As I lay here in bed on the Sunday night of Spring Break, the weight of everything I didn't do and need to do is suffocating. Why do I have so much to do? Do all teachers feel this way on Sunday night? Am I expecting too much of myself? Of my students? What is that balance between trying to challenge and grow as learners and feeling like this?
For now, I have no choice but to make compromises. And that's okay. It has to be.
I won't be the best teacher tomorrow - and that's hard to admit. But, my students have taught me more about grace than I ever knew possible. When I am honest with them tomorrow about not being prepared, they will understand. They will cut me the slack I am so unwilling to cut myself. And they will see me as an ordinary person who sometimes struggles, but is persistent. And that's a lesson in itself.
My entire goal was to get a cute picture of her smiling and showing "Daddy's Lucky Girl" on her shirt. Apparently, my years of professional photography experience did not prepare me to capture images of my own child.
While this one is good, it's not her smile. It's just another in a series of silly faces. But those eyes!
All of this occurred over the course of about sixty seconds. And, as it turns out, I love the entire photo series.
Many times in the past years, I would race home from work to meet my friends out for happy hour and try to catch up since they had already been drinking for six hours. We would create memories, meet randoms, and enjoy shenanigans all night. The next morning, we would relive and recall it all through brunch.
This year, we traded out green beer for ice cream.
After hitting a huge consignment sale at the fairgrounds, we stopped at the Dairy Zone for a treat, effectively ruining our dinner. My Cake Batter Tornado was totally worth it.
Signing "please" for more = a huge success!
This was the taste of summer I wanted during Spring Break. It was a perfect afternoon with a crisp 67 degrees.
The papers I have barely touched really need feedback and grades. The books I need to read instead of want to read are demanding my attention. The rough sketched out lesson plans for next week are begging to be finalized. The load of laundry I purposefully avoided last week because it was all work clothes must get cleaned.
I can only deny it for so long.
No longer will I get my long, slow morning with my coffee and Scandal reruns waiting to hear Mila's sweet voice stir awake upstairs.
When you are trying to get pregnant, each month you are not is a little grieving process.
All month, your mind is consumed with thoughts about what if this is the month.
Am I pregnant? Is that why I feel so bloated? What was that pain? Is it cramps? Ovulation pain? Is it another miscarriage? Should I take a test now? Should I have a glass of wine?
Will I have trouble keeping this pregnancy, too? When do I need to go on progesterone? Should I start taking the baby aspirin now? Will this baby be healthy?
When would I be due? What would that date mean for work? How will that impact us financially? How much time will I need to take unpaid? How long will my sick time last?
How far apart will the kids be? When would I need to move Mila to the other bedroom? How will she handle the move?
Each question and thought is filled with fear and excitement.
When you realize you are not this month, a crushing feeling envelopes your soul. I sound like I'm exaggerating here, but I'm not. The life you thought about, dreamed about, planned for with the baby born that month is no longer your life.
Then, the cycle begins again.
I know it will happen when it's supposed to - but someone try telling my heart that.
I used to think my mother was crazy for never sleeping in. Why on earth would she want to get out of a nice, warm comfy bed with soft, fluffy pillows? I'd hit snooze as often as I could before I had to get up. Many times in my teens and young twenties I would sleep past noon.
Now, I realize she is a GENIUS.
5 AM is quickly becoming my favorite time of the day. Me time.
The house sleeps perfectly quite and still. Just the breath of my loves upstairs fast asleep. I'm extra careful not to wake anyone. For their sanity, and mine.
It's a time for me to be me. Not Mom. Not a wife. Not a teacher.
I don't forget about these roles. In fact, many things happen at this hour to make me better in each of these titles.
But, it is an hour, a time, completely devoted to what I need at the exact moment. Maybe it's a run. Maybe time to write. Maybe catch up on a book. Maybe it's time to just sit and enjoy my coffee.
No matter how I spend the time, it's not wasted. All of these activities prepare me for my day mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Last night, we got snow. It's the middle of March, and we got measurable snow. Since we've been tempted with multiple 70 degree days, this bout of cabin fever is a little more severe.
To fight this Cabin Fever, we tried finger painting for the first time. I'm not sure we have a future artist. She quickly figured out it didn't taste good. After trying to get her to play and draw, she picked up the paper and threw it off in disgust.
Apparently, books are her thing. (Trying to pretend this doesn't make me burst with pride.) She saw her new Dory book on the island after I cleaned up all the paint. She pointed at it and said, "da" as in "that." We snuggled in the big chair while she read it, upside down.
Pointing the all the pictures and telling me what is going on.
Then, you moved to your chair and continued to read it aloud. Turning pages. Pointing to pictures and words. Studying everything.
Babies, movies, and snuggles rounded out our morning.
THIS FACE!! My heart just melts.
She slowly taps her baby's back to soothe her. I love when she does this to me when she gets up in the morning.
If we have many more snowy March days, we will need to increase our Disney movie collection...for Mom's sake.
A little throwback to doing her monthly pictures for the first year. Part of me misses this - seeing her little milestones and changes as she grows. Recording her stages. The other part of me knows how exhausting it was to get the last couple of month's pictures.
I say momma, dadda, bye-bye, uh-oh, touchdown (thanks, Dad), thank you, that, tada.
I sign please, more, love you, milk, bye bye.
I am cutting teeth number 13 and 14.
I can careen the stairs like a pro.
I am obsessed with the show Beat Bugs.
I love coloring, playing outside, playing in boxes.
I wear size 24 months/2T.
I just got new size 6 shoes today!
I grab Mom and Dad's hands to drag them around the house.
I can count to 3!
I can show "1" when counting to 3.
I often get random wild hair ideas, and I'm just crazy enough to run with them when they hit. Because I geek out about it, my students will usually go with me, or at least pretend to.
Just before Thanksgiving Break, I happened to stumble upon an old blog post of a teacher friend. She discussed how she encouraged independent reading by setting a weekend reading challenge. I read the blog Monday night and by Tuesday morning, I had a plan in place. With the long weekend coming up, I knew it was the perfect opportunity.
I was so moved by those who did make their goal without realizing they had it in them. I had one student read an entire book over the long weekend. She had never done that before and didn't know she was capable of doing so. That right there was worth the entire activity.
This semester, when we got close to Spring Break, a student I had last semester asked if we got to do the reading challenging again. Of course! (Inside, I was practically jumping of joy as her eyes lit up.) She excitedly shared she already knew what she was going to set as her challenge.
My students are familiar with reading goals. We follow Penny Kittle's reading goal guidelines in Book Love and monitor our reading growth each Monday. (A great opportunity for me to talk to every single kid in my class, check in on their progress, and celebrate their accomplishments.)
So, with a few added stipulations, we set our reading goals for Spring Break. The goal has to be somewhat of a challenge - more than their normal weekly reading goals. They have to commit to the goal before they leave for the day. If they write it down, they are more likely to commit. And I will reward them on Monday with some kind of treat. As I have said many times, when it comes to building reader's lives, I am not above bribery.
I, of course, challenge myself, too - never asking my students to do something I wouldn't. The subliminal messages from them as I get wrapped up in a game on my iPad instead of reading really work.
Not every kid chose to participate. I emphasized and reiterated that nothing really happened on Monday if they made a goal and didn't commit. They would only receive "try again next time" from me. But, I know I will have some I will get to celebrate on Monday. And I can't wait.
A side note: At the top of the white board is a series of stars with each of my classes total reading pages for the quarter. As a whole, we read over 141,000 pages. This is one proud teacher.
Only once in my life have I ever gone anywhere on Spring Break. And I was twenty-eight years old at the time. I went to South Carolina with my now-husband. It was fun, but whether or not I travel does not define my Spring Break.
Spring Break to me doesn't mean tropical, warm locations. It doesn't mean traveling in a car for hours on end to reach a destination. It doesn't mean I have to go anywhere or do anything at all.
To me, Spring Break is just that -- a break. A time to breath. A time to relax. A time to recharge so I can power through until the end of the semester. I don't need to go anywhere to do this. I can do this right in my big comfy chair snuggling in my living room. And this year, I plan to do just that.
This is me drafting my ideas during nap time about what an ideal spring break would be this year. (And spending too much time Googling how to draw flowers...).
Add in a couple glasses of wine and this is the ideal break for me. If we're really adventurous, we will head out to the zoo, but then again, we are suppose to get the most snow we have had all winter on Sunday night. Instead of blowing bubbles and sidewalk chalk, we may be in snow pants building snowmen.
If everyday of my break is like this, it will not be a waste. It will be exactly what I need.
The Color Purple is one of my all time favorites. Seriously, top ten.
My adoration for Alice Walker began in high school. By college, she was an obsession. I studied multiple pieces, wrote my first fifteen page paper about her, and presented on my research at a national conference in Baton Rouge.
This year, I got to teach it to AP Literature.
It's my first time teaching it, and of course, I love it - their conversation, excitement and emotions about it excite and inspire me. I have taught advanced classes for a few years, but this is different. These kids have a passion for reading that is unmatched. The entire feel and tone of the class. They WANT to discuss this love of literature. Many times, I don't get to say much in discussions. And that is the beauty of it.
Our focus with this book is literary theory. We discussed feminism, cultural, and race theories and their impact on the text. As an end of the book activity, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but no idea how it would turn out in actual practice. If I could get them to do it, I knew it would be a great way to start this conversation. This class could accept the challenge.
This was their assigned task: Trace the journey of Shug, Celie, or Sofia from a feminist and/or womanist perspective. Track the major events in each character's story. Include prominent interactions with other characters, both male and female, who have contributed to or hinder her journey. Create some graph or chart to give a visual representation of her progress of feminist and/or womanist perspective in a measure of your choice.
I love how they turned out.
I so wanted more time to discuss, argue, defend, and compare these. The visual representation of their ideas fascinated me. I was so proud.
Each day, they give me so much to consider. I love learning from them.