Monday, December 19, 2011

Zoolights

We live a short drive away from our local zoo. I bring the boys often and we marvel at the marvelous animals that live there. The thing I love about our zoo is that it is spacious with plenty of room for the animals to roam. My heart pours out to the poor animals that live in cramped spaces, but the wondrous creatures that live at the Point Defiance Zoo seem happy to roam their area.

Every December, the zoo opens up at night for their annual Zoolights. The animals are put to bed and the zoo comes to life like a Christmas tree in motion. This was my first year going and it was a sight to behold.

The zoo doesn't seem very special from the outside. There is a lit up sign stating that the Zoolights are in effect. It's not until you walk through the gates and look out over the hill that you realize the enormity of this "attraction".

I wrangled my little guys hand so I wouldn't lose him and then looked up. I felt myself gasp at the sight before my eyes. The normal green hill was covered in a rainbow of lights. All the trees were lit up and displays flecked the grassy plain.


The area where I've taken my students to eat their lunch was now a winter wonderland.



I watched as one color changed to the next. I began to think of The Wizard of Oz and the horse of a different color. The raven night was lit up for all to see. There was a lit pathway that walked you through the light displays. The pathway was easy to follow, with no room to stray.



Some lights were just displays, tucked into corners and out in the open. My boys went on treasure hunts to see what lit up animals they could find. The lights matched the animals habitats which made it easy for me to guess what would be next. Sounds of "Elephant", "Fox", and "Owl" could be heard screaming from small lips around the park.



Other light displays moved. The anteater above moved from one corner of the field to this light stump. The red speckled ants moved up as the anteater approached. There were displays of fish jumping, eagles swooping in to grab their pray, a cat scurrying up a pole to a bird that flew away, and penguins sliding on the ice.

Statues that permanently reside in the park were highlighted as well. This particular statue has always been one of my favorites and the lights brought more of a meaning to it. A family, gathered together, hands grasped in solidarity....this time, surrounding a fire.


And of course, what display would be complete without a touch of it's home town? The zoo put special touches of home in its display....The Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Mt. Rainer. Both were put in plain sight for all to see.



Zoolights was a memorable night and the start of a very busy weekend. I think that this may need to be a new tradition....at least while we live close to an amazing zoo like this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Licorice

photo   © 2007   Incase , Flickr
It was Wednesday night, and I had just gotten home from printing off the last report card. The boys were at a cookie exchange with their grandma and the house was quiet and calm. I don't get many moments where there aren't boys wrestling, cars driving up my legs, or stuffed animals being shoved in my face. For the next 2 hours, before hockey, I was going to relish in the silence.

I should start this story but making a confession...I have NO willpower when it comes to Red Vine Licorice. Some people have a chocolate weakness but mine comes in red strips...either ribbed or smooth. My TMJ doesn't care for them but it's worth the uncomfort just to down a few as a snack every now and then. Today was no different then any other day. I tiptoed into the kitchen like I normally do, eased open the cabinets, and stealthily took out the bag (no tub this time), I had purchased the multi pack that had the ribbed vines and the smooth ropes. I selfishly grabbed 4 and went to settle in on the couch.

My cat quickly nestled himself into the fold of my lap while my dog salivated for her piece of the red goodness. I had bought the bag a couple of days prior so they were the perfect chewy consistency. I quickly gnawed my way through the first vine and was moving on to my first rope. There are no grips on the ropes so your teeth tend to slide a bit. Getting the right gripe with your canine teeth is the key. The front teeth, like a mouse, don't work half as well as those meat ripping pointers. I carefully placed the rope between my vampire fangs and began to saw back and forth. I could tell that this particular piece was going to be persistent. I put more force into the bite and sawing....only to slip.

CRUNCH!

Oh my goodness, what in world was that? I slid my tongue over my teeth.There was a gritty feeling.  Is that....? As I slowly began to stick out my tongue, my fingers touched a white sliver of something. You have GOT to be kidding me...is that my tooth? Oh yes, in my hand was a layer of my ever precious, licorice gnawing tooth.

I quickly ran to the bathroom to see the damage. The very tip of my ivory tusk was rough and jagged. Thankfully it was just the tip and not a huge chunk. Sitting next to my grade school chipped tooth was now a partner in crime.

Who would have thought that you could chip your own tooth by chewing/gnawing licorice? This was not the way that I planned on celebrating the end of report cards.

Thankfully the dentist was able to polish it down and add a little fluoride....no caps or reconstruction for me. I will have to be a little more careful with my licorice addiction in the future.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Report Cards

I am staring at my report card comments right now....my brain has completely shut down. The ticker that was going across my mind has stopped suddenly. Now what do I do?

"Mama, I love you", whispers a little voice from behind me.

I don't even have to turn around to know who it is. The feet slapping the floor and rustling of pj's gave it away long before his voice made its way to my ear.

"I love you too! What in the world are you doing up?"

"I just wanted to snuggle you and look at our tree."

How do you refuse a request like that? I stopped my comment factory and wrapped my little monkey around my waist. As we traveled down the stairs, I heard all about how excited my little guy is to go to preschool tomorrow. We curled up on the floor together, staring at the lighted tree in our living room. As I looked at my little guy, I couldn't help but smile. I am truly blessed to have such amazing boys. After a few minutes of chats, snuggles, and taking in the tree....we ventured back upstairs. I carefully tucked my baby in, kissed him on the cheek, and promised to say goodbye in the morning before another long day.

"Will you miss me?"

"Always! Good night!"

As my bottom nestled back into the imprint on the chair, my mind did not follow. I could't help but take a moment to treasure that sacred moment. I love my job but I could easily give up this report card thing for more time with my little guys. UGH! Back to the grind stone I go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nerves


photo   © 2008   bottled_void , Flickr
 My stomach is in a knot, my legs won't stop bouncing, and my fingers have been gnawed to a stub status. I have graded papers, check assessments to make sure that I'm managing appropriate intervention groups, and I've analyzed data to make sure that my students are making growth. I have given thanks for the amazing blessings in my life, filled my tummy with turkey and dressing, and have surrounded myself with loved ones. The stress and nerves are still there.

Report cards? Yes, those loom in the near future but they are only a loud blip on my radar.

Holiday craziness? Well, that's a given this time of year but my students are fairly focused.

No....I am being observed.

Bum...Bum bum...BUM....by my peers.

Not once, not twice, but three times tomorrow. I know that I should think of it as a compliment but I can't help but worry that I won't live up to expectations. What if my year off left me in the dust on new teaching techniques. Will they find something useful and helpful in what I do? I have analyzed my lesson plans and have given thought to all the possible things that could happen during each lesson.

Then, I took a step and realized that nothing goes according to plan in the classroom. That's how those teachable moments happen right? We are all very supportive in my building and we all learn and grow from each other. Maybe it's the perfectionist and overachiever in me...but I want everything to run smoothly and to feel like I contribute to others learning because I gleam so much from watching all of them.

I have an amazing principal who works a day into each month for teachers within the building to observe their peers. She calls it Collegial Learning and I have grown as a teacher because of it. I enjoy seeing how other teachers approach their craft, how they set up their rooms, and how they interact with their students. I scribble notes on my note pad, eager to pull every ounce of knowledge from the masters that surround me. But, when it's my turn....my nerves act up and I begin to question how and why I approach things the way I do. The people observing me may learn something, but I am definitely doing some reflecting of my own before and after my lessons.

Tomorrow will be a growing experience for me in many ways. When it is done, I will take a breathe....gather feedback from my peers...reflect...and then begin to stress about report cards. It never ends does it? Thankfully, I love what I do and wouldn't change it for the world. Happy Report Card Season and good luck!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strong Willed and Angry

Night times have been varied in my home lately. They always start the same: snuggle time on the couch, teeth brushed, story read, story turned on, stars on, and kisses follow being tucked in tight. I also say the same words, "I love you! Now don't forget to stay in bed." If only this worked.

While trying to grade papers and catch up on DVRd shows, my ears begins to pick up a different script. Giggles and thumps....is that really what I'm hearing? As I glance up at the clock, my blood pressure begins to rise. I pause the show and quietly tip-toe upstairs. The door is closed but a sliver of light lines the frame of the door. Not only are they up, but they've turned on the light. Brazen? You bet!  I swing open the door and put on my angry mom face. Yes, you know the one, the tear inducing eyes accompanied by the scrunched up nose and turned up lips.

"What are you two doing? Don't you realize that you both have to go to school tomorrow? You're going to be exhausted in the morning. Now GO TO BED!"

Bodies quickly move from one place to the next as they begin to snuggle back in. This is only the beginning of my night.

My body hasn't even made it back into the warm indent of the sofa when the pitter patter of feet begins. That can't be feet, it has to be the rain. I stay perfectly still as I give it another listen. You have GOT to be kidding me. I stomp, yes I am not being quiet any long, stomp my feet up the stairs to find my three-year old standing indignantly in the door way.

"Get your booty in bed!", I demand in the deepest tone I can muster.

"I NOT!", is the reply that is echoed back to me.

Yes, the blood in now boiling as I move my baby from the room he shares with is brother to the playroom (which has a toddler bed in it).

As soon as his body touches the mattress, he springs back up at me. My fair hair, fair skinned child is changing before my eyes. It's as if The Hulk is in my midst. Cheeks begin to turn red and his soft eyes are shooting daggers
.
"You stay here and go to sleep."

As I leave the room, the screaming begins. It varies from night to night. Tonight it's a chorus of "I WILL NOT!" and "MOM MAY!". It's not the mommy that whispers into my ears and makes the corners of my mouth rise. This "mommy" is harsh with an edge that makes your hair stand on end.

After he is worn out, I find my way back up the stairs. As I enter the room, the volume is cranked up but I can see that his swollen eyes are beginning to droop. This is my chance. As I wrap my arms around him, I begin to pull up the covers and explain how much I love him and that sleep is essential right now. The fight is over....sleep has won this time but the battle will be taken up another day.

As I get to the door, I hear a mouse of a squeak. What? "Mommy, I love you!" My icy heart quickly melts away as those 4 words remind me that this is just a blip on the radar of my life. These nights may seem to last forever but they are well worth the love that fills the rest of the day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pride

My parents always stressed the importance in pride when I was growing up. It's important to have pride in your work and to give 110% in everything you do. If you do that, you'll be appreciated for your efforts. I try to teach my students the same thing.

We were taking a reading assessment last week when I was reminded how rewarding pride could be. My class has been working on making predictions and supporting their opinions with evidence from the text. It was time for me to check their progress, so we read a story and then they were asked to make a prediction. Groans reverberated around the room....yes, I was asking them to write. How dare I!

I asked my class to remember 3 things.
1. To use their best handwriting
2. To make sure their capital letters were in the correct place (those pesky D, N, and R seem to pop up in the middle of words in my class)
3. To make sure that they support their predictions with evidence from the story.

Heads were nodding in acknowledgement and pencils began to dance along the tops of papers while Matt Nathanson played in the background.

I have one little girl who always seems to be disheveled. She comes into class with papers hanging out of her folder, her hair dances to it's own tune, and breakfast is usually in one hand with her coat dangling from her fingers. Neatness is not her strong suite but she tries.

Today was this young ladies special day. As the children began to finish their assessment and books began to open around the room, this young lady tugged gently on my sleeve. A crooked smile appeared on her face, her cheeks became rosy, and her eyes began to sparkle. Immediately I knew that this was going to be a special moment. As I looked at her paper, I was able to read every word clearly and there were NO capitals in the middle of her words. This is the first time her paper has been capital free and she knows it.

"This is fabulous! I can tell that you worked super hard on this didn't you?"

Her head began to nod like a bobble head doll, and her smile stretched across her face even wider like the Cheshire Cats.

"I am so proud of your hard work. This looks beautiful!"

"I took pride in my work....and you're write Mrs. G, it does make me feel really good."

What more could I say? I reached my arms around her and gave her a quick squeeze. I love days when you can pass along the joy of having pride in your work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

High fevers, broken bones, and ER trips...Oh My!

Hello everyone,

I am so sorry to have not posting for most of October and the beginning of November. It has been an eventful few weeks. Let me give you just a taste.


It was the Sunday before conference week. You know, the frantic time of year when you are stuffing papers into folders to make conferences run smoothly. I had just tucked my boys into bed and had settled down to grade some last minute writing samples.

Brrrring, Brrrrring (Well actually my phone rings differently, but you get the idea)

My eyes went to the caller ID. It was my hubby calling from NH. I very excitedly answered the phone to find a groggy voice on the other end.

"Hey, I want to start by saying that I'm fine."

Never the way to start a conversation. My heart began to pound it's way up my chest. Panic began to shake my hands as I quickly asked, "What in the world happened?"

"I broke my leg playing hockey. I'm in the ER and it looks like I'll have surgery tomorrow to put the bones back together."

Clean brake through the Tibia and Fibula
Worry, panic, sadness, and finally guilt kicked in. I am in WA and am not able to be by my husband's side while he has his first broken bones and surgery. Yes, you read correctly, my husband has never broken a bone and he is now in the hospital by himself. I quickly run through the list of things that need to be done...who to call, how to arrange for him to get home. I apologized multiple time for not being there and promise to find a way to get there as quickly as I can.

I hang up the phone and begin to make phone calls to his parents and mine. What am I going to do?

As I am pacing the floor downstairs, I begin to hear barking noises coming from the room upstairs. My oldest son must have passed his bark to my 3 year old. I calmly walk upstairs, trying to put my broken husband out of my mind for a moment. I cradle my big baby into my arms and helpless watch as his coughs rattle his chest. Not only is my baby sick, but his asthma is in full effect. As I push syringe fulls of medicine into his mouth, I rock him gently in my arms. Eyes begin to close while his hands grip the Gatorade bottle like a lifesaver. As I inch my way upstairs, his chest continues to rattle. I prop him up in my bed and begin the search for his inhaler. I should clarify that his asthma only seems to be bad when he's sick...so we don't use his inhaler often.

Where is that darn inhaler? I search every inch of the house in vain...it is no where to be found. I will go to the doctor tomorrow to get a refill...it will be OK.

Yeah, I don't think so. I climb into bed only to discover that my son is struggling to breathe. I put Vicks on his chest and stand next to the steaming hot shower so the steam will open up his airway. Nothing seems to help much. When the sun begins to rise, I decide that it's time to visit the ER.

After a quick run into work to prepare for the sub...I am on my way to the ER. As my son is being worked on, my husband is in surgery to get plates and screws put into his leg. Both of my boys are hurting and all I can do it wait on the sidelines.

A few pins and plates later
5 nebulizers, an x-ray, and a few medicines later.....we are on our way home. My poor baby has had pretty hefty asthma attack and has croup. He is in good spirits and is breathing fine so I leave him with my mom and get my 4 conferences out of the way. I need to get them out of the way in case I'll be flying back East soon.

That night, my husband calls to give me the update on his surgery and asks if I will be there tomorrow to bring him home. My heart is breaking as I look at my recovering baby and hear my broken husband on the other end. What am I to do? Thankfully my husband's dad is there visiting for a few days so he will have someone to care for him for a few days. I book a plane tickets for a few days later. I am to leave on Thursday.

Wednesday night comes and I am back in the ER with my baby. This time it's a double ear infection. The plane trip will have to be delayed while I take care of my boy.

The new plane tickets are for Tuesday. One week with my husband while my mom takes care of my boys. Thankfully everyone is feeling well so the trip goes smoothly. My husband is recovering well and both boys are back to normal. The quiet house is now loud and rambunctious again.

As Thanksgiving nears, I am thankful for a family on the mend and hope that it continues.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

There's a seal in my house!


photo   © 2009   thisisbossi , Flickr

Bark! Bark!

The deep, bellowing tone is echoing through my home. I mute the TV and listen carefully. I can hear the snores coming from my dog and the gentle purr of my cat snuggled on my lap.

Bark! Bark!

Is there another dog in my house? Outside maybe? A seal? I move the writing assessments aside, gently slide the cat from my lap, and dodge the dog as I make my way towards the stairs.

Bark! Bark! Sniffle!

Concerned mommy has now taken over. I go from a quiet tip-toe to a full out run as I sprint up the stairs to my son's room.

Bark! Bark! Groan.

"Hey baby, what's up." I gently rest the back of my hand onto his forehead. I quickly pull it away and the concern must show on my face because T asks, "Am I really sick mama?" My hand still tingles from the heat that is being generated from my boy. I could easily fry an egg on his forehead. "Yeah buddy, it looks like you've got a pretty bad one. Come with me."

My 50 lb. son wraps his legs around me and scalds me with his forehead as he rests it on my shoulder. His head must feel like a bowling ball because he can't seem to hold it up.

Bark! Bark!

Warm cider is being warmed in the microwave as I gather up Tylenol, ear thermometer, a cool compress, and some Lifesavers. As I gently slide the thermometer into his ear, T lets out a small grown. His ears are tender but he's trying to be tough...102.7. My heart sinks and I run through everything my mom has taught me. Bring the fever down, cool him off, be strong, and pump fluids into him. As I lay the cool compress on to his forehead, he sighs. "Is it too cold?" "No mama, it feels really good but it's getting warm. Can you cool it off again?"

Bark! Bark!

The night continues as the fever begins to break. Lifesavers were sucked on and several cups of cider and Gatorade were drank.

He is feeling better this morning but his deep bark still sounds painful. I am again reminded how hard it is to be a mom. All I want to do is take his pain away....at least I can be here by his side to snuggle and baby him.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Very Late, Versatile Blogger, Thank You!

Oh my goodness, I am completely honored and humbled by my Versatile Blogger and Blog on Fire nods. I have had a horrible time managing my time since going back to the classroom. I will get into the routine of juggling kids, my classroom, and hopefully become more consistent with my blogging.

    

I am LONG overdue for a thank you to three amazing blogs. Yes, because of my lack of being on the ball, I have gotten 3 nods. Thank you to: Teacherdance, Tammy at Klinger Cafe' and First Grade and Fence Posts (Thank you for the additional Blog on Fire Award), and Deb Frazier at Primary Perspective. I feel so thankful to have stumbled upon this amazing group of bloggers. You have all enrichment my life and made me a better teacher by all the inspiring stories you share.

Ok, so my understanding is that I need to do these three easy steps:

#1 Thank the person (people) who nominated you and provide a link
back to their blog.
#2 Share 7 things about me
#3 Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered.

 7 Things about me
 
1. I don't consider myself a writer. I ran into Two Writing Teachers less than a year ago and thought that their March Slice of Life Challenge would be a great way for me to become a better primary writing teacher. So I jumped in with two feet and have become part of a wonderful writing community. March will be my 1 year blogging anniversary.
 
2. This will be my 7th year of teaching. I started off in Kindergarten and have slowly worked my way up to 3rd grade. I love 3rd grade....the independence and the continued love for their teacher. I watched my first group of kindergartners leave for the Junior High this past year....Yes, I cried!
 
3. I love the look of a beautiful garden but have neither discovered my green thumb or the love of working long hours in the yard. The bad part is that I have these amazing, fruit bearing trees, and don't know what to do with them. Better develop that green thumb soon.
 
4. I am over run by men in my home. I have a military husband, two boys, a male cat, and my female dog (who was more manly then her brother). What's a girl to do?
 
5. I am a lover of all genres of music. It is not unusual to find the boys and I rocking out to some kind of music while we clean. I love when my boys join in while driving in the car. It always puts a smile on my face.
 
6. I am horrible with my writing grammar. I apologize ahead of time for the random commas. My mom always called me the comma queen. Thankfully, I teach young children so I won't be teaching them incorrectly.
 
7. I am a sports lover. I love watching a good game of football and hockey. Thankfully my boys will help keep that love going as they bounce from sport to sport.
 
15 Other Blogs to Check Out
 
There are so many amazing blogs out there that I am yet to find. Here are just a sampling of the ones that I'm constantly going to.
 
1. Two Writing Teachers: Where my blog writing started.
2. A Year of Reading: Introduced me to the blogging world and all the professional development that is out there.
3. Runde's Room: I go to her constantly for art ideas and math journal ideas. A wealth of teacher fun.
4. Create*Teach*Share: Another great teacher website full of ways to enrich learning in the classroom. Her Boggle board is my favorite...my kids love it!
5. Mr. Schu at Watch. Connect. Read: An amazing librarian who shares great book trailers and upcoming books. A dedicated lover of books.
6. Deb Day at Coffee with Chloe: Her dedication to the children in her classroom inspires me daily and always puts tears in my eyes (both sad and joyous).
7. The Classroom Bookshelf: Always has connections on how to expand your teaching of a book. Grade level specific ideas, websites.....she's amazing!
8. Anita Silvey's Book A Day Almanac: The down and dirty behind some new and classic books. I learn something new every day on this blog.
9. Mr. Sharp at sharpread: A talented 4th grade teacher who inspires children with his passion for reading. Always a delight to see what's up his sleeve and what he's read recently.
10. TLC = Tech + Library + Classroom: A great site full of tech resources. I wish that I could have a library at our school like this. Incredible!
11. The Reading Zone: Always has something to either make me think or make me want to read.
12. Ruth Ayers Writes: I've never had the urge to write my own book, but I've enjoyed reading Ruth's journey as she continues to share her writing process. She may be bringing me over to the dark side. :)
13. Need math resources, look no further than Open Wide, Look Inside. I am constantly referring back to this site for snappy ideas to up my math time in the classroom.
14. Shannon Whitney Messenger: An upcoming author who gets me excited about her journey to get her first book published. You can't help by get excited with her.
15. Boy Reader: One of the first few blogs to introduce me to the world of book reviews. I enjoy his quick, concise reviews with a little fun. He rates his books with stars...I love that.
 
So many wonderful blogs to choose from. Thank you to everyone who reads my ramblings and those that leave comments. It means the world to me that people enjoy what I write about. Thank you!
 
 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Glass Blowing

Last weekend, we went glass blowing with my mom, sister-in-law, and niece. It was such a fun experience that I just have to share. My youngest son and I both made pumpkins so you get to see his step-by-step pictures. Here we go....

First, I have to confess that we initially went to make Christmas ornaments for the tree. When we got there, the gentleman led us to a display of choices and colors. We were to pick our glass piece and then choose two colors and how we'd like them made (with a swirl design or with dots). They had vases, bowls, ornaments, globes, pumpkins, apples, Easter eggs...the list was endless. Of course none of us chose to do Christmas ornaments. That will be for another trip.

When blowing glass, the handler must heat a regular chunk of glass and then cool the rod.



The next step is to ensure that your customer can blow on the tube to enlarge the sculpture. As you can see, my bulging cheek son has no problems blowing hot air.

 

Next, the handler rolls the regular glass into the colored glass pieces of your choice. To get the swirl design, they alternate sides on the chunk (blue, pink, blue, pink). To get a dot pattern, like my sons, they swirl the regular glass into one color and then dab the other color randomly around.


After that, the glass is heated in a big cement mixer like container. When near it, it is super hot. I imagine that this is probably one of Hades hobbies. I may need to write Rick Riordan and suggest it for his next Percy Jackson book.


Next, you are asked to blow into the tubing to help begin molding your masterpiece. J had so much fun blowing into the tube and watching the glass expand. He was concentrating hard on his job but had to sneak a peak at his handy work.


After some more heating and manipulating, the pumpkin glass is formed. Now it's time to sit back and watch how the stem is made. What a fascinating thing to watch.



Lastly, you admire your art and give the professionals a high-five!

I would have thought that this was the end of the process, but it wasn't. We had to leave the glass to cool in an oven for almost a week. It's very important that the glass cools down slowly so it doesn't break. We just picked up our finished products this weekend and I couldn't wait to share them with you all. Take a peak at the artists in my family.

My boys, mom, and niece. Aren't they special? I'm a lucky girl.

Maybe you can find a glass blowing near you and give it a try. We sure had fun and will be making a trip again soon. Hmm, I wonder if they can make turkeys?
 
       

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hair Tinsel

I am teaching 3rd grade this year and can't help but find humor in the things that come our of their mouths. I have a group of strong personalities which lead to some entertaining discussions and exhausting days. Here is just a glance into an average day.
I have been trying to use picture books to introduce some CAFE strategies in our classroom. This is very successful if I can just get them to stop blurting out their connections mid-story. They have wonderful things to share but I'd like to actually hear them all.

I was in the middle of an engaging page when one of my sweethearts blurts out:

"Mrs. G, do you have tinsel in your hair?"

Now, for those of you who don't know...tinsel is actually put into peoples hair as decoration. It's actually very cute looking...I have been considering getting them for my 4 year old niece.

I was surprised at this outburst but was not surprised by the mouth it came out of.

"No, I don't have tinsel in my hair...WHY?", I asked with true disbelief in my tone.

"Because you have silver glittery stuff in your hair.", she replied without hesitation.

The light bulb began to glow over my head as my cheeks began to turn a bright shade of crimson. This was not happening to me.

"Oh sweetie", I replied in my sweetest teacher voice, "those would be grey hairs. Grown-ups get those when they have kids and in moments like this." I couldn't help but smile and give a slight giggle at this embarrassing moment.

"Well, it's really glittery!", she replied without an ounce of sarcasm or judgement.

How can you not smile a little? At least she thought these glittery hairs were trendy. Am I missing something?

I went to check out these silver, glittery tinsel strands in my hair during recess. The mirror revealed that they needed to be removed....IMMEDIATELY. Dark hair and "silver tinsel" just don't go together. Maybe I need to trend up a bit and add some red tinsel to my hair...something to ponder.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bump, Crash, Meow!

Scratch.....thump, thump! What in the world is going on?

Since my dog had surgery, I've been holding down the couch at night. She is much better and doesn't really need me there, but I'd hate to missing if she needs me....that, and my couch is super comfy. The downfall is that I hear every creak and crash that occurs in my home. Here's just a taste from last night.

I took Sasha out for her quick potty break before settling in for the night. Blankets are wrapped around my cold tootsies, neck is thoroughly covered up, and eyes are quickly getting heavy. The school year has begun and I've already got the sore throat and headache that seems to follow the start of every year.

CRUNCH! CRUNCH!

Eyes open to find my dog happily grinding her teeth on a rawhide. Eyes close again.

Crunch! Crunch!

Cats turn to chow his food. Eyes close...think happy thoughts of chirping birds and waterfalls.

Scratch! Thump, thump!

Now what? I try to adjust my eyes to the darkness in the room. The dog is softly snoring next to me, all four legs reaching towards the sky, and her front paws twitching. That wasn't the sound. My eyes scan for the cat.....there!

Mow, mow! (think Siamese sounds) SCRATCH!

I slowly ease my body off the couch to get a better look. THWACK! My cat is launching himself at the sliding glass door. Just what I need, a cat with issues. As I get closer, I start to see objects skittering across the glass. Long legged, flying critters are ramming into my sliding glass door. My cat has been trying to attach bugs through the glass like a guard kitty. I am thankful for the bug repellent but wish that he could do his job more like a Navy Seal.

Once again, I settle into my nest on the welcoming couch. Maybe sleep will be in my future...or maybe not.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tree Diver

It was a beautiful sunny weekend in Washington. The pool was uncovered and warming, the sliding glass door was open and a cool breeze was working its way through the screen. I was busily making lunch when I heard my son start to yell "Mama, mama look!" I quickly whipped my head around. "Mama, it's a squirrel...it's a squirrel!" My eyes never seem to focus fast enough but today they were like the automatic focus on my camera.

My eyes blurred from looking at the big picture of my yard to a crisp focus on the branch of our cherry tree. This was not the petite squirrel that our dog had treed several times in the past. This squirrel has been padding himself in preparation for the winter. As he stiffened his body, I watched the branch flex and spring to life. The plump critter flew a foot from one tree branch to the next. Our plum tree is not as sturdy as our cherry and it gave out under the pressure. The fluffy squirrel touched ground on this landing but quickly scurried to his new resting place further up the tree.

I giggled while I watched our new guest. His grace was lacking in his landing....he may have underestimated the strength of our tree's branch. After grooming himself, he worked his way to the ground. My camera skills were not fast enough but I followed him as he inspected the rest of our yard.

Settling under our apple trees, he took a lunch break. All of that bounding from trees must have worked up an appetite.





It's been a long time since we've been able to see wildlife in our backyard. I guess there are perks to having a recovering dog. I'll enjoy these moments for the next few months and then the critters will get their notices....dog back on duty, time to leave the premises.

Monday, August 29, 2011

You'd Never Know


You'd Never Know

You'd never know that she had surgery a week ago.


You'd never know that she tore two ligaments in her knee.


You'd never know that she has an L shaped plate holding her broken bones together.


You'd never know that the six screws allow her to be bionic.



Why?


Because she smiles like she's the happiest she's ever been.


Because she still snaps at her siblings.


Because she flexes her joints like it's a natural part of her being.


Because she moves with the swiftness of an athlete.



Giveaways...


The patches from the IVs.


The shaved patch from her epidural.


The slight limp after a short stint in the yard.


The shaved leg with the furry paw.



This is my husky-doodle...and I'm so happy she's healing quickly.

Notice the furry tip of her shaved leg...my husky-doodle

Happy as can be with her furry brother.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Creamsicle

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that my dog had turned to stone. It was as if Medusa had worked her charm. I quickly made sure that she was breathing and then became curious. I had to find out what had caught her attention. My eyes scanned the yard like a word search puzzle. Birds? Squirrels? Bunnies?

Oh no, her hairs are beginning to raise and her legs are stretching like a sprinter. I began to run towards the screen door...the hairs on my arms raising as well.

                  NO             SASHA!               STOP!

A creamsicle of fur blurred past my vision as my Husky bounded off the deck. I followed, in what felt like slow motion as the events unfolded before my eyes.

The mound of fluff flew down the hill as my dog quickly closed the gap. The grace of the chase caught me by surprise. Please don't let this end terribly.

Sasha's eyes got big as she launched off the rock wall at the bottom of our hill. Did she forget that it as there? (We've only been home for 3 days after being away for a year.)

When her feet touched the ground, a loud howl came from her toes and traveled out her mouth. My heart exploded as I landed by her side. This could not be happening. I closed my eyes to hold in my panic...when I opened them, the creamsicle was melting out of my view.




Update: My pup did not end up breaking her leg like I feared, but did rupture the ligament in her knee. She's preparing for surgery and an 8 week recouping period.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Golden Thieves

Emerald green. sapphire, and gold catch my eye as I soak up the last rays of sun for the day. Why is my ivy sparkling like jewels on a royal crown? My curiosity has gotten the best of me. As I rise from my sunning spot, the jewels begin to flicker...reflecting the precious last beams of light.

What in the world?

Scarab like creatures are cluttered over my mess of ivy. My mind quickly tries to process what it's seeing. I can't help but begin to recite pages from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Visions of hole covered leaves are coming to fruition. These emerald colored beetles are devouring the leaves like a bedtime snack.

My narrow focus begins to widen as I notice the destruction these small creatures have caused. Huge sections of lush, green ivy have transformed into gold-plated, hole covered leaves. My birch tree looks like the seasons have changed over night. The once abundant leaves now litter my lawn.

These thieves in my garden MUST GO! I will miss the beauty of NH but will not miss their crawling critters. Japanese Beetles....Be Gone!

Benny Mazurphoto Flicker© 2005

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Towers

photo   © 2008   Adam Pieniazek , Flickr
Brown towers littered with black graffiti surround me. Like Rapunzel, I am waiting for my prince to rescue me...what's taking him so long?

My eyes search around for that one person who can save me from this horrid tower. My eyes settle on two slate colored eyes peering from behind a blue mound. Could that be him?

"Mama, can I take my ribbit on the airplane? And my bink?", says a dwarf like being.

"Yes sweetheart, but right now we need to pack your toys for Grandpa to bring to WA.", I state in a weary voice.

My daydreams have been interrupted. I feel more like Cinderella...or maybe Boxerella is more appropriate. Broken down cardboard begs to be assembled and toys are vying for their sports in the minimal travel compartments.

Who would have thought that packing the necessities would be so difficult?  So many choices. Yes, the rest of our stuff will arrive in about 5 months, but that's a long time.

Time to get back to the hundreds of books anxious to find their place in a classroom full of eager readers...and a cardboard house that will deliver them to their destination. Back...hang in there, hands...get to work, mind....focus on the task at hand. The end is near.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aquarium

I love animals of all shapes and sizes...always have. I love the furry ones, the scaly ones, and sometimes even the slimy ones. I even like certain bugs as long as they aren't nibbling on me and leaving me with HUGE welts or hives. You would think that I would enjoy places like the zoo and the aquarium...most of the time I do but the aquariums always seem to disappoint. I guess I'm just expecting too much. I want to see a tank full of ferocious sharks, creatures that are bigger then me, and maybe even creatures I've never heard of before.

The boys have been begging to go to the New England Aquarium in Boston. We left the house early for the lengthy drive and tried to follow the GPS through all the one way streets and crazy exits. We became dizzy circling around the parking garage in search of a spot to rest our weary car. When we arrived, iPod's were safely hidden away from peeping eyes, snacks were tucked away in purse compartments, and little bodies bounced like Tigger in anticipation.

When you walk towards the front glass doors of this aquarium, you are greeted by eager worker bees who want to offer pictures, iMax tickets, or booklets. After smiling and working our way through the maze, we were finally into the building. A cool breeze was a welcomed greeting after the sticky mess outside. Crowds of people were gathered along an edge towards the middle of the room. The boys and I inched through mass of people until we were able to find the perfect spot.

What we found were monstrous rocks that housed several different types of birds in tuxedos. T began to jump up and down as he recited facts he had read in his books. J tried his best to climb up to the railing...in hopes of cooling off in the pool with these fascinating creatures. I was expecting a wave of stench since my previous experience with penguins were always the same...but it wasn't bad at all. I stopped for a moment to take in the scene.

My eyes scanned from one edge of the pool to the other. I saw penguins with yellow patches of feathers and some with red flags coming our their ears. Some were gracefully gliding through the water like Olympians. While others launched themselves off of cliffs like daredevils in a competition to win the heart of the closest female. The care providers were scrubbing at rocks and sharing facts about the different breeds. I watched as a cyclone of penguins circled around these humans in search of something to nibble on. I just couldn't get enough of these flightless creatures. Then my eye was drawn to one in particular.

This little guy had me chuckling until my sides began to hurt. My brain knew that he was grooming himself but I couldn't help but think that he had a terrible itch. My dog is blowing her coat right now. HUGE chunks of white fluff are scattered around my floor like bunny tails. When Sasha gets an itchy hair, she'll tug - gnaw- and pull until it is gone. That was exactly what this little guy was doing. He would throw his head high into the sky, shake his body from beak to toe, and then start gnawing at his flipper. The feathers parted like the Red Sea as the sharp beak worked it's way to the root of the problem. This process was repeated a few times until the itch subsided. Then he threw his head back one last time, and gracefully flew through the sky as he descended into the watery depths below. 

The boys decided that they had enough of the penguins and began to circle towards the fish. I pulled my eyes away from my zebra suited friends and was thankful that we made the trip to see our local aquarium.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Apple

What do you think about when I say apple? Do you think of the juicy, crisp, ruby red fruit tumbling from the tree? Or maybe Gwyneth Patrow's daughter's unique name? Or possibly the huge conglomerate that starts their most popular products with a lower case i?

Today I'm thinking about the company who makes the ever popular Mac and i products. iPods and iPads have been super popular in our home this past year. We've also had some interesting adventures that revolved around them...let me start.

Less then a year ago, I eagerly awaited my iPad. I couldn't wait to run my finger across the screen and tap my way into interesting sights while in the comfort of my chair. When it finally arrived, I quickly ran upstairs to plug it into our PC so I could get started. I tapped, flicked, and slid my way across the screen like an experienced figure skater on fresh ice. I bookmarked, loaded music and apps, pictures and email addresses. I could have spent hours playing with my new toy but my body had other plans. I gently placed the new extension of myself on the chair and hustled to use the little girls room. When I returned, I discovered my little man curled up with the silver computer nestled on his knees. My two-year-old was flicking his way through Angry Birds and tapping from one educational app to the next. I stood there mesmerized at the intuition my little guy had. I couldn't help but think about how exciting technology can be in little hands and the possibilities in the future of education.

Fast forward a few months later....I was coming home after another rejuvenating church service and ran upstairs to change. After getting comfy in my ever-so-soft sweats, I settled into my hair and picked up my iPad. What in the world is that? My computer was covered in smears and fingerprints. I gently wiped off the screen and looked again. Is that a scratch on my screen? I rubbed a little more stringently only to find the line still there. I gently ran my finger across the line in hopes that it just needed a little of my oils to move on. NO! There is a HUGE crack across my screen. What in the world happened? My husband ventured down the stairs to find my in complete confusion. What happened to my computer? He looked puzzled and called J down from upstairs.

"Do you know what happened to mommy's computer"

"Yeah, I stomped on it! Like this.", said that little voice as he crushed everything under his stump like limbs.

My face was in complete shock as I looked from him to my computer. "Why?"

"I don't know. I just stomped on it."

I took a deep breathe, realizing that I couldn't change the situation, and explained how that wasn't nice and should never happen again. I curled back up into the chair, tears beginning to rim my eyes as I began to read my mail around the new cracked screen.

Fast forward to yesterday....I have lived with my cracked screen. It isn't pretty but it's workable. I've called the Apple helpline only to find out that fixing the screen would cost $300+. I just can't do that...I could buy a new one for almost that price. My son's iPod Touch had a funky screen and we were asked to bring it to the closest Apple store to see what they could do to fix it. Maybe this would be my chance.

The boys and I loaded into the car and were ready to drive into Maine to get his iPod fixed. I threw my iPad in, just to see if the pricing on the screen had changed. T anxiously bounced in the backseat, eager to have his fingertips sliding across the screen. Our appointment was before the large stores opened in the mall so we worked our way to a side entrance and quickly found the store. The gentleman ran some tests on T's iPod and came back with a new one. Tyler's eyes grew the size of saucers as he looked at the smudge proof screen. He couldn't wait to get home to reload all his games and music. I gently slid my iPad across the table to see if he could perform a miracle on my tool as well. We talked about the joys of having rambunctious boys and how phone customer service can be frustrating. He disappeared into the back of the store and returned with a smirk on his face.


SkinsRit product on Etsy
 "We can replace your iPad as a one time service. Can you re-sync your iPad and return it in the next 7 days?"

Are you kidding me? Um, let me see...YES!!! I thanked the man profusely and quickly rushed home to prepare for a crackless screen. I feel like T yesterday, eager to get back to the store to get my toy fixed. Thank you Apple for being so willing to please your customers...I'm a very happy camper.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Swimming

Swim lessons have been in full swing and my boys are having a blast. I was very worried when we arrived for our first lesson. My oldest son, T, has sensory issues and giving him a bath can be a challenge. Ears must be plugged, front hair line must not go under water, and no water must drip or dribble beyond the eye brows. Thankfully we were given an incredible instructor who shows a balance of patience, understanding, and challenge.

T attempting to get his ear in the water
The pools in NH are all outdoors and the water temperature tends to send goosebumps up your legs. Teeth chattered, heads were shaken back and forth, and hands quickly grabbed for the steps. Once the boys adjusted to the frigid water, they began to have fun. Kick boards, diving sticks, and noodles floated in and out of the pool while they worked on their skills. Sour faces were made and smiles shown depending on the challenges that were present. I sat in awe as I watched T scoop handfuls of water onto his face and hair. He jumped up and down and quickly rubbed at his eyes, but he was getting his face wet. SUCCESS! The corners of my lips began to move and my eyes got moist as I watched my son tackle another hurdle.

J blowing bubbles in the water
There is still plenty of progress to be made. T is gradually leaning back and putting his ears into the water. Nose and mouth bubbles have been blown, and his face continues to get splashed. I sit on the sidelines, trusting that his instructor will push him in the right direction and at a comfortable pace. The sun warms my back and my legs get some color as I watch and distract my little one from joining T in the water. What a perfect summer!

T waiting to jump into the water
As I watch T's instructor and marvel at the perfect balance she gives while I sit on the sideline, I can't help but think about the dynamics in a teacher/family relationship. As parents, we are asked to trust in our child's teacher...that they will find the perfect balance of patience, caring, and challenge for them. As a teacher, were are put in the position to challenge, inspire, and nurture these little bodies (and sometimes big bodies) that fill our rooms. Yet another moment that I stop and think about the importance of my job and why I love it so much.