Saturday, December 29, 2012

Giving Thanks For The Past Year: Warts and All!

This year I've decided that I'm not making the usual resolutions.
(What's that noise? Oh yeah that would be the treadmill and the laundry!)
 Life and the busy-ness of living it have a way of thwarting  all most efforts. So, instead of dissapointing myself, I have decided to look back at several mini-lessons from the past year. Good, bad or indifferent, I am using that as fodder for the new year.
So,  here it goes. In no particular order...
  • When the two little darlins' I birthed get into a slappa, smacka, pinch fest in the back seat of my car, I will not be the end to the argument.  will carpe diem , pop some corn and grab some "Me time"!  I will give them the room to work it out. Together.
  • I will not be shocked by the things little people say. So when they say, "Hey Mom take your bra off!", during a random parking lot dance party, I will laugh. ( and I will giggle at seeing me in them...but still deny I said it)
  • I will encourage random acts of creativity, singing, dancing, and silliness. (you have been warned)
  • I will check that I am wearing my clothing right-side-out. (And if I'm not...ssh...)
  • I will hug on my furry friends. They too are teachers of unconditional love. (even if they do smell like Fritos!)
  • I will use glitter as much as possible (another warning and a promise)
  • I will go Treasure Hunting with GWH, remember how much fun we have together, crack each other up and how lucky he is we are.
  • I will forgive and look for the positive in everyone.
  • When the RockStar Teachers in my life seem like they are ready to throw in the towel, I will listen, cry and laugh with them. I will help them remember that they are doing God's work.
  • When the Mommas and the Daddies in my life seem like they are ready to throw the chancla their hands up in the air and yell, "I give!", I will listen, cry, and laugh with them. And help them realize that they are doing God's work
  • When kiddos do bizzarro things, I will do what they do to figure out the appeal. (Anyone up for dragging their body across the wall? Anybody? Anybody?) 
  • I will sit back, sniff and sigh at the fact that my babies are growing up much too quickly and savor every exhausting moment.
  • When I am about to throw the chancla  in the towel (giggle) I will look at little hands and remember they are only with me for a very short time.
  • When I start to get sad and miss those that have left this earth, I will remember that I carry them in my heart.
  • When my Angels tell me to do something I will listen and remember that God is in control(especially if they are speaking with a thick latin accent)
  • I will listen to the words of wisdom that come out of little mouths.
  • I will surround myself with people who love to giggle.
  • I will try to remember that I am a role-model for the big and little people that surround me (sheesh! If I haaaave to...oh conflabbit!)
  • I will gather inspiration from all the people, places, and experiences in my life.
  • I will acknowledge the muses in my life.
  • I will live life in honor of those who have gone too soon.
  • I will help people feel comfortable enough to take happy risks.
  • I will remember that people are fascinating and they do and say things that make me shake my head, giggle, or gasp.
  •  I will remember that deep down inside everyone has a kiddo hiding.(and they may become inspiration for a blog post...muah ha ha!)
  • I will continue to do the things that bring me joy. Because...if Teacher-Mom is happy, then every body's happy!
  • I will write more notes, letters and cards in my own hand because it may become a treasure to someone-someday. I hope.
  • I will continue to make up words like frantastic, revolvilization, humiliationility, and conflabbit and use them on a regular basis.
  • I will drink from the coffee cup of life, take lots of imagications and love life.
  • I will enjoy every noisy, mystery-sticky substance, surprise filled day and rejoice that I have one more day to learn from the people I love!

 
SPLASH!

At the end of the year what do The Lessons in your plan book look like?

POP! FIZZ!
  






 

CLINK!
So, whattaya waiting for?
Go have yourself a  Happy New Year! God Bless each and every one of you!

Love,
Teacher-Mom


Friday, December 28, 2012

The Elves in Brown Shorts and Baseball Caps

Picture this...
You're pulling into your driveway after a long day of sparkle producing showbiz making. You are plum tuckered out and the two most precious productions of your life are in the throws of a first class slap fest in the back seat. You are contemplating filming it and sending a copy to the producers of WWA Smackdown.
     You know for sure the two lovelies could hold their own with the likes of The Hulkster and The Rock. Could this be your avenue to early retirement? Oooh, pedicures, cooks, daily massages. A personal assistant! You think about it again. Not even Andre The Giant could handle those two. You couldn't do that to innocent men and still live with yourself.   
(I know. I'm dating myself. But back in the day they were the ones to beat...ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLLLLLLE!!!)
Then... 
You're jolted out of your mini imagication.  All of a sudden.... time stops. You look around...there aren't any ice cream trucks...Nope. What caused this hiccup in the space-time continuum is the vision awaiting you at the entrance to your driveway. The sight of this vehicle rivals that of Santa's sleigh. It's big and white and has big blue lettering on the side of it. You know what it is.
      It's the Fed-Ex truuuuuck!!
      The two Princesas  in the back seat hardly wait for you to park their carriage. Doors fly open. They bolt out....and then they groan in dismay as the truck pulls away, But wait. They streak towards the front door. And you hear the squeals of delight!   
WE GOT A PACKAAAAAAGE!
Now...
Picture this...
     You hit the send button on your keyboard. Then, you wait for several days.
And you wait. And you wait. And you wait!
And then..just when you think you can't wait any longer and you forget about hitting that send button altogether.
This happens...
     It usually happens on a quiet Saturday morning when you've dragged yourself out of bed and don't have the desire nor the need to even brush your teeth. And why should you. You're on a well deserved two day imagication!
(Consarnit!) 
     You've decided to have a mini one person strike
(Suurrre baby, you can have chocolate covered peanut butter balls for breakfast. Just make sure you have glass of milk with it...GWH, where's my coffeee!)
     Then for some reason the family decides that this may be a good day to go treasure hunting... without you.
(Be afwaid. Be vewy afwaid. Mommas in a mooood!)
     Then, you find yourself pacing your living room floor. You make a cup of tea. You turn the TV on... then off..then on... then just as you think perhaps you may have to go outside, dig a hole and fill it back up just to keep your wits about you, you hear it...
     The downshift of a motor. The screech of brakes. Then... nothin'. Then you hear more signs of life and then...and then...and then...you hear one of the sweetest sounds on earth.
The sound  of big metal truck doors rolling!!!
 You run towards your front door Then you stop. Panic sets in because you remember that you're still in your jammies and you curse yourself for striking on that particular morning. You rush to throw on your robe and brush your teeth. You frantically run your husband's comb through your hair.
(RIIIIIP)
 You try not to catch a sideways glance at yourself in the mirror.
(Oh shizzle!!!)
 And the doorbell rings.
(SNARDS!!!) 
The doorbell rings again. What should you do???
(Aaah, forget it!)
You throw a baseball cap on your head and you open the front door.
And before you stands one of the most wondrous sights to behold! It's another of Santa's helpers! However, this helper isn't three feet tall. He isn't wearing yellow stockings, little green shorts and pointy little shoes.
Nope. This helper is wearing the uniform that can make many a lady's heart go pitter-pat and the little boy in many grown men do the happy dance. It's Santa's helper in the brown shorts and brown baseball cap.
It's the UPS delivery maaaaan!
     He smiles at you and you see the sparkle in his eye and swear you hear bells chime. He hands you the pad to sign, tips his hat and gives you the goods you've been waiting for. You already know what it is but the five year old child in you cannot be contained and you tear through the packaging like Christmas morning all over again! And you do a little happy dance!
The Lesson
     Today I was reminded that there are many sounds that can conjure up the same butterflies in the tummy, can't keep peeking out the window, hand wringing, nervous energy that those of ice cream trucks and Santa's sleigh bells do. We're all kiddos inside anyway. Don'tcha agree?

So, whattaya waiting for. Go hit that send button and treat yourself or someone you love to a little surprise. And if you don't want to spend a whole lot of moolah you can always send a postcard! People love, love, love getting "real" mail! And too, remember to thank those hard working men and women who I like to refer to as Santa's helpers too!
 Hey,I just had a revolvization. Those caps hide their eeears!!!
(Gasp!)

Love,
Teacher-Mom



 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Chaos or The Show Must Go On:Part 2

"Teacher, are we going to sing today?"
 
     Oh was I ever tired on the morning of the big show. My own girls had performed at their own school the night before and I was still tasting the remains of the McDonalds dinner I had wolfed down before their performance. Oh Lord help me. I didn't know if I was going to be able to make it that morning. Not after yesterdays...ahem...fun? But I had to. Kiddos and their parents were depending on it! Was it too late to call in a Sub? Would anyone miss me? Surely The Lady of the Manor and her First Knight could handle it. Really, they could. "Ah get yer buns up!" said the voices inside my head.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON!  
(One day I will learn that I cannot eat that stuff anymore...one day...and I will tell those voices to sing to me rather than scold me...one day)
     When I got to school I instantly felt better. It's amazing how the faces of little people can make you feel 100 per cent better...instantly!
     I was greeted by 31 Firsties all dressed up in their Sunday best and wearing their nervous smiles. It took awhile for us to actually enter the building because of course I had inspect the troops.
(And there would be that military reference...giggle...)
     Then I noticed two of my Firsties on entering. How did I miss them? Oh yeah no coffee! They weren't dressed in their Sunday best. They looked as if they had just rolled out of bed.  I saw their nervous glances at the other children. They were sizing themselves up. They felt out of place. My heart broke a little for them. So, I made a mental note to make sure these two would be my special helpers. When we finally got into the building we stopped at the Teacher's Inner Sanctum.  There I grabbed 4 radios and my mail and I turned to both of them and in my most serious, drill sergeant tone, I asked them if they were prepared to do two of the most important jobs of the day. They looked up eagerly at me. "Yessiree  Maam!" said their eyes. "Now you. I need you to hold my coffee cup. Do not drop it. You know how Teacher loves her coffee and you know how grumpy she gets if she doesn't get it. Okay? And you. I need you to hold these radios. Do not drop them. I need to give them to important people and if they don't have their radios we can't do this show right. Can you two handle that? If not tell me right now so I can give these jobs to someone else!" They nodded their heads in unison. I turned and giggled inside.
(Yep...Sarge was back!) 
     When we finally got upstairs, I opened the classroom door and waited for each and every one of my Firsties to unload their luggage, enter the classroom, and start their morning work. After about 12 hours they actually made it in. As I glanced down at the pile of backpacks, I contemplated sending them out one by one to actually pick up their belongings and put them away neatly, but thought again about it and sent the  Student Teacher out to attend to the backpack carnage.
(For some reason I had a feeling that piles of backpacks and various items of winter wear strewn across the second floor may not be a welcoming sight. I don't know why. It was just a thought.)
     By this time it was already 8:15! Yikes! This show was scheduled to start at 8:30!Really?!
(Note to self #547: DO NOT START A SHOW FIRST THING IN THE MORNING! What the heck!)
     So, I frantically took roll call. I lined them back up, and I marched them to my Firstie Buddy's classroom. "Teacher, aren't we going to do our morning work?", inquired my second in command that day.
(blink...blink...blink... Really child. Really?)
     "No, honey. Your job this morning is to give your families the best gift ever. You get to sing to them!" "Should I get the Walking Stick then, Teacher?"
((blink...blink...blink... Really child. Really? Do you not see that I am in crisis mode?? Coffeeeee!)
     We made the 7 mile trek to my buddies classroom.
(She's really only down the hall, but you get the picture, I might as well have been taking them on a hike across the Sahara!)
When we finally landed,  I wrote numbers on each and every little Firstie.
 On the back of their hands, of course. Not on their foreheads. Although, the idea did cross my mind. I hadn't had my coffee yet, remember?
(Note to self #789:From now on when you rehearse write the order they line up in on their little hand the day before...just in case...muah ha ha!)
 I gave my Buddy a high five and the performance line-up.She already had a radio. I raced to the cafeteria. When I peeked in I saw that there were a bazillion parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas and a partridge in a pear tree! The Music Diva was giving her chorus boys last minute stage hand instructions. I threw her a radio.
(Later, we laughed because she confessed that she didn't know how to use it!)The First Knight was ready to man the music and was schmoozing with parents. He had a radio. The Lady of the Manor was schmoozing greeting parents. She had a radio. The curtain puller waved to me from behind his hiding spot, ready to do his thing, he showed me that he too already had a radio. And our lovely accompanist was playing beautiful Christmas music. She didn't need a radio either! Dang-it!
 We were ready for a show!
     The introductions were made. The Pre-K entered to the "aaaahs!" from the audience.
Yes!
     Pre-K went on and not one candle was broken.
Whew!  
     The first Kinder group went on and not one baby lost it. Or got lost. I think. 
Sigh. 
     The second Kinder group went on and only a few (dozen) instruments hit the floor.
Snort..giggle..snort. I warned them!
(clink...clink...jingle...don't pick it up baby...leave it..leave it..leeeave it!)
     Then, right as the curtain began to close, but what to our wondering ears did we hear...? 
WAH! WAH! WAH! WAH! WAH!
 
     Know what's faster than a greased pig, on a rainy day in July? No? That would be a busy-bored- unstrapped toddler, sitting under a shiny red box, in the middle of a room full of adults, occupied with snapping pictures of their cherubs on stage.  

 The Lady of the Manor saw it coming, and in hindsight I did too. But our powers were no match for Velcro Child and his Sticky Fingers of Doom!  Neither one of us had the time to run into the bathroom, change into our super heroine garb, and fly across the room in time to stop the offending stinker! So, we did what we had too. We took advantage of the perfectly unscheduled intermission and evacuated the premises. In record time I'll have you know. We're efficient that way. And too the First Knight makes sure we are always prepared.
(Huh...maybe I should change his name to Eagle Scout Number One...maybe...I just might) 
     The added bonus was that our families got to witness how quickly we could get their babies out of the building... and back into the building. We got to thank our local Fire Rescue workers for a job well done.
(Update: Velcro Child escaped being reprimanded by our heroes in the Big Red Truck as he was rapidly whisked away in his mighty carriage and is now busy wreaking havoc in his own home!...I hope) 
     And, of course, the show went on!
     It continued without anymore interruptions. My students got to perform for their parents.
(With the curtains opened this time)
     And a good time was had by all! And know what? I did it all without my coffee!
Would I do it again? Will I do it again? Do I still love it?
Whattaya think???
 
The Lesson 
Bringing people together to witness children perform is a blessing. Because at the end of the day this is the truth...
 
We share this world together
We live from day to day
We sing and dance and celebrate in many different ways
Our music may be different
Our language and customs too
But, the need for shelter, food, and
LOVE
 Is the same for me and you!
 
 
Teacher-Mom
 

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Chaos or The Show Must Go On! Part 1

I love those J-I-N-G-L-E Bells!

You know how I've said in the past how I just know somethings gonna happen? I think it must be my ESP,  my Momma's sixth sense, or maybe there's something to that whole Murphy's Law thing.
( curse you Murphy!) 
It all started when...
The Lady of the Manor stopped me in the hall the last week of November and asked if I needed anything for the Christmas show. She might as well have been asking me a physics question because I know the look I gave her rivaled those of GWH's kiddos when he asks them a complex question.
(blink...blink...blink..chirp...chirp..Bueller?...Bueller?...)
Or the look my girls give me when I yell ask them nicely if they noticed the puppies chewing up their undies right in front of them.
(riiiip...grrrrrr...riiiip...grrrr ...How those girls can remember that I told my Momma to take off her bra during a spontaneous dance party in her car, but can't remember to flush the toilet or pick up their clothes, I'll never know. But that's a whole other blog!)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Christmas show.
So when The Lady of the Manor stopped me in the hall and asked me that CST question I just stared at her and had a conversation with myself: Did I sign up for that committee? Did I? I do love to put on a show but I could have sworn I was keeping that inner Rockette under wraps until the end of the year. Oh, no! I must have! I do things like that.
So, I giggled and asked her truthfully."Did I sign up for that?" And bless her heart, she knows me too well, she said to me, "Well, I know how much you love it. I just thought you did. "Now anyone who knows me knows I cannot pass up a "show" opportunity. So, I made some quick calculations of the things I needed to do for the month of November and December, moved some things around, shoved some dirty laundry into the closets in my mind, inhaled deeply, and said, "Okay!"
Right after taking 31 ravenous Firsties to partake in their daily sustenance ritual I hurried back to my classroom.
(I did contemplate dragging my whole body across the wall) 
I hopped on my computer and I started composing a note to the participating grade levels. "What are you dooooing?" Came the question from my lunch buddy. "I'm in charge of the Christmas show!" "When are you gonna do that?"
 (We have similar lives and she gets to hear about my escapades...so she knows) 
"I don't know but I'm doing it!" So, I asked her if my e-mail sounded okay. "Should I take out the part I added about only 2 classes at a time?" "Nooooo, more than that will be a nightmare! Can you see almost 100 Kinders getting on and off the stage?? Leave it in there!" So I did. All the while knowing full well that one of the RockStar teachers at our school would break the rules. And they did.
(blogging material is never far from reach,.That's in Part 2...giggle)
Anyway, after a few bumps in the planning road dress rehearsal day came!
It started out....ooookay.
We had our girls show the night before so GWH was ready to put up the lights and man our music.
(NOT!)
When he came into our cafeteria he looked around, saw me, noticed the look of angst on my face, smiled, and said,"It looks like it's all under control." By the time he came in only the first act had gone on. There were bodies rolling on the floors, begging to go the restroom, whining that they were hungry, and asking if they were ever going to go to recess!
(and yes, those were the teachers! Just kidding...I think)
After dodging a few more obstacles, and earning a new nickname.
(ahem..giggle...it has a military reference if you didn't already guess)
We got through the dress rehearsal.
But we weren't done yet. Noooo. We still needed to put on the entire show for the non-participating classes. How we thought we could do two shows in one morning, all before the pre-schoolers needed to eat lunch, I'll never know. We're overzealous that way at our school. We reach for the stars.
(Riiiiiight) 
My kiddos were the second to the last act. The walking music played. They got on stage. I peeked out from behind the curtain, The lights were off... and the audience was leaving! Lunch needed to be served and that's all she wrote! I looked at my Firstie buddy. She looked at me. I looked at our Music Diva Extraordinaire. She looked at me. I looked at our accompanist. She smiled.
(The lady is an angel...even after being tortured told  asked to start...stop...start...stop... playing by five hundred and two different people with radios...she kept her composure)
We stood there for about a half a million seconds and stared at 60 Firsties who were ready to perform. Dangit!
(Know what 60 Firsties who have been waiting outside in the cold for 30 minutes. Have not had a recess. Have missed their snack. Have not gone to the restroom and are ready to perform look like??? Kind of like the puppies at the pound! You don't want to upset them.)
So, the Music Diva asked them to get their second button ready... aaand... a one... aaand... a two... aaaand... a ready...set...go!
The little angels sang their little hearts out! They weren't sharp. They weren't flat. They were on the same note the entire time and they did it! 
Behind closed curtains!
When they finished with their fabulous rendition of It's a Small World they turned to get off the stage, and as they began to exit the stage, one little lovely stopped, looked at me with furrowed brows, hands on hips, and remarked with exasperation, "We sang behind the curtains??? What a jip!!!"
The Lesson
Now there are two things I will always advise a new teacher never try:
Never do papier mache with Kindies and never try to squeeze a dress rehearsal and a show into one morning!
Don't do it!
And if you do...make sure to take lots of pictures and send them to me!
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom
  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa's Helpers

Did you know that there are elves hiding in every child's school?


They write letters 

They leave simple gifts
And they lead the way through the darkest of nights
 
Merry Christmas to the Rock Star teachers I work with each and every day and to those that I have worked with in the past. You have made an impact on the lives of so many little souls and on mine too.
 May God's light continue to shine through you!
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gifts From Grandma Pat

When I heard the news of the tragedy in Connecticut I thought of Pat and I missed her again, deeply.
 I know that if she were still living she and I would have sat together and wept for every single person affected by this tragedy.
 Everyone
 Then I know we would have prayed for every person involved in this tragedy.
Everyone
I know we would have eventually ended up eating something really bad for us and laughing at some kind of silliness until the wee hours of the night. And I missed her again even more. I tried to shake off the sad feeling all weekend.
 Then this morning I looked at all my kiddos. The two girlies at home and the little stinkers in my classroom. I thought of how we needed to get on with the busy-ness of the holiday season. Life has to go on and there is no shame in living it completely.
Then, I needed glitter. Then I giggled. Because you know what?
Grandma Pat left me a huge present. She left me bottles and bottles of the stuff. So, tomorrow we will create with my favorite color and we will think and thank Grandma Pat for her gifts.
And, somehow I know she will be giggling and saying this: "Make this season the most joyous you can for those babies, Carinna!" And I know she will also giggle at the fact that my room is a disaster right now. But she won't care. Because I will be doing what she thought was the most important thing of all. Making these kiddos smile and making them feel as special as possible.

The Lesson
Live life and don't feel guilt, remorse or embarrassed by living it to the fullest, today. Tomorrow may never come.
 
Love,

Teacher-Mom  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mom Do You Like Being A Teacher?

This is the question my daughter asked me out of the blue this weekend. I made a conscious effort not to have the radio, television or computers on so as to shield both my girls from the news. So, I was surprised when this question came. She knows I love what I do. She has surprised me on more than one occasion with her flattering remarks. The greatest compliment being: "Mom, I think I want to be a Teacher when I grow up."
When she asked me that question I couldn't help but wonder if she perhaps heard the news. I prayed she didn't.  I didn't ask her why she wanted to know. I just sat there for a second and thought about it. 
Do I like being a Teacher?
Then I remembered what she said to me with a huge grin on her face last year when I was battling the guilt monster and feeling like I was neglecting my entire family:"Mom, those kids just love you. They love you a lot!"
 So, I told her the truth. "Babe, it isn't easy being a Teacher. Some days I just want to stay home and be your Mom." After all the sadness of the past week that's how I honestly felt. But I also know this. Tomorrow, when I hear the sweet voices of my students singing and laughing I will feel so much better. Because this is the truth. During the hardest most tumultuous times in my life, what kept me going was the children.They have led me out of the darkness more than once just by being who they are.  
We need them as much as they need us. 
Love,

Teacher-Mom  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Belongs To Me Too

 I try to close out the school year by thanking the families of my students. I thank them for giving me the gift of sharing in the lives of their children. As a teacher I spend most of my life with little people I did not give birth to. Some days, quite honestly, I feel like I lay my own girls on the altar of teaching. I don't think I am alone in that aspect and with most avocations (and I do think teaching is one) sacrifice comes with the territory.
 But it's okay because of this...
At years closing, I wonder where the time went. In a blink of an eye they are gone and off to someone else. All that is left is the memory of them. Their little voices and the echos of their laughter are but shadows in my mind. Some days, if I can sit still long enough, I will rewind the photos in my memory and fast-forward through the images. Some of those images will make me smile. Some will make me sigh. Some, I have to admit,  will make me growl but then I am sure, giggle. And some will make me cry. Not too many people can say that.
But, the one memory I will, do have, always return to, and am thankful for, is that of a child who left this world too early. His name was Hank. The ache I felt at his passing was indescribable. I was not his mother, but the sense of mourning in some ways was that of a mother. As with all the children I have taught, I carry a piece of him in my heart and there he lives forever.
I have loved each and every one of my students and when they leave I miss them dearly. But I am a lucky woman. I am lucky because I can keep them right there in the middle of my heart. There they will stay happy, young, vibrant, full of life, potential and laughing, forever.
 There, I will love them. forever.
And for this gift that only a Teacher can receive, I thank God for everyday.
That gift is the children.

Love,

Teacher-Mom 

P.S. When I first wrote this I was compelled to because our school staff had heard the news of a former students passing. Taken too soon from us, it made me think of Hank. I did not know that so soon afterward this piece would have more meaning than I ever could imagine. To the families and friends of all the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary, I send my deepest most sincere condolences. I feel I speak for many teachers when I say this. Thank you for allowing us to share the gift of loving your children.  May God bless you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Imagication

"Know where we're going this week? Teacher's taking us on an imagication!"

 
So says one of my little lovelies to my teacher buddy! I thought I was the only one who invented new words but like most really catchy things, making up words has rubbed off on my kiddos.
( It's the sign of true genius!)
 Our itinerary is full. We have a whole lot of world to see and only two weeks to do it in. I don't know how we're going to do it but if today is any indication of how we get there, we're going to travel and learn a lot more about the people I work with on a day to day basis! How you ask? Well today as my BFF started our annual holiday theme, to our wonderful surprise her Instructional Aide hopped right in and gave our students some added details about the Mexican culture. Some details that even I wasn't aware of. It is a small, small world and we can learn so much from each other!  We'll be sure to take lots of pictures, pick up some really cool souvenirs and make lasting memories while we're at it! Tomorrow we're headed off to Canada, dontcha know! We'll keep you posted! 
The Lesson
You don't need to take kids out of the classroom to expand their horizons. Utilize all the resources available to you, from your library to the Rock Star school staff you work with everyday. You'd be amazed at the plethora of knowledge around you and the friendships you'll create along the way!
To quote one of my BFF's moms,"I'm going on a trip and I'm meeting some friends while I'm there!"
 
So, whattaya waiting for?  Hop on that Google Earth thingamajingy and take a trip with your darlings too! And don't forget to pack some handitizer! 
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom
 

 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Most Precious Gifts Can't Be Bought


I trust you. You are my person.



"Hey, look at this. I didn't even notice she was there until I felt something warm and heavy on my leg." GWH and I were both astonished. This kitty is very stand-offish. She does not cuddle. She does not let anyone pet her. But today she decided to trust us. First, she crawled into bed with me and cuddled right beside me. Then this remarkable sight! What does this have to do with gifts you ask? Well, let me 'splain how this is all connected in a twisty-turny kind of way.
It all started with...
I was helping out at our McDonald's McTeacher's Night. I was doing my part to help raise funds for our school. I didn't mind and neither did my Girls. They love seeing "my kids" and of course they love McDonalds. As I was walking around selling cookies I nearly got knocked over from behind with a torpedo hug from one of my Firsties! She was so happy to see me as I was her. I returned her hug and told her how excited I was to see her. Throughout the night I get several hugs from current students. But I am most surprised and touched by the hugs I get from former students who now tower over me.
Then...
My students and I have a deep discussion. (oh yeah, Firsties can get very philisophical. I am convinced if the rulers of the world took their advice this would be a better place)
We talk about Christmas gifts. They always ask me what I want and I know most of their families struggle for the basics, so I  always respond with, "You know the best gifts don't cost a penny. If you drew me a beautiful picture or wrote me a story I would love it. And you give me a gift everytime you come to school!"
 "You can give people a hug and you don't have to buy it. Huh, Teacher?" They get it.
Then...
I go pick my Girls from aftercare. I see a boy and a girl innocently swinging away on the swings and catch the tell-tale cock of the girls head that tells me she is smitten with the boy. I giggle and make the comment, "Spring is coming early this year!" The ladies in charge remark how the boy is very well liked by all and. "by the little ones especially because he is kind, caring, and helpful to them." They tell me how the little ones will run and give him hugs whenever they see him.
So...
When I saw this kitty sitting on GWH lap I couldn't stop but remember my Comadre and a long discussion we had one day about children.
(I think she's working with the Angels now. No, I am sure of it. We are blessed.)
This is what she said. 
"Carinna, when a child reaches out to give you a hug don't be afraid to return it. So many of the children we teach never get affection and they are hungry and thirsty for love." She and I would have long discussions about the state of education and on this particular day she was upset about a comment a teacher made to her about a child ,not in my Comadre's class, who always stopped to give her a hug. "Ugh, I don't let her touch me. She is so needy. I always see kids that aren't even in your class give you hugs. I couldn't do that. I don't like them to touch me." Comments like this about children would send my Comadre into a tizzy and I admired how eloquently she would respond to them. She loved, respected and cared deeply about all children and they returned that love and trust whole-heartedly. She was a lady.
So...
When our kitty decided to cuddle, I knew somehow she decided to trust us and show us affection. The best thing we could do is return it.(Just as long as she doesn't decide to dig her nails in too much, yeowch!)

 The Lesson
 Even if you're not a hugger, some of the best gifts you can give are a warm hello, a handshake, and a smile.
So, whattaya waiting for, Christmas?
Love,
Teacher-Mom



  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Bells and Ice Cream Trucks


     I am convinced that kiddos have super hero hearing powers.  No way you say. Not with the way you have to keep repeating yourself in class, at home, in the store, in the car, in a restuarant.....Yeah, pretty much everywhere!
 
  Sit back and allow me to 'splain and picture this.
 
I'm looking out my window. I see boys and girls running around, riding bicycles, tossing balls, chasing each other, chasing dogs, chasing cats. Generally having a good 'ol kid time. 
 
Then...
All of a sudden. They stop. Their ears perk up.
(the kids not the puppies)
They twitch ever so slightly in one direction and then.... they bolt!
(I'm convinced that there isn't a creature alive that can outrun an 8 year old, barefooted boy, running on hot asphalt!)

For a split second I wonder what in tarnation just happened and then my super hero Momma powers kick in.
 (it's the Rockette in my mind you know)
And I hear it. It's the soft tickling sound of one of the most nails on the chalkboard, fork scraping against the teeth, hideous songs known to mankind..... Music Box Dancer!
(You know, I would like this song if it wasn't the reason...Big Girl and Little Girl... awoke from their naps...almost everyday... when they were babies! But I'm not bitter and I feel so much better now and I will put down the water balloon shooter aimed at the ice cream truck.) 
 
Anyhoo...
This is the same reaction I see every Christmas season. My kiddos (the ones I teach and the ones I birthed) will be sitting quietly in my classroom and I will accidently bump the box of bells that just happen to be in a drawer, or in a box on the floor, or in my pocket.
( Whaaaat's that?? hee, hee,hee, Ho, Ho, Ho)
It's the same twitch of the head I notice in every child's body at the sound of the bell ringers in the mall. And it's the same for adults too. Somehow those sounds call out the child in us all. Maybe it's because if you truly believe in the magic of the season, those Super Hero Santa Sensors are awakened.  
 
The Lesson
 
If you feel yourself getting a little Grinchy, carry some bells in your pockets and watch the reactions on the children's faces. And if that doesn't lift your spirits... chase down the next ice cream truck...with bells in your pockets!
 
So, whattya waiting for? Magic's waiting!
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom
   

    

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Discipline Momma Style and Getting Some Me Time While At It

 It's the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeear!

Okay, who's going a little crazy nutso right about now? There's tons to do and only 25 days to do it in. There are shows to be produced and gifts to be purchased and cookies to be made and gifts to be wrapped and parties to be planned and lessons to be made and objectives to be met and, and, and....!!!
EEEEEEEEEEK! And you need to do it with a smile!
It's a little challenging to keep yourself in that joyous mood, isn't it? 
Through all this hustle and bustle it's very easy to lose yourself, your sanity and find yourself laughing hysterically in the shower one day wondering if your family has called the "Original Snuggie" manufacturers!
Well, I was having one of those days just recently. I'm sitting in my car transporting my girls to one of their 547 activities, ticking off my mental list of what I needed to do for my school kiddos.
 ( I get my best thinking done in the confines of my car and in the shower and while staring at the washing maching fill up and while staring blankly at a white screen and ...) 
I was just singing my little "ol heart out with the radio and something told me to take a peek in the rearview mirror. 
(See, I do listen to my Angels!)
As I peek, I catch Big Girl leaning over to lie her head on the middle armrest where Little Girl just happened to have her arm resting. Then I caught a very rare sight. I saw The Grinch spark in Big Girl's eye! I hardly ever catch the Grinchy look on Big Girl, as she is very... ahem...selective in showing us this side of her. Then, all heck breaks loose and I see the two start a good 'ol slap fest! I had a flashback to my sister and I doing the same thing and just when I was about to channel my Momma and declare that I would be the end to the argument, my Angel spoke to me. 
(Now you must understand that I am convinced that my Angel has hot latin blood and dances the salsa!) 
Know what she said? She said, " No no no! Let me 'splain what 'ju gonna do. 'Ju gonna put that "shoe" back on and 'ju gonna sit back and when 'ju get home 'ju gonna send those two girls to their rooms and 'ju gonna pop yourself a bag of popcorn and 'ju gonna sit and have 'juself some "Me" time! 'Ju hear!!!"  
Well, I have learned the hard way not to mess with my Angel, so of course I listened to her!
And know whaaat?? It was the longest time I have had to myself in forever and 2 days! 
And know whaaat?? I felt fantabulous after!
And too, those girls sat in their rooms, did their homework without any threat encouragement and when they were done I caught them playing quietly in their rooms. At the dinner table, they apologized to each other and were the best of friends again. And they did it without any intervention!
 
The Lesson
 
Kiddos do not need every argument, fight, conflict, bicker session "fixed" by an adult. Sometimes they need a breather too and express it in the most, ahem, creative ways!
 
 
So, whattaya waiting for? Go listen to your hot blooded Angels! Ju hear?!
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom


Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Elf Hunt: A Thanksgiving Adventure

 
Now as I look back on it the signs were all there.
The Signs
  • Big Girl makes me breakfast all by her self(yummers!)
  • Big Girl loses a tooth in the middle of the night and doesn't tell us till the morning (any other time she would have declared it)
  • Big Girl wonders out loud if her Tooth Fairy got scared away(I would have. You should see her musuembedroom)
  • Big Girl states that she doesn't think the Tooth Fairy will come for an ugly tooth(but will she floss? ha, methinks not without loads of nagging encouragement)
  • In her letter to the Tooth Fairy, Big Girl writes that she thinks this might be her last tooth and wants to know if she will ever see her again (sniff)

Sometime during the week(probably when I was making biscuits...crunch)
Big Girl took out The Elf on the Shelf  book and used her inference skills.
(why do her teachers need to be so good??) 
I didn't know the Elf is supposed to come on Thanksgiving Day! 
See that turkey??
See the "magic" words??
So, as GWH and I were sitting all cozy-like and sipping our coffees and nibbling on our cinnamon rolls, watching that big 'ol parade they have every year in New York for my baby brother and GF Dawn's birthday, and as the Rockettes started kicking up their 10 foot long legs, and I was fantasizing about having 10 foot long legs, she's says, "Mom, Juliet isn't here?" " Huh? Whaaat? Who the heck is Juliet??",I say.
Then...
As I turn to look at her I catch GWH glaring at me.
(blink..blink...blink. I was still fantasizing about being a Rockette)
Then one of those 10 foot long legs kicked me in my mind reading skills!
"Where the heck did you put her last year??"  I answered,"I didn't do anything with her, you did!" Then he argued back,"Noooo, you put her away!" And well, I don't need to tell you that we had a non-verbal battle that no one was going to win sooooo, me being the quick thinker I am, 
(I'm speedy like that. Nooot!) 
I said,"Hey, could you help me find the turkey platter."
The "turkey platter"
Then...
I threw a sleeping chihuahua off my lap. We hightailed it to our bedroom, to the garage, to our bedroom, the hall closet, the girl's closets, under the dogs. NOTHING.
We threw the cats out of the laundry baskets, ran back to the garage.
NOTHING.
Whaaaaat, stocking stuffers?
Oooooh, yeah. That's where I hid 'em! 


Then...
We did it all over again.
NOTHING.
Just as we were about to give up searching and see if there were any Tar-jays open, GWH gets a look. He disappears. I find him in our closet. He reaches in and...presto! He pulls down a photo box!
I heard my Angels sing!!!
Then...
He placed that Elf on the bathroom light fixture. And all day long those girls didn't notice her. Even after the glorious fowl was carved, and they took  547 trips to the bathroom, and all my hints.
Nothing.
After sending them in to brush their teeth, and wash their hands, and take baths and wash their hands again and again.
Nothing.
I was going bonkers!
Until...

Little Girl finally looks up at the burnt out lightbulbs.
(don't know why she did that...giggle)
Then...
Big Girl gets that questioning look on her face and wonders out loud how Juliet could have arrived without being seen. Being well schooled in the art of magic
re-con, I scared her dog. 

Hunny 
The Elf Huntress

Doggie went running to the bathroom and I exclaimed, "She's trying to tell you something. It's the same yelp as the night your Tooth Fairy came, rememberrrr?"
"She really needs to start listening to us!"

Now, the only thing I have to worry about is Glitterific Girl bedazzling her!
 
The Lesson
 
Keep them believing in magic at all costs. The memories are priceless.
And yes, listen to your Angels!
Soooo, whattaya waiting for? Go track that magic down! 
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom

*disclaimer: No doggies or kitty cats were harmed in the hunt for Juliet. (giggle)


  



















Friday, November 30, 2012

Lean On Me



How do you define success?

 
Do you put a number on it? Is posted on a wall for everyone to see? Does it come in the form of accolades?   
This is what I saw this week. It happens every year. I don't know how it happens. It just does. Everyone stops what they are doing. They run to comfort and help a friend in need. They don't ask for permission. They don't think twice about it. They notice the crisis before I do. 
They never ask for thanks or praise. They just take care of what needs to be taken care of and then they move on.
 
It doesn't have an objective. There isn't a formal lesson attached to it. It never has a closure. But it is an assessment.
When I see it, I assess myself and the people I try to surround myself with. When I see it I know I have been successful. Somehow, someway I have taught the most important lesson in life.
But then again, I really wasn't the teacher was I?  
 
 
The Lesson
 
Watch the children. They are the best teachers of the Golden Rule.
 
So, whattaya waiting for?
Love,
 
Teacher-Mom

 




Saturday, November 24, 2012

Creating the Most Unlikely of Risk Takers In the Most Unlikely of Places

"What other time will you get the opportunity to do something like that?"
 
I love to create risk takers out of my students. In my classroom I feel successful when I can get all of them to feel uninhibited. If you want to dance in my class, you do, you may and you will. If you want to sing, you do, you may and you will. If you want to sit and watch others do this...well you better rethink that decision because I'm gonna make you get up and boogie somehow! I thought I only claimed victims  took advantage of teachable moments in my classroom, but this past week I realized I do it everywhere and age is not a factor!
This is what happened...


Big Girl, Little Girl and I had to go purchase the ingredients for our annual Thanksgiving Sustenance Ritual.
(...we got the yummers for the Turkey Fest!)
Well, in retrospect I knew something was going to happen in the store. While in the produce section I caught sight of an elderly woman shopping with her adult son. I overheard them ticking off their shopping list only their adventure wasn't as...ahem... interesting as mine.
(Mom can we go through the candy bins?...Mom she's touching me...Mom, Mom, Mooooom..kersplat...silence...Mooooom, she did it!)
 I thought ,how sweet and patient this grown man was being with his Momma and I hoped my girls would be as patient with me when the time came.
(Truth be told, I only caught him roll his eyes once behind her back when she couldn't make up her mind if she wanted brussels sprouts or green beans! I giggled.)
They, like I, followed the stream of shoppers to each section. Then we came to the turkeys! Little Girl expressed that we needed to thank the turkey in our prayers for feeding us and Big Girl told us how many early Native American's did not waste a single part of an animal they had hunted.
(I had a quick vision of glitterfied bone jewelry created by Glitterific Girl.
*Note to self: Hide the turkey bones. I know. I'm denying her her heritage and holding back her creativity. It must be in her DNA to use every part of...everything... and bedazzle it!)
Anyhoo...
We chose our perfect turkey and prepared to leave. Then I noticed the elderly lady standing next to me and at the same time two employees were preparing to restock the rapidly depleteing supply of glorious fowl. Before them stood boxes of turkeys. They began to slowly and methodically open each box and gingerly load the freezer with the gobblers.
Then I saw the "look" in their eyes and I knew what was going to happen! 
(Great White Hunter is a "big boy" too so I've seen that look plenty of times...It said let's play!)
"Boys" being "boys" they started to race! The sights and sounds caught everyone's attention. Especially mine and the lady next to me. She looked at me. I looked at her and we both giggled.
 Slice! Rip! Heave! Boom! Slice! Rip! Heave! Boom!
The sight was remarkable. These boys were heaving at least 100lbs with seemingly no effort! She giggled and said we should clap for them. Then, she giggled again, covered her mouth and exclaimed, "Do you think we should?" Well, that's all she had to ask, and I said, "Why yes. Yes we should! We should thank them for the show. They work hard and really what other time than during the holidays will you see a sight like that?" We clapped and giggled and the "boys" smiled and nodded! This is what struck me.
 With her movements I saw the shy, self-conscious little girl covering her mouth afraid to laugh too loudly at some kind of random silliness. I saw the little girl who has been told that she shouldn't attract attention to herself. I am Thankful to have had the opportunity to allow her to take a risk and giggle at life with me!
 
The Lesson
 
Teachable moments can happen anywhere, anytime, anyplace and your students are ageless. Creating safe places for people to express themselves is limitless!
 
So, whattaya waiting for? I'm shy and I did this!
 
Love,
Teacher-Mom