Is there an “off” switch for the teacher brain?

I don’t claim to be a “veteran” teacher.  This will be my 8th year teaching.  Yet, it seems to me that, within the past few years, I’m noticing a change in how I view everything in the world around me.  No matter what I do, my thinking seems to transport me into my classroom.  Here are a few recent situations where my classroom smacked me upside the head unexpectedly:

My munchkins and I were at Discovery World in Milwaukee (if you haven’t been there, it’s worth the trip!)  and, although the exhibits were a bit above my kids’ heads, I was fascinated with the Simple Machines portion of the museum.  I kept reading all the signs, helping my kids “play” with the hands-on machines.  And then… I was thinking of our 8th grade Science classes and how great of a field trip this would be for their Laws of Physics unit.  Wait.  Pause.  I DON’T EVEN TEACH SCIENCE! And … IT’S SUMMER!

A friend of mine recently decided to take a teaching/coordinating job in a different district.  While I am extremely happy for her, I didn’t sleep for days afterwards.  I kept thinking about how her department would change and what I would do without her to bounce ideas off of.  Wait…  IT’S SUMMER!  WHY AM I LOSING SLEEP OVER SCHOOL?

We were in the Dells recently for a little family vacation.  While I waited for my oldest to be done on his 8th trip on the go-karts with my husband, I wandered around the indoor theme park with the little guy on my hip.  I stared at the arcade games and wondered how I could help my students determine the probability of winning the jackpot on the spin-the-wheel type games.  Hold on a minute… I DON’T DO MATH!  And I’M ON VACATION!

Those who ride in my van exclusively rock out to KLOVE  because it’s one of the very few stations we can listen to. (My oldest son is a sponge for song lyrics and has literally every song the station plays committed to memory. So listening to something like Lady Gaga … not okay.)  Anyway, the station keeps sharing the stories of the immigrant children from Central America who currently sit at the Mexico-US border.  Besides the sadness this causes me that over 50% of US citizens feel no moral obligation to help these children (my thoughts on this could result in another blog post), I can’t help but think about what a fascinating story this would be for my students to use as a Running News Story (reference: Harvey Daniels … I think…).  Pause.  This is a HUMANITARIAN CRISIS, not an exciting opportunity for reading.

So I suppose I’m not sure what to do about this extra setting my brain has developed.  On one hand, it’s great to continually think of new ways to engage my students; teaching should be anything but stagnant.  On the other hand, it would be nice to turn it off once in a while.

I guess this is another example of how the real-world teacher doesn’t actually get summers off.

By the by, my next blog entry will probably be a Running News Story unit on the topic listed above… Go figure.

My Summer of Reading

Ahhh… I love summer!  Time to relax, turn a darker shade of pasty, hang out with the munchkins, and READ!  There are several books on my “done” list and several still on my “to read” list.  I’ll share my two lists and keep you up-to-date.  Also, the hyperlinks bring you to the Amazon listing and review… you know, for your convenience. 🙂

Books I’ve Read

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Okay, so please don’t throw tomatoes at me.  I enjoyed the book.  I cried and laughed. But honestly, I didn’t like it nearly as much as Looking for Alaska.  Green develops the characters well and I appreciated the humor and realness of the plot. I can definitely see why teens enjoy it and why it was turned into a movie (which, by the way, I haven’t seen…).  I just feel that it was extremely predictable.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – I’m not kidding.. this should be on everyone’s “To Read” list.  A phenomenal book about the struggle of introverts in our society to fit in and feel “normal” when extroverts clearly have the preferred personality type.  I always considered myself an extrovert, but after reading, I realized that I am a pseudo-extrovert or an amnivert (a mix of the two).  I see so many applications for me as a parent, spouse, teacher, church-goer… I can’t say enough about this book!  I am SO pumped to facilitate a book club for this book in my school district.
  • Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana – So this book was a freebie at the International Reading Association Convention this year.  I didn’t have high hopes.  But I picked it up in June… and finished it the next day.  It’s a riveting story about a 10-year-old girl’s plight to survive Hurricane Katrina and care for her 2 younger siblings after she is separated from her parents.  I bawled and I didn’t want the book to end.  Lamana is a brand-new author who, as an educator, helped orphaned/lost children after the Hurricane.  Her emotional connection to the event was clear, and I hope she writes more books.
  • Perfect by Rachel Joyce – We read this for the book club I participate in with my husband.  We’ve read some amazing books, but this wasn’t one of them.  Constant flipping between perspectives and time periods, slow character development, and very few characters that I actually liked.  But I did enjoy the discussion and snacks at our meeting. 🙂

Books I Plan to Read

YA Books

  • The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale – This is one of the books for the WI Battle of the Books competition, and I’ve been asked to write questions for it.  I’m excited for the opportunity!  Reviews are very positive and summaries have me intrigued.
  • Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth – It’s a guilty pleasure.  Don’t judge me.
  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer – This was a National Book Award finalist that I bought off of Amazon.  I may not get to it, but I hope I can!
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – This is another award winner from this year.  Unfortunately, my plans to read this were thwarted by a fire-alarm-pulling 8th grader who borrowed it before I got to read it and was suspended for the rest of the school year for her antics before I could get the book back.  Arg.  Still waiting for it from the library.

PD Books

Well, that’s all for now.  What books do YOU suggest for me?  I’d love to hear your reviews and suggestions!

Confessions of a Summer Stay-At-Home Mom

Whew!  It’s been almost 2 years since my last post!  The second kid really IS twice as much work.  More on that another time…

Well, I have been home  for the summer for ONE WHOLE WEEK (because, contrary to the beliefs of non-teachers, we really don’t stop working until nearly July… if we’re lucky), and I have come to realize a few things about being a summer stay-at-home mom (aka – a teacher off for the summer).  They should be worded more as confessions than realizations, because I am not exactly proud of some of them.  Here they are:

1) While I have never looked down on stay-at-home moms, I gain a new appreciation for them every summer.  It can be exhausting breaking up fights, cleaning up the house (see confession #2), taking kids from place to place, finding budget-friendly activities to fill time, and making sure that you keep some semblance of a schedule amidst the desire to throw caution to the wind and take the kids to the pool during nap time.

2) My house is no cleaner in the summer than it is during the school year.  I always have these great aspirations to scrub walls, shampoo carpets, rid the boys’ toy closets of McDonald’s trinkets, etc.  And yet, nap time comes, and other activities eat away the time… like writing this blog post.  I have done some scrubbing, but I wouldn’t exactly want someone showing up at my house right now and witnessing the chaos that is the remains of lunch on the kitchen table.

3) I have given my kids Popsicles for breakfast.  Now, before you call social services, my munchkins had 100% juice pops, so it was basically a frozen beverage.  Back before I had kids, I would have been appalled at shenanigans of this caliber.  But now, I rally for the removal of the “dessert stigma” that surrounds Popsicles of the 100% juice variety.

4) Target is a constant temptation.  I always have a legitimate list.  Really, I do.  But more often than not, trips to Target are an excuse to take the boys somewhere and get out of the house.  This was especially true when I could walk to Target.  Thankfully for my budget, I now have to hop in a car and, therefore, I think about it a bit more.  For maybe 5 seconds… as opposed to 2.

5) I have engaged in napping experimentation.  There is nothing worse than going on a family vacation, only to have super-cranky children because they won’t nap or go to sleep on time simply because they’d rather goof around with each other (an occasion they don’t often get because they have separate rooms).  To remedy this, I have been attempting to have the boys nap together.  It has failed miserably, but I keep trying, hoping one day my dreams will all come true and I will be able to come back from a vacation rested.

6) I love my children, but I have threatened to sell them.  Clearly, I never would sell them.  But, as I pulled Isaiah off of Mason for the 109834534894275th time on Friday, I wondered what price they would bring in at the rummage sale I was hosting.   It may be because they’re used to having other kids to play with and they don’t get on each others’ nerves as much at daycare.  Or it simply may be that I am not used to seeing them interact for days on end without any separation from one another. Which, in some ways, makes me sad. But…

7) I like not working… sometimes.  Despite frustrations of having 2 kids under the age of 5, I feel truly blessed to have a job in which I have this time with them at home.  But it also reaffirms that, for my family, it’s a right decision for me to work.  I say “a” instead of “the” because it would also be “right” for me to be a stay-at-home mom, but I think that teaching affords me the opportunity to be around other people, gives my kids experiences with other children, and makes my family appreciate our time together when we have it.  By mid-August, however, I think we’ll all be ready for me to go back to work.

My next post will be within a few weeks. I have done a TON of reading over the past few months, and I’ll have some reviews for you.  God bless your week!

Kids Say the Darndest Things…

So when my students mock/repeat what I say, it’s annoying.  But when my 2 1/2 year old child does it, it’s either hilarious or infuriating.  I thought I would share with you a few examples.  You’ll see the word or phrase he says, the context in which he uses it, and the etymology (or how/where he learned it). 


“Sorry.  I can’t park.”
Context: Used while driving his Little Tykes car (the red and yellow ones).
Etymology: We got a new minivan about 6 months ago.  I still can’t park the darn thing.  Therefore, most times when we go places, I find myself apologizing to any passengers in the vehicle before I pull out and re-park.

Context: He’s asked to do something and doesn’t want to.
Etymology: Mommy.  Example: “Mason, don’t scrape the table with your fork please.” (Mason scrapes table with fork.) “Really? (with dripping sarcasm)  I just asked you not to do that!”

Context: Typically used during a temper tantrum, this phrase indicates that something is not happening as fast as he would desire.
Etymology: Husband used to say, “Mason, you need to ______________ right now!”  He regrets this now.

“Get outta my way!”
Context: Used any time he wants something/someone to move.  Is usually combined with “please”, but this does not make the phrase any more polite. Has been used at the grocery store towards complete strangers. 
Etymology: His favorite book from the library, I’m Dirty by Kate and Mike MacMullen. Reading is a good thing, but perhaps I need to be a bit more careful in book selections.

“I got a bit turd in there!”
Context: Diaper changes.
Etymology: Mommy.  (Fail.) (Gross.)

“Look at those little eyes!”
Context: Whenever Isaiah is awake.
Etymology: Both parents said this from the start of Isaiah’s life because it’s so rare for newborns to be awake.

“I know, Isaiah. I know.”
Context: Whenever Isaiah is crying.
Etymology: I say this when I can’t get to Isaiah right away to soothe him. Didn’t even realize I said this!

“That’s pretty cool!”
Context: Varies.  Sometimes used when he’s confused and doesn’t know how else to respond.  Sometimes used when he thinks something is, well, cool. “Look at that excavator! That’s pretty cool!”
Etymology: Mommy.  Guess I need to expand my vocabulary a bit.

Context: When he or I do something incorrectly. Example: Dropping 14 freeze pops out of the freezer. “Fail, Mommy.”
Etymology: Me again.  Jeez. Fail.

Context: Whenever any type of siren is heard.
Etymology: We live 3/4 mile from the fire station and 1/4 mile from the police station. The husband of his sitter is a firefighter; therefore, they live down the street from the fire station.  He hears sirens all the time.  When he first began asking what the sound was, I would tell him what it was.  Now, he has to tell me what it is.  Every time we hear a siren.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the most common.  I guess it could be worse.  He could use the F word all the time. Oh wait.  He does.  Every time he says TRUCK.  (I’m hoping the speech problem will go away soon.)  More later…

Isaiah’s Birth Story

Don’t worry.  I’ll save you the gory details.  But I do want to share Isaiah’s birth story because I learned a few important lessons on the day he was born: 1) Natural childbirth is possible and not any worse than medicated child birth;  2) don’t be afraid to say no; and 3) your husband is your best ally.

I also want to preface the story by saying that I am NOT AT ALL looking down on people who had c-sections or medicated births.  My first was a medicated birth and I totally get that meds and c-sections are, at times, medically necessary.  So please read this with a “this girl is sharing what she learned in hopes that it helps/encourages someone” lens and not “this girl has a superiority complex” lens.  Thanks.

So.  The story.

I had contractions for weeks before Isaiah was born.  But nothing ever became super regular or painful, so I tried to be patient.  School got out and I just kept trying to find ways to keep my mind off the fact that I was LARGE and IN CHARGE.  (see photo)  In fact, I made a trip to Kenosha to hang out with my sister-in-law and her family on the day before I went into labor.  (Thanks, Kara, by the way!)


At 12:30 on June 21st, I woke up to a decent contraction.  Went to the bathroom and realized that it was time.  (See?  No gory details.)  I took Mark’s iPhone and started timing contractions with the free contraction timing app he downloaded a few weeks before.  (Friends: this was fabulous.  You’ll see why in a little while.)  At 1: 15, when, I realized that contractions were under 5 minutes apart and just under a minute a piece, I woke up Mark, who muttered something about me OF COURSE going into labor in the middle of the night.  Sorry, hon.  (He admitted later that he didn’t think I was really in labor until we got to the hospital and he heard how dilated I was.)  At 1:45, we decided to call his parents to stay with Mason. 

While we waited for them, I helped change the sheets on the bed, pack the car, and do a few dishes.  Just like my Bradley method book told me, I paused with each contraction to focus on relaxing and breathing normally.  After about 45 minutes (which seemed like a long time), Mark’s parents arrived and we left for the hospital.

At the hospital, we checked into the ER.  I gave them a good scare when, during a contraction, I became limp, motionless and unresponsive.  Had to break my concentration momentarily to signal to my husband that I still had a pulse.  He explained the rest to the nurses. 

ER wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery almost immediately when we showed them the contraction record on Mark’s phone.  (Yep, it was extremely helpful and hard to argue with.)  The nurse checked me and I was already 5/6 cm.  Then she proceeded to place an IV, gripe at me for being in my “relaxation” position (which apparently caused difficulties with the IV… too damn bad, lady.  I’m in labor here), and ask me a million dumb questions that could have waited until I wasn’t laboring (“We’re going to ask you some questions.  If you have a contraction, just tell us and we’ll stop for a minute.” “No, lady, I’m just not going to answer you.”  “Do you have a car seat and a crib?” “Why?  Am I taking the baby home at this particular moment?”  “What is your due date?” “June 28th.”  “That’s not the due date we have.” “Then why the hell are you asking me if you already have it?”).  Finally, Mark just started answering everything for me because I was getting pissy.  And the contractions started coming on top of one another. 

After the slew of questions, the nurse proceeds to tell me that my doctor said I needed to be on the penicillin for Group B Strep (knew this, but wasn’t happy about it) and that I should be on Petocin.  “Absolutely not!” I said to the Petocin.  “I am 4 minutes apart.  Why the hell would she put me on Petocin?”  Nurse (in a condescending tone): “So you’re refusing?”  Me: “Yep.”  (Side Note: The nurse had heard my doctor wrong on the phone.  Doctor DID NOT recommend Petocin. Doctor dragged nurse in after labor to clear this little misunderstanding up.)

30 minutes later, I had 2 contractions on top of one another.  Then I had an uncontrollable pressure and began pushing unknowingly.  Husband, meanwhile, is being a fabulous coach through contractions and reminding me that I can do this even when I didn’t think I could.  Nurse comes in and asks if I’m pushing.  She tells me to flip over and checks me. I’m suddenly 8-9.  She begins yelling for other nurses to call doctor.  Yells some more when those nurses ask too many questions.  I panic and begin hyperventilating.  I was told not to push and my leg got shoved back down when I tried to grab it to push.  I signal to Mark that I need some oxygen because I’m getting numb and dizzy.  Mark tells nurse, who yells at him that my baby’s head is already partially out and that she may have to catch.  Oxygen was clearly not a priority???  I was told to just breathe and not push until the doctor got there.

After an eternity, my doctor showed up, said, “Woah!”, put gloves on, and caught my baby after one push.  He was crying immediately, alert, and got the highest rating possible on the Apgar.  Whole labor: 3 1/2 hours.   No drugs. No stitches.  No problem.

Image        Image

I was amazed at how much better I felt after this labor.  I know it was the second one, which probably had something to do with it, but I was much less sore and was ready to go home much earlier than I actually did.  (We were stuck in the hospital because I didn’t get a full dose of antibiotics and they needed to watch Isaiah to make sure he didn’t get the Group B strep.)  If I had to do it all over again, I would have done a natural birth with Mason: I would have refused the Petocin they gave me (I wasn’t induced, but my water broke and I wasn’t having regular contractions) and practiced Bradley method relaxation techniques to avoid pain meds.  Honestly, I was still in serious pain with Mason even after the epidural.  It was relaxation and a change in positions that finally relieved pain, not the drugs entirely.

As someone who had a medicated labor followed by a natural labor, I would highly recommend the natural labor to anyone who is expecting or thinking about having a child.  I’m not going to lie: there is pain.  But I really feel that the faster healing, benefits to my child (avoiding drugs going through my system, no need for even suction after birth), and closeness I felt with my husband-coach was worth the temporary pain of the natural labor.  Let me know – I’d be happy to talk to you and share some resources!  (A shout-out to my friend Val, whose natural birth with her first inspired me and who gave me resources to have my own natural labor. Thanks!) 

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Hopefully you will be inspired… and I’ll remember that I probably shouldn’t dilly-dally getting to the hospital if my husband succeeds in talking me into #3.  🙂

Surviving Pregnancy While Teaching Middle School: Not for the Emotionally Unstable

So it is very obvious at this point that I am, in fact, pregnant.  I told my students in December and, of course, they were very curious and also excited.  Each grade and gender has its own generalized response.  6th grade girls get all excited and want to throw you a baby shower, while 6th grade boys roll their eyes and 8th grade boys laugh hysterically because, surprise people, pregnancy involves (loud whisper) sex.

I thought that tonight, for your reading pleasure, I would share with you some of my favorite Q&A sessions regarding pregnancy that I have had with my students.  Here they are, in no particular order.

8th grade female Student: Was it planned?
Me: What?  The lesson today?  Of course!
Student: No, the baby.
Me: (awkward pause) Um, yes.  Moving on…

8th grade male when I announced the pregnancy: Wait.  So if you’re pregnant, that means… OH SNAP!
Me: That means what?
Student: BAHAHAHAHA!  You… OH MAN!
(I suppose we will just have to read between the lines on this one.  Or not.)

8th grade student when I announced the pregnancy: Who’s the daddy?
Me: (speechless) (pointed to wedding photo on desk) (wordlessly moved onto the lesson)

7th grade male Student: Mrs. Goodger, what happens if your fountain breaks at school?
Me: (exchange glance with female interventionist) Um, fountain?
Student: Yeah, like right before you have the baby.
Me: (Pause.  Consider options for response.) I believe you mean “if my water breaks”.
Student: (surrounded by hysterical laughter from fellow students) Um, yeah.  So what happens?
Me: You get a sub and I go home.  Immediately.  Moving on…

Another 7th grade male Student: Are you sure there’s a baby in there?
Me: (Pause) Yes, I’m fairly certain.
Female student in same class: Are you saying you think she’s just getting fat or something?  Cuz that’s just rude!
Me: (laughing) No, I’m not just getting fat.  I feel the baby moving around and saw him on the ultrasound.
Male student: Ew.  Gross.

Male student I had for the first trimester and have only seen in hallway since I started showing: Mrs. Goodger, you’re PREGNANT?
Me: Yep.  It’s true.
Student: Oh.  I thought you were just eating a lot of cake.

Female 8th grade student: Mrs. Goodger, I am NOT going to get big like that when I’m pregnant.
Me: Well, we’ll see.  In about 20 years, please.
Student: Whatever.
Me: Pause.  (student turns around) “Whatever” on the growth of tummy or on the 20 years?
Student: Both.
Me: Seriously.
Student: No, I’m kidding.  Just on the bigness.

Same 8th grade female student, different day: Mrs. Goodger, you’re eating AGAIN???
Me: Yes dear, I’m hungry.  Got to feed the baby, you know.
Student: Mrs. Goodger, stop lying.  YOU are eating, not the baby. Jeez.

6th grade female student: What are you going to name the baby?
Me: We don’t know yet.   We haven’t decided.
6th grade male: You should name him Mason.
Another student, yelling across the room: Her other son is already named Mason, stupid.
6th grade male: So?? (defensively)
Me: Don’t you think that would make my house a little confusing?
6th grade male: (pouts) Fine, then.  Mason Jr.


You Might Have Noticed I’m Pregnant Because…

Yes, it’s true.  I am pregnant with #2.  Hubby and I couldn’t be more excited!  Mason, on the other hand, did not want to see the pictures of the baby from today’s ultrasound.  He is trying to pop incisors, so we will forgive him.

Even though I’m just officially announcing this news today, many of you may have been suspicious before.  Some of you knew because I have a big mouth and told you before I was supposed to. Others maybe just saw me being, well, pregnant.  Here are the top 10 ways you may have guessed I’m pregnant.

1) I locked myself out of my classroom.  Twice in one day.
2) I thought I locked myself out of my classroom, so I went to get the keys from the secretary, only to find that I left my door open in the first place.
3) I turned down sweets and chose guacamole.
4) I turned down alcohol and chose tea that looks and smells like urine.  (Yogi brand Stomach Ease tea… as nasty as it smells and looks, it certainly makes me feel better!)
5) I wore my cowl-neck pink sweater to work inside out.
6) I have been crying at stupid commercials.
7) My face looks worse than the face of a 16 year old pizza delivery boy.
8) I discussed the fact that I went to bed at 8:30PM the last 3 nights in a row.  Did I mention how tired I am?
9) I’m wearing a Bella band, something that became an accessory at 6 weeks pregnant (which we now discovered was really only 4 weeks pregnant).
10) The doctor found this wiggling bundle of joy in my tummy!:

Ultrasound for #2 at 9 weeks. (Or, as Mark says, -31 weeks.)