Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pawprints and Handprints on Our Hearts

Forever in our hearts

"I know that God truly loves us because He sends such beautiful creatures to accompany us on this life's journey."

These were words of comfort written to me by the lady who left this earth the same summer Hunny came into our lives. 
The ache and emptiness in the heart of our family is only comforted by the knowledge that everyone and every creature we have ever loved are sitting together in God's beautiful garden.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Messages from Little Angels

     The bell screamed out the signal for the end of lunch.  "Ugh! Not over already.  I hope this afternoon is better than this morning." She heaved herself up from her chair.  "Time to get the darlings."
     As she walked out to retrieve her brood, the same little people she had practicing walking in a line at morning recess rushed at her and practically knocked her over.  They still didn't learn their lesson! "Teacher he..."  "Get back in line!"  She griped at them.  "We will discuss any issues in class.  She checked the line and marched them all in.  When they arrived at their destination.  She gave them instructions.  "Go in.  Walk to your desks.  Do not talk and put your heads down."  She repeated her instructions 3 times.  She asked them to repeat the instructions.
  They began to talk as soon as they began to move. 
      She walked over to the front of the class, started writing names on the whiteboard and as she did this the volume in the classroom quickly dissipated.  She inhaled deeply as she turned to the 31 sets of puppy dog eyes looking at her.  She paused, then croaked out. "Okay friends, it is nearly the end of the school year.  You are all nearly second graders.  This morning you were all supposed to be working on your tasks and you were not supposed to get out of your seats and many of you did."
      She could hear the blinking of their innocent eyes as they glanced at each other. 
 "Do you see the list of names on the board? These are the names of all the friends I watched get out of their seats, chat with their friends, clean out their desks, read their library books, stare at the ceiling, do everything BUT what I asked them to do just right now.  Several of these friends had to practice walking in a line at recess this morning.  We are still having issues.  Friends, what exactly is Rule number 5?" 
     They all looked up at her and in unison recited, "Keep your teacher happy, because if teacher is happy then we're happy!"
      "Well friends, look at my face.  Am I happy?"  As she was saying this one sweaty little sweetie stood up and proceeded to walk up to her.  She looked around the classroom searching for the cameras she just knew were catching the bewildered look on her face."  He handed her an index card. "Here Teacher I made this for you."  She did the only thing she could do.  She took it from him.  She read it.  And she smiled.
The Lesson
My Rock-Star teacher buddy said this when I shared what had happened today.  "These are little gifts from God.  He knows what we need and he delivers His messages on the wings of these Little Angels.  We are so blessed!"


Monday, May 20, 2013

Off Duty-Yard Duty, huh? Well for most folks it is. For most, it's an idyllic scene. It conjures up memories of party hats, cake eating, and general merriment. The dads in the background mirror the joyous vibe coursing through the entire event.
     Everyone is having a rip-roaring time... if you're most folks.
(what's she getting at? Why is she rambling on? Don't fret. Seriously, there is a point. I shall illustrate the point with a story...)

     Jen hated birthday parties. She hated baseball games. She hated karate practice. She basically hated any activity that involved children and their parents. You see for Jen, accompanying her children to these functions and activities caused enough added stress in her life, that the baristas at her local Starbuck's could tell from the moment she entered the cafe if she was in the "mood" for a double mochaccino latte caramel machiato with a triple shot of espresso, or a simple brew of the day-sweetened with just a splash of cream.  If on her arrival the entire establishment cleared her path they knew not to greet her jovially.  To do so, would cause her to give them such a look by which all their perkiness withered away as did several of their reproductive years.  On these occasions her beverage was passed to her with averted eyes and minimal conversation.  New baristas were forewarned not to attempt eye contact.
     You see Jen is a teacher.  With that occupation comes the inevitable phenomena of having an invisible lanyard strapped around her neck with an equally invisible whistle dangling from it. Wherever she went she tried her best to go incognito.  She coached her children to keep her occupation a secret.  If ever asked, they were to tell the parents of their friends that she worked for the IRS, the CIA, the FBI, anything but the ABCDEFG.  To do so would result in her cover being lifted as she tried to be "normal" just like all the other Housewives of "fill in the blank".
For her, the aformentioned occasions began like this...
     On her way to pick up Boy Number 1 she notices a tell-tale envelope in his hand.  He throws it in her lap and grins.  "Can I go?" he asks.  "We'll see." she responds.  She "accidently" tosses the invitation in her teacher bag.  She figures out of sight, out of mind.  They make their way to karate practice.  When they arrive, she sits with all the other moms and dads.  She greets them and engages in light conversation about the weather, their children, shopping (yuck). She knows she could get a lot of paperwork done during the hour, but always decides against bringing in the tools of her trade.  They still don't know what she does.  For a full year she has dodged the subject of her job.  She is a mystery to them and she likes it that way.  She has become a master of changing the subject but for some reason her guard was down that day and it happens.  One mom asks what she and her family are planning on doing on a certain weekend in two weeks.  "Oh really nothing." she responds unsuspectingly.  Then the mom asks if she got the invitation to Jonny Joe Angel's birthday bash at Billy Bubba's Burger, Base-paintball and Bouncerama.
     The Super-mom hands her an envelope identical to the one burning a hole in her teacher bag.  "Well here's another in case he lost it.  It's in two weeks. You can make it!"

Fast-forward to the festive day...
     Jen is determined to have a good time.  She will sit with the other parents and relax.  She will keep her back to the children in such a way that any shenanigans will be out of sight.  She will talk and laugh and enjoy the party.

She really tries until...
     Her younger child comes up to her and tells her that there are kids playing Wrestle mania in the bouncer.  She tells him to go tell the party hostess.  She watches as the hostess goes over and warns the offender.  She watches as the little darling says he won't do it again and as she turns her back, she catches him stick his tongue out at her.  Jen's hackles begin to rise.  She catches his eye and gives the boy "the look".  He knows what that means.  He's seen it before and he cowers.  She decides to ignore that area but not before she tells her boys to stay away from "that kid".  She is off duty and she is going to enjoy herself too!
     As she proceeds to converse with a particularly lovely mom, the mother's darling little girl, a Pixie in Pink comes to her complaining about the same offender.  Her mommy knows who the parent of the culprit is and goes over to tell her that her child needs to be watched.  The mother gives her a look and turns in the direction of the bouncer. She yells, "Son be careful with the kids!" She turns her back and continues her conversation.  Jen tries to ignore the area.  But it's no use.  No matter how hard she tries, she can't keep her focus away from the havoc.  It's impossible to ignore.  She continues to watch the same scene play out over and over, as the little monster continues to leave victims in his wake, he even manages to recruit a number of other children to join him.  One by one the victims go to their mothers and complain.  One by one the mothers of the offenders ignore what is happening. Then, Pixie in Pink comes back to her mommy.  This time she is choking on her tears.  Now, the leader of the pack is spitting on children from inside the bounce house!  By this time Jen has had it.  She gets up, storms over to the bouncer and yells, "You, you, you and you.  You've been told to stop this behavior and you refuse to listen. Get out now and go to your mothers. You are off limits to this bouncer until you have learned how to play correctly and be respectful of the other children!  Do you understand??"  They look at her in shock.  "Get out now and go to your mothers I said!"

     As the other parents stared at her, several in a huff, her companion exclaimed, "I knew you were a teacher by the way you looked at that boy! IRS my foot!"

The Lesson
I think this one is obvious.  You don't have to be a teacher to have seen this scene play out and you don't have to be a teacher to react like Jen did.  Really people, watch and discipline your kids and when someone calls your kids out...say thank you!
Whew! I got that off my chest!


Friday, May 17, 2013

We'll Be Waiting

     Those little whimpers and whines, ears pulled back, noses to the window, they make you a little sad and echo your feelings. You want to hold back the hands of time and you mourn it's passing.
     Those whimpers remind you that those little people you all love so much...they are growing up way too quickly.
     They turn and they're little eyes beg to ask, "Where are they going Mom? Will they be back? Don't go. Don't you know we love you?"
     It makes your heart break a little every time you have to see it. Together you watch them walk away.
     And as they walk away, you capture the pixel image in your heart and mind and you whisper a prayer too. "I love you. Be safe my babies. We'll be waiting."

The Lesson
At this time of celebrating milestones; with graduations, weddings, birthday parties, and all the other reasons to celebrate the passing of time, I am reminded of something universal for most parents. Leaving your babies? It doesn't get easier as they get older.  You do get accustomed to the routine but the ache that tugs at your heart as you watch them walk away? It just becomes a little more familiar. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Have you Giggled Today?

Attitude Adjustment

     There are things that just bring a smile to your face, a giggle to your belly and make you slow down on a busy Friday morning and say, "I love that people still do this!"
     I do imagine that the person this happened to wasn't all too pleased that he/she was the victim of a prank and that they would have to clean up, however, that initial reaction had to have been a mixture of hilarity and surprise.
     A person has to be one cold-hard fish for this not to evoke even a little smirk.

The Lesson
Silliness is universal.
Go a little silly today. It's good for 'ya!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Caught Red Handed

     The week started off with a bang!  I met the cherubs on the blacktop and in my Monday morning fog, I did not notice that some of them were hiding their hands behind their backs.  Throughout the Pledge, the Character Trait spell-out, the singing of the National Anthem, the Perfect Attendance drawing, and around two bazillion other Monday morning to-dos, I did not notice that the darlings were hiding something...
        Not until all 392 little shuffling people made it into the building, up the stairs and to the door, did I notice that they were hiding "stuff"!  
     Once we got past the backpack carnage...and past the little bodies blocking the door...they bombarded me with their gifts!  Happy Teacher's Week!!!
 And that's how the week started...
     Fast forward to today.  Now I know this Sunday is Mother's Day.  I know this, not only because I'm a Momma too, but because the cherubs kept on reminding me that our Mother's Day Salads have not been doing well:( 
     Nope.  Even with out vigilant tending, they have not sprouted.  I knew this Monday.  I knew that I needed to do something for the Mommas in my class.  But like so many other things in my life, I run out of time.  I felt really guilty about this.
       So today, at about 9:00 a.m. I got a wild hair.  I saw the red paint. I saw their little hands. I thought about Pinterest.  I recalled a craft.  Yes! We were going to make Red Heart Handprints and give them to our lovely Mommas with a crown for her special day to boot!
(you know where this is going...but keep reading, there are a few twists and turns!)
       So, we got that red paint out and we made hand print hearts! 

 And all was going groovy, until...
     Miss Steph came to through the door. "Uh, Mrs. B. did your class paint today because someone left their art work on the restroom mirror."  She motioned with her hands spread out. 
      I turned and glared at all 397 innocent darlings.  
     "Is this artwork in the girl's or boy's restroom?" I inquired.  "The boys," she answered.  "Okay gentlemen, who decided to get creative in the restroom? And don't tell me it was Naughtmie.  He's not here today!"
     They all stared at me. "Okay friends, someone fess up and no-one gets in trouble.  They'll just have to help clean it up."
(blink..blink...eyes averted...eyes rolling heavenward...girl mob forming with arms on hips readying themselves to judge the accused)
     "Okay, since no one wants to tell me, let's all take a trip to the restroom and find out who's hands fit."  
     That's when several of them started to pipe up.  "I-I-I-I saw those when I washed my hands."
"When I went to wash my hands there wasn't anything there."  As well as other protests from the Dirt Clod Gang!
     So I did what any sane teacher would do.  I marched them all to the boy's restroom.  I looked at the handiwork and figured that only 4 of those little hands fit those particular prints.  Those 4 little people still wouldn't fess up.  I pretended to call an imaginary Momma on the phone.  I pretended to speak to that Momma.  The imaginary Momma told me that she was going to take lots of toys away.  When I said this, 3 of those little darlings squinted their eyes, blinked several times, one even rubbed his head.  They gave themselves away.  I said goodbye to the "Momma" but not until after I told "her" I would see her in the office in a few minutes.  We all sat down on the carpet.  I still wasn't totally sure that the 3 were completely guilty.  We talked about taking care of our school.  We talked about our recent visit from the brother of the namesake of our school and how he was there that day and, "how very sad he would be that the students of his brother's school were not taking care of it."
  "How sad huh Teacher?" Of course the Frilly Femmes had to point out their disappointment.
(tsk...tsk... for shame, for shame!...wait a minute.  Didn't I already write about these Pixies in Pink doing something similar? Why, yes I have. How soon they forget!)
     I agreed that it was very sad.  We all shook our heads in unison.  The Queen of Glitter with her Ladies in Waiting.  We were a force to be reckoned with.  With our arms folded and our hips pushed out to one side, we looked menacing, I'm sure.  
     The three looked around.  Two darlings volunteered to clean the prints off the mirror. 
(they're so helpful...and no I didn't let them clean it...that would have been really crazy!)
     Then one darling piped up.  "You shouldn't do those things.  God is watching," then another added in, "and Santa too!"

The Lesson

On this Mother's Day, hug those little people.  Look at those little hands and remember, they are little blessings to not only you, but to those Teachers you share them with!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

     She came in and told me she had a secret and wondered what I thought of her idea. 
(she knows me...I can keep a confidence..but a secret?)
     She had a twinkle in her eye...she couldn't contain her excitement...she was bubbling.
(spill woman...s-p-i-l-l!)
     The little folk were going to Storyland! This is her second favorite place in the world.
(The Happiest Place on Earth is the first...I knew you'd already guessed that it was...I just like writing...The Happiest Place on makes me happy!)
     She'd never taught the wee folk. She wondered if being in that crazy-chaotically-fun-filled environment would give her an idea of what teaching the littlest people would be like.  Maybe this would recharge her teaching batteries. Perhaps she would like to teach that age group.
(about this time of year they need major! )
     This gave me an idea, "Why not meet them there dressed like a Disney Princess?"
     Her eyes dazzled.  My eyes dazzled. Together, we were on a mission and this was going to happen because if it was meant to happen it would be easy to do, right? 
 And it was... 
The mice found her dress...

And with a little "magic"...
Cinderella made it to the ball...and her heart danced!
The Lesson
Have faith, in your dreams, and someday your rainbow will come smiling through...
No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the wish that you wish will come true!

The Fairy Godmother

Monday, May 6, 2013

Road Block!

Ever have one of those, er, times when you have so much to write but no time to do it? It's like that right now.
It's a different kind of block. It's still one that needs to be dealt with.  But like that big boulder in the road, patience and careful maneuvering is my answer to dealing with it.
I will chip away at it-bit by bit.  Word by word.  Sentence by sentence.  And eventually...I'll have a whole story to tell you!
How do you deal with road blocks?


Friday, May 3, 2013

Looking Back:My A-Z Reflections

"...remember, no matter where you go, there you are"
Buckaroo Banzai

    When I started this blog I truly thought it would be a place where I would share lessons with other teachers on the 3 R's...Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmatic.  I figured it would be a good way to help myself wrap my brain around this newfangled thing called Common Core.  I admired all those beautiful blogs out there created by talented, hard-working teachers.  I figured I would share some lessons and ideas too, and help myself as well as others.  I never intended it to become a place where I would share lessons about life. But as with so many things in life, well, they find their own path.  It just happens and you have to go with it.  I couldn't find my stride.  I kept on stumbling.  I couldn't even figure out (and still haven't) how to change the unknown on my address to www. (HELP anyone!)  People around me were starting to ask why I blogged.  I don't think they meant to make me feel like I was weird for doing it, but I did.  I was about to give it all up.
     Then, just as I was contemplating hitting the 'delete' button and doing away with this whole thing, the A-Z Challenge popped up.  I was intrigued.  So, I popped into some and read what they had to say.  I wondered who this D.L. Hammons was and what he had to say.  I wanted to know what this lady from South Africa with a blog titled The Garden of Eden Blog was all about.  I was impressed with the gorgeous crochet flowers this lady M.J Joachim made.  Little did I know that these, as well as countless others would help me realize that, nah I'm not weird.  Nope.  I, like them, just have to do this thing we do.  Write.
     Let me tell 'ya a secret...most teachers have a really hard time talking about anything else but teaching.  We can get pretty bogged down with 'the job'.  And we tend to stay pretty isolated.  That's just the nature of the job.  So, when this challenge popped up, I took it as a sign.  It was a sign that I needed to expand my interests, ideas, frame of reference and learn from y'all!
So with that, this Teacher-Mom thanks you for being a part of helping me share some giggles, some deep thoughts, some tears and countless lessons.  And to my friends who read my blog through my Facebook link.  Thank you for being my cheer-leaders!
But most of all to all of you...
Thank you for being the reason I didn't hit that 'delete' button!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do It Now!

"Mom, there was this story about these police officers dressing up during Halloween and this person said that they were too old to dress up.  What do you think?"
     These are the types of questions that come from the backseat of my car on the way to taking my girls here, there and everywhere.  These are the types of questions that put my life back into perspective.   These are the types of questions that motivate me.
(You'll just have to keep reading to see what I answered. How's that for keeping you in suspense...but I bet you can figure what I said...a zillion points if you get it right!)

Meanwhile fast forward to later this morning...
     My students and I are studying the life of the namesake of our school.  They are excited because they get to meet his brother tomorrow and ask him questions.
(he's going to feel like such a Rock-Star!)
     Now, let me tell you a little something about Firsties.  They love to ask questions.  But a word to the wise.  If you ever get invited to speak to a group of 5, 6, or 7 year old kiddos, remember this...
     Do not say, "Do you have any questions?"  For if you do, you will either get stories, as in, "This one time..." or, "Yesterday when my mom..." or get asked really interesting/personal questions that you just might not be prepared to answer. "How old are you?" or "Do you sleep in pajamas?"

     Anticipating that these two things will happen, I prepped my darlings.  I asked them for questions.  They surprised me.  I didn't get any stories.  They actually wanted to know some really cool stuff.  This is a sampling of what they asked.
1.  Did he like sports?
2.  Did he like to draw pictures?
3.  What was his favorite food?
4.  What was his favorite color?
5.  Did he like Dr. Suess books?
6.  What did he and your brothers and sisters play when you were kids?
7.  Did he like trees?
8.  What kind of music did he like?
9.  What was his favorite flavor of ice-cream?
10.  What was his favorite game?
     As you can tell these are child-centered questions.  They want to know what he was like when he was a child.  This is how they can relate to him.  But as they asked their questions it hit me like a ton of tamales.  Many of these questions they want to ask the brother of our schools namesake, I could not answer about my own brothers and sister.  I felt a little sad.  My brothers and sister are still living and I don't know these answers!  Needless to say, I have to change that.

The Lesson
Get to know the people in your family.  When they are gone, the only thing you have left is what you carry in your heart
People who say you're too old to do something, are too old!

I'm curious...what are your answers?