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


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


"...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.