Wednesday, March 28, 2018
I hate them.
Every time I see one my students cry, it's breaks my heart. Today was no different.
Feelings were hurt. Students chose to laugh instead of be kind. They forgot about fifth grade hallway behavior. They did not treat each other like teammates.They knew the right thing to do, but did the opposite.
It happens. Kids need to make mistakes in order to learn. I know that, and I make sure that they know that as well. Mistakes happen, but it's what you learn after the mistake that counts.
I have two goals for each of my kiddos every year.
Goal #1 is that they start to believe in themselves and realize that they are capable of ANYTHING.
Goal #2 is that they become good people who treat others with kindness and dignity.
After the tears, we had a class meeting. We talked about problems that they were seeing, but more importantly, we discussed solutions as a whole group. As much as I hate tears, I love student led discussions as problem solvers. I love to see them figure it all out and build their confidence while sharing their thoughts. I love to see their hearts as they talk about things they would like to change to make their classroom a better, more safe learning environment.
As much as it stinks to have a day where feelings get hurt and poor choices are made, I am proud of the people that my students are becoming.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
I miss pizza.
I really miss pizza.
As my husband and I started our low carb diet in January we are discovering all those once familiar foods that are just no longer possible without going over that carb limit. Cheating is not option, so we steered clear of all the tempting high carb eats.
However, like I said... I really miss pizza.
Determined to find a replacement, I took to my Googler. It turns out Lou Malnati's, a pizza place in the Chicagoland area, has a crustless deep dish pizza. While kind of like the pizza I missed, this concoction seemed to satisfy our taste for a greasy piece of Italian goodness. For a while anyway.
But truly, I still missed the cracker style thin crust pizza that reminded me of our weekly family pizza night that happened every Friday while I was growing up.
Back to the Googler.
Insert "Fat Head Pizza." I read blog post after blog post about lives changed from this low-carb masterpiece that mimicked a thin crust pizza. Since I missed pizza so much, I decided to make my own dough (ugh) and try it out.
After a couple of tries, I think I have perfected it. A crispy, crunchy, low carb pizza that officially satisfied the craving.Thank you to the amazing individual who tried putting together mozzarella cheese, almond flour, egg, and bit of cream cheese to make a dough that would ultimately create a delicious pizza. You have made pizza and movie night MUCH better.
Monday, March 26, 2018
I've been sitting here for a while watching the text cursor blink on my screen for about an hour.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
It's like it's mocking me and my lack of ideas today.
Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I will be more observant and find that small moment to write about. Tomorrow the text cursor will be flying across the screen as my words are typed. Yep, tomorrow will be better. But tonight I'll continue to watch that blinking text cursor.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
I've been feeling a little down lately. Nothing major is going on, but I've just felt like I've been in a funk. In order to de-funkify... I am going to list 10 things in my life that I am grateful for. Hopefully this will refocus me, and get me headed in the right direction. **These are in no particular order**
-Blake, Jack, & Leah- My nephews and niece are a light in my life. Full of personality and spunk they keep me on my toes and my heart full.
-My job. Although never easy, working with my students each day give me such joy and purpose. They teach me more than I could ever teach them, and I know that I wouldn't want to do anything else.
-We are finally tackling the bathroom. Ever since the day we moved in I hated our master bathroom. It was livable, but nothing close to what it could be. We are finally in a place physically and financially where we can make it the bathroom of our dreams.
-My husband. There is so much about this person that I can be grateful for. Most of all I am so blessed that I am married to my best friend.
-Spring. It's trying so hard to come. I know the warmer temperatures are just around the corner. I can just feel it.
-Netflix. I love the fact that I can pull up old series' that I used to watch and just have them on in the background when I need some noise.
-Making a lifestyle change. At the beginning of the year my husband and I decided that we were going to make some changes to become healthier in the new year. Most drop their resolutions, but ours is still going strong. So far I'm down 20 and he's down 13 pounds and we are both feeling better than we have in years.
-A scrapper came today and took the broken pieces of cast iron tub from the front of our house. This was a huge relief because I did not want to have to figure out how to get rid of those heavy pieces.
-My perpetually happy pup. Just one look and snuggle from her can make my day better.
My supportive friends and family who cheer me on in all I do, and support me when I need it most.
I truly have so much to be grateful for.
Friday, March 23, 2018
My husband and I just began the renovation process on our master bathroom. After a whirlwind of demolition on Tuesday we ended the day with one big, heavy problem. The old cast iron tub.
After doing what I do best...googling of course, I found that most people break a cast iron tub apart to get it out of the house without breaking their backs trying to carry it out. My husband on the other hand had different a different plan. Since the tub was still in pretty good condition, he was determined to take the tub out in one piece.
Days of discussion followed. I presented my side, he said, "I think we can just get some of my friends over and get it out in one piece." Back and forth we went. I presented logical arguments calmly, and he listened, but still wanted to do it the way that would give the tub a chance at a new life. (He has such a good heart.)
I don't win often, but I won tonight.
Goodbye, old tub.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
I don't print often, but it seems when I do, my printing capabilities fail.
Over the last couple of days I have been communicating with our friendly IT guy through the district help desk. After a few notes back and forth the next step would be for him to remote into my laptop to try and solve the problem from the comfort of his own office. I agreed, of course, because I really do need to print a permission slip.
I saw my mouse begin moving across the screen as he tried to work his magic. I'm not going to lie, it was a little unnerving to watch someone else maneuver around my computer.
I called one of my iSWAT students (Student Willing to Assist with Technology) over to see what was happening. I thought she would be interested in watching along with me.
Once one student started watching, I suddenly had a crowd around me. I decided it would be fun to play a little game with them. I look at one of the kiddos and said, "Look E, no hands!"
His jaw dropped. "How did you do that?"
I shrugged. He got the attention of one of his friends.
"Look A, she's moving her mouse with the force."
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
I consider myself to be a fairly educated person.
I have a Bachelor's Degree as a Learning and Behavior Specialist. I also have my Master's Degree in Differentiated Instruction.I know that I am educated.
However over the last couple of days I have been thinking about how "educated" I am. My husband knows what to do, and how to solve problems beyond his scope of expertise. He can stare at a wall/situation and figure out how to solve the problem. Truly, it's amazing. I am beyond grateful to continue to learn from him each day. My "scope of expertise" would not be as nearly as helpful as anything my husband brings to the table.
I am so lucky I have him.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Sunday, March 18, 2018
I don't need a day of excitement. I don't need to have plans that take me from here to there. I don't need that.
I need to have time with my best friend. My husband. My partner in crime.
I need to have some time with our family. Watching my niece bouncing around the table at her 7th birthday party surrounded by all the people we love.
I need to start projects around the house. Ripping down paneling, and pulling off trim.
I don't need a day of excitement. I just need a day like this.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
I continued working and looked over my shoulder quickly. "What's up bud?" I was busy trying to pull all of the corned beef, cabbage, and carrots out of the pot to feed an army of hungry guests.
"I just want to tell you something really quick," he replied. I continued rushing around until he grabbed my arm.
"What, what, what little man?!"
I know I came off a little more short than I had intended but dinner wasn't going to put itself on the table.
"I just wanted to let you know that this is my favorite meal of the whole year."
I dropped the tongs and immediately hugged him.
Sometimes I need to remember to slow down and be in the moment because this sweet 10 year old isn't going to stay this way forever.
Friday, March 16, 2018
My husband doesn't like to spend money on things that I like to spend money on. I love to buy things for the house in the hopes of making it a warm and inviting space. Phil, on the other hand, would prefer to buy power tools and parts for his car or dirt bike. Sometimes, I do get my way though. And sometimes when I get my way, he will find a way to make me regret it.
Enter our brand new nightstand lamps.
I had been looking for a set of new lamps to go on our recently purchased night stands. The overhead lights just were not working for us anymore and I thought a pair of lamps would work perfectly and make the room look more put together.
On a Sunday we were walking around Costco when I spotted them. A matching set of table lamps that went with our space and were a reasonable price. An added bonus... they turn on by just tapping the base of the lamp. "These are the ones."
"Do we really need them? Maybe we could find something better somewhere else." Of course he had objections.
Nope. He wasn't getting out of this one.
The first day was great. We brought them home and they looked perfect. The tapping function was awesome and I was on cloud nine. Fast forward to day 2. We got home from work to see that one of the lights was on. Did the dog do it? No way. Instead of assuming something crazy like our dog turning on lights while we were at work, I decided to just chalk it up to a power surge or something.
Then it happened again. This time in the middle of the night...
Phil's light turned on. He turned it off, and not even 5 minutes later it turned back on.
"Wow, Katie. These are great lights."
The saga continues...
Thursday, March 15, 2018
I watched as the little girl walked across the courtyard holding her big sisters hand. Something wasn't right. She wasn't skipping alongside her sister, and her trademark smile was missing. Not the ray of sunshine that I have grown used to seeing each day.
I knelt down and looked into her eyes. "Are you okay?"
Her kindergarten eyes told it all. They welled up with tears that began to stream down her tiny little face. She whimpered and couldn't even bring herself to explain why she was so sad. We sat down on the stair and talked for a moment. "Do you just have a case of the Mondays on a Thursday?"
She looked up at me and I saw a hint of a smirk before she leaned her head against my arm.
Love sweet moments with little ones.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
On Tuesday nights I watch "This is Us." The show is incredible and keeps me interested each week. As I watch each Tuesday I find that I have more and more in common with the characters in each episode.
Last night, with TRULY no REAL spoilers included, I watched a woman prepare for her wedding who did not have her father walk her down the aisle. As any bride gets ready for her big day, there is no doubt that her father will be a part of it. While watching This Is Us all I could think about was my big day and the how each moment played out.
As the Kate (the character from the show) prepared for her wedding she thought extensively about her father. I did as well. As I watched I was dumbfounded at the similarities of our stories even though our lives were completely different.
One of the ideas from the last episode was the father figure aging and moving forward in life. It's hard not to try to picture how life would have been different had my father been around throughout my teenage/adult life. After watching the episode my mind has been drawn to what could have been.
What would my dad think of my current path in life?
Would my dad approve of my choice in partner in crime?
How would he approach the technology era?
What would he think just in general?
Would he be pumped about the Cubs?
Like many of the characters, I wonder what my father would have thought of my life, choices, and how I would proceed with all of my endeavors. All I know is that last night, while watching, I missed my Dad immensely.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
As we walked into the empty house it still didn't seem real to me. The wooden floors gleamed almost as much as my husband's eyes. So much space. We walked through each room excited for the possibilities. As each door was opened we both couldn't get over how this place would become our home. This place would be where we would start our family. This place would be where we would entertain our recently combined families. As we continued to walk around OUR house I my excitement turned to worry and apprehension about how we would make this place our own.
I think I want the couch there. Or maybe there.
Will we ever have enough to fill all these cabinets?
Should we repaint?
How will we ever get our bed up the stairs and around this corner?
Gosh, we need patio furniture.
This fenced yard needs a dog.
We need to get guest room furniture.
Should this be the office?
A note was taped to the door of the refrigerator from the former home owners.
Dear Katie & Phil,
We are so excited that you will be sharing in the joy that is the Liberty house. We have shared many great moments here and know that she will also be good to you.
We've left some cold bottles of soda and water in the fridge for when you move in. Please enjoy every second.
The Former Owners
Even though this happened seven years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. To be honest, I still have the same feeling. I can't believe it's ours.
Monday, March 12, 2018
"Mrs. Suomi, are you looking forward to summer?"
I'm not usually one to wish my life away, but as I was asked that question I couldn't help but think of my plans for the summer.
The long trek up to the lake which I'm told is part of the fun.
Watching the sunrise with a good cup of coffee.
Sitting on the dock and reading a book.
Spending some time with my Iron Range family.
Watching my crazy dog sunbathe and swim in the lake.
The wind in my hair while riding on the wave runner.
Sunsets with the most beautiful colors, followed by a light show with a sky full of stars.
I had to snap back in reality. "Yes. I'm really looking forward to summer."
Sunday, March 11, 2018
A couple of years ago around this time my husband and I began to remodel on basement bathroom. I struggled to choose fixtures, tile, and colors. When I say I struggled, I truly struggled. I stink at making decisions, and would love it if someone else made all the choices for me.
Here were are again except we are no longer working on the basement bathroom, but beginning the process of remodeling the master bathroom.
Again, I am feeling all the stress as we walk around the big box stores looking for the perfect tile, perfect vanity, and perfect fixtures.
All I want is for Chip and Joanna to come up to Chicago and create the bathroom of my dreams. (The dreams I cannot even begin to imagine)
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Last night I spent the evening watching her watching the door. Every once in a while there would be a forlorn moan followed by a glance over her shoulder at the parent who was there. Her eyes said it all.
"Soon enough, pup."
After an audible sigh, she would put her head back down and continue gazing at the door, just hoping for the more fun parent to come home from poker night.
Friday, March 9, 2018
I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you.
It's amazing what hearing those words will do when you have gone out of your way to be helpful. I am a person who will do anything to help anyone. I give and give until I have nothing left, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Last night was one of those nights where I gave until I had nothing left.
My husband needed help on a project that he was put on for work. Long, boring story short, he needed a person to read off a WHOLE lot of numbers and information to him. Though not my idea of a fun night, I agreed to help because I would do anything for him. So there I sat reading these numbers to him. At first I was able to multi-task and took some time to comment on blogs while reading off the numbers with few mistakes. As the minutes turned to hours, I lost my ability to multitask and I began to nod off to my new strange lullaby; the sound of his fingers hitting the keyboard. With every forceful tap of "enter" I would awake and give him the next number. It seemed as though this list would NEVER end. My eyes watered up staring at the bright screen. I looked in the corner of the laptop and saw the time, 11:45. I hadn't seen 11:45 since New Years Eve. I certainly hadn't planned to see anything past 11 on a school night.
But I couldn't leave him hanging. He needed my help, and as I said, I give until I have nothing left.
Finally as we hit the last row of data to be entered, I closed my computer and began to get the coffeemaker ready to make an extremely strong cup for the next morning. That's when I heard it...
"I couldn't have done this without you. Thank you."
All worth it.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
"What do we have to score on PARCC to pass fifth grade?"
My heart hurt just thinking about that question. The last thing in the entire world that I want is for my students to think of themselves as a score. While everyone can probably infer how teachers feel about state mandated testing, I don't want my students to feel any sort of burden when it comes to "passing the test." So in response to that question... I write my students a letter this evening.
Today we talked a lot about the importance of PARCC. We talked about trying our best. We discussed pacing ourselves throughout the test making sure that we are able to answer each question. Most importantly, we talked about showing all that you have learned this year, and in years past and apply that knowledge as you take this test.
Today I watched you as you took a practice test. Stress filled your faces. Some of you even had tears in your eyes. As I watched you work diligently through the practice test, I wanted to be sure that I reminded you of some other things that are equally important.
1. While you may not feel confident, I am BEYOND confident in your abilities. Each of you is nothing short of amazing and can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.
2. I don't want you to look at this assessment as something that you need to achieve a particular score on. You are SO much more than a score. No test can measure you and your worth.
3. While this assessment will give us information about you academically, it does not give us any information about your character. Mrs. Scott and I have watched you grow immensely since the beginning of the year and none of that growth can or will be represented through a test.
Instead it can be observed through your interactions with your classmates and teachers.
It can be observed when you show a growth mindset and bravely attempt something that you have never done before.
It can be observed when we push you to continuously grow.
It can be observed when you make a choice to include someone rather than leave them out.
It can be observed when you continue to work your hardest even if the material is challenging and persevere until you find a solution.
Remember...I know that you are going to be amazing. That has never been a question in my mind. Think about all that you have accomplished this year and be proud. I know I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you each day.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Those who know me know that I hate squirrels. It stems back from an experience that I had when I was a little girl which is not a part of this story, but squirrels still totally creep me out. Knowing that about me will help you to see how incredibly traumatizing this experience was for me.
Early one Saturday morning my furry friend Maiden jumped on my bed and nosed me in the face. That's her not so subtle signal to me that it's time for her to go outside. I throw the covers off, wipe the sleep from my eyes and slowly descended down the stairs wondering why she never bothers Phil this early.
Now usually Maiden saunters out and does her business, but on this particular day she darted toward a hosta plant that was right beside the patio. I shooed her away from it knowing that there must have been something living lurking underneath it's full green leaves. I didn't want to find out what it was.
As she walked away something caught her attention in the grass by the driveway. She ran to whatever it was and her nose was immediately glued to the object in the hopes of figuring out what had invaded her yard. I walked over, looked down and saw the lifeless body of a baby squirrel. Quickly shooing the dog away, yet again, I ran back inside and attempted to get my husband up to take care of it because I cannot handle dead animals.
Since it was so early, he was not very responsive to getting up right away and getting the squirrel but assured me that it would be at the top of his list when he got up.
Fast forward an hour when we walked outside together. He wanted me to show him where the squirrel was. I reluctantly walked back to the spot where I had last seen the squirrel. As he started to get a shovel to bury the little guy I noticed that Maiden went right back to that hosta plant and just stared. "What are you looking at now?!" I dreaded finding out. As I got closer to the hosta I heard a high pitched squeaking noise. The squeaking got louder and the hosta's leaves rustled. My heart jumped out of my chest.
He took his time to come back to see what I was freaking out about this time. I told him to look under the hosta. Meanwhile I stood far enough away so whatever it was couldn't jump out at me, but close enough where I could see the mystery animal.
Another baby squirrel. This one was alive though. Phil immediately went into animal lover mode and wanted to help it. I immediately went into freak out mode because I didn't want to adopt a potentially injured baby squirrel. I started pacing because I was nervous and I didn't want to get too close to it. As I paced I looked down and saw it.
TWO MORE BABY SQUIRRELS.
We are up to three at this point. This was all too much. Truly, in my mind, it was the things nightmares are made of. All of these squirrels were not out in the open when I had gone out first thing in the morning. Now it seemed like they were dropping out of the trees and taking up residence on our lawn.
After my animal loving husband put out some water and cereal for them (because obviously the squirrels would love some cereal) we decided to let nature take its course and see if they would end up leaving on their own accord.
Luckily for me... we came back after grocery shopping and the three survivors of squirrelmagaddon had found there way to a new tree.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Accelerate, brake, repeat.
My ride to and from work doesn't change, give or take a little traffic on any given day. I only live about 20 minutes away from school, but I find those twenty minutes are a blur of accelerate, brake, repeat. I barely even think about the simple act of driving anymore.
Today, like every other day, my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about my ever growing to-do list and what I would tackle when I got home. What would I make for dinner? What's on the DVR tonight? When does that new episode of that podcast release?
I stopped at the red light and really took the time to look at my surroundings. That stoplight was a very familiar place. The light you would turn at to get to my childhood house. I decided to deviate from my route and make that familiar turn toward my old block.
My mom still lives in my childhood house, but I don't visit there as much as I should. (Don't get me wrong... I see my mother ALL the time, I just avoid the house) Just being there is hard for me. Too many memories of what was.
I parked on Vernon and stared out the window at the red bungalow. It looks smaller. I know the house did not shrink, but it definitely looks smaller. As I stared, a flood of memories returns.
Playing in the side yard.
Learning to ride a two wheeler with my dad hanging on to the seat of my bike until I felt confident enough.
Shooting baskets with my brother on our basketball court.
Hanging with my Grandma Hull making playing card castles in her bedroom.
Concocting potions with the bush berries alongside the garage.
So many memories with my full family.
As my eyes welled up, I took the car out of park and drove away. Instead of my to-do list, the rest of my ride would focus on those memories.
Truly a trip down memory lane and missing what was.
Monday, March 5, 2018
The familiar sound of a FaceTime call rings. Maybe he'll be awake...
I hope he will be.
Finally she picks up, and the picture focuses on the adorable little toddler in the background. "Blaaaaaaaake! It's your Auntie Katie!" He smiles and giggles while charging toward the phone. Immediately he starts babbling incoherently telling me the stories from his day. Then it happens. His little hand reaches toward the camera.
I lift own hand, make a fist, and give him what he wants. A fist bump from Aunt Katie, complete with sound effects. The sound of an explosion come out of my mouth and gets him, then he breaks out into uncontrollable baby giggles. My heart swells as I remember when I taught him how to fist bump, and almost explodes at the fact that he remembers too.
Love FaceTime sessions with this little guy and being his Auntie.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
My husband and I are fans of the two Chicago series on NBC. Each week we sit down together to watch both Chicago Fire & Chicago PD. It's nice that we have some television shows that we can agree on.
Throughout both of these tv shows there are lots of sirens. That's pretty typical of a police/fire department type show. As soon as the siren starts, that's when the fun begins. Maiden emerges from her bed and stares at the tv. Her head cocks back and forth as if she is trying to make sense of the danger that is happening on screen. The barking starts which ends up turning into some pretty epic howls. This happens multiple times an episode, and she never seems to get used to the fact that it is just the tv and that no one is actually in danger.
Needless to say, it cracks us up, and we usually end up rewinding to let her get some good howls out.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
I have lots of proud teacher moments. When students have the lightbulb when they get something that they have previously been struggling on. When I see students include someone who may not be one of their best friends, but they don't want them to feel left out. When they stand up for what's right.
So many to choose from.
Today was different.
Today I watched three girls deliver their first presentation at a technology conference.
I watched three fifth grade girls articulately explain Dash & Dot robotics to students from 3rd through 12th grade with a level of confidence that I had not yet seen out of them in the classroom. I watched the three girls call on students in their session and answer their questions fully while providing extra information that I didn't even know about the robots. I also watched those same three girls smile triumphantly at the end of their session.
I am so incredibly proud of these three tech leaders. #GirlsWhoCode
They are incredible.
Friday, March 2, 2018
As I pulled into the driveway I took one last long sip from my iced coffee. I stopped for one on the way home knowing that I was already tired and didn't feel like tackling the list of tasks I had when I got home. I took a deep breath, sighed, and got out of the car. I knew the instant that I lugged my things into the house that I would be swamped with things to do.
I turned the key in the door and my furry friend jumped up and down elated to see me. She stopped and and stared at her leash. "Not today missy." She sighed. (Really, she sighed) Then she walked to the patio door content with going outside but still peeved that I didn't take a hint about the walk she truly wanted.
I turned and went to attack the upstairs. With a house full of people expected in less than 24 hours, I knew I had a whole lot to do, but not a lot of time to do it. That's when I saw it. The bed, which was unmade when I left so early this morning was pristinely in order. The room was straightened up with my childhood teddy bear in the middle of the bed smiling at me.
I smiled, then turned toward the bathroom which was second on my list to clean. I opened the door and to my surprise it had already been done as well. Instantly my level of stress decreased and I picked up my phone to give the mysterious cleaner a call.
"What?! The place was a mess when I left too. Maiden (the dog) must have cleaned up while we were at work."
Yep. That must be it. I'm one lucky girl.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
This week I was lucky enough to attend the ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) Conference. I look forward to this conference each year because it gives me an opportunity to recharge, and come back with some great new ideas for incorporating technology and other best practices into my classroom. Luckily, this year's conference was no different. One of the big takeaways from the first day of my conference was the importance of doing things that we expect our students to do.
Although I've heard this before, hearing it again really made me reflect upon how often I am actually taking risks like my students do each day when they are learning something completely new. (Hint: It's not too often. At least new things that take me out of my comfort zone) So I went into day two with a different mindset. I was going to try something completely new to me, and something that made me slightly uncomfortable.
Over the last couple of years many teachers on my PLC use Sketchnoting as a way of making sense of what they have read, heard, or watched. Although I was impressed with the products that they created, I shot down the idea as something that I would simply be a talent of mine. At least not yet.
So on the second day of the conference I took the risk and tried. As a creature of habit trying something new did not feel great, but I grew more confident as a I continued to practice. I ended up creating Sketchnotes for each of the sessions that I attended and I must admit, I actually liked it.
Deciding to my put myself even more out of my comfort zone I thought that I should share my sketchnote on my Twitter and tag the presenter in the post. By the end of the day I had a response from him saying how much he loved it and asking if he could save it for himself.
Needless to say, I'm glad that I took the risk and tried something new. I am also grateful for my students being the inspiration for me to step out of my comfort zone.
|My first sketch note|