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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Blogging on July 30

I can't decide what I'm posting about today. The almost end of the blogging challenge. I attempted to start a post yesterday about my hopes and dreams for this next year. But after I sat there for an hour and had half of a first paragraph, I gave up. It's not that I don't have hopes and dreams. It is more that I don't want to sound too Pollyanna. I tend to live in a cloud. A pink cloud. And then when I pull my head out (of the cloud.... keep it clean folks!), I plummet to the sewer. I tend to ride the roller coaster around and around and around thinking each time will produce a different result and after awhile I am suddenly sad and disillusioned and, well, bitter. This year our building will be facing an even greater number of new staff and teachers than last year. And I am super excited about it. There is a lot of positive energy in our building right now and a lot of anticipation and excitement. It is contagious and I am really excited. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have felt in a long time. Both personally and professionally (not parentally~ that's a word, right? My computer says no). I know that every year brings new trials. But I feel like I'm on track to keep my head when a student is losing theirs. And that is a giant first step. For the most part, I am pretty good at faking it til I make it and keeping a calm demeanor and voice even though my insides are climbing the crisis scale right along with my students. But it is SO HARD to think clearly and stay in my "upstairs brain" when I have an escalated student. I tend to descend to fight or flight myself. But I am becoming more and more aware of my shortcomings as well as more aware of ways to stay in the thinking part of my brain to find solutions. So I feel good about that and I feel confident that it will be a hugely successful year in this regard. I have a dream that students will know how to regulate their emotions, know how to calm themselves down and how to respond appropriately when they feel uncomfortable! Crazy, right? Well, I know it can happen. Not by osmosis, but through direct teaching and continuous modeling. So I have hopes and dreams for my team. That we'll all use loving and kind voices, words and actions to help students learn how to regulate their voices and actions. They have a legitimate right to their feelings. And to process them. My hope and dream is that they feel safe and loved.

I have a lot more hopes and dreams. About my dream team and how my colleagues and I will interact this year. I'm going to ride my pink cloud until it dissipates. And I'll try to stay grounded in reality enough to be flexible and learn new skills and solutions instead of doing things that don't work and expect amazing results.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dear First Year Teacher

Today's prompt for Big Time Literacy's blogging challenge is "Dear First Year Teacher." So read 'em and weep. Okay, don't weep.
I thought I'd be full of wisdom (?), but my mind is pretty blank this morning. So I'll give it a shot, but....

Dear First Year Teacher,
No one will care how cute your room is or how adorable your outfits are, they will not remember. What your colleagues will remember was this: were you humble or arrogant? were you friendly and open? were you trying to make things better for the school or just your own little classroom? Did you do everything in your power to help your students have a good year? Did your words match your actions? If you say you care about your kids but your actions don't match, we will see that. So themes and cute rooms are really cool, but what will be remembered is how you treat others and if you are humble.
Someone who has seen both sides of this

Dear First Year Teacher,
It doesn't matter what kind of amazing supports are in place, you will feel like you are under-supported. Because the first year of teaching is hard and more often than not you will be stabbing in the dark with ideas that you don't really know if they will work or not. We (myself and a whole host of others in the building) will do our best to support, friend and scaffold you. But sometimes it will not feel like enough.
a teacher who did not drown that first year, even when it felt like it

Dear First Year Teacher:
You cannot be an island. Reach out. Choose to be part of the team. Even though it's scary and you don't feel like you have the time or the energy to add one more thing to your plate, it will be worth it. Volunteer to help another teacher, speak up at staff meeting, ask questions, and choose to be part of social events. You are a valuable part of our team and we value you and want to support you. We don't really know how to do that any more than you know what you need, so reach out. Be a part. It will help fill that gap. The I-am-drowning-and-I-don't-have-enough-support gap. I think that every first year teacher feels it. I know that in retrospect I had AMAZING support, but I still felt like I was drowning.
your teammate

Dear First Year Teacher,
It is okay to cry. So love your kids. They will know it. They will respect it. And they will rise to whatever high standard you set for them. You might cry though. And that is okay. All the best teachers do at some point.
the teacher in the puddle of tears next door

Dear First Year Teacher,
I may not choose every idea you throw out, but don't stop sharing your ideas. You have the freshest perspective of anyone in the building. Your ideas are gold. I value your input. I hope the rest of our team is aware that we have as much to learn from you as you have to learn from us.
Your teammate

This is the short list. There is so much more! But the bottom line (in my opinion) is: love your kids, be open to others, and remember that it only feels like you are drowning, you will get through this. I hope I am a worthy support to the new teachers in our building. They are going to be a valuable addition to our TEAM and I look forward to rowing my boat to their island.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Gratitude Lately

Today's prompt for BTL's blogging challenge is Gratitude Lately. And as you surely know by now, I'm a big fan of gratitude and what it does to our lives. So head over to Big Time Literacy and read about gratitude.
Today, on a small scale, I am thankful for my new-to-me car. Take a gander. It's purty.

It is a 2009 Chevy Impala. And I received it from my friends at Circles of McPherson County. The organization that is helping those in our community learn about how to get out of poverty and helping people take positive steps toward that goal. This is the truth. I received a car as a gift. I did have to put in some hours of reciprocity (giving back to the community, or community service) and have two people in my life write letters of recommendation as to why I would be a worthy recipient. This is no small thing. Why would I consider it to be a small thing? Because in the grand scheme of things the bigger thing that I am thankful for is becoming part of a community that is bridging the gap and helping people out of poverty. I am thankful for so many reasons! One reason is because of what my friend Rebecca calls social capital. I just call it networking. But social capital may be a better term. The more people you know, the bigger your network of friends, the bigger your network of friends, the more likely you will hear about "that job" or get help in a crisis or a non-crisis. On the Circles page on fb, people are often posting about appliances needed or appliances or furniture to give away. We help each other. It's amazing. I am so grateful for this group because I am making friends and filling my heart and soul with friends from all walks of life. So this is a bigger thing. The influence my journey in Circles has had on my life and the changes that it is making. I am grateful.

I'm grateful for the love my kitty. He warms my heart.
Here he is sitting on the water frisbies I got this summer.

I am grateful for the wonderful people who are my offspring. They are really neat people. I am so grateful for each opportunity to bond with them and get to know them more.
Sister selfies. wow. ????
I am so grateful for my life today and that I can choose today. Will I try to make the world a better place? Will I focus on what is good and right? Or become focused inward on any and every thing that is lacking in my life today? What is my focus? I choose gratitude. I have such a life of blessing today.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why I teach...

There is so much unrest on the world right now. And I know that being a white kid in poverty is not the same as being a brown or black kid in poverty. I wasn't *really* in poverty. But I was targeted. Singled out. As a black sheep, bad kid, wrong-side-of-the-tracks kid. I was "different." Not like all the churchy, cultured kids. I was a VERY ordinary kid. If by ordinary I mean not rich, not middle class, just a working class kid in a middle class neighborhood/town, then definitely, I was ordinary. We probably lived below the poverty line most of my life. But we also lived a good life. I married into poverty (if there is such a thing) and I have battled to get out ever since (27+ years now). I am making progress, which is another post, or two or more, but today I am looking at why I teach. And I'm joining up with Michelle at BTL for her July blogging challenge.
When I was in school, I was the kid that the teachers turned their noses up at. I was VERY Junie B. Jones. I was precocious, I was unfiltered, I was very intelligent. Being a kid who was very sensitive to how others felt about me, and more importantly, my perception of how others felt about me, I had a lot of anxiety in school (huh, I wonder if that is where my kids get that from?!). I know what it is like to love my teacher and have her have to REALLY try to love me back and not really succeed. Teachers write about THAT kid all the time. The one that they have to fake it with, the one that sucks all their energy. Well, I was that kid. Now, I don't really think I was THAT difficult. I think that by today's standards, I would have been a dream student, but in that town, in that day and age, I was THAT kid. Therefore, I grew to hate school. But not learning. I was always a little bit of a nerd about input. Putting the information in the brain. I love to read and intellectualize and spout off about my grandiose opinions and thoughts and insights. Oh. That might not always be considered learning. I still love those things. I teach because I shouldn't have been THAT kid. Because in reality, no kid should be THAT kid. I teach because all it takes for me to succeed is for one person to tell me I can do something. One person told me I would be a good daycare provider, and I ran a successful business for over 4 years, and then my little girl was old enough to go to school. One person told me I was smart enough to go back to school. Look at me now. BTW.... in contrast to my very LOW high school gpa (I think it was something like 1.75), I graduated with my BS degree in education with a 3.93 gpa. Because someone took the time to believe in me. And tell me that I can, and not that I can't.
THAT is why I teach. THAT is why I love my high poverty school that has fewer than average of the "perfect" students. THAT is why I will love and believe in these kids and hold high expectations for each and every one of them, even THAT kid. And I will try like hell not to have THAT kid, because each one of them is worthy of being valued as a vital part of my class and worthy of being loved and accepted right where they are at. THAT is how I will let them know they can do anything they want to do with their little lives. Because I know one person who will believe in them. No matter what.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

What makes a hero?

Today's blogging challenge prompt is Parent Engagement Tips. I will be reading it to glean new ideas. I feel compelled to write about something I witnessed yesterday, but sometimes I am so torn.... what a great prompt. I will just say this: last year I created a separate facebook account just to use for school. Then I created a secret facebook group for our class where I could post updates, pictures, reminders. The mundane and the not so mundane. I have never gotten such positive feedback from parents as I have this past year. They felt like they were truly included and in the loop with their kids' education. This has been the greatest thing ever in my class. Plus it's fast and easy. Blogging, to do it right, requires going back and reading it to make sure it makes sense, catching the spelling errors and omissions, and changing the poor grammar. But facebook posts are short and sweet and take very little time to preview. It has increased my frustration with blogging and made me even more of an instant gratitude junkie, but it has simplified parent updates and I love it and they love it!
So really, what qualifies someone as a hero? It is time for me to ponder that and really discover why I look at my daughter and think, "she is my hero."
she's the selfie queen...
This is the Punkin. More often referred to as the Punky and sometimes at home we lovingly call her "the Punk." Still a term of endearment, still short for Punkin. Which is almost like Pumpkin, only more endearing and special. And not just for fall. (insert a laugh or giggle here... LOL).

Punky battles some serious mental health issues. Depression and Anxiety. They can cripple her ability to use socially appropriate behaviors. Like her sense of justice. Things in life have to be FAIR. Not JUST fair, but fair according to her rose colored glasses, which may have a slight tint of spoiled-rotten-I-am-the-baby-of-the-family. Okay, this is not uncommon for kids with anxiety. They need life to make sense to them and to feel safe, they need things to be "fair." Think for a minute about how we as teachers battle the fair is not equal war all the time. every. single. day. Now take a kid with anxiety issues and justice issues and try to explain to them why it is "fair" when it is not equal. She gets it when it is about her and why there are some exceptions for her anxiety. But she doesn't always get it when it comes to others. Which ups the anxiety. and fear. and nervousness. Real fear. Real anxiety. Real physical ailments (stomach aches, headaches). Crippling. This last year, her inability to put her sense of justice aside sometimes caused more problems than it cured. It made it hard for her to make friends. So add bullying to the list. I cannot say with 100% certainty that the behaviors she encountered were bullying in and of themselves. I say that what she encountered was more of a wear down technique. Bullying is generally repeated behavior from one person, but she endured small behaviors from many people. So maybe she could be strong if one of the boys was rude or made derogatory comments. But then another one would throw out a remark. Then a girl would say something cruel (probably because they are sixth grade girls, that is what they do). Then maybe another. So did any one student bully her? I don't know. And technically it may not count as bullying. But what it did to my little girl's confidence was heartbreaking. Enter suicidal thoughts. and mental health intervention. *sigh*

So in some ways it's been a healing summer. She has worked really hard to work together with me, her mother, to be a productive part of our family. I am so proud of her hard work. But what I saw last night... well, it made me aware of what kind of inner strength and grace my girl has. She is not going down without a fight.

Birthdays are a big deal at our house and it is no secret any longer that I kind of detest mine. Most days I don't really think it is a good thing that I was born, and I don't really relish the anniversary of my birth. I tend to mourn. And my mom she's always combated that with a big, bang-up bash (haha, 4th of July. get it?) for my birthday. I tend to do the same for my kids. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Punky's birthday is coming up soon. The 26th. And she planned this birthday party with her friend from school. Thank you Lord that it worked out for her friend to be with us! So... the big plan: a sleepover, go to the skating rink, and go swimming (the next day of course). Here is where the story gets interesting.

My girl is not a good (proficient) skater. It is simply a lack of opportunity. She has not been skating that often. And when you only go every year or two, well, it's hard to get really good at it. And let me just say, she has probably really only gone skating 4 or 5 times in her 12 years of life. Her friend is also not proficient. I was surprised actually. At how "unproficient" they both were. So they got out there and they granny skated. Slowly. Falling down. The opposite of graceful. awkward.

But some of their school mates were there. and they were proficient. Good. maybe even excellent. And they still were proficient in making fun of my girl. and her friend. and me. (I once was a good skater, but I only skate every few years now so starting and stopping are particularly awkward for me).

At one point my daughter said, "it's just not very much fun when *they* are here." And they DID make a point to call out, to make fun, tease and cajole. Talking loudly to undermine her confidence. I asked if she wanted to leave. She said no.

And painfully, slowly, she continued to attempt to skate. Again. and again. and again. For two hours. She battled her own lack of practice and proficiency, fighting against the cruelty of peers, to do something she enjoyed.

The look. That look of determination. Oh my.

That is when I thought, "this girl is my hero." I love her so much. I wish I could make life easy for her. Or easier. Because for her to battle her anxiety, it makes what comes easily to some, more difficult for her. But she is not a quitter. She is determined and I want that. I want a piece of that tenacity. I want her spirit and spunk and her undying fight to carry on.

You never can tell what a hero might look like. It might look like my Punky girl.
Can you see it in her eyes? The fierce determination? Yep. These girls were my heroes last night. But my Punky was elevated to hero status in a way that I can only hope you can glean from my writing. My knowledge of her journey, how difficult it can be for her to take on "ordinary" tasks. Her grit and lack of quit. Amazing. I have always adored her, today I take time to emulate her. She is my hero.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Teacher Balance, what is that?!

Today's blogging challenge prompt is teacher balance. What a great/important topic. And one that I am not good at. I am always a last-one-to-leave teacher. But I am determined that this year is going to be different!
As I was contemplating my blog and getting ready to start writing, I came across this quote. Not necessarily about teacher balance, but it seemed valid somehow.
I have been riding the wagon of good intentions lately. And we all know about those! I heard a quote once that went something like this: "I judge myself on my intentions, but the world judges me on my actions." Ouch, there might be a little sting in that!

I read Michelle's post and just nodded. "Yes, yes, and yes." But it was more like... I need that, and that, and that. Not that I have already implemented those practices that lead to a more balanced life. I had the best of intentions that this would be the magical summertime when I would start to cook and eat better. ha. Hasn't happened yet. That this would be the summer I would lower my daily stress by incorporating exercise into my life. That instead of staying up all hours of the night like my summer reality, I thought I would practice a reasonable bed time and early to rise time and get in the habit of resting my body and mind when it so greatly needs it. So now that I have told on myself and made it sound really woeful, it's time to talk about what I do right. Because sometimes I actually do some things right!

I maintain teacher balance by nurturing relationships that build me up. Toward the end of the year last year I finally loosened up and started making more friends in the building. Before that, I had ONE friend in the building. And sometimes that is enough... who am I kidding, that is not enough. There is a delicate balance between laying your personal struggles (and teaching struggles) out there for everyone to hear and see in the teacher's lounge and seeking out a trusted teaching friend to melt down to a little bit about a certain student interaction, or something we're troubled by. 

Finding a teaching tribe. Mr. Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasbord is the first one I heard ranting about finding a teaching tribe. Well, by ranting, I mean, posting ENTHUSIASTICALLY on social media. Last summer my teaching friend, Alyce, invited some teachers from different walks of life and different school settings to meet and share ideas. Sharing ideas is cool. But the most valuable part of these get togethers, is what happens to my perspective. I leave our time together feeling refreshed and valued. I almost always have better perspective on my teaching life after our time together and invariably I feel refreshed in my personal life too. Making time for a teaching tribe is crucial to my sense of balance.

Pets. If you've been reading my blog, or happen to be a facebook friend, you know that I lost my beloved little dachshund this summer. His name was Hundley. Sometimes I called him Hundles. Often we called him "Mr. Weinee" like the dachshund in the movie Open Season. Every night before bedtime he would beg me to sit in the chair and watch tv so he could wedge himself between me and the side of the recliner. And when I would "watch tv" (this is code for: sleep in the recliner) with my pup, we would be joined by the cat. So I'd have a dog beside me and a cat on my lap. And there was something a little bit sacred about that time together that was relaxing and refreshing. Having pets who depend on me keeps me alive and in tune to needs around me that are not my own. But more than that, pets equal companionship and love. I talk to my pets. Worry about them. Scold them. Tell them that I love them. and so on. Pets lower my stress level and bring a little balance to my world. My cat (who is actually my redheaded daughter's cat) is my best friend and faithful companion. I talk to him, snuggle with him, tell him secrets, and just pet him when I want to feel calm. He is 15 years old. He will not among us forever. In fact, he's showing some signs of his age and I know I will be utterly devastated when he departs this world.

Crafty things that make me happy. Those things are part of maintaining balance. Like tie-dye. And crafting like mod-podging something, or painting. And there's coloring. I have jumped on the coloring band wagon. I love coloring.

I want to work to find healthier meals before school starts and start planning and eating in ways that help me stay sane and balanced. I like how I feel when I eat better. And sleeping. I would like to see what benefits I might encounter if I started getting a healthy amount of sleep.

I want to begin some sort of exercise on a regular basis. Not only will this help me combat the extra pounds I've put on in the last years, but it will help elevate my mood and provide a sense of accomplishment and well-being.

Balance. Some balances are in place already, some others are in my head and haven't become reality yet. I pray that they do become reality.

I have a serious problem with my short term memory. I know that this is in part if not in whole due to chronic stress. So I need the balance and I want to find out what my life would look like once I began a regimen of self-care that includes balance in my teaching world.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My life just gets gooder and gooder.....

Today we are supposed to write about why I teach for our BTL blogging challenge.
But my mind is elsewhere today. And let's face it, in the middle of July it is difficult to wrap my head around the WHY of what I love about teaching. I can spout off the canned reasons and quotes all day. But today I am thinking about something else.

Today I became a car owner. Of a nicer car than I have ever had before. And it was a gift. What?! Yes. a gift.

So here's the long version.

I had a van, it was not an expensive van, it was a little bit ugly, and little old, but it drove really nice. And it was a good vehicle for us. Dependable. Decent gas mileage.

Then, on the way to work on a Friday morning, we hit a deer. And the front hood was a mess and long story short, there was over $5000 worth of body work necessary to repair it. This is the van I bought for $500. Liability only insurance. Pretty much totaled as far as insurance is concerned. However, I only had liability on it. Sad news.
I couldn't find a better picture of the van. But here it is in the background, after we "borrowed" it from my family.

But the good news was that I owned another car. I was letting a family member drive it because I didn't need two cars and their family did need a second car. I got the trusty ole Saturn back and signed over the van to them. If they got it legal again, they could just have it.
The old Saturn saw us through a LOT! Many trips back and forth from the OK panhandle!
Great! Everything was worked out! But the good. ole. Saturn was just that. Good and old. I was used to putting oil in on a regular basis. But then it started using 2 quarts of oil in a week. That's a lot. And then it got to the place where it wasn't dependable anymore.

So I borrowed the van back from my family. The good news was that they weren't using it and it was available to borrow. But now time is marching on and here I am, still driving the van. I got rid of the poor old Saturn, which brings me to a point where I don't actually own a car.

Okay.... so good things are happening left and right in my life. But in this situation, I can't help but worry. I found out that my family was going to need the van back soon due to a change in employment. I have been choking down a panicky feeling in my throat. I knew that there was a chance I could get a car through the Circles of McPherson County group that I am currently a part of. But the availability of donated cars is completely unpredictable and they never know when it going to happen. Also, there is the application process and making sure you have your ducks in a row, which thankfully, I do have. I have the reciprocity hours necessary to qualify.

And..... to bring my longish story to a close: I am now the proud owner of a 2009 Chevy Impala.  I feel extremely blessed and grateful!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


 Today our theme is poetry. So I'm joining late, 11-something p.m. in Kansas, which means it is already tomorrow in Chicago. I am joining the party at BTL blogging challenge for July.
A couple of favorites written by Langston Hughes. Interestingly enough, I found out that Slum Dreams was originally published in as Little Dreams and some of the wording was different. But I like this best. It so eloquently addressing what is not an eloquent life to live at all. 

Slum Dreams


Little dreams 
Of springtime 
Bud in sunny air 
With no roots 
To nourish them, 
Since no stems 
Are there- 
Detached, naive, 
So young, 
On air alone 
They're hung.


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

-Langston Hughes. 

Poetry of my own is a different beast. Harder to write. sometimes. Sometimes it is like air itself and seeps through from my pores like sweat on a hot Kansas day.
Here is one I wrote in High school (that was the 1980's folks).

I Am

I cry,
and I am growing.
I laugh,
and I am triumphant.
I watch,
and I am learning.
I grieve, and I am knowing.
I laugh,
and I am a winner.

-Carrie Suderman

Here is another. It truly depicts teenage angst. And hopelessness.

Changes in Time

My silent solitude.
A secret death.
I walk.
To far, far away.
Screaming and terrified.
calm, in control.
Crying in fear,
in pain.
A child
lost in the crowd.
So young.
So innocent,
and vulnerable.
Crazy and frustrated.
Crying in shame—
growing, learning.
Changes in time...
Confusing, cradling,
Warm and loving....

-Carrie Suderman

Of course, there is the one I banged out last week. Which is rare these days. I seldom write poetry anymore. 

Rage On

Sweet and gentle
the patter of the rain.
Now tamed and docile,
just like my soul.
Not long ago
the thunder rolled
angry and boisterous.
Violent and intimidating.

Inner turmoil
violently churning,
thundering on,
striking where it wants,
unpredictable and aggressive.
it passes.
Replaced by the sweet, soft patter
of refreshing rain.

Or tears.
No longer violent.
Falling softly
from my face.
The storm has passed.
The refreshing and renewal have begun.

-Carrie Horn

So that is a glimpse of the old and the new. And one of my all-time favorite poets, Langston Hughes. He's well worth the read. So relevant to my past, to today, to my personal journey, to society.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slice of Life Tuesday

Tuesday is Slice of Life Day. Slice of Life is by Two Writing Teachers, who have a blogging challenge every year in March. July blogging has a higher rate of probability for actually happening for me, but I do both challenges. BTL blogging challenge is during July, challenging us to write everyday in the month of July. I have missed one or two days out of 19, that is not too bad.
Well, in Kansas it is no longer Tuesday. But I am in Oregon tonight and it is 10:30 p.m. here. I am here for the C.H.A.M.P.S. conference and it's been a busy learning experience. But the sight-seeing.... wow. I've never been this far west and it is gorgeous. It is nearly perfect here. The weather has been lovely. Perfectly lovely.

I'm learning about myself when I'm here. Not all of it is pretty. Yesterday we went to VooDoo Doughnuts, ah-maze-ing!

But the trip there was revealing. I am a HUGE advocate for poverty and the homeless of Portland would definitely qualify for those living in poverty. But I clutched my belongings tighter to myself and looked away like the homeless were not even there. I ignored their pleas for money. "anything helps..." even though I know longer really buy into all the "don't give them money, they might use it for drugs" hype. They might. But guess what? They might need that fix. Some of them use it get by, to escape their situation, and some of them may have become homeless because an addiction stole their life and withdrawals are deadly, so they need a fix. But I am so sad that I so quickly joined the masses that looked away.

I know my kids would be appalled and want to help these homeless brothers and sisters. I was overcome with how many people there are. Everywhere. Our hotel is NICE. In a nice neighborhood. But just a half a block from here are homeless sleeping right beside the road.

So I feel like a hypocrite. In theory, I love the homeless. I think their plight is real. But today my true colors showed. I didn't want their situation to actually touch me. I pray that I am different tomorrow.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Tourism and Professional Development

Today is day number 17 of the July blogging challenge. The prompt for today is Classroom DIY. And I really don't know that I have anything of substance to add yet. I am one of those better-under-pressure kind of people, and it is not close enough to school starting for me to have things completed for my classroom. But I've had some much going on in just plain old life, that I will talk about today just a little bit. Link up or just head over and read about everyone else's DIY classroom projects.
Earlier in the year, my principal came to me and asked if would want to go to the CHAMPS national conference in Portland, Oregon. So here I am, ready to learn from Randy Sprick about classroom management.
 My friend Jim came and gave me a ride to the airport this morning. We are laughing at my inability to figure out the selfie camera.
Here I am on the plane ready to take off from Wichita. You can't even tell that yes, I really did do my hair this morning. Nonetheless I was excited about this trip.
This is the view from our room. I feel a little like I'm in heaven.

scenery: we are not in Kansas anymore....

Check out the trees.

What we were looking at was the sign showing a bike hitting the trolley tracks and the person falling off.
It was a balmy 70 degrees when we got here today. Back in Kansas it was 95 and humid. We walked around to go sight seeing. And caught a streetcar and found a quaint pizza place.

I thought this little coke bottle was so cute.

This is called the Pork Belly pizza. Yum!!
This one was the Cauliflower pizza. Pretty tasty.
 I was so tired. Too tired to be much fun. And too tired to really take in what a great city this is. It is beautiful, the weather is lovely, and there's so much to see. There is a giant bookstore called Powell's and it takes up an entire block. Book heaven. We were only there for a little while. I thought, "oh we can go back after we eat..." but traveling fatigue caught up with me and we had to come back to our hotel. Which is gorgeous!

The introvert in me is longing for that peace, quiet and downtime that blogging brings. When it is just me and the thoughts in my head, I feel the calm, I relax and rejuvenate. I can breathe. And get ready for a big social push again tomorrow. Ah.... I know that writing is calming. Just the sound of my fingers pounding the keyboard.

I am looking forward to tomorrow and to learning about teaching in a way that is gentle, honest, kind and effective. Look out CHAMPS conference, here I come!

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Today, well, yesterday now, it is officially Sunday (12:02 here in the heartland), the blog prompt for the BTL blogging challenge is titled "Letters" and if you read my blog much you know that I LOVE the letters! They used to be called "Sunday Letters" and I would save up some sarcasm for a letter or two. I'm working really hard to change my inner dialogue, but I can't promise that there won't be a snarky snippet or two. Read everyone's letters at Big Time Literacy

Dear Portland,
I can't wait to meet you. I am not a well-traveled girl. In fact, I'm a little overwhelmed by the very thought of it. But I'm excited nonetheless. And I believe that this will be a learning experience in so many ways. I plan to keep an open mind and heart.
Waiting anxiously,
a midwestern girl

Dear Michelle,
Thanks for hosting this challenge. I only feel a little tired of the writing because I feel like I am squeezing it in and not giving it my best. Sometimes life really is too busy to blog every day! But I'm grateful to share my life, the mundane and not-so-mundane with this blogging community. Thanks for hosting, but thanks for the honesty too.
Your blogging buddy,

Dear Oh-I-think-you-know-who-you-are:
Really?! Just really?! That is about all I can say about that. After all these years I can't believe that you would still choose to give your power to me. Thanks for giving me a feeling of power and might! I'm sorry to say, I can't give you the same amount of space in my head or waste that much time flapping my jaws over the bitter past. I just have too much life to live. So if I really have nothing to say.... this conversation is over.
Sincerely.... oh who are we kidding.... I'm not sincere and this conversation really is OVER....

Dear baseball,
Oh how I love you. Let me count the ways. Strike one, strike two, strike three! I love watching my Royals play. I love the camaraderie and the Salvy splash and the homeruns and the come from behind wins. I actually understand the game and I am fascinated. Not to mention, y'all are really pleasant to look at in your baseball pants.
Shouting at the tv from my seat,
a devoted fan

Dear children,
You are going to be just fine. Stop doubting yourselves. You are turning into responsible people with good heads! I have utmost confidence in you. Keep your chin up, your head on straight, and your heart open. You are ready to fly.
your momma

Dear School,
I hear you calling. I have not forgotten you and I am not ignoring you. I hear you calling, tugging at my heart, overwhelming my mind. I hear you. I'm coming! I just have a little summer left to absorb.
this devoted teacher

Dear Gerry Brooks,
You make me laugh. I love the "Dollars trees" and "the Walmarts" and so many things you say. There's often wisdom hidden in your funniness. But I laugh every time I watch a new video. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the "What the Heck" video the other day.
this teacher in the heartland is still laughing

Dear Bed,
I hear you calling. Since it is officially Sunday now, I guess I better "sleep fast" as my momma used to say. I think that 6 a.m. will come early tomorrow/today.
Stretched too thin in spite of my thickening middle,
~ a tired, worn out blogger/teacher/mom/crafter/reader/writer/housecleaner

So, I better hit the hay. Tomorrow is already here. I could write umpteen more of these letter. I love them. Thank you my blogging friend. Happy Sunday. It's going to be a busy one!

Five for Friday on a Saturday....

Today I am posting five "random" things from my week and they are not about school. I hardly ever have a time where I *just* focus on myself and my family, even in summer. But the past week has been all about my family. Hop over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to read about everyone's week.
1. I found a FABULOUS coffee place in Hutch, where I teach. Here is my coffee drink and the adorable little sample that the barista brought for my friend. This drink is called the Jo Momma. It was made by barista Joe,  the owner of Scuttlebutts. This was fun!!

2. I splurged on my wardrobe! I got a new vest/jacket and leggings. Is that tie-dye on there? Yes it is!!! I got them at a fair trade store while I was out with my teacher tribe. Hmmm.... I guess I did do something school related this week, but it falls in the category of self-care for me.
3. I made my daughter a comforter. It's not professional quality. But she will have something to remember how much her Momma loves her, no matter what. I made a comforter 18 years ago for my other daughter and she still carries with her. So it was time to make one for my youngest girl. I made the top out of bandannas and the back out of a twin sized sheet.

 4. I got to meet this cutie!!

 And I haven't spent time with this beauty for approximately 10 years. (minus the photo bomber who I see every day). Here is the abbreviated story.... I raised this girl. She was 6 years old (and I was a very young 20) when she and her sister came to live with us. Lots of turmoil later, we parted ways. And now, we are restoring our relationship. So this reunion was a matter of the heart. I was blessed beyond measure to see her and to hear those words, "I understand, I forgive...." This might be my favorite moment all year. It is so special.

5. Fun with the fam!! We have a TON of birthdays in July. And the Redhead is home right now so we just HAD to celebrate. A little home made ice cream, so gift exchanging, and some cupcakes! 
My sisters birthday is July 24 and Punky's is the 26th.

The Redhead wasn't home when it was her birthday. So she needed to be included in this.

12 candles.

Gluten free cupcakes for all!
 That is five things from a busy, family filled week. I am blessed, exhausted and my heart is full. I have been enriched and challenged. My week was full of laughter and hard work and blessing.