Monday, March 31, 2014

SOL Reflection (31/31)

I had a lot of time to think and reflect today. Today was the first day of my Spring Break and the second day of my baby girl being sick. I forgot how miserable and heartbreaking it can be to watch your 1 year old be sick. You are limited on what you can give them and how you can help. My little lady is not much of a cuddler and wanted nothing to do with slowing down today. She stumbled over her toys and was exhausted all day. Poor baby!

While I tried to comfort my sweet girl, I took time to reflect on this years Slice of Life challenge. This year was a struggle for me to put quality writing down. Why? My life is just as hectic as it normally is. Why was this year so much harder? I pondered this question all day and wasn't satisfied with any answer I could give. 

I'm finding that free time is becoming less and less as my boys get older. Sports take up more time, homework needs to be reviewed and talked about, those quick picture books at bedtime are now replaced with longer chapters, and nighttime routines just take longer. Having a little one in the house requires me to be on my toes and to be cleaning up small toys often. I love how busy my life has become but my writing time has suffered. My days of jotting down a post and saving it to review later are long gone. I used to go back to my writing and add descriptive details before hitting that orange publish button. 

What I've learned? There are small pockets during my day that could be used better. I need to take these moments to foster my writing. It helps me reflect on my many blessings and it also helps me be a better teacher. 

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this challenge. I look forward to having richer writing next year. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Harry Potter (30/31)

photo  ©2010  Halle Stoutzenberger, Flickr
It has been a Harry Potter movie marathon weekend. My husband and I can't help but keep it on constant rotation all day long. These movies remind us of a special time together before our lives got busy with children. 

My husband and I had just started to date after the second book in the series came out. I was so excited to share this new, amazing series with him. You know how the early dating stage works, you're willing to try anything to get to know the person you love. Well, my non-reading husband was willing to give it a try. We would read them together at night, one chapter at a time. 

This ritual followed through the whole series. We pre-ordered books and read them together at night. It was the perfect way to finish the day and a great way to bond together. The last book came out when he was out to sea. I read it as quickly as I could and then sent it to him. We emailed and wrote letters back and forth about the twists and unexpected turns. 

I can't help but be flooded with these memories as I watch these movies. I watch the wonderment and excitement in my boys eyes as well. Maybe it's time to break out those well-loved hardbacks and start the tradition over again with the newer loves of my life. 

These books have easily withstood the test of time. I know that my boys will cherish them as much as my husband and I do. I'm sure that my little girl will have a wonderment and love for them when she is older too. I look forward to the next series that grabs generations of readers.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Showers with a Pop (29/31)

Rain can be an interesting thing when it comes to color. It can make bright colors pop and light colors seem dull. 

It is a wet day here in the Pacific NW but it is stunning at the same time. When I look out my window, I can see the vibrant green of freshly cut grass. It has been dormant for the winter and is finally able to stretch its arms out of the soil and show off its skin. 

The newly bloomed cherry trees show deep cherry hued leaves with soft delicate tufts of bubble gum pink blooms. These two color pop out at you with a dusty blue background. 

The sky has touches of blue but is almost white with a hazy filter across it. The deep greens from the evergreen belt breaks apart the colors and adds a bit of contrast. 

I am tempted to go out and capture them with the camera but the warmth of home and the constant drizzle keeps me inside for now. I'll just admire from the cozy blanket covering my lap. . 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Decisions (28/31)

They beckon to me from all sides of the room.

Choose me! 

Choose me!

I lift each one up. A gentle whisper of a touch. 

I carefully turn each page as I browse through the colorfully thought out pages. 

I must choose wisely or I may get an earful for a large purchase. 

An award has been earned for a long week of conferences and trying to teach eager children while Spring taunts us from the window. 

My arms get heavy with a top contestants. I must narrow it down to at least. 3. 

One more read through and the competition is narrowed down. 

Could I use any of these for multiple lessons? Why of course...but which ones will stand the test of time and attract children of all learning styles? 

Four books remain in my arms. I feel good about them as I approach the book fair check out line. I smile as children look to see what I have hidden in my arms. 

It is time to read them to my children first. But which one? The decisions never stop. 

Books purchased: Creepy Carrots, Ladybug Girl, That is NOT A Good Idea, and a great nonfiction book called Curious Critters by David FitzSimmons.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time with my Littles (27/31)

I am blessed to be able to job share this year. I teach in the afternoon all week with a focus on reading and writing. My teammate and I work closely to make sure that we are supporting each other with topics that we are both teaching. It has worked out wonderfully and gives me the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with my daughter. During conference weeks, we alternate days (early release) and then share the conferences together. Today, I did not have to teach and we are finished with conference. This gave me the whole day with my youngest munchkins (Kindergartners don't go to school during conference week) and my daughter. 

It was so nice to have this time with them. We headed to the grocery store after dropping off my oldest son. J and I got something tasty at the Starbucks and began our trip. With each stop in the aisle, came a huge bear hug. 

"I'm so glad that we get a special day together mama!" 

My heart just about melted. My son is such a loving, sweet little man. I am so lucky to have him as my son. When he was younger, we used to take trips to Barnes and Noble to have breakfast and look at books. I miss that time as was reminded of how special it was when we were together today. 

We got home and snuggled on the couch and talked about plans for Spring Break. He is such a smart and thoughtful young man. He put a lot of thought into the events he'd like to attend. I am so excited to have calm, not rushed, fun time together. One more day, and then let the vacation time begin!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pretty Pipes (26/31)

Bath time is one of my favorite times of day with my little ones. I would spend so much time talking with my boys and watching them play in the tub when they were younger. Now it's my daughters turn and things are so different. 

The boys crashed boats, threw superheros, and splashed until tsunami sized waves splashed out the sides of the tub. My little lady has no interest in her toys unless she is sucking the water out of them. Normally she is trying to stand up, pour water into her mouth, or splash while sitting down. Today she discovered something new. 

After washing her hair and getting water in her eyes, she decided that she needed to share a piece of her mind. With a loud squawk and a furrow of her brow, she sent that message loud and clear. She was expecting the furrowed brow that was returned to her but her ears did not anticipate the return of noise. 

With a smirk on her face, she let out another sound...this time a roar. ROAR!!! Her echo returned and another smirk revealed her new eye teeth. 

UP, UP, UP!!! I went to reach down to lift her out of the tub and she grunted. Oh, obviously I had misunderstand. She was just testing out her new pipes. They sure do sound pretty in her fancy new recording studio. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

20 Conferences (25/31)

We are on day 2 of conference week and my co-teacher and I have met with 20 families. We will finish up tomorrow. My brain is exhausted and I think that I may be sound asleep on the couch as soon as my body is hugged by the soft cushions. Here is a spewing of what is on my mind. 

20 second grade families

Giggles over silly mistakes and fun stories

Growth and strengths shared

Struggles discussed and goals set

Serious behavior conversations have been had

Reassurances that grade level targets will be met

Tools shared on how to help children be successful

Celebrations over growth and past goals being met

Smiling families leaving

Exhausted teachers dragging bags home

The life of a teacher can be challenging at times but rewarding in so many ways. I love and dread conferences. I love sharing successes and fun stories. I love letting families know that I've taken time to truly know and appreciate their child. I hate being the barer of bad news and having to point out areas of concern. It breaks my heart for children to see a grade they don't want....but we get to set goals to change those areas. 1/3 of the year is left and I plan on sharing more successes before summer. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Has Arrived (24/31)

Conference week started today. The blue skies taunted me from my window. The warm heat from the sun warmed my shoulders as it snuck through my blinds. After my last conference, I ran into the sunlight to quickly pick up my children. The cardigan that was keeping me warm inside was quickly peeled off and found a spot on the passenger seat next to me. 

When we got home, we all headed outside. The warm weather will quickly be disappearing and will be replaced by rain. This may be my last shot for the week to capture our beautiful NW Spring days. 

I gathered up some props to bring outside in hopes that I might be able to capture the perfect picture of my little lady. My feet hadn't touched the warm deck before I turned right around. The leftover piles of grass from my husband's mowing job warned me to not approach the lawn without something on my feet. 

This was the first time A had been on the grass with barefeet since she was just a newborn. She is now walking and giggled as the cool grass tickled her toes. She carefully maneuvered around the lawn and the rugged terrain. 

With one plop, her hands hit the remnants from our lawn's haircut. The wonderment in her eyes was a sight to behold. She rubbed the little blades between her fingers. I crouched down to get the perfect picture. Click!

Sneeze! Sneeze!

She was back on her feet and maneuvering the lawn like a pro. Taking pictures has become interesting since she's become mobile. I'm a little slow on the trigger finger. Click! Snap! Click! Snap!

Rub! Rub! 

Her confidence grew as we spend more time outside. The unsure feet that collapsed on the lawn moments ago were now toddling from one corner to the next. 

Itch! Itch!

My little lady beckoned me to follow her. Little by little, her shape began to blurr in front of my eyes. Spring is surely here and my allergies are in full affect. Time to head in for the day and come out again after Mommy has taken some Sudafed or Benedryll. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Night Before Conferences (23/31)

The Night Before Conferences

I go through a mental checklist multiple times throughout the day

  • Folders made and filled
  • Reading levels, growth, goals
  • Writing samples, growth, goals
  • Report card
  • Reading Plans for those that continue to struggle
  • Upcoming Personal Passion for Learning Packets
  • Table Cloth for the conference table
The Night Before Conferences

Clothes have been laid out, put away, and laid out again. 

The Night Before Conferences

Arrangements have been made for a longer day at daycare. My heart aches just thinking about being away from my little ones longer than necessary. 

The Night Before Conferences

My heart pounds with excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and trepidation.

The Night Before Conferences

I will crawl into bed a little earlier than normal, knowing that it will take my brain a little longer to shut down. 

The Night Before Conferences

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Opening Ceremony (22/31)

photo  ©2008  Stefano Chiarelli, Flickr
The crystal blue sky was a perfect sign that today was going to be a special day. The boys watched the clock as it slowly rounded the bases towards 10. Thigh high socks, long sleeved solid colored shirts, and baseball pants adorned my two boys as they gripped their water bottles. 

"Mom, is it time yet?"

I checked the diaper bag and wrestled shoes on to my little chunky footed girl before grabbing light coats and heading out the door. We all piled into the car and away we zipped. 

The field was painted like an artists palette. Groups of color combinations gathered together in perfect little circular clumps. Giggles and playful shoves were seen and heard from every corner. 

The announcer began to start the show. 

"We are happy to welcome you here for the 75th Anniversary..."

Wow! 75 years is a long time. What a special tradition to be a part of. As my ears began to tune in again, I watched as lines of colored groups began to line the fence. One by one, they were ushered on to the field by their coaches. I am lucky enough to have two groups to cheer for. My little munchkin cheers in my arms as her brothers run on to the field. It is the beginning of baseball season and I couldn't be more delighted. 

After everyone is on the field, I am blessed with a special gift. On to the pitcher's mound walks a familiar face. It is the younger sister to a past student, a family that I adore, and a sweet young lady. She has been honored to share with us the National Anthem. I always get a little nervous when I see a young child (4th grade for this one) sing the National Anthem. It is a difficult song to sing and one that is easy to ruin. She opened her mouth and out came the voice of a confident angel. It was just stunning. When she finished, a roar of applause exploded from the stands and chatter began about who this beautiful singer was. I beamed with pride as I watched her walk off the field to join the rows of family that attended to cheer her on. 

After the official "PLAY BALL" was yelled, I bee-lined it over to congratulate my future music mogul. I was greeted with a smile and a round of hugs from past students. Her brother had invited most of his baseball team to come see his sister sing. Several were past students who I was delighted to see since they left the school to join the Junior High last year. 

As I shuffled off to cheer on my boys, a huge smile appeared on my face. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to watch my students shine in the spotlight and to watch my children play a game they love.

Let the games begin!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bath Time (21/31)

photo  ©2007  Kitty Schweizer, Flickr
Oh My Goodness, my boys are so entertaining. 

When my oldest son was little, he would throw a fit in the bath tub whenever any kind of water got near his eyes. Washing hair was a delicate process. With surgeon-like touch, I would carefully wet his hair and keep a dry wash cloth close by. The second any water would escape near his eyebrows, I would have to dry it off or there would be a complete meltdown. I became an expert as washing hair without letting any runaway droplets escape. Now he takes a shower but still wipes the water out of his eyes immediately. It is progress. 

I shouldn't have been surprised when my youngest son picked up on these same habits. He is now 5 and still cringes when it's time to wash his hair. He arches is back in a reverse cat position so he gets the top part of his head wet without getting the hairline wet. I am then expected to soap up his hair without any shampoo touching his skin. It is a delicate process. I may need to try the game Operation again. I am pretty good at staying without a set parameter. 

Tonight, he barely filled the tub up to touch his ears when he laid back in the tub. He began to arch his back and I started to giggle. 

"Why are you laughing at me? You know I hate to get water in my face.", said my indignant son. 

"Yes sweetheart, but you barely have any water in the tub. Why don't you try to lay down and see where the water hits."

With some hesitation, he laid back in the tub and saw that it wasn't deep. He allowed me to get his hair wet and then carefully sat up. 

I masterfully soaped up his little locks and asked him to lay down again. Again, the arched back appeared. I shook my head and made a board shape with my hand. 

"Be brave J, be brave!" He began to repeat over and over again. 

I held my breathe, quickly rinsed his hair and made a bee line for the other room. A belly laugh escaped my lips the moment the door touched the frame.

I am constantly entertained and surprised by my children. I couldn't have imagined my life any other way. This memory will linger until the next bath time where another story is bound to emerge. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cuddles and Gliders (20/31)

My sweet little girl is cutting her eye teeth right now and nothing seems to help with the pain. I took some time to rock her to sleep tonight which is not a normal occurrence. We have our routine down and it works fabulously...but sometimes you need to break the rules to comfort those you love. 

I lifted my screaming child out of her crib and nestled her carefully in the crook of my arm. Her tear stained face is clammy and warm as she rests it on my shoulder, just grazing my cheek. I can't help but notice the wet strands of hair that are clinging to her cheek like a sticky hand that's been slammed against the window. I carefully slide the strands behind her ears and run my fingers carefully over her forehead. 

I stare at her little face and remember how much smaller it was. It feels like just yesterday when I was bringing her home and carefully resting her whole body in a single arm. She now stretches her legs past my lap. The once fragile body now numbs my arm. I can't think of a better feeling. 

I take deep breathes in hopes the my slow heart beat will help calm hers. Her little sausage fingers grip my pointer finger and begin to rub to the beat of our rocks. I mimic her movements and gently rub her little thumb. I watch as the eyelids fall and flicker, fall and flicker, until they do not open. 

I continue to rock...backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards. 

Her body has become heavy but my hungry arms have not had enough. I can't help but hold her a little longer. Chores and papers can wait a bit longer. As I stare at the long eyelashed, curly haired girl in my arms, I am reminded of how blessed I am and how precious time is. 

The Grandfather clock chimes that my cuddle time is over. I begrudgingly lift the little angel in my arms and rest her in her crib. Midnight feedings will be soon and my arms will hunger for the cuddles and rhythm of the chair. 

Backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Buds of Spring (19/31)

photo  ©2010  Christoph Rupprecht, Flickr

Splatters of pink decorate the once bare branches. 

They sway from side to side in a dance of thankfulness.

Visions of the fence are now blurred in shades of magenta and salmon.

Spring has arrived.

Small burgundy spheres of sweet nectar will soon weigh the branches down.

My eyes will watch in anticipation as the colors change to maroon. 

The signal to venture outdoors and gather Spring's treat.

Cherry Plums

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dancing Machine (18/31)

It doesn't take much to make my little girl shimmy and shake. 

It starts from the hairs on the tippy top of her head and travels all the way to the tips of her toes. 

First, the head begins to shake from side to side. I have flashbacks to "A Night and the Roxbury." 

The bobble head motion quickly jumps down to her hips where she channels her inner Shakira. The tempo gets faster and faster. 

This quick motion usually requires her to hold on to something sturdy and strong. Keeping your balance is hard when you're shaking everything up like a blender. 

Next is my favorite part....the legs and feet. First she lifts up her knees and slams her feet into the ground. One foot after the next. She is commanding everyones attention. After a few stomps, she rises up onto her little toes. The makings of a little ballerina can be seen. The process is repeated several times in the same order. 

After giggling for a bit, I realize that she has stopped dancing. Then I realize that there is no longer any music.....the commercial has ended. Back to playing with the toys until the next advertisement with music. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tick! Tick! (17/31)

It is that time of year. The time where the weather warms you and urges  you to come outside and neglect your work. The bare branches now taunt you with splashes of color while you look out the window.

I sit by the computer....multiple screens opened. 

Word documents with shapes cluttered from the top to the bottom. 

Spreadsheets filled with important data. 

Facebook screens with friendly faces, important perspectives, and messages to urge me to continue. 

Mama! Mama!

I drag myself away from the computer, only to return hours later to the same mess of busy screens. 

Nudge, nudge....nibble, nibble...meow, meow. 

A scratch here and a rub there...but I must tend to the screens. 

Comments and symbols back up in my brain like a damn holding back the tides. I must find a way to let them flow through my fingers. 

Report card comments await and time continues to tick by. 




Time for me to return to the beckoning screens. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lion King (16/31)

Poster from Broadway Production
Today my mom and I took the boys to see The Lion King Musical. We have both seen it before but today was a first for my two boys (5 and 8 years old). Our seats were split up so I got to sit with my youngest little man. 

If you haven't seen this before, I strongly recommend you see it...if not for the story, then for the amazing costumes and unique way they interpret the story on the stage.  I was excited to see the show again but I think that I was more excited to see the look on my little guys face. 

The show started almost 10 minutes late and little man kept counting backwards from 20 in hopes that he'd trigger the start of the show. The lights slowly began to dim until the theater was pitch black. J let out a little groan and gripped my fingers tightly. Then the curtain lifted and the sun began to rise on stage. His eyes lit up and his mouth opened just a bit. (You can see some pictures of the show on this website.)

The animals began to join together on stage around the rock. I don't remember the exact order but I do remember watching the amazement on J's face. He studied the characters carefully, trying to figure out why people where riding bikes with antelopes attached to them. There was a cheetah that mimicked the actors movements, a HUGE elephant that was probably moved by at least 4 people, and several giraffes on stilts. It is a sight to behold. I watched the wonderment in my son's eyes turned to complete amusement. The characters had pulled him in and he was living in the moment. I couldn't imagine giving him a better gift. 

The smile, twinkle in his eyes, and his inability to look away from the stage will stay with me forever. It was a very special moment and a fabulous day. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Distractions of the Welcomed Kind (15/31)

It is that dreaded time of year cards (dum, dum, dum).

It is something that is predictable three times a year and yet I dread it each and every time. It's not that I mind sharing information with parents. I actually love bragging about how well their children are doing and letting them know what still needs to be worked on. It's the fact that our report card does not match our standards. It is veg and requires you to think in the grey area instead of black and white. I don't do grey well when it comes to grades and data. It also requires me to write long comments so that parents have an understand of what the child does and does not know. It's not a quick process by any means. 

After putting little lady down for her nap, I got started plugging in grades. It went fairly smoothly due to discussions with my teammates about the data that we'd collected. Until I hit the grey areas. I hopped on Facebook and began messaging my teammate to see how she would approach these fuzzy areas. After a round of back and forth opinions, we decided that we should just meet at school with our writing pieces. 

I slipped out of the house and headed to work. When I arrived home, little lady was still asleep. I figured that I'd lock myself in the computer room and get to work. 

"Mom, can I have some snuggle time?", came a sweet voice. 

Do I stop and snuggle or do I state that mommy has a lot of work to do? 

"Sure sweetie, just a little bit and then Mama has to get back to work."

A few minutes turned into 30 before we heard peeps from upstairs. I lifted my 5 year old heat warmer off my lap and promised to be back in a flash. 

When I got to my little girls doorway, she was pants less and singing at the top of her lungs. I couldn't help but let out a giggle. She joined in and we laughed together for a few moments before I lifted her out of the crib and searched for her pants. She snuggled her head into the crook of my neck and my heart melted. 

Report cards will have to wait until after bedtime. I have some love bugs to snuggle. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sleeping Bleuty (14/31)

I am easily THE animal lover in our house. I do everything in my power to not disturb sleeping animals and feel the need to let them know that they are loved on a continual basis. My husband laughs at me and thinks that I am ridiculous when I scrunch up in an awkward position so I don't disturb the sleeping cat when I get out of bed. 

Today, the boys were all at hockey which left me and the little lady at home to prepare dinner and tidy up the house a bit. My husband had done plenty of cleaning during the day today, so I tried to enjoy some time with my little girl. 

Um...not happening. Someone was super cranky and needed a little nap. I carried my little angel up to bed, prepared for a fight. She curled right in, snuggled her bunny, and closed her eyes. Mommy success!

I went downstairs to look through Pinterest for some dinner was time for something new. My bottom hadn't hit the chair before the cat was on my lap. Normally Bleu isn't interested in sleeping until mid-day or super late...this was a little early for him. I crossed my legs, making the best possible crook for him to sleep in and began searching. 

A rumble shook my legs like a mini earthquake. 

I averted my eyes for a moment so I could scratch behind his ears. A few pets later and the clock was yelling at me to get dinner started. Just a few more scratches. 

A swear that a pigeon swooped in, threw my cat off my lap, and nestled into the nest that had formed on my lap. I couldn't help but give a second look to the furball nestled on my legs. Yes, it was Bleu...content as could be and purring/snoring like a pigeon. 

He's my little Sleeping Bleuty!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Contact Numbers (13/31)

Today I learned the importance of having a contact number for your spouse. Normally I just email him at work. I figure that he is probably as busy as I I don't want to call unless it's an emergency. And those type of things never happen right? 

After dropping off the boys, I quickly hustled down to get a new ID card. I had made an appointment and was prepared for an in-and-out process. 

I was a little over 30 minutes early when I arrived but figured that was never a bad thing. The waiting room was empty and my little miss and I were quickly ushered back. 

The lady typed things into the computer and then asked me if my husband had filled out his paper work for the process (military ID renewal). I told her that I assumed he did since he scheduled the appointment for me. A few clicks later and she informed me that they didn't have the paperwork in their system but that my husband could take care of it from work. 

Not a problem, I broke out my Blackberry and zipped him a quick email with an attached picture of the form he needed to fill out. What did we ever do without technology? 

Then I waited 
                   and waited
                                   and waited some more. 
                                                                    Almost 40 minutes later and no reply. 
                                                                                              Guess that he was working...go figure.

I sadly walked out of the waiting room after letting the lady know that I hadn't gotten a reply.  I guess that we'll be trying again tomorrow. 

A hard lesson learned on making sure that you have contact information for your spouse. I'll be putting his work number into my phone asap.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Outdoor Exploration (12/31)

Hockey season is quickly coming to an end and baseball season is quickly creeping up. I love both and look forward to the change in environments as my boys pack their stinky gear away for their muddy/dusty gear. 

After dinner tonight, the boys all headed outside to play catch and work on their batting. Baseball/tee-ball season starts in just a few days, so they must brush the dust off. Little miss is rubbing her eyes, tripping over imaginary rocks, and is turning on the waterworks often.I can tell that she is tired but it is too early for bedtime and too late for a nap. I take this opportunity to leave the dishes, put her shoes on and head outside. It is a beautiful Spring day. We have had terrible rain and wind storms here so we need to appreciate the sun when we can. 

After we are both bundled in light sweatshirts,  we head outside. Little miss has been outside to watch the boys play but I have always been reluctant to let her loose. Today will be her first day to explore her outdoor environment. The moment her little sneakers hit the pavement, she is off. She doesn't stop for a moment as she waddles her way down the street. I follow close behind, prepared for her first skinned knee. 

It's coming....I can see it. The knee buckles up and the shoe tip touches the ground. It's like a slow motion clip from a movie. Her body pitches forward and her knees and hands hit the ground at the same time. I am prepared for the scream but stand back to observe what is about to happen. 

She looks at her hands, rubs them on the ground a bit, and begins to situate her legs to stand up. I can't help but admire her strength and tenacity. This little fall is just a bump in her journey of her new surrounding. Once she uprights herself, she's off again...running down the road. Hands held above her shoulders and a determined look on her face. 

I love how we can go from cranky, tired waddler one moment to triumphant explorer the next. Our routine may be in flux right now but I will continue to enjoy mixing it up to keep her happy. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Proud Mama (11/31)

It feels like just yesterday that I was having my first child. I look at my little man and wonder where the time has gone. He is now a big third grader and quickly approaching his 9th birthday. 

On Friday, we had our school assembly where my second graders performed on stage. What I didn't share was that my son earned an award as well. Each month, teachers are asked to nominate 4 students who have stood out as being outstanding citizens and hard workers in and out of the classroom. Usually children earn one award a year with a select few earning more than one. 

My son earned his second award this year and I am so very proud of him. 

I like to keep things a surprise from my children because I enjoying watching the wonder and excitement on their face when they put the pieces together. Seeing as T has already received an award, he had no idea that he would be an award winner at the assembly. 

After my second graders sang, the principal took the stage to read the award winners from each classroom. Each teacher gives a Soaring Eagle, Thoughtful Student, Awesome Achiever, and a Super Citizen Award to a student in their classroom.

 I quietly shuffled down the stage stairs so I would be able to see him receive his award. I nestled myself in between two other parents and waited patiently for his teachers name to be called. 

"And from Mrs. A's classroom...T!" 

His mouth dropped open and his cheeks turned a few shades of pink before settling on a mild shade of red. He slowly stood up and met his teachers smile. A smirk slowly crept onto his face as his teacher finally reached him. She reached out her hand to give T his award. She opened up the award (it's in a folded card format) and read him a few words from the inside. He carefully took the card from her and read the words again. Then his eyes slowly raised and began to search the room. Our eyes met and a huge smile filled his face. My eyes got a little misty and my face hurt from the huge smile plastered on my face. 

I will never get tired of these moments. As much as I hate time going by so quickly, I love watching my son succeed in life and I can't wait to continue to watch his journey. I am such a blessed mom. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

One Step at a Time (10/31)

Silence filled our home this afternoon. A gentle plinking sound could be heard by the front door. 

This is never a good sign when you have a waddler in the house. 

I looked at my husband who had a good view down the hallway. He shook his head from side to side...signaling that I needed to check it out.  I slowly slid my body out of its cozy nook in the couch and crept down the hallway. As I neared the front door, I saw a little grey and pink shoe. 

When I rounded the bend, I sucked in a breathe. My little girl had a guilty look in her eyes and a smile on her face. This is beginning to become a face that I dread and one I see too often lately. In one hand, she clenched her bink and the other gripped the stair. 

Our determined little girl has persistently been trying to climb up the stairs and today she finally got two feet on the first stair. I guess that our days of relaxing on the couch are long gone. 

She continues to take one step at time while exploring her world. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Grant (9/31)

I was in the middle of working with a guided reading group when my door creaked open. I didn't think twice about it and neither did my children. We went about our business sounding out words and listening to make sure that they made sense. The rest of my class chugged along with their noses in books or pencils purposefully putting their ideas into their notebooks. 

Uh hem! 

I looked up to find our librarian/tech liaison with a handful of colorful tools in her hand. She smiled at me, reached out her arms, and said, "You got the grant...these just came in." My heart stopped for a moment and then did a little skip jump. 

I could have done a happy dance...I did do a happy dance. I couldn't believe that it had worked. 

 I wrote a grant for 5 iPad minis around Christmas time. I have so many things I want to use them for but the main purpose is to enrichment my kiddos learning in reading (I am teaching part time this year so my main focus is reading and writing). I want to be able to reach my struggling readers while I'm with a group, as well as challenge my high readers.

I should be working on report cards right now but I am searching for appropriate apps to use on Monday. We have already gone over the rules of using iPads safely and everyone took a contract home to sign, stating that they will follow all of the rules. I am so incredibly excited and so are they. 

We have 4 computers in our classroom, but the looks I got when I lifted up these new tools. It was as if Santa had made an extra trip to our classroom. Their eyes lit up at the chance of getting to play with these new tools....even my reluctant readers. I'm looking forward to finding another fun way to engage my class and excite them about learning even more. 

Let the fun begin!

* If anyone reads this and wants to share some good  reading/phonics/writing apps for below and above 2nd grade....I love to hear your suggestions. Thank you!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Teacher Voice (8/31)

My second graders took the stage today. I have been in charge of 7 amazing children who were asked to speak during our all-school assembly. We were charged with the task of speaking about goals. This group decided, in the midst of the Super Bowl excitement, that we should use the Seattle Seahawks as our inspiration. I am not a Seahawks fan (although I was raised with an avid Seahawks fan for a dad) but it was hard to not get caught up in all the excitement. We decided that we would focus on 4 players who had to overcome adversities in their life to achieve their goal of playing in the NFL. We have been talking about persevering and this was a great place to reinforce that skill. 

One young lady in particular stood out today. She decided that she wanted to research and present Marshawn Lynch. Don't worry, it's OK if you aren't a football fan because you can still imagine what a little girl sounds like and how that completely contradicts what a football player usually sounds like. 

On our first day of practice, she sweetly read about Lynch. She had great inflection when she read and added a little personality to it as well. I applauded her first try and then gave some pointers. 

"R, you have to channel your inner football player...bad boy...tough guy.", I said in a scruff voice. 

"What does that sound like or look like?"

"Well, you have to puff yourself up really big and talk like you mean business." I did the best I could to model what this would look like. She giggled a bit and began to puff up her chest and pull back her shoulders. 

"You mean like a teacher voice?"

I wasn't really sure how to take that. Do I use a gruff voice when I use my teacher voice?  I asked her what that sounded like. To which she used a strong, commanding, "I mean business" tone. 

"Yup, that is exactly what I'm talking about.", I replied. 

~ Fast Forward a few weeks to today ~

I brought my son's hockey chest protector/shoulder pads in for several of my speakers to wear under their football jerseys so they'd look bigger and tougher. I should have brought black paint for under their eyes but I didn't think about it. They sat on a bench together, helmets in hands,  and prepared for their parts. It was R's turn, she was the first one to speak. 

She stood with a commanding presence, hunched her shoulders a bit, and shifted her weight to one foot. She scrunched her nose up like she had just walked past a garbage can and then began to talk. "Hi, my name is Marshawn Lynch..." The sweet little voice from moments before was gone and a tough football player captured the attention of every audience member. 

You could hear giggles of disbelief and then there were some hoots and hollers as she connected even more with the audience. 

"The Seattle fans love me and call me Beast Mode." 

AH YEAH! Came a holler from the audience. 

R broke character for just a moment as a smirk appeared on her face, and then she got right back to work. I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear and get a goofy smile on my face. They each worked so hard and it all paid off. Their perseverance and passion shown through on that stage and I couldn't be more proud. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Forgot Something (7/31)

The second graders will be performing on stage tomorrow. I have been working with our readers for a couple weeks now and was so excited to watch them do their dress rehearsal today. 

We had 30 minutes to practice in the gym with 10 minutes left to pack up our supplies back in the classroom. The music teacher was fine tuning the song with the children when a bell rang. I leaned over to look at the clock. Yes, that was the go home bell. I quickly rounded up my class and tried to swim upstream against the children heading out the door to go home. 

I stood by my classroom door supervising children as they collected their things and half-hazardly shoved them into their backpacks. When most children were ready, I ushered them out the door. On a normal day, I give high fives or hugs after they answer an exit question. Sometimes it's a Spanish word, a fact they have learned, or the answer to one of our learning targets for the day. Today, I just reminded them to be at school a little early with their Seahawks gear on. (We are in charge of talking about goals at the assembly. We are using the Seattle Seahawks as our inspiration for talking about persevering to achieve your goals) 

I was down to my last kiddo when he forgot to pack up his glasses. I patiently waited while my foot began to nervously tap. We were awfully late making it out to the buses and I was supposed to be on bus duty. With a smile, I waved my little guy out to the door and reminded him to bring his singing voice tomorrow. I was almost out the door for bus duty when I heard a little voice call out my name. 

I quickly whizzed around and opened the door. My little guy stood there with his coat half on and half off, his backpack clinging to his arm in hopes of not falling off, and a panicked look on his face. 

"Hey buddy, what's up?" 

"I didn't get my hug!"

My heart about melted right there. I leaned over and gave him a big bear hug and wished him a great night. These are the moments that remind me why I love this job so much. This little boy started the year crying and yelling about everything and now he's an important part of our classroom community and yet another holder of my heart.