Slice of Life #6- Snow Day Schedule (Teacher Version)

5:45AM- Chris wakes me up to see if we are walking the dogs.  I remind him that I have a delayed opening and will be taking the dogs to doggie daycare to make sure they are tired when we go out later tonight.  In other words, no walk.

7:00AM- Alarm goes off.  I check my phone, see that school hasn’t been cancelled, and proceed to get ready for the day.  This involves playing in the backyard with the dogs, feeding them, then getting dressed.  Oh, and warming up the car!

7:40AM- Pack the dogs into the car while reading a text message from Chris.  He says the roads were awful on his way to work.

7:41AM- Receive last minute phone call that school has been cancelled.  Ok, but now I am up and dressed.  Text doggie daycare to say I’ll be late in hopes that the ice on the roads melts.

7:45AM- Eat breakfast and read.

8:30AM-9:30AM- Take the dogs to doggie daycare; stay and play with all the dogs for a bit.

9:30AM- Drive home.  Spend the next hour or so cleaning up.

10:30AM- Play with the cat. Read.

11:00AM-12:pm-  Go to bridal salon and try on bridesmaid dresses for my brother’s wedding this summer.  It’s a painful process but I’m glad I am able to get it done on this snow day.  Choose a dress.  End up choosing one I never would have picked before trying it on. Order dress.

12:30-1:30PM- Lunch.  It’s Friday and it’s Lent, so that means a tuna sub.  Read while eating lunch.

1:30-3:00PM- Various things around the house while catching up on Nashville.  Tweet about how awesome Laura Benanti is this season and freak out when she favorites the tweet.

3:00PM- Make a lot of phone calls. File complaint with USPS because I am only getting mail every other day.

3:30PM- Leave to pick up dogs.

4:00-5:00PM- End up hanging out and playing with dogs.

5:00-6:00PM- Read, finish episode of Nashville, work on grading.

6:00PM- Chris gets home.  He tells me the mailman threw our mail on the ground in front of the mailbox.  We live on a main road and the mailbox is across the street so I am furious.  Run out to get package and get angrier when I discover it’s a huge package from Algonquin Books that has been buried in the snow.  Lodge another complaint with the post office.

6:15PM- Order pizza for dinner. (Lent).  Pick up pizza.

7:00PM- Eat dinner. Catch up on TV with Chris.

8:00PM-10:00PM- Two episodes of House of Cards Season 3.  Two episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which is awesome!).

10:00-11:00PM- Plan for early morning science enrichment class hike tomorrow.  Print birding activity. Write slice of life post.

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Slice of Life #5- Snow Day Slow Day

Happy snow day!!!  Last night we got the call that today school would be closed due to the impending storm.  And it certainly was a storm!  The snow began to fall around 7am and didn’t stop until close to 7pm.  Over the course of the day we received almost 9 inches of snow, light and fluffy.  The flakes alternated between large and fluffy and light and heavy all day long.  As a result, my yard looks just gorgeous.  The bird feeders were packed all day (I spotted a new species!  A yellow-bellied sapsucker!), the dogs enjoyed playtime in the snow, and the people spent some time relaxing.

I love snow days because all of my to-do lists and schedules disappear.  I tend to be more productive on snow days and I think it’s because I have more time to relax.  Today I baked cookies, did a bit of grading, played outside, helped shovel the driveway, and read two books.  No snow day is complete unless I take advantage of the extra reading time.

My first book today was Aisha Saeed’s upcoming Written in the Stars, which will be released on March 24th.  I admit that I judged this book by its beautiful cover, but I also assumed it was just another YA romance.  I could not have been more wrong.  Naila’s conservative immigrant parents are furious when they discover that she has been seeing a boy behind their back.  But their reaction?  Suffice it to say that the family vacation to Pakistan comes with ulterior motives.  I read this in one sitting and had tears in my eyes during more than one chapter. It’s a harrowing story that left me angry, upset, and with the feeling that I need to do something.

I highly recommend Written in the Stars for high school classrooms.  Upon finishing it I immediately thought of pairing it with Patricia McCormick’s Sold, another stunning look at women’s issues across the world.  Books can open our eyes and Written in the Stars certainly does so.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on some award lists later in the year.  A powerful story that will inspire you to appreciate the freedom many of us have while becoming more aware of those who don’t have that freedom.

How did you spend your snow day?  Did you read any good books?

Slice of Life #4- Tension Tamer

This has been one of those weeks.

Honestly, it’s been one of those months.  Just one of those months.  Everything keeps piling up and piling on, with no end in sight.

What I would like to do is go here:

40688_514538933499_7105275_nThat is Roatan, Honduras, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

But I can’t go to Roatan.  And it’s about to start snowing here.  And I am working for the next 10 days straight.

So instead of going to the beach I am drinking tea.

I’ve never been a tea drinker.  You see, I am a soda drinker- Pepsi, to be exact. But I have not had a glass of soda since Fat Tuesday, since I decided to give it up for Lent.  At first I tried replacing my soda intake with water and it worked a bit.  But water is boring!  So one night, when I could not sleep, I brewed a cup of Tension Tamer tea.  Needless to say, I was quickly hooked.  It was light and full of flavor; more importantly, it helped me relax and fall asleep.

So now I have a new routine.  A few nights each week I steep a cup of tea while I am getting ready for bed.  I’ve added Sleepytime tea to the mix, in a variety of flavors, and I am enjoying it.  It’s a relaxing and pleasant ritual each night and I think drinking tea helps me feel more relaxed and fall asleep faster.

Today has been especially stressful. As a result, I am steeping my cup of Tension Tamer tea while I write this. Soon I will press publish and I will sink into bed, cup in hand.  Hopefully, I will wake up less stressed out.

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Slice of Life #3- Doing a Happy Dance

Sometimes you just need to do a happy dance, or at least smile as you watch someone else do a happy dance.

I dare you to watch the video linked above and not smile.  Today was just a little stressful but when the video was shared on my Twitter timeline I somehow ended up clicking on it.  I enjoy the song so that probably explains why I took a chance on it.  Now?  I think I’ve watched it ten times in a row and I’m still smiling!

The video’s creator pulled together this mash-up of movie characters dancing, set it to the music, and it just works perfectly!

So excuse me while I continue to blast the song and smile while trying to identify all of the movies included.  I know I saw Center Stage, one of my guilty pleasure movies (we used to watch it on repeat in college for some strange reason)!  I also saw Hairspray, Risky Business, Mamma Mia (another guilty pleasure.  I can not turn that movie off if I stumble upon it on HBO), Footloose, West Side Story, Hitch, The Breakfast Club, Madagascar, and Coyote Ugly.  

No matter how stressed you might be, how annoyed you might be, how cold you might be- shut up and smile, ok?

Slice of Life #2- Here Comes the Sun

This has been a winter full of strange weather.  Yesterday around 11am it started snowing.  I was teaching my SAT prep class and assumed that the snow was starting later in the day.  Apparently the snow had different ideas.

Then, before class ended, the snow turned to slush.  By mid-afternoon my weather app told me there were ice pellets falling from the clouds.  I confirmed this when I took the dogs out to play in the backyard. Ice pellets are not fun, y’all.

By yesterday evening the district had determined that a delayed opening would be necessary due to the icy roads.  So we went to bed with plans to get up and shovel in the morning, in the hopes that this would lessen the amount of black ice we would end up dealing with.

At 6:30am this morning, when we ventured outside,  it was cold.  The ground was icy and the snow was heavy.  I’ll spare you the details, but shoveling was not fun.  I wasn’t looking forward to another icy, slushy, snowy day so I found my warmest sweater, threw on a scarf, and headed off o work.

At work my classroom is in the basement, so I only get glimpses of the outside world.  Imagine my surprise when I left the building at 3:30pm and discovered the sun was out!  And it was warm!  In fact, I didn’t even need my coat!  Ok, maybe that’s because I was wearing a heavy wool sweater, but still!

Thanks to the sun’s warm rays I was able to walk the dogs at the park today, which we haven’t been able to do in a few days.  The dogs followed some deer trails, I listened to the birds singing in the sun-dappled trees, and we all enjoyed the fresh air.  What a difference the sun makes!  Plus, the sun sticks around longer now that we have entered March.  It’s almost spring!

A little while ago I checked the weather app and was dismayed to see it’s going to be slushy and icy tomorrow.  And Thursday we may get the biggest snowstorm of the year.

But you know what?  The sun was out today.  And it was almost warm.  We are getting there!  Soon enough we’ll all be complaining about the heat and humidity; for now, we can enjoy the weather as it comes.

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Final #sol14 Post

Today is March 31 (barely, by the time I post this.  Must.type.quickly!) and that means it’s the end of the Slice of Life Challenge.   I’ve been participating in the challenge since the beginning and this is at least the 3rd year in a row that I’ve blogged every day in March.

But that’s not what makes me smile.

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hNope.

What makes me smile is reading the reflections from my students, many of whom wrote 31 slices this month on their own blogs.  Half of my 80 freshmen chose to continue blogging on our private Kidblog site, but the other half blogged publicly for the first time!  (You can check out their blogs here). Later this week we will reflect on the experience but more than a handful did a bit of reflecting on their blogs tonight.  It made my teacher heart swell with pride to read that the process actually turned out to be enjoyable, worthwhile, and sometimes fun.  A few students even plan to continue blogging!

I love watching my students grow as writers and the most dramatic growth often occurs during our Slice of Life Challenge.  They begin to write better and faster, they begin to come up with interesting topics faster, and they begin to take compositional risks.  It’s awesome.

But now it’s 11:30pm and I just finished reading and commenting on about 30 blog posts.  Now, I sleep.  Unlike some of my students I will of course continue blogging.  But it will be back to our regularly scheduled posts around here.  I may not blog everyday, but Slice of Life certainly helped with my blogging block of the last few months!

Food Truck Fiesta! #sol14

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hLast night Chris and I went to a local food truck fiesta, the first of it’s kind in our area.  The event was meant to be small, with about ten trucks in attendance, and the weather consisted of rain, rain, and more rain.  We’ve been hoping to try some of the food trucks for a while but most of them work in North Jersey so we were looking forward to last night’s event.

Apparently, so was everyone else.

We severely underestimated the number of foodies in the Princeton area.  And we underestimated their devotion to food trucks.  It was pouring rain when we got to the event and I was a little nervous because I saw a comment on the Facebook event page that noted lines were 1.5+ hours long.  No way, I thought.  That’s just someone who was grouchy about the weather and exaggerated their experience.

When we pulled into the parking lot, the rain picked up.  We could barely see out the front window of the car and it looked like the festival wasn’t too crowded.  Then I started hoping that they wouldn’t shut down early, as we had driven about 25 minutes to get there.

After donning our rain gear, we made our way to the middle of the food trucks. It looked like the crowds weren’t too bad…….

Man oh man, were we ever wrong.  The lines at some of the trucks were seriously over an hour long!  And the trucks without lines were out of most of their big sellers important ingredients.  Chris was excited to try the cheese curds from the curds truck and that line was short.  The cheese curds were also amazing!  But then I tried to get cupcakes and they were closed for the day.  I tried to get donuts after that, but the line was 45 minutes long and I was soaking wet.  I finally settled for tater tots from the tots trucks only to learn they had run out of the cheese and most other toppings.  My tots were good, but they would have been much better with cheese.

I can’t imagine what this festival will be like when the weather is better.  I hope they get 5 times the number of trucks!  Otherwise, we might save time just driving around NJ to visit the individual trucks….

 

 

*A list of the trucks that participated yesterday.

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