Thursday, March 31, 2022

This is it...

 Wow! I don't think a person realizes how quickly time moves until you are taking note of the days.  I completed a burpee challenge in February and was amazed at how quickly 28 days past.  Now, this is not to say that during the challenge all the days move quickly or there is not a period in which time seems to stand still because there are slow days and really slow days. But all in all - time is a thief - and the days of March flew by. 

Many slicers take today, the final day, to take stock of what was learned, what was gained, and overall their experience with daily slicing.  It is a way to grow as a writer, and a teacher - isn't that the goal? I am no different, so here is my take on the experience on this final day.

  • There are some fabulous writers in this world, and I am humbled by them
  • Inspiration can - and should - be drawn from mentor texts, ie fellow slicers
  • Writers' block is no joke
  • Sometimes just starting to type (write) gets the creative juices flowing
  • I enjoy writing
  • My writing has evolved but has lots of room for improvement
  • I have more empathy for my struggling writers and my non-struggling writers
  • Doing something for 30 days builds character
  • Writers like to share their work
  • I will be back next year!
Thank you to all my fellow slicers for all the inspiration!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Symbol

The giant piece of workout equipment, the Gold's Gym weight system, is being dismantled.  It has been set up in my formal living room since April of 2020.  You guessed it, we assembled it during the early days of Covid.  The home gym became a solace to my family, an inside joke, and the topic of many blog posts and writing assignments.  Now it stands as a monument of what has transpired over the last two years.  

Like Covid, it is slowly being downgraded and will be moving on to a new place.  It will no longer stand sentry over our house. It will no longer peer at us as we move through the house as if to say come here let me show you what I've got. It will no longer signify all that was lost.  It will no longer be a topic of conversation.  It will no longer be here. 

Maybe somewhere, some other time we will use the gym or fear we need it.  For now, the constant reminder of what was is being dismantled. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Right Now...

 I was inspired by a fellow slicer to complete a different kind of slice.  Here goes!

Right now I am…

Sitting: I’m sitting at the counter drinking my first cup of coffee, about to go to school.

Wondering: I’m wondering if my students will finish their RBQ by Friday and if my youngest will really go to the college he decided to go to on a whim last week.

Savoring: I’m savoring the hint of caramel in my morning coffee along with the amazing aroma of a just brewed pot of coffee

Avoiding: I’m avoiding creating morning slides for my homeroom, sometimes they are so tedious.

Hoping: I’m hoping that the weather improves for Spring Break.  I really need it to be above 73, so that I can enjoy the beach.

Hearing: I’m hearing the sound of the birds as daylight breaks.  The sweet chirping signaling that the day is beginning.

Crafting: I’m crafting the responses to my many emails about student homework and poor reading comprehension grades. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

I Am

My class recently completed this poem activity based on the book, I Am Every Good Thing  by Derrick Barnes.  It is a fantastic book!  This is the first year that I have used it during my poetry unit.  Anyway, the kinds wrote I Am poems and we hung them in the hall.  Here is my take on the poem.

I Am shy yet sassy

I Am the green trees blowing in the wind 

I Am the sound of ocean waves and children's laughter

I Am homemade mac' and cheese

I Am an endless run, a good pump, and a downward dog

I Am the "ah-hahs" when they get it, the smile on my kids' faces, and the light at the end of the tunnel

I Am the glue that holds it all together

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Getting old...

 I was inspired by another slicer to write this post! Thank you to each and every slicer who inspires me and countless others. 

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that I am a bit of an exercise fanatic.  Up every school day at 4AM to get in my daily workout - a mix of weightlifting and yoga.  I am in decent shape - not magazine-worthy but ok for my age.  I eat pretty healthy, except for the Friday night treat I allow myself. 

Fast forward to last Tuesday... I am eating lunch with my partner teacher and we are just chatting away.  We decide we need to check something on the computer, which is located around my desk near the front of the room.  I make my way to the computer at a totally normal pace.  I move the chairs around my desk to the side and stand in front of my computer.  I casually turn to look to the right... not a full turn but a half turn sorta turning my head more than my torso. And BAM, the spasm hit my lower right side.  Like a full-on spasm that took my breath away and caused me to grab frantically at my back.  My coworker asked if I was ok - I guess the pain was evident. She kept repeating, "You just went to your computer!"  

All I did was walk to my computer, but sometimes muscles tighten.  My back was fine within a half hour or so. It was needless to say a humbling experience - a reminder that we all age and with it comes random inexplicable injury. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Roosters, Roosters, and More Roosters

 My class hatches and raises chickens. We incubated the eggs earlier this year, in November, at my request.  I thought that it would be really cool if we kept the chickens long enough for them to lay eggs.  So here we are in March and the hens should be laying anyday now.  

Starting earlier than in prior years, came with a few hiccups.  We had to incubate at home since the school gets so cold on the weekends and that makes it really hard to maintain temperature and humidity in the incubator.  We had to build nesting boxes for the hens, which changed up some of the lessons we did in prior years with the chickens. We had to come up with a heat source for when they went outside. I subsequently spent lots of time worrying about catching the coops on fire.  Then the chickens water froze and we had to come up with a way to keep the water warm.  All of these hiccups provided great real world problem solving activities for the kids. 

By far our biggest issues has been the issues of hens and roosters.  It's pretty hard to tell if the chick is a hen or a rooster when they are young.  We tried what seemed like a million different things to see if the chick was a hen or a rooster.  We went by weight, size, comb/gobble development and we even tried to look at their wing feathers.  The one thing we learned is that comb/gobble development and size are a pretty good criteria for determining who is a rooster. Anyway, as they develop roosters become more aggressive and eventually a little too interested in the hens 😉. So, we built a rooster hotel to keep the roosters seperate... we even had to have different "hotels" for different roosters.  One rooster fight was enough for me!  Anyway, last weekend some of the boys, that have been together since birth, began to pick on the smaller of their brothers.  I knew it was time for us to adopt out our roosters. I placed an ad and have had interest from two different people about adopting our roosters.  We have 9 roosters... so many to adopt out!

Today I meet with the first perspective adoptee - let's hope they want to take him!  These roosters need to find a new home before they fight anymore.  

Friday, March 25, 2022


 As teachers, mothers, humans we can be filled with self-doubt.  The constant bombardment of images, tweets, and posts doesn't help.  We spend so much time comparing ourselves to the other baseball moms, the teacher down the hall, or the lady at the gym.  The proverbial keeping up with the Joneses. An age-old adage that has stood the test of time and is even more pertinent today. 

Kids today have it worse than when I was a kid... in terms of self-doubt and comparisons.  When I was younger, there was no social media to constantly show me what I should wear, look like, act like, eat, and a million other things. These kids start seeing their mom's Facebook at an early age, or her have their own TikTok by fourth grade! They are presented with an ideal that is not attainable.  When I was younger - ok I sound about 100 years old here! - we just had Cosmo or the teen magazines to look at.  Those came out once a month and you could throw them in the trash.  Social Media is a constant presence and is continually upping the comparison game.

Now, kids aren't the only ones who fall prey to this social media or even television/movie comparison.  Adults fall victim to it too.  How many times have you looked at a tweet celebrating something in the classroom and felt that your lessons aren't enough? Or looked at an Instagram post or a TikTok video and thought, "Wow, that teacher is so cool... I need to step up my game."  This just leads to educators feeling less than in an already turbulent year.  

Some self-doubt is ok... it makes us try harder, be better and pushes us out of our comfort zones.  Too much self-doubt is not ok... especially in a time when people have been isolated because of the pandemic.  What can we do about it?  Celebrate who we are as people, accept yourself.... be YOU.  There is only one of you in the entire world and I imagine that you are AWESOME.  We also need to learn to celebrate others and their accomplishments.  It is ok to not have Instagram worth anchor charts.  Not everyone has perfect penmanship and can create all those awesome pictures and that's ok.  But kudos to those that can.  

So I challenge you today to find something that great about yourself.  Embrace it... Be YOU... learn to love who you are! 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Rambling Biography - My Take

 I read a slice yesterday, and the slicer wrote a rambling autobiography. I thought it was so different and something that I had to try to here goes!

I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania where everyone came home when the streetlights came on and the fire whistle blew. I adore sunshine, Swedish fish, a good workout, and being with my family. I bought a four-door jeep in 2019, right after my son went to college and Covid hit – my jeep provided such solace during the pandemic. I have two older brothers – way older – I was born when they were 16 and 17 years old. (The best flu my mother ever had!) I have never been to Hawaii or Europe, although they are both on my bucket list to visit. One of my nieces, who lost her mother two years ago, has become my quasi-daughter. (girls are fun!) When I was in kindergarten, I had a major concussion causing me to throw up on my teacher and be in the hospital for a week. My favorite place is anywhere my family is gathered but if we are at a beach somewhere it’s even better! I can still sense my parents and my sister-in-law’s presence with me, whether it is in the cardinal’s visit, the taste of pot roast, or the sound of music. I dated one boy all through high school, and no we didn’t get married… I married my husband after about a year and a half of dating. I gave birth to two fantastic sons; we decide two was enough but adding a girl would have been really cool. When I was eleven, I had a horse, Cherokee, he was my best friend, and the stables where I kept him became my second home. I am a teacher, mother, exercise fanatic, and the only girl in my family. I want to retire to the sunshine, peacefully reading books, exercising, and enjoying my family. 

If you haven't tried this you should... it was fun! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Decision

Sitting in the end booth at Taco Mac, a local wing joint, we ate our final meal before the oldest left for his junior year of college. The youngest was sitting to his left and lamenting all the bad things about his senior year of high school.  Since Covid, honestly, even before that, he has not been the biggest fan of school. The isolation a high school kid felt, especially one with a mom who stuck to the quarantine rules, was no joke.  He missed out on so many of the normal high school experiences, but I digress. He was going on and on about his lame classes, how he was going to have two PE classes, one academic class, and then minimum day. 

My oldest piped up with, "Why don't you graduate early?  Lots of kids do it. You would just need Gov and Econ, right?"  "I guess," the youngest sighed, "Mom, could I do that?"  "I think so, we could ask the counselor." 

The conversation turned back to sports - what else with an all-boy family. We discussed LSU football in-depth, how well Joe Burrow was going to do coming off of his injury, and would the Bucs repeat. Some good-natured ribbing went on between the boys but the youngest seemed far off. He kept giving me the look... like he was thinking about something but didn't want to say it and needed me to tell him what to do.

Fast forward a few days and he brings it up again.  "Mom, can you reach out to the counselor?  See what I have to do to graduate early?"  "Sure, let me email her now."  The process was easy enough and he wouldn't take much to change his classes, he had to decide right away though.  They would need to get him into Gove/Econ ASAP.  So, long story short, after much deliberation or maybe just that teenager's "I can't make a decision" attitude, he decided to graduate in December.

Well, that put us on a fast track to college.  Applications were sent, acceptances were received and we began to scramble.  All while focusing on a new school year for the both of us.  I began to gather supplies, attempt conversations with the surly boy, who was questioning his decision at this point, and try and make a plan. FINALLY, he decided to go to the same college that his older brother goes to.  I immediately felt relief.  Whew, this baby of mine would be with his brother. 

Well, in typical teenage fashion, he grew more nasty and unsure as the end of the semester approached.  "Should I have done this?" "I am not sure I want to go here." "What if I don't go?"  "What should I do?"  These conversations were on the daily, sometimes multiple times a day.  One night, he called me to the basement and said he just couldn't do it.  He said I just am not ready.  He had great points - this is 8 months early, I am going from high school senior to college freshman in three weeks, I don't know what to do with my life... 

Fast forward four more months, and he is still here at home and hasn't decided where to go.  He still has the same concerns but knows another deadline approaches.  My college boy was home last weekend and ran into the roommate group that the youngest was originally going to be in. They told the college boy that they still needed a fourth roommate - they all assumed my youngest was in college.  We immediately told the indecisive teenager, who with a sparkle in his eye, began to reconsider this whole going to his brother's school.

Late last evening, he reached out to this group of high school friends who immediately were like room with us.  So, he signed up... he made the room request... and a decision was made to go to this college.  He had more spunk and spark than I have seen in a long time.  Let's just hope that this is his final decision... teenagers change their minds a lot! 

Monday, March 21, 2022

The Car Show

 Every year for the last 29 years, I have attended the international car show with my husband.  Early on, even before we were married, I went with him and his parents. We would stroll through the exhibit marveling at the cars, their costs, and dreaming big "one-day" dreams.  We would climb in and out of the cars and be in awe of the new features.  Each year the features and price seemed to change, what was once an option became standard, and stick shifts became a thing of the past.

 When we had kids, we continued to go.  My oldest has been going for 22 years, his first time was as a five-month-old. We pushed the stroller through the show, pausing now at cars and SUVs that could fit everything that went with having a baby.  "Do you think there is enough room back here for the car seat?", "That trunk doesn't look like it would fit the stroller.", "Do you think I could reach around and get him in this car, like if I needed to?"  Our conversations changed as the years progressed, but the one constant was the family went together.  

My youngest has attended his whole life... even in utero.  I was just coming off a brief period of bed rest and made my way slowly through the car show.  His first appearance at the showwas when he was six months old.  Again, the conversations changed... "Now, we have two... should we look at minivans?" "Ooh, this one has a TV and the doors slide open."  "That could be vital to my sanity... let's see what Chevy has to offer." We even picked out our next car at the car show!  We still dreamed and had "one-day" cars, my husband always looks at the Mustangs and the sedans.  I always go for the Jeeps and the day. (I should say, I drive a Jeep now 😀)

We have made it a point to go to the car show every year.  When the boys we both heavily involved in travel sports, we squeezed it in somehow.  Some years it was a quick trip, others we spent a little bit longer.  Some years we spent a fortune on food while we were there - my snacks were not enough for growing boys.  Some years we only bought water.  The constant was the family time together. 

This year, my college boy was home from school for the weekend.  You guessed it, it was the weekend of the car show.  We made a pilgrimage to downtown for the show.  My youngest, who doesn't get out of bed before noon, got up early to join us.  We walked through the exhibit.  This year pointing out the cost of the cars to the soon-to-be college graduate.  His dreams of a maxed-out Ford F150, slowly being crushed by the realization that they are out of his league for now. He decided he likes the cheaper version of the truck, a bit smaller but functional... he will now have a "one-day" truck dream.  My youngest one, decided that cars are too expensive and he is going to drive his until he can't anymore.  But if he had to choose, he seems to like the fast, sports cars... so maybe a Corvette or a Dodge Charger are his "one-day" cars.  

As we were making our way back to the car, my college boy said, "I am so glad I made it home for the car show." Then in typical brother fashion, they debated the wants vs needs of the cars and how expensive they are.  This quickly turned into the viral conversation about doors and windows... but that is for another day! My husband and I just soaked it all in.  What a great, simple tradition started by his dad all of those years ago. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Sunday in Six Lines

 Sundays are for relaxing in my comfy PJ's

Sundays are for HOT coffee and catching up on my shows

Sundays are for "Sunday" dinners when my family comes home

Sundays are for meal planning, meal prepping, and making the week easier

Sundays are for longer yoga sessions

Sundays are for trying out new recipes, watching football, and being in the now

Sundays are for me

Saturday, March 19, 2022

He's Coming Home

 Today's the day... he's coming home.  He has spent the last week living his best life in Islamorada -going to the beach, riding in golf carts, eating lobster tacos.  Living the dream! 

I began looking at the find my phone app at 7:30... his intended departure time.  I send a quick text to "be safe and can't wait to see you" and start my school day.  It's a day of reading assessments and research for our writing pieces, so I have time to check my app.  I check it multiple times during the day - almost obsessively. 8:00, 9:00, 10:15, 11:10... this time I send a text.  "How is it going?" "Fine, just a tired car." 12:15, 1:30, 2:45... school's over, so I send another quick text. "What time will you be home?" "Late, you will be asleep." "I will wait up"  "K" 

The pattern repeated over and over, even when I went to dinner, or made donuts with my other son.  The little blue dot was growing closer, and closer.  "Hey, Mom.  We should be there around 10"  "Yeah, can't wait to see you"  "Me too"  Now, I NEVER make it up past 8:30.  I am really struggling to stay awake.  I take a seriously quick... like 10 minutes... power nap. I am a bit more revived.  The rest of my family is eagerly awaiting his arrival, even the 18-year-old.  8:00, 8:45, 9:00, 9:30, 9:45, 9:50.... he is in our town... 9:53, 9:58... the lights go on outside..... the dogs bark.... the door swings open..... he's home!  Now I can go to bed !!!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Yoga's Lessons

 Things I learned during my morning yoga:

  • Be in the present
  • Seize the now
  • Before you give up, pause and stick with it
  • Be with your breath
  • Your breath is your life force
  • Embrace who you are 
  • Love yourself and all of your "shortcomings"
  • What we view as a problem, someone else views as a gift
  • There is peace in stillness
  • Yoga helps get my mind right for the day
  • Yoga forces me to stop thinking about all of the things and focus on my breath
If you have never done yoga, give it a try.  It really is good for your mind and body. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Is This The New Normal?

 We spend a great deal of time on my fourth-grade team talking about our students.  Sometimes it is great stuff that they have done or said or maybe they finally mastered a concept.  Sometimes it is not so great stuff that they have done or said or something they just can't get. It is like this every year - we have our Wednesday PLC meetings or maybe a quick meet-up in the hall and spend time discussing, analyzing, or commiserating. Except this year is different. 

This year we are seeing the beginnings of the full effect of Covid.  Our kids don't know how to school.  It's a verb now... they don't know how to follow directions, work through a problem, or get along with their peers... to school. In the past, you may have had to say the directions many times, maybe go to specific kids to repeat them, and then meet with the small group that you know needs you.  Now,  you say the directions, repeat them, say them again, repeat them again, go to 27 individual kids to make sure they get it, and then.... just give up and complete the assignment whole group.  It's exhausting! This process seems to repeat itself every time there is a new assignment. Now, I am exaggerating a bit but it sure feels like this every time I give directions!

It is not their fault - they have been dealt a bad hand. These babies were in first grade the last time there was a normal year.  They made it through a little more than half of second grade before the world stopped.  They were left to end the year virtually with teachers who have never done that (we did a great job by the way), and parents that were working alongside them. Then third grade was 4 days a week and in some cases -  three days with Target (the gifted program) pull out, masks, quarantine, immediate switches to virtual when needed.  How could they learn all that they need to learn with that kind of exposure?  It is hard enough to teach all the standards in a normal year - it was really hard to fit it all in last year.  

Now, here we are in a "normal" year.  Sure we have had some interruptions, some quarantines but for the most part, we are having a normal year. But boy can you tell that they have experienced some tough times and are academically, socially, and behaviorally behind. Is this the new normal? Will it take us a few years to recoup the losses?  Or is our trajectory forever changed? When will the kids know how to "school" again and we can get back to the business of filling gaps and providing an education? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Careless Remarks

 People are careless, sometimes even thoughtless.   We, as a society, have become accustomed to hiding behind social media.  We have lost our collective filter - that pause before you speak, the thing that keeps us from saying ALL THE THINGS that are in our head.  Sometimes, we say the first thing that pops into our minds. These thoughtless or careless remarks can come at the expense of a friend, a student, or even a random stranger.

I really don't know what we can do to fix the situation.  I just know we need to do something about it.  How do we go back to a time when we haven't lost that filter?  Was there ever a time?  I know that it has gotten worse in the last few years... or at least it seems to have from my perspective.  It is like we have given ourselves permission to say whatever we want.  Social media has played a large part in this, as we can hide behind a screen, or post anonymously. 

Why am I blogging about this?  What has gotten me so upset that I felt the need to slice about it?  Yesterday, one of my close friends was brought to tears by an off-the-cuff mark.  Well, it really wasn't off the cuff since it was said twice. A colleague said something without pausing to think it all the way through, and it really hurt my friend's feelings.  I don't believe that it was intentional, it was said during an intense conversation.  Nonetheless, it hurt her feelings.  If the person would have taken a beat, and then made the comment, it may have been different.

People do this thing sort of thing all the time.  I know I am guilty of it - we all are!  I know that I am going to take a beat, be more deliberate with my word choices, and try and ensure that I don't make a careless remark. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

I'm Stuck

 Day fifteen of slicing has met me head-on with a challenge.  I can't seem to think of anything to write about.   My mind is completely blank... I can't seem to find inspiration anywhere.  I have tried to read other slicers, I have gone back into my previous posts looking for a nugget of inspiration.  Nothing, nada, nil.  This is so incredibly frustrating.

This is exactly what my kids feel like at school.  I give, what I believe is a fantastic lesson and send them off to write on an equally fantastic prompt (insert sarcastic eye roll here).  Inevitably, someone will come to me saying that they can't think of anything.   I offer advice, give ideas, smile, pat them on the back and send them on their way to write.  Nothing, nada, nil... they are still just sitting there.  I go back over to them and try again... nothing, nada, nil.  They can't find a kernel of inspiration in anything I have said.

I get it... sometimes even though you desperately want to, you just can't find the words.  Your brain can't seem to get it out.  Maybe what the problem is, is that we want our writing to be amazing, phenomenal, brilliant.  When what we should strive for is putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and relax.  Our ideas will flow once we just get going... I am living proof.  Not my best slice, but I wrote one nonetheless.  More importantly, I have a better understanding of what my kids go through and can show them this post to prove it! 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Time Change

 Oh, Mr. Time Change you are not my friend.

Why must you rob me of needed sleep?

I try and I try but I can't understand,

why is it that we follow this plan?

Oh, Mr. Time Change you are not my friend.

I feel it is time that this changing ends.

I get why you started,

But hate it the same.

Oh, Mr. Time Change you are not my friend.

My head hurts, my eyes burn,

Even my rooster doesn't understand.

Enough is enough, I have made my final command. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Sunday Morning and TV Shows

 Sometimes, a Sunday morning spent with HOT coffee and guilty pleasure TV shows is what the soul needs.  I, like other people, enjoy a good drama TV show.  The kind that transports you directly into the show.  Where you become so immersed in the characters, that you form a connection, that you think about the shows, the problems, the characters when the episode is over.  This is how I spent this morning.

I got up a little later than normal - thanks time change, and did a little morning yoga.  Once I was relaxed and stretched out,  I set my Keurig to make my first cup of joe.  Sundays are the one day where I drink my coffee hot and without any form of work.  I like to sit on the couch, put the feet up on the recliner, and turn on the TV.  I will admit that I record too many tv shows... Grey's Anatomy, Station 19, This is Us and so many more.  I don't find time during the week to watch all of them, I watch a few here and there, but Sunday is my day to sit and watch.  I don't rush, I don't work, I just revel in the quiet and the drama of them all. 

This morning was no different.  I have been waiting all week to watch This is Us.  I hate that this show is ending, but I can see the beauty in ending it before it becomes less than what it is.  This week's show was so good.  It transported me into their lives and then had me reminiscing about Thanksgiving at my house growing up and Thanksgiving's as I have gotten older.  I haven't had as much drama as the Pearson's seem to always have, but I have had my share of drama-filled Thanksgivings! 

Isn't this what TV is about?  To entertain, to make a connection, to give me a break from day-to-day life? TV can (and maybe should?) be like a good book.  You lose yourself in the story and can't wait to turn the page or watch the next episode or talk to your friends about what happened on the latest show. For me, Sunday mornings are the pause I need to take on a new week.   

Saturday, March 12, 2022


 I have decided that Mother Nature has menopause.  One minute it is hot and the next it is snowing. Seriously last weekend it was 78, warm and sunny. We spent Sunday afternoon on the deck in t-shirts and capri pants.  Today it is snowing and 29!  Today I will spend inside with multiple layers on. 

I should say I live in Georgia.  We often joke that this is the only place - I know it isn't - that goes through all four seasons in a day.  We often turn on the air in the day, and then the heat goes on at night.  A lot of years we have had this mid-March freeze, sometimes we get snow, and sometimes we don't.  Today is one of those weird days that we woke up to snow.  I feel like a disclaimer is needed here.  Snow, for me, is a dusting for my northern neighbors.  We have flurries this morning and a trace amount is sticking.  For Southerners, this is a big deal! The kids will be sledding down the hill and screaming with delight soon.

This morning, I will enjoy my hot coffee while catching up with my TV shows.  I will look out at the snow and marvel at the beauty.  Menopause or not... Mother Nature is a wonder. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Guest Dog

 My niece lives about 40 minutes south of me. She has had a "big girl" job since graduating from Florida State.  The rest of our family is in Tampa, so we are the only two here in Atlanta.  My niece is very family-oriented - she lost her mother three years ago - and places great value on spending time with family.  She is also a HUGE dog lover... just like the rest of us.  She has a chocolate lab, that was her family pet, that lives with her in her one-bedroom apartment.

Her "big girl" job has a small amount of travel.  Nothing too extreme, just a few days here and there.  In the past, she has had a friend watch her dog and even boarded her a time or two. For this short trip, she asked if we would watch her.  Now, I love dogs and we have two of our own.  A GIANT yellow lab and a medium-sized mutt. The big guy is all goofball and the medium one is fierce.  He barks at everyone and everything.  When my two dogs play it sounds as if they are fighting but the little dude is just vocal.

Well, my niece's lab is not a fan of barking dogs, or actually, other dogs in general.  We aren't sure if she was abused by a former owner - my niece's family rescued her when she was 2. She growls and barks if you get near her tail, or if she feels like she has no room for escape, or if you walk by her.  Needless to say, these past two days have been a hot mess.  Chloe, the chocolate lab, growls at Beaux, the medium feisty dog.  Beaux barks back at her, Chloe growls more, Beaux barks more and on and on and on.  There have been a couple almost fights but no real biting.  Beaux has taken to avoiding her at all costs - like he will go through another door just to avoid her.  He has spent a lot of time with my husband behind his closed office door. 

My niece returns tomorrow.  The dogs are making slow progress... avoiding each other, growling maybe a tad less than Wednesday.  We hope that can become friends, but it doesn't look likely.  She may just have to remain a guest dog and not an overnight friend. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022


For me, there is something exciting about staying in a hotel.  Maybe it takes me back to my childhood when we didn't travel often and going to a hotel was the signal that we were going on vacation.  When I was young, we only "vacationed" in Florida during the winter months because my grandparents were snowbirds.  We stayed at the same Holiday Inn in South Carolina on the way down and the same Holiday Inn in West Virginia on the way back.  I can remember being so excited to swim in the pool and sleep in a hotel. 

As I have gotten older, hotels are more for vacations.  Now I look for deals or hotels that are not motels, or ones that offer breakfast or a gym.  My requirements have changed... I guess I have become a hotel snob! I still get the same sense of excitement and anticipation that I did when I was younger.  I still open the door and take in the surroundings as if it is going to be different than what I saw online.  It takes me back for a quick second to opening the door on my yearly trips back and forth to Florida. 

Hotels are also the gateway to my college son. I stay at the same hotel near his school each time I visit.  The familiarity and the ease of access to my son make this hotel perfect.  There is nothing like pulling into the hotel and seeing my son's truck waiting. Staying at this hotel may be even more exciting than some high-dollar vacations- seeing your child in their element is priceless.

I guess hotels are exciting for everyone.  It is a change of pace, a change in scenery, and the promise of things to come.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Memory Lane

 I grew up in a small town just outside of Tampa, Florida.  Well, I was actually born in a super small town in Pennsylvania (Beaver Falls) and moved to Tampa when I was 10.  So, I sorta grew up in two small towns.  One where everyone knew my name and the other where I was anonymous.  

When my Dad got a new job in Florida, we relocated from the only place my parents had lived in their entire lives.  Both my parents were born in Beaver Falls and lived there until we moved.  Leaving Pennsylvania was a big deal for them, but turned out to be wonderful for me.

Our first home was in an apartment in Tampa.  I went from 4 square blocks to an apartment complex with a long meandering pool - this was about the coolest thing I had ever seen. Beaver Falls had one pool - a community pool - that everyone went to.  It was so very different from the one at the apartment complex.  I spent every minute of my first Florida summer in the sun and the pool.  I was so tan and my hair became white blond.  After that first summer, it became apparent that apartment living in a "big" city was not what we were cut out for.  My parents began to search for a more permanent home.  

I had been taking horseback riding lessons since we arrived.  It was really the only place where I had friends or felt somewhat like myself.  My mom would drop me off and pick me up hours later, even on days that I did not have lessons.  I had a great instructor, Pat, who really took me under her wing and made me fall in love with horses.  So, as my parents continued to search for a house, they began to search for ones where I could have a horse.

We settled on a house in Land O' Lakes, a rural area about 30 minutes outside of Tampa.  The neighborhood had a stable as part of its amenities.  I quickly made my way to the stables and discovered a whole new world.  I loved that place! Eventually, it became my second home.  I began to take lessons from another fabulous instructor, Susanna.  She was fantastic and loved all of her "stable girls".  In fact, we are Facebook friends and she still calls us her girls.  I took hours and hours worth of lessons and eventually my parents bought me a horse.  Cherokee was everything an eleven-year-old could want.  He provided me with stability and a permanent friend.  I was the luckiest girl in the world.

At Lake Padgett Stables, I found my tribe.  A group of girls who spent countless hours on horseback, being pre-teens and then teenagers, and forming lifelong memories.  We were a silly bunch who loved nothing more than to run as fast as we could through an orange grove or swim with our horses through the canals. It was definitely an idyllic time. I learned so much with these girls, so much of who I am is because of them.

Eventually, we all sold our horses or at least didn't go to the stables as much.  We all were friends through high school and then slowly drifted apart.  Through the magic of Facebook, we have reconnected.  It is really neat to see them as adults with kids of their own.  For me, we will forever be the stable girls. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022


 It has occurred to me that chickens are just like kids. Seriously, they are eerily similar... not only in stages of life but in maturity and attitude.  My class raises chickens, and I have been involved in this project for about 5 years.  So, I am somewhat of a chicken expert.... at least for their first 16 or so weeks of life. 

Chicks, like babies, start out all wobbly and dependent on someone to give them food.  They need marbles in their water, just like babies drink from a bottle. Baby chicks start out on baby chick starter food, just like infants eat baby food.  Baby chicks are loud and fussy when they are hot, or hungry... you guessed it, just like babies.  

Toddler chicks are ornery and begin to explore.  They chest bump each other, they push the weaker chicken out of the way, and establish a pecking order.  Sounds a lot like what happens in the toddler room at a daycare... someone is pulling hair, or biting, another kid is pushing someone, and they are establishing who is the dominant kid. 

Elementary-age chicks are learning new things... how to fly, how to roost, how to give themselves a dust bath.  They no longer need marbles and can begin to eat treats.  At this stage, chicks can go outside more on their own... they no longer need the safety of the brooder.  They can spend stretches of time exploring and begin to learn the pattern of life -  rise when the sun is up and head into the coop for bed when the sun goes down. Sounds very similar to the life of an elementary-aged kid.  Kids can spend more time on their own, they have learned the basic ins and out of what is needed to survive, and they spend a lot of time playing with their friends.

Now preteens/teenager chicks are the trouble makers.  These are the chicks that play keep away from each other, they do a lot more chest-bumping, and raising their hackle feathers.  Roosters and Hens are clearly defined.  You can see who the dominant rooster is and often have to separate the roosters.  Rooster fighting is no joke - lots of blood involved! Roosters begin to announce their arrival every morning and honestly, they crow every time they see anyone near.  Hens begin to establish who is the lead hen.  Additionally, the chicks begin to show the humans in their lives that they are growing up and should give them some space. This is the time when my kids come inside fussing about how this hen pecked him or this rooster "bit" her.  Teenagers and preteens are the same. This is the time when cliques are solidified, fights occur more, and they let everyone know that they know it all.  Clearly defined popular groups are established with a clear human "pecking" order.

Chicks and kids go through so many of the same things.  I imagine we could trace the same changes for dogs or other animals.  I just have more experience with chicks and kids! Thank goodness, kids do not grow as quickly as chicks.  I don't think any parent could survive 18 weeks until their kid was fully grown.  

Monday, March 7, 2022

Mondays in Six Lines...

 Monday is an enigma, both beginning, and end

Monday should start fresh, but often starts well-worn

Monday is both quick and slow as molasses

Monday is for quiet hellos and heads resting on desks

Monday is where the lessons begin, where the magic happens

Monday is not so bad when it starts your vacation

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Growing up and letting go

 Growing up is hard but letting your kids be a grown-up is even harder.  When my kids were young, I thought that each stage had to be the hardest. When they were two and into everything, I just knew that was the worst stage.  Everyone talks about the terrible twos!  I breathed such a sigh of relief when that was over - the worst was behind me it should be all sunshine and rainbows.  Nope - three was even worse.  They learn that word NO... and use it constantly, over and over again.  The relief and then the consternation at the new stage repeated over and over as they grew.

I guess people just don't talk about how parenting someone taller than you or almost as big as you are is.  As kids grow they develop new stages, new issues that are not in the parenting books.  The books seem to just gloss over the adolescent years.  And where are the books about what to do when your baby becomes an adult?  How do you just turn off the parenting switch?  Seriously, if you know how to do this - please fill me in! 

I firmly believe that the hardest parenting years are the ones from middle school through high school.  Adolescents are no joke!  They are like giant toddlers that drive a car and go out on their own. Would you ever give your two-year-old the keys to the family car?  Of course not, but that is what we do to 16-year-olds.  Now I know my comparison has flaws, obviously, two-year-olds can't drive nor do they have the mental capabilities to drive - but sometimes 16-year-olds act like two-year-olds. We, as parents, become sleep deprived yet again, as we wait up for their arrival.  The cycle begins again - we are super tired, they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (or sullen and say the word no a million times). Someone should have warned me that I need to stock up on my sleep - oh wait I couldn't because I am a parent and these kids of mine are busy, busy, busy. 

Now, I am just entering the parenting of an adult phase.  This is an awkward and emotional phase.  My oldest is 21, my youngest is 18.  They are technically adults - but not really.  They don't have life experience yet... they don't know the ins and outs of being an adult.  Mentally I know that they need to experience life to get the life experience, and I have to stop treating them like children.  I just can't figure out how to become a trusted advisor and not a parent.  How does one do that?  I see what is going to unfold before they do it - and I know I can't stop them, they need to learn.  It is so hard to do!  

Emotionally this is a tough phase.  My boys are super cool people, I honestly like them as people.  It is just so darn hard to step back, to let them make big decisions, to offer an ear but not tell them what to do.  I know that my best years are ahead with them.  I am excited to see what they do with their lives, how they are as parents, who they choose as a partner... how they live.  BUT parenting a grown-up is really a strange new stage.  Here is hoping I learn to keep my mouth shut unless they ask for my advice!  

Saturday, March 5, 2022


Relationships are important whether they are with family, friends, co-workers, or with students.  I really believe that relationships can be the key to students' success.  They really are the key to a happy life - if you have positive relationships in your life, you are just happier.  Sometimes relationships are hard to cultivate, to maintain, to begin but they are so worthwhile once they are established.

I try to build relationships with my students.  I want them to feel as if they can come to me when they need someone.  I want them to feel successful, to be proud of their hard work, and to know that I am in their corner.  I want them to try when things are hard and to know even if they fail I have their backs.  

So I do things like go to ball games, concerts, or ballet recitals.  I ask them about their days, or what they did at home last night.  I am silly when it is time to be silly... I let them see that it is ok to be silly (at appropriate times). Above all, I treat them with the respect.

Just yesterday, I was walking back with students from checking on our chickens.  We were walking down the empty hallway, and I was in front. I could see, and hear, them jumping up to touch the flags.  Boys love to jump up and touch the flags in the hall.  It's totally a big no-no! Well, these two kids are such nice kids, they are hard workers and ALWAYS try their best.  They just couldn't resist jumping to touch the flags and were giggling in that fourth-grade way. (There is not a better sound in the world!) So since I was in front, I jumped up and touched the next flag.  The hilarity that came from them was priceless!  They guffawed, were in awe that I could get that high, and were impressed that I tried.  Score one for relationship building - these boys will remember that the next time I ask them to work on something that is hard.  They will try a little harder because they want to impress me.

Relationships are key. We would all be better served, as people or educators, to build relationships with people.  My "kids" at school know I am in their corner and in turn, will try even harder in their academic endeavors. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Social Media

 I am not going to lie... I enjoy social media.  I am a lurker - you know the kind of viewer who looks at posts but never comments.  I belong to many teacher groups and workout groups.  I like to see what people post. I like to see their success and how they achieved it.  I am the best possible lurker.

Through these groups, I have learned so many things.  For example, in my fourth-grade groups, I have found so many new lesson ideas or mentor texts.  I have signed up for professional learning and get updates when new products are coming out.  Sometimes the post just inspires me to try something new or gives me solace in the fact that we are all having another challenging year. At other times, I realize that I am so blessed to teach at my school, interact with my kids, and work with such wonderful people.

In my workout groups, I have learned so many things. They have helped me with counting macros, given me ideas on new cookbooks, or just that extra bit of information that I need. I follow many of the Beachbody trainers - this gives me insight into new programs or hybrid calendars.  I just get good stuff from the workout groups. 

Just this week I saw an amazing way to teach the difference between narrative and informational writing.  I jumped right on the idea, bought the books - and it worked! My kids were more prepared to begin their next piece.  It is things like that, that make social media enjoyable.

Now, not all social media is good, I know that.  There are so many examples of negativity, misinformation, and hate.  Today, I am focusing on the good. I am choosing to see the positivity in my aimless scrolling. Guess I better get to scrolling...

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Great Chicken Adventure

 Yesterday, 37 kids, 4 adults, and 14 chickens took a mile trip up a steep hill. The adventure began with the loading of the chickens into their former home, the brooder. The kids gingerly put them into their respective brooders, loaded them into the back of the large, black pick-up truck, and slammed the tailgate shut. The poor hens (plus one maybe two roosters) squawked their disapproval.  They have outgrown their former brooder and these chickies are not a fan of change. 

The truck slowly made its way down the gravel driveway while we followed behind.  Being that they were in a truck, the chickens made their way to the top of the hill WAY before us. As the chickens waited for us at the top of the hill,  the students and teachers began our climb up the hill.  We began our journey with excitement and raised voices.  Some kids were super excited to be going on an adventure - I mean who doesn't like an adventure but others lamented the loss of recess, the hill was too steep, and various other complaints.  (kids will be kids!) 

When we thought we couldn't climb anymore and could barely catch our breath, we made it.  It seemed the kids all wondered who asked me to go first - I work out every day and this was just another opportunity for me to get steps in.  One student said to me, "I bet this isn't a big deal for you, you already worked out today.  At least you got another workout!" Once the stragglers finally made it, we began to unload our chickens.  They were still squawking and showing their disapproval at the change. The kids talked to them and told them all about their big adventure as they carried them to the Victory Gardens.

See at my school, we have 40 acres of land.  Each grade level has a year-long project that they work on.  Fifth Grade has a victory garden, fashioned after the victory gardens of WWII.   Fourth Graders raise chickens.  My partner teacher and our environmental education teacher thought it would be a great idea to have our chickens till the soil of the victory garden.  So, here we were with 14 chickens ready for their first taste of grass, weeds, and a dust bath.  

The garden beds were adorned with make-shift teepee-like structures to keep predators out.  Once the new runs were secure, we placed our chickens inside.  They were so shocked but seemed happy about their new adventure.  They pecked the ground, rolled around some, and soaked up the sun.  We realized they are constantly in the shade, this was their first experience with the full-on sun!  Now the chickens were all set to begin their adventure.  We say and watched them for a bit, talked with the fifth graders some, and then began our descent.

Going down the hill is way easier than going up.  We talked about how happy the chickens seemed and wondered if they would enjoy their adventure.  Some kids were excited about our adventure, some kids not so much, some began to realize we would have to make the trip back up the hill to bring them home - that is a lot of walking in a day! 

All in all, the chickens had a fantastic time!  No one got out, they tilled the soil a bit and had a chance at freedom.  The only hiccup was we think one of our chickens got sunburned - who knew that could happen! Our great chicken adventure was a success. We can't wait to take the roosters up next time!  The question is will be roosters enjoy the Great Chicken Adventure too?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Fence

 My house sits in the valley between two steep hills. It's red brick with a stone retaining wall that adorns the front yard. My poor, sad mailbox sits near the edge of the street and has been hit by cars so many times I have lost count.  My driveway is steep and troublesome for new drivers and delivery drivers alike. A the top of the driveway, there is a concert pad littered with garbage cans and a long-forgotten basketball hoop.  Beyond this pad is the haphazard fence - some new parts, some old parts, some shortboards, and some longboards.

This fence has enclosed my children when they were young.  He has withstood their baseballs and lacrosse balls.  He has withstood the test of corn hole, airsoft, tag, and the brief bow and arrow faze.  The fence has seen countless kids - and dogs - jump on the well-worn trampoline. The fence has stood as a barrier between my yard and my neighbors. 

The wood fence is pretty old.  His age is showing in the quickness that the boards break, in the bow of its boards, and the color of his wood. This poor fence has boards that face both directions depending on the laziness of the teenager that had to replace its parts. In various places, there are two boards in one spot... an overlapping design to contain the dogs. 

See the dogs are smart and they know the fence is old.  They have tested their snots against his weakness and won EVERYTIME.  The neighbor dog - a large black Doberman - realized early on the fence was weak and has broken many boards from her side of the fence.  Many times she can be spotted roaming through my back yard, looking for balls or eating grass.  Just as many times, my dogs can be seen running through the neighbor's yard and peaking in their backdoor.  

The poor fence is tired.  He has put up a valiant fight to protect the border of my yard.  Sadly, over time he will be replaced with newer, stronger boards that will begin their own journey.  The new boards will stand as a testament to what came before and forge his path in the lives of my family and those that come after us. Until that time, I will appreciate the fence that stands now and all that he has witnessed. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

And so it begins...

 I've put off signing up for this challenge until the last day.  I have used every excuse in the book to stop myself from joining my fellow slicers. I don't have the time... I am so tired.... I am so stressed.... I don't want to miss my workouts... and on and on and on the excuses have flown from my mind.  Seriously, I am like a teenager avoiding homework.  I know I need to do it but just can't quite begin. Yet, here I am!

I convinced myself to sign up this morning. Convince may not be the right word - maybe a better choice is I finally listened to the quiet voice in my head.  That little voice that kept quietly repeating how much I like to write, how good this slicing is for me, how I enjoy sharing with others, and how much better my writing and teaching become.  I mean I have learned a lot from slicing and my own writing has improved so much since I started this journey.  I can empathize with my students better, I really "get" their struggles.  The quiet voice just became loud enough to drown out the cranky, lazy teenager voice.

I know I will be so glad to have embarked on this journey.  I know that I will enjoy most of my time spent writing.  I know it will be worth it in the end! For now, the quiet writer's voice is strong... let's hope it can withstand the attitude that comes with the teenager avoider voice.  

Happy Slicing ... it will be April 1st before we know it! 

This is it...

 Wow! I don't think a person realizes how quickly time moves until you are taking note of the days.  I completed a burpee challenge in F...