Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Slice of Life: Lessons I have learned from my dog 11/19

The ladies at Two Writing Teachers
host the Slice of Life every Tuesday.

My dog Carmela is super smart.  She has some great lessons to teach us all.  Here are the top ten lessons she has taught me:

1. Sometimes it is time to put aside the work and relax.  My dog will push the computer right out of my lap or try to lie down on top of it--her not-so-subtle reminder that it is time to cuddle and put away the work.

2. If someone you love is upset or crying, you should drop everything to console them. The doggie form of consolation is licking all over your face, but you could probably pick something else like hugs.

3. You should welcome everyone home with exuberance. That way they will know you love them.

4. Credit cards are dangerous. You should not use them.

5. Sometimes you should be wary of strangers.  Follow your instincts.

6. Books are amazing.  You should kiss them every once in a while because they smell so good.

7. There is no such thing as too many belly rubs.  You should ask everyone you come across for a good belly rub.

8. The best way to start the day is with a good walk.

9. Sleeping in is for lazy bums, but naps are perfectly acceptable.

This is one of my favorite pics from when she was a puppy.

10. If you are naughty, just beg for forgiveness. Who could resist that face?

If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with a pet, I am sure you can relate to this post.  I certainly have learned a lot from every pet I have had.  Carmela just has some particularly great lessons for me.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Slice of Life: Celebrations 11/12

Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers
host the Slice of Life every Tuesday.

Here is something that I am celebrating this week:

Last week, my students begged to be able to write.  This is the second year that I have participated in NaNoWriMo and I absolutely love the experience!  I knew that my students needed time to prewrite and prepare for this month so all through October we worked on developing characters and plot.

NaNoWriMo for adults means trying to write 50,000 words in the month.  For students, the word count goal is a self-selected number.  Using this chart, I set the requirements for my 8th graders.  They are required to set a goal between 3,000 and 10,000 words, if not higher.  We use the Word Count Goal Calculator on the Young Writers Program website to prove to students that they will be able to write that amount of words.  I love the way that some students challenge themselves with a higher word count goal than they are required to have.

Once November starts, I set aside at least 2 class periods a week for novel writing.  By having students work so much on prewriting in October, I was able to build up their anticipation for NaNoWriMo.  On November 1st, students were silent and writing.  And every day since the students have begged for writing time and cheered when I told them it was a noveling day.  I also offered after school sessions for students who might want to come write.  I was blown away that there were 18 students who signed up for these sessions.  So far, we have spent three separate days after school until 5pm.  Driving home from school after these sessions, I feel so amazing.  I love that I have students who are enjoying writing so much.

Last year, NaNoWriMo was the number one thing that my students wrote about on my end of the year survey.  They LOVED the experience.  This year my students are even more enthusiastic about this experience.  I would not have believed that this would be such a popular writing activity if I had not tried it.

Although I love NaNoWriMo as a class activity, I have realized that NaNoWriMo does not work for me.  I have not spent enough time doing the work to plan out my novels.  I have the ideas but when I sit down to write, I just don't have enough.  I am learning that I am the kind of writer that needs to have plans and outlines.  The quick turnaround time of NaNoWriMo does not allow for this outlining and planning.  Even though I am not loving what is coming out, I am working on a draft so that I can celebrate my word count with my students.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Slice of Life: Injections 11/5

I am slowly, but surely learning about living with MS.  My most recent flare-up seems to have subsided for the most part.  I am glad to know that the ridiculous fatigue I sometimes feel has an explanation, and I have been glad to be able to read some blog posts from others who have these same symptoms.

Last week, I read Climbing Higher which is Montel Willams' memoir about dealing with MS.  I was amazed to read about the severe symptoms he experienced, and about how little they knew about the disease just 15 years ago.  It was eye-opening to read that book.  I hope I continue to have relatively mild relapses if I have any at all.

Last Saturday, the nurse came out to my house to train me for doing my daily injections of medication. My husband and I spent about an hour learning the proper technique for doing the injections and the proper ways to dispose of materials.  I now have a little red sharps container of my very own.

The good thing about this medication is that there really are not many side effects.  The most common side effects are injection site reactions.  Therefore, I need to rotate the different injection sites in order to avoid having bigger reactions.  There are seven spots where I do the injections.  So I basically feel like a giant pin cushion.  Each time I do an injection so far, I get a small reaction.  It feels like a bee sting for about 15-20 minutes and I need to put a cold compress on the spot.  It is a small price to pay for possibly not having to deal with bigger neurological symptoms, but it is uncomfortable.  

In the blog post in which I first spoke of my diagnosis, I wrote that my biggest challenge was that of crossing the line from healthy person to person with an auto-immune disease.  I think that this continues to be the biggest adjustment for me.  The daily injections just highlight this difference in my mind.  So I will continue to despise these daily shots at the same time that I love them for what they may do for me.