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Friday, September 30, 2011

Is That a Garage I See?

Today, as I returned from a looong day at work, I was able to smoothly pull into my new garage at my new house.  Big deal, you may say.  You have no idea.  You see, at my old house I only was able to park in the garage on very few occasions.  When my husband bought our SUV, he called me and said, "Honey, the truck won't fit in the garage.  It's too wide.  Should I still get it?"  After drying my eyes from the tears of laughter, I said, "Todd, I don't park in the garage. Buy whatever you want!"

Now that we have moved, it has been a long process of unpacking and organizing to get to this day.  How ever was this impossible task finally conquered?

Well, that's easy.  You see, around 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon, my husband sent me a quick, innocent email just as my students went to PE.  It said, "There's a kayak fishing tournament in Lake Charles this weekend.  What do you think?"  I had to sit back and give this some thought.  My husband and I, in our 12 years of marriage, have always been very respectful of allowing each other the time to go and do what we'd like to do whether it be social or hobby. 

Not this time.  The reply he received was long, detailed, heartfelt, definitely more than he bargained for.  To spare the details, it had something to do with hard all day....hanging and get the point.

So, to make a long story short, I came home to a dust colored husband finishing the lawn and a wide open garage to pull into.

Lesson:  Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teacher Tip: Top Reading Mistakes

This is a list I quickly decided to put together after working with a couple of kids today.  When a kid has trouble with reading comprehension, it really affects them in all subjects.  Worse than that, the kid's parents have no clue how to help.  For advice on that, you must read this post:

Moving on.....


1.  They may not be stopping at ending marks.  This makes sentences flow together in an odd sort of way.  The meaing of the sentences are lost.

2.  They make mistakes in reading and do not go back to correct what they read.  When a child does this, they are not paying attention to the story, but sounding out the words...again, losing meaning.

3.  They do not understand the vocabulary.  The struggling reader will simply continue, hoping to get the meaning figured out.  They typically do not.  They passed up the sentence or two that would've helped.

4.  They do not ever reread.  If they do not understand what they read, or forgot, or was daydreaming while reading, they continue.  They think that it will show their struggle if they have to read it again.  When I tell a struggling reader that I have to read things more than once all the time, they are shocked.  Their eyes actually get wide.  They have no clue that successful readers reread and poor readers do not.

5.  They do not envision what they read.  I always thought this was a natural thing until my husband and a couple of friends said to me, "I don't see the movie in my head when I read"  Gasp!  Use art to help this skill.  Have them draw their favorite scene and tell you about it.  They are retelling the story when they do.

6.  They are reading above their level.  My daughter is notorious for this.  She wants to read what her brother is reading.  They are too hard. This causes frustration and eventual disinterest, causing them to think all reading stinks....and giving up.

7.  They have not found a genre or author they enjoy.  A dyslexic student came to me this week and said, "Hey!  Mrs. Adrienne, I hate to read, but this book is so good!  I can't put it down!"  I quickly had him write down the series and the author encouraging him to find more books by him.  He got in trouble for reading during class today:)

8.  They do not find out anything about the book before reading.  Have them read the back cover.  If they do not, they spend the first few chapters distracted until they find out what is really going on here.

9.  They are still learning how to read.  In this case, read with them.  Listen to how they read, and read to them in a way that fixes those mistakes, exaggerating your pause at a comma, the stop at an ending mark, the excitement with an exclamation, and the sadness the character may feel.

...and # 10~  Well, you'd have to read another post for #10.  Here's the link.

God Bless!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Sprinkler

My sweet little ballerina just came back from her second ever ballet class.  Now, both girls can't get enough of dancing.  Catie is showing Abby the pliet she has learned, which she insists is called "Cliet" /kleeyae/ {{no matter what you or I say}}.  That is the extent of Catie's ballet knowledge thus far.  Realizing this, Abby seized the opportunity to teach something new to her baby sister.  Catie is now well versed in the "Salsa" (which looked more like a Tango).  She then proceeded to teach Catie the more complicated Pas de Chat.  To which Catie exclaimed,

"That's boring.  I hope they teach us to do the Sprinkler."
((Immediately giving her best Sprinkler))

Lesson:  Catie needs more involved classical ballet training, stat!
The sprinkler???


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drama Club

I can't decide where the personality of my sweet youngest daughter, Catherine Alyce, also known as Catie, comes from.  My middle child, Abby, clearly is my daughter in personality and all.  I was the painfully shy tomboy that I see when I look at her.  My son exhibits my personality when he is too indecisive.   We are unsure about the influence which created Thing 3.

Catie, hmmmm...currently (past bed time) she is doing quick claps and shimmying from side to side mimicking Michael Jackson.  Every now then, she busts into a quick rap about her socks and sandals (I think this is a Disney Channel thing).  Daily, she makes fake phone calls to order room service..."Yes, this is Catie Zembower.  I would like Honey Nut Cheerios and Cheetos and Apple Juice.  I'm going to need A LOT!  I'm SO hungry!  Thanks.  Bye.""Yes.  This is Catie Zembower.  I need a large pizza with everything on it.  Thanks. Bye." click.

She fake calls fake friends.  "Hi, this is Catie!  Are you coming over to sleep?  Okay, see you soon.  Bye""Hi.  This is Catie....ummm, I can come pick you up.  I'll come in a little bit.  Yes.  Mmhm.  Well, I drive a really big truck.  We can go to California (squealing).  My truck doesn't have seat belts either, so we don't have to buckle up!"

I often have to say "Amen" to the Ritz cracker or Wheat Thin that is presented to me with a serious "The Body Of Christ".  She changes her clothes 5 times a day.  Spells things to me like, "Mom, d-a-h-f-r-g-v.  That means I love you (head tilt, smile)."  She thinks it is a cruel and unfair world when her brother and sister can have friends over and have sleepovers, but she can't. When asked who she would invite, she lists 3rd graders (Abby's friends).

She's a big faker.  Often, when we are getting out of the car, she quickly closes her eyes and pretends she's sleeping. It would benefit her if she could control her laughter when faking, but she can't.  Her eyelids flitter furiously as she tries hard to keep them closed while still making an effort to see my reaction.  Lately, she has realized that if she fake sleeps through mass, she does not have to get up and down so often.  So, immediately upon finding our seats, she goes limp in our arms, faking, faking, faking, then finally actually sleeping.

The most embarrassing so far, though, would have to be when Zac's 9-year-old visiting friend (also my 4th grade student) walked through the living room sans shirt after a stinky fishing trip on his way to the shower.  Catie whistled at him, except she can't whistle, so she faked it in a high pitched squeal.

Dear God, give me patience and guidance and the knowledge I will certainly need to steer this child in a positive, fulfilling direction.  Guide me to opportunities to help her imagination to grow.  And please, God, show me the best location in our home for her first Oscar.    Amen


Friday, September 9, 2011

My First Born

Sunday is my son Zac's 10th birthday.  He's growing up fast.  This year, though, I have watched this boy turn more into a young man.  This is a major year of growth.  There are a few things that have happened recently, suddenly, overnight.  A few nights ago, I was getting dinner on the table.  It suddenly felt odd to give this big kid the plastic kid plate he's eaten dinner on for years and years.  I shrugged and pulled out an actual full sized dinner plate for him.  A few weeks ago we were barbecuing.  It felt like we HAD to teach him about the barbecue pit and how to grill.  So, now he grills.  Tonight, at dinner, as I ordered drinks for everyone at a restaurant, I had to say, "Wait, instead of 3 child drinks, make that 2 child drinks and one regular."  The biggest sign of all, though, may be that this alien has suddenly chosen to shower without whining, bargaining, complaining, sometimes without even being asked!

Sunday will be 10 years since that tragic day in New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania where thousands of innocent fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, servicemen....(((children))) lost their lives.  It was a day that our security of living in this invincible country was shaken, shattered.  We've never gained that feeling back, either.

Zac was due on September 3, 2001.  I was examined and told I had no progress, come back in a week.  I was big, fat, pregnant, dying from the heat, and extremely anxious to meet my first child.  We came back in a week.  Still no progress.  We were instructed to check into the hospital the next morning to be induced.

So, at 4:30 am Tuesday, September 11, 2001, we left for the hospital.  Around 6:00 am, I was examined again, and was told still no progress.  In fact, it seemed as though this baby was nowhere near the point for delivery.  My doctor decided to schedule a C-section feeling my labor could be long and possibly dangerous for both of us.  We would just wait in the room until the next available operating room.  So, that's what we did. 

All I could do was watch TV.  A little before 9:00 the channel was interrupted because a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Shocked, I watched the horror of that burning building.  Actually, I assumed it was a smaller plane, and not a passenger plane.  I don't know why, but maybe I was more focused on the flames than the airplane.  The news media, of course, stayed with the story.  Suddenly, as a reporter stood in front of the flames, I watched a 2nd plane crash into the other tower {{{{silence}}}}}
Todd had been down the hall and came running into the room.  "Did you SEE THAT??!"  {{{Silence}}} This is when I realized the size and appearance of the planes.....passenger planes.  This is when the magnitude of the events struck me...TWO passenger planes don't hit buildings on accident.  Oh, and all of the people INSIDE the buildings!....oh, no. {{{Silence}}}}  I don't remember even reacting or saying a word.  I remember it all being surreal, trying to process what just happened, how many people may be killed...THIS will be my son's birthday.  This tragic day will be the day I will also have cause for celebration.  This was hard to process.  It already felt wrong to celebrate...anything at all.  My most joyous day of my entire life was immediately filled with sadness for these families who would lose loved ones on the same day I would welcome one.  The day went on with 2 more terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.  Nurses and staff kept coming into my room, watching a bit of the news, then moving on to their next patient.  I was glued to the TV until I was wheeled into surgery.

Zac was born at 12:24 pm.  He had a head full of black hair and weighed 8 lbs., 12 oz.  He had been so high up that they literally had to push down on my belly to get him out via C-section.  (A hint of what motherhood would be like).  We were thrilled.  The rest of the world and all of its anguish disappeared for the time.  Family and friends galore came to see this blessing that had come on such a dark day.  I stayed in the hospital for 3 days.

I left the hospital on September 14th (as my cousin was being wheeled in to deliver her first as well).  I remember that when we got to the car, we had a flat tire.  Strange, I remember that now.  Normally, I guess that would be a story to tell as you leave the hospital with your first born, but it is a vague memory.  I was mesmerized at what had happened to Lafayette while I was in the hospital.  The town was painted red, white, and blue.  All cars had flags, stickers.  Businesses had their windows was crazy.  Everyone had been living with the circus of it all for these 3 days, and I had been ...absent.  I was absent for over a week more as I stayed home while I healed.  Again, when I left the house, the same patriotism could be seen everywhere.  What a time that was!  You almost felt an incredible bond with every American, like we had all been through this tragedy together. 

We visited the site of the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania about 6 years ago.  What a feeling you get being there.  It is nothing I can put into words.  It's very spiritual.  You just want to hit your knees and pray harder than you've ever prayed for peace to these victims and their families.  You want to ask God "WHY???"  over and over.

As I think back on that day, my feelings are like a roller coaster.  Every year, for Zac's birthday, I feel I cannot fully enjoy it until I give credit where credit is due.  This is Zac's birthday, but this is also the 10th year that loved ones and servicemen will be missed around the dinner table.  It's the 10th year that those families will celebrate the upcoming holidays without their family members.  It is the 10th year that our military risks everything to protect our freedom.  It's the 10th year that military families sacrifice their togetherness for us.  I cannot fully express my gratitude for any military who gave so much as a weekend dedicated to this cause.  I cannot even begin to express my sympathy for those families who lost someone in New York, D.C, or Pennsylvania.  Now, on to another bittersweet birthday.

Happy birthday, Zac.
This is Zac at age 4 in front of the shrine that has been
placed upon the fence in Shanksville, PA. 



Thursday, September 8, 2011

"QUIET" time

So, we've been in school now for close to one month.  I am teaching my son this year (umm..that's another blog post).  My daughter, Abby (click for more),  is in 3rd grade right next door.  Sweet, precious Catie started Pre-K 4 with her beloved teachers Mrs. McIver and Mrs. Miller (along with her fauxmance, Grant).  Her classroom is also in a very close proximity to mine.  It's'd think.  However, this ideal arrangement that I so longed for has backfired.  I have gone from having at least a few minutes of quiet as I begin my work day, to 

As my precious 4th grade angels are entering my classroom, Catie, Abby, and Zac are just making their exit.  Not to mention the added drama of having your 4-year-old at work with you.  AND, as my 4th grade angels are leaving for the day, I have already had 2 booksacks, a plastic folder, several papers from school, a pair of shoes, a ponytail holder, and 2 assignment pads handed to me.  My kids are already arguing, asking for snacks, taking out markers, paper, crayons, scissors, library books, and on, and on.  This is all happening in unison with parent pick up.  I still have 8-10 students and 2 parents in the room....AAAGHGHH!

Somewhere I must draw the line, somehow.  I have to stop being Mrs. Adrienne, T H E N become "Mom".  Obviously(!!!!) since this post was supposed to be about my "quiet" run tonight, and it has viciously spiraled into the stress of my day to day.

So, I get home, and decide {{Today is the day}} I will get back into my running routine I meant to stick to weeks ago.  The air is cool, the sun is shining, there is no excuse.

quietly, I sneak into my room and change my clothes, slide into the closet and grab my running shoes, sneak past the 3 kiddies mesmerized by "So Random" on Disney (or whatever).  I gently grab the dog leash.  My trusty, faithful, needy, co-dependent, over sized dog is already by my side {{of course}}.  Ever so carefully, I click the lever on the door.  It creaks a bit as it opens, but those kids are zombies now, luckily.  I MADE IT!!!

No, this is not me, but it is how I felt!

I made it out of the house without one mini Zembower noticing!  My music is on what I want to hear (Take Over me by Aaron Shust)  all seems to be well ......for the most part.
My dog did become obsessed with every vehicle that chose this hour to grace the neighborhood.  He lost all of his marbles when the UPS man rounded the corner, tying me into his leash, viciously causing me to spin, turn, and nearly crash into the pavement.  He even gave me the added bonus of collecting his poop in a little, black bag. 

When I finally had him calmed, I could hear the faint calling of a familiar voice.  (((Abby)))).  I should have known she would find me out <<crinkled nose>>.  I mean, Disney Channel is pretty awesome, but these kids check to make sure I am, in fact, devoting all of my love, time, and attention to their cause each and every second.  I knew she would eventually check on me, notice, and follow.  Luckily, she was the only one who discovered this opportunity.  She ran with me in her Peter Pan collared starched uniform shirt, her navy modesty shorts, her navy knee highs, and her running shoes. 

This run was a hard one.  I was out of practice.  It was a mess, but I completed it.  It was, however, my "quiet" time which never actually became very quiet at all.

Lesson:  Not so "quiet" time ain't so bad either.

How do you get YOUR much deserved quiet time??


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