Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Mystery is Solved

You all are good! I think the only one you didn't get is the first one, and I think it's my favorite.
ckrode = karate (We have been studying the buddy letters ck.)
somtinrelay = something really (as in "Something really big was in her closet.")
polesofosor = police officer
chikrchet = trick or treat
stumeckack = stomache ache
suprist = surprised
McKanik = mechanic
pypole = people (We had talked about y as a vowel.)
evreanml = every animal

I love the knowledge they show about the English language when they write. I started a list for myself today on all the different ways they spell beautiful. So phonetic. It's cute.

Thanks for playing! :-)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mystery Words

I love to watch the language development in young children. Last year I taught kindergarten and this year I brought those same kindergarteners to 1st grade. It has been fun to watch them progress from kids who could only sing their ABC song to writers! Here are some words from their writing workshops last week that these 6-year-olds sounded out by themselves. Can you guess what the words are? I'll post the answers tomorrow.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

What a Hoot!

Five and six-year-old basketball players are a hoot! Our son is playing basketball for the first time this season and we've had a ball watching his team. The kids play hard and play most of the game with broad grins on their faces! We've joked that we don't know how they get down the court so quickly. They have to be fighting a lot of wind resistance as it blows through their teeth while they laugh and run at the same time! They enjoy the game, and their coach is all about helping them have fun and learn the basics. Our poor little team is full of young, first-time players. They haven't won a game, but they've tried hard, improved a lot, and had fun learning. We look forward to watching them play each week! They could care less if they are playing a game or having practice, as long as they get to play and have a snack afterwards! "Getting" to bring the snack is one of the most exciting parts of the game!

One of my favorite stories of the season happened in our first official game. The referee (who looks like Will Farrell and has a wonderful, patient personality) blew his whistle and boomed in a deep voice, "Time-out!" Well, you know what time out mean to 5 and 6 year old boys! All 10 of them looked bewildered and didn't quite know what to do! The ref clearly didn't know why no one was leaving the court and just repeated, "Time-out!" All the moms were yelling for the boys to go to their coaches. It was funny to watch them try to process what was happening.

At half-time of each game, all the players line up and shoot 2 free throws. The baskets earned are added to the score. I like this part of the game. The kids all get a chance to shoot and the score is usually a little closer after everyone gets their chance at the free-throw line. It gives hope - hope to make a basket, hope to narrow the lead, or hope to go ahead. I think the biggest advantage is that each boy gets a chance to shoot and in his mind, everyone is watching him and he's in the big leagues! They all get a chance to shine!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Gratitude 4th edition

It is a beautiful, although chilly, winter Saturday morning. What's not to be thankful for? I used to work with a man who when asked how he was on a Friday morning would reply, "It's Friday. I'm great! It would take a real pessimist to complain on a Friday."

It's a gorgeous Saturday here in Georgia. We are healthy. We are happy. We are blessed with a roof over our heads, more than enough to eat, and good family and friends. Our problems are small in the grand scheme of things. It would take a real pessimist to complain! Life is good.

Today, I am particularly thankful for:
1. Positive role models for our children. I have a great, big wonderful family full of wonderful examples for my children. We have a school full of teachers who lead my children daily in positive, firm, loving ways. Our church is full of wonderful, loving men and women who strive to live their lives in the best ways possible. The basketball program in our area is fantastic. Even the referee will stop and patiently explain a procedure and let the children try again. We are surrounded by wonderful examples of leadership, love, compassion, empathy, responsibility, hard work, and diligence.

Yesterday at work we had a "super cool" football player and cheerleader from the local high school come to visit our 1st graders. They read books and talked to the kids about the importance of learning and working hard. Our first graders were incredibly impressed and LOVED having these two "cool kids" talking to them and reading to them! What great examples our children have to follow!

2. Modern medicine. The medical field seems to be making huge strides in finding cures for all kinds of problems from allergies to serious illnesses. During the night I watched a TV news show talking about the progress medical experts have made in developing medicines for cervical cancer, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, and other serious illnesses. It's amazing. Although there's no cure for many of these diseases yet, it appears to me that medical experts making great progress in finding cures, slowing down the progression of diseases, and making patients more comfortable as they deal with them. Even the smaller, every day struggles that people face such as allergies, infections, high blood pressure, have treatments that seem to be improving. I'm thankful for our advancements in medication.

3. Ant killer! Yes, in #2 I'm thankful for all the modern advances that are saving lives and in #3 I'm happy little bug lives are being ended. We woke up this morning and our master bathroom counter was covered in little, black ants. That's happened a couple of times since we've been in this house. EWWWW! They were on everything on our counter. Yuck. It's taken a lot of restraint for me not to toss everything in our bathroom out and make a trip to Walmart and replenish with items I know haven't had ants crawling on them! Ugh. RJ sprayed and although the house doesn't have the most fragrant odor, the ants are gone.

4. Older parents. RJ and I have 3 children - 9 years, 8 years, and 5 years old. We are both in our forties. We are older parents. When it comes to activities for our children we are frequently the oldest parents in attendance. As a matter of fact, we've laughed about our Sunday School class. We joined a class many years ago that was labeled "young parents." It was actually a class of adults with young children. RJ and I were among the oldest people in the class, but our children were the youngest. We've gotten used to it and it's never been a big deal or caused any uncomfortable feelings - it's just an observation on our part. However this weekend I had a refreshing experience. My oldest daughter, B, was invited to a sleep-over party with a school friend. I didn't know the parents, so made an effort to get to know them and find out about the party before hand. Almost every girl in her 4th grade class was going to this party. Last night, when I took her to the little girl's house, the mothers were almost all around my age. Now, it is true that for most of the parents, their 4th grader was their YOUNGEST child and for us she is our OLDEST, but still, they were all middle-aged moms of a 4th grader. I had a nice time talking to these moms. Not a single one of them was tall, skinny, blonde and said, "like" every other word. Everyone looked a little tired, but happy, and no one looked or acted like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine. It wasn't until I left the house that it dawned on me that we were all about the same age. I don't think about age much and it only caught my attention because it was an unusual situation for me. The mother was aware that we would feel better getting to know her a little. She told us how she planned the evening and assured us the girls would be well supervised. We had things in common, responded to our children in like ways, and needed assurances before we felt free to leave our girls. The parents of my children's friends are good, nice people no matter what their age, but there was something very refreshing about meeting a group of women in the same station of life as I. I mean, it was, like, totally awesome! :-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Granddaddy - Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Things I remember and miss about my Granddaddy. He passed away 20 years ago this past December. I can picture him as clear as a bell. I can hear his voice and laughter. I miss him.

1. His laugh- He seemed to always be ready to enjoy the moment with his robust laughter.

2. His love of family - He seemed genuinely happy to be with all of us and enjoy our time together. He would do anything in the world for us and to help us. I remember one time he had broken ribs. I don't remember how he broke them. I was a teenager. We went to visit him and he was outside grilling. I snuck up on him and grabbed him from behind in a bear hug. He turned around and greeted me with a huge grin and hug. As I turned to walk away, I looked back and he was wincing. Only then did I remember his broken ribs! He hadn't wanted to show me that I had hurt him. He didn't want me to feel bad.

3. His effort to spend time individually with each of us- Granddaddy made an effort to be alone with each of us and give us one-on-one attention. We have a large family, but he always found time make us each feel important, loved, and listened to.

4. His singing - I loved to hear him sing. He sang like he did everything - with energy and full of life.

5. I remember him taking my brother and me across the street to a neighbors pond to fish. I don't know how many times we went - only a few - but I felt very big and very special to be with him.

6. His photography. He loved taking pictures and loved looking at photos. He taught me about centering your subject in the camera lens and making sure the lighting is right.

7. I remember many holidays when we had a stranger (at least to me) at our table. He would have invited someone less fortunate to join our family meal. It was a way of life.

8. He loved the Lord. It showed daily in all he did. He talked the talk AND walked the walk.

9. Pet names. He called me "Penny Lou." (It's a long story. My name is Lyn. My dad called me Lynnie poo. Granddaddy changed it to Penny Lou. Dad later changed it to Penny Loser.) He made up nicknames for all of us.

10. The relationship he had with my dad. It's strange to explain, but it made me happy to know that my Granddaddy and Dad (Granddaddy's son-in-law) had a close, loving relationship. They went to lunch together frequently (at least that's the way I remember it), talked a lot and were friends as well as family. With them both being ministers, I think they were each other's pastor and confidant.

11. I remember going to Michigan with him, Grandmother, my youngest uncle (who is only 5 years older than me), and his girlfriend (who is now my aunt). It was a great trip! We were camping and I can remember Granddaddy wanting us to come in for supper and yelling across the campground for us. We'd hear him and take off running. He'd be standing by the camper watching for us and laughing as we ran to meet him.

12. Going to the beach. Our huge family went together to the beach many years in a row. I don't remember how many years we went before he passed away - not enough. But I can picture him standing in the surf fishing. He was always in the middle of the action.

13. His strength. I always saw my granddaddy as a very physically strong man. I was always aware of his spiritual strength, too. As I've grown older, I've also grown to realize what inner strength he had as well - strong convictions, strong love of family, strong clear values, strong views of right and wrong. He left a strong heritage for me, my brother, and my cousins.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Organizing Earthworms

There are times that teaching 1st grade is like organizing earthworms. Before you can get them all in order, a couple of them wiggle away. Today was such a day.

In my 7 hours with TWENTY 6-year-olds today,

  • 2 children came in late
  • 2 different students checked out early
  • 3 children visited the clinic
  • 1 child went home sick
  • 1 student had an accident in her pants
  • 2 students had to catch up from being absent yesterday
  • 2 parents dropped by to deliver coats and gloves and wanted to chat with me while they were there
  • 3 students left items on the playground and had to leave class to retrieve them
  • 1 child pulled a tooth causing blood to spill on the desk which caused all kinds of gross reactions from the other students
  • the same child dropped the tooth causing more distraction while the class helped find it
  • 1 child broke a necklace trying to force it over the other child's head - more cause for the class to hunt and be distracted
  • the same child cried for a quite a while over the necklace
  • 1 child hit her mouth on the desk while trying to find the necklace - more crying
  • 2 children had runny noses and frequently needed to get up and blow them causing noise and reactions from others
  • 1 child's hamster died last night causing her to cry off and on all day
  • 1 child thought another child took his eraser causing hard feelings and angry stares
  • 1 child lost his ice cream money
  • 1 child didn't get the ice cream he ordered
  • 2 children left for ESOL classes
  • 3 more children left for reading resource help
  • 2 children left for reading enrichment
  • 4 students left for vision/hearing testing
  • 1 child fell on the sidewalk coming back from the bathroom and had to have a bandaid (even though no blood was in sight)
  • 1 child had a cough that sounded like the barking of a very loud seal all day long.
Of course, each child who missed a few minutes of class time had to be "caught up" when they returned.

In between these distractions:
  • we counted mixed sets of pennies, nickels and dimes,
  • we made contractions,
  • we demonstrated force through pushing and pulling,
  • we illustrated desert life, and
  • we wrote a "how to" paragraph on brushing teeth.

I don't know for sure how much "education" soaked in today. I DO know for sure that I'm pooped!

Most days, my class runs like a well-oiled machine. Today was NOT one of those days. Today was like organizing earthworms.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Airing my Dirty Laundry

Intellectually I know that there is more to life than laundry. However, I can't seem to find a way to prove it! In my house, laundry is omnipresent. It doesn't go away and it multiplies faster than rabbits! People talk about losing socks in the dryer. I'd love to lose some! Instead, I think my dryer is a breeding ground for clothing! It's like a clown pulling long strands of handkerchiefs out of his sleeves, as long as I reach into the dirty clothes hampers, the washer or the dryer, there are clothes there! Continuously. Always. Forever and ever.

My mother read a blog in which the writer called the heaps of dirty laundry "Mount Neverrest!" I find that very appropriate. Patricia Heaton, the actress who played Debra on Everybody Loves Raymond, once said, "I don't remember my mother ever playing with me. And she was a perfectly good mother. But she had to do the laundry and clean the house and do the grocery shopping." How sad is that! It's not quite that bad in my house, yet. Although I do wonder what I did before I got married and had 3 children. I don't remember laundry ever being an issue for me when I lived alone. It didn't occupy my thoughts and hang over my head like it does now. However, I don't feel as strongly about it as Laurence J. Peter did. He is quoted as saying, "It's better to have loved and lost than to have to do forty pounds of laundry a week."

Well, the washer and dryer are both running. I think I'll go downstairs and play a quick game of ping pong with the kids.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hermit Crab Food Sermon

Each week, our preacher sends a canvas bag home with a child. The child puts something in the bag and the next Sunday, during children's time, the preacher pulls out the item and finds a lesson in it. The children LOVE to have the bag. Our children contemplate and debate for the entire week about what should go in the bag each time they have it.

Today was an interesting lesson. Preacher G gathered all of the children around him in the pulpit area and opened the bag. In it was a jar of hermit crab food. He laughed and asked the little girl if her parents laughed when she decided to put the crab food in the bag. (Some people like to try to "stump the preacher" with their items.) He took a minute to think by asking the girl about her hermit crabs - he seemed to be stalling a little. The stalling was worth the time. I think he ended up making a remarkable lesson out of the hermit crab food.

He took the lid off the jar and asked the kids to smell the food. They were all repulsed and we could hear kids making noises and talking about how "gross" it smelled. Then, Preacher G asked who wanted to taste the crab food. Of course that caused a huge ruckus! No one wanted to taste it and all the children acted thoroughly disgusted! So, Preacher G took it to the next level and asked the congregation if any of them would come taste it. No takers. He insisted that it was food - not people food - but food, so it probably wouldn't hurt them to try it. He reminded them that they really didn't KNOW how it tasted, so why not give it a try. The children were very vocal about refusing to try to the food.

Preacher G then brought out the point that we KNOW some things are bad before we even try them. That's the way it is in life, too. We don't need to try things that we KNOW are bad for us. Listen to your conscience, listen to the teachings of the Bible, listen to your parents, listen to your feelings and don't do things you know are bad for you just for the sake of trying it. Let's experience the good things in life and stay away from the things we know will hurt us. He also talked briefly about peer pressure. Don't give in just because people tell you it's OK or won't hurt you. I hope it soaked in. I hope the children truly heard the lesson. Preacher G certainly thought fast on his feet today!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday Gratitude #3

I haven't written a post in a few days. I've missed it, but life has just been too hectic lately to find time for it. Which leads me to the first thing that I am very thankful for...

1. E is much better! A 5-year-old boy with a double ear infection AND a stomach virus is pitiful! He has a high tolerance for pain and we had no idea he was sick until 2:30 AM Thursday morning when he came into our bedroom doing everything he could not to throw-up all over our brand new carpet. (His efforts were gallant, but he was not successful. There's one stubborn stain we've yet to get out.) He was one very sick little boy. My very active child was reduced to a heap under the covers that barely moved. He had to stay out of school Thursday and Friday and missed his basketball game today, but he's feeling much better. He's eating and playing. He's even feeling well enough to pester his sisters. Life is back to normal and I'm very thankful that he is on the mend!

2. I am thankful for my SIL whose birthday is today. She married my baby brother and became my sister 16 years ago. She's got spunk, intelligence, a competitive spirit, a loving heart, and a great sense of humor. We've had many fun times on the beach and at family get-togethers. I am thankful that my brother has her for his partner and that my nieces and nephew have her for their mother. Happy birthday, L! I love you!

3. The third thing I am giving thanks to God for today is the return of the two boys kidnapped in Missouri. I sat with tears in my eyes, riveted to the TV screen this morning watching the news conferences of these two families. I can not imagine losing any of my children - not for 4 days like the 13 year-old boy, or for 4 1/5 years like the 15 year-old! I thank God that the police went to that apartment complex to deliver a warrant to someone unrelated to the case. I thank God they noticed the truck! I thank God those boys are home. I pray that they will be able to get the help they need to overcome what they've been through.
Miracles still do happen.

Monday, January 8, 2007

The New Digital Camera and the Fashion Show

Sunday night the whole family made our weekly pilgrimage to Walmart. We needed 3 items. Only 3. I gave each child an item to remember and truly believed we'd be in and out of the store in 10-15 minutes. Yes, sometimes I dare to dream!

We left Walmart an hour later with a cart full of interesting items. The most interesting item to me is our new digital camera! I'm a scrapbooking girl, and just wasn't sure I'd ever want a digital camera. I like my hard copies. However, I learned that I can take a ton of pictures, email them to Walmart, and pick them up an hour later! How cool is that?! Anyway, we bought a nifty little digital camera that I'm learning to play with. Below you will find the very first pictures taken with our new camera.
This weekend, the girls were in a crafty mood. They made jewelry with bead kits they received from Santa. They made necklaces with clasps, earrings, and bracelets. You can see some samples of their work here.

N also received a Bedazzler for Christmas. She has bedazzled a poncho that her Gram made for her and this denim jacket. Aren't they beautiful?

Also, as I mentioned in another post, the girls painted a jewelry box given to them by a cousin at Christmas. Here's the finished product.

It was a fun weekend. In addition to these crafts, B is learning to use her sewing machine. We've faced several technical difficulties with it, but as soon as she's able to finish a project, we'll post a picture of it. They also used their airbrush tatoos this weekend and sported some fancy body art! Thanks to Turp, Laddie, Raye, Doc, and Boo!

Have you heard of Precocious Puberty?

It was a new phrase to me a couple of years ago. It is puberty that starts prematurely. In girls, the onset of signs of puberty before the age or 7 or 8 is a concern. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with precocious puberty at the age of 7, and we have had regular doctor's visits with a pediatric endocrinologist every 3 months since then to check her progress. About a year ago, she began monthly Lupron shots to keep puberty at bay. The doctor expects to take her off the shots at age 11 and at that point let puberty take it's natural course. Sometimes precocious puberty can be a symptom of a larger problem. B had to go through an MRI to check her pituitary gland and and ultrasound to check her ovaries. She has no underlying medical problem. Most precocious puberty has no known cause. I wonder how much food preservatives and our diets and environment have to do with more and more children starting puberty early? I haven't been able to find any research backing my theory.

Some symptoms of precocious puberty in girls (Sorry, boys, I haven't researched male precocious puberty much.) are a growth spurt, pubic or underarm hair, acne, body odor, and of course, the onset of menstruation.

To me, one of the main causes for concern about starting puberty early was the emotional stress. Pubety is an emotional time for teenagers - a 7 or 8 year old doesn't have the emotional resources to know how to deal with all the hormone changes. The other main reason we decided to start medication is growth concerns. People generally stop growing after puberty. Therefore, children who experience puberty extremely early, stop growing early and become short adults.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Fire Marshall visits and Severe Weather

Whew! What a week! We only had a three day week at school, but it was a doozy! The children were fantastic. I love my class! They are such good kids! But as I find often in education, when I've had a rough week, it has nothing to do with teaching or children. It's often all the junk we have to do in addition to the teaching and working with children that makes the day difficult! Most teachers I know became teachers because they love children and wanted to impact kids' lives in a positive way. I wish that were what we were mostly allowed to do. Too often rules, procedures, policies, laws, and other things interfere with teaching and learning.

Warning! Some ranting and raving follows!

This week our school had a visit from the Fire Marshall. This was a pre-visit. It was to inform us of all the ways our school is breaking fire codes BEFORE the real visit. Now, our principal is a real stickler for following rules. We leave our fire doors closed, we don't use extension cords, we don't have appliances in our classrooms, etc. She knows the rules and makes sure we follow them. We didn't think this visit would be a very big deal. Well, to say we were wrong is an understatement! Apparently there are brand-spanking new fire codes, and we are extremely out of compliance! We have 2 weeks to correct our errors before the official visit. (An added pressure is that we've heard that news crews are following the Fire Marshall to document schools who don't meet codes.) Our beautiful elementary school with gorgeous displays in the hall has been turned upside-down. There are two new rules that have flustered us the most. The big one for me is that no more than 20% of a wall can be covered with anything. If you've been in an elementary school lately, you know we post everything! The walls of my suite (trailer classroom) are covered with the alphabet, numbers and number words, our 175 sight words, word family posters, maps, writing stage samples, student work, etc. Probably 90% of my walls are covered. Our bulletin boards themselves cover more than 20% of the walls they are on. The Fire Marshall's response to this was that the fire department didn't put up the bulletin boards. Don't post things on them. So, I (along with every other teacher in our school) spent Friday morning hastily trying to remove 70% of the items we had posted on our walls - both inside our classrooms and outside as hallway displays. We had to take the cloth of the bulletin boards - that's what most of us use as backgrounds to our displays. So, the entire bulletin boards have to be taken down and put back up with NO background - just the beautiful, brown cork-board. I'm in the process of trying to make reference notebooks the kids can use to find our sight words or word families or punctuation marks instead of looking at posters on the walls. These are first graders - they are not yet highly efficient at using reference materials. We are working on these notebooks, clearing our rooms, and completely reorganizing our classrooms and materials while teaching and working with children.

The second rule that really frustrated us all is that there can be NOTHING posted within 5 feet of every doorway! That rule is for people in the building. In the trailers, we have to have a 10 feet clearance. 10 feet! Barely 10 feet of trailer space even exists inside the doorways! I understand they are trying to keep our school safe. I understand they have a job to do. I appreciate the fact that they "have our best interests" in mind. But, boy it makes for a tough job to comply with these rules and still be able to have needed materials to teach a class!

The other interesting thing that happened this week was beyond everyone's control. We had severe weather predicted on Friday. Tornadoes touched down in a couple of counties near us. So, all the trailer classrooms were brought into the building. This needed to be done. I know that and do not in any way object to that. I was in the middle of disassembling my classroom while my students were working on group projects at 10:30 when our principal dropped by our 30 or so trailers to tell each of us to "pack up for the day and come in the building." We had to gather everything we'd need for 20 students for the remainder of the day and come inside. I don't know about you, but I can't carry that much stuff. No one would be allowed back in the suites. We had classes meeting in the halls, the lobby, computer labs, 2 classes per classroom, etc. Another class and mine occupied a resource classroom. The other class had a substitute that spoke rough English. It made for an interesting day. It was fine, the kids handled the situation well, but we weren't able to accomplish what we needed to accomplish academically because we didn't have the supplies and books we needed. And, I kept thinking about the colossal mess I'd left my classroom in while trying to clear the walls. All in all the day went fine. We survived. We learned - even though we didn't learn the things outlined in my lesson plans, we still did some worthwhile activities.

There are no worries, though. Our principal graciously (Please note the sound of sarcasm in my voice.) offered to open the building Saturday - and every Saturday this month so that we can we can re-do our classrooms. I appreciate the opportunity to work six days a week this month. I can feel the released tension from the Christmas break quickly returning to my neck and shoulders. I bought a brand new bottle of Excedrin Tension Headache relief after I left my classroom Saturday afternoon. I have my one day today to relax, and with Excedrin bottle in hand, I shall return to work tomorrow for a full 6- day week. June's coming. :-)

I thank the Lord for my good class. They are why I can return to work tomorrow.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Saturday Gratitude - 2nd Edition

Last week I started a habit of "counting my blessings" at least once a week. Some of these blessings are very serious, some a little silly, and some may seem trivial. However, they are all things for which I am truly grateful!

1. This season I've been very thankful for Georgia weather! I love being able to wear short sleeves in the winter! I am not a fan of snow and ice. I don't mind it once a year - if it vanishes fairly quickly- so that the kids have a day to play in snow. But as a general rule, I much prefer our warm weather. On Christmas Eve we went to my SIL's house and the kids played outside, without coats, all evening! If the truth be known, some of that time they were barefoot, as well. It was a beautiful night! Yesterday, January 5, I went to school in capris, Crocs, and a short sleeve shirt. I love not being weighed down with and not having the hassle of many clothing layers, jackets, coats, scarves, gloves, etc. Great weather may sound trite, but it's definitely a blessing!

2. A rare Saturday with few plans! Today I am very thankful for a day at home to catch up on laundry, housework and some much needed organizational tasks. While we're talking about that...

3. Washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, ovens, vacuum cleaners and other modern appliances! When I'm overwhelmed with housework, I often think about how long it would have taken me to accomplish my tasks years ago before these appliances were available or as efficient as they are now. Now, I can write a post while the washing machine, dryer, oven, and dishwasher are all running! Now, if I could just get that vacuum cleaner to run by itself...

4. Email and blogs! I love being able to keep up with family and friends via computer at any time of day or night. I have 3 friends with CaringBridge sites right now. I love being able to check on their progress often and hear updates quickly. Also, most of my family have email addresses and write fairly often. I love instantly being able to feel like I'm in touch with family and hear what's going on in their lives!

5. My extended family! I have a humongous family that I've mentioned in other posts. I am thankful for them in many ways, but today I'm thinking about their influence. I appreciate the positive influence my grandparents, aunts and uncles had on my life. Now, it has extended to my children. I am so thankful that my children have the positive, Christian influence of my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins to show them family values. Right now, my children are on the deck outside painting a jewelry box that was given to them as a Christmas present from my cousin Haley. As they've been working, they've talked about Christmas and family and memories. What fun! Thanks, Haley!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Seek God

My friend sent this to me in an email this afternoon. I've heard it before, but it's nice to be reminded. The phrases are simply written, but are words of wisdom for every stage and place in life.

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Sounds I Love

Thirteen sounds I love to hear
2nd Edition

1. Any one of my three children singing. It is undeniably the most beautiful sound on earth to me!
2. Running water. No, not from a leaky faucet, but from a creek or river. The sound is an immediate stress-buster!
3. Waves on the ocean. I could sit on the beach and listen to the waves for hours. There is something very soothing about the rhythm. We go to the beach every summer. This past summer there were more shells on the shore than I have ever seen. The sound of the waves receding across those thousands of tiny shells was beautiful and unique. It sounded almost like bells softly ringing.

4. My husband singing The Lord's Prayer or Oh Holy Night. He has a gorgeous tenor voice that I haven't heard in much too long.

5. A hand bell choir. I played in a hand bell choir for a couple of years. The tones are so fresh and clear. It is beautiful music.
6. Piano music played by a skilled musician. To me, it's the most beautiful instrument. We had only piano music for accompaniment, no organ, in our wedding.

7. Silence. Being a 1st grade teacher and spending each day with 20 6-year-olds and then coming home to 3 young ones, silence is something I rarely have. It is extremely renewing and refreshing to have very quiet time when I can "hear myself think." When I am up alone during the night or first thing in the morning, the silence is stunning and calming.

8. B's "belly laugh." B is my most serious child. She's a little stingy with her laugh, but when she is really amused by something, her laugh is contagious. It comes from deep within her and only comes when she is genuinely, completely happy. I love it!

9. Newborn baby gurgling and cooing sounds. Those sounds were music to my ears when my kids were babies. After a very difficult pregnancy and birth of my first child, I awoke from an emergency C-section to hear my daughter in the bassinet making little sounds. I listened to them all night. The perfect sounds of sweetness, innocence and purity.

10. The 3:15 bell at work that means it's time to go! I enjoy my job and love the kids I work with, but that 3:15 bell brings a wave of relief. One job done for the day, and time to move to the home job. At least laundry, homework, and housework can be done in a less regimented schedule.

11. The crackling of leaves under my feet when taking a walk in the Fall.
12. Gentle rain falling on the roof as I go to sleep. That's universally a favorite sound, isn't it? When I was in college, I lived in a dorm. One year my room was above the laundry room and the laundry room window had a tin awning above it. When it rained at night, the sound of the rain hitting that tin would lull me to sleep.
13. Nature. Sitting outside in the country at night or early morning while the world awakens is renewing - frogs, crickets, birds, horses, etc. We have a farm house in the country that RJ and his brother and brother-in-law are remodeling. We don't visit it often, but when we do it's relaxing to sit on the porch in the fresh country air and let the hassles from the day be washed away.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

I Am a Teacher

I started back to work with a planning day today. I enjoy my job, but even with no children there I couldn't get everything accomplished. I had 26 items on my to-do list and only completed 12 of those. I worked hard, but there were just not enough hours in the day. So, I prioritized my list and finished everything I needed to do for tomorrow and started working on things for Thursday. I'll get Friday taken care of in the next two days. My plans are complete, I just have to prepare a lot of materials for my first graders. During one of my meetings today, we were given this essay to read to illustrate the need for prior knowledge when comprehending reading. I won't go into the lesson we were supposed to have gained from the piece. What I noticed is that in this field where test scores are so vital and focused on so tremendously (We'd had a stressful meeting about test results BEFORE this reading comprehension meeting.), not much in this piece about being a teacher is very academic. Being a teacher is many things. It's much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. I loved this and thought the teachers in the family might enjoy it too.

I Am a Teacher
Done, P. (2005). 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny, pp. 1-4. NY: Simon and Schuster.
I read Charlotte's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every year, and every year when Charlie finds the golden ticket and Charlotte dies, I cry.
I take slivers out of fingers and bad sports out of steal the bacon. I know when a child has gum in his mouth even when he is not chewing. I have sung "Happy Birthday" 657 times.
I hand over scissors with the handles up. My copies of The Velveteen Rabbit and Treasure Island are falling apart. I can listen to one child talk about his birthday party and another talk about her sleepover and another talk about getting his stomach pumped last night - all at the same time.
I fix staplers that won't staple and zippers that won't zip, and I poke pins in the orange caps of glue bottles that will not pour. I hand out papers and pencils and stickers and envelopes for newly pulled teeth. I know the difference between Austria and Australia.
I plan lessons while showering, driving, eating, and sleeping. I know what time it is when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the nine. I say the r in library. I do no say the w in sword.
I put on band-aids and winter coats and school plays. I know they will not understand the difference between your and you're. I know they will write to when it should be too. I say, "Cover you mouth," after they have coughed on me.
I am a teacher.
I examine new braces and new blisters and holes in mouths where teeth have just fallen out. I can spell vacuum. I know the magic word.
I wear four-leaf clovers and dandelions in my pockets that have just been picked with love at recess. I pray for snow days.
I spend Thanksgiving vacation writing report cards, Christmas vacation cleaning my classroom, and summer vacation taking classes on how to relax. I know the difference between a comma and an apostrophe. I can say apostrophe.
I buy books about cats and dogs and sharks and volcanoes and horses and dinosaurs. I turn jump ropes and am base in tag. I am glad you can only get chicken pox once.
I correct pencil grips and spelling mistakes and bad manners. I push chairs all the way, push swings higher, and push sleeves up while children are painting. I can touch the paper cutter.
I have every teacher mug Hallmark ever made. I say, "Use two hands!" when they carry their lunch trays. I say, "Accidents happen," after they did not use two hands.
I wear green on St. Patrick's Day, red on Valentine's Day, and my bathrobe on pajama day. I poke straws into juice boxes and untwist thermos lids that are too tight. I unpeel oranges that are too tight, too.
I sign library passes and yearbooks and new casts. I attend soccer games and Little League championships and funerals for guinea pigs.
I am a teacher.
I hope April Fool's Day is on a Saturday. I blow up balloons that will not blow up. I always blow the whistle too early at recess.
I can borrow and carry very fast. I give them more time to answer six times eight than two times three. I never end a sentence with a preposition. I know what a preposition is.
I draw stars and smiley faces. I know when to say "can" and when to say "may." I have worn green marker, red paint, yellow chalk dust, glue stick, and glitter all on the same day. I hate glitter.
I always begin a sentence with a capital and end it with a period. I always walk in line.
I leave "shuger" and "vilets" misspelled on their valentines. I know all my continents and my oceans. I tape pages back into books. I can find the end of the new roll of Scotch tape. I call on children whose hands are not raised.
I know that colonel is a really hard word to read, and so is doubt and so is gauge. I know that kids will read started, when it says stared. I have spelled out because and beautiful and friend six million times.
I am a teacher.
I look both ways before crossing the street. I save balls stuck in basketball hoops. I have given 842 spelling tests and have written, "Have a good summer!" that many times, too.
I collect milk boxes and coffee cans and egg cartons. I know all my times tables. I can type without looking. I know that two pretzels do not equal one Hershey's kiss.
I can make a telescope out of a toilet paper roll and a totem pole out of oatmeal boxes. I can make snowflakes out of coffee filters and a space shuttle out of a Pringles can, too.
I know my notes because "Every Good Boy Does Fine." I know my directions because I "Never Eat Slimy Worms." And I can only say my ABCs if I sing them.
I fix watchbands, repair eyeglasses, and search for lost milk money after freeze tag. I know when their fists will make a rock and when they will make scissors.
I know when a child does not understand. I know when a child is not telling the truth. I know when a child was up too late last night. I know when a child needs help finding a friend.
I am a teacher.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Game Day

Yesterday we attended our niece's first birthday party. She is beautiful and full of personality and seemed to have a lot of fun at her party! While we were there, someone said, "Happy New Year's Eve," to my 5-year-old. He seemed genuinely confused when he answered, "I thought it was Game Day." My kids get very excited about staying up late and playing games on New Year's Eve. We're generally pretty strict about bed time, and staying up until 9:00 PM is a big deal at our house. So staying up "all night" is monumental!

We had a lot of fun together, and for the first time all three children made it to midnight! We made some snacks and played lots of board games. My grandmother had given the children games for Christmas, and Santa had also brought a couple of games, so we had many choices. We played Cadoo, Dominoes, Kerplunk, and Charades. Then we had a Monopoly marathon! B was the winner with hotels on her property that ran the rest of us to bankruptcy. A good time was had by all.

To make the evening even better, E lost his second tooth. He insists on pulling his own teeth out. He showed us how loose it was, went into the bathroom and came out triumphantly with a tiny white tooth in his hand. His first visitor of 2007 was the Tooth Fairy!

We ended the night by watching the newscast of the ball dropping in New York. Of course, the kids covered their eyes and groaned with disgust as the people on TV kissed at midnight! Gross!

2006 was a hard year for us as a family with the illness and death of RJ's father right after the long illness and death of his mother. But, there were some good times too, like the birth of our niece whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. We look forward to 2007 and the many adventures, challenges, and good times it has to offer. It will be a great year!

Happy 2007 to you!