SOL: Marking a Milestone Day

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Yesterday marked our fourth and final daughter’s 18th birthday. While she is still home with us completing her senior year of high school, I can’t help feeling like this was a milestone day. I declared to my colleagues at lunch, “I’m done! She’s 18 – my job is complete!” But we all knew that couldn’t be further from the truth. With three adult daughters not far ahead of her, I have come to realize our children never stop needing their parents.

Still though, I find myself feeling closer to the end of a significant chapter in my life. That which once consumed what felt like my every waking minute, slowly morphed into one gradual release after another, until, just 6,574 days later, I found myself watching my baby celebrate the transition into being an adult.

My identity as a parent feels different – and it should really. I’m just not sure I’m ready to walk into it. So much is behind me, and I’m not entirely certain what the journey looks like that lies ahead of me. I enjoyed being needed. I thrived in the busy comings and goings of everyone’s activities. I even embraced navigating the worries and concerns through every parenting stage we faced.

Yet the journey awaits, ready or not. The remaining days of high school are all we have before she launches out of the nest, so even though she is legally an adult, I am going to try my best to be intentional and savor every day until we send her on her way!

SOL: The Power of a PLN

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In 2015, at the urging of a friend, I jumped into my first Twitter chat with Dr. Mary Howard. Her recent book Good to Great Teaching was the focus of the chat. Several teachers in the chat were beginning a book study on the side using Voxer, and I bravely asked if I could join. Mind you, I was a lone teacher in a small town in Montana, and the teachers in the group study were in New Jersey. I was thrilled when they said yes! Little did I know how completely life-changing this small move would be, and the incredible Professional Learning Network that would unfold in the years to come!

Fast forward four years, and I am still in touch with my #G2Great “cousins.” When the book study ended, we simply couldn’t close the Voxer channel – we had developed close friendships, and even began adding new friends to the group. Their weekly Thursday night chats are still going strong, and while my schedule now doesn’t permit me to join in every week, I know that whenever I have a question or need another perspective, there is always someone in the group who will lend an ear and offer support. This core group of friends continue to be an irreplaceable cornerstone to me both professionally and personally.

What is so exciting is that my virtual connections have continued to flourish! I have connected with new friends through Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers, and have even ventured into writing poetry with fellow poet-bloggers on Poetry Friday.

Most recently, I joined a Voxer book study around the book Stop.Right.Now.: 39 Stops to Making Schools Better. The book is excellent, but even better, within the first couple of days, I made three connections with fellow kindergarten teachers. In the short three weeks we have been sharing in this book study, I have reached out to each of them for support around classroom management struggles I have been experiencing, as well as a much-needed boost to push my learning to the next level with Seesaw.

Through my ever-growing PLN, I continue to meet incredible like-minded educators who are always willing to share ideas, offer support, and even brainstorm around potential collaborative work. The future looks bright here in my little corner of the world! With arms reaching out from all points near and far, I look forward to continuing to grow as the teacher-learner I always want to be.

SOL… Wanted: Learning Curve

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Recently I saw this Tweet from Pernille Ripp:

I loved this – so often as educators, we are spending our time outside of school reading a professional book, participating in a book study, and/or attending professional development. All worthy of our time certainly, but what about perusing new learning outside of teaching?

This got me thinking. Really thinking. I honestly had to sit with this idea for some time before remembering that just before Christmas break while at Michaels craft store buying last minute craft embellishments for my students I saw a sign for an upcoming crochet class. I thought to myself, what a great idea to take this class right before the break, and I can just crochet my way through the entire winter break!

True confession. I never made it to the class. Not because I didn’t want to. I was all ready to be there the Friday evening before Christmas break, but my daughter injured her shoulder while skiing that afternoon, and instead of going to the crochet class, I was at urgent care.

I haven’t given up on my plan to get to an upcoming class though! Just tonight I checked their website to find when upcoming classes are offered. Who knows? Maybe by Valentine’s Day I will be able to make myself a warm neck cowl…here’s hoping!

Back to Pernille’s question….what is something new you have recently learned, or perhaps want to learn?

SOL: White Christmas, Where Are You?

Sitting so close to Christmas here in Montana, we are still waiting for the landscape to look like Christmas. When I was a little girl, we were well into winter by Thanksgiving; ice skating at the local pond, and skiing at Big Mountain. As an adult, however, the pond rarely freezes over before Christmas, and we are lucky if opening day on the mountain happens by the early teens of December.

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas is in only a week! I am still fighting my kindergartners to keep their coats on at recess, despite the 30 degree temperatures. Don’t get me wrong though – I welcome the respite from the on-again/off-again of all the snow gear that literally steals 15+ minutes of instructional time over the school day once there is snow on the ground!

I wonder what it feels like to experience Christmas in a snow-less climate. How do people reconcile singing “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!” when there is no snow on the ground for a sleigh? Don’t kids in sunny Arizona miss “Jack Frost nipping at their nose?” as their mom smears sunscreen on their face before they go out the door? I think I would be greatly dismayed on Christmas Eve to peer out my window and see a family riding bikes together instead of dragging their sleds behind them on their way to the golf course to go sledding.

What is the Christmas landscape looking like in your neck of the woods this year?


SOL: I Don’t Remember The Last Time I Was


I am my father’s daughter. Type A. Driven. Focused. Plate-spinner extraordinaire.

When I walk in the door at the end of my day, my mind is already thinking of what needs to be done next. Dinner prep? Empty the dishwasher? Perhaps finish something left undone at school; sift through a bulging e-mail inbox, research and/or prep for a lesson tomorrow? I don’t typically come home and sit down, but instead most often find myself on a trajectory of completing task after task until it is time to get ready for bed.

I can recall in my early 20s while working in the business world that my evenings were an open book. I left my work at the office (S-H-O-C-K-E-R!) and could do whatever I wanted when I got home each day. I didn’t have children back then, so for the most part, this down time centered around Must-See-TV until it was time for bed. I can actually say that honestly, I experienced boredom a lot in those days.

Fast forward 20 years, a husband, and four children later, my life today looks nothing like those years. The hectic demands of teaching don’t often allow me to leave work at work, and our home requires more of my attention than that tiny 800 square foot apartment ever did. But the person I am thrives in this place; I enjoy the fast pace and the multiple demands of my focus and energy.

But Christmas break is looming…. I am beginning to visualize myself in a more relaxed state of being. Our adult children won’t be home this year, so meal planning and house preparation will be nill, which thankfully, I welcome! I am making plans now for sleeping in, for slower paced days, for simple dinners, and for savoring a little more down time with nothing demanding my attention.

When was the last time you were bored?

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SOL: The Season of Sweets

A fun side gig I have is that of a fudge maker at a local historic soda fountain and candy shop here in our little town. My two youngest daughters started working there as soda jerks early in high school, and two summers ago I joined them. Last spring I was asked to take over fudge production in addition to working part time in the restaurant alongside my girls and the other teenager crew.

The process of fudge making is such fun! I can be as creative as I like, and all executive decision making is in my hands when it comes to what kinds I will make. Praline Crunch, Maple Walnut, Tiger Butter, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel, Rocky Road….any mouths watering yet?

Sunday I poured over my recipes, carefully choosing Christmas fudge that would be good sellers. At 7:00am I turned on the kettle, and hard to believe, but seven hours later, I stood back admiring all 20 pans of confectionary delight! It was a sight to behold.

My two favorites: Red Velvet Christmas Truffle & White Chocolate Candy Cane Crunch

What does your sweet tooth crave during the holiday season?

SOL: Skinning Up

Winter is slowly making its presence known here in northwest Montana. Snow-capped mountains surround the valley where I live, gently warning those of us down below that the snowline is beginning to make its way to us. It won’t be long before the streets, our neighborhoods, and the playgrounds will be blanketed in white.

Sunday my husband and I gathered our skis and all the gear we needed for an afternoon on the ski mountain. The ski resort is still closed, which for us is not a problem; we don’t need the ski lift to get up the mountain – we climb it. Our A.T. skis are equipped with special bindings that allow our heels to move up and down as we climb, but when we are ready to ski down, they can be adjusted to lock our boots firmly in place. On the bottom of our skis are removable “skins” that grip the snow so we don’t slip as we climb, and are peeled off once we reach the summit for a smooth descent.

I decided last winter after seeing the large number number of people – many far older than me – climbing up the mountain and skiing down. I thought if they could do it, so could I! Sunday was my first time skinning up, and it was supposed to be a day shared with my brother, who was my husband’s skinning partner last winter.

I missed my brother yesterday. It was the 6-month mark of his sudden & unexpected death, which made the day full of his presence. When the hill got steep and I began to tire, I imagined him just ahead of me, encouraging me in the climb. As I began my descent, I could see him just ahead of me, laughing and shouting his excitement in being back on the mountain, doing what he loved so much.

I certainly didn’t have my brother’s beautiful form while making my way down the mountain, but I know he was watching me, smiling as his little sister attempted a graceful decent.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life. Head over to their site to read more slices from our slicing community.