The Present Participle List for September 2016

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life42 Comments
Loving that my daughter is settling in at college in her new digs. She’s sharing a campus house with four of her fellow ultimate players and they’re running a program this year aimed at empowering girls through sports. Their mission is “to support the next generation and the current generation of young women by giving them a means of developing and maintaining leadership, sportsmanship, and a healthy lifestyle, both in terms of mind and body.” Aidan and her roommates will be writing regularly on this blog throughout the academic year.

Enjoying a very quiet house as my other child, who is really not a child anymore, is off on a school trip this week, visiting prospective colleges. Yep. That’s going to be happening again. I swear, I haven’t recovered from the first go-round.

Supporting Dan who is entering his second week of teaching. Can I just say this to all of you teachers out there? HOLY WOW! How do you do it? Truly. I bow to you all. Any words of support or wisdom from you teachers would be greatly appreciated. Dan is experiencing many highs but this is a huge change for him, and much different than student teaching was.

Checking out various concepts for Traveler’s Notebooks. I decided to buy my very first one (this one) and figured I’d see if I could find any ways to make it useful for documenting. So far, I just love to smell it. Is that weird? If you’re a Traveler’s Notebook kind of gal, what do I absolutely need to know?

Working on making stuff that hopefully people will want to buy. That’s pretty much my business motto, people. I will say this: I do have a really super cute set of Christmas stamps coming soon! Excited to get my hands on them and to start playing with them. The main thing I love Christmas stamps for is decorating my holiday card envelopes. Favorite thing about holiday mail for sure!

Watching Narcos on Netflix. That Pablo Escobar… he was a very bad man.

Eating well and taking care of myself. Sometimes I feel like summer is a time when I am much less regimented which is code for: too much red wine and Goldfish. I’ve been asked if I’ll be running Fit in 2017 and the answer is “Hells yes!” That class keeps me focused on my health and while the core content will be the same, there will be new video messages each month. That’s coming in December.

Celebrating another year with a normal mammogram. Ladies, if you need to make an appointment, by all means, do!

What are you doing right now?



Cathy ZielskeThe Present Participle List for September 2016

42 Comments on “The Present Participle List for September 2016”

  1. #1

    I’ve been using a Traveler’s Notebook as my planner for a couple of years now and love it! I also use it for art journaling and sort of scrapbooking (like Amy Tangerine’s TN videos). My favorite brand is Chic Sparrow, beautiful leather!! My son will be going to college next fall. We just had his senior pictures taken over the weekend. I don’t think I’m ready for this!

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh I’ll have to check out her videos! And hang in there, mama! Soak it all up this year. It goes by so fast.

  2. #2

    Yay, yay, yay on the mammo!! Good for you for getting it done!! I’m afraid to even look at the TN. I don’t need another obsession. 😉

  3. #3

    You have a lot going on! That’s so cool what Aiden and her teammates are doing! I loved reading their post that you linked to on FB the other day.

    Here is my brief list of what I am doing right now-

    At work – Finishing a 500+ page product catalog so it can be sent to the printer before the end of Sept. Sending an 8 page sales flyer to the printer today for an October promotion. Starting a 32 page flyer for sale to take place in Dec-Jan. Creating this years company Christmas card and gearing up to take pictures of all of my co-workers for said card. (Basically – Living the life in Marketing!)

    At Home – Killing massive amounts of brain cells, I mean Studying and Learning about Economics and Investment Management in classes I enrolled in a few months ago (voluntarily, not for credit). Starting to set up our 2017 Project Life book. Making plans to somehow fit blogging back into my life because my website is feeling quite neglected and the fact that I am paying for my domain name but not using it is bugging me a bit. Re-learning how to shoot using my DSLR. Thinking about where our Christmas card photo shoot should happen this year.

    I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the Travelers Notebook. This is something brand new to me and I am definitely interested, especially if it is used for actually documenting travels and not just a general “smash book” type of everyday notebook.

  4. #4

    Love the TN! I actually use it as a journal when we travel. I’ve added the kraft file folder and use midori planner stickers and index tabs to mark each day. I also couldn’t do without the traveler’s notebook binder. No more lost journals! Lastly you need a great pen (like the signo from uni-ball) to take advantage of the great texture of the paper. Just to be a complete enabler check out jetpens dot com. They stock everything Midori.

  5. #5

    So excited about you getting into the TN world! Just joined myself and purchased a Midori – yes, the smell is intoxicating! I’m hoping you’ll get your creative juices flowing and create some cool TN stamps, templates, journaling spots, etc. I currently have Kerri’s TN template but I haven’t actually done anything with mine. Just scheduled my yearly mammo for November. Sign me up for your Christmas stamps.

  6. #7
    Louise Fortune

    Love travellers notebooks I make my own though, I love picking wicked leather and cord colour combos, I like the fact that I can tailor them and add stuff that makes them personal when I gift them too.

  7. #8
    cynthia k

    Wow sounds like me! I just became an empty nester. I thought it would be harder but it was much easier. Sending the first one to college was super hard for my husband and I. And I’m just finishing the 2nd season of Narcos! I’m sad because I know its the last season I know what happens to him. But he did deserve it . How is it that I had no idea that was happening ? Did I know and didn’t care or were we sheltered from it? I was probably too busy making big hair and putting on make up.
    Your kids seem amazing you did a good job.

    1. #8.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Cynthia! Did you not hear they renewed Narcos for two more seasons? So I heard that online somewhere and thought: they are REALLY gonna stretch this one out! I can’t complain because getting to see Pedro Pascal is a treat!

  8. #9
    kay Gregory-Clark

    I am so jealous! I’ve coveted the TJ for years! But I haven’t been able to justify it. My husband made me a beautiful tooled leather journal, which I’ve been using for a few years & intend to continue for many more. But something about the TJ still appeals to me.

    Finishing a 2-page spread (8.5×11) of my granddaughter’s big x-country individual run—using CZ PJ template of course

    Preparing for a genealogy research trip to Salt Lake City, leaving Sat early. This means trying to catch up on a year’s work of downloading “stuff” but not getting it organized! Also determining what’s missing, what’s available at the LDS Library, etc.

    Enjoying the taste of fall the past few days after a sweltering summer & hoping it will continue

    Thinking about scrapbooking anything fall

    Cathy, enjoy your new notebook—& please keep us posted on your usage. Even if I can’t have one, I can enjoy yours!

  9. #10

    Hi Cathy,

    I was a teacher for 10 years, and please let Dan know that in his first year/first few weeks, it is normal to come home completely exhausted, and to have feelings of being overwhelmed, and some self-doubt. It gets easier each day, but what I think helps, and I’m being really specific here: always have extra ideas in the lesson plans, because its hard to judge at first how long lessons take, you can always use those extra ideas later, have some quick games and activities ready when you find yourself with 10 minutes left before lunch, end of day, etc. Kids I taught always enjoyed “map game”- call up 2 students up to the classroom map of world/USA facing forward. Dan calls out a country or city, and the 2 kids turn around and find it by pointing. That student who finds it first gets to grab a skittle from a candy bowl, and face the next opponent, while the other sits back down. I also found great advice from teachers who have the same grade level, and from teaching activity magazines such as The Mailbox. If you have a Teachers store in the area, just browsing there, may also give him access to idea books that he can purchase, etc. I’m sure Dan will be a wonderful teacher, just like you are to us scrappers!!!

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Anne, thank you! Just forwarded your comment to Mr. Z. 🙂 He has been having days where they did run out of things to do. Lesson Planning is a challenge, for sure, and this is helpful info to have! Thank you, thank you!

      1. #10.1.1

        Does he have a SmartBoard? I want to say it looked like he did in the pic you posted of his room….if so, tell him to check his district’s web page for teacher resources. There’s probably a massive stash of links to educational games he can use to fill in those dreaded 10 min gaps when an activity finishes early. I’m also a fan of the CNN student news broadcast. It’s 10 minutes and they have one every day! I also get a daily current events email from and I’ll pull up a news story and we’ll read it and discuss it. I teach older kids, but current events are always my “go to” when I need to fill time.

  10. #11

    For Dan – I’ve been teaching the UK equivalent of Kindergarten/first grade for 5 years now. My advice to you is that it DOES get easier! Coming home exhausted and feeling like you could cry is so, so normal. If it feels right to do so, reach out to a more experienced teacher in your school. You’ll most likely find that they’ll bend over backwards to help you out with anything you might need. I found that scheduling a weekly informal lunch chat with a teacher I could trust really helped me find my feet. EVERY SINGLE teacher remembers what it is like to be “the new one”.

    And something practical you can do NOW – research and set up a bullet journal. Stick with the basics of it. Honestly, it changed my organisational skills – and so also my teaching skill a million times over. For the cost of a notebook and a pen, its so worth trying. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

    And also, have a time at night when the computer goes off and the books go away. When I get in from school, I give myself a strict 45 minutes to eat dinner and decompress from the day – however that looks for you. Then I do focussed school work for an hour, no more, no less. Some days you’ll be scrabbling around for something to do (there’s always next week lesson plans!), and other days, that hour won’t feel long enough! But an hour is enough! Any more than that, you’ll burn out super-quickly. Then after my hour of work, I spend 20 minutes on some aspect of self-improvement. For me at the moment, that looks like 20 minutes spent reading the children’s classics I never read (but should have done!) as a child! On an average day, that has me done for the night by about 7:30.

    Good luck!

  11. #12

    Teaching. It is SO MUCH work. And no one understands it unless they live it. The beginning and end of the year are the busiest times, and it’s madness. Utter madness. But there is good in every student, and good in every day. (Also use the first couple weeks to email each parent individually about how delightful their child is. Because before the end of the year, you will probably have to tell each one something less delightful, so it’s worth it to let them know you’re not all bad news.)

  12. #13

    Tips for Dan- I taught fourth grade for 15 years (now I’m the school librarian). The key is good classroom management- you have to have good structure or you’ll lose the kids and get way over stressed. Don’t bite off more than you can handle and teach yourself to grade when students are doing independent work. Don’t let school take over your life because it will. It’s an amazing career and I wish him luck- you’ll never be more exhausted than your first year, but it gets better. Also- expect to get sick- being around kids all day you will get sick your first year. 😄

  13. #14

    Hi Cathy,
    In addition to the other teachers’ comments…Dan, you are doing a great job by being there and caring about your students. The best thing about the job is that every day is different. Remember, you are only one person. You can only do what you can do. Being a teacher you are going to be the most self critical person on the planet. Focus on went right each day. I don’t have any specific advice as every classroom is different with different challenges. Having said that, I have found Pinterest to have some great classroom management ideas from other teachers! Use the experience of other teachers and suck their wisdom out over lunch or after school. But just know, you will be a stronger person by Christmas!

  14. #15

    My husband has been a 4th grade teacher for 10 years, and I will not lie – it’s rough every single year!! However, things do loosen up about fall break time. 😳 And even though nothing really prepares you for how hard the beginning of the school year will be, you do adjust. This is so not encouraging. Ahh!

  15. #16

    I’m a second year high school teacher. That first year is tough. One of my suggestions is write every lesson plan down and put notes with it-what worked, what didn’t, etc…. Be very detailed. It will help with planning so much next year. I know some of it can be another step but it is worth it. The second year has been so much better so far. Good luck to him!

  16. #17
    Kari B

    It sounds like teaching is similar to nursing early on in ones’ career. Long stressful days which are emotionally and physically overwhelming beyond what you would expect some times but are at the same time very rewarding. Going home feeling you could have or should have “done more” some how. Wondering if you left anything out. Reliving things from your day over and over, second guessing yourself, all that kind of stuff. In nursing it starts to get better after around 6-9 months and by a year or so you no longer worry about what you may have forgotten to do during that day, or wonder what “mistakes” you may have made. Having to go back into a patient’s room numerous times during the day because you forgot one part of your head-to-toe assessment (like lower extremity pulses, girth of arm or abdomen) or to drain a urinary or surgical tube or record how much drainage there was when you did remember to empty it the first time. Now I can go into a room and be doing multi-system assessments (often without patient, family or co-workers knowing) while introducing myself, getting vital signs, helping a patient to the bathroom, etc…vs. it always being something that needs to be done separately. This makes teaching parents or patients about cares or orienting or being a preceptor with staff or students harder because I have to remember to think out loud more. Remembering to state what I am doing, and show them, while doing it. It really is beneficial to everyone in my field but something many of us struggle to do, especially (?), once we are more experienced.

  17. #18

    I sitting here at a craft retreat with a bunch of retired teachers. It will get better. Once you get the routines down and the kids into your system things will start to flow. September is always a difficult month, but again, it will get better.

    1. #18.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Deb! I told Dan to read through the comments today. Much sage wisdom is being shared. Say hi to your crafting ladies!

  18. #19
    Judi church

    So impressed with Aidan’s mission…..that’s an amazing daughter you have raised. I look forward to her blogs.
    In addition to all the wonderful advice from other teachers, I would like to add two things: be flexible. Sometimes the best laid plans do not go well and it’s best to just trash it for now and do something fun. Along that vein, have a folder of learning games that you can just dive into when needed. I have a couple of games that were always a huge hit with the kids….I taught French, but they could be adapted to any unit dan is working on. If dan would like more info, I would be happy to share them. If he can just make it through September……tired, always tired!…..things will settle in for everyone. My 5year old grandson is making the same adaptations as he enters grade one…’s hard on the kids and the teachers. Dan is going to love this career change!!!!
    And finally, thanks for sharing your life with us.

  19. #20

    Hi Cathy,
    Totally off subject here but there are so many things that you have liked that I then will buy, listen to or watch that I was thinking I could return the favor.
    Do you watch “Shameless”? A Showtime series that’s also on Netflix?
    It is my latest obsession, it has surpassed “Breaking Bad” as my favorite show of all-time.
    If you haven’t, I want all the credit when you too become obsessed.
    If you have, in the immortal words of Gilda Radner’s character Emily Litella, “Nevermind!”

    1. #20.1
      Cathy Zielske

      okay, I have not but I love William H. Macy. I will add it to my list and give you all the glory. Because if it’s better than Breaking Bad, then a fine show it MUST be! 🙂

  20. #21
    Kelly R

    Hi Cathy,
    If you would like Dan (or thru you if Dan is not on FB) can reach out to my friend Dan (ha, ha!) Thornton via Facebook in Lakeland, FL.
    He has been teaching 5th grade for many years and has 20+ years experience. From what I understand it’s very different for male teachers. Or PM me (Kelly J Rell) on Facebook and I will forward you his personal email or phone #.

  21. #22
    Victoria Brandon

    Agree with all the previous teachers’ comments. Truly, the first year is the hardest. Try to get the same year group/grade next year so you can use some of the stuff next year. Get to bed early. Sleep. Not everything has to be marked with a meaningful comment – a tick/check will do now and again. Do try to keep up with marking and handing it out. Have Silent reading scheduled – ERIC Everybody reading in class. Might buy you time to mark something or hear your poor readers regularly. I had amazing parents who were willing to help with anything – also hearing readers, photocopying, cutting out 20 leaves or 30 pumpkins (Cathy?!) make sure you utilize anyone who is willing to come in regularly. It is worth it – you will survive. Oh, and don’t smile until Christmas… 🙂

  22. #23

    The first year is the hardest. But the first few weeks of each year are hard too b/c of learning how to manage a new group of kids. Try to take good notes of what worked and didn’t work each day. Write down things that you’d do different the next year. I also would sit down each Sunday and write down the funny things that happened the previous week. I’d share them with my husband or friends. You have to remember the great things. I always say to new teachers that you have to be mean until Thanksgiving, then you loosen up and the students will see that you are serious but can have fun too! Tell him to try if he has any mental blocks. There are great resources that work from other teachers. He can do this. He is tired I know (we are in week 3 where i live) and I’m exhausted everyday. My feet still hurt but at least i don’t feel like i’m losing my voice everyday like I did the first two weeks. I will tell you that he will love this Christmas break more than any other break before!! Dan you can do this!!!

  23. #24

    Teaching–September and June are always crazy and overwhelming no matter how many years you’ve taught. Acknowledging everything is new can help with the overwhelm. Right now it’s a massive onslaught of new–new building, new colleagues, new curriculum, new kids, new schedule, new parents, etc. AND THERE IS SO MUCH BEGINNING OF THE YEAR PAPERWORK/DATA ENTRY! So keep perspective, Dan! It won’t be like this forever. And even though your exhausted, find time to do something that’s just fun every day–listen to music, still exercise! Fill yourself up! Or at least add a little gas to the tank.
    I hope your school designated a mentor for you and it was someone “good”…if not, try to find one that clicks with you.
    Your brain will get some relief when you’re not trying to learn all the curriculum material and then figure out how to teach it!

  24. #25

    For Dan: The two most important people to get to know and be on great terms with are the janitor (knows where almost everything is and will clean up barf for you) and the secretary (knows what’s going on and whether the principal is in a good mood). In today’s environment, maybe I’d add the IT person, too.

    I don’t know the grade level he’s teaching, but in regard to class management, it’s always easier to be more on the serious/firm side to start out, and get more “lax” as the year progresses. Gives you time to set the tone and expectations. Students will look for the boundaries (some more than others). And boundaries actually give them a sense of security, in that they know what to expect. They’ll learn class can be fun and silly, but then there is a time to be serious and get All The Things done.

    No matter how tired you are at the end of the day, always get up from your desk and meet a parent at the door of your classroom. If you stay seated, it will lead to a much *longer* chat.

    Get an organizational system going – even the simplest bankers box if you need to do a dump each week of all the lessons and handouts/worksheets. Which is perfectly acceptable! You can organize it in the summer, but it will all be in one spot and in pretty good chronological order. Or, you can do files/filing cabinet. Or you can put everything in binders and (ooooh-ahhhhh) in plastic page protectors.

  25. #26

    Hi there : busy busy busy…
    For Dan : classroom routines and getting the kids to take as many responsibilities as possible.
    It’s an awful lot of work really. The worst part being you can spend hours on a project that will dramatically fail and come up with a brilliant idea on the drive to school (ahem) and it’ll work fantastically. The first few years will need a lot of prep time and then it will get easier.
    Good luck to him, and just in case he’d like to set up a class exchange with some French kids, I’m here. No kidding.

  26. #27
    Sarah Palmer

    Oh thank god (that you’re running FIT again)! I did quite well with the thinking & scrapping aspect of it through mid-April, plodded along with it through the end of June – & then my external drive with all my in process stuff, including two months of FIT, crashed & couldn’t be recovered. I spent all of July in deep mourning – & haven’t really got back to it.

    Though I haven’t lost any weight or worked out at all this year, it’s been great as I have figured out fixes to several things & those have been invaluable. The biggest was figuring out why all my joints were horrifically painful for the first three months of FIT. I have an intolerance to dairy but hadn’t had issues in so many years so I’d forgotten it AND that the symptoms are severe joint pain. Sometime in April I realized that I’d been having multiple cups of milky coffee every day for well over a year so I exchanged dairy milk for cashew milk & viola! the pain is gone.

    The next biggest was rejiggering my workout routine for me as I am now (out of shape, recovering from several injuries, dealing with joint issues, etc) rather than what I used to do without thinking. I’ve spent the entire year tweaking this so it would challenge me juuuust enough but not hurt anything. I finally developed a really good lifting routine (plus HIIT rowing) – & then got sick with some nasty mutant flu/cold at the beginning of August. So now I’m dealing with complications from a very bad sprain in June plus a cold that won’t go away BUT my dairy induced joint pain is gone & I have a workout routine that works so once I feel better I’m good to go!

    All of which is a VERY long way of saying how happy I am that I can look forward to FIT for next year! As soon as I feel better, I’m starting it all again, but knowing it will keep going, as a group, through next year makes me so, so happy!

    PS Definitely get white towels – we’ve had them for years & they still look great despite our niece (9) & nephews (11) wiping mud, paint, makeup, & much, much more! all over them for years.

  27. #28

    Sunday nights are the worst in the life of a first (and sometimes second) year teacher… You just have to endure them (both teacher and those who live with the teacher). There were many tear-filled Sunday nights in my house back in 1995. It will pass, eventually… but it’s normal.

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