Wednesday, November 20, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 20

Over the last weekend I had a chance to just binge some movies. I had been wanting to revisit You've Got Mail and it made me feel so good. But see... here's the things about romantic movies... I am not a Lifetime Movie Channel romantic movie person. I do not swoon at all movies that are considered romantic. Same thing with books... I don't like the excessive cheese. I like the meaningfulness. Like... When Harry Met Sally or Sabrina or Roman Holiday or P.S. I Love You or Love Actually or The Holiday... I mean... there's a list... probably a pattern, too. Actually, my husband did a column many, many years ago about romantic movies. Ranked them or something like that.

It's hard to explain what really makes a movie romantic for me and not just scholock for the masses... like those manufactured romance novels that (no offense) old women from my youth used to consume.  Either way... I love them and I love the way they make me feel. My husband laughs at me for it, but I have a tendency to be less of a girl. But when I have my girly moments... oh goodness is it silly.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 19

I have loved them since I was a little kid. Books everywhere! Those Scholastic Book Orders were da-bomb! Now... kids want one, but they never order from them. Middle School is a bit frustrating when it comes to book orders. The book fairs, though, are fun. The other bonus is that we, the teachers, get money to spend on books for our classroom.

Books are expensive and sometimes its a hit-or-miss situation about getting the right books for my class (even with kid recommendations), but they're books and it's hard to stop an obsession with the written word.

Monday, November 18, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 18

I shouldn't have to explain this one. Memes just make my day. They make me laugh. I use them at school to help my kids learn. I use them to try to put a smile in their day. Do they always pay attention? No, not always. But they make me laugh.

Scrolling at night through geek memes just makes me so happy. Throw your cares away and just laugh at absurdity.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 17

Cliche, right? But I am honestly thankful for my pets. They drive me nuts, but I also need them. We have a beagle who was a runt, so she is very genetically flawed. She's short and stumpy and has tons of mouth and ear problems. She's our third beagle and my daughter and I were sort of suckered into taking her. We went to look at little beagle puppies after my best-friend Archie passed away. Losing Archie was the hardest thing for me, because... well... we tried so hard to save him and I felt responsible for the problems, even though I wasn't. He had been through so much, but Archie was my buddy... and I was suffering heavily under the weight of his abscense.

So playing to my emotional state, the guy who was running the dog place made a big show of the little girl dog runt and we ended up taking her. Oh goodness has she been a trip. We joke endlessly that it's like having a little pot belly pig. She makes all sorts of just gutteral and weird noises. But boy is she cheeky. We named her Lessa after a character in a book series my husband and I enjoy.

Our other dog was a real shocker of a purchase. I don't know how, but my husband and I ended up at a dog rescue on Christmas Eve and we were looking at puppies. It was snowing outside and everything. We looked at one dog that I saw on the listing first. We really liked him, but we wanted to see the other dog, too. Well... let's just say the dog I went there for was the dog that was perfect for us. I have a feeling he was the baby of the litter, too. But the minute he curled up in my daughter's lap we were sold. This amazing dog became Logan. He is my new buddy. We talk and cuddle and everything.

These two bring so much joy into our life and always have a surprise or two in store to make us laugh. Do they have their naughty moments? Oh goodness yes, but they are the absolute best. I love them so very much and I am so happy I found them. They are unique and make my heart soar.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 16

Goodness I need these days so badly. It is my one day to really get myself relaxed and recharged to take on the days ahead. Some people use Sunday, but Saturday is my decompress day. Sunday is my "gets things ready for the week" day.  The Sabbath used to be regarded as Saturday by the early Christian church, so maybe I'm just channeling my inner old soul.

Either way... I need my Saturdays for me or else... well... I don't much time for just me.

Friday, November 15, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 15

I know this one is not something y'all are going to know about. It's something that is special for myself and my family. But it is an organization that I cannot talk up enough to others, especially offering them support for all the good work that they do for our community.

As a parent, it is difficult to help your child find the hobbies that will inspire them. We first tried sports for my daughter. Being part of a team is really great and I loved playing sports as a kid. Suffice to say, that was a major bust. What we did learn, though, was that she craved the social aspects of the sports and teams.

Great! Well, clearly Girl Scouts is what she should be a part of. While that went alright for a while, it really just became, again, about hanging out. As the years went on being part of it, we just weren't seeing her making friends. She had a good time, because she was around other kids, but I was starting to worry, because she doesn't have someone to hang out with or really connect with. We send her to summer camps, because she LOVES the activities, but apparently she comes off as so weird and doesn't have a friend to attend with, it leaves her on the fringe and, if there's a good leader, she always finds a way to connect with them.

That worry, though, still is in effect today. I know some of it is because of mine and my husband's non-traditional parenting and lifestyle. Other things are the anti-socialness quality of my husband, specifically. We also have a hard time finding kids her age with our friends. It's a whole new world out there. We can't even contact parents of kids she has an interest in seeing outside of school, because schools no longer send home parent contact lists. I know why, but it's sad that our world has now become a place where we can't even reach out to better communicate with the community and raising our children, unless we join a mommy group or conform to the social norms of "soccer moms."

Then I heard about an acting group. At the time, Isabelle was too young, but the minute I could get her in, I did. She fell in love with it. Acting became her most favorite thing in the world. Has she had some social issues that have spilled over from kids at school who have picked on her? Yes. It has fixed itself. The other drawback is that Isabelle can be too sweet sometimes and that's a turn off to older kids who roll their eyes at her for that. But overall Isabelle loves being part of musicals and has grown so much. Some plays are successful for her, others reveal to her that practice and dedication are key to being successful. The program, though, has done wonders for her and her confidence. The friends thing, though, is still there, but she has people she is used to meeting up with and that's special.

Through this non-profit organization, we have found something that allows for our daughter to be proud of herself and grow. As she gets older, the friends with come. For now, she has found a home with the Jubricosa group. A family of hardworking, theatre driven, god-fearing people who have worked endlessly to provide an outlet for young people to grow. The shows are developed all by young people, with adults there to guide. The power of the perfomances and production are created by the youth. When you see the shows, it is a glorious thing of beauty. (Costumes are done by an amazing woman named Traci and her crew of dedicated parent volunteers.)

I love and adore everyone involved and I wish I was in a financial situation where I could do more for them. I try to give back through time and donating things like food, but I wish there was more.

So if you're looking for an organization to support that has done so much good in the community to help young people, please donate to Jubricosa. I've seen what they can do and it is miraculous.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 14

Yeah yeah... the obvious thankfulness for books. I've got one of those homes where it's tons of books, tons of movies, and tons of my own personal nerd junk. I even have bins of books stored, because we just don't have the space to put them all. I've even got tons of digital books that I can't even display.

But I had a falling out with books. It was around the time I became a teacher. In middle school, especially sixth grade, the books the kids read are just so not my thing. We teach them to be passionate readers and to pick the books that inspire you and keep you engaged and keep you thinking. They're at a pivotal stage in their reading development and finding the things that keep them going. So I'm teaching them this and... well... I don't get that from their books. I want my books. I want to read the books that keep my interest. And with the very little free time that I have, it is frustrating to have to read books that I'm not interested in and it makes me bitter.

But I went to this reading institute in NYC over the summer. I learned some things about working with students and not feeling completely smothered by having to read everything that they're reading. It's all about knowing how to ask the right questions (and sometimes looking up some additional information online). Now, all of a sudden, I am back in the game! I am psyched for these book clubs I FINALLY was able to set up and get going. I even read a book along with one of my groups. Granted, it was Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but that's alright! I wanted a girly book.

Then, though, I was book buying crazy. THAT is a dangerous thing, because we just don't have the money for that. Being able to do, though, what I'm doing right now has made me appreciate books even more. I don't feel berated for not reading what my kids are reading. I feel empowered being able to help them read meaningful books and I can still talk to them about them, without it being a burden.

So for many other reason why I am thankful for books, this is why I felt today was the day I wanted to feel thankful. I'm on my second round of Book Club books and it is the final reflection day on the Book Club Books #1. I have falling in love with books again. I just hope it lasts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 13

I love hugs. I think some people underestimate how important a hug can be. I read somewhere that just one genuine hug a day can really help with all sorts of problems: stress, depression, loneliness, etc.  And I love them. I don't feel I always get enough of them, but getting a hug and being the one to give the hug are two different things.

So today I was reminded about how much a hug can really be meaningful.

Everyday one of my students hugs me and the other sixth grade teachers on our floor. She just comes right up to us and gives us a big hug. I was hesitant at first when she started doing this, but honestly... I miss being able to hug my students. I used to work in elementary school and the little kids just need those hugs - probably for the same reason I do... we don't get them at home or enough to really make us feel the safety of what it means. But I gave into this student and everyday I look forward to my end of day hug. It literally brings joy to my heart and it has really affected quite a few things about me as a teacher.

We don't always realize the importance of such little things in our lives until they're brought right in front of us. And this one student reminds me everyday of how important having that one moment can be. If I'm lucky, I might be two hugs.

I wish there were more hugs at home. My husband is not a big hugger. I try to hug my daughter often, but she's in that weird independent age where it's like "maaaaaaam..." But oh well. I take what I can get. But hugs really are one of the best things in the world.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 12

I've always loved flowers. My husband hates buying them, because he thinks they're a waste. I can't grow them, because I do not have a green thumb...

But they're my favorite thing and I like buying them occasionally. Since things have changed, though, I have, the last two weeks, bought large bouquets of some sort of seasonal Fall looking flowers. The first time I divided them up between me and my three floor-co-workers. The next one, though, I kept for me and brought home for my Thanksgiving Decorations area. I actually did something this year, instead of wallowing in the holidays.

So I'm thankful for flowers. They always make my day. They always make me happy. I really wish there were more flowers in my life, but I take what I can get and I am thankful for it.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 9

This seems simple enough, right? Clothes? Like... duh woman! Clothing is REALLY important. But I like to look at it differently. See, my daughter is 9-years-old. She is growing every single minute of every single day. Keeping her in fitting clothes is hard work. It's also expensive, because our society has decided that clothes aren't cheap! Sometimes we have too many clothes for her and she can't wear all of them. Sometimes she has a growth spurt and we don't have enough clothes. And even more times she needs specific clothes or acting or school performances or dress up weeks and we need to get those things. And let's not forget shoes... and winter wear... oh goodness... just all the things!

I'm really thankful that we are able to keep up with this constant cycle of clothing for kids. My mother-in-law and my mother are so helpful with buying her clothes when they see things they think would be good for her. My mother-in-law mails boxes to us. My mom just gives her the clothes when she visits. Whenever we are strapped and need something, they are there to help. While it seems like I'm thankful for them, that'll be a future entry, but for now... today... I am thankful for the giant box of clothes that appeared on our doorstep from the clothes fairy.

Then, of course, I appreciate my clothes, but... well... I wish I could be thankful for my body, because my clothes are the bane of my existence when my body doesn't want to work right. But I am so glad I can dress the way I want at work and that I can get exciting and nerdy shirts.  I'm also so thankful that my husband wears nerdy shirts now, too. He looks so good in his t-shirts.

Ok... ok... this is going down a really uber thankful tangent. The long and short of this is that I am thankful for the clothes we can afford and the clothes that we are given, because having the right kinds of clothes makes life so much easier.

Friday, November 8, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 8

Shhhhhhh! Don't tell anyone, but I'm talking about Barefoot Sweet Red wine... don't want it to get out that I have wine occasionally. See, I'm not a big drinker. I mean I haven't ever have considered myself one. But once in a while, I just need to relax. I picked up these little small bottles of the Barefoot Sweet Red and, oh my goodness, it was pretty nice. It still, though, had that little bit of bitter bite that I'm not a fan of. So one night, having had some Diet 7-Up in the fridge for my dry throat, I decided to make a 50/50 blend. Yep... I'm sold. Probably my favorite new relaxing drink.

Not to be consumed regularly, but it's a Friday night... I'm pretty sure most adults are allowed a half-mini-bottle of wine once in a while. (It also doesn't hurt that I found the bin of our stemware from our first home in North Carolina.)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 7

As a Literacy teacher, we have to teach all things related to reading and writing... grammar, reading strategies, writing strategies, discussion techniques, presentation techniques, vocabulary... the list goes on and on and luckily I have 100 minutes a day to do it. The seventh and eighth grade teachers only get 50 minutes! Their units are also staggered differently than ours, but that's not what I'm thankful for at the moment.

I've always done writing conferences and I've practiced and tried and restructured and whatever reading conferences. Book groups are so hard to do. Don't let anyone sell you on it being easy. IT takes a well-structured classroom to get those kinds of things going. And this year... I finally did it! I have been structuring time in reading to get things done and it has been great sitting there and talking to my kids. Some of them are CRAZY excited about their books. Others have questions. It... it has just been wonderful, when I can get them done. I leave feeling good about things, because I took the time to have those moments.

Same thing with writing conferences. I now have a little chair next to my desk. I get to talk to the students and we discuss their story. They tell me things... they share their vision... I try to give them advice, but by the end of things I feel good about myself. But what they do once they leave my presence is a whole other story and I'm not going to go into that, because I want to bask in the glow of really putting my all into conferencing this year and how it has made me feel great, despite being a ton of work! Now that it's going... we're in a groove.

So no matter how much I complain or get frustrated, I just have to remember that it was worth it... at least for the first week. Ha!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 6

Billy on the Street is on Netflix now and I have taken to watching it. I've always known about the show and caught little segments now and again, but now I get to watch it in full. The reason I'm thankful for the show is that it is helping to get my mind off of all the stressful things that are really keeping me down. I can't believe how much I literally Laugh Out Loud at so many of the things that go on. I know Billy Eichner from Parks and Recreations where he was the loud, easily offended douchebag and then I've seen him on other things, like American Horror Story, but his loud crassness really sends my worries out the window.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 5

It's a rough school year for me. I mean... seriously everywhere it feels like we're being smothered with so much, let alone my Literacy Coach leaving and then all the personal stuff going on outside of school. The last thing I want is to think about bringing a student teacher into my classroom for a whole semester.

And yesterday I received an e-mail from my principal. Apparently I was being requested to be someone's cooperating teacher. Like... someone had heard about me and had specifically asked for me. I don't know if others can realize how big of an honor that is... but something I'm doing is right. For someone like me who is so self-conscious about everything, this blew my mind.

Now the interesting thing is... I don't know who this guy is. Never heard of him... no social media overlapping contacts... my friends haven't heard of him. But in his bio, he coincidentally listed board games. Did he hear about me through the board gaming community? Was it just, really, a coincidence? Did an advisor at the university recommend me?

All these questions just constantly run through my head. The long and short of it, though, is that something I'm doing is right. Something I'm doing is spreading my name around in a positive way. What an honor... really... an honor... to have someone want me as their "teacher."

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 4

When my husband and I started doing Keto, we were taken by the idea of that bulletproof coffee. We tried the butter and we tried the MC oil and all that. I'm not a big coffee drinker. Never have... never really will be. I like my Sugar Free RockStar that I'm sure is eating away at some part of my soul. As an alternative, so that I wasn't always drinking RockStar, I started to experiment with coffee.

For 2 servings (one for me, one for my husband) I use:

  • 5 TBSP Archer Farm's Creme Brulee (or S'mores)
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 TBSP Hershey's Cocoa Powder
  • 4 pumps (literal pumps) Torani Sugar-Free S'mores Syrup
  • 1/4 cup of Torani Sugar-Free Vanilla or French Vanilla
  • Dashes of Liquid Stevia (to taste)
  • 1  5.4oz can of Native Forest Organic Premium Coconut Cream, Unsweetened

Yep... that makes my morning rock. Well... when we remember to wash the shaking thing and my travel mug is properly prepared. Oh... and if I remember to prep the coffee maker the night before.  Somewhere around Thursday I tapper off and restart my RockStar.

But I still love my go-to recipe. Sometimes I play with flavors, like peppermint, but the above is my go-to.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 3

Daylight Savings Time is such a pain in the butt. Not having one time that just runs throughout the year. So many places don't change their clocks, but we do. I always worry which way the clock with go. Will I lose sleep or will I gain sleep? Spring Ahead and Fall Back don't work for me. I need to know if my current 5:30AM is going to be 4:30AM or 6:30AM. In the Fall it becomes 4:30AM and in the Spring my 5:30AM will then be 6:30AM. Seriously... it's way too complicated... but you either gain an hour of sleep or lose an hour of sleep. It'd be so much simpler if my 5:30AM was always the same 5:30AM.

But my thankfulness for "falling back" falls into the category of "I just gained an hour of sleep, because my 5:30AM is now 4:30AM and I get to sleep for an extra hour."  So even though my body is all "GET UP!" it's only 4:30 and I get to try to convince it to go back to sleep for at least another hour. I will, without guilt, get another hour of sleep.

And that is what I am thankful for.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 2

Last year my passion for the holidays was non-existent. I wasn't caring at all about anything. It was a horrible feeling. This year, though, I was bitten by the holiday bug. I have a feeling it has something to do with my daughter's desire to start decorating for the holidays. It started with Halloween and now I want very badly to decorate for Thanksgiving.

We don't typically decorate, because we don't really have people over. The most we have is maybe my mom. We decorate for Christmas, because it's my husband's favorite holiday, but usually everything else we skip. Today, though, I was excited to prepare for the fall holiday.

First, I found my mom's homemade stuffed turkey and put it out. Then I went to Wal-Mart and saw that not only were the Halloween decorations 50% off, but so were all the fall decorations! Scarecrows and patchwork pumpkins and fall wreaths... I was so excited and my husband was so horrified!

When I got home, I immediately put it all up and I just felt so good. It felt like a holiday was coming. My daughter loved the turkey and the scarecrows. Without that discount, there was no way I was going to be able to get these items, especially the wreath. So I am thankful for discounts. They're always good, but even better when they help you find happiness in a dark time.

Friday, November 1, 2019

November 2019 Thankfulness List - Day 1

I think sometimes we underestimate the importance of the general things in life. As a teacher, we become used to certain parts of the day, one them being The Bell! It signals the start of things and it signals the end of things. When a schedule changes, the bells can get a bit awkward and sometimes it turns into clock-watching and constant worrying that you are going to let the kids out too late or they're going to get class too early.

Today was one of those days. We had a shortened class schedule, because at the end of the day our school was having a whole school activity hour (or so) to celebrate great school behavior. A behavioral incentive celebration of sorts. I am always asked to run a game room in the media center and then other staff volunteer to come in and help supervisor. I usually get them to play games... or the students get them to play games.

Typically I wander around and assist in quick-teaches or I might even get sucked into a game briefly. This year, though, I thought I'd run a Werewolf game. So we went into the Literacy Lounge, which is attached to the Media Center (Library) and started playing. Well... I was counting on a bell to tell us the day had ended. We didn't notice people leaving the larger media center and I had not looked at the clock for 4 minutes and realized we were 3 minutes over the bell.

No big deal, right? Nope! Some of the buses leave REALLY early and one of my students ended up missing her bus. Oh my goodness my heart was broken... We were able to fix the situation, but I realized how much I relied on the bell to help remind me of things.

So at the end of a week full of just, absolutely horrendous things... one thing I can say I am very thankful for are the bells to help mark the passing of the day.