Friday, September 07, 2018

The Crawfish

A few crawfish are coming to live in Room 200.  Not sure what to do about that.  They've donated their lives for science education.  I wish they could be free, so I may release them to our playground creek. On an unrelated note, I'm looking for cat ears.  Today's Picture Day.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The Money

We read about advertising and the ways ads are targeted to kids.  I was working with 2 Thirdlanders who were having trouble getting along.  To distract them from glowering at one another, I read an interesting fact listed under the subheading, Kid Power.  "Look here.  It says elementary age kids spend fifteen billion dollars a year."

"I don't spend nearly that much," said Thirdlander One.
"Me either.  I don't have that kind of money," replied the other.

I explained to them that the writer didn't mean each kid spent 15 billion dollars a year, and they seemed to understand.  They got moving with their sketch notes, at any rate.  I left them, in search of others who might need assistance or clarification.

Monday, September 03, 2018

The Land

I've been inside today.  It's cool in here and I'm grading papers and doing lesson plans and drinking tea and enjoying the quiet.

But let me tell you something, dear reader, on this very morning my ear was hurting horribly.  I was concerned, but the doctor had said that I would feel worse before I would feel better.  He said that I shouldn't expect my ear to feel better until late Wednesday.  I was skeptical as the worsening throbbing pain, resembling a knife being repeatedly thrust into the side of my head, greatly concerned me.  I'm not going to lie.  I even wondered if I might secure some pain meds if I drove over to the ER.  But because of my inner fortitude, I stuck it out and the pain has dissipated quite a bit.  At least we're going in the right direction now.  We're in the Land of Less Pain.  This is a Labor Day for the Ages.  I've been singing to my ear the classic Labor union song, Which Side Are You On???

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Labor

We went on a hike yesterday at Trevlac Bluffs.  We saw two frogs and a turtle shell.  We also saw a wild turkey on the drive over there.  Later, we had dinner with Nancer and KR.  Then we saw Marc Maron at the Comedy Attic.  So yesterday was good.  But today has been a wash out.  Started off the day at the clinic because of a bad ear ache.  Come to find out, the doctor thinks I have cellulitis behind my ear.  Cellulitis is nothing to fool around with.  Then I went to school to work.  I lost the file I was working on and that put me into a bit of a sad sack funk.  I had spent 2 hours on that file.  So who could blame me?

I'm turning it around. Husbandman and I are heading out to dinner.  I'm going to pretend we're in NYC, out on the town.  I'll make comments about the exhibits we saw at MOMA and chat about the awesome actors in the brilliant Broadway play we attended.  I wonder how long it will take Husbandman to figure out what's going on.  

Saturday, September 01, 2018

The Power

Kids sign up to share relevant topics at morning meeting.  We've discussed the meaning of relevant --- "the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate."  We're learning about all kinds of wellness with our IB unit, so I believe it's relevant for kids to share about their soccer games or their chess tournaments.  We're learning about book blurbs, so of course it's relevant for kids to recommend books. We've gone outside to write haiku, so signing up to talk about a bug you found in your yard is relevant.  You get the idea.

On Friday, a Thirdlander shared this, "My mom bought me a new Nintendo Switch yesterday."  I asked, "How is that relevant? Does it connect to anything we've discussed or dealt with?"  In retrospect, the Switch purchase probably made this kid extremely happy and met some of his wellness needs for love and belonging, since it was a special gift from a parent.  But, I don't like this kind of share at morning meeting, so I put the kibosh on it and termed it irrelevant.  He had already told everyone about it, including me, before morning meeting started anyway.  I told him to tell his friends about it in the cafeteria.  It feels a little mean, but if I don't make this choice, Morning Meeting quickly devolves into show and tell.  I'm trying to use my power for good.

Unrelated Sidenote:  A Thirdlander told me this week, "I want a ferret so badly, but my dad says I'm not responsible enough yet."  I'm thinking of getting her a ferret this weekend, habitat and all.  She is responsible as all get out and she deserves that ferret.  She's going to be surprised and probably super happy. Again, power for good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Shadow

We have a new classroom pet.  A black cat puppet.  We voted for her name, so she is now Shadow.  I walked around with Shadow during writing time because she loves to be part of writing workshop. She wants to see what the Thirdlanders are writing.  She taps their papers and pencils with her paws and utters approving meows in their ears.  

At the end of the day, Shadow came with us through the school during dismissal.  One Thirdlander, who had already spent a full day with Shadow perched atop my hand asked me, "Is Shadow a real cat?"
"No, she's just a puppet cat," I told him.  He gave Shadow a last pat and walked out the door to his bus.

Is Shadow a real cat?  It's an amazing question, but one that I like.  I wish I had told him, "She's a puppet cat, but she turns real at midnight and roams around our school." That's clearly what he wanted me to say.  That exchange would have made for a fun conversation with his parents tomorrow night at Open House.  Missed opportunity.  I'll do better next time.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Jumble

We've lived in Thirdland for nearly 3 weeks. It all feels like a jumble, to be honest.  We've wrapped seeds in wet paper towels and sat out in the garden with our notebooks and played some math games and we've sung some songs. We've taken hideous tests on the tablets and written about horses, teeth, sword fights and broken windows.  We've made brains out of play doh and hamburgers out of newsprint.  Parents have sent in crackers for snack and a very few aren't too happy that there will be no weekly spelling test and others want to volunteer in the room as soon as possible.  Harriet the Tarantula has been photographed and tapped at and blown upon and has 25 new fans.

Open House is coming up this Thursday.  25 people will ask me, "How's he/she doing?"  I wish I could be honest and say, "Not really sure.  It all feels like a jumble right now. Your kid seems to be a fun little person for the most part. I enjoy spending time with him/her. As far as the reading and math, I really can't say, but I'll keep you posted."

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Flu

I was in the drugstore last night picking up one of my dumb prescriptions when the pharmacist said, "How 'bout a flu shot?"

It seemed so inviting, like "How 'bout some dessert?"  or "Can I get you another glass of wine?"

So I said, "Yeah, let's do it."

He was so spontaneous with his question that I assumed he was going to pull the shot right out of his pocket and jab it in my arm from across the counter, but this was not the case. I had to stand around for 30 minutes while the pharmacist prepared the flu shot event.  That put me in a bit of a bad mood, to be honest.  So many times I thought about just running from the store to freedom.

In the end, though, I did get the shot and I'm glad about that. It may seem early to get the flu shot, but there's no time like the present to do the right thing for your health.  People die from the flu every year.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Assessments

I was at car duty on Friday and a little kiddo came bopping out of school with a big smile on his face.  His mom said, "Hey Buddy, how was your day?"

He said, "Good. We did another assessment."

The mom and I looked at each other.  "That's a little sad," I told her, "but I admire his upbeat attitude."

This week the Thirdlanders are going to have some assessments.  I hope they enjoy them, but I also hope these assessments don't stand out as highlights.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The New Blue

Our home is being painted.  I love this new blue.  It used to all be the red brickish color of the deck as shown above.  For various reasons we can't get the deck painted blue and we're sick of the brickish, so we're going with a dark grey.  We went with a light grey, but we don't like it.  So more stuff with the house paint, but the good news is... we like the blue.

As for Thirdland, I have another great group.  We are getting to know each other and easing into the school year.  More on my peeps later.  They are a bit too loud, but other than that, I'm enjoying them heartily.  Bon temps in Room 200 yet again.

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Supplies

I've been going back and forth for a few days on the important issue of whether or not I want to purchase a small area rug for the classroom.  Don't really need it, but why not get it anyway?  Could add a little snap and pop to my entryway.

I decided to go for it, so we ventured over to the everything store this very evening.  I got the rug and then decided I needed some new markers.  The school supply section was packed with peeps.

The atmosphere was fun, but somewhat tense over there as I heard a mom say to her kiddo,  "Just look at the supply list and focus.  Please.  Look at each item and focus on getting that item.  Please."

I decided to leave markers for another day.  These kids are coming my way this week.  I'll be talking about focus and task commitment with many of them. It's going to rock.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Euchre

We play euchre now.  John and Patricia taught us.  I'm okay at euchre.  Not saying I'm amazing or anything, but I'm passable. I've been known to take a trick or two here or there.

 There are parts of the game that I still don't quite understand.  Husbandman is surprised by this.  Today he said, "You've played 5 times."  Then he started to explain the bidding process again.  After awhile, I said, "I'm not really listening to you."

I'm on a need to know basis with euchre.  This is the last day of summer vacation. Euchre was my main accomplishment of the summer, in terms of learning new things.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

The Job

Husbandman and I have enjoyed a long summer of traveling and eating lunches together and solving difficult crossword puzzles.  Yesterday I headed in to the compound to start getting the classroom ready.  Husbandman said, "Well I guess I won't see you until late tonight?"
        I wryly replied, "In reality, you won't see me until late May."
        It was kind of funny, but also not so funny.
        I spent a long time at school yesterday and truth be told I didn't get much done.  I needed to keep the big picture in mind and stop getting distracted with small details like should I rearrange all the chapter books.  Today will be better.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Movies

When I'm visiting my mom, we watch a lot of movies.  Here's the lowdown on some movies you may also want to view if you feel like it.

Mamma Mia.  You might think this is going to be kind of dumb but then you might be pleasantly surprised.  The movie doesn't take it self very seriously.  The songs are catchy.  And then there's Cher singing Fernando.  SCORE.

On TV we watched Tom Cruise in American Made.  My mom and I agreed that it wasn't your typical Cruise fare, but very watchable.  We also watched Table 19, which was silly, but kind of okay because I always like Anna Kendrick and June Squibb.  We capped it off with The Equalizer, which I've seen about 12 times.  My mom had never seen it.  She said, "I don't usually like movies like this, but Denzel makes it."  So we lucked out with the movies. My dad was cranky and wouldn't watch the movies with us, so that was frustrating, but everyone is entitled to freedom.  Overall, a fun visit down in the deep South.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Legs

Husbandman  was mowing the lawn this evening last when this snake stealthily and swiftly wrapped around his left leg.  We couldn't persuade the snake to release him.  Come to find out,  the snake was squeezing Husbandman's leg with a surprising amount of force, preventing Husbandman from finishing the mowing which was a drag because he only had a small bit of lawn left to mow.

We sat on the deck together, the three of us, for the better part of an hour, when a baby rabbit caught the snake's eye.  The rabbit was munching grass, nary a care in the world.  Our snake who we had started calling Legs, slithered off Husbandman's leg and headed to the rabbit.  Legs never made it over to the rabbit who hopped away in a flash when he sensed something was amiss. Legs slid back to the deck, but by that time, Husbandman and I had gone inside to eat some peach cobbler.  Legs spent the night on the deck in a state of what can only be described as despondence.  We wish we could think of a way to help Legs.  After breakfast, I'm going to suggest that Husbandman head over to the pet store to get a snake carrier.  Then maybe we'll invite Legs to drive to Georgia with us, so he can meet my parents.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Conference

Photo Credit:  Anastasia Gruper.  Thanks @agruper!
ILA 2018 has come to an end.  I'm still here in Austin.  I was going to venture out to see the bats tonight, but you know what they say.  If you can't stand the heat, stay inside the air conditioning.  So that's what I'm doing.

But that's neither here nor there.  Let's not judge me for making the lesser choice.  Let's focus instead on the conference and my many accomplishments.

The conference has been quite good.  My session went well and that was a big relief. It was delightful  talking about Back and Forth with Katie Wood Ray.  The people at the session were supportive and enthusiastic. Go EDITOR MINDSET!

Other highlights:  I listened to 5 great authors on an LGBTQIA panel. I could have listened to them all day long.  I also heard a funny session about punctuation and bought a hefty book called #Patterns of Power that will help me with teaching about apostrophes this year.  I also spent some time analyzing a poem with a group of peeps. I also talked with some fun people at the Heinemann reception. Also, I went to a 2 hour session on sketch noting and comprehension that was fascinating.  I also heard a set of inspiring keynotes from Cornelius Minor, Aden Gonzalez and Nadia Lopez. (FYI: Those peeps are doing some very cool work).  So, in the end, ILA2018 was all fabulous. But come to find out, the thing is, there's no place like home and I'm ready to get back to my tribe.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Clickiness

So today I got on a plane and flew to Austin, Texas.  First thing I did when I got here was check into my pleasant hotel.  Then I went to get my badge.  Then I went back to my room to keep practicing my talk.  This talk's been giving me grief, but it's not really the talk's fault. I just keep getting distracted by stuff.

My mood brightened when I discovered a little shop in the lobby where you can buy sandwiches and bottles of WINE!  Once I feel like I'm 100% ready for tomorrow, I'll relax and watch TV and enjoy the fruit of the vine.

My room overlooks a beautiful outdoor pool.  I'm tempted to make my way down there, but every single person, save one,  is part of a cool in crowd group, also known as a clique. There's one guy who is not mingling but he's talking on his phone while he stands in four feet of water. I feel sorry for him.  It's best for me to stay up here and practice the talk again.  Then I'll catch up on The Bachelorette and imagine how great it's going to feel tomorrow night when the talk is over.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Annoyances

I'm sitting in a coffee shop, surrounded by men and women chatting.  Several have  sweet lilting voices that are getting on my last nerve.  I wish they would go away. Zip it, people.

Tomorrow I go to Austin.  I don't feel ready for the ILA Conference and as usual I've turned the talk into a ridiculous chore that still isn't quite done.  Surprise, surprise.

On the good side of things, our trip to Oregon was fantastic.  We ate at amazing restaurants, visited beautiful parks, hiked to  stunning waterfalls, stared at sea lions and sea stars along the coast.  

We talked about things that annoy us at our jobs and 20 Something led us in a goal setting session. In short, #VisitOregon

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Editor Mindset

Toward the end of the month, I'm going to Austin to talk about Back and Forth at the ILA Conference.  I'm working on the talk and as usual, I'm getting down to the wire.  I got brave last summer and asked Katie Wood Ray to present with me.  KATIE WOOD RAY, people! As you undoubtedly know, she's a famous writing workshop guru who has written many amazing books for writing teachers.  She's also an editor at Heinemann.  So I thought it would be great to have a real editor sharing thoughts on the editor mindset as I share ideas from my editor mindset work with the Thirdlander authors of Popcorn Press.  I'm still surprised that Katie said she would do this.  How nice is that?

I need to get this power point done so I can send it her way before I leave tomorrow for Portland.  I'm pretty sure I can do it.  I keep getting stuck because I can't stop looking up new information about editors on the internet.  This Harper Collins site, "Inside the Archives" has great letters to Ursula Nordstrom, my favorite editor of all.  It's so addicting.  I can't stop reading letters from Arnold Lobel and E.B. White and John Donovan. I'm having fun working on this talk.  I'm not sure too many people will love the editor mindset as much as I do, but as you know, I myself find it completely fascinating.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Quiet

Our good friend Kathala died last week.  This week we attended a visitation and a funeral. We went to the cemetery and we mingled with the flood of people who came to say goodbye.   There were tears aplenty.  There will be more to come. They come at surprising times.  The house is quiet now.

Almost every Friday afternoon for over ten years, I've had a date with Kathala and Sandra and Judith.   We'll still get together, but it won't be the same and we all know it.  We met at her house a lot of the time.  We talked nonstop for hours and hours and laughed and cried on repeat. She would never let us leave until everything was discussed in great detail.  Whenever anyone said anything about weirdness of the week, Kathala would pause in surprise and then say, "You know what?" and we would laugh hysterically in response.

Then she'd dive into her thoughts about why this weird thing happened or why it shouldn't have happened or why it keeps happening.  And today I'm just wishing I could hear her say, "You know what?" a bunch more times.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Hotel

 Husbandman and I are staying at a pleasant hotel called Graduate Minneapolis.  In the room, there are artifacts representing people who are from this fine city.  We have a large oil painting of Loni Anderson and a jacket (framed behind glass) that once belonged to Herb Brooks.

I'm familiar with Loni Anderson, though I never knew she was from the Land of Lakes.  Loni Anderson has spoken out against cigarette smoking because both her parents died of emphysema.  I support Loni Anderson's work on this important health issue.

I had never heard of Herb Brooks before, so Husbandman filled me in on some of his big accomplishments.  I've spent some time learning about him on the internets.  If I have to look at his jacket upon waking up each morning, I should know a bit about the man.  It's just common sense.

Herb inspired many ice hockey players to do their best and to play with heart.  He told people to be "uncommon" because common people go nowhere.  He also said that "Legs feed the wolf."  Not sure what that means, but I'm ready to ponder this potentially inspirational idea throughout my day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Acknowledgements

Lisa Jewell wrote this acknowledgement of her editors and their "brave and clear minded" work on revision suggestions for her book,  Then She Was Gone.  KC sent me this photo.  It's a good addition to my collection of authors' grateful writing about how editors make significant impact on their stories.  If you find one of these, please send it my way.  Thanks, friends.

Monday, June 25, 2018


Saturday's CPR training went well.  Come to find out, I didn't need the first aid part of the class, so I got to leave early.  I know how to do CPR and I also know how to use an AED.  AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.

I'm now obsessed with locating the AEDs in all facilities.  At the airport yesterday, I pointed out the AED to Husbandman.  "If I need to start doing CPR on someone around here, I'm going to need you to run over here, open up this box and pull out this AED.  Bring it to me at once. Also, call 911."  Husbandman's response didn't inspire confidence, but I'm sure he'll do the right thing when the time comes.

I know where the AED is here in the hotel.  Unfortunately, it's downstairs in the lobby which is going to be a hassle if someone up here on the sixth floor needs CPR.  Sidenote:  Husbandman and I are spending some days in Minneapolis.  Fun times indeed.  Just spent 3 hours straight talking to KC and we didn't even get through 30% of the stuff on our talk about list.

Anyway, I was considering buying my own AED because what if the one at a location is out of batteries or is damaged in some way?  Also, I may want to carry around a small disposable razor because if I'm doing CPR on a hairy chested person, I'm going to have to remove that hair quickly so the AED nodes can adhere to the skin and administer the shock efficiently.  Come to find out, an AED costs about 1,400 dollars.  So I'm holding off on buying my own at this point in time.  In the meantime, I'm constantly keeping my eyes peeled for the AED nearest me and I strongly suggest you do the same. If you're nervous about using an AED, don't be.  Once you turn it on, the machine tells you what to do one step at a time.

Saturday, June 23, 2018


So, today is my day for a 5 hour CPR class.  My teaching license has expired and I must revive it if I want to continue educating our nation's youth, which I do. Part of being professionally developed is knowing how to save lives, so I accept that I must now leave my coffee cup and head to the YMCA.   And yet, I wonder why it takes 5 hours to teach CPR?   A few squeezes to the diaphragm.  A few pounds to the chest.  I could probably get this done in 30 to 50 minutes.

I actually saved 20Something's life once, using my CPR skills.  She was choking on an apple.  Maybe if I mention that to the instructor today, she'll realize that she can proceed at a faster pace.

I am sad to be losing 5 hours of my weekend to CPR training, but I'm also excited to hone my life saving skills.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Club
I hosted the book club last night.  We discussed Woman in the Window, a fast paced thriller with some good surprises.  If you want to read that book, you should.  The author was an editor.  He has since quit his editing job and is now just a plain old writer.  I wonder what it was like for him to work with an editor to revise.

I picked the book this month, so I was a little nervous that we wouldn't have a ton of talk around it, but as usual, we did.  This book club of mine really talks about books, which is quite nice.  I've been in book clubs that didn't like to discuss books too much and that got on my last nerve.

Mitzker's in Croatia and Slovenia and she is taking some awesome photographs.  Check out her blog over here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Obituary

 "He had a rough start in life, but was able to overcome all of that."

When I read this line in Mr. F.'s obituary this morning, I felt frustrated as all get out.  Geez Louise, don't tease.  Tell me more about this rough start.  Tell me more about the overcoming.  Don't leave me hanging.  

I'm slowly getting over it.  Mr. F.'s family probably wants to focus on the good times.  I can learn from Mr. F. that rough starts can be overcome and life can be happy and good.  End of story.

May you rest in peace, Mr. F.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Stress

I went to Georgia and to Florida last week.  My parents are doing well thanks for asking.  We did a lot of fun activities together and then on the last day of our visit, my parents suffered simultaneous falls.  They went down together, staring into my eyes as I reached out for them, both sailing slowly backward like flat Stanleys, smacking down on the pavement outside their front steps.  It was scary and sad and infuriating.  I wanted everything to be perfect for my whole trip.  Upshot is this --- Mom's elbow is a mess.  Dad may have broken a rib. As for me, frankly I am traumatized. Mom and Dad, you've got to do better.  I can't handle the stress of your constant falling.  I love you both a lot.  Please knock it off with the balance issues.

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Skin

Husbandman and I like to see birds in the wild, but we don't like to wake up early on our precious weekends. We tenaciously venture out around noon, even though birds are usually long gone.  Birds hang out during sunrise and then they make themselves scarce.  Birds don't have time to fool around. That being said, we did see a few birds down Goose Pond way on Sunday afternoon.  We saw some terns flying around and some cattle egret in a field.  We also saw this toad.  How do I know it's a toad, you ask?  Toads have rough skin.  Frogs have smooth skin. This toad was comfortable hanging out in the open mid afternoon.  I'm thinking of starting a toad watching club.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

The Cards

We're learning to play euchre. John and Patricia are teaching us.  From this day forward, I'm going to keep a deck of cards in my purse just in case anyone might want to sit and play some euchre.  We're heading to a graduation party for a fantastic kid in a bit.  I'm thinking this fantastic kid or some of her fellow graduates might like to sit down and play some euchre.  Let's get EUCHRE SUMMER started, my friends.  

Friday, June 01, 2018

The Jokes

We went to hear Margaret Cho. I have a lot of respect for Margaret Cho. She has been in comedy for 35 years and as you probably know, I just finished up my 34th year of teaching America's youth.  In short, Margaret and I have devoted our lives to our respective fields.   I also think she's on the good side of political issues, in that she agrees with my point of view much of the time.  Despite our strong bond, Margaret and I just could not get on the same page last night.  Her jokes didn't interest me and I found many to be annoying.  Out of respect, I gave Margaret a heartfelt ovation, but we just weren't in sync and quite honestly, I place most of the blame on Margaret.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Notebooks

I read on twitter that yesterday was National Notebook Day.  I was pretty excited, though the Thirdlanders were a bit tentative about the greatness of the holiday.  One 3rdlander said, "I wish it could be NO BOOK DAY."

Very funny, Chum.

We paired up to look through our notebooks and reflect on the glories of our school year.  They loved looking back on the first day of school.  "Look what I wrote!" a Thirdlander said, laughing.  To my mind the entry didn't look that different from his typical written performance, but he was quite struck by how much he had changed. Others kept running over to me with "Remember when we did...." and "Look at this monster I drew in October..." It was all good fun and I should probably remember to do more notebook reflecting as school years draw nigh.  I told a Thirdlander next to me as we were wrapping it up, "I just love my notebook."
He smugly replied, "Who doesn't?  It holds all our most precious memories."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Hand

A Thirdlander has a weird red mark on her hand from playing on the monkey bars.  Yesterday she picked at it all day long, trying to rip her skin open.  I tried every strategy in the book to get her to stop but she wouldn't.  She finally split it open, got some care in the office, and then removed the bandaid so she could continue to pick at it.  I know she's going to pick at it all day today so I'm going to try to ignore it.  Because paying attention to it didn't work out. 

So, I'm not looking forward to work today. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Cheers

Today's Mother's Day.  2 days ago was my dad's 89th birthday.  My parents are a lot of fun.  We're thinking about taking a trip down to Florida this summer.  Hit the beach.  Swim with the manatees. Paraglide. Head out to the strawberry farms to pick the strawberries and make some strawberry shortcake.  I'm not kidding.  These people are up for anything.  They're totally nuts.  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Board

Every May, I am responsible for putting up a massively large bulletin board in our section of the building. I'm always late putting up this bulletin board. This year, I put up the board on Friday after school.  Kids will get to enjoy it for the remaining 11 days of the 2017-2018 school year.

We've been studying Bloomington history.  The Thirdlanders made posters about outdoor sites in our town that kids can enjoy during the summer.  They had to focus on areas of our town that were public and free and that connected to our study of important Bloomington resources.

I had a cool Fifthster cut out big letters for the words GET OUTSIDE! for the top of the bulletin board.  As I was up on a ladder stapling the words on Friday afternoon, I decided to be more concise.  I just stapled the words GET OUT! across the top.  It's more in line with my feelings right now.  And I think everyone will get a kick out of it.  I myself think it's hilarious.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The Tinies

Photo Credit:  W VdS
 Because it's Voting Day, I have the day off.  After the important accomplishment of participating in our democracy by voting, I got back to work on the following goals:

  • Back and Forth editor suggestions for stories written by the Thirdlanders
  • Revise an article I'm cowriting with Mitzker and Zawan 
  • Publish an enticing and creative blog entry

As I previously explained in an earlier blog post, I'm not feeling super energized right now.  Luckily, and perhaps miraculously, today's newspaper included a great piece about combatting low motivation.

Basically, there are three steps. First take some time off for yourself.  I did this last night by going to bed early and watching three hours of Teen Mom 2.  Next, divide tasks into tiny increments and chip away little by little.  I'm doing this by setting my timer for 5 minutes at a time and rotating through my three goals. I've completed editing 1.5 stories, revised 4 pages of the article and might just finish this blog entry.  The final bit of advice was, "Connect with others."  I ignored this piece of advice.  I wouldn't have gotten anything at all done if I had connected with others.  Sure I sent off the occasional text or two, but mostly I just whittled away at my tasks.

The problem with my motivation is that everything takes a long time to do, but in the end, you just do what you can.  Do your best and forget the rest.

PS:  Here's a picture of Back and Forth because it looks so great with those sunflowers.  And also because I referred to the editor mindset in goal #1 above.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Risks


The Baltimore Orioles are flying through this week.  Mitzker took this great photograph.  She invited me over to have wine and cheese and watch the orioles from Baltimore flying about outside, but I told her I had work to do.  

 I do have work to do.  Quite a lot of work.  But come to find out, I'm just noodling away my day. Some would say that it's important to add to daily anxiety, tension and stress with procrastination and avoidance.  As Peter Levitt says, "The riskiest thing a writer can do is try to be safe." 

I'm pushing May 6 to the limit, seeing how risky life can get on this gorgeous Sunday.  Living on the edge, so to speak. Watching the sands of my day slip through the hourglass of folderol. 

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Cakes

It's carnival day.  I'm signed up for a shift at the cake walk. In all my born days, I've never won a cake at a cake walk. My older sister won cakes galore.  Every single year.  She'd wander around the Holy Rosary school carnival passing out cupcakes and slices of cakes to her pals.  Every single year. I personally thought she should bring the cakes home to share with the family, but my sister is and always has been an in the moment kind of gal. Regardless, it's always seemed strange to me that two people in the same family can have such different experiences at carnival cake walks. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Gate

I'm at the gate for my flight.  I'm taking a day off, which will be tomorrow.  I'm going to meet up with 20 Something in a city that's one mile high in terms of elevation.  I needed to get away from The Thirdlanders for a day.  They're really acting oddly.  In the middle of something that I find fascinating, a 3rdLander will inevitably yell out, "When's the last day of school again?"  I try not to take it personally, but it was starting to wear me down today.  I don't usually do the count down thing at school.  Some people think it's great that we have 22 days left.  To me, I think.... geez, that's a lot of days dealing with people who are acting like mental ward patients.

I think this day off will be just the ticket to get me through.  We have a lot going on still in Room 200.  We've got stories to publish.  This weekend, I'm not going to think about that.  It's all going to be fine.  20 Something says we're going to go nuts in the city that's one mile high.  I know what that looks like because I'm working in the nuthouse right now.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Game

Western Tent Caterpillar     Photo Credit:  C. Butler

Fact: 3rd grade boys spend more time arguing than playing at recess. This isn't special to this year's group. It's a true fact about all groups of 3rd grade boys. It's a conundrum that will somehow be solved by the passing of time. I give it my best shot every year, on a daily basis, but there's rarely much improvement. Fortunately, the fourth grade boys just don't have the same kind of tension around their recess activity.  

Three third grade classes were out for recess on Thursday and the fighting began on the baseball field almost immediately.  I entered the fray and declared myself ump.  I know a good deal about baseball, which may surprise you. I was doing a bang up job with the umping and the game was moving along. A 3rdlander stood next to me and watched.  She kept asking me why I was making certain calls.  It was distracting, but I tried to talk to her and ump the game at the same time.  

"STRIKE!"  I yelled several times.  Every time, my sidekick would yell at me, "But he didn't even hit it!  He didn't even hit it."  When I would yell, "Four balls!  That's a walk!  Take your base!" she would holler, "He's running!  He's running! He's not walking!"

I finally stopped trying to explain the nuances of baseball and encouraged her to watch some games with her mom and dad. She needs to get up to speed with America's pastime.  The year's end is drawing nigh and there's only so much I'm going to be able to get done with these Thirdlanders.  Parents, the ball's in your stadium. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Proxy

20 Something went on a boat this week.  For days after her boat trip, she experienced a rocking disequilibrium, as if she were still on the boat.  She called me to discuss the situation.  I stayed surprisingly calm while insisting that she get to a doctor STAT. While she was struggling to get medical attention, I began a few days of intensive research which involved reading as well as interviewing a boating friend.

Come to find out, there's a syndrome called "Mal de Debarquement" that happens to people after a flight or a boat trip.  75% of professional sailors have experienced MdDS.  My boating friend had MdDS for 3 weeks after a cruise once.  Luckily, 20 Something only had the debilitating syndrome for 2.5 days. She's fine now.  I was so nervous that she was going to have Mal de Debarquement Syndrome for 2 or 3 years because that has been known to happen and honestly, we've been on a bit of an unlucky streak around here lately.   I assumed her condition indicated some type of inner ear infection, but that's not so.  What happens with MdDS is your brain adapts to the rollicking waves and can't re-adapt when you're back on land.  You would think brains could do better.  Our brains really let us down when it comes to MdDS.

It is up to the person who has suffered with MdDS to determine if going on a boat again is worth the risk.  Obviously, I hope 20 Something decides to forego boats forever.  I've been somewhat stressed over the past few days and I'd prefer not to experience MdDS-by-Proxy ever again.  I suggest everyone stop going on boats because why invite trouble?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Doggedness

 The Thirdlanders are starting to storyboard their social narrative stories.  Most people who teach in a writing workshop would probably think I'm too directive and or suggestive  with these young writers.  One Thirdlander has had to restart two times in the last two days.  Another Thirdlander started ripping up her post its after I made some comments about her story idea being a bit same old same old. I try to be tactful, but I stay true to my editor identity. When writing fiction for our press, the Thirdlanders need to make sure their books are surprising and original and can get readers talking about social issues.

This morning, a friend came to me and asked me about a writer she's working with.  I taught this kiddo and he was a hard sell on social justice writing, but he ended up writing a bestseller about gender stereotyping.  This week, he is writing about atomic farts.  She said, "You would say no to that, right?"

"Yeah, I would. He can go home and write about atomic farts all he wants.  He can hammer out pages of atomic fart comments in his writer's notebook if that's his thing. But when he's working on a publishing project for the classroom press, he needs to develop a theme that highlights a social justice issue."  Worrying that I was coming off as overly strident, I added "I know. I'm bossy."

She said, "I don't think you're bossy.  I think you help kids produce some truly amazing writing." So that was nice.  Even though the editor mindset isn't for everyone, I'm loyal and true to the Back and Forth of classroom publishing.  We've got a lot to do in the next month.  Rolling up sleeves and getting the job done in Room 200.

The Crawfish

A few crawfish are coming to live in Room 200.  Not sure what to do about that.  They've donated their lives for science education.  I...