Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SOL 31 31 Things.

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My favorite way to write is a quick write, usually to clear out my brain.  
So here are 31 things on my mind today.

1.  It's early, there doesn't seem to be much on my mind.  :)
2.  I've loved this writing challenge.  It has stretched me as writer.
3.  I'm seriously considering another 30 day writing challenge.
4.  I think granola with almond milk is my favorite breakfast.  It keeps me full.
5.  Our "oldest" starts a new job today.  He needs to get up.
6.  I've been touring schools this week for various reasons.  I loved learning about The Leader in Me last week.  It always invigorates me and makes me nervous!  I'm going to one today.
7.  I'm thinking about creativity in the classroom a lot.
8.  Where should we eat dinner tonight?
9.  I need to get my own SOL celebration plans completed for my class.
10.  Could I really write a book?  2 friends and I have been kicking a couple ideas around.
11.  What is my oldest going to be when he grows up?
12.  Should I am for training for the 1/2 marathon in the fall?  What about running for time?
13.  Can I organize a 5K?  How hard is that really?
14.  Eye doctors give me the heebies.  And I need to call for my 10 year old and promised I would go with him.  (Think Rachel from Friends and the Eyedrop episode...)
15.  I've been running more this month.
16.  Hormones and Food Allergies are weird.
17.  Grown ups should dream more.  I did some with a friend last night and it was awesome.
18.  What do you want to be when you grow up?
19.  Holy Week is one of my favorite times of year.  Reflective.
20.  When my kids wake up they always come over to hug and snuggle a bit.  I always tell them I Love them.
21.  I know it's on an awful channel,  but I watch Teen Titans Go with my oldest. And I think it's kind of funny.  Please don't judge.
22.  I really need to clean out the back of my car.
23.  I mentioned dinner, I get to eat it with my husband tonight.  :)  Yay.
24.  My youngest REALLY wants a fish.
25.  Having an extra person in my house has kept my house cleaner than normal.
26.  I learned how to boil eggs on Sunday.  So easy.  Whoops.
27.  I'm kind of excited for this summer.  Graduate school shouldn't be as intense as I thought it would be.
28.  I teach with some really great people.
29.  How do we celebrate great teachers?
30.  What are you eating for lunch today?
31.  Connecting with new bloggers this month was one of my favorite things to do!


Monday, March 30, 2015

SOL 30: My New Favorite Mentor Text.

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You Guys.  I went to the library this weekend.  (Hooray!)
Now, a literary critic I am not.  So thanks for entertaining this blog about my love for this book.

I.Love.This.Book.  ( I just squealed a bit when I typed that.)


First of all, she does what I do!  When I buy my planner for the year, I always make sure there is room to write down what we are going to eat.  It brings a sense of organization to who we are as a family.  And I love watching how it changes throughout the year.  After reading this book, I'm a little sad that I haven't kept my planners from previous years.  *sigh*

Secondly, she has told her family's story through dinner.  From being newlyweds, to having babies, to being a family in motion, she writes so eloquently about how dinner has evolved in their family.  

Finally, in this book she shares some great, do-able recipes in this book.  They are scattered throughout the stories.  

You Guys.  We all have a story like this to tell.  It might not be dinner.  It might be another meal.  (Breakfast, lunch, snack time, you. know...)  

It might not even be a meal.  It might be the story of your library.  The story of your house.  The story of your faith.  The story of your teaching or your classroom.  Pets, Friends, Family...the list could go on.  

As we start to close on our SOL Challenge, I'm thinking about our stories.  What is yours?  Keep telling it.  I've loved hearing your stories!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

SOL 29: It's Sunday. How I started Going to Church.

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The Fish Family (my maiden name) isn't fancy, well-groomed, or even really well-behaved.  We are loud, sassy, and you know almost all the time exactly where we stand.  If we are quiet, we aren't just tuned out, there are a million thoughts going through our heads, and we might be waiting for just the right time to share them.  We are fiercely loyal, and will love you until the cows come home--literally.  

Here's what I remember about it:  Lots of Love.  Lots of dinner.  Lots of questions.  I was 7.  
The part I remember the most?  The questions from my mom and dad.

Then it happened.  

We started going to church.  I don't remember much.  It just sort of happened.  

But the early memories include this:

Our Baptism.  It was done as an entire family.  The older I get, the cooler it is to tell that story.  
We sat in front all the time?!?!  Wasn't that for the well-behaved people?

But here's the part that sticks with me, and why I keep going back:

Through that process, there was an overabundance of love that came from our neighbors.  It was our neighbors who loved us so much, Mom and Dad couldn't help but notice that they had Something Different. 

No yelling.  
No pushing. 
No pressure.  
Just Love.

I also remember the questions.  My Mom and Dad both had a ton based on where they had been and where we were headed.  Someone always answered them.  Every single one.

Of course, as I got older I had my own questions.  What about those?  Answered and Encouraged.  (Even in Junior High and High School when I knew "everything.")  But there was no yelling.  No pushing.  No pressure. Just Love.  My Mom, a saint during this time.  While my Dad was driving a semi and gone, she would answer every single question I had.  And I had a ton.  Nothing was off limits.  

So, I'm older now.  Settled In.  (37).  
I'm determined to give my kids the same.  
A chance to be surrounded in Love.  Not pushing, not pressure.  
A chance to ask All The Questions.  Every single one.  Nothing is off limits.  

There have been bumps and bruises along the way.  People have said things to make me bristle.  I don't really fit any kind of traditional gender expectations along the way. (I know that's okay.)  I'm sure I've made others bristle too.  I keep returning because I know that this journey isn't supposed to be all shiny and cheese balls all the time.  But there is Love.  


Saturday, March 28, 2015

SOL 28: A Slice and a Celebration on Being 37.

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I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.  And then join in.

I have this friend.  You know the one.  She's outspoken.  She does her own thing.  She doesn't really worry about rules that are silly and she'll tell you that.  She's beautiful.  That balance in life between work and home?  She has it.  She seems...at peace completely with who she is.  So naturally I pose this question...How does she do it?!?  

She told me her secret.  Today I'm going to tell it to you.  

(Lean in here please...it's a secret!)

In My Best Whisper Voice:  She turned 37.  

Yep.  That's it.  

I've been reflecting a lot on wisdom and aging.  Not because I feel old, but because I'm watching the young right now.  The ones emerging from their parents' nests.  And more than once I've had to bite my tongue from screaming out, "You Shouldn't Do That!"  "You can't afford that!"  "Don't do that either!"  

And then I stop and wonder, how did I get so sure of myself?  

Truth:  I'm not.  I'm quite sure I don't know anything.  

But since I've turned 37 I find myself feeling at peace with some things myself.  My Beautiful Friend told me that when she turned 37, she too became at peace with some things.  Here are mine:

  My running.  I'm so thankful I still can. It has been a winding road, but I've learned that a time does not define me.  Just keep running.

 My household/stuff/things.  Some are awesome to have.  Truth is--we don't really need much of what we have at all!  We have plenty.  This one took awhile, because geographically we live in an area where people have financial wealth.  Stuff is everywhere.  I actually spent spring break trying to throw out 1/2 of the 'things' we have.  (Except the books.  Let's not get crazy here.)

  The need to be heard/perceived as right publicly, especially in work.  We are all wired so differently with our life stories, and they all matter.   When we see things differently, it's okay.  We keep doing what's best for kids in the end.  

My Faith and Sharing it with People.  Don't worry, it's not my intention to start pushing.  But I'm more comfortable with just telling my story and praying people know how much they are Loved.  My parents came to Faith later in life (a slice for tomorrow) and so I know it's a journey.  

I'm comfortable with who My People are.  Who gets my time and energy?  What is important to spend time on?  What makes a difference?  This one was hard, because it meant saying "No" to lots of 'stuff'.  It felt lonely for awhile and I felt like I was missing out.  But when I get to say "Yes" to a committee/extra stuff/etc. it's so much more fun!  

My Body.  I am 37.  Hormones get weird at this age.  (Weird is my medical term...see yesterday's post.)  But I take care of myself.  I sleep, I am active, I eat pretty well.  I'm doing the best I can.  I know what I need to improve on.  I can do that.  

If you are still here, thanks for reading this lengthy post.  
Let's celebrate 37!


Friday, March 27, 2015

SOL 27: Food Allergies are Weird.

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Yesterday, my phone rang.  It wasn't supposed to.  Mr. was supposed to get this call.  

On Tuesday, when we saw the allergist, I left feeling bewildered.  I always do.  I mean, how hard can it be to feed your family?  

Dr. tells us last year didn't go very well.  Which is funny.  It was the first year I felt like I had a grasp on what was happening.  

He compliments Li'l T on his manners and his contentment with pencils.  (He's my kid-a freshly sharpened pencil will do every time.)

We head downstairs, they draw his blood.  He's so brave.  He watches the entire thing and asks questions the whole time.  

After some cookies and Pepsi, we head to school.  

When the phone rings yesterday, we receive great news!  All of the foods have gone down.  (This is good.)  Wheat--it's completely gone!  Peanut--wait one more year--it might be gone too!  I can sprinkle straight egg yolk bits on some of his food to make that go down further.   After multiple years of this-I feel confident about this.  

I just have to learn how to hard boil eggs.  

What threw us for a loop?  There is a beef allergy now to manage.  I'm fascinated by this one.  
I'll be researching it today a bit.  (I'm the daughter/niece of some organic cattleman.  This one really has me scratching my head!)

What I know for sure is, we are blessed.  We can buy the food he needs, and the food he doesn't.  It's going to be fine, I know this after being on this road for awhile now.  

But Beef.  Huh-who knew?  

If you are on this road too-I wish you the best!  
It's okay to say it:  Food allergies are weird.  


Thursday, March 26, 2015

SOL 26: How this Slicing Challenge is Feeling Like the first time I ran a 20K...

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We had no idea what we were doing really.  Once upon a time,  My BRF and I had been running a bit.  

"Let's run Dam to Dam!  The full race."
"Totally!  We can run 9 miles.  We are ready!"  
I'll just keep writing!  
I've written before for stretches of time!  
What's 31 more days?  
I'll include the kids too!
So we hop on the bus at 4:45 AM.  It drives us out to the starting line.  
At which point it starts to down pour and thunderstorm like it only can do in the Middle of the Midwest.  
I learn if I want to write, I have to wake up early.  
Luckily, the rain isn't as pesky in writing.  

Then comes this announcement:  "Please do not touch the guardrails on the dam.  We do not want you to get electrocuted."  


The race starts.  We are already soaking wet.  Here's what I know:
When we got to Oak Park, I sat down and cried for minute while I stretched.   I didn't want to run the last 4-ish miles.  Things were locking up on me that I didn't even know existed!  

My brain is so tired.  
When I think of writing another blog post; I don't want to.  
Just let me rest a bit!

My BRF (Best Running Friend) encourages me like no one can.  We cross the finish line holding hands and I die a bit.  I also learn about chafing when I get home and jump in the shower.  It involved a lot of screaming and I still have some scars to prove it.  I was so not prepared for this race.  

This has to be what my reluctant writers need.
The biggest cheerleader they've ever had!
Some of them aren't prepared for the writing.

But it was an amazing experience.  I did that.  I wanted to do that again.  So I did.  I kept doing it.  Even when it was bad.  Even when it was good.  Because we know it's more than about the 20K,  it was about a lifestyle, a release, a change for the better.

I keep writing.
Even when it's bad.
Even when it's good.
Because it's about more than the writing.
It's a story.
A change for the better. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SOL 25: My Grandmas.

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On Two Writing Teachers this morning there is great inspiration.  I tried a the See-Saw format to describe my Grandmothers.  You see, shortly after I got married, my mom and dad took in Grandma F.  Then, after she went to heaven, within months they took in my Grandma S.  We all got to know them in ways we wouldn't have otherwise.  I'm so thankful for that time.  

And a moment for my parents.  Almost 14 years exactly they cared for Grandmothers when they could have said, "No."  But they didn't.  They are awesome.  

The Two Grandmas

There were always snacks.
Glass Coke bottles and Molasses cookies.
Drumsticks from the Schwan's Man from the deep freezer in the kitchen.

They filled the days.

Strolling to the library downtown.
Making crafts and sewing on the farm.

They had vices.  

Diet Coke.


Maybe a few pieces as keepsakes.
Always.  Avon was her favorite!

Around the Kitchen Table.
Cards with me.
Ice cream with me.  

Never at her home.  Bonding with Snoopy the Wonder Poodle when she moved in with Mom and Dad.

Farm dogs (and a couple cats) always were on the porch.  

Politics/TV/State of the World

She would have told you what she thought.  You might have bristled at the "vocabulary usage".  But you knew where she stood.
She would have smiled, maybe stated a thought or two.  Returned to tatting or reading or bird watching.  But underneath that she was having many more thoughts than we knew.

Enough for everyone.  


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SOL 24: 5 Things That Always Get Me into Trouble

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A little story about this post.  I made a calendar for this month, to help me draw inspiration when things got tough.  

A 3:53 AM wake up call for No Reason makes writing a little tough this morning.  

On my Calendar?  5 things that always get me into trouble.  (With an explanation if possible...)

1.  My Sass. (Stubborn and Outspoken.)  When I was born, my Granny used to joke she knew there was a God, "Look at that girl's sass, she's Denny's girl for sure."  As I've aged, I've learned to channel my powers for good.  Most of the time.  

2.  An invitation to eat.  The trouble here?  Usually how I feel the next day from overindulging.  Last week as I was eating a meal with family, I even said, "This is going to be bad later." (Some Peppermint tea please!)  But I loved the company and every moment of the dinner.

3.  Wandering through the book store without a plan.  $$$.

4.  Going to the grocery store without a list.  $$$.

5.  My phone next to my bed at 3:53 AM.  I know, it should be out of my room for relaxation purposes.  I'm using my room as a living room these days too, so sometimes it ends up there.  On the flip side, I read some of your blogs this morning, and enjoyed it very much!


Monday, March 23, 2015

SOL 23: The Library over Spring Break.

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Also, I enjoy linking up with Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelley Moye of Unleashing Readers for:

Spring break is over.  

We could write about this.  But it's time.  That's all there really is to say.  It's time to go back to work.   It is time to see my students.  

One of my favorite images from spring break?  When my two sons were sprawled out on beanbag chairs at our public library reading books quietly; telling me they wanted to stay and read.  I had the opportunity to browse "alone" for a bit.  

Here's what I found:


Published this year, this book has all the traditional Steve Jenkins and Robin Page "setups."  The facts, the illustrations, the captions.  A very interesting read.  


Who should keep the crown?  Who is the mightiest?  What about the old woman?  


First of all, I have a soft spot for animals that are in stories.  A great story to read when you want to talk about collaboration, teamwork, coming together to solve a problem.  


A fun read aloud, the illustrations are striking!  

I'm excited to see what reading and writing my students have done!  


Sunday, March 22, 2015

SOL 22: Thoughts on Hospitality. A Quick Write.

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Here's what I believe:  When we all get to Heaven; the Bible indicates that we are going to feast.  Surrounded by family and friends. 
Please hand me another piece of pizza.  I can only imagine that my jeans will fit all the time.  (Hallelujah!)
Then I'll have a coke too.  Just imagine that joy for a moment. 
Like the best night out that you've had with friends, didn't regret the next day, and it never ends!

What if?
What if I could use my home as a reminder of what is to come.  
Specifically my kitchen table. 
We are Loved so much.
What if I used that kitchen table to remind people how much they are loved?



Saturday, March 21, 2015

SOL 21: A Sabbatical--Kind Of.

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I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.  And then join in.

I'm celebrating my last 24 hours in a way.  

After hitting a breaking point of tiredness, I ended up here:

This is the view from the backyard at my Mom and Dad's house.  

It was just me.  No husband.  No kids.  No Wireless access.  

(Shhh.  A moment for that.  It's okay to smile.)

My Dad called it a sabbatical.  This morning we spent the day shopping, "in town", where he told everyone who I was and that I was on "sabbatical."  

Now, I didn't leave my grown up responsibilities for 2 months to a year.  But for the last 24 hours:

My dad cooked 3 meals for me.
My mom and I shared a drink.  (or two)
The three of us watched basketball.
I slept in the middle of a bed.
We shared coffee and more food.
My dad and I shopped.
We napped after lunch.  

Then we watched a field get set on fire.  Man I love farm life.  

My Dad.  Checking out the burn.  (The vehicle has firefighters in it.)  Man I love this guy.  

Fire coming closer to the truck.  The burn was fascinating to watch.   

One of the firefighters.  See that torch he's holding?!?!?  I watched him hold that thing up to his face while he lit a cigarette.  What?!?!?!?  I couldn't stop giggling at that one.      

A cemetery on the property.  I had never seen it before.  None of the people buried here are relatives.  The road used to be a stagecoach line.  

This is also on the property.  It used to be a stagecoach line that heads to the east and down the hill towards the little church.  

I celebrate the 24 hours of quiet.  Man, did my soul need that.  I celebrate learning more about my home and my family.


Friday, March 20, 2015

SOL 20. Hello There.

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Today is a day where the idea of writing did not make me say, "Yahoo!"  

Leigh Anne Eck used a prompt on her blog earlier this week that I remembered from last year.  

Let's learn a little bit more about each other, shall we?

i am a wife, mother, teacher, runner, friend.

i keep clothes for what seems like forever.  Even if they don't fit or I don't need them anymore.

i wish i could take away struggles for students who are in poverty.  And their families too.

i love my Mr., reading, running, time with friends.

i dance in the kitchen and in the classroom.

i sing in the kitchen and in the classroom.  Also in the car.

i think everyone who raises kids, teaches kids, loves kids should get a free-agent contract.

i really can't wait to be done with graduate work.

i need to finish spring cleaning and purging.  (I've been using the 1/2 method.  Cut the amount of clutter in 1/2 in every area of the house.  1/2 the drinking cups, 1/2 the t-shirts.  1/2 method is working.)

i should eat more veggies.

i can Not stay up past 10:30 very well.

i like days when the work is "done" and you can relax without worrying about too much.

i make good soup.

i always hug and kiss My People at the end of the day and beginning of the day.  I always make sure they know how much I love them when we start and end our day.  

Now, here's my thought.  If you read this and try it out, please leave your link here so I can get to know you a bit better!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

SOL 19: Dear Younger Me.

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This song, "Dear Younger Me" is on heavy rotation on one of my playlists.  
You might find me dancing to it and singing along in the kitchen.  Or in the car.  Or while I'm writing.  

Yesterday it hit me!  There were some things I did great when I was younger.  And some advice I need to give myself when I was in my 20s.  So here we go:

Dear Younger Me,

You are smart, strong and capable.  You are so in love with the Mr.  (As you should be-he's awesome and will only continue to surprise you with his awesomeness.)

You are blessed beyond measure.  Both of you are employed within a year of marriage and right out of college!?!?  Unheard of.  You didn't need to look for that job at the local grocery store.  But a back-up plan was so wise! That apartment.  It was small.  I know the termites blowing out of the AC unit were beyond nasty.  But you were able to afford it.  It provided you with shelter and allowed you to buy food.  And those "dinner parties" you held with your friends in that kitchen?  Unforgettable.

Getting up to face the day helped you get things done!  You've never been much of a sleeper-in-er.  You knew that sleeping beyond 10:00 just messed up your day, and that should be saved for special occasions.  You won't really appreciate the late sleeping until you have kids anyway.  Just wait until the angels sing because you slept until 7 AM.

Speaking of kids--that Mama trying to connect with your Young Self at church?  She Does Not want to hear what you think about her kids' struggles.  Do Not Tell Her Anything You are Thinking About At This Moment in Time.  You are a hard working teacher who is honing a craft.  Of course you are great with kids.  The Mama Gig is totally different.  (I know that ticks you off Younger Me, but it's true.)  Just engage in the conversation.  Figure out when to listen and when to speak up.  (This just comes in time, you'll blow it a lot in the next few years.)

The Grown up World is Highly Differentiated.  You are just entering it.  There are people out there who know more than you do.  Even if you don't act on it, listen to all the advice.  Say Thank You.  Each person is sharing their experiences with you.  They want you to be as successful as you can be.  If you get some less-than-awesome advice, say Thank You; then share it with your husband over a beer.  Then move on.

This life is crazy amazing!  I can't even tell you how awesome it is to buy your first house, realize you are pregnant, buy a second house (where your life-long friends are amazed at the windows in the bathroom and spend the first day yelling at you from them), bring home babies to this house...the list could go on.

Before you know it, you'll realize how complete this life really is.  Embrace it.  Be Yourself.  It's Enough.

An Older Version of Me.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SOL 18: On Food and Slices. With a PS at the end.

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I have a thing for cookbooks.  No really.  
A shelf in my reading room.  An entire cupboard in my kitchen. 
And when we go to the library?  I always sneak upstairs and check a few out.  So there is always a stack in my living room too.  
It's really about the creation that comes in the kitchen, and in the end, I've accomplished something necessary too.  The best of both worlds.  
(That's the short story.)

Last night I was reading through this book:


You guys.  It brought my worlds together.  Food.  Slicing.  

Not only did it have great ideas for food; but he shared stories of everyday people who were trying out the recipes.  Featured in their less than perfect kitchens.  People in all stages of life.  Real food.  
A  fancy foodie I'm not, so if I think something is doable, it's doable.  :)  
I think my favorite part of this book was the stories.  So many great slices about how people used to eat, and what they used to do, and the gardens they keep now.  This book was better than I thought it would be!  


(PS:  Clearly a slice from a girl who hit the Writing Wall this morning.  Just keep writing and something will come, Right?!?!  I'm watching #ialegis this morning on Twitter, wondering what is going on?!.  Also, I have a 6 year old that is going to Explode before his playdate starts in Two Hours.  And there's more to the story, but I'm not sure how to share it without being unkind so I'm holding some of my story close to my heart this morning.  More Joy Friends!)  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SOL Day 17: The Time When I Went Out for a Turkey Sandwich and Came Back with A Baby...

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My oldest has been interested lately in how "He got here."  So we've been talking about birth.  A lot.  (It's fine, we just share facts and answer questions openly here in this house.)  Here's A's story:

I left school on a Wednesday.  
"See you tomorrow boys and girls."

My desk?  A mess.  Lesson Plans?  Kind of.  He wasn't due for 6 more weeks.  I had time to clean that all up.  

I drove by myself to the doctor's office.  Did all the things you do there when you are pregnant.  Then the blood pressure checks started.  

"Do you feel okay Kendra?"
"Yes, I think so."
(140/100).  Or So.

"Well you've earned yourself a trip downtown."  (Code for drive to the hospital.)

Mildly annoyed, and a little concerned I get in the car and drive.  I call my husband, who is traveling for his job.

I arrive at the hospital.
My blood pressure continues to rise.

I lay in this tiny room all by myself in the days before social media, smart phones being common place,  and alone.  It seemed like days.  Dramatic, I know.

My doctor arrives.
"You must go home and lay down.  You have the beginning stages of preeclampsia.  You can get up to eat and shower."

"Sure.  But I have to go to school and clean off my desk and get some lesson plans ready."

Dr:  "If you do that, I'll just put you in the hospital tonight.  Go Home."

Me: (scared into submission)  "Okay."

Naturally I stop at Burger King for a cheeseburger (eeww) and call Jillian.  Who comes immediately with my school work.  That I can do laying down.  I lay on the couch for two days.  Shawn comes home.  My Mom comes.

I learn that daytime TV is the worst.

Friday comes.  Shawn promises me a trip to Panera after my doctor's visit for a Basil-Turkey Sandwich.

They plop me on my left side.  (152/110-ish).  More nurses come and try with the blood pressure.  "Do you feel okay?"  "Yes."

Another Doctor from my practice arrives to tell me I'm staying in the hospital, and having the baby.  The odds are 50-50 that he will need NICU care.  At this point, I'm terrified.  All I can squeak out?

"But I'm going out for a turkey sandwich."  (Really Kendra?!  Leave it to me to bring up what I'm going to eat at a time like this.)

A little over 24 hours later (I'll spare you those details), with the best medical care around, an awesome set of parents, a pastor who knows how to rejoice with the best of them, A is here.  All 4.12 pounds of him.

He's perfect.  He's strong.  He still is today.