Thursday, March 26, 2015

{#sol15} 26/31 Nothing to Do

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I looked around
Checked all my piles
Double checked my to-do list

I looked again.
Checked my lesson plans
Triple checked my to do list

It was 3:30 on a school day and
THERE WAS NO SCHOOL WORK TO DO

Really.

Nothing.

I have lesson plans for my classes done for the next two weeks. I have all student blog post graded, fiction pieces graded, Romeo and Juliet webquests graded. All entered into the grade book.

Of course, tomorrow it will all start coming in again.

But for today

THIS ENGLISH TEACHER HAS NOTHING TO DO!

Guess I'll go home and pack for the weekend and work on my grad class.

There's always something....


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

{#sol15} 25/31 Merry March 25th!

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Things to love about March 25th!

  • We had school today! (No snow day)
  • The snow we got Sunday and last night has melted a lot
  • Even though there is snow on the ground, the weather is getting nicer.
  • My houseplants are starting to bloom because the sun is warmer!
  • American Idol is on TV because it's a Wednesday!
  • So is Nashville
  • I'm guessing, but there are about 40 days of school left (with kids)
  • 3 days until we go to Rockin Baconfest in Spencer, Iowa
  • I get to see the grandkids this weekend
  • And I get to see my friends!
  • My tulips don't look any worse for the wear because of TWO winter events
  • Chloe and I can now walk every day after school
  • It's almost lake time

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

{#sol15} 24/31 The Fallback Post

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Every year I have a day (or two or three) where I have trouble thinking of things to write. Just in case, I always have a fallback post. A listy type of post I can use. Many slicers this year have used the "Currently" post, but I used that last year. Luckily, I found a new one...

Found at Wanderlust
I am really hoping we don't miss another day of school tomorrow. Right now we have freezing rain which is supposed to turn into snow.  Could be  messy morning...

I keep emails from fellow slicers that mean a lot to me. I like to go back and read them when I need a pick me up.  I have a little folder in my email so I don't accidentally trash them.

I wish I could meet the slicers whose emails I keep.  One of these days I will. It's my promise to myself!

I love my house. I loved it from the first day we walked into it. It was a wreck, but the sun shone into the dining room and just made it feel so cozy. I get that feeling to this day whenever I walked into our house.

I dance with my friends whenever we go to listen to bands. And sometimes I dance in the dining room when I'm by myself.

I sing in the car whenever I drive by myself. I always have several CDs with me that I can sing along to. 

I think this year has been easier to write slices every day. Maybe it just seems that way since I started writing at night. More has happened to me. I've had more time to think..... but after five years, shouldn't it get easier?

I really need to get caught up on grading. If we do have a snow day tomorrow, I WILL get everything done.

I need to go to bed!  I can hardly keep my eyes open.

I should, however, grade one more set of papers before I do that.

I can Always do them tomorrow afternoon after our inservice meetings.

I like traveling in the summer. My husband and I are starting to talk about trips we'd like to go on this year. So far, Nashville seems to be the place.

I make lots and lots of lists. There is a list for just about everything in my life. Pretty soon, I'll have lists of my lists!

I always feel so accomplished when I finish my slice for the day!

Monday, March 23, 2015

{#sol15} 23/31 I Was Going to....

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I was going to write about...

SPRING

My TULIPS and HYACINTHS peeking out of the ground

The GRASS turning green

The SUN feels warm on the skin.

My LAKE box is filling up with all the necessities.

BUT

Mother Nature had other ideas.


10 inches of snow fell Sunday night into Monday morning

10 INCHES

This was the most snow we had at one time all winter! So, of course, we had a 

Snow Day

But snow days can be blessings in disguise. I planned a few lessons, worked on my grad class, cleaned a bit and took a nap. 

Spring is still coming, it's just taking its own sweet time getting here!





Sunday, March 22, 2015

{#sol15} 22/31 Balancing Life

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This weekend my husband and I took a trip to my hometown to visit my family. I fully intended to write a post yesterday, but we were simply having too much fun and enjoying the time together for me to stop and write.

We watched basketball on Friday night

Found a great little shop full of fun things for the house and the lake

Went out to eat

Had a surprise visit with my oldest son and his family

Watched some more basketball

Coffee and conversation, just me and my mom

No school work,
No internet,
No disruptions of any kind

And I am OK with that.

Because it's all about 

Balance



Thursday, March 19, 2015

{#sol15} 19/31 Words

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Words
We toss them around and 
take them for granted

We think there are words for 
every situation
every feeling
every moment

But
sometimes
You find that the right words
just haven't been invented yet


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[#sol15] 18/31 Wanna Go for a Walk?

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Wanna go for a walk? Huh? Huh? Wanna? Come on! I've been inside all day and I need to move!





Look. We'll just go right down the path. We don't have to go for very long.
But it's really nice out. I know it's not sunny, but it's not cold.  Come on, come on, come on!!!!!!!!




How about this. I'll hold the leash and all you have to do is follow me. OK?

That way you can just enjoy the walk. I'll do all the work!




So. Are you with me?  We have just enough time to go before Dad gets home from work!




OK. Fine. I'll come back and walk with you. But can we please go now?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{#sol15} 17/31 Dreams Realized

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He sat in my room as an 8th grader and announced he wanted to join the Air Force

Actually,
He wanted to go to the Air Force Academy.

In my heart and head, my pacifist voice whispered
       "Why would you want to do that?"
In my teacher voice I spoke
       "That's a great goal. Do you know what it takes to get into the Air Force Academy?"

He found out.

And everything he did from that point on was dedicated to that dream.
      Every class
      Every activity
      Every choice.

He sat in my room 
     as a freshman
     as a sophomore
     as a junior

The dream never changed.

As a senior he asked if would serve as a reference for him as he applied to
        colleges with an ROTC program
        West Point
        The AIR FORCE ACADEMY

Today he told me
     He was offered an appointment to the academy.

I'm wiping a few tears as I write this 
because sometimes pride leaks out of the corner of your eyes.

Monday, March 16, 2015

{#sol15} 16/31 All-State!

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This year, as a senior, he decided to try a new event, something he hasn't done before. He wrote an Expository Address about 3D Printing.

"Mrs. Day,  I was horrible. It's the worst I've done. I stumbled over words like crazy. I just know it's a two."

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad. You're awfully hard on yourself."

" Really. It was not good."

An hour later, he received one ratings from every one of his judges.



This is her second year in speech. Her second year doing Reviewing. This year she chooses to review a Korean pop album. The twist was, she didn't like the album. It was a negative review. No one ever does negative reviews.

"Mrs. Day,  I was horrible. It's the worst I've done. I stumbled over words like crazy. I just know it's a two."

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad. You're awfully hard on yourself."

" Really. It was not good."

An hour later, she received one ratings from every one of her judges.


Today we found out that both of these kids were chosen for All-State!

An honor reserved for a select few. 

We are so proud of them.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

{#sol15} 15/31 What You Learn...

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To My Speech Kids,

First, I want to say, congrats to all of you, no matter the rating you received yesterday. I know it was tough for a few of you, the ratings were not what you hoped. But you smiled and congratulated those who received ones and kept your disappointment in check.

I was pretty disappointed for some of you---and very happy for some of you (and I hope I am even happier for one or more of you on Monday), but it all got me thinking about the things you get from speech that don't show up in the ratings.




1.  First, you get a "family". I watched all of you throughout the day-- laughing, joking, picking on each other, having fun, all while waiting for the almighty ratings. But whether the chips were up or down, you were there for each other. And isn't that what family does--supports each other through the good times and bad?

     




2. You learn how to work hard for what you want.  It's not easy getting those ones (or even those twos). You spend hours looking for the right material, you spend free moments practicing on your own, you practice with friends when you can't practice with me, hours and hours of practice.






3. You learn how to handle disappointment when things don't go the way you want them to. It might seem like the end of the world for a few minutes, but you take a few moments to feel sorry for yourself or to be angry at the judge and the rest of the world, but then, you move on. So many of you said to me, "Next year...." and that's when I knew you were going to be OK.


4. You learn to win gracefully. As happy as you are when you get that one rating, you know just as well how it feels to receive a two. And if your best friend is standing beside you and received that two, well, you keep your happiness in check, at least for a little while.


5. You learn patience. Those ratings take forever! So do bus rides. And waiting for All-State nominations:)

6. You make friends with new people. 

7. You make friends with "old" people. No, not me, sillies. Some of you would not be friends if not for speech. I like seeing you appreciate the uniqueness of each other.

8. You learn to be brave and try new things. I know how scared some of your were yesterday. But you put your big kid pants on and did what you needed to do. And sometimes, that's better than any rating.

9. You gain an extra parent/adult in your life--I am here forever. You are now and will always be one of my kids. 

So, no matter what happened yesterday, what you get from speech is better than any rating, although it might not seem so at the time. Talk to the alumni, they'll tell you the same thing!  

Love,
Mrs. Day

Saturday, March 14, 2015

{#sol15} 20/31 Thank Heavens for My Phone!!

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So I didn't get my slice written this morning like I planned. And normally, this isn't a problem. I simply write and post at night. Writing at night has been good for me this year. 

The problem is we are heading to my mom's for the weekend. And  NO INTERNET!!!

Thank heavens for my phone!  

When I went to a smartphone last year I didn't realize how much I would use it (or come to depend on it). So I'll be writing today and tomorrow's post on it. 

Don't expect a long one!!!

{#sol15} 14/31 Celebrating Craziness, Performances and Love

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Today is my last speech competition of the year. It's 6:00am as I write this, sipping coffee, news playing quietly in the background.  I'm not going to lie to you. I'd rather be in bed.  Preferably at my son's where my husband and Chloe are sleeping. I'd wake up later. Have cuddles and cocoa with the grandkids while we talk about school.

Instead, I will board a school bus at 7:15 and ride for an hour and a half to our contest site. Kids will laugh and giggle the whole way. The early performers will run through their pieces quietly, while the nerves begin to tickle the brain. I'll probably doze a bit, snapping awake as I wonder if I forgot something.

And here's where the celebration comes in....
As each of my kids performs, I'll be there, proudly waiting to give them a hug or a high five, reminding them how far they have come since they began performing. 

It will be bittersweet as I listen to my seniors perform for the last time. I'm so proud of the people that they have become and I know in a small way, speech has helped shape them. I'll look at freshmen and wonder if I'll still be teaching when they are seniors and have this feeling about them.

I'll laugh at the silliness of the day and watch as they meet up with friends from other schools or make new friends. I'll encourage the underclassmen to get out of the gym and go watch some events they might want to try next year.

As we head home, my brain will be tired, but I'll start planning our celebration banquet. I'll jot down ideas for the silly awards I always give (this may be the first year there will be no "Late for the Bus" award), make a list of what I need to order and answer the eternal question, "When will learn if anyone is going to All-State?"

7:00pm and I'll be home again. I'll snuggle in blanket, drink a well-deserved glass of wine and smile as I celebrate another year of craziness, performances and love.


Friday, March 13, 2015

{#sol15} 13/31 Checking My List

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I am crazed.
I race around my room like a chicken with its head cut off.
Are the ballots ready to go?
Crate packed.
Don't forget the adaptors,
      the extension cord,
           the projector,
                the clicker.
Remember to take yearbook pics.
Email A's mom with schedule.

And, oh, yea. Rehearse the kids!

But I needn't worry. I step out into the hall and breathe as I look around. It is my favorite night of speech, really. The night before contest. My juniors and seniors take charge. Everywhere I look (and in some places I can't see) kids are rehearsing with each other. It's loud and crazy.  They laugh over silly things and talk about what they hope for tomorrow. They critique smartly and make their friends try it again.

After school today this scene will be repeated. Tomorrow morning we board the bus for our last long day.

And just like that. Our season will be over.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

{#sol15} 12/31 Concrete Details

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Geoff Herbach visited my classroom today and worked with my Creative Writing students on writing with concrete details--you know--show, don't tell. The man was terrific with my group, some of whom like to write, so who only took the class to fulfill an English requirement. But he got them going. He got them writing. Best of all, he got them to share! And sharing out loud in class is NOT something this group does well.

He taught, he told stories, he found something positive about everything they said. He kept the slackers somewhat engaged, put up with the gigglers in the corner, and without knowing, gave a very shy girl some much needed encouragement.


During the afternoon, he met with kids in the auditorium. 9th and 10th graders one period and juniors and seniors the next. In both groups, I heard kids grumble. They didn't think they wanted to go, they thought it would be boring, lame, stupid (insert other teenage words here.)

But guess what? Within the first minutes, they were laughing. I watched the kids as much as I watched Geoff. You could see the "too cool for school" kids, the "I don't read, why do I have to go this" kids, the "who is this guy anyway" kids warm up to him as he talked. None of them wanted to be involved, they didn't want to like him. 

But they did.

He told the story of his life, reminding kids that they are the main character in their story. Don't let someone make you a supporting one.

He talked about his passion for writing, how he always wanted to be a writer, but others tried to take that from him (his dad told him he would end up depressed and in Canada if he became a writer). He told about friends and bullies and bullies who became friends (one is a school principal now and has made his school a safe place for kids). He talked about other jobs he did when he was trying not to be a writer (he wrote dirty jokes!). He talked about his writing and how things came to be written





But here's the thing I hope kids took away from the whole talk

Follow your PASSION. If economic activity is associated with the activity, then there is also a job associated with it. It might not be exactly what you think, but it will be something.

And isn't that a great thing for someone to share....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

{#sol15} 11/31 All is Right With the World

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It's crazy how one little text message can change your whole outlook.

How the words "I got good news..." can bring a smile to your face and tears to your eyes.

Knowing that the good news they shared will make a difference in their outlook. They will face their fears, be stronger and move forward.

It's still not my story to tell

but the ending is looking a little better.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Somewhere around 7+ years ago, our oldest son brought us a great gift. A wonderful woman and her twins. I can't imagine life without them. Today A and B are 9 years old.  Happy Birthday to "double trouble" as Grandpa calls them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the snow is melting. Chloe is happy because we have been walking after school every day this week and then I sit on the back deck so she can chase the squirrels and birds out of the yard.

And all is right in our world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

{#sol15} 10/31 First, They Eat...

First, they eat.

Several came directly from the food joints they work at, so there is LOTS of food. My room smells like a combination of A & W and Susie 

Q's. They laugh, they share, they decide who will type.

I project the computer screen onto the smart board so they call all see. 

They decide the author test should come first.

"We only have to write the first name, right?" She swears that the letter said only first names. I point out that it says to write the first name if there is more than one author.

"You did memorize the first and last name. RIGHT?" says another.

"Yes. I did"

Every time I have done this, even though they are all supposed to know the names of the authors of the books they read, ONE student takes charge and memorizes them all.

Just to be sure.

Tonight, they rock the author test. They miss one, but this is so much better than last year when they only knew six.


They move onto the questions about the books. Again, 28 questions. One for each book. They move quickly through the questions. Talking about each one.

"Oooo. I read that one!"

"Did no one read this?"

"That answer doesn't make sense."

"I think we're thinking too much about these."

14 minutes and 23 seconds later, they are done. Probably should have reviewed a few questions. They miss 10. After last year, I don't know what to think. I don't know if they will go through to the next round or not, and I tell them that. 

"Please tell us there is no way we are going through. I'll feel better if you tell us that."

I laugh. I understand the superstition.

"There is no way you are moving on."

"Thanks, Mrs. Day. See you tomorrow."

And they are gone. Leaving only the smell of french fries behind.



Monday, March 9, 2015

{#sol15} 9/31 The Sequels

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I coach a Battle of the Books team at our high school. This is the second year with my current team--I really wasn't going to coach a team again, but, you see, they are legacies. Several of them have older sisters that I coached years ago. 

The original team Fluffy (the name is a whole other story). 

As freshmen, they didn't even get all the books read before the online test. They could only name six of the authors.  I told them they didn't have a chance to move on (I think my exact words were something about a snowball's chance, but my memory is a little foggy).

They scored 11th of the almost 100 teams that took the test last year. Team Fluffy: The Sequel was the only one of the 16 final teams that had not named and spelled correctly all of the authors' names. The organizers had to remind other teams and coaches that the author test is only a tie breaker. They didn't even need it to qualify for the Grand Battle; they answered enough of the test questions.

I told them the other teams must be really bad. I told them they probably wouldn't do very well at Grand Battle if they didn't finish reading all the books. 

They asked if they needed to know the authors at the Grand Battle.

Nope.

So they read some more.

They laughed and made plans as we drove to the battle. Their goal was to beat their sisters' rank of 9th. I had no faith, but it was a nice spring day away from school. 

5th. They placed 5th in the state. The only team we have ever taken to the Grand Battle that has placed so high.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I am headed up to school at 7:30pm so these goofy girls can take the first test to qualify for this year's battle.

I have no faith.

And that might be a good thing...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

{#sol15} 8/31 Chloe Writes: Out My Window

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So, Mom wrote a poem the other day about the view out her window. I thought since she's sick with a cold today and doesn't feel like writing, I'd let you in on the view out of my window.

The view I get every single day.

Every single day while they go off and get to do fun things and leave me home alone.

Every single day.


This is my favorite spot to lay during the day.  From here, I can protect my yard and my house from those pesky squirrels and neighborhood cats. It really makes me mad when I growl and bark and they don't even move. Sure wish I could open the door and go get 'em.

I can also see the mailman blocks away. I start growling and barking as soon as I see him, 'cuz I don't like him and I don't want him coming anywhere near my house.

I really like to watch the neighbor's house. They have two dogs that I wish I could be friends with and LOTS of little kids are there every day. Mom says our neighbor is a day care lady and that's why they have so many kids. Sometimes, I try to run over there if I am outside, but Mom says I scare the little kids so I hafta stay in our yard.




Mom and Dad call me Gladys sometimes. I don't really get that. My name is Chloe.  But they think it's funny and laugh a lot when I am looking out the window and trying to get someone's attention.




But my favorite thing to watch out my window is for Mom and Dad to come home.  That's the best part of my day...









Saturday, March 7, 2015

{#sol15} 7/31 Celebrating the Weekend

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Discover. Play. Build.

Someone said to me yesterday, the first Friday of the month, that they only saw one high school student wear their #CadetNation shirt. Our district, one that is widespread and in different buildings, tries to create community by designating the first Friday of the month by all of wearing shirts that share our story. 

And she was right. They didn't. 

BUT many of the spent the last weekend in February cheering our six wrestlers who were competing for state titles
THEN the next week, they cheered our girls basketball team as they worked their way to another state tournament. 
THEN Monday night, many of them drove two hours away to cheer our boys basketball team as they tried to make the state tournament.
THEN they spent this week celebrating and cheering on our girls basketball team as they played in the state tournament. They drove three hours away to fill our sections, they rode pep busses, they watched the live stream.
And in the midst of all that, many found time to wish my speech kids good luck as they participated in District speech last Saturday.

So, I guess I'm OK that they didn't wear the shirt.

Speaking of my speech kids....
They performed fantastically last Saturday. And of the 36 events that we entered at districts, 22 of them are moving on to State competition next Saturday. I was so proud of them.  But not as proud as I was Friday after school, when everyone wants to practice and I am trying to get things ready. They just practice and help each other. I'll be slicing about this next Friday.

Speech season is exhausting for me. And as much as I look forward to the start of it and enjoy doing it, by this time of year, I am ready for it to be done. But before it is, a special shout out to my husband. I can't thank him enough for doing the simple thing of making dinner. Most days he is the cook of the family. It's awesome to come home and find something in the crock pot or a note on the fridge about what's for supper. He's been a life saver.

Friday, March 6, 2015

{#sol15} 6/31 Out My Window

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Earlier this year, my 8th grade students and I wrote poetry that used the five themes of geography, plus photography.  We all took a picture of the scene out our windows and then wrote poetry describing the scene.  I got the idea from some great educators in Iowa who create monthly ideas for us all to try. This is the link to the directions for this activity.

I found my poem today as I was going through files and thought I would share. It is almost lake time, after all



Thursday, March 5, 2015

{#sol15} 5/31 Sometimes

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Sometimes
the thing you most want to write about, 
that moment 
that is upper most in your mind, 
you just can't write about. 

It's not really your story to tell, 
but it does affect you. 

The words float about in your brain, 
trying to come together, 
trying to recreate that moment that changed your day, 
changed your life. 
They are trying to come together 
to share a feeling, 
a moment.

But, they just aren't ready yet.

And you have to leave them
ALONE
until the timing is right.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

{#sol15} 4/31 Never Count on a Snow Day

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You know how it goes....

You are listening to the weather before dinner. There is a winter weather advisory listed for your town. Freezing rain, 2-4 inches of snow, 35 mile per hour winds.

All the ingredients needed for a 

SNOW DAY.

Homework waits.

You give your body and soul a much needed night off, secretly making a to-do list for tomorrow.

You check your weather app before bed.  It says that the weather will start about 3:00am, with the worst weather arriving between 6:00am and noon. Another needed ingredient.

You sleep. 

Deeply.

Dreamlessly.

You sleep.

The alarm goes off at 6:30am. You immediately realize there was no robo-call about school being called off--or even LATE!  You look out the window.

No sleet
   No snow
      No freezing rain
         NOTHING!

All that work you put off last night!  Arrrggghhhhhhh!

You shower. Read drafts with coffee. Comment on rubrics about yesterdays speeches. Figure you will use time throughout the day for grading other things. 

And in your head, the words of advice you gave to students yesterday echo, "Don't count on a snow day. Get your work done tonight."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

{#sol15} 3/31 Chloe Writes an Apology

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Chloe Writes...



Dear Little Sparrow,

I thought you wanted to
PLAY
When you came in and 
FLEW
around on our screened in deck.

I was so excited that
SOMEONE NEW
Came to play.
Someone to 
BARK
at and someone to play
CHASE
with. 

It was 
FUN
for awhile.
I didn't know
I wasn't supposed to 
CATCH YOU.



Monday, March 2, 2015

{#sol15} 2/31 Saturday Morning Musings

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I settle into my seat and the humming of the tires on the road lull me into a semi-conscious state. As I listen to the buzzing of teenage voices behind me, the music an undercurrent of
the anticipation,
the anxiety,
the nerves of the day,
I am transported back to another early Saturday morning with the same soundtrack.

It's all the same.
Except, of course,
That now I am the coach,
Not the teenager.

I remember vividly these early morning rides. The feeling in the pit of my stomach. Was it excitement or nerves? Probably a combination of both, and if you used it to fuel you, great things happened. But if that feeling controlled your mind, well, let's hope that didn't happen.

I remember the waiting for performances and then waiting for results. I remember the friends who stood behind me, ready to congratulate me or support me, whatever the situation required.

In forty years, nothing has really changed. Except now, not only do I have to take care of MY 
Anticipation,
Anxiety,
Nerves,
I also have to take care of their
Anticipation,
Nerves,
Anxiety.

Back on the bus with my speech kids, it's a good place to be.