Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heart Broken

I am torn right now between the mom in me and the teacher in me. I started my teaching career with a baby in my tummy and a rowdy bunch of Kindergarten students. It was probably best that it was my first year teaching because I had the patience of a saint and an attitude that I could make a difference no matter what. Not too much of that has changed, but my baby is now in Kindergarten himself.

He has pretty much been raised in school and surrounded be teachers who thought he was the bees knees. T was always eager to come to school with me so he could sneak peaks into different classes and chat away with the teachers. it wasn't unusual for me to hear giggles coming down the hallway from him. Everyone welcomed him in like he was their own. We had to move before his first year of school and he was sad that he wouldn't be attending mommy's school. We worked over the summer so he was very prepared...I didn't want him to have any more anxiety then was needed. How can you go wrong with a Kindergarten teacher right? I don't think I've met a Kindergarten teacher who hasn't been bubbly, warm, and motherly...until this year.

Well, it hasn't been the year we had hoped it would be. T enjoys going to school most of the time but has now been asking if he can stay home because he doesn't want to go to school. As a mom and teacher, this just breaks my heart. School should be a place where children are excited and inspired. A place where they can grow, be safe, and challenge themselves. This has not been the case. I have already spoken with the principal about my concerns and little seems to have been done. I know that a teacher has a huge responsibility in the classroom and that there are WAY to many children in a classroom but I can't have my son upset about going to school.

Today, I found out that my son is showing up late to his accelerated reading group because his teacher is holding him in class. When he tells his teacher that it's time for him to go...she yells at him. He is going to reading group in tears almost everyday. I am angry and sadened to hear that my son, a kindergartner, is crying at school because of his teacher. I want to go into his school; claws barred, notes in hand, mama lion roar ready. What do I do? I WILL NOT have my son scarred because of a bad year. I would love to hear suggestions from this amazing community. My son is my life and it is tearing me apart watching this happen.

Here is what I am thinking: I will ask if I can have a meeting with the principal and my son's teacher. I will state that my son is going to reading class late daily and is constantly in tears. This is not acceptable to me and I'd like to know what is going on and will be done to remedy this problem. Help!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Silk Wanted!

Every child has their special toy or blanket that never leaves their side. My boys are no exception. I knew this before I had my boys and tried to get them attached to toys that I thought were cute and adorable. Yeah, I quickly learned that it doesn't work that way. It's almost like the toy chooses the child...or at least that's how it worked for us.

My husband is a huge Huskies fan so he quickly put husky toys in my son's hand. I was not happy about this and tried to put the cute cow and giraffe toy in T's hand. No such luck, my husband had too much influence on this match. T loved his Nook and carried it everywhere. When teething time rolled around, T would chew on Nook's nose. I was worried about the hard plastic nose, but it never stayed in place for long. T would knaw it off and quickly spit it out. No pacifiers or thumbs for us. Being the prepared parents, we hopped on Ebay and ordered 2 dozen of these wonderful husky dogs so we wouldn't have to worry about losing this valued best friend. A little overboard, yes, but we weren't taking any chances. Nook #1 would start to smell like sour milk, so we would throw him into the wash for his bath and would take out Nook #2. We thought that we were SO wise but T always knew which one was his valued friend. After awhile, they all started to look the same but T always knew which Nook was his #1 man. He would slide his pinky finger between the gnarled off nose and if it fit snuggly, it was Nook #1. T has grown but has not grown apart from Nook. He is still a valued member of our family.

When J came around, we were prepared for everything and anything. I was hoping that we would stay away from huskies though. J loved rubbing different textures on his cheeks to calm himself down. We had gotten a unisex silky blanket during the baby shower but I had my eye on an adorable blue dog silky blanket toy. I was shot down...AGAIN! J loved the yellow bear silk and would rub it over his face continually. The smooth texture making a crinkle sound when it would mold to his cheek. It quickly became a staple. J would go to sleep with Silk covering his face and would rub it to calm himself down. I would sneak into the room to make sure he wasn't suffocating himself and would stealthily slide it to the side. Just as quickly, he would slide it back into place...just leaving enough room to breathe. Silk has been on every car ride, store trip, doctor's visit, and travel adventure.

I tell you about these precious toys because Silk has gone missing. I would put up a reward for it but I don't think it would help. We noticed that it was missing while in the store. Thankfully it was a small store. I searched every space with the utmost care, peaking under clothing racks, under baskets, in corners. No Silk! I went to the car and checked under seats, behind car seats, under the Silk. I called the previous store we were Silk. I went back into the store and left my name and number just in case I didn't see it. I went back to the parking lot to Silk. I went back to the doctor's office and left my name and Silk. Where in the WORLD could Silk be? I feel like I'm on an episode of Where is Carmen San Diego? He is no where to be found.

I will pull out my favored blue dog silky blanket and hope that it is an acceptable replacement. I'll also be prepared to get up multiple times tonight with J looking for his "real" Silk. I'll wake up tomorrow morning and call the stores again in hopes that someone found it in passing and brought it in.

I will also have my husband search Ebay in hopes of finding a look-alike. Why didn't we go overboard the first time with this one?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yummy Goodness!

I love the smell of freshly baked goodies wafting through the kitchen. It's not good for the diet but it's nice to have a special something from time to time. I love how that sweet smell sneaks out of the over doors and begins to fill the house. It slowly creeps up the steps and begins to squeeze underneath doors so that there is not a space left unscented. There is nothing better then leaving your home and returning to the aroma of freshly baked goodies. My stomach growls and my mouth salivates just thinking about it.

My boys enjoy baking too. I never seem to make enough time to share the joys of cooking. It's not that my mom never did it with me, it's just that cooking is not something that I enjoy doing. I am trying to change this though. I have purchased new kid themed cookbooks and grabbed a couple food themed magazines (Boy do I like the Food Network one). The boys each have their own homemade aprons, cars and trucks of course. We lay out all the ingredients, mix and stir, and then sit and wait for the goodies to rise and proclaim that they are ready to be sacrificed to the beings watching through the window.

I was looking through my favorite blogs yesterday and found adorable recipes for April Fools Day. My boys will have a BLAST making these fun treats with me. I'm already getting jittery with anticipation. The girls at Our Best Bites have offered up some fun cupcake ideas for April Fools. I am so thankful to their easy step by step instructions with pictures. They make it so very easy.

I would have never thought to make healthy food themed cupcakes as a silly treat. I'll be stopping by the store today to pick up some ready made mini cupcakes so we can get to work tomorrow on our bite size treats. They may not fill the air with mouth watering goodness, but maybe that will keep me from eating the whole batch on my own. Mmmm!

Monday, March 28, 2011

One for the Ages

On rare occasions, there is a lull in my life where there are no current stories to share from the day. Today would be that day, but it gave me time to reflect on some stories of the past. I scanned through my picture folder and found a picture that spoke to me. It spoke to me for several reasons...this is a picture of a very important man in my life, a moment shared with my first child, and a memory that will have to last for the ages because it will not happen again. Let me begin...

This is my grandfather, Poppy, and this day is one that I will always remember. I lost my Pop a year ago and will continue to miss him dearly because he was a man for the ages. They don't make men like my Pop anymore. He was a hard worker, had a heart of gold, could always make you smile, made the best duck noises, and was never too busy for his grandkids or great-grandkids for that matter.

This picture was taken almost 3 years ago. I was in a mad rush to get out the door...always something that needed to be done. When I ran out the door, I found this...Pop and T trotting around the cul-de-sac with brooms between their legs. Pop's slow gallop was the perfect pace for T as he quickly mimicked everything that Pop did. Pop would move from one foot to the next, and T would try the same. Left, left, right, right! T started with the tail in his face but watched his Pop and quickly turned it around. Soon after the galloping began, came the neighs. A deep neigh with a gentle high pitched one echoed from behind. This was a moment were I stopped and realized how important the small moments are. I was never too busy to stop and watch T play with our Pop. Whether is was bowling on the linoleum, popping blocks together, making duck noises, or riding brooms outside. We may not be able to repeat this performance, but it runs through my brain like a song on repeat. I am thankful for this moment, this picture, and the time we had with my Pop.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Angelic Tune

I have been hit with the dreaded sore throat that won't go away. It makes sleeping a challenge and a good nights rest a rare commodity. The coughing fits wipe me out and I had a monstrous fit last night. Trying to look on the bright side, I thought that this might lead to a good nights rest since my whole body seemed exhausted. I took my medicine and gingerly settled in under my blanket warmer. My poor husband looked at me in hopes that my coughs would subside so we could both get some rest without one of us settling for the downstairs couch.

I nestled a cough drop into the pocket in my mouth and started to knead the pillow into just the right position. Then it was time to curl up without setting off the coughing spurts. Aaaah, all settled. Now it was time to rearrange around the cat. Like and acrobat, Mojo gracefully climbed across my body and settled into the homemade cul-de-sac. We began to doze together. I was so tired that I began to feel my body settle into the down comforter that embraced me like a goodbye at the airport. I might have a good chance of getting some sleep because this felt like heaven.

Then I began to hear a woman's singing. The melody worked it's way into my ear and began lulling me to sleep. It was incredibly angelic but I am the only girl in my house...unless you count the dog. Could it be my medicine playing tricks on me? I really didn't take that much. I concentrated harder, trying to find out where this melodious tune was coming from. I didn't have to search far, it was my cat "humming" in his sleep. His purr and snore mixture was the perfect sleeping soundtrack. As my eyes began their journey closed, I concentrated on the musical tune and settled into a restful sleep. Thank you Mojo for my angelic lullaby.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Clean Freaks Nightmare

By the time Friday rolls around, no one wants to cook. Tonight we were headed to The Texas Roadhouse for some steaks. If you haven't been to this restaurant, it is a treat. It has a country theme with familiar voices bellowing through the speakers. On the "special" songs, the cowgirls line up to do a rehearsed line dance. My little guy loves this part and shakes his booty with them. The food is a treat as well, reminds me of living in Texas. The highlight for my boys though,  is the free appetizer.

On each table, you find a troff size bucket of shuck-your-own peanuts. Thank goodness their are no peanut allergies in our family. My boys eyes began to bulge and their mouths began to water as we approached our table with the beckoning silver bucket. Their bottoms weren't in their seats before they started to dig in. T was banging them on the table to get them open with such force that the table began to shake. With a few lessons on squeezing with your fingers, or smooshing them into the table, he was set to go. My little guy, J, would give me handfuls of peanuts to de-shell for him. My fingers couldn't move fast enough for him. I was getting grunts as I quickly deskinned the peanuts.

There was one problem though. Where was the other bucket to discard of these light brown clothes? I quickly looked around to see what other people were doing as T tossed shells over her shoulder on to the floor. My eyes widened in panic and my mouth began the lecture on being neat and tidy when I saw the lady next to us do the same thing. My eyes slowly went to the jet black floor that was littered with peanut remains. We really were supposed to throw our shells on the floor. I felt the need to get a broom and start cleaning. My ears had been so focused on the music that I didn't notice the crunching sound as shoe met shell. The grinding of those remains becoming even more smothered under a humans pressure.

I coaxed myself to take a deep breathe and go with the flow. I grabbed my peanut, put pressure on the shell, rescued the small nuts from within, and watched as the shell tumbled to the ground to join the rest of his family. CRUNCH!

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Son the Shark

My knowledge of sharks is limited. But here is what I know:

* Sharks do not have bones, they have cartilage.

* Sharks eat meat and occasional attack humans.

* The largest shark is the whale shark.

* The fastest shark is the Mako.

* Sharks use their keen sense of smell to track down blood and their prey.

* Sharks have multiple layers of very sharp teeth

Now what could my son possibly have in common with a shark, you ask? Well, he is in the process of getting his "grown-up" teeth.  Most children get a wiggly tooth and proceed to wait for the new one to arrive. Not my son...his teeth are impatient. They don't want to wait for the wiggly tooth to fall on it's own, and they are unwilling to just give these little teeth a push from below.

My son, has ROWS of teeth.

This is the second tooth that has miraculously appeared behind his little white Chiclets. They are wide, jagged, and unwilling to wait. These teeth stand behind the group of small teeth huddled in the front. They don't push the teeth out of the way, they just stand taller in the back, waiting to see over the small tooth. My son has gotten to the point where he has to wiggle the small tooth to make room for these big honkers that are coming in.

Is this something to worry about? The dentist says that it's fine as long as they aren't bothering T. OK, I'll just have to be patient with my son as his rows of shark teeth appear like a fin signaling an attack.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sneeze, Cough, Gag

Sneeze, sneeze...cough, cough...gag, gag...This has been the soundtrack of our lives for the past few months. If it's not one of the kids, it's one of the adults. Has it been this bad for everyone else? I know that it has hit my son's school hard and we did a wonderful job of passing it around our family members.

Well now, it's the dogs turn. Our poor pup has been hacking up a storm and sneezing. Do dogs get hayfever allergies? Is it possible to pass around a cold from pet to human or visa versa? I'm not sure but you know something is wrong when the vet recognizes your pup by name and says, "Didn't we just see you?" Well yes, it sure does feel like that huh?

My poor dog has had a rough year...losing her brother, getting a tooth pulled, and infections galore. Well today was a double doosy. She has an ear infection, fever, and a bronchial infection. Basically, she has the same thing my boys had around Valentine's day. Ear infection and upper respiratory infection. We have meds, a warm clean bed, and plenty of love and will have her on the mend in no time. Hopefully this horrid virus has run it's course through our home. I'll be keeping a close eye on the cat in the meantime.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bumps and Bruises

"Mom! J just hit me!", screams my oldest.

"I want that, NOW!", screeches my youngest.

There is not a lack of shouting and yelling in my home. Don't get me wrong, there are marvelous moments of sharing, cuddling, and talks of always being best friends. However, they are brothers who are contained in the same house like mice in a maze. The yells and shouts go through one ear and quickly escape through the next but there are those moments when you freeze in your tracks and listen. There are those distinct cries, yells, bellows that make the goosebumps on your arms raise while you sprint to your child. This was my night.

My boys were stomping around like elephants at the zoo upstairs when I heard it...that scream that made my heart stop. I heard the stomps turn into a run as my oldest sprinted towards the stairs. "Mama, come quick...J is really hurt!" I bounded up the stairs, 2 to 3 at a time, and was greeted at the stairs by my oldest son who quickly denied having anything to do with this particular incident.

My youngest was screaming with his hands out...signaling in mime what had happened. I scooped him up into my arms and noticed the crimson streak that was oozing on his cheek. No time to check it right now, time to sprint to the freezer in hopes of haulting this monster of an injury. My ears were ringing as I reached natures freezing medicine...the ice cube. As J peeled his face off my shoulder I saw it...two tiger claw marks down his cheek and a purple monster protruding out of his forhead. There was going to be a knot on his head for a few weeks. As I bundled up the ice and gently cradled my baby, the story began to pour out of T's mouth. "Mama, it wasn't me. J was climbing like he always does and lost his step. He fell down and smooshed my trains. Is he going to be ok?" I quickly comforted my oldest while persisting with the ice pack on my babies head. We all cuddled under the covers while nature's miracle numbed the fresh wound. Being the mom and daughter that I am, I called my mom to ask for advice. She always has the answers and reassured me that I was doing what needed to be done and that he would be fine.

When they were younger you could put them in the play pen, knowing that they were safe from harms way. The doors are locked to keep strangers out and the outlets are plugged. How do we give our children freedom to learn and grow without them getting hurt? Hurt from physical and as well emotional harm. When will someone invent a hamster ball for children? Until then, I will keep a close eye...knowing that mischief will be had when my back is turned, when I'm in the shower, or when I have my hands full with dinner. I will do my best to mend the wounds and keep my children safe.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

White Tufts

It was a beautiful weekend. The sun shone brightly through the crystal blue sky. Birds were out singing their songs and the snow had almost disappeared from our yard. You know that Spring is coming, not because of the blooms appearing on the trees or the grass that begins to poke it's head through the snow. I know that Spring is here because bikes and scooters clutter the neighboring yards. Coats have been nestled away in closets and light sweatshirts are being pulled out. Snow pants, gloves, hats, and boots and starting to get packed away. I look forward to this time of year. Winter is beautiful but it has run its course...or has it?

Today I woke to a winter wonderland. It had snowed all yesterday and the remnants still remained this morning. Little white tufts of fluff clung to the trees, hoping that they could hold on for a little longer. The landscape was painted a fresh coat of white to start over. Creeks still flowed, but you no longer see the rocks cluttered below. Winter has refused to let go in our neck of the woods. He's like a child hanging on to the pole refusing to leave. I hope that Spring can fight her way back. Until then, the snow pants and boots have returned. The shovels have found their place by the door, and the winter coats have resumed their spots in the front of the closet. Spring has come and left...for now!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Door Decorating Contest

My son's school is having a Dr. Seuss door decorating contest. As a teacher, these things make me groan. Where do you find the time in our busy day to decorate a door? As a student, I just loved it. I loved walking down the halls looking at everyone's door and the time and energy that was put into it. Of course , the competitive side of me wanted to be the best. I like being creative, although my creative bone is a bit small. This always gave me an opportunity to stretch myself.

So this is the week that the doors are becoming colored, decorations and themes are starting to take form, and children are eagerly inspecting their neighbors door. Today was the day for me to cover T's classroom door in paper. His Kindergarten teacher is doing a creative spin on The Cat in the Hat. The kids will be writing their own mini stories to cover the door with.

"I'm Yertle the Turtle,
Oh Marvelous Me!"
In addition to working in T's classroom, I also work across the hallway with another Kindergarten group. This teacher has opened her classroom to me and gives me a lot of free reign. When I told her how much I loved door decorating as a child, she quickly offered up her door.

Hmm? All the possibilities! I didn't want to do a story that was too common, but wanted the children to recognize the story on the door. Oh! the Places You'll Go?...that would be perfect for Kindergarten but I think that I heard another teacher talking about that. The Lorax?... That's one of my favorites but I saw an intermediate teacher starting that one on her door. Yertle the Turtle?...That's a great story and one that's not too common. Let's try that one.

Each child will make their own turtle and decorate the shell by tearing off colored pieces of paper. It should be cute and won't take too much time in the classroom. I'll take care of Yertle and little Mack. I'll cover the door in black paper and draw "All the things I can see" from the hilltop with chalk. It should be cute. Yertle and Mack are drawn...time to decorate the shells. Should be a busy day!
"Your Majesty, Please!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mr. Terupt

Today is a late post for me. I've been attacked by the wicked virus that is floating around our town. The sore throat, achy body, and need to hold the couch down happened a few days ago. I love weekends at our house because we tend to lounge a bit and just relax. Today was beautiful outside but my head didn't want to leave the soft cushion on the couch. Today was a reading day.

I finished up The Lost Hero by Mr. Riordan. That man can do no wrong when it comes to writing. He is just a genius. Then I picked up Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. I've heard wonderful things about this book and it's been waiting in my stack for almost a month. I settled in with my furry blanket, glasses, and foot warmer (my cat). As I cracked the spine open, I became a bit jittery. Here we go....

Before I begin, I must state that I am a slow reader...I call it one who likes to savor every moment. I finished this book in a few short hours, it just pulls you right in.

What a wonderful story of a teacher who inspires students to be the best people they can be. I smiled, cried, and rejoiced throughout the story. The characters pulled at my heart strings as I become more acquainted with each one. This is a story that makes you want to be a better who is patient, inspiring, thought provoking, compassionate, and consistent. I hope that I am all of these things in the classroom, and that someone feels the same way about me as they do about Mr. Terupt.

Before I began writing this post, I checked my school email and was excited to find two letters from two of my past students. Asking how life was treating me and what book recommendations I had for them. We inspire students everyday and hopefully make their lives better. This book reinforced how much I love teaching and how influential one person can really be. We all have at least one teacher who we will always remember. Who is that teacher for you?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saving the Arts

I was treated to a wonderful date with my two boys last night. We ate a quick dinner and piled into the car to meet some friends to see the local High School's performance of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I've always admired the school from afar. It's an older brick building with a bell tower and huge white pillars. It looks like it couldn't have been put in a Gone with the Wind type daytime movie. I was excited to get a quick peak at the school but was not expecting too much out of the performance. I've been to many musicals in large cities so my expectations were not high...boy was this a mistake.

When you enter the front of the building, you are walking right towards the "theatre." We got balcony seats and walked up the stairs to get to our spot. For starters, I've never seen a balcony like this in a school. When you walked in, there were red cushioned seats, a high box ceiling with intricate designs. It was like walking into a theatre that was solely made for performances. I was already getting excited.

The orchestra came out and started to warm up. The boys started to get excited at the familiar tunes that reverberated off the walls. Then the lights blinked, signaling the last stretch before the performance. The lights were darkened and the performance began. The actors were perfectly cast and their voices sent off goosebumps on my arms. They were REALLY good! But it wasn't your typical high school performance. They had wires rigged so the characters could fly. The costumes were exquisite and interactive. The lights changed and blinked, the smoke billowed from behind the curtains. My mouth was open in awe as I watched these amazing performers and I was taken into the story.

Teaching primary grades, I don't get to see how much the arts influence students. But this, well, this opened my eyes wide. There was a stage full of young adults who had a passion for the arts and you could tell how important it was to them. There are so many things in need to saving right now in the realm of education. What goes and what stays? It is such a do we take away things from children that spark their inner being? That influence who they will become as adults. I'm SO glad that the arts stayed at this High School because the performance was amazing and my boys were intrigued well past their bedtime. An inspired moment was had by all.
The phone picture is horrible but it gives
you an idea of how big the performance
was and the beauty of the building.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Spring has begun and I can't help but start to think about Summer. This winter had me huddled inside bundled up in big bulky sweaters, chasing my boys due to the stir-craziness, or shoveling snow by the load fulls. You would think that all that shoveling would sluff off the pounds but my body had other plans. Now the snow is melting and the outdoors are screaming for me to dig out my running shoes and get moving. My dog will be thankful for the walks as well. The exercise is not the's finding the time and eating healthy.

I'm not a bad eater. I love my fruits and veggies, but also love the dreaded CARBS! Bum bum bum! How I can resist that perfect roll, all delicately raised, steam rising from it, and butter dripping through the sides? Time to change my cravings, dig out the tuna and lettuce for some roll-ups, put the shorts out as a reminder of the goal at hand, and get those shoes dusted off and ready to roll. Let the work begin!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Super Heroes Away!

It all started with a silk!
It all started with my little one and his silk. They are inseparable and the moment silk started to become a cape, I knew it was time for me to get busy. J started to use silk as a superhero cape a few weeks ago. He would raise one hand up in the air and yell "Super Hewo!" Were did this superhero passion come from? I don't know, but I am tickled pink to oblige his request to become a 2-year-old super hero.

I am in no way a handy lady with the sewing machine but I do know someone who is. I walked into her classroom with the sweetest smile I could muster, and asked if she would be willing to sew two capes for me if I did all of the initial leg work. She quickly said yes and I did a little dance on the way out the door. Let the work begin!

Mojo did his part to help!
First step was to find a pattern that I could use without having to purchase it (the Internet is a wonderful thing). Not a problem, I found Puking Pastilles amazing pattern and got to work. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist so it took some time to find the perfect fabric and get the applique just right. The boys eagerly watched as I carefully cut the pieces out and ironed each section so it would be perfect for my little heroes.

The end result is a happy boy
and an adorable cape!
After all the prep was done, I carefully put the pieces into a Ziploc bag and delivered it to my dear friend. The very next day, she delivered our masterpieces. My little one hasn't spent a second without his SuperJ cape. He rubs the silky side on his cheek and soars through the house with BOTH hands up in the air, yelling "I'm a Super hewo, SuperJ!" I can't help but beam at his excitement in this small endeavour.

Now if I can just keep him from jumping off of things, life will be perfect. I can't wait for his brother to get home so I can deliver his too. What a great St. Patty's Day surprise.

                                           Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dancing Machine

Wednesday is one of my days to volunteer at T's school. I enjoy the opportunity this gives me to work with children. Their little faces light up when I walk in the door and my heart just soars. Wednesday is also the day that the school has their morning meetings as a whole group. They share announcements, upcoming activities, lunch, the pledge, and super students. Today was a special day because the dance club did a hip hop number. I love music and dancing almost as much as I love teaching so this was a treat.

J had his legs wrapped around my hips like a monkey and was swinging to and fro while the children danced on stage. My foot was tapping as my eyes surveyed each child as they tried to remember the many varied steps. My eyes were diverted today by one particular girl who was not on stage. I have not worked with her, but I can tell that she has many struggles in life. She is always smiling and trying her best to communicate with the people around her. As I watched her today, my eyes started to become damp. She was bouncing to the music with her whole body and soul. She threw her head back, eyes twinkling, smile from ear to ear, and swayed her body to the music. She had a tight grip on her teacher's hand like it was a life line and swayed her to the tune pumping through the speakers. What a joy it was to watch this little girl forget her worries and just enjoy the moment. With all of the sad news in the media right now, it was nice to see someone living happily in the moment.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Perfect Night

Today has been a fabulous day. My oldest son, T,  slept in late and was in a wonderful mood. We did some last minute homework before heading off to school. That left my little guy, J, and me to get some running around before play group. We picked up some red silk fabric to line his new Superhero cape (I'll write about that soon) and then headed to Barnes and Noble. Ah, I love book stores. What could be better then being surrounded by books and coffee? We stopped at Starbucks and got ourselves a quick treat, coffee for mom and a cookie for J. Then it was home to snuggle and head off to play group. Later, we picked up big brother and had fun putting our Superhero capes together. Such a wonderful day, but the best part of the day was the hour before bedtime.

I had picked up a new Transformers series at the book store this afternoon for T. He was so excited to dig into it that he curled up in dad's spot on the couch and started to read. I just LOVE when my 5 year old reads on his own accord. How could a mom resist? I put the dirty dishes down and quickly hustled over to listen to him read. I was expecting a few pages but he read for 40 minutes on his own. We stopped to get pj's on and then went back to the intriguing story of Autobots vs. Decepticons. And, as if this night couldn't get any better, my little one curled up to listen too. J rested his head on my shoulder while I rested mine on T's. My little guy started to feel heavy on my shoulder, so I took a quick peak and discovered that he had fallen asleep. His brother had read him the bedtime story tonight. What a special way to end an amazing day. And to think that I was complaining about missing my job. Silly me!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Empty Space

I'm feeling a little lost today which seems funny coming out of my fingertips. I'm a pretty content person but this year has left an empty space. I am taking a year off of teaching to stay home with my little guy. Don't get me wrong, I love the extra time with him and value every moment of it. He fills my life differently then my job does though. I thought that volunteering in the classroom would fill that void, but it just makes me miss it even more.
I miss seeing the children eagerly walk through my door to see what today will bring. I miss the buzz that fills the room before announcements begin. I miss the busy pencils transferring ideas while quiet music plays in the background. I miss seeing little bodies scattered around the room, books in hands, and eyes glued to the pages in pure amazement. I miss doing experiments and listening to their thoughtful inferences. I miss the hugs that come when the day is done and the books that are tucked under arms to make the journey home. I miss the quiet classroom at the end of the day when I sit and reflect on what happened during the day. I miss that feeling that I've made a difference and that my teacher cup is overflowing.

Until next year, I'll read like a crazy person and devour professional books that are recommended. I'm not just on a leave from teaching, I'm on a sabbatical...constantly learning and getting better at my craft. I'm also relishing my time with my son, knowing that it will be different next year.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A 5 year old's Mosh Pit

My boys (5 and 2 years old) went to a birthday party yesterday. There were fun activities planned and the children all played nicely together. After presents were opened, cake was eaten, and tummies were full...the kids resided to the room. I don't think any of the parents gave it a second thought until we heard Katy Perry's "Fireworks" blaring through the slightly opened door. What we found was a 5 year old's mosh pit.

Each parent took a turn peering through the small slit in the door to see what their child was doing. I was eager for my turn and for a fleeting moment felt like a 2 year old who was ready to push her way to the front. When my turn arrived, I was nervous about what I would find. Would my child be the one out of control? This is what I saw...

The room was softly lit by the light filtering through the princess curtains. The mattress was laying on the floor and my youngest was jumping up and down pumping his arms in the air. He had a huge smile on his face and was trying to sing the lyrics when they seemed familiar. His cheeks were beet red and I could see small sweat beads forming on his forehead. My oldest was sitting on the floor, break dancing. Yes, break dancing! He was spinning on his booty and trying to wiggle on his belly. I stifled a laugh as I took in the whole scene. A little boy was curled up in the corner with a spot light, swirling it around from one person to the next. The girls were all dressed up in their princess garb, make-up applied, and singing at the top of their lungs. It was a sight to see.

I would have never imagined that 5 year olds could appreciate music as much as I do. A birthday party and a 5 year old's mosh pit...oh my!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Monster Hide-and-Seek

I get joy out of watching my husband play with our boys. There is something about watching a man cherish his children that warms my heart. Last night was the perfect example.

My husband works insane hours but always makes time to spend some "guy time" with his boys. Yesterday was no exception.

The boys know that dad is home when they hear the garage door begin to creak open. You can hear the elephant stomps as the boys pound downstairs yelling, "Dad's home, dad's home!" A smile automatically appears on my face as I watch my husband scoop each child up  like a sack of potatoes. Well yesterday, he decided to scare the kids. He quietly snuck into the bathroom and jumped out to surprise the boys. Boo! My oldest said, "You didn't scare me!" While my youngest squealed like a little girl and opened his arm to get some dad hugs.

The game continued for the next hour as they searched for their dad. My youngest had me giggling and reminiscing though. When my husband started to chase him, he got that excited/scared laugh. You know...the one where you are having a wonderful time but secretly you are petrified at what is happening. I laughed out loud because I remember making that same giggle when my dad used to chase me around the house. The highlight reel ran through my head as I watched. I loved the game but my little heart would pound in terror at the possibility that it may be a monster, and not my dad, who found me.

Such a magical moment. I wish every day could be like this.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My, how cartoons have changed!

I love cartoons and enjoy trying to sort out the adult humor from the kids humor (Bugs Bunny...need I say more). It's fun to see how cartoons have changed. I tend to be the parent who keeps a very close eye on what my children are watching. I carefully search the channels looking to see what is appropriate in age and content..but they have changed so much.

I was a Fraggle Rock, Smurfs, Muppets kind of kid. These were great cartoons but lacked real educational value. I am impressed by the educational cartoons that are out there right now for preschool children. I just finished watching Sid The Science Kid with my 2 year old. We learned about joints today and my little one couldn't wait to show me what he learned. "Mama, a joint", J said as he did jumping jacks across the living room. "Great buddy, can you show me a finger joint?", I said with just as much enthusiasm. "You bet, it's right here", he replied pointing to his thumb joint. We cheered together as we bent our joints. It's amazing what those little minds can gather from a 30 minute show.

I'm thankful for the encouragement these shows give to learning. We always talk about what we've learned after watching a quick show together. My mind even begins to wonder as I think about how great these tools would be in the classroom. Who hasn't thought about using Between the Lions in the classroom? I already use clips from School House can I use these great cartoons to help my children without misusing valuable teaching time? Things to ponder as I contemplate how to make each moment in the classroom more productive and fun then that last.

Which cartoons yell to you, "use me in your classroom"?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Knuffle Bunny

My boys and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to see Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary musical. We have been reading the books since they came out and the boys even own their own Knuffle Bunny.

I like to surprise my kids but figured that this particular event deserved a little more prep then normal. The last few days, we have been rereading the Knuffle Bunny stories and digging a little deeper into them. We made connections to our special toys and shared stories of misplacing them...often. So last night, after reading the most recent story, I told the kids about our morning surprise to see the play. My boys have been to Shrek and Lion King, so they are experienced theatre boys. They were beside themselves with excitement and could not wait.

I have NEVER been to this theatre so we left early, in the snow, so we could get there in plenty of time for mom to get lost. And lost we got; I found a parking garage and attempted to find the theatre on my own. I'm not afraid to ask directions, so I confronted a few strangers and asked where to go. They each gave me different directions. We walked the same street three times in two different directions with freezing winds trying to hold us back. My youngest looked at me with watery eyes and said, "Can we go home and watch Mickey Mouse, its cold." Thank goodness we left early. We arrived in plenty of time and had front row mezzanine seats. Aah, what a view!

The show was adorable and followed the first book perfectly. There were black and white back drops that were probably taken straight from the book. We listened carefully to the songs and giggled through each one. The boys sat on the edge of their seats, legs dangling, and fingers twitching in anticipation. Another Mo Willems friend appeared during the show, and that was a wonderful treat. The boys belly laughed numerous times and my youngest clutched his Knuffle Bunny close to his chest throughout the show. What a wonderful moment and yet another treasured memory.

FYI: I've always pronounced Knuffle Bunny with a silent K. I learned today that you are supposed to pronounce the K...according to Mr. Willems himself.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


You can always tell that winter is coming to an end in our house because hockey tends to follow closely behind. This is my oldest sons first year playing "true" hockey. Today will be his last day and it will be a bittersweet moment.

Our family is a hockey family...all of the boys play and enjoy it tremendously. I enjoy watching the game...the fluid motion of bodies gliding along the ice like geese on a lake. The extended stick and flicks of the wrist that lead to scores and cheers of joy...fist pumped up in the air. The knot in my stomach when my son is guarding the net and a puck tries to weasel it's way past him. The red cheeks and sweaty hair letting me know that he's had a good workout for the day. Eating popcorn in the stands with my little guy as we cheer together for his idol. These moments will be cherished. Today will be a bittersweet day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Acts of Kindness...sorta

My boys play nicely most of the time...they are brothers, so I can't expect it to be ALL the time. Yesterday had me laughing out loud though.

My youngest (J) was determined to not have a nap, so he was pretty crabby by the time my oldest son (T) got home from school. J just wanted to curl up in my arms and whine. It was one of those kind of days. I curled up on the sofa with my alligator teared son while my oldest kept making trips upstairs. The first trip was for J's silk (a necessity for cranky days) and a cozy blanket. He tucked J in and gave him a quick squeeze. "Sweetie, that was so nice of you", I said with a melting heart. "I'm just being a good big brother", he quickly replied, and off he went for another trip upstairs. My heart just swelled to see my boys interacting so nicely. Isn't this what every mom wishes for?

When he stomped down the stairs the second time, he was cradling some of J's favorite stuffed animals. Again, I mentioned what a generous and kind gesture this was. T smiled at me and said, "Can I get a sticker for that? At school, Mrs. F gives us stickers to put on a chart for when we are kind to others." So THAT is why the acts of kindness were flowing today. In my sweetest teacher voices I said, "I'll talk to dad about getting you a sticker chart. Look at your brother and how happy he is right now...that's all because of you. Doesn't that make you feel good inside?" He crinkled up his nose, smirked and replied, "Yeah, but I'd really like a sticker too."

I guess that I should just be thankful that acts of kindness were flowing in our house for the day....well sorta!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Coffee Shack

I never pictured myself being a coffee drinker. I never liked the smell of my dad's coffee wafting through the house in the morning but college changed all of that. Those long nights trying to compose the perfect paper, and all of that textbook reading (groan). Tea just didn't cut it, so my coffee addiction began.

I should clarify that I am a fu fu coffee snob. I have spent so many years living in the Northwest that my taste buds have become extremely picky. I even began shunning Starbucks for my local coffee shack. There is nothing like the perfect cup 'a Joe. I love the way the espresso makes a swirling design on top of the foam. It's like a beckoning call for me to savor each sip.

I moved to the East coast this past summer and am craving a coffee from my local stomping grounds. I began my search and discovered a stand close by that lived up to my high standards of "watered down coffee", as my dad says. The next time I went, I ordered a white chocolate mocha. Should be a standard, right? Well, the lady began filling my cup up with regular coffee and a pump of chocolate. My heart began to pound as I watched the black slop fill my cup. "Excuse me, is that the mocha?" In a frustrated voice, she said that she was making my drink. "Isn't a mocha a shot of espresso, chocolate, and milk?" Not at this stand...that would be a white chocolate LATTE. Ugh! To make matters worse, she looked at me and said, "Aren't you from Seattle?" The flames began to shoot from my ears as I politely smiled and thanked her for my drink.

Oh Coffee Shack....I Do Miss THEE!

Weekend Reading

I just love when I get the chance to snuggle up with my boys with some good books. We were behind this week in our library book reading so we did a little extra catching up. There were some hidden gems that must join my reading collection. I thought that I would share a few.

Hide and Squeak
by Heather Vogel Frederick
Illustrated by C.J. Payne

To start, the illustrations in this book are phenomenal. Such a talented artist. The story is adorable as well. Mom and Dad try to wrangle their little mouse for bedtime. It has a wonderful rhyme that I ended up singing while reading. A great bedtime story for little ones.

By Jennifer Berne
Illustrated by Keith Bendis

A wonderful story about a bird who gets caught up in the joys of reading. He misses out on learning to fly but saves his family because of the time spent in the library.

I can see using this at the beginning of the year to start my reading block. Teaching kids that reading is more then making your teacher happy. It's getting caught up in the story and being taken away to another place. A must have!

Tuck Me In!
By Dean Hacohen and Sherry Scharschmidt

The perfect bedtime story for your little ones. It is also the perfect book for your emergent reader because of the predictable, repetitive language throughout the book. My boys enjoyed using the flip pages to tuck in all of the animals. This would be a great book to expand upon. What animal would you like to tuck into bed?

The Desperate Dog Writes Again
By Eileen Christelow

A hilarious book that is a must for all beginning writing teachers. I'll be adding this one to my writer's book box. Emma, the dog narrator, tries to save her owner from getting "kidnapped" by another human. Emma writes an advice columnist named Queenie to get suggestions on what to do. An adventure ensues that has every reader giggling.