Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Gratitude #30

November 30: Finally, to wrap things up, I'm grateful for blogging. It keeps me writing, and that's important for my "practice what I preach" philosophy of teaching. I love being in this network of bloggers, and I'm thankful for the amazing technology that is part of my life.

I'm also grateful for being grateful. ;) This month of gratitude has been very good for me. It has helped me focus on the positive in my life!

The Continuing of the End

The continuing saga of The Beginning of the End, Part II...

The beads have begun to fall... :(

Cool Crochet Tool

Just read about the Sharp Crochet Hook on Maybe Matilda's blog... check it out here. I've always wondered how people get cute crocheted edges on regular fabrics. I'm going to have to try this! Maybe I'll be able to, because Maybe Matilda is having a giveaway of one of those babies. I hope I win!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November Gratitude #29

November 29: I had a blue day today. And before I wrote this, I had a pity party thinking about how NOT thankful I am today. Pity Party, table for 1, please. But I thought about it. I know I shouldn't HAVE to think so hard about it, but I guess it's just one of those days. When I thought about it, I came up with 2 things:

1. My students. About 10 of them came in after school tonight to brainstorm ideas for starting a middle school book club. They were FIRED up. About books. It made me fired up. There's nothing as contagious as that. We teachers feed off of it.

2. My Tracy. Today, when I was upset, I private messaged her on Facebook. All she said was "I am so sorry... :( I love you..." Those few words gave me what I needed to not melt down at school in front of the kids. It gave me strength to go a little further.

She's not my best friend for nothing, folks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Gratitude #27 & #28

November 27: It might sound weird, but I'm grateful that I'm an Iowa girl. Some things I love about Iowa:

* my Hawkeyes
* the Iowa State Fair
* having all 4 seasons and loving each one for its own reasons
* the genuine, down-to-earth people
* the bullheadedness that Iowans have that seems say, "We'll do what we think is right, and everyone else can suck it."
* all of my friends could get married here if they so chose
* that most places in the U.S. don't know what a gem we have here
* culture, good food, caring neighbors, simple values... Iowa is a mix of everything good!

November 28: Today I'm grateful for Puska. Andrew's 19 year old cat, Puska, died in his sleep last night, and I'm going to miss him something fierce. As a dog person, I didn't expect that a cat would get under my skin like Puska did. We called him a cog because he was a cat with many dog qualities. I'll never forget how he liked to sit on my lap and how he would come out and greet me with loud meows every time I pulled into Andrew's driveway. He was a very special cat, and he'll be missed. Pets really make life better, don't they?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November Gratitude #26

November 26: It's my baby brother's birthday today. He's 37 years old. Today I'm grateful for him. I don't see him as often as I'd like, but he'll always be my little brother.

When our parents divorced, he was my constant. Wherever we were, whichever parent we were with, we had each other, and we were together. I was always his mother hen when we were with my dad.

My mom told me I was never jealous of Matt when he came home from the hospital. I was 2 1/2, and I thought they brought him home just for me. He was MY baby.

It was hard for me when Matt went to live with my dad. I can remember being sad one day, and my mom asked me what was wrong. "I miss Matt," I said, and we both cried. We missed him terribly.

I love how I can make him roll his eyes and make him laugh all in the same breath. I love all our memories. He's my only real sibling.

I love you, Matt. Happy birthday, baby brother!

Friday, November 25, 2011

November Gratitude #25

November 25: Today I'm grateful:

* that I don't live in western Iowa anymore to be around lots of Nebraska fans

* that I get to see our town Christmas lighting ceremony on the square tonight

* that I got a lot of crocheting done this afternoon

* that it's a 4-day weekend

* that the only Black Friday shopping I did was buying some bras online

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November Gratitude #24

November 24: Today I'm grateful for the wonderful Thanksgiving Day I had. My brother Matt and his fiancee Omara came down to my dad's. There were 8 of us for dinner... Dad, Alice, Alice's cousin Mary Fran and her husband Tony, Matt, Omara, Andrew, and myself. It was a beautiful day filled with wonderful food. My stepmom's stuffing is a wonder of the world. Since Matt's birthday is Saturday, I baked him a brownie sheet cake like my mom & grandma used to make. He was happy. It was just a lovely time with love and laughter. I'm blessed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November Gratitude #23

November 23: Right now, I'm grateful that my week is over! A full day of meetings has worn me out. I'm looking forward to a couple of days of rest and relaxation before I get to cleaning and schoolwork!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Gratitude #22

November 22: Today I'm grateful for traditions. The holidays are full of them. I'm ready for my stepmom's stuffing on Thursday. I'm ready to make holiday goodies with my friend Suzanne (the miles between us CANNOT keep us from this annual event). I'm ready to decorate my house with my mom's Christmas decorations. I love this time of year. It makes me miss my loved ones so acutely, but I also feel, in a way, like I'm keeping them alive in me by doing all the things we did together.

Today, my pecan halves from the Tri-T fundraiser came in. I'll be using them to make my Aunt Rita's pecans. She was a spunky southern lady, and I'll remember her fondly as I make and eat these delicious treats!

Aunt Rita's Pecans

1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 T. orange juice
1 c. pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 15 x 10" pan, and also a sheet of foil or wax paper. In medium bowl, combine sugar and orange juice. Blend well. Add pecans. Toss to coat. Spread on prepared pan. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until bubbly and dark golden brown, stirring occasionally. Immediately spread on prepared foil/was paper. Cool. Break apart.

November Gratitude #21

November 21: Yesterday I was thankful for my dog. It's dark early now, and coming home in the dark, to a dark house... well, it can be depressing sometimes. But the best thing ever is coming home to that cute little silver ball of fur who is always glad to see me. Avery is such a good dog. :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November Gratitude 19 & 20

November 19: Yesterday I was grateful for having enough. I thought of all the people in this world who are hungry, homeless, or alone. I was happy for having enough of what I need. It's a very peaceful feeling when you realize that even when times are tough, or even if you don't have everything you want, you DO have enough.

November 20: I'm grateful for memories. As I looked at the change in my hand this morning at church (Every Sunday, our youth collect change for Kids Against Hunger. Our church has supported this organization for a couple of years now, and it's been wonderful.), I saw a quarter from the year 2ooo. I clearly remembered a morning at our duplex in Iowa City (so it had to be 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade for me) where Matt and I were figuring out how old we'd be in the year 2000. My mom got one of her famous yellow legal pads, and we did the math together. 28?!?! I'd be 28 in the year 2000??? It seemed so impossible and far away. My mom never lived to see the year 2000, but thank goodness I have memories like this to keep her close.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November Gratitude #18

November 18: Today I'm grateful that I found my calling. I just had my post-observation conference with my principal, and some of the things she wrote brought tears to my eyes. It's nice that someone else can see my philosophy of education coming through in the actions of my students. Here is my favorite part of what she said: "... students display respect and are encouraged to succeed. It is evident that the teacher has high expectations for students in the work and discussion they have, but it is also clear that teacher sets up her expectations for the students to succeed." If I had to write my philosophy of education, it would be so darned similar to this!

Since I'm tooting my own horn a little in this post, I'll just keep going. It's American Education Week, and every student and teacher in the district writes to an adult who has influenced their education. I got 2 letters from current students, but yesterday, a flood of 5 came in from the high school. I cried like a baby as I read them. It's pretty powerful stuff, knowing that you've had a personal impact on someone's life. Here are some of the comments:

"I wanted to thank you for helping make my middle school experience a good one."

"I wanted to thank you for being the best teacher I ever had in middle school." "P.S. Read any good books on Kindle lately?" I love that my students STILL want to talk books with me!

"You inspired me to love drama and not be afraid of speaking my mind."

"I wanted to thank you for always challenging me and pushing me..."

"I wanted to thank you for showing me that life is worth something. You gave me motivation to keep trying, to keep going." Wow. I'm crying again just typing it.

I am so blessed by the kids (and people who care about kids) who walk through my door every day. I know some people struggle all their lives to be able to do what they love. I'll never be wealthy, but I'm rich beyond measure.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Beginning of the End, Part II

Remember this post? I was reminded of it when I looked at my wrist today. My green beaded bracelet hasn't left my wrist since the day Andrew bought it for me at the Covered Market in Oxford. It's been a constant reminder of our fantastic trip to the U.K. this summer. But, it's not looking too fresh these days. I'm a-frayed it's not long for this world.

November Gratitude #17

November 17: Today I'm grateful that my formal observation is done... WOO HOO! It went well, I thought. We'll see what the big boss thought when I have my post-observation conference. I've already watched the video, and it's funny... I didn't even notice at the time that a student was incessantly tapping his pencil. During the video, though, it was driving me freaking crazy!!! Weird what you can ignore while teaching. Guess it pays to not sweat the small stuff in the moment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November Gratitude #16

November 16: Today I'm grateful...

I am grateful, but I'm not having a great day. I lost my patience today at school. I hate it when I do that. I have a certain class this year that I just haven't meshed with yet. It's frustrating for all of us. And today, I lost it.

So, I guess my gratitude today has to do with admitting when I'm wrong. I'm not very good at that. I hate being wrong. I got a grip and apologized to the student who took the brunt of the "losing it." We had a talk about her behavior (in a calmer and quieter way), and I apologized.

I don't like losing my patience, but I'm grateful that I can admit when I went too far. Tomorrow will be a better day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Gratitude #15

November 15: Today I'm grateful for perspective. I've had a week of feeling pretty low, and yesterday, a friend reminded me that, compared to so many others, I'm pretty lucky. When I'm feeling lonely, I need to remember that there are people in the world who are truly alone. I am not. When I'm sad, I need to remember all the blessings in my life. I've known sadness, but I have much, much love. Many others don't. Perspective is a good thing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Gratitude #14

November 14: Today I'm grateful for my inspirations. I had many great teachers, but my 2 favorites were Gloria Countryman (2nd grade) and Idella Spann (8th grade Honors English). I know they both shaped the teacher that I am today. They were tough but fun, and they challenged me to be the best I could be. I'm eternally grateful to them both, and I still want to be just like them!

More teachers who greatly impacted my life include:

Donald Whyte
Lee Spann
L'louise Bowman
Steve Brockway
Dave Tobias
Barbara Johnson
John Gibson
Susan Morgan
Jan Rawley

You each made a lasting impression on my life, and therefore, the lives of many other students as well. Since you all shaped the teacher that I've become, you're touching a whole new generation of students. Thank you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November Gratitude #13

November 13: I'm grateful for a cozy couch, a flat screen TV, a warm fireplace, 2 former Hawkeyes in an NFL football game, and a boyfriend to snuggle.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Gratitude #11 & #12

November 11: I'm grateful for fall and the beautiful days it's brought. The leaves have been beautiful, and the temps have been pretty close to perfect. I know it won't last forever, but I have enjoyed every second of it.

November 12: I'm grateful for my health. I've been trying to take better care of myself this fall (although the eating at today's tailgate would say something different). I'm grateful that I'm healthy, and I want to get my weight down so I STAY healthy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November Gratitude #10

November 10: Today I'm grateful for books! My students are in the middle of literature circles, and it's my favorite time of the year. I love seeing them discuss books with each other. My own book club meets tomorrow, and I look forward to it every month. We're discussing Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I have a bit to finish it, but I'm enjoying it a lot. He definitely doesn't mince words. Get it? Mince? Hee hee. If you're interested in what else my book club is reading, our book lists are down the very bottom of this page.

My Kindle, Harrison Ford, has completely changed my reading habits. I read so much more now, and I take advantage of every spare moment of opportunity to read. I wonder if there is a way to cash in on my love of reading... is anyone out there willing to pay a girl for reading her life away? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Thought not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Gratitude #9

November 9: Today, I'm grateful for my Andrew. I never knew that a person could feel so much like home for me. I never knew I could be as open and as honestly myself as I am with him. I never knew that I could find someone so caring, dependable, loving, and wise. He makes every day worth living. He loves me for who I am, and he just wants me to be happy. Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Gratitude #8

November 8: Today I'm grateful for my job. Tuesdays are our library day for GOAL classes, and it's such a joy to see my students excited about books and to sit and read next to them. I worked hard today to have my work done so I could really sit with them and read together. I think it's important for them to see that I'm a reader. I love when they booktalk the books they love for the other students. I got many good suggestions today too!

It was also a Drama Club day. So far, and it's only the first meeting of November, I've had 47 kids come to Drama Club. I think we're on course for a record-setting year. I had 36 kids there tonight, and it was loud and crazy (my throat is killing me from trying to talk over them), but it was so much fun. For so many kids, Drama Club is a place where they can fit in. I love that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Gratitude #7

November 7: Today I'm grateful for the only night this week that I don't have to be anywhere. It's going to be a busy week, and I'm going to cherish this free evening... after I get papers graded, of course. ;)

I'm also grateful for the rare bursts of industriousness (is that a word?) that hit me. Yesterday, I raked and bagged 14 bags of leaves, I finally got my garage clean enough to park in (first time in the 10 years that I've owned my home), and I got every scrap of laundry folded. Tonight in my free time, I should attack other parts of the house, but there's no need to go completely insane, is there?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Gratitude #6

November 6: I'm grateful for this strange and wonderful feeling of being rested. It's amazing what an extra hour of sleep will do for a person. I thought something was wrong for a minute or two when I first woke up this morning. Then, after careful analysis, I realized that I felt rested after a great night's sleep. I didn't recognize the feeling... very happy to "fall back" this morning!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Gratitude #5

November 5: I'm grateful for all things Hawkeye:

*Great fall days at Kinnick Stadium
*Time with the Mornin' Crew and my Hugunin family
*The fact that my boyfriend has become a rabid Hawkeye fan
*Today's win over Michigan
*Being in Iowa City to eat Japanese food after the game
*Memories of my mom yelling "All Right!" as she listened to the Hawkeye football game on the radio... I'd quietly go around and close the windows so the neighbors didn't think she was crazy
*My Hawkeye sweater that struck up a conversation with Mr. Hills, the nicest person at DeForest Elementary during the worst year of my school life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November Gratitude #4

November 4: I'm grateful for my dear friend Suzanne and our wonderful, naughty stolen lunch on a Friday. I wish it could be EVERY Friday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Gratitude #3

November 3: I'm grateful for friends who go above and beyond the call of duty. So many gifts that can never be repaid. I'll do my best to be worthy, and I hope I can be there for you whenever YOU need it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Month of Gratitude #'s 1 & 2

Many people on Facebook are participating in the Month of Gratitude for November. I thought I'd flip it over here to my blog and do the same thing.

November 1: I'm grateful for my family. My cousin Mark is down from Alaska, and Andrew & I got together with him last night at George's. Jimmy, my dad, and my stepmom were also there. I'm grateful to be close to my extended cousins.

November 2: I'm grateful that conferences went well the first night. I had an excellent turnout, and it's always great meeting my kids' parents. I had a couple of parents that I really NEEDED to talk to, and one of them showed up last night. I hope the other one comes Thursday night!
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