Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building Relationships

Relationships matter!  No matter what happens the first day, my AP's motto is get them in class, get them fed, and get them home.  Not a small task for at the high school where I work with over 3000 students.  That's the overall school goal.  My classroom goal is to learn their names and figure out who they are.  Our new teachers were encouraged to integrate team building games to foster relationships on the first day of school rather than the cursory reading over the syllabus.  During the first week, I like to incorporate relationship building activities that embed reading and writing strategies.
        On the first day of school I have my students write a Dear Dr. S letter in response to a letter that I've written them.  I have them tell me about themselves as a reader, writer, learner and a human.  One of my professors at the University of Florida did this as part of our first days of school and I've used this for 25 years.  It allows me to get a writing sample on the first day of school.  I've often thought about digitizing this assignment or letting students add images, but paper and pen always work on the first day of school.  Everyone has access.  For my ELLs or other struggling writers, I've offered a writing frame and sentences starters, but regardless of where my students are as writers, they always get something on the page.
        I've used a book pass (Allen, 1995) during the first week of school too.  I have integrated this strategy in my first week of school since 1996.  The book pass allows me to see what my students are interested as readers, how they respond to books verbally and non-verbally and gives me a way to get an independent reading book in students' hands before the end of the week.  It's simple too do aka not high tech- pen, paper, and a copy of different books for each kid.   I review how to preview a book, teach them how to fold their paper into three columns rather than hot-dog style. Next I give students one minute to preview their book by jotting down the title, the author and comments about the book.  They then pass and review another, we typically do about 10-15.  I gauge the time of this activity based on their wiggliness.  Afterward I ask them to star their top three and allow students to share their favorites where others can see books they might have missed and add them to the beginning of their TBR list (to-be-read). This step allows me to see student's off-the-cuff speaking skills as well as beginning to building the social culture of reading in my class.
        My last and most complex task is having students write Poems for Two Voices as a way for them to publish their first piece of writing and learn about each other. Friday is our performance day.  I want to go digital with this by recording this. It, however, runs best with paper and pen for drafting and the computer for finalizing the writing and accessing RhymeZone to find words for tricky rhymes.  I learned this strategy at my first AVID conference in 2004 and have used this with all ages successfully.  I integrate writing frames.  While students are writing, I bother each one and gather data from them to write a poem for many voices to be performed with all members of the class.
      All of these work as formative assessment for me.  By the end of the first week, I know more about my students as readers, writers and learners than I would by just examining their test scores.  In doing so, I have also build the foundation for community of readers and writers.

What do you like to do for your first days of school?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Take Care of Yourself!

My 250th Check-in on August 8, 2016. 
As we are getting ready for the upcoming school year (some of us in our minds as we relish the last days of summer, some pre-planning, and some already in the midst of students),  I  wanted to take a few moments to remind myself  about the relationship that I need to continue to build with myself.  My next step will be to build relationships with my students and colleagues, but first I need to take care of myself, aka teacher self-care.

 Teaching is an incredibly demanding job like many jobs where you are care-giving. It gets intense responding to the needs of students throughout the school day.  My work week sprints from the starter gun on Mondays to the finish line on Friday. When I started doing yoga, I just scoffed at the idea of laying down for ten minutes on a mat to breathe. I rarely had ten minutes to pee during the day much less breathe.  Self-care, however, is a valuable component to my teaching life.

I do Camp Gladiator most days as part of my self-care routine. Based on the photo to the left and my current data, I have spent a minimum of 135 hours doing CG this past year. I will add about 45 Sundays of net-walking and an assortment of swim days at the springs and the beach.  I can sprinkle in days spent hiking too.  All of that motion adds up. During my best of self-care weeks, I workout at least 5 times, the worst three times.  I think do a solid job of physical self-care.

Reading each night is a my form of mental self-care.   I read each and every night,  some nights more pages than others. I am sure the number of books by my pillow is annoying to my husband at times and I often wake up with my glasses lost in the blankets, but reading nightly is my self-care ritual. My daughter has joined me in this practice since she was born, which makes it seem a little less selfish as a parent.  I say this because self-care can feel selfish, but it is a valuable practice to model this for your kids.

My self-care is a work in progress though. Last year, I made a conscious effort to do no work for my day job on Saturdays.  I tried to live my Saturdays throughout the year as summer days.  I also hermit-ed on Sundays afternoons by getting my exercise and grocery shopping for the week completed by 10 am.   This year I resolve to write more, blog weekly, attend that yoga\mediation class that I have been researching for four months.  These are some steps I want to take to better my care and the start of the school year is always a fine time to do that.    How will you put yourself first this upcoming school year?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Food for Thought: Feeding the Writer

This is my sixth time that I have completed the SOLSC.  What does that mean?  I wrote each day for 31 days straight.  I devoted at least an hour to making this happen.  As part of the SOLSC community, I commented on a minimum of three other writers each day too.  During this sixth go-around, I never felt stressed that I wouldn't get a post done.  During my 1st year, I always did.  The hard part is carving the path.  The last five years I have been easier because I know I can finish. I likened it to my first half marathon.  I have done one so I know I could do one.  The difference between SOLSC and a half is that I have no intention of ever doing one again.  I will, however, be back next year.

I love reading other teacher-writers.  I follow my friends and throughout the years various friends have joined the challenge.  I also love to read other people I perhaps will never meet, but their words connect us.  Their words inspiration me to write. Their words teach me about the writing craft.

I also love who stops by.  I don't specifically write for an audience. I am always surprised by who reads my blog and lets me know face-to-face how my words resonate with them.  There are also the likes on Facebook, the comments here and there by friends whom I haven't seen for years.  There are comments by people in the SOLSC whom I never have and never will meet.  I appreciate your time and response.

As I think about what is next for me as a writer, I have to challenge myself. The past year (2016) ended up being my least bountiful writing year. I know why. I have to work my writing muscles like I do my other muscles. All March, I kept thinking about how to keep the writing momentum going. Perhaps my themed posts will be a better way for me to write more consistently this year.  My short-term goal is a post each week.

Thanks for taking time to read my posts.  Thanks for the hosts of the SOLSC for committing weekly to this community and dedicating yourself to March for both teacher-writers and student-writers. It matters! It makes a difference!  Thank you most of all for feeding me as a writer and as a teacher of writers.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

3 Questions They Didn't Answer in the College of Education

The amazing thing about teaching is the learning curve. This is my 24th year teaching and I still learn each and every day.  As I tell my teachers in training, there is so much to learn, you won't get it all in college nor in your first year of teaching or even upon your years of teaching.  You will never arrive; you only evolve.

What do you do when a student has a seizure in your class?  My instinct  was to responses- call the nurse or jump across the desk to catch her.  Fortunately a colleague who knew what to do, was in the room and was closer to the student.  He saved her from a possible concussion.  He knew that we needed to immediately start timing it. He knew exactly how the student needed to be treated. It was serendipity, the time that this teacher, an ESE teacher, just happened to stop by. Now I know what to do--I learned that this week.

How do you carry on with your class after you lose a student?  Sadly I've only had this happen once and that is one too much.  About 5 years ago, my principal came to see me after school. She asked me about one of my students and his mindset.  The initial thought was that he committed suicide.  He didn't. The parents courageously shared that he did due to autoerotic asphyxiation.  I say courageous, because this most often is misreported as a suicide due to the nature of the death.   What we painfully learned was how a class moves forward when we lose a valued member.  It is especially tough because counselors were there only one day.  We began to move forward the next day. Each of his 7 teachers did it differently.  It was a tough journey; I hope to never have to do that again.

How can we best serve our students, when the things we take for granted, are alien to our student's experiences?  Students come to school and we truly are flying blind as Chris Crutcher has eloquently shared.  Some of my students are homeless.  We learn about the statistics in the books, but then we are confronted with reality, their stories,  When parents don't show up, it doesn't mean they don't care.  It means that they are sometimes taking care.  I found that, as most teachers also have, keeping food, toiletries and even clothes in my classroom can be a difference maker.  There are real reasons why kids don't have their paper and pencil each and every day. We shouldn't let those be become obstacles to learning.  This was one of my first lessons when I first started teaching ELLs students in 1993.

Sadly these circumstances for some of our most fragile students has not changed over the tenure of my work nor will my opportunities to learn from my work cease.  What has changed is my ability to take what I have learned in the moment and better serve my students.  What have you had to learn in the teaching moment?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eye Spy: Sunset Celebration

When my family gets together at the beach whether on the east or west coast of Florida, we celebrate the sunset.  Enjoy our pictures from our last celebration.
    King of the Beach aka the Blue Heron
    White Sugar Sand Dunes at Grayton Beach-
    formerly the Appalachian Quartz found on a Georgia/South Carolina
    mountain top around 20,000 years ago.
    Looking for the quick green flash that occurs right
    as the sunsets on the horizon that is the light refracts.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Random Rambling

Stuck! I have writer's block today.  Really I have no idea what to write about because the two things on my mind that I could possibly write about are not ready to be written.  Plus I have spent a lot of time over the past two days being on the computer a lot at work and I just don't want to be on it.

After spending time in a relatively cool zone of Florida during break last week, I am not enjoying this sudden early heat.  We are supposed to get up to 94 degrees tomorrow.  My husband and I have had this competition since we have been together for past twentyish years about who breaks down and turns the AC on first.  We have gone to June 14th once, but each year it seems to get early and early.

I workout year round outside and we normally have a gradual entry into the late day heat, but today was a tough tough workout due to the heat.  My calves were cramping up early and often.  I should have paid better attention as they cramped a little last night in my sleep.  I will do better tomorrow. That is the grace that I give myself.  Tomorrow is my workout rest day so that will be a tiny reprieve to hydrate and potassiate (yes- I made that word up- something I like to do).

My daughter made the track team again. She dropped 36 seconds off of her 800 time.  I love that her team practices in the morning.  This way it doesn't disrupt our busy afternoon schedule- ballet two times a week, student council once a week and garden club once a week.  It is also cooler and her middle school doesn't start until 9:30 so I think it is an effective use of their morning time.  The only drawback is that all of her track meets are on Wednesdays and I work.  Therefore I will only see her run once.  I rely on her dad to be the sole supporter there.

Wednesdays have been his gig for the past ten years as I work.  We share the ballet work on Mondays and Fridays.  I do school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays.  Saturdays are the Family Fundays where he might take her to the library or we do an outdoor trip. I get the drudgery of shopping with her, but I most prefer shopping for her.  Shockingly she still will wear clothes I just buy for her. We both enforce the chores.  It works for us.

So my antidote to a little writer's block is just a little random rambling.  Slice 28 is done.

What do you do when you have writer's block?

Monday, March 27, 2017

What I'm Reading/Digesting Right Now

The way I read professional books it takes me longer to read/digest them.  I can easily finish other books over the course of a week or two, but I savor my professional books.  It takes me a few months to really read, practice and then reflect.   What I am currently savoring is Kristen Hawley Turner and Troy Hicks Argument in the Real World and .Diana Neebe and Jen Roberts book,  Power Up, as we have moved to 1:1 at all the high schools in my district this year.

What I love about these books are the teacher voices and student voices that are present throughout the pages.  I also love that both authors have a live site (ARW and PU) to to take your thinking beyond the pages. Also the authors are accessible via Twitter.  Some of my teachers in training have tweeted questions out to Troy Hicks and he has responded. Jen Roberts is available in the Twitterverse as well sending out resources too.  It keeps my learning live.

My learning with these books didn't occur in a vacuum or in isolation of solely between pages. There was a reading lineage or journey that I took to get there.  I represented it in my Piktochart above. My instructional practices built on what I had learned before.   Another step in my learning about teaching is to avoid getting overwhelmed by the presented perfected practice in these books. This is part of the reason I savor the work,  so I can try and process one new strategy at a time.  I can implement their ideas in a way that makes sense for my students as well as reflect on my mistakes or successes.  This is an invaluable process in my teaching practice to grow my teacher self.

  How do you work to grow yourself professionally?  What are you reading or trying now?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Seven

Taking time each week to reflect on the goodness.

7.  Access and opportunity to enjoy Florida's spring weather.  The Florida State Park systems has carved out oases for residents and visitors to enjoy.  Park systems at all levels are valuable to our country and our lifestyle.  Everything that is good about our country can't be captured at a theme park. We all need a little more Vitamin N in our lives and park systems near and far afford us that opportunity.

6.  Sunset celebration for three nights in a row on the west coast of Florida.  Although only one night afforded us the actual opportunity to see the sunset.  The ritual of riding our bikes to the beach to watch the sunset as well as looking for the green flash and the riding back in the gloaming was part of what made our family vacay memorable.  

5.  Hanging out with my nephews.  Each day we kayaked, paddle boarded, played in the sand, jumped into the surf, biked, threw the frisbee and burnt marshmallows.  You can leave things behind, but experiences stay with you.

4.  My designated driver aka my husband who takes the wheel on each of our trips.  This week it was our 6 hour drive to and from our spring beach vacay in the Panhandle.  I get to read while he drives.  I do pay attention a little to navigate.  He stops when we need to stop and he is only a little impatient at the end of our journey.

3. My sister gets extreme kudos for embracing camping as well as she has despite the bugs, the dirt, and this time, the rain.  My nephews love it!  I love making memories with them too as does her niece, my daughter. For our kids, we get out of our comfort zone.

2.  My daughter, now 13, still embraces camping.  She is able to disconnect from tech and be in the moment in the sand and surf and with the people. She still reaches for my hand when we go to sleep at night in the tent.  Camping lets her practice independence as well as stay connected with her family.

1.  My mom, now 70, camping with us too.  She has graduated from a tent to an RV, but it plays backup during inclement weather and is a base-camp for friends and family alike.  I love that we can explore different places as a family.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring into Saturday: Grayton Beach State Park

 Looking for a destination vacation? Grayton Beach State Park is the place to be if you like sugar sand and turquoise waters. If the water is just right, you can snorkel out 750 feet to the man-made turtle reef. This beach is more remote and less crowded than the other beaches in South Walton. 

It isn't just for the beach crowd.  You can bike or hike. Two freshwater lakes are ideal for paddleboarding or kayaking. Rentals are readily available. Kids can roam the woods.  If all that is too much, just hang out in a hammock to nap or read. It is an affordable place with camping sites available for about $25.
What makes this state park ideal is that it is situated between Destin and Seaside beach communities in the Panhandle. If you have someone who likes civilization, you can ride your bike to Seaside and grab lunch, dinner or a cocktail. Seafood, Gulf shrimp or oysters, however, is this region's specialty so most restaurants like the Shrimp Shack are ready to serve you a dozen or two raw. There is also a thriving community of artists and other shopping too. 


If you are looking for a way to disconnect and relax, make plans to head to one of my favorite new places to camp.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Food for Thought: My French Press

 Friday morning welcomes me with the twitter of mockingbirds, the scampering of squirrels, and the wind rustling through the trees. I linger in my tent longer than I would in my bed at home. Although my watch reads 8am, it is really 9 am Eastern standard time. Therefore it is long beyond my normal get-up and go-time, even on weekends. That is one of my camping perks.
  Another perk is the long drawn out breakfast making and eating.  I've backpacked sections of the AT to know that what we are doing here, car camping is a luxury. Backpacking was work all the time althoug it yielded plenty of moments to remember. Lingering at my picnic table, however, with my coffee and newspaper is perfect, made perfect for me with my French press. 
  I didn't know what I was missing in my camping experience until 2004 when several hurricanes ripped thru central Fl. With the power out for miles, there was no coffee to be found. (Yes- in the midst of catastrophe small comforts matter!). I realized then and there that I could rectify that situation and bought a blue speckled enamelware percolator. It seemed obvious and that's what my friend used. 
  The percolator didn't last long on our adventures. It seemed to take too long. I would run out of gas or the coffee would be too weak or the water just boiled away. I never quite mastered it. I thought long about what to try next. My Cuban roommate in college always made espresso on the stove with his tiny pot. I, however, have another coffee drinker to think of so the espresso stovetop was out of the question. Then I remembered the French Press. Boiling water is always accessible and sometimes an important step in camping and catastrophe. Hence an ideal way for me to brew a pot. It requires patience, but butter, bread, eggs, cream, and coffee, my ideal way to start my camping day! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Than Disney

 We just arrived at our spring break destination loaded down with our camping gear, bikes, and. Kayak. We are at Grayson Beach State Park between Pensacola and Panama City.  After a 6 hour drive with little traffic we checked in and put up our tent. By 4 pm we were kayaking and paddleboarding right off our site. We then watched the sunset on the superfine sugar sand. Tomorrow calls for cousins, snorkeling, and smores. We are lucky to enjoy the gorgeous state park system and blue blue Gulf of Mexico with friends and family.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Math Autobiography

When the words are tough and I am drawing a blank, I use the inspiration from the other bloggers hence my math autobiography today.  Inspired by Terierrol and Leah.

1 artificial pancreas attached to me
2 housemates aka my daughter and my husband
3 nights camping planned for me
4 siblings in my family and 4 nephews too
5 days a week that I work out
6 loads of laundry to fold
7 7-11s that I pass on my 12 mile route to work.
8 legs of my 2 cats, Fanny2boots and Jinx
9 days left in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge
10 years adjuncting at UCF
11 states left to visit
12 dozen eggs in my fridge waiting to remade
13  the age of my daughter, a newly minted teen
14 the number of my volleyball jersey
15 my allotted carb serving
16 items in my Amazon shopping cart
17 years of marriage to be celebrated in May
18 the age when I voted in my first Presidential election
19 the age when I went to my first concert in Gainesville possibly Cheap Trick
20 books or more in my TBR pile
21 my age when my dad died
22 the number of blog posts that I have written this year including today
23 the age that I bought my first brand new car
24 the number of years that I have been teaching and the date of my birth in April

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


The Wishing Tree at the Dali
This post is inspired by fellow slicer Beverly Baird's post as I am struggling to write tonight.  
Looking Around At...
-spots on the carpet that I obviously missed when vacuuming
-a stack of Just Dance discs to put away
-a pile of books to give away
-what to write
-what to pack
-what springs we can hop into on our drive northwest
-how to embed into html on my blog
-how my daughter and her friends interact
-how to give my daughter opportunities to be indepedent
-a failed donut recipe that I acted as the assist
-a plan for our camping 
-some clutter-free spaces
-other people's blogs for writing inspiration
-student papers
-The Girl in the Spider Web
-The Sun is Also a Star

Monday, March 20, 2017

What I'm Reading

I have a confession! I am a full blown Rick Riordan fan.  I just finished the first book in his Apollo series and I've read every other single book in his series. I wish he was around when I had to read Edith Hamilton's Mythology in seventh grade oh so many years ago. I would have understood the myths better.  I also love how I have been introduced to mythologies from all over the world from his books.  I also like reading books that my daughter likes and she loves them. This is a shared reading experience for us.  She, however, is totally Camp Half Blood while I am Camp Jupiter.  (I think that is due to my years studying Latin.)  If you do have someone who loved Percy Jackson, you might like to pick up The Hidden Oracle as it is features characters from Camp Half Blood. I can't wait until May 2nd when the next book comes out.

Another book that I've read recently was Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking. It's not really a title for the ya, but I do love the pictures and her past.  It's also a quick read.  I've enjoyed her fiction in the past, Surrender the Pink and Postcards from the Edge.  We read Wishful Drinking in book club in February and the reviews were mixed.  Some thought her narrative was too disjointed.  I loved the pictures and her honesty.   It is a nonfiction book based on her one woman stand-up show.  I am going to queue that up too.

What are you reading that you would recommend?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Seven

Taking time each week to reflect upon the goodness.

7.  A day of learning at ECET2.  Spending the time with teachers, building connections with new-to-me passionate dedicated teachers of all levels. Time to teach the kids in front of us seems to be our common issue.

6.  Enjoying the morning at the Dali Museum and  the Frida Kahlo exhibit that is currently there.  The first time that I saw Dali's work, I was amazed by the scale of his master works.  I still am.  I think that is the difference between seeing pictures of paintings and actually seeing them.

5.  A clean desk.  One of the things that I like about a teacher work day is the opportunity to take care of things without so many interruptions.  I will go back to work with a clean organized desk.  Don't underestimate that power.

4.  All my  papers are graded....for now.  In the digital age, my students can turn in papers 24/7, but they had spring break last week so I was able to catch up.  My inbox is empty for now.

3. My husband, the designated driver.  Whenever we have trips, he drives and I read.  It works.  Yesterday, however, our typically 2 hour trip to St. Petersburg was a lot longer on the road I like to call I-Fear.  It's spring break.  We invariably have to pass Disney.  I am just glad he drives, I read.

2. Making memories with my family. It was my mom's 70th birthday yesterday. We surprised her
with a dinner party. She was truly surprised wondering why I didn't even call her on my birthday even though she knew I was "working."  A surprise well-pulled off!

1. I get to sleep in tomorrow!  It's spring break.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring into Saturday: Celebrating 70 Years

Today my mom turns 70 so this post is dedicated to her and what I learned from her over the past 5 decades in my role as her oldest kid.

1.  Keep moving!  I watched my mom embrace the jogging in the 80's as well as Jane Fonda and aerobics!  When roller-blades became popular my mom did that too.  She has kept active kayaking, hiking and swimming.  She hasn't stopped yet.  She may not keep the pace she once did, but the forward motion matters.

2.  Get as much education as you can afford even if you can't.  Both my parents were SOTAs (students over a traditional age) even before there was such an acronym.  My mom went to community college when my sister was born and then earned a scholarship to FSU where she went and finished her bachelors and then her masters. My siblings and I watched her do this. Later she then moved into working into my dad's business and made it theirs. Even in that business, she kept going to training, reading, and learning. Education doesn't necessarily have to happen in school, but education does
matter.    So get as much as you can.

3.  Travel! The world is a wide and wonderful place.  It is a classroom for yourself and your children. Get out there even if it is just your unexplored community.  Don't wait!  You'll never have enough money or enough time, so the time is now.  Take your kids with you when you can.  What they read in school because a living tangible thing.  I remember our first trip to DC.  It was history alive.   I remember our trip to the Keys.  Although I was to scared to snorkel then, I do it now.  My kid does too.  Travel gives us windows into the world.

4.  Spend thoughtfully so you can do the things you love. Sometimes my clothes came out of box of hand me downs from my cousins or the downtown Jax Junior League thrift store.  We always, however, took a family vacation.  These experiences are where memories are made. We might have been camping in a borrowed VW van with the pop up ceiling or going to all the tourist attractions on military appreciation day in St. Augustine, but they still created opportunities by choosing to put dollars elsewhere.

5.  Play your cards wisely.  I started playing cards with the grown-ups at age 10.  Hi-Lo-Jack was the name of the game.  We would play cut-throat or teams and still do.  It taught me to pay attention, think ahead, be strategic, and rely on your partner's strengths.  It taught me to patient and not rash or reckless.  It taught me to take risks.  It was obviously more than a card game. It's also our crazy family initiation or hazing I suppose when we welcome you to play.

6. Persevere! This lesson was never more evident then after my dad died.  My mom had 3 kids left to put through school plus my parents' business to run.  There wasn't an opportunity to lay down and weep; this is not to say that she didn't grieve.  She did, however, have to get up each day and keep moving.  She didn't have an option to stop.  Many times we can be blindsided by a tragedy; what I know is that we too can move thru it.  It isn't easy and sometimes the forward feels like you are slogging through molasses, but you will have momentum and the ability to revision a new life. Just get up! That's where you start.

7. Choose laughter.  You can fight with your friends and family and you will, but always come back to the joy and laughter. That's what lasts and is lasting. Happy 70th Mom!  Love ya!   Looking forward to many more memories, laughter and love!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Food for Thought: Hot Spots for Spring Days

For my central Florida readers, it's spring break and a great time to try something new.   For potential visitors to Orlando one day, there are magical places to eat that won't swallow your whole wallet.  Here are some local places that are great spots to linger, but won't break your bank.

1.  Breakfast at Sugar Daddy's.  I recommend the Kolach, a stuffed bun.  I prefer a savory rather than a sweet breakfast and these eastern European buns, ham and swiss, smoked sausage and cheddar or my favorite apricot and brie certainly fit the bill. There might be some controversy over the name, but I know that most cultures have some kind of handpie/bun, savory or sweet.  My daughter loves the cinnamon buns here. What is super cool about this place it that you can see how they repurposed a bank into a bakery.  Yes, there is a drive-thru, but the vault is still there too.  It's a place to linger over coffee.

2. Lunch at Se7en Bites:  Honestly, breakfast, lunch or dessert will suffice here. My husband likes to take home the salted caramel pie.  I prefer the biscuit with their pimento cheese, egg, and ham.  It can get really busy here during the weekends and they are only open until about 3 pm.  You order at the counter and then it's brought to you tableside.  You might need to sit at the community table, but it's worth it. I love their orange blossom ice-tea.  They  are some regular items on the menu, but the surprise is what will be featured on the weekend.

3 Dinner at the Gnarly Barley.  Don't be dissuaded by the tiny building. The back has a porch and picnic seating, perfect for a spring eve hangout.  This place is all about the brisket and the beer. The sandwiches are huge here so I recommend the mom's special where you get a side and 1/2 of a sandwich.  The beer menu is extensive here too.

Happy Eats!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spring Break Resolutions

Invariably I always dedicate one SOLSC post to my spring break resolutions or plans. (A more ambitious post here with my spring break A-Z list or my most simple to-do.) It officially starts at 3:30 tomorrow although my kid's break starts tomorrow, we have a teacher workday.  I love a workday.  It is time to get some stuff done.

10.  Make the appointments that I need to make. Something I can easily accomplish.
9.    Spring cleaning--I've got books to go through and toys to donate.
8.    Go to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL and see the Frida Kahlo exhibit.
7.    Enjoy the disconnect that camping will bring.
6.    Be proactive with planning and grading.
5.    Workout daily.
4.     Hang out with family.
3.     Work on my taxes and get them extension proof.
2.     Binge-watch something with my kid.  (Any suggestions?)
1.     Be still and sleep in!

What will you do for spring break?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Eye-Spy: Signs of Spring

Each Sunday morning, I walk with a friend.  Part of our of time is spend capturing the signs of the seasons.  Although we walk the same path each week, the sights are continuing changing thru our urban nature path.  Bunnies, birds, flowers, and fish are some of our companions.  Baby turtle season is upcoming.  I am not sure of the name of any of these sights, but I look forward to the sweat and sights each Sunday.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Practiced Independence

MagFest Circa 2009

You know this gradual release of responsibility doesn't just apply to your students, I think it applies to parenting your kid too.

I remember the first time my kid, then 8 months old, asserted her independence. We were at the Magnolia Music fest sitting in the amphitheatre under the hazy sunlight of the Florida fall.  My babe started to crawl away from us.  I was curious to see how far she would go before she would turn around or freak out. She never did. She crawled about fifty yards uphill, never looking back. Obviously we went and got her.

I remember the first time she walked home to a friend's house from elementary.  It wasn't too far.  She was in fifth grade.  She spent much of her elementary afterschool time in extended day with most of her friends too.  Extended day is/was a working parent's haven where kids got their homework done and got to play outside.    This one day was different as one of her friend's mom was going to be off that day.  What typically got done at extended day, homework and play, got done, just in a different way.

Today she walked to a friend's house from school, untethered to me.  I am sure it could be considered a 21st century horror, aka no cell phone, no "find my kid app."  I figure let's try this out in small bouts.  I never walked home from school or to a friend's house.  The walk was always too far.  We live like most of her friends within two miles of her middle school. The walk is and isn't that far. Although I imagined a million things that could go wrong AND I did ask a million questions about the process before I consented, she did make it and I knew she could.  I just didn't know if I could.  It was just an unfamiliar act---walking home to someone else's house with all of her friends rather than me picking her up and taking her and sometimes friends home.

But what I acknowledge most in myself as her parent is that if I don't let her practice the small stuff, she won't be ready for the big.  And even if I can't prepare her for EVERYTHING and somethings just can't be PREPARED FOR, parenting is still the ultimate gradual release of responsibility.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Series for Strong Girlz & Their Moms!

Looking for a series with strong female leads to

share with your tween/teen or planning your spring break reading escape?  Last year, my daughter and I started listening to books together in the car.  Here are a few that we have enjoyed!  

 1.  The Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers/  A little historical fiction, a little paganism, a little magic and assassin nuns,  Set in the 14th century amidst the political intrigue of France, Catholicism and paganism.  If you like Game of Thrones, you might enjoy this as there is less gratuitous violence.   Not really marketed for teens, but totally accessible.  

2.  The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a series that my daughter and I listened loved listening to. She has gone back and reread them twice.  A layer of the fantastical, dystopia mutants of a sort,and a female action hero that will be as big or bigger than Catniss. A timely parallel considering economic differences and the consideration of what really can divide us as a nation.  The power of family also resonates throughout this read.

3.  If you are a fan of the Beautiful Creatures series and want to read the genre described as Southern Gothic, you will fall deep for the romantic and magical lure of The Inheritance of Watson Island series by Martina Boone.  Plenty of the paranormal and a little history here too.

Happy Reading and\or Listening!