Saturday, February 6, 2016

Celebrating Snow, School and Friends

Discover. Play. Build.

1. Celebrating Snow Days
Is it wrong to celebrate two snow days and a two-hour late start?  I'm going to. There's something about an old-fashioned blizzard that's just kind of fun. Well, not fun for my husband. He had to go out and blow the driveway (I did help a little).  I snuggled in comfy clothes and a blanket the whole first day. I read and wrote. I dozed in my chair. When Greg came in after clearing out the driveway the first time, we binged watched half of the first season of The House of Cards on Netflix.  We are now officially addicted to this show.

The second day, I did do a little grading and planning, but still found time to read and write.

2. Celebrating School
It was nice to get back to school and see my kids. Lots of fun discussions about what everyone did on their days off.  I keep telling students that as the oldest teacher in the district, it is my job to decide if school is called off, so I was thanked a lot for the midweek vacation.

3. Celebrating Writing
I have been writing EVERY DAY.  Since discovering the #Edtime2wrt hashtag on Twitter, I've been committed. Most days I share the page in my notebook and what I've written. Even if I haven't shared, I've written.  I've noticed the more I write, the more I have to write about. Hmmmm. All I have to do is

4. Celebrating Students
I am teaching a credit recovery English class this semester. Five kids who have failed English previously.  They are working hard!  They don't think they are, though.  They are showing up. They read, write and discuss daily, with a minimum of griping. We're reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which they have deemed "not too bad". High praise from kids who admit to never reading and doing homework!

5. Celebrating Friends
Greg and I spent time with lake friends last weekend and it was much needed.  I love my school friends, but most are younger and not at the same point in life I am at. It was nice to talk to others who understood my indecision on retiring, thinking about instructional coaching, or staying where I'm at. They know the tiredness I talk about and the needing to be re-energized by something. Indecision is my middle name right now. I have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks, though, so I need to figure out where I'm headed.

Well, that's the highlights this week.  Stay tuned. I've got a couple of blog posts in progress!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#sol16 Snow Day Possibilities

Snow Day Possibilities

Up and Moving at the
Usual 6:00 AM starting time
It's dark,
The perfect
to begin the day.

Make coffee
Make a list

Enjoy another cup of coffee
Snuggle into my blanket
Enjoy the possibilities

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Discover. Play. Build.
Join me in sharing celebrations this week over at Ruth's blog!

This week I celebrate writing...MY writing. The fact that I AM WRITING again. 

You've seen the hashtag #EDtime2wrt, haven't you.  I don't know why I first clicked on it to see what it was, but I did.

I don't know why this hashtag has motivated me to write again. But it did.

I believe with my whole being that if you are going to be a teacher of writers, you have to be a teacher who writes. So I am.

This week I have written along with my students... 
  • 6 word memoirs: Indecision is my new middle name
  • Twitter stories: (Oops. Wrote this on my white board and don't have it to share)
  • Writing Prompts: My favorite was 10 Best Things About a 2 Hour Late Start
I have also written blog posts--this is my 3rd of the week. I was feeling bad about neglecting my blog.  I'd have ideas for posts but just didn't write them.  The thing is, I require my Creative Writing 2 students to write three posts a week. Why wasn't I?  

This quote, lifted from the writing autobiography of one of my favorite students (and not just because she brings me chocolate) has kept me going this week. The quote isn't hers, but I can't find anyone to attribute it to.  

"Real writers don't write to be rich or famous. 
Real writers write because otherwise their heads would explode."

I'm feeling like that this week. I just keep writing everything down because I certainly don't want my head to explode.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

You Should Read This

The books pass hand to hand, never making it to the return basket or the shelf where they belong. Sometimes, they don't even make it back to my room. The book pass, a silent recommendation.

You should read this.

The library cards in the box tell only part of the book's life story. Because, sometimes, the names of the readers aren't written there, but instead on the pages of their soul.

You should read this.

Short days become reading days and talking about books. At least once a week a plea is heard, "Can we please read all hour? I'm almost done with my book, and...."
"Are you done with that book yet? I'm ready for it."

You should read this.

Ten minutes of reading guaranteed every day. Any book you want.   NOTHING, interferes.  NOTHING. Come in. Sit down. And read. Pages and pages.

The books pass hand to hand, never making it to the return basket or the shelf where they belong. Sometimes, they don't even make it back to my room. The book pass, a silent recommendation.

You should read this.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Guilty Slice

I am failing my own Creative Writing class. I require my kids to write every day. And those Creative Writing 2 kids, they have to write a blog post three times a week.

But I don't.

And those tweets, #EDtime2wrt, make me feel guilty.

Because I do believe that if you teach reading and writing, then you ought to be a reader and a writer.

I'm doing great on the reading. Every day I carve out time to read (and I've read some amazing books this year), but the writing just hasn't happened. I keep making these promises to my blog that I will write more,

but I lie.

And I don't write.

Soon I will turn the calendar page and realize that it's almost March. A time I love to write. But my writing muscles are weak, pathetic really. I need to start exercising them if I plan on writing every day for a month.  I need to write. Daily. Blog more. Reflect more. Write more.

They say if you publicly make a promise, you are more likely to follow through.

We'll see.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Celebrating 2015

Discover. Play. Build.

15 Celebrations for 2015

1.  My sister beat cancer!  It was such a scary year for all of us. From the time we heard about it in February through her surgery in June and the final rounds of chemo that ended in mid-November, she has battled and come out stronger.  Although she thinks she was a baby through the whole thing, I think she is the strongest woman I know.

2. Adoption Day.  Our oldest son brought the most amazing young woman into our lives back in the mid 2000's (I don't remember the exact year, maybe 2007 or 2008). She was a single mom with young twins--a boy and a girl.  Greg and I loved them all from the first time we met.  On November 30, those twins forever became Days.  The tears rolled when I got a call on my cell that day as each of them shared their name with me.  My husband still has the message on his phone.  November 30 will always be #WearetheDays Day in our family.

3. NCTE I have always wanted to attend NCTE, but it was always too expensive, too far away, not the right time.  Something always stood in the way. Until this year.  I was fortunate that NCTE was held in Minneapolis, only a two and half hour drive, and that my district paid for my registration and hotel. I sat and absorbed the wisdom of so many fantastic English teachers and authors. My brain was full every day. NCTE, of course, also led to ....
4. MEETING RUTH!  I know you all understand my thrill that we finally met face to face. I wrote in my notebook that it was like meeting a rock star....everyone knows Ruth and she knows everyone.  Such a fun time.

5. I attended my 40th class reunion in July. 40 years out of high school....WOW.  Maybe it's because I teach high school, but it sure doesn't seem like I've been out that long.  It was wonderful to connect again with people I haven't seen since graduation day.  So fun to reminisce with everyone.  Our class Facebook page is more fun now that we have all reconnected.  There was talk of a 60th birthday reunion since we will all be hitting that big 6-0 and I hope it happens.

Elementary school buddies!
6. Summer Trips:  We took several of them last summer and had a blast.  The only downside to these trips is wishing I was retired already so we could take off and explore more! We visited Door County, Wisconsin in June, and now I am addicted to Door County Coffee . We traipsed up and down the county, visiting lighthouses, wineries, and beautiful county parks.  A great getaway with our favorite traveling companions.

7. July found us in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Another quick little long weekend getaway. The highlight of this trip was a dinner cruise on the Mississippi. A beautiful night.

8. In August, Greg and I, along with Chloe, took a road trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park. I just love our trips when we take off driving and don't really have any plans, just a final destination. We did plan ahead on motel rooms. Taking Chloe means we have to find pet friendly places, but that hasn't been too hard to do.  Chloe loves to travel with us and really likes all the people she meets.

9. I did a little "work" this summer also, and presented at the  TIC conference in Dubuque, Iowa.  The TIC conference is a tech in the classroom conference set up by our local education agencies.  Friends and I presented on setting up flipped classrooms. We didn't think we would have many people attend, but it ended up standing room only and we had to adjust our plans on the fly.  Just like in our real classrooms :)

10. At the end of October our Sandbar Beach friends traveled to our side of the state and we all met on the Mississippi for a weekend of fun. When we planned it, we didn't know how important it was for us to get together, but it was a time for us to not only have fun, but support friends who needed us more than ever.

And the final five?
11.  Iowa Hawkeye football season
12. Marshall Tucker Band with Mitch and Rainy
13. Girls Day at the lake
14. Storm at Sandbar
15. Concerts in the park
+1 Ribfest and times with friends

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Connecting to JOY, ALOHA, BALANCE and ....

And I wait.

Every year. I wait.

I wait for that one little word to show itself.

Every year.

First, was CONNECT in 2012.  I didn't write publicly about that one. But I think it made an impact on me :)

In 2013, JOY came to me over our family's Christmas celebration.  JOY visits me daily. And I find I don't have to look for it much any more. JOY just shows up and I am smart enough to enjoy those moments.

At the end of 2013 my husband and I traveled to Hawaii with his sister and her husband.There were so many wonderful moments in that trip.  I kept a travel journal to remind me of the little moments that I never wanted to forget.  Two years later, I still look back on that trip as a life changing experience.  And on the last day,


 found me for 2014. I practiced my word whenever I could. I found that JOY joined in and that my one little words were forming a family.

I learned to live ALOHA so well, that I was afraid to try on a new word for 2015. I was sure I would come up with one. But you know what? If you pay attention to the moments in your life, that One Little Word just appears in your life one day. And so it was, that BALANCE showed up just in time for 2015.

It wasn't a sexy word, but it was the word I needed at the time. I tried to slow down and enjoy every moment. You see, school and work were taking more of my time than I really wanted to give.  I was ignoring and putting off the other important parts of my life. I need to find a way to give equal parts of myself. I needed to enjoy moments in each part of my life without feeling guilty about the other parts.
Sometimes, I think that I didn't do so well with BALANCE. I feel like there is still work to do with this word. But as with the others, I know it hasn't left me. It just sits back and lets the new word enjoy the spotlight, enjoy the MOMENTS.

My One Little Word for 2016:

It seems to fit my family of words well. In the last few days, it has just appeared in my mind. Making me think. Reminding me to enjoy it. Reminding me to not dwell in the past nor gaze into the future. To just enjoy the here and now. The MOMENTS.