A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.


Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home


Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦


Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

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Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!


The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.


I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 


A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.


Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.


This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.

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!


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.


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!

And Just Like That, Another School Year Is Over

I honestly can’t believe that another school year has come and gone.  My mother once told me not to wish time away as before I’ll know it, it will have just zoomed by.  Well, maybe not exactly in those words but you get the point.  Granted, due to budget issues the school ended a couple of days early for the students, which might have made it seem a little shorter but it didn’t shorten my days by much! I still have at least 1 1/2 days next week. Now dreams of summer are a reality.

So this morning I awoke to put my 8th grader on the bus for the last time before he became a high schooler and my 10th grader finished up her finals.  They have grown SO much this year!

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Pics on the left are from August 2015, pics on the right from May 2016.


My 2 handsome boys















Can I brag a moment about my son’s promotional clothing?  He had a hard time deciding what to wear but finally decided on something simple and classic.  I paid $12.99 for the shirt from TJMaxx, $5.99 (not including the 10% discount) for the pants from Goodwill, and $3.48 for the black dress shoes from the DAV. He already had the belt (required dress uniform from school) and borrowed the black tie from big bro.  We had picked out another one but didn’t realize it was navy so the navy/black combo didn’t look good.  Not to worry, the tie was only $0.95 from the DAV. He looked just as handsome and polished as the fellow student whose parents spent over $500 for their son’s attire. My son was very happy with his classy wear, and so was I – and my wallet!


Being goofy with the dogs photobombing in the background before going to school


My beautiful daughter and I before she went off to finish her finals.

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The above Bible verses say it nicely – a blessing from Numbers and one of my favorites, Jeremiah 29:11. Many blessings to you and yours today on this special day/season of promotions/graduations and always!



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.



Illuminations and an Old Tradition

I think they used to call it The Festival of Lights but it’s evolved over the years from brown bags with plain white candles in an eerie silence to hundreds, if not thousands, of all kinds of  lights, a big screen, Santa, and lights choreographed to music. It used to be a tradition of ours but over the past couple of years,  it had been dropped. Why not try it again this year? Besides, I LOVE Christmas lights!


On the first evening of my Winter Break (because I think ours was the only district in the entire state of Kansas that still had school this week!) and an evening off for my eldest son, we did something as a family with dinner out (Chick-Fil-A) and then came here, to Illuminations, with what seemed like the rest of the entire city. Crowded was a major understatement.


After paying 4 – yes, 4! – adult tickets even though I was there with my 3 children (okay, okay, so they’re 18, 16 and 13), we joined the lines of people viewing the lights. The weather wasn’t bad but there were plenty of cranky people, that’s for sure. You could easily overlook that, though, when you could hear the sweet voice of a little girl singing Let It Go when they saw the Frozen characters  on this humongous screen, small children on the shoulders of their Dads, little babes fast asleep in strollers, and the squeals of delight from wee ones from sheer amazement of what they were seeing.  And we’ll try to forget the area that smelled like an extremely bad case of B.O. although we thought we had identified the individual and avoided him like the plague. Turns out it wasn’t him after all. Whoops! Sorry, Dude!


The hot chocolate in the Children’s Farm area was reasonable ($1 a cup) and absolutely delicious. My youngest was, however, getting annoyed that I kept getting the camera out to take pictures. But even though I’m not the best photographer, I like to take them.


Spazzy look! Daughter wanted us to wear the Santa hats. The eldest son refused. And I’m well aware that my red and green scarf I got from the Santa Run didn’t match the faux leopard Santa hat.


Eyes half closed? Who cares!


My oldest son said that was the worst lighting with the worst background to take a picture. I took it anyway. 🙂 Besides, their red eyes match the red tree and lights. 😉


This area, on the grass by the tables there are some steps by the person wearing red (left side of pic), was where my husband and I exchanged our wedding vows in 1992. It makes me sad to see it now.


Reflections on the water

I had a good time last night seeing the lights, even if it was crowded. I didn’t let my son’s cranky attitude ruin my night. We were all together and doing something as a family. That has to count for something, right? And we can restart or make new traditions on our own as we see fit. Or not. But enjoy life? ABSOLUTELY.

On a Roll – My 3rd Prairie Fire 1/2 Marathon!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy biiiiiirrrrtttthhhhhday, dear Deb, happy birthday to me!

Yes, I decided in January that for my birthday gift I would treat myself to the race fees for the Spring Prairie Fire half marathon. Crazy, huh?! But really, why not? I’d trained for 3 others but only ran 2, thanks to a slip on the stairs as well as running my 1st full marathon in October so why not a little motivation to keep myself in shape as I celebrated my 44th year?

The weeks leading up to the race were tough. Work issues with school state testing, parenting issues and not sleeping well were rampant.  I was up in the wee hours of the morning and no, it wasn’t because I was excited and/or nervous! I approached the morning of the race with an attitude of “I’ve done the best that I can with what I’ve been given and I’ll run the best that I can this morning.” Oh, and lots and lots of prayer.

I left later than intended that morning. Great. Got stuck in traffic and had to park on a side road a long, long way from the starting line.  Good thing I knew where the hidden bathrooms were so I didn’t have to wait in the humongous line for the porta-potties with the other racers. I made it to the starting line with a few minutes to spare as I scanned the crowd, looking for my pacer.  (My goal was a sub 2 hour race but due to circumstances, I thought I’d try the 2:15 and see how my body handled it.)

To make a long story short, my body kicked it in. I made my way up to the 2 hour pacers after the gun/horn went off but my body felt like it could go faster.  I hung back for quite some time so as not to burn out too fast, then pulled ahead.  My 1/2 way point time was excellent and I was amazed that I could potentially make my goal.   In actuality, I BEAT my goal.  Even though the last mile was into the wind (20 mph, gusting to 27 mph), slightly uphill, and took every last ounce of energy from my body, I came in with my unofficial time of 1:57:07 with my Garmin showing 13.21 miles (not 13.1).  To say I was elated was a major understatement! I had beaten my personal record by a full 6 minutes! Woo hoo! I was SO PROUD of myself 🙂  and so were my parents, who were waiting for me at the finish line.


My race bib, medal, and evidence of my PR!

My race bib, medal, and evidence of my PR!

For those of you liking stats: Mile 1) 8:50 2) 9:07  3) 8:49  4) 8:50  5) 8:37  6) 8:46  7) 8:44  8) 8:53  9) 8:56  10) 8:51  11) 8:57  12) 9:03  13) 8:01  I did walk through 2 water stations . . . can you tell which ones?

I placed 316 out of 1576 with their official time of 1:57:10 (3 seconds off my Garmin).

Not sure where I am on the course here. Not too bad of an agonizing look on my face!

Not sure where I am on the course here. Not too bad of an agonizing look on my face!

I'm done with a PR! Woo hoo! Where's that Gatorade?!

I’m done with a PR! Woo hoo! Where’s that Gatorade?!


Next race? The Run for the Rockies 1/2 marathon in June!