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!!!


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.


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


"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


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? 
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?

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! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

On the Road Again #SOLC15 - 3/16

     Back from wedding weekend, and on the road back to the metroplex for more travels!  This trip we are visiting my brother and his girlfriend and then Aaron's (bf) uncle.  No real plans.  I just thought it might be nice to visit some family on our spring break.  I forget, though, how difficult it is to travel.  Did I pack for enough days? Did I pack clothes for the right weather?  What if we go for a run?  What if we go out somewhere nice?  What if we go somewhere nice, and it's nice outside, but it's cold in the restaurant?  Do these shoes match everything I brought? Did I pack enough socks?  Did I even pack undies?  Are the dishes clean? Did we leave enough food for the animals?  Did I leave anything plugged in?  Are the instructions I left for our house/pet sitter detailed enough? ... you get the point, I guess...  I worry.  I over-plan.

     So anyway, we are at my mom's house for the night.  A quick stay-over, and then on to the grand old DFW!  So far, so good.  I don't really have a juicy slice for today.  I got my oil changed, got my CDL so I can drive a bus, and cleaned out my car... that I could live out of probably.  Not now, because I had to empty it to travel.  But normally, when the stuff goes down, my car is the place to be.  There are clothes, probably food, tools.  All kinds of things!!  

I have a couple of slice ideas I am kind of working on, but I haven't had time to write something I think it worth publishing yet.  Until I get my head cleared out... hasta luego slicers.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Spanish Story: 1 of 2 #SOLC15 - 3/15

Today while browsing pinterest, I found a blog post about false cognates.  A cognate is a word that looks/sounds similar in two languages.  For example, bank and banco, or (even better) hospital and hospital! My students love these, for obvious reasons.  A false cognate (or false friend (faux amis)), is a word that looks like something in the target language, but means something totally different.  A common mistake in my class is "embarazada" when they want to say embarrased, when it actually means pregnant.

A Story of False Cognates

My junior year of college, I took a third year conversation class in Spanish.  I was feeling pretty excellent about my future in language, until the rest of the class entered the room.  I was the ONLY non-native speaker.  Apparently, most Spanish majors are Spanish speakers.  I still don't understand that.  Why not try something new?

Anyway, Day 1, we are supposed to share a story about our summer.  While the other students are spilling out stories, letting the lengua run off of their lenguas like water, I am taking frenzied notes about key words and ideas I want to say.  Vocabulary is where I struggle.  It's hard to keep thousands of foreign words in your head that you don't use daily.  I had to show these people I belong here, though.  I had the perfect story.  When it came my turn, I began:  (The English translation)

This summer, my friends and I (2 boys and 2 girls) went rock climbing in Arizona.  We were staying in Sedona and climbing out at Bell Rock.  We had been told there were several bolted routes on the far side of the rock, but we couldn't find any at all.  After spending half of the day hiking with a full rope in tow (they're pretty heavy), we gave up and decided to go climbing without rope.  We left the rope at the bottom of the mountain and "free climbed" about 100 feet to the top.

At this point, I had a rapt audience.  Some mouths were open.  Eyes were wide.  I had stumbled through a few phrases, but the content was enough to make up for it for now.  "heh heh, they're so impressed... I should add the part about Matt almost dropping to his death before I caught him and dragged him back up to safety."  Before I could get this heroic feat into my story, a hand shot up.

"Sin ropa?!"

"Sí.  Sin. Ropa."

Yeah, they're definitely impressed.  I didn't realize I was that daring, I didn't think it was that hard...
A tap on my arm.  The girl sitting next to me whispers in my ear, "Ropa means clothes.  Lazo means rope.  They think you went climbing... 'desnuda'."

Díos mio.  They think I'm a nudist rock climber.  Red in the face, as only a person as pale as I am can be, I quickly explain I meant lazo, not ropa, and that I like to climb with all of my clothes on.

I now use this story as a two part lesson for my students.  1) that it's okay to make mistakes, we all make mistakes.  Try anyway.  and 2) that mistakes help you learn.  Since that day, I have never once forgotten that the word "ropa" means clothes, and "lazo" means rope.

The Morning #SOLC15 - 3/14

     It is a perfect, calm morning.  The sky has finally cleared and the full morning sun filters through the glass paned door.  The cat, yellow-blonde with white tipped paws and tail, not quite laying, but not standing either, hovers in a patch of warm sunlight.  The birds outside have captured her full attention, her ears twitching this way and that with each new chip or twitter.  Birds of all shapes and sizes fill the grassy green lawn.  There are fat doves strutting about under the shade of the sprawling branches of the only tree in the yard.  Finches and sparrows flit about, calling to each other, landing on small bell-shaped feeder, stuffing themselves on seeds and shucking the shells to the ground below.  Some are red-chest, or yellow; others appear to be simple brown feathered sparrows but, at closer inspection, are covered in the most intricate designs with speckles of white, all shades of browns, and streaks of pitch black, as if they have been composed of carefully molded slabs of bark from all varieties of trees.

     The cat inches ever-so-slightly closer to the door, her white paws making no sound, to more carefully examine the birds and plot their demise.  "If I could just slip under this crack," she thinks, "they are exactly where I want them.  They won't even know I am here until it is too late."
     As she stands to peer out the window, the sunlight catches the top of her golden head, and illuminates her fine fur, her elegant whiskers.  The glint from her well-groomed fur must have been seen by the little feathered snacks, carelessly hopping about just on the other side of the door, for as soon as she stands, the little snacks all fly away.

     She sulks back to her patch of warm sun to wait, and start again.  Meanwhile, a cup of tea steams quietly on the low table in front of me; I turn the thick, creamy pages of my book, the only sound in an otherwise quiet room.  The other occupants of the house breathe in the deep, even cadence of sleep at the end of a long week.  The dog snores on the couch, unaware that the cuddly friend he has been searching for is finally so distracted with little birds, he could easily walk up beside her and get a good whiff of her curious golden fur that looks so soft, so different from his own black and white, without receiving a swipe from her needle-sharp claws.  Instead, he dreams, woofling quietly every so often, and twitching his paws in what is probably the best chase of his life.

The clock ticks the minutes away.  It has been a perfect morning.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Track Season #SOLC15 - 3/12

I always forget every year how long (and how sunny) track meets are! My feet ache, my shoulders hurt, my throat is raw. All of the hopping around and "GO BEKKA, KICK IT IN TY, GO GET EM KALEB!" has tuckered me out, just a bit. And yet, I cant calm down enough to sleep!
In all the excitement of the day and the reliving of every hand off, each throw, the close calls, the wins and losses by seconds or inches, I almost forgot to write!

The best slice of my day was not having ALL of my throwers place, or free lunch.  The best moment was my student (turned mile runner) getting her PR. Before the race she came up and gave me a huge hug. "I'm so nervous!  What if I get last? "H" got last in the last meet and she got yelled at. What if I lose??"

Bekka. You got this. Where do you need me? Back stretch: 20-50 yardline, 3rd lap. Got it.
She ran her first varsity mile AND a personal best at 6:48!  The smile on her face as she hugged her parents after crossing the finish line was perfect.  I could not be more proud of my sweet little freshman.

I'm sorry this is not more detailed or eloquent, but its the best I have for tonight. Love you, slicers!

Confessions of a Control Freak #SOLC15 - 3/13

It's not that big of a deal... except kind of, it is.  When I have a sub, I don't like to leave movies because the sub rarely cares if the students are watching or not, whether they're on their phones or not.  So if I leave a movie, I leave something else to do with it, like T/F questions, short answer, opinion... SOMETHING to give me some kind of evidence that the kids watched the movie.  I have stopped leaving any kind of real lessons, because it never gets done.

So yesterday, I was feeling guilty about being gone so much and I really didn't want to show a movie, but we are at a place in lessons where it's all going to be new material, and I definitely can't leave instructional work with a sub.  So, I left a really cool documentary about migrant workers and the effects that kind of life has on the kids involved.  To preface the movie, the sub was to pass out a guide about the key factors that influence a child's development and personality.  The sub would read the definitions of the key factors, students would brainstorm some examples of those factors and, as a class, write them down so they knew what to look for in the movie.  The sub would then play the 85 minute movie (in a 90 minute class), and TAKE UP THE PAPERS BEFORE KIDS LEAVE!!!

Now, being the control freak that I am, I have a detailed Substitute Binder.  There is a daily schedule, rosters, seating charts, phone numbers they might need (principals/neighbor teachers), and my rules, which are also posted in two other places in the classroom.  In my Sub Binder, I always leave a note with VERY clear instructions, because when they aren't specific and clear, the lesson doesn't get done.  There is a step-by-step plan for the day, and approximate times the assignments should take.  For example, taking roll, passing out papers, talking about them, and brainstorming, should have taken, at minimum, about 15 minutes. There is no way any class could actually think and discuss about the assignment in less than 5 minutes, so no classes should have finished the movie. And yet...

Here is my folder, the rosters are now missing, there were no attendance slips used, and my 8th period finished the whole movie somehow, AND there are NO papers on my desk.  Not one was collected, despite instructions clearly saying, TAKE UP THE PAPERS because my kids will lose them the moment they walk out the door.  They have little black holes in their backpacks that eat whatever is put in there.

Oh yeah, those instructions I left? Please ignore them.  I was just trying to waste some of my own time and definitely the students' time. So you know, just do whatever you want.  If the kids don't want to watch the movie and would rather lay on the floor and text, that's fine.  Not like I had any plans for them to learn today.  It's not like I'm on a timeline to complete work or anything.  Just don't worry about any of it.


My neighbor teacher just told me she saw my kids in the hall and walking around the school and some of them tried to come into her class because the sub let them leave.


*deep zen breath*

Alright, rant over.  I just hate starting a day like this.  Thank goodness spring break starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Six Months of Despair & The Truth - #SOLC15 - 3/11

Dear Dad,

I miss you.  I know I said it would be okay if you had to go, but I'm not okay.  I feel like I am just stumbling around.  In six months, there has not been a single day I haven't thought about you.

They say it gets better.  I will feel better.  I will heal.  It gets easier.  They say to think of how you are now.  You are better.  You are not suffering.  You can finally rest.

The truth is though, I am not better, I am not healing, it is no easier.  I'm glad you aren't suffering, but it does little to comfort me.  I feel alone when I am surrounded by people, but all I want is to be left alone.

I try to make you proud.  To live in a way I think would honor you.  There is you in every thing I do, even in the way I sign my name.  I wish that we'd had more time for you to teach me more things so I could do them like you.  Thank you for the things you did teach me.  I usually think of the concrete things: how to kick a ball, how to swing a bat, how to chip out of a sand trap, how to use a computer, play games, shoot a rifle... and a bb gun, how to fish, to read, to wrap a Christmas present the "dad way".  But within each lesson, there was something more: how to be a leader, a teammate, a big sister, how to be patient, inventive, competitive but still have fun, how to be relaxed, but focused, and how to give, and give, and give.

I have to remind myself daily to keep it together keep it together keep it together.  I can do this.  Keepittogether keepittogether  keepittogether. I don't know if I can do this.  I have lost some parts of myself.  I don't have the patience I used to have.  The understanding.  I don't feel like I am sensitive to others the way I was before.  I am angry a lot.  And I am sad always.

Not a lot is new, I guess.  We found a dog, named her Dot.  I got the head Soccer job in theory, but nothing has been made official yet.  I'm on a technology committee, it's alright.  I'm coaching basketball next year, I'm nervous.  You know it was never my strong sport.  Apparently, no one runs Box1 or Box2 in-bounds any more.  No Stack plays either.  Maybe I'll bring it back old school style.  I don't think I'll carry on the family tradition of being ejected from the game.  I'm still scared to get in trouble, even from a ref.  I'm trying out writing.  I'm not as good at it as you were, but I'm practicing.  It's hard to write about other things.  I'm mostly a journaler.  I mostly just read.

I wish you were still here, but here and healthy.  I wish we never had to do any of this.  They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I keep waking up each new day.  I should be the strongest woman alive by now, though I'm not totally sure I would call this feeling "alive", and a part of me left when you died.

I miss you.  I hope I see you again.
Love Always,


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Top 10 for Day 10 #SOLC15 - 3/10

I couldn't think of what I wanted to write about, so I am doing a little "book blind date" as a tip of the hat to the authors that make me want to be a better writer (thanks, pinterest).  The following are the first lines of my "top 10" books of right now.  I say "right now" only because I have no idea what the ultimate 10 would be.  If you're looking for a new book and you think the first line is intriguing, or you just want to test your book knowledge, the book that owns the line is linked to each quote.  So, in no particular order, I give you...

1. "I don't have to look up to know Mom is making another surprise visit."

2. "It was an old familiar nightmare, the one about men in black hoods chasing him through tall grass toward the precipice overlooking jagged rocks and great greenish waves rolling and crashing in the abyss where sharks with chainsaw teeth awaited and great black buzzards hung in the air and there he was sliding toward extinction and then Mr. Sparrow woke up to a song emanating from somewhere close to the bed."

Bonus!: "Mr. Sparrow wished that the mice would carry Clara away and lock her in a dungeon and that the Hallelujah Chorus could be embargoed for ten years and that Tiny Tim would learn a useful trade and quit blessing people."

3. "The circus arrives without warning.  No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtoan posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers.  it is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

Bonus!: "Stories have changed my dear boy... There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue.  Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case."

4. "I'd never given much thought to how I would die - though I'd had reason enough in the last few months - but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this." (Yes. I love this book.)

5. "I don't remember a time when I wasn't chubby."

6. "It was little more than three miles from the Old Kingdom, but that was enough."

7. "It was a nice day.  All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet."

8. "Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup."  (From the Author of "The Time Traveller's Wife")

9. "Take care to chop the onion fine. To keep from crying when you chop it (which is so annoying!), I suggest you place a little bit on your head."

10. "At dusk they pour from the sky.  They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles."

This is, by no means, a complete list of all things wonderful in my personal library.  Just some good books.  I often wish my life was more like the books I read.  "The Night Circus", for example, is so beautiful, magical, and deeply pleasing, it makes me sad to leave that world and return to the world of grading papers and doing chores.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Pair of Old Shoes #SOLC15 - 3/9

I used to have two pairs of Asics GT-1000.  I had two because it was hard to find shoes that fit the tallest girl in 7th grade.  I wore a women's size 9, but most of the shoes were pink which I was against on principle.  So I bought a men's shoe: blue and black to match my school, but I couldn't stop looking at the orange ones.  My dad decided, why not get both?!  I was a busy athlete, busy student, and he had two or three pairs of shoes for tennis, plus they were both on sale, may as well buy them!

Asics, you rock.  Those shoes lasted.  Did they look amazing when they were retired?  Absolutely not. Did people think I might be homeless?  Probably.  I could not part with these shoes!  I had worn them for volleyball for 3 years, track for 6 years, indoor soccer, and golf!  When they became too ugly and beaten up to wear in public, they became my weekend/adventure/mow the lawn shoes.  Why would I ever buy new ones as long as these versatile, comfortable, and already paid for shoes were still wearable?  Those well-traveled shoes taught me 3 things about myself.
1. I am frugal.   I cannot pay full price for a new pair of shoes when I have a pair that still functions.  I have only barely amended this belief.  When it comes to cute heels (on sale), there is not a limit to how many you can own.

2. As all frugal (stingy) people must be, I am resourceful.  And creative.  The sole is coming off? Super glue.  The side is wearing out? duct tape.  The toe has a hole? pretend there is no hole... or wear cute socks. Pretend it's fashion.

3. I am entirely too sentimental. About every. thing. ever. I get attached to things.  I have old cards in their old envelopes because it has the handwriting from someone I love.  I have school work and notes, still in their notebooks; ribbons from Christmases past, and wrapping from birthdays.  I won't use them again, they're just too pretty to stuff in the trash...

I promise I'm not a hoarder.  I eventually reach a point where I throw everything away and start over with a new batch of sentimental silliness.  But the other day, while scrambling through my closet for a purse to take to the wedding, I found one of those old shoes.  I still have them!... errr... one.  I put it on.  The sole is lumpy and hard from overuse, and then non-use.  My big toe sticks out of the top, the one flaw all Asics I've ever owned have eventually succumbed to. The sole flaps where the duct tape has stopped sticking, and has instead collected all matter of dust, and lint.

These are the shoes I used in track instead of "throwing shoes", because they had no tread by then.  They were smooth and soft, allowed me grip without traction.  They were my lucky shoes.

They are the shoes the TSA checked for shoe bombs, on my first ever flight on my own.  A young, blonde, almost translucently pale, 16 year old girl in a track uniform as thin as kleenex, pulled aside for a "random security check."  Sorry you had to smell those shoes, TSA.  You brought this on yourself.

How do you just throw away history like that?! So much Life happened in those shoes.  So much ground was covered.  Tournaments all over the state, a trip to Washington DC, another to Tennessee, countless nights rehearsing drill, after drill, after drill in marching band.  The only item I own that has outlived these shoes is a backpack from L.L. Bean.  That's a whole other slice!  An International Slice.
Anything you hold onto, even though you know it's time to let go?
(With a heavy heart, I did throw that shoe away)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tapped Out - #SOLC15 - 3/8

"Everything requires energy.  We must put effort and energy into anything we wish to change." - Erin Morgenstern "The Night Circus"

"If you love something, let it go.
If you don't love something, definitely let it go.
Basically, just drop everything, who cares."
-B.J. Novak

I am so tired.  I am beyond tired.  There are so many things that I need to do and I just can't bring myself to do any of them.  I need to grade some tests and papers, get my progress report grades ready, assign some tutorials, make a quiz, make some lesson plans, clean the house, laundry, cook for the next few days of school, get groceries so I can cook for the next few days... Also, I'm not home yet.

At some point I need to make an eye appointment and see about getting contacts, I need to take the driving portion of my CDL VERY soon, before my 90 days are up and I have to pay another $65 to retake all of the tests.

I have been tossing around some ideas for a curriculum change.  Our school has, to this point, approached FL curriculum with a very traditional style.  Open the text book, memorize the 70 vocab words for the chapter, drill and kill some grammar, quiz, quiz, practice workbook, test.  Which is fine.  Except I don't think my students are learning much.  They definitely aren't learning to communicate.  So I thought I might try to change this next unit into a PBL style lesson but I am STRUGGLING!  Part of the problem is it's the middle of the year, I have no materials so I will make everything from scratch, and I'm at school until 5:45 or 6 every day just at track practice and trying to get things ready for the next day.  I've only been able to stay one to two days ahead of where I am and haven't been able to do any major scope planning.  Another thing is the grammar for this unit is teaching the imperfect tense, and then teaching the difference between the preterite and imperfect.

For those of you who aren't major language people, they are both the past tense in English, but in Spanish (and I think in French) there are two types of past tenses.  One expresses ongoing/repetitive actions but we don't know how long specifically.  The other is for single, sudden, or one-time events, or a specific number of repetitions of a certain event (more or less, anyway).

Example: I was riding my bike when I fell and broke my wrist.  "Was riding" is imperfect (ongoing) and "fell and broke" are preterite (interrupting, single event).

For students who can't explain their own English grammar structures to you, this is a difficult concept.  It becomes doubly difficult when you are trying to translate back and forth and conjugate while determining if something should be preterite or imperfect.  Basically, it's a big ol' mess.  And do they truly need to master this concept in Spanish 2?  No.  So then do I teach it anyway?  Glaze over it and move on? Skip it altogether?  I don't know.

Lots of questions that require a lot of time and a lot of energy if I want to implement any of the answers to any of my questions.  And for the time being, I'm all tapped out.  There's nothing left to give to creative changes today.  Time to curl into power-nap position and get ready for the drive home.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wedding weekend - #SOLC15. - 3/7

My phone is not working. I hope I am not disqualified bc my phone isnt working. The blogger app has closed 4 times now. I'm going to try to write anyway.
So, my cousin is married. He's married! He is the first person in our family who has ever gotten married. And here I am. The oldest
On both sides
And I dont care. 
It's hard to be the oldest kid
On both sides
And not caring
Because you're supposed to be the trail blazer. The number one. The kid that does everything first. But I am not in any way upset. Its good. To see my cousin's face as he pledged his undying, forever-love to his new wife was perfect.  It was easily the best part of the night. I could not be happier for my cousin and his new wife. Maybe I'll be next. Maybe I won't be. Maybe I'll never be married.  Maybe it will be tomorrow!
I promise better posts when I'm not taking care of a wasted cousin, and our twin moms. Promise. :)

Friday, March 6, 2015


I feel like I am flying 1000000 mph right now!  I know if I don't squeeze this little blog in now, it might not get done today.

Left at noon for a track meet. Track'd it up, now I'm on a bus w the loudest, worst rap battle, ever.

My throwers did pretty well. Shotput boys took 3rd,6th, and 8th place out of about 20-25 kids, discus boys took 3rd and 6th. My freshman girl, who has never thrown, almost quit, and is constantly negative about her ability, placed 4th in a varsity meet! She said she didn't do well, but I'm extremely proud of her.

I have some more things I wanted to say, cool moments I wanted to share, but the day is almost over and I still have to pack for a trip/wedding tomorrow. I just wanted to make sure I got my slice in!  Day 6! Woooo wooooo!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Haboobs in the era of Climate Change #SOLC15 - 3/5

Haboob Season
It traps us inside
Dust in the streets, Dust in the air,
the sky a haze of red and brown

the wind gusts and howls
the dirt fills the world,
fills your house, your car,
your mouth, your lungs.

We live in the dust bowl
We never left.

This year, the sky is grey, the streets white
The dust is tucked in under sheets of ice,
blankets of snow

The snow does not fall here though,
ice does not settle,
it pelts; it drives; it bites.
Snow surges across roads,
Streaks sideways through the sky
as if gravity has shifted.

The winds of West Texas
do not care what they blow
But they blow without end

We live in the dust bowl
We never left...
We put cotton on top of it
And wait for the wind
to settle

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Promise Yourself #SOLC15 - 3/4

 Today's slice has been inspired by Kendra's post here about her own personal creed, and Darlene's #FirstWorldProblems post from yesterday.

My personal creed is a borrowed creed but I believe it and live it (or try to) with every particle of my being.  However, recently, I have been letting myself be dragged into some negativity and nonsense.  I believe, and need to remind myself of some promises I made in my creed.

Promise Yourself...
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile (except bugs)

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

There are a lot of people who focus and dwell on the negatives.  They take for granted the things they have been given, and rather than be grateful, demand more!  I have been surrounded by teachers lately that have been angry and negative and down about all kinds of things and I have allowed myself to be swallowed up whole by their negativity.  I am too noble for anger; too happy for trouble.
I work in a school where we have daily internet access.  We have 4 full computer labs, a mac lab, as well as mobile labs.  The majority of my students have their own device to use in class.  The majority of my students have loving, caring parents that provide them with food, shelter, and love.  I work in a community that is quick to give, and gives generously, to those students who don't have all of those luxuries.  I have a job that actually *PAYS* me to share information I'm in love with.  I have a job that I love to do.  I get to be a part of so many kids' lives, help them, and guide them as they become little adults.  More importantly, I get to have these kids be a part of my life.  They bring me so much joy and have taught me so many things in just two years!  Two years!!!  Who knows what's coming next?!

I promise myself...
To remind my coworkers of the good in the world, and more importantly in our own classrooms.

To give a smile to everyone, even when I'm tired, even when I'm busy, even when I lose my keys, drop my breakfast, or things don't go according.

To be too large for whining, too noble for grumbling, and too happy to allow others' negativity to bring me down.

Some things that make me smile and remember all the beauty of my life.

 Nuka and Ali in hiding from the new dog

A few of the THOUSANDS of Canada geese that show up in Lubbock each year. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Confident Decision #SOLC15 - 3/3

WHAT A DAY!  Today we went to a leadership training with Dan Korem: Magician, Investigative Journalist, Creator of the Korem Profiling System.  One thing he does at the end of each workshop really got me thinking.  How confident are you when you have to make a decision? To become a person who can make more confident, good decisions, and in turn become a more confident person in all areas of your life, it starts with a single decision.  Make a decision confidently, separately from what you're good at.  If you are a confident, experienced surgeon, it's not a challenge to make decision regarding your surgeries.  You know what you are capable of, what you are comfortable with, and what is best practice.  The same with most veteran teachers.  They have a system, they know how to make confident classroom decisions.

Instead, choose something you are not confident or experienced with, and journal about what you did, how it went and what the next goal is.  Some examples from our session of teachers, administrators, students, and community leaders were: looking at their phone less, starting with one class for one day; focusing on the positive and good things a teacher's own children do, starting with tomorrow, instead of nagging them for their mistakes, accidents, or shortcomings; actually doing the math homework, despite it being easy and not fun to a student, because it's what he *should* be doing. 

I struggled.  At first I couldn't think of what I was uncomfortable with.  I feel like I'm pretty open to trying things and I put a pretty solid effort into anything I do.  Most teachers were doing goals with technology or organization, but I think I'm okayish there.  I finally decided on two:

1) Write and publish every day for 31 days (heh heh).

2) Focus on the good things that third period class of Monster Boys does this week.

3) (I know I said two) But apparently I talk to my boyfriend with my mouth full of food.  I promise I don't do this in public, but he swears I do.  So maybe working on being more aware of what I'm doing.  I think this comes more from multitasking and being in a hurry... No excuses.  No more. 

What is a small, specific, obtainable decision you can make right now, today, and complete in a small time frame? It needs to be something you aren't already good at doing, and something you can commit to with a quick return.  This isn't a bucket list type thing.  What would you like to be better at?  What is your first step to becoming a better, stronger, more confident self? 

As a short BONUS SLICE! We found the most loving, calm, beautiful dog today. She is a sweet little pit mix with black and white spots all over like a dalmatian, and she wags her tail in her sleep.  She is maybe 8-12 months old, cuddly, and patient! She even let us give her a bath.  We are trying to think of a name in case her parents don't come and we adopt her:  So far, the only things we have are Ahsoka (we are huge Star Wars fans), Bruce Willis (I pitched out leiloo like 5th element, went to "multipass"> Corbin Dallas > Bruce Willis, couldn't stop laughing), or Moon Unit (As in Moon Unit Zappa).  We clearly aren't good at coming up with names.  I fear for our hypothetical future kids.   Any name suggestions are welcome! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

VICTORY!!! #SOLC15 - 3/2

Most of the stories I've read from past slicers are touching, deep, very personal life stories.  This story isn't really about me though.  And I know there is the "celebrate" writing on weekends, but I just couldn't wait to share this!

Today started off rough.  School was delayed, which means my CDL driving test was cancelled, which means my sub plans were now unnecessary.  I can't waste a good sub lesson as a coach, so I frantically planned a different lesson in my extra 2 hours this morning.  I was really worried about my half-baked plan using some technology we haven't really used yet, especially with my 3rd period.

Let me describe this class.  If you are a high school teacher, I think you will sympathize.  This class is huge.  I mean, I have 26 kids in the class, one of my larger groups, but this is a class of ALL JOCKS.  I have some basketballers, some baseballers, and SEVERAL linemen.  My class is BIG.  There is a grand total of 3 girls in the class, the rest are West-Texas-Howdy-Maam-I'm-A-Human-Tank athletes.  They are all growing and in constant competition on who is bigger. They are all best friends.  They are all very excitable.  They are all loud.  This class is also split in the middle by lunch.  As soon as I get the group settled and working, the lunch bell rings, and we start allllll over again, except now with sugar rushes and food comas.  It is a daily exercise in patience and love.

They were to read some articles about the Moai on Easter Island, and then imagine they are the head of the team trying to study the mystery of how the statues were moved. Post answers on my Google Classroom page.  I expected sighs, groans, eye rolling, and "do we have tooooo?"  Or more commonly, "I'll just take a zero. I'll probably pass." Instead...

OOH! What if they rolled it on logs?!  Do we get logs? How many?  How strong are they? Are they thick or thin?  Easily crushed or sturdy?  You said we get rope right?  How much rope?  We're near an ocean right?  Do they know about the wheel yet?  What if I made a cart?  NO WAY! That won't work, think of the weight!  We need a sled.  How do you make a sled?  OH I HAVE AN IDEA!!!

I was blown away.  Where did these little physicists and engineers come from?  I have rarely been asked for anything more than a bathroom or drink pass; now they're asking for more time to think of more ideas.  I try to always have a discussion piece, a culture part of each chapter, I share human interest pieces with them, I try playing games, stations, everything I can think of... and this is what sparked them: a lesson thrown together in an hour.

This is not a story about my family, my personal life, it's hardly about me at all.  All I did was ask a question.  But as teachers you know they are my life.  These are my kids.  Their successes and failures aren't mine, but they affect me deeply.  I spend more time with these kids and in this building than I do in my own home.  I am so excited for them to be excited about something I'm teaching!  I am never happier than I am when I have a day full of learning, of thinking, and excitement of others to be learning and thinking on their own.  Today, I am victorious!!!