Swimming & Snow

The most sought after summer accessory as a kid was the brightly colored wristband that gave the wearer the right to navigate the deep end of the pool.  With this, you were no longer restricted to the shallows and instead were allowed free reign of the diving board and slides.

Before you could obtain this treasure however, you had to pass THE SWIM TEST.  This involved swimming a certain number of laps, being able to jump off the diving board and not need rescuing and the most dreadful of all, treading water.

On the surface, treading water seems the most innocuous of all the tasks, after all, all you have to do is keep your head above the water.  No real skill, style, or bravado needed.  After even a short time of treading water though, it is clear that this is the most trying test of them all.  It’s not long before your arms and legs start to tire and your chin gets closer and closer to the water.

So what has me thinking of swimming and summer when I’m surrounded by the nearly three feet of snow that has incapacitated our area and cancelled school for the past three days?  It was a comment Jessica made about how we should be back to blogging by now but that she’s been feeling she’s treading water in her classroom and that it’s taking all she can to keep her head up.  Of course, if I can liken teaching to sky diving like I did here, I can pretty much tie anything to teaching.

The parallels are there. Diving off the board is like the beginning of the year when you can’t wait to just jump in. Swimming the laps is like when you’ve found yourself in a little bit of a groove and things are going well.  And the rest of the time, well, that’s when you are just keeping your head up treading water.

But as I’m starting at the mounds of fresh snow out the window, I’m wondering if treading water isn’t the most important skill of them all. How bad it is if, every once in a while, we dunk under water.  As long as we don’t drown, being immersed can be refreshing, a reminder of why we got in the pool in the first place.

It is with this perspective that I’ve decided a few things:

  1. Treading water is essential to becoming a strong swimmer and enjoying the deep end.  Feeling a little like it’s taking all we can just to survive is proof that we can do plenty but that we don’t have to be perfect at it all, all the time.
  2. Since we don’t have to be perfect at it all, it’s ok to share when we are feeling a little under the water.
  3. It is time to get back to blogging!

The Gift is in the Giving: Secret Pals

It is especially easy this time of year to get caught up in the doldrums.   Between testing and all the rest of the end of year requirements, everyone feels done.   You can see it on people’s faces as they go through the halls. That’s why I was so excited that this morning was the Secret Pal’s Breakfast Reveal.

A small group of us gathered before school today with breakfast goodies and gifts to find out who had been our Secret Pal all year and to give our final gifts. At the start of the year we had filled out a survey listing things like what foods we liked, music we listened to, books we read, things we collected, classroom items we always needed. Our surveys were then put into a hat and we picked out a person. For the rest of the year, our job was to brighten that person’s day and make them feel special on the holidays.

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Some people go big on holidays; others go for the smaller, more frequent pick-me-ups. Your favorite candy might show up in your box one week, or you might find a playlist of songs you like left for you by the sign in the next week. As much as I absolutely enjoy getting things from my person, I find the best part of this experience is in the giving.

Over casseroles and donuts, coffee and cream we gave our last gifts. I never guess correctly who has been gifting me all year long, and I thought I had been very careful this year not to reveal myself. Turns out she knew it was me from very early on. Apparently nobody else enjoys writing puns as much as I do, and nobody comes in as early as I do to leave the gifts. I’ll have to work on being stealthier next year.

Because I will do this again next year. Putting thought into trying to brighten another person’s day makes my day brighter. Imagining someone laughing over my “Mr. Tea” pun while they drink the sweet tea I left for them makes me happy.   I remembered the joke she made about missing me over the summer, so I found a ridiculously old photo of myself and framed it for her.  When I think of it sitting on a shelf, I laugh out loud to myself. I finally got rid of all the country music I didn’t want anymore and got to think of somebody jamming out to them. Did she roll down the windows in her car and blare the music as she drove home? I imagined she did. I imagined she did and I felt better. The gift is in the giving and today the doldrums were kept at bay.

Baby Love!

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M is 3 months old now.  I had to go back to work eventually.  I am still paying for that degree that got me here after all!  Finding the right place for her was a challenge but I finally found a wonderful friend staying home with her own young son willing to keep her with them while I’m with my students.

The first day going there I took a notebook asking for when she ate, how much she ate, when she slept, and all kinds of other things a Mamma needs to know.  M’s wonderful sitter immediately used the notebook I made but at the end of the day asked if I would mind if she used Google Sheet to keep me updated.  I said of course I did not mind.  Little did I know how much more incredible using a Google Sheets would be.

This has been a life changer.  I am able to comment to the sitter immediately, see what is happening and when it is happening.  I don’t have to wait until I pick her up at the end of the day to see what she has been up to.  I can’t tell you the relief it has made me feel and it is so special to me to be able to see her moving around on the spreadsheet.  I feel like I am right there with her.  Google Sheets has my vote!  It’s free, easy, and quite the super sanity sustainer!

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