Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just Breathe

Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~Thich Hhat Hanh

Kindergarten teachers never know what each school year will bring. The children that walk through our doors are little mysteries waiting to be discovered. We don't have the advantage upper grade teachers do, because there is no history with these little ones. 
My class this year has an interesting dynamic. They are cute, to be sure, but they are loud, all trying to outdo each other with their voices. They are competitive, and touchy, they like to tell stories, they can out wiggle the wiggliest of worms and they keep me on my toes. 
I love them all, each in their own way. They all have their wonderful qualities, and they can all drive a person crazy just like any other five-year-old can.
On Monday I was having a crazy day with my class, perhaps it was the impending snow storm, perhaps it was the pressure of all the assessments that are due, all I know is I didn't breathe for a full 180 minutes.
How do I know this? I brought my kids down to lunch, reminding them along the way to "keep your hands to yourself", "walking feet please," "do not slide down the railing", "talkers off  in the hall." 
The little ones marched into the cafeteria and I marched myself to the college to grab some lunch.
I opened the door and was hit in the face by the cold. I took a deep breath, my first one in 3 hours. Three hours without oxygen. I am a medical miracle.
That one breath felt good. Really good. So much that I needed more. I took another deep one, and another and still another, I was like an oxygen junkie. I couldn't get enough.
I'm a big fan of breathing.
I soaked up as much of that cold air as I could so I could tackle the remaining 2 1/2 hours of my kindergarten day. I walked back in with my lungs, my heart, my brain teeming with oxygen, I looked at my reflection in the glass and I had a smile on my face. 
I was drunk, drunk on air! 
Someone should bottle this stuff, they'd make a fortune!
But wait, it's free for the taking!
Just Breathe!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Weary

I don't do winter well. I'm a summer person. I would much rather try to cool off than try to stay warm. I like the feel of the warm sun on my tanned face and I do not like the bitter winter wind stinging my nose. I would much rather plant flowers in the dirt than shovel the snow off the front steps, and I'd much rather drive around with the windows open than have to use the seat warmer.
But I'm a New Englander born and raised, so I'm supposed to be tough, hardy, able to withstand anything Jack frost can throw at me. I live in New England and I'm stuck with it. 
I suffer from the Winter Wearies. I get just a little bit anxious in the winter, call it what you will, Winter Blues, Cabin Fever, I feel it and I don't like it! I know despite the cold I have to get outside and soak in some sunshine and notice the beauty that is winter in New England. It is out there, it really is. It's all in how you look at things. 

I can focus on the cold, the slush, the ice that needs to be scraped off the windshield each morning, the shoveling, shoveling and more shoveling, or I can find some beauty in it.
Last Sunday we woke up to a beauty of a day. Snow had fallen during the night and it was beautiful. Light and fluffy and it covered every tree branch making the world look peaceful and clean. I had to be in it, so I grabbed my camera and off I went to photograph the beauty around me. In the stillness of an early frosty morning I was able to notice things I might otherwise overlook. 

I noticed the intricate patterns in the tree, secrets revealed that are otherwise hidden by the leaves, an abandoned bird's nest, red berries against the gray and white of a snow covered trunk. Icy patterns that dangle from a lilac bush just waiting  for warmth so it can burst into bloom with fragrant purple flowers.

Fat robins that arrived too early looking for a forgotten holly berry,  flutter in and out of the evergreen shrub.
To the Canada geese looking for food in the salt marsh, this is south, their winter home. 

The sun in the morning is big enough to want to reach out and touch and the pink and orange of the sunrise sky, reflected on the white of the snow is take-your-breath-away beautiful. 

I feel better knowing with each passing day I am closer to lounging on the sand listening to the seagulls and the crashing waves, but until then I will be content to notice the beautiful things this season brings. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Go to Girl

That's me. I knew when I became a mom my life would never be the same. I would have a child who depended on me for food, clothes, comfort, recreation, social interactions, homework help, support and cash, lots and lots of cold, hard cash. 
Three boys later and I can honestly say I love being a mom. 
However imparting knowledge to 5 year-olds all day can be exhausting. And when I finally get home after a long day I just want to sit with my feet up for awhile as I get my second wind.
 Today was one of those days. I wearily left school  head pounding, feet aching. I walked into the house, dropped my school bag, took off my jacket and sat down with the lap top to check email, The Blog, facebook. Hubby graciously offered me a cup of tea, which I gratefully accepted. Then I heard it...

My paper won't print. 
I need help with my math homework 
I need your credit card number for this soccer registration 
We need oil
I need a red marker. 
They never picked up our trash. 
Can you give me a ride to school for the track meet
Can you sign this permission slip?
Can you give me a ride to class?
Can you call the oil company and the DPW about the trash?


What's for dinner?


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I is for Inauguration!

Our entire school watched the inauguration today. Fifth grade, down to kindergarten as well as every staff member sat down to watch Barack Obama become our 44th President. Quite a momentous and historic occasion. A moment that caused me to wipe a tear or two.
I  know most of our kindergarten students didn't understand the awesomeness of the event but I do hope some day they'll  remember that they sat and watched as the first man of African-American decent became The President of the United States of America.
 I sat and watched President Obama deliver his speech, and as he looked out over millions of people, I realized the awesomeness of the task ahead of him. That moment for me would have been fuel for an instant panic attack. Will he ever have a good night's sleep again? Will he ever be able to enjoy a meal without indigestion? Sure, he looks young now, but what will he look like in 4 years? In 8 years? 
Who would want that job?
Well apparently I have some very intelligent and thoughtful kindergarten students who would jump at the chance.
Here was the question I posed to them...
"If you were the president what would you do for the United States?"
I got some GREAT answers, "Save Whales", "Work Hard", "Feed the Poor", and "Give People Money" (this kid get's my vote!!)
Here are a few of my favorites,
And just in case you are not skilled at reading kindergarten spelling, the translations follow each picture...

"save people from robbers"

"fight crime"

and the biggest issue facing our country today...

"get rid of high fructose corn syrup"

'nuff said.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

W is for Weeeee!

Disclaimer: I really am not as geeky as the following blog post suggests.

My kids have no idea how lucky they are. At the risk of dating myself, when I was a kid our first game system was Pong. Blip, blip, blip, blip...mesmerizing stuff! (thanks to the thesaurus extrordinaire!!)

It wasn't long before technology improved and we moved up to Intellivision. "Intelligent Intellivision" was the slogan. I'm not sure how intelligent it was but at the time it was state of the art, Mattel's answer to Atari. As primitive as it was, it provided my brother and I with hours of video game entertainment. Baseball, Football, Snafu, Armor Battle and my personal favorite, Burger Time! Making that little chef run around building burgers all while trying to avoid the dreaded sunny-side up egg and the pickles! Good times!

As time went on we owned every Nintendo system made, NES, 64, and Game Cube. When hubby and I were first married, before we had kids we would spend hours spread out on the living room floor trying to save the princesses Zelda and Peach.

Just when you think they've invented it all, Nintendo decides they need to fuel the addiction with the Wii. This little marvel can help us stay in shape by calculating the dreaded BMI, give us our "wii fit age", teaches us yoga, takes us skiing, to the bowling alley, the ball park, to the Olympics and to...the TRACK!
The Mario Kart track that is! Through the snow on DK Summit, Cruising the sand on Peach Beach, Riding the rails of Wario's Gold Mine and avoiding cars in the parking lot of Coconut Mall, this game has it all.

We can race each other here at home, but the best part is the Wii's capability to connect on line. With this little feature we can race people around the world. I've raced against people in Ireland, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Israel, Germany and here in the good old USA!
This game fuels my competitive nature like no other!

I have managed to acquire a nice little group of Kart friends who I race against whenever we can coordinate our schedules. Share the Mario Kart friend number and you're off and running. There is nothing better than bumping your friends off a mushroom, forcing them into some boiling hot lava, or taking them out with a Red Koopa Shell just before they cross the finish line, allowing you to take the race right out from under them!


Look out Danica Patrick, I have a banana peel with your name on it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kindergarten by the Numbers Part 2

I am 2 days removed from Christmas break, I now have
18 children in my class. 11 boys, 7 girls. 
1 set of twins who I still have a hard time telling apart.
I arrived at school at 7:00 and left at 2:45.
We just completed day number 74 of our kindergarten year, 106 left to go.
Our school day is 6 hours long.
We have had 1 snow day and 1, 2-hour delayed opening.
Today I tied 12 shoes,
applied 1 band-aid.
opened 1 box of tissues and one bottle of Purel,
watered 4 plants,
chased 2 children down the hall and
Filled 18 folders with 2 notices from the office.
I read 2 books, watched 1 movie.
I taught 18 children how to count by 10's, how to build words with the short "a" sound, how to say please and thank you, how to apologize to a friend, how to read a thermometer and the meaning of the word "superb".
I zipped 5 jackets, helped with 6 mittens and 4 backpacks,
 gave more hugs than I can count and there are only...
26 more school days until February vacation!