I am a writer.

My first week back at work was packed with meetings, discussions, and time to set up the classroom. As teachers in a school based on collaboration, we discuss anything and everything related to our practices in the classroom and the decisions we make while planning. We also reflect and share our personal experiences related to our classroom ones. On Thursday, we spent a lot of time thinking about our writing curriculum. This year, our goal as a staff is to focus on the writing communities in our classrooms. We want our children to feel free when taking risks in their writing, and to support one another throughout the writing process. Before we think about our kids and what we want to plan for them, we always think about ourselves as writers. We want our teaching to be authentic, and without reflecting on our own experiences and feelings about writing, authenticity is impossible.

We began our discussion with a partner survey about writing in our own lives. The first question was simply, "Are you a writer?". In the past, my response has always been "no." Yes, I write emails, I make lists, and I occasionally attempt to return to a journal from college and continue to write about my day to day life. And through teaching, I know that all of these things do in fact make me a writer. But I still have never really felt like a writer. I work with so many creative people, who in their spare time enjoy writing poetry, short stories, and essays. That has just never been my thing. I have a hard time thinking of a fiction story for my second graders, let alone one that adults might find entertaining. But this year, for the first time, I answered "yes" to that usually dreaded question. I talked to my partner about my blog and how I found inspiration from other blogs that I follow. I told her how I found myself reading several blogs while sitting with my laptop before bed each night, and how I was truly interested in others' stories. And unlike when I read others' poetry or fiction stories, I actually thought to myself Hey, I could do that too. I also shared how the act of writing still sometimes makes me feel anxious or nervous. I read over my entries and wonder if people really read what I am writing. And while writing, I sometimes wish I could be wittier or more creative like some of the other bloggers I follow. But regardless of whether I feel excited or anxious, my words are for the first time out there for other people to read. And that made me feel good. And hopefully, the more time I spend as a writer, the more creative and witty I will become.

So, onto the weekend. Yesterday I woke up on a mission to get my apartment back in order after my first week of early mornings and late nights back at work. I somehow manage to let my life pile up, literally, around my apartment. There were several pairs of flip flops thrown around my entry way rug, even though they are kept in a closet literally a foot away from where I take them off. There were purses half full after switching from my brown leather bag, to my Vera Bradley tote, and then my black purse. And then there was laundry and outfits tried on but never worn draped over my desk and chair. For being such an organized person, I can really make a mess. So, while I sipped my iced coffee I ran around frantically putting things away in preparation for another work week ahead. Then, I headed to the gym. Brian started training me this week, and it has really motivated me to get back into the swing of things after a summer of vacationing. We had three sessions together, and he kind of kicked my ass. Having him stand next to my for ten minutes on the Elliptical and bike while controlling the level made me realize how lazy I had become in my workout routines. Any exercise is better than no exercise, but man I was being lazy with my level 1 cardio workouts. So yesterday I pushed myself to not only bike, but run on the treadmill. The treadmill is very new to me, and at first seemed impossible. But it is getting better, and making me feel better every time I use it.

Brian and Emily met me at my house around noon, and we had a quick lunch before heading to the Queens Zoo. We became zoo members this year, which was a great decision. For $150, the three of us get into all of the zoos in NYC and bypass all lines. We also got some attraction and parking passes as part of the deal. We had already spent time at the Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, and aquarium, but had never been to the Queens Zoo. The weather was perfect outside and we all loved the zoo. It is smaller than the other zoos, but the layout is very accessible and easy to walk around. All of the animals are arranged in a circle, so it is impossible to miss anything or get lost. We have been taking Emily to the zoo since she was very little, so it is always fun for us to do together. We walked around the main zoo area, spent some time in the children's zoo, rode the carousel and ate some popcorn, and then went back into the zoo to play on the playground until closing time.

Funniest memory of the day: We stopped to get something to drink halfway through, and decided on a Gatorade and sparkling water. Emily drank some Gatorade, and then I asked her if she wanted some of my water. She asked, "Is this sparkling water?" and we said yes, assuming she knew what that was based on her question. She took a huge sip, and then spit it all out of her mouth. Spit isn't the right word; launched is more fitting. She launched her mouthful inches from my flip flops and then made a disgusted face and said, "I don't like sparkling water." Hilarious.
Ready for the zoo! Waiting for the train. 
Scary alligators! 

Emily wanted to take some pictures, after a few of us smiling nicely on the bench, apparently we both decided it was time to make faces. 
Emily was too scared to feed the animals, so I enjoyed it for the both of us. This was taken 30 seconds before my whole hand was in that horse's mouth. I don't think he was one of the animals I was supposed to feed. 
Having a blast while tightly grasping her dad's hand. 

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