May 20th. I love it.

Forgot to write last week friends but it was my first week of three new classes and overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling.

First up this week, TKD. I love it. For those that don’t know, that means Tae Kwon Do. I had my instructor come teach some of my middle schoolers a few things. I had fun showing them what I do away from school.

I love it.

Next up, sleeping in. I love it. With School winding down, I’m not gonna lie – I am lazy. But really only on the weekends. For the last month or so, you can find me still in bed on Saturday mornings at noon. I’m not proud but it has to be my body’s way of saying I need the time to relax.

I love it.

Finally, lazy Sundays. I love it. Today was another day that I was more than happy to be lazy. I woke up early but stayed in bed pretty much all day watching “Lord of the Rings”, taking naps, and eating snacks. That’s what Sundays are for bough, right?

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.

Once Upon a Bookshelf – “I Love You, Michael Collins”

I Love You, Michael CollinsI Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I Love You, Michael Collins is not a true story, but I’m sure it hits home with a lot of people when it comes to the “celebrities” that they look up to.

In this story, Mamie, is directed to write a letter to one of the three Apollo 11 astronauts. With most students picking Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin, Mamie takes a different route and writes to the main pilot, Michael Collins. Mr. Collins is almost never mentioned by anyone (most people don’t know who he even is) but Mamie takes it upon herself to let him know just how great he is.

A one time assignment to write a letter becomes a passion for Mamie. She writes him a letter almost everyday until the day he lands safely back on earth. She writes about her family problems, her best friend, Buster, her cat, Campbell, and asks him all sorts of questions about his life and family.

What I love most about this book is that she is rooting for the underdog. I’m sure there is a better way to say that, but I can’t think of one currently. Mamie learns everything she can about this man and comes to find out that it was a struggle for him to get to where he is. She also realizes that he may be the most important one on the Apollo 11 mission; without him, no one will get home.

The emotions that Mamie goes through during the story are vivid in her messages to Mr. Collins. Haven’t you ever just wanted to tell someone everything that’s on your mind? Although she had never met this man and he didn’t get most of her letters before his trip to space, she feels confident that he’s reading them and that he cares. Back when a time when there was no social media to connect with people that we admire, letter writing was the only way to go and there are no “read receipts” for snail mail.

I thought that some of the issues that Mamie had to deal with, like both of her parents more or less abandoning her and her sisters being unaware of how to take care of a ten year old were a little too much for this story. I understand she needed something to write to Mr. Collins about but it just seemed weird and out of place and something that wouldn’t actually happen, even in 1969 (but I could be wrong).

If you love space, diaries, the moon, and kids becoming friends with adults, then this is a book for you. It will make you smile, laugh, and even cry a little but it’s a story with heart.

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May 6th. I love it.

Yay, love.

First up this week, Movie Pass. I love it. Because of this handy-dandy little card, I went to the movies twice this week. On Friday, I saw “A Quiet Place” which was so so good but would have been better if everyone else in the theater would have been quiet. If we were all in “A Quiet Place,” I would have been the only one to survive. I wouldn’t even let myself cough during the movie. On Saturday, I saw “Ready Player One” which was good but very different from the book (which I loved) so I thought it could have been way better. They took out a lot of the dramatic scenes that were thrilling in the book!

I love it.

Next up, DIY projects. I love it. I’ve been looking for a way to display my medals for TKD and my belts and after a quick trip to Hobby Lobby, I came home with the supplies necessary to build my own. By buying a shelf (but turning it upside down) and some hooks that I could screw into the shelf by hand, easy-peasy no mess display.

I love it.

Finally, Music and Nosh. I love it. My school had an event this week that was kinda like dinner theater. You ate dinner and then several students sang. I didn’t make it in time for the dinner portion, but I did go and listen to the kids sing and as usual, I was blown away by how talented they are. I’ve always loved going to the theater and I’m glad that I don’t have to go far to see some real talent.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.


Design Thinking Challenge – Beach Obstacle Course

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with our fifth grade class to Ship Island in Gulfport, MS. We consider this their capstone adventure for the year and while there, they learn about Fort Massachusetts, tested the water, did an art project, and did a design challenge with me on the beach. The trip doesn’t always look this way and as this was my first time on the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect and I got to decide what I wanted my station to be.

Initially, I thought I would do a team building activity. Being a PE teacher, it’s something that I would naturally do. Beach Blanket Volleyball seemed like a fun idea, or even beach soccer, but I wanted my station to be a little more stimulating. I also thought about the “forts” that were being built on our playground by the students – they had asked a neighbor for his bamboo and they went to work building these forts with so much passion and energy – and then they had to take them down because wars were breaking out. I loved this because I was a kid that was always exploring and making forts and building things with legos, stuff I found in my shed, or pretending a tree was my home.

How could I let them build something to bring the thrill of creation back to them?

My idea for a Beach Obstacle Course actually came from my desire to not bring anything with me and also from recently doing an obstacle course for Tae Kwon Do. It worked out perfectly! The challenge was to find things on the beach like driftwood, shells, sand, water, and what-not and design an obstacle course with at least 8 elements.

I was blown away by the courses that the groups built. There were 4 groups using more or less the same things and they built 4 completely different courses. Some courses used balance beams, jumps, and crab walks. Others included crawling into a hole they dug and had elements that required throwing at a target. The things that my students came up with were amazing and I’m so proud of them.

I do challenges like this with my students in the gym from time to time. I give groups the same equipment and it’s up to them to create a brand new game using that equipment. The same thing happens – no group creates the exact same game. I call it Playmaker Day.

Seeing the way the students approached this challenge and worked together made my day on the beach getting eaten by sand fleas totally worth it!

Once Upon a Bookshelf – “Reflection”

Reflection (Twisted Tales, #4)Reflection by Elizabeth Lim

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was already a huge fan of the Twisted Tales series before I read this book and what this book has done has made me an even bigger fan!

In this retelling of Disney’s “Mulan”, the story picks up right after Shan Yu has started to attack Mulan and her troop on the mountain side. With no more ammo and time running out, Mulan bravely takes their last cannon and shoots it at the mountain, creating an avalanche, covering the Huns in it’s path. Shan Yu, leader of the Huns, manages to get one blow in before he’s covered, aiming for Mulan but getting her leader and friend Li Shang instead.

Once the snow clears, Li Shang is on the verge of death and Mulan takes it upon herself to save him. Little did she know that praying to her ancestors would bring her Shang’s guardian, a lion named Shi Shi, that arrives to take her to Diyu, the underworld. There, she negotiates with the king of the underworld in an attempt to bring her friend back home – he’s not ready to die. He still has a lot to do for China.

Battling through 99 levels of the underworld proves to be difficult not only because of the trials the team faces but also because of the spirits that are there to misguide them along the way. It’s a thriller in every sense of the word.

You know what I love about this book? It was unpredictable. I thought I knew what was going to happen and found myself with my jaw dropped on several occasions. The twists and turns remind me a lot of one of my favorite TV shows, “Once Upon a Time”, which is also in the Disney franchise and intertwines stories and characters in such a way that is so impressive you could die.

I also loved that I learned more about the Chinese culture, especially their thoughts on honoring your ancestors and what happens in the afterlife. Learning that some spirits wait forever in a place, waiting for their turn to go to heaven, and some never making it there was sad but informative. I also learned that some people are reincarnated while others have debts to pay before they can move on.

If you are a fan of fairy tales, Disney princesses, or thrilling adventures, then this book is for you. I would recommend you check out the other Twisted Tales and be on the lookout for the newest one “Part of Your World” coming out in September.

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