Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Final Day

 It is hard to believe that I have spent the entire month blogging. This is my second year working on this challenge - and it was as rewarding the second go-round as the first.  It can be challenging - no doubt - finding the time to do anything extra during a pandemic was at times too much.  But I found the time every day, even if it was later than normal - I made the time.

I learned a lot along the way.  Here are a few takeaways this year:

Writing daily makes me a better writing teacher.

All people like to feel validated - that someone "gets" their writing

People like to read what you have written -especially students

Blogs provide an excellent mentor text for students

Blogs can be used in conferences with students

Kids will want to mimic what you have written

Kids will want to blog too

Taking a few minutes to dedicate to something that you enjoy is worth it

Sometimes writing is hard

Writer's block is no joke

Putting fingers to the keyboard and letting them just write is the best way to handle the block

I will be back next year... and hopefully every Tuesday!

Thanks for reading!! 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Chicken's on Vacation

 Chicken Vacation... that piqued your interest right?!? What you might ask is a chicken vacation?  Why would a chicken need a vacation? Or maybe someone is taking a vacation to a chicken farm?  The questions that the simple title created are endless.... so let me give you some background.

I teach fourth grade at a STEM school in Georgia.  We are blessed with 42 acres of land.  About 4 years ago, one of the women on my team decided to incubate chickens.  She had chickens at home and thought it would be a great project for the kids.  These kids loved it, built a coop, a run, and loved them endlessly.

Bram, my team member, recruited me the next year to participate in the project.  I jumped in with both feet and embraced all things chicken.  Chicken poop... doesn't even phase me.  Chickens squawking and flying out of their brooder... I don't even flinch.  I just keep right on talking.  We love our fine feathered friends with all we have.  

These amazing creatures live their early life in a brooder in our classrooms.  We incubated the eggs early in January, watched them hatched, and have raised them with love and care.  These little guys and gals are the center of many lessons, great for Social, Emotional Learning, and provide constant amusement. 

You are still wondering about the vacation... right?  I am getting there! Our feathered classmates can not survive over the weekends or on the days when we are being fogged. Someone has to care for them - so the kids wrote a letter to their parents, outlining all the responsibilities, and asking their parents to let them take them on "vacation" to their house for the weekend and/or Wednesday.  They were very serious about this letter, requiring a signature from their parents to ensure that they would be good chicken tenders - their words, not mine. 

This afternoon, one lucky fourth-grader and his parents, arrived at 2:00 to claim their chickens for their vacation. The moms and dads that pick them up, arrive with such trepidation and drop them off after their duty is fulfilled with a sense of awe.  We have many converted chicken tenders in our class - many parents who go out and build coops in their yards.  We have kids that have talked aunts, uncles, and grandparents into "adopting" their chick for a permanent vacation.  

So, you see chicken vacation is a real thing.  The question is:  Who really is on vacation the chickens or the family of chicken tenders?

Monday, March 29, 2021

Do over?

 Ever have one of those days.... you know the kind where you feel as if you are going 90 miles an hour ALL DAY long? That has been my day today.  I just can't seem to slow down, or have anything go exactly as planned... or even part of the way as planned.  I hate to say I need a do-over, but I might.

It all started at the really early hour of 3AM.  Something woke me up and I struggled to get back to sleep. So, I have been essentially up since 3.  I got out of bed at 3:56 - which is only 10 minutes early.  I thought I would use those ten minutes to my advantage and get to school.  I worked out - that went well - got a good sweat on.  I thought ok, it's gonna be a great day.

Well... not so fast! I didn't like what I had to wear so I changed clothes.  That took forever since I couldn't decide whether to dress for the morning temp or the afternoon temp. I went with a t-shirt and a sweater - a great compromise. Now I am down a few minutes.  I hurriedly make my breakfast, drink my coffee, let the dogs out and take off for school.  

Well... not so fast! My husband drove my car last, so I had to rearrange the seat and steering wheel.  Not a big deal, but I was hoarding those minutes like they were Reeces Peanut Butter Lovers cups. I get all adjusted and head to school.  Score! I am the first one there.. I will have the copy machines to myself.

Well... not so fast!  Although, I had them to myself... it took me almost an hour to separate what I needed to copy and make the first big batch of copies.  So, I didn't get to slice in the morning.  That makes my afternoon even more rushed since I need to feed the teenager at 4PM.  Then, the chickens arrived early from their weekend vacation.  I had to stop copying to tend to the animals and then I never went back because the bell was ringing.

And on and on and on, the day went.  One thing would delay the next thing, a surprise observation was mixed in and overall I just want to sit down.  Well... not so fast! I need to post this and I have 3 minutes to spare before the hungry boy gets home! Do over tomorrow? 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Mornings

 Today, I slept until 6:51! That might not sound record-breaking to you... but to me, it's the equivalent of a high school kid sleeping in.  I have always been a rise early, go to bed early kind of girl.  My body's natural clock is set to early bedtimes and early morning wake-ups.

For me, rising at 4AM to work out is perfect.  I am in a better frame of mind to work out in the morning.  I like to get it done before the day begins when the house is quiet, and no one needs me.  It is the one time I can completely focus on myself.  I have tried after school, but something always gets in the way, or I am too tired from working all day to put forth the maximum effort. 

I like to get to work early.  Not that many people are there, and the few who are there are like-minded... we all want to get our work done.  There is little chit chat... just nose to the grindstone kinda work happening.  I can get so much done! I have tried after school, but something always gets in the way, or there are too many people who want to stop and chat.  It ends up taking twice as long and I don't get it all accomplished. 

I get up early on my days off too! I can work out and can get the bulk of my school work done.. grade papers, enter grades, write this blog, write my class blog, etc. Once the house wakes up, I focus on being present for them.  So, I don't mind the early wake-up.. it's not 4 but usually 5:30 ish.  

Waking up early and going to bed early is what works for me.  It always has.  I remember in high school barely being able to stay up past 8:30.  I missed so many TV shows that everyone always watched because I was asleep. (Sadly, the same thing still happens!!) Everyone is different, even in their sleep patterns. I gave up trying to change it a long time ago... the beauty of self-acceptance!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Baseball Memories

 "Crack" the sound of the ball hitting the back takes me back to other games and other times.  The memories are as clear as day... I have spent half of my adult life in the baseball bleachers.  My oldest played baseball from the time he was 4 until he hung up his bag for the last time at 18. There is nothing as special as a game of baseball.

"Here we go, Cody! Bat to the ball... quick hands..." I said the same time every time he was up to bat.  Baseball is a superstitious sport... I had to sit the same way, say the same things... every time he was up to bat.  When he pitched, I had the same type of cheers, "Use your legs, you got this..." over and over again. 

"Great game, Cody! Wow you really smacked that ball!" or maybe "I know today wasn't your day, let's practice your swing... maybe you need to hit the cage?"  These were typical conversations we had after every game.  Him with his huge bag, and me with my chair and snack bag ambling along for a post-game chat some of them were happy, and others were filled with commiserating or advice-giving.  

"You want a hot dog for breakfast? That's kinda gross"... "I get a hit every time I hit a hot dog.  Can you make one?" For an entire season, he ate hot dogs before every game no matter the time.  I cooked more hot dogs than I did any other type of food!

Baseball was a great sport for my oldest. It taught him many things... lessons learned that will carry him through the rest of his life.  He will have countless memories of all the time spent on the field, on the road, or after the game.  I am glad that I spent all my weekends at the ball field... I know now that they were time well spent.  I didn't realize at the time how special it was... if I had only known! 

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Comfiest Sweatpants Ever...

 I saw a meme on Facebook yesterday, posted by one of my friends and colleagues. The meme went something like this:  When I get home my first objective is to change into something that makes me look homeless.  This is so me... and I really thought I was the only one to do this!  

My arrival at home goes something like this.  

    Enter to wildly barking jumping dogs.  Give them lots of love.

    Set all of my school things down. Plug in my laptop. Empty my lunchbox.

    Race up the steps.  Yell a passing hello to my husband.

    Take off my "covid" clothes... even if it's my comfiest dress down outfit.

    Put on my son's high school baseball sweatpants - they are about 3 sizes too big - and my comfiest             sweatshirt - which is about 3 sizes too big.

    Put my crazy hair up in a top not and take a deep breath.

    AHHHH - pure heaven!

Now, I look like a crazy person.  I am pretty short - around 5 feet tall - my son is 6'1.  I have to roll the sweatpants up at the waist and at the bottoms.  My sweatshirt is sometimes on inside out... but who cares.  I am so comfy, I am ready to tackle whatever comes my way.  Sometimes that is grading papers, helping with my youngest homework, or dreams of dreams, sitting on the couch with a good book.  Sadly, I have gone to the grocery store looking like this! I slap on a hat, put my mask on, and you can barely see my face. It works!! 

Isn't it funny how a random Facebook post can hit home... especially when you thought you were all alone in your crazy, comfy outfit. 



Thursday, March 25, 2021

First Time in a Year...

 Today is the first time in over a year that we have attended school four days in a row.  Normally, we have Wednesdays off so that the building may be cleaned.  This week because the county is providing vaccines to the teachers, they have switched the asynchronous day to Friday.  Last week was the same way, but severe storms were set to move in and we were virtual last Thursday and Friday.

Boy, to say that I am super tired is an understatement. I have forgotten how it feels to get up at 4AM this many days in a row.  I am not sure I have enough coffee to make it!! How did I ever do this five days a week?  I guess the body adjusts to the schedule and it becomes normal.  But right now... not so normal!

I can only imagine how my students will be feeling this morning. They haven't done this either... I wonder how many will choose to go virtual today?  How many will be late because they needed to sleep in?  I am sure that the ones that are here on time, will be slow going and super tired.  Which we all know can go one of two ways. The kids will be super chatty or they will be little zombies.  I don't know which one I would rather show up... I am so tired and I know my reaction to their behavior will be different than normal.

Nothing much to do but to just make this day work.  I will embrace the tired... because at least I can sleep in a bit tomorrow. I will embrace whatever little people show up... because I love them tired or not.  I will embrace my million cups of coffee... at least I have plenty.  Let's hope I can embrace all these things!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chicken Coops

 Unexpectedly yesterday afternoon, my partner teacher and I received a wonderful gift.  We raise chickens and one of our families is donating two brand new coops.  Our current coops are in need of repair and after being moved over the summer are in rough shape.  They are completely repairable, usable, and viable.. but the gift was offered and we accepted. 

I am not the original chicken "tender" in my partnership. My partner teacher, Bram, started the program about 5 or six years ago.  Her class at the time designed the coop and run out of an old refrigerator box.  These kids put the engineering design process to use.  They gathered on weekends and used class time to construct and build the coop and run.  How amazing is that?!? What a talented group of students.

When I joined, we shared her coop until I could have one built.  My parents and students used the same design that the original kids used.  Now we had two coops built out of their imaginations. We have repaired these original coops over the years, painted them matching colors, and put our baby chicks in there with love.  

Over the summer, my county's maintenance department moved the coops and runs to make way for portables.  In the move, they didn't care for them the way we would have if we had moved them.  They weren't broken per se but damaged. Nothing that we couldn't fix on our class restoration day... which was scheduled for this weekend.

As we were packing up to go home yesterday, we received a phone call from one of our parents offering us the new coops and runs.  She had already begun building them in her shop. We accepted this kind offer and immediately sent the remaining parents an email letting them know that chicken coop restoration was off. To say this was a whirlwind afternoon, would be an understatement.

It all happened so fast, that I don't think Bram had a chance to process what was happening.  She had put so much time, effort, love, and memories into these coops.  These coops were a testament to her students who created them.  They offer a lasting legacy to Bram's contribution to her kids, the school, and me. What Bram doesn't know is the legacy isn't in the wood, the nails, or the chicken wire...the legacy is in the memories that we all hold.  The way she has paved the way for us to have a chicken project, the love she has shown to each chicken and to the kids who raise them.  She has created countless kids that will grow up and realize that they can do anything that they set their minds to.  Bram continually shows the students, community, and me that it isn't about the final product but the journey along the way.  So today, as she is letting go of her "legacy", I hope that she finds comfort in the fact that we hold her legacy in our hearts. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

What's that Noise?

 "Ping, Ping...Tap, Tap"

"Ping, Ping...Tap, Tap"

"Ping, Ping...Tap, Tap" What is that Noise? It starts softly and grows in loudness as I reach the bottom of the stairs.  Should I be afraid... no that doesn't sound like anything scary. I quickly make my way down the hall, flip on the light switch, and see the puddle.  

It takes a minute for my mind and eyes to connect.  I see the wet area rug, the wet hardwood floors but can't quite connect the two.  As my eye drip up to the source of the wetness, I spot the leak.  "Oh great, I think", not another leak.  We have been plagued by leaky pipes for the last two years, and it looks like another one sprung a leak. 

My mind is fully awake now.. not what I want to deal with at 4:05 in the morning.  But I do... I grab my largest soup pot and place it under the drip.  I dry up the wet hardwoods and sorta stare at the mess that is now my kitchen.  Oh, well... I better go work out.

As I ascend the stairs from the basement, sweaty from my boxing workout, I hear a new noise "Ting, Ting" "Ting, Ting".  This is the terribly, annoying sound of water hitting the large metal soup pot.  "Maybe I should have made a better choice", I think. I turn off all the lights in the kitchen since the dripping water is close to the light and turn on the light over the sink.  Then, I make the mistake of looking backward... the small leak is big.  I can see the water trails across the BRAND new ceiling - we had a leak here last year and had the whole ceiling replaced. "Great" I exclaimed out loud to no one.  

Not much I can do this morning, I have to head to school.  Although, I do wake my husband to tell him about the leak.  "Hey, Bill... we have another leak in the kitchen" "Huh? What! Oh great!"

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Little Guy

 We have a large dog and a smaller dog.  For us, the smaller dog is really little but for most, the small dog is normal size.  The little guy loves big and wants to be near you at all times.  He will lay touching you for hours on end... often refusing to move.  This is all fine and dandy until you try to sleep - then it becomes a problem.

I usually go to bed before anyone else.  I get up super early in the morning - like 4AM during the week and around 6 on the weekend, so by 8PM, I am ready for bed.  The little guy knows exactly what I am doing when I push the button on the recliner and sit up.  My next step is to plug in my iPad, take my allergy medicine, and then head up the stairs.  He pops up from wherever he is sitting and bounds up the stairs.  

He always makes it up the stairs before I do.  I can't seem to trick him into letting me be the first one into the room.  He leaps onto the bed and turns his customary three circles before settling in. At this point, he is on the opposite side of the bed.  Which is perfect, but will not last long.  Eventually, my husband comes to bed and the little guy moves to underneath my feet.  Sweet right?!? No, it's not.  This little 40-pound ball of love will not move and generates enough heat to warm an entire house! You can push him, pick him up, even yell at him and he will not move. Once he is settled in, he is good for the night.

Now, my youngest is supposed to come and get him and take him to his room.  That happens less and less.  The little guy makes it so hard to pick him up, it has become more of a hassle. Sometimes, we take him to the youngest room, not often enough though.  This little dog melts into the bed! He is so set on staying where he is.

Last night, was no different. I race up the stairs to try and shut the door before he gets there.  Of course, I lose out.  He turns three times and settles in.  I am fine at first... I settle in and fall fast asleep.  The problem begins around midnight.  Now my husband is fast asleep and the little guy has moved right under my feet.  He won't move, the covers keep getting stuck and the heat he generates is too much.  I push a little, nudge some with my feet... nothing.  He won't move.  I stand up, thinking I will move him tonight.  Just as I get close to him and put my hands on him... he moves closer to my husband.  I quickly get back in bed, the heat is gone, I can move my legs... and I drift off to sleep.  I can't imagine my husband can say the same thing. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Nighttime Sounds

 The sounds at night are solemn

The sounds at night are mysterious

The sounds at night are normal

But when the nighttime sounds change...

The sounds at night are scary

The sounds at night cause worry

The sounds at night create anxiety

The sounds at night become sleeplessness

But when the worrier falls asleep...

The sounds at night are quiet

The sounds at night are still

The sounds at night are normal

The Final Day

 It is hard to believe that I have spent the entire month blogging. This is my second year working on this challenge - and it was as rewardi...