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This past school year has been colored by the fact that Sam was a senior. Every event, every day the fact that he would be leaving soon was in my mind. I think when we face a big change, it prompts us to look back. I have spent time this year remembering those first hours, days, months with him, becoming a mother.
Recently, a former student of mine had her first baby. I sent a gift and received a thank you note this week. This morning, I thought about her, wondering what she and the baby were doing. I thought back to those first sweet mornings, how my heart was bursting with joy when Sam woke up.
I always enjoy blogging in the summer. There is time to sit and think and write. Trying to gather my thoughts and deliver them in a clear way is always a challenge. In the summer, clear thinking can be especially difficult since our days are often free flowing and my house is full of kids. Lists are helpful to me in this endeavor so here goes:
Best Things About THIS Summer
1. I have been suffering with stomach pains, similar to gall bladder attacks (even though I had my gall bladder removed) for over a year now. Last Saturday, after a trip to the ER, the doctors finally figured out the problem. I had a stone in my bile duct that they removed yesterday. Alleluia! As a bonus side-effect I lost 30 pounds which I am vowing to keep off. There's always a silver lining.
2. I have been researching and developing an Ice Cream Camp for some time and finally got to try it out. I had 9 campers and it was a big success. We learned all about ice cream, exploring it through: geography (mapping the countries that contributed to the development), history (created a timeline of significant events), literature (read fiction books with an ice cream theme), poetry (read and responded to ice cream poems) and science (made ice cream in ziploc bags, learning about the effect of putting rock salt on ice). And that's only some of the things we did! Now I am working on a Candy Camp where we will learn the history of candy and do lots of fun experiments. Who doesn't want to explode a Peep in the microwave or watch the M float off of an M&M?! Can't wait until next summer.
3. Sam's high school quiz bowl team was invited to a tournament held at Disneyworld. I took him and our two other teenagers. I still remember the first time I went to Disney just before I started fourth grade. I took one look at the Contemporary Resort and thought- That's where the rich little girls stay. Well, I was a rich girl staying at the Contemporary this time. It was everything I hoped including a view of the castle from my room. Be still my heart! The sad fact is, it has spoiled me for ever staying anywhere else. The "Walkway to the Magic Kingdom" made visiting Mickey so easy every day that I don't think I can bear to wait in another long line to get on a bus ever again. Serious first world problems... I know.
4. I loved being back in the classroom this past year. Second grade is fabulous and I have the BEST co-worker. You know, the kind who can finish your sentences. The one who says- I was just thinking about that too! This summer it is nice to have the time to reflect on the things that went well and the things I want to improve. I am enjoying reading articles and taking time to look through pins on my teaching boards.
5. Speaking of Pinterest... I have vowed to make this a pin-free summer. Not a Pinterest-free summer. Here's the difference. I decided that I would not spend time on Pinterest mindlessly adding pins to boards which are already clogged with pins I haven't done or read or used. Instead, I would use the time this summer spent on Pinterest to actually read the articles, try the recipes, etc. So far, so good. I have concentrated on my teaching boards, reading articles pertaining to improvements for next year. I can't say I haven't pinned ANYTHING but it's only been a handful of pins.
6. I have gotten up at 6:30 nearly every day. This is HUGE for me. I love the early morning hours although sadly I like to freedom to stay up late that the summer affords. Considering the need to sleep (which I love but sometimes wish I could do without) it is hard to indulge in both. I have opted for the early hours this summer. It will help make the transition to my 5:30 wake-up time during the school year less painful and there is no arguing that the hours when you first get up are the most productive. I read this article which validates that point. I must confess that I haven't gotten around to writing every day. Only a few. But I am on the right path.
7. I bought Jesus Calling and have been starting my day by reading the reflection and looking up the bible verses to accompany it. It is a peaceful yet productive way to ease into the day with my cup of coffee. I used to pop open my computer and stare at the screen with bleary eyes. Email, Facebook and Pinterest, all have their place but it's not what I need to bombard my brain with first thing in the morning.
8. After a LONG college process Sam has finally made a decision. He will take a gap year and go to China to study Chinese and teach English. We are close to finding a program but nothing is set yet. It has been an exhausting, exhilarating experience. Mark, Sam and I have learned so much about ourselves and each other in the process. As painful as it has been at times, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know it has been an integral part of his growing up and figuring out what he wants to do. It also challenged me as a person in ways I didn't expect. Really, it deserves it's own post which I have already titled Broken Dreams. Maybe I'll write it one day.
I am thankful for what this summer has been so far and happy there is still a good bit left. With what's left, I plan to visit a friend in San Antonio and make not one but two beach trips. Life is good!
Hope you are having a great summer, too!
It is always hard to jump back in to this blog because I feel the need to catch you up, dear readers, on all that has gone through my head since the last time I wrote. Because I am always blogging in my head, that is quite simply- IMPOSSIBLE. Maybe I will start with bits and bobs that have been floating around my mind lately.
As a side note, I googled "bits and bobs" to check out the definition and origin. Something I do often when writing which both enhances my writing and gets me stuck wandering around cyberspace in an endless chase of words. Any hoo- the definition is: A random assortment of things; small remaining pieces and things. Love it, especially the word remaining. In other words, after sifting through the endless stream of thoughts in my head, here's what stuck, what remains.
1. Yesterday as I was heading out the door for a walk, Elise asked if she could come. Usually I make an excuse because I really want the time to be alone with some music and the thoughts in my head. I always feel a twinge of guilt because I know the days of her begging to come with me, to do anything with me, are numbered. This day, I decided to embrace time together instead of being alone and I am glad I did. We walked hand-in-hand some of the time. I loved experiencing the world through her observations. She commented that it smelled like smoke so we breathed deeply and thought about what we could smell- plants and earth and maybe a barbecue grill or a fire pit. We decided that this smelled exactly like the beginning of summer. We listened to the sounds of the birds. I mean really listened. Actually heard the individual sounds. Appreciated the unique song of each bird. We commented on the houses as we passed them and what it might feel like to live there. As we walked, Elise commented, "I want a house with a gate because I am considering having a dog." Love this girl. All the time but so intensely right there wrapped up in that word- considering. Such a grown up sounding word out of her eight-year-old mouth! I told her that I love the word consider and her response was- Yeah. What does it mean, exactly? Oh, the beauty of being young enough to use words without actually having a command of what they mean. I felt I would melt, right there on the asphalt, overcome by the simple beauty of the moment.
How often do we actually take time to consider anything these days?
Hmmm...third times the charm OR three strikes and you're out? This is my third attempt to start a post. THIS IS IT! Whether it is a charm or a strike out. I am not starting over.
I have been getting my house back together since guests left yesterday after being with us a little over two weeks. Whew! I wish I could quantify there trip for you. Here are my best guesstimates:
10 people in the house
4 Mardi Gras parades
1 Mardi Gras ball
37 stuffed animals and 50 pounds of beads
2 trips to Bourbon street
1 trip to the outlet mall
Too many meals out
Not enough meals in
THOUSANDS of calories
Countless loads of laundry
My house has been buried under layers of decorations, beads, suitcases and such. Slowly, finally order is once again emerging from the chaos.
My point in all of this is that I did NOT want to write tonight. I mean, really did NOT! As I was folding yet another load of laundry I thought about how I was dreading sitting down at the computer and using my brain to string even a few words together that would be worth reading. Then I realized how my students feel. Often they come to school tired, maybe not feeling great. I get frustrated when they are not jumping up and down to do all the lessons I have planned. There's the problem- the focus is on me, what I have planned, what I need to accomplish with them. Sometimes, I have to remember that they are human beings with likes and dislikes as well as feelings. Good days, bad days. I need to be considerate about what I expect from them. I need to encourage them and get the most out of them while being sensitive to each personality and situation. Maybe this 31 day challenge will make me a better teacher. Day two and already much good has come from pecking out some thoughts on the keyboard...even when I don't feel like it.
PS. For new readers, as you may now gather these "postcards" are no longer from the UK. I started the blog when we moved there for a semester and have not been able to bring myself to change the title. I am back in my hometown of New Orleans.
I have a board on Pinterest called Rise and Shine. I use it to collect breakfast recipes. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy breakfast. I don't necessarily enjoy the two together. Although my board is called rise and SHINE, I am good at rising but the shining comes a little later. After my coffee. About an hour after the alarm has gone off. By the time I begin to shine and ponder cooking breakfast for the family, it is easily brunch at best.
This morning, however, I was inspired to rise and shine a little more quickly than usual. We have had friends visiting from out of town for two weeks. Today was their last day with us. One friend especially, loves bacon and I was determined to give him a warm, cheesy, bacony (should be a word, shouldn't it?) send off. This casserole fit the bill. It inspired me to decide I should try a different breakfast casserole every Sunday in March. Two commitments in one day: 31 days of writing and 5 new breakfast casseroles. Great start to the month!
PS. I am excited to be joining the Slice of Life challenge this year. Hope to share more about myself with fellow slice-of-lifers as the month unfolds.