Saturday, November 7, 2015

Random thoughts...

I'm a terrible blogger.  I wish I could do it more often.  I read blog posts that have gone viral and think, "I could write something WAY better than that..." and then I get distracted, by kids, by my job, by the dog(s) my husband, Farmville... you know how it goes.  You get it.  Right?  Or maybe not.  I think I am doing something the wrong way, but at this point there's not much I can do to fix it.  I'm pretty sure the only thing that could fix it would be winning the lottery, being magically freed of my student loan debt, being in the audience at the Ellen Show, suddenly becoming famous, meeting Blake Shelton (and having to tell him, "Sorry but I'm happily married.") or perhaps being in the audience at a tell all live taping of one of The Bachelor shows.  Fine, maybe some of that stuff wouldn't fix my life, but it would make it a lot more pleasant!

I'm working in a new place this year. I worked really hard to get the job.  I gave up a large portion of my salary in order to give up almost three hours a day in the car.  The daily trips to Warren and back and watching the "Deaths on Michigan Highways" sign click up day by day and trip by trip were worth it.  Some major perks of the job:

*  Ten minute drive
*  Same school as my children
*  Nice coworkers
*  Opportunity to work with former students and the kids in MY community again
*  6th graders do not ask me to wipe their butt, nor are they likely to sneeze in my face
*  We have to be on committees.  I know this should seem like a drawback, BUT my committee team totally rocks and we named ourselves Matt and The Plastics.  We even all wear pink on Wednesdays. Even Matt.

Then there are the drawbacks

*  Driving my kids to school (Did my siblings and I seriously wake up and start fighting the MOMENT our eyes opened?  If so... sorry Mom!  Paybacks ARE Hell!!!)

*  Driving home with my kids, or arguing with them about why they CAN NOT stay with me after school.   (See above.. and again, SORRY MOM!  Please lift the curse!)

*  My new school is very detail oriented.  As in, please submit the paperwork to provide data on your paperwork an hour before you got to work two weeks ago last Tuesday kind of detail oriented.  We have a LOT of meetings about all this paperwork.  It's exhausting!  Paperwork is NOT my strong suit. Those of you who know me well are not shocked by this revelation.  My brain just doesn't work that way.  It's not that I don't WANT to do the paperwork... I'm just too busy doing other stuff to get it done.  Clara pointed this out to me.  She told me, "Mom.. you never just sit at your desk, you are always teaching."  I'm pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.  I felt better for a minute or two but then I went back to work and realized I had more paperwork to do which immediately freaked me out again.   I am pretty much perpetually stressed out.  I've cried a lot this year.  I feel like a first year teacher again, and honestly that kind of sucks.  I pep talked myself the other day.  I'll have to try it again on Monday to see if it works.  Here's my video:

I kind of doubt it will help,  but if Ellen or Blake Shelton, or heck even Chris Harrison of The Bachelor franchise ever wind up reading my blog maybe they will decide to knock a few things off my bucket list.  I should mention that it's really hard to stand on the sink and cheer yourself on when you are afraid you are going to fall off the counter and break your neck.

I almost forgot one more non-perk.  I am old enough to be almost everybody's mother.  Seriously, I could BE many of the other teacher's mothers, and not even as a teen mom.  #Iamolderthandirt

So now that I'm done WHINING I can update you on the good stuff.  Alyssa is sober and has a good job.  Addiction sucks, and I'm still waiting to exhale, but I'm still eternally grateful to my friends and family who helped get her on the road to recovery.  I pray daily that the choices she makes will lead her down the right path.  

Noah is getting ready to GRADUATE from high school!  How did this happen?  I swear it seems like just yesterday I was freaking out in the hospital trying to figure out WHY they were going to trust ME to take this baby home, and WHAT was I going to do with him once I got there.  I guess I figured it out.  He has applied to several colleges and is anxiously checking the mail every day looking for acceptance letters.  I have no idea how we are going to pay for it, but I'm determined to make it happen.  He's looking forward to getting back to playing ball his senior year of high school and somehow managed to get his coach to let him be #69.  You can file that under #proudmommymoments.  I will not be wearing his number on the back of any sparkle shirts.  (Just in case you were wondering!)  

Ricky started high school and is towering over me.  We got his progress report the other day and we totally thought he was practically failing high school and made him sit through lectures about responsibility and threats of taking away his phone, his video games and life as he knew it only to go to conferences to find out they CHANGED THE WAY THEY DO THE GRADING BUT NOT THE FREAKING PARENT PORTAL so he's not really practically failing.  He's pretty much got all A's.  One of the 20 something teachers mentioned that the new grading system was "in the syllabus you signed at the beginning of the year" and the highlight of my night quickly went from relief over realizing Ricky is not failing to not choking the life out of her.  I guess that is another one that can be filed under #proudmommymoments, or maybe #itisalwaystheteacherskid.

Speaking of the teacher's kid.  Matthew is IN sixth grade and I teach 6th grade so once a day he's in my class for social studies.  It's a lot of fun most days.  I love watching him interact with his friends, and I'm impressed by his kindness and his willingness to try pretty much anything.  He played soccer this year.  He tried out, started as the manager, and wound up getting to play on the team!  He's convinced I have "spies" because I always know all of his business (which pretty much involves who he likes) but all I have to do is watch him.  I don't REALLY need spies...besides the sixth graders never stop talking.  Who needs spies when you have hall duty?  #sixthgradersneverstoptalking

Clara managed to help me convince Brian we needed another dog.  I'm so glad she did.  Hazel is a constant happy place in both of our hearts.  Unless it's time to pick up dog poop... then we are not so happy but the joy outweighs the poop and don't tell my husband but if we wait long enough my husband usually steps in dog poop, gets mad at us and picks it up himself!  (We are GENIUSES!) She is probably the most enthusiastic about having me working at her school even though she claims I am "so embarrassing." I'm trying to convince her to try out for the basketball team at school, I think she'd be great.  Of course I'm always trying to convince her to do things and she's always shooting me down!  Just last night I tried to convince her to join a bowling league.  She's much happier just doing her own thing when she feels like doing whatever it is.  I suppose she may be trying to save me from myself.  When would I get her to bowling leagues, besides... we have dog poop to pick up.  

Ruby is dancing up a storm!  She's going to be in the Nutcracker again this year and will be an angel and an elf!  I get to be in the show with her this year.  (Feel free to come cheer us both on!)  She tried out for cheerleading recently and didn't make the team but handled it with such dignity and grace I couldn't be prouder if she HAD made it.  After a brief moment of sadness she looked right at me and said, "Well, I know what I need to work on if I want to make the team next year" then jumped in the car to go to dance class.  We must be doing something right!

So all in all, life here is pretty good.  We don't always have it all together, we forget about paperwork,we forget to pick up dog poop,  juggle the bills here and there,  and probably mess up a lot of other stuff but we are blessed to have one another.  I hope someday my kids read all of this and remember how much I love them.  I'm blessed to be their mommy and there isn't anything I wouldn't do to help them reach their dreams.  (Even if it does involve driving to bowling.)

God is good.
All the time.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dream Big

Fish in Trees
Helping Children Find Their Genius

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein

As a public school educator, it's become increasingly obvious that there is something WRONG with education.  It's NOT that teachers are bad.  It's not that they are lazy and overpaid, and don't want to do their jobs.   It is that teaching is no longer teacher driven and child centered.  What we teach and how we teach it is dictated to us as we scramble to push children through the system.  In our efforts to leave no child behind we are mandated to teach to tests, and force every child into the same sized education goals at the same pace and ignore the developmental stages that every child reaches at different times.  I don't want to do this anymore.  I don't think I CAN do this anymore.  It's heartbreakingly difficult to see children compare themselves to one another, to not be proud of where they are in their educational journey, and to think they've failed before they've even truly gotten started.  

I once held a classroom discussion about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  A bright eyed young girl raised her hand and eagerly announced she wanted to be a unicorn.  Amidst the laughs and guffaws of her classmates, tears welled up in her eyes until I told her and the rest of the class that unicorns are the BEST readers in the whole world, so if she wanted to be a unicorn we better get started on learning how to read.  The other kids thought I had lost my mind, my partner in crime (Leslie Thompson) smiled, and the joy once again returned to my young student's face as I validated her dream.  I want to help more children reach their dreams, and to do that I feel like I need to start my own business where I help children discover the world around them in a developmentally appropriate way, through multiple intelligences, and through exploration and play.  For the record, once she started reading (and she did) she changed her mind and wanted to be a teacher.  

Here's my biggest road block to reaching my dream:  FUNDING.  As a teacher with a large family, and an even larger student loan debt, not to mention credit cards, I'm not what the banks will consider a good credit risk.  Especially if I leave my "real" job to chase my dream.  I am terrified of risking my  family's financial security.  Truthfully, calling it security might be stretching it a bit, while we make what appears to be great money on paper, five children at home, one out of the home, bills, and food eat up every cent of what comes in and then some.  I have been inspired by the story of St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and it's humble beginnings and I am feeling called to place my trust in God and listen to the whisper that keeps growing louder with every day.  My time to act upon the ideas placed in my heart is coming soon.  I know that if I can bring my learning center to fruition I can make it successful.

I believe play is the work of the child and would plan days that involve multi sensory experiences, field trips, exploration, cooking, art, drama, dance, imagination, and time to just be a child.  I want to give my future students the opportunity to explore the world around them as they see fit.  I want to let their interests and curiosities drive the direction of our days and to help every child find out what they like, what they love, and to appreciate how much the world has to offer.  I am passionate about learning and believe that it can happen though a combination of all of these experiences.  Learning does not occur after just one lesson, it takes multiple exposures through a variety of mediums to find the switch to the proverbial light bulb.  After 17 years as a public educator I am certain that I can help make those connections become a reality for every child that I work with.  I wouldn't promise a time frame for the light bulb to be illuminated, but I would promise to be compassionate, considerate, and dedicated.  I would promise to make children love learning, believe in their abilities, and chase their dreams.

Here is MY dream, I want to create a learning center called Fish in Trees that is welcoming, accepting, and open to ALL children.  I want space for the children to play, to plant a garden, tend to some some animals, (I'm thinking chickens, rabbits, goats, etc.  (If I'm dreaming dream big right?)  I would help facilitate my children's learning by creating thematic learning opportunities that help children discover not only who they are, but who they want to be.  Exposing children to as many life experiences as possible, from an early age would be a driving force in my dream center.  I'd open Fish in Trees to children from ages infancy on up to preschool age to start, and hopefully expand to before and after care for older children.  I'd also quickly hire back my good pal Leslie Thompson to be my right hand lady again, and I'd try to rope in Debra Stevens and a host of other pals who are adept at working with children and offering therapies to children with special needs.  In my dream world Fish in Trees would be a place where parents would drop their child off with confidence knowing that their social, emotional, and academic needs would embraced, accepted, and celebrated.

Here's my photo list of dreams for those who are visual learners….

I'd love to get this house to turn into Fish in Trees… it's in a great location and looks like it's in move in condition!

I also need a giant van for field trips

I think I could figure out the rest.  I've got tons of stuff to create my dream learning center! 

I'm looking for ways to make Fish in Trees happen.  If you can help me out, or suggest an avenue to get my dream funded, please let me know.  Or feel free to forward my blog to Ellen Degeneres.  That lady is always making dreams come true!  I'm also not opposed to making my dream happen in Arlington Iowa, just in case Chris Soules happens upon this blog post.

God is good.  All the time.