Monday, March 31, 2014
But since I wrote about it, I've been thinking about story time with my first and second graders. I haven't had story time with students since my daughter was born, but that was always my favorite part of teaching and it is where I developed my story telling skills.
Some of my favorite authors are Robert Munsch, Jan Brett, Patricia Polacco, Mem Fox, and Tomie DePaola because they are experts at using my favorite features.
I loved the magic spell that could be released with the start of a good book. I played with my facial expressions, volume of my voice, timing of sharing the illustrations, inflections, gesticulations...I rehearsed these each time I read the story until I had my audience mesmerized. When my group of 25+ seven-year-olds had stopped fidgeting, started gasping at the surprising parts and laughing at the silly parts, I knew I was in my zone. I was not merely reading a story; I was acting.
In my last full-time teaching position, the read-alouds were part of the mandated curriculum. They were fine stories. We read and re-read them just as the teacher manual said to. We even memorized a few. But by the spring of that year, I realized that I was not having any fun. And neither were my students. I decided to bring in some of my favorite texts and, maybe at the expense of "required" material," share them with my kids. It got most of us back on track. At least it made my heart happy enough to finish the school year.
My hope for Clara is that she has teachers who have favorite books and love reading. I hope that her teachers are able and willing to bring their passions to the classroom. And I hope that I get to continue having story time with her every night for many more years to come.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
This cleaning became Operation Odor Elimination. It started with emptying the athletic bag, cleaning out the lunch boxes, clearing out the refrigerator, taking out the trash and opening all the windows. It continued with vacuuming and mopping. And this wasn't just regular mopping. It was a suds cycle using generous amounts of Pine-Sol followed by two rinse cycles.
Then I noticed the kitchen cabinets. They are painted white--a very poor choice for a kitchen if you actually use it. Wearing rubber gloves, I scrubbed them with Chlorox wipes and 409. Now I was on a roll: I moved on to wiping the baseboards and washing the windows. While I worked, Max cleaned out the cat liter boxes.
Now, if I notice an odor tonight after I return home, I might get out the carpet cleaner. Then I'll be burning incense and refilling my Plug-Ins.
Rubber gloves photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tilling-67/9061253129/">Rina Pitucci (Tilling 67)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
mop photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joybot/6310522216/">Joybot</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Carpet cleaner photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/williac/1255534528/">williac</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
Saturday, March 29, 2014
After World War II, Kurt returned to Israel. He met a beautiful woman and they started dating. This woman's mother never left the house except to walk to the grocery store. She never rode the bus, never went out socializing. Kurt was working as a bus driver; all the drivers were part owners of the company. He had a small apartment and was trying to save money. After dating for two years, he heard a knock on his apartment door one evening. He thought it was his girlfriend.
"Come in," he called. No one came in. He heard the knock again and answered the door. It was his girlfriend's mother! "What's wrong?" he asked.
"It's been two years," she said. "It is time now." There was his girlfriend's mother, the one who never left the house, telling Kurt to marry her daughter. Kurt hadn't even been thinking of marriage.
A few days later Kurt was with his girlfriend and he told her that the mother had visited. She was angry that her mother had been to his apartment and rushed away. When he saw her next, she told him that she hadn't spoken to her mother since.
"You haven't spoken to your mother?!" Kurt asked incredulously. He drove her back to her house and said, "You go talk to your mother right now!" The women talked and not long after, Kurt married his girlfriend.
Soon after they were married, Kurt received a letter from his cousin who had moved to New York. The letter said that now was a good time for Germans to immigrate to America. Kurt and his wife decided to go. They moved into a tiny apartment on the twelfth floor in New York but did not stay for long. They decided to return to Israel. On their last day in America, Kurt got a green card. As soon as Kurt saw the ship, he said, "I think we're making a terrible mistake." But his wife said, "Our luggage is already on the ship!" So they went back to Israel. Kurt was able to return to his bus driving job because he was part owner of the company. They stayed for a year and a half before returning to America for good. It was good he had gotten a green card because, he said, he would not have been allowed back in the U.S. without it.
Kurt and his wife were married for 63 years. She died of Parkinson's disease last June, just a couple of weeks after they moved to Colorado from Florida. "I don't know if she ever knew we were here [in CO]," Kurt said.
Friday, March 28, 2014
heavy and fragile.
A creak in the floor,
the swooshing heartbeat in my ear,
a whistle in my nose
nearly shattered the silence.
My throat swelled at the thought
of talking, singing, calling out.
I never, ever shouted at monsters to
Even though things lurked under the bed.
Things that would grab a dangling foot
if one should slip over the edge.
I never got out of bed once it was dark.
Except one time.
I gathered up the spring in my legs and
off the bed, far from the edge
landing like a cat--silently--
in the middle of my room.
I had to pass my parents' room to get to the bathroom.
I was sure that I could not pee silently
and that the toilet flushing
would send everyone in the house through the roof.
So I stopped at their bedroom door and tapped quietly.
I had to tell them that I'd be in the bathroom
I did not want to startle them awake.
I got tired, my knees got cold
so I sat on the floor, pulled my large yellow t-shirt over my knees
and kept tapping.
Finally my mom opened the door.
Yes, go to the bathroom, she said.
I flushed real fast and
covered my ears, expecting the house to collapse around me.
I tiptoed through the hallway, into my room;
launched myself back into bed from 3 feet away
dove under the covers
and breathed silently.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
But my most favorite part of motherhood is story time and cuddles just before bed. Before I even knew I wanted to have my own children, I dreamed about having a child sit on my lap, holding a book for us to share. And from the moment we brought Clara home, I've cherished this activity at every nap time and night time.
We've gone through many favorite books. I remember CAT by Matthew Van Fleet with it's movable and tactile parts. We paused so long on each page that I started memorizing the name and breed of each cat featured. I've memorized the text in many books: Cows Can't Fly (David Milgrim), Goodnight Gorilla and 10 Minutes till Bedtime (Peggy Rathman), and the classic Dr. Seuss books Hop on Pop and Cat in the Hat. Clara has memorized and reads Go, Dog. Go! (P.D. Eastman), Zoo Looking (Mem Fox) and Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown). My heart has melted while snuggling up with Clara and Mama's Day (Linda Ashman and Jan Ormerod), or listening to Max read My Dad (Anthony Browne).
Clara's current favorite is the Frog and Toad series. She likes to study the Table of Contents first and choose which chapter(s) to read. We recently attended a school performance of the Frog and Toad musical, which prompted the purchase of the soundtrack that we listen to exclusively during every single car ride.
Tonight I read the chapter called Shiver from Frog and Toad; Max read Alone. Then Clara hugged Max goodnight and snuggled on my lap with the light out. She sucked her finger and twirled her hair.
"I had a great day with you, Mama," she sighed. Wow, I marvel. Today was full of errands, meetings and chores. I am extremely grateful that she cooperated; the day was certainly easier than I had expected and now she says it was a "great day."
"It was a great day, wasn't it?" I whisper. "I think you're fantastic."
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
At this point, I'm not hungry at all. I still feel entirely full from dinner. I feed the cats, finish the dishes in the sink, look over my schedule for tomorrow, shower, and sit down to write. In the back of my mind, I start visualizing cottage cheese and crackers. My mouth waters ever so slightly, but I can ignore it while I write.
About the time I'm done writing, my stomach wakes up. Yeah, I think I'm hungry. Cottage cheese and crackers is the only thing that I want to eat. Not baby carrots--too crunchy. Not a banana--too sweet. I only want cottage cheese and crackers.
Now, as an adult, after the house has quieted for the night, you can find me standing at the kitchen counter eating cottage cheese and Triscuits. No need to dirty any serving spoons or dishes. Just eat directly from the container. I'm sure to eat only a few crackers and quickly put the lid on the cottage cheese. I've got to save it for my daughter, who often eats this for one snack-meal each day. Sometimes, though, I take the lid off again and eat just one more cracker. And sometimes just one more.
Finally satisfied, I can head upstairs to bed, my day complete.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Promised Broken heart
Did you know? "Commitment" is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 254th most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com
Merriam-Webster.com says that "commitment" is a "fast mover: this word increased significantly in lookups over the past seven days."
A few other Top Words in the last 7 days:
Monday, March 24, 2014
Lincoln Town Car photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gridview/11607072363/">Ruud Onos</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014
I saw red today.
brows furrowed, RED.
Deep breaths would not go in.
It's not like I didn't have fair warning:
My preschooler declared Operation No
first thing this morning.
She ripped the strap off my purse.
She screamed and refused
I saw red today.
The kind of fist-clenching, toes-curling RED.
I felt red today,
that sort of fire-breathing dragon red.
Embroidered dragon photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/merwing/6749111607/">merwing✿little dear</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I am a perfectionist.
An introvert, thinker, observer.
Why open my writer's notebook to the world?
Why invite everyone to see my imperfect work?
Writing is fun and easy; blogging is unnatural.
Still after 19 days, it feels brand new.
It exhausts me to live each day constructing a new post.
So why do I do it?
I enjoy this writing community.
I am loyal to my commitments.
If I'm ever going to publish anything, I've got to break out of my shell!
I trust that I'll learn something from this experience by the end of the month.
Why do you do it?
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
She and I were never more than acquaintances, we spoke politely on the phone a few times each year, mostly about the weather or my latest activities. She sent birthday, Christmas and Easter cards, usually with a one dollar bill inside. And this was typical for my extended family. I saw my other grandparents about once every other year. I saw my aunts and uncles maybe half a dozen times in all my life.
Now I see my daughter growing up with SIX grandparents in the Denver area who see her regularly, 2 great-grandparents who live just down the street and an aunt and uncle not far away that we see a few times each year. Wow! There are always plenty of doting adults at all our family gatherings! As a child, I had always wished for that kind of family--big family.
So it's been as an adult that I have seen and felt the joy of family. When Max, Clara and I were heading east this summer, I made it a priority to go a little out of our way to visit my Grandma. She was 93.
Grandma had prayed for me to get pregnant. She cried when we announced our pregnancy. This level of emotion shocked me coming from someone who barely knew me. As Clara got old enough to talk on the phone, she talked to "Great Nana" almost every week during her time with my parents. The extent of their "conversations" was usually a song like The Itsy Bitsy Spider, but Clara "knew" Great Nana and Grandma was extremely touched. She only said to me (the few times we spoke) that she wished she could just "give that girl a hug."
And that's what we did. We arrived at her house on Long Island mid-morning on August 8. Grandma cried when we arrived and gave us all hugs--but especially Clara. We spent three hours with her in her house. We ate pizza (NY pizza!) and then continued on our journey to Maine. After 3 hours, she was noticeably exhausted. She didn't really want us to leave but she had no more energy for us to stay.
|Clara brought one of her paintings for Great Nana.|
Here she is telling Great Nana about it--it contains characters
from the Wizard of Oz.
Three months later, just 2 weeks after her 94th birthday, she passed away. I am eternally grateful that she got to meet Clara. I think her soul and Clara's had a cosmic connection and that belief makes me happy, it brings me strength. Even small, distant families can have some strong ties.
|Antoinette, Susan and Clara|
August 8, 2014
Monday, March 17, 2014
My checker looked up at me and said, "I had cataracts removed and I still can't see!"
"Oh? How long ago did you have the surgery?" I asked, thinking of how my grandma had expected to see clearly immediately following the surgery but instead it took a few days.
"I had it done by Dr. Ball--you know, over at the Aurora Medical Center's south campus--"
"Oh." I know the Aurora Medical Center, I do not know of this doctor.
"Yeah, it's real easy these days. I think the whole thing took about 1 hour."
"Uh-huh." Yup, my mom has had the surgery in the last year or so, my grandma more recently. I start bagging the groceries. The checker finishes with scanning my coupons and I swipe my card. As he hands me my receipt he folds it up and says, "You've got a lot of messages here at the bottom, but nothing too important. Good luck with your surgery! I'm sure you'll like it!"
My surgery? Indeed, my left contact is blurry today and the post-nasal drip happening in the back of my throat is also plugging up my right ear occasionally. I may feel old, but do I look cataract-old?! I just pass right over his comment.
"I'm going to park this cart right here while I collect my daughter from the Easter aisle," I say as I swing my purse over my shoulder. My preschooler had spent the last eight minutes swinging on the patio swing in the middle of the holiday aisle. I hope that it will be many, many years before I'm having cataract surgery!
bell peppers photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pchee/19573313/">Computer Science Geek</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Sunday, March 16, 2014
And that's when things started to go awry. Almost immediately, they smelled like they were burning. I checked on them and they looked fine. Then smoke started coming out of the oven. I looked inside again and still the scones looked fine. I guess we dribbled too much buttermilk on the baking sheets and it was the buttermilk that was burning. A few minutes later, there was more smoke. Again, the scones did not look burned but the house was getting foggy.
"Look at all this steam!" Clara exclaimed. I rushed to open all the windows and doors and turned on the ceiling fan despite the fact that it was below freezing outside. The last thing I needed was for my sound-sensitive daughter and my sleeping husband to be surprised by the smoke alarm.
After 15 minutes, I could tell that the scones were done cooking and immediately removed them from the oven. Ack! -- the bottom of each scone was scorched and now firmly cemented to the baking sheet.
Well, I'll let them cool and see if I can do anything with them, I thought.
It took a knife to pry them off the sheet. Still, the majority of each scone looked perfect. And the nibbles I tasted were delicious.
|They look good, huh?|
I used a steak knife to scrape the charcoal off the bottom. This required an artistic touch because my scones were dry and crumbly. No longer did I have nice pizza-slice scones, but irregular chunks. As I carved and scraped, I wondered about how many other things in life I had tried to repair. I'm sure there are lots of things, especially in the classroom, but I couldn't think of anything specific while holding those scones. I will continue to ponder this and maybe create another post about it.
|Here's some of the carbon I scraped off.|
|My scones are done!|
And then the baking sheets: are they ruined? I scraped and soaked them. I worked up a sweat trying to clean them. They will always have the black spots on them, but I think I got them clean enough.
But still there's doubt and embarrassment in the back of my mind. What if they disintegrate into tiny crumbs during the car ride? What if no one eats them once they've discovered a bit too much carbon? Should I stop at the store and buy something else to take to the brunch?!
|Here is the photo from the recipe. Mine look almost as good...|
Saturday, March 15, 2014
|4 girls in "team" dresses, wearing soft shoes|
But then I was astonished at their hair. Yes, they all had great hair. The four most advanced dancers were at a level of competition in which they were allowed to wear "solo" dresses--which means their dresses were custom made to help them catch the judge's eye in competitions. Not only were their dresses incredibly bright and decorated, their make-up and hair were quite remarkable. The girls in solo dresses all wore wigs that were huge clusters of tight ringlets that bounced up and down as the girls hopped and jumped around the stage.
|The girl in the middle is wearing a "team" dress; the two on the outsides are wearing "solo" dresses and wigs.|
But even the team girls, who wore their natural hair, all had these incredibly beautiful braided buns. I realized that I could have never been an Irish dancer simply because I do not have the hair for it. No, even when my hair was long and I could pull it back into a braid, it would wrap into such a tiny bun that any hair decoration would cover it entirely. And my hair is so silky that I could rarely find a hair band to hold my bun or pony tail securely for very long. I have extremely fine hair. It's like I never got past the baby hair. My hair stylists always tell me that my hair is thick (meaning: I have a lot of it) but it is very fine (meaning: each strand is thin). I don't care about technical terms. I only care that I would have needed a wig the moment I started Irish dancing if I were ever going to look like I belonged there.
|These 4 girls are wearing "team" dresses and "hard" shoes. All of them have way more hair than I do!|
Three Irish dancing girls photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/atbaker/133687803/">AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
4 Irish dancing girls photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billburris/1176285511/">wburris</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Irish dancing skirts photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronnie44052/607113954/">ronnie44052</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Friday, March 14, 2014
Today with students, I...
...helped label a diagram of the WWII German Tiger Tank
...discussed the difference between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks
...advised on the design of a Russian Revolution protest poster
...evaluated presentations on the Space Race, the Wright Brothers and the Battleship Bismarck
...asked for help
...problem-solved how to make wheels of chariots and wheelbarrows actually roll
...sorted piles of junk that served as supplies for models of ancient inventions
...experimented with ways to make stairs for the Great Aztec Temple
German tank photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sisaphus/11484194504/">sisaphus</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Russian Revolution photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/elhamalawy/1820095372/">Hossam el-Hamalawy حسام الحملاوي</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Wire cutters photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamelah/173783575/">jamelah</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
Aztec temple photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ru_boff/7335332138/">Dimitry B</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
Wright brothers photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanderkroew/3707006401/">Euclid vanderKroew</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
moon landing photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/luvi/2327016098/">luvi</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Clara was stirring from her nap, about to join me downstairs.
My stomach was becoming grumbly.
I was working as fast as I could.
A new email message arrived:
"Your AppleID was used to download World War Z"
Now, Apple and itunes and icloud have baffled me for a good long while:
I never log in, I never view an account online,
I don't even know their homepage web address,
I just magically connect to the store (?) through the itunes on my desktop --
The only thing I know is that I did not download World War Z.
I clicked on the link.
The page I landed on was confusing.
Clara wanted me to play with her NOW.
I entered the info but kept looping back to the same page.
I could not find a place to change my password.
Play NOW, Mama!
After talking to Apple Support,
I realized my mistake:
it probably wasn't really Apple contacting me.
I am totally embarrassed.
I knew better than to click on a link in an email,
I knew better than to haphazardly give away a credit card number.
My hands shake, my face turns hot, my heart pounds.
Angry and embarrassed.
And now I've created a mountain from a molehill.
To undo all that,
the list of things to do has grown again.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Now Mr. Jackson did not say the guns were for recreational purposes. I could understand if he said he was an avid hunter. But he spoke only of his need for defense.So I got to wondering about the culture of Paducah, Kentucky. I’ve driven though this city and didn’t feel threatened at all. But I believe I only stopped at a Burger King. Maybe there was more I hadn’t seen. So I checked the crime rate:
Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah photo from http://loneoakfbc.org/whowearehome.html
Shotgun photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/9948354@N08/2527925975/">ILMO JOE</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Clara: Did you take a shower?
Me: No, I’ll take my shower in the morning.
Clara: I take my bath when it’s dark…
Me: Yes, at night.
Clara: When the stars are out…
and the moon…
is singing a lullaby…
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorca/3074227829/">lorca56</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>