Tag Archives: Kindergarten

Keening and Wailing

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First of all: a definition of keen:
verb
gerund or present participle: keening
  1. wail in grief for a dead person; sing a keen.
    • make an eerie wailing sound.
      noun: keen

Well.  It certainly has been an interesting week.  Optimistic by nature, I’m trying really hard to find the good stuff in each day, while simultaneously grieving after the election results of Tuesday night. I made a list of high and low moments from the past few days. Here they are:

Positive: I hopped out of bed on Tuesday morning with a song in my heart. I’d considered baking red, white, and blue cookies to take to work that morning, and giggled thinking how fun it would be to make gingerbread people representing our candidates, but I realized on a practical level that this was not a day for levity.  Everything I’d heard led me to believe we’d be electing our first female president on this day—and I was filled with joy! I admire Hillary’s work ethic, her intelligence, her record, and her ability to stay cool even when an angry, bitter man is hurling insults at her on National television. She’s devoted her life to trying to better our world.  I’m 100% with Hillary.  I was happy that our daughter Eve was joining us for dinner and to watch the results roll in . . . which meant I got to cook for family (my favorite thing).  Life was good.

Negative:  By 8 pm it was obvious the election results were not as expected.  Hubby, Eve, and I were dumbfounded.  Eve works in a medical office and is at work by 6am, so clearly exhausted, she headed for home. I poured a stiff cocktail and after another hour, could not stand to sit and watch the bad news.  I spent the next hour “stress cleaning” alternately singing along with Bastille then  keening and wailing—-all the while trying to wrap my mind around a Trump presidency.  During the campaign process, I found it too difficult to hear his voice and always turned off the radio.  How on earth was I going to endure hearing his voice during the next four years?

Positive:  After the aforementioned stress cleaning, William’s shower had never been so clean. You can now literally eat off the tile in that bathroom.  Also all the drawers and cupboards have been emptied of unwanted items.  You’re welcome.

Negative:  At 11 pm, Hubby was still watching the bad news trickle in.  My brain could not accept this alt reality—do I really live in such a bubble?  NPR and the New York Times said it wouldn’t happen.  The skits on SNL weren’t even fictional and were horrible in their accurate portrayal of our new leader.  99% of my friends were against Trump.  What the heck?  Was I dreaming???   I got out the vacuum and hoped the sound drowned out my keening and wailing so Hubby wouldn’t hear my grief.  I cried myself to sleep.

Positive:  On Wednesday morning, I walked into our school office to see one of my favorite work friends.  I hugged her and said, “Are you okay?  Because I’m not.”  It felt so good to be frank with another person on the same team, who was also in shock over the election results.  I’m happy to report that all of my interactions with coworkers that day were positive, and I felt that everyone was being very careful of raw feelings. (I work in a very special place.)  Overall  it was very healing to be swarmed by small children on the playground as they took turns launching the “Stomp Rocket” I’d brought from home.  I lost myself in their joyful interactions and felt healed by their sweet hugs.

Positive:  When I returned home after work and had good snuggle time with my dog and cats, I read this quote on my FB page by Garrison Keillor:  “We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long , brisk walk and smell the roses.”

As a long-time Garrison fan, his words were a salve on my soul. As I read these word which are now front and center on my refrigerator, I can hear his fatherly, wise voice.  It’s good to have a mantra, and as I find them, I will add to my “fridge collage.”   When nobody’s around, I can’t help but keen and wail, but for now, I will keep Garrison’s words close to my heart, while also looking for ways to get out and help our community to protect rights for all.  But I’ve made a promise to myself that I will NOT get lost in anger, and instead will spend time smelling the roses.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

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Goodbye, Lola

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It’s been 10 days and 15 hours since we dropped our youngest child, William, off at the campus of Northern Arizona University.  I expected I would sob all the way home . . . and then I did not.  I expected it would happen the next day . . . but it didn’t.  Last night at happy hour I was explaining this weirdness to two coworkers  over IPAs at a local pub and said thoughtfully, “Maybe I’ll have a good cry after I go home tonight.”  Then Lisa says, “Wait, don’t do that!  Tomorrow is Picture Day—you don’t want to be puffy!” Girlfriend’s got my back!

And seriously, that’s been the theme of the past ten days:  Friends have my back.  I feel nurtured and fussed over, and I am proud to report that friends and coworkers have been so kind in asking me almost every day how William is doing and how I’m doing.  I’ve been waiting to be sad but it just hasn’t happened yet (not too much—I get a little weepy on my drive home because usually William and his friends would be here at the house when I arrived). I’ve spent time with friends every day after work, and maybe you’d call that avoidance, but I call it taking care of myself.  My only concern at this point is that William is doing too much homework.  It doesn’t sound like he’s had much time to get out and meet people or explore the campus, but it’s only week two.  He has good friends at NAU who will take care of him if he gets too serious!

When I tell you this next story, you’ll see exactly how shallow and small I am.  On Monday, we sold Lola, our old red Miata convertible which has been our “folly” for the past ten years, and I cried more tears over losing that car than I did over taking William to school!  However . . . . it didn’t make sense to own her anymore.  With William away at school, we now had an extra car.   We’d planned on selling it, but we weren’t quite ready. But when some of our best friends made an offer, it was too perfect to refuse.  Crossed fingers they’ll take me out for a spin in my Lola some day soon.  We bought her on a whim on Valentine’s Day, 2006  when we were having some major bumps in this Road of Life, and she instantly infused cheer and optimism into our world.  It’s hard to explain how a small piece of metal on wheels can bring a person so much joy, but I will say with complete confidence that it’s 100% impossible to NOT smile when you’re driving with the top down on a sunny day, your favorite song is playing on the radio, the wind is blowing your hair around, and the scent of freshly cut grass wafts in your nose. HEAVEN.

Similarly, it’s impossible to not smile when hanging out with small children, as I get to do five days a week at the Awakening Seed School.  I laughed so hard I had tears coming out of my eyes today when a boy in our classroom presented his “Sharing” items from home, which happened to be two huge coconuts he and his dad brought home from Hawaii this summer.  He explained how they found one on the ground, and then threw other coconuts into the tree to bring the really big one down.   All of our kids were so cute today, dressed to the nines for Picture Day.    So earnest and sweet, our students come to school with fun stories and tons of  love, and always, ALWAYS make me feel special.  Maybe that’s why I’m smiling instead of crying.

Cheers,

Mary

Ghosts

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It’s been a great couple of weeks being back to school, where I work as an assistant in a Kindergarten classroom.  This year’s Kindergartners are hilarious and have SO MUCH to tell me every day.  They talk about their pets, their siblings, their favorite games and  tv shows. They tell stories of summer vacations.  I asked one girl if she went to her grandpa’s on an airplane and she said, “No, we didn’t take an airplane.  We stayed on the planet!”  Another one of our dear girls is so exuberant that when a thought occurs to her (and before I can stop her), she’s placed both her hands firmly on my head, putting her mouth to my ear as she whisper/spits something which I usually can’t understand.  And it always begins with, “Did you know?”  She messes up my hair and pulls my earrings . . . I love it.  Today there was quite the classroom upset:   I’m not sure how it started, but a wild rumor of a ghost living in the school bathroom spread quicker than spilled milk and before you know it, several of my friends were in tears.  While Awakening Seed is certainly innovative and unique, we are no Hogwarts!  I think we did a good job of explaining how pipes in the walls can sometimes make sounds, but there are definitely NO ghosts at school!

Speaking of tears, I’ve been trying hard not to cry every time I think about William leaving for college. Next week, we will officially be Empty Nesters (I hate that term, how about you?).  We’ve anticipated William’s departure all summer . . . and tomorrow is the big day when he moves to NAU.  I’m trying to focus on the fun parts of the weekend, and not the horrible/terrible/tragic/heartbreaking drive home without him. (A bit too much??  I know–but it’s how I feel.)  We are staying at a recommended resort called Little America, which is not fancy but has beautiful grounds and large rooms.  Weather permitting, we’ll do a bit of hiking after moving stuff into William’s dorm, and also find a hike on Saturday before driving the three hours back home.  If there’s rain, we’ll have fun playing gin rummy in one of the many interesting brew pubs in town.  Flagstaff is a fun little mountain town, and I’m so happy William gets to live there.  See?  Look at me being all positive and not weepy and melodramatic at all.  (I’m saving that for next week.)

I have so much to look forward to in the next few weeks!  The community pool has suddenly turned cold, which is a portent of Fall.  Our 105 degree daily temps are getting REALLY old.  Don’t get me wrong—I love summer, but I’ll be happy when we’re once again able to open our windows to let in fresh air.  Hubby’s birthday is next week, and we’re celebrating with friends here for dinner and our new favorite card game, Shanghai Rummy.  We’ll be back in Flagstaff for Parent’s Weekend at the end of September.  My art book group restarts after our summer hiatus, and since we are a group who loves to travel, I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s adventures.  And come to think of it, now that we’ll have no children at home, what’s to stop us from dashing down to Tucson (a two- hour drive) to see my sister and her family, or driving over to San Diego (a five-hour drive) for a mini-vacation?  I’m trying to focus on this being a bright, new beginning . . . instead of a sad, tear-filled ending.  Wish me luck.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

Singing the Blues

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I’ve been fighting a bad case of the blues.  I spent almost two weeks laying on the couch in my jammies, binge-watching Netflix or reading whole novels in one day.  I drank too much coffee, nibbled potato chips all day, and by the end of two weeks, I’d practically eaten my own weight in cheese.  (What kind, you ask?  Mostly brie, blue, and cheddar!)  I had post-vacation blues, loneliness, and a lot of anxiety over soon becoming “emtpy nesters” when William leaves for college later this month.  He’s not ready!  I’m not ready!  Can’t I home school him through college?

I tried to cheer myself up with a little Harmonica Therapy.  I keep a harmonica in the kitchen (doesn’t everyone?) and when things get rough, I pull it out and sing the blues.  Two years ago, when I turned 50, it got a lot of play, and then it mysteriously disappeared until the blues had passed.  I’ve never had a lesson, but basically you just blow into it and make up sad lyrics which you sing in a loud, angry/sad voice.  You know, like Bad to the Bone played by George Thorogood and his boys.  On the harmonica, create this rhythm: “Ba ba ba-ba BA BA!  Ba ba ba-ba BA BA!”  Then sing:  ” On the day we left Scotland, I cried so bad, saying bye to those castles, well that made me so sad.” (More harmonica here.)  “Oh my baby William, he’s leaving for school, taking my heart with him, Oh man I’m a fool!”  (More harmonica here, with a key change.)  “I ate so much che-ese, and I got really fat, but who really ca-ares, since my friends are all cats.”  (Grand finale on harmonica–rock out!!!  Then take a bow. And hide the harmonica before your family takes it from you.)

Well, the Harmonica Therapy didn’t work.  Nothing worked!   Not the gorgonzola, not singing the blues, not New Girl on Netflix (well, a little bit) and not treadmilling while looking at cute boys at the gym.  I felt like I’d never be happy again.

But then, Hallelujuah, school started!  We cleaned approximately 20 pounds of dirt from our classroom and then, hip hip hooray, the Kindergartners arrived. They are shy, they are happy, they are artistic, they are loving, they are hilarious, they smile at me angelically and give me hugs. Each one is only about 40 inches high, but in my eyes they are like giants . . . because they were the only things big enough to scare away my bad case of the blues.

Cheers,

Mary

Lazy as Pie

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I am in Mexico.

Our journey here was an easy four-hour drive.  We set out early expecting crowds at the border due to the Roger Clyne concert happening in Rocky Point this weekend (which I’ve been referring to as Clynapalooza–I’m not a fan).   But the roads were empty and we rolled through the border, got the green light, and didn’t have even one angry truck trying to mow us over in their rush to get to the beach.

We’re feeling golden.

I’ve successfully completed my second  nap of the day, and for that I blame the unusually loud ocean and accompanying winds.  The waves are roiling and crashing and the resulting sound is so hypnotic that truly, the napping was out of my control.  In my swim suit with my feet up on the beach patio, I’m reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the second time (the first being 30 years ago) and am quickly being sucked into Scout and Jem’s world.  Hubby is working a Sudoku puzzle and helping me count pelicans (I believe they fly in odd-numbered groups and am constantly trying to prove this theory).  A cool breeze wafts over us, and I’m feeling glad I packed a pair of jeans and a jacket at the last minute.  At home, it is hot hot hot, but our favorite beach here in Mexico has not heated up yet.  The ocean is warm, though the huge waves prevented us from doing much more than “wallowing” in the low tide pools. I can’t wait to swim in the morning when the waves will be calm!

In other words, we are being lazy as pie.  (“If pie is lazy, then what is cake?” Hubby asks.)

We thought our children would join us here at our favorite place, but in the end, they did not want to.  This is the story of my life.  Fine.  I can wait patiently until there are grandchildren, when our offspring will be happy to join us so we can help watch their small children.  It truly seems like just last year that Patrick was a baby not wanting to put his feet in the sand, that Eve was afraid of the “big byack fyies” buzzing about, and William crawled down the hill to the ocean so quickly it scared me half to death.  We are so blessed.

Wednesday was my last day assisting in our Kindergarten class for the semester.  Job well done, all of us.  While my teacher friends at public school finished weeks ago,  I cannot complain about having to go two weeks longer since I simply love my new school, the teachers, the parents, and of course, the children.  I will miss everyone over the summer, but I plan to make the most of my six weeks off so I will be fresh and bright when the new semester begins.

Life is good.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

India

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Dear Hubby,

I know you’ve only been gone 36 hours, but I thought you’d want to know how we’re doing since you boarded that plane for Delhi yesterday morning.  The pictures you posted on Facebook were actually a bit disappointing; I thought it would all look more “foreign.”  I’m sure once you reach Bangalore you will see so many new things, and I hope you’ll take lots of pictures.

So here is a short report of some stuff you missed:

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel keeps barking out the front window at your car parked in the driveway.  We have visited your car five times in the last hour.  She has sniffed it thoroughly, we’ve gone back inside, and ten minutes later, she begins to bark again as if you are home. There has bee a lot of “woo-wooing” for you.  If this goes on for many more days, I will be buying her a muzzle, or perhaps a strong sedative.

I still have not mopped the spills from our big graduation party on Saturday.  Maybe soon? I hate to mop.  The party was grand, and thanks for all of your help, especially when you knew you were going on this important international work trip early the next morning.  I keep smiling thinking of how many wonderful family and friends attended our event to help us celebrate William and his friends.  We are so very blessed!

I was happy to get back to school today to see my favorite Kindergartners.  The only downside was the song chosen for morning meeting:  “Tooti Ta.”  OMG, I hate that song with a red-hot passion.  The bad news: it’s still stuck in my head.  The good news:  one of our girls scratched a mosquito bite on her leg and was bleeding, so OH DARN, I had to take her to get a band aid and missed most of the song.

I had the most lovely dream this morning that I was roller skating with Dan and Kyle from Bastille.  The three of us were alone in a lush, amazingly beautiful park filled with fragrant flowers and dense trees. We skated on a smooth path and were skating so fast, it felt like we were flying. Afterwards we rested on a grassy knoll, and in a moment of happiness, I leaned over and kissed Dan on the cheek. He didn’t seem to mind too much.  (I know I’m weird and totally embarrassing and too old to be a fan girl–so sorry.)

Eve says she is totally prepared for her big EMT certification test on Wednesday.  She stopped by last night to check on me and the pets.  William has not been around much. Between working and friends he is very busy, but always so good to tell me where he is when I ask.  I stopped by Patrick and Samantha’s and met their five rescue kittens who were tumbling all over each other. They were totally adorable, though extremely stanky after a ringworm treatment at the vet’s.

I watched two wretched movies on Amazon Prime yesterday:  A Walk in the Woods and School of Life.  I finished the first one because the scenery was beautiful (even though the pace was painful), but I only made it through 20 minutes of the next angsty show about a dying teacher at a private school. Egad!  It got four stars! The plot, the cast, and the story line were all total poop!  Who watches these dreadful things???

You’d better sit down for this last bit of news:  After work today, I went to the gym.  That’s right. I swear it’s true.  It was worse than usual since the gym was filled with awkward middle-aged men (some without shirts on–is that even allowed?), but I stuck it out and currently have 15693 steps on my Vivofit step counter.

That’s it for my news.  Please don’t forget to take those malaria pills . . . and be so careful about the water.  Do not buy me a knock-off designer purse because I do not know or care about designers. (Remember the smelly woven leather shirt you brought me from Mexico that one time?)  Get the work done so you don’t have to go back . . . because we miss you.

Love,

Mary

Message in a Bottle

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It’s been an interesting week.  I subbed as lead teacher in our Kindergarten classroom two days, and it was fun to choose the books for our afternoon story time.  One of the favorites from my childhood is called The Secret Three  and tells the story of two boys who find a message in a bottle at the edge of the ocean–a message written in a secret code. Spoiler alert:  It turns out the message is from a boy who has just moved into the lighthouse across the bay, and the boys end up forming a club called The Secret Three.  I had fun looking up facts about messages in a bottle to share with the class.  Our six year old students are interested in EVERYTHING and were intrigued by the idea of messages in bottles. Here are some quick facts from Wikipedia:

  • The first recorded messages in bottles were released around 310 BC by the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus, as part of an experiment to show that the Mediterranean Sea was formed by the inflowing  Atlantic Ocean.
  • On his return to Spain following his first voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus’ ship entered a severe storm. Columbus threw a report of his discovery along with a note asking it to be passed on to the Queen of Castile, in a sealed cask into the sea, hoping the news would make it back even if he did not survive. Columbus did survive and the sealed report was never found, or, at least, its discovery never reported.
  • In the 16th century, the English navy, among others, used bottle messages to send ashore information about enemy positions.Queen Elizabeth I created an official position of “Uncorker of Ocean Bottles”, and anyone else opening the bottles could face the death penalty.
  • In 1914, British World War I soldier Private Thomas Hughes tossed a green ginger beer bottle containing a letter to his wife into the English Channel. He was killed two days later fighting in France. In 1999, fisherman Steve Gowan dredged up the bottle in the River Thames. Although the intended recipient of the letter had died in 1979, it was delivered in 1999 to Private Hughes’ 86-year-old daughter living in New Zealand.

After school, I shared with William about my day and told him I’d read this book.  I said, “Wouldn’t that be a dream job being the Official Uncorker of Bottles? ”  But William just frowned, groaned, and clutched his head (in that order).  “Argghh, why do you people DO this to us??  This happened all the time when I was little!  You teachers tell us something so cool, like messages in bottles washing up on the shore, and you as a little kid believe it! You think it’s going to be a big part of your life . . .  or else why would they teach you this stuff? Have YOU ever found a message in a bottle??  Because I haven’t!   Mom, don’t DO that to the kids.  Don’t tell them about cool stuff that will never happen.”

Well.  I’m still pondering on this little outburst . . . because there is a nugget of truth to it. By introducing new concepts that are perhaps unique, random, or fantastical, do we lead our students into thinking their lives are going to be more exciting than they truly will be? Or do they inspire the kids to lead magical lives?  I like to think that stimulating the imagination is always a good thing.  On the other hand, my life is 100% more boring than I thought it would be when I was in elementary school.  For me, the jury is still out.

I will finish up here because the family is giving me that sideways look that means, “You promised enchiladas, but we don’t see any enchiladas . . . and we’re hungry.”  Hubby is wound tighter than the girdle of a Baptist minister’s wife at an all-you-can-eat Pancake Breakfast.  The reason?  One week from TODAY he is flying to India and then Shanghai for a two-week business trip.  He is not ready.  In fact, at one of the graduation parties we attended yesterday, our friend Pam “schooled him” about traveling in India.  Apparently the water is so full of bacteria that she told Hubby to take with him two Z-Packs (antibiotics) because it’s not a matter of “if” you get ill, it’s a matter of when.  She got sick simply from shower water accidentally flowing into her nose while rinsing her hair! Also Hubby somehow missed the memo that he is supposed to be taking anti-malaria tablets. He is super excited about his travel plans, and I am trying my best not to mom him, but if he comes home with malaria, I swear to God I will be madder than a full moon dog and he WILL be sleeping on the couch. Truly, I’m so happy for him to have his Grand Adventure. We are the generation that grew up on Disney’s Jungle Book. . . so in a way this trip is fulfilling our childhood fantasy of traveling to the land of Mowgli, Kaa, Bagheera, and Shere Khan; a land we dreamed of as children and hoped we would explore one day.

Cheers,

Mary