Friday, January 5, 2018

Always Letting Go

The truth of this quote is almost crushing.

I’m learning that being a mom is the hardest job I have had so far.

So, Connor got a train this Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa, a cute little Lego Duplo
train set with a small circular track that moves around by itself after you push a little green button.
But to Connor, this train was a monster from some unknown universe. He was deathly afraid of it
and when I would push the button for the train to go around the track he would scream and run
and cling to me for dear life.

And since Christmas, this is how it has been. He sits in my lap cringing with fear as he waits for
me to push the button. I’m giving the same speech, “It’s ok, Connor, it’s just a little train.
I promise it’s not going to hurt you. Come on, baby, push this little green button.”
As I push the button to start the train, there he sits, clinging to my finger, getting as close as he
possibly can while keeping his eyes glued to that scary monster chugging around the track.

I am his protector. I am his security. I will keep that menace from harming him.

As hard as this is to admit, and I realize absolutely selfish, I was actually glad he was scared of
the train. Moments like that where he clings to me for protection are few and far between and I
savored every second of him sitting there in my lap, his blonde hair brushing against mine, his
stubby little fingers grasping my hand, the smell of syrup from breakfast still lingering.
In those moments, he was my baby boy.

Well, last night he finally overcame his fear of the train. It happened so quickly. One moment he just
decided to have a go at it. He walked up, pushed it with intention and ran away as the little train
started its journey. This time he didn’t run to my lap. He didn’t even look to me for assurance.
He was a big brave boy- just like I had been trying to convince him he was. And underneath the surge
of love and pride I felt for him at that moment, sadness bubbled up.

It’s moments like this that the paradox of motherhood rings so loud and clear. I must let go.
Always let go.

This is why the job is so hard. Pushing and coaching and sometimes coaxing for Connor to do
something, to acquire a new skill, and then once it happens, he’s suddenly different. In the blink of an
eye. He’s not my baby boy anymore. He’s my big boy. He’s on his way to becoming the strong,
independent man that I hope he will be.

And so it will be. A lifetime of tiny moments like this one that force me to let go.
As if the time didn’t already go fast enough, these little moments remind me to soak up every
detail of the time I have with him now.

And pray.

I’m not sure how my heart will be able to handle it!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Shut Your Mouth and Act

I’m finding that being a first-time mom is exactly like being a first-year teacher. Every day I am faced with new experiences, behaviors, and thus opportunities to ‘act’ or ‘react’ as I did my first year in the classroom. My gut reaction is to turn to books (and other moms, of course!) to offer some sound guidance and advice.

I was lucky enough in my first few years of teaching to find an incredible book called Teach Like a Champion which changed my teaching and made me much more effective. Sadly, I have yet to find a Mom Like a Champion book, but there is one book I have found that offers practical advice and has books divided by age.

Jane Nelsen wrote one of the first books I read in college on the topic of classroom management, Positive Discipline in the Classroom. Little did I know, she has a series of parenting books as well! Thank goodness!

This book is full of anecdotal stories with practical, concrete strategies to help with the many mysteries of toddler behavior. At the heart of the book, the message is to be “kind but firm” when teaching. And in reality- that’s what I’m doing- teaching Connor how to handle the many emotions that come with being a human being. For him, he doesn’t have the words or the maturity to understand the swirl of emotions he feels, which is frustrating for me but even more frustrating for him.
Although she offers many strategies throughout the book, the one that has become my mantra is “shut your mouth and act.” It was actually Rudolf Dreikrus that coined the term, but she references it in her examples all throughout the book.

This little gem of a phrase helps me every single day. I may find myself washing dishes and Connor wanders over the that enticing little blue light on our DVR box wanting so badly to push it. My instinct is to stand at the sink and say, “No, Connor! Don’t touch the button!” Now, with that mantra in my head, I leave the sink, soapy hands and all, and calmly walk across the room, gently grab his hand, and say, “That button is not for Connor” and lead him away to something else. (Distraction, she notes, is the single best way to handle “misbehavior” at this age- more on that in another post maybe.. lol)

Connor is very persistent and sometimes it may take me saying that phrase and physically moving him away three or fifteen times. But eventually, he realizes that boundary and he moves along to something else. Of course, twenty minutes later he may try to go right back to that button, and thus the routine repeats. When I do this consistently enough, he learns the boundary is there and isn’t going to change and he doesn’t even try for a few days, LOL!

Anytime I find myself needing to say, “no,” this phrase is in my head. If I’m across the room, I wait until I am right next to him to say or do anything. Of course it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it has been much more effective than simply saying, “no.”

Just like in my first year of teaching, I am finding that this whole mom thing is a constant learning process, one that comes with a roller coaster of emotions, tears, and a few tantrums even from me! LOL! But I am comforted by the many wonderful moms I have in my life and for people like Jane Nelsen who have worked to give parents and teachers insight into little people’s minds and offer simple nuggets of advice like this one. 😊

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Adjustable Waist?! Who Knew?!

Now that I've finally figured out a rhythm to this whole being a stay-at-home mom thing, I'm discovering that I actually know VERY little about... well... a LOT of things. One of the things, apparently, is how to properly dress my child.

Connor has always been small, but here lately finding pants that fit him has been almost impossible. He has been able to wear shorts for most of the year thanks to our wonderful Texas weather and the lack of four seasons. Mind you, I haven't really searched all that hard. A few online searches here, a quick trip through the baby section at Marshall's there, but now that the weather has turned colder I realized yesterday that my poor child has no pants that actually fit him! Nine month pants fit him in the waist but are too short and the 12 month pants are long enough but literally fall off of his little waist. I seriously sent my child to school today in dumpy pants praying they wouldn't fall off his little body.

In the car on the way to Nutcracker Market as I was complaining about my pants problem, a friend of mine changed my life forever when she said, "Why don't you just get the ones with an adjustable waist?"


Adjustable waist??

How did I not know about this?

Where does one find such things?

Apparently everywhere in the world and I have just failed to see them. Ever.

Major mom fail.

So tonight, I drove myself down to my favorite store, Once Upon a Child, and found not one- but TWO pairs of adjustable waist pants that I'm pretty sure are going to actually fit him!


Seeing that little piece of elastic and those cute little buttons inside those pants just made my day.

So now I can add this little tidbit of knowledge to the ever-growing list of things I didn't know about being a mom. But at least for tomorrow my child will have pants that fit.



Thursday, August 24, 2017

Easy Label Upgrade!

So, this week Connor started going to his little preschool. He will go twice a week for a few hours and even though he was in daycare full time when I was working in the spring, leaving him was harder than I thought it would be! It was nice to get housework done without having to keep one eye on him, but I missed my buddy.

One of the things I did was put together a little first day gift for his teachers. Nothing big- just some small lotions from Bath and Body Works. I had gotten a bag of brown gift sacks from Hobby Lobby with the cute little chalkboard labels and when I went to write on them my chalk markers were nowhere to be seen! Major boo!

I thought about using just plain address or shipping labels on the bags, but I had the idea to fancy them up a bit with some of my decorative scissors. These things have sat on my desk for years and I hardly ever use them, but they were just the thing to add a nice touch to the labels.

All I did was cut all the way around the label with the scissors and it created a whole new look! Since I have several different pairs of scissors with different designs, I can create lots of different types of labels!

So the next time to you need to stick a label on something and want a little fancier look, jazz that label up using some paper edgers! So quick and easy!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A New Chapter, New Blog Look!

I can't believe I am writing these words, but I am starting to feel like an actual stay at home mom now! My husband and I made the decision that I would stay home about a month or so before school let out in the spring and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it come August. Well, now it's August, teachers are heading back to work, students start next week, and I can honestly say I don't feel a twinge of regret. CRAZY!

So, this badly neglected blog of mine is getting a makeover! Not that I have even used this thing in a while, but seeing as I will no longer be teaching full time, and I will take any excuse to buy new clip art, I decided to give it a new look.

I'm really not sure what I will have to write about, but I'm sure I will be able to conjure up something. Mom life is a pretty awesome life, and seeing as I just have my little man and lots of time on our hands thanks to his hard-working daddy, maybe I'll actually be able to come up with a post or two a week. Or not. Who knows!

As with writing about my experiences in the classroom, I really don't care who or if anyone reads what I write. It's really more for me to document my experience and if there is a chance someone might read something that helps them out in some way, that would be just awesome. Teacher life is hard, and mom life is hard. Although I am extremely blessed not to have to juggle both anymore, I feel the pressure to make sure I am the best wife and mom that I can possibly be- especially since I can't blame my laziness on being at work all day anymore! Ha! I love sharing with others, and love that I have the outlet to do so.

So, if you feel inclined, join me as I document (or possibly not!) my adventures in mom life. I of course will still have some posts related to teaching since that part of me can't be put away completely, but those will most likely be few and far between. Or maybe not! Who knows! I am honestly done trying to make plans-especially when it comes to this blog! John Lennon says it best:

I am embracing this new life of mine and loving every minute.

To all of my teacher friends- I hope you have an amazing start to the year!!! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Remember to pack some extra deodorant in your purse for after recess!! LOL!

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Reality of Being a Teacher and a Mom

It's 8:05 on a Friday night and I could literally fall asleep right at this moment. I'm exhausted. Besides the fact that this week has been absolutely nuts- think two days of no recess, lunch break or conference, a history-making storm resulting in fearful children crouched in the duck-and-cover position for what seemed like an eternity, throw up, bloody noses, poopy toilets, the list goes on!- this feeling of exhaustion has come to be the norm.

However, my Facebook keeps reminding me of all the things I've posted in the past on this little ol' blog of mine, so I felt the urge to write. And I miss it. Not only do I miss writing, but I miss the person I was when I had the time and energy to write all of those posts. Back when life was more simple and I had fewer priorities. Not that I would trade my life now for anything in the world, but sitting here writing this is making me feel all nostalgic.

I never realized how hard it would be to be both a teacher and a mom. There's a certain guilt I've carried with me my entire teaching career about never being able to do enough, or be enough, for all of my students. There are always a million things on my mind. Right now as I sit here, I remember that I didn't finish filling out the dyslexia paperwork that's been on my desk for WEEKS, I still haven't put together a folder for a parent who asked for extra work, and even after setting a reminder on my phone, I STILL forgot to meet with a student and help them understand subtraction. With all the things that happen during the course of the day and all the needs of my students- it seems impossible to give any one child everything that they need, much less all of them! I'm sure every teacher in the world knows that nagging feeling of teacher guilt. It's tough.

Now that I have my own child, that struggle is even more real. I've been used to being able to spend as much free time as I wanted to working and thinking about my students and school. Now, all I want to do when I get home is play with Connor and when he goes to bed all I want to do is SLEEP. So that teacher guilt? It's even more magnified.

I absolutely love my job and "my kids" at school. I absolutely love my child. And I absolutely NEED some relaxation time. So what's a girl to do? I guess the only answer is learn to live with doing the best I can do with the time I have, and let the rest of it go. Not an answer I love, but it's reality for now, and it's what has to be done. I can't even IMAGINE what it would be like to have another kid - or two!

I'm learning to live life with a child of my own and balance it with the life I used to know. I'm getting better at it, and slowly but surely I know I'll find ways to better maximize my time. But for now, I'll try to hush that inner voice telling me all the things I should be doing and truly enjoy my time with this little guy. And I just might make a little trip up to school this weekend and finish that paperwork. Maybe.

And to all you other teacher mommas out there- hats off to you! Especially those of you with two or more kids!! I honestly don't know how you do it and you are truly my heroes. Keep fighting the good fight and know that you are amazing and an inspiration to me!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Flocabulary: GIVEAWAY!!!

Engagement. It’s a word that’s constantly swimming around in the back of my mind. How can I make this content more engaging? Are my students engaged? If not, why? It’s a struggle to keeps kids engaged in this highly technological world of ours.

A couple of years ago, a colleague introduced me to a little website called Flocabulary. I blogged about it last year, which you can read HERE. However, I wanted to take the time to tell you all about it again, but this time I have some very special offers for you!

I’m excited to be partnering up with Flocabulary and giving away free memberships! Read on to find out more about what the site has to offer and the chance to win a FREE year-long subscription! You also have the opportunity to earn a 45-day extended free trial that is accessible to not only you, but everyone at your school just for entering! How awesome is that!

Before I go any further, let me assure you that I would NOT be wasting my precious time (remember I'm on maternity leave!) to write about a website unless I truly believe in it. I have been using Flocabulary for two years and because of it, my students LOVE learning new vocabulary words and they have been more- can you guess what I'm going to say?!- engaged! So please trust me when I say that Flocabulary is a quality resource and I am so proud to be partnered up with them!

Now, let’s dig in to see what this site has to offer!

What in the world is it?
Flocabulary is an educational website that provides engaging - there’s that word again! – hip hop style videos that help teachers teach content in all subject areas across a range of grade levels. No matter what you teach, you are sure to find a video to suit you and your students.  The videos are visually engaging (there it is again!) and the kiddos love them!

In the past, I have only truly utilized the Vocabulary section of the site on a regular basis, which I describe in detail HERE, but today I want to highlight how useful this site is for any subject and show you what they have to offer.

How It’s Set Up
Every lesson is centered around a video. The authors write lyrics that are fun but that also help teach the content. Additional resources are provided as well.

Let's Explore! 
I’m going to walk you through what I would see when planning to teach a unit on the three states of matter in science in my third grade classroom. Keep in mind that for any subject and topic the layout and resources would be similar.

First, I have the option to select my content area. Notice the options below. 'Vocabulary' is a separate section that is further divided into grade levels. This is the area of the site that I have the most experience with and have LOVED. Also, the site offers a 'Week in Rap' video every week that captures the world's current events in a kid-friendly way. It's an excellent way to keep the kiddos in the loop on what's going on in the world! 

After choosing my content, I then choose my grade level range:

Then, I have tons of videos to choose from within the topic of “Elementary Science.” I find the one that fits my needs for my upcoming unit.

For each lesson, the video is the core, but you have several resources to utilize besides the video itself. Regardless of the content area, the resources available to you include the following:

Let’s take a look at some of the resources available for an elementary science lesson on the three states of matter:

As you can see from the picture, I have the opportunity to print the lyrics for my students so they can follow along. I print lyrics so that after my students watch the video a few times, we simply listen and read along. Having the ability to watch and listen is great.

After listening and discussing the video, I have the option of using fill-in-the-blank lyrics that leave out key terms. This is useful because the kids can simply listen to the song instead of watching it and pay attention to the vocabulary.

After watching the video, reading through the lyrics, and discussing what we’ve learned, the Quick Review is great. The open-ended questions allow for discussion and clarification. I love the way the questions are worded and the connections made. I would have never thought to describe gas atoms as kids running around at recess! 

Next we have the option to use a printable activity. The activities vary depending on the grade level and topic, but regardless of what video you are using, the printable activity will give students the opportunity to process what they have learned and practice. Obviously, because videos are designed to appeal to a range of grade levels, the printable activity may or may not be exactly what you need, but having an option is fantastic! 

As an added bonus, a new feature just introduced this year called the “Lyric Lab” gives students the opportunity to develop their own rhymes or rap using the key vocabulary words and their choice of  music! As words are typed in the box, a box of rhyming words automatically pops up to provide students options for their rap. So cool! I personally haven’t had a chance to use this feature yet, but I look forward to using it when I get back! It would even be a great whole-class activity to sum up the learning!

Now, if you aren’t convinced to give Flocabulary a try after seeing all of that, let me entice you a little bit more! Just for signing up below, you will receive a FREE 45-DAY extended trial that’s not only for you, but for your ENTIRE SCHOOL! I mean, it can’t get much better than that! Also, you will be entered for the chance to win a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION! I will be giving away THREE OF THESE! Winners will be announced on October 18th. Even if you don’t win, remember that you will still get that 45-day extended free trial for your whole school! Everyone is a winner!  After signing up, you will receive information to access your free trial the week of October 18th. Sign up now! You’ve got nothing to lose!! Be sure to enter every field in the sign up box and your free trial information will be e-mailed to you. You must enter by OCTOBER 16 @ 11:59pm EST!

For now, Flocabulary has several free videos and resources that you can access without needing any kind of code. I encourage you to check them out!

Believe me when I tell you that I wouldn’t waste my precious time writing about a resource I don’t believe in. My colleagues and I have used Flocabulary and know the impact it can have on learning. Engagement is the key, and Flocabulary provides you with tools to ramp up that engagement! 

If you use Flocabulary already, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Happy teaching!!

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