Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone**

Sunday Stealing: The 2015 Year End Meme

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? Saw the Foo Fighters in concert.  It was epic, and awesome, and all of the very best adjectives ever.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Didn’t make reservations.  Or resolutions, either.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Uhm… my youngest niece turned 1, and a few cousins had babies this year, but other than that, I don’t think so…  Oh!  One of the teachers on my team had her baby boy a few days before Christmas, so she’s one of my only friends who gave birth this year.

4. Tell us a valuable lesson you learned in 2015? Save.  Keep saving.  Just when you think you’ve saved enough, save some more.  And don’t spend it!  Just stop spending every penny you get!

5. What was your favorite new TV program? I’m pretty hooked on Jane the Virgin.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? More personal time.  More energy.  A better handle on my finances.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Going to the I Teach 1st! conference in early July was pretty awesome.  September 19th, because that’s the day we went to the Foo Fighters concert.  October 28th, because I got some pretty great feedback from my principal after a weekly walk-through.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Finding my groove as a First Grade Teacher and feeling like I’m able to relax and have fun with my kiddos.

9. What was your biggest failure? I don’t feel like I managed my finances in the best way.

10. What was the best thing you bought? James talked me into getting a new computer, as my laptop was over 5 years old. We got a Dell XPS and it’s pretty awesome.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration? Like, that I know, personally?  I don’t know.  That’s kind of an odd question.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted? Like, that I know, personally?  I don’t know.  That’s kind of an odd question.

13. What song will always remind you of 2015? Adele’s Hello

14. What do you wish you’d done more of? Saved money.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of? Spent money.

16. What was the best book you read? Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy

17. What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying? Being more mindful of my finances.

18. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. See title of post.

**Title of post from Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters

Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain**

Okay, it’s like this:

I’m on vacation. And I’m doing my part to fight off the forces of gravity by holding the couch down while the dog recharges her battery with endless naps in my lap. I’m also fighting a serious battle against the laundry. It had been winning, but the mound is lessening and the odds are now stacked in my favor. There’s been a bit of grading happening, and I’m also trying to keep SweetPea from dulling her mind while binge-watching episodes of Scaredy Squirrel on NetFlix.

It’s a tough gig, mind you, but I think I’ve got it covered.

The point is, I’m being lazy. I fully admit that. And I see these lovely “end of the year” reflections going on elsewhere and while it sounds like a good idea, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around such a staggering feat. At least not while the laundry still taunts me and there are unwrapped Christmas gifts hiding all over the house. Instead, I am posting an A – Z Daily photo challenge I did on Instagram back in October. If it makes you feel better, I did spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to get them all into one mosaic before I gave up and just used the Layout app on my iPhone.

Enjoy. And have a happy New Year. I might attempt to post more in the future. So long as my wi-fi and the battery in my iPhone cooperate. Because I’m still not sure this couch won’t float away if I’m not here to hold it down for the remainder of my winter break.

**Title of post from Story Of My Life by One Direction

It’s like this and like that and like this and uh**

Okay, it’s like this:

I am having a blast.  My kiddos are sweet and fun and, for the most part, eager to learn and follow directions.  The Kinder 2.0 season has ended and I feel like they have settled into the routines and expectations and are finally first graders.  They know that 2 snaps means, “Nuh-uh!” and straighten up right away, they encourage each other, are self-policing (for the most part) and even remember to apologize when they make an error in judgement.  Their fluency is improving, their writing is getting stronger, their math skills are getting stronger, they are making great progress.

That being said, it has taken a lot of hard work to get here.

And all that hard work?  Let’s be honest.  It’s exhausting.

I want to update more frequently, but when I get enough time to write a post, I get sucked into catching up on the feeds I read or scrolling through Instagram or doing something productive like attempting to cook a meal or clean the kitchen or do some laundry.  Or sleep.

So here’s one gem I can share.

We had a stretch of really cold days, and by “really cold” I mean we’d get to school and it would be in the 40’s, but then the afternoons would warm up to the high 60’s/low 70’s, but this is Southern California and people freak out at the thought of actual weather, so the kids would show up dressed like it was a snow day.  Long sleeves under their uniform shirts, sweaters under jackets, beanies, gloves, the works.  Then the afternoon temperatures suddenly jumped to the upper 80’s and the kids came in from lunch having stripped off as many layers as possible, sweat dripping from their temples, panting and begging for water.

It was on one of these strangely cold morning/hot afternoon days when my Most Enthusiastic Pup came running back from lunch, sweatshirt in hand, long-sleeves shoved up over his elbows, beanie askew.  The rest of the class had already filed in and was getting started on the math warm-up, so he knew he was a little bit late.  He was yelling that he had left his sweatshirt under the slide and had run back to get it and was being as quick as he could so he wouldn’t get in trouble.  I nodded and put the “Shhh!” finger over my lips as I held the door open for him.  I could see the sweat glistening on his cheeks as he huffed and puffed his way over.

He got to the bottom of the ramp and sort of hiccup-burped and froze.  He looked at me, wide-eyed.

Me, not moving: Hey Buddy! Gonna throw up?
Most Enthusiastic Pup, coming up the ramp, nodding: Yeeeessss…
Me, grabbing the trash can I keep by the classroom door and pushing it toward his chest: Have at.
MEP, panicked: What do I do??
Me, pointing toward the bottom of the ramp: Aim that way and don’t come inside!

He turns away and I close the door behind me.  I walk to my desk, fill out a pass to the Nurse, and wait by the door until it is quiet again.

Me, cracking open the door: All done?
MEP, pushing can toward me: Yeah, I think.
Me, shaking my head: Nuh-uh, leave that outside. [Wave pass at him.]  Take this and go see the Nurse.

He sets the trash can down and leaves, I close the door and call for the custodian to come empty the trash can and check the ramp to be sure there was no spillage.  Meanwhile the rest of the class worked on the warm-up without so much as a clue as to what was going on outside.

And that, friends, is a successful day in first grade.


**Title of post from Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang by Dr. Dre (Feat. Snoop Dogg)

Hey all right! If I get by, it’s mine. Mine all mine! **

Sunday Stealing: That Alphabet Thing Meme

A: Accent — Southern Californian
B: Breakfast — coffee & a Kind bar
C: Chore you hate — cleaning toilets
D: Dad’s name — El Guapo
E: Essential everyday item — Blistex Silk & Shine
F: Flavor ice cream — Baskin Robbin’s Gold Medal Ribbon
G: Gold or silver — silver
H: Hometown — somewhere in Southern California
I: Insomnia — nope
J: Job title — 1st grade teacher
K: Kids — SweetPea, age 6
M: Mother’s birthplace — somewhere in Southern California
N: Number of significant others — just the one I married
O: Overnight hospital stays — 2
P: Phobia — losing loved ones
Q: Quick at — typing
R: Religious affiliation — none
S: Siblings — younger sister
T: Time you wake up — on a school day: 4:30 a.m.  Weekends: 6:30 or later if I’m lucky
U: Unnatural hair colors — not currently
V: Vegetable you refuse to eat — parsnips, beets, turnips… There’s a big list.
W: Worst habit — #CoughOCD
X: X-rays — most recently?  Right foot, but nothing was broken.
Y: Yummy — any form of potato
Z: Zodiac sign — Aquarius

Swiped from Kwizgiver

**Title of post from Been Caught Stealing by Jane’s Addiction

And I have no concept of time other than it is flyin’**

I just looked at my lesson plan book and realized we are in Week 10 of the school year. Already a quarter of the way done!?!? How is that possible?!!??!

I have so many fun stories to share, but this is my favorite.

Scene: “Fun Friday” = students are putting together a cut up 120 chart “puzzle” in lieu of filling in their blank 120 chart as part of practicing counting amd writing numbers to 120 (1.NBT.A.1, because we have to have it posted and damn if I don’t get a walk-through while they’re “playing games” and I don’t have a way of justifying it other than the generic “practicing number sense” and “team building”). 

My most animated, Minion-Loving Pup, sliding a chunk of the puzzle into place, so excited he forgets to raise his hand: TEACHAH! I love First Grade! I was nervous it was going to be hard but it’s really FUN!

**Title of post from All I Really Want by Alanis Morissette

May your smile shine on **

Every year we have a Welcome Back breakfast.  Parents come to the MPR and sit down with their kiddos and have breakfast.  The kids get whatever the breakfast choice of the day was (since we are a free lunch site and the kids can get breakfast and lunch every day), parents get a banana, a pastry, and juice or coffee.  We’re only in there for about a half hour, but the kids just love it.  They chat and eat while teachers serve breakfast trays and snap pictures for the yearbook, then we quickly clear off the tables, the kids hug their parents, and then we get in line so the next grade level can come in.

It’s usually on the Friday of the first week of school.  By then the kids have had a chance to get used to the routine and are pretty settled so there’s not a lot of emotional outbursts as we scoot back to class.  Except this year, we started school on Thursday, so the breakfast was on the second day of school.

I’m walking around, snapping pictures, and the kids are all smiles.  Ear to ear, mouths full of pancakes, big toothy grins.  One girl in particular was especially thrilled to be having breakfast with her mom.  As we start to clean up, I see a couple of kiddos getting a little misty-eyed.  Parents are stroking their cheeks, wiping eyes dry with napkins, and saying they’ll be back after school to pick them up before shooing the kids off into line.

Except my Especially Thrilled Pup, who suddenly started to wail and cling to her mom.

Mom gets up and starts walking with the girl to the line.  The admins start shooing my kids outside to line up on our spot because the second graders are waiting to come in and they need us to get out.  Wailing Pup will not let go of her mom and get in line.  They are outside with us now, the rest of my class is lined up and waiting, and a few are starting to whisper to each other about why she’s crying.  I remind them of line rules: Hands by your side, Eyes forward, Voices off.  They hop-to and I nod in approval before I turn my attention to Wailing Pup.  Mom looks at me desperately and asks if I want her to walk back to the classroom with us.  I smile and say that won’t be necessary and then lean down to Wailing Pup’s eye level.

Me, holding my hand up with my fingers out: Sweetheart, we are going to count down from 5.  When we get to zero, it will be time to give Mom one last squeeze and then get in line.

Wailing Pup, still clinging to mom, shakes her head vigorously: Nooooooooooo…..

Me, not wavering: Five… Four… Count with me hon…

Wailing Pup wails louder.  Mom starts counting with me.

Me: Three…. Two………..  One……………….  Zero.   Give mom one last hug.

I have not stood up.  I am still holding eye contact with her.  Wailing Pup hugs mom and then lets go.  Mom steps to the side.  Wailing Pup does not join the line.

Me: Great job, sweet.  Now you have a choice – You may hold my hand and walk next to me back to class, or you may get in line with your friends.  Show me your choice.

Wailing Pup takes my hand.  I head to the front of the line.  I praise my kiddos for being patient and waiting quietly.  We walk back to the classroom.  Wailing Pup utters a few whimpers but I do not acknowledge them.  I walk with her in silence as the class follows behind us.  We get to our line-up spot in front of the classroom and I plant her feet in the Line Leader Box.  I tell her to wait right there while I check on the rest of the line.  She lets my hand go and I move down the line, reminding or praising each kid as I go. We move on with our day and eventually she is all smiles again.

I had not noticed, during the exchange, that an admin was watching our class wait while I was calming this girl down.  That four classes of second graders walked right past us and, aside from a few waves from kiddos with siblings in the other classes, my line was straight and quiet.  She was so impressed with their patience that she came in at the end of the day to tell them about the exceptional job they had done.  She even passed out bookmarks to thank them for being such good citizens.

Was it a flawless first week?  No.

But do I feel good about the year?

Hell yes.

**Title of post from Stop Crying Your Heart Out by Oasis

No one’s to blame; I know time flies so quickly**

The summer went by far too quickly.

It was full of swim lessons, family get-togethers, major league baseball games, and even a trip to Vegas.

There was much to write about, and if you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen all the highlights.  I want to say that I intentionally chose not to blog about it, you know, so I could “be” in the moment and soak everything in, but honestly, I just never really got around to it.

The summer was also full of blog reading, book reading, TPT searching, professional development, and either buying or creating things I needed to start up the new year.  I even spent a day in the materials center laminating folders and posters and binding vocabulary journals and behavior calendars.  I went in and picked up my classroom keys a week before we were contracted to go back and spent two days just moving the furniture and arranging the desks so I could spend the three days of prep we are given before the kids come putting stuff up on the walls.

And come they did.

Squirmy and giddy, nervous and excited, curious and chatty, sweet and playful.

I forgot how small they are, how much they need, how anxious they are at the beginning of the year.  I was struggling to think of an animal to compare them to, because they are such a fun amalgam of all young animals, and was coming up short.  And then my team rescued me.

Each grade level was asked to select a college team from our state to adopt as a mascot.  We are the Coyotes.  We even liked their tagline: “Respect the Pack.”

And what do you call a young coyote?  A pup.

It’s perfect.

I’ll share stories about my pups as they arise.

**Title of post from (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon