"if you write everyday..."

...you get better at writing everyday."

At least, this is what I tell my students. But I have not been the best about "practicing what I preach."

Brent said that he would make supper tonight so I could work out. I'm not feeling motivated to work out, so I asked if it was okay if I blog while he cooks. But then I realized that it is difficult for me to simply sit and write; to pull thoughts out of thin air and form them into something worth reading. Why is that? When did the muses stop whispering to me?

In college I took several writing classes and my professors would simply say, "A bike ride..." And I was off. I could write for an hour.

So today I wanted to challenge the writer within me again. I wanted to give you a bird's eye view of the process of my writing. So I randomly picked this prompt: "Why do things have to change? Write about a place in danger of losing its wonderment." And here we go.

When I was little, my wet, chocolaty spiral curls would plaster my olive skin as I splashed to my heart's content. My sister's white, blond curls would do the same as she would pass me a tub block.

It was here, in the little green tiled bathroom, that my sense of wonder could grow. At one moment I was a mermaid wooing the men at sea, another I was an annoying younger sister splashing soap in my sister's eyes, and then in a flash I was a dolphin, surfacing for air.

Kali and I would create games in this space. Some of our favorites included "create-a-funky-hairdo-while-the-shampoo-is-in," and "pop-the-tub-blocks-outside-of-the-tub-by-making-them-wet-and-slick-and-try-to-get-them-to-stick-on-the-mirror/stool/wall." Another was "with-a-pruned-finger-spell-a-word-on-my-back-and-then-let-me-guess."

As I entered the awkward adolescent, and more self-centered time in my life I HATED taking showers, much to my family's disappointment. So I would enter the wonder-world of the bathroom and, while putting off the inevitable shower that would have to occur before I left, I would stand in front of the mirror and "sell" items that were on the sink. "Want whiter teeth and a fresher smile? Try Colgate Ultra... the toothpaste with a kick!" Or something like, "Skin as smooth as a baby's bottom? Is that just an old wive's tale to you? Try Jergen's Ever Soft and say goodbye to those rough patches that remind you of your true age." Of course I would always be snapped out of my fictional world as a TV saleswoman as my mom would pound on the door, "You done in there?!" I'd quickly jump in the shower and shout, "Just about!!!"

As we all do, I got older and busier, and my bathroom games faded away. Green tiles were replaced with paint, and instead of playing games in the mirror I began to scrutinize my reflection. I would put my hair this way, or that, praying that one day I would wake up and it would be straight. I would practice various smiles on my teeth that had recently been released from braces.

Now, as an adult, I want the wonder back. I want to steam up the mirror and write my name in the fog. I want to bring my Barbies in the tub with me and make funky hairdos when I am shampooing. But instead I shower, I brush my teeth, and zip up my business skirt and button my shirt matter-of-factly. But some days, oh some days, I take the time sit on the rug, lean against the cool tub behind me. I close my eyes and can almost feel my fingers and toes prune. I can almost hear the splashing and laughter. And when I open my eyes again I look into the mirror, flip my hair back and say, "Things don't have to change. Just ask our studio audience..."

And with a smile and lighter heart, I leave a place of wonderment.


how teachers get through their days.

As you all know, I'm a teacher. Most days this means being slapped in the face by my own impatience,or my lack of compassion. Some days this means being inspired by 13 to 14 year olds. Some days this means metaphorically grasping each others hands and bravely attempting to fix comma splices and figure out the difference between adverbs and adjectives. Other days this means gritting my teeth, holding back my honest "how-in-the-world-can-you-not-know-this-by-now-you're-an-eighth-grader-AND-I've-gone-over-this-at-least-2,483-times-this-year" and teaching them the difference between there, their, and they're ONE more ever-loving time.

But EVERY day being a teacher means laughing. I don't
think I have ever walked into my school building [even when it was "one-of-those-days"] and by 3:30 not laughed out loud, or at least suppressed a laugh or two. Which is a definite perk.

Well, whether we teachers like this or not, a lot of times our laughter is brought on by our students. Sometimes this is "i'm-laughing-with-the-class-at-our-little-joke-we-just-made" laugh. Other times it is an "oh-fred-you're-such-a-class-clown-but-that-is-why-we-love-you-la
ugh." I love the times when it is a "holy-smokes-you're-reading-your-writing-and-it-is-creative-and-HILARIOUS-and-well-done" laugh. Sometimes it is because, like yesterday, a student has decided to use his writer's notebook time and write a rap, and then wants to share it with the class. I of course make him stand up and "lay down a mad beat" while he raps, and we all enjoy a good laugh and as he raps, "My rhymes are like chips, they leave you with ripples..." I live in the moment and throw back my head in a "see-how-much-fun-school-can-really-be" laugh.

But other times...oh those other times... we have to laugh at our students to make it through our day. Of course, we would never laugh in their face. Oh no. Never. Because we teachers have firm resolve and the toughest of wills. Yes, one of my dirty little secrets is
that I almost prefer the "i-will-grit-my-teeth-and-clinch-my-fists-and-think-of-dead-kittens-right-now-so-i-don't-laugh-out-loud-only-to-know-that-i-will-indulge-greatly-in-a-fit-of-laughter-by-myself-or-with-my-beloved-colleagues-later" laugh. Okay. It's out. I'm an awful person. But I don't know how else I would survive when students say the things they do. I see it almost as a loving parent, who truly and deeply cares for their child, but has to laugh at his or her weaker moments sometimes. [Please stop judging me. I'm a good teacher. And person. And I'm a Christian.]

That being said, here is how I got through today.

[To understand this story you must know I have one block of students that are my "collaborative" students. Which means, they have special learning plans and our special ed/collab teacher is in the room with me and we teach cooperatively] First, I noticed the w
riter's notebooks in their crates in the back of my classroom. I had to chuckle under my breath and then I called our co-lab/special ed teacher to come look. She walked in the door, I pointed to the notebooks, and she burst into laughter. [Can you pick out the class for which she joins me?]

Second: Here were some of the responses I got when I asked these particular students, [who, may I wholeheartedly remind you, I love deeply] to look at their writer's notebook and "reflect" about their writing. There were 3 activities: Activity 1 they were asked to look through their notebooks and reflect on their growth as a writer this year.;Activity 2 they were asked to picture themselves reading their writing to a crowd of people they don't know, and to reflect on how that crowd would view them as a writer; and Activity 3 they were asked to write a note to me explaining how they felt they had grown as a writer, or why they felt they hadn't grown as a writer and why.

Here are some of the best responses. And please note,
all of their spelling is included [my helpful hints in brackets where needed]:

--People would know that I writt about how I fell in love, And finding true love, so I am a love or ramance writter. I feel at home when I writ or read about love, romance, And I like to tell people that one day they will find there true love just like I have. But for them it may not be at such an erley age like me.

--In response to Activty 2, which I'm fairly certain reveals this girl did not completely understand the activity: "I would probably be really nervose."

--I read my very furist [first] story and to be ewist [honest] it was realy bad I read it and most of it didnt make much sence. My story that I creat are all made by me they arnt stolen work. I have grown as a writer sinfactacly [significantly]. My writeing in the past realy even didnt make any sence...now I dont see alsomst my mustacks [ironically, mistakes].

--I have improve in my writings in many was [ways]. There are times that none of it made any sence at all. I write a lot about romans [yes folks, that is romance], and about stuff happness in real life.

--They would think like he knows alot of stuff about sports. They would also say i am humors to.

--[Yesterday we talked about psuedonyms] He signed his name and then in parenthesis wrote "Homer J. Simpson"

--I have got better at vocabulay and grammar. What impress me is how I write.

--I think that my writing has improved alot since the beggining of the year. In the beggining it was really sloppy and now its still sloppy but in a professional way. I think that it isent so much sloppy. My spelling is good compared to average. I don't think [I] just write and hope it is good enough.

--What specifically impresses me about my right is the vocab words that I use in them writing pieces.

And last, but my favorites:

--I have seen my self grow by my gramer is getting alot better, and I am also writeing alot more. My writing is getting longer by a lot. As a writer my strongest points are my spelling and writeing. [I can't make this stuff up!]

--I am the writer who says what most be said. The writer who shows there not allways a happy ending, but also say there is (some) light in the dark. I will show every posiblaty [possibility]. I am going to write many books when I am older so this is helping.

--In the beginning, I was writing alot in my journal [clarification: he topped out averaging about 3 sentences a day], but now, on recent journals, I have not have a lot of ideas to write down. [And the next two activities were blank].

Like I said, if I don't laugh, I will cry. One thing though, for the most part, they weren't lying when they said they were improving [believe it or not...]. It is frustrating, but I will take cues from the soon to be author and agree that there is some light in the dark.


blogs, blogs, blogs

This morning was one of those mornings where the writer in me was being a bit restless. So I began racking my brain about things I could write about. And this was the result:

a l a r g e v o i d .

As I continued to think, I came up with a few options:

-coffee [But I've done that here]
- fellowship, as I have been blessed to experience real fellowship again recently [ but I've done that here and elsewhere]
- home [I've done that here and here, here and even wrote about both of my grandparents' homes here and here]
- the cold weather [but I covered that here]

I've even written about leaving. About growing up [here and here] and of course I've written plenty about teaching [such as here and here and here and here and here] and marriage [here and here ] and even dating.

I've written about plenty of seemingly meaningless fodder too: candles , golf, and pens.

I've written about my family: including pieces specifically about mom , dad [and this one about vacations he brought us on!], and Kali.

So I guess that doesn't leave me with much, does it?!

That being said [which took me much longer to do than if I would have just buckled down and written something], if you're bored, or otherwise interested, link away, remember what I've written before as I sulk in writer's block, and consider this my post for the weekend.

Happy linking.



Today is the 4th snow day I've had in 8 days. I have been productive, I've even worked out, AND I went out for coffee with a new "gal pal" and it was wonderful.

However, in the absence of teaching I have realized this: I love my job.

I just went back and read some posts that I wrote during the fall of 2008. I had just moved, just gotten married, just started a new job, and the pressure was caving in on me. I questioned so much about my life at that point, and especially about my career choice. This was such a hard battle for me, as I had wanted to teach for so long. I had ached to have a classroom and students of my own, and when the time came, it was too much.

The first year of teaching is difficult. So many teachers had told me this before but hadn't been able to really pinpoint why. For me it was difficult, not because I didn't like teaching, but because of all the other "stuff." These included but were not limited to: new state curriculum, figuring out how to develop appropriate relationships with students, staff, administrators, figuring out how to complete professional development hours, surviving the internship from hell [aka KTIP], and on top of that, figuring out all the little details that people assume you know: how does the copy machine work, is it really okay to send kids to work in the hallway, who do I call if a student's locker is jammed, where is my bathroom, where do I eat lunch, where do I heat up my lunch?!.... etc etc etc. That is what I would tell a first year teacher.

So being able to put all of that behind me this year I have been able to focus more on my job...my career...my passion. And I realize I love it.

I love walking into my classroom every morning and being greeted by a cup of coffee on my desk from a co-worker [who knows that I like french vanilla creamer]. I love talking to the two girls that aide for me in the morning. I love thinking about the day's lesson and trying to figure out ways to make it more fun and engaging. I love running to a co-workers room or sending them a quick email to warn them that one of the students is particularly gasy today! But more than all those things...I love greeting my students at the door. I love joking with them and writing with them. I love playing review games with them and realizing that they have learned something. I love when another teacher tells me that during his lesson a particularly low level student raised his hand and said, "Well that's irony, isn't it?!" I love making my students laugh, or when my students make me laugh. I love that when a student shares something awkward or deep or otherwise uncomfortable that I've created such a classroom environment that students don't snicker or shy away in weirdness but rather listen intently, and offer praise at the courage of a young writer.

I've learned that I can bring so much to my classroom: I can bring patience and light and joy and compassion. Or I can bring crabbiness, disappointment, and defeat. It is my choice everyday. And that is scary and empowering and humbling. I can love with the love Christ gives me.

I can love the one kid who is loved no where else. I can encourage the one girl who is encouraged no where else. I can notice a haircut or new braces or new shoes and brighten someone's day. It is those simple little things that make my job so rewarding. Sure, I love when my kids have written something beautiful or read a passage flawlessly, but more than that I love seeing them enter my classroom feeling safe, and do something beautiful for another student or love someone else flawlessly in what would otherwise be an ugly moment.

I know tomorrow [maybe? more snow?] when I return and I say, "Man I missed you guys!" That some will roll their eyes sarcastically, some will still be asleep, and some will only laugh. But some will say, "I missed you too!" and others will secretly think that.

I have felt since moving to Louisville that I lacked real community; authentic community. And I know that I need my own peers and other faithful women to truly find this, but for so long I had missed the simple truth: that every day in my classroom, I have community. We have inside jokes, we share our struggles and pains through writing, we grow as people, and in some weird and bumbling sort of way we love each other.

And for these reasons I love my job.


another snow day...so you get more pictures

I finally got my computer to cooperate in uploading pictures. These are from the fabulous weekend Brent and I were able to spend at home. My commentary will be sparse, as my computer froze in the middle of uploading these to my blog [after I spent about an hour editing them], so I had to restart the computer [which takes forever...], anyway. Moral of story: We need a new computer. And I need to work on taxes, therefore my commentary will be sparse.

We threw mom and dad a bit of a surprise congrats party for this reason. So proud of them for standing strong through such a long battle! Aunt Linda even brought brats and we got a delicious ice cream cake!

All of my mom and dad's "girls" were able to be there! So much fun. From Left to Right: Kali, Avree [babysitting girl of mom's], Torri [ditto], mom, dad, Brent, me, and Paige [ditto]

Kali wanted me to capture some of the many "Caroline faces"... and boy did she perform. She was yakking away in these pictures which caused for some very humorous moments and faces. You might also be able to tell just how smitten her Uncle B is with her too :-)


Super baby...

Too cute

I also was able to shoot a couple pictures of Hawkins, my nephew. He is getting so big but still has such sweet baby blues. I couldn't resist picking up my camera while he had on his cowboy hat. He has grown up with a camera in his face [thanks Beth], so he is quite photogenic:


on the side of the road

[dedicated to Aunt Linda who shares this bewilderment as well]

On the way home from work today I saw a boot on the side of the road. A boot. ONE boot. A SINGLE boot. One ... of A PAIR.

I see this a lot. ONE shoe, sprawled in the ditch, or helplessly laying in the median, or maybe even lifelessly laying barely off the interstate.

How in the world does this happen?

Could someone possibly take just one shoe off and accidentally let it fly out the window whilst going 70 mph down the road? Or maybe there was a marital spat, and the wife reached down and ripped of her husbands shoe...just one...and to spite him threw it out the window.

Or maybe, just maybe, a man was just finishing a long day of work. He quite possibly was taking off his work boots when the guys he carpooled with that day began to start up the truck. He knows they will drive off without him, so he simply has no choice but to jump in the truck, leaving the one shoe he managed to take off on top of the cab. This inevitably flies off.

I don't know. I really don't get. How could just ONE shoe end up on the side of the road?!?!

Just think about it. It's strange.

How do YOU think it happens?!