Sunday, January 27, 2013

Inside Recess All Year Long!

Let me just speak for all of the teachers when I say it's been quite a month. During the whole month of January 2013 thus far, we've only had two days of outside recess. Why? Because it's been cold. Really cold. The rule is that we can't send 'em out unless it's at least 20 degrees or warmer. However, there's this other little glitch we have to think about. Air quality. If the air quality is not healthy enough due to the inversion, we still can't send 'em out. It's been hard on everybody. At first, we played a lot of board games. Then I invited my students to bring more and different board games from home, since they were getting sick of playing mine. We did jumping jacks in three languages. We marched in place. We played dance party music and danced. We stretched. One day we stayed in the gym after a school assembly, waiting for all the other classes to leave, so we could run a few sprints. Have you ever been cooped up with 34 fifth graders for an entire month?

And then I decided to let them craft. Oh boy. The glue supply has diminished. The craft paper is gone. What's left are the photos of their creativity. First up, the "Paper Clip Game" invented by one of my darling girls. Students happily played this game for days. I didn't ask them to make up games; they did it to keep themselves from going insane.

Next is an earthquake proof structure with a little art inspired by Klee:

On Tuesday, I mentioned my car accident from last Saturday. We get the newspapers on Tuesday, but I failed to notice the sticky coupons attached to the front page because I usually delegate students to pick the papers up and pass them out. Well, someone had this great idea that they should donate all of their car coupons to me so I could get a new car for free! They presented them to me with a sweet note at the end of the day. I was blown away at their thoughtfulness.

One of the really big hits was those classic "Fortune Tellers!" I swear, these things will never fade from the elementary school scene. I have now banned them from the classroom with heavy consequences should I see one, but honestly, they were so cute and so creative that before they took them all home on Friday, I took pictures--I saw a monkey, a bird, a snake...some were regular size and some were mini:

And let's not forget our old friend the "Ninja Star!"

January is almost in the rearview mirror and hopefully the kids will be able to go outside more often. Fourteen days of inside recess (morning recess and lunch recess) is plenty of time to be creative. In fact, it's enough time to invent new codes and languages! Bless those darling kids and their beautiful minds. They have been champs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Twelve years ago today, a cute ten year old boy passed away at his home due to a freak accident. For the next few days, his desk sat empty in my classroom. His grave site is some distance away, so I've only visted there once. It was Spring and I was the only person in the whole sacred area. I remember using my water bottle to wash the bird poop off his headstone. Oh, bless that family!

I didn't mention it to any of the other teachers today. But I still remember.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Smacked Up Side the Head" or "Going For a Spin"

I thought about calling this post Jesus Take the Wheel, but after reading the lyrics I just couldn't because I was paying attention. The other guy wasn't. I DID however, bow my head and pray. Several times.

Southbound on State Street, driving under the speed limit in the far right hand lane, in no hurry whatsoever, and the light was green. Not yellow. Not about to turn yellow. Green as green can be. And as I proceeded through the intersection, he turned left. The police officer had to tug hard on my driver's side door to let me out, but most of the damage is to the rear door, rear axle, rear wheel, etc. We don't really know yet. It was towed away.

My dad was asking all these questions and this was the best I could come up with, "The impact caused me to do a perfect 180 and I floated to a stop while staying in my lane the whole time." Granted, I was facing the wrong way with oncoming traffic, but I was still in my lane and only the two vehicles were involved. AMAZING.

I can't remember every detail, but it seems that the gear shift got knocked into neutral which is another blessing on my list. When I came to a stop, I noticed there was a business with an empty parking lot on my left, but my car wouldn't go when I stepped on the gas. I put it back into drive and pulled off the road and parked. Whew. Then I called 911.

The Other Driver had pulled off on the other road and made his way across to check on me. He was very upset and apologetic. Called himself some choice swear words. I wanted to ask him to stop swearing, but I was busy paying attention to the 911 Lady. He kept saying, "Are you okay? Are you okay?" So I rolled down my window and put my hand and arm out as a friendly, non-verbal gesture, because I was still chatting with 911. We held hands for a teeny moment. 911 told me I could hang up, so I called K and he arrived shortly with a bottle of water. Love that man!

The Other Driver told the police officer in my presence, "I'm an a$$ and it's all my fault." He explained that he wasn't familiar with this town and was searching for a friend's home. He had been driving around looking at street signs and that caused a distraction for him. His twelve year old son was also uninjured. We are all so blessed and lucky and I am so, SO grateful! I am absolutely FILLED with gratitude!

During my little spin, my face/cheek/head smacked pretty hard against the driver's side window/orotherpartoftheinterior. I will get checked to make sure everything is okay, but it could have been so much worse. And no, the air bags did not deploy.

When the officer said K could take me home, I gave The Other Driver a hug. K teased me about that later, but I don't care. I know he's on the worse side of things, but as I kept telling him, "It's going to be okay. We're all just fine so let's count more blessings from there." He probably thought I was a preacher, but I couldn't help it. I was too filled with gratitude to be angry at him in the least. Anger has not been a part of this experience at all. Any one of us could be distracted for a small moment and cause a similar accident. I'm, as they say, but it's so true, "JUST SO GLAD WE'RE ALL OKAY!!!"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ringing in 2013

I love this picture. Trees, shadows, water...simplicity. Beauty. All of that made for a GREAT first day of a new year. But let's recap the evening prior.

We had a fairly usual assortment of "snicker-snackers" for our New Year's Eve Celebration and then K tucked me into bed at 9:00 p.m. I had been up with no naps since 12:35 a.m. that morning! K was watching a DVD and drinking Orange Crush, effectively missing the magical midnight hour by about twenty minutes. Oh well.

So back to our Snowshoeing Celebration. We headed up to Our Canyon for a Glorious Day of Sun and Cold Temperatures. We also ran into Ranger Natalie (we always bump into our ranger friends in the wilderness, all year 'round!). Here's a bit more of the scenery:

Mother Nature had been busy flocking and sculpting:

K stole a couple pictures of me. The one I did know about features my talent for perspiring. Snowshoeing is a WARM activity as long as you keep moving!

I snapped a couple of K...right before we split up. You see, we had meandered together away from the main trail. We came to a steep (STEEEEEP) part of the adventure whereupon I decided to head back to the main trail and return the way we came. K wanted to continue his explorations across the frozen part of a lake and so forth. We each said, "Meet you back at the car! Be careful!" I turned back, immediately fell down the steep part, and laughed my head off. You see, I seldom fall. But when I fall on snowshoes, it never hurts. And so it's a happy surprise. Surprise because you don't expect to fall and happy because it doesn't hurt. I just stayed there on the ground for a moment looking up and all around, smiling. Snowshoeing is the best.

Everything was beautiful, but I especially enjoyed the sounds from the water. Easy on the eyes, easy on the ears. Loved the little snow crystal patterns on the rocks. Love K! So grateful we get to have outings such as this! Happy New Year!