Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our new pet

Day 25 of 31 days of writing!
Upon waking up, he chirps a lively little song, excited to begin exploring.

He ventures out from his bed and roams around the room, purring with contentment. Whirring and spinning, he curiously investigates every corner, nook, and crevice. He sidles up to walls, scratching his itches and snuggling. He scouts under the bed, hunts under the dresser, and burrows under the nightstand.

When he finds something to nibble on, he gobbles it down with a cheerful little murmur, making sure to take care of every last morsel.

Eventually, he decides the room has been thoroughly inspected and his belly is satisfied. Wiggling with joy, he eases over to his bed and gently settles himself in, squirming to find just the right position.

Just before he falls asleep, he warbles another cheery song, pleased with his work for the day.

Who is this adorable new pet? Roomby the Roomba, our happy helper!

All snuggled up to his bed, ready to explore some more!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dance Party

Day 24 of 31 days of writing
"Is she having a dance party?" Husband's eyes sparkle as he leans over.

"Allison says maybe she's playing soccer in there!" I giggle. "But I think right now she's crawling around or swimming laps or something..."

"Maybe it's like one of those lap pools that's only as long as a person but has a current so you can swim in one spot!" He grins and raises an eyebrow.

"Yeah, she's so big now! See?" We both burst into laughter as a strange bump suddenly appears and squirms on one side of my belly.

"Oop, and now it's dance party time!" Way down in another spot, some little patters push against my skin. "She loves when her daddy pats her!"

I snuggle my head deeper into Husband's shoulder and we enjoy the show: wriggles, ripples, thumps, and quivers. So many surprises right under our hands.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A new grip

Day 23 of 31 days of writing
I smile as I finish commenting on my students' slices, my heart full, as always, of the new connections we're making.

Opening up my Blogger dashboard, I marvel at my stats, astounded that people continue to view my blog even when I haven't posted in days. Realizing that people have my old blog posts pinned on Pinterest always brings an astonishing wave of encouragement, especially when life has done its best to hinder my writing.

The familiar routine of starting a post is like easing into my favorite pair of pajamas after a long day. Add my tags, think about a title (but leave it blank for now), insert the slicing logo, add my typical caption... Wait, what day is it? The strangeness of having missed so many days this March jars me out of the comfort of my routine. Yikes. The 23rd? I click over to the live view of my blog to check this month's archive. And I've only written 11 posts? I shake off the temptation to be discouraged. Really, 11 posts is pretty good with everything that's been going on lately: testing and sickness, enjoying days off, and giving students quality feedback on their writing.

I take a deep breath and move beyond that caption to figuring out my hook. Playing with words again feels like stretching sore muscles in the morning in the midst of marching band two-a-days: tough, but also satisfying and invigorating.

This is the year of not being perfect, and that's ok. That means this is also the year of not giving up, of teaching myself and my students to refocus on what matters and regroup with resiliency and hope. This is the year of identifying with my struggling students in a whole new way.

This is the year of Hebrews 12:12-13: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.  Mark out a straight path for your feet.  Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.”

Today was the first day of the new grading period and the first day back after break: a good day to take a new grip, set my feet where they belong, and help my students do the same.

Monday, March 16, 2015

By my side

Day 16 of 31 days of writing!
"Sorry... I didn't quite make it..." I mumbled my sheepish confession and curled up with my arms on the toilet seat.

"It's okay, honey!" Husband looked at me with wide eyes full of concern, using his sweetest just-for-me voice. He grabbed some paper towels and got to work on the tile floor.

"See, you're going to be such a good dad!" I climbed into bed and snuggled up to him, sighing while he texted my parents to say we wouldn't be able to go out to dinner.

"What flavor of clear Gatorade do you want?" He patted my hair, tucked me in, and made an unplanned run to the store.

All through the long night, he rubbed my back, refilled my water bottle, and kissed my forehead.

After climbing back into bed one time, I couldn't find my fuzzy white bear. "Where's Valentine?"
"Do you want him?" His eyes said that he just wished he could make me feel better.
My head nestled further into his arm with every nod. He sat up, rummaged around in the sheets, and finally, way down by my feet, found the cute bear hugging a heart that he'd gotten me years ago. Tucking Valentine in the perfect snuggling spot under my arm, he patted my head again.

In the midst of the shadowy hours, I put his hand on my rollicking belly, where Baby Girl seemed to be protesting the lack of food and water with her biggest kicks and jabs.
"She wants to know where her nutrition is!"
"She'll be okay, honey! Don't worry!" His hand wrapped around mine as I bent my head toward his shoulder.

And when I woke up, I had to uncurl my stiff fingers from his. That's love.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Not perfect

Day 14 of 31 days of writing!
I almost didn't write this March. This challenge, usually one of my favorite (although certainly always difficult!) times of the year, loomed ahead, daunting and unattainable. Ultimately, I put on my game face and charged in, knowing that I needed to reclaim my writing life.

But when I did, I told myself what I tell my students every March: that even if you don't write every day, you'll end up writing more than you would have otherwise. You'll play with words in new ways, grow as a writer, make new connections, and strengthen old ones. You'll start to see the world in a different way, a writerly way, which means being more thoughtful, more observant, more alive.

For the first week, I was going strong, even through tortuous testing and days I didn't want to write. And then, on Monday, it happened: I just couldn't write. Schoolwork ran right into a band meeting and there was just no time.

Maybe I could write during the meeting, if it got boring? Just a quick slice? I could bring my laptop... no, that would make me feel like I HAD to write. I'd just bring my iPad, and if I wanted to, I could blog on there. Yes, that could work! 

But it was a great meeting, one that I'd hoped to slice about later this week. There was no way I was going to take part of myself away from such important, thoughtful conversations with my band family to blog.

That was it. After three perfect Marches, this year's chance at perfection was over after only 8 days. For a lifelong perfectionist, that was a new, uncomfortable feeling.

But missing one day isn't too bad, right? After all, I'd told myself before I even started that I probably wouldn't make it this year. And while I'd hoped to make it farther than 8 days, now I had an idea for my next slice!

But Tuesday was the last of 10 grueling days of testing. I was so excited to get back to teaching, but I was also absolutely wiped out, overwhelmed with how the testing had interfered with my real work, and discouraged by the fact that I'd only have three days with my students before Spring Break. By the time I got my plans ready, I could barely keep my eyes open.

I'll go home early (anything before 5 is "early" for me), take a nap, and then blog after dinner! I'll be refreshed and ready to write! 

I napped for two hours. Husband made dinner and dragged me out of bed to eat it. While that woke me up a little, I could barely put together a coherent thought, let alone a sentence, and my eyelids were heavy before I'd even been up for an hour. It turns out that skipping a second day is even easier than missing the first.

And while I got myself in gear on Wednesday, the next two days brought more napping, a severe need to get caught up on work, and even giving myself permission to just snuggle up to Husband on the couch and let him hug away the stress of the past few weeks.

Sometimes, letting yourself not be perfect is the most perfect choice of all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Finally

Day 11 of 31 days of writing!
"I missed you!!!" Sparks of life returned to our exhausted eyes this morning as my students and I finally greeted each other in my classroom again.

Through yesterday, 10 of my last 11 school days were consumed with testing. 10 days trapped in silent, barren, unfamiliar rooms. 10 days of standardized directions, ridiculous procedures, and logistical puzzles: interpreters, testing locations, dictionaries, make-ups. 10 days of sub plans, adjusted schedules, and incomplete classes. (Most of my students missed 5-6 days of class at different times over the course of the 10 days. Some are still making up tests the rest of this week.) 10 days of disrupted routines. 10 days of heartbreak at the defeatstrugglefrustration, and stress in my students' solemn faces and hunched bodies.

10 days of just trudging through, fighting to remember what matters.

But finally, this morning, we were back together. Worn out, but together. Together in our cozy little community, closely knit with books, words, hope, trust, and love. Weary, but smiling.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Passing it on

Day 8 of 31 days of writing!
As I slowly shake myself out of a blissful fog, a muffled cacophony rises through the heating vents and up the stairs. Sometimes, it's clanging metal or heavy pounding. Other times, it might be the rhythmic purr of sawing or the soft, gentle cadence of sanding.

For a moment, I think I'm a kid again, nestled in my twin bed while my dad works on some project in the basement. But these sounds are even sweeter now, because they're accompanied by cheerful voices: one teaching, one learning.

"Ok, so it looks like we'll need 8 1x3's, minus whatever I have at home... write down '8-something 1x3's... and those will go over here, then we'll need some metal brackets... write 'metal brackets'..." My dad has an incredible mind for planning projects.

"Well, watching and asking questions is how you learn! I learned most of this from watching Grandpa... here, do you want to try the next one?" From staining and spackling to miter cuts and door installation, Daddy always shows Husband what to do the first time and then lets him try.

For a quirky engineer, my daddy is sure a good teacher!