Sunday, October 2, 2016


This is a topic that resonates on a few levels.

I have a student who knows (paid attention to the fact) that one of my writing goals is to do a blog post a week. Every day this sweet girl, E, asks, "Did you do your blog, Mrs. Randall?"  I appreciate her helping me to reach this goal! And, yes, E, this is one from a few weeks ago!

Now, will my kids appreciate me for holding them accountable for doing their GoodReads updates every week and making sure it's more than just adding books to their "want to read" and "read" shelves and adding friends?  They get a grade for updating weekly: keeping a book on their "currently reading" shelf and updating pages as they read; commenting; reviewing.  I finished the check today and entered the grades for it. This is the first time I've done this, and I see I need to make some tweaks to the system.  I also have a few students who need a hard copy, so that got tweaked, as well.
I was "generous" this first time and no one got a failing grade unless they didn't update AT ALL. 

Taking care of me. That's something I need to work on now, also. So many things keep being added, it feels like. I had to make a new to-do list in a chart format that included specifics like when it's due, who assigned it, who's involved in completing it. I'm spending more time reading and need to spend more time walking, also. Right now, I'm typing this on the floor while I stretch. Yesterday, I got my hair done, and that always makes me happy! I got about 6 inches off. Didn't realize I had that much extra!!

On a different note: It's starting to feel like fall, and this makes me happy. I love the cooler weather, and the smells and feelings that go along with that, for me. It will making getting out and walking easier.

Enjoy your Sunday!


Reluctant Writer

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Catching Up

So here we are, 6 weeks into a new school year.

Six weeks into new kids and new classroom personalities.

Six weeks into meetings, paperwork, grading, meetings, planning, grading, and facilitating a readers/writers workshop.

I'm still getting the hang of the workshop, but I'm really enjoying it.  One day was spent working on writing SMART goals. One of my goals was to post a blog entry every day. I'm not setting such a good example as far as meeting that writing goals.

I LOVE my kids this year! Overall, they are one of THE MOST AMAZING groups I've had in 23 years of teaching.

I've had to make a new to-do list that is now a chart.

I'm having to make the workshop more fluid and days I think should be reading turn into writing; days that are writing turn into reading. Does it need to be any one way? Are there any middle school teachers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth doing a workshop format? How do you do it? I've been using mini-lesson time to introduce a topic/skill, then they can use it that day or later, but it will get used.

If you've read this, thank you!  I'll be posting again this week.


Reluctant Writer.

Monday, August 29, 2016

TeacherTired - First Week of School

I've survived!

To all the other teachers out there: Congratulations!! I hope  you made it to the end of Friday!!

So, I don't know where I heard it, but it's true.... There's just no tired like first day/week of school teacher tired! I get home, put on the pajamas, fall asleep, wake up, take care of dinner, clean the kitchen, shower, go to bed. All before 9 or 9:30!  I know it's not just me, other teachers feel the same way! I know I'll eventually get my teaching stamina back, but WOW! It's a kick in the head right now!

This week with kids has really been amazing! I'm loving my kids and am learning their names. THAT'S always a challenge. I remind them that I have 126 names to learn, but they only have SEVEN! This year there are quite a few Jakes/Jacobs, Graces/Gracies, Elles/Ellies. The names.... ALL the Names. But I'm getting them! I can name them while they're in my room. The true test will be on Monday to see if I can remember the names!

It's the middle of my teaching day, and I'm in the library with my 4th period. Some are writing in their writer's notebook, some are reading, some are looking for books, some are talking about their books, but they're all involved!!  I hope ALL of my kids are this into it!

In other news:
**My kid officially starts COLLEGE on Monday.
**My in-laws are celebrating their 50th (YES, FIFTIETH) wedding anniversary tomorrow!! That is the most amazing thing to me! My husband and I are in year 25, and I find this amazing, as well!

I'm ending this abruptly, which I know I shouldn't do, so I'll use this as a "what not to do" conclusion!

Thanks for reading!


Reluctant Writer

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Catching Up and Readers/Writers Workshop

Long time, no write! I can't believe it's been over a week!

My aunt came to visit for a week, so we did a few things, while I still spent a bit of time working. We went to the Sixth Floor Museum and went to TopGolf, among other things.  I've been to the museum several times, because people like to go there. I had never been to Top Golf before! That was so much fun! And watching my aunt and son was pretty good entertainment.

I went in last Monday to school to work on my room and managed to straighten tables, chairs, and other furniture. I spent a few hours on Thursday and pretty much emptied my cabinet and spread the contents on the tables. I spent ALL DAY Friday tossing and recycling, and organized my work area (shelves, table, etc). Went in Saturday and took things off the walls, added things to the walls. Im almost ready.

This week has started the REAL work. Meetings. Yesterday was a campus day, meaning we spent the day on our home campus reviewing information and learning about the new appraisal system. The days are long, but they're spent with people I like and enjoy being around!

Next week, I get to meet MY NEW KIDS!! I am SO excited to meet these new 7th graders!! HOWEVER, I'm trying out something new with Mel at Mollick's Lit Mix: readers/writers workshop. It's a much bigger process than I imagined, but she and I have worked well together, I think! I hope I've contributed as much as I think I have!! Mel is amazing, and I love working with her!! Sometimes, I think I'm a big picture person and can tell you what I think, but getting down the itty bitty details throws me. Mel can take my thinking and put it into words and calendars.

I'm to the point now, as far as planning, where I need to sit down and spread my stuff out to look at calendars and resources, so I can fill out my calendar!

Back to my meeting! I hope y'all are enjoying what's left of summer!!


Reluctant Writer

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Life Happens!

I had gotten into a routine in July: wake up - feed the dog - make coffee - grab the remote and computer.

Then I'd catch up with the shows I DVRed and read/work-on Teachers Write blogs and writing.

It was still dark outside, and everyone was asleep so I could focus on my stuff.

THEN I went to Mom's - vacation - 9 days! The first day or two I did pretty well. I got up, grabbed my computer, sat at the table, and got to work on school stuff, Teachers Write, and blog reading.

Mom was asleep. Dad was already at work. No dog to feed. Well....not one I needed to feed.

Day 3.

I laid in bed and looked at the trees - identifying each one - lemon - mandarin - banana.

I listened to the birds.

Finally, dragged myself out of bed. Played with the cats. Looked at Mom's books. Played on the computer. Meandered around her living room, backyard and front yard trying to name the different plants and trees. Despite my not-so-green thumb, I could name quite a few - ponytail plant, artichoke, tomato, bromeliad, airplane plant, lime, lemon, mandarin, banana, weeds, and roses.

Then play with the dog, let the cats out, then watch some tv.

The rest of my visit, my mornings went pretty much the same!

I may not have stayed on top of blog reading and writing, but I left Mom's totally rested and looking forward to my next visit in September!

This break from my usual routine made me realize that if I'm going to blog the way I want to, I need to keep a routine of sorts. I need to have a place and time to write.  That might mean getting up a little earlier or staying up a little later on weekends. Hopefully, during school, that will mean, working during the kids writing workshop time, so I can model writing for my kids.


Reluctant Writer

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Slice of Life in Louisiana

I'm home for the week. I got here last Saturday at 10:15 am, after leaving home at 4:00 am-ish. I enjoy getting up early and driving; it's quiet, and there's not much traffic. The sunrise is amazing!! And so is the lightning.

I was born and raised in the Texas hill country and am definitely a Texas girl. I've lived in New Mexico and Kansas, but Texas is definitely home, unless I'm with my parents in Louisiana, then that's home.

What makes my parent's house in Louisiana "home"?

*The marble board made by a a great great great on the table ready for a game between me and Mom

*The many plants (and they're ALIVE!!)

*Mom and Dad

*Going to the gun range with Dad

*Sleeping in

*A calm and relaxed, stress-free feeling

*Cooking, sewing, shopping with Mom. This visit we finished my son's quilt by tufting it.

*My fur sister, Callie
*ALL THE BOOKS (this shows not even a quarter of the books at home)

This morning we will be doing some cleaning and organizing at my brother's house. He works offshore and isn't home too much, so his house kinda shows it. 

A few more days to enjoy the calm and quiet before heading home to get ready for school.


Reluctant Writer

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slice of Life: "Just Another Manic Monday" ...... quote The Bangles.

My son's car has THREE recalls on it! A window master something, an airbag, and then something else (must not be life-threatening, or I'm sure I'd remember. Monday was THE day I was getting my wedding ring back after taking it in to be resized. After many years, I had decided it was time to do it, so I could wear it, again! Up to this point, I'd been wearing random rings on my ring finger, but was ready to take the plunge. I was expecting it to cost HUNDREDS to resize it, but a half size and $65 later, it would be on my hand!! 

I woke up Monday, called the Toyota dealership, and they could fit me in at 7:30; it was 7:10. "We'll be there!"  Then we'd go to my son's dentist appointment, then go pick up my ring! 

We opened the garage door, and.......NOTHING! IT WOULDN'T OPEN! My son's car is in the garage. We tried in vain to get it open. Even trying to do it manually wouldn't get it open! I called Toyota, let them know the car was stuck in the garage, and I'd call back if we  got it out.  M and I went to breakfast, instead. I mean.... we were up and dressed, so why not? 

Then we went to the grocery store where M looked at me wide-eyed and said, "You've got THE BREAD. THE BREAD FOR GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES." My reply: "Yes, I do. Go get cheese. Whatever kind you want." He perused the sliced cheese and came back with.......colby jack. We got back home, tried the garage, again and still nothing.  I made M his grilled cheese (doctored up cream cheese and sliced cheese. It really is quite wonderful. Got the idea from a little restaurant in Kansas), then....

I called Sears, and they'll be out today to the tune of $300.....

The dentist appointment? One small cavity and a permanent retainer wire broken in two places. $225-275 to replace the retainer. Do I go further out (about a 30-45 minute drive to the orthodontist he hasn't seen in over to save $50?) Or stay here in town and pay $50 for convenience? Since it won't happen until September when we're all back at school, I'm leaning toward convenience....

Oh, my ring? Yeah.....Didn't get that yesterday. Probably won't today. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll go through school stuff I brought home and Netflix binge "Stranger Things".


Reluctant Writer

Sunday, July 17, 2016

San Francisco - First Impressions

When my son was little, he would say "tunnelk" instead of "tunnel", so OF COURSE, I had to get a picture!! This was just outside of SF, I think. So far, so good! 

I couldn't even believe how crowded it was! How can people live like this?! Give me my space, please!!

Thought this was cool! My husband and son couldn't see the car that this is, at first!

Well, I'd never seen one, so YEAH, I had to take a picture! Now, remember we were caravanning? I had Alice, my GPS on my phone going (we were last in the line), my father-in-law had his at the front, and aunt and uncle were in the middle. Every street we needed to turn on was blocked, and we couldn't figure out why! We kept getting redirected. Soon, we figured it out.

These were some of the interesting outfits at the Pride Parade. Yep! That's why we kept getting re-routed. At one point, we had to stop (the traffic was RIDICULOUS) and the girl in the car next to us got out of her car and proceeded to have a conversation with her friend on the sidewalk. This irritated my FIL. Aunt was pretty excited, because further along on our way to the hotel, when we were stopped on post-parade traffic, she was given BEADS!! She didn't even have to show anything!

Have I mentioned I have THE MOST AMAZING INLAWS?! We stayed a block away from Fisherman's Wharf. Thank you so much for this awesome vacation!! We unloaded our vehicles and headed out to walk around and explore. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!! The people-watching, the sea lions, the sights, and sounds. I was on overload!

This was at the end of Pier 39, where the newer restaurants and shops were located. We came down here Sunday night. My husband C and his aunt K are admiring the sailboats.
We headed back to the hotel after a couple of hours of exploring and grabbing some dinner.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Beaches and Waves: Saturday and Sunday (LOTS of Pictures!)

So many waves on our drive to San Francisco from Monterey! We stopped every chance we could. We had a caravan (my in-laws and an aunt and uncle), which you would think would be difficult, but it was great! We all wanted to see and experience the same things. I'm just going to put my pictures here. If any need an explanation, I'll provide one.

These two (above and below) are at Carmel

On our way to SF, we stopped in Moss Landing and found a fruit stand with a free standing deep fried artichoke person. They made two batches fresh for us, so we had a tailgate picnic of deep-fried artichoke (these were so good!!), strawberries, and cherries. All from California.

I LOVE the waves! I think the picture above is my favorite one that I took. I love how I managed to catch the spray of the water as it hit!!


Reluctant Writer

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Don't laugh, but..." A Slice of Life

These words came out of the mouth of my 18 year old, 6 foot tall son, followed by: "it's kinda nerdy, but we're gonna go walk around and play Pokemon Go!" This is followed by a slight blush and a laugh. I laughed with him, and we talked a little about it. It wasn't long (the next day, to be exact) before I was on the Pokemon Go bandwagon.

Monday morning was busy for us. He had to go up to North Lake to change his schedule,;I had a meeting at 9; he had to be at work at 10.

North Lake by 8, then on the way to Einstein Bagels we grabbed a few Pokemon, then headed to my meeting where we passed a Pokestop. Between the end of my appointment and getting him to work, we drove around for about 30 minutes looking for Pokemon-related things, talking, laughing at each other and other people playing and just spending time together. Please note: I DID NOT PLAY AND DRIVE! I had a willing passenger, or I pulled over.

There's nothing I enjoyed more yesterday than spending time with my son on a common quest for Pokemon and Pokestops. Looking over at him, taking up the entire passenger side: long legs and big smile,  I could still see the silly little boy who played Pokemon on his Gameboy.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Teachers Write: Similes

***WARNING: This isn't perfect. It's learning in progress***

This quick-write was about comparisons, specifically similes.  These are the first two instructions given by Liz Garton Scanlon, the guest author for this quick-write.

"1. Brainstorm a list of emotional or physical states (jealousy, joy, fear, hunger, anger, excitement, worry, confidence, sadness, etc.) Put each word on a little slip of paper and have everyone in the group pick one. (If it’s just you, give yourself a nice choice of words or, better yet, have someone write them for you.)
2. Now, brainstorm a list of both natural and manmade objects (pillow, rock, waterfall, TV, table, blender, forest fire, river, puddle, book, bar of soap, etc.) Put each word on a little slip of paper and have everyone in the group pick one."
Since I had just come back from California, I chose the two things that popped into my head as a read each instruction:
Relaxing and crashing waves
Next, I had to write the simile:                     Relaxation is like a crashing wave.
Here comes the tough part. I have to make this a TRUE statement!!
Relaxing                                    Both                                 Crashing Waves
Quiet usually                                   Different stages                     Loud                                                                     Can be movement                                                                         Always movement 
And there we are. Now, I need to explain it. 
Relaxation is like a crashing wave. They both have different stages.     
And that's all I've got. Everything else only seemed to make sense in my head. "They are peace-inducing." That doesn't even make sense here. But this was my thinking: waves come in seemingly slowly, then grow, and crash into the shore; relaxation begins deliberately. We sit down, then maybe pick up a book or a remote, then, if you're anything like're asleep! Stages....
Reluctant Writer

Thoughts on Writing, reluctantly

I attended two days of #cisdlitcamp at the beginning of the summer, which is how I got started with the blogging. I'm also participating in Teachers Write 2016.

#Cisdlitcamp focused on writing and reading. Writing what we wanted to write,as long as we wrote. We reflected; we did book talks; we started a blog. A blog for anything. So far mine has two somewhat random ones, one post for Teachers Write, and then my vacation posts.

Teachers Write seems to be more about writing stories, which is good for me. It makes me think more outside the box and outside my comfort zone. No one can judge my vacation writing (I hope, anyway), but people can think my story ideas are stupid or don't make sense. That's where I feel vulnerable, so, maybe that's where I need to focus. I'm writing the ideas down in my writer's notebook; I'm posting in the comments of the various blogs, maybe a day or two later, but I need to let the ideas simmer.

I realized that maybe this story place is where I'm reluctant, and that's what I'll try to work on. This means that my blog will be a mixture of story, vacation, school, books, and whatever else I put on here. Maybe it's a picture or quote that struck me.

Happy Saturday!! Maybe I'll go back to my comfort zone and put up another California post later!


Reluctant Writer

Friday, July 8, 2016

Heading to Monterey (Thursday and Friday)

So far, this blogging isn't so difficult. Although, to be honest, all I'm doing is talking about my vacation! That's really easy!  I'll get into other things (books, school), later.

Well, today we're heading to Monterey for the family reunion. I was a little sad that we'd be leaving this amazingness:

Woke up to a foggy beach!! I still saw and heard those waves, though. I definitely miss them!!

Once we got the condo cleaned up and got the car packed up, we headed out past the fields surrounded by fog:

and this great house! I think (I HOPE) someone's working on it. It's in the middle of a field of dirt, but can't you see the potential? A low fence to separate the house garden from the fields. Maybe the house is white or cream with dark blue trim? 

I don't know what it is about this house, but I couldn't take my eyes off of it every time we passed by!

We headed to Moss Landing for lunch. Today was my husband's pick. Remember how we each pick a meal? His was seafood. Now, he really enjoys seafood and will try ANYTHING. ANY KIND OF FOOD. I'm not that daring. I don't eat seafood. I don't like the textures. Texture issues, that's me. BUT, I was determined to eat fish at least once. I mean, we were on the coast, so it shouldn't be too horrible. C's choice was Phil's Fish Market.

We decided the fisherman who greeted us looked like my dad.

We ordered and walked through the restaurant and found a seat at the very back and outside. There was a fence that separated the restaurant from the beach. When we got there, it was pretty foggy but cleared up quickly, so we could enjoy the view.  There was a family enjoying the beach, dogs playing frisbee, the horses, and THE WAVES. 

C's food: cioppino. Basically, a bowl full of random seafood. 

Mine: grilled halibut, fries, the huge, yummy salad, cantaloupe and the bread.
It wasn't horrible, but I had to choke down the last few bites. I was determined to eat the WHOLE, DANG PIECE. I succeeded.

And my son's..... a patty melt.... SOOO adventurous!

Our view at lunch. I loved the sound of the waves!

These two pictures are from the restroom at the restaurant! How cool, right?! I don't make it a habit to take restroom pictures...

Monterey: Bougainvillea was EVERYWHERE and full and lush like this one!
All of the following pictures are from Monterey and the 17 Mile Drive. 

More waves crashing against the rocks. Such a relaxing sound.

Yep, more waves!

Well, I really liked the roof. It reminded me of the Weasley's roof. I'm NOT explaining that reference!

This tree is called The Lone Cypress. It's 250 years old, and is used as the logo for Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach looking over the 18th hole.

Lunch overlooking Monterey Bay

Jellyfish lights in The Fish Hopper

Remember this little guy? It's a BABY SEAGULL!! It looks like a leopard!

C, our son M, and C's dad at Carmel Beach (Carmel-by-the-Sea)

Loved the roof of this house!!

Thanks for visiting today! I'll have more pictures tomorrow. Maybe not as many?


Reluctant Writer