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 #smileaday Working together as a family.

My daughter was housed in the worst dorm her college had to offer, thanks to missing a deadline in her application process. But here in the second semester, she had the chance to move to another room and jumped on it! So we spent this afternoon and evening moving her out of her old room and into her new room. Somewhere in there, there was sushi.

A busy time, but had that wonderful "we'll all in this together" feeling.

wonderpets
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 #smileaday Getting out from behind the eight ball. 
 
A teaching day in an American public school is a ridiculous thing. With 90 nonsupervisory minutes a day (which are not guaranteed-this is not a state with a teacher's union), I'm supposed to prepare 7 engaging lessons for 150 tweens and teens at 3 grade levels in five different courses, do any followup needed (such as grading papers, analyzing test results, reaching out for support from families and other staff, etc.), and maybe eat and go to the bathroom at least once. 

behind the eight ball
 
I'm an old pro though. This is my 23rd year. You'd be amazed what I can get done with 30 uninterrupted minutes. I'm a whirlwind. 
 
But despite my experience and efficiency, I still end up buried a few times a school year. My semester ended last Friday. I wasn't the most buried I've ever been, but I was feeling a little frantic around the corners of my eyes. Like scary Bilbo when he was feeling thin, like butter spread over too much toast. 
 
So, hurray for teacher workdays! (I know, they're *all* teacher workdays, but these are days where I still get paid, but don't teach any classes or supervise any children, days in which I can get stuff done!). It's not enough, but they do have a way of popping up just when I can't see how I can go on without one. 
 
Today's was extra special because it was entirely mine to structure. Not a meeting in sight! Tomorrow, I'll be lucky to get ten minutes to do the actual work among the meetings, so I made sure to make good use of every second today. Even better: the copier stayed functional the whole time! 
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On the Basis of Sex movie poster #smileaday Female empowerment with my favorite females. I had a movie date with my daughters today. We saw On the Basis of Sex, the biopic of the early part of Ruth Bader Ginsberg's career (admission to Harvard Law school through the Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue case). 
 
Strong performances throughout and an excellent portrayal of handling both subtle and blunt sexism on a personal, professional, and institutional level with aplomb. Given that we already knew how the court case was going to come out, it was incredibly tense watching it get there. 
 
Left me feeling high and hopeful while I sat between two women of the next generation. Seemed like a good way to spend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 
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#smileaday Teaching adults.

Today I taught the first session of a semester long course I'm offering at Central Carolina Community College: Finish Your Novel. It's been a year or so since I last taught for CCCC, and I'd forgotten how lovely it is to work with a room of adults who chose to be there. A very different teaching experience than my day-to-day in middle school Spanish. Refreshing.

This group is especially engaging and I'm looking forward to our next meeting already!

spectrum explorer to architect
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 #smileaday Revisiting old movies with my munchkin. 
 
I've been on a little bit of a kick here lately, "making" my youngest daughter watch old movies with me. I'm usually nice about it and pick things I think will please her, like Beetlejuice and Lost Boys (though there was that time I made her watch Big Trouble in Little China she has not forgiven me for). 
 
Earlier this week, we watched Armageddon, which was even cheesier than I remembered, and I remembered it as inducing fits in lactose-intolerant moviegoers. It's arguably the worst performance by Ben Affleck I've ever seen. Cringe-inducing even. But we laughed so much!
 
Tonight we watched Big Hero 6, which I know isn't that old, but when you're only 11 like she is, 2014 was half a lifetime ago. It still charmed the heck out of me, even when it made me cry, and making me cry didn't make me feel as manipulated as Pixar machinations usually do. 

big hero 6 characters
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 #smileaday A little peace and quiet. 
 
I've been grumpy most of today. Maybe because I'm underslept or undercaffeinated (though Sweetman did bring me a coffee treat). Maybe because I was in a very noisy social environment till past my bedtime last night. Maybe because it was the last day of the semester and the kids were relentless. 
 
I don't like being grumpy. The best way to get rid of it is to take a woods walk, but it was rainy and dark by the time life would have allowed that. So instead, as soon as my girl was through her homework, I took myself away to my office (still in process, but mine!), picked up my laptop, and wrote for a while. 
 
Longer than I thought, apparently, because somewhere in there, Sweetman came home and finished making dinner, letting me know it was almost eight o'clock. So good to have family that understands that sometimes I just have to be by myself for a while. 
 
Several hundred words, two cups of tea, and a bowl of beans and rice later, I'm a new woman, nearly ready to be social again. 


silence quote

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#smileaday Throwing axes. Literally!

Our friend Joey always come up with something really interesting to do for his birthday. Last year, he invited us to a puzzle room. This year? Throwing axes. So much fun!

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 #smileaday Having my girls at home. Tonight my girls were cuddled up together on the sofa. They're older than they are in this picture, and I didn't get a picture this time, but it filled my heart with the same light, to see them being loving to each other. 

sisters together
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 #smileaday Girl Scout Cookie glee. 
 
Girl Scout cookies went on sale on Saturday. One of the fun parts of selling girl scout cookies is the absolute excitement that lights up people's faces when the sale starts. There's something special about treats you can only get during a limited time window, and these cookies, besides being yummy, come with the added benefit of being a good deed. You buy something you want and at the same time, you help a young girl get to do cool stuff with her troop. Win-win for sure!
 
My girl is a late joiner to scouts, just having started last year, but she loves it. They've already helped expand her boundaries and get to her to try new things. 
girl scout cookies
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 #smileaday Convention friends. 
 
convention friendsWhen I first started going to conventions as part of my author life, I didn't know anybody and it was terrifying. I did it anyway because I'm stubborn like that, but I was not having fun. It raised every introvert anxiety I had. 
 
Today, I finished a three day convention. I presented on seven panels, gave a reading, and spent many hours at my sales table talking with potential readers and other writers. I met new people
 
It was still difficult, but you know what? 
 
This is fun for me now. 
 
Because now, four years later, going to a convention (at least one in the Southern con circuit, near where I live) means I'm going to see my writing and convention friends, that I'll catch up on their lives and their creations, that I'll get hugged and teased by some of the best people in the world.
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 #smileaday Selling books. 
 
It's a good feeling anytime someone buys one of my books. Someone was interested enough by my work to part with some monies. That's quite a vote of confidence! 
 
But today's big sale was especially especially nice. A woman bought TWO full sets of my Menopausal Superhero series: one for herself and one for her friend. And not does it mean that she bought SIX books, but she also sought me out in particular because she remembered me from a con last summer when she had tried to buy my book, but I had run out of book one. That almost made me feel famous!


menopausal superhero books covers

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ahora entiendo meme #smileaday When a kid realizes how much they have learned. 
 
I'm showing a movie to my eighth graders right now: Bajo la Misma Luna. (If you haven't seen it, you should. It's brilliant). The characters in the movie speak a mixture of English and Spanish, just whichever they would naturally be speaking in the scene. I show it with the English subtitles on because it takes time to be able to listen to Spanish spoken at normal conversational speed and understand it, and very few of my students are ready for that yet. 
 
Kids are impatient and expect to be able to understand everything immediately. One of my big jobs is just keeping them hopeful that someday they will understand it better than they do now, and help them keep plugging away. 
 
Today, a kid who hasn't been all that strong a student came running up to me at the end of our class to tell me that he had understood enough to "get the gist" during one of the scenes. He's now newly enthused about his studies and I'm so pleased to have been there when we had that "maybe I *can* do this" moment of joy. 
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 #smileaday Squeezing in a game on a busy day. 
 
Today was relentless. One of those teaching days when I could barely find time to go to the bathroom or take a bite of my sandwich. It gets that way when the semester is ending and grade panic sets in among the students of dubious work ethic. 
 
My night was busy too. I've got a convention to prepare for, so tonight was book inventory night and I needed to send some information in for the Author Dating Game, too. 
 
But I desperately needed to play something. Luckily, my husband is the best game concierge ever, and he has games to fit nearly every gaming group or scenario you can imagine. This game literally takes 5 minutes (5 Minute Dungeon) and is cute and funny. Just what I needed to cut my tension. 

5 minute dungeon game
5 minute dungeon5 minute dungeon

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 #smileaday Good cheesy, pulpy fun. I wasn't sure if I was going to go see Aquaman or not, but Sweetman wanted to see it, so I went with him. And I'm glad I did. Such fun! Definitely not a story to examine too closely in any aspect. Nearly note for note predictable (though still satisfying enough in execution) and the criticisms about bad CGI are warranted, but if you go in expecting a romp through a pulpy ocean floor, you'll have a good time. 
 
I've got a special place in my heart for crazy mashup mixtures, and where else am I gonna get some kind of fish vampire monster thing, saddled sharks, kaiju, dinosaurs, and sappy romance themes all in one place? 

aquaman toy
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 #smileaday Book Club night!
 
Tonight was my First Monday Classics Book Club meeting. We were talking about The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It's so invigorating, spending time with a group of passionate readers. No matter what we read, there is always diversity of opinion and interpretation. Sometimes the very thing I love in a book is what drove someone else crazy, and I LOVE the way we teach other about why we see things the way we do. 
 
A big point of discussion tonight was the difference it makes when and where you are in your life as you read something. When I read The Sun Also Rises at age 20 or so, as an undergraduate newly enamored of Spain and dreaming of an expatriate life, it was a very different experience than this time, as a nearing-50 woman settled with a family and career. 
 
Connecting with other readers is a light in my life. 

clubbin
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 #smileaday A new place to walk. 
 
A friend told us about a little used park in our own town. I didn't even know it was there! Though I can still hear the highway from within, it was lovely in that all I could see was trees for a long, deep view. The weather was perfect, and even my tween, who didn't really want to take a walk, found it enchanting when the sun hit the mossy part of the path and made it glow. We'll definitely have to go back in a greener season. 

woods walk
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 #smileaday A kid-less night.

The eldest is back to college. The youngest has a sleepover. It's just me and Sweetman and the dog tonight. We'll probably do something very exciting, like watch a movie uninterrupted and eat all the popcorn ourselves.

cartoon
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 #smileaday When a headache clears. leaving pain
 
I had a massive, debilitating headache last night, and woke with one still dogging me this morning. One of those deep in your skull pressure type, that make you feel like your head is an egg about to hatch something scaly with vicious teeth. 
 
So, I got a sub, came home from school, took the drugs that help, and slept for four hours. Now, I have a sore head, and this hairline fracture sort of feeling in a thin line. It's so much better I almost want to cry from relief. Sometimes happiness is just alleviated pain. 
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 #smileaday The joy of gamification in education. These are some of my kiddos at school today playing a quizletlive. It's adorable how excited they got when they won.


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 #smileaday Middle school bedhead.
 
bedheadToday was our first day back at school after the holiday break. All these 11-14 year old people got out of sleep pattern for two weeks, stayed up for New Year's, slept till noon yesterday, then couldn't go to sleep last night.
 
So, they scrambled to get to school, and oh-my-gosh-darnit-cuteness all the bedhead! They can seem so grown up sometimes, but today reminded me how much they are still just kids.

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Samantha J Bryant

February 2019

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