xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: June 2011

June 29, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 14, Giggling with Gramma

It's 4:19am and the house is quiet.  The TV is off.  No music plays on my iPod.  Although I've got the house to myself, I've been up all night with a serious case of the giggles.

My family reunion is hours away and I've been squirreling away my free minutes and using them to turn the recently found footage of my grandmother into a movie.  My hope is to make a copy for everyone in my family.

[caption id="attachment_4342" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Can you say 'dinner out'?"][/caption]

As I sifted through the footage, cut it apart and put it back together again, I found myself laughing right along with Gramma Betty as she recounted the story of buying her own engagement ring.  I was snorting out loud as she told the hilarious tale of how she and my grandfather got engaged.  Not to mention the story of how she convinced him to take her out to dinner by cooking chili night after night until he simply couldn't stand one more bite of it!

My grandmother was one smart cookie.  Hang on a sec, let me just make a note of that.  Chili for the next month.  Oh who am I kidding, Terry would fall over dead if I ever cooked anything for dinner.

So today I'm celebrating staying up late and giggling with my grandmother, delighting in the ease of her smile and the twinkle in her eyes.  I thought her laugh and her particular expressions were relegated to my faded memories.  She always joked that her sense of direction was far superior to mine and it's proving to be true because long after leaving this earth, my grandmother has found her way back to me.

June 28, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 13, Tech Week

Last week I co-directed a Technology and Writing Institute for a school district a few hours away.  Those of you who know me in real life are already laughing because I am anything but techie.  In fact when the NCWP director asked if I would be one of the three co-directors my response was something like "Uh, that sounds great, except for the technology part."  He assured me I'd be fine.  It was quite nice of him to lie to me like that.

I agreed, knowing full well I'd be the weakest leg of the tripod.  The other two directors are adept at weaving technology into curriculum, and more importantly, using technology to add meaning to the curriculum.  On a good day I can turn on my Interwrite board and make it talk to my computer.

But I said yes.  It wasn't easy because I knew full well that I wasn't nearly on par with my two co-directors.  This is the thing though, I believe that the best way to get better at something, at anything really, is to surround myself with people who are better at that thing than I am.  It's the reason I ride with people who are faster than I am.  It's the reason I prefer to work with teachers who are more experienced than I am.  It's the reason I said yes to helping with the technology training.  I knew I'd learn way more than I'd teach and it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Sure enough, I spent the week learning how to use Word and PowerPoint together.  I learned how to use Little Bird Tales and Glogster.  And when I wasn't learning, I showed how I use Animoto in my classroom and I helped a teacher set up a class blog.  I worked hard, harder than I can remember working in a long time because each day after the inservice, I'd go back to my room and teach myself more about the things the other co-directors were sharing.

It was empowering to help others see new ways to use technology to bring subject matter to life.  It was empowering to be one of those teachers.  It was immensely rewarding to do something so far outside of my comfort zone.  I learned countless new things and spent a week with some wonderfully dedicated teachers.  And in my book that's something worth celebrating.

June 25, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 12, San Francisco with Gramma

Yesterday I finished up the Technology & Writing Institute and flew to San Francisco where I would take a connecting flight to Seattle.  When I landed in the S.F., I grabbed some dinner and wandered to my gate only to discover that my flight had been delayed an hour.  An hour isn't much, so I plopped down on the floor by an outlet, eager to use this time to edit some of the footage of my grandmother.

I hit play and her voice streamed through my headphones, as if we were sitting in her living room chatting just like old times.  I flicked through the footage to the place where I'd last left off and was elated to find that my grandma's next story was about her move from Texas to San Francisco when she was a young woman.  She talked all about her first job and how much she loved the city, the very city I found myself in at that very moment.  As I sat listening to her stories, I couldn't help but feel she was there with me.

Every now and then I'd peek up at the people around me, families laying down and sleeping, weary from a day marred with delays.  I remembered the time Gramma and I were delayed in LAX.  The airline gave us food vouchers.  Reasonable people spent their vouchers on dinner, but we spent our vouchers on snacks for the plane and, of course, ice cream cones.  What can I say-we were both dessert before dinner kinds of people.  Life is short, so terribly short.

So today I'm celebrating divine moments when God uses His tender hand to orchestrate things so that I, a lonely traveler, could spend an hour in San Francisco with my grandmother as my guide.

June 22, 2011

Out of the Office

This week I'm co-directing a writing and technology institute.  So, my writing brain is tasked with other things right now, but I'll be back next week.  I'm having a blast working with other teachers who are excited about teaching writing and using technology to facilitate meaningful writing experiences for their students.  Enjoy your week and I'll be back soon!

June 18, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 11, My Grandmother's Voice

In the wee hours of Friday morning I found myself ransacking the house like a mad woman.  I was throwing open closet doors, heaving out boxes of stuff, rifling through filing cabinets in search of the only thing that might have a chance at saving my dying hard drive: the OS disk.

I was frantic.  My laptop sat there looking forlorn, a gray screen with a flickering question mark on a lonely file folder.

Each blink of the question mark fired a new worry into my head.  Why didn't I make a recent back up?  Would I find the disk in time to save my hard drive?  If I found the disk would it even work?  Where could that disk be???  Aha!  There it was next to my video camera at the bottom of a box of miscellaneous computer stuff on the floor of the office closet.  I'd been looking for that video camera for years, but I didn't have time for it now.  I grabbed the video camera and the disk and shoved the disk into my sick MacBook.  I followed the steps I'd watched so carefully in a YouTube video made by some angel of a man who somehow knew I'd find myself in a rescue mission at 1am.

Sadly, no matter how many times I tried, and believe me I tried scads of times, my hard drive was too sick to even respond to the disk.  My fingers flew through Google looking for another answer.

Aha!  Take the hard drive out and let it cool off.  Hmmm, now if I only knew where the hard drive was... A quick trip over to YouTube had some other angelic man showing me how to remove my hard drive.

I hurried out to the garage to get the teensy tiny screwdriver set my husband keeps in his car.  Where was it?  I felt the tears coming in a big lump bobbing in my throat.  By this time my rescue attempt had gone on for hours and I was losing hope.  Where was that darn screwdriver set?  I searched the car top to bottom.  Nothing.  I could just picture my all my saved photos and documents bursting into flames.  I'm pretty sure they don't really do that, but at 1:30 am, things start to get a little uncivilized in my brain.

I called Terry, who was working out of town, and between tears I explained my situation and that I needed that little screwdriver immediately or the world was going to implode!  Calmly, he directed me to the screwdriver set located in a drawer in the workbench in our garage.  Silly man, putting tools away where they actually belong.

Screwdriver in hand, I removed my hard drive to let it cool overnight.  I posted a desperate message on FaceBook looking for any last-ditch genius solutions or any suggestions of places to take my hard drive for an autopsy.  Then I staggered into bed where I dreamed that all the people in my photos on my computer were dismantling the novel I'd written one word at a time, carry off the words until all the people and all 50,000 odd words were gone and the only thing left was a giant question mark folder.

The next morning I put the hard drive back in only to have that question mark folder stare back at me.  My FaceBook friends had come through with the names of 2 computer places known for resurrecting hard drives from the dead.  I took my sad computer to both places and I only cried a little bit when they couldn't revive it long enough to retrieve anything.  I cried a little more as I explained to them that I'd only backed up some of the photos from my trip with my grandmother and that those were what I wanted most.  And it would also be nice to get back the novel I'd foolishly not backed up.  Both computer places were so kind to me, not even charging me labor for the hours they spent trying with no success to recover my things.  I left the second place with a new hard drive humming away in my MacBook.

Back at home I started the tedious process of reinstalling software.  This involved hitting the enter key lots of times and then waiting and then waiting some more.  While I waited for this new hard drive to make magic happen inside of my old computer, I picked up the video camera I'd stumbled across while ransacking my house earlier that morning.  I plugged the camera into the wall setting it on the carpet near the outlet.  I crossed my fingers that the camera somehow still had the footage I'd recorded a couple of years ago.

I pushed play and the living room filled up with my Grandmother's voice as she recounted stories of her life.  I laid down on the carpet my face inches from her face on the tiny screen and I cried.  It was so good to hear her voice, to hear her laugh again, to see her when she was healthy.  I watched every second of the footage, even the bloopers I promised her I'd edit out later.  Suddenly losing some photos of our trip didn't seem so bad now.

My computer started to make happy beeping noises as it came to life again.  I jumped online to check my email and then remembered that last November when I was frantically hammering out my novel, I'd emailed myself a copy just in case.  In a couple of clicks I was staring at it in all it's horrible rough draft splendor.  I let out a little yelp of glee!

So yesterday and today I'm celebrating that sometimes, not always but sometimes, what is lost can be found again.  And sometimes in looking for what it lost, something even greater is discovered.

June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday #29

This week I'm thankful for...

  • white peaches so juicy that I have to eat them over the sink

  • time alone in my classroom to get organized

  • opportunities to put on my big girl pants and read something I've written.  Out loud.  To other people.  Gulp.

  • running into former students around town

  • leftovers

  • reading and writing in my favorite Chico coffee shop

  • carpooling with friends

  • my workout buddy

  • a fresh haircut

  • the hot tub after a long day of travel

30 Days of Celebration: Day 10, Lesson Learned

Today I'm celebrating being taught a lesson.

I'm no photographer, a fact that is really obvious.  So I use images I find on the web, always making sure to ask permission, give credit if desired and link to the photo if the photographer so wishes.  So you can imagine my horror when I found out one of the images I'd used (with permission) was not in fact owned by the person who gave me permission to use it.  The true photographer kindly left me a message letting me know as much.  I removed the image and apologized as soon as I realized my mistake.  The photographer was very gracious about the whole thing.

It's a weird thing to say I'm celebrating a mistake, but I'm also celebrating the opportunity to make things right.  In the future I'll do a much more thorough job investigating ownership.

It's a lesson I'm glad to have learned.

June 14, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 9, Bike Commuting

Today I'm celebrating the opportunity to commute by bicycle.  I live close to my school, so close in fact that I often walk to work.  In the time it would take me to pump up my bike tires, strap on my helmet, and get my bike gear on, I could probably be almost to the door of my classroom.  Then there's the whole issue of bringing a change of clothes, and shoes, and not to mention dealing with helmet hair.  Too much effort for what would equate to just over a mile.  Round trip.

But today I had a meeting downtown right off the river trail.  So I slipped into my bike gear, strapped on my helmet and pedaled out.  It was an easy ride from my house, just over 4 miles in the warm morning.  I rode along the river, thinking about the meeting at hand.

After the meeting, I pedaled home, mashing my pedals uphill in the summer heat.  Sweat trickled down my brow.  I didn't care.  It's summer and today I'm a bike commuter.

June 13, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 8, A Quiet Sanctuary

I worked in my classroom for a few hours today.  What?!?  You worked in your classroom on the second week of summer vacation???  Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND ?!?

Quite the opposite, in fact.  I was very much in my mind, alone with my thoughts in my classroom.  During the school year, I'm never alone in my classroom.  In addition to the 30 little ones, there are my wonderful parent volunteers.  Before and after school my colleagues are always popping in and then there are, of course, my former students, my little angels who drop by after school to see if they can help.  Hear me out, I love my little ones and my parent volunteers and my colleagues and my former students, but every once in a while it's great to be in my classroom ALL BY MYSELF.

Wanna know how many people I saw at my school today?  2.  And of that pair, wanna know how many of them came into my classroom?  0.  I spent a precious three hours in my room organizing my files, digging into the new language arts program and preparing my lessons for the first couple of weeks of school.

Which brings me to the grand finale of my party for one.  I had the workroom all to myself.  Can we have a moment of silence for such a rarity?  I ran both copiers AT THE SAME TIME.  And while my copies were running, I used the cutting board and then the laminator.  Then I put on my brave face and had a serious battle with the scanner.  The scanner put up a good fight, attempting to eat several of my papers, but in the end I outsmarted it, surely a first.

I had every machine at my disposal.  I was a copying, cutting, collating dynamo!  I didn't have to wait in line even once.  When I ran out of paper, there was a white gleaming tower of it right next to the copier.  The tower of paper almost reached the ceiling.  Oh, beautiful stack of clean crisp paper, how I love thee.

So today I'm celebrating blissful quiet time to think, to prepare, to organize my thoughts and take a moment to breathe.  I hope you find a quiet sanctuary somewhere in your day, too.

June 12, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 7, Word Rocks

Last night Terry and I went downtown with a couple of friends.  Our mission: to eat great pizza and try out the new frozen yogurt shop.  To my surprise and delight Art Hop was in full swing.  After dinner we walked around a bit and landed in Leatherby's, the ice cream parlor my third grade teacher took a small group of kids to, a reward for getting 100% on our spelling tests that year.  Spelling has always come fairly easily to me.  I see words in my mind and putting them on paper is a natural extension of the word soup that sloshes around in my brain.

Inside the ice cream parlor the pieces by local artist, Debi Hammond, were on display.  Debi used to work in the same district as I do.  Although I'd never met her in person, I'd seen her name in e-mails and talked to her on the phone a handful of times.

Last year Debi gave up her job at the district office to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time artist.  I congratulated her on such a bold move, marveling at her bravado.  She admitted it was scary, but worth it.  Now she spends her time painting, drawing, and teaching art classes.

Vibrant watercolor paintings hung all over the walls, but it was a bucket of rocks spilling out onto a table that caught my eye.  There were hundreds of rocks, each one with a word written on it.  I'm a collector of words.  I collect quotes and scribble down word combinations that strike me as funny or compelling.  It's no surprise then that I found myself pawing through her collection of stones.  I picked out a handful of rocks, choosing each word carefully, turning the rocks over in my hand as if the words would somehow come true by touching them.

As I sifted through the rocks, Debi told me she'd collected them from Agate Beach, another place I'd been as a child.  I asked her how come there weren't any agates in the lot.  She smiled and told me she kept them for herself.  I remembered the summer I stuffed agates from the beach into my pockets until my shorts were so heavy I had to grip the waistband with one hand to keep them in place.

Debi held out a small jar and told my friend and I to choose a word from it.  Another opportunity to collect a word?  You bet!  I reached in and pulled out the word "confident".  I laughed because most days I have confidence in spades, but when I picked up the word, my mind flashed back to a conversation I'd had with a writer friend just that morning.

This writer friend had given me the name of someone to contact at our local newspaper.  She'd given me the name months ago and I'd not done a single thing with it, a fact I confessed to my friend yesterday morning.  I told her I'd been too chicken, had lost my nerve.

As I stood in the ice cream parlor last night, with the word confident in my hand, I decided it was time to put an end to my chicken ways.  It was time to stop filling my pockets with stories only to keep them all to myself.  Last night I pulled out some stuff I've been working on and started fine tuning it for submission.  I even sent my writer friend a message asking her for that name again so I could query our local newspaper.  Who knows what will come of it, but I'm confident it's worth a shot.  And that's enough for now.

So today I'm celebrating little words of encouragement and the unexpected places I find them.  I hope you find some today, too.

June 11, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 6, Kickball

Today I'm celebrating playing.  Playing???  Yeah, you know, running and jumping and being outside with your friends just because it's fun?  Well, last weekend I went on a grown-up field trip and did a LOT of playing.  Thanks to my pals Conor, Andrew and Karin, I've got the footage to prove it.

The tetherball was a temptation I could not resist.  Flashbacks of dominating the tetherball court ran rampant that weekend.  Remember when I said being tall isn't really a talent?  Well, in tetherball it definitely IS.

And because I never miss an opportunity to show off my graceful side:

[caption id="attachment_4230" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Brings to mind images of delicate ballerinas, no?"][/caption]

In between tetherball games, I dug around in the pond looking for dragonfly nymphs and other pond dwellers.

There was a night hike and there were s'mores and a day hike to an old gold mine.  I even had a good quiet read by the creek.  I played ALL weekend and loved every second of it, but my hands down favorite thing was kickball.  It was so much fun.  Even though I was a teensy bit afraid of being hit by the ball.  Okay, I was petrified of being hit by the ball, but it was still an unholy amount of fun!


So grab a little kid, or a big kid for that matter, and go play!  Hey, you're still reading.  Go play.  No seriously, I'll be here when you get back.  Go play and then come back and tell me all about it.

June 10, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 5, Gracefulness Or Lack Thereof

[caption id="attachment_4201" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="It's appropriate that my number ended in 57 because I was Heinz 57 slow."][/caption]

Yesterday was my 100 Miles of Nowhere ride, which is exactly what it sounds like.  I rode 100 miles without really going anywhere.  Specifically I rode a 3 mile section of the river trail out and back and out and back and out and back and out and back some more until my odometer showed 100 miles.

[caption id="attachment_4203" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="A teensy snack to tide me over."][/caption]

The night before the ride I packed a small snack for the ride.  1 full-sized Clif bar, 4 mini Clif bars, 2 PB&J half sandwiches, 1 baggie of almonds, 1 pack of Shot Bloks, 1 banana and 1 baggie of Mike & Ike's and Sour Patch Kids.  Along the ride I ate everything except the full-sized Clif bar and the almonds.  Although I didn't eat the candy until I was finished, sort of like my little trophy for completing surviving the ride.

At the river trail, I met up with That Laura and our other friend, Mike.  Laura and Mike weren't registered for the 100 MoN, they just came out to ride with me because they're cool like that.  Mike gets extra cool points because he brought a chest full of ice for our water bottles and later his mom showed up with cold watermelon.

Most of my conversations with Laura prior to the ride went something like this:

Me: "This may just be the worst idea we've ever had."

Laura: "Yep.  So do you want to start at 6 or 6:30?"

Me: "Seriously, this might just be the dumbest thing we've ever done."

Laura: "Probably.  I'll meet you at the trail at 6."

Me: "To the pain."

[caption id="attachment_4205" align="alignright" width="271" caption="To the pain!"][/caption]

Laura and I rolled out about 6:05 with Mike following shortly thereafter.  The trail was beautiful and mostly empty in the cool of the morning.  We rode the first few laps together and then separated as we settled into our own rhythms.  On one of the early out and backs, Laura and I saw two bucks bounce across the trail.  Later on I also saw 2 king snakes stretched out across the trail, soaking up the sun.  I was less excited about the snakes and each time I rode by one I looked them in the eye and in a voice that wasn't wavering at all, I'm sure, I pleaded "Don't bite me, don't bite me, don't bite me."

I'd wisely purchased a book to listen to and a handful of laps in I started Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees.  Don't tell me how it ends because I'm not finished yet.  So there I was happily pedaling along, listening to my book and stopping for snacks every now and then.  Before I knew it, I'd already ridden 50 miles.

At around mile 55 the wind started to pick up and didn't quit until mile 80.  This meant that heading out was into the wind, but heading back was followed by a blessed tailwind.

I should take a minute to say that at one end of the trail, there's a spacious parking lot in which to turn around.  At the other end, I had to make a tight turn around on the trail itself.  I'm laughably bad at turns and so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to practice, since I'd be encountering that turn 17 times.  And this is how at mile 61 I wound up sprawled out on the trail.  I entered the turn and started to topple over, only getting my inside foot unclipped after it was too late.  I landed hard and bruised my...bruised my, well, let's just say I bruised my ego pretty badly.  I scrambled up and looked around.  Much to my delight nobody else was around to see my display of gracefulness.

At mile 80, my friend Abby showed up to ride a handful of miles.  Mike and Laura had peeled off to ride other portions of the trail and I was getting tired of my book, so I was really glad to see Abby.  We rode out and back, chatting and just having a good time.  Abby's timing was impeccable because when she hopped off her bike to run the trail a little bit, I only had 14 miles to go.  14 miles is nothing!  My legs were tired, but I could feel the finish coming.  I started up my book again and pedaled the last few miles.

[caption id="attachment_4206" align="alignleft" width="216" caption="All done!"][/caption]

At the end I was pretty tired, but pretty happy to have completed 100 miles.  I even finished about an hour sooner than I'd anticipated.  That never happens.

Laura and Abby cheered me on at the finish line.  As we sat in the back of her car, eating candy and waiting for Mike to finish, I couldn't help but think it had been a great day to ride for a great cause.

So I'm celebrating two things today, the first being that I'm able to walk today with only a slight pain from making an asphalt angel yesterday.  Secondly, I'm celebrating my amazing friends who do some really nutty things with me.  This graffiti I saw on the river trail best sums up my feelings about my friends:

June 9, 2011

Thankful Thursday #28

This week I'm thankful for...

  • turning my alarm clock off for the summer

  • a sweet last day of school with my little ones and some of my awesome parent volunteers

  • making cookies with a friend

  • vases of fresh flowers given to me on the last day of school

  • homemade strawberry blackberry jam made by a friend

  • ice-cold watermelon

  • warmer weather

June 8, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 4

Today I'm celebrating doing crazy things for worthy causes.  I'm not a scientist who can research a cure for cancer or a doctor who can help cancer patients navigate through treatment.  What I can do is ride my bike and raise money for cancer research and treatment in a creative, if not a little bit insane way.

Right this very second I'm riding a 3 mile stretch of the river trail over and over again until my odometer hits 100 miles.  That's right it's the 100 Miles of Nowhere!  100% of my registration fee went to LiveStrong and I'm still collecting donations for my LiveStrong ride in Davis.  Maybe you're not a scientist or a doctor or a cyclist, but you can be a part of fighting cancer, too, by donating to my LiveStrong page.

Or maybe you have some other talent and some other cause.  Maybe you're a marathoner and want to Race for the Cure.  Maybe you thought you were a marathoner, but it turns out you just don't get that whole "runner's high" thing.  Frankly, I'm with you.  Why not take those slightly worn shoes and give them to Soles for Souls?  Shoot, maybe your only talent is that your hair grows really fast.  Go on, grow your hair for Locks of Love.

Me?  I'm going to keep riding because every time I do something for someone else, it makes the world feel a little bit smaller.  And that makes riding 100 miles worth every pedal stroke.  I leave you with these words of encouragement from a fellow cyclist.


Now, get out there, get creative and get involved!  I promise it will make you feel happy of yourself.

30 Days of Celebration: Day 3, Paybacks

I have limited talents.  I can ride my bike pretty far.  Sometimes I can put a decent sentence together.  And I'm really tall.  (I know, being tall isn't a talent, but I felt better putting three things down and I couldn't think of a third.)

I can't sew, cook, play an instrument or anything cool like that.  Luckily, I have friends who can do all of those things and more.

My friend, Danielle, is a crazy good at scrapbooking.  She makes frames and albums and notebooks that are works of art.  She helped me make these beautiful memory verse cards.  And by 'helped me make them' I mean she thought of the idea, got everything ready, and then showed my monkey brain how to put them together.  And then she fixed them when I messed them up.

Well, lately I've been playing around over at animoto.com making movies with my little ones and just having a good time turning photos into slide shows.  Danielle saw one of my little movies and asked if I'd help her make her own.  Playing with a cool website with my even cooler friend?  You betcha.

She came over today with a slew of photos of her grandfather who recently passed away.  In no time we were clicking away and putting together a movie of all of her great memories.  It was beautiful and I was so glad to help her make it all come together.

So today I'm celebrating my talented friends and the rare opportunity that I get to pay them back.

June 7, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 2, Risky Business

Today I'm celebrating taking a risk.  Not the bungee jumping, skydiving kind, but a risk nonetheless.  A few weeks ago, the director of NCWP asked if I would co-direct a week-long writing and technology institute for teachers.  After laughing my face off and reminding him that I'm completely impaired when it comes to all things technological, I realized that he was serious.  I took a deep breath and said yes.


Today I met with the other two co-directors, both total tech geniuses, by the way.  It's exciting and intimidating to be in the presence of people who see writing instruction and technology as a natural marriage.  In that wedding, I definitely sit on the side of writing instruction.  My hope is that by working with the other two co-directors, their tech savvy brains will somehow osmote onto mine before we lead the institute in a couple of weeks.  I'm skeptical, very skeptical.

And because it takes one to know one, here are some gems from the Technologically Impaired Duck:

And because you deserve a little more levity in your day, and not at all because I'm craving cookies.  Ahem.

Just one more.

Last one.  Promise.

Oh, Technologically Impaired Duck, you quack so good, you quack so true.

June 6, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 1, Summer Vacation

My dear friend, Emily, started a month of blogging about all she has to celebrate.  I like the idea of taking the 30 Days of Thanks challenge and kicking it up a notch.

For me the difference between celebration and thankfulness is that thankfulness is usually a condition of my heart, something I can choose to show or keep to myself.  Celebration implies action.  Have you ever seen someone celebrate while sitting still and quiet?  Neither have I.  'Celebrate' is a jubilant verb just itching to do something.

As Emily pointed out over in her neck of the woods, it's pretty easy to celebrate when life is going well, but not so easy to celebrate when life is delivering a clobbering.  That's true, but I also find that when life is good, I take a lot of things for granted.  So, I'm hoping this month will help me realize how much I have to celebrate, both on days that are easy and on days that present me with difficulty.

Today I celebrated the first official day of summer vacation.  I'm celebrating finishing up a year that was equally rewarding and difficult.  For the first time in my career, my skill as a teacher was called into question.  I often found myself defending what I know in my heart to be best for children, what I know deep in my bones to be right.  This constant self-defense left me worn out.  And sometimes when I laid awake at night, doubt would creep in.  Doubt about continuing to teach.  Doubt about whether I should have ever gone into teaching in the first place.  It's funny how the tiniest seed of doubt can grow into a terrible Venus Fly Trap, soul eating kind of thing.

A few days before school let out, three teachers from three different schools asked if I would help them plan for teaching first grade next year.  I was delighted they thought of me and today I met with two of those teachers.  It was a pleasure to share materials, books and ideas.  I talked with them about the nuts and bolts of my classroom and some big picture stuff, too.  As I shared with them, I could feel the roots of doubt being pulled out.

I am meant to teach.  This I know for sure.  Today I celebrate my peers who in asking for help, helped me remember my calling.

June 5, 2011

A Letter of Apology

I'm writing over here this week and loved this prompt about apologies.  If you write your own apology, be sure to leave a link to it in the comments section so we can all enjoy it, too.

Dear Terry,

I'm sorry that I never, ever remember to pick up my paycheck at the close of each month.  I'm sorry that I also fail to recall which day is trash day.  I'm sorry that my feet are always cold underneath the covers.  I'm sorry that I sing all the wrong words to songs.  I'm sorry that I'm terribly bad at math.

Thank you for telling me every month that I'm great at my job and reminding me that I actually get paid for it.  Thank you for just shaking your head and laughing at the overflowing trash cans on the side of our house.  Thanks for singing with me every morning in the bathroom and giggling at my artistic license with the lyrics.  Thank you for pressing your warm skin to my frigid toes.  Most of all, thank you for excelling in math, but never adding up all my flaws.



June 2, 2011

Thankful Thursday #27

This week I'm thankful for...

  • the rain that held off for our field trip to Turtle Bay Museum

  • the rain that held off yet again for our swimming trip to the Aquatic Center

  • my sweet little one who said "Mrs. McCauley, we've been a lot of great places this year, but the swimming field trip was the best!"

  • my wonderful parent volunteers who make field trips seamless

  • my first grade team

  • my husband, who opens the door for me every single time

  • riding my bike up hills that are so hard I want to puke

  • somehow not puking on those hills

  • reading in bed

  • ice cold watermelon

  • my new writing critique group

  • the last day of school tomorrow.  It will be bittersweet, but mostly sweet.  And that's what I'm most thankful for.