Thursday, February 9, 2017

HOPE.

 Hope.
Hope by its very definition is a feeling of expectation for a certain thing to happen. We exercise hope on daily basis. We hope we get to work on time. We hope our students are not wild crazies all day. We hope we get every lesson taught. We hope to leave work at a decent hour. We hope we get dinner made. And we hope to get in bed early to get enough rest to feel like we can get up again the next day and do it all over again. But how often do we feel the deep and abounding desire for something to happen that it takes over every fiber of our being? I believe that it is this intense hope that Jesus displays as he tirelessly runs after our heart on a daily basis. Could you imagine using that much of your energy hoping for something?
Jordan and I got to do just that. Got to. It has taken me a long time to say it that way. At first, it was a burden. At first, it was a curse or punishment. But, once we parallel it to this hope that Jesus has as he runs after our hearts, it became a blessing. It was hard, but through the fire and refinement, we were able to understand the deep intensity of Jesus’ expectations and hope for our lives. Not every thing I talk about in this post is going to be spiritual, but my intention is that by the end of this you understand that when you hope for something, it is a beautiful connection to the abounding hope that Jesus had and will continue to have for your life.
Jordan and I were the crazy, young couple that had no desire to wait to have children. We wanted to be parents so bad. Our only “checklist” item was to be in a house. We did not want the stress of having a newborn in an apartment with paper-thin walls and floors. We were blessed enough, that we were in a house within our first year of marriage. Like most people, we thought having a baby was like it was in the movies. You wanted a baby, you got a baby. You don’t want a baby? You still get a baby. It’s like Oprah. You get a baby! You get a baby! Everyone gets a baby! Done. End of story. NOT. I took us two years. Now, I know that there are couples that have struggled 5 times as long as we did. So if you are one of these couples, please know that I am not discrediting your journey. I think we can all agree that trying to get pregnant any length of time is one of the most emotionally difficult things you can deal with. Whether it is 3 months or 3 years. For us it was 2. That was our ordained plan. I truly believe there is a purpose for everything the Lord does. And it is not always as a punishment. It took me a LONG time to realize I was not being punished. God was not punishing me for something that I did by not giving me my baby.
I learned to hope far beyond what I thought was possible. Each month I would hope and pray and beg God a little bit more than the last. Through this I also learned how to pray. Not the daisies and roses prayer. “Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for all of the blessings you have given me. I pray for safety and please give me a baby.” No. I learned to Pray. Capital P. I learned to be transparent with God. Why not, right? He already knows what I want. So in true, Sassy Kara fashion. I told him. I begged him. I began to understand the true definition of hope after I learned to do this.
*Rant: Someone once told me, “Don’t get your hopes up. Just relax and it will happen.” FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY! Please never say this to a woman trying to get pregnant. Don’t you think they have tried relaxing? Don’t you think that they should get their hopes up? YES! Get your hopes up! Throw them up to God! Let him know that you trust in his plan and that you have a true expectation that he will give you the desire of your heart. End rant.*
But we kept going. Months and months of heartache, loss, and treatment cycles later (thank God for modern medicine and petri dishes), we got pregnant and this baby was just what God had for us. Our hope for a pregnancy quickly became a hope for a baby. We were scared out of our minds that we would lose this baby, too. But, that beautiful, wonderful hope took over and gave us peace. We went for our first ultrasound with our Reproductive Endocrinologist at 6 weeks. We weren’t supposed to be able to hear a heartbeat, but the Dr. forgot to turn the microphone off. We heard her heartbeat and when I say that I melted like butter, I am not joking. I wept big fat ugly tears. I believe God intended for us to hear that precious heartbeat on purpose. It was in that moment that the hope that we felt became a real and tangible thing to me. In that moment, I understood the intense love and hope that Jesus has for us. Not that I would ever wish this on anyone, but I do truly wish that everyone could have that moment of clarity and understanding that I had.
A few months later we found out that little peanut inside of me was a precious little girl. I now have a special place in my heart for all things pink, ruffley (is that a word?), and sparkly. There was no question about it, HOPE was going to be in our daughter’s name somewhere. Since my middle name is Faith, it was fitting that Hope be hers. So she was named, Parker Hope.
The pregnancy flew by. It was full of intense morning sickness and sciatica. But, around 22 weeks, Parker decided that she didn’t like my sciatic nerve any more and moved off, and so did the morning sickness. Around 32 weeks, we found out that I had preeclampsia. Apparently it is common for women who go through fertility treatments to have this. So they decided they were going to induce me at 37 weeks to keep Parker and myself safe. Once again our hope had to kick in. We had to hope and expect that everything was going to be fine. Parker and I would make it though without any problems at all.
We set the induction date for July 18th because my Grandma’s birthday is July 19th. So we thought it would be sweet if they shared a birthday. HA! Once again, God reminded me who is actually in control. 24 hours of labor, I had not dilated at all. I was a crazy person. Poor Jordan. Full-blown labor pains and contractions with no progress or pain meds. You are telling me I am feeling all of this pain and nothing is happening? Get out of here with that mess. July 19th came and went. That second night they took me off of the Pitocin and monitors so I could eat something. We prayed and hoped that God would give us the strength, and endurance to get us to that precious baby. There it is again. That word Hope.
Our night nurse that night was fantastic. She let me move around and do whatever I needed to do to get through the contractions. By that morning, I was starting to dilate and my water had broken. Then complete joy was taken away by quick fear. In a matter of seconds, they had me flat on the bed, oxygen to my mouth and moving me in all sorts of positions. Parker’s heart was starting to not be able to handle my contractions. I thought to myself, “Sister, I can’t handle them either, so why don’t you come on out of there and let’s get this mess over with.” They slowed the Pitocin and that seemed to help her. They let me continue to labor but closely monitored her with an internal monitor. By 7:30 pm (46 hours after induction) I was 9 cm dilated, but Parker’s heart started showing major concern. It was decelerating with every contraction. She stopped dropping into place and just stayed there. They told Jordan and I we needed to do a c-section and get her out.
I do not think I have ever felt a fear like I felt in that moment. I was more than ready to be done with it, but this was not in the plan! You would think I would learn by now, that my plan does not matter. God could care less what my plan is. I just remember lying there stone-faced, praying. and realizing, I have got to give this up. My hope is in a mighty God. My expectation that everything was going to be okay was not in my hands, but his.
Even still through all of this, God had to chase after me and get me to put my hope in him. Like come one Kara. Haven’t you learned by now?
At 8:22 pm we heard that precious cry that we had longed and prayed to hear for so long. The tears streaming down our faces were nothing short of pure JOY. Our Parker HOPE was here. It was then and only then that I realized the unimaginable joy the Lord feels when he finally gets us to put our hope in him. I am jealous that he gets to feel this joy over and over again. But ya’ll, without having that intense, uninhibited hope, you don’t get that pure, raw joy. I truly believe that if I would have not surrendered my hope to the Lord to allow myself to desire something so deeply, I would not have felt the way I did when Parker arrived.
Now, I am not saying that births are not joyful and that seeing your child for the first time is not special without the struggle we went through. It is beautiful in every single way. But, God needed me to realize the intense hope and expectation he has for my life for me to understand the pure Joy that was present in that operating room that day.
Ya’ll. Jesus has an expectation, a hope for our lives and I truly believe that it is immeasurable. There is no way that you can put into words what he hopes for you, what he expects from you and your life. Even though that comes with a lot of responsibility, it also comes with a lot of honor. Hope. It is a beautiful thing people.



 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Changing Things Up!

Hello Friends and Followers! 

I have some exciting news! I hope you are as pumped about it as much as I am. I have decided to change my blog from being and teaching blog to just a "teaching and life and such" blog. Don't get me wrong, I will still write blog posts on teaching endeavors and such. But, since I am not exclusively a teacher, I do not want to be tied to exclusively posting about teaching stuff. Knowing me, it will still primarily be about teaching. ;) But this will give me a way to share so many other things.

I am a wife, a momma, a learner, a christian, a daughter, a woman, a crafter, an organizer and many more. Just like each of you! That is the beauty of creation. God has made us each unique with so many different aspects that we should embrace not confine! God has given us all different hats. And I would like to use this blog as a way to put on all my different hats and write about whatever my heart desires. :) 

Stay Tuned... 

Love and Hugs, 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Five for Friday 4-22-16

Super excited to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and a bunch of fabulous other teachers this week for Five for Friday! WAHOO!

Welp... this week looked a little different for me. Because Southeast Texas took a pretty big hit to some nasty storms Sunday night and Monday. So school has been cancelled for us ALL WEEK! #secondspringbreak? Nope. It was definitely not a second Spring Break for us. I woke up Monday morning and everything in our neighborhood and street was draining just fine. It quit raining around 2 pm, and by 4:30, this is what our street looked like! 
And unfortunately, we were one of the lucky ones. We had a lot of family friends that had to evacuate their homes because of flooding in their homes. It has been crazy ya'll. We were flooded in until sometime on Wednesday. It was rough because MONDAY is my GROCERY SHOPPING DAY! We were scrounging for meals. Note to self... always have a few days worth of non-perishable meals available. So, there was a lot of sleeping and napping and Netflix happening around here. 

The first thing I did when we were flooded in was take advantage of Jordan being off! I put him to work on little bit's nursery, poor guy. He is so gracious. We channeled our inner Chip and Joanna Gaines and SHIPLAPPED a wall in her nursery!!


Once we got the hang of it, it was so fun! We painted it a soft pink color (Jordan's idea) and I am glad I listened to him, because it turned out just precious. Now, I cannot handle pink everywhere. So the other 3 walls in her room are a nice creamy taupe color. 


Jordan only had 1 day off of work, so after he went back to work is when cabin fever really set in! I set aside a whole day to revamping my May Morning Work on TPT and creating a NEW product to use when I get back to work on Monday! The Morning Work just got a FACELIFT! Easier to read fonts, new phonemic awareness activities and easier to read word problems. And making the word problems in my Morning Work easier to read inspired me to make an addition and subtraction word problem product. So, I did! I focused on making names and objects used in the word problem easy peasy to read for young readers. I looked like a hot mess making this product! I was cross-eyed by the end. Thinking of words and names I could use as well as making sure I got a good spectrum of problems. LORD HAVE MERCY. If you are interested, click on the pics below to see them in my store! 
  

Then I set aside a day just for my home. Deep cleaning some areas that were screaming for some attention and finishing this little DIY project. I am a cliche Christian with a cross wall in my house. I grew up with a wall in my parent's house that had crosses on it and anytime we came across (no pun intended) a unique cross, we put it on the wall. My little brother welded that cross above the sign for me for a Christmas gift. It is made out of Railroad spikes from our local Railroad that goes through town. Jordan made me this sign out of some extra wood he had laying around and I finally added words to it this week since I had a LITTLE bit of down time this week. These are lyrics from and Aaron Watson song, Family Tree. We LOVE Texas Country, and we LOVE Aaron Watson and we LOVE what these lyrics stand for. 


Last but certainly not least was helping my little brother ask his girlfriend to Prom. It was their 11 month anniversary (yes, in high school these things matter). They both have a mutual love for Double Dave's pizza rolls. He is an 18 year old boy, so naturally he wanted to ask her with food. *cue pizza rolls* I don't know if asking a girl to Prom is a big deal anywhere else. But in Texas, they call them "Promposals." It is kind of ridiculous! Some of the ways his friends asked their dates are seriously close to how some of my friends were proposed to. CRAZY! Don't worry she said, "Yes!"


I hope everyone has a great and blessed weekend! Hop on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see all of the awesome things other teachers are doing this week! 









Monday, April 18, 2016

Persuasive Letter Writing for Kinders


I wanted to share a little tidbit with you on how I teach Persuasive Letter Writing to my Kinder babies. My first year teaching Kinder when I was told I was expected to teach them not only how to write a letter, but how to write a persuasive letter, I thought, “You want me to do what? They are 5!” But, then as always, their little brains shocked me and handled it like ROCKSTARS. It has taken me a few years to fine-tune this unit and how to best teach it, and with a lot of help from co-workers and blogs, this is what I have come up with. Feel free to leave comments on how you have taught it in your classroom and we can all bump ideas off each other! J

The first thing I do is introduce what a letter is and why we use letters. Sometimes this is hard for them to relate to because we have things like Facebook, Instagram and email nowadays that we pretty much do not have to communicate Old-School anymore. I couldn't really find a simple mentor texts I liked for this lesson so I made this little book to use for this. I kind of camp out at introduction of letters for a day or two to let their little brains wrap around the fact that these are different than the letters, ABC, we have been learning about all year. If you click on the picture it will take you to my store to get it for yourself!


After they understand the purpose of letter writing, we go into parts of letters. This is fun to teach for me because they get it so quickly. If you are a Whole Brain Teacher, then this is a lesson that will fill your little WBT bucket. Check out the video on my last Five for Friday post to check out their little brains at work! 

After they learn the parts of the letter the complete this little informal assessment I whipped up. This is going to be their covers when it is time to publish. This is the little friend I shared on my Five for Friday a few days ago. I cracked up over how he spelled “body.” Click on the Picture for a free, blank download of this beauty!


After they got the parts of a letter down is when I introduce persuasive letters specifically! I go back and I re-read the persuasive letter page in the book mentioned beforehand. Then I go around to a few students and ask them to tell me something they really want. A couple of them, I respond with, “Why should you get that?” or “Why should you get to do that?” I then explain to them that sometime we really really want things to happen, and sometimes the best way to make them happen is to write a letter trying to persuade our reader.

I take this time to read a few letters out of the oh-so-wonderful book, The Day the Crayons Quit. After each letter I say, “Now what did the ____ crayon want from Duncan? How did they convince him?”


We then go into 3 days of why we write persuasive letters. I like to pair these with “Pigeon” books by Mo Willems. My kiddos love Pigeon! Before I let go of the reigns and let them write persuasive letters on their own, we write letters to the Pigeon!

The beauty of this is that for the most part they all choose the same side to write on. You might have a few kiddos that decide to stray from the pack, but in my experience, if their brains can take them there and justify it, than they do just fine writing it!

Here is the cover I use for their persuasive letters to Pigeon! This cover and every other writing paper included in this Pigeon plan was made last year by the wonderful and talented Stephanie Rhodes at Definitely Elementary. 

 


I keep it simple on the first day. WRITERS WRITE PERSUASIVE LETTERS TO GET SOMETHING THEY WANT.
I use Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus for this mini-lesson. I love starting out with this one just because, 100% of my students agree that the Pigeon should not drive a bus. I make sure to make the connection that the Pigeon is trying really hard to convince us that he is more than capable to drive the bus! I make a t-chart where we list the reasons that Pigeon gives us as to why he should be allowed to drive the bus. On the other side of the chart, I write down the students’ responses as to why he should NOT drive the bus. I wish I had taken a picture of this chart, because their reasons are HILARIOUS! For example, “He has wings, how is he supposed to hold the steering wheel?” and “Look at his legs, how is he supposed to reach those pedal things.” From the mini-lesson, the students write a persuasive letter to the Pigeon trying to convince him that driving the bus is probably not a good idea.


WRITERS WRITE PERSUASIVE LETTERS TO SOLVE A PROBLEM
After Bus Driver day, we go into another reason why writers write persuasive letters. TO SOLVE A PROBLEM! I love to use the book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late. After reading the book, I ask the students, what Pigeon’s problem was. They usually get this, because it is something they can relate to. I am sure they have plenty of practice begging their parents to stay up past their bedtime ;) I usually try and make a connection with them and brainstorm some reasons they have heard their parents use when they really want to stay up late. I jot those down on the board for them to reference to. This is where it gets fun, because you always have a few that are still on board for letting the pigeon stay up late, and that is wonderful! I love seeing their independence!
It is a great opportunity for a side conversation about opinions and it is okay for them to be different. From here, they go back and write a persuasive letter to Pigeon and convince him to either go to bed or stay up late!


WRITERS WRITE PERSUASIVE LETTERS TO CHANGE SOMETHING THEY DON’T LIKE.
From there we talk about the 3rd reason writers write persuasive letters, TO CHANGE SOMETHING WE DON’T LIKE! Before I read the book, Pigeon Needs a Bath, we brainstorm some things in our life that we don’t like that we would love to change. Their answers are knee slapping that is for sure. My answers would be like mortgage insurance, or the amount of traffic after work on Fridays. Their answers were more like, not enough cookies for lunch, or too short of snack time, or the amount of vegetables their parents make them eat. Oh how I wish my life were that simple!

I read the story, PigeonNeeds a Bath, and we talk about what it is that Pigeon really doesn’t like, baths. We have a discussion about how sometimes there are things in our lives that we don’t like and writing letters is one way we can try and solve it. Then from there, I split the class based on their opinions. On one side, I put the kiddos that think that Pigeon NEEDS to take a bath, and on the other, I put the kiddos that think that Pigeon really doesn’t need to take a bath. We brainstorm some supporting details for both and then I send them off to write their persuasive letters to Pigeon on whether he should or should not take a bath. This is where this unit gets really fun, because this is where they kind of take off with their letters. They get away from the typical responses or get away from relying on the ideas generated by the class, and they start to really think and come up with their own reasons and persuasions.

Look at this little precious one’s letter:


WRITERS CHOOSE A SIDE AND STICK TO IT
I know I know I said 3 days, but who doesn’t love a bonus?!? Now I know this teaching point isn’t a reason why we write persuasive letters, but I like to have 4 days with Pigeon, because this takes me to 2 full weeks of lessons before they spread their wings on persuasion! Before I send them off with their own persuasive letters, I like to have a mini-lesson about picking to a side/opinion and sticking to it. The book, Pigeon Wants a Puppy is perfect for this lesson because Pigeon really really wants a puppy throughout most of the book, but then learns that a puppy is scary and decides that he wants a walrus.

I make a connection with my writers about how sometimes we write a persuasive letter, but then change sides in the middle of our letter and that makes our letters not as powerful! I ask them does it really make sense for Pigeon to want a puppy so badly, and then change his mind to a walrus? No! Just like it doesn’t make sense for Pigeon to go from wanting a puppy to a walrus, it doesn’t make sense for us to write a letter trying to persuade our reader one way, then changing our mind in the middle of a letter. I then let the class divide themselves up among their opinions.  Then they go off and write their last letter to Pigeon convincing him to either get a puppy or not!


After the little trip down Pigeon Lane...
is when I let go and let them persuade their little hearts out! Now there are just way too many good books that encourage persuasive writing so I still have teaching points and mentor texts I use, but as far as their writing, they write a letter convincing whoever they want to, whatever they want to.

Some more teaching points include but not limited to:
-Writers are like magicians. They use their words to make things happen.
-Writers imagine the person they are writing to is sitting right next to them, so they can write like they talk.
-Writers try their best to use their words to get their way.

Some GREAT mentor texts that foster persuasive thinking:

I Wanna … by Karen Kaufman Orloff


Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony

Hey Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose

And to leave you with a few funny letters from my friends. Never in my widest dreams did I think I would get a student who would write a letter to her parents trying to convince them to EAT MORE VEGETABLES! Oh and I am a bad teacher because I forgot to buy Play-doh at the store. 




Happy Persuading My Friends!!