xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: November 2010

November 30, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I realized today was the last official day of this challenge I set for myself.  And I gotta tell you, it's bittersweet.

When I started this challenge, I felt like I did a pretty decent job being thankful for the big things like God, my house, my loved ones, my job, food to eat, etc.  But I felt like I missed out on so many little opportunities to be grateful.

And so I set off on day 1 to find something small, something I would normally not even notice, to be be thankful for.  And a funny thing happened, I found lots of little things to be thankful for.

And I found that to be true the next day.

And the next day.

And even the day after that.

Pretty soon I found myself jotting things down throughout the day, chomping at the bit to come home and drop them into that day's list.  I'm sure that nasty, negative, unfair, ugly things happened all around me this month, but for the life of me I just can't think of a single one.  My brain space is filled with a jumble of wonderful things I'm just dying to list.

And so on the eve of a new month, it's not surprising to me that today's list is long.  After this month I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have so, so much to be thankful for.  And that giving thanks for something, no matter how small, has made a big difference in my life.

Today I'm thankful for...

  • my hardworking husband

  • productive work days

  • warm jackets

  • outside recess

  • parent volunteers

  • my sweet students who just wanted to write and write and write some more

  • the senators who voted no today

  • burritos

  • blueberries

  • chivalry

  • a quiet house

  • morning prayer

  • Christmas music

  • conversations with my mom

  • singing with my class

  • the book The Velveteen Rabbit, even though it makes me cry every December

  • phrases my little ones write, like "clouds prickling in the sky"

  • laughing so hard I cried

and last, but not least,

  • you, dear reader.  You've been great company this month and I've loved hearing about all the things you have to be thankful for, too.

November 29, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29

Today I'm thankful for...

  • my electric toothbrush.  I'm telling you, that is three minutes of bliss.

  • Fatty's 10 Pound Challenge

  • my spin instructor who magically makes class feel more like a real bike ride and less like a bunch of sweaty people crammed in a room of stationary bikes

  • my workout buddy who refers to spin class as "death spin", but still shows up twice a week

  • this conversation with one of my little ones:

"I'm going to miss you, Mrs. McCauley."  She hugged my neck.

"I'll see you tomorrow."  I assured her.

"I know, but I'll still miss you tonight."  She smiled and gave me one more squeeze before leaving.

November 28, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 28

Today I'm thankful for...

  • kids throwing snowballs off to the side of the road while their parents chained the tires

  • black train cars cutting through the stark white Sierra Nevadas

  • snow plow drivers clearing the way for me get home

  • pulling into our garage after being away

  • putting on my pajamas before 5pm

  • loads of my favorite shows waiting for me on the DVR

  • putting my feet up on the couch and reading a good book

30 Days of Thanks: Day 27

Today I'm thankful for…

  • NPR radio

  • warm, fuzzy socks

  • hot tea

  • the restaurant manager who didn't charge me for the tea

  • smoke free California

  • unexpected pockets of writing time (I know I've listed that one before, but what else do you call a long road trip with a closed highway thrown in for good measure?)

  • being trapped in Reno/Sparks on the night Super Diamond happens to be playing

  • singing all the (wrong) words to Sweet Caroline at the top of my lungs

  • catching up with old friends

30 Days of Thanks: Day 26

Today I'm thankful for...

  • sleeping in on Black Friday

  • snow dusted mountains

  • Joshua trees

  • my memory foam travel pillow

  • Words With Friends

November 25, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 25

Today I'm thankful for...

  • hot baths

  • NaNoWriMo and the joy of creating something with words

  • The Bellagio fountains set to Elton John's "Your Song"

  • The Lion King

  • the little girl dressed in her best tutu and frills sitting in front of me at The Lion King

  • comfortable shoes

  • reading in bed

  • the "Slapsgiving" episode of How I Met Your Mother

  • pizza for Thanksgiving dinner

  • holding Terry's hand

  • the docent at the museum who told interesting stories about the artists

  • fresh air

November 24, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24

Today I'm thankful for...

  • suitcases with wheels that roll in all directions

  • free internet in the airport

  • the luggage sculpture at the Sacramento Airport (Click on the photo to see what the artist says about his installation.)

  • the lights of the The Strip as seen from my hotel room

  • reaching 50k words for NaNoWriMo. Wahoo!!!

  • the beauty of the water show at the Bellagio.

November 23, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23

Today I'm thankful for...

  • the sounds of trains

  • morning walks by the river

  • my friend who called me a writer.  It matters little to me that she was under the influence of laughing gas at the time.

  • the chance to write in the morning while Terry was still asleep

  • hot showers (Is it just me or do you get your best ideas in the shower, too?)

November 22, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22

One year ago I attended the National Writing Project Annual Meeting in Philly and had the pleasure of being a part of the writing marathon.  I will always be thankful for the day I explored beautiful Philadelphia and wrote in the company of some amazing writers, writers I have the privilege to call friends.


November 21, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

Today I'm thankful for...

  • accountability with my weekly weigh in girls

  • scarf weather

  • writing time at Yaks Koffee Shop

  • the silly songs my hubby sings me

  • postponing laundry for yet another day

  • rain on my roof

  • new fleece gloves

  • e-mails from my big brother

November 20, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Today I'm thankful for...

  • morning writing time while the wind whistles and the rain taps on the windows

  • oatmeal

  • the peppermint at the bottom of my hot cocoa

  • reading that turns into napping

  • days when makeup and the flat iron go ignored

  • t-shirts and jeans

November 19, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 19

Today I'm thankful for...

  • turning my alarm clock off for the upcoming week

  • the little boy in my class who is moving and checked with me three times today to make sure I had his address so our class could send him letters

  • my students and their parents and the opportunity to meet with them this week

  • the little boy in my class who is counting the days until his mom comes home from Iraq in February

  • my friend who is helping her students focus on being peacemakers at our school

  • the custodian who cleans my classroom

  • vacation

  • vacation (Yes, it's worth repeating.)

  • vacation (Last time, I promise.)

November 18, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 18

Today I'm thankful for...

  • being able to count down to vacation on one lonely finger

  • fresh haircuts

  • libraries

  • blanket weather

  • my waking up song:


November 17, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17

Today I'm thankful for...
  • the parent who told me she loves me because I teach with my whole heart.

  • a little girl who wrote me a letter saying that she loves me and feels "happee" in our class. Happy should absolutely be spelled that way because it looks more like yippee.

  • my vice-principal

  • sweet texts from my hubby

  • crossing the 30,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo

  • Holly Black's take on NaNoWriMo. "You will walk around in a foggy haze at your job or the bank or the supermarket. People will talk to you for twenty minutes and you won't have heard a word they said because you just thought of a fantastic new subplot. You will look up things on the internet that make you look like a serial killer." She is so right it's scary. Now excuse my while I go look up how many gallons of blood are in the human body.

  • November 16, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 16

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • lunchtime with my colleagues

    • Terry's sense of humor

    • sunny November days

    • necklaces

    • counting down to vacation on one hand


    November 15, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 15

    The other day a friend said "Wow, you're doing NaNoWriMo and that 30 Days of Thanks thing?  That's a lot."  Yes, cranking out 1,667 words a day in some sort of thing that might one day resemble a novel takes some time.

    But this 3o Days of Thanks thing had become a wonderful habit.  All day long I find myself on the look out for things to be thankful for.  I stop and jot them down throughout the day and when I sit down to write in the evening, I realize have so many things to choose from, so much to be grateful for.

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • the opportunity to show parents all the things their children are doing well

    • fall weather perfect for dresses, tights and boots

    • riding with the top down on clear, starry nights

    • author Joshilyn Jackson's take on revision.  "It’s like a Book Spa, where the book gets a mani-pedi, a fresh haircut..."

    • spin class

    November 14, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 14

    Recently many of my women friends have lost mothers, grandmothers and even children.  While I'm not thankful for the losses, I am thankful for my friends who are able to look grief in the face and also see blessing.

    I am thankful for these women who wear their hearts on their sleeves and teach me about compassion and empathy.

    I am thankful for these women who teach me about strength by getting out of bed each day to embrace life in all it's heartache and all it's glory.  Sometimes the two are entwined and I'm thankful for that, too.

    I'm thankful that love acts as a salve over tender places where we are burned and broken.

    I'm thankful that love lives on beyond our earthly bodies, that we are not just flesh and bone, but we are filled with love, both past and present.

    Click on the photo above to see some more amazing photos by this photographer and the 365 iphone photos project.

    November 13, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 13

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • waking up thinking it's Monday, then realizing it's Saturday and going back to bed.

    • Writers Forum

    • all the wonderful memories I have of my grandmother

    • seat warmers

    • reaching the halfway mark in my NaNoWriMo word count

    • the Mexican train in Dominoes

    November 12, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 12

    Today I spent part of the day in Chico writing with a friend and doing some Writing Project stuff.  It was a fun day and I have so much to be grateful for.  Today I'm thankful for...

    • waking up and reading in my warm bed

    • writer friends who know the terror of the blank page and conversely the beauty of creating something from nothing

    • my neighbor playing his acoustic guitar

    • thumb tacks

    • stores that sell clothes for tall chicks

    • my writing playlist

    • Scrivener, fantastic software that every writer needs.  Try it for free. You'll be glad you did.

    November 11, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 11

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • Veterans like my big brother

    • avocados

    • pigtails and hat days

    • waking up without an alarm clock

    • my imagination

    November 10, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 10

    Ten days into this and I find myself making notes throughout the day of all the little things I have to be thankful for.  It's a good shift, one I hope to hold onto long after the 30 days.

    Today I'm thankful for:

    • parent volunteers

    • cold nights perfect for sleeping in flannel pajamas and my grandmother's sweater

    • long weekends

    • the first dusting of snow on Shasta Bally

    • unexpected pockets of free time

    • my husband's eyes.  After all these years, they still make me swoon.

    November 9, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 9

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • morning prayers with Terry

    • Conan's return to late night tv

    • rain after, but not during recess

    • little pockets of writing time

    • date night

    • my purple shoes

    November 8, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 8

    Today I'm thankful for

    • leftovers

    • fall leaves

    • kids who aren't afraid of big numbers or big words

    • my warm, cozy bed

    • first grade smiles with missing teeth

    November 7, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 7

    Today I'm thankful for some little things like...

    • falling back.  An extra hour of sleep is just what I needed.

    • Terry, who always sets all the clocks

    • the wind that woke me with the sound of windchimes

    • rainy days perfect for NaNoWriMo

    • Communion

    • the crock pot

    But there's one bigger thing I'm most thankful for...

    On day 6 my friend, Abby, wrote a beautiful post on cycles, both the kind with wheels and without.  Specifically she posted about the beauty of green grass sprouting from underneath dead leaves.  The part of her post that is resonating with me still is when she said that as people "We can let parts of ourselves shrink away to make room for improvements and fresh starts."  As some things die away, we make room for new growth.

    So here on Day 7, I'm thinking about a song by Waterdeep called "Come Fall on Us".  There's a line that says:

    A thankful heart prepares the way for you, my God.

    As I focus more on all that I have to be thankful for, parts of me, the ugly, bitter, judgmental parts are starting to fall away.  In their place I'm starting to see tiny signs of new, green growth.  Not that I'm a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but today I'm thankful for a God who is patiently revealing areas of myself that I need to let die in order to make room for the things He has for me.

    November 5, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 6

    It's day 6 of 30 Days of Thanks and today I'm thankful for...

    • the song "Secret" by Seal.  Download it now.  Thank me later.

    • crossing the 10,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo

    • playing ball with my nephews

    • my mom's cooking

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 5

    I'm in the throes of cranking out 1, 667 words a day for NaNoWriMo and also trying to get in the habit of daily thanks.

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • school shirt days on Fridays.  One day a week, I get a reprieve from flicking through my closet and realizing I have nothing to wear.

    • one of my former student who raced across the entire playground just to give me a hug as I walked to my classroom this morning.

    • the song "Wonderful World" and my friend who brought his guitar to sing it  with my class today.

    • mint ice cream sandwiches

    • overcast skies heavy with rain

    • the kid in the classroom next to mine who called me "Mrs. Tamale".  Mrs. McCauley isn't nearly as cool a name as Mrs. Tamale.  I'm thinking about having it legally changed.

    November 4, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 4

    I'm spending November writing by the seat of my pants for NaNoWriMo, but I'm also trying to get in the habit of daily thanks.

    Today I'm thankful...

    • for small acts of kindness

    • for the pink sunrise sky that greeted me when I took the trash out

    • that my mom is finally home from her big adventure through the lower 48

    • to have attended a writing session at my local community college this afternoon.  I admit, I kinda hoped something like this would go down:

    But it didn't.  What did go down was a great session and reading by Charlie Price.  Know what else went down?  A whole bunch of words on the page for this runaway novel of mine.  6,868 words down only 43,132 to go!

    November 3, 2010

    Dear 16 Year Old Me,

    Dear 16 Year Old Me,

    If I had the ability to travel back in time, here are some things I'd tell ya:

    • Don't worry about the fact that you are flat chested.  This actually turns out to be a good thing later in life.  No, really.

    • Being tall is way better than you think.

    • A magical electronic device called the flat iron will take care of that whole nest of curls you fight every morning.

    • Your "summer boyfriend" will become your best friend, your husband, the love of your life.  You are at the beginning of a wonderful love story.

    • Call your Grandma.  You'll be glad you did.

    • The top of the old water tower outside of Tijuaua will become one of your favorite places of all time.  Take a picture of the view.  You'll wish you could remember it in sharp detail when you're older.

    • You are stronger than you think, but it's okay to let your guard down once in awhile.

    • You will be an athlete.  It's okay that you don't believe me.  Sometimes I don't believe it either.

    • Your life will have some moments like this:

    (Sorry, but birds hate you.  Just accept the fact that they poop on you now and again.)

    • But most of your life will be like this:

    You are at the start of a great life filled with friends, love, laughter, and adventure.  Hang on tight because life is fast and it's never dull.


    33 Year Old Me

    P.S.-Be nicer to your little brother.  He turns out to be a pretty decent guy.

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 3

    I'm spending November pounding out a novel in chunks of 1, 667 words a day for NaNoWriMo.  I'm also trying to get in the habit of daily thanks.

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • the little girl who caught me on the way into my classroom to point out the pinkish morning clouds.  She said "It looks like the clouds are having a party!"

    • feta cheese

    • the funny little ways my husband goofs around with me

    • good books

    November 2, 2010

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 2

    I'm spending November terrorizing my laptop with 1, 667 words a day for NaNoWriMo and also trying to get in the habit of daily thanks.

    Today I'm thankful for...

    • quiet times in the middle of the night for writing

    • afternoon naps

    • the right to vote

    • kisses from my husband

    • hugs from my little ones who aren't afraid to squeeze tight

    • Abby and Emily for doing this 30 days of thanks thing with me

    • the fact that this cat isn't mine

    November 1, 2010

    Little Star Girl

    Dear Little One,

    You are amazing.

    Today you told the class a story of a little boy and a little girl who put on magical star-shaped glasses.  When they put the glasses on, they became twinkle stars in the sky.  Their mothers spent the day looking for them everywhere, but their children were nowhere to be found.  That night the mothers looked into the sky and wished on a star that their children would return home.  When the mothers made the wish, the little boy and girl became shooting stars.  The fell back to Earth and landed in the arms of their mothers.

    Little one, I am amazed at your ability to invent such a creative, magical, poignant story.  As I click away at my own story this month, I am inspired by you.

    I hope you heard me, really heard me, when I told you what an amazing storyteller you are.  Just in case you didn't, I'm going to tell you again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next day.  And all the days after that.

    And tonight when I look up at the stars and think about things I'm thankful for, you are going to be at the top of my list, Little Star Girl.

    Love you bunches,

    Mrs. McCauley

    30 Days of Thanks: Day 1

    NaNoWriMo is here, meaning I am recklessly writing a runaway novel in daily spurts of 1,667 words each day.  Click here to help me.

    In an effort to keep my blogging muscles limber and also to come up from air once in awhile, I'll be posting things I'm thankful for each day.  I read about the idea over here and thought it would be the perfect way to welcome in the Thanksgiving season.

    It's also very helpful that when we sit around the table Thanksgiving Day, I will have a month's worth of crib notes to choose from and won't get all embarrassed when I'm put on the spot to say what I'm thankful for.  Feel free to pilfer for your own cheat sheet as needed.

    I'm thankful for...

    • fall days when I walk to and from work in a blush of leaves

    • the bags of candy my students brought from their trick or treat bags to send to troops overseas

    • quiet afternoons at home

    • the smell of my husband's cologne on his pillow

    • little ones who write about becoming stars in the sky

    • children's books