Monday, March 20, 2017

Slice of Life 3/20/17 (Who am I?)

I've been wondering who I am a lot this weekend.  Last Thursday I was stumped to find a topic and lacking inspiration for the daily slice.  I began asking myself, "What do I like to do?  What inspires me?  What makes me, me?  Who am I?"  I was stumped, and to be honest, a little depressed.  I had no answers.  Two years ago, I feel as though I might have been able to describe myself quickly.  Now, post-baby arrival, I'm at a lost to describe myself, let alone write about something from my life.

I know what I like.  I like to cook, bake, and create food.  I like to organize (including purging old things!)  I like to garden, but don't claim to be any good at it.  I like to swim, but never do so anymore.   I like sci-fi and drama TV shows.  I like reading mystery and post-apocalyptic style books, but don't read nearly as much as I would like to.  I enjoy going out to eat (though those times are becoming less and less frequent with a 15 month old.  I like walking (but not running) on long walks.  I love animals, both belonging to myself, other people, and the wild.  I like projects, crafts, and creating things.

I know what I don't like.  I don't like bossy people.  I don't like cleaning.  (Cleaning and organizing are very different.  Don't ask me why I like one and not the other.  They just are different.)  I don't like working out.  9I can't figure out why someone would want to get all sweaty and hot, only to feel weak and achy the next day!)  I don't like to be cold.  I don't like wasabi or horseradish.

I'm usually a very busy, active person, even if the activity isn't the most interesting thing.  I'm used to having my hands busy or covered in something (flour, yarn, soil, or pet fur).  I began asking myself, how and why has that changed?  Who am I, now?  The answer is: The same.  I've just put some interests on the back-burner.

I miss my busy, productive life, filled with making buckets of pesto to freeze, painting and repainting walls after renovating with my husband, bathing chickens (well, maybe not that), and sewing cloth napkins while I listen to something other than nursery rhymes.  That's not who I am right now, though.  That part of me is on hold, it feels.  Right now, I'm "Mama", slowly gaining back "Heidi".

With all of these likes and dislikes, I still felt stumped and uninspired.  While I'm able to list all of these things, none of them jumped out at me as worthy of a blog post.  I began feeling very average, very ho-hum, very un-unique.  I was (and am still?) officially road-blocked.  At least, for the time being, the blog post helped to remind me of who I am, what I like, and what I can look forward to.  While the time with my little one being so little will surely feel fleeting in a couple of years, it is good to remind myself that I'll find myself again, and maybe - just maybe - being average is underestimated and wonderful.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

3/16/17 = Slice of Life - Student Posts

https://kidblog.org/class/mrs-bennetts-hr-16-17/posts

3/16/17 = Slice of Life (Walking!)

If you asked me a year ago if I was ready for my little one to be talking, I wouldn't have even been able to fathom what that would be like.  Walking also seemed like it would be an impossible feat to accomplish, given his sweet, little "grub" status.  (Indeed, I called him my little grub-ling and couldn't imagine him doing much more than cooing, crying and... well... other grub-like things!)

Now, at 15+ months, I'm constantly asked the question: "Is he walking yet?"  Proudly, I say, "Nope!!"  I'm thrilled I don't have to chase him around.  I'm elated I don't have to worry that thud I just heard from the other room is his noggin.  I'm relieved that I can still count his scrapes, bumps, and bruises on one hand.

My smug thoughts have a time limit, it seems.  He's been able to take steps since he turned 1 year, but hasn't embraced the walking realm... Until now.  I'd been watching my little "cruiser" for the past month or so.  Gradually, he's been working on his balance, taking a few intermittent steps with trepidation, and only beginning to enjoy the "walk with daddy" assistance.  The few times he's shown interest in taking the plunge have ended up face-first on the ground.  He loves to move and his excitement got the best of him.

Yesterday at pick up from day care, his ladies said, "Wes took a lot of steps today... but he also fell forward a whole lot!  We think he might be trying to run instead of walk."  Last night was filled with try, after try, after try again to stand-balance-step-repeat.

Walking (or running?) is imminent.  Better go lace up my running shoes.  This boy is going to keep me busy, I just know it!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3/15/17 = Slice of Life (A "Biography" in Numbers)

Stumped for a little writing idea, but overheard a prompt (Thanks, Lisa for the inspiration):  Start with numbers 1-10, and tell a little something about how each number applies to you!

Here goes!
1 - Sweet little boy named Wesley (aka Wes, Wessy, WessyBooBoo, LittleMan and about a thousand other names.)
2 - Silly brothers - Too far away, in Minnesota and Illinois.  It's such fun to hear about them as fathers now, all grown up.
3 - Part of a great trio of gals teaching first grade.  I have the best "team", truly.
4 - Loving parents/grandparents.  Both inlaws and my own, they are so very generous and helpful to both Danny and I, as well as little Wes.  We are so grateful for their time, and appreciate the long distances they travel to be with us!
5 - Years of sweet, loving marriage.  I am married to the most self-less, kind, respectful, gentle, strong husband, Danny.
6 - (Stumped!  To be continued!)
7 - "Bedtime" for little one.  While I dread this time each night, because I have to step away from my little bundle of shenanigans and cuddles, I also feel a wave of relaxation rush over me as my arms are back to being mine, my ever-listening ears can take a break, and my brain can finally begin to wind down.
8 - (Stumped! To be continued!)
9 - 9th year at St. Anne's Belfield - WOW!  It seems like just yesterday I was applying for a job, in the old building.  My how things have changed.
10 - Feet!  My big, old feet are tens.  ;)

That was harder than I'd expected, but fun and easy after being stumped for a starting topic.  Hoping for a bit more inspiration tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3/13: Slice of Life (Backache and Heartache)

I love my dog so much.  Oh-so-much.  Too much?  Never.
This past week was our school's spring break (despite Mother Nature, protesting that winter isn't quite over yet!)  Luckily, our family had no big plans, as our schedule was thrown for a loop!

Early in the week, I was awakened by whimpers, shudders, and a cold wet nose.  The clock read 2:00am.  Usually it's the baby that wakes me.  This time, it was my sweet, but still spunky, 13 year old Doberman Chloe.  Immediately I knew she was in pain, but I wasn't sure why.  Heartache.  My "best friend" was in pain and I couldn't help.  

Chloe's been with me almost all of her life.  When I moved to Virginia in 2004, she was my only friend.  As I started my first "real" job, she was there to greet me every day when I returned.  I was told that she would play, play, play on the farm which I lived, and when 3pm would roll around, she'd head home and wait by the driveway until my return.  She slept in the bed with me, (or should I say, I slept in the bed with her?)  One time the power went out to my house during a chilly evening.  I, buried under the covers with my four-legged-heater, was oblivious until my uncle came a knocking on me.  She'd travel in the car with me, insistent upon sticking her head out the sunroof, like a pointy-eared para-scope.  Obviously, she's my bud.  My number one, old-lady gal, bud.

So, seeing her in pain, I immediately took her to the vet.  He reports that he's nearly sure she's somehow managed to herniate a disk in her back.  Yowch.  The second night, she's on pain meds, but clearly the pain is surpassing the medication.  Night three seems a bit better, but still tough.  Each time she wakes me with that cold snout, I begin to feel that surge of frustration of being awoken at the wee hours of the night, but then see her confused, cataract-opaque eyes, and melt.  It breaks my heart that I can't tell her, "I'm trying, Chloe girl.  I'm trying to take away your hurt."  She just wants to tell me, "Ouch.  Still, ouch."

I'm grateful for the moments I have with her.  She doesn't do much besides sleep, cuddle, sleep, walk, sleep, eat, sleep anymore.  Nevertheless, she's still my best friend.  She's been there through thick and thin, lonely days and sad days, busy days and wild romps in the woods.

While her backaches, my heartaches.  I'm trying to help, girl.  Hang in there.

3/14 = Slice of Life (Sleet)

Sleet is highly under appreciated.

The sound is hypnotic.  As it fell last night, hundreds of little hearts were surely breaking, as they wished for snow to be falling instead.  I, on the other hand, was enjoying it.  The first plink-plink-plinks against the window reminds me of rain.   I ran outside,  (inspired by a friend to save my early springing daffodils) and the sound turned to a crackle similar to breaking toffee or sizzling bacon. The sleet fell on my face, jacket, hands.  As it hit, the initial reaction is that of rain... until it bounces off or rolled down my sleeves.  One of my favorite images is seeing young sprouts - maybe even buds - encapsulated in a glassy chrysalis.  The frozen drips are beautiful as they reflect the morning sun.

So, while everyone wishes for snow, (including me), I'm still happy with the drizzly, crackly, beautiful sleet.

Friday, March 3, 2017

3/3/17 = Slice of Life (It's the Little Things)

Never before in my life have I believed the phrase, "It's the little things that count" as much as I do now that I'm a parent.  Of course, I've always been appreciative of little favors or small words that are so kindly given, but now that I'm a first time mother of a lovely, wiggly 15mo boy, I feel the "little things" in such a different way.

Sleep.  I once had a lovely, dear, calming friend named Sleep.  We were best friends.  We'd spend rainy afternoons together, we'd catch up on the weekends, sometimes we'd even put off seeing each other until the wee hours of the night, only to spend plenty of time together the following morning, even inviting our other dear friend, "Leisurely Brunch".  I wonder about these friends from time to time, and wonder how they've been these past 15 months or so.  When I think about "the little things" I think about how grateful I am to have a fantastic husband, who provides me with many things to be grateful for.  Including, sleep.  Last weekend, after a rough night of baby cries and multiple wakes, he said, "Sleep."  And for 75 glorious minutes, that's just what I did.

Gifts.  I'm not usually a gift person.  In fact, since my husband and I have been together, (around 8 years) we've never really celebrated Christmas in the gift-giving way.  For birthdays? Dinner out.  Valentines?  A hug.  To the point, we just don't spend the money on the little gift type things.  I'm okay with that and he's okay with that.  It's just the way we do it.  In fact, I often dislike gifts!  However, after a tough, late, demanding couple of days, he showed up yesterday, flowers in hand.  Granted, they were flowers that he cut from a bush, from a job site (he works construction) where the bush was about to be demolished anyway, but it was something.  A little something, that counted as a big something.  I smiled and gave him a hug.  I was grateful to know that my stresses and feelings of being overwhelmed, weren't overlooked.

Food.  We may not do gifts often in our house, but we sure do food!  We both love to cook and we both love to dine out.  Since becoming a mother to a lovely, but very clingy little one, it's been hard for me to find a moment where I have two hands free.  Often, our son sees me from across the room, shouts "Mama!" and I'm lost in sweet hugs, cuddles, squeals, and pounding blocks... hungry.  A quick snack?  Nope. If I step more than 4 feet away from him, there will be loads of tears and 15 minutes of trying to gain his composure again.  Forget making dinner.  The churning pit in my stomach is a frequent feeling from 4pm-7pm.  Once he's down for the night, I feel like a wild animal, attacking the pantry for anything consumable.  Instead, my husband amazingly steps in, allowing me to roll around on the floor with trains, elephants, books, and blocks, while he preps and begins dinner.  It may not seem like a huge deal to many, but to a tired, ravenous mama, who rarely has two hands and two minutes to herself, it means the world.

The little things?  They matter... now more than ever.  And I, mother, teacher, wife, am utterly grateful to be in love with someone who knows just which little things matter the most as well as when they are most needed.


3/3/17 = Slice of Life Student Posts

Kidblog link:
https://kidblog.org/class/mrs-bennetts-hr-16-17/posts

3/2/17 = Student Slice of Life Posts

Kidblog link:
https://kidblog.org/class/mrs-bennetts-hr-16-17/posts

Thursday, March 2, 2017

3/2/2017 = Slice of Life (Star Wars and Animals)

This week is spirit week at my son's day care.  Today was silly hat day, so of course, being a sci-fi household, my 15mo son was donning a R2D2 knit hat and a Star Wars onesie.  I giggled as he squirmed around in his "Jedi Master in Training" outfit and I desperately tried to snap a photo.  I kissed him goodbye and patted him on his R2D2 head.    Upon arriving at school, I showed my students, many of whom are avid Star Wars fans and would surely appreciate.  A conversation exploded:

"Is that an R2D2 hat?"
"I didn't know that astromech droids could be Jedi."
"Does he make R2D2 sounds?  I can! [R2D2 sounds erupt in the classroom.]"
"A Jedi master in training is actually a padawan."

Sometimes, the things they say are well beyond my knowledge. (Admittedly, I have no clue what an astromech droid is, and indeed I had to spell check that as well as padawan!)  They are desperate to know more and desperate to share what they already do.  I love when they teach me new things.  I love when they are so passionate about topics that they chomp at the bit for more information.  I love when they stump themselves by asking such deep questions.  I love being able to say, "Let's look that up.  Let's research that.  Let's go dive in and find out."

Each class is different with their passions and interests.  This year is a Star Wars year.  (Which I enjoy, clearly.)  Other years it might be sports, or Minecraft.  But, every year, it is also animals.  Wild animals.  They. Love. Wild. Animals...  Year after year.  I feel that this interest never fades as the years go by.  Whenever we are studying a new topic, it always seems to bend back around to animals.  George Washington?  Horses and hunting dogs.  South America? Sloths, tree frogs, manatees.  Community Maps? Pet store animals.  Antarctic animals, ocean animals, Asian animals, Virginia animals.  Always animals.

They have such fun researching and drawing these animals.  I feel like animals are such an untapped, mysterious hook that draws in these "little sponges".  They are fascinated and driven to learn more about them.  They love the wild, unique facts.  They love the gross, cool, impressive facts.  Often when they hit a writing roadblock they can un-stick themselves as they begin to think about animals they love or are curious about.

Why are these interests of theirs on my mind?  Maybe, it's because when I sat down to write, I was initially stumped for an idea and thought, "What might my kiddos be thinking about as they begin?"  Maybe, it's knowing that a big road block for many students is choosing an idea to first start writing about as well.  Maybe, just knowing that we teachers know our kiddos well enough to tap into their favorite interests (Star Wars, animals, and beyond) and helping them realize what amazing ideas they already possess, just might shatter that road block them.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

3/1/2017 = Slice of Life Student Posts

https://kidblog.org/class/mrs-bennetts-hr-16-17/posts

3/1 = Slice of Life (Where has the confident writer gone?)

My first blog post... Ever.  And shared with complete strangers at that!  It's a odd feeling and a strange thought.  Last night, as I pondered what my first post might be about, I tried to put myself in my students' shoes.  What might they be feeling about their Slice of Life posts?  What excitements might they be feeling?  Anxieties?

I began worrying then about my own writing.  Would it be good enough?  Would I be doing it right?  What if I make a giant, embarrassing mistake?  And then, in a snap, my thoughts were back to my students.  Would they be feeling similarly?  If not, when does this common worry or anxiety begin?  Why do so many people feel the reluctance to share?  I recall being so proud of my writing as a child.  In fact, my mother recently brought a box of what she calls "goodies" to offload on me as she attempts to downsize her belongings.  Included in these goodies was a small, pink journal, complete with drawings and stories I'd written in 3rd grade.  On the inside of the front cover, I'd written that I hoped to be a writer when I grew up.  Who was that confident girl and where has she gone?  Clearly, I'm feeling quite the opposite now!  What happened between third grade and thirty-five? 

I'm hoping that through this Slice of Life process, I can find, er, REfind my confidence as a writer.  I hope to be able to share the confidence and joy I once felt, with my students. And you, reader, be patient with me as I put myself out there, just as my students are doing today and everyday this month.