Thankful Thursday #26

This week I’m thankful for…

  • days when I’m organized enough to leave school shortly after my students
  • when the mailbox has something good in it like a magazine or a package
  • the Northern California Writing Project and the opportunities they give me to learn and collaborate with my colleagues
  • nights when I don’t dream about school and the well-rested mornings that follow
  • Q Tips.  I don’t care that they’re not intended for my ears or that in putting them in my ears I may somehow puncture my brain.  I love the feeling of cleaning out my ears.
  • getting all four of the hotel pillows to myself
  • television finales and the return of summer shows
  • my husband, who attended our class musical dress rehearsal and said lovely things about my children
  • the looks on the faces of my little ones as they performed our class musical for their loved ones
  • teachers being moved to first grade this year who are comfortable enough in their own skin to ask for help
  • the opportunity to share what I love with other teachers
  • wearing my flannel pajamas, slippers and winter robe in May

Thankful Thursday #25

This week I’m thankful for…

  • getting a pedicure with my mom
  • walking the river trail
  • my critique partner at Writers Forum and her helpful suggestions
  • leftovers
  • rainy weather that lets me wear my winter clothes in May
  • sweating hard in spin class and then walking in the rain to my car
  • reading in bed with my hubby
  • days when the rain holds off until after recess
  • the bouquet of roses my husband brought to my classroom
  • the little boy who finally nailed his solo during practice for our musical
  • the man outside of Barnes and Noble who said “Hey, beautiful, smile.  Every day is a good day.”  It was a particularly rough teaching day and I needed to be reminded that it was still a good day.

Surviving Open House

Have I mentioned that I published a book with my class this year?  Oh, only 100 times?  I published a book with my class.  There.  101.

Here it is.  I love the way it turned out.  (I can say that because my kids wrote all the words and one of my all time favorite parents snapped the photos.)

Have I also mentioned that my body shuts down when I have to speak to groups of people?  In my head I know everything’s fine, that I am actually NOT going to die, but my body FREAKS OUT!!!  Sweat pours out of my armpits, knee pits, shins, neck, and head.  As my head lets the floodwaters loose, my curly hair which I have painstakingly straightened, kinks up into a tangled bird’s nest of curls.  Then my voice starts to tremble and my hands shake.  Which makes me sweat more.  Which makes me shake even more.  Which makes me sweat more.  You get the picture.  It’s horrifying.

So things like Back to School Night and Open House are nightmarish.  A full room of parents expecting me to be knowledgeable, poised and sure of myself.  Fat chance.  The sure of myself thing I’ve got down pat.  Wait, never mind.  It’s the full of myself thing I’ve got down.

Anyway, those nights have always put my nerves on red alert.  Until last night.

I have stumbled upon the secret to surviving Open House.  No wait, I stumbled on the secret to making Open House fun.  Open House and fun?  Surely those words can’t exist in the same sentence.  Hell has obviously frozen over.

Come close, I’ll let you in on the secret.

Our books arrived a week ago and all week long we’ve been giving copies to important adults.  We presented one to our foster grandma.  She cried when we gave it to her and has spent every afternoon showing it off at her senior citizens home.  We gave one to our librarian who promptly put it on display.  Our principal came down and we presented him with a copy.  He talked with us about the power of words and later that day I noticed his copy in the hands of a few higher ups.

My kids were dying to take home their very own copy, but I made them wait.  I made them wait all week, which is like 10 years in 6-year-old time.

Yesterday as they cleaned out their desks and made our room ready for company, I handed them each a copy of their book.  They put it on display with their other work.  Some kids had a few extra minutes before school let out.  Know what they wanted to do?  They wanted to sit and read their book.  Let me tell you, my heart just about burst watching pockets of kids read their book, a book they’d penned with their own hands.

At 6:00 sharp, I opened the door and a flood of students and parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents rushed in.  It was great to have so many people, but I was a little confused.  Usually the extended family doesn’t make an appearance until our Spring musical.

Then it hit me, they were there because of the book.

As soon as I opened the door, kids tugged their parents by the hands over to their desks.  They bounced and squealed as they showed their parents the page they’d written.   Mothers cried.  Grandmothers bought extra copies.  Parents flocked to our photographer and thanked her for capturing such beautiful shots of their children.  Dads shook my hand and mothers embraced me.

The room buzzed with excitement the entire hour.  I walked around taking photos of the whole thing.  Even with hundreds of people packed into my little classroom, I didn’t sweat a drop.  My armpits were remarkably dry.  My hair didn’t kink even the slightest bit.

It was a beautiful night, a night when proud authors released their book to a roomful of adoring fans.  It was a launch party, first grade style, which was so much better, and so much less sweaty, than the dreaded Open House.

Thankful Thursday #24

This week I’m thankful for…

  • field trips that require me to tromp around outside by creeks and stuff with my little ones.  It’s so cool to take them out in nature.  We capped our last trip off with a picnic lunch.
  • parent volunteers
  • making my mom laugh on my grandmother’s birthday
  • strawberries from the stand
  • BikeSnobNYC’s article on Wouter Weylandt
  • for my friend, Danielle, who helped me make this flip book of verses I want to memorize.  I’m thankful for creative friends who dream up beautiful things and turn them into reality.

Bike Love, Part 2

This weekend I was a smidge under the weather.  I spent the bulk of my time moaning on the couch.  In between moaning and writhing in pain, I read about riding.  And drooled over pretty cycling jerseys.  And best of all, I ogled bikes.  Ogling bikes reminded me of a pile of bike photos I’ve been collecting since February.  I give you Bike Love, Part 2.

I love cycling because…

When I’m on my bike, I feel like a kid again.

On rare occasions, I feel like I can fly.

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Pedaling for all I’m worth lights a fire in my belly.

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I’m reminded that being stripped down to the bone can be the first step in building something beautiful.

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I find that my load isn’t as heavy as it seems.

I ride in the company of some of the greatest people on the planet.

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My trusty steed is always ready for adventure.

I’ve fallen down, but it’s the getting back up that I remember most.

When I feel hollowed out, riding fills me back up.

My bike gives me a place to grieve without shame.

At the end of each ride, I get to come home to the one I love.

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When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I fall asleep content with the mark I’ve left on the day.