QOTD: New Mama

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With turning 40 comes a new age bracket.  New age category means new health tests, screens, and appointments.  This week I went to the first of such appointments.  An hour and a half later I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  Walking in the door that night, little R, almost 4, said, “Mama are you old?”  Recently celebrating the big 4-0 together, he must have sensed the “change” from a regular birthday to a big one.  I replied, “I’m just feeling a little old today buddy.”  His reply, while priceless, was a little alarming, “so are we getting a new mama?”  No he did not mean that this mama was being transformed into a skinnier, more energetic, back to my youth mama.  Yes, he wanted to know about a brand, new mama.  Not exactly something one wants to hear after a long day at school and the doctor’s office.

Note to self, work on transforming into a younger version of this Mama.

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Pinch me please

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“Could someone pinch me please?”, from Annie.
This motherhood thing is a pretty sweet gig. Cuddles, hugs, giggles, and endless fun…what’s not to love?! Often I find myself gazing at our little trio and wondering how we got the sweet life. How is it that R has an infectious smile and flirtatious manner? Where did Miss E get her multitude of laughs and quirky little attitude? And Big Bro M, he is so sensitive and sweet, how are we so lucky?

Life is moving faster than ice cream on a hot summer day. Practices, homework, reading, play. So much fills our days. One of my favorite moments is our family dinner time. We will eat early just so we can all share the table. The stories. The smiles. The highs and lows shared. Makes any bad day melt away. Cures any pained memory. Softens a hard face. Reminds me of why I longed to be a mama. Mostly though, fills my cup until it runneth over.

Tonight as we enjoyed our family story time, my heart ached. Many of my students or our children’s classmates do not get these cherished family moments. I have a mission. Is it possible? How can I create the time? Nourish the minds? Can I have a family like unit in my classroom? Will our children reach out and move beyond their friendship circles? If only…

Meanwhile, back at home, this parenthood trip is a pretty awesome adventure. I hope that the laughter does not stop, the smiles keep spreading, and the hugs never cease. Pinch me, please, I don’t want this to end.

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40 in 40

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40 in 40

40 words for forty years.

Birth illness hearing loss

growing changing learning beginnings

college hope education career

love art friendships puppies

infertility hurt excitement birth

motherhood son premature tiny

faith courage patience surprise

rest daughter small strength

shock pregnancy precious family

travel laughs fun now.

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My life.

Balancing Act

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When I started this blogging adventure, my evenings were dotted with recipe searches and pinning crafts. Sprinkled in, I might share a family story, restaurant review, or vacation meanderings.

Then life twisted, turned, and the kiddos grew a bit. Instead of Pinterest, I’m scouring twitter, blogs, vlogs, or Zite trying to catch up on the latest educational “it” thing. My cooking soirees reduced down to a light dinner, maybe even a bag of chips. The only thing I’m pinning these days is kids clothes because I still have not gotten my sewing machine repaired. My evenings looking for a new recipe or restaurant to visit have morphed into tweeting parenting and educational tidbits, updating one of three facebook accounts, and working through parenting dilemmas of homework, practices, and finding a zen routine (still looking).

Parenting in the educational arena is tough. Each night I add to my Evernote notebook articles to help support learning at home, strategies to use in the classroom, and apps to share with students and my own children. A teacher’s job is never completed at 3:03, instead it is just beginning. My PLN (Personal Learning Network) extends beyond walls, states, and countries. It is a vast web of people, ideologies, and learning. I often get so caught up in what I’m learning that I forget other nightly duties…lunches for the next day, laundry, packing tomorrow’s bags, and so on. How can I manage it all?

I cannot. I am balancing what I can and have left some things to fall. Foodie trends still peak my interest, but education is what pays my bills. At the beginning of this school year, I committed myself to getting outside my small box to learn, share, and extend myself more. As a parent, I told myself to put away the phone, snuggle more, and worry less about creating recipe masterpieces requiring long preps. In friends, I am trying to balance life with people who build me up and not tear me down, share laughs over life’s triumphs, and are on our parental wave. My husband and I are trying to snuggle more, praise more, and yell less. It’s all a balance.

Something usually has to give. I am not sure how to balance all that I want and need. Parenting, education, relationships, and everything in between, can I fit one more piece? When will life imitate Topple?

20140331-211442.jpgI am so glad that I didn’t miss this.

The I AM in Blogging

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All around twitterville, blog-o-sphere, and educational readings, having a teacher blog is talked about.  “Share your story” was a theme at my latest Transitions Council meeting.  So I ask, is not this blog my story??  

Education is not just who I am.  I am a mother raising three, amazing kids in a bi-lingual home and always looking for more family time in our daily hustles and bustles.  I am a wife juggling family responsibilities and date nights.  I am a friend trying to carve out hang out time and finding my place in the mommy circles.  I am an individual looking for me time and finding ways to express who I am.  Yes, I am a teacher who hangs out on twitter, reads educational texts for fun, supports a growing club, responds to emails at all hours, and I haven’t even mentioned my daily teacher duties (lessons, grading, planning, reading, you get the picture).  I am ME.  My blog will be about my interests and passions, maybe parenting.  Perhaps some recipes.  Maybe a review.  And even a little educational tidbit.

Smalltownjules is me.  I am small town jules.  So if they say blog, I shall!  But I’ll do it my way.

Peer to Peer

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In the last month, high school students have taught me more about teaching, relationships, and helping others than my many years of life experience. Recently our school started a START Peer to Peer Links program . Students working with students on the Autism Spectrum to learn school and social skills. In essence, friendships created through the program can help identified students be a part of school and community through positive interactions.
In our programs few months, our student “link” volunteers are 40 and growing daily. Students see a genuine need to support the identified students. They extend themselves to working with these students during class, at lunch, and before school, not because they have to or are getting credit, but because they WANT to. Kids are stopping me in the hallway asking how they can sign up and be a peer or help the program.
Today a parent of a LINK stopped me to talk about the wonderful influence of the program. At night her son wants to tell her about the program, how he helped his student, and most importantly, how great he feels about being involved with the whole program. Another parent recently sent a message me with similar accolades. She was thankful that her son was finally involved in something at school and was beginning to feel a part of the school. Another time a student sent a message wanting to be a part of the program, not as a link, but identified in himself that he needed a friend.
The other Peer to Peer advisors and I are overwhelmed by the onslaught of volunteers, but in awe of the power of this program. These kids have grand plans for the program and we are along for the ride.
With no funding, fundraising is a priority to keep this, all volunteer program, afloat. The “LINKS” did a Pizza Hut fundraiser and ran a basketball game concessions. We want to purchase student Tiger Links shirts for the students so we can increase awareness about our program and reward the students for their dedication. Also on the agenda is an end of the year team building outing. Many of these kids come different walks of life and are just getting learning about each other. Hopefully getting the word out will help our funding efforts.
These students have fueled a a passionate fire that is burning bright. I am honored to be a part it. More to come as the goodness of this program spreads!

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Writing Blues

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My son has the blues, the writers blues.  His passion for story writing and creative dialogues, gone.  Much of this has to do with his handwriting.  His writing has been called ugly and told it hurts my eyes.  To little, sensitive ears, this is devastating.  The new writing program incorporates peer editing.  One of his first partners, a good writer, critiqued and pointed out each flaw.  What he heard and felt, left him ashamed.  Another part of the new program, is multi-draft writing.  As a HS teacher, I understand the importance of starting kids young, but 2nd grade?  By his final draft, he gave up.  He handed in a sloppy, incomplete paper and received a just grade per the rubric.  A rubric in 2nd grade?  He did not even understand most of the rubric.  He can spell, but after lengthy writing, often gives up and resorts to his own short hand phonetic spellings.  After seeing his struggles and knowing that the creative spark is still in him, he would be a great candidate for a laptop or ipad.  Our district does not have this capability.  He is not special ed, but his inner writing demons often leave me wondering about how can I best help him.  We occasionally have him work on his handwriting.  The key is finding a way to integrate it without seeing handwriting as more work.  What else can we do?  I miss my son’s creative outlet.  By 2nd grade, can this be lost completely?  What ways can we encourage him without adding to the pressure he already feels?