Monday, December 31, 2007

Goals for '08

I don't make resolutions, I make goals.

2008 Goals
  • Journal daily - I know this is ambitious, but I have it figured out. Even if I only journal three sentences, I want to journal at least 1 thing I learned, 1 thing I am happy for and 1 question I have everyday. I think it will be an interesting summary of 2008, and a good way to chronicle my life.
  • Roadtrip with the bro - Grand Canyon and beyond.
  • Go on an overseas trip, maybe a coffee trip.
happy new year world

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

Today is the day when all the children went home to spend 2 quality weeks with their parents. While we teachers roamed the hall with smiles from ear to ear, we passed panic stricken parents, who now get the joy of their children 24/7 for two weeks.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Wonderful Christmastime

You might not know this, all you out there in blogger-land, but for many people Christmas is not at all enjoyable. I think I always had this in the back of my mind, but I never really got it. I would see the toy drives, and hear the people ringing bells for the Salvation Army, but those gifts and money would go to the invisible needy people somewhere.

I got an email today from one of the social workers from our school saying she'd received a call from a parent who can't afford to buy her children Christmas gifts. I can't imagine that feeling, and my heart breaks thinking about the parents who think about this same thing, not being able to supply a joyful Christmas for their families.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday, I have been blessed to grow up with a family who always was able to give one another gifts, and who always made Christmas a very joyful time, but now that I have faces to put on the people who aren't as blessed, my heart breaks. Many of the students at our school don't look forward to Christmas break, and are excited to come back because school is the one thing that is consistent.

So, do I have $10 to spare to give to this family so they can have Christmas...sure. It's one dinner I don't get to eat out with a friend, or one less little luxury this month. So what? My Christmas will be spent surrounded by family, with tables laden with goodies and a tree that has gifts that overflow; I can afford to give.

On another note, pray for my Gramma J. tomorrow. She's having a procedure done on her heart, and I know the Great Physician will be guiding the doctors as they work. We love you Gramma!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Glass Plates

I have glass plates, they are blue. I like them, I don't love them...they do the job. I will probably get some nicer dishes down the road, I used these ones in college, but for now they are fine. I had a full set, 8 of everything...that is, until today.

On Sundays I have time to cook, so I enjoy making a full meal so that I can take the leftovers for lunch during the week, or freeze them for later. I feel so crazy during the week, so my dinners are usually not thought out like they are on Sundays. Today I was going to have beef that I marinated overnight. The recipe said to simmer it for over an hour the marinade and water. When I got home from church I put the ingredients into a pot, put the pot on the stove, turned on the burner and walked into the other room. I had turned the burner on high to bring it to a boil, then I was going to turn it down to a low simmer.

I was in the other room when I heard glass shattering. I went back into the kitchen, only to discover that I had accidentally turned on the wrong burner...I had turned on the burner that had a plate sitting on it. There was blue glass all over my kitchen, seriously ALL OVER the kitchen. It was in the cornbread that I had made this morning, it was in coffee mugs, it was in the clean dishes in the sink. I even found some in the it got there I have no clue. I didn't even know where to start cleaning up. So, I gathered myself after panicking for a second (and being very thankful that I wasn't in the kitchen when the plate exploded...I value my eyesight), I began picking up big pieces, then smaller ones, then I vacuumed, then I swept, and finally I mopped. What a mess.

I think the moral of the story is that people with glass plates shouldn't put them on the stove, even if the burners are all off.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Just a subtle hint in case you were wondering what to get me for Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007


An inch of ice is expected overnight. I just saw the news every teacher dreams about...a snow day in mid-December! The unexpected day off will be filled with coffee, the Today show, phone calls I've been meaning to make, comfy pants, running if it's not too yucky, and catching up on that long list of work things to do; maybe even a fire in the fireplace.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Best Quote Ever

Student (talking to me): "What smells so good? Oh, it's just your breath."

I am so glad he didn't say it smells bad.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mental Lists

A teacher's work is never ending. As my sister said to me today "don't you have grading or something to do?" Of course...I just have so much to do I am putting it all off (and Christmas shopping online), I am not a list maker, that is my mom through and through, I have a mental list of all the stuff I have to get done for work, so here is a day in my life as a teacher.
  • Finish giving the DIBELS test
  • Finish giving the DCA's to the students who missed last week
  • Grade the DCA's
  • Fill in the bubble sheets for the DCA's
  • Hand in the bubble sheets for the DCA's
  • Grade the writing assessment I gave like a month ago
  • Get caught up in Math
  • Have the students make their Christmas gifts for their parents
  • Figure out what to make for the staff party on Friday
  • Finish figuring out what we are going to do for our skit at the staff party on Friday
  • Plan for, write out the plans and make all the copies for my sub on Thursday morning and Monday
  • Plan for after-school tutoring next week
  • Touch base with parents about several student concerns
  • Make powerpoints for our reading vocabulary for next week
  • Clean off my desk
  • Find a place to put my new file folder games I made
  • Have parent volunteers laminate and cut out materials for folder games
  • Make folder games for math centers
  • Make new centers for up until Christmas Break
  • Copy and assemble take home books for this week's reading series
  • Get caught up on my grading for math and reading assessments
  • Copy and assemble homework packets for over Christmas break
  • and the list goes on...
I need my hours to be lengthened, a little more light in my day.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Psalm 62

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,

and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

So, Is This Genuine Muppet Fur?

It's been cold in Kansas, so the kids are proudly breaking out their jackets. A lot of the girls have fur on the collars or lined in the hoods of their jackets. One day this week we were standing in the hall and I asked on of my students if her jacket had genuine muppet fur. She replied "I think so." I then explained what muppets were, and she thought my joke was kind of funny. I like it when people get my jokes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Festivus

I had a great Thanksgiving. It was nice to be home, and to have an excuse to wear as much orange as possible. I just had to indulge.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How Do I Deal With This?

I had a death threat this week, it kind of threw me off. It was on a post it note that was put in my box, and it took me about a day to figure out who wrote it. My principal dealt with the situation, and I was very thankful that she had experience and the knowledge needed to deal with it appropriately.

I was talking to my mom this week and trying to figure out how I deal with this student being back in my class on Monday. I am angry. No one should have the right to say those kind of things, especially to their teacher. The reality is I am angry with a 7 year old, and I don't trust this particular student. I don't want to make a greater rift in our teacher/student relationship, but how can I not treat them differently...knowing they want me dead.

I truly hope that they don't understand what it means, and I hope that it was something written in anger and frustration, not as a genuine threat. But the words "Ms. J, I will kill you." are now burned in my mind. And I don't know what these students have access to at the reality is that some of them could potentially carry out a threat like this. I don't want my mind to go there though, I can't live in fear. I guess all I really can do is what I have been doing all along, which is tough love towards all my students, and hope that they see how much I genuinely care about them. And pray that God gives me guidance on how to treat this particular situation.

I am glad I get to go home in 3 days.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad turned (6 x 9 = ?) yesterday.

So, happy belated birthday to the man who taught me how to be "flyin' Abs."

Love you.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Best Day Ever

I had a lot of treats left over from our Fall Ball. Learning from Valentines Day last year, I knew better than to hand them all out. So I saved the healthy stuff, apples and juice, and we've been rationing them ever since last week. We have an apple break or a juice break every day. This Tuesday marked the end of our juice/apple breaks. So, right after the (boring) bus safety assembly...side really was boring, a kid in my class fell asleep...we took a bathroom break and were lined up in the hall waiting to go back into our classroom. At that time one of the 4th grade teachers walked by and complimented my class on how well they were standing in the hall. (I have a compliment board in my room where we keep track of all our compliments and when we get 25 I give the kids a pizza party.) After she complimented us, my students were obviously very excited. One of my quietest little boys raised his hand, and I leaned down close to hear what he had to say:

"A compliment and a juice break...this is the best day ever!"

This weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year for several reasons:
  1. I get an extra day off.
  2. I get to visit my brother and Anna again!!!
  3. Starbucks brings back the infamous peppermint mocha (basically the best drink ever.)
Enjoy your weekend, however you spend it...and wherever it finds you!

Monday, November 05, 2007

This Is My Job

I had a moment today. I've had this moment before, and when I stop having these moments I will stop teaching.

I was walking down the hall, pondering, something I often do, during my plan time. As I was running frantically around, making the most of my 50 minutes, I thought to myself "I can't believe I get paid to do this." I have the best job in the world, and today I am convinced of it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

These Boots Were Made For Walking

I loved one of my student's cowboy boots so much I took this picture.

I am cleaning like a fiend and then off to Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain) City for the weekend. I am going to the Women of Faith conference, and hoping it won't be a mom convention. Report to follow!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quince Take 2

I went to my second Quincenenra last night. The food was fabulous, the clothes were spectacular, and the music was really, really loud!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Favorite Time of Day

My favorite part of my day is writing. I teach writing right away in the morning. It is so calm and serene, 20 kids, working diligently with Minnesota Public Radio streaming through the speakers. I love it. If only my entire day was like that.

One of my students lost his pencil today. It was the pencil that I gave him and told him I would be very sad if he lost it since it was a gift from me. Up until today, he's lost a pencil about every other day all year long. He went for two weeks on this one, and came back in tears from reading because he lost it. I held his hand and made up a song that I sang to him on the way to lunch. I gave him a new pencil. His life will now go on.

I love my job.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overdue Thanks

I have a pre-student teacher this semester. She comes twice a week and does a few lessons each day. It is very interesting to sit back and watch my class while they are working with someone else. It also brings back the not so distant memories of my own field experience days. There was 1st grade with Mrs. O'Hanlon. Looking back on that one, I do know I've come so far! I did 2 middle school field experiences with the same teacher, as German teachers are few and far between. I did a 5th grade field experience with Mrs. Larsen, and I learned a lot from her. She is an incredible teacher with wonderful insight and positivity. I would go back and work on her team in a heartbeat. Lastly, I student taught with Mrs. Graham in 1st grade and Mr. Scheller in 3rd. It was incredibly wonderful to be able to learn from each of these educators. I have thanked them all, and thank them again for all their help in allowing me to learn in their rooms, and I am thankful that I can pass that on chance for someone to learn from me and in my classroom.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Taffy loved swimming, popcorn, tummy rubs, squeaky newspaper toys, and going to gramma's house. I was thinking about her last night, because it was just a year ago that she died. I was very blessed in that I didn't see her get sick. In my memory she's healthy and energetic, full of life. I had moved to Kansas before she got sick, and when I came home for Thanksgiving she had already passed away. She was the best dog.

I was trying to think of my favorite Taffy was really hard to pin down a favorite one. She was a sneaky dog, who at times made us all crazy. She would steal food and eat ballet slippers. I don't think my grampa's forgiven her for eating an entire angel food cake at their house once. It was also incredibly annoying how she'd practically go into a panic when we would pack up to go on a vacation. Even when she was coming with, she would run back and forth and get underfoot, just to make sure that she didn't get forgotten. When I would come home from college I would let her sleep in my bed, well on my bed. She was never allowed under the covers. That was our thing. She wouldn't do it on any other furniture, or on my bed when I wasn't there.

There is a book, that any person who has a dog should read. Marley and Me by John Grogan. It's a really easy read, a good weekend book. One of my favorite parts is the excerpt below, it is the author's perspective on dogs after their beloved family dog Marley had to be put to sleep. I couldn't agree with him more.

"Yes, it was only a dog, and dogs come and go in the course of human life, sometimes simply because they become an inconvenience. It was only a dog, and yet every time I tried to talk about Marley to them, tears welled in my eyes. I told them it was okay to cry, and that owning a dog always ended with this sadness because dogs just don't live as long as people do....What I really wanted to say was how this animal had touched our souls and taught us some of the most important lessons of our lives. "A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours", I wrote. "Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness, and above all else, unwavering loyalty."

What an amazing concept that I only now, in the wake of his death, fully absorbing: Marley as mentor. As teacher and role model. Was it possible for a dog - any dog, but especially a nutty, wildly uncontrollable one like ours - to point humans to the things that really mattered in life? I believed it was. Loyalty. Courage. Devotion. Simplicity. Joy. And the things that did not matter too. A dog has no use for fancy cars, or big homes, or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class, but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized that it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners and pure intentions to help us see. "

From Marley and Me - John Grogan

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wishing and Thinking

I go home a month from today, and I am very excited about it. I miss living close to people I love. In honor of being under the 1 month mark, I have decided to make my 2nd top ten list of my blogging life.

Top 10 Things I Want To Do At Home
  1. Hug my Gramma and Grampa. They are two of my favorite people on earth.
  2. Go back to Bethel and frolic amongst the Bethelites.
  3. Have coffee with my dad. Like pots and pots of it.
  4. Go running in the cold.
  5. Eat a hoagie at the Acoustic.
  6. Talk "shop" (teacher stuff) with my mom.
  7. Find a Christmas tree with my family.
  8. Eat way too much Thanksgiving food.
  9. Have a running commentary on the Thanksgiving Day Parade with my sister.
  10. Be with people who "get" me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ummm, Toto? I Get The Feeling We're Not In Menomonie Anymore.

I went to a Wichita area high school football game tonight. I had to walk through a metal detector, and show the police everything in my pockets. Just a little different. Not wrong, just different.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The definition of success--To laugh much; to win respect of intelligent persons and the affections of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give one's self; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition.; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm, and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived--this is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last year I would get a little jealous when my students would go back and see their teachers from previous years. It wasn't so much that I cared about them seeing their teachers from other years, but being my first class, these kids were MINE!

One of my students from last year comes and sees me almost every day. She'll sometimes come twice, once before school, and once after school when she comes to pick up her cousin who is in my class. When she sees me in the hall she'll walk out of line from her class to give me a hug.

My greatest hope is that I'll be that teacher that every kid has, the one that really sticks out in your mind. I am hoping I just might be that teacher with this particular student, and maybe I am.

I am not jealous about those kids last year either, because now I get it.

Monday, October 15, 2007


At the beginning of the school year I volunteered to be a homebound teacher in case any students got sick or needed to be at home for an extended period of time.

Two boys from my school were hurt in an accident over the weekend. One is recovering and the other is in critical condition. As my principal said today "there were angels watching over them." Pray for their recovery and families.

Needless to say, I might be doing some homebound teaching.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

And I Quote

I took a vacation today. At 4:30 I realized I hadn't had any lunch or coffee yet, and had a mound of papers to grade and enter into my gradebook. So I took a vacation to Panera, where I got a cup of coffee with free refills and a bagel, along with no distractions so I could get my work done. As I was going through some math assessments that I had, I burst out laughing at one student's response to the following question about cupcakes, and whether or not there would be enough for our class.

Question: Will you have any leftovers? If so, how many? Explain your thinking.

Answer: (And I quote) Well, let's chek in my thiking bag. Well there is, there aer 18 left."

I was unaware that this child even owned a thinking bag, and I think it is so funny that he chose to explain his answer using his thinking bag.

Friday, October 12, 2007


The students that I teach do not have childhoods similar to mine. Some of them have to deal with not having enough to eat, or worrying about money, things children should never have to worry about.

I like to think my parents were hippie-esque. We bought food from a co-op, and drove old cars. Maybe we weren't hippies, and maybe they were stretching every dime that they had. I have a memory of driving down Hwy K with my mom, brother and sister with the muffler falling off our beast of a suburban. My mom had to keep pulling over to tie the muffler back up, and my brother and I, the constant helpers were pulling pieces off of the rug are our feet to give to her to tie the muffler up. I don't remember being embarrassed or worried during this time, instead I remember being doubled over in giggles with Zach, thinking how hilarious it was that our (beautiful and extraordinarily talented) mother couldn't figure out where we were getting the strings from.

I was blessed growing up, and I didn't fully realize or appreciate this until I became a teacher. My family always had clean clothes, food to eat (even though "bean bake" was not my favorite), a warm home, beds to sleep in and love that overflowed our home. Having seen the harsh reality that is childhood to many children in this country and others, I now appreciate and cherish everything my parents did to guide us when we were growing up.

I had dinner with a fellow teacher this week, my friend Sara. She teaches music. We both started at the same time, so we have a lot in common in that regard. We were talking over our yummy food about if, because we were so blessed growing up, we are more responsible for making a difference in the life of a child who is not so fortunate.

We concluded yes.

(Side note, I don't pity my students. They don't need my pity, it will get them nowhere and teach them nothing, they need my love, attention, guidance and hugs.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Surely We Can Change

Driving back to Denver ~ Labor Day

I have been listening to David Crowder's new CD (Remedy) a lot this week. One of the songs on the CD talks about how each person has the ability to change the lives of those around them, and how that truly is what we as Christians are called to do.

How are you changing your world?

Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
Bring expectancy
And surely we can change
Surely we can change

Friday, October 05, 2007


I sent my friend Anna a card a few months ago that had that on the outside. On the inside it said "rolling on the floor laughing maybe even peeing", or something like that. I can't remember exactly.

I was trying to impersonate one of my students today, because he said one of the funniest things, ("Ms. J, I saw a squirrel, and it was eating corn.") and it was so nice to be laughing so hard I, and two other teachers, were practically rolling on the floor and maybe even peeing.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

All Creatures

So Pretty

This story I am about to tell happened this week, and is the kind of thing that not only makes my heart smile, but makes me love my kids all that much more.

We are testing a lot this week, we do it once a quarter; reading, math and writing tests that are given to us by the district. It is crazy and stressful and busy and exhausting. Since we level our kids for reading, we have to get the right tests back to their homeroom teachers. To lessen the stress on myself during this time, I wrote all of the teacher's names on the board, and had the students write their homeroom teacher's name on their test. One of my kids noticed that a few of the teachers were Mrs. instead of Ms. He was excited to know they were married, and asked me if I was married. I said no, not yet, but that someday I would be.

His response?

"But why aren't you married yet? You're so pretty!"

Teaching 2nd grade is so good for my ego.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Race For The Cure

I raced for the cure today. I was part of the Wichita Race for The Cure, and I walked with a team from my school. I ended up walking 1/2 and running 1/2, which was fun! (Good practice for the Tri) I now know why people get hooked on running races, it's so fun to be able to cross that finish line with people cheering you on.

Beyond that, the Race for the Cure is an amazing experience. About 8,000 people total raced in Wichita, and it is so fun to see all those people come together for a common goal. Many people were survivors of breast cancer, and many people were racing in memory of someone who battled breast cancer. It really makes me realize how blessed I am, as no one in my family has had breast cancer, and really not even any of our close family friends, and that truly is a blessing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dear Parents

Dear Parents of Elementary Students Everywhere.

Please don't ask me for parenting advice. I am 23, and childless, raising your child is not my job. I am here to support what you are doing, and to help build up your children educationally, socially and emotionally, but I cannot and do not want to replace you.

Do not always believe your child. I promise you that they are going to, at some point, try to pull the wool over your eyes. If your child is making outrageous accusations that I am in some way doing something that sounds outrageous, more than likely they are not telling the truth. Don't assume either, that they are always wrong. They have a childish innocence that is what I cherish, please help them hold on to this.

Fathers, teach your boys to treat girls with respect and admiration. They are young ladies, and need to be treated that way. In the same way, fathers, treat your daughters with admiration and respect. Treat them like young ladies, and they will act that way. Mothers, love your children too, nurture their more sensitive sides. Mothers, empower your girls. Teach them to say no in a confident way, but without disrespect. Teach your daughters that they can grow up to do anything they want to.

Make them go to bed on time. Don't let them watch adult TV, make them read a book instead of watching TV at all. Teach them to respect adults, take no for an answer and stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

This will make my job just an ounce easier.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


My pastor preached on perspective today, and how our perspective always needs to be focused on God. He challenged us to lift up our eyes to him, instead of focusing on ourselves and our situations. Perfect timing for me to hear that reinforced in my life.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I am having a day filled with doubts. I hate that, but I just can't seem to shake it, so I've decided to put it out there, on my blog, so all the world (or all 5 of my readers) can see it.

I know that God has an amazing plan for my life, but sometimes, to be completely honest, I don't truly believe in my heart what I logically know in my head. My greatest dream is to one day be a wife and a mom, and the way things are right now (me single), that isn't going to happen anytime soon. I am right now doubting that it ever will, and I feel like I am mourning that loss in a way. I would, however, much rather be where I am than where I was a year ago, in that I know now that I wasn't with the right person then, and I don't wish to be with that person now. I guess I just wish sometimes that I had someone to share my life with.

Blame in the Christian university I went to, and I partially do. I think going there gave me a skewed perspective of when people get married. I feel like I am too old, and that I've missed my chances, probably mainly because I went to a school where the theme was "ring by spring, or your money back". Can I get my money back please?

So there it is, what I've been thinking. I think I'll go for a run tonight and have a chat with God. Maybe I'll drive to a beautiful park near here once it starts to cool down. I just don't want to feel the way I do right now...I want to believe there is still some hope.

Once In A While

From bad luck I'm walking away
I'm not getting stuck
I'm not gonna stay

To good things I'm moving ahead
I'm tired of dying
I'm living instead

Once in a while I wake up
Wondering why we gave up
But once in a while
Comes and it fades away

The sun's up and lighting the sky
I never could see it
It just passed me by

Good things keep moving along
I'm not looking backward
For something that's gone

Once in a while
I'll wake up
Wondering why we gave up
But once and a while
Comes and fades away

I don't what love is
I'm selfish and lazy
And when I get scared I can act like I'm crazy
But when I think of your kisses
I'm still gonna smile
I'm still gonna miss you
Once in a while
Once in a while

Once in a while I'll wake up
Wondering why we gave up
But once in a while
Comes and it fades away

Good things keep moving ahead
I'm tired of dying I'm living instead

Friday, September 21, 2007


I don't live in the state I grew up in, and I don't live in the state I went to school in. I don't live in the country I went to elementary school in either.

I got new car insurance this week. Turns out it is frowned upon to be living on one state with car insurance from another. I think that's odd personally. Why should it really matter?

The insurance man said "You might want to think registering your car in this state."

Hmm, no thanks. I like my 'Sconie plates.

I don't know where I'll be a year from today, and I have come to accept the fact that
a) I don't have it all figured out and
b) I might as well not make plans since God's plans will beat out any I make without Him.

I read this quote today, and it seemed fitting.

The Way I See It #31
"Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in. Without serendipity, there are no surprises."

-- Rita Golden Gelman, Author of Tales of a Female Nomad. She has had no permanent address since 1986.

Monday, September 17, 2007


My school levels for reading, which means that all the kids who read below grade level all go to 2 teachers, the kids who read at grade level go to 2 teachers and the kids who are reading beyond grade level all go to 2 teachers. Clear as mud?

I teach an "approaching" level, so kids who are working below grade level. The kids who I have, are in my opinion low because they are very unmotivated. Last week I reached the point of unashamed bribery. I went to Target and found the biggest bag of gummy bears known to mankind. I then began rewarding every answer and raised hand with a gummy bear. Right answer = gummy bear thrown to you from Ms. J. (Don't worry, they also now know the 5 second rule - 5 second rule, it's still good!) I now have all the 100 % student participation, and my gummy bear bag is near extinction, I suppose I'll have to start weaning them off.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Today I had a para in my room for part of my math time, so I had her work one on one with a student who is really struggling, and really can only work when someone is sitting right next to him redirecting his attention to what he's supposed to be doing every minute or so. Meanwhile, I was doing calendar, or what my brother calls "a scary game show", with the rest of my class.

They were working on some subtraction problems, and during the time they were working together she went over to get some manipulatives to help him understand the problem better. During this, she picked up a box and the lid came off and about 200 blocks tumbled everywhere. It was really loud, and I lost the few kids who were actually paying attention to me. I asked a few students to go over and pick up the blocks, so she could go back to working with the student.

While I should have thought of it beforehand, the students I sent over were two of my noisiest students, who were incredibly amazed by the fact that some of the blocks had spilled underneath the shelves, and the more the found the more excited they got. This was the point when every teacher's worst nightmare comes true; I had lost control.

I couldn't help it, I had to laugh. It was all too funny. The blocks spilling, me trying so hard still to teach in the chaos, and the noisy helpers picking up the blocks. Laughter is so contagious, and after I was laughing, so were my students, who as I'm sure you've guessed, were no longer paying attention.

Sometimes it's good to lose control.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quotes of The Week

You can decide which quote is best, although I strongly prefer the second.

"Ms. J, do you have a baby in your tummy?"

To my defense, I was not wearing anything remotely maternity looking that day, but my colleague had just came back from maternity leave, and I think that the students wanted me to have a baby as well.

"That Ms. J, she's a tricky woman."

The tricky-ness prevails again!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sniff Sniff

On Wednesday my class was playing a game called "Sevensies". It is very simple, and I don't even know where exactly I learned it.

The basic concept is that the class stands in a circle and one person starts counting. Every person who is a number 7 sits down. It keeps going until there is one person left. I have many variations, such as counting by tens and the person who is a 100 sits down.

I was sitting on the floor, because I was "out" and I felt this bumping against my arm. I figured it was the kid next to me, laying his head against my arm. It was the end of the day, so I didn't say anything, figured it's not a big deal. After this has been going on for a while I hear him say "Ms. J, you smell like chocolate."

He'd been sniffing me, and apparently now I can rest assured that I smell like chocolate.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


My school is part of a program where you can work towards your ESOL endorsement, while they pay for you to go. It is really a good deal, and as part of our staff development this year, we're doing a lot of the work anyway, and it was up to us whether or not we wanted to take the class and get credit for it. Hmm, free Master's credits...or do the work for nothing...really hard decision. Actually what is going to be hard is getting back into the "school groove". Granted, it's only been a year since I've graduated, but it is a little hard to get myself mentally in the place where I am used to doing school work. So today, I've done many things to procrastinate, such as writing this blog, going to the pool and painting my toenails. Oh well, I've got until Friday at midnight!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Unexpected Blessings

Unexpected blessings are the best. Don't get me wrong, I like regular blessings too, but the ones that come at you out of the blue, just to remind you that you are significant, thought of, and loved are fantastic.

I am going to see my brother and friend Anna over labor day weekend. My dad found a great deal on a plane ticket. I debated buying the ticket, knowing that in the week until I get paid again, I might get close to under $100 in my checking account, and I don't like to do that. Of course I have savings I could dip into, but I don't like to do that either. I bought the ticket knowing that I'd kick myself if I didn't; and plus, a long weekend in with family/friends only happens for me now and then.

Today I got a check from my summer job in the mail. I didn't know I still had one coming, but it more than covered the cost of the plane ticket.

How amazing, and what better timing.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Do You Speak Kansan?

Two things that Kansans say that bother me:

"Do you want that in a sack?" No, actually, you can keep the burlap sack, I'll have my groceries in a bag please.

"Where do you stay?" Huh? Translation: Where do you live. Oh, now I get it.

Wow it feels good to get that off my mind.

Bouquets of Newly Sharpened Pencils

That time of year is once again upon us. Either you are already in school, trying to beat the heat (like me) while learning or teaching; or you are savoring the last few days of summer before school starts; or you are not heading back to school this year, but you can still feel the anticipation and excitement of a new school year...perhaps remembering back to when you were a child.

My second year has gotten off to a sweltering start. With temperatures well above 100 here, it is a bit sticky and hot in a school that is still working out the kinks in the new air conditioning system. Oh well, as frustrating as it is, in the grand scheme of things we'll all be okay. Besides that, the only other mishap I've had is 2 boxes of books that had to be discarded due to mold...eww. Two thumbs up to our custodian who looked in the boxes, and threw them away for me. I don't do well with mold...I'll throw food away in a heartbeat with even the tiniest hint of mold.

Last Tuesday night was meet your teacher night at my school. I had 16 of the 20 kids show up. I'd like to think they all heard what a fantastic teacher I am, and had been so excited all summer to come meet me, but in reality it's probably because we were giving away ice cream.

The first day of school was so much easier than last year. It was nice to not have the nervous energy I did last year, and be able to come back with routines clearly established for these new kiddos. I have a great bunch of kids, and this year I can already tell that I will encounter totally different challenges than last year.

I do not have a class of 2nd graders yet, we're still working out our 1st grade energy. I don't remember the beginning of the year being this much work last year, although I am sure it was. It's just a lot of "please don't put your foot up there", and "wake up" and "put your head up" and "no, we're not going home yet, it's only 11:30, we've got 5 more hours to go sweetie."

Last year a lot of students would call me "teacher", which really kind of bothers me. However, I've come to realize that in Hispanic culture they don't say Senora or Senor _____, they say maestra or maestro (teacher). So far this year I've had lots of students call me teacher, but I think the best quote of the first week is "Teacher, I just don't know what I am supposed to be doing."

Don't we all feel that way sometimes?

Pre-Student Pictures

The AC wasn't working correctly, so I compensated. This method has since been banned. We collect compliments!
From the front looking back.
Front of the room.
A tribute to my dad-construction themed!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And It's Not Even The First Day Yet...

A short list of what has happened in the past few days.

I've decided to start my ESL endorsement (Master's Credits!!!).

I fell outside of my apartment and had a piece of dirt or something in my hand, which was removed by the school nurse.

I found mold in my closet at school and had 2 boxes of books that had to be thrown out.

I have successfully gotten my class ready for the first day (Tomorrow!!!).

I had a fantastic turn out at the "Meet Your Teacher" night. (16/20)

I've come up with a creative way to beat the heat at school. Pictures to follow tomorrow!

I have decided after meeting my students, that this year will be as fun as last year. Takes the edge off a little!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I knelt on a tack yesterday at work. I did the math in my head, and figured out that my last tetanus shot was 9 years ago, probably time to go in for a booster. Seeing as there is only really one hospital that accepts my insurance, I spent an hour in an extension of that hospital near where I live. Not the most fun I've had in my life.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Welcome Back...

I am back in Kansas now, and very thankful for air conditioning. It is so hot, I forgot how hot it was.

I was greeted last night by a re-arranged living room, and a beeping smoke detector. The living room was promptly put back how I prefer to have it, and the maintenance guys came today and fixed the beeping. Thank you.

I start my week of "pre kids" work tomorrow, and while it is good to be back, I am dealing with the change and transitions that are inevitable in life.

I hate change, and fully realized this and was able to verbalize this my junior year in college, after moving back to Bethel. Pretty much any transition for me involves a cocktail of nervous energy, sadness and anticipation...this one is no different. A part of me just wants to pack up and move home, or back to wherever the last familiar thing was; as if that would make it all better. I appreciate your prayers and encouragement as I experience this transition back to a life and a job that I truly do love.

For now, I'll just keep reminding myself of that...I love what I do here, even when transitions are hard.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Year Ago...Almost Today

I know I was supposed to take a sabbatical from blogging, and as fun as it's been, I've been reflecting recently about my life over the past year, and all that's happened and changed in my life; good, bad and ugly.

A year ago, almost today my head was still reeling because I'd accepted a job in Wichita Kansas.

A year ago, almost today I was packing up my life to go to Kansas.

A year ago, almost today my lovely dog Taffy was watching me pack up my life to go to Kansas. (She's in dog heaven now, with God who made her) - From the book "Dog Heaven"

A year ago, almost today I was frantically looking for an apartment, calling several places a day to see if I'd have a place to live in a week.

A year ago, almost today I was dating someone.

A year ago, almost today I went shopping at IKEA with Jenna. Funny, I'm going there tomorrow to shop with my sister and mom.

A year ago, almost today I was 3 days away from moving.

A year ago, almost today I made my first purchases at a teacher store. I made another visit to one today, and I got some great items!

A year ago, almost today I could not even imagine that in one short year I would be in the place I am now. God has blessed me so incredibly immensely over the past year. I have had family and friends support me in my move, I was able to find a fantastic apartment to live in, I've found a church and friends in my new dwelling place. (Can I call it home...where is home?) I've had moments where I had to utterly and completely rely on God to help me buck up and put one foot in front of the other, and move on with a smile on my face.

A year ago, almost today I didn't think how blessed I'd be in one short year.

Where will I be one year from today? Any speculations?

Monday, June 18, 2007


I am taking a summer long sabbatical from blogging.

Two reasons:

- I need to take a break from my "teaching life"
- My summer will be uneventful. I am planning on spending as much time at the Edina pool as possible, dutifully worshiping the sun, and increasing my chances of skin cancer along the way!

I've learned in the 3 weeks that I have been home that it is hard for me to unwind. Having spent the last 9 months in a job that consumed me (in a good way), I am feeling a bit purposeless and bored. It is good for me to take some intentional time to re-energize and catch up on things I like, such as the sun and friends. Check back in August, when I am back in action for year two.

Friday, May 25, 2007

2nd Grade Perspectives

I had my students write a journal about what they would miss from 2nd grade and what they were looking forward to about 3rd grade. They flatter me so much, and I left the spelling as they put it because I get such a kick out of it. Enjoy!

"I will miss my teacher Ms. J next year and all the great great things she teached us and trix that she teached and allso games that she teached us."

"I will miss my beyst techer Ms. J. I miss her in 3rd grade."

"But when I go away to my new classroom I am gana miss my Teacher and you do not go to the YMCA."

"I well mes my teter and my clas. I well mes her rum. She was fon and she was nic to us. She wus fune."

"I will mis evry thing in Ms. J's clas, espeshely Ms. J. Also I am nerves abowt 3rd grayd.

"I am going to work hard and I going to be smart like Ms. J and trikey. The part I am going to miss is Ms. J and other thing like her new room, how she changes it."

"My new teacher won't be able to teach us all her trickiest tricks and jokes and I'm going to miss the partys Ms. J has.

"I will miss about second grade is my trickiest teacher Ms. J. I will miss her from 2th grade when we did fun with her at senters with her. My couson is going to be in 2th grade next year, so I hope she will be with my trickest teacher in second grad on 2008. I lov Ms. J."

"I will miss my teacher and my freands. I'll miss the class room."

"I don't miss nothing adout secit grade."

(And just in case you are wondering, no, spelling is not part of our curriculum, and yes, most of these kids speak English as their second language.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I went to Lowes to get some cleaning supplies for my classroom. Tomorrow we're having a cleaning party. While there I decided that Lowes is my new favorite store. So, without further ado, I present:

The Top Ten Reasons Lowes Is My New Favorite Store

10. I am not tempted to buy anything I don't need.

9. It reminds me of my dad.

8. They sell tin-foil duct-tape. (I kind of wanted to buy some, but it was $14 a roll)

7. The people there are friendly.

6. They have self checkouts so when I am not friendly, I don't have to talk to anyone.

5. It's the closest store to my home, besides Hobby Lobby. (Obviously not as cool)

4. It smells like Fleet Farm, but not quite as good.

3. It's kind of like Jesus, you can come as you are, you don't have to dress up or look fancy. Paint splattered pants and grease stained shirts are actually encouraged amongst the patrons.

2. They sell weird things I had no idea that existed, but someday may need, thus I now know where to buy them...such as KAPOW magical cleaner.

1. The boys that work there are much better looking than the boys at Wal-Mart. (And probably more intelligent too)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I have 7 days of school left. Not counting the day I'll be spending observing other classes, and our field trip to the zoo; counting them I only have 5 days of teaching left. Where has the time gone?

I am not trying to be all melancholy, although I really am going to miss these guys. I was watching my class yesterday, doing their math centers, all calmly working with their partners, knowing exactly what to do and I was amazed. Amazed at them and how far they've come, amazed that I've made it through my first year, and amazed that in a week I'll be giving them the last "hug or high five because I care about you".

The group I will be sending on to 3rd grade is not the group I had on August 15th. Well, kind of. Most of the boys still come to school with bedhead hair, and most of the talkers still don't raise their hand, but when I look at what they can do now compared to what they could do at the beginning of the year, it's like I am seeing a whole new group.

They've learned a lot, well, we've learned a lot. I have my share of "bad teacher" moments, and they've really had plenty of "bad student" moments. Oh the stories I could share. I've had to apologize to students more than once, and I've had many students apologize to me. Academically they amaze me too, and I amaze myself a bit in that I had a role in teaching them some of what they know. Pretty crazy to see the impact I've had on others.

I told them today that they'd never have another second grade teacher, that I was the only one they got, and that I'd never have another first class, that they were the only one I got, and I couldn't have asked for a better first year.

There will be tears I'm sure that last day, and I'll make them promise to come back and visit me, and above all I hope that they remember at least one thing that I've done this year that has helped them, and I will carry them with my in my heart.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I saw a double rainbow today. It's always good to be reminded of Gods enduring promise. I had to keep a promise to a student this week, here's how it played out.

Ring ring.

I answer my phone in my classroom.


"Ms.J?" I can hear the hesitancy in his voice.


"I need a ride to school."

"Okay, I'll get someone to come pick you up. You did the right thing to call."

About a week and a half ago one of my students was absent because he and his sister didn't have a ride to school. The next day he came and I wrote my work phone number on his folder in huge Sharpie marker. I told him if he ever needed a ride again to call, and that someone would come get him.

He followed through, and even though he ended up being tardy on the day he called, he made it to school, which is most important.

Smart kid, fabulous teacher.

If I do say so myself.

Monday, May 07, 2007

All This and More

We've had some interesting weather here in Kansas lately. I was able to experience my first tornado warning yesterday during church, and I saw how crazy the sky looked, even after the warning was dropped.

Greensburg was not so lucky. I don't think I need to go into detail here, but if you haven't heard on Friday night there was an F-5 (200+ miles per hour) tornado that completely wiped out Greensburg Kansas. There are some mind blowing aerial shots here. Dad, I think they need some rhinos.

On to school...

Last week I had a difficult conversation with a parent, I suggested retaining their son. It was incredibly hard to tell someone that their child is not ready to go on to the next grade. Despite my concerns, I don't think they will do it. It is so frustrating to send him on knowing that he'll probably always be low academically for his grade.

Also, please pray for my friend Martina. Her family's home burned last night and so they are obviously shaken. Thankfully her family is all safe, but what an incredibly hard thing to face.

13 days and counting....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ich spreche Deutsch und bin stolz darauf!

I am taking the German Productive Language Skills test on Saturday. I missed the cut off score by 4 points when I took it last spring, and I need to pass it to get my permanent MN license. Oh goody.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Protecting Innocence

"Ms. J, that girl is hurt!"

Walking into the YMCA yesterday for swimming, one of my students stopped at the newspaper machine and looked at the front page of the newspaper. Tuesday was the day after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. The front page of the paper had a huge picture of an injured student being carried away.

How do you explain something like that to a child, and should we? Unfortunately it was everywhere yesterday, even swimming lessons. I responded by explaining that there was an accident at a college and that the girl had been hurt in the accident, and to her that seemed to be an okay answer.

The reality of life is that it is painful and messy sometimes, and it is so hard in today's world to keep the pain and the messyness away from children. I consider myself to be blessed, because I think my parents were very successful at keeping my siblings and I protected from the pain until we were old enough.

The Virginia Tech shootings have hit close to home, and I don't really know why. Maybe it's because I just graduated from college, and I think how that could have happened anywhere, even at my school. It could be because one of my colleagues cousins attends VT and is experiencing the pain first hand. Or maybe it is because things like this remind me that I am a profession that unfortunately has experienced things like this before, and I can only pray that it does not continue to happen.

My heart hurts for them.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Colorado Vacation

I've been a bit crabby this week because I have been recovering from a fun Easter trip to Colorado with my family and good friend Anna.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fair Trade

I am beginning to "campaign" for fair trade. It is interesting, and I think that as Christians, it is something little that we can do to intentionally impact the world around us in a good way.
The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt.

Fair Trade is a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee we drink was purchased under fair conditions. To become Fair Trade certified, an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers, and providing technical assistance such as help transitioning to organic farming. Fair Trade for coffee farmers means community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship.

Taken from:

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Loud Talker and Proud of It!

I am a loud talker, and very aware of it. It is something I don't do on purpose, it might be in my genes, because I am pretty sure that both of my parents are loud talkers. I am reminded, however, of my loud talking when I hear the doors of the teachers next to me discreetly close when I am teaching.

Something that I was not aware of is that I have "interesting" expressions while I am talking/teaching loudly. As part of being a new teacher I am assigned a peer consultant who comes and observes me and gives me feedback, usually about every 2 weeks or so. One of my peer consultant's comments this past week was that I make the funniest expressions when I teach. Ummm, thanks?

I will attribute the funny expressions to the fact that for most of my students, English is their second language. I have found that this year I do a lot more talking with my hands, and acting things out, and in addition to that, I now am aware that I make faces while I teach. Hmm, maybe it's time to tape myself to see how funny I really must look. The kids don't complain though, so I guess it must be working!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Swimming Lessons...Take Two

There is nothing better than warm apple crisp. Well, there probably are, but I am eating some while I write this, so in this moment in my life, there are few things that are better than warm apple crisp. Spring is in full swing, and for some reason I felt especially in a mood to bake today, so with my windows wide open, listening to other people's air conditioners hum (seriously, it's not that's not even hot) I get to enjoy the freshly baked treat. Yum!

Today was swimming lesson day! I had 5 students come in this morning asking to call home because they'd forgotten their suits at home, and much to my surprise only 2 of them knew their phone number. It's not such a problem, just a phone call to the office to have one of the secretaries look it up, but I still am of the persuasion that children, especially 2nd graders need to know their phone number. That's what their homework was.

The swimming lessons themselves went swimmingly. Sorry, I couldn't resist. No mishaps, no cuss words, and the boys, surprisingly, were faster than the girls getting out of the locker rooms. I didn't get my alone time though, because one of my students who has grabbed my heart, was worried to stay at school instead of going (she'd forgotten her suit) and told me this right before we left, so she and I sat and read books outside the pool. Oh, and we ate Twizzlers from the vending machine as well. All the kiddos were so tired when we got back, and so we took it easy the rest of the day. A short video on Christopher Columbus, and a Scholastic News.

Question: Does anyone know what this tree is? (Mom???) They are blooming all over and I absolutely love them. I think God created them just for me. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

5 States in One Day

I made it!!! After driving through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, I am home for a nice break with my family. It's spring break for me, so I am enjoying some rest and fun with my family. I had planned on just seeing my mom and sister, as my dad was going to be leaving yesterday for Budapest, Hungary; but because God is great, my dad was bumped from his flight, and I got to spend a bit of time with him today! I am going to be on a blogging break this week, but I am sure the last 9 weeks of the semester will have some funny stories that I'll just have to share!

Friday, March 09, 2007

911, What's Your Emergency?

I had a student call 911 from my room today. It happened during a transition time between my class and a specials teacher coming into my room. All I know is that when I found out, my mind raced back to the fire, and I found myself sprinting down the hall, hurdling the janitor's card and running to my room (after the principal of course). No one 'fessed up, and no one can be found guilty, because in all the tattling moments there have been this year, apparently no one was off task, and so no student saw who did it. Oh well, I am thankful that I didn't get into trouble. However, the whole time I was in the hall with the principal, while she was talking to the more-than-likely-guilty-student (who cannot be proven guilty), I am thinking "Why did I wear my yucky flip flops today? I hope she doesn't look at my feet!"

I think I should buy some new flip flops, and maybe move my phone to a locked box.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


My sister is coming. I am very excited. We will wreak havoc all across the greater Wichita area.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

We're gonna stay at the YMCA

I should be in bed. I have a meeting tomorrow at 8 am, and instead, I find myself tapping away at my keyboard. Two reasons: I am as of late, a bit of an insomniac, probably due to extreme fatigue, and also, if I go to bed without relaying my daily adventure, I'll forget it and tomorrow it will be half as interesting as it is now.

Swimming lessons. An important milestone in life. My kids receive free swimming lessons through the YMCA, as part of a program that they have. I, for one, think this is great. I was a swimmer in high school, so I do have a bit of a love of water; but also I think all kids should learn how to swim. Not only for their safety, but so that they don't fear water later on in life.

For this wonderful adventure, I am the sole supervisor of 21 youngsters from the moment we step out of the school doors, until the moment we come back, well except for actually teaching them how to swim. That's my free time to enjoy coffee (thanks Y). It's not like I have people helping me in my classroom, but there are so fewer threats within the safe walls of the classroom. The YMCA involves a bus trip, locker rooms (thank goodness they have private ones for the kids), water, showering, towels, changing etc. all with many kids who have never had swimming lessons, or been to the Y.

The girls I was not concerned about, because I got to be in there watching their every move. However I was sure that some of the boys would take advantage of their new found freedom. Getting ready for swimming lessons were fine, but the changing back into school clothes was another adventure.

I had 1 lost sock, 1 lost Wal-Mart bag, 1 person post swimming sporting a Faux-hawk, (fake Mohawk), 1 almost bus sick child (my seatmate of course), 1 student who didn't take of their underwear when swimming and had wet pants the rest of the day, (we'll go over that before we go the next time), 1 cuss word and 1 water fight with the nozzles from the showers. All in all, I'd consider that a very successful day, and hey, they even had their first swimming lesson, and maybe learned something.

Think of me on Tuesday afternoons for the next 6 weeks from1:00 - 2:45, because lost socks and Faux-hawks will be my life.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Amazing Grace

I very rarely recommend going to see movies the theater, but I saw this movie this weekend. It is one of the movies that I would highly encourage going to the theaters to see because the music was great, but the story is so encouraging. It is worth the $8.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Rolling Down the Hall on an Overhead Cart

I am sick. Yuck. I thought I had missed the worst of it when all my kids had the flu, and I was still fine. Thankfully this is just a cold, no flu symptoms.

The worst part was that I couldn't get a sub yesterday, on my sickest day of all, and so I went to school and sat in a chair and taught from there all day. I had to get up to do some things, and when I was working with the overhead I was feeling a bit light headed, so I was leaning on it a bit. I told my students that I had to sit down because I was dizzy.

To which one responded: "Don't worry. If you faint, we'll put you on the overhead cart and roll you down the hall to the nurse."

Thanks guys, I am glad you have my back!

I did get a sub for today, so I am recuperating at home. It is such a blessing to have a job with benefits that also gives me a certain number of days I can be sick, and still get paid.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Village of 100 people

Some of you may have already read this, but it gives good perspective.

In the world today, more than 6 billion people live. If this world were shrunk to the size of a village on 100 people, what would it look like?

59 would be Asian
14 would be American (North, Central and South)
14 would be African
12 would be European
1 would be from the South Pacific

50 would be women, 50 would be men
30 would be children, 70 would be adults.
70 would be nonwhite, 30 would be white
90 would be heterosexual, 10 would be homosexual

33 would be Christians
21 would be Moslems
15 would be Hindus
6 would be Buddhists
5 would be Animists
6 would believe in other religions
14 would be without any religion or atheist.

15 would speak Chinese, Mandarin
7 English
6 Hindi
6 Spanish
5 Russian
4 Arabic
3 Bengali
3 Portuguese
The other would speak Indonesian, Japanese,
German, French, or some other language.

In such a village with so many sorts of folks, it would be very important to learn to understand people different from yourself and to accept others as they are. Of the 100 people in this village:

20 are underonurished
1 is dying of starvation, while 15 are overweight.
Of the wealth in this village, 6 people own 59% (all of them from the United States), 74 people own 39%, and 20 people share the remaining 2%.
Of the energy of this village, 20 people consume 80%, and 80 people share the remaining 20%.
20 have no clean, safe water to drink.
56 have access to sanitation
15 adults are illiterate.
1 has an university degree.
7 have computers.

In one year, 1 person in the village will die, but in the same year, 2 babies will be born, so that at the year's end the number of villagers will be 101.

If you do not live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnapping by armed groups, then you are more fortunate than 20, who do.

If you can speak and act according to your faith and your conscience without harassment, imprisonment, torture or death, then you are more fortunate than 48, who can not.

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet and spare change somewhere around the house, then you are among the richest 8.

If you can read this message, that means you are probably lucky!

(The statistics were derived from Donella Meadows "State of the Village Report" first published in 1990)

This shows how much money we have, and how we take for granted what we have.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rude Awakening

This was the new sign on the "in" sign of the parking lot at school. I noticed today they also added one to the door.

Kind of puts things into perspective.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

I have realized this first year of teaching, that kids love to ask questions. Some of them get annoying, like when one person asks to go to the bathroom, and everyone else things that sounds like a good idea, so they all ask. So, here are some of the most commonly asked questions, and some of the funniest that I have answered this year.

These ones I probably answer daily:

"Can I use the restroom?"
"Can I get a drink?"
"Can I take my Hot Cheetos to lunch?"
"Can I take the football out for recess?"
"When do I get to use the computer?"
"Can I sharpen a pencil?"
"Can I borrow your pencil?"
"Is it time for lunch yet?"
"Do we have PE today?"

These ones are once in a lifetime questions, most of which made me smile!

"You know how there is a people God, is there a dog God?" (I should have said "Yes, it is dogma.")

"Don't you do anything fun?" (Apparently my life is incredibly boring to an 8 year old.)

"When will you get another boyfriend?" (I think the asker of this question was worried about me!)

"Why didn't you dump him first?" (No Comment)

"Why don't you wear any makeup?" (I actually do, so the fact that it isn't obvious to a kid tells me I am wearing just enough. I remember how I used to put makeup on when I was little. Crazy!)

"When you were in (long pause) Miscunsin?" (I talk about both Minnesota and Wisconsin since I grew up in one, and went to school in the other. I guess this might be a bit of a tough concept to grasp.)

"Can I have another cupcake?" (Ha. No. This was after our valentines party.)

"How come your clothes are always clean?" (A good lesson on personal hygiene. And the fact that I don't roll around in dirt on a regular basis.)

Here is also one of my favorite scenarios, that probably occurs on a daily basis, if not twice a day.

Student approaches me.

"I lost my pencil."

I look at student.

"Well (insert student's name), I didn't take it."

Student stares at me.

I stare back.

"Would you like to know what other second graders have done when they have lost a pencil?"

Student nods.

I reply.

"Well, some second graders ask me to borrow a pencil, and some second graders ask a friend to borrow a pencil."

At this point in the conversation, all the busybodied students in my class get out an extra pencil and start to offer it to the victim of the tragic pencil loss.

Students stares at me and stares at them.

"Everybody, just wait. (Student's name) is going to ask to borrow a pencil from someone. Keep doing your work."

Student stares at me some more.

I stare back, working to keep a straight face.

"Do either of those sound like good ideas to you?"

Student nods.

I continue staring. If I stare for more than a minute, I go back to my work while the pencil-less student still stands there. Usually a minute or so later I hear a soft voice.

"Can I borrow a pencil?"

I smile.

"Of course!"

Monday, February 19, 2007

This is the day...

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

For some reason today I woke up with this line running through my head. It has been forever and half since I have sung this song, (in English or Czech), but I kept hearing it in my head. A great reminder that everyday is made by God, and should be celebrated.

Today is Presidents Day, so I get to really enjoy an extra weekend day. I hadn't planned on doing anything spectacular, maybe some reading, a little planning and cleaning at home. I decided to go to Starbucks to do my planning, because I find it faster to do when I am not around distractions like TV or the computer. Okay, or maybe I just wanted some coffee. Why is it that coffee shop coffee seems better than what I make here???

It was, and still is a beautiful day. Sun shining with a high of 60. Considering I am now a little ready for spring, this made my day. A little while into planning, I got a call from my friend Rachel, and we decided to meet for lunch. It was such a blessing to meet her and spend time chatting about life, each other and just being able to know each other a little better. God has blessed me with good friends, both old and new.

I just came home and turned off my heat and opened all my windows. It is warmer outside than in my apartment anyway, and the fresh air is just great to breathe in! I think I'll have to go on a walk later, it is just too nice, and it is supposed to be like this all week! I will definitely have to take my kids out for extra recces this week, considering they've been cooped up for two months with no outdoor reccess.

In whatever you do today, remember to rejoice and be glad in it. Each day is such a blessing, and I am thankful for the renewed perspective that I gained through the ordinary today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentines Drama

I am at home, recovering from my first ever Valentines as a teacher. You might say "but it is not Valentines". Oh, right. Well due to meetings all afternoon long tomorrow (the 14th) my team and I have made Valentines a two day holiday this year, much to my regret now.

No, it really isn't that bad, and it was fun for me. Having been homeschooled during Elementary school, I haven't been able to experience the sheer thrill that come from making my box (or in my class envelope) for my valentines and watching it fill, or the anticipation of the fabulous Valentines Feast.

Yes, I said feast. Let me break it down for you. 5 students brought 25 cupcakes. I have 21 students in my class. That is 125 cupcakes total. All full size, no mini cupcakes for us, we party in style. I just did the math, that is 5.95 cupcakes each. Let's add to that an envelope full of Valentine candy, cookies, popcorn, Kool-Aid, and cake. Yes, cake. Essentially all that we had was straight sugar. Maybe next year I'll forgo sending home notes to bring a treat, and we'll all just bring a pound of sugar and eat it straight from the bag with a spoon.

I let each students (against my better judgement) have cake, 2 cupcakes, Kool-Aid, popcorn and a cookie. They had to take their candy home, and ask their parents if they can eat it. They also each took a cupcake home. I gave the 5th graders I tutor after school each a cupcake, as well as the mother and little brother that were helping in my class have anything they desired. I still have 30 cupcakes sitting in my room, and I don't even like cupcakes. I think I'll take them to our staff dessert buffet tomorrow.

I'll admit, it was fun. And being a teacher on Valentines isn't half bad. I brought home two stuffed bears and 4 boxes of chocolate. Whew, that will last me a while!

So, with all this said, Happy Valentines! And don't forget to eat a cupcake.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fraction Fruit Salad

We made "Fraction Fruit Salad" today at school. Teaching fractions in 2nd grade is tough!!! So, I made fraction fruit salad with fruit. It really wasn't a salad at all, I just cut up fruit into chunks, we figured out the fractions and then we ate! It was interesting, no complaints from anyone, and all the yummy fruit was devoured. That is why I love these kids, thankful for anything and excited about everything.

Here's the recipe in case you want to try it:
1/2 orange
1/3 banana
2/8 apple


Saturday, February 03, 2007


My kids have a way of putting my life into perspective. The last few weeks have been really hard on me emotionally, and without boring everyone with all the details I am just going to say that my kids have forced me to be stable, which has made me get up, deal with everything and keep going.

I have them do journals maybe once or twice a week. I try to think of a topic that is really simple, and that they all can relate to so that they can just get a lot of practice writing, and not worrying so much about structure, spelling etc. I just want to teach them to get their thoughts out on paper. As I was grading the two that they did this week, I was once again thrown back into reality of how blessed I am.

The first journal topic was on the 100th day of school, and I had the students write about what they would do with $100. Most of them were very funny, these kids really think $100 is more like $100,000, so they wanted to buy houses, cars, go on vacations and things like that. One of my students wrote this: "If I had $100 I would be rich, and I don't want to be rich, I just want to be an ordinary kid. So if I had $100 I would give the money to poor people who don't have enough food or clothes so they could be warm, and I would keep doing this until I had $1 left, and I would keep that for myself."

Wow. I pay $100 a month to have a phone, cable TV and internet in my apartment.

The second journal that stood out was when I had the students write about what they would do if they found a magic wand. My little gem whose mother passed away tragically last summer wrote: "If I found a magic wand I would get a big bed to sleep in, and have a mom and dad."

I was floored. I sat at my desk with tears falling down my face only trying to imagine the pain that she feels daily as she faces the world at 7 without her mother. I know children are resilient, and that she will succeed despite this, because she possesses amazing strength. I never thought I would look up to a child, but with her, I truly do.

I think what amazed me most about these two journals was how they truly show what is important in life. These kids are living in extreme poverty, sometimes with 2 or 3 families sharing one house. They might be hungry or cold at home, and for many school provides their most stable environment, but yet they know what really matters. Taking care of those who are less fortunate and family, among other things. I pray that I will be able to keep these perspectives as I continue to go forward in my life.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Back in Action

I know it has been a while since I last posted, and that is completely my fault! I have gotten so caught up with school, grades, holidays and then my nice long break, that I have put my blog on the back burner, maybe even on a burner in someone else's house!

It is good to be back from Christmas break. Although it was such a blessing to see my family and friends when I was home, I really love my kids here, and getting back to them was fun too! It has also been extremely challenging, as some of my behavior problems have reverted back to how things were in September. And it was so nice before Christmas!

It has been interesting as well this past week to talk with my kids about Martin Luther King (Martin Luther King day is on Monday, in case you didn't know), and see their reactions and perceptions of who he was and what he did. I have a very ethnically diverse class, so sitting up in front of them and talking about race and segregation made me feel a little embarassed to be saying that some white people thought that they were better than people who had different colored skin, but yet so thankful that they were all so surprised that the story was true. In their young minds they have not yet experienced racial prejudices or tension, and their short life has been filled with much more opprotunity than perhaps they would have had 50 or 60 years ago. I am thankful for how far this country has come. I think I am more grateful and appreciative of all that Martin Luther King did now, as I see what could have been had he not pursued his convictions and sacrificied as he did.

The highlight of my week came when one of my students came over to me when they were cleaning up their centers at the end of the day and rammed his head into my shoulder and put his arms around me and said "Ms. J, you are the best teacher." I don't need to hear that kind of thing to know that I am a good teacher, but hearing him say that made my heart swell with joy. Hopefully he'll look back someday as me having an impact on his life, and my hope is that all my students will do that.