Tuesday, March 31, 2015

sol15 #31: 97% ...

final slice of 2015 :(

... would be my grade if I calculated the posts I completed for the Slice of Life Challenge. Not bad. Still an A.

I wasn't originally planning on posting every day (although, I outdid the original goal I set for myself). But this whole experience means more to me than how many posts I completed. 

At the beginning of this challenge, my thoughts were, "Oh no, how am I going to find 31 things to write about?" and now the thoughts running through my head are, "I'm sad this is over, and I still have so much I want to share!" 

Because of this challenge, I've gotten back into a routine with blogging, something that has been in the back of my mind up until this month. Not only have I gotten to know other bloggers, but I've become closer with my own co-workers. I've learned that it's o.k. if a post isn't perfect, others won't judge. I've become more comfortable with sharing my thoughts and feelings. I will miss leaving comments on other bloggers' slices. I will also miss reading about the random and funny things from my co-workers' slices. This challenge has also taught me to slow down and really appreciate all of the little "slices" in my life. 

So, thank you to my amazing co-workers for inspiring me to complete this challenge! I am shocked at how much I enjoyed this and how much I will miss it. Already looking forward to next March! :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

sol15 #30: magical morning

This morning was amazing! I organized for the author David Ezra Spinner to come in and share his new book, Weldon Wexford and Murkle Monster to our K-2 classrooms. The book is about Weldon, a wizard kid with a creative imagination. His life is ordinarily boring until he gets a monster named Murkle as a pet to share his adventures with. It's super adorable and the illustrations are out of this world!

David did an interactive read aloud with the kiddos, then let them be creative to make monster masterpieces! It was such a fantastic experience for our students to see a published author in person. Some of our little firsties asked the best questions too!! :)

David reading to some of our kindergarten and first grade students

Yogi, the monster :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

sol15 #29: a slice of my (past) life

Yesterday, I had brunch with some of my old coworkers, including my principal. The other 2 teachers do not teach at that school anymore, but my old principal is still there. As we were catching up, my principal began filling us in on the state of her school. She started talking about the teacher turnover rate (something that has plagued that school for many years now), but instead of teachers leaving after one year, many are now leaving in the middle of the school year. The work day isn't easy by any means, and the salary averages out to less than minimum wage for an 8 hour work day, although most teachers are there for 12.

You see, this school is a diamond in the rough. A private school in West Englewood, a neighborhood where gangs, violence, and drugs are the norm. However, when you walk in, the colorful walls and artwork greet you, and you immediately hear children laughing, singing, and talking about their learning. Every classroom door was kept open, an invitation to come in and see the wonderful things taking place. I worked there for four amazing, tough years, but it was time to move on. I was getting married and we wanted to buy a house, I also got my reading specialist degree, and wanted to pursue a position in that, something my old school didn't offer.

A day in my past life consisted of getting to school by 7 a.m. and eating breakfast with my kids beginning at 7:25. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because it was a time for us to converse and start our day on a positive tone. We walked up the stairs to start our day at 7:50 and spent the majority of it working on reading, math, and writing until 3:00. Our students had three 30- minute specials each week (gym, music, and Spanish), and most of the time teachers had to stay with their class. Lunch was 20 minutes, and our students spent their recess with us as well, since there were no supervisors. After the bell rang at 3:00, we would spend until 3:30, dismissing some students to go home, but most stayed in our extended day area for a couple hours after school. We would eat snack and help get them transitioned. After 3:30, my time would be spent teaching dance, planning one of our many shows that the students put on, mentoring new teachers, and/or attending staff meetings which were held weekly until 4:30. Most days, I didn't even get to sit down and prep for the next day until 4:45 or so. Phew. Private schools don't have unions, therefore, there was no "rule" stating we needed a certain amount of prep time, nor did we get paid for any additional extra-currculars we took on. (I feel mighty lucky to be given this at my current position!)

I'll never forget when my principal interviewed me for this position and said over and over that this wasn't a job, it was a mission. Boy, was she right. I don't think many she interviews now realize this, and that is why some are leaving after a few months or a year. I know that teaching isn't about the money, but at some point the $750 paycheck every two weeks isn't going to cut it. Public or private, teachers are teachers. Why can't there be a set salary for teachers everywhere, one that is more equal and fair between teachers of public schools and teachers of private schools?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

sol15 #28: saturday night date at mariano's

Call us weird, but one of our favorite times to go to Mariano's is Friday or Saturday night. No crowds, which means, you can push a cart through the aisles without crashing into or getting dirty looks from anyone. 

Tonight, we leisurely walked through the store, grabbed the things we needed for the week, and then some (I have a weakness for the cheddar and caramel mix popcorn). I picked up sushi to eat for dinner tonight and Jim got a pulled pork sandwich. 

I love, love, love no lines, no one waiting for you to make your choice, and walking up to the deli and pulling the next number called. 

Our low-key date nights are some of my favorite :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

sol15 #26: question of the day

In my 4th grade guided reading group, one of my students and I write notes back and forth to each other in her notebook. We talk about reading, things happening at school and home, and she always ends with a question of the day. Today's question was, "What would you be if you could be something famous?"

After answering her question (I said I would love to be famous for starting a company that helps others in need), I began thinking... this is such a great way to start the day with a group of students or even a whole class. :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

sol15 #25: can we talk?

After finishing up my 5th grade book club, 'A' stops me on my way out of the room and asks me if we can talk. Why of course we can! Thinking maybe she was going to mention someone who was picking on her, or that she didn't understand something, she begins to tell me that she feels herself struggling in reading, and doesn't know how to fix it.

Wow, I'm totally taken aback because I was expecting her to tell me something else. We chat for a few moments about strategies she can try at home and at school. I mention I'll check back in with her tomorrow, she smiles, and we go our separate ways.

This moment meant so much to me because not only did she feel comfortable enough to come to me, she is also motivated to improve and sought out help on her own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

sol15 #24: underwater engagement

Last week, my sister-in-law called us with the best news - she is engaged! We've been waiting for this moment for quite some time, so when we heard that he popped the question, we were thrilled!

Their proposal story is by far one of the best I've heard:

They were in the Florida Keys scuba-diving, and Michele, my sister-in-law had one last dive to do to get her open water certification. As they were descending, they were leisurely swimming around enjoying the underwater landscape. Little did Michele know, her now fiancé, Tom, had orchestrated this master plan to ask her to be his wife.

A few minutes after being underwater, Tom swims up behind Michele, taps her on the shoulder, and she turns around to see him writing something on his board. He writes, "Will you be my dive buddy for life?" She shakes her head yes, and then he goes to unzip the pocket of his dive glove. He pulls out the ring, not tied to anything, and slips it on her finger. Absolutely ahhhhmazing!

The best part is, their dive guide caught the whole thing on video! Definitely a moment that will be shared over and over again for years to come.

They got back late Sunday night and we are all going to my in-laws house tonight to celebrate! Can't wait to hear both versions of the story ;)

In his words, "no, she didn't drown and yes, it's insured." haha!

Monday, March 23, 2015

sol15 #23: winter gets the last laugh

Welp, I knew spring wasn't here to stay. This morning, winter officially made its return to Chicago. Boo.

Last night, one forecaster called for "a dusting." Another said, "little to no accumulation." My weather app said 1-3 inches.

Well, 6 inches later, here we have it. The grass we waited so long to see is covered once again.

the view out my office window

Sunday, March 22, 2015

sol15 #22: ltyc (laugh 'til you cry)

The other night after parent-teacher conferences, a few of us headed over to Buffalo Wild Wings to refuel, decompress, and have some good ol' fashioned girl talk. It was one of those nights where we were all delirious after a long day, and didn't mind leaving the filter off of our conversation.

There was one moment toward the end of the night that had us all belly laughing until there were tears in our eyes. So. much. fun. I love getting together with my coworkers outside of school. It allows us to make connections and get to know each other outside of our teaching lives. I truly believe that nights like these not only help maintain our sanity, but keep our professional relationships strong as well.

Every now and then, a ltyc moment really is the best medicine. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

sol15 #21: #fail

On Fridays, when I get home from work, I make it a point to not open my computer. Because of this routine, I completely forgot to post! Oops! I woke up this morning and the first thought that came to my mind was, "Oh no! I failed the Slice of Life challenge!"

When I first thought about doing this challenge, I told myself that I would be satisfied if I posted half of the days in March. My husband encouraged me to do them all, and I was on a roll until yesterday :(

Oh well, spending time with my husband and pup last night after a busy week, and falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 was worth it. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

sol 15 #19: separation anxiety

My pup has major separation anxiety. If we go to another room, he's our shadow. Even to the bathroom. When I get ready in the morning, he's usually sleeping in his dog bed right outside the door, but this morning he just needed to be a little bit closer... right behind my feet :)

I actually love his constant need for attention. He's always willing to give kisses or snuggle up :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

sol15 #18: taste the rainbow

This morning I woke up still groggy from the Nyquil I took last night. Traffic was awful and it took me an extra 15 minutes to get to work. Plus, I procrastinated on things I needed to get done for a meeting I had right when I got to work. All of this put me in a wretched mood.

As I'm gathering my things for my meeting, in comes Jennie, the 3rd grade teacher across the hall. She has a bag of my favorite candy - Skittles! All for me. It was pure joy at that moment. She knows I eat gluten-free, and since she brought in donuts for the rest of our floor, she was kind enough to get me some candy. :)

Jennie, thank you! You totally flipped my day around. I am enjoying these colorful, little bursts of sugar as I write this!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

sol15 #17: the one reason I am sad PARCC is over

For the last 5 days, I have been administering the PARCC one-on-one to a student. Each day, this  student finished pretty early, allowing us to spend some time together.  Over the last few days, we've read tons of books, he wrote on his blog, we played some math games, and we talked about his grandpa who recently passed.

Since I don't have my own classroom anymore, sometimes I feel that I don't get to develop close relationships with students. Spending this extended one-on-one time was special for both of us. It allowed him the time to get some positive attention to get through the rest of the day, and it allowed me to get to know a student I don't normally have the chance to work with.

N, I hope that you continue to say hi to me in the morning (and maybe even have time to read)! You're such a bright kid with a caring heart. Remember to be kind to everyone you meet :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

sol15 #16: crawling out of hibernation

This last week in Chicago has been absolutely gorgeous! Sunny and in the 60's is the perfect spring weather. Being able to take my dog on long walks again has been good for my soul and his. It's so great to see our neighborhood come back to life. I've caught up with neighbors I haven't seen in months, Willy gets to see his doggy friends, and watching all the kids play makes me so happy :) Fingers crossed this weather sticks around!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

sol15 #15: let me see your sushi roll!

A few weeks ago, my friend Allison taught me how to make sushi. It was so fresh and delicious, I decided to try it on my own! I went to the store this morning to get all of my ingredients (I forgot to grab rice vinegar, but thankfully, my husband ran back out). Sushi rice is a little more complicated to cook, so I wanted to make sure to follow the recipe exactly.

I only planned on making one type of roll - my favorite, a Philly roll. It has smoked salmon, avocado, and cream cheese. From start to finish, it only took me about 1 hour to make two rolls, and they were amazing! The only thing I need to perfect is cooking the rice. I think I brought it to a boil too quickly, so it wasn't as soft as it should have been. But overall, I'm pretty proud of myself! :)

Michelle, I need your rice cooker!

smoked salmon, avocado and cream cheese cut into strips 

mash the rice into the seaweed paper

line it all up!

let me see that sushi roll!

dinner is served!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

sol15 #14: there's a pig on your lap!

Last night, we were at my in-law's house celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday. My sister-in-law has a pet pig named Gil, and he is the cutest thing ever! After we pigged out (haha!) on a feast of Mexican food, all the girls were sitting in the dining room talking, and the men were in the living room.

I glance over at my husband on the couch as he's casually carrying on a conversation with a pig on his lap! Gil was so comfy up there, taking a break from the 3 pups he was playing with. It was a total laugh out loud moment, because it's not everyday you see a pig on a person's lap!

Friday, March 13, 2015

sol 15 #13: I'd rather be at the park

My amazing colleague Leah, wrote this awesome post about PARCC vs. Park the other day and it totally came to life yesterday afternoon...

At the end of the day, a tiny 3rd grade boy comes to check out with me. We typically have a 2 minute conversation of how his day went and what he can do to improve tomorrow. Yesterday our conversation went like this:

Me: Hey bud, how was your day?

A: I shouldn't have gotten these zero's on my chart.

Me: Well, what happened that caused you to get these zeros? 

A: I didn't really like taking that PARCC test... I mean, it was easy, but I'd rather be at Proksa Park swinging on the swings.

Me: Me too kiddo, me too :)

Why in the world did they come up with this acronym?! Did they think about our children who are now associating this test with their place of play?

And to top it off, right before this conversation happened, I was working on homophones with one of my intervention groups. We were listing a bunch we already know, and one of my little one's says, "PARCC and park!" Yeah, honey, we aren't going to write that one down today ;)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

sol15 #12: you look really good today

I'm not the type of person to hit the snooze button. However, this morning when my alarm went off, I was right in the middle of a dream, and I needed just a few more minutes of shut-eye. Or so I thought...

30 minutes later, I wake up. Instead, of hitting the snooze, I actually turned my alarm off. Totally off. In a sheer panic, I stumble to the bathroom, and take a look in the mirror. With pillow wrinkles on my face and bags under my eyes, I am one hot mess.

Thank goodness for this picture that hangs on the wall in my bathroom. Definitely needed it this morning ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

sol15 #11: the fun lunch :)

Ahhhh...lunchtime. Time to unwind, recharge, and have some laughs. I have the best co-workers and one of my favorite times of the day is getting to eat with them. Today was one of those days where I didn't want lunch to end!

Jennie and Jill brought root beer floats for everyone - major yum! We got to talk about our fave show - The Bachelor, and Jen planned a super cute game! We all had to write down our favorite song, guilty pleasure song, a song we turn off every time we hear it, and our jam to get pumped up. We then went around and guessed who wrote what - so fun!

We shared so many laughs today, and it was the perfect way to de-stress from this hectic week!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

sol15 #10: who's more stressed? you or the kids?

3 a.m.... I'm wide awake. PARCC testing begins in 6 hours. All possible scenarios play out in my head. For some reason, I am completely stressed out. Even knowing that most of what I am stressed about is out of my control, I still cannot relax. I toss and turn and my husband wakes up and tries to help me relax.

He asks me about who is more stressed out? Me? Or the kids taking the test? Definitely me. Our teachers have done an amazing job of keeping our students positive and relaxed about the whole situation. While we were busy keeping others calm, no one was calming us!

Fast forward to 11 a.m.... besides a couple minor glitches, everything runs smoothly. Totally exhausted, I breathe a sigh of relief. I know others had trouble sleeping last night - so here's hoping we all sleep soundly tonight :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

sol15 #9: monday morning happiness

Let's face it... Monday's are hard. This morning, I knew I had a pile of work sitting on my desk waiting for me, along with the meetings I had to attend. On my way to work, I couldn't help but think of all the things that went right this morning...

Waking up to thank-you emails from co-workers, 
Sunshine peeking through my car window,
the radio playing my favorite songs,
heated steering wheel to keep my hands toasty,
sweet text from my mother-in-law,
hot coffee in my favorite mug,
hitting almost all the green lights.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

sol15 #7: where is the chicken?!

I round the corner into the parking lot of the little family-owned grocery store by our house. I check my list one last time before going in, planning the quickest route to get my things. Inside, I grab a basket and am off on my journey. Power walking through the store, I fill my basket with fruit, veggies, lunchmeat, meals for the week, and some other odds and ends. I don't have to wait at the checkout line (yes!), so I pay for my things, grab the bags, and head back out to the car. I strategically place them in the trunk to avoid them all rolling around, and head home.

After bringing the bags inside, I begin unloading. Lunchmeat in the fridge, pretzels in the pantry, frozen chicken in the freezer... wait... where's the frozen chicken? Frantically searching the bags and coming up empty, I run back out to the car. Nothing. Back inside, I check my receipt. Yes, I bought it. Where is the chicken?!

Knowing that this isn't the first time I've left a bag at the store, I immediately think back to the person bagging my groceries. Did they fail to give me a bag? Did I forget to pick up the bag? Either way, I get back in my car, drive to the store, and there inside, sitting at the customer service desk, is my chicken.

Friday, March 6, 2015

sol15 #6: taking my friday back!

Happy Friday, everyone! First week of slicing - almost done! :)

On my way to work, I listen to The Highway, a country XM radio station. On Friday's, they have people call in about how they are "taking their Friday back" or in other words, taking a personal day.

Well today, I am taking my Friday back! It has been one crazy week at work, and I needed a day to recharge my batteries.

On my agenda today: getting a carwash, running to Target and Marshall's, heading to the UPS store to mail some presents, treating myself to a mani/pedi, and taking a nap. Tonight, I have book club with my favorite girlfriends, and then I'll be ending the night at an arcade in Chicago for a friend's birthday. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

sol15 #5: how do you do it all?

Is the question my assistant principal asked me this morning at my final evaluation meeting. That is a tough question to answer in a short amount of time, but I do it all because of one thing: I love my job! 

Everyday I get to make children smile.
Everyday I get to read a new book.
Everyday I have a co-worker who inspires me. 
Everyday I get a hug. 
Everyday I go home exhausted because I know
I have made a difference. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

sol15 #4: anything for the dogs!

My parents are in Florida (super jealous), so we are watching their pup for a few days. Last night, I got woken up out of a deep sleep from quiet whimpering outside my bedroom door. I look at my clock - 2 a.m. - and think to myself, "oh, she'll fall back asleep..." 

The whimpering gets louder. Not wanting to wake my husband, I get up and sit in the family room with her. She begins bouncing up and down, ready to play! I let her out in the backyard to go to the bathroom and get some energy out. She comes back in, we both get settled, and not even 5 minutes later, the whimpering starts again. 

Thinking that she just wants attention, I go and lay on the couch with her. My pup joins us and now it's one big cuddle fest. They both snuggle up against me and fall fast asleep. I'm glad they're comfortable because I sure am not! I guess this is just their way of preparing me for motherhood one day :)

Snuggled on the couch :)
This was right after I got up, but I was wedged between the two of them. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

sol #3: I live with a gourmet chef

Yes, you heard that right. I live with the most amazing cook, my husband! Every night, he spends an hour or two prepping and cooking our dinner. He LOVES cooking, and I don't mind watching him (and, of course, eating)! He knows exactly what spices to mix together, how to grill meat perfectly, and he can time out everything to be done at the same time (something I have yet to figure out).

I love being able to sit and relax while he cooks. I don't have to worry about setting off the smoke alarm or touching raw meat. You're probably thinking, "wow, this is too good to be true!" Well, here's the kicker, he is the MESSIEST cook, and since it is just him and I, that means I am always on clean-up duty. ;)

Even our pup likes to sit in the kitchen while he cooks!

homemade chicken alfredo with asparagus mixed in and green beans on the side.
The mess :) I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

sol15 #2: you make my life better

It took less than 4 seconds for 5 little words to come out of my 6 year old student's mouth. These words are little by themselves, but when put together, they hold all the meaning in the world:

You make my life better.

These sweet words were said the other day by one of my first grade students. This particular student is in one of my small group interventions that I see every day. We had been working on the "magic e" rule for quite some time, and this particular day it just clicked. With every word that she spelled correctly, I would praise her. She kept getting more and more excited and after the 3rd word she wrote, she said those sweet little words. After the 4th word, she could barely contain her excitement and screamed, "you really make my life better!" 

5 little words that my 6 year-old student probably doesn't even remember saying, but will be with me for a lifetime. :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

sol15 #1: "I'm going to run a marathon and stop at mile 15!"

This is what my husband said to me when I told him I was participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, and that my goal was to write for half of the days. Ha!

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: So there's this blogging challenge where you have to write for all 31 days in March. You just write little pieces of your life, so the posts aren't very long. My goal is to write for 15 days, since I haven't posted on my blog in a few months. 

Jim: Oh cool - but isn't that admitting defeat before you even start? Isn't the "challenge" to write for all 31 days? 

Me: Uhhh, ya...

Jim: That's like saying, "I'm going to run a marathon and stop at mile 15."

(after some laughter and admitting he's right) 

Me: Ooook, my new goal is to write for all 31 days (yikes!)

So, here we go! Day 1 of 31 done!!! Good luck to all the other first time "slice of lifers" who are in the same boat as me. I'm going to try my very best to complete all 31 days!

sol15 first timer! 

sol18: it's okay to cry

Being a parent requires an insane amount of patience, love, and understanding. It's the best and hardest job in the world. It means mis...