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.