Famous Blogger Read by a Few Handfuls

I love the new Peanuts movie. I took my daughters and we really enjoyed it. I guess I identify with Charlie Brown. He gets frustrated but hangs in there. I love my son for going down to the community college today. He took matriculation tests to see where he stands next fall to start college. For a 17 year old still in high school, this is a hugely advanced skill. I’m impressed.

I’ve been thinking about what’s advanced for me as a teacher. At this time of year and with my group, I need to be all about tracking data and that hopefully upward. I must admit, with common core I am still not 100% sure what I will use to do this but I will get there. I’m picturing a 3 ring binder with running records based on standard itemized assessments.

My Joe Hill book is getting crazy. Christmasland is going to hold some horrific stuff ahead. One thing I don’t like is that it jumps around. One chapter the brat is a kid then another she’s older. It gets confusing but I’m game for the challenge. The nook my wife bought me is a delight to read on. Makes it easier.

Blogging life is at an all time high. I enjoy writing a daily challenge, doing a pen and ink journal on tumblr, and keeping this diary current. The test will be down the road when life starts getting stressful as it tends to do. For now, I feel like a famous blogger, read by a few handfuls :) Thank you who is reading this.

Red Goal Robins

Red Robin was my culinary sin tonight. We celebrated my mother in law’s birthday there. It was awesome food. I love the way they’re onion rings taste. Sarah had a coupon for a free shake so we shared one. That also was taste-ola. Red Robin is always a winner in my book.

There isn’t much teaching time before Christmas break. That means clear, achievable goals are essential. I’ll be thinking about them all this week. This weekend when I send my lesson plans to the principal, I’ll include them. I think goals are one of the best strategies for showing growth in learners.

My wife brought me a Nook reader home. I am very excited. In the process of setting it up however I discovered my current read, “NOS4A2” by Joe Hill is a legit 650 pages! I had no idea. It might be why he’s developing things quite slowly. It may not be about a vampire after all.

I started posting goals with ROW80. It’s a good way to keep tabs on how I’m doing with blogging goals. Blogging has become a fluid, natural process. Even though my goals are lofty, I’m already doing it.

The Triptophan Diaries

Is that an awesome name for a novel or what? Thanksgiving is the time we get to eat! It’s also the time we remind ourselves how much we love our families because they are going to try our very last nerve. It’s the time of year when more people commit suicide than any other. As for me I’m lucky. I love my family and I have a pretty good muscle memory about waiting out the pits. It does get better and everyone ends up hugging and kissing. The ride home from the holidays is usually one where everyone in the car is stuffed and exhausted and I just count my blessings. Oh joy! Turkey day is only 3 days from now.

I keep thinking about my classroom. I have needs from pre-kindergarten readers to post grade levels. It’s a lot to be responsible for. I have some ideas. I’m going to pull out my edi strategies and really integrate them with the common core material. I’m going t pretend I’m a newbie and write the plans in step my step from scratch. I really want to see improvement in my kids and I am not going to give up until I see it.

My Joe Hill book has plateaued a bit I’m afraid. He has a really interesting thing going describing a horrific place called “Christmasland” but then deviated and regressed back to a discussion of the brat. I know the short way has some important role to play, we shall see. I’m reading about 30-40 mins a day. I hope to do more over the week. I’d like to finish “NOS4A2” and write my review by this weekend.

I’m really into my blogging these days. I do 1-4 posts a day. I usually start off with the Daily Post prompt then do the tumblr paper & pen journal which I cross post to my WordPress blog. Those are my regulars. I’m in NaBloPoMo this month so I do one of their prompts occasionally, especially when I don’t like the Daily Post one. Furthermore, I do some photo challenges and sometime Mama Kat’s Weekly Writing Challenge. I’m not at a loss for blog challenges. Finally I write my open ended no rules online diary piece almost every night as I’m winding down and remembering the day. You might say the blog has woven itself into my very backbone, I’m not complaining. It is a very fun hobby.

Parenting in Mixed Families

Mixed families, or families with step parents, are often viewed as an extra challenge. My wife had a son when we met and now we have two kids making our kid count three, This is not much by most standards but every now and then, the mixed family stereotype touches us. My situation is tame in comparison to the dads and moms who come into a child’s life at 14 or even later. At this point there is inherent confusion as to the role of the new parent and sometimes, the child or young adult ends up quite bitter.

So now that we see they’re different, how does a step parent thrive in the situation?

I think the following list is a good place to start:

  1. Treat the child normally but be extra kind. The child is wondering if you love them as much since you aren’t their natural birth parent.
  2. Spend time with them regularly.
  3. Share a passion. For my son and I it is guitar.  We listen to Dave Sharp CD’s and air guitar them while driving.
  4. Hug them often.
  5. Remember your spouse loves that child immensely.
  6. Take them under your wing as if they were your own.

A few expressions of caring and love such as these will go a long way toward balancing your home.  If you are new to a mixed family, beware of the mistake of thinking it isn’t any different from a traditional family.  Do you have experience and/or advice about parenting in a mixed family?


Embers pacify and keep us warm yet if we get too close they burn our faces.


I guess today I see love as a more irrational thing than the logical glue that holds the universe together. Most movies portray it that way. I see young people at the mall and restaurants “hanging out” with a forlorn look in their eyes as if they are missing out. They’re trying to get at love. But what is it really? Is it sex? Partly, in romantic love that is. What about brotherly love? That isn’t so easy to define. In a general sense, teachers must manifest brotherly love every day. Most of us went into teaching because we enjoy working with kids. Still, you deal with social workers, Principals, co-teachers, and the parents and extended families of your 25-35 kids so you need a broad sense of brotherly love. A teacher’s job is kind of like a therapist sometimes but you don’t have the luxury or time to show people some of the answers that are out there. Today was a frustrating day for me. That’s a good thing though I have learned because those are the days I learn and grow the most from.

“The Brat” is sick in my Joe Hill Book “Nos4a2.” I sat next to the embers and read for a half an hour tonight. There’s something going on with the “lower way back.” It’s not functional but Vic remembers it well. Perhaps a Vampire is down there? Not sure but enjoying my reading time. I’m 14% of the way through. I didn’t do my journal challenge today. Based on my emotional ride at work, I just didn’t have it in me on my lunch hour. I’ll do it this weekend for sure (crosses fingers). I did a succinct Daily Post Challenge I’m proud of. I’m using the WordPress “Press This” bookmarklet to create linkbacks for challenges. So far I really like the functionality and look of it. Last, I wrote this diary entry and a response to Mama Kat’s weekly writing challenge. I put up 5 big pictures in that one. I planned on doing more but it was too time consuming so I hastily published.

Discipline and Waiting

Sometimes love means letting others vent. Time heals all wounds, so I think it’s important to wait sometimes, let people vent and even walk away for a while. Love trusts in people and gives them time. Every morning makes things new, clearer, and more possible. Teaching consisted of parent teacher conferences all last week. I hope I helped some students. I mean to do right by my contribution.

I read nothing in my Joe Hill novel today. I lack discipline. Tomorrow I hope to read over my lunch hour.
I blogged a Daily Post prompt, a Journal challenge, and now a diary entry. I think it’s safe to say my blogging muscles are quite strong. Tomorrow is TGIF!!!

Love Teaching Reading Blogging on a Wednesday Afternoon

When a child is born, the parents usually find they will never love anything as much. That’s an easy love. A more difficult love is, for a teacher for example, seeing the future citizens of the world in your difficult students. That’s no easy love. If I want to be known as a really loving person, I need to concentrate on the difficult love and be driven to it.

I’m reading NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. It’s a horror novel but at present they are introducing the main character and it’s really just Americana reverie. I grew up with a lot of the products he mentions in the early chapters. It’s very descriptve and detailed and I’m staying with it. Had a breakthrough in blogging today. I got 4 reblogs and 14 likes on my tumblr journal challenge post. That’s a record after about 10 years on Tumblr. I guess I found my challenge!

First Day of Parent Conferences, Check.

The parents I met with today were very receptive to things I shared. I compared reading to the drink Alice takes before going down the rabbit hole. It is like liquid achievement. Every year it’s hard getting kids to spend just 20 minutes at home. Parents can help and when they do, I see massive growth in all subjects for a child.

The other big help is when kids memorize their times tables. In 4th grade we get into long division and fractions and it is crucial the know these. I try to stress both things plus whatever else they may need. It’s so rewarding when parents respect me and take my advice. I hope the rest of the week goes as well as today. My few major behavior problem kids are coming up. I hope they go well but I’m not naive. So there is a little recap of Mr. Riley’s parent conferences day 1.

*.lemons to lemonade

There's something about teaching that seems part and parcel to Murphy's Law. Today I decided to have my kids work on some independent work, which in teaching is never your proudest moment to be observed in, you want to be instructing and modeling like a boss. As they started that activity, I started putting together handouts and data for parent conferences that start tomorrow. At that moment, the admins from the district office walked through. Oh, how I wish it would have been just 10 minutes earlier. Hopefully they will have grace on me. There are always my writing sounds letter cards walls. Those are definitely things I'm proud of.

I got to thinking about how to turn a lemon day into lemonade and here's what I came up with: In order to make the best of a bad situation, try this:

  • Soul search for vulnerabilities and make a plan to strengthen them
  • Ask yourself what you are scared of and shore up strength against it
  • Make a plan so you are "bullet proof" from the same things happening again
  • Remind yourself that all people are imperfect, including yourself, and give yourself a second chance
  • Put your best foot forward from here on out
  • Smile
  • Think of the obvious right things to do and do them
  • Give yourself feedback, don't be too critical but just enough to avoid this happening again -and-
  • Get in touch with something you enjoy doing and escape into it for a while. It is possible to overthink mistakes.

This week is parent conferences. I get to tell parents how great their kiddos are with a few suggestions for academic improvement here and there. I'm looking forward to discussing reading strategies and math practice they can use to foster academic achievement in their children. These are bittersweet times. Ultimately it is very valuable to the growth of the child and that's what makes it great. If as they say 80% of success is showing up, I plan to show up tomorrow and hope the best for the rest!

Starfire Conferences

Before “Star Wars” had anything to do with Legos, it was a mind-bending piece of cinema that forever changed a boy, namely me. Currently I am forcing my daughters, 8 and 10, to watch the original “Star Wars” with mixed buy-in. It’s the Jawa scene right now where they shock R2D2 and abduct him back to their transport. Everything I just said has better visuals than the whole of science fiction movies made since. I love the first three movies made but for me, “A New Hope” is the first, the last, and the best of all things called “Star Wars.” My oldest is still fighting it but my younger one seems to have been drawn in.

We had the wood delivered yesterday, a full cord. I helped Brandon stack it but after about an hour I suggested his friend come over and help him finish it up. This is one of the benefits of having a 17 year old son who took to weightlifting. Anyway, they got together and did an awesome job. They went and pigged out on McDonald’s afterwards, we paid of course. I am so thankful they got the job done. This morning I’ve already burned two bundles of firewood. It is the best feeling when you have a cord of firewood and cold weather coming on for the next few months.

I have parent conferences next week. It’s going to be different because we are having the kids in class until 12:30 or so and then we have scheduled conferences for the rest of the afternoon for 4 days. This year for the first time I was reminded that you shouldn’t put “Pleasure to have in class.” as a comment unless the student is getting along with her/his peers and respecting teachers. Otherwise, it sort of condones the behavior. It sort of flies in the face of the maxim that you should try to find nice things to say in comments. Teaching is often an enigma and through the passage of time it seems to get foggier and foggier. That which was one the important thing to do, like posting scores in class, is now the taboo. No child is ever to be embarrassed for scoring low. Is that preparation for life? For Capitalism? As always, I continue to adapt with the interest of the child in the forefront of my mind.