Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trading Places Slice of Life Tuesday

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other wonderful Slice of Life stories.

When I asked my after school digital writing club what they wanted to learn in our workshops, they all mentioned game design.

Game design?  I know nothing about game design.  I don't even play digital games.  When my own kids were little, I'd try to play with Zach and it ended up being an exercise in complete frustration.

My ears perked up during Troy Hicks' keynote presentation with the Educator Collaborative a few weeks ago when he encouraged his audience to stretch themselves a bit.  He mentioned GameStar Mechanic and I knew I had my answer for the kids.

I read about the work Kevin Hodgson has done with his sixth graders.  The I began to explore their site.  Thankfully, they have support for teachers like me.  I played some of the sample games and read through some of the lessons before introducing the site to the kids.  I was hooked!

And boy, were the kids hooked!  I played alongside them as they worked their way through the beginning episodes.  Here's a little of what it sounded like in the library yesterday afternoon:

"This is so fun, Mrs. Johnson."

"Shoot! I messed up again."

"This is the best class we've had."

"Darn!  Who can come help me get past this level?"

"I finished.  Can I go on to the next level?"

"I need help again.  Who's at a place where they can stop for a minute?"

Can you guess which comments are mine?  I was truly the learner in yesterday's workshop time.  The kids were the experts.

I plan on learning all I can in the next week before I meet with them again.  I'm pretty sure I had as much fun as they did.

I stopped Kayleigh in the hall today and said, "Do you think your teacher will let you skip class to help me pass level 4?"

I was only half kidding.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Obedience School is Exhausting #SOL15

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Now that the month of March is over, I am back to posting once a week.  Let's hope I can keep with it.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other Slice of Life stories.

I don't know who's more tired after obedience school...me or the pups.  It's more than being exhausted, I am emotionally spent.  You see, I am someone who is used to doing things well.  I'm ashamed to say that if I can't do a task well, I tend to shy away from it.  I'm trying to do better, since I've learned to recognize it in myself, but still, it's hard for me.

Tuesday night is obedience school.  It seems that we are worse than the parents who don't check their kids' backpacks to look for homework.  We check the backpack and STILL don't do the homework.  Last week, Marlo, the instructor, told the class that it was important to practice the "stay" command because of the exercise we would be doing this week.  Do you think we practiced the "stay" command this week?  Nope.

I told Keith I wanted to skip tonight's lesson.  (I know, that's bad isn't it?)  He shot back that we weren't skipping just because we didn't do our homework.

"What would you tell your kids if they didn't do their homework?" he asked me.

So, we crammed for tonight's class, practicing "heel," 'sit," and "stay" 30 minutes before it was time to leave.  I was feeling a glimmer of confidence because they were doing pretty well.

They even started out well in class.  Until Marlo said, "Ok, time for "down."

Uh oh...we didn't practice "down" and Jem is especially bad at it.  (Can you guess which dog I had tonight?  If you guessed Jem, you are the winner).  Yes, I had Jem and he was not going to lie down for anything.  I could feel my anxiety rise as everyone else's dog laid down on the floor and stayed there.  Even Scout followed directions.  My cheeks flushed and my heart pounded harder and harder.  I was sure everyone's eyes were on me as I silently pled with Jem to lie down and verbally tried all the tricks I had learned.  I'm sure my rising stress level only made it worse and it wasn't going to look good if I broke down in tears.  (I'm only half kidding).  :)

I gave in.

I asked Marlo to come model for me.  Even she had trouble with him, but it was evident she was in charge.

Thankfully, we moved on to some new commands and Jem did much better.  Good thing, because I don't think I could have done it much longer.

The last thing Marlo told us was that we were going to do a 1 minute "down" and 1 minute "stay" next week.

Guess what we're going to be practicing this week?  I am determined that we can get better at this.  Maybe I'm not such a bad puppy parent after all.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Friends Bring Sunshine Day 31 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slices.  This is the last day of the challenge.  It's been so good to get back into the habit of writing every day.

Today was a day that was made brighter by friends.

My school day ended with a friend responding to my frantic text and meeting me for coffee after school.  She listened, asked questions, threw out options and asked more questions.  I left after our chat feeling a little more hopeful and optimistic about some decisions I have to make.  Thank you Cathy!

Earlier my school day was brightened by another friend. But first, a little of the back story...

We were greeted at school on Monday morning with this amazing lemon pie.  I remembered Cheryl's Facebook post from the week before and knew right away who had brought in this wonderful dessert.  I took a sliver and deemed it a must have dessert for Easter Sunday.

When I got to Cheryl's room to tell her how much I liked the pie, I told her I was going to make it for Easter.
"You have to have Arizona lemons to make it," she told me.
"You're kidding, right?"
"No, my friend made it with regular lemons from the grocery store and the pie was bitter."

Well, darn.  I was pretty sure my principal wasn't going to let me take a few days off to fly to Arizona so I could get myself some Arizona lemons.   Maybe Meyer lemons would work.  I wasn't going to give up quite so easily.

Lucky for me, as Cheryl passed me in the hall today, she whispered, "I have a surprise for you on your desk."  I was hoping it might be one of those Arizona lemons.  

I quickly went back to my office and found not one, but two beautiful, round yellow orbs that looked more like yellow oranges than lemons.  They were huge and they smelled heavenly.  I was a happy girl!  A new fruit, a new recipe, what more could a girl want?  (Well, at least a girl like me).

So, my family will be eating Arizona Sunshine Pie for Easter Sunday, thanks to Cheryl and the Arizona sunshine.  I can't wait to share this little bit of heaven with them.  

Thank you Cheryl!

Now, I will be on the lookout for ways to pay the sunshine forward.  :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Would You Say? Day 30 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge. Please visit their site to read and comment on other stories.

The Johnsons are a little nerdy, all in a good way. Every night at 7:00, whoever is home gathers to watch Jeopardy and then Wheel of Fortune at 7:30. We're all pretty good at the Wheel, but Zach is the king of Jeopardy. He knows a lot of facts about a lot of things. 

The other day I posed the following question to my family as Alex Trebek introduced the contestants, "What would be your claim to fame?  What would you want to say about yourself when you got introduced?"

For the life of me, I couldn't think of anything out of the ordinary to say about myself. I haven't traveled to 53 countries. I wasn't a Raynette (back up singer for Ray Charles).  Those people come up with the best stories. 

I think about this every time the Jeopardy jingle begins to play. So far, nothing great has come to mind, but I did find this article from NPR that might give me some ideas. 

So what would your story be?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Being Present Day 29 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of Life stories.   I am also cross posting this with DigiLit Sunday.  You can visit Reflections on the Teche to read other posts about how educators are using technology in their classrooms.

I received this in my email today.  It's an important reminder that I need often.

One of the reasons I chose "Quiet" as my OLW is because there is constant chatter going on in my head.  I'm always thinking about what needs to be done next or what I should be doing to better myself...read more, study more, practice more, try new things to push myself to achieve more.  It goes on and on and to be honest, can be exhausting, because in reality, I can never accomplish everything that I feel like I must accomplish.  Sigh!

I tried to keep all three things that are mentioned above in mind as I went through the day.  It's the last day of spring break.  I didn't crowd my day with things that needed to get done.  Instead, I chose to do spend the day with the people I enjoy the most doing the things that make me happy.  Each thing got my full attention today, which felt so nice.

Tonight, as I sit in my living room, I can hear the rain tapping against the window and the chimney.  Candles are lit and it is peaceful.  I relish the quiet.  

Because I can't relinquish all of my bad habits, I decided to try Nutshell (remember the line above...try new things to push myself) to illustrate the serenity here tonight.  I am a work in progress and tomorrow is another day to remind myself to be present, open my heart, and quiet my mind.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mission Accomplished Day 28 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life Challenge.  It's day 28 of the 31 day challenge!  We're almost to the finish line.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of life stories.  

Yesterday, I lamented about the color of my kitchen.  Today ended up being very productive and I am a happy girl.  My husband and I tag teamed the job.  He cut in the corners and edges.  I rolled the large areas.  It was fun working together on a house project.  Fixing up the house and making it ours may just be the thing that becomes "our thing" (see #4 from this post).

Waiting to hang wall decor.

While the paint dried, we went to look at hardwood flooring.  We both love hardwood floors and we knew it would be one of the first things we did to update our house.  We found something we both liked quickly (and it was on clearance!!).  The salesman asked us if we would be putting it in ourselves.  We looked at each other and laughed.  18 years ago, we laid hardwood floors in our then brand new house.  We swore we'd never do it again. We made an appointment with the installer to come out to the house to measure.

Bamboo flooring we ordered.  

But then...as soon as we got into the car, Keith said to me, "Maybe we could put the flooring in ourselves."  A few minutes later he said, "How about if we install it in the upstairs.  If it's too hard, we can have the pros do the downstairs."  We then came home and watched YouTube videos on how to install bamboo flooring.

I have a feeling that I know what our next home improvement project will be.  :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Making up my Mind Day 27 of 31

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the March Slice of Life challenge.  Please visit their site to read and comment on other slice of life stories.

The kitchen was the color of a bright yellow tennis ball.  It was one of the first things I wanted to change.  I LOVE green, but decided that I wanted to start afresh with this house and thought I'd try a different color palette.

Sitting among unpacked boxes, Molly, Annie and I studied Pinterest, pinning colors we thought we'd like.  We finally decided on some blues, salmons and tans.  It looked good on paper.  We were on a mission...get the kitchen and bathroom painted while Molly was still home to help.

Keith cautioned me, "Are you sure you want to paint so quickly?  Why don't we live with this for a bit and see if you really want to go with blue."

Molly and I were confident in our choice.  "No, we want to get this done."

He returned, "Don't you want to paint some samples on the wall to make sure you like the color?"

We stood firm.  We were the color was going to be perfect.  I was excited about trying something new.

So, 3 days after moving, we were painting.  We still had boxes to unpack, but we thought it was more important to paint.

As the walls were covered, I felt a twinge of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach.  Hmmm...it looked a little more like a baby boy blue instead of the blue gray I thought it would be.  I didn't dare say anything to Keith.

I lived with the blue for a month or so, before I broached the subject that maybe I really am a green kind of girl.  Blue is not for me.

Keith didn't say a word.

A month later, I told him that I thought maybe we should repaint the kitchen.

He just looked at me.

Two weeks ago, I got some samples of green that I thought I'd like.

He shook his head, knowing that my mind was made up.

This time, I didn't start blindly slapping paint on the wall.  I painted sections so that I could make an intelligent decision.

Jajoba...too blue
Sage...too dark
Flora...a little better
Feng Shui...perfect!

Tomorrow, my kitchen will be green and I will be a much happier girl.