Last minute win!

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Last night, the high school girls soccer team that I help coach had their first league game.  Under the lights, at the stadium in town, on the turf, and against one of our in-town rivals–it was a big game.  Our varsity team has nine freshmen, and their nerves were palpable as they arrived at the field and started lacing their cleats.

Chatter and laughter filled the air as they prepared for the game.  After our head coach announced the starting line-up, the girls started warming up–passing, stretching, shooting, and getting the feel of the field.  The jitters began to fade, and I could see the girls find their confidence and comfort.

When the game began, the teams were very evenly matched.  Their defense played hard, and their keeper was tough.  She stopped shot after shot after shot.

The first half ended scoreless, and the second half began with a 0-0 score staring down at us from the scoreboard.  Tension mounted as the minutes ticked away.  More opportunities came, but no goals.

Finally, with less than three minutes left on the clock, one of our defenders sent the ball soaring to midfield.  A speedy striker trapped it, turned, and lofted it over the defense.  From the outside midfield, one of our freshmen managed to stop the ball.  It looked like she was going to lose it, but she dribbled around the defender and took a shot.

After all of the blocked or missed shots, this one was different.  Low and fast, it crossed the box, just out of the keeper’s reach, and drilled into the corner of the net.  Goal!!!

Cheers erupted.  The players jumped up and down, hugging one another and shouting.  A collective sigh of relief came from our sideline.  Our head coach looked over at me.  “I hope we can play smart defense for the last two minutes,” he said.

The knot in my stomach didn’t disappear until the final whistle blew.  Game over.  Our first league victory!  What a night!

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Exhaustion

Getting materials ready for a new student.

Training before school for CMAS proctoring.

Introducing a new student to the structures and routines of our classroom.

Monitoring seven students who needed to make up work from yesterday (during my planning time) who hadn’t come back from spring break.

Preparing materials for the Girls on the Run lesson I taught after school.

Trying to get back into classroom routines after spring break.

Helping coach a high school girls soccer game after GOTR.

Eating dinner at 9:30 p.m.

Writing my slice.

Looking at my plan book and realizing I’m not quite ready for tomorrow.

Wishing it was still spring break.

Exhaustion.

 

On the bright side, the girls soccer team won 1-0 in the last two minutes.  That gave me a little bit of energy!

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Words of kindness

My students were kindness detectives before spring break; they had one other learner who they had to “spy on” through the week to notice acts of kindness.  They each had notecards to record three acts of kindness that they witnessed.  Throughout the week, they surreptitiously pulled out their cards and jotted down what they saw.  Our school counselor came in for her weekly lesson and collected the cards at the end of the week.

Today, the day after spring break, she gathered the students together and had them share out the kindnesses they noticed.

“I noticed that he picked up trash on the playground,” one girl said about another classmate.  A smile lit his face as he shyly looked down.  Other students nodded that they, too, had seen his kind act.

Another student piped up, “I saw C. helping ____ clean up.”  As he said those words, a giant grin broke out over C.’s face.  Perhaps my most challenging learner, C. doesn’t always hear compliments throughout the day from his classmates.  It was obvious that this comment made an impact.  He sat a little taller.  He looked a little more confident.  He responded with a sincere “thank you.”  And the students continued to share what they saw.

What a beautiful moment at the end of our day.

Kindness is truly a powerful agent of change.  In the words of Mother Teresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

What kindness have you noticed lately?  How have you chosen to be kind?

Slice of Life

 

Back on the road

And now, a few days later, we’re on the road again.  Except now, instead of going toward spring break, we’re driving away, back to early mornings and fourth quarter.  I’m trying to be positive, but it’s easier said than done.

At least I have 12 hours in the car to get some lesson planning and grading done.  Maybe a little bit of reading, too.

Let’s hit the road!

Family & memories

Vacation.  Time with family.  Laughter.  Exploring new places.

Some of the best memories come from the trips we’ve taken as a family.  And this trip is no exception.  Yesterday, we picked up my brother from his university and drove to Cabrillo National Monument.  I thought we were just going to see the lighthouse and the view, but as we drove through the gate, we saw a sign for the tide pools.  It was 4:00 p.m., and low tide was at 3:56.  Perfect timing!

We drove down the steep hillside to the small parking lot crowded with vehicles.  As we stepped out, the cool salty air hit us, and we hurried down the trail.  Scampering down the rocks and thankful I had sandals on, we got down to the tide pools.   Tiny hermit crabs scurried about and sea anemone waved gently as we explored the pools.  Shouts of excitement rose around us from other sightseers who spotted ocean life.

We stayed until 4:30 when the tide started to rise and the area closed.  I couldn’t keep a smile off my face as we drove back up the hill, the vast expanse of the ocean stretching into the horizon.

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Travel.  Family.  Memories.

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The many faces of the ocean

My day today centered around the ocean.  From morning to afternoon, from different parts of San Diego, I spent today reveling in the beauty of the ocean.

It started with a long run on Shelter Island, the sun glimmering off the water and the city skyline in the distance.

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Then we drove through downtown and soaked in the sunshine and the salty breeze as we saw the U.S.S. Midway and explored the various piers.  After that, we sat on Sunset Cliffs, watching the surfers ride the waves and listening to the water crash against the cliffs.

My favorite part was the visit to Cabrillo National Monument.  With the harbor and the city of San Diego on one side and the Pacific Ocean stretching endlessly on the other, I could have sat on the point forever.  The cool sea breeze, the warm sunshine, and the blue sky dotted with cottonball clouds made for an incredible California day!

Slice of Life

 

Hope

I just finished reading the book Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, and it was such an incredible read in countless ways.  Kek, the main character, is a refugee from Sudan who is relocated to Minnesota to live with his aunt and cousin.  His brother and father killed in Sudan and his mother missing, Kek has little reason to hope.

But hope he does.  Somehow, Kek maintains hope that he will be reunited with his mother and find a place where he belongs.  The book is a beautiful exploration of Kek’s journey and his new life in America.  Hope threads through as a recurring theme through the pages.

So many quotes from the book jumped out at me, but one stood above the rest:

Hope is a thing made only for people,
a scrap to hold onto
in darkness and in light.

But hope is hard work.
When I was a child, I hoped to fly.
That was a silly, easy wish.
Now my wishes are bigger,
the hopes of a man,
and they take much tending,
like seedlings in rough sun.

In tough times, hope is essential.  Without it, the darkness can overwhelm.  Though it can be difficult to maintain, though it takes tending, hope is worth the work.

What a perfect reminder.

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Travel chaos

Getting ready to leave for San Diego and realizing I need to post my slice before we leave?  Check.

Bag packed, clothes ready for sunshine or rain?  Check.

Books tucked away, ready for the twelve-hour car ride?  Check.

Cooler filled with snacks and food for the road?  Check.

Crate of school stuff in the car with all of the grading waiting for me?  Check.

Pillow balanced on top of the bags in case I need a quick (or long) nap?  Check.

Music and podcasts queued up and ready to press play?  Check.

All the boxes are checked!  Let’s hit the road!

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Before that…

Right now…I am sitting on the overstuffed chair with a cup of coffee, writing my slice.

Before that…I cleaned up a delicious dinner of homemade pizza and fresh fruit.

Before that…I picked up our wedding invitations, pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive they were.

Before that…I painted baseboards at my house, checking off one more item on our remodel checklist.

Before that…I hiked with a friend, enjoying the sunshine, the view, and the conversation.

Before that…I played soccer tennis at the high school girls’ soccer practice.

Before that…I worked with my teaching partner to get some spring break planning done before I leave for San Diego.

Before that…I enjoyed sleeping in past the darkness of Daylight Savings Time.

And now, I need to start packing for our San Diego road trip.  What a day!

Slice of Life

Sounds of springtime

Today as I sat outside for a few brief moments, soaking in the sunshine, I stopped for a second to listen.

– Birds chorusing from the tree across the street.
– A plane humming in the far off distance.
– Kids shouting and laughing as they played in the cul-de-sac.
– A saw whining from next door where the neighbor worked on a project.
– Walkers chatting and dogs panting as they passed my house.

It’s interesting to stop and listen.  So rarely do I actually pause to truly listen, but that moment today was a gift.

If you stop and listen, what do you hear?

Slice of Life