Word Nerd Undeterred

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Four 4th grade girls stand around, bored. I grab a board game out of the recreation wagon. “Here, play this, it’s super fun!”

They break into teams. Each has a pencil and paper. They shake the word box more violently than necessary.

“FUM!” Yells one girl with glee.

 

“Fum” is not a word!

Yes it is! Fee-Fi-Fo-FUM!

 

Mrs. Wipff, could you look up fum? Is it a word?

I look it up. “Well, according to Wikipedia, it IS a word: Fum is a traditional Catalan Christmas carol.”

The group disbands shortly after that.

Too many words. Kind of boring.

Boggle is the bomb! How can they call it boring? Maybe I’m just a word nerd.

Don’t Overestimate the Power of Review

 

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A couple weeks ago, I taught my 5th graders how to diagram sentences. We started out very simple. They liked it, because it was kind of like geometry in English class. Basically, students were to separate the subject from the verb and create dangling shelves for modifiers. After practicing ten sentences, we started our literature study and left diagramming off to the side.

On their vocabulary test today, I decided to be generous and offer extra credit for diagramming a very simple sentence related to our literary study, The Sign of the Beaver. Here are two responses:

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Where’s the other woman?

 

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I’m speechless.

 

The Abandon of Advanced Age

 

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When I am a woman of old,

I shall never do what I’m told.

I’ll walk in puddles of deep muck,

and never give a flying…care.

 

To the ice cream parlor I’ll shuffle,

and wolf down a chocolate truffle.

For hours and hours I’ll sit,

and never, ever give a…care.

 

With my sister, we will hang glide,

and bi-monthly, we’ll scuba dive.

I might be on a crime program,

but I really won’t give a…care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Got Back on Track

 

When my daughters were six and seven, I realized something shameful.

I had a tummy paunch and was telling myself it was post-pregnancy fat. Yep, six years after giving birth, I excused and denied my mottled middle.

My moment of reckoning occurred at a Cold Stone Creamery of all places. We were eating our favorites: Ava with her Chocolate Devotion, Josie with her Strawberry Blonde and me with my Coffee Lovers. Boy, were we having a great time!

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Before I get further with this story, I want to make something clear: there is nothing wrong with love handles or a bit of pudge. As long as YOU’RE OK with it. I was not OK with my weight. I wore loose clothing and felt badly when I undressed. It’s just me….I feel best about myself when I am fit. I have a small frame and I feel uncomfortable with excess pounds. This is not a judgment about other people. It’s about me confronting something I was unhappy about and how I changed it.

Continuing…We got up from the table when a very fit woman walked past the window.

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She walked just like this…

“Wow, she’s fit,” I said, wistfully.

“Mommy, you look good too, everywhere except your tummy.” Josie said.

As with all children, her words rang true. I had let myself go a bit. I licked the final bits of Coffee Lovers off my upper lip. I fought tears. And I sighed.

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I was ready to change.

In the next year, I lost 7 lbs. and got fit again. I had more energy and I was in a better mood much of the time. How did I do this?

I simply changed my habits.

Instead of going out for ice cream, I took the girls out for walks. We didn’t stop going out for treats entirely, we just cut back.

Instead of eating when I felt bored or stressed, I started jogging and doing yoga again. BUT, I made it a habit and I rewarded myself each time. According to Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), this is THE key to success.  I woke up an hour early every day. I put on my workout clothes which I laid out the night before. After my workout, I had a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I reveled in feeling the endorphins run through my body and my coffee became my reward. I told myself, “No workout, no coffee.” I like coffee a LOT. That was enough to keep me going.

Honestly, I believe I am in better shape now than I was 25 years ago.

 

 

Is there something you want to change? How can you develop habits to make it happen? It’s easier than you think! I highly recommend Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit.” It’s very entertaining and informative.

 

*Photos from unsplash.com

 

A Banner Teen Day

My daughter gave me not one – but TWO – compliments today. Usually, she snottily asks me what happened to my hair, or why am I wearing “those ugly shoes,” or she offers to help me with my very sad eyebrows.

But today, she:

  1. asked to wear one of my shirts to school tomorrow (!) and
  2. asked me why I wear big shorts when I have such nice legs (!)

I know this appearance thing is a phase. I try to not get irked too much when I see her taking her 99th selfie or when she practices her smile and picture poses over and over again. But I worry when I see old men ogling at her at the grocery store. She’s fourteen! I want to scream at them. My friend does scream that at dirty old men who look at her step daughter that way. Maybe we all need to scream it.

Another friend of mine (who has been through numerous miscarriages and a stillbirth), told me she turned to her husband the other day and asked,

“Remember when I just worried about being pretty?”

I exercise every day. I used to workout in order to look good. Now, I do it to FEEL good. Having daughters, I am keenly aware that they are watching me. Telling them that being strong is one thing, but showing them is entirely another.

Of Pastries and Pity

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Ava’s doughnut, minus the tax.

Willey and I teach our girls life lessons. Here are a few examples:

  1. Beware of insecure people. They lack self-love and thus, have no love to  give to you.
  2. Cheap shoes are never worth the savings.
  3. Cheap razors, however, are a wise choice. They are disposable for a reason.

And a biggie:

Taxes are painful and  unavoidable. I illustrate this lesson kinesthetically using doughnuts. Here’s how it goes:

Ava gets her doughnut. She wordlessly hands it to me.

“Tax,” I proclaim, as I take a big bite.

I hand it back to her.

She eats the rest.

As in life, taxes are especially bitter when taken out of your bonus check.

To drive this home, Willey will take tax out of their steak dinners or fancy pasta dishes when we go out. If hangry, the girls are driven nearly to tears.

Hey, it’s for their own good.

“Tough love,” I think they call it.