Friday, March 31, 2017

Tetelestai

It is finally March 31st. I did it. We did it. The Slice of Life is finished.

When I began blogging on March 1st I was nervous. I like to keep my thoughts as my own, private thoughts. I still do. However, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I succeeded in blogging everyday for a month. I wish I could say I was excited every time I sat down to write, but like I wrote in my first blog, I gained perspective on how my students feel when I ask them to write and their minds are blank. For a month, I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, stared at a computer screen (iPad or iPhone during Spring Break), and wished I had a pencil to be twirling around my fingers.

Sometimes my thoughts flowed freely, other times, especially once Spring Break started, I wanted to be doing anything but writing. Although I must admit, this March a lot happened, both joyous occasions and times of sorrow, and now I have all of those moments in writing to look back on in the future. But I have to say I am glad it is finished. I'm looking forward to a little more sleep. I'm looking forward to what the last 8 weeks of school will hold. I'm REALLY looking forward to MLB, more importantly the St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day, on Sunday. I'm looking forward to summer. I'm also looking forward to the Cardinals having Yadier Molina for at least the next 3 years (late last night they announced he signed an extension!).

For now though I will rejoice in being done. Tetelestai! It's the Greek word Jesus uses while on the cross, translating into English as, "it is finished!" In Bible college, we often used it when we completed big papers, ranging anywhere from 10-60 pages. Jesus meant it much deeper in the sense our sins are "paid in full." While I'm way more thankful for how Jesus meant it, and the hope it gives us, I'm going to go back to my Ozark days because I am excited to be finished. Until next year.

Tetelestai!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

White Board Art

Our first white board art.
While scrolling Instagram back in December I came across a high school art teacher in Kansas City, @mrsdrmorgan, who does white board art with her advisory crew. It was during the last week of school leading up to Christmas Break when I was pulling out all the teacher tools from my tool box. My students were getting restless, so I decided to be brave and try something new. I found one that I thought would be fun and the kids would enjoy. Plus, I never let my kids draw on my white board, so I knew they would like me actually letting them for a change.

The first one was simple and didn't require much artistic ability on my end. It allowed me to gauge how well they could handle using my markers and white board. I told them only 3-4 people at the board at a time and if you don't come to the board until you have an idea of what you are drawing. The first 20-30 minutes of the day we spend silent reading, so they also enjoy getting to take a break from reading.

After the first one went so well, I decided to be brave. I've always enjoyed arts and crafts, but hadn't taken an art class since 8th grade. I also don't have a ton of confidence, or if I'm being completely honest, courage, in showing my artwork to the world. Drawing is therapeutic to me, but something I preferred to keep private, but when it comes to kids, I'm a little more willing and courageous. Coming back from break, I changed it up a bit, and now a lot of the board work requires them to write instead of draw. Again I was nervous about how they would feel about me making them write, but they still enjoyed it. I always answer the questions, too, so they get to learn more about me as well.

Now, several white board artworks later, my kids ask me when we get to do another one, which makes my teacher heart happy. Sometimes I still come up with something for them to draw, because I want them to use the creative part of their brain. Regardless, I have loved getting to know my students more based on their responses to the white board art. I also like that they have become more comfortable with it, and their answers are becoming more unique and resembling their personality.

Before Spring Break, when kids were once again getting restless, I did a series throughout the week. It was also the week the live Beauty and the Beast was released in theaters, so it seemed appropriate.





Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Praying for Skunk

I wish I always prayed with the same innocence I had when I was a kid. When I was around 5 I decided I wanted a cat. My parents said not right now. I don't really remember what I thought or felt when they said that, but apparently I thought I needed to take my request higher up. Every night when my parents tucked me in, my mom would say bedtime prayers with my sister and me. After they told me no to a cat, my bedtime prayers went something like this, "Dear God, thank you for today. Thank you for mommy, daddy, and Jessie. Please be with Granny and Papa, Gramy and George. And God, can I please have a cat? Amen."

I'm sure my mom and dad had a good chuckle about my prayer. Eventually, after 6 months of me praying for a cat, my mom told me ever so gently, "Cait, you don't have to keep praying for a cat. We aren't going to get one right now."

As any stubborn 5 year old would, I continued to pray. Again, I don't remember what I thought or felt, but obviously I believed God could override even my parents wishes. My mom and dad must have decided to give up the fight and just let me keep praying. Every night, my prayer was the same, asking God for a cat.

Finally, approximately another 6 months later, my sister and I were outside playing. We live out in the country, and from back in the woods, a cat came walking into our backyard. My parents were outside, too, and saw it. They thought it was probably a distant neighbors' cat out wandering. If he was, he lost his way home. We had Skunk (he was black and white, so naturally I named him Skunk) for 3 more years. He blessed us with his wild wifey, who blessed us with 3 litters of kittens. From those litters we kept Nala, Simba, and Batgirl. Batgirl and Simba provided us with Blackie. (I was a very creative pet namer...).

My family looks back and laughs at the story. I appreciate God's sense of humor. Surely He laughed when my mom told me I could stop praying for a cat. I know to this day my mom laughs when she remembers telling me to stop praying. I wish as an adult I had the same stubbornness in my prayers I did as a child. Sometimes I do, because I like to be overly optimistic, so occasionally my childhood stubbornness finds its way back in. Then life happens and God says no or not right now. I'm left wishing He would have said yes. My optimism eventually creeps back over me and I know deep down, when God says no it's because He has a plan. However, I wish I was still stubborn enough to pray for a cat everyday for a year.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Less Than Perfect

Sometimes I am a perfectionist, or maybe just controlling. I like to have things a certain way. Such as when writing my blog, I spend way more time on it than need be. I am meticulous. I analyze every word making sure I haven't overused the same word too many times. I preview what I've written a zillion times before finally, somewhat dreadfully hitting publish. I am always certain I must have done something wrong, whether it be incorrect grammar or the format of the page or placement of the pictures. I am even more conscientious than normal especially since it is on the web for anyone to see.

During Spring Break, I had to be content with being less than perfect. It seemed to be the lesson God was hitting me in the face with the entire week. I didn't want to be worrying about what I was going to blog each day, I wanted to be fully present with my friends in Arizona. So I settled with being less than perfect. I wrote everyday, I tried to make them meaningful, but I didn't ponder over every minute detail. I also settled for not being the first or second blogger everyday. Again, I decided being all there was more important to me.

Back in Missouri, Sunday I went to church with my parents, the church I grew up attending in Versailles. It seemed to follow my Spring Break lesson God was teaching me of being less than perfect. A few weeks ago, a pipe in a water fountain burst, flooding half the church. The congregation had been meeting in a community center the past 3 weeks, but Sunday they were cleared to meet in our church. As I sat in the sanctuary I observed. The normal church pews had been moved while repairs are made, so we sat in white plastic chairs. The carpet was gone, leaving the floor bare until new carpet is installed. The bare floor made the music and preaching echo off the floor, filling the room with extra vibration. Church on Sunday was less than perfect, but our hearts were in the right place, praising and worshipping God. As I sat in church on Sunday I reflected on being less than perfect, and contemplated writing a blog about it, but was afraid of being too vulnerable.

Later Sunday evening, I was driving my 3 hours back to Webb City. I stopped at my usual gas station on the corner in Lebanon, MO. I had just sat down in my car to leave when Alicia Zornes name appeared on my cell phone. In a few short minutes, I knew coming back to school from Spring Break was going to be far less than perfect. Trying to comprehend the loss of Mr. Kevin myself was hard enough, imagining telling 23 kids the news Monday morning was beyond what words could describe. I was thankful when Alicia and Karen decided what we needed most Monday morning was their prayer over us. I was thankful when they stepped out of "principal" mode and demonstrated in our staff meeting that a less than perfect Monday was completely acceptable, as they themselves shed tears over the loss of a beloved family member to our school.

I don't like crying in front of students, so I don't allow myself. For various reasons, I've choked back numerous tears while teaching this year. But Monday, I let the tears fall. I opened myself to being vulnerable to my students, because Monday was less than perfect and my students didn't need perfection, they needed human. As my students cried, some of them wrote their feelings. One in particular stood out, "Mr. Kevin won't be remembered as a janitor, but a friend. He made unwanted kids feel welcome." Mr. Kevin made each and every one of our less than perfect students feel important and special. From what I can tell, and from personal encounters, Mr. Kevin made each administrator, teacher, and staff member feel loved and brought joy into every room he entered. In a life where I strive for perfection and control, I'm learning it's okay to sometimes be less than perfect.

Monday, March 27, 2017

1,800 Seconds

Half an hour. 30 minutes. 1,800 seconds. There are a lot of things that can be done in 30 minutes or less. Baking a cake, watching an episode of Petticoat Junction or the Andy Griffith Show, a lunch break, if the clock didn't stop 2 quarters of an NFL game, an average 5k run time, the list could go on and on. Sometimes 30 minutes passes by quickly, other times it seems to drag on and last eternity.

As if telling my best friend goodbye wasn't sad enough, the 30 minutes directly following, I spent in sheer panic. The traffic had backed us up getting to the airport, so by the time I arrived inside I had 45 minutes to get to my gate. I took a deep breath and convinced myself everything would be just fine. I printed my ticket and got in the short line to check-in my bag. I handed my newly printed ticket to the lady at the counter and she quickly replied, "you have to check your bags 45 minutes before your flight, it's now 38 minutes."

I'd love to see the look on my face as she told me that. I do know the thoughts in my head, "SRSLY?!" I so badly wanted to play the, "my best friend just had a baby, got released from the hospital at 12:30, and we rushed across Phoenix for them to get me here" card, but my parents raised me better. Instead, I opted for asking what my other options were.

They were: 1. Take the next flight to St. Louis 24 hours from now or 2. Leave your luggage here with someone and take your flight. My thoughts: 1. I don't want to sleep in the airport or make my friends come back to get me. My parents are already driving to St. Louis. I don't want them to have to get a hotel, because I was 7 minutes late. 2. Does it look like I have a multitude of friends surrounding me waiting to keep my luggage in Phoenix?

Once again, I opted to keep my thoughts in my head and asked if she was sure there was no way I could get my bag with me on this flight. After 5 more minutes of debate, I came up with the idea, maybe it could somehow appear small enough to be a carry-on bag. That idea must have struck a chord with her, because she tagged my bag, reminded me any liquids over 3 ounces would have to be disposed, and said now run. Running is exactly what I did, at least as fast as humanly possible with a large suitcase in hand while going up an escalator.

Security was equally as pleasant as my encounter at check-in. To my surprise, ALL of my liquids passed! The best news I had heard in the past 15 minutes. I quickly slipped my sandals back on, grabbed my suitcase and purse, and ran for my gate. Thankfully I could tell the line was still long, so I wasn't going to miss my flight. I waited my turn in line, got my ticket scanned, and the lady told me I'd have to wait until everyone boarded to see if they had room for my bag. This is when I went into meltdown mode. I had made it this far, surely I couldn't get turned away now! I waited. I teared up. I waited some more. FINALLY, the line was through. The check-in lady informed me she had gotten word that my luggage would fit, I could board. Whew. I was saved.

Half an hour. 30 minutes. 1,800 seconds. When watching Andy Griffith or Petticoat Junction, those 30 minutes go by much faster and way, way, way more pleasant than the half hour I had just experienced at the airport. But much like the ending to most 30 minute sitcoms, all was well at the end of the day, and my little meltdown left me feeling quite silly.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Same Post, Different Day

Once again, I'm admitting defeat. Today was the last day I had in Eldon before driving back for school tomorrow. Sunday's at my parents are a busy day of rest. During the school year when I visit, they typically look the same way. Breakfast, church, eat out for lunch, go home, play with our 2 beagles, chill/hangout with my parents briefly, pack, load car, visit my Gramy, drive 3 hours, unload car, unpack necessities for the morning, get ready for Monday, and finally go to bed. Today was no different. I enjoyed my last day before Spring Break comes to an end tomorrow and I soaked in as much family time as possible before driving back tonight. Tomorrow, my regular routine will return and there will be more time to set aside for blogging. But for today, once again I'm keeping my blog short, sweet, and to the point.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Family First

Sometimes spending time with family trumps getting a worthwhile blog written. Today was one of those days. I had one full day with my parents before I head back to Webb City after church tomorrow. So today my blog is short, because family is more important. Also, typing a blog on my iPhone takes more time than the 30 minutes I have left to get it in. It pains me a little, because I feel like it's admitting defeat. However, I know I'll feel better later that I prioritized my time with people I love.