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.