Monday, August 1, 2011

The Heat Is On!

We hit a record high of 106 today.  I would have liked to be sitting at home in the air conditioning (which I got fixed last week!) but instead I was working on the second floor of a building without air conditioning attempting to put oil based paint on metal door frames. 

I'll be back on the second floor again tomorrow, but I do get a bit of a reprieve.  I'll be leaving mid afternoon to go the the dentist.

Yes, only record high temps and painting in an un-airconditioned building could make me actually look forward to going to the dentist.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Adventures of Summer Continue

I had the opportunity to accompany my mom and the nieces and nephew to a museum today.  While I found the musuem interesting, I had much more fun observing these four characters.

There were many props and dress up items in the musuem.  My crew decided to go outside and pretend to be locked up in jail.

Guess we know who not to call when in need of bail money.

Of course, it's the same child who claims her siblings are all adopted.

Let's face it.  It's always a great day when I get to be around these faces.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bon Voyage Pirates

It's the first evening at home since leaving my pirate friends at the theatre.  The last performance was yesterday.  We had a sold out audience and even had to sell some extra seats.

As much fun as my time on stage was, the behind the scenes moments are my favorites.  The memories and bonding that took place backstage over a plate of Mike and Ikes was worth the countless hours of rehearsal.

We will forever be known as the "Band of Idiots" and will wear the title with pride.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heat Exhaustion

It's official.  I have become a wimp.  After days and days of temperatures in triple digits combined with high humidity, I have reached my breaking point.  I'm tired of showering multiple times a day just to go outside and work up a sweat walking to the car.  I'm tired of breaking a sweat while watering plants and flowers in the early morning hours.  I'm tired of listening to the roar of the air conditioner as it tries in vain to keep the house at a reaonable temperature.

I wasn't always like this.  Growing up, I lived in a house without an air conditioner and thought nothing of it.  My parents very wisely got a family membership to the pool just two blocks away from our house.  While they were at work, I spent my days riding my bike back and forth to the pool where all the stay at home moms and babysitters looked out for all the kids in the neighborhood.  If I was at home and I got too hot, I would go outside and put my head under the hose.

But now, things are different.   These days of high heat have zapped my energy.  All I need is a couple of  "sweat free" days to turn my mood around.  Unforunately, those days do not look like they will be here any time soon. 

So, now I'm off to take the second shower of the day.  I will then head to the theatre to perform two shows under the hot lights.  I predict another two showers before I go to bed tonight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Product vs. Process

Generally speaking, I consider myself to be a creative person.  Unfortunately, my skills don't necessarily live up to my creative potential.  The ideas are there, but something seems to go wrong in the process in of bringing that idea to reality.  As a kindergarten teacher, my lack of ability means nothing to the little people in my life.  They see the beauty in every creation.

So imagine the anxiety I felt when I arrived at theatre camp for 44 first thru sixth graders and was told I was in charge of helping them to create their costumes.  No sewing machine.  No patterns.  No suggestions.  No help from other adults.  Just a tub of fabric scraps, a few pre-made items, scissors, and a bunch of needles and thread.  Oh, and I only had 90 minutes with each group during the week to make it happen.  (Where was my aunt Jolene when I needed her???)

These poor kids!  They looked to me help.  I looked back at them with panic in my eyes.  I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into, but I knew I couldn't let the kids down.  I turned the tables back on them.  What do you want your costume to look like?  Dig into that fabric box and see what inspires you.

They came to me with their ideas.  They wanted vests, shirts, skirts, dresses, belts, headbands, capes, and hats.  I took the scissors and started cutting.  They gave me instructions as to where to cut.  I gave them needles and thread and showed them how to embellish their creations.  They came to me with ideas on how to make it bigger and better.  I helped them when they wanted help and stood aside when the didn't.  They blew me away with their creations.

In the end, we ended up with 44 very happy kids with very creative costumes.  They may have been a little rough around the edges, but the kids were ready to walk the runway with pride in their creations.  It was a reminder to me that it's not the finished product--it's finding enjoyment in the process that matters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On With the Show!

After working behind the scenes for two years, I finally put my fears aside and auditioned for a play.  Shock of all shocks, I was actually cast.  It's a small musical based on a children's book.  It's been a lot of work.  I'm completely exhausted between my summer jobs and rehearsals.  But it's also been an excuse to let my silly side see the light of day again.  I mean, how seriously can you take yourself when you are playing a dog pirate!

Last weekend, the curtain went up on our show after a month of rehearsals.  Oh my, it's an addictive feeling!  Being able not only to perform, but also to interact with kids in the audience who are experiencing their first live theatre.  Hearing the laughter and applause of people of all ages in apprecation of our work.  And most precious of all, having small children approach me asking for "Scurvy Dog's" autograph.

I have four more performances this weekend.  I will sing and dance and act and enjoy every moment of it.  And on Monday, I'll wish it all hadn't ended so soon.

Friday, July 1, 2011

As Seen on TV

I haven't exactly lived up to my hopes of posting on a more regular basis this summer.  I like to think I've been out finding new stories to share with you. 

Earlier this summer, my niece and I took an unplanned shopping trip.  She was having a particularly difficult day and just needed to get away.  Neither one of us were particularly interested in purchasing anything.  We were more interested in finding things to make us giggle.  The titles in the book aisle were a good source.  So was the board game aisle.  But our shopping trip became serious when we found this:

That's right ladies and gentlemen!  It's the infamous item advertised on television to keep your snacks from spilling.  We grabbed it off the shelf and knew it had to become ours.  Before we had made it to the checkout, we had already come up with at least a dozen uses for this item. 

We spent the next 45 minutes testing the product, finding new uses, creating our own commercial, and laughing ourselves silly.  (It was also reported that she was the hit of the softball team the next day.)

I guess the advertisers forgot to mention the product's power to produce giggles!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

At Last!

It's been two weeks since I've been out of school.  While things have been a little slower, today was the first day I truly felt relaxed.  Despite it heat and humidity, I sat out on my deck and actually read an entire magazine from cover to cover.  It was dated October 2010 so I'm a bit behind on my reading, but it was enjoyable none the less.

And look who stopped by....

Just another piece of photographic evidence for those who don't believe in my albino bunny friend.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Family Mysteries

I've been absent for a bit.  The end of kindergarten took a bit bigger toll on me due to the attachment I formed with this particular group.  But summer is here.  While it seems to be filling up quickly, I'm looking forward to a little time to reconnect with all those things I love besides my job.

Last weekend, I was able to spend time with my mother and two of her sisters.  It's always great to spend time with them.  We went to the cemetary where my grandfather is buried.  It was the first time I had been back since my grandfather's funeral.  Right next to my grandfather's gravemarker were the gravemarkers of my great-grandparents.  Looking at the date, I realized my great-grandfather had been alive for the first three years of my life.  I couldn't help but wonder, what did he think?  Did he know me?  Was I someone he thought of or talked about?  It seems so strange to be a small part of this man's life when  have no recollection of him.

And then, I thought of my 6 year old niece.  She was a baby when my grandfather (her great-grandfather) past away.  We took her to see him in the nursing home.  We introduced her to her great-grandfather.  Although he was no longer speaking when this little blonde haired, brown eyed beauty entered his world, I like to think he knew.  He spoke so few words in his life, but he was oh so proud of his family.  I would like to think the birth of another little girl added more joy to his big, silent heart.

Some things will always be a mystery, but that doesn't mean I can't add my "happily ever after" twist to them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Albino Bunny

This is my friend, Albino Bunny.  He is a little camera shy, so it may be difficult to truly appreciate his coloring.  Trust me, he is not like the little brown bunnies in my neighborhood.

Last spring, I discovered I had moved into a bunny friendly environment.  The rabbits were everywhere all the time. I even had to step in and save baby bunnies from the neighbor's cat once in awhile. 

And then I met Albino Bunny.  At first, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Here was this one bunny with more white to his coloring than brown.  He was rarely with other bunnies.  He seemed to choose to show up alone.  He never bothered the garden areas.  I stuck to the patch of clover instead.  He became a fixture for me.

Well, my friend is back.  Most mornings, he is out feeding in the yard when I leave for work.  The sound of the garage door and the car pulling down the driveway doesn't seem to startle him.  He simply continues feeding.  He returns most evenings to say goodnight as he feasts on his bedtime snack. 

I just hope he continues to keep me company for many years to come.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Mystery of the Garage

For years and years and years, I lived in a little basement apartment.  I was okay with the home I had made for myself, but oh how I missed the opportunity to be outside!  Now that I have a house with an actual yard, I am overcome with joy.  The ability to be outside in the yard fills me with such happiness that I don't even mind mowing. 

But I've noticed a trend in my neighborhood.  These people with yards much nicer than mine spend all their time in their garages!  They open the doors, pull out the lawn chairs and sit in their garages.  One neighbor actually has a recliner and a couch in their garage for family gatherings.  I just don't get it!

I tried to rationalize this lifestyle.  Was it too hot outside?  No, it was a lovely 75 degrees yesterday.  Were they worried about damaging their prestine yards?  They have decks and patios and even driveways.  Do they enjoy watching the cars go by?  I live at the end of a cul-de-sac.  I can count the number of cars driving by in a day on a single hand.  I just don't get it!

If anyone out there can shed some light on this subject, I would sure appreciate it.  In the meantime, I'll be out cleaning the garage.  (If this sitting in the garage thing becomes a neighborhood rule, I'm going to need to do some decluttering!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love You More!

One day at circle time, this conversation took place:

Student:  We love you!

Me:  I love you, too!

Student:  But we love you more!

Me:  That's so nice of you to say, but I think I love you more.

Since then, it's been a lovefest in kindergarten.  Each day, they present me with new reasons why they love me more than I love them.  They tell me the love me more than recess, more than ice cream, more than all the chocolate chip cookies in the world. 

We become a big family during kindergarten.  We spend the majority of our days together.  We have experiences and inside jokes that belong to us.  They bond us together.  Sure, there are times when we fuss and argue, but we also take care of each other.

And now my little ones are in their final month of school.  It's that time of year when I wish I could just slow time down.  There are still so many things I want to teach them.  There are so many more stories for them to tell me.  There are still so many experiences for us to share.  We need more time.

But I can't slow time down.  For now, I'll do my best to fill their final kindergarten days with as much learning, fun and happiness as possible.  And when that final day arrives, I'll be the one at the door quietly whispering, "I love you more!"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Garden Therapy

Yesterday, we moved my grandma into a nursing home.

She had been in assisted living.  She knew this move was going to happen.  She had seen the room she was moving to.  The dementia made her forget.

I sat their holding her hands, sharing her tears, trying to make her understand.  Trying to make things okay for her.  Trying to make things okay for my own mother as she tried to take care of her mother. 

We found things to smile about.  The bathtub she loves.  Discussions on spunkiness.  A visiting dog.  The picture of her with her five daughters.  She seemed to calm down and relax a little.

I went back today.  I saw her in clean clothes, sitting in the main room, still confused, but not agitated.  We talked for a bit and then she sent me away. 

It's been a tough couple of days.  Wishing I could do more, but knowing I'm doing all I can.  Knowing she is confused, but knowing she is safe and being well cared for.

So I came home and planted twenty dollars worth of flowers into the ground.  I know it's too early.  There's still a good chance of a final frost.  But the time spent playing in the dirt and calming my own mind is well worth the twenty dollars I'll have to respend to replant those flowers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Admitting Is the First Step, Right?

I'll admit it.  I am a control freak.  It's not that everything needs to be done my way.  It just needs to be done correctly, preferably on my time schedule. 

I've reached a point where I can finally admit I can't do everything by myself.  Oh, it's so hard for me to admit that.  It actually pains me to admit that.  Let's not dwell on this admission too long or I may reconsider.

With new recognition comes a new challenge--delagation.  I have to be okay with other people being responsible.  More importantly, I have to trust that all will be okay in the end.

I took my first steps towards delagation this week.  I passed two tasks to two different individuals. 

In the first case, I kept checking with other people to see if the task had been accomplished.  It did get done eventually, but all the waiting made me anxious!

The second situation was a bit easier for me to handle.  This person sent me text messages looking for my input and actual photos for my approval.  It was quite a relief after my earlier experience.

So much for me releasing my need for control.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Super Aunt Saturday

Things are more than a bit hectic in this neck of the woods, but I took a break on Saturday to play Super Aunt.  The nieces and the nephew had various activities going on and I was determined to get to as many as possible.

The day began at 10 am with the two little cuties pictured above on the soccer field.  Despite being different ages, they managed to be on the same team.  Lucky me!

At 11 am, it was off to another soccer field to see The Nephew in his game.  He had a double header, but I only stayed for the first game. (Bad Aunt!)

Niece #1 had to get to her softball tournament with her mother and The Nephew had baseball practice after his games with his father.  I opted to take Nieces #2 and #3 with me after the first game of the double header to make life a little less complicated for their parents.

The afternoon was spent doing the things Nieces #2 and #3 enjoy:  lunch out, shoe shopping, and ice cream.  Then it was off to the softball portion of our day.

Niece #1 played the first of three softball games at 3:00.  (Did I mention she had played soccer earlier that morning and had track practice the day before???) 

I had accomplished something that had never been done before.  I had managed to attend a game for all my nieces and my nephew in a single day!  Under our family rules, I would have fulfilled my aunt responsibilities for the entire season.  But this was not enough for Super Aunt.  Oh no!  I went back for the 6:00 and 7:30 softball games as well.

My day ended at 9:00.  I was tired, a little sunburned and WAY behind on my weekend chores.  But, I had managed to spend time with four of the people I love most in the world.  I got hugs and smiles from every one of them.  I got a little glimpse into their worlds.  Best of all, I got all to rare treat of holding my favorite six year old for almost an hour as she fell asleep on my lap. 

Next on the list, the t-ball, baseball, and track. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Teachers Say the Funniest Things

Here are a few comments I found myself saying in my classroom today.

"If it hurts, stop doing it!"

"Hiding my keys is not acceptable behavior."

"No, you may not ask the men across the street for a ladder so you can get on the roof."

"No, you can't be a dog until after snacktime."

"No, we are not getting a hot tub for the classroom."

"Beer is not an appropriate conversation for center time."

And today was a good day!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It Worked!

Joy and happiness have returned.  The sun has taken its place of honor high up in the sky for two days in a row.  I spent most of Friday morning sitting in a sunny spot in my classroom playing games with my kindergartners.  I really can't ask for a better way to spend a day at work.

And now, everyone is happy.  I have the sun back and you no longer have to hear me complain about its absence.  It's a win-win situation.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Plan B

You guessed it.  No sun again.  To make matters worse, it was rainy most of the day preventing the kids and I from going outside. 

Time for Plan B.

I now have many little suns made by my own little sunshines decorating the walls of my classroom. 

And if this doesn't work, I have Plan C waiting in the wings.  Anyone else familiar with the poem "Sunflakes?"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It Ain't Gonna Shine No More, No More!

We are on day eight of no sun here in my part of the country.  Eight days of cloudy, gray, overcast skies.  It's getting pretty old.

If any of you have a few extra rays you can send this way, I would certainly appreciate it.  Otherwise, I will be forced to resort to Plan B which involves kindergartners and a lot of yellow paint.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Couple of Things I Find Baffling

Spring Break on the Hill continues.  The lack of funds has given me a great deal of time to think.  Despite all the things I could be thinking about, this is the best I've got.

On Monday, I went to the home improvement store to actually buy dirt for my garden.  Today, I spent hours trying to get dirt out of my house.  Anyone else find this to be a strange irony?

I have spent the past couple of days cooking yummy meals.  I now have a fridge full of food.  Apparently, actually cooking food causes me to lose my appetite.  It makes no sense!  Perhaps it will be the latest diet crazy to hit the nation and I will earn big bucks to pay for all the food that doesn't get eaten.

There are other thoughts, but I think I've given you enough to ponder for now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Library Books

I spent some time at school today in an attempt to get things organized for next week.  The kids and I will be taking a trip around the world next week through books as we continue to explore character and setting.  I have copies of many of the books on my bookshelf at home, but I opted to use copies from the school library.

Growing up, I loved library books.  I loved walking into the children's section and smelling that in describable smell.  All those spines standing upright were adventures waiting for me to discover.  Sure, I had books at home, but I had already read them all.  I would revisit them, but at the library had so many new stories waiting for me.

The kids in my class love stories just as much as I did, but I have found that the library doesn't hold quite the same magic that it did for me.  They are accustom to the brightly colored covers they see in the book stores, not the dull imitation they find on the cover of the books.  In a world where everyone is looking for the latest new thing, they associate library books things that are old.

But I am working to change this.  It started with the book Tacky the Penguin.  My copy is an old library book that was discarded.  When it was put on the shelf initially, no one bothered to pick it up.  But once I read it (complete with "the voices"), it became one of the most popular books.  They love the story and make me read it constantly.  A book that was already in rather sad shape looks pretty beat up on the shelf next to the brightly colored paperback, but it is one of the most loved books.

So next week, we will only be using books from the school library.  Some of the stories will be older.  Some will be newer.  But they will all be books the kids will have access to every Tuesday when they travel upstairs to the room full of books.  Maybe by introducing them to more of the stories in the dull covered books they will see that the true magic is not on the outside, but waiting on the pages within.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How I Spent My Spring Break--Day 2

I know you have been waiting in eager anticipation to see what Day 2 had in store.  Today was the day I tackled Mount Laundry!

Living alone with an extra bedroom is a very dangerous thing.  I have found that the guest room doubles as a laundry holding tank.  The clothes seem to go straight from the dryer to the daybed where it remains behind a closed door until
 a.) I need to wear the item
 b.) company comes over
 c.) I just can't take it anymore!

Today was Option C.  I relocated the mountain from the guest room to the dining room table where it could no longer be denied. 

Now, bear in mind that these were only the items that had been neglected for previous days/weeks.  As I was folding, I was also doing three more loads.  Each time I would get everything folded, more clothes came to take their place.

It was a daunting task, but I kept at it.  At last, it was all folded.  Then came the next challenge--putting it all away.  The temptation to take the folded items back to the guest room was strong, but I held my ground.  I would find the proper place for each and every item.  No shortcuts today.  I even rearranged some closets and drawers as I went.

Finally, I was left with an empty dining room table and an empty guest room.  Ahhhh...another successful day. 

Happy Birthday

Thirteen years ago, this little beauty entered our world.

She showed up with those big blue eyes and that wispy blonde hair and immediately stole our hearts.

She was first.  She was the first daughter, grandchild, great-grandchild and niece.  She had our full and undivided attention.  We were in awe of this incredible little being.  Every experience was new and exciting.  Every milestone a celebration. 

Now, she's thirteen.  She has grown into this unbelievable person.  She's a smart, gracious, creative, athletic, caring, beautiful person.  Other children have joined the family, but she is still first.  We are still in awe of her as we watch from the sidelines as she continues to change and grow.

So on this special birthday, I have three wishes for my niece.  May she always find joy and happiness in each and every day.  May she have the wisdom and courage to handle the challenges of life.  May she always know who she is and how much she is loved.

So Happy Birthday, my favorite blue eyed person!  No one loves you like I do!

Monday, March 21, 2011

How I Spent My Spring Break--Day 1

Spring Break has arrived.  Most people I know have abandoned town in search of more exotic and interesting locations.  Due to the fact that I'm broke, I'll be spending an adventurous week in my little house on the hill. 

Today's adventure involved the front yard.  I decided it was time to pull up the landscape ties.  It was a rather spontanous decision.  Something about the sun being out and the promises of temperatures near 80.

While the decision was spontaneous, you can see that it was also necessary.  The pieces of wood were falling part.

Once I got everything up, I had to put something else down.  It was off to the home improvement store.  (I would end up there four times today.)  Now, my mother has always told me,  "It's okay to spend money if it's going to improve your quality of life--just don't go overboard."   I kept these words in mind as I purchased 48 feet of metal edging.  I also bought a rubber mallet.  (Dad will be so disappointed he missed an opportunity to buy a tool for his daughter!)

I have no previous experience at completing such a project, but I was determined.  I even created a new arc that was not included in the previous design.

When all was said and done, I had a better looking area, but more importantly, I had a sense of accomplishment.  That special sense of accomplishment that comes from trying something you've never done before.  It wasn't a big task and it's far from perfect, but it's better than when I woke up this morning.  And I did it all by myself.

The next challenge will be to decide what to actually do with the area.  Do I leave the rock or switch it to a nice dark mulch?  Wood mulch or rubber mulch?  Flowers in the ground or contain planting?  Suggestions (and donations) are welcome. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Picture Time

Today was our faculty retreat.  During our break time, my camera and I went exploring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


As my kids were preparing to do their seatwork, the following conversation was had:

Student 1:  Hey!  You sharpened the pencils!

Me:  Yes I did.

Student 2:  You're my hero!

I even let them have pencils with erasers!  I know, I know.  I'm far too good to my students!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Sometimes, it feels like people don't really hear what you are trying to say.  No matter how you phrase it, the thought in your head just doesn't seem to translate to what actually comes out of your mouth.  The person on the other side of the conversation interprets your words with a meaning that is completely foreign to you.  You keep trying, but you have now become so defensive in your quest for understanding that it seems impossible.  You feel defeated and frustrated.

But, maybe understanding isn't what you really need.  Maybe the point you are trying to make isn't really the goal.  Maybe it's enough to release those words into world, not in a quest for understanding and acceptance from others, but to find understanding and acceptance in yourself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Week in Review

It is the end of a very long week.  Let's take a look at all that was accomplished.

1.  The four month old stack of papers were finally shredded and removed from the floor of my office.

2.  All my laundry was not only done, but folded AND put away within a 24 hour period.

3.  My friends Pain and Pressure finally decided to leave my head.

4.  One school yearbook was completed.

5.  Preparations were made for one school musical. 

6. 34 kindergartners managed to say "please" and "thank you" for an entire day.

7.  The tears of two little girls were replaced with smiles with the wave of a magic wand.  (Literally.)

8.  One little boy read his first book all by himself.

9.  One kindergarten teacher received about a million hugs.

All in all, I would say it has been a very successful week.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Touch of Elegance

At the beginning of the school year, it's me and a room full of kids.  All those anxious little faces look at me with tremendous curiosity and perhaps even a bit of fear.  They are excited to be in this place they have heard so much about, but are not quite sure what to do or what to expect.  It is my job to make them feel welcome, loved, and comfortable.

Around February, it becomes apparent that I have done my job quite well.  They do feel welcome.  They do feel loved.  They do feel comfortable.  Perhaps a bit too comfortable.  (Let's face it--they are ready to complete take over the entire school!)  That's when it's time to bring them back to reality.  It's time for the Elegant Party.

For the week prior to the party, we focus on manners.  We read books.  We have discussions.  We do projects.  We even practice.  We learn that manners are how we show the world we care about them and their feelings.  Suddenly, there are a lot more "pleases" and "thank yous" floating around the room.  There's more assistance during clean up times and more door being held open.  Tattling is replaced with reports of the good manners they see in each other. 

And, finally, the day of the party arrives.  They come dressed up in their "elegant" clothing and sit at their "elegant" table to demonstrate their "elegant" manners.  Some even demonstrate their "elegant" dancing skills.  They laugh and giggle, but they are also polite and sweet.  It is one of my most favorite days of the year.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that this party will change their behaviors for the rest of the school year, but maybe--just maybe--they'll remember a please or thank you every now and then.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pain and Pressure

My friends call me the human barometer.  I can usually tell you the arrival of a warm or cold front within five minutes of its arrival.  My friends Pain and Pressure enter my head.  They bring with them their suitcases and proceed to make themselves comfortable.  After dealing with these two for years and years, we have reached an understanding.  Pain and Pressure are allowed let their presence be known for a day or two, but agree to downplay the need to completely disrupt my life.  Lately, they have been overstaying their welcome.

Unfortunately, I live in a part of the country where changing weather happens frequently.  My friends Pain and Pressure have been with me for two solid weeks.  When I wake up in the morning, there they are.  When I go to bed at night, they are still there. To make matters worse, they have been joining me at work where they don't necessarily get along with the 33 children in my life.  

So it's now time to issue an ultimatium to my friends Pain and Pressure.  It's either time to leave or time to start paying rent!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ice Cream

Life has a funny way of taking over.  As adults, we all become so consumed by the responsibilities of life that we forget the incredible joy lurking in the little things.  Take ice cream, for example.  Remember when a cup of ice cream cream had this kind of effect:

Of course, being able to sit next to this little person in this moment tends to bring on a whole different kind of joy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Made with Love

From the day I was born, my grandmother made things for me.  She made dresses, afghans, Christmas stockings, sweaters, slippers and even doll clothes for me.  If the head of my favorite doll was coming away from it's body, Grandma fixed it.  If I decided less than a week before the school dance that I wanted to go, Grandma sew up a custom dress in my favorite color. If I needed six mini aprons made for my class, Grandma made it happen.  In my mind, there wasn't anything she couldn't do.

Eventually, Grandma's eyes made it harder and harder for her to make the things she loved for the people she loved.  I began to fear that each handmade item would be the last one I would receive from her.  That day finally came.  It was almost as hard on me as it was on her. 

Now, those items that brought joy to me can bring joy to others.  I recently pulled out the aprons she made for my class to use for cooking projects.  The kids were so excited to have aprons that were their size.  When I shared that my grandmother made them, one little girl said, "Your grandma did a good job!  These are very comfy and comfy is good!"

I am fortunate to have so many of her handmade items, particularly those that allow me to wrap myself in the warmth of her love on cold winter days. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Are You Feeling Today?

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Florida with some friends.  These little fellows accompanied me on my return trip and quickly found a new home on top of the pink fridge in my classroom.
People who see them think of them as little more than decorations for the kids to enjoy.  The truth is, they are my mood regulators.  Each day, I move the character that most closely resembles my current mood to the middle.  Most characters are perfectly acceptable, but there are days when Grumpy takes center stage.

Grumpy and small children are not exactly a good combination.  I try to change the lead character, but really, the kids do it for me.  Without even trying, they can often bring Happy back into the spotlight.  Something they say or a look they may give me usually has me laughing or smiling within five minutes of their arrival.  How lucky I am to have constant sources of happiness all around me every day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scenes from Behind the Scenes

It's time for another tour of duty at the theater.  There is very little that actually needs to be done during the show, so I played with my camera a little bit backstage.

And just to give you a glimpse as to how important I am at the theatre,  here is what I'm responsible for during the second act.

Oh, the power!

Family Bonds

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend time with my mother and her sister who was visiting from California.

My mother has four sisters.  They all grew up and moved to various places all over the country.  All of them except my mother.  She remained close to her parents and the place she grew up.  Her decision to stay close to home gave my brother and I the opportunity to get to know our aunts and their families.  Each time one of the aunts would come to visit their parents, we would tag along and get little glimpses into their lives.

As I grew up, my perspective of these women changed.  Somewhere along the way, they went from being random visitors to being real people who I enjoyed spending time with.  Listening to their stories of being directionally challenged, hearing the familiar grunts they make as they move, seeing their competitive nature during games, and watching them interact with each other as if no time has passed is a unique experience.  Sure, their antics may be borderline embarrassing, but it is a gift to be around them.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Remember that feeling you got when you woke up on those cold winter mornings only to find out that school had been cancelled.  The advantage of being a teacher means you get to relive that feeling from childhood as an adult.  While shoveling six inches of snow from my driveway was less than fun, sitting inside with my hot chocolate and watching the birds made up for it.

These little tracks were left right by my door.

Many birds perched in nearby trees waiting for their turn at the feeders.

 The cardinals really made a statement against the snow.

Colorful Endings

I walked into my bedroom the other evening to but away some laundry and was greeted by these beautiful colors in the sky. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Heart of a Home

I had always heard that the kitchen is the heart of a home.  Having lived in a basement apartment for more than 10 years, I had trouble believing this.  My kitchen was so small that there was barely room for me let alone a guest.  And then I moved into a house with this kitchen:

Suddenly, I had so much room I didn't know what to do.  But it all became clear one snow day last winter.  School had been cancelled and I realized I finally had room to bake cookies with my three nieces and my nephew.  Much to my amazement, it was the first time any of them had made cookies that didn't come in a plastic wrapper.  We mixed and scooped and baked several sheets full of cookies.  When they were done, we all gathered around the counter with our milk and cookies as I listened to the chatter of things that are important to kids between the ages of three and nine.

I knew moving into a house was going to be a big change for me, but changes like these are the ones that tend to sneak up on me.  They are the ones involve turning my house into a home.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tough Choices

Last summer, I rediscovered my love of swimming.  It felt so good to be in the pool swimming laps that I soon developed a routine of going at least twice a week, if not more.  All was well and happy. 

And then, school started up again.  Suddenly, I was forced to be back on a schedule that required the use of clocks in my life.  It was horrible!  What was worse, the only way I was going to get my precious swim times in was to, gasp, go in the early morning!

My entire family will tell you I am not a morning person. Sleep is very important.  I see no reason why I should be forced out of my cozy bed before the sun is high enough in the sky to greet me.  I do it because I have to, but I don't have to like it. 

And so, I was now face with a choice between two of my favorite activities.  Do I get up early and swim or do I allow myself an extra hour of rest?  It was a tough choice, but I eventually decided to swim.

So, now you will find me at six am two days a week in lane five of the local pool.  I'll be the one with the sunflower flip flops trying to figure out how to sleep and swim a the same time.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Memories--Rather Late

I love Christmas!  I love the decorations, the lights, the packages, and even the craziness often associated with the time of year.  This year, I went a little overboard decorating my house.  I collected a variety of unique items that I places in various places throughout my house for my own enjoyment.  But, with all the decorations I have, this is my favorite one:

It's a simple picture of me with my brother and grandpa out on his farm looking for a Christmas tree.  I don't remember the event, but the picture reminds me of many Christmases that would take place after this picture was taken.

My grandpa was a very sweet and quiet man.  He didn't say much, but let my brother and I know how much he cared about us with ice cream cones on Sundays, tractor rides on the farm and Whitman Samplers at Christmas. 

One year around Christmas, Grandpa came to my house with a real tree in the trunk of his car just for me.  It wasn't exactly the well trimmed tree that one would find at a tree farm, but it was the best tree ever in my eyes.  He helped me set it up right in the front of the living room window.  My grandma then took me out to buy lights and cheap icicle strands.  I was a very happy girl.

My mother, who arrived home later, was not exactly thrilled with the large decorated bush in her living room.  (After all, we had a perfectly fine artificial tree in the family room carefully decorated with blue lights, red bows and white ornaments.)  But, there was little doubt in my mind that the tree was there to stay.  After all, how could she tell her father no.

For the next few years, the tradition continued.  He would arrive with my own personal Christmas tree.  My mother admitted defeat and even helped us place the tree in it's place of honor.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.  After all, how many girls get their own personal Christmas trees.

Being my grandpa's granddaughter, I'm not sure I ever really let him know how much those trees really meant to me, but I'm convinced he knew.  We still never talked much, but those trees seemed change our relationship.  Special little gifts, cards, and even handwritten letters would appear randomly through the years. 

So, every year, when I pull out the simple picture in its green wooden frame, I am greeted by a flood of memories of the most important man in my life.  A man who said few words, but spoke volumes.  I am so lucky to have had him for my grandfather.