Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A writer...

The students were supposed to respond to a prompt about what they would do if they were teacher for a day...I think his writing is great! We have work to do on the conventions, but talk about quality! video

Collaboration...slice

Looking back at a conversation I had with another educator, I arrived at an idea. Okay, that's a lie! I arrived at an idea because of others. Because of another educator, I read about plan boxes. Because of another educator, they made me evaluate how I could use them in my writing workshop. Because of another educator, a gaggle of goals will be created. By stapling several plan boxes together, the writers in my room will be able to look back at goals, set them out for conferencing, and see their growth as a writer.

The plan came together only because of collaboration. It came together because people are willing to share their lives together. It came together because slices of life don't just involve us...they involve others.

I think that is one of the greatest ideas that has come from my writing this month. My writing grew because of others and their impact on me, whether that was academically, socially, or just by chance.

May we never forget that our lives are intertwined...changing the slice into threads that are woven to create a beautiful tapestry that we call life.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Math Equation...slice

What does 1 hot outfit + 30 turns (approximate) + 2 running buddies +2 sharkies + 3 stretches + 1 sip of water + thousands of steps equal? 10 miles would be the answer. Ten. No, you read correctly...1/12 of my day was spent training...woo hoo. I'm glad that almost 1/3 of it is going to be spent recuperating!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Realizations...slice of life

As I walked into the auditorium today at church, I was handed a program. I walked up to the front and set down my journal, bible study book, and purse. Carrying my coffee with me, I headed out to the bathroom to get a few tissues (stupid runny nose). As I headed into the auditorium again, I let the greeters know that I already had a program. The lady on the left stopped me and complimented me on my weight removal. What she said wasn't important. What was important was knowing that behind closed doors, I haven't honored God with my food choices. What people see on the outside isn't important...what's going on inside my heart and head is. I thanked her, looked at her name tag, implanted her name into my brain (Deb), and chatted with her for a bit. She, too, has had a journey of weight removal and it was nice to talk with someone else who understands the battle.

And to tangent a bit, I know that some of who you read my blog might understand the battle in a different way (battling food, obsession, and body image), but there's something comforting about someone who has removed weight and knows the thinking that goes on when you look in a mirror and still seeing the old body and afraid that you'll wake up the next day with it back. Yes, I know that is physically impossible...

My slice of life today is about realizing that I still battle and need to be honest with myself, with God, and with a few trusted friends (and of course the blogging world...ha ha). Today is a new day...and in the words of an amazing worship song...Forever, I am changed. It's time for me to start living that.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Patience pays off...slice

There was a local 5K held today in our town. I decided to enter (last minute) to run with others, to support the cause, and to prepare my legs for the future 10 miler on Monday. After finishing the 5K and having my PR by almost 2 minutes, it was time to celebrate with the winners. I had already downed my cookie, banana, and water. I was holding onto my bagel to take home and toast (btw, the most amazing food EVER at a 5K). The crowd had started out at almost 600 people running and walking together and it was finally dwindling out. I'm assuming that because people knew they hadn't won, they left. I would have too...until I heard there were door prizes.

Three door prizes were given away and then the awards for each age level were presented. You could see the many people gathered begin to retreat and exit. I was sitting with some friends from church and wasn't sure if I should stay or go...because with door prizes, you never know. More and more people were leaving until there were probably less than 75 people. The announcer then began awarding door prizes by bib number rather than names and ironically, it looked like he was scanning the crowd. Hmmmm...I heard that a facial was being given away and I thought, I should make sure he sees my bib number. I unzipped my jacket and stepped forward from the table that I was sitting at. When he called the number...it wasn't mine. Darn! He announced ANOTHER free facial gift certificate and I decided to be bolder. I took another step and began to Vanna White my bib...and lo and behold, my number was called! I yelled and cheered for myself, skipping up to the presenter with my bagel in hand.

Just goes to show you that with a little perseverance and patience, and a little boldness...sometimes you can win! I'll let you know about the facial...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Compassion...slice of life

So many times I forget that I work with a very precious commodity. Children. Today, I was able to focus on children and not teaching standards, not pushing a test, not focusing on results. Just letting a kid be who they are. We had a music program and one of my students who often pushes my buttons was not feeling well. He doesn't mean to. Some days, I've just had it and it's tough to be patient and help explain the social norms that others seem to understand.

A brass quintet was playing and I, as usual, had him sitting by me. One other student had to leave which caused an open space next to him. He laid down on the bleacher and proceeded to fall asleep. Asleep. In a gymnasium filled with hundreds of kids clapping and yelling. Obviously, he wasn't feeling well. I kept waiting for him to begin to fall off the bleacher. When that motion began, I pulled him over, laid his sweatshirt in my lap, and allowed him to sleep on my lap. When the quintet was wrapping up, he woke up (about 30 minutes), having left some slobber on my jeans.

Today, he wasn't a boy who pushes my buttons. He was a child who just wanted to sleep and wasn't feeling well. Today, I was able to look past the frustration and give him what he needed. It was a slice of life that I need to remember when the frustrating moments happen in class...to remember, that first and foremost, he's a kid.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Newness...slice of life

It had been in my possession for several days. A student had given it to me...after sitting on my desk and smelling it every now and again, I took the fragrant grapefruit home. It sat in my fruit drawer for even more days. I am a fan of tangerines and oranges, but grapefruit? I had always assumed they were too tart for me.

I pulled open the drawer and felt adventurous today. The aroma reminds me of cleanliness, of lotions (Bath and Body anyone?), of life. I sliced through it and looked at the perfectly positioned portions. Realizing that my mom's grapefruit knife really did have a purpose, I began to muddle through cutting the sections.

After a sprinkling (okay, heaping) of Splenda, I used my spoon to slide a section into my mouth. My taste buds realized there was a new flavor, my brain took over...not bad I thought. I tried a second bite. Oooh, my mouth puckered. The Splenda really does help out.

Each section as juicy as the one before. Each section as refreshing as the one before. Each section allowing me to experience the sweetness, bitterness, and tartness that are all rolled into one.

It was a nice way to begin a winding down evening at home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Choices...slice of life

I wanted to scream
Instead I took a breath.

I wanted to throw everything off their desks
Instead I gathered the students together.

I wanted to walk out
Instead I dug deep.

Can you tell it was a frustrating day? I'm just tired of interrupting and not being able to present lessons to the class. I'm tired of students being sneaky. I'm tired of giving them a task and having 18 different tasks to monitor. I had a heart to heart...we'll see if it works still tomorrow. However, I had a little piece of heaven...after gym, they came back in and settled in (okay, it took a little bit), but then...BLISS! You could have heard a pin drop. They were reading, chatting with others, buddy reading. Being readers. It was nice!

As I leave school today, I want to remember that time...not the wanting to pull my hair out time!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Uh...hello?

Today we were pulled out of our rooms for an hour to meet with our PBIS team (positive behavior). I sat in the room with the teachers as they filed in. The silence was almost overbearing. I wasn't upset to be there...just indifferent. I wanted to hear the ideas that had come from the team and what was going on.

As they began (our co-workers make up the team), papers were passed around. I was pleasantly surprised. Our rules were no longer in place...they had become expectations. A matrix held procedures for students and the adults. One line of print caught my eye. A level two voice will be used.

If any of these teachers had spent any time in my room, they would have known that I do not have rules...I have expectations (thanks Scott!). If any of these teachers had spent time in my room, they would see the voice chart (thanks Stacey). I don't feel as overwhelmed with having new ideas for improving our positive behavior at school, simply because it seems to be already in place in my classroom.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I am perfect. However, it's nice to know that I am already one step closer...I'm excited to see how behavior continues to improve at our school when teachers are consistent in their language and their expectations.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ideas???

I am being honest...I am floating along in my writing workshop without really knowing where to go. I am going day by day with no huge idea as to where I want to end up. I know this is bad...I want to allow the students to keep writing and they are truly enjoying having choice right now. Tomorrow I am going to work on the magic of three - series, repeating beginnings of sentences, repeating line, etc.

When we come back from break, we are going to study poetry. In my mind, I am trying to create small focus lessons building the quality of their writing before we go on break...does anyone else ever do this? Am I the only one? I feel like a fraud...

Tonight was exciting though, I gave the students a choice for homework. Accelerated Math or continue on their writing...many chose their writing. Several of my students are working on character profiles, so my hope for them tonight is that they fill out a few of them so we can begin writing the story they are envisioning with their characters.

Some future ideas that I came up with too...put their completed character profiles in a binder so other writers could use them if desired or even just get ideas for other stories. Also, if I require my students to read 15 minutes a night, shouldn't I? I think I normally do, but just in case...I'm going to make more of an effort that I do get my time in too.

I'm Back...slice of life

I pulled in grabbing a parking space on the side like I always did. I walk in and saw a familiar face at the desk. I let her know that I need to sign up to become a member. I gave up my personal membership at a smaller local gym and rejoined the Y because of a price increase and knowing with the economy the way it is...saving 30 dollars a month would be more beneficial.

After the paperwork was filled out, I ran a few laps with a co-worker upstairs and then walked into the fitness center. Familiar faces filled the gym and several asked where I had been, but they all seemed glad that I was back. It was like the year that I was gone had never occurred.

What did the 30 dollars a month cost me? I lost a treadmill that was extremely programmable. I lost the weights set for me plus knowing the EXACT weight I was on. I lost seeing the friendly faces that I enjoyed at the smaller gym.

What did I gain? Thirty dollars a month for one! Seeing friends again at the Y that I truly missed. The opportunity to continue to push myself and learn how to take care of my body on my own.

One treadmill run and several attempts at trying to figure out weights on machines, my workout at the Y is over. Tomorrow I'll be back to try my weights for my upper body and enjoy some cardio...plus reminding myself that I am saving myself 30 dollars!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What now? slice of life

Before me lays a spiral book filled with 32 blank squares. A blank canvas for the week. Markings of a pencil set ideas into motion for the week of what I want to see my students understand...white dominates the pencil scratches.

Some weeks it's almost overwhelming to plan. I like to go just a few days at a time to allow changes and movements of what I think we'll cover. Other days like I feel like an impostor and a procrastinator.

My goals for this week?

- learn how to write a letter to someone to tell them about the real reading that occurred
- explanation of the rubric that will be used to grade that letter
- diving deeper into writing dialogue for some of my writers who are not using all of the conventions correctly
- mastering objectives in students' AM libraries and for two girls to write down their math sentences
- learn homonyms and begin studying them for a quiz (students will create pictures and sentences to illustrate them)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Sigh of Relief...slice of life

All the text said is, "I'm home."

And that right there began the giant smile that is on my face and lets me feel that I am complete again.

I drove over to my mom's after I took a short nap (running trails is hard) and as I got closer, the smile grew. When I walked into my mom's kitchen, there she was standing there. In her hands was my sister's messenger bag. In the bag was a styrofoam sleeve covering my MacBook. It was finally fixed and brought back to my hometown by my mom who had met my sister halfway in between our two towns.

I looked at her and we both sighed at once. Relief. I opened the bag gingerly, brought out the bag and pulled the MacBook out and we just looked at it. It's amazing how just having it again makes me feel normal.

Ahhh...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slices times three...slice of life

First off...the run. Over. Glad it's out of the way and my body is too. My lower half of my body aches today. Oh well...sleep will be great (if I get any - my small group girls are having another sleepover at my place).

One thing that I enjoy most about my teaching is the little conversations that occur throughout the day with my students. For example, we are reading The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. My students can name the authors we've studied and are tuned into them...looking for them wherever we go. They wanted to know if she'd be in the book fair and where we'd find her books. One boy brought me today Roscuro's heart. It was a mini eraser neon-striped heart. I asked why it was his heart. He showed me that the heart had been broken and could be put back together incorrectly just like Roscuro. Wow...deep thinker. Had to hug him for that one.

Two...one of my boys apologizes allllllllllllll the time. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Today, I said, "Stop saying sorry." Yep, you know what happens next. "Sorry that I say sorry." Ugh! Heard that two more times.

Third...I noticed that as my students came into the classroom from recess, one of the girls looked different. Her shirt had become a bathing suit. She had the cutest pink flowered shirt with pink plush pants. Her shirt was actually a body suit and amazingly enough during recess, it become unbuttoned, so she rebuttoned it. Outside the pants instead of inside. After I chuckled, I decided to save her dignity (okay, I really did just want to leave it alone because it was really funny). Explaining that it goes inside the pants buttoned, she went into the bathroom and fixed it.

I am thankful for this slice of life challenge simply because it forces me to look more through my day for what is really sticking out. And six of my students are joining me for half the month and we had a writer's luncheon today. They shared with me how they were going to try and make their slices strong this weekend and how they decided on what they wrote. It's been pretty neat. I can see growth in all of my students and the way they refer to their writing...love our workshops!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Looking ahead...slice of life

Today's slice is a bit unconventional because it hasn't happened yet. I know slices are meant to be about things that have already happened, but everything about today is leading up to it.

I am in the process of training for a half-marathon on May 2. Tonight, my friend and I are running nine miles. Nine. Miles. I am dreading it. But I'm preparing myself.

Items Needed for Preparation
- good snacks (apple this morning and pbj sandwich this afternoon)
- hydration (Crystal Light rocks!)
- pain reliever (need I say more?)
- one amazing friend (she has probably logged more than 100 miles with me)
- gumption (working on that today - going to try writing on my arm some inspiration)

My goal today is to go out and run it and not worry about the time (okay, that's kind of a lie). My goal is to go and finish it and not quit (for those of you who pray, I'm going to beg for prayers today between 4:30 and 6:30 - if you think of it, I'd be so appreciative!) Will let you know how it was...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Again??? slice of life

Today, it was me in the bathroom. Students were coming in, putting away backpacks, greeting their friends and getting to work. One boy had to take a quiz on the computer and I thought, this is my chance. I snuck into the bathroom because the students (for the most part) know their morning procedures. All of a sudden (yes, I'm in the bathroom) I hear, "Miss Cathy?"

It was the boy on the computer...he couldn't take the quiz because he had already taken it. Can't I just have one moment to myself, especially in the bathroom? I holler back that he needed to wait and as I was flushing (sorry for the graphicness), the door is flung open.

I grunted some sort of noise and then kick the door shut. Apparently another girl didn't realize that I was in there. What a way to start the morning...I guess tomorrow is a good time to review procedures for the bathroom.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Great question...slice of life

Today in reading workshop, I modeled a graph so readers could graph the type of thinking they had been writing during the past two days of our workshop. I am excited to look through these graphs because I am also asking them to examine their thinking and set a reading goal. As I passed out the papers to the readers and dismissed them into their areas, I asked one of the students in my room who has an IEP (but is higher-functioning) to try it. This student stays in our room longer than the other students and had been present for the thinking and writing, whereas the others had not.

As I asked this student to try it, one of my boys turned to me and said, "Miss Cathy, why does * do it and the others don't?"

"Hmmm...that's a really good question," I said. As I was thinking, how do I explain different levels of disabilities? My response? Classic..."I'm not sure how to answer you on that one...is it okay if I don't give you an answer?"

"Yep," he said and off he went to work.

My students are perceptive and smart and very wise...I love their thinking and the fact that they are not ashamed to ask any question. They feel safe...which means I am accomplishing what I set out to do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A voice from the door...slice of life

The buzz had finally quieted down. The talkative readers who just had to share had finally settled in. I had conferenced with the red group, gathered the students and shared their great thinking and was taking advantage of the quiet. The readers were reading and thinking and writing down their thinking and I was grading (I hardly ever am found at my desk...honestly) their multiple meaning pages.

It was like a faint calling..."Miss Cathy (cause I'm not going to use my last name)...Miss Cathy". I thought I had heard my name, but wasn't quite sure. I looked around the room. No student was looking at me. They were all reading, writing, and thinking.

Again..."Miss Cathy...Miss Cathy". It was louder this time. I looked again. Again...NO ONE was looking at me. This has to be some sort of joke, I thought.

And then I heard it again..."Miss Cathy"...and it was definitely louder! It was coming from the bathroom in our room. A student who frequently is in there for minutes at a time (to the point I forget that he's in there) was calling out to me.

"Yes, student?"

"Where are the other kids?" Students begin to get distracted from their reading and look at me and the talking door. They snicker because they know who is in the bathroom and the fact that he is yelling out to talk to me.

"They're out here reading."

"Oh...I thought they had gone."

"Nope...you have another 20 minutes before recess."

A minute later the toilet flushes, he exits, and life continues in our reading workshop. Just one of the many slices that happen during the day that cause me to shake my head.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sweetness...slice of life

As I finished up the teaching for the students in Sunday School, I headed into the office to check my e-mail. I saw a boy dive onto the floor and noticed that he and his dad were having some grand old time just being a dad and his son. As I greeted them, I kept walking and heard "Pretty."

I wasn't quite sure what the little boy had said, so I asked him, "What?"

He replied, "I said you're pretty." Seriously, I felt the goodness of the compliment warm my entire being.

What a beautiful little boy...and how sweet. That one tender comment made my morning...and knowing that his family is raising him and nurturing that tender spirit is amazing!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Changes...slice of life

I had originally decided this morning to write my slice about the spa treatment I received when I went to the Aveda Institute in Indy...haircut, mini-facial, small massage, and head massage for 15 bucks...yes, you read right! But as I was waiting for my sister, it all changed.

I had paid and sat down at the wooden table and chairs to grade papers while my sister was on her way over for an appointment. As I was waiting, I could see the entire salon and to my right was the hallway that led into the Castleton Mall. Two glass doors allowed people to walk in and out. I glanced several times at people walking by, but one couple caught and kept my attention. There was nothing overly beautiful about either one. They were in their 50s or 60s and the woman had on orange shoes. Jeans, sweatshirts, again, nothing out of the ordinary (except for the shoes). What struck me was the pace they were walking. Slow...turtle slow. She shuffled along and he just led the way holding her hand. She never spoke a word and I watched them for about 100 feet. They passed right in front of me and while I should have looked away, something about them was intriguing. He manuevered her over to the table on my left (nearest the door), grabbed her gently, kissed her, and helped her sit into a chair. He told her he'd be right back and went out to get the car. He came back in, helped her up, kissed her again, and then again, without uttering a single word, she shuffled with him in the lead out to the car. He opened the car door, helped her in, and then they drove off.

The compassion and tenderness and love that this man has for her was beautiful, captivating, intriguing. The committment that was present reminds me of why I will not settle. I am grateful that I got to see such a tender exchange of love between a couple that are strangers to me.

When I take my eyes off my own self, I tend to see the beauty that is all around, just waiting to be breathed in...if only I will stop and just be present in slices of life.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sharing can hurt...slice

Today I had our district's writing coach pop in for a quick hi...one of my students asked if she was also participating in the slice of life challenge (writing thing in his words). I said she was and asked if anyone else wanted to...a few students eagerly raised their hand and I invited them for our special writers' lunch.

***

When I entered the classroom, of the eager volunteers were five girls. I ate my lunch as we talked about what a slice of life is and what it is not. I asked if they wanted to hear some of my writings of slices of life that I had submitted. During the first sharing, something must have happened to one of the girls and they were laughing about it. Honestly, it interrupted my reading, so I stopped, let them situate themselves and kept going. I asked if they wanted to hear the poem that I had written. I don't write much poetry and am kind of proud of my one that I wrote for my slice. I began it when I heard the chuckling again. As I looked over, I saw one of the girls (a smart one mind you) making faces and gestures as I was reading. She was distracting two other listeners as well. Seriously, it hurt!!!! I asked her if I did that when she shares and she said no. I asked her not to do it while I was sharing. I finished the poem, but it definitely wasn't what I had imagined. Maybe I should have printed it off and taken to them and read in a small group rather than from my computer...next time I'll try that.

As the students left today, about eight students are going to attempt the slice of life challenge, (and yes I know we're almost half into it) but I figured if they even get 10 slices, I will be happy. And yes, one of the boys, that at the last minute joined, is only doing it for the reward...but they're going to write and hopefully they'll receive another reward themselves.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Small gestures...slice of life

Today, I took more than 20 students (part of a service organization at my school) to the local nursing home and rehabilitation center. They were spending time with residents - chatting, playing games, engaging the residents. I didn't have much to do, so I plopped down behind a barricade that separated the hall from the dining room. As I was grading my math papers, I saw a trio of older people gliding down the hallway. Yes, gliding. The woman and man in the front of the triangle trio were older with white hair. She was tall with a flowing black long pea coat. I remember looking at her and thinking...she's tall. Amazing thought, huh?

I decided to check again on students as they were with residents and found myself looking down the hallway where this trio had headed. The man in the back parted and I saw the older couple. And then I saw the gesture...they were walking down the hallway hand in hand. They looked comfortable. They looked in love. They looked like they fit together. It was a beautiful picture of what growing old can look like. There were so many things in the hallway: carts, wheelchairs, doors galore, but the one thing I saw was two entwined hands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Where are they?...slice of life

As I put my outfit together this morning, I felt a little like Ugly Betty. I was trying my new blue jacket (that I got for 8 bucks) over a long sleeved black shirt with my gray pants. The piece de resistance that would piece it together was the black, gray, and blue plaid flats. I headed downstairs, made my breakfast (while enjoying a 2 hour delay) and then headed over to my shoe mat to grab the flats. Three pairs of Asics and one brown pair of heels were waiting for me. Well...I'll just head upstairs and get them.

Looking through the shoe rack did not produce any luck. I then proceeded to throw, and I mean throw, clothes that were laying on the floor (that I do need to pick up) around to see if they were under there somewhere. No luck.

I checked downstairs again on the mat to see if the shoe fairy reproduced them. Nope. Head upstairs again...could I have left them in the car? Nothing...I'm so frustrated. I sighed. And went back downstairs again to search around the living room. As I headed to the front door to see if I could see them anywhere else, there they were. Lying beside my workout bag in the chair where I had brought them in the first place the first time I came down the stairs. Ugh!!! That'll teach me to be proactive in the morning and gather everything together that I need.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday evenings...slice of life

For the past two years, my small group girls have an open invitation to my house. It was something I always dreamed of allowing when I had my own house. Tonight six girls gather...they demolish the quietness of my house, open the frig without asking, eat food from my pantry, and dispose of any food that I want to get rid of. What's the payback for them eating me out of my house? They talk about their life, their ups, their downs, and how they look forward to this all day long. We talk about everything and nothing. It's just nice to have a slice of life with them, as short as it may be, where we can just be with each other. The laughs and tears that have been shed over the past few years are well worth it. It's a slice of my week that I will miss when they are in college next year...so it's all the more important to enjoy today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Now What???...slice of life

I slowed down to make the turn in my car and saw a plasticy looking item sticking out of my mailbox. Not again...I'm so tired of this magazine coming. (It was a free gift because of an online subscription, but I ended up canceling it because I detest the magazine) After I clunked up the stairs, I pulled it out and saw behind it a white plasticy package...hmm...could it be? As I was pulling everything out, I flung another thick envelope onto the porch. Grabbing everything else and the envelope, I threw everything onto the couch and tried to decide what to open first.

The winner was the insurance bill. That wasn't a good idea. Oh well...wait for another envelope later from the physical therapist showing me how much I owe. Next came the mystery package. I didn't recognize the return address, but had a good feeling I knew what it was.

Remembering back to the bright pink tissue paper from before, I ripped open the package and there before me was a large piece of candy. Okay, not really. But it resembled it. Pink and white striped tissue paper. Tied at the ends with aqua ribbon...it was delicious! The ribbon was knotted, so like a little kid, I ripped into the tissue paper. It was the backpack that I had won from an earlier slice. My mind raced at how I could use it, what I could put in it, how it looked just like the photo! The green is even more gorgeous in real life...today was nice to receive a gift. And what a beautiful gift it is...I'm honored to have it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Morning...slice of life

Swaddled as a baby
Encased in a cocoon
Warmth draws me
deeper
darker

Drip drops
drag me
draw me
Pitter patter
push me
propel me
out

Enticing me
with their dance

Awakening me
to a new day

Beckoning me
to begin

to become.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Passing down the gift...slice of life

It began innocently...always with a giving heart...always given back because of stubbornness. I remember as a child visiting my grandparents (my mom's parents) and when we were leaving, my grandma would always try and slip my mother money for whatever reason. My mom did whatever she could to return it and refuse it...with as much grace as she could muster.

My mom threw a baby shower today for my cousin's baby...and all I had to do was show up with some grapes. Grapes that when I passed them through the u-scan cost almost 15 dollars. I only know how to buy in excess...another gift I received from my mom. I washed them, clipped them, brought them to my mom's.

At the end of the shower, I was talking with my sister and she was trying to get me to go out to dinner with my family. After balancing my checkbook, I was shocked to see how much money I had...I guess the swiping of my card has been a little out of control lately, so in an effort to cut back, I felt going out to dinner would not be a good thing when I have tons of grapes in my frig (other food too). I hate wasting it. And yes, I admit it...I was being extremely stubborn. I had made panko crusted chicken earlier and wanted nothing more than to go to my own house, put on sweats, relax, and do chores all around my house. Stubborn to an nth degree!

I was talking to my sister, trying to reason to her why I wasn't going to stay. (In the back of my mind, I am justifying it since I'll get to see her Friday night and spend part of the day with her on Saturday.) I saw my mom rummage through her coat pockets and then check out the Sharkies (energy supplement when I'm running) in my bag. As she was looking at the bag, I saw a motion that made me suspicious. Sure enough, as I pulled out item after item, I saw the green rolled up wad of dollar bills. Without her seeing, I quickly grabbed them and passed them onto my step-dad.

She has turned in my grandma and I have turned into my mother...

Did she find out that I gave the money back? Yes. Were her feelings hurt? I don't know. It's not that I need the money. I think it comes down to not wanting my parents to struggle financially. I'm doing okay on my own. I have a surplus in my accounts and I pay my bills on time. I just shouldn't go spend extravagantly right now.

And maybe the bigger question in my life right now is why am I writing my slice about leaving my family rather than the time I had with them? If I figure out the answer, I'll let you know.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What? slice of life

I had gathered the students into a circle to share what they were expected to do during their centers. While I was waiting for a few students who were lagging in the hallway doing other things, one of my boys began to open up about a home situation. This child could possibly have certain tendancies and doesn't always understand social situations and I wasn't sure where he was going with his story, but thought it was important that he was able to share what he was feeling. As he started to finish up the conversation, he said, "I shouldn't say this..." and right there is where I should have stopped him...but no, what could he say?

"Mom calls (lady name) an asshole." My jaw dropped as I realized that 15 other second graders just heard a word that is not appropriate in class or for them to say anyways...uhhh...what do I do? I did the only thing I could think of...laugh! And then my other students began laughing. I tried to calmly explain why he shouldn't say that word, but the damage was already done. We moved on and I began to explain the magnet centers...but I knew right away I wanted that piece for a slice!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Affirmation

The squeaky wheel gets the oil and baby, I got it today! I was blessed to be able to attend a study group led by Debbie Miller...yes, you read right! Our writing coach knew that I wanted to go and due to miscommunication did not go to the large group presentation yesterday. There were a few openings today and one of the head coaches said I could go. I am so glad that I did! Listening and watching Debbie confirmed much of what I do in my classroom as well as gave me a vote of confidence in myself. I heard several questions by other teachers that I had already wrestled with and feel that I am beyond the beginning level. By no means am I saying that I am perfect, but I do feel that I am diving in with both feet and swimming somewhat instead of just treading water.

I'm excited to go back to my classroom tomorrow and try a few more things. And to tell my students how very proud I am of their hard work and great thinking...they do make me proud!

P.S. I also got to meet another fellow blogger...people just looked at me as I asked, "Are you Teachermom?" I finally found her and it's always so exciting!

Eight Miles of Emotion...slice of life

In our writing workshop, we're talking about emotions that can occur in our writing. During my training run today for my half-marathon in May...I discovered I had a few (hoping that what I'm about to write are emotions)

Joy - the sun on my face - I put sunscreen on just in case.
Excitement - my friends, Megan and Katie, were going to run with me.
Determination - the wind was really strong.
Perseverance - need to keep going...no matter how much it hurts or how windy it is.
Frustration - why can't my legs seem to move as fast as my friends?
Anger - 8 miles is a long way to run...and feeling like a cane is being shoved into my hip does not feel great.
Determination (again) - I am NOT a quitter.
Relief - Crossing the finish line felt wonderful!
Gratitude - My friends put up with a lot of complaining and chose to run with me even though they had Bible study later...they are true friends and addicted to running!

Just wait till the race...I'm sure more emotions will arise that day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

You've got to be kidding me...slife of life

Reader, you need to know that this slice involves a door, destruction, and one irate teacher. It was the end of the day and I was frantically scrambling lesson plans around (I get to see Debbie Miller...be still my heart). I wanted to make sure I had enough pages for their letters to me and I walked over to our writing center (my old closet that I converted). Grabbing the door, I pulled it open and nothing...it was stuck. This can't be...how in the world is it stuck, I thought. And then I realized that the door was locked.

No problem, get the key, you're saying. Reader, this door is older than myself. It has been around since the dawn of time. There was no one who had a key and no one in the building who was going to be able to help me get it unlocked.

To my surprise, I found the custodian that cleans my room...okay, maybe cleans isn't the right word. He was picking up his paycheck, but offered to see what he could do. One screwdriver, his wife, and a few turns later...hinges started coming off the door. After taking off both hinges...nothing. We still couldn't get the door opened where it had locked. Reader, if I could have pried the door off the frame to allow the students to get their writing, I would. But with destruction comes clean up and I wasn't ready for that yet or a talking-to from the principal.

The custodian found a few more screws he could undo and I stepped out to share my frustration with another teacher. While I was out...they got the door unlocked!!!!! Barring any future possibility of this door ever being locked again, we took out the entire lock. The door went on and I saw the damage. Long black strips of ribbon hanging off the front off the door, the yellow fabric draping on the side, and the sign now laying by itself in a tray. All of my hard work of creating an environment of organization and creativity...gone.

My door back on, my head still steaming, I headed for my car one hour later than necessary. However the door ended up being locked isn't the problem anymore...but I would love to know how it had happened. I'll clean up the mess on Friday...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Be prepared...for the unprepared - slice

As I trudged over to grab the recycling and trash bins, my eyes caught a glimpse of extra brown on my porch. It's a package! My heart danced over the thought of a gift. I remembered that I was awaiting the backpack from an earlier slice. As I brought it into my house, I flung it on the counter and proceeded to finish up the surprise dinner for my friend.

The package slipped from my mind until my friends started to leave for the evening. "Wait," I cried.

They had to see the beautiful backpack that was now mine. As I ripped open the package, a brilliant shade of pink tissue paper floated out...how sweet, I thought. Stacey really got into the presentation of the backpack. Then my eyes caught a sticker on the tissue paper...Ann Taylor Loft.

Duh...it was the pants that I had ordered Friday night. All hope is not lost though...I still have another package to await.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Need it...Slice of Life

When I saw them...I knew they were going to be mine.

I bought a new pair of shoes on Friday night to help carry me through the next round of training for my half-marathon. I went with what my feet are used to, the only thing different about my new shoes was the color. Orange...but not your normal orange. Vibrant, on fire, brilliant orange. The kind of orange that makes your feet want to dance upon the pavement.

As I walked into the gym tonight, I saw one of the most funkified pairs of shoes ever and thought I'd try them out. What could it hurt? One of the running experts had also suggested another pair of shoes, so like Goldlilocks I began my journey.

First pair - hard on the heel...interesting. Kind of plasticy. Looks like something a track star would wear. Maybe.

Second pair - tight...ugly shade of blue, too tight...Get rid of these! How I lasted three minutes of my interval was shocking.

My already bought shoes - too soft on the treadmill now. My feet are jaded from the first pair that gave my heels what they wanted when I'm plugging away on the treadmill that bounces.

First pair again...heaven! I want these! Can it be possible that a runner loves two different brands of shoes for different reasons? My feet will find out! Tune in for my next treadmill run...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Challenge

I am going to try and display the button that shows the slice of life challenge that I am participating in for the month of March over at Two Writing Teachers. I'm hoping to better my writing, look for opportunities to write about, and use it to help model for my students better.

Selfishness - Slice of Life

Reader, before you judge, know that I spent 2 hours yesterday getting gum out of her hair, feeding her a snack, played a game of checkers, and made rice krispie treats for her and her family.

Today, as I walked from my car to my house, I heard it..."Cathy...." Yep, it was the neighbor girl again outside patrolling the neighborhood and watching for my timely arrival. "Can I come over?" (Parents, don't know how you do it non-stop) "Give me a little time, sweetie...say 1 or 2." That should give me a little time.

I sauntered around my house enjoying the peace and quiet. I made lunch. I did my Bible study. I relaxed on the couch. I watched the clock tick closer to 1. A nap sounds really good and maybe she won't be coming over, I thought. There was only fifteen minutes left in the show that I was watching and then it was off to slumberland...when I saw the bike. I had only a split second to make a decision.

Reader, you're hoping I let her in...shared God's love with her today, but I didn't. I showed my true colors. I snapped the tv off, raced on my tiptoes through the hall, and up the stairs as I heard the quiet but persistent knocking on my door. I drifted off to sleep, but deep in my heart knew that I made the wrong decision.

Hopefully, I'll have another slice that will better my colors, but today, the slice of life seems awfully selfish.