Name Our Class Pet!

I’d been thinking about getting a fish for our classroom, and this week our Fishbowl Activity to discuss reading conferences was the perfect opportunity to introduce our new little beta!

Throughout the week, students submitted names they liked and I’ve narrowed it down to the final few here in this poll.  Please cast your vote between now and Monday (10/13) evening.  Our fish’s name will be announced on Tuesday!






Well, it’s been a busy week and one that was resoundingly successful.  There were a few hiccups here and there, but overall I think that things started off very well!  I’m finding that much of what I’ve been working on is very reflective indeed, I’m just not always able to get myself posting it here!

Without outlining each and every daily prompt, I’ll write a bit about them as an all-inclusive post tonight.  As I reenter the classroom after a year off, it’s really got me thinking about what exactly I enjoy, no {love} about teaching.  And the simple answer is – the kids.  Standing in the hallway that first day to lend a hand to students befuddled by the left-right-leftness of their locker combination is only the beginning.  I love learning their names, always listening for the quick correction of a nickname as I jot it down to remember it’s “Joe” not “Joseph” for future reference.  I love hearing about their summer vacations, the books they’ve read, what kind of dog they have and connecting them to older siblings I may have previously had in class.  A new twist on the sibling connection, is that now students have younger siblings who are classmates of my own children.  On the second day of school, one student came in and shared that his little sister knows my daughter!  So yeah, what I love about teaching certainly isn’t the hours spent researching, gathering, planning and prepping lessons, or those late nights spent reading essays while sneaking in snuggles with my favorite pup or growing child.  But seeing those smiles, the new school clothes and supplies, hearing their stories and helping them do something awesome is SO worth it!

And with that, I think I’ll tackle some of the other questions another day!





The prompt for today is:

Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

I feel like I am always striving to improve some aspect of my teaching style, classroom management, lesson delivery and so forth.  Though this feels a little bigger than the one or two formal observations each year, one area I really want to focus on is providing and continually reviewing expectations and behaviors to establish routines.  I truly believe that if students know what is expected, the majority of them will complete the expected tasks.  And once the students know how to do things, we can then get to working on the what.

I’m excited about some of the new procedures we’ll be using in class this year and I look forward to having the students be part of the process as we create a flourishing learning community!


Reflective Teaching ~ Days 1 and 2



As I return to the classroom after my one-year sabbatical, I’m both excited and apprehensive – much like my students. There is so much I really enjoy about teaching and by far the best is forming relationships with these amazing young people.  In the face of greater content and more rigorous academic demands, sometimes it’s easy to forget that education is really about people.  

I’m always looking for chances to reflect on my teaching, so when this blogging challenge showed up on my radar, I thought I would give it a whirl.  And despite the fact that I missed day one, I am undeterred!  I will do what I can, when I can.  Which brings me to the first prompt for day one:  

Write your goals for the year.  Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!

  1. Teach the reader, not the reading.
  2. Teach the writer, not the writing 
  3. Realize that there will always be more to do, and that giving my best each day has to be enough.
  4. Maintain balance between work and family.

And the prompt for day two:

Write about one piece of technology you would like to try this year and why.  You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech generation.

I’m actually already implementing one new piece of technology with my classroom library.  I’m using the classroom organizer through booksource to catalog and check out all my class books.  It’s been quite a process to get things up and running, but I really think that it will pay off down the road!  

Here’s to a great year!


Friends and Flowers ~ SOLSC ~ 27/31



I shared smiles and

sweet kisses,

curled my hair and

felt the warmth

of friendship

and flowers

despite the

click of

sleet that splattered

across the

deck that longs for

summer’s sun.

An clear day

on the calendar

was my gift

and an evening

at home

was yet another


As I celebrate

the start of my

36th year,

I’m reminded to

be present,

in this

amazing life.


Finished ~ SOLSC ~ 26/31

SOLSC2014Just before climbing into a much-needed shower tonight, I put the finishing touches on yet another furniture makeover project.  In the past few weeks I have painted our unusable fireplace, four dining room chairs, a sideboard, a small tabletop lazy Susan, and now, an old sewing table I rescued from the side of the road for free one afternoon last year.  In December, my husband and I deconstructed the accompanying chair and recovered it to go in my daughter’s new bedroom.

In all honesty, there is only one piece of furniture we currently own that I can even think of painting, and that is the old piano bench upon which our guinea pig’s cage resides.  And I’m quite certain there’s no rush on getting that finished.  And well, I guess there are two pieces, because I am seriously considering painting our piano…but I’m just not sure.  The product I’m using is a new favorite – Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax.  My favorite makeover is the sideboard.  It went from water discolored white spots on the top of the orangey oak to a lovely shade of duck egg blue complete with distressed edges and white interiors of the two end cabinets.  Each day, when I walk into the mudroom, I see it and can’t help but smile.

As I shared with my husband recently, it’s the first project I’ve completed that has surpassed my expectations!  The sewing table is a close second as is the Emperor’s Silk and dark wax lazy Susan.  For the first time, I have a vision and it seems that they are becoming reality.

I will take this success, this accomplishment, and use it to fuel a few final projects including the accent wall in the master bedroom before calling my list complete.  Unless, by complete you mean I have my taxes done…which might explain the urgency with which I’ve been painting, sanding, waxing and working.

Anyone else pour yourself into projects as procrastination?





Connections ~ SOLSC ~ 25/31


In November, my daughter was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, and since then I have heard it mentioned, referenced and met advocates more than ever before.  It’s like when we were facing infertility nine years ago, and suddenly I was surrounded by pregnant people in every movie theater or grocery store, and comforted by similar stories of others who were struggling as well.  

So much of what happens

and how we view things,

seems inexorably linked to our


If we are




we find we’re not alone,

and that He provides 

precisely what we need.


Today, it was 

a one-block walk on untrodden snow, my hands wrapped around the mittened fingers of my two blessings.

a mother’s offer for hot soup and warm conversation that I couldn’t afford, but absolutely needed.

a delivered meal with a side of encouragement to new parents giddy with love, joy and sleep deprivation.

a conversation of encouragement with a complete stranger as we waited for polish to dry.

a quiet hour covered with a favorite blanket on a warm couch,

a child’s kiss on my cheek, and his willingness to let me rest.

a selfless spouse rising to make the meal I’d planned, but didn’t have the energy to produce.

a flurry of conversation, laughter and listening as we learn.  


And sometimes, each of these


are wonderful.  

But all these things together,

wrapped up


around, and


creates a deeper


A sense of love,



and patience.


Fun and Friends ~ SOLSC ~ 23/31



My name is Amanda, and I’m a recovering Groupon addict.

Around the holidays, I spent far too many wee hours searching anything and everything for great ideas and experiences we could do with the kids, but when I made the impulse purchase on the lift tickets and rental equipment, I was actually thinking it’d be more like a date than a family outing.

Plans changed.

With a scheduled day off in mid-February, we and about a million other people headed to a nearby ski resort to hit the slopes.  We arrived around 10 and close to 12:30 we had our tickets and equipment and were ready to head outside.  The kids were naturals.  They snowplowed and turned, leaned over and bent their knees for better balance.  We thought they would call it a day after we headed inside for some lunch, but they surprised us by heading back out for another couple hours.  We even attempted the tow rope, which they turned out to love!

Since that day, Calder and his friend Ben have been plotting a way to get back there to ski together.  His mom and I had talked it over, and thankfully, I called on Friday only to learn that today was their last day of the season!

We headed out shortly after attending church, and much to my surprise, there was hardly anyone there!!  No waiting, no lines, just collecting our gear and eating the packed lunches we brought.  From that point on, we were outside and those kids were skiing!  A few trips down together, and they had the hang of it!

I’m so thankful that not only are the boys great friends, but us moms are too!  Knowing that we’l have years of outings together ahead of us is so exciting!  And great motivation to learn new things!!! :)

Hands ~ SOLSC ~ 22/31



For two weeks, my manicured nails have flashed their redness as I swipe a stray hair from my face or wipe a tear from a tiny eye.  My typical plain hands have been temporarily transformed.  And yet, the increasing gap of non-color prompted me to call for an appointment earlier this week…unfortunately, our schedules didn’t coincide.  This morning, I glanced down and noticed the little lift of polish on my thumb.  A simple tug and there was suddenly a matching margin of no color at the tip.  Dressing for the bridal shower, I nearly opted for a band-aid as cover…but then I forgot!

*                         *                         *

Games had been played, gifts opened.  We sat or stood, talking and mingling.  I made my way to Grandma’s table and thanked her for filling out the recipe cards I’d requested.  We chatted about books she’s read and I gave her a couple suggestions of favorite historical fiction titles that she too might enjoy.  Noticing the streak of red as I reached for my coffee cup, Grandma asked if I’d had a manicure.

“A while ago,” I replied.

She shared how she’s just unable to hold the brush to paint her own nails.  As she shares, she looks at her hands, and something about her expression tells me shy might be seeing those hands differently than she’d expected.  It’s as though she sees how they used to be.

“I can paint them for you,” I offered.

“Really?  I’ll talk to Papa and see if that would be OK.

We hug, and promise to set a date for said nail-painting, and so she can give me the final recipe card, which comes also with a private cooking lesson on the fine art of frying chicken!

*                         *                         *

From her post in the bedroom, where Frozen plays for the umpteenth time, she sits or twirls and sings along with this film she now knows by heart!  I watch and listen, and then whisper, “Seneca, we’re painting nails out there.  Want me to do yours?”  She considers this and almost says yes, but instead chooses to stay in the room.  Then, a few minutes later , I heard her quietly pad into the great room, and whisper that she’d like me to paint hers after all.  She selects a shade of pink, the likes of which I have never seen.  Sliding into my lap, I take her small hand in mine and brush a strip of paint down one side, and then the next.

Inspiration List ~ SOLSC ~ 21/31


The lack of goodbye as kids bolt out of the car and run into school with their friend.
The sun slicing the sky and warming my face as we drive.
The crowds. The driving around in search of a simple parking spot.
Watching how amazing the student cheering section was at the semi-final game!

When we stop and look, listen, and become aware, there are untold stories waiting everywhere!