i love books!

Reading aloud to my students after lunch

is one of my favorite traditions.

Not only does it quiet them down after lunch,

but it feels like bonding.

I try my hardest to choose books from a variety of genres,

and I love to pick ones that are award winners or from book lists.

But most importantly, I try to choose books I’ve never read.

(Except for Maniac McGee.

The chapter book read aloud that forever will be one of my favorites

thanks to my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Smith!)

Why would I choose books I’ve never read?

So that I can connect with my students as we share

the adventure of these books together.

Because, in my opinion, there’s nothing better

than bursting into genuine laughter with your kiddos

or feeling that same sense of “awwwwww”

when I tell them it’s time to stop for the day.

Today we finished Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

Ahhhhh.  Great book.  Funny book!

And I loved it when I read the last line,

they all applauded and cheered.

Then one quickly asked, “Can we read Fudge-A-Mania next?”

Another, “Can I borrow that book now that we’re done?”

Well, perhaps we’ll have to make time to come back

to Fudge and Peter later on this school year.

But wish us luck as we move on to a new genre: fantasy.

As we read The Mysterious Journey of Edward Tulane.

(A bunch of my students read this book last year and swore by it!)

Reading.  It brings people together.

What are your favorite chapter book read alouds?


i haven’t lost the fight

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight,

but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Words of wisdom from my father

(quoted first by Mark Twain)

I’ve been listening to these words all my life.

I cling to them because they hold a sentimental memory,

but also because they remind me to stay determined

when things get hard.

This was supposed to be my marathon year.

But I’m slowly starting to believe that this dream

is going to have to be postponed.

I guess I can’t say this year has been a failure

as far as running goes.

After all, I have already done two half marathons in 2012.

Who can say that they’ve done the same?

I guess not many.

But an annoying and confusing injury

has definitely put my marathon training on hold.

It feels like I’ve tried everything:

resting for a week or two, getting new shoes,

yoga, hot yoga, swimming, icing, foam rolling,

you name it.

Nothing is working.

My physical therapist never told me to stop running.

She said to take it easy.

I have been.

It’s not working.

Last night there were tears.

And this morning I got misty just thinking about the fact

that my marathon dream for this year is disappearing.

Silly to some, but incredibly important to me.

I’m sorry, but if you’re not a runner,

you might just not get it.

Don’t tell me to stop running.

I won’t.

Don’t tell me I’m getting old.

I’m not.

(There are plenty people over 40 who run and are healthy

or have overcome injuries.)

Instead of that, encourage me.

And sometimes, ask me about something other than running.

It hurts my heart when people ask me how running is going lately.

I feel like such a downer.

So honestly, let’s change the subject for awhile.

My new take on this is that I’m taking a break.

Running is not over.

I’m just listening to my body.

Doing a half marathon in October, then March, then May

was probably not the best idea.

And thinking I could train for another in September

and then a full in December,

was probably crazy.

Let’s be honest.

(I think I’m exiting the ‘denial’ stage of injury, finally.)

This girl’s got fight, and I’m not quitting.

Running consumes my heart.  It’s my passion.

And my marathon dreams can wait.

The drive I have for running won’t let this injury break me.

I’m tough.

I have the fight.

i guess i loved them after all

I’m a 4th grade teacher once again.

I won’t lie, it feels a little strange.

I’m used to kids who know my routines and expectations.

After all, I had my last group for two years.

Starting over is weird.  It feels unfamiliar.

But at the same time, it feels so refreshing.

My last bunch was a little tricky to handle at most points.

They were chatty, and needed a very firm hand.

It was like I was their only mother.

Irresponsible, dishonest, and even rude at times,

But they were lovable.

All they needed was someone to say, “No,” and mean it.

And a person who would make a promise, and actually keep it.

I’m pretty sure that group will always tug at my heart

a little more than any other class I’ll ever have.

My first day of school highlight was getting visits from three of my old students (during class!)…just to say hello.

Another beginning

When I walked into the staff lounge on the first day of school,

my principal had written,

“Happy first day of school!  

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint

so train accordingly.

I felt like it was meant for me.

One, because I’m training for a marathon,

and two, because it was the perfect reminder to remember to take time

for the little things that matter most.

Like getting to know the “real” kiddos that are in my class.

I call this activity “5 Things in a  Bag”

taken from Pinterest.

It’s a quick and easy way to bring that

Joy Factor to your classroom, while getting to know your students.

It’s as easy at the title makes it sound.

Basically you pick 5 things that represent you and put them in the bag.

Only rules:

-Any item chosen needs to be able to fit in the bag.

-If it can’t, draw or take a picture of it, and put the picture in the bag.

-No electronics. (I made this rule up, for fear I would see iPods,

DSs, cell phones, etc make it into the bag.)

Here are mine…

My running bib book.

I tried to explain how runners wear bibs during races.

I related it to the Olympics, since I figured many had seen

the track and field events on TV.

“You were in the Olympics?” one boy asked.

Ha! No… but it was a sweet thought!

Ahhhh. Summer Sisters.  This was my favorite book in high school.

My friend Jana and I read it together and would compare

ourselves to the best friends in this book.

Well, this summer, I was pleasantly surprised when Jana

mailed me a copy.  Signed by Judy Blume.

It was totally unexpected, as she and I haven’t spoken in months!

My ticket box.

I keep most tickets from events, movies, and games that I attend.

Mainly the Sacramento Kings games I go to with my dad.

Watching basketball with my dad has always been a treasured  pastime.

I’ve been going to Kings games for as long as I can remember.

Arco Arena is where I learned a lot of my basketball knowledge,

but it’s actually a bigger place to me.

It’s my favorite place to hang out with my dad.

Because one of the rules states that you can bring a picture

if something you want to bring is too big to fit in the bag.

So I chose this picture.

It represents my love for the American River.

Whether it was chasing the ducks, riding bikes,

or learning to skip rocks,

a ton of my childhood memories include being around this river.

Nowdays I spend time running on the American River Parkway

or floating down it in a raft during the hot summers.

But to this day, this river holds a special place in my heart.

And last, but not least, there’s Dennis the Menace.

The comic strip that gave me my name.

See that girl with the brown hair?  That’s Gina.

When my parents were deciding on my name,

my mother gave my dad two ideas – Regina and Janelle.

Well, my dad always enjoyed reading this comic as a kid,

so he went with Regina, and decided that they’d call me “Gina.”

Then he wrote a letter to Hank Ketcham

to tell him about me and how he chose my name.

Well, a few weeks later, Hank Ketcham sent my dad a letter.

And inside was an original comic, just for me.

I wish I had a picture of it to display it here,

but it has the best quote.

“The world needs more Ginas.”

The mind is a powerful thing

My run this morning felt like a roller coaster of the mind.

I would call myself a runner.

But lately, I haven’t felt like one.

I’ve been in a tug-a-war battle with a nagging knee injury.

It’s not painful to the body, but it nags at me.

It’s something that is starting to bring me down, because I don’t feel my best.

So, in hopes to bring my spirits up a little

I bought new shoes.

And these aren’t just any shoes.

They are bright and spunky.

(But don’t worry, I didn’t buy them just because of their appearance.)

Who wouldn’t want to go for a run after seeing these shoes staring at you?

So, these are the shoes that got me out the door

and picked up my confidence about running this morning.

But as I ran, there was that nagging feeling from my knee.

Tight.  Annoying.  Confusing.

I basically am in this weird place where I can’t figure out

if running more is going to make it worse

or if I need to just shut up and run.

I can honestly say that it is improving,

but certainly not at the pace I’d like it to.

Which brings me to this constant battle of decisions.

Is it getting better because I’m returning to training and being smart?

Or is it not disappearing fully because I keep running?

But then I see my running stuff in the corner,

and I just can’t stay away.

I never really thought mantras worked,

but since being injured, I know that

the mind is a powerful thing.

It’s what gets me through the roughest of rough runs.

I wouldn’t say today was terrible,

but I definitely was starting to feel a little defeated

when I looked down at my watch and saw that I was

almost a minute slower than what I’m used to.

Warriors don’t quit.

Somehow this one popped into my head.

Yeah. Warriors don’t quit.

When things get in the way, a warrior perseveres.

A nagging injury in my way?

Move aside!

Lots of white spots instead of highlighted ones

on my training calendar?

That won’t stop me.

And then, Be strong.

I am strong.  I will overcome.

I seriously have CIM on the brain and the thought of backing out

literally almost brings me to tears.

But there’s no need for tears here.  Because I’m strong.

I’m going to figure this out.  It will heal and I’ll be badass once again.

Or so I tell myself.

And then lastly, Believe.

It was a new one.  A mantra that just arrived.

But it was perfect.

I see myself as a person who sees the glass half full more than often.

But lately, not so much when it comes to running.

This one word fits so perfectly though.

If I have the belief that I will do well, then I will.

It’s a matter of mindset.

And again, this is why the mind is a powerful thing.

If you’re a runner, or even if you’re not,

I think mantras are important.

They’re what get us through those trying days.

Days when it feels like everything sucks and nothing can right it.

Warriors don’t quit. Be strong. Believe.

Those words give me hope.  They help me remember.

What does your mind tell you?