Wednesday, November 13, 2013


This fall we had a fun visit with the cousins.  It was during the government shutdown, so instead of visiting museums in DC, the kids had fun with general mayhem down in the basement.

Meanwhile Blossom "helped" Jack with his homework...
No fancy plans--just good company, general silliness and lots of ice cream...
and of course, plenty of cousin cuteness...
just the way we like it.  Come back soon!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Crying

I spent today crying.  Happy, sad, cathartic...a whole week's worth of craziness released in sobs and sniffles.

To catch you up on my week, on Sunday I found out I had lice.  I found this out when a bug fell out of my head.  I teach in an elementary school, so it is probably a small miracle that this was my first (and hopefully last?) bout with the little critters.  I spent most of Sunday afternoon sitting on my toilet with my hair sealed in lice-killing shampoo beneath my shower cap. 

Monday I spent the day sitting at my desk talking to parents.  I don't mind parent-teacher conferences, but they are emotionally draining.  I know, from the parent's perspective, it is important to feel my children are in the right hands.  So, I have to be "on" all day, answering questions, calming anxious feelings, explaining a quarter's worth of progress in 20 short minutes per family multiplied by 22 families. 

Tuesday I had a dentist appointment.  Yes, those of you who know me know that dentists are one of my anxiety triggers.  Luckily, I have a wonderful hygienist named Diane who is very soothing and helpful.  Unfortunately, when I showed up on Tuesday, Diane was not there.  I ended up having a panic attack with a different hygienist (who, I will say, was also wonderful and did not make me feel like a total freak when I burst into tears at the mention of "panoramic x-ray."  I'm pretty sure they put a note in my permanent record, though, and will give Diane a raise when she gets back.)

By Wednesday I was feeling pretty run down and started feeling downright awful.  I knew I was going to have to call in sick when I lost my voice.  Pretty much essential for teaching.

Whew, so you are all caught up.  Today is Thursday and I did, indeed, call in sick.  I spent the morning in bed reading Wonder and drinking hot tea.  It was such a good book and I won't spoil it for you but I spent the last quarter of the book crying my eyes out. 

The thing is, I didn't feel sad all day.  The crying was more an appreciation for my life--my beautiful, wonderful, crazy, imperfect life--and all the wonderful people who love me.  In the book Wonder, one of the characters plays Emily in Thorton Wilder's play "Our Town." In one of the final scenes, she says,  "Good-by to clocks ticking and Mama's sunflowers.  And food and coffee.  And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up.  Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you!"

That's the way I'm feeling today.  Life is complicated and messy and, yes, sometimes difficult.  But it is also too wonderful for anybody to realize.  That's what makes it so amazing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Congratulations, You Bought A Horse

My friend Alison just bought a horse.  I checked the Hallmark section for the "Congratulations, You Bought a Horse!" cards but I think they were out.  Alison invited me to the barn to meet the newest member of her family.

Meeting Blackjack for the first time.  Can I live here too?
You may be wondering how one goes about buying a horse.  Alison began by taking riding lessons.  After a while, she decided to lease one of the horses at the barn and then she fell in love.  She began riding several times a week, as well as working at the barn and volunteering with a therapeutic riding instructor.  Then, she got the sad news that her barn was closing.

What would happen to all the horses?  What would happen to Blackjack?  Alison learned that the horses would all be put up for auction.  And that's when the idea began to take shape in her mind.  Maybe, just maybe, she could buy the horse!
Here's where the story gets good.  Because, you see, we all have these --call them what you want-- crazy ideas? goals? dreams?  Too often, I think we let our doubts or our fears overtake our thoughts.  We talk ourselves out of our plans before we try them out.  We want to wait until we have more information, more money, more time...

Alison worked through her plan.  She had Blackjack vetted.  She found him a new home.  And then, she bought herself a horse.  Congratulations on the newest member of your family.  You had a dream.  Then, you made your dream come true.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

One year, when I taught kindergarten, I had a boy in my class who was a bit quirky, shall we say.   He was short and a little chunky.  His parents always seemed to buy his clothes a few sizes too big, maybe hoping they would last longer as he grew into them.  The result was that he often looked like he was wearing a dress when his t-shirt fell past his knees.

In kindergarten "M" loved two things: Legos and singing.  In first grade, his teacher used to use singing as a reward:  Perform well academically and I'll let you perform with an audience.  M was on a behavior plan that included singing for teachers as his reward.

Fast forward three years and the boy is now in third grade next door to my class.  This morning's windy, rainy weather broke into a beautiful day and we all tumbled out of the trailers onto the playground.  The teachers sat, as usual, on the bench in the middle of the field to keep watch over their flocks.  That's when Lizzie brought M over.

"Guys-- M has a song for you."  she says.

We turn our full attention to M.  As if on a stage, he begins to sing:

Dog goes woof
Cat goes meow
Bird goes tweet
and mouse goes squeak
Cow goes moo
Frog goes croak
and the elephant goes toot
Ducks say quack
and fish go blub
and the seal goes ow ow ow ow ow
But there;s one sound
That no one knows
What does the fox say?
At this point he begins to dance all around the bench, all the teachers clapping and cheering as he is singing at the top of his lungs:
He pauses back in front of us, more animated than I've ever seen him and belts out:

What the fox say?

It was hilarious yet heartwarming at the same time. The song stayed in my head the rest of the afternoon.  I bet the infectious tune stayed with M as well.   Every time I thought of it, I smiled.  I think he did too.  Does this have anything to do with standardized testing or curriculum?  No.  But moments like these are what make teaching worthwhile.