Foster Parenting

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Slice of Life: Valentine Tradition

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their blog to read other slices and leave a comment.

I grew up in a very traditional home.  My dad worked (sometimes 2 jobs) and my mom stayed home and took care of my sisters and me.  Dinner was meat, potatoes, vegetable, salad, and bread served promptly at 6:00 when Dad got home.  Dad was the disciplinarian while Mom was the one who handed out hugs.  Dad had his duties which included mowing the lawn, household repairs, and taking care of the car.  Mom had her duties:  cooking, cleaning, driving us around, and buying gifts and cards for family members.  There was no crossover of jobs.  Mom didn't fix things, Dad didn't clean.

There was one little place where Dad broke with tradition:  Valentine's Day.  From the time I was a baby, Dad went to the store on his own and bought me (and my sisters as they came along) a Valentine card.  He signs it simply, "Dad."  As I grew up and went to college, and then later married and moved out on my own, the tradition continued.   I still look forward to his meticulous, mechanical engineer script printed on a pink or red envelope that arrives a day or two before Valentine's Day.  

And I still get a little tug at my heart each year, glad that this is one place Dad broke away from tradition and started his own.

***Disclaimer:  Now that Dad is retired, he has taken over the kitchen and can even be found folding a load of laundry now and then.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday...Life's Dreams

Recent events summon fond memories of  dreams I once had...the Olympics and the death of Shirley Temple open the door to the past and invite me in for just a moment.

Hopes...stuffed in my snow suit, my white figure skates tied snugly against my ankles, I wobbled out onto the frozen pond in back of our house.  In my 7-year old mind, the flooded corn field became the Olympic ice.  As I glided across the "pond,", dodging the cornstalks that peeked through the ice, I imagined myself spinning and leaping in front of the Olympic crowd as they tossed roses to me for my outstanding performance.  Of course, I won the gold.


Aspirations...If I wasn't going to the Olympics, maybe I'd make it as a dancer.  The Good Ship Lollipop played in the background as I step-ball-changed across the stage.  Decked out in my blue rouched leotard and flouncy sequenced skirt, I became a famous tap dancer that people from around the world clamored to see.  I loved dancing!  I imagined I grow up in a mirror-lined studio, practicing my pliĆ©s, twirling, and swaying to sweet, rhythmic music.

Alas...these dreams were not meant to be.

 Yesterday, I chatted with my sister (who by the way danced to The Good Ship Lollipop with me), on her 50th birthday.  She asked me if I had a hard time on my 50th (For me, 51 was actually harder than 50).  We became introspective...time slips by so quickly.

Dreams come and go.  Some are reached, while others remain just out of our grasp.    If we're lucky, we might get a second chance at missed dreams.  They propel us forward.  They give us hope.  Without our dreams, where would we be?

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesdays.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave a comment.  #slice2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday Celebrations

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for creating this space to share our celebrations.  Please check her blog  and #celebratelu for other celebrations.

It's been a crazy, hectic week, so Saturday's celebration link-up is much needed.

1.  This might be the most's 5:30 and it's still light outside.  That gives me hope that it really will stop snowing at some point and spring will arrive with sunshine and warmer temperatures.

2.  Poetry is opening the doors to writing for many of my students.  I've been able to step back and watch several of my boys blossom.  I even overheard one of my "cool" boys say to a friend, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really like writing poetry."  

3.  I got word from Troy Hicks that the book a group of us is working on is now a go!  That means lots of work is ahead of me, but I'm very excited about it.  I will definitely need to make sure that I am writing every day.

4.  Cathy Mere and I along with some teachers from our district are working through Crafting Digital Writing by Troy Hicks.  We meet every two weeks with the goal of stepping outside of our comfort zones as we explore digital writing.  I love our group...everyone jumps in to help each other, the conversation is great, and we have fun.  

5.  Last, but not least, my after school digital writing club for 4th and 5th graders had its first meeting this week.  Nineteen students signed up to spend the next 6 Tuesdays writing digitally.  Interestingly, many of them joined because they think it will help them because they have "bad handwriting."  (And, no, that's not how I advertised the club.)  :)  Little do they know how much they'll learn and be able to do that has nothing to do with handwriting and everything to do with creating, making purposeful decisions, and connecting with others outside of our small community.

Here's wishing everyone a week full of celebrations!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

#Nerdlution...Moving, Writing, Being Kind to Myself

Thank you to Michelle Haseltine at One Grateful Teacher for rounding up #nerdlution posts.

We had our 6th snow day yesterday and a 2 hour delay this morning.  I never thought I'd get tired of snow days, but I think I'm there.

I've discovered (my OLW) that writing and moving are two ways that I can be kind to myself.  Instead of going to work out this morning where bright lights and music fill the room, I decided to go out for a walk.  Even though it was cold outside, the blanket of white lured me to come out.  I decided not to take my phone along...I wanted no distractions because lately I find myself yearning for more quiet time.

The snow was falling gently, the sun was trying its hardest to peek out from the clouds, and the birds were singing.  Peaceful quietness surrounded me.  I was alone with my thoughts.  It was what I wanted and needed to start my day.

I bought a new journal for myself too.  Lately, all of my writing is done on my laptop or iPad.  I lost the feel for writing by hand in a journal.  I'm reading (and writing from) A Writer's Book of Days:  A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life.  I find it's guiding me in writing for myself and giving me some different ways to think about and play with words.  And it's fun!  

Now, I must dash.  I need to get ready for 25 fourth graders who will be piling into Room 114 in less than an hour, ready to talk about more snow day fun.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Be True to Yourself


My 19 year old daughter recently asked a male friend of hers if she was intimidating.  An unexpected break up with her boyfriend had her questioning herself.

His reply?  "Hell yes!  You scare the shit out of me.  You're smart, pretty, independent and guys don't know what to do with that."

I've been thinking about this conversation ever since she told me about it.  It's bothered me quite a bit.  I thought we had come further than that.  I thought my generation had eradicated the idea that if you were smart and pretty and successful you'd intimidate the male species.  Why should that even be an issue in this day and age?  It's a battle we've been fighting for too long.

 I knew from the time I was in college that I would name my first daughter Molly, after my grandmother.  Grandma was one tough cookie.  She and my grandfather eloped when she was 19 years old and didn't tell anyone they were married.  She continued to live at home and work at Ma Bell and go to college while Pop drove a city bus.  They kept their marriage a secret until she became pregnant and couldn't hide it any more.  Needless to say, her parents were in an uproar and insisted on a church wedding. She had to quit her job and give up college.  Back then, married women weren't allowed to work.  She raised 4 children and was the church organist at St. Luke's for many years.  My grandmother carved a path for herself within the limits of what was allowed for women. More importantly, she showed her granddaughters that it was OK (and advisable) to be strong and independent.  Yes, she laid Pop's clothes out every day and had dinner on the table when he came home, but we all knew that she was the backbone of our family.

When Molly was born, I so vividly remember wishing with all my might that she would grow into an independent, assertive woman who would know her mind and follow her heart.  I was determined that things would be different for her than they were for me.  I was always afraid to speak up for myself, worried that I might make someone mad.  As a result, I often made choices to keep others happy and lost sight of what my own dreams and goals were.  As Zach and Annie came along, I wished the same things for them.  At that point, the gender didn't seem to matter...I wanted the same thing for all my children:  be strong, know your heart, follow your passions, and always be true to yourself even when it means making some difficult decisions.

I recently stumbled upon a great website A Mighty Girl and I love their list of  2013 Mighty Girl books.  Even though I have raised my children, I still touch the lives of the young girls in my classroom.  I'm thinking that I want to pull some of the titles that are already in my classroom and create a new basket of books that focus on strong female characters.  If you know me well, you know I'll be buying more books too.  :)  And to be honest, these books aren't just for the girls.  They're for the boys too.  Boys need to learn that it's ok for girls to be strong.  There's nothing to be afraid of.

We need to keep pushing forward.  We need to keep having hard conversations.  Every person, regardless of gender, deserves to be heard and respected.  Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In shares her thinking with teachers at last year's Edmodocon.  Check it out.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave a comment or two.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Celebration Saturday

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for creating this space to share our celebrations.  Please check her blog for other celebrations.

I am so grateful for this celebration community.  Even on those weeks where it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I find myself looking for the positive things every day.  I keep a mental tab for my weekly post, which helps me focus on the good things in my life.

This week I am celebrating:

G's smile.  G is a boy in my room who would much rather be roping a steer at the rodeo than doing anything else.  School is hard!  But that boy has grit.  And he's discovered that he is a writer.  (Can you tell my heart is singing?)  When I walked into Music class to pick the kids up on Friday morning, he waved a paper in my face, while he grinned ear to ear.  It was a story about fishing with his dad.  He whispered, "I wrote a poem about this yesterday,"  as he bounced on his tiptoes.  I told him I couldn't wait to see it, but when we got back to the room, we both forgot as we got started on our next task.  He didn't forget though.  As the bell rang at 3:15, time for the kids to get on the bus, he ran up to my desk, and breathlessly said, "Here it is."  It was his poem about fishing with his dad.  He tried to suppress his smile, but the twinkle in his eye gave him away.  I returned his smile, clasped his notebook close to my heart, and told him I'd read it right away.  He scurried for the bus.  Once the room was quiet, I settled down to read G's poem.  Now, it was my turn to smile.  

Chocolate covered strawberries for dessert Friday night.  There's nothing more to say about that.  

Nerdultion...I've done well this week with writing and adding movement to my day.  I graduated from physical therapy and decided to join their wellness program.  It's taken me a long time to realize how important it is to take care of myself.  Now I've got a place to go to workout and I can still walk outside when it isn't a bazillion degrees below zero.

Last and best...all three kids are home this weekend.  It's Annie's (my youngest daughter) 19th birthday.  I had a rough time bringing Annie into the world.  Bedrest at 22 weeks and then she was born 6 weeks early. She spent 2 weeks in the NICU and weighed less than 5 pounds when we brought her home.  Now, I look at the beautiful young woman that she's become.  I am amazed at her strength and tenacity.  She makes me smile every day and I am so very proud to be her mom.  (Actually, I'm pretty proud to be a mom to all 3 of my kids).  
The weekend will be filled with fun and chocolate cake.  What more could you want?