I’m having one of those weeks where my brain seems to be switched off. I keep sitting down to blog, but nothing comes to me. I sit down to talk to the kids or Chris at the end of the day, and I can’t even think about what happened that day to tell them. At work, I go to say something to my students, and I can’t form the words. Yesterday I had a student take a calculator back to a math teacher that I borrowed one from, and I could not for the life of me think of the word “calculator.” I kept standing there holding it, trying to come up with the right word. Like a dope.
I’m not quite sure what has made my brain shut down this week. I have been doing an extra amount of writing lately for various things (check out my latest column for Southern Weddings!), and I’m sure that’s contributing to it. Every day I get up at 5:00am, teach all day, then write all night, sleep a couple hours, and do it all again.
Truthfully, I expected to run out of words and thoughts a LONG time ago.
So tonight, I’m going to distract you from the fact that I’m not really saying anything at all in this blog post (what’s new, right???) by posting pictures of me with the kids one night this week. On Tuesday, I took a mental day off when I got home from work. We had PB&J for dinner, we played out in the backyard, and after the kids went to bed, instead of writing or working, I just sat on the couch and read my book. I didn’t turn on my computer or check my phone. I just zoned out for a night. I think my mind needed it.
What’s been nice is that Chris has really stepped up this week and taken over to give me a little break. He’s come home from work a little earlier. He’s here to help give the kids dinner. He’s done all the cooking this week. He’s tucked Bean in every night. He’s just really given me a break when my brain needed it the most. And the crazy this is that I didn’t even have to ask. I love that we are to that point in our relationship when we just sort of instinctively know when the other needs a little extra support. I think that’s when marriage becomes almost like a dance, as you adjust and respond to your spouse.
Tonight I was a time keeper for my school’s track meet. I came home late, sweaty, and exhausted. But coming home to my hub-a-dubs who picked up the slack at home without missing a beat made me smile. I guess exhaustion is better survived with a good partner by your side.
Gracie has been using a sippy cup for about a month now, and that’s been going really great. She’s completely off the bottle (in fact, we sold all of our bottles at our yard sale last weekend, so there’s no turning back now!), and she’s doing great. Now, we’re letting her get used to other utensils at mealtimes. She loves waving around spoons. She thinks they are hammers. But when she’s not beating things with them, she actually tries to use them. She’ll poke her food in an attempt to scoop some up on her spoon, but she’s still not sure how to keep the food on her spoon when she shoves it in her mouth. But, she’s getting the hang of it.
This week we started giving her her food in a real bowl. Some days, she eats right out of it and doesn’t even blink. But, then there are other days…
Maybe we’ll wait a little bit longer on the plate…
This year I challenged each of my students to read 30 books this school year. It started as just a random, incredible high number that I didn’t expect them to reach. I set it purposefully high so that they would keep reaching for it all year. Well, turns out about 30 out of my 110 students actually DID read the full 30 books already – and we still have five weeks left! They have blown me away with their reading.
I have been inspired by them this year and have been working to keep up with their incredible reading pace. In the process, I’ve read a lot of books myself. Some have been better than others, but most of them I’ve really enjoyed. Here are the most recent books to find themselves on my bookshelf:
The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb – This was a random book I found at the public library. To be honest, I was in a hurry that afternoon because I had both kids with me, and the only reason I grabbed this book was because it takes place in the rural mountains of Tennessee, which is where my Grandma was born and raised. That’s really the only reason I checked this one out. Turns out, it was a great find because the story is actually really interesting. It’s about this very rural community just after the Civil War. The main character is a poor, morally questionable young woman who goes to live her her even poorer cousin and her husband, and it’s about how their lives all cross paths with Tom Dooley, a young, drunk veteran of the war who manages to ruin everything around him. The characters are not lovable – they aren’t even really likeable – but the story is really well told and the plot keeps you interested.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult – This could be the single-most important book I’ve read as a mother and as an educator. It is an incredibly disturbing, powerful, and moving story about a school shooting. I was hesitant to read it at first, being both a teacher and a parent. But what the book focuses on are the choices our children make and how we can help them make better choices. The boy who kills his classmates was viciously bullied for just about his entire life. It was heartbreaking to read for me because the bullying began when he was just a year or two older than Bean, and it touched such a raw nerve with me. It follows the shooter all the way up through school and shows how hurtful and heartbreaking being a teenager can be. As a teacher, it instantly changed the way I managed my classroom. I talked to all of my classes about the book. We had open discussions about bullying and pushing people beyond their limits. In my own home, it made me more aware of not just how my kids will be treated as they grow up, but also how they treat others. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any kind of interaction with kids – their own, or otherwise.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – I have explained this book to other people and they just didn’t seem to find it as interesting as I did, so this one might not be for the masses. A friend from church recommended this to me and then organized a group of people to meet for dinner to talk about it. Sort of like a one-book book club. I had to miss the dinner, but I was really bummed because of how much I loved the book. It’s an autobiography of an author who found his life at the center of a documentary. Film makers wanted to turn his life into a movie, but they basically told him that his real life wasn’t interesting enough, so they were going to have to “doctor up” the truth to make it more exciting. The book is about the process of writing that doctored up movie and how somewhere in the process of creating a fake exciting life, he decides to go out and make his actual life exciting. He begins to make better choices, like committing to ride his bike across the country for charity, even though he had never ridden before and was overweight. He also talks about incredibly inspiring people he’s met and why their lives were so powerfully significant. Basically, it’s about living a better, more full life. The guy is a Christian author, but the book isn’t a philosophical or Christian-based book, but he has a really great view of faith, if you ask me. I read this just after the first of the year, and I honestly think that reading this book was the first step towards me becoming a more active, more healthy, more fulfilled person this year. Months later, I still think about the principles of this book on a weekly basis.
11-22-63 by Stephen King – I read this one on my Kindle while Chris and I were in Costa Rica. It was my first Stephen King book, and I was a little nervous because I don’t like scary books. But some friends at work insisted that this was not a typical Stephen King book, and that it was actually an incredible story about what would happen if the JFK assassination were prevented. The book is about a time travel portal and the man who decides to go back into time to try to stop the JFK assassination. But it’s about so much more than that! He actually goes back and lives in the 1960′s for several years leading up to the assassination, and it’s about the life he builds there and the relationships he makes. I’m not into sci-fi or anything usually involving time travel, but this book was amazing. The plot took twists and turns that I never saw coming, and it’s told in such a masterful way. I am a Stephen King fan and I never even knew it.
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – I read a couple of Philippa Gregory’s books in college and had mixed feelings about them. I love historical fiction, and it’s not something you find a lot of in mainstream books these days, but she took the sex part of the stories a little far after her first few books came out and when that happened, I quit reading her books because they became more trashy than historical and I lost interest. But I had heard that this book began a series of hers that was more along the lines of the original type of writing she did. I was so happy to find that was true! This book tells the story of King Edward of York and Queen Elizabeth in the 1400′s. I love the strong, female main character and it is just the right amount of historical fact to make it interesting, as well as entertaining. This is the first in a series of books she calls the Cousins’ War and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.
Matched by Ally Condie – I started this book today at the recommendation of some of my students. Though it is a young adult novel, it is supposed to be pretty good. I started it this morning, and after sitting down with it a little tonight after dinner, I’m already half way through it, and it’s pretty good. It’s about this futuristic utopian society that matches you to your spouse. It follows the main character as she is matched to her best guy friend, but then discovers that she might have been mis-matched. It’s about her struggle between her assigned match and her desire to get to know the other boy she might have been matched with. It’s a social commentary on free will and what lengths we will go to to keep it. It seems like a great beach book because it’s easy to read and at the core is a love story. It’s the first in a series, and I think I might add the rest of the series to my summer reading list.
So, that’s what I’ve been reading lately. Next on my list at the library is Ken Follet’s “World Without End.” I read “Pillars of the Earth” and it was one of my favorite books ever, so I’ve been waiting for a chunk of time to read the second one. Summer kick off seems to be the perfect time! If you’re interested in seeing other books I’ve read, or following along with what I read this summer, be sure to follow me on Good Reads. My user name is KatieMC.
What about you? Have you read anything good lately?
It was actually a very sporadic decision. Bean was once again not eating his dinner on Saturday night. This time I was getting really frustrated because it was all his favorite things, and he wouldn’t touch any of them even though he’d been saying he was hungry for 20 minutes while I made it. I thought about it and I just knew that if I put that plate on the living room table and let him stand up to eat (like he sometimes does with snacks), he would eat it in no time. Maybe, I thought, it’s the location that bothers hims.
Everyday at school Bean eats all his food. His teachers say he’s an excellent eater, in fact. And yet when he’s at our table, he will barely touch anything. I know he’s a toddler and that toddlers don’t necessarily eat much at dinner time, but Bean eats nothing all afternoon or evening. And he’s a tiny guy who is starting to actually lose weight. So I have been really concerned about his lack of interest in mealtimes (or food in general). Desperate to try something to get him interested in his meals, I wondered if maybe he would eat better at a table more similar to what he has at school. So, Chris went up to Bean’s room and brought down a little table and chairs set my Grandma gave him for his first birthday. It’s been in his room for him to color at and play on, but we thought maybe he’d actually enjoy a little table that’s just his size.
We ended up having to move our entire kitchen around to fit this tiny table. We moved the kitchen table back against the far wall, which is fine since we aren’t seating four at dinner yet. We moved the high chair out of the kitchen and promoted Gracie to Bean’s booster seat. She’s been in heaven this weekend in her new chair. She just squeals as she eats now. We moved the bookshelf out from the corner and under the window, and made a little place for Bean’s table that’s close to where we are eating, but out of the way.
So far, it’s been a big hit for Bean. He is so excited to sit at his own table now. The rule is that if he’s eating (even just a little bit), then he can stay at his table. But if he’s not eating, then he has to come sit at the table with me, Chris, and Gracie. He cleaned his plate the first night, which made me really happy. And on the plates since then, he has made a good effort, which is more than he has been doing.
I think the name of the toddler meal game must be to keep things interesting. Bean ate really good for a while when I started playing with the presentation of the food he ate, and then he got bored with that and stopped eating. And he did really good for a while when I rolled all his fruits and veggies up into wheat tortillas with toothpicks in them and called them “toothpick sandwiches,” but then he got bored with that and stopped eating again. He did pretty good when we played, “The Game” together at meals, but he got bored with and stopped eating that time, too. The last successful bout of eating we had was when I mixed everything into bowls of all-natural, unsweetened applesauce, but he eventually got bored with that and stopped eating again.
I think the trick is to keep things fun and new at mealtimes. I’d much rather just put a plate of food in front of him and stand over him until he eats it all, but I don’t have that amount of time in my day and I don’t think he’d eat anything anyway. So, I’m okay with having to tap dance a little bit to get him to eat something. I’d rather jump through hoops and have him eat something than stand there frustrated while he eats nothing.
Anybody else out there have some tricks up their sleeve to encourage eating in their toddlers?