Getting Back In The Game

It has been a few days since I posted anything to my blog.  I feel bad about it.  It’s the same feeling I get when I skip a day or two of running.  I know it is something I should do, but I am not motivated to do it.   I hear the voice in my head telling me not to beat myself up over it.  This voice urges me to get back in the game.

I have a few reasons why I have been putting off posting anything.  One reason is, I have an assignment due for one of my administrative credential classes.  I worked on it today and am just about ready to turn it in.  Another reason is, my family is coming over to my house for Thanksgiving this year.  Although everyone brings something to share, getting the house clean and ready for guests is stressful.  Fortunately, my children helped me, and the house is good to go.  A third reason is, I have nothing to write about.  I now have an understanding of what my students go through when I ask them to write in class.  Sometimes there is just nothing to say.  I need to remember that it is okay if they have nothing to write about and honor that.  I can also share with them that I have days like that, too.

Earlier today, I stumbled across an envelope that was hidden in a pile of papers in the corner of my kitchen counter.  It was a corner I needed to tackle during our cleaning session today.  I needed that pile of papers off the counter before my family arrived for Thanksgiving.  The envelope had my name on it, so I looked at the contents.  There was a card and several small slips of paper inside.  The card was from my writing response group mentor-Susan.  She is a veteran SDAWP fellow who mentored me during last summer’s Summer Institute.  She wrote a nice note to me in the card, but what she wrote on one of the slips of paper caused me to sit down and write tonight.  She wrote a lot about the state of education today, but what struck me is her last paragraph.  Here is what Susan wrote,

As you return to your site, breathe deep.  Infuse your teaching with a newfound power and freedom.  Remember we’re here-in study groups, follow-ups, and conferences.  You’re not alone, even though at times it may feel isolating.  Keep your values true, your experiences writing and learning fresh, honor the larger truths and issues we’ve only just begun to uncover here, and continue writing.  Play at it; work at it; but write!

I decided to take Susan’s advice and just write, even if what I am writing is about nothing (Why am I thinking of the T.V. show, Seinfeld, which was a show about nothing? 🙂 ).  I just need to get back into the habit of writing something, anything, down.  So, here I am getting back into the game.  I am going to try to do better.  That’s all I can do, right?  And, if I skip a few days here or there, that’s okay, too.  I guess the thing to remember is that my blog will be here ready for my stories to come out whenever that may be.

A Bobcat On The Loose

We have had a visitor at my house for the past few days.  A bobcat, who lives nearby in the local canyon has paid early morning calls to my backyard.  Bob, the bobcat, usually visits at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning.  My daughters’ two bunnies, Mickey and Belle, also lives in a two story hutch in our backyard.  We have had the bunnies for several months and have never had a problem before with the wildlife in our area.  We have coyotes and owls that frequent our neighborhood.  I guess that is the price we pay for living next to a canyon.  However, these animals have never ventured too close.  Bob, the bobcat is different.  He comes over and tries to figure out a way to get to our bunnies.  Here is a picture of him sitting in front of the hutch.  I don’t really know if the bobcat is male or female.  I am assuming it is a male.  I did not get close enough to figure it out, and I don’t plan to!

bobcat

Let me just say, that I am in awe that I get to see this animal up close.  It’s not something you see everyday.  But now, Bob is getting to be a little annoying.  Since he comes stalking at night, he makes a big ruckus when he jumps up to the top of the hutch trying to get at Mickey and Belle.  My husband fixed the pen that surrounds the hutch by getting rid of the gap between the pen and the hutch.  He figured that would be a good way to deter Bob.  However, this just makes Bob angry.  On the second night of his visit, he jumped to the top of the hutch and began pushing at the pen with his paws to try and make a space large enough for him to squeeze into so he could get closer to the bunnies.  Bob was not about to give up.  On the fourth night of his visit, he managed to create that space he wanted.  He could squeeze himself to the bottom, but there was not enough room for him to sit.  So, he would jump back up to the top of the hutch.  My concern is for Mickey and Belle.  When they get upset, they start thumping their paws on the floor of the hutch.  It’s pretty loud, and pretty much keeps me up in the wee hours of the morning.  Even when I have scared Bob away, the bunnies will continue to thump.  I am afraid the neighbors are going to complain.

We have tried to solve the problem.  My friend, Christie, told her husband about my bobcat issue.  He suggested squirting Bob with the hose when he comes around.  I tried hooking up our hose to the outside spigot, but the seal is bad.  My pants got soaked, and I couldn’t leave the water running all night leaking and spraying everywhere.  When my daughter, Cassie yelled out that the bobcat was back this evening (He came around 8:00 P.M. this time), I knew I had to call Animal Control.  When I tried calling Animal Control, I discovered they are not in the office over the weekend.  When I tried to call the emergency number, I was abruptly told I had to call the department of Fish and Wildlife.  Of course, no one is there because it is Sunday!  I called my friend, Nicole, and she said we should put the bunnies inside.  Her daughter, Mattie, came over, too.  We decided to put the bunnies in the garage.

We had to come up with a plan before we attempted to go outside to retrieve Mickey, Belle, and the extra pen we had in the backyard.  It was dark, and we were afraid the bobcat was still lurking around.  We suspected this because the bunnies were thumping madly in the hutch.  If you are wondering where our husbands were, they were both conveniently not at home.  Otherwise, we would have let the men figure it out!  We decided to call our neighbor, Dan, who is a firefighter, to come and help us because we felt like we needed “man power.”  By the time he came over, Nicole, Mattie, Cassie, Allison, and I had managed to enter the backyard, move the pen into the garage, and transport Mickey into the garage.  We were a site, though!  Nicole had a big PVC pipe that she pounded on the ground to scare Bob away.  We followed her out single file clapping our hands and making as much noise as we could.  It was comical.  When Dan arrived, we were in the process of transporting Belle into the garage.  Ha!  I guess we didn’t need “man power” after all.  🙂

I am happy to report that Mickey and Belle are happy in the garage.  I am not sure how long they will have to stay there.  Eventually, we will move them back into their home.  I guess we should see if Bob will move on.  But for now, this is a solution to our problem.  I am just happy I am going to be able to get a good night’s sleep.

Bunnies1

Mentor Text Challenge #4 The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

The mentor text I would like to share this month is called The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.  The story was written by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein.  It is a cute tale of a young girl named Beatrice Bottomwell who never makes mistakes.  However, one day she almost makes a mistake that she can’t get out of her mind.   She begins to keep herself from having any fun because she is afraid to make a mistake.  I won’t tell you the ending, but it is a happy one.

I use this book as a mentor text for teaching how to start sentences with a variety of words.  The book has several sentences with prepostitional phrases plus a comma at the beginning of the sentence.  Here are some examples.

At school, Beatrice was on a cooking team with her two best friends, Millie and Sarah.

On her way home from school, Beatrice watched Millie and Sarah ice-skating in the park.

I also used this book to demonstrate temporal words.

After supper, Beatrice got ready for the talent show.  First, she woke Humbert from his nap.  Next, she got the salt shaker from the kitchen table.  Finally, she filled a balloon with water.

I love this story for its many uses, but I also love that it has a great message at the end of it.  We took the opportunity to discuss the author’s purpose for writing this book.  My students enjoyed it, too.

Veteran’s Day

Last Friday, my school celebrated Veteran’s Day by honoring parents who serve or have served in the Armed Forces.  It has been a tradition for the past several years.  The junior ROTC color guard from our local high school was on hand to present the colors.  My principal sang the National Anthem.  A co-worker and I read some facts about Veteran’s Day.  Following this, the second graders sang America The Beautiful/This is the Land I Love.  We invite veterans to the front to introduce themselves.  Then, for the grand finale, the whole student body sings The Armed Forces Medley.  It really is a nice way to honor the men and women who protect our freedom.

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On Veteran’s Day, I like to take a moment to appreciate my day off from work.  I am proud to say that I am the daughter of a veteran.  And, I am also married to a veteran.  My husband served in the Navy for 5 years.  Prior to that he was a midshipman for 4 years.  He loved his time being a surface warfare officer.  He actually served during Desert Storm.  He learned many life lessons by being in the Navy.  My husband left the Navy shortly after we were married, because he knew how hard it was on military families and the sacrifices they had to make.  Today, my husband works for a biotech company.  However, he still values his military service.  He is part of a veterans club at work.  The club does community service for local veterans and military families.  Today, my husband had to go to work, but they are going to honor his service by hosting a lunch for all the veterans of his company.

Uniform
circa early 1990s

My father was also a Navy man.  He started out as an enlisted man and worked up to the rank of Chief Petty Officer.  My dad served during the Vietnam War.  Amazingly, he stayed in the Navy for 20 years before he retired.  My dad did not want a big ceremony.  He was not that kind of person.  However, my dad was very patriotic.  He was able to become a United States citizen because of his service in the Navy.  He loved this country very much.  My dad passed away in 2005.  When he died he had a military burial.

dad1
circa 1960s

Even though I appreciate my day off, I know it would not be possible without people like my husband or my father.  For me, it is not just another day off from work.  It is a day to say thank you to all the men and women who keep our country safe.  It’s a day when I say that I am proud to be an American.  Happy Veteran’s Day.

Butterfly Update

For the past month or so, my class has been observing the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly.  We had two caterpillars left.  We watched as they went from caterpillar to chrysalis.  My students were excited about them emerging as beautiful butterflies.

Last week, one of the butterflies emerged, but something was horribly wrong.  Instead of flitting about in the butterfly habitat, it was laying motionless on the soil of my potted milkweed plant.  The students were concerned, and I was concerned, too.  I really believed the butterfly to be dead.  I tried explaining to the students that this was all a part of the life cycle and that this often happens in nature.  My students seemed okay with that, and they went on about their business.  At the end of the day, I noticed the butterfly was not dead.  It was moving around, but one of its wings had not fully opened.  It was still crumpled up.  The butterfly kept trying to flap its wings and get it working.  I was encouraged, and I hoped that in the morning the wing would work itself out.  But, it didn’t. 😦  I kept trying to think if there was something I could do to help the butterfly along.

When I saw that the butterfly had not improved, I was sad about it.  However, I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it.  I had to call my friend and teammate, Joanne, in to take care of it.   Joanne is the one who gave me the milkweed plant and prepared the butterfly habitat.  She said that this sometimes happens.  She also informed me that she once had a chrysalis that never opened up.  It was hard explaining to her students about this.  In any case, she took the butterfly for me, and I don’t know what she did with it.  I really don’t want to know.

It got me thinking about my classroom.  Am I really doing everything I can to help all my students, even the ones with the crumpled wings?  Because I have a diverse group this year, I need to make sure I can meet everyone’s needs.  I can’t just leave it up to chance or to someone else to deal with.  It is frustrating sometimes, because I don’t believe I am doing an adequate job.  I need to focus on what it is my students can do instead of what they can’t.  I need to make sure I create a learning environment where everyone can be successful.  Even though it will mean a lot of work for me, I hope I can accomplish that.