Welcome to Another School Year!

Just like that, summer was over! It was an incredibly busy one yet strange at the same time. I’m not even sure how to even explain it. Yet I was excited to get into my classroom and changed my theme slightly this year. I was fed up of using the same borders and colors that I’ve used over and over and over again for years! I had bought black fabric years ago for my bulletin boards and I continue to use those (frugal!) so this year I decided to do black and gold.  I believe “Glimmer of Gold” was the name of the theme that I purchased at Mardel’s. Why not?

The custodial team cleans all of the classrooms during the summer and takes out all furniture. My carpet was cleaned and the furniture put back where I wanted it other than the student’s desks, which I arrange into groups. The photos above show what my classroom looked like when I first walked in after the summer break.

Here’s what it looks like right before Open House.

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One of my student groups, ready for Open House night! I used folded sheets to cover the storage area shelves above the coat hooks. Love my new poster on the left and incorporated our district’s theme of Dream, Believe, Achieve on the right.

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These cubbies hold textbooks.  Their desks are too small to hold these as well as their other supplies we use daily. I used labels with sticker numbers and then put clear contact paper over them so they can be reused year after year. If I want to, I could write the students’ name on the contact paper also and it will still keep. The signs above the sink are for birthdays and the post office I use for handing out papers weekly. The desk is my “Safe Seat” for students from other classrooms or my own that need a break from their other space.

 

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This is my Focus Wall for our new Journeys English Language Arts curriculum as well as a part of my library. I redid my tubs to the black/gold and cut the signs in half to do more tubs. Frugal?! I also reused plastic tubs from Furniture Row that had leather cleaners in. I arrange my Accelerated Reader levels and also by collection, like Captain Underpants, The Magic Treehouse, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I bought the pencil tubs from the Dollar Tree and I reused chalkboard clips from my wedding reception to label the tubs. 

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The central part of my classroom, the SmartBoard! I did buy a new black & gold calendar.

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The classroom door. I added my students’ names on arrows and kept my Gold Glimmer theme going outside the classroom with signs and notices. I love the difference! Can you see the guinea pig cage through the window? I brought Cosmo  and Tito back to the classroom!

This is my 12th year of teaching and I’m looking forward to hopefully making a difference in the lives of my students and taking them to the next level.

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Finish All Books on W.A.W. List – check!

It’s only been a week since I went back to school with meetings galore and I’m already missing the feel of a book in my hands and my head in another world of stories.  I have a tendency to get lost in the author’s characters and their lives and this summer was no different!  Our school librarian did another book club of the William Allen White Children’s Book Award 3rd-5th Grade Master List for 2016-17 and this summer I attended all but one of the meetings.  I did, however, read ALL of the books!

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I didn’t start in any particular order although I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by choosing several novels to read in a 2 week time-frame before our club met. That would be mean of me to hog all of the books!  I’ll give you a run-down of each title based on the list.

 

  1.  El Deafo by Cece Bell – This was an interesting book format like a comic book.  It told the story of a girl who had a hearing disability as she went to school and made new friends. Visually pleasing and a well-told story.
  2. Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown – Although this story was a little hard to get into it, once you did, it was a great read. I learned things through the characters in this story that I didn’t know about space.  I would think this would be easier for a 5th grader to read than some of my 3rd graders.
  3. The Map Trap by Andrew Clements – Ahh, who doesn’t like a book by Andrew Clements? Frindle is one of my favorites and this one ranks up there with it. I would love to be able to read this during Social Studies when I’m teaching about maps!
  4. Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick – This might be my favorite on the list.  Great characters, great story, and who doesn’t love a mystery? I would say that this one is also targeted to a higher level reader.
  5. Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord – I really got into the characters of this one – friends and multi-generational with photography, lakes, loons, and canoes. Refreshing summer read.
  6. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin – Dare I say that this was my least favorite?  Not because it wasn’t well-written because it was.  I think it hit a little closer to home based on a student experience of my own that I had had. The title was catchy and I loved the way the character focused on homonyms.
  7. Hello, I’m Johnny Cash by G. Neri – Written like song lyrics, this book was good. I had previous knowledge of Johnny Cash as my son loves his song “Boy Named Sue” and I’d seen movies about this infamous “Man in Black“.  In this story I learned some different facts that I didn’t know before!
  8. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell – A very inspiring book of a gal who followed her dreams.
  9. Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with Great Whites of California Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy – I not only read this book during Shark Week but I was also going to San Francisco this summer!  Alas, I didn’t see the Islands or any sharks on my visit but I sure learned a lot by readings this book!
  10. Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh – Usually when you hear about desegregation you think of Rosa Parks. I enjoyed learning about a different family and their struggle from a different view point.

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So, not only can I recommend these books to my own students, but I also completed a “review” for the library!  I mean, how I can expect my students to read them if I don’t?

P.S.  I not only read these 10 books this summer but 12 other novels. Now do you see why I’m missing getting lost in my fantasy world?  Time to get back to real life!

Lazy Days of Summer?

In looking back at a recent email where the sender had asked what I had been up to this week, I thought long and hard.  What have I been up to this week?  Here it is already Thursday and even though the days seems to pass by in a blur, I couldn’t actually say that I had done much.  Well, I did go to a baseball game with all 3 of my kids on Monday night (hey, $1 tickets through KwikShop, couldn’t pass it up!), ran track night Tuesday night (my awesome running group), church group Wednesday night (DivorceCare), did some baking (banana muffins and brownies – yum!), cleaning, watched the latest episode of Zoo, and finished an entire library book (they’re due on Friday) so I did do something, just not as much as I would usually accomplish.

This morning I made sure I was going to do better than that.

So, I hit the weeds.

This was supposed to have been a vegetable garden.  Although I didn’t seem to get around to it this year.  I meant to.

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Instagram caption: “My vegetable garden. Hey, at least the weeds aren’t too crazy – yet! #keepingitreal #haventgottentoityet #notenoughtime

Geesh, it had gotten ridiculously crazy.

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A third of it was already weeded by this point. And I had a huge blister on the palm of my right hand to show for it!

The dogs were chasing around a humongous wasp the entire time, which was like, 2 hours in the semi hot sun, that seemed to think I was disturbing its area.  It kept landing on the fence around the garden but, fortunately, never on me!  I never found a nest so hopefully it just moved away but it certainly kept my fur boys busy!

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Cooper finally gave in to the heat and wasp chasing and collapsed in the cool earth under the bay window in a section that I hadn’t weeded yet.

I had some potted plants that weren’t fairing too well in the heat, despite the constant watering and their location, so I planted them in this really-next-year-it’ll-be a vegetable-plot.  They’re likely going to die anyway so at least it’ll look nice for a day or two. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m hoping they’ll last longer than that since it took me so long but I won’t hold my breath. At least my neighbors will be happy not to have to look at the overgrown mess that was there before! (You might be asking why is there an old tire in the garden? I saw somewhere on Pinterest that they made a planter out of it so I thought I’d give it a try. I may regret it later . . . )

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The finished product, including the fence, to keep the dogs out of it! Granted, Cooper can jump it in a single bound but it does slow him down.

I worked very hard this morning to accomplish this, then went inside to change clothes and headed to the Y for a treadmill workout with my daughter, who had missed her cross country conditioning this morning (likely on purpose because it was early!).  After getting in my miles (our group run was scheduled for 6 pm tonight, but I haven’t been doing well with the heat/humidity and the heat advisory was brutal today – 108 degrees – so the treadmill had to suffice), a quick drive to MacAlister’s for their free iced tea day (free drinks! Yay!), lunch at home, then preparing for book club. Book club is always fun (a post on that coming up soon!), then dinner, which my son didn’t want to eat.

I feel quite accomplished with today. Is it time for bed yet?

 

To Run Or Not To Run?

Who would have thought that deciding whether or not to run a race would be so difficult? Geesh. Maybe I should toss a coin.  The Magic 8 ball.  The stars.  God.  Ask someone else their opinion.  Or even more people.

What am I trying to decide?  Should I run the PFM Back2Back Challenge in Spring and Fall? And, if so, is it time to run another full marathon? No, really, it’s a BIG decision. For you fellow runners out there, you’ll know the time it takes to train for one of these.  The half marathon isn’t too bad.  Actually, it’s very manageable.  I made my goal last spring in this race – a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon (actual time 1:57).  Do I still have room for doing even better?  Absolutely.

But, WOW, the M.A.R.A.T.H.O.N.?  26.2 miles.  Training during the heat of the summer? Hours upon hours of pounding the pavement?  And last time I did it solo.  That’s a lot of time in my brain. Is that something I really want to put myself through again? Last time I ran it in 4:42:24. That’s a llooooonnnnngggggg time of running. And when school starts up again in the fall, it’s even harder to get my training in. Decisions, decisions.

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October 2014 – finishing my first marathon. At least I’m still smiling!

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The end of my first 1/2 marathon

But I’ve been re-reading my book 8 to Great and in High-Way 2 it talks about Risk. A few pointers that I highlighted/underlined/starred from this chapter.

  • Risk is defined as facing our fears p.55 (hmmm, am I afraid of running these races or what my schedule is going to be? What am I  TRULY afraid of?)
  • “The road to success is never a straight line.” p.58
  • “If I had no fear, what would I do?” p.59 (no brainer – RUN IT!)
  • “The most courageous people are those who follow their hearts to places their minds would never approve of.” p.60
  • “Great risks don’t need great amounts of money; they need great courage, great belief, and great perseverance.” p.67 (Forget the cost of signing up as 1/2’s and marathons are expensive, especially on a teacher’s budget, but all the rest of it is soooo true!)
  • The 3 greatest risks: 1) believing in our dreams, 2) trusting and 3) setting boundaries. p.68-69

I signed up today.  Bring it on.

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A Summer of BTMs!

BTM = Book Talk Meetings! Not be confused on what we actually call our school (not in a derogatory way, mind you. They actually represent the initials of our school!)

Our librarian is absolutely FABULOUS. This summer she asked the staff of our school if we were interested in participating in a summer book club. There were 14 staff members/teaching friends that were so she got 30 copies of the 11 titles on the William Allen White list for grades 3-5 for the 2015-16 school year for us to read. Woo hoo! Free reading books!  Our directions were as follows:  “Please read one or more of the titles on the Master List to discuss at each meeting you attend.  We can exchange books so as many of us as possible can read as many titles as possible.  Bring any notes you may have on the book or any teaching ideas that come to mind as you read.  I will have copies of reading slips for you to complete as well so we can display those around the library and start motivating kids to read these books as well.” Sounded simple enough!

The official list bookmark the student's received this Fall.

The official list bookmark the student’s received this Fall.

I did my reading faithfully, and read 7 of the 11 titles. I missed the first meeting due to my race in Frisco, CO but I couldn’t wait for the next one.  It was a very warm summer afternoon and I took a sweater just in case the AC was too chilly.  I shouldn’t have bothered. When I arrived, I learned that their air conditioning was broken!  Nothing a cold one couldn’t fix . . .

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My “cold one” with a few titles up for grabs for our reading club.

So, which titles did I read?  My interest was definitely piqued by the title The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech.  It was very well written but it wasn’t what I thought and I was disappointed by the ending.  Another novel was next: Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes.  I really enjoyed this one and I was seeing a common theme of stories in the South.  Maybe it was just a coincidence with the first two titles. #3? White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan.  A good story about dogs that the younger grades would enjoy. A couple of fast reads: A Splash of Red by Jen Bryant and Mary Walker Wears the Pants by Cheryl Harness.  My last book to read was a picture book called Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore.   My favorite book had to be Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff. The story was set in 1944 during World War II where the main character left town to find a family member and went on an incredible journey.  It was a refreshing story and, although appropriate, didn’t seem to be a child’s book.

Unfortunately, I only made it to a couple of the meetings due to conflicts or being out of town.  I had every intention of making it to the last one but missed the email with the time change. Me, being the loser here, went too early and ended up going home and taking my oldest son out to dinner instead. Maybe that was meant to be instead of intellectual book discussion.

Such a fabulous idea for the summer with promise of continuing this school year and starting a new list for next year.  I, for one, will definitely be doing it again with the hopes of being able to make it to more meetings.  And maybe next time I should check my school email more frequently around book club time!

It All Came Crashing Down

Yes, I AM a fighter!

Yes, I AM a fighter!

The weekend following my first full marathon and my last blog entry, my life as I knew it came crashing down. It wasn’t something I had envisioned happening EVER. I was blindsided and the emotional roller coaster I have been enduring since October 19th has been no less than brutal. But I’m not one to quit anything I’ve started. Never have been and never will be. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one that had a say in the matter.

So true.

So true.

I have been adjusting to a different way of life with my focus on my precious Lord and Savior and an incredible support system of the best family and friends a woman could ever hope, not to mention my wonderful children and fur babies. I’m making my life simpler – by canceling my Facebook account, limiting who are my true “friends” are on other social media (I love the pics that people post on Instagram), decluttering and (hoping) to do better at not being so materialistic – and finding new inspiration or building on what truly matters (quality time with my children & finding time to do what I enjoy like home improvement, crafts, reading, for example). I had thought about taking down my blog but decided on a hiatus instead. That and I enjoy going back and looking through my posts. Maybe someone else out there may like them. If not, I’ll enjoy this little bit of selfishness 😉

One of my many favorite Bible verses that helps keep me going in this crazy place of a world.

One of my many favorite Bible verses that helps keep me going in this crazy place of a world.

Oh, and P.S. I prefer not to be too personal in this blog post so I have not divulged any specifics. Please don’t ask. Feel free to infer if you must, just know that I’m human and doing my best to cope in this new life that was not of my choosing. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you manage it the best way that you know how. This is my way of handling it. Oh, and I’m covered with meds & counseling, thanks 😉

Finally – the Full!

I’ve had this thought in the back of my head since I ran cross country in high school. This past weekend that thought became reality. It took a lot of work, hours, and determination but I’m proud to say I finished my first marathon!

My training manuals. Great information! I followed Hal Higdon's beginner marathon training plan.

My training manuals. Great information! I followed Hal Higdon’s beginner marathon training plan.

I’ve been working with the books pictured above to guide my training.  The heat was a struggle for some of the long runs and I ended up spending many hours on the treadmill at the Y watching HGTV (gotta love those Property Brothers!). Treadmill training is NOT the same as outdoor training and I began to struggle getting it done when I got back on the roads.  Once school started, my schedule got even worse but I managed to get my runs done. It was a roller coaster, for sure!

My challenge t-shirt with my race bib.

My challenge t-shirt with my race bib.

After attending the expo and getting my bib number on Saturday I signed up my hubby and my parents to get the alerts.  They have this cool thing that when you run over the sensors on the course, it’ll message your loved ones your time. Turned out it wasn’t quite as accurate as it had been for the 1/2 marathon last spring but better than nothing! Since I knew it would take me awhile, there was no sense in them waiting for me in different spots all over the course.

So even though there were different bands throughout the course and I was listening to my daughter’s MP3 player, I had many random thoughts going through my head:

  • Wow, those are some cool Halloween decorations!
  • How many pumpkins are all over that yard?!
  • How can she run with THAT (phone) stuck in her back pocket bouncing up and down?
  • You got this, Deb!
  • They REALLY get into Halloween!
  • What a neat painting of a tree up the front of the porch!
  • Can’t these volunteers notice that I’m carrying a water bottle and don’t need their paper cups of water/Gatorade right now?!
  • Man, my knees are really starting to hurt . . .
  • This isn’t too bad after all.
  • What happened to my Mowgli’s I was listening to?
  • Hey Laura and Josh! (In band area at 13th & Rock), forgot what mile marker.
  • Where the heck did this wind come from?
  • Uphill AND into the wind! Cruel!
  • Uh oh, an ambulance. Looks like they’ve got someone (a runner) on the gurney. Hope they’re okay.
  • Love that sign! (Said something like you may feel like crap but you look great). Actually told him I liked it, too!
  • It’s kinda neat having my name on my bib. Hearing someone cheer for you by name is really cool, even if they’re perfect strangers.
  • This is some strange rap music, daughter. I’m bypassing this song. Again, where are my Mowgli’s?
  • Mile 17, only 9.2 to go. Hey, that’s single digits! Yippee!
  • You got this, girl, keep it going!
  • Where are all of these cars going? It leads to the park and no turn around spot!
  • What’s up with the lemon-lime Gatorade? I prefer the Cool Blue. Good thing for my Gatorade chews.
  • Hey, these are the walkers for the half marathon! I’m passing them!
  • 2 miles left, I got this. Thought of guys’ cross country where it told his legs to shut up. I can SOOOOOO relate to that right now.
  • Final stretch into the wind??? Yuck!!
  • Finish line – I’m nearly done!
  • Hey, that’s my hubby & boys!
  • Yee Haw! I DID IT!!!!!

I scored 2 HUGE medals – 1 for completing the full marathon and the other for doing the back-to-back challenge (I ran the half marathon in Spring, too) and lost 2 1/2 lbs.

My medals!

My medals!

I managed to move my legs a little faster in the last 385 yards of the race, wondering what happened with my GPS Garmin that told me when I crossed the finish line that I had actually run 26.48 miles — in 4 hours 42 minutes 23 seconds — not a mere 26.2!  The official results said this:

362nd place out of 631 — DEB DAVIS  WICHITA KS 18 out of 49 in my age group:  4:42:23 (10:47 avg mile) matched my Garmin time!

My hubby and 2 sons were waiting for me along the sides leading up to the finish line with my parents and daughter coming from another location on the course. Being the fabulous photographer that he is, he took some good ones of despite what I thought was a harrowing look of agony on my face. 🙂

Hey Guys! I’m nearly done!

Not quite a look of total agony!

Not quite a look of total agony!

Wearing my finisher t-shirt and my 2 medals. Success!

Wearing my finisher t-shirt and my 2 medals. Success!

So, will I run another marathon? Now that I’m able to move a little better, it’s probably more of a maybe than anything.  Training takes a LOT of time and eats into family time on the weekends when I’m back at work. It’s not much fun running long runs in super hot weather either!

Next up, the Turkey Trot 10-miler in November!