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I found myself in a weak moment today.

I was interrupted from my morning lesson planning

by a knock on my classroom door.

A former student and her two younger siblings.

“Mrs. D,” she said.  “I brought you this note I wrote you.

I didn’t know yesterday was your birthday.”

She handed me a folded sheet of binder paper,

decorated with purple hearts, my favorite color.

I’ve received notes from students before, but none like this one.

I’d like to consider myself a tough teacher.

I hold in my laughter and sense of humor often.

I try to be strict.

My parents would tell you I’m the teacher who never smiles.

But as I stood and read this note,

the tears welled up and there was no stopping them.

I hugged her and thanked her,

and almost accidentally shooed her away and closed the door.

I wasn’t ready to let a student see me cry.

29 was a good birthday, but not the best.

After that note though, it was better than good.

Thanks to students like Alexa, a little extra sunshine brightened up this birthday.

I hope I never forget this day.

alexa

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Beautiful, Beautiful Books

photo-21This picture was my happy place today.

No time in the school day brings me more joy

than our moments after lunch when we read our chapter book together.

My class is about two thirds of the way through our last novel of the year,

Holes, by Louis Sachar.

The best part is, I actually have a class set of this one.

My heart does a little pitter patter every time I see my students

get comfy with their copy as they follow along.

One girl loves to rest her chin on her desk with her eyes on the text.

Another boy likes to rest his forehead on the desk with the book in his lap.

Another is literally consumed by his book because it practically covers his face.

Just when I think I’ll catch one off task, I realize, they’re just getting in their cozy spot.

They’re bonding with their books!

So as we read today, I had a lightbulb moment.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see all the books we’ve read together in one big stack?

As the students traded turns reading pages,

I did a quick rummage around the room to collect them all.

Eight in all, and what a beautiful pile of books!

I wish you could have seen two of my girls who sit in back

oohing and ahhing at the sight.

Those are our books!  We’ve read them all this year! one whispered.

Wait, let me count them! the other joined in.

I’m telling you, books have bonded us together.

As I look at each title, I am reminded of a different time frame of the year.

It reminds me of the journey we’ve taken through this school year.

And it makes my heart feel so full.

There’s already a countdown in the teachers lounge

for number of school days left until sweet summer begins.

And I’m not going to lie, I’m more than ready.

But today, that stack of books brought me the bit of joy I needed.

Summer Bucket List – Edition 2

 Last summer I made a bucket list

of all the things I wanted to do over my summer vacation

and I have to say – I was pretty darn successful!

There were a few here and there that went left unchecked,

but I’ve decided to make this a yearly tradition.

So here comes the second annual summer bucket list!

2013’s Summer Bucket List

1. Go camping at least once a month.  This includes May, June, and July.  May is included because well, I went camping in April, and we have a trip planned for May.   Why not keep the tradition going?

2. Visit the American River as much as possible. This includes floating down the river, running on the bike trail, and just visiting to skip a rock or two.  Last summer I didn’t do this nearly enough!!

3. Sew a dress for my rehearsal dinner with Abuela.

4. Wedding crafts/projects galore!

5. Try out trail running!    I’ve heard its good for your knees. But I’ve also heard, once you start, you’ll never go back.

6. Sign up for at least one race.  I’m dying to race, but I’m trying to return to running slowly. Man is it hard!

7. Read. A ton.  Same goal as last summer – try to read one book for every week of summer.  7 total.

8. Take a day road trip all my lonesome.  Lake Tahoe, the ocean, who knows!  Just looking to be spontaneous.

9. Run, run, run.  Last summer I wasn’t able to, so this summer calls for lots of early morning runs in the cool air before the temps reach 95+.

10. Spend time outside as much as possible – Friday Night Concerts, River Cats games, Picnics, Bike Rides, any excuse!

11. Eat ice cream at three of the best parlors in the Sacramento area – Vics, Gunthers, and Snooks.  I’ve only had Gunthers before, and as an ice cream lover, I think it’s about time I tried the other two!

12. Make it a baseball summer!  I have fond memories of Abuelo spending time watching baseball on a hot summer day for hours and hours and I never understood why.  Now, I’m loving the game more than I ever have.  Here’s hoping I can catch a few games in person, and if not, cheer from the couch whenever possible.  Go Giants!

13. See The Great Gatsby and Man of Steel.

14. Cross at least one thing off my 30 before 30 list.  Will this be the summer I finally make an ice cream cake?  Who knows!

15. Go shopping for fresh fruit and veggies at a Farmers Market.  Sacramento has such great farmers markets and I never take advantage!  May this be the summer I bike and shop at these fun events!

16. House hunting! Chris and I are on the hunt for our very first house.  Hopefully this summer we’ll find our perfect home!

17. Finally make some homemade salsa.  Sadly I won’t be able to use freshly grown tomatoes from my own garden (there’s no room for tomato plants at my apartment) but perhaps when I complete #15 I can use local tomatoes to make some salsa!

18. Watch SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance)!  What would my summer Wednesdays and Thursdays be without SYTYCD?! It’s only my favorite show!

Summer is inching closer by the minute.

I think this will serve as enough motivation to get me through

these last few weeks of school.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

What will be your Space Jam?

Inspiration comes from funny places sometimes.

This week marks our first week of state testing

and I have to say, I feel just as exhausted as the kids.

Not to mention, stress levels are a little high around campus.

So in an attempt to hide from the negativity and the stress

I hid in my classroom, threw on some Iron and Wine Pandora,

and checked my email.

And there was this happy little gem of inspiration.

The perfect encouraging video to brighten my day.

Today I showed this video to my kids

as a method to lighten the mood amidst the anxiety of testing

and remind my kids life goes on beyond this almighty test.

I have to admit, as I sat at my back table, and enjoyed this video with them

I did get a little teary eyed.

Every kid was glued to these words from Kid President

and genuinely enjoyed every minute of his words.

Sometimes when we feel like giving up,

its the exact moment we just need a little push to keep going.

A little bit of inspiration from an unexpected place.

Thanks, Kid President.  Thanks for your pep talk.

Dreams of Disneyland

 I spent my lunch with another teacher

and all our students who had earned “Community Lunchbox,”

a reward students can earn for doing their homework all week.

Just as I was about to finish eating,

a group of girls came to my table area and began asking,

“Miss Friedrich, can we come to your wedding?

Can we come over to your house and hang out with you after school?”

(There are two girls from this group that ask me this on a daily basis.

I don’t think they get that teachers and students don’t hang out

and have play dates like they do with their friends.)

Of course I said no to both, but with a smile.

Our banter about them coming over has become a daily joke.

Soon, they began asking questions about my ‘future husband’

and the pictures I had up in the room of he and I.

When I pointed out a picture of us at Disneyland,

they immediately began asking,

“If we can’t come over, will you take us to Disneyland?!”

My quick wits gave me a great idea.

“Sure!” I proclaimed.

Their eyes lit up and smiles spread across their faces,

“Really?!?!?” they asked.

“Yes.  I will go to Disneyland with you when you graduate college.”

My thought was that the likelihood they’ll actually contact me

after their college graduation could be slim,

and it sounded like a fun promise if it ever actually came true.

We laughed and joked about how they’ll need to Google me

to look up my contact information when the time finally comes.

“It’s a deal!” one said.  “But we need to shake on it.”

I complied, shaking on the deal.

As they excitedly ran out of the room to recess,

bragging to anyone who walked by,

“We’re gunna go to Disneyland with Ms. Friedrich!”

My team teacher and I looked at each other and laughed.

She warned me that in about 13 years

these girls actually could be calling me.

And you know what?  I’m okay with that.

If the memory of this pact does anything to motivate them in school

I’m completely okay with that.

I’ll let you know in about 13 years or so if we make it to Disneyland.

And to tell you the truth,

I’d be delighted if this dream really does come true.

Teaching warms the heart

At the beginning of the school year,

I was busy reminiscing about my old students,

missing their jokes, their love for reading, and even sometimes, their defiance.

My class this year is so different.  Much different.

Going from almost sixth graders to used to be third graders

has definitely been a strange adjustment.

My students felt so little, like babies even,

and it was hard to bond with them and see them as my students.

I’m not sure if has a little bit to do with the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary

but this week I’ve definitely felt a little closer to my students this week.

Whatever the reason, today I started to find myself falling in love

with my little rascals (as I loving refer to them as.) even more than I ever have.

Every Wednesday we have something called Community Lunchbox.

It’s a reward students can earn when they play Homeworkopoly,

an amazing game that students get to play if they’ve completed their homework all week.

Students are allowed to bring a “Plus 1”

and they get to come eat lunch with the teachers.

The kids LOVE it!

Most Wednesdays, the students all sit together,

not really paying any attention to their teachers at all.

But today, five girls raced to my back table,

“We want to sit with you, Ms. Friedrich!”

Surprised and half bummed I’d miss out on the “teacher talk” my co-teachers would be

sharing as I sat with these girls, I took a seat and began to eat my lunch with them.

I figured they’d talk amongst themselves and I’d just listen,

but instead we shared laughs, gabbed about our favorite foods,

and one even confided a story about why she got grounded for a whole month.

My favorite was when one girl tried lobbying

 for another girl in the class to be student of the week.

“She’s been raising her hand a lot in class and has been working really hard.

I really think you need to pick her,” she said, dead serious.

The two aren’t close friends, so I knew she was genuine.

It seriously was such a pleasant lunch,

my heart was a little bummed when it was time for it to end.