTL's blogging challenge.
Dear Sunday Letters:
How I've missed this outlet. You are fun and quirky and snarky and sarcastic. I love that about you. It's like therapy only cheaper.
this mid-west teach

Dear Teachers across the Midwest:
I love blogging with you and following you on social media and finding out what is happening all across the nation (and beyond sometimes). This summer I have been super jealous of friends who got to go to the meet-up at Mr. Greg's in Nashville and of all you out at the conferences in Vegas. I wish I was there to meet you. You have changed my life and I've grown so much as a teacher by reading about your lives and times at school. You have encouraged me and I've laughed and cried and gotten sarcastic with you. I am a better teacher because of you all. I just want to meet you all!
lonely teach in the midwest

Dear Midwest teachers (again),
Let's Meet! Let's mark a date next summer and meet up somewhere in the Midwest! If I plan this thing, it will most likely be in Kansas, my home state. But I am dying to see you and craft with you and talk about all you are doing!
Kindergarten in Ms. Horn's World

Dear Kiddo,
I love you to the moon and back. I wish you were more flexible sometimes. But I love how sweet and loving you are. You are why I get out of bed every day.

Dear Alice,
I don't know if it was okay to pee and poop inside at your last home, but it is NOT okay here! I don't know how we are going to break this terrible habit of yours, but trust me, we are going to break it. You are cute, but not cute enough to get away with this.
the lady that drags you outside while you're pottying....

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Daring Greatly, Chapter 3, study week 2

I am rising to Michelle's challenge at BTL, blogging every day in July. She is hosting a book study for the book, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. This week we are discussing chapter three this week. So far this was the most difficult chapter to read. A lot of psychology, I might even say psycho-babble. Seriously, it's deep, in an emotional sense. Chapter 3 is titled: Understanding and Combating Shame. The author describes what shame is and how shame is something much more than guilt. This is all old information. The first quote in the chapter that really jumped out at me was on p. 61, and the author responds to the question was phrased like this: "I'm pretty bad at vulnerability, but I"m really good at shame. Is getting past shame necessary for getting to vulnerability?" Her answer was: "Yes. Shame resilience is key to embracing our vulnerability. We can't let ourselves be seen if we're terrified by what people might think. Often 'not good at vulnerability' means that we're damn good at shame." She goes on to explore reasons we shame ourselves, how it starts, the crazy shaming culture we live in, what shame is and why we have such a hard time talking about it. I have known for a long time that guilt is when do something bad but that shame is when I AM bad. The author says that guilt is as powerful as shame but it has a positive influence. I say that guilt is either positive or negative and we have a choice, but shame, shame is always negative.

I guess the part that was so difficult for me was..... I don't know. It was all hard for me. The author gives examples, and it was almost like speaking that shame to myself and I felt myself crawling into a dark hole. I know that I am not who I used to be, but I beat myself up daily. I try to do that affirmation in the mirror thing. I try to remind myself on a regular basis that I am a good person, that everyone makes mistakes and that I'm smart.

The author talks about body image and how we are cultured to put ourselves down, and compare. And how shame is universal, that although the ways we shame ourselves is different, men and women both combat this. One point when the author is talking about this I was reminded the of the episode of friends when Rachel is dating Paul (Bruce Willis) and she wants him to open up to her and when he does open up, he just can't stop the emotion from coming.

We want men to "open up" but then we aren't prepared for it, or really even that nice about it.

I think that this chapter is the turning point, but the truth is, it left me heavy hearted. I want to start hearing about positive growth that will happen when I face my pain. Yesterday I came to the point that I just felt "icky" and realized it had to do with the reading in this chapter. I considered skipping the last few pages, but I made it through.

I could draw a lot of correlations about things in this chapter and changes and challenges in my own life, but they are, you know, really private. So I am not posting them here.

Summer Professional Development

I feel a little bit one of my bloggy friends (and real-life friend), in that I feel like all I do is talk about professional development! But here goes.

I attended a training called CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) and it is a mathematics training through ESSDACK. Loved it. Some of the basic principals were taught in college about letting kids use and develop the strategies that work for them to solve math problems. It did talk about how some kids might need some support and help moving from the direct modeling strategy to some more efficient strategies. This really clicked with me and I kept thinking of a student I had last year and in the end we all just let him work things the way that worked for him, but if we could have talked more about it and figured out his strategy, maybe we could have helped him get to a more efficient strategy.

At the VERY beginnning of the summer I attended a poverty awareness training through my previous district. One of my friends was the instructor. I have watched her journey out of poverty and her lovely new Habitat for Humanity home is just a stone's throw away from my H4H home. Every morning when I need a good dose of gratitude for how good my life is today, I look out the back door of my home that I love and see the home of my friend and I think about how far we've come. The affects of poverty of wide-reaching and I didn't have as many steps to overcome as my friend did,but it is not something that just melts away, it has to be fought and overcome. How will I be the teacher that doesn't alienate the parents whose issues are oh-so-real? How will I provide that safety net for kids and families?

I am currently in a book study for the book: Guided Math: a Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons. I feel like this book and the CGI information will marry well. Now to figure out how to meet the district expectation in regard to the materials provided by them! I have learned a lot from this study. I was trying to do The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson also, but I'm having a hard time doing the two studies. And the Guided Reading study is not really well maintained or responded to, so I am not very motivated to read or get involved. This is food for thought for me and it makes me really grateful that my friend Meenal is helping maintain the Guided Math study and helping develop/post questions.

This sounds so small in the scope of what my friends have listed. Next summer I hope to do more. Like attend a conference.... I would love to go to Vegas for the "I Teach K!" conference or to Luoisiana for the WBT conference. And what if.... what if next year we planned a Midwest Bloggy Meet Up? Maybe even in Kansas? We could go to a bed and breakfast or rent a convention center.... You know.... my town is not far from a great midwest highway hub.... the CrossRoads of the US.... Salina, KS. Can you hear the wheels turning? (and now you should all be singing "wheel in the sky keeps on turning....")

I am also working toward some personal development because it is good for me, but let's face it, teaching is personal. The more I strive to be the best person I can be, the better teacher I will become. I am participating (straggling a little) in Michelle's Daring Greatly (by Brene Brown) book study. Right now the book is kicking my butt, but I'm assured that there is encouragement ahead.

Hop over to BTL and read about Summertime Professional Development.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Favorite Lesson?

Hmmmm..... My favorite kind of lesson is themed. I know that is a dirty word to some and perhaps I am not using it correctly either. But I like it when I can take one idea, one book, one starting point and carry it throughout my entire day/lesson/unit. Like studying about apples. Let's do Apple Fractions and let's taste test, and let's record our favorites, and write about an apple, and make up math word problems and let's explore the science.... what happens to the apple when I cut it up and put it in the crockpot with some sugar and cinnamon. Now does it look the same, sound, smell, taste the same? Yum. I love science, it makes me hungry. Probably my favorite ever lesson was in college when I used the book Mucumber Magee and the Lunch Lady's Liver for my starting point for a 2nd/3rd grade combined classroom. Then we used the story for a writing prompt and they made up their own story. We tasted liver in various forms: liver wurst, fried liver, and baked liver and we recorded our observations, we identified our favorites, we graphed the results. I also made a vocabulary game associated with the book. It was awesome. I was so excited about being a teacher and about how much fun we could have! There are a few other standout lessons. One of them is the Wild Yak lesson with my Second grade reading group. We started off reading Yaks of the Mountains. Some of the examples and comparisons made perfect sense to these second graders, like that one female yak = 3000 lbs. = a small car. But the height and length, well, who could "get" 8 feet tall and 11 feet long? I was getting a little blue in the face when the idea hit me to make a life sized Yak from bulletin board paper! And a project was born! Here are a couple links to original posts, one and two.  These are both in my Five for Friday posts under the number four spot!

My best/favorites from last year are too many to mention. We did a peanut butter project that I think went well. Researching peanut butter, and making it and tasting it and graphing results. If you want to read a favorite or two, read my Five for Friday from last September. There are two favorites in this one... the marshmallow project: read the book Marshmallow Toes, built the marshmallow towers, reflected on what we could change and improve, did it again... and of course, ate marshmallows. I think the marshmallow math project ended up being one of my favorites because it felt like authentic pbl to me. After we reflected on what to change, we made the changes to see if it improved things.

You can read about everyone's best/favorite lessons here. You can even join the party.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Books worth reading....

I will be late again this week posting about Daring Greatly. I will note it as a book worth reading though. Last week's reading was overwhelming and deep. I am just starting in on chapter 3 which is 52 pages long! So I expect mind-boggling information again.

I am knee-deep in a book study over the book Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction. This book is also coming together with the training I attended a couple weeks ago: Children's Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI). So what is rolling through my head today is the combination of excited anticipation and a feeling of being terrifyingly overwhelmed. I am super-excited about what Guided Math instruction can bring to my classroom and watching the instruction videos for CGI makes me full of excitement and anticipation for what my Kinder Kiddos might experience in the world of Math. I hated math for a long, longtime. Not until I was in college and I was taught that if kids can prove their reasoning and explain to me how they got their answer, that they can got there any way they want to. What?! Wait! That's not the way I was taught! EXACTLY.

I have also done some reading for pleasure. I love James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series. And the last book I read, Unlucky 13, was no exception. I consumed it. Or more accurately, it consumed me. I devoured this book in under 24 hours.

In the near future I'll post about my reflections on chapter 3 of the book Daring Greatly.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday....

Linking up for the BTL blogging challenge and today is "What I'm Loving Wednesday."
So here goes.....

I am loving that it was cool enough to sleep with the windows open and a blanket on. For real. And last night my daughter said to me, "is it cold in here?" It was cool enough that I wanted to put my foot warmer (a handy dandy little thing I use for EVERYTHING) in the microwave for warmth and comfort. It is 10 in the morning and the windows are still blowing in a cool breeze. When I got up the thermostat said it was 68 degrees outside.

So that leads to my next "what I'm loving...." I do love those rice bags. I made them for us my first year of teaching because I didn't think I could afford other, not-so-homemade gifts. My daughter is staying with her Nana in Iowa (for almost a month, be still my Momma-heart), and she messaged me on facebook (...her cell phone doesn't work there, it is a little bit hellish for me), telling me that she forgot her foot warmer and she needed it for comfort. This is going to be my legacy to my kids and not by design really, I made them because of a cash shortage. I want to make improvements the next time I make them, but basically these are rectangles of an inexpensive cotton fabric stitched together and "stuffed" with rice. Mine is really quite heavy and I think if I put some sort of baffle in them I wouldn't have to use so much rice and they might be more efficient. Here is a picture of one of them.
The hand in the pic is for size comparison.

I am going to put "sleeping in" in the "what I'm loving" category today, but the truth is that I have mixed emotions about this. Today I gave myself permission to sleep in and apparently I shut my alarm off in my sleep. I don't remember it going off. So the love of my life and I slept in until after 9, almost 9:30 even (the love of my life being Sam the Siamese cat). And today I am meeting a friend for an early lunch and here I sit still sipping coffee in my pj's.... she'll be here in the next 30 minutes. I blame the cooler weather. I currently have an alarm set for 6:20 but need to change it to an earlier time to get used to getting up for school. This year I hope to have a sit-down breakfast before we leave.  Something energy giving and healthy, maybe oatmeal. But today I did not accomplish much of anything this morning, we slept and were lazy and just this once, I am going to be indulgent and just love it.

I am loving the book studies that I am a part of this summer. They are definitely stretching me. Tomorrow will be the next installment of Daring Greatly and I was late to that party last week, so I feel like I just barely finished the reading from last week, but I better get cranking on the reading for tomorrow. And I am behind of my Guided Math reading as well. This chapter is super long and I'm a day late and a dollar short, or a day late and half a chapter short. The Guided Reading study is not holding my interest and the truth is, I only made it half way through this book the first time I attempted to read it. I have blamed the Kindle, because I prefer paper, but maybe it's just a long and tedious read. Because (so far) the math book has held my interest.

I love unscheduled days! Yesterday I read for pleasure and I read a book that enveloped me..... just the way I like it. I read Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Yep. Finished it at 10:30 last night. Fortunately for my kid, this means not too many fend-for-yourself meals!

I'm loving the social networking communities I am a part of. I joined the First Grade Gab Group on facebook last year and it was a life saver for me. I am back in Kindergarten and so now I have joined Kindergarten Teachers Unite. I know I should probably drop the First Grade group, but it is my favorite group and there is a lot of teacher interaction on it. I have also gotten exposure to great resources and found the book studies I am a part of on these groups. I love my blogging community too. These ladies are my friends and I have never met them! Not all my bloggy friends are ladies, there is Mr. Greg too! I like this challenge that Michelle has started and I like how it brings us together and  we write and we read and comment and reflect.

Something magical has happened in my heart. I became a teacher. In many ways I have always been a teacher, but somewhere, somehow, the reality set in that I am a teacher and this crazy-busy-lazy-fun-summertime life is really my life. This is real, and I don't have to second guess myself every step of the way. The evidence speaks and when I question if I have great teaching skills, I can look at the data. My kids made phenomenal growth last year in spite of the fact that I was new to the multi-age classroom and to project based learning. My students may not be where other students of their age/grade level are at, but look where they started and look where they ended! Yay! I love being a teacher. It is the heart of who I am, not what I do.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Double Dipping....

Today I am double dipping. I am joining Slice of Life and posting my slice on Big Time Literacy for today's blog prompt also. Two Writing Teachers have been hosting the Slice of Life for awhile now and their daily writing challenge comes in March. They have a weekly SOL every week on Tuesday. Daily writing in March is definitely more challenging for me with parent/teacher conferences and Spring Break.
A lot of times it is difficult to gather my thoughts in order to "just begin." I have to just start typing random thoughts and go back and edit. Does this happen to you? Many times it is because I am overwhelmed. I think about the many things I could put into writing and the various angles and perspectives that I could write from. So this is me, typing random stuff, hoping a beginning falls into place soon.

The Ticket....
My new district is on top of the training. And I always forget about that mindset that training bad, boring and a waste of time until I am in a training. I love training. I know that makes me the odd man out, but I never feel like I know enough, have enough tools, or am equipped enough to fall into the "set in my ways" category. So I was enjoying the training that all teachers in my district attend when they start teaching in this district. On day three though, I was running just a couple minutes late. Not a biggie, I would still be on time, but without the usual wiggle room. So I jumped into my car and start to back out... crunch. The lady who parks behind my driveway every. single. day. in spite of my warnings that I cannot see her back there was parked there again. And I did not see her. again. But it was the first time (thankfully) that I hit her. Now a million thoughts are racing through my head. I pull back into the drive. I am not going to be on time. First things first. I go knock on the neighbors door. I tell her, "I hit your car." After a less than civil remark from her, I went back out of to find my phone and call it in. The officers arrive. For some reason, it took two of our civil servants to fill out the report and file this. and issue me a citation. *sigh*

So now I miss the first hour of our training, I "get" to pay a ticket, and I am sure my insurance will go up. Not having fun. A little bit cranky in fact. This is exacerbated by the neighbor being rude about it. Did she really think I was hoping to be late? To get a ticket? To increase my insurance rates? I can see the smoke coming out of my ears.

Finally.... I get in my car and head down the road. I realize that I can stew in this for a long time if I want to. But I don't really want to. And I have a lot to be grateful for. Here's a short list of reasons to be grateful:
  1. My car was legal: tags, insurance~ both up to date.
  2. There was no damage to my car.
  3. I am a law abiding citizen today so it is just a ticket, and I am just going to pay it. 
Oh, and when the neighbor is rude about hitting their car, I might just possibly drive by and chuckle when I see the extensive damage to her car and that there is only a slight scratch on my bumper. That right there might just give a girl an evil grin now and again.

You can join those of us who are rising to the BTL blogging challenge and read our Slice of Life, or you can go to the Two Writing Teachers blog and read about a LOT of different Slices of Life. The choice is up to you. But there are a lot of stories out there and it's fun to read them and to participate with a whole world of blogging teachers.