What’s My Age Again?

Today is my birthday and I am thirty-seven years old.

I have a lot of friends who hate to be reminded of how old they are, avoid telling people their age, and don’t draw attention to their birthdays. But neither my birthday nor my age make me feel old. Only once did I completely freak out about my age and have a “bad” birthday–the kind where you lie on your bed in your jammies staring at the ceiling and petting your cat and planning out your life as the Crazy Cat Lady.

It was my twenty-fifth and I didn’t have a full-time job (I was barely paying the bills by substitute teaching), had just been dumped from a long-term (five years) relationship, and was back living in my small town that I felt was confining and suffocating.  I was sure that my life was screwed. My master plan for my future had been flushed down the toilet and I felt out of control and out of luck. I didn’t even get out of bed that day.

Within six months, I found out how wrong and ridiculous I had been. That fall I was hired in to my current school district, I had been accepted to grad school, I started dating Cortney, and I was seeing the benefits to living in a small, close-knit community.

That was also the last time I freaked out about being “too old” or about it being “too late” for anything. It was the first and last time I ever cared about my age.

So that brings us to now: thirty-seven–an age where I thought I would be a lot more…settled. I think back to when my parents were my age and I was a kid.  From my perspective, late-30’s is when you are an adult. I’m not sure why, other than that is the age when I began to be aware of how old my parents were in relation to me, so by default late-30’s are when you become an adult.

But here’s the problem: I don’t really know what it’s supposed to feel like to be an adult, although I do think I am probably feeling more adultish lately than I have in the past.

In my 20’s, I was technically an adult, but everything I did felt like I was a kid trying to be an adult. Even at my own wedding when I was twenty-seven I remember saying, “OMG! This is such a GROWN UP THING!  Getting married!!!”

When Cortney’s dad died, I felt like an impostor.  I was just a kid posing as an adult who knew how to cope and grieve with the loss of someone so close.

When I got pregnant the very first time I was twenty-nine. I couldn’t even look my dad in the face to tell him. I knew that he would know what Cortney had done to his daughter to make that happen. I felt like a teenager “in trouble”.

Somehow my thirties slowly changed that attitude, and now at age thirty-seven, I find myself feeling like what I guess is what being an adult feels like.  I think I thought it would feel more boring. Like, once you find yourself being an adult, you are now feeling boring and not caring about being fashionable. Being and “adult” probably feels a lot like giving up on immaturity and inappropriateness.

But I’m finding that is not what it is at all…or at least not what it is for me.

It’s hard to explain.There is a feeling of being “in charge” and being more confident, yet I’m still ridiculous and immature–I mean, farts will ALWAYS be funny.  Sorry Mom.

I have gotten two degrees and am working on applying for my third, yet I still use the word “turd” regularly.

I can take charge of a classroom of eighth graders, yet I rap to DMX (loudly) in the car (without kids, I’m not that ridiculous).

It’s like by this age I have stepped up my game of responsibility while at the same time embracing the stuff that may be immature, but makes me ME.  Some of my strongest writing is academic, but I promise you that I will never get so scholarly that I am above using words like “crap bag”.

While thirty-seven is all adultish to me, I also know that being an adult doesn’t mean my life is over. There are still lots of things I want to do when I grow up.  Ok, I am grown up…but I know I will grow up even more which means there are so many more possibilities out there.

Thirty-seven is really just the beginning of a whole new era! One where all my children are born and my husband is a part-owner of a business and I get to weigh the possibility of a new degree and even more opportunities. That is the fun of being an adult–you get to pick what to do next. You get to choose your own adventure!

You get to eat from the secret stash of birthday cake Oreos when the kids aren’t looking even though you had dessert with them a few minutes ago!

So yes, I am thirty-seven and an adult.

Let’s eat cake!

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Have you donated a book to the March Book Shower yet?

 

Netflix for Maternity Leave

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I am currently sitting in our big leather chair, a baby snoring quietly on my  lap, a cup of coffee getting cold on the arm rest, and Friends via Netflix on the TV.

I am on maternity leave.

how we spend most of our time together, hence lots of Netflix.

how we spend most of our time together, hence lots of Netflix.

In preparation for maternity leave, I made a list of shows that I want to binge watch during those long days when I have a baby on me.

  • Friends – I have been looking forward to this since they announced earlier this year that the favorite sitcom was coming to Netflix. I am already on season four after spending the hours of 11am until about 2pm watching it every day.
  • Orange is the New Black – I read the book last summer in preparation for meeting Piper Kerman at Netflix HQ in California, but I was saving the show for maternity leave.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – This is the newest to my list and it’s also new to Netflix. I’ve heard hilarious reviews, so it’s on my list because I like to laugh, yo.
  • Portlandia – Cortney and I started watching this when we first got Netflix, but we never finished. It’s so ridiculous because Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are the king and queen of ridiculous. It also makes me miss Seattle and want to move to Portland. I don’t even think it’s supposed to have that effect.
  • Sherlock – you all tell me it’s great, and I like great. Also I don’t see the hotness of Benedict Cumberbatch (which, by the way, sounds like a totally made up name), but you all tell me if I watch this show, I will.
  • TED Talks – Yes, I am letting my nerd show. I love me some TED Talks.
  • Freaks and Geeks – I have never watched it, yet our sociology teachers show it every year and scoff at me every year because they say it’s amazing. So it’s my goal to determine that.
  • The Wonder Years - This list would not be complete with out the ultimate throwback possible. This was hands down one of my favorite shows growing up, and it’s currently available on Netflix.

I would say this list will keep Alice and me pretty well-occupied for the next three months, don’t you think?  Is there anything we should add? I don’t like scary stuff or stuff that is disturbing–I save that for the books I read. Watching TV should be a little mindless fun, ya know?

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, but am not paid for my opinion. I am provided with Netflix and a device to watch it on. All opinions (and To Watch Lists) are my own.

‘Twas The Night Before Alice

Dear boys,

Tomorrow is the day. Our world will change and our family will be complete. Tomorrow is Alice’s birthday!

I know we are all excited and even a little nervous. We think we know what to expect and we have planned as much as we can, but we also know in our hearts that there are no guarantees. Things could go awry quickly. There is no reason to expect it, but we just don’t know.  So we go into tomorrow with excitement and hope for a healthy baby and mommy.

But there is more, right? We can only guess at how our life will be different. We don’t know. Will Alice be a happy, content baby or will she have colic like Eddie did? Will she be easy to take out of the house, or will she be needy and fussy? We will find out soon!

I have a lot of emotions tonight as I write this. I look around me and see our life. There are Charlie’s trucks and Eddie’s backpack. I see Daddy’s french press and the tablet charging. Our life is nice and routine. We know how to be a family of four: Mommy, Daddy, Eddie, Charlie. Tomorrow it all changes.

How can life be so normal and yet on the verge of such change?

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Boys, I want you to know how thankful I am for all three of you. I know I’ve complained a LOT during this pregnancy, but you have all been so unbelievably helpful and supportive.

Eddie,

You are my number one. You made me a mom almost six years ago. You have been by my side helping and loving on me through this whole thing.

Many times you have said, “no mom! I will get that. I don’t want you to bend too much!” or “I just want to be helpful so you’re not so tired.”  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to just grab you and squeeze you. How did I get so darn lucky to have a boy so sensitive and giving and kind?

When I have broke down in tears because I feel like a failure of a mom, you have put your hand on my arm and said, “you’re not THAT bad, mom,” and made me laugh. You seemed to always know when I needed a good snuggle, and you never complained that I fell asleep on the weekends during Charlie’s nap leaving you to watch Netflix and play Legos by yourself.

You are a wonderful big brother to Charlie, and I just know you will be everything to Alice too. You already love her so much!  You tell EVERYONE you see that your “very own baby sister will be borned on March 6!”  You told everyone in front of church on Sunday, you’ve told all your Zkids teachers and Mr. F, and you’ve told all your friends. You’ve even told people who you don’t really know!

In the past weeks our conversations about her have increased. You have wondered about her voice and her eyes. You have asked what her laugh will sound like. Eddie, you are amazing.  When I was sick, you worried about your sister being sick too, and admitted that you were afraid she might die in my tummy. That night we prayed together and you asked Jesus to keep your sister and mom safe. I can’t tell you how full you  make my heart, my Eddie Bear.

I promise to still make time for Mommy & Eddie time because our conversations mean so much to me. You made me a mommy and I will never ever take that for granted.

Eddie, you were born to be a Big Brother

Eddie, you were born to be a Big Brother

Charlie,

Oh my sweet little Charlie Bird. You fill my life with exasperation and laughter. You rage fiercely and love even stronger. At a week shy of turning three, you don’t fully understand what is about to happen to our house. Not as much as Eddie understands, anyway. You once told me you don’t like babies because “they get on you.”

However you get very excited to tell people about “Baby Alice!” and how she is coming. You pat my belly and kiss it and say your sister is in there. You have finally given up the nursery as not your room anymore, but that of Baby Alice.

Each time someone gifts us a tiny pink something or other you hug it and say “aw cute!”

Losing the baby status is going to be hard for you, Mr. Charlie Bird. Your love of being small and cute is pretty evident. You use that cuteness whenever you get a chance–although it works better with every other person (your dad included) than it does with me because I’m totally on to you, son.

You are going to love your sister, but also insist we put her down. You will want to give her kisses and then ignore her for your loud trucks. You will make her pretend food and then get angry that she is taking attention off of you. Maybe my predictions will be wrong, but I know you pretty well, my little boy.

But you are quite the lovey bug too. I know once she gets older, you will love on her like you do with Eddie and Dad Dad and me. Floppy newborn will probably not interest you much, but when you first make her laugh, your relationship will change forever. Your love languages are laughter and touch, which makes me think I will have to play defense against your tight hugs and sloppy kisses. But guess what? She will love them. Eddie might be her protector, but you will be her laughter.

Charlie I promise that you will not get shoved to the side. We will make time for Boy Time and Mommy & Charlie time. I will still cuddle with you in the chair before bed and read you stories when you ask.

That smile and that skrunchy nose. Oh Charlie.

That smile and that skrunchy nose. Oh Charlie.

Cortney,

Oh my sweet husband. I don’t know if I have the right words to even begin to tell you how much your love and support has meant to me. Not that this is different than any other area of our relationship, but more times than not I have been reminded how lucky I am to have a partner who is truly my partner. Someone who doesn’t keep score or hold on to hard feelings, but someone who gives everything he is to our team.

You have put up with my complainy, sucks at pregnancy self THREE times and you still love me and want to hug and kiss me every day. That is not too shabby. And I will say to you, WE ARE DONE! As of tomorrow, this is it. No more Pregnant Kate. You get your wife back. You know, sort of. After all that postpartum stuff, that is. But yay! End in sight!

I have spent the past nine months thanking you and apologizing to you over and over. You have picked up so much slack it’s like I wasn’t even here a bunch of the time. I know this burden has weighted on you, but you never say to me, “it’s too much. I just can’t.” Instead, you look at me and say, “it’s what we do. We are a team. You grow the kids. That’s your part.” In fact, just today you thanked me! I asked why and you said, “for growing the humans.”  And I laughed.

That is how we have always gotten through all of this hard stuff: laughter. It must be why our kids have such hilarious senses of humor as well. In all things we find the funny. That is a true gift.

My favorite thing is that through this pregnancy, I have come to re-realize that you are indeed my very best friend in the whole world. I would never want to go through life with anyone other than you.

I hope you know how appreciative I am of everything you do for me and the boys and for Alice. You are going to be the most amazing Dad of a Little Girl. I am sure of it.  You already deal with me and my crazy, what’s one more lady in the house, right?

I promise you that I will keep laughing with you (even when the postpartum hormone rush makes me cry at things like shoes on the wrong feet). I promise to go on dates with you SOON. And I promise to pat your cute butt at inappropriate times, per usual.

Let the weirdness march on!

Let the weirdness march on!

Boys, I am both terrified and thrilled that we are adding a new human to our house of crazy. Sluiter Nation will be more complete when we bring home that pink little bundle.

Just make sure not to run her over with a Tonka truck and I think we will be good.

I love you all so much. Thank you for being the best dudes a lady could ask for.

Now…on to a new adventure!! On to Wonderland with our Alice!

Love,
Mommy/Kate

March Book Shower

March is when Alice is coming (the 6th).  March is Charlie’s third birthday (the 13th).  March is my thirty-seventh birthday (the 27th).  March is also READING MONTH.

March also means my last day of teaching until fall. While it is exciting to think of being done for six months, it also stressful for me getting ready to leave my students–and my classroom library–with someone else for 12 weeks.  Will the sub love and care for my books the way I do?  Will my students continue to be responsible about checking out and returning books without stealing or losing them?

What I know for sure is that I have students who are definitely reading those books. I would say that over 75% of my classes are doing more than required one independent book per marking period, and of the remaining 25% of students, less than 10% are just not reading or doing their required work.

With only 4 days left of work for this year, I would say my biggest success has been Reading Workshop. I have many things I would like to add or adjust for next year, but as my first year trying Reader’s Workshop AND being in a new grade-level and building, I would say it’s been more successful than I could have hoped.

That said, I always, always need more books. So rather than having a baby shower, I was told I should throw a book shower!

If you want to participate in my March Book Shower to celebrate the birth of Alice, mine and Charlie’s birthdays, Reading Month and the success of my first year of Reader’s Workshop just click the imagine below and it will take you to my classroom wishlist.

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This wishlist has been compiled by my students as they read and request books. There are over 300 titles, so if you click through, you can find something you would love to add to our library.

It would only take a gift of ONE book per blog reader and my students would be able to have the books that will keep them reading!

I would love it if you would share this post with others too! You can either click on the share buttons below, or you can use this when you share via twitter or Facebook:

Join me in throwing @ksluiter a Book Shower in honor of March being Reading month, her new baby girl, and her students’ love of reading! http://wp.me/p1qChn-2yS

It’s about to get crazy in Sluiter Nation…help us celebrate!

Musing at 34 weeks, 3 days pregnant

I feel like a large, useless blob.

I know, I know. I’m not “useless”. I’m growing a human. I KNOW.

As a self-proclaimed mega fan of being lazy, I really suck at it when it’s thrust upon me. Under normal circumstances, I will gladly and enthusiastically take a day to sit on my butt with a cup of tea and a book and a nap. However at this sage in my pregnancy I want to do all the things and I can’t.

For me, pregnancy brings a whole bag of emotions the largest and most pronounced being guilt.

The thoughts come fast and in no particular order. It usually starts because I am sitting on the couch looking around at all the things I want done: dusting, vacuuming, walls washed, lamp shades cleaned, leather furniture cleaned, floors scrubbed…is that a fruit loop? When did we last have fruit loops in this house? Aw geez.

I can’t do much.

For one, I have something wrong with one of my knees. They can’t really do anything about it until after pregnancy, so we are just sort of babying it until then, half-hoping it’s just loose ligaments that will feel better after baby is born. But because of it, I am not just a waddling pregnant lady, I am sort of a limping one too. I’ve been told to give up stairs as much as possible.

That combined with the largeness of my belly (I’m measuring 2 weeks ahead), makes sitting on the floor an impossibility as well.  Ok, getting UP from the floor is the impossible part. Also not Ok anymore is being on my hands and knees to help look for a small toy or to scrub floors the way I want them scrubbed.

Saturday while Cortney was out getting groceries, I thought I would show him some appreciation for all the work he has put in to make our house run smoothly while I am entering the “Useless” phase of pregnancy by baking him the chocolate chip cookies he’s been craving. I figured cleaning up some of the kitchen while at it was no big deal. Then I got it in my head that picking up my 31-pound almost 3-year old and dancing around the kitchen to the Beatles was Ok.

It was so not Ok that I got crampy and awful feeling for the rest of the day.

I spend a lot of time saying “I can’t, I’m sorry boys.”

I see the stuff I want to clean and scrub–partly because I am feeling all nesting-ish, but because normally I would do those things on the weekends. And even though he says to do it, I don’t want to add those things to Cortney’s already long To Do list.

I feel guilty not doing “my share” even though logically I know that by growing a baby, I am doing “my share” right now.

And then I start to hate pregnancy.

So there’s more guilt there. As far as nature is concerned, my children should not be possible. I needed medical intervention to keep them alive in my belly AND to keep them (and me) alive through the birthing process. The fact that we have two healthy boys and a little girl on the way is nothing short of a miracle.

How can I hate that? Why can’t I just sit back, enjoy it, and glow like I should?

So I am a ball of emotions. Those emotions make me cry. I’m ready to be done being pregnant…which also makes me feel guilt, by the way.

I want to clean my house and have a baby.

But of course it’s not ever that simple.

9 Things I Wonder About Other Writers

While I was reading blogs–yes, I still do that–I came across this post by my friend Alison, which was inspired by Kristen. I really liked it.

I have been thinking a lot about that label “writer” lately. Are “blogger” and “writer” synonymous? I suppose so. I tell my students that if you write, you are a writer. However I think there is a difference between “writer” and “capital ‘W’ Writer”.

I definitely consider myself a writer (well, a Teacher-writer, if you want to be specific), but a Writer? I’m not sure.  I don’t think being published means you are automatically a Writer. I think there is more to it than that, but I haven’t figured out what. In the meantime, here are my answers to some interesting questions.

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1. Do you share your work with your partner or spouse? Does it matter if it’s been published yet?

Yes, always. Cortney reads my blog regularly and I send him almost every draft of something I am going to submit for publication elsewhere. He is my biggest cheerleader in anything I do and really pushes me to go to the next level in teaching, learning, and writing. I smiled when I read that Stephen King also has his wife read everything he writes.

2. How much of your family and/or closest “friends in real life first” read your stuff…let alone give you feedback about it? 

Most of my readers are people I know “in real life”. My mom is probably second after Cortney in being my support. She doesn’t always agree with what I have written, but she proudly shares it with everyone and encourages me to keep writing.

My friends and other family members read it from time to time–when they see me post on Facebook and the topic interests them. Many members of my church have become readers, as well as some of my colleagues. Our church library even has one of the books I was published in on its shelves.

I’ve always been deeply honored when people I know tell me they read my writing and enjoy it. It’s also very humbling when former students, people I went to high school with, or past co-workers either approach me “in real life” or reach out via email or Facebook to tell me they enjoy what I write.  That keeps me going.

3. What do you do with the pieces that continually get rejected–post on your blog? Trash? When do you know it’s time to let it go?

The pieces that I have had rejected are either posted to my blog or kept for something else. I never know what I could revise and use again.

Rejection has taught me about who I am as a writer though, and what sorts of publications are more important to me than others. I find that I don’t fit many of the places that other bloggers find success submitting to. I don’t fit the mold that many places like the Huffington Post, Mamalode, etc are looking for.

While I do write about motherhood, most of those essays get rejected, and I’ve become Ok with that. I don’t naturally write beautiful, flowy pieces about being a mom. When I do, it’s usually something that just happens by chance.

The writing I get most recognition for are my opinion pieces and my posts on education. In fact, I’ve been published twice now in academic journals, and that is probably what I am most proud of.

4. Are there pieces you write for one very specific place that, once rejected, you just let go of, or do you rework into something else?

I don’t think I have ever just “let go” of a piece. If it didn’t start as something here on my blog, I will publish it here in some embodiment of it’s original whether I have to make it more “blog friendly” if it was academic, or revise it down to fit the attention span of blog readers.

5. What is your main source of reading-based inspiration (especially you essayists)? Blogs? Magazines? Journals? Anthologies? Book of essays by one writer?

I read a ton. I take very seriously Stephen King’s idea that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.  I like to read books on the craft of writing, but I also just like to spend time with good writing–a good book that I can fall into for awhile. I get inspired by good writing.

I also try to read books on teaching pedagogy so I can stay abreast of best practice teaching. This leads me to try new things in my classroom and to write about it here (like I did with Reader’s Workshop and not assigning homework). I also read academic journals which both inspire me as a teacher and writer, but also give me ideas of what I can write about.

I like to read blogs as well. Lately I have been reading lots of political blogs and opinion blogs (but not the comment sections!)

6. What tends to spark ideas more for you: what you see/hear in daily life or what you read?

I think it’s equal parts experience and reading especially my teaching/writing posts and essays.  It’s hard to write about something you don’t experience, but reading really motivates me to write.

7. Who have you read in the past year or two that you feel is completely brilliant but so under-appreciated?

I think young adult literature is often under-appreciated. I know I never thought of it as “literature” until I started reading a TON of it over the past year in preparation for implementing a Reader’s Workshop in my classroom.  When I was the age my students are now, what I had available to me with teen protagonists was hardly good writing. Now I find myself spellbound by authors like Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith, and John Green.  I don’t think you have to have teenagers or teach them to fall in love with these books.

8. Without listing anything written by Dani Shapiro, Anne Lamott, Lee Gutkind, or Natalie Goldberg, what craft books are “must haves”?

I think it depends on the kind of writing you love to do. I appreciate Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, but I also read a lot of “shop lit” (books about teaching writing) by Kelly Gallagher, Kylene Beers, Katie Wood Ray, Penny Kittle, and many others.

I also think sometimes reading authors that inspire your writing is sort of like reading a “craft book”. For instance I am largely influenced by Hemingway’s writing style of using very few words to convey very large ideas, but other than his posthumously published A Moveable Feast –which is more memoir than writing direction–there is not much writing advice he gives. I think many Writers don’t claim to know what will work for everyone; they only know what will work for themselves.

While I enjoy a good “craft” book, I don’t lean on them for a direct “Here is How to be a Capital “W” Writer” so much as I glean suggestions and ideas from them.

9. Have you ever regretted having something published? Was it because of the content or the actual writing style/syntax? 

Nope. No regrets. There have been a piece or two that I didn’t think was my best writing, but I don’t regret that it’s out there.  There are also pieces that I put out there that people read into in a way I didn’t expect, but again, I am not regretful or upset that I pushed “publish” or “send” on those pieces because they started conversations.

I’d love it if you answered a few of these. I’d also love it if you shared what YOU wonder about other writers too.

30 Blog Posts

I did it.

I posted all 30 days of November, and I learned a few things along the way.

1. I don’t really enjoy posting every single day.

2. I am not entirely happy with what I have written for that day, but instead of just hitting “save” on the draft, I hit “publish” because, well, a post a day!

3. I don’t feel like I wrote more than I usually do; I just hit publish more often.

4. I found myself thinking “is this a blog post?” about everything…like I used to do.

5. I am still annoyed about the picture thing. Yes, there have been pictures but that is either with copy/paste or embedding via Flickr. Both are annoying stand in’s to what I should be able to do here.

6. I do still enjoy writing every day, and it’s not all bad to have some pressure to hit publish once in a while.

7. I’ve been more stumped for content because, I think, I’ve been holding back.  No, I know I have. I have some stuff I really, really want to write about, but I am afraid of being controversial or whatever and I don’t have the energy to “deal with” the fall out. Or even the support.  I know. That is sad.

8. Blogging every day has me somehow missing real people more than usual. I am still working this through my brain about what this even means.

9. I’ve become acutely aware of how much has changed since I was at the “height” of my blogging (stats-wise that is) in 2011/12. I didn’t care what other people were logging about or what had been said already. I was writing my own truth not trying to say something new.  Now I feel like a small, repetitive voice in a sea of “been there, done that” type of writing.

10.. I made time to post, but I didn’t make enough time to read others, and I wish I had. I miss reading blogs just for fun. So to those of you who have popped over here, thank you. I know how big of a deal that is.

Will I do NaBloPoMo again next year? I don’t know. I didn’t know I was going to do it this year until I had posted on November one and decided to see if I could. So maybe?

I also know I am tired and tomorrow starts the three-week haul to Christmas break, so I am going to go grab some rest.

Confession: I’m Not Convinced

Yesterday my mom and I went shopping for Black Friday. We don’t get up super early or go on Thanksgiving or anything. No, we get up when we feel like it and are usually at the mall around 10am, give or take a few minutes depending on how slowly I am moving.

Anyway, we were in the infant/toddler section at Younkers’ yesterday looking at tiny clothes for tiny people. My mom wanted to buy Alice a little something for Christmas. I have wanted to try to pick out a jammy for her too–something that can be her coming home from the hospital jammy.

Something has held me back, though.

My mom had no problem digging through all the pink and purple searching for a cute little something for her second granddaughter. I looked, but I also looked through the boy things thinking about how I will miss the tiny man clothes. My mom told me to get over it.

But really? I think I am just not convinced I’m having a girl. Or I am skeptical. Or I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Or I have a mom “feeling”. Or I am paranoid.

I am something all right.

Both boys had unmistakable ultrasounds. There were most definitely boy bits on the black and white screen.

Alice was different. She didn’t cooperate at first and when she did, there wasn’t anything there, but I kept thinking maybe we just missed them? Is that possible?

I love looking at little girl stuff. It’s a whole new world to me to be fascinated by.

Yet I’m not convinced it’s my new world. I can’t imagine being handed a girl baby. I can’t imagine having another female in the house. I can’t imagine girl diaper changes and hair “pretties” (OMG the hair pretties).

Maybe I am just scared.

Last night I told Cortney I wasn’t 100% on board the girl train like I was with the boys. He said, “well we better talk about a boy name then, just in case.”

I love that guy.

He didn’t tell me to quit worrying or to accept that it’s a girl.

Nope. He said, “well, let’s be ready either way.”

And that is what we will be: ready either way. Because like we said before, it truly does not matter whether this is a boy or a girl, we are so SO excited to meet this new baby and complete our family.

Close and Critical Reading

Because one of my district’s School Improvement Goals is literacy-based, we developed an assessment called Close and Critical Reading (CCR). I know what you’re thinking…aw jeez, another assessment.

Hear me out.

Teaching CCR skills helps students not just understand what they read better, but it helps them to intelligently talk about the features of the text, the inferences they can make, and the connections they see. Students are given a text appropriate to the content of the class they are in (we do this across the curriculum so students can build their skills in all sorts of texts, not just fiction in the English class). Then they are given four questions:

  1. What does the text say? (summarize)
  2. How does the text say it? (discuss genre, features, and language)
  3. Why does the text say it? (inference of theme, lesson, or slice of life)
  4. So what? (making connections both with self and society)

We give the test as a summative assessment four times a year (once per marking period), but we do formative assessments of these skills almost daily–at least in the English Language Arts classes.

I have been doing CCR-type lessons with my high school students for year, but now that I am a junior high teacher, I need to remember that these students need the basics before they can refine the skills.

This led me to create my very first anchor charts!
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You can see that I do not have the neatness and creativity of a seasoned anchor chart maker, but I did my best.
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and as we move on, you can tell I lost my patience with trying to write neatly…
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and instead of starting over when there were boo boos, I just fudged it.

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In order to teach these skills, we also teach active reading, but that is another post.

It’s funny because if you tell the students they are learning CCR skills, they get all groany. But if you just have them do the skills without labeling, they do it with {almost} no whining.

Couple this with all the “free” silent reading we do in class in our own books means we are building much better readers…and kids who actually like to read!

Five Things

I was in band/colorguard in high school.

I didn’t play any sports. None. When I was a kid, my parents made me do T-ball and then one year of pitching machine until they finally agreed that I had no coordination–or motivation–to play sports. In 6th grade I started playing the trumpet. I didn’t love it or the instructor, but I did love band. I stuck with it through middle school because I wanted to march with the high school band. My freshman year of high school welcomed a new band director to the district who changed everything. I was in love with band, although I still didn’t love my trumpet. I found colorguard and became a full on band nerd.  I even almost tried out for my University’s colorguard, but realized at the last minute that I needed a job more than I needed to be in band and I didn’t have time for both.

I thought I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 16.

I can’t even tell you why I thought this other than I thought it would be cool to argue in a courtroom in front of people. I may enjoy the attention of a crowd. I quickly realized I didn’t have the stones to be in such a harsh profession. So I chose teaching instead. Yes, I see the ridiculousness of that last statement.

I’ve been to over 100 concerts.

I went to my first concert when I was 15 years old. My mom and dad (because they are delightfully naive) let me drive across the state with my boyfriend to see Aerosmith (because he has fun music and doesn’t swear!–according to my mom. HA!) at the Palace in Auburn Hills (near Detroit). The opening band was Collective Soul (remember them? Probably not). I was hooked. I’ve seen everyone from Tom Petty to Metallica, Dave Matthews to Type O Negative. Rock n Roll, yo.

I’ve never done drugs.

For some reason, people find this hard to believe. But it’s true! I’ve never smoked weed or taken anything mind altering. And I didn’t drink until college.

I’ve never been outside the US.

Well, I guess if you count the couple times I went over the boarder to Canada, I have been. I’ve never needed a passport for any travel. Considering I have a degree in Spanish and am certified to teach it, that is sad. I would LOVE to go to Mexico (or Spain or any Spanish-speaking country). I would love to go somewhere warm. I would love to see France, England, Germany, and all the other European countries from the literature I have taught. I would love to visit the Netherlands and see where my ancestors are from.

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The winner of the Stand Up book giveaway has been chosen! If it wasn’t you, you can still purchase the book here. It would make a GREAT holiday gift!

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