My Ten New Things

Last week my friend Brittany wrote a post about the ten (terrifying!) NEW things she tried in 2016.  Her words got me wondering if I could think of my own ten new things from 2016.  Here goes!

1. Running Buddies:

What began as my most terrifying new thing turned out to be my absolute favorite part of 2016. I heard about the No-Pressure Running Group from a friend when training for the Richmond Marathon in 2015.  For whatever reason, I pictured a perfectly manicured group of Boonsboro mamas prancing up the Monument Terrace steps like it was no biggie.  I just knew they would be too fast and too cool for me.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016 when a sweet friend from church invited me to run with this same group.  At that point I wasn’t even sure if I could run the 5 miles they had planned, but I sucked up my fears and agreed to meet her anyway.  I quickly learned that this group was not at all what I had expected.  These women are real and flawed and smart and supportive and strong and amazing.  So for about six months now, the promise of good company has helped to drag my rear out of bed at 4:50 (or 5:00, or 5:13) a few mornings each week.  They’ve kept me running through the cold and pushed me to run faster and longer.  But more importantly, I now have a great new group of friends that have each been a tremendous blessing in my life.

nprg

2. A New Job:

At the start of this school year I took a new position as the STREAM Coach & Math Remediation Specialist.  That’s a big-ol’ crazy mouthful that means I get to help kids build stuff and get better at math all day…what could be better than that?  The hard parts have been getting the room ready in time for school to start, missing working closely everyday with teammates, learning 500+ names, and figuring out how to respond to students with love and understanding when expectations aren’t met .  The best parts have been witnessing growth among both the students and teachers, the excitement I see as students get to collaborate and create, and nights (every once in a while) where I don’t come home to hours of prep or grading or emails.  Oh….and a schedule that makes those 5:30am runs possible!

stream

3. A New Degree

In April I finished my Master’s in Math Education K-6 from WGU.  At the end of this program, I was convinced that higher education is where I eventually wanted to land.  I knew that this degree was only going to get me so far, so I immediately started looking for the what-next.  For now the what-next is Integrative STEM Education classes online through Virginia Tech.  For me this has meant many late nights in the library at LC fueled by gummy worms.  For Jay this has meant countless nights of holding down the fort on his own.  I tell him and tell him, but I so hope he realizes how thankful I am for him.

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4. Blue Apron

A friend of my parents gifted us with a free trial of this meal service.  I had fully intended to get the free box and then cancel the subscription because it’s so expensive.  However, we really liked it!  The recipes were simple but interesting.  They forced us to slow down and eat at home.  We got some recipes that we liked so much we’ve repeated them several times with ingredients we’ve bought at the store.  Also, the portions are generally good sizes so neither of us overeats.  We were getting a box once a month, but now we’ve bumped back to every few months because we can reuse the recipes we already have.

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5. Mountain Biking

Whenever I run on the Peaks View Park trails, I get the mountain biking itch.  Before this year, I’ve never really tried it, but these trails (more than the ones at Candler’s) make it look like fun to me.  I remember thinking after a run this summer, “I wish there was a way I could learn to mountain bike….like a class or something.”  Well whadayaknow?!?  A few days later I ran across an ad for a beginner mountain biking class that would be offered through Parks and Rec.  It was super cheap and at a time when Jay could watch the kids, so I signed up!  I loved the class, but I left convinced that my bike from circa eighth grade just wasn’t going to cut it for many more rides.  I got a new bike for my birthday, followed promptly by a new school year that took up every free minute of time I might have had to ride.  I’m hoping that 2017 will bring more rides…and maybe a friend or two that will go with me!

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6. LuLaRoe

legginsSoooo….yeah.  I seriously debated whether or not to include this in my ten new things list, but I finally decided that ten years from now rereading this would probably give me a good chuckle.  At some point this year the Facebooks blew up with the LuLaRoe.  It somehow went from one college friend selling it to a gazillion sales every week.  I’ve never been a fan of buying something I haven’t tried on, so I waited until I got invited to a real-live party to buy any.  Somehow I got out of there with a bright orange pair of tights with blue paper airplanes.  What in the world?  And while they do actually feel as good on as everyone says they do, I can’t help but wonder what we’ll say about ourselves in 2026.  “Ahh….remember those leggings we all used to wear!?!  With unicorns and spaceships and flamingos and pineapples….what were we thinking?!”

7. Pokemon Goimg_2187

As usual, I’m a little late to this trend.  We just downloaded it over Christmas break, and I finally see what all the fuss is about.  It’s fun!  Grandma and I have been texting each other back and forth about our current level and how many we’ve caught.  She’s currently skunking me on level 14.  As soon as this post is up, I think we’re headed out to LC to try to catch up to her.  🙂

8. Twitter

twitterYep…also late on this one.  I started tweeting in March after hearing George Couros at LC.  While I was certainly hesitant to get started, so many good things came from tweeting the second half of our school year.  I think it’s fun to look back and have a record of what we did, but the best part was collaborating with a class in Canada through Twitter.  This school year I haven’t used it nearly as much because I’ve been sharing what we’re doing at school through Facebook instead.

9. Tutoring

A friend at school asked me to help tutor her in math for a few weeks over the summer.  She wanted help getting ready for a math placement test she had to take at CVCC.  Until this year I have never tutored adults, or hardly anyone for that matter, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help her.  It was such a rewarding experience to watch her grasp concepts and gain confidence.  I hope to do more of this in the future!

10. Aid Station-ing

There are people who run 60+ miles in below-freezing temperatures, in the mountains, just for fun.  There are also people who stand outside in those below-freezing temperatures to feed hungry runners, thaw out their bottles, and cheer them on….just for fun.  So while I was not crazy enough (yet) to run the Hellgate race, I did help with three aid stations for this ridiculous event.  It was so inspiring.  And cold.

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How about you….what did you do new in 2016?   

Thanks, Brittany, for the inspiration!  Follow her at TheBamBlog.com.

 

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One Thing….Or Ten

So I’ve sat here for entirely too long trying to make this post about one thing.  Here’s what it’s about so I can just get on with it:

We have two more weeks of school, the last two weeks have been crazy, and it’s time to just jot down the stuff worth remembering.  

That’s enough of a “one thing”, right?  Ok, good.

  • Yesterday I called Jay at work to tell him that he must dress his son before leaving for school or else I might break Bubba’s arm.  I wasn’t even kidding.  The ten minute wrestling/screaming match on the bedroom floor in order to put on a clean outfit just wasn’t the best way I could think to start my day.  Or his.  Today Daddy dressed Bubba, Chica put on his shoes, and we got to school early.  Thankful.
  • We finished By the Shores of Silver Lake last night.  I thought for sure they weren’t going to ever get the homestead for the winter storms and the unwanted overnight guests, but they finally made it, just in time for the more storms, it appears.  There’s just something not quite right about starting a book called The Long Winter when it’s finally getting hot outside.
  • Cicadas are my most recent fascination.  I watched one for maybe 20 minutes the other night as it emerged from its exoskeleton.  Earlier this week we pointed out the shells to Chica, and she (no surprise) proceeded to make up a Cicada Hunt song.  “We’re going on a cicada hunt.  Might be dead ones, might be live ones, might be real ones, might be shell ones.  We’re doing on a cicada h-u-u-u-nt!”
  • I admit my other recent fascination is The Voice.   Ridiculous, I know.  But because I can only watch about 10 minutes max before falling asleep each night, I’ll probably still be watching it in August.  Don’t tell me who wins, mkay?
  • One night Chica comes in her room and says in a worried tone, “Mom!  There’s something on the potty, and it won’t go away.  It won’t go away when I flush it!”  “Yes, Chica, that’s what happens when your mommy goes on a housework strike for one too many weeks in a row.  That’s why most mommies clean the potty every week.  I’ll get to it soon, I promise.”
  • On Saturday Bubba fed a giraffe from his hand and Jay fist bumped a turkey.  The Metro Richmond Zoo is a neat place.
  • Last week I did something pretty cool, and then I waited by the e-mail for the praise to roll in.  And it didn’t.  I know I have something to learn in this, but I think I forgot it when I finally got an e-mail about the something cool today.
  • Now that tests are over, there’s such a sense of freedom in my little brain as I teach.  Today we followed the rabbit trails for ever so long through decimal division and decimal multiplication and if numbers get bigger or smaller (or both) when you multiply.  Then how multiplication and division are related and two ways to think about division. And finally we made our way back around to pictures and stories to go with the decimal division problem we had in the first place.  And there were lots of Oooooooohhhhh’s and I-get-it’s.  Math is so cool.  My kids are pretty darn cool too.
  • Speaking of rabbit trails, while reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham and the part about a raccoon drowning a dog, I had to tell my raccoon story.  I just will never forget the image of Jay jumping out of his truck and chasing a raccoon down with a pocket knife in order to rescue his desperate wife.  That’s definitely one of my favorite CrossRoads memories ever.

Ok.  That’s enough for now.  Off to fall asleep to my 10 minutes of The Voice and continue my strike a little longer.  Summer, come soon.

A Fraction of a Story

Dear Ruth,

Tell your sixth graders that this is why they have to learn how to convert improper fractions into mixed numbers.  Otherwise this will happen.

Sincerely,

Your Fourth Grade Math Teacher Friend

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Me:  What do you want for breakfast?

Chica:  Mmmmm……cinnamon toast?  (Said with a question mark because this is a meal reserved for special days.)

Me:  Ok.  (It’s the last day of Spring Break.  What the hey?)  How many pieces do you want?

Chica:  (Thinks….)  Five.

Me:  Five?  No way.  Mommy couldn’t even eat five!  (Actually, I probably could, but I would totally regret it.)

Chica:  I can eat five.  I’m sure.

Me:  You’re not having five pieces of cinnamon toast.  How about two?

Chica:  Five.

Me:  The most I will fix you is three.  You can have three, two, one, or zero.

Chica:  But Daddy fixed me five before!

Me:  What?!?

Chica:  He did.

Me:  (The light bulb comes on!)  Ohhhhh…..you mean he fixed you five half pieces of cinnamon toast?

Chica:  Well, yeah.

Me:  Then sure, you can have five.

So we fix three.

three wholes

And she has five.

five halves

Best part about this math?

one half

I get one!  : )

Guest Post: I Love Teaching

I’m excited to share a guest post from a great friend, Ruth Erquiaga.  I’m hoping your positive comments will convince her she needs a blog too!  : )

P.S.  In case it’s been a long time since sixth grade for you, you might want to review this first.

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I love teaching. Some days are more fun than others, but I am choosing to write about today because I want to be able to remember it when one of those not so fun days shows up.

The day started on the way to school with Tres and Carrington. “Today is the second of November, and I would like us to be audibly thankful each morning on the way to school.” Tres says he is thankful for his family and his friends. Carrington is thankful for her talents and her family. I proudly announce that I was thankful for the commutative and associative property yesterday, and today I am thankful for the identity property and distributive property.  They both rolled their eyes and huffed loudly because they knew a mini math lesson was coming.  : ) Too bad we were in the parking lot, and I had to be in devotions in five minutes.

As much as my own children didn’t have to listen to my lesson, the 110 students under my tutelage did.  Sometime in the near future my students will be required to write a letter to God about why they are thankful for the four math properties. I’m hoping their letters sound something like this:

Dear God,

You are amazing and indescribable. We learn this every day in Bible class, but today we were reminded of it in math class. You are the God of order. If you hadn’t created the commutative property, then we would live in a world of chaos. Grocery stores would have massive fights always breaking out because the order that the groceries were rung up in would change the total that you owed. You knew when order should matter and when it shouldn’t. If we swallowed before we chewed or got dressed before we showered, we would be absolutely miserable. However, what I am most thankful for is that when we do things in the wrong order, not according to your plan, you don’t stop loving us. There are things that you have set out in scripture that should be done in a certain order, but we live in a corrupt world where people do what feels good and what is easy. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for the commutative property to remind us that you are a God of order.

The associative property says that though groups can change, amounts don’t.  This is a reminder that things change, but you don’t. If the associative property wasn’t true, then changing houses would change population. Switching friends at school would change the amount of students. It’s kind of mind blowing to think about how crazy this world would be if there wasn’t a creator behind it all. Thank you for remaining the same when the things around us are constantly changing.

For the Identity property, Mrs. E gave us each an ID card. She told us to remember that any number times one or plus zero remains the same. The very best identification that we can have comes from you. Once we are a Christian, we are identified as a child of God, and you promise us in your Word that nothing will ever change that. The enemy tries to make us feel like something less. He lies to us and tries to convince us that we are alone (1) and that we have nothing (0). Thank you for your promise that you will never leave us or forsake us. Thank you for your words in John 10 (there is that 1 and 0 again) that the deceiver will never pluck us from your hand. Thank you that I will one day live in heaven forever with you because I have become a child of the king. Please help me live each day reflecting you in my life that others may see my true identity.

After the Identity property, Mrs. E told us she was going to give us cookies. I am thankful for cookies. : )  She said she wouldn’t give us cookies until we came up with four different ways for her to do it.  It took us awhile to figure out what she was talking about, but we finally did. Then she paused and got this big smile on her face. She asked us to think about something that has been distributed to the entire world that we should be thankful for. We guessed land, water, people and some other things. She asked us to think about John 3:16. Oh yeah! God’s love! Thank you God, for distributing your love to all of us. Mrs. E passed out the cookies, and we watched as she got so excited about this giant equation on the board. It looked something like this:

God Loves The World
God Loves (N. Amer. + S. Amer. + Antarctica + Aust. + Asia + Euro. + Africa)
God Loves North America + God Loves South America + God Loves Antarctica + God Loves Australia + God Loves Asia + God Loves Europe + God Loves Africa

I get it God. I really get it. It doesn’t matter how we say it, the amount of your love remains the same.

You love us. You love them and me. You love them, and you love me.

Thank you for your incredible love and a math class full of reminders of it.  Help me love “them” the way I know you love “them”.

Your child, forever and always.

I love teaching. The activity today with the cookies and the class discussion was a reminder that I have so much to be thankful for. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I got home. I love laughing with my students. I love watching my coaches teach one of their final lessons before they become student teachers. I love being in a school where this lesson is not only allowed, but expected. I love when a student and his older sister stay after school to get help and leave smiling because they “get it now.” I love that God is in the details and provided this job for me. And, oh yeah, I love that when fifth hour was over today, one of my students said, “Mrs. E, if I were to rank all of my math teachers, you would be at the top! I hope you have a great weekend!”  Did I mention that I love my job?

Images:
CHOCOLATE CHIP SHORTBREAD COOKIES  
© neil conway | Flickr Creative Commons