Required reading

Last night I finally finished my “required” reading for the summer. I think it took me at least two weeks to read the book, but I felt like it took two months! Now, don’t misunderstand, I totally understand why my school’s administration team wanted us to read this book.  I shared ideas from the book with my mom (we love to talk reading!). I even found the idea of changing your mindset interesting. I reflected on the material by connecting to my own life and analyzing friends and family.  The ideas in that book even led me to my next book.

So then why did I trudge through the book; literally sigh at the thought of reading; avoid reading at all costs (I watched Here Comes Honey Boo Boo instead! What?); and stare longingly at my pile of want-to-read books each night as I settled down to read? I disliked the experience so much because I had to read the book; I was required to read it; in other words (not that you need other words after two statements, but I’m emphasizing here!) I felt like I was forced to read it.

These feelings got me thinking about the books I require my students to read each year.  They’re great books with a lot to offer including literary merit.  And like any “good English” teacher, I have the one book nearly memorized down to obscure details. But would my students enjoy these books more if they’d chosen them for themselves? Would I be okay if an eighth grader left my room having not read The Outsiders? Shouldn’t I be? Because these books are required curriculum, I have to continue to require them and teach them, but what can I do? After much thought, I think my best course is leveling with them and sharing with them my experience this summer.  I’ll continue to introduce the novels with enthusiasm, but I’ll also be honest. I’ll tell my students that I understand that these novels interrupt their personal reading. I’ll help them make a plan to finish the required reading without losing the desire to keep reading what they like. I’ll tell them how joyful it is to finish the required reading and go back to their old friends.

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A day without Facebook

Yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t check Facebook, and to me, those are the best days. The fullest days. I removed the app from my phone months ago because I found myself checking every time I was even the slightest bit bored, but I still check it religiously (just using that word makes me realize how much I’ve prioritized a social media!). I’ve got to give credit to Brandon, who’s filled my life so much. It was an evening months ago when I first realized I’d had a Facebook-free day, and it made me so happy, content. With Brandon, I’ve even had a Facebook-free weekend – our first camping trip together a few weeks ago.

Yesterday Brandon and I went shopping for our Fourth of July fun. He bought a fire pit for the backyard, after I checked the township ordinances, with the plan to make s’mores after fireworks. We went grocery shopping together (and I realized how Brandon will fall into the too-good-to-resist bonus buys just as easily I). We had the usual hot dogs and hamburgers, but we also made these delicious vegetable skewers (so incredibly yummy!). One of the best things is working side by side with Brandon, partnering with him, a glimpse into our future together (I hope). I chop; he skewers. I set the table; he’s the grill master. I get the s’mores supplies ready; he lights the fire. We sit side by side holding hands watching the fireworks. And later as we held hands by the fire, I realized I’d had another Facebook-free day.

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In like a lion…

I feel like this popular saying for the month of March matches well with my Slice of Life writing habits.  I started out strong, never missing a day, but in the last week I’ve teetered out a little bit.

For my first Slice of Life, I feel like I’ve learned a lot.  I originally chose to participate because I wanted to do what I ask of my students.  For the past two Aprils, my students have participated in Script Frenzy, which challenges students to write a script in 30 days and write everyday.  I wanted to introduce it this year and say to them, “I did it! I wrote everyday in March.”  While I didn’t write everyday, I learned the challenge.  I also really enjoyed sitting down each evening and reflecting on my day and asking myself, “What stood out to me today?” or “What do I remember?”  I used to (in college) write every single day, and I wanted the challenge again.

Thanks Slice of Life for the challenge, lessons, comments, and fun!

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Being observant

Today on my way home from work, I saw a man sitting outside of his garage on one of those folded lawn chairs with thick woven bands.  Next to him sat an identical chair, empty.  I don’t know what it was about this that struck me, but it’s stuck in my head.

I love moments like these because I store them in my head for later.  These are potential writing ideas.  I think, “I could write a poem about this.  No, a story.”  Then I wonder, “Is he waiting for someone? Is he all alone but hoping for a companion? Has he lost someone and out of habit set up the chair?”  I like that I can answer these questions anyway I want.  It’s not a writing “assignment” for today, but I won’t soon forget it.

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A memory of a friend

I feel like a theme of this month has been my friend moving away, but tonight was our last “hang-out” night.  We went to our favorite diner (sadly they did not have any of her favorite dessert) and talked until after closing.

Here’s a memory:

A couple of summers ago, my friend and I were hanging out one autumn-but-feels-like-summer evening (probably watching TLC or some sappy chick-flick).  Somehow we got to talking about geocaching.  I had just finished North of Beautiful, which has geocaching as a subplot.  She shared with me the details of geocaching, and I was hooked.  My sister came home, and as soon as she heard what geocaching was (really she heard global treasure hunt!), she wanted to go immediately.  We searched the site and found a cache within walking distance from my house.  We took a flashlight and a pencil (for the register) and headed out.  It was a sneaky cache hidden in the parking spot cement “bumper”.  At one point my sister was sprawled on the parking lot trying to wrangle the rod out of the “bumper”.  After two trips back to my house for more supplies and most likely scaring the two police officers in the parking lot, we finally had success and added our names to the register!


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It’s been too long

I haven’t written since Thursday!

This weekend all of my sisters were home for my sister’s bridal shower and mini bachelorette party.  Family took priority this weekend, and when it was all over, sleep took priority last night.

I love all of the stories that are shared when my family gets together.  Here’s one in honor of my sister who’s getting married.

Haley and I traveled to Paris four years ago.  We’re complete opposites in our travel styles.  I’m laid back (this isn’t often the case, but in traveling it’s true) and she’s high-strung (which is usually the case for her).  She likes to be at the airport two hours before the recommended time (I’ve had some pretty close calls in regards to being on time for flights).  She checks for her passport constantly (not to mention train schedules and subway schedules, etc.)  You get the point.

One day we were trying to enter the Metro, and I was ahead of Haley.  I put my ticket in the slot, the doors opened, and I walked through.  Haley put the ticket in the slot, and it spit it back out; she put another in, and it too was spit back out.  She went into complete panic mode.  A kind man came to her rescue.  He tried to take her back to the ticket window, but she shouted, “I can’t leave my sister! She’s on the other side!” (You’d think I was a toddler all alone in the Paris metro!)  He then tried to tell her that her tickets could’ve been demagnetized from a cell phone.  She cried, “But I don’t have a cell phone with me!” He asked if she had anything in her purse with a magnet.  Aha! Haley pulled out her complimentary Eiffel Tower magnet that she received before leaving on her flight from Pittsburgh (the day she left, the Pittsburgh airport was having a celebration for Delta’s new nonstop service to Paris).  Attached to the magnet were several Metro tickets.  “Do you mean like this?” Yes, exactly.

I can’t remember how she got through.  Either the kind man gave her a ticket or one of hers finally worked.  At our next Metro stop, I was the one who exchanged the demagnetized tickets at the ticket window.

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Delivering Spring

Today was Daffodil Days at school. The Kiwanis Builders Club that I co-advise participates each year in the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days. While this year wasn’t our best sales-wise, it’s always fun to deliver these unopened flowers of hope and spring! I love hearing the kids ask, “Is that asparagus?” Makes me chuckle every time!

I bought a bunch for my great aunt Jo and delivered them to her at the nursing home this afternoon. What a pleasure it is to sit and talk with her! (The only way it could’ve been better is if I’d stopped on my way to pick up Revonah pretzels (they are amazing!) and a Diet Coke, but Revonah’s was already closed and I gave up Diet Coke for Lent (only 10 more days! I’m not counting down the days or anything, and my mouth isn’t salivating just thinking about it either! But I digress…).) My aunt Jo is down to earth and realistic; she loves to hear about all of the new things going on with me. She also has a great sense of humor; her laugh fills a room and is contagious! Hopefully the daffodils brightened her day as much as she brightened mine.

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