Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tucker's first day of preschool

Today Tucker started preschool!

Because his birthday is 10 days past the cutoff for school start, he is technically supposed to be in a 3 year old preschool classroom this year.

However, the 4 year old class was very small this year at his preschool, so the director offered a few of us who have children who just miss the age cut-off the option to put them in that 4's class, creating a combined 3/4 year old room.  They will only have 6 students in their class.

We thought this would be a perfect fit for Tucker!
He will still go to VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) next year, so he will be in the correct class when he starts kindergarten.  

This is Mrs. Kathy, his teacher this year!
I just met her this morning when I dropped him off,
and I think she will be wonderful for him.

A few days ago, we began talking about preschool and his first day, and he was very adamant: 
I am not going to school.  I think I will just stay home with mommy.

So I wasn't quite sure how he would do this morning,
but when he walked in and saw all those fun toys and children playing,
he jumped right in and didn't look back.

I was so excited to pick him up at 1:00.
He said he had a great day, and his favorite part was playing on the playground.  I asked about his teacher, and he said, "She is very nice, and a little bossy."  Hysterical!

I said something about "Mrs. Kathy," and he said, "Mommy!  No, that's not her name.  Her name is (enunciating very carefully) MISS KAFFY!!  Do the ffffff sound, Mommy!"  I cannot convince him that the th says /th/ in her name - he corrects me every time.  This kid keeps me laughing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two teachers: what the students think

Yesterday we introduced journal writing and had the students write about their favorite part of school.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I am an introvert.

I am 32 years old, and it still surprises me that I'm an introvert.

You see, people have told me nearly from birth that I'm an obvious extrovert.
And when I took the Meyers Briggs in my educational psych class in college, and  the test said that I was an I - Introversion, well - the test must be faulty.  I was far too fun and outgoing to be an I!

Except all is not always as it seems.
One time Dan surprised me with concert tickets to a band I really like.....and I cried and begged him to return them.
My friends are sometimes insulted when I don't answer their calls.  Except I don't always answer even when my mama calls.  (Thankfully, she gets me.)
I don't have any trouble talking in front of large crowds, even on the spur of the moment.  But ask me to mingle in that crowd for an hour or two, and I break out in hives and look for the nearest exit.
Those are just a few examples of ways that I don't make sense.  But the more I've learned about introversion, the more I've realized that (hallelujah!!) I'm not crazy, I'm just an introvert in an extrovert's body!  Dan lovingly calls me an innie-outie.

This article published in the Huffington Post is clearly written all about me - every point.  In fact, you could actually put my name in that article and be totally accurate.  I kind of want to print copies of this and hand it out to all my friends, because it explains those parts of my personality that I often feel like I need to apologize for.

So if you are my friend (or my husband!) and I sometimes annoy you, maybe this will shed some light on introversion (and why it's NOT in the DSM-IV).

Think you can spot an introvert in a crowd? Think again. Although the stereotypical introvert may be the one at the party who's hanging out alone by the food table fiddling with an iPhone, the "social butterfly" can just as easily have an introverted personality.
"Spotting the introvert can be harder than finding Waldo," Sophia Dembling, author of "The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World," tells The Huffington Post. "A lot of introverts can pass as extroverts."
People are frequently unaware that they’re introverts -– especially if they’re not shy -- because they may not realize that being an introvert is about more than just cultivating time alone. Instead, it can be more instructive to pay attention to whether they're losing or gaining energy from being around others, even if the company of friends gives them pleasure.
“Introversion is a basic temperament, so the social aspect -- which is what people focus on -- is really a small part of being an introvert," Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of "The Introvert Advantage," said in a Mensa discussion. "It affects everything in your life.”
Despite the growing conversation around introversion, it remains a frequently misunderstood personality trait. As recently as 2010, the American Psychiatric Association even considered classifying "introverted personality" as a disorder by listing it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), a manual used to diagnose mental illness.
But more and more introverts are speaking out about what it really means to be a "quiet" type. Not sure if you're an innie or an outie? See if any of these 23 telltale signs of introversion apply to you.
1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous.
“Let's clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people," Laurie Helgoe writes in "Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength." "We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”
2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
If you're an introvert, you may sometimes enjoy going to parties, but chances are, you're not going because you're excited to meet new people. At a party, most introverts would rather spend time with people they already know and feel comfortable around. If you happen to meet a new person that you connect with, great -- but meeting people is rarely the goal.
3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

Ever feel like an outsider in the middle of social gatherings and group activities, even with people you know?
"If you tend to find yourself feeling alone in a crowd, you might be an introvert," says Dembling. "We might let friends or activities pick us, rather than extending our own invitations."
4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
Networking (read: small-talk with the end goal of advancing your career) can feel particularly disingenuous for introverts, who crave authenticity in their interactions.
"Networking is stressful if we do it in the ways that are stressful to us," Dembling says, advising introverts to network in small, intimate groups rather than at large mixers.
5. You've been called "too intense."
Do you have a penchant for philosophical conversations and a love of thought-provoking books and movies? If so, you're a textbook introvert.
"Introverts like to jump into the deep end," says Dembling.
6. You're easily distracted.
While extroverts tend to get bored easily when they don't have enough to do, introverts have the opposite problem -- they get easily distracted and overwhelmed in environments with an excess of stimulation.
"Extroverts are commonly found to be more easily bored than introverts on monotonous tasks, probably because they require and thrive on high levels of stimulation," Clark University researchers wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "In contrast, introverts are more easily distracted than extroverts and, hence, prefer relatively unstimulating environments."
7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. Whereas an extrovert might get bored or antsy spending a day at home alone with tea and a stack of magazines, this sort of down time feels necessary and satisfying to an introvert.
8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.
Introverts can be excellent leaders and public speakers -- and although they're stereotyped as being the shrinking violet, they don't necessarily shy away from the spotlight. Performers like Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Emma Watson allidentify as introverts, and an estimated 40 percent of CEOs have introverted personalities. Instead, an introvert might struggle more with meeting and greeting large groups of people on an individual basis.
9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.
Whenever possible, introverts tend to avoid being surrounded by people on all sides.
"We're likely to sit in places where we can get away when we're ready to -- easily," says Dembling. "When I go to the theater, I want the aisle seat or the back seat."
10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.
Do you start to get tired and unresponsive after you've been out and about for too long? It's likely because you’re trying to conserve energy. Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they'll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment, says Dembling. Short of a quiet place to go, many introverts will resort to zoning out.
11. You're in a relationship with an extrovert.
It's true that opposites attract, and introverts frequently gravitate towards outgoing extroverts who encourage them to have fun and not take themselves too seriously.
"Introverts are sometimes drawn to extroverts because they like being able to ride their 'fun bubble,'" Dembling says.
12. You'd rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.
The dominant brain pathways introverts use is one that allows you to focus and think about things for a while, so they’re geared toward intense study and developing expertise, according to Olsen Laney.
13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.
Because really, is anything more terrifying?
14. You screen all your calls -- even from friends.
You may not pick up your phone even from people you like, but you’ll call them back as soon as you’re mentally prepared and have gathered the energy for the conversation.
"To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go 'BOO!,'" says Dembling. "I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend -- as long as it's not jumping out of the sky at me."
15. You notice details that others don't.
The upside of being overwhelmed by too much stimuli is that introverts often have a keen eye for detail, noticing things that may escape others around them. Research has found that introverts exhibit increased brain activity when processing visual information, as compared to extroverts.
16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.
“Extroverts don’t have the same internal talking as we do,” says Olsen Laney. “Most introverts need to think first and talk later."
17. You have low blood pressure.
2006 Japanese study found that introverts tend to have lower blood pressure than their extroverted counterparts.
18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.
Introverts observe and take in a lot of information, and they think before they speak, leading them to appear wise to others.
"Introverts tend to think hard and be analytical," says Dembling. "That can make them seem wise."
19. You don't feel "high" from your surroundings
Neurochemically speaking, things like huge parties just aren’t your thing. Extroverts and introverts differ significantly in how their brains process experiences through "reward" centers.
Researchers demonstrated this phenomenon by giving Ritalin -- the ADHD drug that stimulates dopamine production in the brain -- to introverted and extroverted college students. They found that extroverts were more likely to associate the feeling of euphoria achieved by the rush of dopamine with the environment they were in. Introverts, by contrast, did not connect the feeling of reward to their surroundings. The study "suggests that introverts have a fundamental difference in how strongly they process rewards from their environment, with the brains of introverts weighing internal cues more strongly than external motivational and reward cues," explained LiveScience's Tia Ghose.
20. You look at the big picture.
When describing the way that introverts think, Jung explained that they're more interested in ideas and the big picture rather than facts and details. Of course, many introverts excel in detail-oriented tasks -- but they often have a mind for more abstract concepts as well.
"Introverts do really enjoy abstract discussion," says Dembling.
21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”
Many introverted children come to believe that there's something "wrong" with them if they're naturally less outspoken and assertive than their peers. Introverted adults often say that as children, they were told to come out of their shells or participate more in class.
22. You’re a writer.
Introverts are often better at communicating in writing than in person, and many are drawn to the solitary, creative profession of writing. Most introverts -- like "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling -- say that they feel most creatively charged when they have time to be alone with their thoughts.
23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.
Introverts can move around their introverted “set point” which determines how they need to balance solitude with social activity. But when they move too much -- possibly by over-exerting themselves with too much socializing and busyness -- they get stressed and need to come back to themselves, according Olsen Laney. This may manifest as going through periods of heightened social activity, and then balancing it out with a period of inwardness and solitude.
"There's a recovery point that seems to be correlated with how much interaction you've done," says Dembling. "We all have our own private cycles."

Wordless Wednesday: siblings

Monday, August 19, 2013

First day of second grade! (and first grade for Mommy)

Last week Lana was so excited to meet her second grade teacher, Mrs. Hildreth:

She is always a bit nervous on this day, so we are sure to have a gift in hand for her teacher.  She was thrilled to see her new classroom and desk!

 Meanwhile, I was just a few halls down, working on preparing my classroom for this year.  It feels so amazing to even write that!  
Here is the classroom I share with Mrs. Hoock at the end of the first grade hall:

My friend Donella made that awesome wreath for me, and one of our youth made that crayon D sign for me!  Starting to feel like home-

Here's a quick peek inside:

 This morning was our first day!
Here's my girl reading her letter for the first day of school:

 Dan was so sweet to get up with us almost before the sun and cook a good breakfast:

Ready or not, here we come......

Meet Lauren Hoock, my co-teacher.  
She will teach our class on Mondays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays.
I will teach our class on Thursday and Fridays.
 Job sharing is new for both of us,
and we were both a bit nervous about it.
However, we were awesome together in the classroom today!
 We will both teach all 5 days this week so we can get our routines and procedures in place.
Here are some of my favorite things about my new job so far:
*My commute to work is 3 miles and 5 minutes.
*I absolutely adore first graders.  I taught 1st grade for 4 years before having children, so it's familiar to me, and that helps, of course; but I really just genuinely enjoy the age.  They are still sweet and need to be loved and nurtured, but they are independent enough that they can be taught to do almost anything!  Their little minds are sponges at this age, and it's one of the coolest things in the world to watch them go from new readers to being really and truly literate.
*I love the first grade team I am on.  Really strong group of teachers, and they have been so welcoming to me.
*There is so much to absorb and so many new things to learn how to do - it is a total blessing to be job sharing and have the opportunity to learn it all gradually, with someone to walk me through each step.
*It's super fun to have another teacher in the classroom (for this week, at least) to collaborate with all day.  I didn't know how it would be to have 2 teachers in the classroom, but it's working so well!
*I got to see my girl's smiling face several times today - makes this mama's heart happy.
*Totally superficial - but my classroom is huge and has lots of windows and a bathroom.  Any elementary teacher will know how good those things are.
*I am not "going back to work" in a school full of strangers.  Everywhere I go, there is a familiar, smiling face who is willing to help me.  I do not take this for granted!  Having 2 years at this school as a parent and volunteer has helped me build some relationships before actually teaching, which is so nice.
Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head!  I am so happy to be teaching at Lipscomb!

Thrilled to be on this first grade team:

After school, Dan took us to TCBY to celebrate an awesome first day!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Favorite chapter books and series

A couple of years ago, I blogged about my 100 Favorite Children's Books, and while there are some that I might give or take now, for the most part, that list stands.

A friend asked me recently for recommendations for chapter books and series, which inspired me to make this new list:

Favorite beginning chapter books:
1.  Junior Classics is far and away our favorite series right now.  They do a great job of providing an abridged version of the original classic, without "dumbing it down" at all.  Lana's favorites have been Oliver Twist, Treasure Island, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
2.  Who Was _____?  We came upon this series of illustrated biographies for chidren at a Scholastic book fair, and are absolutely in love.  We own Who Was Abraham Lincoln?, Who Was Harriet Tubman?, Who Was Amelia Earhart?, and several more.  I would like to own them all!  They are about $5 at bookstores, so I pick one up nearly every time I go in.
3.  A to Z Mysteries was the first series that Lana picked up herself, and started asking for at the library.
4.  Magic Treehouse.  We prefer books #1-28 because the magical element is less dark than the following ones.  Here is a great Christian review of these books if you are concerned about them.
5.  American Girl books.  These are new to us, but Lana loves the realistic fiction genre, and flies through these.
6.  Flat Stanley is timeless.
7.  Animal Ark  - I don't swoon over these like the others, but Lana enjoys them quite a bit, so that earns them a place on my list.  They do have a bit of adventure, and I appreciate the fact that these books are written for advanced readers (around a 4th grade reading level), without having content that is too mature for my 7 year old.
8.  Magic School Bus Chapter Books are actually better than the original Magic Schoolbus books.  I never really liked the picture books - there were too many words on a page, and too much dialogue for young children to try to follow.  However, these chapter books hit a sweet spot and are definitely some of our favorites.
9.  Imagination Station - think Magic Treehouse, but written with a definite Christian slant.  One of the requirements of a good book, in Lana's estimation, is a lot of adventure, and this series does have action and adventure!  Again, not a literary powerhouse and they won't be a classic, but they are page-turners for my girl, and that's good news for me.
10.  Lightkeeper Girls - this series includes selections like Ten Girls Who Changed the World, Ten Girls Who Made History, Ten Girls Who Didn't Give In, and more.  There is an accompanying series for boys, also.
11.  Any of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary
12. Gooney bird Greene!

Favorite advanced chapter books:
1.  The Tale of Despereaux
2.  The Indian in the Cupboard  (Note: this is the first in a series, but while we love the first one, we found the sequels to pale in comparison.)
4.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
5.  Little House on the Prairie series
6.  Percy Jackson series
7.  Harry Potter series
8.  Anne of Green Gables series
9.  The Ranger's Apprentice series
10.  Book Scavenger
11.  Bridge to Terabithia
12.  Wonder
13.  Half Magic
14.  Out of My Mind
15.  Ol' Yeller
16.  The Inquisitor's Tale
17.  The Invention of Hugo Cabaret
18.  Charlotte's Web
19.  No Place Like Holmes
20.  The Inheritance series
21.  The Brotherband series
22.  The Wingfeather Saga
23.  Nevermoor
24.  Seeds of America (trilogy)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Life with Pepper today (9 months)

 It's hard to believe our sweet Pepper girl has been with our family for so many months!

 She is absolutely beautiful - we get compliments on her wherever we go.
Her personality is as sweet as can be.
She is friendly as can be, 
and while not always the quickest to obey,
her happy-go-lucky nature makes her impossible to resist.
She is naturally friendly to everyone she meets,
and always submissive to people and other dogs.
 We are very much her "people," and she wants nothing more than to be with us.  She waits at the kids' bedroom doors in the mornings, follows us around as we hang out in the afternoons, and is the sweetest cuddle bug in the evenings.

and to document her 3/4 birthday, here are
The Antics of Pepper Mint Davis:

sleeping in our blanket basket

drinks left on the table are an open invitation for her to have a sip, apparently:

 this is how she's stolen mama's heart

she wanted to watch the neighbors walking by, so she climbed up on this storage tote so she could see through the slats of the fence:

this is her spot, especially at nighttime.
we've trained her to stay on the blanket on the couch.

we keep a basket of toys near the back door.  she doesn't wait for us to get them out for her; she will just hop right in and get what she wants herself, often digging to the bottom to find a particular toy.

she loves to play with balloons, but doesn't like for them to pop, so she's figured out how to carry them carefully around in her mouth.

completely gently and docile with our wild man Tucker

if she spots any snuggling going on, she insists on getting right in the middle of it:

Although she does require extra work and money, our sweet Pepper brings so much joy to our family, and we couldn't imagine our life without her.

She was just spayed a few weeks ago.
She eats about a cup and a half of dry food per day.
She loves to drink the hot water from the bathtub.
She prefers running drinking water to still water.
She loves "going," and if she hears keys jangle, she runs for the door.
She's bad about begging at the table....because Tucker (and mommy) sneak her bites.
She is totally house and crate trained.
She's fair to middling on the leash.  Her nose distracts her.
She has just in the past month started barking when someone knocks on the door.
I'm glad she finally has - it makes me feel safer!
If we leave a meal unattended on the table, she will eat every bite.