Sunday, April 17, 2011

Piano recital, leadership, Easter eggs, and beavers. Oh my!

PIANO RECITAL:  Yesterday, Kendra had her piano recital.  She looked so pretty in her red polka-dotted dress, so had to take a few pictures---outside our house and while she played.  I recorded her on my phone, too, but my phone ate it.  ARGH. 

This may be her last recital.  Kendra has HATED (yes, capital letters are warranted) piano since the very first day.  It is the only bone of contention in our home.  I don't have issues with her doing her homework, chores, etc.  But piano is a struggle.  It has been the result of many tears, arguments, and frustrations for the last year and a half.  Until now, I've been pretty unbending---I felt, and really still do feel, that piano is a great thing to learn;  it makes kids smarter, it helps in many of the other fine arts arenas (of which Kendra has interest) and is a serviceable talent in our church.  But I'm now at the point of wondering how long I should push her to keep doing something she truly detests.   So now I put the decision in her hands, and remarkably, she didn't immediately say she wanted to quit.  I guess the reasoning I've given all along has settled in.  I told her she has to decide shortly so I can give notice to her teacher if she wants to stop.  We'll see.

LEADERSHIP:  This week was the end of the grading period for our school, and we select several different recognitions at this time.  In my class, the students choose the Student of Virtue and the student who goes to the Principal's Lunch.  Each award has a character trait focus, and this six weeks the virtue was acceptance and the Principal's lunch was leadership.  The kids voted for Kendra as the person who showed the most leadership in our class!  This is a big honor---our principal grills hot dogs for these select kids and they get to eat with him.  Pretty dang cool. 

EASTER EGGS:  Time again for the annual egg coloring.  I know Easter is next weekend, but I had a hankering for some egg salad sandwiches for lunch this week!  I got the traditional PAAS kit again this year, and it had TWELVE color tabs!  Goodness, remember when it was only 6?!  I boiled 12 eggs last night, but we dyed the eggs after lunch and I just couldn't wait for that sandwich!  Hence, only 11 eggs colored.

Yeah, it is in the 80's outside, but Kendra is wearing her fuzzy monkey WINTER jammies.  We are totally "jammies after church" people.

BEAVERS:  Kendra had an assignment for school to do an animal research project.  We are studying the wetlands biome, and she was assigned to research the beaver.  I made the assignment VERY open-ended--the kids could do anything they wanted that adequately shared the research they gathered about their animal.  Kendra loves to work with clay, so the first part of her project was to make this:

Isn't he cute???? She did a great job.  But of course, that's not all.  I love, love, LOVE technology, so I taught her how to use this neat online tool called VoiceThread.  SUPER easy to use, and makes a great presentation in her voice, but it is recorded so she doesn't have to memorize or read the information to the class.  If you are aching to learn more about the beaver, you can click here and you can see it.  Check it out if even for just a few is pretty neat.  She also made an online quiz to do with the class.  You can click here if you have a burning desire to see it, too.  I  have a feeling she will be getting a 100 on this assignment.  :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In search of better sleep...

I have always been a sleeper.  If I get adequate rest (read:  during the summer when I am not teaching) and allow my body to sleep until I wake up, I like about nine hours to feel great.  During the school year this is impossible.  I usually get about 6 1/2-7 hours, which by some standards is pretty good but not by my body's requirements.  I think a major reason that I need more sleep than some is that I never, ever, NEVER sleep through the night.  EVER.  I cannot remember a time in which I slept peacefully for sustained periods of time.  I generally wake at least 3-4 times a night, and often more than that.  Luckily, I fall right back to sleep, but we all know that waking that much isn't getting me that good REM sleep stuff.  

Thus, I walk around in an exhausted stupor most days, sleep 12 hours on weekend nights when I can (now we have 8:30 church so that messes me up again), and usually take a nap on Sunday, too.  Now, my job is exhausting on its own accord.  It just is.  Ask any single teacher in my building if they are tired and they would reply, "No, I'm exhausted."  Part of the deal.  But I have gotten so tired of being tired that I am trying some things to encourage a more restful night.  And I'm pleased to say that in this three days of the trial run, I DO feel more energized, I wake up easier and feel more rested.  Here's what I've done:

--I stop drinking caffeine at noon.  I have water or other non-caff stuff after that.  I had gotten to the point in my Diet Coke addiction that it didn't bother my GOING to sleep if I drank it later in the day so I would occasionally have some later or at dinner.  Now I cut that out.
--I get away from the computer screen at least 20 minutes before bed.  I remember reading somewhere that electronics stimulate your brain, even if you are just reading, so I am trying to log off and give my brain a break.
--I have been reading a book before bed.  Now this is breaking a BIG rule.  I usually don't allow myself a pleasure read while in school because I love reading so much I'll ignore my work.  I've just had to be disciplined to only read a bit before bed.  Hard, but doable.
--Right after reading and before lights out I do a series of yoga stretch poses.  I noticed a while back that when I would do them I would feel utterly exhausted---almost like drugged--and I read recently that yoga stretches can help relax you. 
--I have a tiny little spray bottle with water and some drops of lavender essential oil in it that I use to spritz my sheets and pillow before I enter the Land of Nod. 

Anyway, it seems to be working thus far this week.  I plan to keep it up---even if it doesn't help sleep in the long run, all of those things are good things to do anyway. 

Ok, gotta go.  Time to get my brain away from the electronics.