Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Slice of Life Day Twenty: An Outline for Self Care

I've been thinking about this post for several days now.  Just coming off of spring break, and thinking about the past year (throw up your hands situations, lots of tears, coming out of the situation, and turning 40) I've realized there are some really fundamental things that have helped me take care of myself. 

And I'm 40 now, so I think I get to share those with you.  :) 

Just kidding.  It's really about the self reflection.  A reminder to myself about what to do when I'm doing hard things. 

Now, back to why I've been thinking about this post for several days.  Sometimes, as humans, I think we just need to be kinder to each other.  I always hesitate to read suggestions to "make yourself better" because I tend to read those and feel like I'm not doing enough.  Once, I stopped reading a trendy "self-help" book that all my ladies were raving about.  I actually tossed it across the room to make myself feel better.

Why?  Because I didn't want to do what that book was asking me to do.  It wasn't for me.  And it made me mad a little bit because I didn't want to do any of those things.  It actually made me feel inadequate. 

And so dear Friends, here's what I want to say first. 
You are doing enough.  You are enough.
I'm so blessed to be in the Teacher Tribe.  It's really where my people are at.
(Please don't toss your device like I tossed my book and break it, but you can "clamshell" me in a heartbeat if you don't want to read this.  I'll understand.)  

How I Take Care of Myself When It's (Life and Hustle) Hard.  

1.  I Go Home.  
Sometimes, after the school day, I just need to finish my work at home.  The spots in my house allow me to think and focus.  And we know the work is never ending.  It's worth it to me to haul the books and the papers back and forth to get the work done.  It's my spot where I can think through things and work out ideas.  I'm also in close proximity to my people, and I find that comforting. But maybe that's not true for you. Find your spot where you can finish up your day.  

2.  I Exercise/Move/Go Outside.
This year, I'm back to running.  That is really my jam.  But for the past two years, it hasn't been.  But I was doing best when I was moving.  Walking around the block at school during lunch.  Sitting on the porch in the sun to drink my coffee.  There is research galore about being outside and emotional health.  You are worth the time to spend outside for a moment each day.  

3.  I Eat Dinner.
To have a meal plan for lunch and dinner each day helps us from stopping to get the fast food all of our days.  Now, let's be clear.  Sometimes the plan is fast food.  Sometimes dinner means meat and cheese and crackers on a board, and you put it on your plate.  (We call that a Homemade Lunchable.)  But when I'm prepared for meals, we eat healthier things.  (Notice I didn't say 100% healthy all the time.)  And feeding the humans is my job at home.  (Mr. does the laundry.  Kids do dishes.  It's a team effort people.)  I plan these things out on Wednesday or Thursday for the next week, and we grocery shop to get that done.  (Who does online grocery shopping?  I'm considering trying this over the summer,)

4.  I Work on what I love.  
This slice challenge and Must Read in 2018 at Carrie Gelson's website have connected me to two things that I love.  Reading and sharing the ideas with people; and writing and sharing the ideas with people.  When I read or write a little everyday, I feel good.  Now, in my circle I've also seen: sketching and watercolors, puzzles, sewing, crafting...the list goes on. (I'm not good at any of these things.) Even if it is for just a wee part of your day, find it and give yourself time to do it!  I like to do this work in the early morning, and my outside time at night.  

What works for you?  When there is life and hustle, (and there always is) what things keep you grounded in who you are?  


Monday, March 19, 2018

Slice of Life Day Nineteen: What I'm Reading and Ordering.

Oh Friends.  The first day back after spring break. 
It was great. 
We were busy. 
We remembered what to do. 
They seem bigger. 
I love it. 
I'm exhausted. 

At school we read:


We missed reading it for March Book Madness, but I thought it was such an important read, I didn't want to skip it.  I have little activists in my room, and in the best way I can, I want to make sure they understand the history behind the stories.  This is a beautiful book. 

What I'm starting this week at home:

My 9 year old recommended this one to me.  It's taken me way too long to get to it.  I finished Drama last night as well. 

20820994I don't know anything about this book!  It was a gift from a trusted reader!  It's time to dig in and give it a try!

Books I've ordered this week:

Okay, so we needed to order from Amazon, because we (the boys and I) accidentally ruined my Mr.'s Yoda pint glass.  So we ordered him a new one for Easter.  While I was there I ordered:

Which one would I read first?

(Also Mr. if you are reading this, act surprised when that pint glass shows up!)


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Slice of Life Day Eighteen: A Teacher Needs to Eat

So.  Spring break is rapidly coming to an end. 
I have all the mixed feels. 
I loved preparing my materials today and thinking about what we are going to work on for the next few days.  I only plan one week at a time...to stay on top of what the kids need. 

But I also love the pace of working when it's necessary, resting when it's not.

But let's get to to the food, shall we?

My 13 year old makes these Chicken Pot Pie Muffins.  Kind of like this.  But we use store made biscuits.  Also, he makes them completely independently now, which means I was watching basketball and folding my laundry!  It's good comfort food, and I love the portion sizes.  

 It's a ramen bowl!  The boys had showed some interest in them.  So, after a little online research, I realized that you can pretty much use any vegetables that you have.  Here's how it went down in our house:

1.  We sauteed 1 Tablespoon of garlic and ginger in some grapeseed oil.  (About 1 Tablespoon)
2.  Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, 4 ounces of sliced mushrooms, a dash of soy sauce, and 3 cups of water.  Stir that in.
3.  Bring this to a boil.  Then simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft.  
4.  Add Ramen Noodles without seasoning packs.  I used 2 packages for our batch.  Let these noodles cook for about 2-3 minutes.  
5.  Stir in spinach (I used the very careful measuring technique of grabbing a handful and dropping it in the pot.)   I also added carrots.  But this is where it could get fun and you could add all the veggies!  
6.  I garnished mine with some left over scrambled eggs.  I know.  Hard-boiled for ramen.  But I'm on spring break! 

Did you know you could put this in the freezer?  We don't usually use ginger very quickly.  Our produce manager shared this tip with me last week!  

The boys and I ate this while watching Kung Fu Panda 3, as we watched it rain Ice outside.  It was yummy and comforting and we are eating the leftovers tomorrow.  

I continue to write about food, because I think it's an important part of self-care.  (I'll say more about that on Tuesday.)   What are you eating these days?  


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Slice of Life Day Seventeen: Seven Things.

We just returned from the farm.

I loved all the time together.  But you know that let down when you get in your house again, and realize you are the one who is going to have to make dinner, not your mama?  (And by make dinner, tonight I mean pull some things out of boxes and put them in the oven.)

Ugh.  So I write.  And all ready I feel better. 

Seven Things About Me:  (A format found on social media)

  1. An everyday item I couldn't live without:  Not to sound cliche, but my phone.  I document stories on there.  I take notes on there.  I reference Feedly, Bible, Planbook, and news sites.  I'm not sure there is another device that does what my phone does for me.
  2. My Favorite Song:  This one.  Always changes.  Right now Toby Mac wins.   My 13 year old played it for me one day, and I don't know if he knew or not, but it was just what I needed to hear.  

3.  An Adventure I want to have before I die:  I want to do some hiking in a place that I'm not even thinking about right now.  Canada maybe?  Somewhere where there is cool hiking, but off the beaten path.  I felt like we had that with South Dakota.  

4.  A Pastime I never tire of doing:  Dinner.  Whether it's at home or out and about, I never tire of having dinner with people.  

5.  Treats I could eat everyday:  Chips and dip.  Hands down.

6.  People I'd be Lost without:  My husband.  I need to figure out how to write about him without sounding like a total sap.  And Doris.  

7.  A place I want to visit:  I think Banff.  But Friends in Canada, is it too fancy?  I want to hike and see Lake Louise.  

And that's all I have Friends.  See you tomorrow. 


Friday, March 16, 2018

Slice of Life Day Sixteen: Google Photos And the Window into My Classroom.

I love having visitors in my classroom.  Why?  Because then they can see the story of the classroom.  They can see the learning that is taking place and the joy that comes with it

For YEARS, I tried to share my reflections via newsletter.  You know.  The 2 page document (front and back thankyouverymuch) that was outlining Everything we were doing and what was coming up.  Embarrassingly, I would become indignant if someone would miss information that was in my newsletter.  (With age comes some wisdom.  I'm so sorry!)

And then I became the Mama of 2 students in school.  And I couldn't keep up with the reading of the newsletters  and the managing of what was in them  and the managing of my own school work.  (If you do this well, I want you to know that you have a special gift.) 

And I wanted to apologize to every parent ever that I made read these Long, Long, Long-ie, Long, Long newsletters.  I'm just so sorry. 

But the story still needed to be told.  Parents still needed a window into their child's classroom. 

Enter Google Photos.  At an EdTech Conference a couple of years ago, I sat in on a session on Google Photos.  And my mind was blown wide open.  It was so easy to make albums and share the links.  I immediately went back to school and started to explore with it. 

It has changed how I communicate with parents.  They can see what we are doing each day in class.  It documents some learning that may not be documented with paper and pencil.  Often it is in Science, Social Studies, or during another Workshop time.  Parents have given me the feedback that it opens up conversation at home.  Instead of hearing "Nothing" when asked what happened at school, parents can use a picture to start a conversation about the classroom.  And this is what I want for them.  A peek into the story of their child each day. 

A quick "How To":
1.  If you have a Google Account, you already have access to Google photos.  I also have the
Google photos app downloaded on my Apple products.  When the app is open, it will back up the photos you take to your Google Drive and store them in Google Photos.  Yep.  Just like that. 
See the icon on the bottom right?  That is my Google Photos app.  

2.  Once they are in Google Photos, I like to organize them into Albums each week.  To organize an album,  click on the drop down menu in the app to determine what you want to create.  You can see there are several options. 

After you select your photos, you can name the album.  Then you can share the link with the people you want to.   If you look at this link, you can see a bit of my spring break story.  This link will show you the album.

3.  I also love the collage feature for conference time.  I make a collage each month for each student and print it off.  I keep it in their portfolio as documentation of their days in first grade.  Here's an example of a collage, using my dog:  (Imagine he's a student.  Can you see his story here?)

If I printed this off, it would be on 1 8x11 piece of paper.  

When I communicate now, there is always a link to pictures each week.  Parents know this is coming, and they know if they don't feel like they are getting the whole story they can Always ask me.  I also communicate important dates, and any quick announcements we might have as a class.  There is still information to read, there always is.  I have learned to be so discerning in what I'm asking my parents to spend time reading.  

What are some ways that you share your classroom story?


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Slice of Life Day Fifteen: Rules for the Teenage Sleepover.

This post is dedicated to 4 new teenagers that have shown me there is nothing to be afraid of.  

Dear Boys,  (Girls are welcome too, but these days it's the boys who are filing through the kitchen...)

When you come to my house to sleepover, we have to know there are some rules:

1.  I will always have too much food in this house for you.  And bottles of water on the counter, so you can feel like your needs are being met right away.  Eat, drink, and laugh.  A lot.  You won't leave here hungry.  And I'll always have fresh fruit.  (Unless I don't.  But I'll go get some.  Fiber is important boys.  And let's eat some food that God made.)

2.  If your mama is out of town, and you need me to, I will hug you.  Even if we haven't before.  And then I'm going to text her to tell her you are okay.  Because like those Mama elephants, I am backing in formation to make sure you are okay.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about with elephants, read here.

3.  Every time.  Every time you come here I will tell you to charge those phones downstairs.  You see, I get it.  I love my technology.  As I type, I'm within arms length of my iPad, phone, and laptop.  But when it's time to retreat, I will help you with that.  To keep you safe.  To keep you engaged with each other.  To bless you with sleep and rest. 

4.  I didn't think my heart could grow any bigger watching you guys turn into tiny men.  (Who aren't so tiny...)  But then you exploded into this laughter that landed you under my kitchen table and it did grow bigger!  The joy you have around each other makes this Mama so happy.  I'm pretty sure my heart is going to burst. 

5.  More laughing in my kitchen please.  That is really what it is there for.  For the memories and the laughing. 

6.  It might sound like I'm up in your business a little bit.  Because I am.  Because there are 3 Mamas that I adore who are trusting me with you for the night.  I don't take that lightly.  Your banter and your chatter are safe here.  I won't betray that trust.  But I will know that you are safe and okay. 

7.  Mamas (and Papas) love it when you are lounging on our furniture.  That's because we know you are safe and comfortable.  You are always welcome to lounge on ours. 

8.  I will listen to your stories.  All of them.  I DO want to hear about the YouTube video with the escape room and the guys from Lowe's.  You can tell it to me while I'm getting the food out. 

9.  I will encourage one of you to pray before our pizza.  Because if my one tiny gesture encourages you to become Men who love Jesus, well then...let's pray again.  Continue to build each other up so you can do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God together.  (See Micah 6:8)

10.  For the love of all that is basketball and baseball and holy, don't forget to shower before bed.  Because if you haven't figured it out yet.  I love you bunches.  But P.U. 

11.  Come back soon.  You are always welcome here. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Slice of Life Day Fourteen: Abide: My Favorite Places at Home.

My One Word for the year?  Abide

I've been considering what this really looks like. 

How do I abide at home?  In one of my favorite spots, our living room.

I sit here a lot to work.  To rest.  When I can't sleep.  When I can't stay awake.  I love comfy pillows and soft blankets.  

This one.  I write and Instagram about him a lot.  But he will snuggle up every time.   Even today I'm writing sideways on the couch to accommodate his need to be on my lap.  He will paw and scratch at the laptop to get it out of the way.  I know.  It's bad manners.  But he's little and cute.  

So we don't have a dining room anymore!  We use that space for reading, writing, and studying.  Below the window is a sitting space for writing and drawing.  

My 13 year old lingers here to put together puzzles.  I was worried that he would stop working on creative projects when he got his phone.  He hasn't.  

There's a kid under that blanket.  Lots of room for snuggling and sitting.  Although I'm trying to work out a way to get one more arm chair in this room.  

My Must Read in 2018 is close by.  

And an end table for books, coffee, and writing.  It occasionally holds dinners, for when we "picnic."  

With my family close by, what else could I need?

Where do you abide?