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

You’re a catalyst to your own happiness you know**

When I first started blogging about teaching, I dubbed my students Squirrels.  One of my favorites even called himself Hammy, after the squirrel in Over the Hedge.  Over time I have forgotten his real name! But I still remember how much like Hammy he was.  I used to keep a ceramic squirrel on top of the file cabinet in the classroom.  My students owned it as the class mascot and recognized the similarities.

Because, as anyone who’s spent enough time with middle-schoolers knows, they just are squirrelly.  They’re clever and cute and social and annoying and inventive and they hoard things that are important to them and they can focus intently in very short bursts and be easily distracted and… They’re just such squirrels.

I’ve been trying to think of a similar analogy for my first graders.

And I’ve been stuck.  No such animal truly embodies all the quirks and idiosyncrasies first graders possess.  They are a breed of their own.

I used to share stories of things that happened in the classroom.  Mostly my interactions with my squirrels – particularly the ones that made me laugh.  I want to get back to that.  Because those little first graders can be downright hilarious, and not just in a “Kids Say the Darndest Things” sort of way.

This is the first week of my summer vacation.  I’ll have more time to write.  There are definitely some stories from this year that I want to share.  And I’ll get to them.

After I take some time to hang out with SweetPea.  And maybe even nap.


**Title of post from Pumping Blood by No No No

No limits, just epiphanies**

Dear SweetPea,

Today you are six.



You are as headstrong as ever.

You are a voracious reader and a budding mathematician.

You are infinitely curious about animals.

You love to draw and build things with Legos, though, for the most part, you are a step-by-step-follow-the-directions kind of girl.

You are as wildly imaginative as you are mired in logistics.

You still fling yourself into everything with full force – and you’ve got perpetually bruised shins and skinned knees to prove it.

You have two speeds: Lightning Quick or Stopped Still – though we are working on finding a middle ground.

You are beautiful.  

You can be so very sweet and kind.  

You fill my heart with joy.

I am, as always, so proud to be your Mama.

**Title of post from Best Day of My Life by American Authors

And we got three more days ’til Friday**

How is it that February is more than half-way gone and we’ve spent much of the month recovering from one ailment or another?  This year it’s hit James & SweetPea harder than it’s hit me (knock on wood), and the only sub days I’ve taken so far have been to help my little love bug fight off the flu.

SweetPea Feb 2015

We’ve had pockets of good between mounds of moodiness and lots of napping.  I knew she was sick when she walked in the door and said, “I’m going to go lay down,” walked herself up to her room and put herself to bed.  Because, come on, what 5 year old does that??!?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful she knew she needed rest and took care of it, but still.  From a girl who’s sworn off naps for over a year?  Yeah.  Scary.

So here’s looking at a better week.  We’re all back to our regular schedules and routines and, though there’s a stray cough here or there and a little congestion hovering, our spirits are up and we’re ready to celebrate.

Because today’s my birthday.

And I know 39 is gonna be a great year.

**Title of post from Four Five Seconds by Rhianna (Featuring Kanye West & Paul McCartney)

I’ll make the moves up as I go…**

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about blogging.

Or, to be more accurate, why I haven’t been blogging.

The thing is, I’ve been blogging since my early 20’s.  In some form or another, either on Blogger or WordPress or other hosts, but, yeah.  I’ve had some kind of blog since the late 90’s.  My first blog crashed and I was able to recover some posts via cached views, so you can search my archives as far back as 1998, I think, but there was a bunch of posts that were lost to the ether.  Not like they were incredibly profound or anything; just the musings of a working student, pushing through college to become a teacher, dating her first high school boyfriend for the second time around, and hoping to figure things out along the way.  It was a journal of sorts, a way to empty my mind.  I have no idea how many followers I had.  When it crashed I started up on Blogger, started posting daily (because I had the time!), and eventually moved that blog (and its archives) over to WordPress.  I blogged pretty consistently until SweetPea was born.  Mostly about stuff in the classroom, or about the way things were going with me and James, my adventures as a substitute teacher, and eventually, what life as a teacher with my own classroom was like.  I kept names, locations, and other facts private, but was pretty open about what was going on in my life.  Sure, there were days when memes or “post prompt” challenges filled up empty space, but otherwise?  It was me and my thoughts.

Here’s what changed:

People started to get more guarded about what they shared online in regards to their classroom experiences.  People were getting fired over things they posted in blogs.  There were staff development workshops about keeping yourself professional online (either with posts, via email, or with texting).  Around the time MySpace swept through the Internet, blogging stopped being about emptying your mind and became a way to establish yourself as a brand.  I read blogs more than books, magazines, or newspapers; it took up more time that I’d like to admit, but I still enjoyed it.  I followed new blogs based on blogs I was already reading.  Teacher bloggers, bloggers who write and post original fiction, mommy bloggers, photo bloggers, you name it!  I followed pretty much everything except political bloggers and food bloggers.  I commented when I felt I had something worth saying.  I was especially likely to follow blogs of people who commented on my own posts, as well.

And then I joined Twitter in the spring of 2007.  And it was glorious.  And then a few months later I got my first iPhone, and that was even more glorious! I found myself losing hours to reading tweets, writing tweets, snapping pictures and captioning them to tweet!  Most of the bloggers I read had a feed, so I immediately followed them on Twitter, too.  So quick!  So simple!  So fun!

By the time SweetPea was born in 2009, I was still posting daily, but I knew those days wouldn’t last long, especially when things like sleep and laundry became a priority!  Juggling a new baby and getting back in the classroom, even with curriculum I was well seasoned in teaching, took up most of my time and energy and I started posting less and less often.  Add to that some un-cool drama on campus, and I became even quieter online, feeling that if I couldn’t say anything nice, I ought not say anything at all.  Not so much out of paranoia of being “found,” but rather just to not have to dwell on it.  I still posted once or twice a month, mostly to say I’m still here or to write about SweetPea (I never started a baby book, so anything I’ve written about her here will serve as my “memory book” when she is older).  Instagram became my favorite way to post updates (everything cross-posts to Twitter) and I loved playing with pictures and captions, and the comments!  Oh how I loved the comments!

I switched schools, things got even worse, and then I switched schools (and grade levels!) again.  Common Core swept the nation and it seemed like everyone was building their own curriculum again.  Teachers Pay Teachers exploded and many of the resources saved my world. I started following blogs of the people whose products I was buying.  I followed their Instagram feeds, followed them on Twitter.  They had so many creative ideas!  I avoided the pitfalls of both Facebook AND Pinterest (amazingly!) but still spent an inordinate amount of time online, searching for, creating, or refining materials I was using in the classroom.   I didn’t post much about it because it was too hard, I was too stressed out and, again, it was easier to not write about what was stewing in my brain than to let it out and dwell on all the things I felt weren’t going right in my world.  And blogging shifted again; fewer people were just emptying their minds, it seemed like every post I read had a purpose.  Instead of ranting about what’s going on, bloggers were posting what they were doing “right.”  Their classrooms are impeccably decorated!  They have themes!  Their themes have coordinating products!  They have freebies!  And contests for followers!  Their students grow in leaps and bounds!  And I… was just trying to tread water, make it through the year, keep from ditching the profession altogether.  I switched grade levels again and spent the summer doing everything I could to prepare myself to be a first grade teacher, including going to a 4-day conference where some of the very bloggers/ TpT authors I had been following would be presenting.

In short, I felt like I didn’t have time to post, particularly when I wasn’t sure which thoughts were my own and what I might be poaching from something I “liked” somewhere else online.  While I absolutely adore my kiddos, my team, my site and my life, I’m still not sure what I’m comfortable sharing anymore.  I don’t create products to share or sell.  My classroom is full of clutter and color and hugs and laughter, but most days I’m just too exhausted to even think about writing about it all.

I’d like to start posting more often.  I’m not sure what that will look like…

But I’ll figure it out.

I always do.


**Title of post from Shake It Off by Taylor Swift