Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SOL15 - Untitled/Unposted/Uninteresting

I don't know if this will be a good slice or not yet...  It's all a jumble in my head.

An update: I am doing the Fit For Fall Charity Challenge from Tone It Up.  If you don't already use Charity Miles, you should!  It's an app that tracks your milage walking, running, or biking and then has a sponsor donate money to a charity you choose for each of your miles.  It's something kind of wonderful!!! My friends have just been tracking the distance they walk to and from the lounge each day.  It adds up, I assure you.

There is a thing called a virtual run, which I just learned about.  You do a virtual race, whenever, where ever, how ever you like!!! No parking on race day, hurrying to packet pickup, trying to break through the pack at the starting line.  You just run, or walk when, or where you want!  Which leads me to the virtual club I'm now a part of: The Hogwarts Running Club.  Amazing.  A bunch of Potter heads who like to exercise, sharing their successes with each other, Potter news and fun finds, and raising money for charity!  I'm a big fan.  #hufflepuff

Currently Reading: The Book Thief

Currently Watching: re-watching Grey's Anatomy

Currently Listening to: Grey's Anatomy and Twilight soundtracks.  I've been especially fond of
Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A Home", Sleeping At Last's "Turning Page", and anything Ingrid Michaelson has ever sung.

Currently Teaching: Present tense verb review, and After School Activities Vocab

Some small victories that I've been dying to share:
My freshman team keeps winning.  They're unbelievable.  I am a little hard on them, but they work so hard every day.  Today they lost the first game of the set, and came back and won the last two!!! Those girls cheered and yelled and picked each other up when they were down.  It was awesome! Did I mention it was against a JV team?  Did I mention my freshmen are awesome?!

I have gone four weeks without using the text book.  I have integrated technology, I've had students doing mini projects, communicating, thinking outside the box, problem solving, and doing cool creative assignments.  I am exhausted and crazy and feeling like I might lose my mind... but by golly, we are being progressive and flexible!!!!

I can do a chaturanga to updog and not look like a mess.  I can control my body through the transition, and it feels good!  The scale doesn't show it, but I've made so much progress! And the only bad thing I ate today was a rice krispy treat (a small one) and a 100 cal bag of cheese its!!! BOOM!

As it turns out, this isn't a slice at all.  I think I spent too much time running full speed from one moment to the next to slow down and take in a moment worth writing about.  Tomorrow I will work on being more mindful.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pristiq - It's getting me wound up

I kind of thought ads were supposed to target your interests these days... Youtube seems to be convinced I am depressed.  Pristiq, an antidepressant with a super close-up of a woman being depressed followed by a wind up toy, has had ads on the last 4 videos I've watched, which were flying kittens, Benedict Cumberbatch mispronouncing "penguins", a cardio workout, and yoga. Missed your mark, Youtube.

I've been depressed.  I didn't spend time working out, especially with sassy fierce cheery girls like Karena and Katrina!  I sat around being depressed about feeling depressed, eating my depressed feelings and then feeling worse that I was eating so much unhealthy food.  I definitely didn't watch flying kitten videos.  I watched sad mopey things that made me even sadder, or binge watched something dramatic like Grey's Anatomy where people are constantly dying and having their hearts broken.

Come on, YouTube.  Get on Facebook's ad creeping level.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quick! Write it down!!!

Before the feeling fades.  Before you go back to your normal pace (a sprint). Before the world goes back to demanding your time. There is just so much BEAUTY everywhere.  My phone was dead so I couldn't take any pictures for you.  I'll have to hope I can write well enough to make up for it.

I was sitting in Starbucks, which I hate.  I love to support local businesses but my favorite coffee shop closed a few years ago, and the closest local place is on the complete opposite side of town.  Anyway, after grading my papers and projects, I pack up my laptop and turn to head out the door.  There are two friends next to me who haven't seen each other in months.  They've been oooh-ing and aaah-ing over the 2nd friend's new baby since she sat down.  Now, they are catching up on life.  One is finishing her Master's thesis.  The other is excited to have successfully made it through two weeks of welding class with all of her hair, skin, and eyebrows still intact.  The baby, the bright-eyed, cubby-cheeked, little guy sits staring contentedly up at his mom and drinking his dinner.  He makes tiny sighs of happiness with each little glug he can coax out of the bottle.

Behind us, a kid who might be Justin Bieber's stunt double is getting tutored in Math.  I hate Math.  But he has an amazing tutor.  I recognize her as the math teacher that student taught the same year I did at Cooper.  I should say hi, but... Christina?  Caitlyn?  I know her name starts with a C....  She is explaining formulas I never mastered (never will, either), and Little Bieber is soaking it up!  There are some girls from his school a few tables over who keep giggling and sighing in his general direction, and he sits there, gears turning, brain grinding, working through problem after problem.  He doesn't complain, he doesn't try to act too cool for school.  He sits, he listens, he focuses, he works.  I'm impressed.  And happy for... Catrina... Catherine... Crystal... I know it starts with a C....

I walk past Biebs and Celia and glance down to avoid bumping the next table.  A man in his khakis and blue button up sits reading with his coffee.  Everything at his table is perfect.  The perfect white cup filled with perfectly black, steaming coffee.  His blue shirt that is the exact right shade of blue, like the sky when the sun is starting to set and there's a troubled, stormy sky, a glowing navy.   His book, with cream colored pages, a deep forrest green cover that coordinates perfectly with his shirt, a beautiful, thick, black scroll across the pages, he makes eloquent notes in every inch of open space on the page.  There is no phone on the table, no computer, just his book and his coffee.  The way I wish I was.

At I turn my back to the door to push-and-roll out, arms full of graded papers, there is a college aged kid and another tutor at the bar along the side of the wall.  Honestly, there's just something about seeing someone voluntarily seek help to better their education that is just awesome to me.  I don't know another word for it.  I see so many kids every day that could not care less about the things we are trying to teach, and here is a young man who found a tutor and took time out of his personal life to get smarter.

On my way to the car, there is a hipster/indie little waif of a girl at a table next to some fraternity boys at a table next to a grandmother having coffee with her granddaughter next to a table with a sporty looking guy in running shorts with a dog.  Like a child, I'm always put in a good mood when I get to see a dog, especially when it's cute.  I like how all of these people are themselves (or at least the self they want us to think they are) all in the same place, at the same time.  It's so nice that we can all be here together.  At this point, I decide it's good I'm going home.  This easy listening music and caffeine has clearly messed me up.  I'm getting a little too romantic about this scene.

The drive home is covered with the deep golden rays of a sun getting ready to set.  It's probably my favorite time of day, next to sunset and the time right after when the sky is the prettiest shade of blue before it turns black in the late part of night time.  A little old lady works in her garden, a couple is out for a jog, the neighbor's cat lounges on a fence, soaking up the last of the day's sun.  I can't get over the beauty of it all.

CHELSEA!!!! HER NAME IS CHELSEA!!!  dang it!!! nailed it! but a little too late!!!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Busy, busy, busy

There are so many other things that I need to be doing right now, but if I don't take just a second to write some of it down, I might go crazy!!!

My goal two years ago was to become an active participant in the TWT's Slice of Life Challenge.  I fell behind in March and gave up.  Last year I gave it another try, and SUCCESS!!! I wrote every day in March, posted, and commented!  What a feeling!  I was so excited and so pleased, I decided I'd expand my goal and become a regular contributor year-round.  And then the summer happened.

What Happened This Summer
-Strength and Conditioning camp
-We moved
-That involves packing
-And cleaning the old house
-And cleaning the new house
-And unpacking
-My grandmother was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor
-My mom and I went to Ireland for a week
-I went to Coaching School for a week
-My grandmother died while I was gone
-Funeral for grandmother
-Volleyball camp
-Two-a-days
-Practice, games, and tournaments
-Professional development
-School started

I feel like my whole life is happening at a full sprint all the time.  Even on my day off there is too much to be done.  The house needs cleaning, the pets need attention, lessons need planning, groceries need buying.  I don't even have kids! How do people do this?!

This Sunday I just stopped.  I woke up feeling sick and decided to take the day off.  Bad choice.  I ended up still vacuuming and doing dishes, tried to lesson plan a bit, but I did mostly nothing and now feel like I'm right back to drowning again.  I just need a break!!!!!

Whew.  Back to work.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Peacemaker

We are out there: the peacemakers.  We avoid confrontation when possible, we look for compromise when not.  It's not that we don't have a side.  It's not that we don't have opinions or feel strongly about things... we just like people to take a breath, settle down, and cut out all the ruckus.  Or I do, anyway.

But what do we peacemakers do when we are asked to break our peace?  When we are cornered, pressed, dragged into the conflict?  What do you do when no one is interested in peace, but stand stubbornly on one side of the wall or the other?

My grandmother is sick -- brain tumor, big, angry, inoperable.  My dad has died -- multiple system atrophy (aka parkinsons on steroids), accelerated deterioration, no cure.  My mom has survived the deaths of her grandparents, her father, her mother, and now her husband.  During the five years of my dad's illness, my uncles (his brothers) and my grandmother (his mom) did not spend a lot of time visiting.  They all have their own different reasons.  But he didn't ever ask for much, just some company.  His brothers never came, though, except for maybe an hour when my grandmother called her sons and said, "This is it.  Come see him before he dies."

Eight months pass.

Saturday, my brother is getting married.  My uncles were not invited, as they weren't here when my family felt they needed them.  There were no visits, no asking if we needed anything.  Despite driving through town on their way to camp, fish, visit my grandmother, or (in one uncle's case) visit kids at college, they never stopped to even say hello.  Pretty crappy, really.  As the peacemaker, I acknowledge that this is bad, was bad, but it's done.  What can I do to change it?
Now that they aren't invited, it has started this whole thing between my grandmother and my mom.  The boys should be allowed to come, if they can't come my grandmother won't come, etc.  My mom and brother are furious.  They don't back down, they don't compromise, even with each other usually, hence my evolution into the peace keeping member of the family.

We come to the part that is happening now, today.  We have reached an impasse.  My grandmother has declared she will not apologize to my mom, she does not like or respect her, and the only reason she has been nice in the past was because of my dad's happiness.  My mom does not like, or respect my grandmother or her kids.  Both seem to demand that I choose a side and I choose now.  My grandmother changed her will to "blood-line only" for recipients, and I am to be the representative for my dad's side.  What do I do?  Continue to play nice and I will upset both parties I think... Choose my mom and brother (really, they're kind of right...) and we get written out of the will and probably disowned.  Choose my grandmother and deeply hurt my mom, who has done everything, given everything for me.

Here's the thing though... She's DYING.  Her life expectancy is weeks.  We couldn't have made it WEEKS without this going on?  WEEKS, PEOPLE!!! What in the world could it possibly hurt to play nice for  few measly weeks in the face of a death?  I know my mom feels hurt and wronged.  I know my brother feels the same.  And I know they can't stand my uncles.  But really!  Weeks!  And then we never have to see the again if you don't want to.
       ...At least..., that's how I felt until today when, to my face, my grandmother blamed all of this on my mom.  That was how I felt until she called my mom stupid, and hostile.  You just don't say that to a kid, no matter how old they are.  That was before she called me out, drew a line and told me to pick a side, before she asked me if Kind is really what I wanted to be.  If being a Nice Person and being a Peacemaker is enough; if it's wise.  Before telling me my choices, my lifestyle, my beliefs are wrong.  That choosing my mother over her is stupid; that because I'm nice, I'm weak.

I can tell you one thing we Peacemakers aren't.  We are not weak.  I have been brought to the very edge, to the moment between thinking and acting.  I have been told all the things I'm not, all the things I'll never be, I've told myself all of those things, and I chose.  I chose life, over death,  Suffering and fighting, over a quick slip of a knife. And I did not choose this life to be called weak for my trying to help people, and I am not weak for being giving when possible.  Weakness is giving into your personal issues when you could choose to rise above.   I can tell you I will not be sorry when I can look back and say that I did my best to do more good than harm, to give more than take, to love more than hate.

So what do you choose?  What do you do?  Do you understand that looking an inevitable death in the face is scary, that you can't really understand it until you've been there, take a deep breath, and let it go?  Do you tell your mom and brother to stand down, it'll all be over soon?  Do you step up to the Brain Tumor Grandmother and say shut up about my family, shut up about me, good luck with your cancer.  We won't be here to find out how it ended.  Do you just keep dancing along the line, skip from edge to edge, teeter cautiously along it until it settles itself?  What can you do when peace isn't an option?  When you're told to choose a side?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015

A friend of mine sent me this challenge and I think I'm going to go for it!! I know it's already May (almost June) but I'm going to count a few of the books I already read, and I have a TON of books on my summer reading list.  I'm so excited!!

Here is the check list.  You can also go to the original pin, or the original website for a more printable version. Since I am posting at school, I can't attach the original site just yet.  Our firewall doesn't like PopSugar posts.

Who's with me?!  I already have A Classic Romance: Jane Eyre, A Book Set Somewhere I've Always Wanted To Visit: All The Light We Cannot See, A book with a love triangle: Twilight Saga, A book set in high school: Before I Fall, A book by an author I've never read: The Book Thief.  I've read more, but I can't remember if I read them before or after January.

Coming Soon: Wuthering Heights, Darth Plagueis, Not That Kind of Girl, Delirium, and Sand Man.

Don't forget!!! Free AudioBooks all summer at http://www.audiobooksync.com/!!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Difficult Day

"It's the left over humans.
The survivors.
...I witness the ones who are left behind, crumbling among the jigsaw puzzle of realization, despair, and surprise.  They have punctured hearts.  They have beaten lungs."

-The Book Thief

Today I found out my grandmother was diagnosed with a rapidly growing tumor in her brain.  She has maybe 3 options of treatment.  
1) Don't treat it.  Survival time: 3-5 weeks. 

2) Chemo. Survival: questionable.  A few months?  A couple of years?  Depending how her body handles it.  This will not be a great quality of life and it will not result in surviving.  Just delaying. 

3) Surgery.  They won't know if this is an actual option yet.  She will find out Thursday if they can go in at all.

For those of you just tuning in here, my dad died this past September from a neurological thing.  Meanwhile, my great aunt was just diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is supposed to have surgery to remove a lump in hopes of getting it all out in early June.  My granddad also is not doing very well.  He's had heart problems for a while, but since my dad passed, he has been doing worse.  My whole family is falling apart, it seems.  

School is winding down, which means the kids are acting like wild animals, my car is in the shop and the worst part about getting it back will be paying for it, we are trying to pack and move, I'm trying to schedule a 20 hour driving course and some technology PD over my summer athletics schedule, and my brother's wedding is the week after graduation, his birthday is tomorrow.  I don't know what to get him for either of these events, nor where the money to buy those things will come from.  

I could just use a break. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

TGIF!!!

 Good Friday Morning to you!
On this Friday, after the longest testing week ever, I just wanted to share some things that make me smile.  Like this soft, fuzzy, kitty belly.  I've never met a cat with softer fur than little Nuka.



 The most beautiful porch that isn't on pinterest. This is a real porch.  I know the real people that own this porch.  It's like a little fairy tale in the middle of a city.  I adore this porch, and its owners.



Riding bikes on the Trinity with my Brother and FIANCÉ

I can't always grow things.  In fact, most things I try to grow have a tendency to peter out and die within a week.  I've had a little more success the more I try to garden.  I just love flowers.  Their delicate, silky petals, the beautiful colors... I just love them.  This particular little beauty, who is still alive after a month (victory!) reminds me of Fantasia. Either The Seasons or the Nutcracker, I can't remember which song. I just imagine them dancing and swirling together in the wind.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Angry

I think I'd really like to write about something... new.  I was going to write about a slice of my day, but it's been a tough day.  Doesn't really fall into my positive plan.  I was going to write about some things that make me happy and something to help me cheer up, but then I felt like it was just so selfish.. and selfishness has been one of my major peeves lately.  So I decided I would start something new.  Maybe write some fiction... or some non-fiction cleverly disguised as fiction... but it turns out that's quite difficult. 

How do people just WRITE?! 

How are these stories made?  How do people come up with these entire worlds and universes, mythologies and lore, languages, families?  I'm sure it takes much more than a day, more than a quick write to get this type of thing done.  But man, how do you even start?!   

So instead, I made a to-do list, got overwhelmed, then frustrated, then deleted it and felt better. 
So here I am.  Stuck again.  And so my dear readers and fellow writers, I give you: a rant, turned belief system. 

People like to talk a big game.  They like to say they believe in something, but when it comes down to it, there's nothing to support it.  Here is something I believe in: Academics.  Academics above all.  You should always seek to better yourself and knowledge is more important than a high school game. I am a coach, and I believe student athletes should be more worried about their school work than their sport.  If you don't pass, you don't play anyway.  

I believe if you have a student who can't pass public high school, especially regular classes (mine in particular), they don't need to be spending so much time practicing their sport.  Perhaps, since a lot of that is muscle memory anyway, they should spend a little more time with their nose in a book, a moment in tutorials... maybe they should ASK SOME QUESTIONS!! There's an idea.  If I have an athlete that hasn't been able to hold up their end of the bargain, guess what: they don't play.  You are held accountable for your actions.  Now, if a teacher is simply being spiteful or unreasonable, sure.  I'll have a chat with that teacher and we will figure something out.  As teachers you know, though, that's rarely the case.  

I believe you hold kids accountable for their work. Someone has to. 

I believe in rewarding kids who work their hearts out.  And I don't believe in gifting kids grades just to push them through the system.  And I definitely don't believe in asking other teachers to bend their system, their beliefs, so that I can win a GAME.  Maybe I'm not a good coach.  I just don't think that's the way you teach a kid character, integrity, hard-work, tenacity, and accountability. 

We are teachers first.  We are educators.  Care takers.  We have kids that can't write a sentence in English.  We have kids that can't read... worse, well, equally bad... we have kids that WON'T read!! Oh, I could go on forever. I am so sorry.  I just don't understand.  




Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Staying Positive

I started reading some other blogs before I posted and remembered that I am trying to be optimistic and happy.  And grading papers was not making me happy.  So here is attempt number three at a Tuesday Slice.  (One and two were angry and sarcastic/reflective, respectively).

I just finished the book Before I Fall.  It was.... well, it was.  I'm still not sure if I'd recommend it or not.  I spent the first 80 pages furious at the main character.  Almost quit reading it.  Liked the ending though... mostly.  


It really got me looking at my kids in a different light, though.  I have spent the last two days giggling and chuckling to myself as I walked around monitoring my students taking a test.  It is a rare thing to hear from a high school teacher, but my students are so cute.  Walking through the desks and watching their faces taking a test is one of the cutest things I've seen, though I'm sure they don't see it that way.  Some faces are peaceful and sure, others are distressed, pensive, frustrated, day-dreaming.  A boy leaves for lunch with his hair ruffled and fluffed from running his fingers through it so many times while stressing about answers.  The girl next to him has to swap pens because she has chewed the end of this one clean off.  Next thing you know, she'll have ink all over the desk from breaking the stick inside. 

One student I have to tap on the shoulder every 5 minutes and remind him to focus and finish up.  I have no idea what he's thinking about, but it's not Spanish.  Maybe he is hungry, or stayed up too late playing games and can't focus now.  Maybe he's thinking about his parents always pressuring him about classes he cares nothing about... but that can't be it.  He is far away, but not in a bad place.  Maybe he is thinking about his new girlfriend, wishing he could text her about how awful this test is, or where they're sitting at lunch.  What are they doing after school? This weekend?  Maybe he's thinking about the clothes he'll wear on their date, or whether or not he should gel his hair.  There's a an Ag trip coming up, maybe he's thinking about the fun they'll have being out of school, or who his roommate will be.  

It's funny the things they think are important... the things that are important to them... the things I used to think were important.  I can tell you, Spanish is not one of them.  I'd bet very few of their classes are at the top of their lists.  There are so many other things to be worried about: the big game, making playoffs, what their boyfriends and girlfriends are doing, what their friends are doing, what they're having for lunch, for dinner, what's going on after school, what movie/tv/netflix/videogame releases are going on, the latest news about he said that she said that he swears they kissed, even though she's talking to the other guy.  

I watch them: joking on the way to lunch, cringing as they turn in the test they didn't study for, smiling about their plans for the day.  I think about who I was in high school: Who would I have been friends with?  Who would I have liked to have as friends?  Which table would I sit at during lunch?  Who would my friends and I be giggling about as we write our first names with the boys' last names attached in our notes?  Which homework would I be dreading?  Math, obviously.  That hasn't changed.  I laugh to myself thinking of all the things I thought were important, and all of the things that never mattered.  The moments I still remember, the person I thought I would be, compared to the person I am. 

When kids can't/don't read the test

The past two days we have been taking a vocabulary test.  Within grading the first five or six, I quickly realized, once again, that no one studied.  At all.  I gave the kids practice, reviews, we went over the words the day before and the day of the test, all of the words are on quizlet so they can study on their own, I had tutorials where I will go over the test with you... and these are some of the answers I had.  This is supposed to be a recipe for spaghetti sauce.  Italicized words are their answers from a word bank.  I don't recommend following these recipes, as you will not end up with tomato sauce for spaghetti, but probably a big mess and a grease fire.

Sample 1
How do you make a you forget for spaghetti?
It is simple with this sauce.

Ingredients; meat, tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt.

1. First, you must chop the meat so you don't have to peel big of meat in the sauce.
2. Then, you should put the tomatoes in a pot of hot water to add them and then to fry  them.
3. After that, you have to recipe oil in a to taste.
4. When the oil is hot, you are going to heat a little bit of garlic.
5. Then you are going to fry the meat and then mix the tomatoes with the fried meat.
6. In order not to burn the sauce, you should cook it on a small fugo.
7. Don't to boil to add a little bit of salt.  You should pieces what you prepare so you can see if it needs more salt.

Sample 2
How do you make a to heat for spaghetti?
It is simple with this to boil.

1. First you must recipe the meat so you don't have to mix big of the meat in the sauce.
2. Then, you should put the tomatoes in a sauce of hot water to fry them and then pieces them.
3. After that, you have to boil oil in a recipe.
4. When the oil is hot, you are going to you forget a little bit of garlic.
5. Then you are going to add the meat and then to try the tomatoes with the fried meat.
6. In order not to burn the sauce, you should cook it on a low flame.
7. Don't to peel to add a little bit of salt.  You should chop what you prepare so you can see if it needs more salt.


Does grading papers ever make you feel like a failure as a teacher?  I used to really get down about it, until one test, I made the review identical to the test, I had a whole day of review games, plus the review itself, I gave the abbreviated/accommodated version of the test, walked them through each section, gave them "helper" words to figure out what sentences meant, walked around asking if kids needed help, forced kids to take help even when they didn't want it, and allowed corrections... and kids still failed with flying colors.

At some point, you just have to know you did everything you could.  And some kids, no matter how much you care, don't care at all.  No matter how much you want to, you can't study for them, you can't fill in their answers for them... well, you can, sometimes that doesn't even help.  Like they say, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it study for the test." Or something like that...

Bless those teachers who are "tested subjects".  Just one more reason I don't teach core classes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Prefer a Well-Spoken Love (a poem in progress)

Diamonds Dictionaries are a girl's best friend
(and dogs, of course) 
(and cats)

Money and Things are not requisites; 
I want witty words, 
A quick mind.

Cold stones wrapped in metal, 
These physical bindings
may stoke the fire,
but cannot sustain the flames of my heart
(Pretty though they are) 

It is a lovely turn of phrase, 
the well written line,
that I crave.

Don't get me wrong. 
I love glitter and glitz,
I love to sparkle and shine,
But I love to be dazzled and dazed
by more than a diamond,
more than a rock, 
than things.

It's pretty words I want. 

No matter what people tell you,
words and ideas can change the world.
Life is short.  There is no time
to leave important words
unsaid
.





P.s. ~to my love~
This does not mean you're off the hook, you still have to get me a ring. Love you. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Too Good Not to Share

http://erinmorgenstern.com/2014/05/flax-golden-tales-pray-to-strange-gods-and-receive-strange-answers/

I found this blog in search of an actor, which lead me to a rumored movie, which lead me to the original author's blog.  In it, I found the most amazing thing: Ten Sentence Stories.  I read one and thought, "that was pretty good."  I know it's time to go home, just finished track, I really only stopped by the room to close out my email and shut off my computer... they're just 10 sentences... I can read one more.  Gosh, I liked that one too... this one is awesome.  I should try to make one of these... It probably won't turn out quite right, not quite the same... oh man, that one was great.

I just had to share.  So far, this one has been my favorite, but they are all wonderful.  Maybe it will inspire your own writing, or give you and idea to give your students.  Maybe no one will read this.  At least I'll feel like I tried!!

I really, really, really liked this one too:
http://erinmorgenstern.com/2014/07/flax-golden-tales-an-entreaty-before-departure/

I am such a fan of her writing!  Erin Morgenstern, you go, girl!! If I can't ever write like you, at least I can be content that I got to read your writing, and soak it all in.  Thank you for all you give.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Books Have Ruined My Life

Books have made me pretty antisocial.  Today I walked into class, a cold, cloudy morning, and all I wanted was for all the kids to go home so I could just sit and read.  Can we do that?  Cancel school for a book day?  I don't want to be social and go out, I don't want to have to talk to people, my book is too good.  I need to find out what happens!!! Honestly, it doesn't even matter which book.  I get completely absorbed in the story, even cheesy, poorly written stories.

Books have made me prefer the book life.  Some books make me sad to have to return to real life at all, where there are no schools for witchcraft and wizardry, no demons needing slaying (not literally anyway), no vampires: punk, friendly, wicked, sparkly, or otherwise.  Even historical books make me wish I could be *in* the story.  A full length bottle green gown with lace and silk, living that Roaring 20's life, going to balls or having tea...  I used to read the "American Girl: Samantha" books and wished I could take lessons on being a lady, eating little petit fours, learning to sew samplers... I know I can do that now, but it's not the same.  I read a book once about a brother and sister that were abducted by a tribe of Native Americans and were adopted into the tribe to replace lost kids.  I wanted to hunt and gather in the forest, learn to make moccasins, bows and arrows, how to bead and cook food like they did.  Again, I realize this is a totally feasible, real-life goal... but it wouldn't be the same as being abducted and learning first hand!

**A brief interruption to let you know, I do know that sounds crazy, literally.** 

I just want to live a life in all directions.  All times, all places, all universes, everywhere!!!  How cool would it be to be able to time travel?  Or to jump into a book the way Wishbone did? Why can't I do that?  Hop into a space ship and travel to another galaxy, put on some armor and sword fight, ice fish on a lake in Michigan.  Alright, that one, I know is totally do-able with no kind of time distortion or anything.  But it won't be the same as the way Garrison Keillor wrote about it.  It's probably better that I stick to the book life.  I can experience the romanticized part of the worlds, both real and fantasy, and then return safely to my own life where I don't have to live in the mud, be scared of dying from consumption or aliens, or wear a corset every day.  I love the life I live.  But it would be so cool to be like Wishbone.... 
seriously, how cute is this dog?

He got to be EVERYTHING

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Not Feeling It


I don't feel like writing today.  I felt like I might want to write this morning, but sometimes the best slices come later in the day.  I thought to myself, "I'm way too busy this morning.  I'll just write this afternoon after I have something really good to write about." That something never came along.

The more I thought about having to write, the less I wanted to plan a time to actually sit, and think, and process a good slice of the day.  I figured I should go ahead and get something on "paper" before I get wrapped up in the day and forget.

Somewhere along the way, I have gotten myself stuck in a rut.  I feel like I'm doing an okay job treating others with cheer and love. I've been good at projecting happiness and optimism.  The trouble now is being optimistic with myself.  I can't really pinpoint one specific thing, but I just feel like I'm not being the best I can be.   Tomorrow I should be able to leave by 5:30.  Tomorrow I can start digging myself out of this little hole I've found myself in.

So far, Tuesday Slices off to a rough start.

Just to end on something more positive, we have been helping host the Jr. High zone meets for track.  I helped with pole vault, something I've never done before, and learned quite a bit!  The very best part was watching a girl clear her personal best.  She wasn't even one of our students, but seeing her face and the smiles and hugs all around from coaches, parents, and friends was wonderful.  It's great to see kids so excited about their achievements and to see that they have so much support.  Moments like that are the reason I love coaching (and teaching, really), even when they aren't my own kids.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Continuing the Habit

Having just finished the Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life Challenge 2015, I thought it might be good to keep the habit of writing going.  So, one goal down, two new goals to take its place.

1) Keep writing!  Keep publishing, even without followers or subscribers.  Just stay in the habit.  I'd really like to make it a daily habit but I know there are days I will have to pass on writing

2) I'd like to journal more.  I have an old school, traditional personal/paper journal.  I was doing okay writing before the challenge but I have basically stopped since I started blogging.  I'd like to get back to that.  There are some days that only paper and pen will do.

It was weird today to sit down, open my laptop and realize I didn't have to write.  But I just wanted to.  I wanted to share about the things I did and saw all day.  Especially, THE WALMART PEOPLE.
Walmart never fails to disappoint and entertain me.  Today in Walmart, I spied, with my little eye:

-One woman wearing a Santa hat.  In April.

-One man, who I can only assume is a magician, wearing a tophat and cape.  Maybe tophats and capes are the next trend, replacing tall socks and slides.  I'd be okay with that.  How cute would it be to have a classroom full of little caped crusaders?

-Seven squishy babies clinging to six exhausted looking moms and one very pleased grandpa.

-One squishy baby that had eyes SO LARGE and a smile SO SWEET I was forced to stop and talk to it.  His mom must get that a lot.  She mostly ignored me, and just said, "yeah thanks" when I told her how cute her baby was.  He is cute though.

-One goth.  I did not know kids still did goth.  It's been a while.

-Five unsupervised children running wildly (this is a relatively low number).

-Three people in those driving/strolly carts that probably could have walked.

-Two people who probably wished they had those driving/strolly carts, but they were all taken up by people who probably could have walked.

and

-One man, no less than 90 years old, wearing the brightest orange running shoes I've ever seen.  He looked fast as he did his little-old-man-scuttle down the isles.  Maybe it's all an elaborate ruse.  He's actually the Flash.

Short on some inspiration for odd characters? Head to Walmart.  They'll all just waiting for you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Long Hard Day #SOLC15 - 3/31 - Finish Line!

Made it!!! I actually wrote EVERY day, for THIRTY ONE DAYS!!! Unbelievable.  Except now I'm going to have to keep writing.  I mean, I was planning on it anyway, but now I have to.  I have so many random ideas and things I'd like to write about but I don't have time!!!  I thought I would have time to write some deep, wonderful epiphany or something.  I don't know.

Instead, this is what happened:

Woke up late.
Tried on 13 outfits trying to pick the perfect thing for my presentation tonight.
Forgot to get clothes for track practice - back to the house.
Forgot to take my allergy meds - back to the house (this is real. I can't survive long without it)
Late to Before-School practice.
First period spent trying to put in contacts in my eyes.
Rest of first period spent trying to think of a plan for the kids to do without lots of my own involvement because
      already behind in grading
      end of six weeks next Friday
      had to plan for my presentation and for Thursday's track meet/sub
teach for 3 periods
forgot my lunch
helped sell prom tickets during lunch
track after school
back in to change for presentation
present google classroom to the "ambassador program" (community members/parents/school board)
stay for questions
home by 8:30
deep talk with bf about whether or not we move for his job and give up my own.
SHOOT! I'm about to miss the LAST DEADLINE!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!

Quickly written, no time to think or edit or be cute or clever slice.

It's been so wonderful writing with all of you.  I can't say how much I've loved writing, how much I love reading all the comment love (it really does make a difference!) and how much fun I've had reading and commenting on everyone's blog!!! Until Tuesday!!!

-M

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stress Penguin #SOLC15 - 3/30

Today was a testing day for us:English I.  Talk about mind-numbing.  At least I was in one of the rooms with spoken-testing accommodations so I wasn't just staring at kids silently for five hours.  As I watched the students filling out their little bubble sheets, concentration furrowing their little brows, deep thinking causing them to bite their lower lips, I waxed a little poetic. (I've always wanted to use that phrase!)  I was constructing these fantastically descriptive and lovely essays on the goings-on of the room.  After lunch, my brain decided it was no longer interested in anything, especially writing, and I kind of lost the desire to write any of them, much less take the time to edit and share.  So I will share my two favorites.  Forgive any weird grammar or spelling, it's been a long day.

Stress Penguin


Some people have worry stones; others keep stress balls or bean bags near them, or on their desks.  One carries a stress penguin.  Stress Penguin sits, stoic and straight, on the corner of his desk, the ever watchful guardian of the tester.  From time to time, his human looks up from his test to consult with Stress Penguin, as if staring him desperately in the eyes, the answer will be whispered to him by the tiny bird.  Stress Penguin sits in silence.  Without warning, he is snatched from his post, the air crushed out of his body once, twice... five quick pulses, like a drill in dexterity, or maybe just a nervous twitch.  The sentinel is returned to his place on the corner of the desk, refilling his body to its normal proportions.  He watches the progress, wishing he could help more.  If only he could tip, maybe fall with his beak "coincidentally" on a key phrase.  If he could soothe his human's nerves with calming words, rather than suffering the periodic brutality of having his body crushed time, and time again.  Stress Penguin can do no more than be a watchful sentry, a comfort and support, a silent encouragement, waiting for the next moment he is needed to alleviate some tension on test day.


Nostalgia


I remember looking forward to testing days.  In elementary, a testing day meant several things: a break from your normal routine, a chance to prove yourself, a snack break.  You pause during the test, set aside your booklet, and the class mom greets you with the gift of juice and crackers. There is something so satisfying about apple juice and peanut butter crackers.  You take your allotted snack and set it on the paper towel or kleenex, taking care  not to let the oils on your fingers or spilled juice get on your test booklet.  You chat with your neighbor. After the desks have been cleared, the test continues.  

"I will be writing about how to write an essay."  The TAAS test (the texas something something standardized test at the time) was simple.  Especially the writing. You get five lines for an intro, 13 for each of three paragraphs, and 5 lines to close it up.   "I have now written about how to write an essay."  We've changed since then.  The prompts are a little more advanced, the criteria have changed.  But it still makes me miss some of the oddest parts of my education.  I can still remember looking at Mrs. Walden's "keys" to the TAAS (shaped like keys) on her wall.  I remember the guinea pig being removed from the room so he couldn't let out one of his famously timed "EEP EEP EEEEEP eeeeEEEEEEEP!"s. 

I miss testing, but the rules are different now.  No snacks, definitely no peanut butter (nut allergies every where), no simple formulas, no quick readings with straightforward questions.  even the seals are different.  No more slicing open a hand or tearing half the page trying to slide your pencil between the thick paper stickers that were supposed to be "easy open".  

I miss the days we got a long recess at the end of the day because testing small kids all day is a bit rough on them.  We need this back.  We need the outdoors, and recess, and time to let loose all of the pent up energy that these poor little tester's are trying to harness into strategic question-answering skills. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

#ShelfieSunday

"The Academic"

"The YA"
I have been trying to think of ways to encourage reading and also ways to get kids to quit looking at their own faces.  Sounds weird, but if you have high school students (maybe even younger), you know they spend an exceedingly large amount of time looking at themselves and taking selfies.  Selfie Sunday is the worst.  I'm glad you are proud of your face.  Now, can you please get back to doing your work? In protest, I shall post NO SELFIES!!! But I will share ALL OF MY BOOKS!!! 

This week, we have the reference shelf (or the Academic).  This is comprised largely of books I had to buy for college, some for high school, and are mostly non-fiction.  A large amount of these books deal with language, history, and the history of languages and Spanish-Speaking countries.  I will admit: I have not read all of them.  I will, though.  That is, if I ever stop buying Young Adult books!! 

Shelfie #2 - the YA.  I am an Adult who reads Young Adult novels.  I'm still young, right?  I just love escaping into a book that isn't so serious sometimes.  It's nice to lose yourself in some magic and adventure from time to time.  I think exactly none of these are non-fiction.  That's how I like it.

Guest Shelfie!! 

Guest Shelfie!! Thanks Aaron!


Today I'm sharing some Guest Shelfies!!  These are my boyfriends shelves.  His collection consists mainly of running, zombies, a few bios and auto-bios, and two WHOLE shelves of Star Wars!  Don't knock 'em til you've read 'em.  I did not have high hopes for these books, but the Old Republic has been really entertaining.  Are they masterpieces? No.  Are they all well written?  No.  Fun? Definitely!!   The Revan trilogy and Bane trilogy have been my favorites.  I recommend starting there.

Anyone want to hop on my Shelfie train??  You can follow me at mw8187 on instagram.  I only have two so far, but I'm going to build it up.  Don't want to post your own?  Send me your shelfies and I will post them as my guest shelfie! By golly, I will interrupt this fad of staring at our own faces all day. 

The Feeling of Home #SOC15 - 3/29

“La vida sería mucho más agradable si uno pudiera llevarse a donde quiera que fuera, los sabores y olores de la casa materna.”

"Life would be much nicer if one could take where ever they went, the tastes and smells of their mother's house."
 - Like Water for Chocolate

     I always like to go to friends' mom's houses and see bits and pieces of my friend in the house.  I really like going into anyone else's house.  It sounds odd, but I just like to see what they've done.  How did they decide to decorate it?  What is their color scheme?  How do they use the space?  I always think it's interesting to see different homes.

     When I first went into Aaron's apartment when we started dating, I remember thinking how fancy and earthy everything looked.  His tables were iron and marble, leather couches and ottomans, dark browns and blacks and grey all over. Even the pictures he had on his walls were things like a black and white picture with trees.  His dishes.  His dishes are brown.  I didn't even know they made brown dishes.
     Now, every Sunday, we go to Aaron's mom's house for dinner.  Going into her home you can definitely see where Aaron gets his taste from.  Almost everything is dark, rich, earth colors.  The walls are brown, except the kitchen where it's a deep burgundy color.  The carpets are brown, the tables are stone and glass and iron.  The furniture is all dark leather, and the decorations are in browns, blacks, and deep, deep, rich earthy colors:  dark greens and reds, like you might see under a dense canopy of trees in a forrest.


Aaron's cabinet space
My cabinet space 

     My apartment, by contrast, looked much like my mom's house.  I have a tropical blue bedspread with lime green and white hibiscus flowers all over; the reverse side is pink, orange, green, blue, and white stripe.  My art is colorful, vibrant, and eclectic.  There are flowers everywhere, colors everywhere, and tons of pillows.  I have fiestaware dishes of all different colors, except black and white, and my pots and pans are all red or blue.  I even have a rainbow collection of chopsticks!  I prefer soft cloth fabric to leather, I hate metal, and I'd take painted wood over metal any day. If you saw my post about my mom's house though, you might get it. I think it's interesting that we carry it with us.


This is basically my whole aesthetic. 


Even my binders at school are bright

My whole life looks like this























     We are currently trying to decide whether or not to buy a house, or continue renting.  I'm kind of slowly leaning more and more towards buying my own house so I can decorate and paint and do the things I want to do.  I've wondered how that will go.  How will we decide what kind of bedspread to get, what kind of art to hang, what kind of dishes to buy?  What will our house smell and taste like? How will we make a new home out of a house?

     My mom told me once, "Home is where your mother is."  She said, after her mom died, she wondered where home would be.  It wasn't El Paso any more.  She would have to make her own.  I am lucky to still have my mom, and she's right.  Even though I've never lived in the house she owns now, and even though I've lived in west Texas for TEN years now, I still say I'm going home when I refer to her house.  How will I make a home?   I will take the smells and the taste and the love of my mother's home, and bring it with me.  Maybe I can make room for a little bit of metal and earth and leather. (That's a big maybe)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sideways #SOLC15 - 3/28

Tonight I am writing horizontally and one handed.  Today we CLEAN cleaned our room: under the bed, the bay window seat, the crate, the closets.  It is spotless!  Then we cleaned the livingroom, the backyard, the garage, the porch, watered flowers, cleaned the kitchen, and took Dot on a looooong walk.  Now she has trapped me on the couch.  Dot is curled up next to/on top of me, and is laying on my arm.  She is way too sweet and cute to move.  

Tonight we are watching "Guardians of the Galaxy".   Can I just say... Chris. Pratt.  mmmm... Chris Pratt is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. I loved him in Parks and Rec, loved him in Guardians.  I love his interviews.  He's just a funny, clever, handsome handsome guy!  Did I mention he's good looking??  ha ha

If you haven't seen this movie, I think it's worth the watch, unless you're like a friend of mine who hates all things fantasy/sci-fi/nerdy.  *cough cough puente cough cough*  Even she might like this!  It's action, adventure, space, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana (another of my favorites), plus a talking raccoon!  And Vin Diesel making a tree adorable and lovable.  It was good enough we've started reading the comics!  I'm very behind, but they did a very good job casting.  

That's been my whole Saturday!  Tomorrow will be grades, lessons, cooking, laundry, and cleaning! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Found Poetry Friday #SOLC15 - 3/27

The Morning Playlist

Roslyn, My love,
with you in my head
Let me sign your Satellite Heart,

Cover your tracks
Flightless Bird, American Mouth
Never think I didn't mean it.

Supermassive black hole,
Don't you mourn the sun.
I belong to you.
All yours.

Meet me on the Equinox,
Edge of my dreams, 
Go all the way into the Twilight.

Love will take you,
Eyes on fire, speaking a dead language,
Sleeping at last. 



     I stole this idea from Ruth Ayres, who stole it from Ruth Metcalfe.  I took it one step further.  With the exception of one song (Love Will Take You), all of these titles are from ONE MOVIE FRANCHISE! Granted, it's a 5 movie franchise, it's a HUGE list of songs.  I love this idea of finding poetry though!  Maybe I should be teaching English... maybe I'll get Speech certified next....






The Library

Paper towns
City of ashes

A clergyman's daughter,
The time traveller's wife,
She's come undone,
Same kind of different as me.

Behind the tortilla curtain,
Over the wall,
the Illustrated man,
A Lion among Men.

Their eyes were watching God,
Then we came to the end.


This second piece is entirely from books in my bookshelf! It's been a tough day.  Another 14 hour school day in the books.  Time for bed.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Boys Ruin Everything, Even Meditation #SOLC15 - 3/26

Be still and know

That you are good.

Sit back,

Close your eyes,

and Breathe.


Breathe in,  know that it's okay

Breathe out, to not be perfect.

Breathe in, it's okay

Breathe out, to not be okay.


Breathe in, know that the bad things

Breathe out, they'll all go away.

Breathe in,

         ...some day...

Breathe out.


There is passion,
                            and there is Peace.
There is strength,
                            and there is Serenity.
There is power,
                            and there is Wisdom.
There is victory,
                            and there is Harmony.

               There is Life.
                           

"So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.  Mark out a straight path for your feet."

You can do this.  Don't think it, feel it.
Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.
You can do this.


Alright, so I borrowed a little here, a little there.  If you didn't know, throwers are a bunch of basket cases.  Probably all athletes... probably all people, at that.  Something happens to these kids.  They step into the ring, take a breath, and then, it happens.  You can see it.  They start to think.  Damn.

Now, I typically encourage thinking.  It's a great thing, especially in the classroom.  Not so great in the ring.  They start to think about messing up, all the things they do wrong, how they can fix it RIGHT NOW before they throw.  Think about who's watching, who isn't watching, why are they/aren't they watching?  What if I don't do well?

SHUSH!!  SHHH!  Stop thinking!  Relax, little buddies.  You've been doing this for weeks/months/years.  You're fine.  Let your body do the work and tell your head to shut it. This year we've been practicing being a little more "zen" and throwing like it's fun.  It's not exactly working yet ... but we're trying.

Sadly, their current mantra goes like this, "I am a strong, independent, black woman, and I don't need no man!  This one's for Katie."
I don't know.  Don't ask me, because I don't know.  Somehow, my zen message has gone horribly askew.  Leave it to teenage boys.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Answer a Phone #SOLC15 - 3/25

Today's teachable brought to you by cell phones, and inexperience.

Each year, I find that I have to teach phone manners.  It is becoming more and more common that students have never answered a phone other than their own cell phone, and at that, they only answer to their parents.  Everyone else texts.  I think it's still relevant and important to have phone manners, though.  So every year, I teach the following.

Things we do:
1. pick up the phone and in a cheerful, clear voice, say, "Coach Wright's room, student speaking"

2. listen carefully to the caller and try to help them.

3. say THANK YOU! when someone calls.  Yes, even if they are calling for someone to go to ISS, even if someone is in trouble, no matter the news, thank them for delivering it to us.

4. try not to stare at the person who was called for and make vague comments like "uh huh", "yeah she's here..."  It makes people uncomfortable.

Things we don't do:
1. pick up the phone and say, "hullo?"

2. watch the phone ring

3. say "yeah" to anyone on my phone.


Today, something I didn't expect happened.  The phone rang, one of my sweetest kids picked it up and said, "This is Ms. Wright's room, Student speaking."  Alright... so far so good...
He turns to look at me and says, "oh yeah, she's here! thank you!" and hangs up the phone.
Curious, I asked him who it was and what they wanted.  Please with himself, he responded, "oh, just the office I think.  Some lady?  She just wanted to know if you were in class today.  I think she thought you had a sub!" (My phone has caller ID, by the way)

About one second later the phone rings again: "Ms. Wright's room, student speaking... uhm yes, you can talk to her..."
holding the phone at arm's length toward me, the same student says, "I guess she thought of something to tell you."

What had happened wuz...  "Some lady" was my principal calling about a technology presentation I am giving.  When she called the first time and asked, "Is Coach Wright there?" She meant, "is she available to talk on the phone?", not, "I can't keep track of my own staff, thanks for the attendance update, good bye!"  Typically, when someone asks if the occupant of the room is in, it means they would like to talk to that person. Or, if you're unsure, you say, "yes she's here, would you like to talk to her?"

Okay, okay, writing this out, it doesn't sound as funny as it was.  I thought it was funny.  I giggled all day about my kid hanging up on the principal because he just thought she was curious about me being at school.  At least he said Thank you!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Letting Go #SOLC15 - 3/24

Let it go
          
(the teachers who gripe and complain about every little thing)

Let it go

(the stress from all the papers you have to grade, the bills you need to pay) 

Can't hold me back anymore.

(haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, I'm just gonna shake shake shake shake shake)
(shake it off!  shake it off!)

Let it go

("friends" who gripe about you and your sweat pants)

Let it go

(people who don't get in trouble for breaking all the rules)

Walk away and slam the door.

(I think there's a bottle of wine in the fridge)


I don't care what they're going to say.  Let my sun shine on.  Alone never bothered me anyway. 



What an irritating day!!  Except, when you sing, and let it all go, and love your job, and have awesome kids, who cares?!  Today we played human bingo and had an amazing time.  I had the sweetest, most cooperative students the past two days.  Funny how they seem to adjust when things are going badly outside of school... and funny how when it's all going well, they act like crazy monkeys.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

For the Love of Slicing #SOLC15 - 3/23

I almost forgot to post today!! It would have been such a shame to mess up now.  I know I've written about similar things before, but this writing challenge has been such an amazing event for me!! At first, I was really nervous for people to read my blog.  I don't have anything to say, really.  But then I got a few comments.  Then I started watching the views on my blog go up and up.  What a crazy, exciting boost! There was a day I posted later than I usually do and only got 1 comment and it was strange how much my attitude about posting  had become.

I am really excited that I have actually made it this far. I think I've mentioned this before, but I was really doubting myself for a while.  About three days in, I thought I wouldn't have the time to keep posting.  But, like we learned in a recent PD, if it's important to you, you'll make it happen.  If it's not, you'll make excuses.  I have found myself making excuses to get out of other things, just to write my slices!

As a writer, I have gotten pickier.  Weirder about what I publish.  I revise and revise and revise, and reread and reread and reread, and revise some more before I post.  I want to have something I love to share with all of you.  I feel like this challenge has changed me in so many ways and how I think about my writing.  I often find that I want to try new things and get creative with my formatting or styles.  I actually wrote a "poem"!  I don't guess it needs the quotation marks, but I still kind of have the elementary rules drilled into my head.  It has to have a specific number of words and syllables and it all has to have a rhyme scheme.  I know part of the goal of SOLC is to help us develop as writers, I just didn't think I would be developed too.  It's so exciting to grow!!

As a commenter, I have found SO many people that I just love.  I have found several blogs I've subscribed to, and I really like to randomly stumble around while leaving comments.  I try to scroll through different times and leave comments for early posters, lunch time posters, evening, and late nighters.  There are so many blogs I've seen with fantastic formatting and wonderful ideas for posts.  I've borrowed a few and I saved several.  I've even shared them with my students and posted a few in my classroom.  I love reading all of the different slices from so many different lives all over the world.

I would like to become a regular Tuesday slicer year round, and I hope I can get even more people on board with trying the writing challenge next year.  Thank you, Slicing Community, for everything you've given me.  Only 8 more days!!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Full Day of Nothing Important #SOLC15 - 3/22

Today, for the first day all Spring Break, I slept in.  Until 8. Then went about cleaning up some of the little messes the pup left for us.  Straightened the living room, did some dishes that mysteriously appeared in the sink despite our being gone, swept.  By now, Dot had a little too much energy so we went for a nice walk in the wonderful sunshine.  It has been the cloudiest week and today was beautiful!!  She got to see her first duck, thought she might like to try swimming but there was a TON of algae and I didn't want a bath to be added to my to-do list.  We came back for some lunch and I made some peach "compote" for my oatmeal in the morning.  Did more dishes, had some sparkling wine, and read for a bit.

The best and most frustrating part of the day: gardening.  I love to garden, but I seem to be terrible at it.  I did finally get some lavender to grow last year but it went all wild and curly and didn't quite look like the picture.  This Spring, I bought some pansies, zinnias, marigolds, rosemary, some little daisy looking things, and a salvia plant.  I know nothing about salvia, except that it has bright red little blooms and I thought they were pretty.

Mistake #1: I let Dot out to enjoy the sunshine with me.  She wanted to help garden.

Mistake #2: I let Dot out to enjoy the sunshine with me.  She found a turtle and thought it might be fun to eat.

Mistake #3: I let Dot out to enjoy the sunshine with me.  She chased a bird and ran head first into a fence.  Then thought she might eat a few of my flowers.  Bad Dot.

I finally have all of them potted and placed out on the front porch.  It says they all need 6+ hours of sun and I think they'll get enough there.  I just hope they don't get too much.  After all of this, we were DIRTY (and by we, I mean Dot).  I sweetly coaxed her into the bathroom where she thought the bathtub was kind of cool... until she had to get in it.  What a nightmare.  Dirty paw prints all over the place, water ALL over the place.  I finally just got a wet rag and washed her paws one at a time while she sat on the run, which also now needs a bath.  Won't be trying that again.

All-in-all, pretty successful day!  Oh, except I haven't made any lesson plans, or graded any papers, at all.  So, you know, that's good.  I should probably be doing that instead of slicing but I just don't waaaaaaant tooooooooooo.  *throws a childish fit*  I guess I will get to being a professional adult and stop sipping tea and bird watching...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Home again Home again Jiggity Jog #SOLC15 - 3/21

WE MADE IT!!!

It rained ALL SIX HOURS of the drive, but we made it!  And back just in time to get the post in!!! I hope...

I am still unclear as to whether or not we can post up until 11:59 our time, or if it has to be Eastern time?

Regardless, we made it.  And the pup left us minimal damage.  A shredded sonic cup and a notebook.  No torn up clothes, floors, walls, or furniture, no missing cats.  After my friends got a bloodhound that basically ATE their house (yes, ATE IT), we were a little worried.  Thank goodness Dot is a little less destructive.  

Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to some slightly more thoughtful and better planned slices.  Today was a terrific day, I just don't have time to slip in all the details.  We did the Wipe Out 5K (totally worth it, but make sure you get an early start time) in Arlington, scarfed down some Panera, and raced back to Lubbock!  I think it's always funny how ready we are to leave, and then how thankful we are to get back home again.  I know tomorrow I'll be wishing we were gone for one more day.  When school starts, we will wish we had another break.  But it is SO NICE to be back in my own house, and my own bed!

Until tomorrow!!! Day 21 down!!! So close to saying I wrote EVERY DAY for the month of March!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Abstract Art #SOLC15 - 3/20

Another phone post. 

I cannot make the abstract. 
I like lines
And boundaries
And I am good at control. 

The wall are covered in the abstract.  
With lines
And boundaries
And there is control...
... and there is freedom. 

Are there mistakes?  Can we know?
Is this water? 
Air?
Time?
Everything and nothing?
How do you make the abstract? Let go?
Say something small with any and all material

It's the same with poetry.
I like lines
And boundaries
And I am good at rules. 

And yet in poetry
There are lines
And boundaries
And rules...
... and there is freedom!

You can do anything!
There are lines
And rhymes
And meter
And cadence
And it can be anything!
But how do you make poetry? 
Say something huge with so few words

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Traveling Day #SOLC15. - 3/19

I'm really not sure what to write about today. We've been moving about so much today there hasn't been much time to sit and let those creative juices flow. We made it out of Fort Worth and into Dallas with minimal stress. How do people live in these big cities? It has to take years off your life just driving around.

I think a small part of my writing block has to do with my phone. (Also,  I just haven't given myself time to sit and think) But it is very difficult for me to write from my phone. I kind of hate it! I need my full keyboard and to hear the flow of my fingers drifting across the keys. Or maybe it's the larger screen?  I really couldn't tell you, but there is something so frustrating about trying to blog via cell phone.  Anyone else share this struggle with me?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Losing the Magic #SOLC15 - 3/18

This morning I was reading over some of the late-night slicers, and came across this fantastic slice about a little boy who whole-heartedly believes in the magic.  I started thinking about the magic I still believe in, and I think it all comes from books.  I LOVE to read.  Love. It.  And I'd like my students to still have some magic in their lives.

Out of 145 students, ages 14-18, I think I might have 4 that like to read.  Or rather, four that will openly admit to it.  Why?  How does this happen?  Where are we losing these kids?  We took some of our volleyball girls to read to a pre-K class and those kids LOVED it.  They love to read.  And yet, the whole bus ride back to the high school, the girls were talking about how much they hated reading.  I would say maybe through elementary, most kids love to read.  Where, when, and why are we losing that magic?  Why are my teens suddenly so turned off by it?

Typically, I tell my students, you don't hate to read, you just haven't found what you like yet.  I keep a small "library" (more like a small cluster) in my class of all kinds of books to recommend to my kids.  Every year when the public library has their huge sale, I buy as many books as I can from different genres.  I even stock some comics and magazine for those with lower attention spans.  But for the life of me, I cannot find a way to get them to *WANT* to read.

On the very rare "catch-up" day I allow, if students are caught up in my class, they can work on something for another teacher, or they can do something "academic".  I do let them draw.  I do allow Trivia Crack because they are learning when they play (shhh! don't tell them!)  But I recommend they read, and I recommend a book to those who don't have anything.  There is just SO MUCH resistance!!

Student: No thanks, I don't read.
Me: I have all kinds of things...
Student: No, I really hate to read.
Me: I have magazines! Body builders, motorcycles, runners, seventeen, seventeen latina edition, cars, camping, fashion, home decoration...
Student: Nah. I'm good.

This morning, it is cloudy and cool, the windows in the house are open to let in that fresh morning breeze.  On the porch, there are freshly planted flowers and a swing.  I know I should stay inside and be social.  We did come here to visit my brother and his girlfriend, after all... but that swing is calling to me.  I just want to sit outside and READ!  I want to smell that freshly turned dirt, listen to the birds, and get lost in a story.  When it rains, it makes me want to read.  When it's sunny, I want to sit in the sun and read.  When I see big fluffy chairs, I think to myself, that would be an awesome reading chair.

Maybe it's me that has the problem.  Do other people have "reading chairs"?  Do they walk into book stores and libraries and feel the joy I feel?  I just don't think I can be alone out there.  And if it is a problem, how do I pass this problem on to kids who just want to text and tumble and play games on their phones?

**EDIT**
Since posting this, I read this post that really took me back to those "good old days".  We might have a discussion about where they used to like to read and maybe that will spark some nostalgia for them and lure them back to books. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Mother's House #SOLC15 - 3/17

My mom always says home is where your mother is.

My mom's house has always been home.  She can make any house feel like home to me.  When she bought this house, I decided she had lost it.  Yes, it was much smaller, much easier to manage.  Much easier for my dad to get around.  But the house!  Sloping floors, missing floor boards, a sagging ceiling, old, OLD windows, dark walls, no vent hood!! These people had been cooking on a stove with no vent.  There was a nice little char mark on the ceiling above where the food was cooked.  How could anyone save this slowly dying house?

My mom did.  She has a formula that you can see in my own decorating now.
Step 1 - lighten it up.  Add color.
This house is now full of color.  A light, white sand in the living room, robin's egg blue in the dining room, pale green in the kitchen, cheery yellow in "the guest room" (My dad's old room).  Her own room is a pale pink, but she has been thinking of repainting it.
A fresh coat of paint
I had to chase Sir off the table. He loves placemats though



Step 2 - Add more color.  Add art.
The things that please me most in this house are the bursts of color in each room.  In the living room, a blue chair with bright green ivy.  In the dining room, a pop of red from placemats on an otherwise dark table.  Paintings, sketches, and photos from all stages of my mom's life hang in every room.  From neutral, sandy, New Mexico/Texas, to vibrant prints from Louisiana, oils and water colors, mosaics, and pencils.  I love the eclectic collection.
Guest Room before
Guest Room after



Step 3 - Add plants.  Then add some more plants.
This is something I have yet to master.  My mom has the greenest thumb I know of.  She touches it, it grows.  It's almost like Midas, if he has wished for green growth instead of gold.  There are plants in almost every room and surrounding the house.  Every summer there are new arrangements of blooms in the yard, new vegetables in the garden in the back.  So far, all I've managed to do is keep an ivy plant alive... and that's after a few unsuccessful attempts.
Diningroom full of plants

Baby Daffodils



The Original Hallway

New Hallway! 




Step 4 - Light, and Love.
There is so much light in this house.  There are new windows in every room so they can be opened and let in the fresh air.  There is so much love in the details of this house.  I hope that I can make and keep a house like she does.


I almost forgot the most important step!!!

Step 5 - Add a cat! (or two)

Francis bird watching in the morning


Sir bird watching all day!