Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Few Technical Issues and New Books for the Library

I have been fortunate, while others have dealt with technical issues here, I have be spared.  I suppose it is now my turn.  I am not for sure if the problems (photos not loading and publishing schedules)  are of my own doing or those of the powers that be, however, I am trying to correct them.  I know if you follow as many blogs as I,  when one reposts it can be bothersome.   I humbly apologize for the inconvenience. 


When I began writing my last post I actually had planned on just recapping my favorite moments from our two days of open house.  As so often happens here, as I wrote I found myself led in a different direction.   I have learned to not fight the words, but joyfully tag along.

One of my favorite things about the beginning of school is adding to our school library.  A friend and I go to a bookstore and spend several hours perusing, critiquing, picking out possible books to be added to our school library.   The books are then displayed for the parents and children to look at and hopefully purchase for the school.  

When a book is chosen, we ask the purchaser to fill out a bookplate with their child's name.  Often times they will donate the book from the child in honor of a past or present teacher.   We are truly blessed to have generous parents.  This year we will be adding around fifty books to our shelves thanks to our moms and dads. 

I'm excited to share a few of my favorites.

I am a huge fan of Jan Brett.  I had the opportunity several years ago to meet her and her husband at a book signing.   The illustrations in a children's book are almost as important to me as the story.  Ms. Brett's art is beautifully detailed.  Her newest publication, Mossy, stands up to her reputation.   I was so excited when a new mom picked it out saying how much she loves Jan Brett.  A kindred spirit!

Do you remember Amelia Bedelia, the house maid who takes her instructions literally?  I couldn't pass up the fiftieth edition of this wonderful book by Peggy Parish.  The publisher's have done a fabulous job of taking a book originally written as an "easy reader" and editing it into a picture book for younger children to enjoy.

Of course, I had to add a copy of her latest adventure, Amelia Bedelia's First Library Card. You know how important the library is to me.   I can't wait to find out what trouble she finds.  She is certain to bring on some rib tickling laughter.

After the sudden death of Ameia Bedelia's creator, Peggy Parish her nephew Herman picked up the torch and continued the story of Amelia,  giving her a modern look and contemporary stories.   Thankfully he has kept the same old Amelia Bedelia spirit and literal mind.  How lucky for us and generations to come.

I selected If You Hold a Seed simply for the artwork.  I alway select at least one book which reminds me of my dear friend who teaches across the hall.  This was the book I picked for her this year.  When I realized the story was about planting a dream with a seed and never giving up, I knew I had made a good selection.

A Flower in the Snow is another beautiful and sweet book.  It is about friendship and what we do for our friends.   The soft and muted colors hint that this book might be read in a whisper.  Isn't it lovely?


While A Flower in the Snow may be for quieter moments, I suspect Too Much Glue will bring out the screams and laughter in child and teacher alike.   When I saw this book I was reminded of a recent news story on one of our local channels.   It was reported a local school had included on the Kindergarten supply list sixteen glue sticks.  A mother was complaining, saying she felt this was excessive.   While listening to the story I look at my husband and laughingly remarked, "Are you kidding?  They should double that number.  You have no clue how much glue children use.  There is no such thing as just a little."  Thus the reason for including Too Much Glue in our book selections.

By the way, I bought sixteen glue sticks for my class of ten.  We may make it through September.  Just sayin'... we love gluing.

These are just a few of the picture books exciting me this fall.  We are never too old to enjoy the funny stories and beautiful pictures found in children's books.   My favorite hour of the day is storytime.  Are you surprised?

“Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”
                                                                                                           George Bernard Shaw

Do you have a favorite children's book?  Do you still pull it out to look at or read?
I never tire of The Polar Express, The Mitten or The Library Mouse. 
I wonder if I will find a very favorite this year.

To all who will be celebrating Labor Day... Enjoy!
I'm going to disappear for a few days with a book.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Roots and Wings

Update:  Technical difficulties with photos and a scheduled post posting too soon.  I apologize if this is showing up as new.

"The greatest gifts you can give your child are
 the roots of responsibility and
 the wings of independence."

Wednesday morning I passed over the play clothes for "big" girl attire, applied make-up and slipped on a pair of shoes other than the summer's flip-flops.  The days of making my own schedule had come to an end.  This was the day to meet and greet my new children and their families.  It was a day of introductions and reunions, of shy smiles and comforting hugs and lots and lots of picture taking.  I spent time with each child, and also with the moms and dads.  I have found it is often the parents who need the hand holding and reassurance.

When talking to parents I often bring in my own experiences as a mom into the conversation.  I am, after all, first and foremost a mom.  It has been my most enjoyable job ever.   When the tears begin to flow, I hug and promise all will be well.  I tell them how every year after dropping my daughter off on the first day,  I would drive home in tears.

So many years ago I drove through the same driveway these parents will enter to drop off my daughter for her very first day of pre-school.  The car door was opened and H. was greeted by the same smiling blue eyes and good-morning that will welcome each student next week.   As soon as H. was helped from the car and the door closed, my tears flowed.  I could hardly see to drive home.   Time crept by; I am sure I was the first person to arrive back in the car-pool line.  I had survived, I was hoping she had as well.  

The car door was opened and her sweet teacher assured me she had a very good day.  As we drove away H. asked why she couldn't stay for lunch, "everyone else stayed for lunch", and she wanted to stay for lunch as well.  The dagger was thrust and found its target deep into the center my heart.  Yes, we spent the next morning in search of the perfect "My Little Pony" lunch box.

Thursday morning arrived.  I packed her favorite sandwich, green beans, a cookie and apple juice.  I wrote a note for her and a check for the school.  She was excited, I stood wondering how I would survive my day.   I put on my best smile and tried to be brave to the one who was taking a step away from me.  Upon arrival, the door was opened with the same warm smile.  H. jumped out of the car and without a glance back, ran down the walkway, lunchbox slapping against her little leg.  

Again, I made the drive home in tears.  No, this is not true, I sobbed all the way home.   I called my mother.  She assured me all would be well, and told me of my own first day of school.  She said she was most certain I would cry, and was prepared to pick me up and take me home.  She then told me she was the one who cried on that morning and on the first day of school every year after.  I then knew I would...I could do this.

  The first day of school is the concrete marking of a child's growing independence,  more so than any other milestone.   I, as much as anyone, know the bittersweetness of the moment.  We want to hold on, but as a parent it is our role to allow, and sometimes push, our children out of their comfort zone.  It is through this narrow channel of safety where we have the opportunity to give them them space to learn to make good decisions, solve their problems and grow into strong independent adults.  

Roots and Wings

If I had two wishes, I know what they would be

I'd wish for roots to cling to, and wings to set me free;
Roots of inner values, like rings within a tree,
and wings of independence to seek my destiny.
If I had two wishes, I know what they would be
Roots to hold forever to keep me safe and strong,
To let me know you love me, when I've done something wrong;
To show me by example, and help me learn to choose,
To Take those actions every day to win instead of lose.

Just be there when I need you, to tell me it's all right,
To Face my fear of falling when I test my wings in flight;
Don't make my life too easy, it's better if I try,
And fail and get back up myself, so I can learn to fly.

If I had two wishes, and two were all I had,
And they could just be granted, by my Mom and Dad;
I wouldn't ask for money or any store-bought things.
The greatest gifts I'd ask for are simply Roots and Wings.
                                                                               Denis Waitley

And so this post has taken a turn in a direction I had not anticipated at its beginning, but here we are none the less.   Do not feel ashamed at shedding tears as your child lets go. Give them a kiss, a hug, do not call them back, but stand and marvel as wings begin to dry and are tested in anticipation of the ultimate flight.  

The role of a parent is not an easy one.  There is no script, no guarantees or promises,
 but the rewards are many. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Here We Go!

So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is time!

I have been working in my classroom a lot the last few weeks.  I've taken everything out of cabinets, drawers and files, cleaned and totally reorganized.   Hopefully I will remember where I placed things
when I need them.  Keeping my fingers crossed. 

I have left my room many afternoons thinking all was perfect only to tear through it again the next day. I even coaxed my husband to help with moving furniture around Sunday afternoon.  Shhh, we won't tell him I moved most of it back the way it was when I returned on Monday.
Have I mentioned I am a bit obsessive?

Tomorrow I will meet my children and their parents during our open house.
It is an exciting time, and I'm ready to return to my school routine.
Yes, it is time.

During all this busyness I haven't felt like I had the time to commit to a novel, but found my solace instead with short stories and essays.  I'm presently reading Dear Life, a collection of life stories by Alice Munro.   With her extraordinary gift of storytelling Ms. Munro gives us, in few pages,  fully developed character and tales of  lives changed by a simple event or action.  Each piece is a journey without the slightest hint of the final destination.

I was gifted David Sedaris's squirrel seeks chipmunk, I suspect because of the picture of the squirrel and chipmunk staring amorously into each other's eyes.   To be honest I wasn't for sure I would enjoy this book.  Although many are a bit "colorful", most stories are a bit fablesque ending with a lesson.   Maybe it was because I was tired, but I found this collection
 of irreverent tales hilarious.  This is satire at its best...
well, at least at its funniest.

Tomorrow after Open House I am headed to the bookstore in search of a book to slip into over my long Labor Day weekend.   I have a few on my list, but I am up for suggestions.  I'm not quite sure if I am wanting an escape or something a bit weighty.  I suppose I'll figure it out.

I read many enjoyable books over the summer; I am looking forward to sharing my favorites with you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Full Circle

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, 
vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air ... 
Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year's mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” 
Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Blooms are fading.  

The sun is rising later and setting a little earlier.

Shadows and reflections are bending and rising,
dancing to a different rhythm.

Autumn is still weeks away, but for me summer is drawing to an end.
My beloved books are left laying unopened for longer periods of time.  The calendar
has come out of hiding; meetings have begun.  The voice of a new school year
 is whispering in my ear.

As a student, I loved everything about beginning a new school year... new clothes, new books,
new and old friends, and favorite teachers.

As a mother,  I always found the beginning of school difficult.  I was never ready
to give up time with my daughter.

As a teacher, I get excited thinking about the promise of a new year.
I suppose,  I've come full circle.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Another Book Report

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 
                                                                                                             Isaiah 11:6 

Carol Rifka Brunt's novel, Tell the Wolves I'm Home does not easily fit into the category
of a "summer read."  Because the narrator is a fourteen year old many are calling it a coming-of-age story, while others have labeled it a young-adult book.  I prefer to describe it as a lesson for the heart.

"My sister, Greta, and I were having our portrait painted by our uncle Finn 
that afternoon because he knew he was dying."

The year is 1986, June is losing her best friend and uncle to aids, a scary disease she knows nothing about.  Her mother and father are pre-occupied with careers;  her sister, Greta, just wants to distance herself from June, her uncle and his embarrassing disease.  When Finn dies June feels no one misses him the way she does, until she befriends his boyfriend who is also dying.   It is in helping Toby, against her family's wishes, she becomes better acquainted with an uncle who taught her to look at what isn't in a sketch, the negative space, to find the truth and heal.

"The negative space.   That's what Finn called it.  He was always trying to get me to understand negative space.  And I did.  I could understand what he was saying, but it didn't come naturally to me.  I had to be reminded to look for it.  To see the stuff that's there but not there."

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is not about aids, nor is it a statement on lifestyle choices.  It is a story of fearless acceptance, unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness.  I see it so often in the classroom, it is the youngest who live with open hearts and teach the greatest lessons.

I've wanted to share this book with you for several weeks.  It touched me on so many levels I was afraid I couldn't do justice to this heartbreaking story.  And, I am certain I have not.  

A light summer read?  No. 

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a book to be savored with the mind and the soul. 
 It will invade and stay in your heart long after you have closed the covers.    
Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Morning breaks and it is just like every other morning.  It is't a bad thing, it is just the way it is.
Routine is good, status quo can be comforting.  No surprises.
Then without warning, somewhere in the day, the game changes, 
the wind switches direction, pieces are moved and fate takes control.

This morning started out like any other.  I roamed outside with Willie, made coffee and saw R. off to work.  I walked my two miles, read and answered emails.  I sent out a few reminders and set up a meeting or two.   As the morning progressed I kept my eye on the clock.  I had a much needed hair appointment I was thinking of canceling.   I had a little minor out-patient surgery on my back yesterday; I was worried I might not be able to lay back to have my hair shampooed.   All morning I found myself reaching back to touch the bandage covering the stitches wondering if I should go or wait.  I weighed the possible pain with having to reschedule an appointment that was made six weeks ago.  Time passed, and vanity won out over comfort.

My appointment was for 2:30, I left home at 2:00.  I took my usual route, the traffic was slower than normal.  I wouldn't have time to stop into the bookstore.  Parking can sometimes be difficult, but there was a spot waiting for me right in front of the spa.   I had just enough time to run into Starbucks for my green tea, before my appointment time.  I ran into an old friend, we stood chatting about our girls then went our separate ways.  

The receptionist greeted me as I walked past.  I usually sit in the waiting area, but on a whim walked back to M.'s cubicle.   He was finishing up someone and told me sit in his second chair.   As we chatted I watch another  salon client walk to the back of the spa.   I thought I recognized her, but couldn't put my finger on who she might be.   Soon she walked back, she looked so familiar and I became more certain I knew her.   She reminded me of a friend from long ago.  A friend I lost contact with when we both moved away.  I knew that was impossible, and decided it was probably someone from one of the schools my daughter attended or a church committee.  I probably didn't really know her at all;  it was just a familiar face.

After talking about my color, and deciding not to change anything the colorist left to go do her mixing.  M. left to meet his next client.   As they entered I saw it was the woman I had been trying to place.  I thought to myself, surely I will hear a name and figure out who the person is.

She sat down.
"Your new",  M said.
"Yes, I am.  I just moved here."
"Where are you from?"
"Salt Lake City, Utah".

Well, that put an end to my inquiry.  I don't know anyone from Salt Lake City.  The conversation went a little further, and I couldn't help but put my two cents worth in the mix.

"I'm sorry, I feel like I should know you".
"Well, have you ever been to Salt Lake City", she asked.
"No", I replied.
"I lived in Atlanta?"
My heart skipped a beat.
"Did you live in Nashville?"

The woman look stunned.  "Yes."
"Are you JH?"
Before she could respond I gave her my name,
"I'm Bonnie C." 

There was some screaming and hugging.   M. stood back and watched speechless, 
and he is never speechless.  I looked at him, and said, "You don't understand, we were friends, our children were in pre-school together, we would go to lunch so many years ago."

Was it fate, a friend from long ago just happen to follow a recommendation from her realtor (who is not a client of M) and scheduled an appointment with my hairdresser on the same day in the time slot just following my own?

Is this serendipity?  

People walk in and out of our life everyday.  You see people in the grocery store, at church, in a restaurant their face makes an impression.  You recognize them the next time you pass them, you may even smile and say hi.

  Your friends, you think you will know forever, but events happen.  You move,  they move, keeping contact is not always easy.  You don't know why more of an effort wasn't made, but it wasn't.   You think of friends from long ago occasionally wondering what they are doing, would you recognize them if you saw them again.   We've aged, does it matter?  Would they be as recognizable as someone you passed in the market?  Then you get the chance.  A chance to rekindle a friendship.

Lunch is planned.
 There are years to catch up with.  
I am still questioning, 
What are the chances?