Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yes Patrick, There is a Santa Claus


At 9-years old I know we are on the verge of Santa leaving our house forever. I am grateful and somewhat amazed when we manage one more year. After all, he has two big brothers who have been in on the secret for quite sometime now and when you are in the third grade there is bound to be some non-believers around.
I know eventually the question will come up but now I'll be ready with an answer.

This evening we were running around trying to get some things accomplished. First to the laundromat to dry three loads of laundry because the dryer has decided to stop working, to the grocery store because we are having our holiday staff breakfast tomorrow and I'm in charge of the fruit salad, and lastly to Target to buy a birthday gift and some wrapping paper.
By the time I got to Target all I really wanted to do was go home. It's cold, it's windy and my nice warm house, my couch and my laptop were calling my name.

As we stepped out of the car and headed into the store I heard someone say, "Excuse me." There before us was a woman, without a coat, holding a box of candy canes which she had made into reindeer. She asked very politely if we would like to buy one, "because I'm just trying to buy my kids something for Christmas."
I had no cash on me. I apologized but told her if she was still here when I came out, I would buy one.
I headed into the store thinking Patrick was right behind me. but then I heard,
"Mom, wait!"
I turned around to see Patrick reach into his pocket and take out the three dollars the tooth fairy left him last night. He handed it to the woman and happily took his candy cane reindeer from her.
I teared up. He ran over to me in his happy Patrick way and I hugged him. I told him how very proud I was of him and how he just made Christmas just a little bit better for someone.
He said, "now I'm broke, but it's okay."

So someday when he asks me if there is a Santa I will tell him yes, of course there is and I'll remind him of what he did tonight.

Because tonight Patrick, you were Santa Claus.

Friday, December 4, 2009

On Letting it Go


When you're a teacher, especially a kindergarten teacher you have to know when to let things go. Sometimes letting kids have their way is not such a bad thing, especially when you know they're right!
Recently I've had to move some seats around during circle time. The dynamic wasn't working. Little arguments here, silliness there, it was just time to mix things up a bit. So I moved them around, splitting up best buddies or kids that just seem to not be meshing well these days.
I had them all stand up and hold hands so we could spread out and determine each other's personal space and then I noticed that two kids weren't holding hands.
*names changed to protect the innocent

Me: "Jason you need to hold Katie's hand."
Jason: "I ain't holding her hand."
Me: "It's I'm not holding her hand, and yes you are, you need to hold her hand just like the others are doing. It's just for a minute."
Little Boy: "Mrs. C I'm NOT holding her hand because she had her hand down her pants!"

Yep, let that one go.

With the holidays upon us, we've been talking a lot about families. We talked about how some families are big, and some families are small.
Side note...I have one little girl who is constantly shouting out answers when she's not supposed to. The one who just can't hold it in. If it's in her head it has to come out. We work on this a lot. I tell her to raise her hand, but she just can't help herself. Usually it makes me crazy, but today I was very grateful!
I asked the kids to hold up their fingers to show how many people live in their house. We have some 5 people families, some 4 people families and some 2 people families. One little boy, who I know has no siblings was holding up too many fingers.
Me: "David, I thought it's just you and your mommy in your house."
David: "Well, for now it is. How does a baby get in the mommy's tummy anyway?"
Allison: "Babies are a gift from God!"
Me: "Thank you Allison!!!"

Did I care at that moment that she didn't raise her hand?
Nope. Let that go too!

We have a little bit of free choice everyday. On Fridays if they've had a good week I give them some extra free choice sometime during the day. Today, with no specialist to go to I decided a little bit of free choice to start the day would be a good thing.
I pretty much try to stay out of their play, I think kids need to work out their own issues of sharing and negotiating all by themselves without adult intervention.
Sometimes little arguments break out and unless they get too big or physical I just watch and let them figure it out, which they usually do.
This morning I was watching an argument that was becoming quite heated. I was ready to jump in there and "fix" it. I walked over a bit closer just to listen.

Jennifer: "No, If I have the pointer then it's my turn!"
Laura: "It was your turn last time."
Jennifer: "But I really want a turn."
Laura: "It's not fair, give me the pointer."
Jennifer: "I got it first."
I was just about to take the pointer from Jennifer before she decided to use it as a weapon when I heard...
Laura: But I NEVER get to be Mrs Collins, it's my turn to be her!"

I smiled, walked away, they figured it out and I let it go.









Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tis the season



It's here. The time of year when things both at home and school start to get really busy. It started two weeks ago as we began to prepare for our school's annual Harvest Fair. It's our staff's way to make a little extra money for our students. We have a white elephant room, craft room, and jewelry table. The kids come in with fists full of dollars ready to be spent on little treasures. They shop til they drop or run out of money which ever comes first.


My son usually comes home with some little "treasure" from the jewelry table that makes its way under the Christmas tree, usually with my name
on it. Since I've had children at my school since 1996, I have quite a collection of trinkets!


Not a week later, my fellow kindergarten teachers and I found ourselves preparing for our annual kindergarten feast. This is a long standing tradition at our school. It takes a solid week of preparation. Making place mats and costumes, designating which class will be Native Americans and which will be Pilgrims, and grocery shopping to buy ingredients for making cranberry sauce, butter, and corn bread.
We ask each child to bring in a salad vegetable so we can make a salad stone soup style!
The day before our feast is spent cooking and inevitably every year at least one of us burns the cranberry sauce, or fails to turn the heavy cream into butter but the kids have a great time.
The morning of our feast we put our salad together, trusting the kids with plastic knives, sometimes the tomatoes are turned to mush and the carrots are responsible for breaking more than one knife, but it's good fine-motor practice!
Then we give the "eating with manners" lecture.
When to say please, when to say thank you, how NOT to say ewwww that's gross and how to just leave it on your plate when it's something you don't like.

"Mrs C what's that stuff?"
"It's cranberry sauce, we made it remember?"
"But it doesn't look like cranberry sauce."
"It is, trust me. Try it you might like it."
"No thanks, I only like the one that looks like the can."


So we lined the miniature Pilgrims and Native Americans in the hallway with their place mats and forks in hand. Mouths were watering as they awaited our principal to deliver her annual thankful speech.
It was then that I realized that maybe I didn't do a very good job teaching the kids about Pilgrims. My little Native Americans were seated first as the Pilgrims from across the hall filed in.
"Mrs. C who are they supposed to be?!?"
And then they dug in. Turkey, Salad, Cornbread...some were more adventurous than others, but when all is said and done, they won't remember who taught them that u always needs to follow q or that 3 apples take away 2 apples equals 1 apple, but they will remember their kindergarten feast.

With Thanksgiving festivities over, it's time to focus on the December holidays. The kids know what's coming and they are already talking about all things Santa.
I let it slip the other day that I knew Santa's phone number.
"How do you know Santa's number?" one little cherub asked.
"Oh Matthew, don't you know, all teachers know Santa's phone number."
"Really?"
"Yes really."
I'm sure he's still pondering that little bit on information.


"Hey Mrs. C, do you know what I want to be when I grow up?"
"I don't know, let me guess. Fire Fighter?"
"Nope."
"Ummm, doctor?"
"Nope."
"I know, a teacher!"
"Nope, I want to be an elf!"
"An excellent career choice just remember me when you're a famous elf."

After all... it's not what you know, it's who you know!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

St. Patrick meets Halloween


Living in Salem has it's perks. We are the Halloween capital of the world. Sure we have to deal with crazy traffic through the entire month of October, but our neighborhoods are taken over by witches, ghosts and goblins, hedges are covered with cotton spider webs and pumpkins both with and without faces are perched on just about every front porch. It's an adventure in people watching and there is a certain feel and excitement in the air that trickles into our classrooms. It starts in the beginning of October with our annual Haunted Happenings Parade and won't end until the wee hours of the morning on November 1st, All Saints Day, when Salem's Finest start herding the hobgoblins out of the city.
I try to be a good mom and and raise my kids with some kind of belief system. I am a firm believer in believing in something, so I dutifully brought my youngest to church this morning and then like a good mom dropped him off at Sunday School.
Now Halloween does not go unnoticed at Sunday school either. They are very well aware that because Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, children will be showing up to Sunday school with candy hangovers. So to put a little excitement into having to come to Sunday school after a night of reverie and too many peanut butter cups, and double bubble, the children will be allowed to come to Sunday school in costume.
Now keeping in mind that Sunday is All Saints Day the children can not come as Power Rangers, Storm Troopers or Indiana Jones, they must choose a Saint and come dressed as that Saint.
Because my son's name is Patrick his natural choice is, of course, the saint by the same name. Good Old St. P, Patron Saint of Ireland, the Saint of hubby's homeland, the man responsible for the lack of snakes in the land of the leprechaun and the spud.
So in preparation of this, his teacher read a book today about the more common of the saints and the kids had to draw one interesting fact about their chosen saint.
This is Patrick's rendition of his interesting fact...
St. Patrick escapes from the Pirates!!
I'm pretty sure that's Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm.

























I'm not entirely sure if this is a true fact or not, but I'm fairly certain the pirates who may have captured Patrick to begin with, weren't flying the Jolly Roger.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Lesson Plans



One of the great things about kids is the fact that they can hang out with another kid for five minutes and suddenly be the best of friends. This is, or rather was the case for two little girlie girls in my class. They sat together in the circle on the first day of school and have been inseparable ever since. But just like in a family when people spend too much time together little irritating things start to creep in. You love each other just the same, but those little things that you love one day can be like a thorn in your side on others.
I could tell things were not good today between "Lucy and Ethel". They were bickering and arguing from the time they walked in to the room this morning, to lunch and recess, to dismissal. The tattling on each other was relentless and at one point it even got a little physical.
"Lucy" has a way of saying just the right thing to get "Ethel" to seethe. I could see the level of frustration growing in Ethel until I turned just at the right time and saw her get right up into Lucy's face and FLIP HER THE MIDDLE FINGER.
My jaw dropped. I dropped the pencil I was holding in my hand. I stood frozen, and then I reacted.
"Ethel, I think you need to come with me."
I took her hand and calmly walked her to the office sat her down in the chair and let our principal know about the offending obscene gesture.
So off I went back to my classroom.
About 20 minutes or so later we were cleaning up for lunch and Mrs. Principal came in with Ethel in tow. She was chuckling to herself while we both watched Ethel walk up to Lucy to offer the most sincere apology she could manage.
I looked at Mrs. Principal and said, "okay, what's so funny."
Laughing she said, "Well, I told her that it was a really nasty thing to do, that it is really really insulting and disrespectful and she should never do it again."
"And...?"
"I asked her where she learned to do that."
"And...?"
She said, "My teacher taught it to me."
I looked at Mrs. Principal and said, "and I suppose you want to see the lesson plan?"



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

P is for Personality

Seventeen little personalities to be exact, and all unique. Everyday I learn something new about them. Who to separate, who can work together, and who needs to be watched every second!Like my flower child last year, some have special qualities that I just can't ignore. I'd like to introduce to you...


The Reporter
The eyes and ears of my classroom. If it happens, she knows about it. The who. The what. The when. The how. The why. Nothing gets by her. Strangely enough, she is never involved in anything herself, always the innocent bystander.
"Mrs. C, she has the hiccups. He's being mean to that other boy, he has a lego in his pocket I think he's trying to steal it, she spilled her juice on her shirt and it's picture day her mother is going to be really mad, he needs to go the the nurse I think he has a fever..." You get the picture. I love her to pieces, but because of "The Reporter" I had to break out the tattle jar again.


The Comedian
This one is wiser than her five years would suggest. On week two, her mom came to me and said, "Do we need to have a conversation yet?" I just laughed because I knew what she meant, but in reality I love this kind of kid! I can laugh with her because she "gets" me. I even caught her rolling her eyes at me, but it was not in a way that I found disrespectful, it's was more of a "my teacher is a fruit loop, but I love her anyway" kind of way.
She tries to test me to see just how far she can go before I'll call her on it. She likes to get a laugh so if you could fast forward 12 years she just might be that child who has their picture under the heading "class clown" in the year book.
And one of the best things about her is she's a Red Sox fan, she gets that about me too!

The Mouse
She's a lovely little thing, but rarely speaks above a whisper. She has a lot to say, just chooses to say it very very quietly.






Old Yeller
The flip side to The Mouse. He has a lot to say and says it very very loudly!

The Inquisitor
He's the one that has to be in the know, the reasons behind everything...and I do mean EVERYTHING we do. Why is it snack time? Why won't my shoes stay tied? Why is today gym day? Why are apples red? and green? and yellow? Why? Why? Why?
I love his curiosity and I suppose it's his way of discovering the world around him. I try to answer what I can, but sometimes I just have to refer him to The Reporter.


The Pee-er
There is one in every class. The one child who NEEDS to go to the bathroom because "really Mrs. Collins, this time it's an EMERGENCY!" Well who am I to say no, because it will be the one time I do and...well you know.
I really don't mind so much but I am trying to teach them how to ask correctly. For example, I'd much rather hear, "May I go to the bathroom please?" rather than "I really have to poop!"

Little Miss Sunshine
Much like last year's Flower Child, Little Miss Sunshine is just happy to be here on the planet. Her smile could brighten a room. She's sensitive to her friend's needs, feels badly when someone is hurt or sad and does her best to be kind and considerate. She's the child that you just hope does something a little naughty to prove that she can!
A few weeks ago a child in my class fell and broke his arm. Little Miss Sunshine felt so badly she started to cry. I have to admit, I wanted to too. It was scary! But she chose to turn her sad, scary feelings into action and made him an entire book to help him feel better. They don't come much sweeter.

Mr. You've Got to Be Kidding Me
This is the one who thought if he spoke Spanish around me I wouldn't know what he was saying, and to be honest, most of the time I don't!
Sometimes what he says is kind of funny. Like today when he yelled "Hay Diablo!" when another boy knocked over his block tower.
But sometimes he will speak Spanish while in a literacy center or during math games and neither I or most of his friends have any idea what he's saying. I don't mind at all during social times, like out on the playground, or during free choice time, but in school we all need to be understood to everyone.
Well I am by no means fluent, but I know enough to fool even the smarmiest of 5 year-olds I give them just enough to make them THINK. So today when he started speaking Spanish to his math games partner...
Me: "No Espanol en la clase por favor."
Well the look on this little guy's face was priceless.
Him: "You. speak. Spanish?"
I just smiled and walked away.

I do a lot of smiling...it is kindergarten after all!










Monday, September 28, 2009

Inspired


We're all settling in to a new school year and I'm just getting to know my 17 new little kindergarteners. It's been crazy busy. Teaching new routines, finding out what they know, getting to know all their little personalities. It's a fun, but challenging time of the year andmy poor little blog is sitting here neglected, but I'm taking it all in. The inspiration to write will come soon enough. Until then, stay tuned, it should be a very interesting year!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At Summer's End

The signs are everywhere. 
Kids being dragged to the store for new sneakers, backpacks and lunch boxes. Teachers like me are finding their way kicking and screaming to their classrooms, to put away new supplies, dress up the bulletin boards, organize class lists and arrange classroom furniture. 
But the start of school is never so evident as it is in a college town. 
I see it every year as the students start to move in. They gather in front of the dorms with their parents, carrying boxes and milk crates, computers and printers. The streets are suddenly busier and the sidewalks are full of white ear phone wearing, backpack carrying kids heading to class.
This year I'm watching it all with a new perspective because next fall I'll be the one sending one off to college. 
We took two college tours with him this week. I love the feeling of walking around a college campus. The ivy covered brown stones oozed intelligence, the marble staircases gleamed with promise as we climb them to view a lecture hall.  Boston University is a "sexy" school, right in the middle of a bustling city with Fenway Park right around the corner. I know, I know not a reason to choose a school but...
We all followed our tour guide and listened intently to everything she had to say. Actually, not all listened intently. One miserable father who coincidentally was wearing a yankee cap on his head had nothing good to say about anything she showed us. I really think he was just unhappy to be standing in the shadows of THE PAHK.
Our tour ended and as we stood waiting for the train to our next tour destination, the kid looked at me and said,  "I don't think this school is conducive to my learning, it's just too busy." 
Good to know!
We arrived at our next destination. Another big Boston school, but this one felt different. I could actually picture him walking around this campus, going from class to class, living in that dorm room, eating in that dining hall and studying in that library. The more our guide showed us, the bigger the kid's smile got and I knew he was thinking the same thing I was.
I knew for sure when he jumped in the front of the line to rub the nose on the bronze Huskie for luck! "Please let me get in to this school", I heard him say.

I don't know where he'll end up, there are still more tours to take and more mascot noses to rub, but he'll find the right fit because he's a smart boy with a good head on his shoulders. 
So I'll watch him navigate through his senior year, I'll help him with the forms and the applications and I'll edit the essays and when it comes to carry the milk crates I'll do that too and I may even rub a mascot nose or two along the way.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

F is for Friend Part 2.


friend -noun A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

A pretty basic definition but not really very warm or "friendly". I am really lucky to have the friends I do.
There are my friends like Brenda who I've know forever, or Little who seems to be my best buddy this summer, my mom, Medium and Big (although at 15 and 17, it's not always easy to like them!) and my husband, who is most certainly my best friend.
I have friends that I know because we met on a message board over 9 years ago. We were all pregnant at the same time, all due in August of 2000. Some of them I've met, some I haven't but we have been there to support one another through some pretty rough stuff and also there for each other to celebrate some huge accomplishments. Our "babies" are all turning nine this month and we have grown to be very close friends. They are amazing woman and I'm proud to know them.

I've had people ask me if it's really possible to have real friendships when you've never met the person you're talking to. I know it is possible because I have a more than a few of them. Friends who are moms of boys, and friends I can compete against in a nice "friendly" game of Scrabble.
I have friends that I can be silly with, I have friends that I can have deep conversations with and friends I can tell anything to because I can trust them implicitly.
I have friends that can provide a listening ear and just know when to say, "I understand" because that's all I really need.

I have my work friends that I miss during the summer months. We keep in touch to some extent, but never as much as we say we will. During the school year we are like next door neighbors, waving to each other from across the hall or having a quick conversation during an elevator ride, venting to each other when we've had a particularly rough day and sticking our heads into a classroom door just to smile and say "hello". Over the summer we're all busy doing our own thing which is the way it should be.

Some friendships are difficult and the ones worth keeping are worth the extra effort. But, when does it become too hard? When you're disappointed over and over? When that friend breaks a trust, or just plain makes it too hard to be a friend. I'm not talking about friends that just grow apart for one reason or another, but friends you have to let go of because the friendship stops being healthy. I wonder if people like that were truly friends to begin with?

So although the definition of friend certainly describes what a friend is, it doesn't describe how it feels to have a friend. I know that feeling and for me it comes in many different kinds of people.

I hope each and every one of them knows how important they are to me. I guess this was just my little way of telling them.





Friday, August 14, 2009

F is for Friend

My poor little blog has been sitting here idle for weeks now and day after summer day goes by. We've been out and about doing our summery things, Fenway Park, the beach, ice cream, you name it, we've done it, but none of it is "blog worthy". It's not to say that we haven't had a great summer, we have, but there is only so much you can write about the beach, crickets and sunsets.
I've been waiting for something over-the-top-exciting to happen so I'd have some good writing material.
But sometimes it's not the big things.
Last week I got a message from my friend Brenda. I've known her since high school. We were best friends then, and I can still honestly say she's one of my best friends now.
We don't see each other often, in fact, we rarely get together and the only reason for that is because we are both so busy with kids, work and life in general. She was going to be in the neighborhood and wondered if we should get together.
So we made plans for dinner.
The beauty of our friendship is, we can go for years without seeing each other but still pick up right where we left off. It's natural, it's comfortable and it's real.
We shared so many experiences back then, we had a lot of fun, we laughed a lot, and when we talk about those experiences now, we still laugh most of the time, but sometimes we just roll our eyes and wonder "what were we thinking?" Like the time my car got stuck while we were hiding the bottle of wine we were going to drink later that night, or when we stole the mailbox (who knew it was a federal offense?).
Here we are on our senior class trip to Florida. Those are some sweet wheels. I'm the one driving and I'm fairly certain she is NOT going to be happy with me for posting this little gem!
















We had a nice dinner, good conversation, a walk out on the pier and then we parted ways, but with a promise to each other to make sure we do this again and soon.
I think we all have made promises like that in the past and life inevitably happens and gets in the way of the best intentions.
This time, I am going to do my best to keep that promise. "Keep your girlfriends close" I heard someone say recently. So although Brenda and I have a lot of memories from our past, I think it's time we make some new memories too.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lessons from Bikini Bottom

Yesterday was a perfect beach day. Hazy, hot and humid everywhere but on the shore. Bright sunshine, barely a cloud in the sky, so off we went. I was up early, packed the cooler and the beach bag, then set about waking up the rest of the house. 
The two big boys, teenagers that they are, summer drunk and drowsy from late nights and days filled with soccer opted out, but the little one and hubby were raring to go.
We arrived at the beach around 10:00, and payed the $20 parking fee. Ouch! $20??  I know I know, seems a little pricey, but where else can you spend $20 for a full day 'o fun?
We unpacked the car, carried chairs, cooler and ourselves to the sand, picked the perfect spot and set up camp.
We chose Wingaersheek in Gloucester. The best little kid beach around. No huge waves, but at low tide you can walk for what seems like miles, there are rocks to climb on, and great tide pools for hunting. It's such a shallow beach that when the tide does come in the water is Carribean warm because of the sand that's been baking in the sun all day.
When we arrived the tide was pretty low, so the three of us started walking to see what we could find.
It wasn't long before I had a handful of sand dollars. We kept walking and Little found a huge shell sticking out of the sand, I picked it up and discovered the most disgusting looking sea slug oozing out from it. 
He named it Gary and I have to say, this disgusting slug looked nothing like his Sponge Bob counterpart. 
I put him back and started walking ahead of the Little One and the Dad, but I could hear their conversation.
The Dad has a little bit of Mike Brady in him. He will take any teachable moment and turn it into a life lesson and somehow, our disgusting, not so little sea slug was just what he needed.
He talked about how even the ugliest of creatures have a place in the world. (Food for seagulls)
Then somehow the conversation turned to Mr. Crabs and Mr. Square Pants himself. 
Little: Mr. Crabs would love these sand dollars, he loves money.
Dad: He is kind of cheap isn't he? He's not very nice to Sponge Bob either.
Little: That's because he makes Sponge Bob work harder so he can make more money at the Crusty Crab.
Dad: Well he still shouldn't treat Sponge Bob like that.
Me: (because I can't mind my own business and I'm a little critical at times...) Sponge Bob is too stupid to know better and quit.
Dad: He's not stupid, he's just young and naive and Mr. Crabs is taking advantage of him.
Little: Yeah mom,  and Sponge Bob loves his job.
Me: (now staying out of this one, sometimes it's better to just listen.)
Little: Hey look, little fish.
Dad: That's krill, it's what whales eat.
Little: You mean like Plankton. He's Mr. Crabs' arch enemy. He's always trying to steal the recipe for Crabby Patties. The Crabby Patties recipe is an old family recipe you know. He and Mr. Crabs were childhood friends, but now they hate each other.
Dad: See what greed will do. It tears people apart.
Little: Well maybe someday they'll work things out and be friends again.
Dad: Let's hope so.

I don't know how much Little got out of this conversation, but I enjoyed it, and do know I'll never look at a sea slug the same way again!







Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Art of Doing Nothing






Doing nothing sounds blissful in a too busy world. After a very productive, often stressful, yet triumphant school year, you would think the down-time would be very much appreciated, and it is. But here I am faced with all this time and I find it strangely uncomfortable. 
My days are filled with time, time for my kids, time for myself, time to read a juicy novel, time to catch up on all those house things that get put aside all year long, but I find it hard to have all this unstructured time. No set time to get up, shower, do my hair, get dressed, no schedules to keep, nowhere to be. 

Relaxing takes practice.

I find it hard to switch gears and with no "real" vacation planned,  I put a lot of pressure on myself to find things to do to keep the kids entertained. The beach one day, mini golf the next, The Willows, ice cream, the movies, camp, sailing, play dates, bike rides...you get the picture.
I feel horribly guilty when we just exist. I feel like a day hanging around the house is a day wasted in a summer that is all too fleeting. 
I know my friends reading this who work full time all year long are now shaking their heads and saying, "those teachers, they don't know how good they have it"  but the fact of the matter is, very few of us take the entire summer off. There are classes to teach, workshops to take, rooms to rearrange and, although none of us become teachers for summers off, it's a pretty good perk that I refuse to apologize for, because we work really hard all year...and we deserve it damn it! 
So here I sit, blogging from  my front porch, which has become my new favorite place to practice doing nothing. I'm getting better at it and should have it mastered...hmm, right around Labor Day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Sound of Summer

I went for a bike ride tonight after dinner. There is a bike path that begins just down the road from where I live, along a tidal salt marsh.   I was just riding, enjoying the evening, alone in my thoughts. I was thinking about how much I loved riding my bike when I was a kid and how much I still feel like a kid when I'm on it now. I started thinking about my friends then, how we'd ride up and down the street going nowhere in particular. 
I thought about how quiet it was there on the bike path, but then I started to listen and realized it wasn't really very quiet at all. I realized what I was hearing were the sounds of summer. 
A squeaky swing, a seagull's call, the clicking noise when pedals move backwards, the hollow crack of a wiffle ball bat, and the cardinal in the tree above.
I started thinking about other summer sounds, the ones I couldn't
 hear from my bike like waves crashing on the shore, kids squealing as they run from the waves before the cold water hits their toes, the cicadas that buzz on hot humid days, thunder rumbling in the distance bringing cooler air along with the rain, and fireworks bursting on the 4th.
 Some summer sounds are not as pleasant, too loud music from a car, the sudden roar of a Harley and the mosquito that buzzes in your ear at night as you pull the sheets up over your head hoping to keep from getting bitten. 
Then there are the crickets who save their summer songs 'til August, when the days are hot but the nights are cool. As much as I love the sound of those crickets I know what they are telling me. All too soon those summer sounds will fade and the sound I'll hear most often is the sound of the school bell.
I enjoyed my bike ride today, and I'm really glad to have a few more to take before the crickets start to chirp away the days.



Friday, July 10, 2009

Just a suggestion...

I've been in a funk. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, I've been uncomfortable in my own skin, and I just can't get out of my own way. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe the very un-summer like weather, maybe it's not being on a real schedule or because I've been feeling physically yucky but whatever it is it effects everything I do. My ambition, my energy level, my patience...my blog!
I am slowly coming out of it, the sun is out, I feel better, I made myself go out to dinner with my girlie friends and I found a good book to read. But my blog...what to do with my blog?
So I took it to my facebook status and asked my friends for suggestions. I got some I think I can work with! Thanks to all my contributors!
1. Cooking and Recipes.
Let me just say, I used to like to cook, but then I had kids and all my creativity in the kitchen went right out the window. Not only did I have kids, but I gave birth to picky kids. It's the Irish in them. Meat and potatoes. I'm hoping my kitchen skills come back but they have been so dormant for so long now they may just be lost forever.

2. Rain.

3. Free things to do in Salem
At first I thought, free? No way. Living in a tourist town, there isn't much "free" going on, but then I started to do a little research and this is what I found.
Everything from walking garden tours to free films, to old graveyards, to the Witch Trial Memorial, Salem is full of history and just walking along the waterfront, or down Chestnut Street tells a lot about the past, present and future of a beautiful city. The Peabody Essex Museum is free for Salem residents and is a lot more kid friendly than I once thought. Time to open up my tourist eyes and get out there!

4. Irritating Stuff, Top Ten Things I hate.
Good suggestions but in the spirit of getting out of my funk, I'm going to avoid the negative for now...

5. Top Ten Things I Love...in no particular order.
  • my family
  • my friends
  • my job
  • the beach
  • the summer
  • the Red Sox
  • Starbucks green iced tea
  • my computer
  • writing
  • cookies
6. The Red Sox are 8-0 against the yankees but yet are still tied with them for first place.

Now I was going to completely ignore this suggestion because I really try to avoid talking about the yankees at all, but really, would it be a baseball season at all if these two teams were not neck and neck in the standings? (Note the use of the lowercase "y". Although the name "yankees" is a noun, they are far from proper.)
However, I will be in attendance at the game on Saturday night. I will be wearing my lucky hat and will say a prayer in the cathedral that is Fenway Park so expect things to shift in the proper direction.

7. The peacefulness and solitude of running.

The fact is, I hate running. I have to talk myself into every step. There is nothing peaceful about it for me. It's just the opposite, it causes inner turmoil. But, it's the quickest and most inexpensive way to drop a few pounds. I actually prefer to walk. I can let my thoughts wander, I can think, I can daydream, I can sing along to the tunes on my ipod. Sometimes I walk alone, sometimes Michael and I take ourselves to the beach and walk together, we have our best conversations that way. Walking puts me in a happy place, so I can safely say, unless I walk the 26.2, there are no Boston Marathons in my future.

So thanks to my friends, my blog post is done and I feel better. I knew they'd come through for me!

Thank you, Sandy, Regina, Angel, Michele, Robert and Don, and all of the rest of you, who make me laugh every single day.



Monday, June 29, 2009

Weather or Not

Disclaimer: You know when you you're in the middle of a conversation and suddenly there's that awkward silence when you just don't know what to say next? Well this is kind of like that, because I know I need to blog, but I just don't know what to blog about, so ladies and gentlemen I give you...the weather.

I know most of you who read my blog are local, but for you out of staters here is what our weather has looked like for most of the spring and now into the early summer...






















Yes, I know, "April showers bring May flowers." But it's not April anymore. It's June and in two days it will be July. The forecast? More rain!
Rain can be lovely. Who doesn't love a good torrential downpour? It keeps things clean, refreshed, and sweet smelling. Rain can be romantic. Who doesn't have dreamy images of soft warm kisses in the rain?
There are songs about rain, Laughter in the Rain, Singing in the Rain, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head...and falling, and falling, and falling...

Rain is poetic,
E.E. Cummings' words "The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful" bring about images of Christopher Robin, umbrella in hand and rubber boots on his feet, splashing through the puddles with Pooh by his side.

Now don't misunderstand, I don't mind a little rain now and then. I actually expect it in the summer after a hot steamy day when those thunder showers roll through, cleaning the air so we can all breathe a little easier, but this year is different. It has yet to be hot or steamy it's just cold and rainy and wet.
I've sat through countless cold, rainy baseball and soccer games, wrapped in blankets but still shivering.
I'm ready for the sunshine, the beach, shorts, bathing suits, flip flops, the sand between my toes, the smell of Coppertone!

I'm ready, and waiting and I know I'm not alone. So bring it on Mr. Sun, bring it on, because for the remainder of the summer the only umbrella I want to be under is this one...



Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Being a Dad

Since I'm not a Dad, I can't claim to know exactly what it's like to be one. I'm sure like being a Mom it comes with very deep emotions and attachments. Some that I can not possibly even begin to understand.
But because I have a father, I'm married to the father of my children, and I have a brother and friends who are fathers, I'm going to use my little space in blog land to try to honor fatherhood.

Michael and I are very fortunate to have three wonderful sons. All unique in their own way. For the most part they stay out of trouble, are respectful, are good students, good athletes, and have good hearts. I am the nurturer, the one they can come to with their emotions, the one who has taught them to be compassionate, but their father is the one who has molded them into the respectful young people they have become. 
It's as simple as looking someone in the eye when they are speaking to them, learning how to shake hands with a firm grip, and thanking a referee or coach each and every time they leave the field. He teaches not only with words but by example. He has shown them how to work hard, how to play hard and how to overcome adversity. He shows them everyday the importance of a good education and a hard day's work.
He has shown them that it's okay for men to be afraid, to cry when they are hurt or sad and he has taught them that it's okay to tell someone "I love you." 

I am not a father, but I am a daughter. I did not grow up in my father's home, but he was present in our lives. He showed up to spend time with my brother and me. My best memories are the ones walking in the woods with my dad. Because of my dad I know what princess pine looks like and more importantly what poison ivy looks like! I know if I were ever lost in the woods that I could eat tea berries to survive and I know that bittersweet makes a really pretty decoration in the fall. I know that indians used to use the white bark of birch trees to write on and I know how to put a worm on a hook. ( I never really got the hang of taking the fish off the hook though!) 
He was the parent I would go to when I knew my mom wouldn't understand, or be really really angry. Like when I was 17 and got my car stuck in the mud while "behaving inappropriately". How the mud got INSIDE my car I'll never know, but he was there to not only help me clean it, but was able to laugh about it too. Although, I'm not really sure he knew what I was really doing that night. 
When I think about my dad, I think about how proud he is of his grandchildren, I think about his love of nature, his love of the ocean and how much he loves Christmas, but mostly how much he loves my brother and me.
One of the best dads I know is my brother and  those who are my friends. They are there on the soccer fields, at baseball games, at graduations, at recitals, cheerleading competitions and school events. I see their eyes light up when they talk about their kids. Whether they have one son, two daughters, one of each or even triplets, the love those dads, have for their children is unconditional.

So, no I do not know how it feels to be a father, but I do know as a daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend I couldn't have chosen better men then the ones I have in my life and the lives of my boys.

Happy Father's Day!
 


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reflections


Another school year is nearing it's end. Just three and 1/2 hours left to be exact, but who's counting?
After each school year, I like to reflect on what I did well and what I could have done better.
I had a difficult year there is no denying that. For whatever reason it's been a battle, but difficult or not, each and every day I looked forward to going to work to try again.
I've had other difficult years, but this one kicked my butt. I think I expected better from the kids, and from myself. Could it be that my expectations for both were too high?
No, I don't think when it comes to teaching and learning the expectations can ever be too high. If we don't aspire to something better, what's the point?

After each year, especially a difficult one, I like to reflect a bit on how I performed as a teacher.
A difficult year forces me to take a look at my teaching methods. I'm not talking about curriculum so much, because that I followed. They learned! They really learned!
I have readers and writers! The progress is amazing, some came to me not even able to write their names, and now they are writing paragraphs. Some came to me not able to recognize a single letter of the alphabet and can now read! There are times when you can just about see the "lightbulb" go on in their little heads and suddenly everything just clicks for them! That's the really fun part of my job, when you know you finally reached them.

What I am talking about is the other part of teaching. The classroom management part. No one can teach this. You don't learn it in college, no professor, text book, mentor or co-worker can teach classroom management. It is truly on the job training and it changes year to year, class to class, day to day and more often than not child to child.
There are articles to read, workshops to attend, philosophies and methods to try, but in reality what works one year, may not work the next. This is what I struggle with. Why was I so good at it the last few years and not so good at it this year?

I know a lot of it was beyond my control. I know this because I was not the only teacher who had a difficult time with this class. I heard more than once, "I don't know how you do it."
They were difficult at lunch, music, gym, art and science. They were high energy from the start and in some cases that's not a bad thing. They are a cute, lively bunch, but not very adept at self-control. Once they got riled up it was very hard to get them back. So a lot of the fun things I would have liked to do with them, I couldn't. I think in many ways the school year became a little boring and mundane at times. A lot of the same old thing, not just for me but for the kids too. That I really feel badly about.

There were some major behavior issues thrown my way, some way beyond my level of expertise that required some help and intervention. Even though I know this is not my fault it was really hard not to feel like a failure at times. I guess it's just me, not wanting to admit I can't do it alone and it's really okay to ask for help! When I did ask, it was help I got. I can't possibly list all the people I depend on every day for advice, a new thing to try or a reassuring look of understanding. I can't list them all, but they know who they are! I work with the best teachers on earth, they are not just my co-workers, but my friends and not a day goes by that I don't learn something new from them or just simply get a smile when I need it the most.

Even though it is really easy to beat myself up over the difficulties of this past year, instead I'll use it to motivate myself to learn more, try something new, reevaluate. Because, in reality I know I am a really good teacher and when September comes I'll be really eager to prove it!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fluidity


"...and Pooh said to Piglet, Life is so much friendlier with two."
-a. a. milne

At 17 my oldest son's best friends are still the ones he made when he was in kindergarten. Will they always be his best friends? It's hard to say. Life changes us in ways that make us grow apart in some ways, and grow closer together in other ways.

"A true friend is someone you can trust with all your secrets." -anonymous

I have one friend that I have from childhood, and although I rarely see her anymore, I know that when we get together we can pick up right where we left off. We know things about each other that no one else does. There is something about that friendship that has lasted even though life has taken us in different directions. We went to different colleges, made other friends, got married, had children, live in different communities. We've laughed together, cried together, been really angry at one another, were there for each of our weddings and are godmothers to each other's children. Our friendship made it through all of it.

"A friend is someone who reaches for your hand, but touches your heart." -author unknown

People flow in and out of our lives all the time and sometimes people show up at just the right time, when they are needed most. When we are feeling badly about ourselves, when life is getting us down, when we are struggling in ways that we may not even realize, someone shows up to help us feel happier in ways that were never expected. It's those little surprises that mean so much.

"A friend in kindergarten is the one who sat next to you and let you have the pretty red crayon, when only the ugly black one was left." -author unknown

I think about my kindergarten kids and wonder if among them there is a friendship that will last. I watch them compete for attention, tattle on each other relentlessly and sometimes be purposely mean and hurtful. Could there be the beginnings of any life long friendships there? Time will tell.

"No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever." -Francois Mauriac

My kindergarteners arrive in September little, unsure and full of promise and although it is my job to teach them to read and write, count, add, tell time, add and subtract, and so much more, when June comes around I hope I have reached them in some way that transcends the academic. Maybe how to be kinder, more understanding, helpful or empathetic. lessons that are not part of the general curriculum but lessons for life. If they only knew how much they have taught me. They eventually leave me to move on to other teachers, but there is not one that has come through my door that I don't now still think of as mine.

"Most people come into our lives and quickly leave. It is the special few that come in and leave a footprint in our hearts and we are forever changed." -author unknown

They are with me for such a small part of their lives, and in little more than a week they will move on from my classroom. Although this year has been a struggle for me professionally I know I'll get choked up and teary as they walk out of the door for the last time. It's those children that I have had to work the hardest to reach that are the hardest to say good-bye to. They won't understand the reason for the tears, but it doesn't matter, I will.

Just one more thing...
This Friday our school will hold it's 5th grade moving on ceremony. I am always emotional during the ceremony as the kids receive special recognition for 6 years of hard work. This year I am going to be especially moved because of one little girl who I've watched grow from the time she was put in my arms as an infant to the very special young girl she has become. She's not my daughter, but I love her like she is, and I hope she realizes how very special she is to me. I hope she knows I will always be there if she needs a hug or needs someone to just listen. Job well done Madison. I love you.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Giving Tree

...and the boy loved the tree.

The other day one of our school's fifth grade teachers asked if he could do a lesson with my kindergarten kids and his fifth graders. I was not allowed to be present for most of the lesson, so I don't know exactly what went on while I was out of the room, but I can guess.

He read to them a story by Shel Silverstein, titled, The Giving Tree.
If you've never read The Giving Tree you should. It's a story of unconditional giving, a concept that is difficult for some adults to understand, much less a child. 
I'm not really sure who learned more that day, the fifth graders who listened, and helped my kids to understand, my kindergarteners who might have learned a little something about being selfless, Andy who now realizes he could never in a million years teach kindergarten on a regular basis, or me.

Now I'm sure you're wondering what I possibly could have learned if I wasn't even in the room. It took some thinking on my part, because at first I was really just glad to have the break from my class for a few minutes. But then I was presented with a gift. As part of the lesson, my kids wrote me thank you notes.
Thanking me for everything from giving her a smart brain, to extra recess, to stickers to marshmallows. Lots of kids thanked me for marshmallows, but more about that in a minute.
One of my favorites came from a little girl who just a few days before asked me, "Mrs. Collins, are you TRYING to be the meanest kindergarten teacher." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but then I got this from her and it made it all better and I have to admit, I got a little weepy.






















The next day, I ran into Andy and told him how I thought it was funny that so many of them thanked me for the marshmallows. I've taught these little ones so much this year, and all they remember is the marshmallows?
And then he said to me,
"Lisa, Twenty years from now those kids are going to remember the marshmallows and you'll know you made a difference."

So who learned more that day? 

I think I know the answer.


I'm sorry!



It has been an interesting year with my kindergarten kids. 
I started the year with 11 boys and 5 girls. So from the very first day the room was full of energy. I love little boys, I have three of my own. I love that they can disagree, fight it out, and can be over it in less than five seconds. I love the way they laugh at silly things, like the word "poop" or a huge forced burp. 
So when I get my class list at the beginning of each year, I don't roll my eyes at the number of boys, I just roll with it.
My girls this year were high energy too, and fed right into the boy silliness, but there is one difference. Girls carry grudges. They can be mean to each other. Name calling, cliquey, tattling, and competitive. I do my best to teach them tolerance and compassion, but to be completely honest, this year was a bit of a struggle behaviorally. 
So on Thursday, when things didn't go so well at gym, the principal kept my entire class in for recess so they could write apology letters to the gym teacher and the bus driver who takes them to gym each week.
Here's a little sample...





Somehow I think he's missing the point as to exactly why he's in the office.




You are NEVER bad, you just forgot!  Screaming is never good, and neither is being disrespectful!












And there is nothing worse than a "system that's out of control".






That Smell!

I walked into my 8 year-old son's room this morning to check on his progress as he was dressing for soccer.
The smell knocked me over. It smells of "sweaty boy". If you 're a mom of even one boy you know the smell, here I can multiply the smell by three, no make that four. Because husbands never really grow up either and clearly have smelly potential.
Little shares a room with Medium so not only does the room smell like a locker room, it looks like a locker room. Gear bags open, cleats in a pile, wet soccer socks, soccer ball, yesterday's clothes, track spikes on top of the bureau, last night's towel hanging off the bed post...you get the picture. 
So I had to call him on it...

Me: This room is a mess. I know what you're doing after soccer.
Little: I know mom, it's always a mess, we're guys, that's how we roll.

We're guys, that's how we roll?

Maybe, but not in this house Buster!



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sing, Sing a Song



Today's question of the day was, "What's your favorite song?"

I got some very interesting answers considering these are 5 year-olds...

"You Got It All" by Bow Wow
"Rock Star" by Hannah Montana
"I'm Out" by the Naked Brothers Band
"Apple Bottom Jeans" by T-Pain
"We are the Champions" by Queen 
"Viva la Vida" by Cold Play
"Single Ladies" by Beyonce

Now I like some of these songs, in fact, I have some of them on my ipod, but they are all pretty grown-up songs, with some very grown-up content. Sometimes I just shake my head.

Thankfully, I also got these answers...

Humpty Dumpty
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Kiss Your Brain and
The Sponge Bob Song (which by the way, I have not been able to get out of my head since he mentioned it!)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Absorbent and Yellow and Porous is he
Sponge Bob Square Pants!

But the best answer came from Flower Child.
 
Me: "Flower Child, what's your favorite song?"
F.C.: "Little Sweet Angel of course."
Me: "I never heard that song, who sings it?"
F.C.: "Me, I made it up! "
Me: "Of course you did!"
F.C. "Can I sing it for you?"
Me: "Oh, I really wish you would"

Later this afternoon, Flower Child came to me quite upset. She said, "Mrs. C., Bobby said I was cold-hearted and evil."
"Flower Child, I can't think of anyone I know who's heart is more full of love than yours."

And if you don't believe me, here is her song...
Sweet Little Angel,
You are so sweet,
You are cute from your head to your feet.
you're sweet because you're full of loooooovvvvve!

If that's cold-hearted and evil, then I'm missing something!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I will follow you...


I write because I can. 
My blog gives me an outlet for my inner novelist. I don't profess to be a writing genius but I think I can hold my own out here in cyberspace. There are so many bloggers out there so much more talented than I, but I am proud that I've collected a few loyal readers who stop by from time to time to catch up on what I've been up to. 
I've made a few cry, a few laugh, and I'm sure a few have just shaken their heads and said, "who is this crazy teacher who thinks she can write?" 
Hopefully there aren't too many of those and even if there are, there really is only one person I really write for and that is me!
I do like it though when family, friends and even complete strangers leave comments about something I've written. 
People blog for lots of reasons. Some are artists, or photographers who use their blogs to showcase their work. Some like my friend Michele over on I am Derby, who has more talent and creativity in her little finger than I could ever hope for. 
Some people use their blogs to update their friends and families. Like  Chris and his wife Erin who just had triplets, my friend Maria  on What Did You Just Say?, who's son I had in kindergarten, who by the way has a really great sense of humor, or my brother  on John's Ramble, sharing his thoughts about politics, vacations and junk food. I apologize in advance for his political views!

Some, like me just want to put their thoughts down on "paper". Some like my friend Andy, on Slow Down you Move to Fast, or Caroline , Ms. Picket  , or Rocker Mom,who I don't know, but read whenever they post something new.

Some blogs are purely for entertainment purposes. Like Cake Wrecks, or Awkward Family Photos, both side-splitting, tears-running-down-your-face, pee-your-pants-funny!

So check them all out, leave a comment, and if you write one, let me know because if you follow me, I will follow you.



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Watching the World Go By


It was a really warm day today. I am not complaining, this is my favorite kind of weather. Warm is pleasant, cold is painful. My moods come and go with the weather and with the seasons. 
It is warm in the house though, and it's a beautiful night so I thought I'd take the blog out to the front port and watch the world go by.

I live on a pretty busy street with lots to look at. Like the guy who just ran by  in a tie dyed t-shirt arms raised and shouting as if he just crossed a finish line. 
My street can be pretty noisy sometimes, but you get used to it and pretty soon you don't even notice until a Harley drives by, or a Fire truck races past siren blowing telling the cars at the green light not to go.

I have pretty nice neighbors. The boy across the street who would shoot hoops all day every day if you let him, the meteorologist who loves a good storm, the Greek man and woman who leave fresh garden vegetables at our back door, and the little girl who wants to play with Little so badly that she'll even agree to play Jedi.

I live around the corner from the college campus. Busy place. Students walking by with back packs filled with books and futures filled with promise. Cars coming and going. Since when could college students afford such nice cars?

I watch people drive by. Some talking on phones, some eating, some smoking. Are any paying attention? 

A car beeps, "Hi Mrs. C!" Not sure who that was, but it's hard to be incognito when you live in the same neighborhood where you work. I don't mind, makes me feel like a celebrity. I'm sure I'll go into work tomorrow and some little child will say, "I know where you live!" 

Lots of songs to hear as people drive by. Music so loud I can feel the vibration, some songs I recognize, some just sound like noise.

Oh, another beep, and this time a "woo hoo!" Nice to know I still got it! 

The traffic is slowing, and suddenly there aren't quite so many cars on the road. I can hear the birds better now. The breeze is blowing gently, I can hear the kids playing in the back yard. The sky is lighter blue than it has been all day, with just a hint of yellow at the horizon. I can smell the lilac bush as the breeze blows it's scent in my direction. I take a deep breath and close my eyes filling my brain with sweetness. I wonder what the evening will bring. It was a busy day here on my street, but now I'm enjoying the quiet, waiting for the first star to appear in the sky, waiting for the next wave, the next smile, the next song, the next "woo hoo"!




Sunday, May 17, 2009

L is for Little League


Anyone who knows me in real life knows I am a baseball fan. Yes, I am fanatical about my Red Sox, but the truth is, I really do like baseball. The warm summer nights, hot dogs, the crack of the bat. I love it all.
But Little League baseball? Not so much.
Yes they are adorable in their little uniforms, and their too big batting helmets. The look on their little faces when they finally get that hit, or cross home plate for the first time, or make an out is priceless. 
There is so much good about Little League baseball. They learn team work, team spirit, how to be gracious winners and how to lose gracefully. For the most part the coaches are great, occasionally I see and hear things that make me cringe, but thankfully so far those moments are few and far between. 
Little League parents are interesting. I know I am a Little League parent, but my strategy is to sit quietly and watch. Take it all in and say nothing. 
Little League has a whole bunch of different rules about when to slide, how many bases can be stolen, how many runs can be scored in an inning, all in the interest of the safety, enjoyment and emotional well-being of the players.
But what about the well-being of those watching? In the spirit of that, I have a few of my own rules...
1. games will not be played if the temperature is lower than 65 degrees. This is a game for warm weather, if a winter coat and blanket is necessary...call the game!
2. games will not be played if there is even a hit of rain in the air.
3. bad grammar, such as the use of double negatives, and the use of "aint" shall not be tolerated.
4. smoking around children is NEVER okay!

I know my list is a short one, and really it isn't about me. So as long as my son wants to play, I'll be there with my blanket, my winter coat, gloves and umbrella and I'll cheer wildly because it's all about him and this little game called baseball.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Starving for Attention


I was sitting at my "teacher table" today during literacy centers and suddenly realized how needy the kids seemed to be today. Was it because they didn't get enough attention all weekend or was it because they haven't seen me in two days? Either way I decided to try a little experiment.
I wanted to see in five minutes how many times a child would come to me to either ask me a question or tell me something "important". Because in kindergarten everything is "important".

So I set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes, grabbed a pencil and started writing. Here's what I got...

"I'm hungry." (twice)
"I have a mosquito bite and it really itches. Can I go to the nurse?
Am I all done?
I messed up, I need an eraser.
How do you spell zebra?
Why does he get to read a book and I don't?
He said Christian stinks.
Can I get a tissue?
Can I get a piece of paper?
How come he's using black on his rainbow, there aint no (insert teacher cringe) black in a rainbow.
In need a brown crayon.
I have to pee. Can I pee? It's an emergency. I really need to pee!
Jimmy's talking to me.
I need a germ squirt.
The caterpillars are upside down. Can I go tell Miss Frizzle. (named changed to protect the innocent.)
Mrs. C, there's drama at the art table!

Now I know this is enough to drive even the most patient of people over the edge. But you see, we kindergarten teachers have a special "patience gene".

So if I can provide a listening ear and make a child feel listened to and important, I will.

Because a little extra attention is good for all of us.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

M is for Mommy


I've been a mommy for 17 years. That's amazing to me because I really just brought him home from the hospital. I remember the moment they put him in my arms and even though we had never met, I knew him instantly. He seemed so familiar, so much a part of me. 
I remember being so scared. What did I know about taking care of something so little? I had someone to care for other than me and suddenly all my thoughts of self were gone with every little cry.
As I was wheeled out of the hospital I remember thinking, Are they really going to let me just walk out with this thing? 
I was no way near prepared for how tired I would be. So scared, tired, unsure. But 17 years and two more babies later and I can look back and know I did a pretty good job. They are healthy, smart, social, polite, athletic. Everything a mom could ask for in three sons. They really are good boys and I couldn't be more proud of them.
I love all three of you.
Now of course I had some help. They have a wonderfully dedicated dad. This has been truly a 50/50 partnership in raising these three. He is a mentor, he leads by example showing them everyday what a man should be. Loving, Hard working, dedicated and respectful. We have high expectations and I'm sure they would think sometimes too high, but I can't help but think we did something right considering the path they are on. We are blessed.
I love you.
 I am the mother I am because of the mother I have.
I always felt loved, safe, wanted. My mother and I never went through mother/daughter issues like my friends did with their mothers. She trusted me, gave me space, I had rules and I respected them so I had her trust. I know it's cliche but I can say my mother is one of my best friends and mean it. 
I am  proud of her. She raised my brother and I as a single parent yet we never wanted for anything. I'm happy that she's finally in a place in her life where she can enjoy herself because I can't think of anyone who deserves it more. 
I love you mom.
Some of the most wonderful mothers I know are my friends. They raise families, go to work, go to school, some struggle to pay bills, some struggle with depression, some are athletic, some are scary smart, funny, there are those that are well organized, some that live life to the fullest, some are secure with themselves, some question their parenting ability, some are single parents. But they all put their kids first. 
I love you guys.

 On Thursday night the wife of a friend gave birth to triplets. All beautiful and all very tiny. I have not been able to stop thinking about them and praying for them. So welcome to the world Sophie, Charlie and Maggie and Happy First Mother's Day Erin. Enjoy every precious moment because 17 years goes by very quickly!


Friday, April 17, 2009

He said, She said.


This seemed to be one of those weeks when the kids decided to be really funny. I had a few moments when I had to turn around and walk away so I wouldn't laugh and one particular moment when I had to laugh out loud because I just couldn't help myself. 

Every word...

During literacy centers this week I introduced the letter "e". An important letter to be sure and one of the 5 five most important letters in the alphabet. 
So I did my letter talk, "e captures the sound 'eh' like in elephant, egg and excellent. "
"Mrs. C is e one of the bowels? You can't have a word without a bowel right."
"Right kinder boy, every word has to have a bowel." I couldn't correct him. Well at least not at that moment.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T...

Later that week I gave them a writing prompt. The important thing about ___________ is ________________. So most of them said things like, The important thing about me is I'm a good big brother, or I like to play, or I like pizza. Nothing too deep or introspective. That is until flower child stepped to the plate. This is what she wrote;
The important thing about Flower Child is I would like to be respected for who I am
Yes, flower child, that's all any of us really want.

Separation of Church and State?

That same day I was fortunate enough to hear this conversation.
"Jesus is dead you know."
"No he isn't."
"Yes sah, he's dead like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington because if he was still alive he would be so old. Nobody lives that long."
"He is too alive, we had Easter. He is risen."


The Laugh Out Loud Moment of the Week

We went on a walking field trip today with the science teacher for our annual signs of spring adventure. On the way  home we ran into Bobby's mom who was walking Maggie, one of their two dogs. When we got back to school I asked him, "Bobby where was your other dog, Teddy?"
"Oh, he's at the vet."
"Oh no, is he sick?"
"No, something private is happening to him."
"Oh, I see."
"I have to whisper it in your ear."
He got in really close, cupped his hands over my ear and said....

"He's getting his balls cut off."

Laughed out loud didn't you?





Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal



It's a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in early April, the warmth of the sun is taken over by a chilly sea breeze that keeps the temperature in the low 50's. The robins have returned to New England and the yellow, white and purple crocuses are sparsely sprinkled in still chilly and un-groomed  garden beds. The forsythia buds are swollen while they patiently wait for a bright warm day to burst open in all their sunshine-yellowy glory. 
The grass outside my window has yet to turn green but just 16.7 miles south of where I sit, the grass is green and the Sox are Red. 

Spring fever has gripped Red Sox Nation. The Boys of Summer have returned from their winter home. 
I think it's hard for anyone who is not from this 
neck of the woods to truly understand how we bleed Red around here. 




We celebrate silly things like the equipment truck leaving Fenway Park in February. People  line the streets around the park to wave to the driver as he heads for Florida and spring training flanked on each side by Massachusetts State Troopers and Boston Police motorcycles. 


For the past week the New England Sports Network has been replaying memorable games from seasons past, and even though we've seen them, in many cases more than once, we still watch. We are an insane, but passionate bunch.
The passion spans the generations, from the very young to the very old and everyone in between. We're all united in our love for our team and hatred for all things pin-striped.

 Occasionally we have to put up with those sporadic yankee fans who live among us. We do our best to ignore them, but it's not always easy. Case in point, the dad of one of my students who insists on wearing a yankees cap when he comes to pick up his child.
 I try my best to pretend I don't notice, after all, I do have a professional reputation to maintain.
However, I had to smile one day when one of my students, previously known in this blog as "flower child", upon seeing that dad in his yankees cap, broke into song. Loud and Proud!  Her song went a little something like this...

"I spy with my little eye a dad wearing a yankees cap, yankees stink, yankees stink, yankees stink!"

"Now Flower Child", I said, "I have to agree with you about those yankees, but we have to be polite about such things."
"I know Mrs. C, but it's a yankees hat."

There is some logic that you just can't argue with. Such a smart girl, I taught her well.