Simple Sunday – Stairs and Matchbox Cars

Fun with matchbox cars

Slinky’s got nothing on this.

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Skating Backwards

Last weekend we attended a birthday party for a girl in Cody’s third grade class.  Cody has spoken of this girl, who I shall refer to as Bea, for quite some time.  They play together at recess and spend time sitting on a bench in the school’s butterfly garden just chatting.  Cody has also told me that Bea and him like to play Tinkerbell – she plays the part of the pirate and Cody gets to be Tinkerbell.  It makes me smile to visualize that.

When we arrived at the party, Bea’s younger sister promptly informed me that Cody and her sister were boyfriend and girlfriend.  She then skipped merrily off singing, “Cody and Bea, sitting in a tree…” – you know the rest.

There was roller skating, hotdogs and cake, presents, party bags, and balloons.

Most of the adults were rather good at roller skating, especially some of the men who glided across the polished wooden floor as if it were ice.  It had been at least two decades since I had been on roller skates.  I found that I could skate forward and even turn and stop when I wanted (for the most part).  I could not, however, get the hang of skating backward.  I would stick my left leg out and back, try to turn my hips and push off the ground.  Then I would try with my other leg.  The floor would not move under me.  I am sure I looked rather comical floundering around in one place getting nowhere.

As I was getting an impromptu lesson on skating backwards from one of the beautifully gliding men, a woman motioned me over to the wooden railing.  She introduced herself as Bea’s Aunt.  Then she said how glad she was that our family came – something about us crossing over the color line.  It took me by surprise.  I was not sure how to respond other than to politely and honestly say that we were glad for the invite and we were all having a great time.

I always feel a bit awkward at kids birthday parties, walking into a roomful of strangers, trying to make chit-chat.  And yeah, to be honest, it crossed my mind that I might feel a bit more out of place at this particular birthday party than others I have attended but only because I do not have much practice with being in the minority.

But I did not.  In fact, I think I was so focused on roller skating, on skating backwards, that any feelings of awkwardness I felt were of the physical kind and had nothing to do with meeting strangers, whatever race they or I might be.

Roller Skating Party

Cody and “Bea” (with Carter in the background).


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Simple Sunday – If you Give them Suction Cup Toothbrushes…

Suction Cup Toothbrush Collage

expect some shenanigans during tooth brushing time.

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My Sick Day Rule(s)

The scans came back normal.  So did the X-rays.  After talk of keeping him overnight, he was released and Husband came home with Cody a bit before 11 last night.  This means Cody’s shunt is fine and we are not facing surgery.  It also means that we do not really understand what happened and are left with unanswered questions.

Cody is feeling fine.  He is happy and full of his typical child-without-a-care-in-the-world energy.

I, however, feel beat down tired – physically and emotionally.

Husband felt that Cody was fine to go back to school today.  And after being home with him all morning and afternoon, I agree.  But that really does not matter for I stand by my decision to keep him home.

But not for him.  For me.

I have this unspoken (and previously unwritten) rule regarding sick days and their relation to hospital visits.  That is why I ended up sitting in my car at 6:20 this morning waiting for the before school program lady to show up so I could dash into my classroom and prep for the sub who had not picked up the job I put out there last night, but who I was hoping would (and would show up and be kind and wonderful to my students).

These are some of my rules:

If we end up at the hospital emergency room on a school night, the next day should be a sick day.

If we end up having an unexpected meal at a hospital cafeteria, the next day should be a sick day.

If we spend hours waiting in a fishbowl-like room right near the main hub in the emergency department where we have to repeat our story at least four or five times while trying to keep the fear and panic out of our voices, the next day should be a sick day.

I am sure there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind.

We are home.  Cody is well.  I appear well on the surface.  I can not go so far as to say I am well.  I struggle with the black cloud in Cody’s head.  I struggle with how to manage my emotions towards it.  My relationship with it is unhealthy.  I don’t know what to do about it.  So I continue to appear well on the outside, at least as best as I can.

And because the teacher in me could not allow him to languish around the house all day not learning anything, I encouraged him to set up a store and we “worked” with money.

Codys Store Collage

I think I need to teach him that the cent symbol come after the number, not before.

Thank you for your kind words and your support.  It helps to write about it.  And it helps to know others are there listening.

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What is Important

Today Husband and I both took the day off work to attend a Celebration of Life for my Husband’s uncle, Reynold.  He passed away last Monday and is greatly missed by many people.  There was a small family-only celebration/service over which a pastor presided.  Prayers were said and memories of Reynold were exchanged.

I am not a religious person, but I bowed my head politely, looking at the cobblestone upon which we all stood.  Those moments, they struck something within me.  There I stood, part of a small circle composed of three generations, taking pause to simply think of and reflect upon a loved one.  Within that circle Reynold was many things to many people – a husband, brother, a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a friend.  My eyes flitted to the faces around me and I felt a wave of sadness brought on by the fact that these moments, these pauses in life, are so few and far between.  It took a death for us to gather.


I paused in the writing of this so Husband and I could embrace the two hours we had before the kids needed to be picked up.  We went out for a drink and snacks – time to be together and enjoy one another’s company.  A phone call from the school jarred us out of our moment.  Cody had been complaining of a serious headache, crying about it.  Not like him at all.  Then he started throwing up.  We flagged down our waiter,threw money at him, and left.

As I write this Husband is still at the hospital with Cody.  There was an MRI done and the full shunt series of X-rays too.  Carter and I took a cab home.  I gave him a bath, read him a story, and tucked him in bed.

And now I wait, we wait.

What is important? (to get back to my original thought) – the people in our lives.  My brain is too tired to say more, to write more so I shall stop and simply wait.

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Simple Sunday – Car Conversations

Car driving conversation are the best.  Out of the blue, Carter had this to say:

carter: When I grow up I might be a librarian. 

me: Ah.  That would be a good choice.

carter: I like to read.  Reading is number one.  Ice cream is number two.  And math is number three.

me:  Surprised that reading beat out ice cream in his list of favorite things, Wow, those are all great things!

carter: Maybe I will have a library that serves ice cream in the summer.  And it would have a little school in it too.  People would have to read and use books to do math and then eat ice cream.

Now that sounds like a fun library!

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Valentine’s Day, Second Grade Style

Yesterday was not Valentine’s Day – unless you were an elementary school student or elementary school teacher.

The first week of February the students cut out construction paper hearts and wrote on them who their favorite book character was and why.  That became our as-you-enter-the-room bulletin board (note for next year either use a different color paper in the background or don’t use dark red for the hearts.)

Valentines Day 1

As a gift to my students I wanted to give them something fun, useful, and sugar free.  I perused Pinterest and came up with the multi-colored heart shaped crayon.  So last Friday I collected all the broken crayons and took them home (what the heck – why so many broken crayons?!?)  I soaked them in cold water to help with the label removal process.  Cody and Carter were great helpers with this.

Valentines Day 2

Next we broke the crayons down even further and put the pieces into a silicon Wilton 24 count mini heart pan Husband found for me on Amazon.

Valentines Day 3

I don’t remember now, but I think I put them in a cold oven, set it to 250 degrees, and baked it for about 15 minutes or until the crayons were all melted.

Valentines Day 4

Once they were cooled and hardened, I popped them out of the pan.

Valentines Day 5

I used festive red saran wrap, a label I found on Pinterest, and some curling ribbon.

Valentines Day 7

Yesterday was not Valentine’s Day – but for me and my students it was.  The morning and the majority of the day was business as usual: morning work, morning meeting, Writer’s Workshop (but with cute Valentine writing paper), spelling test (but with a cute Valentine theme test paper), reading groups, reading activity, snack and sharing (birthday celebration for one of the students who could not afford to bring in a birthday treat so I surprised them with Oreos), P.E., lunch and recess, math (place value coloring activity involving hearts and skip counting in heart shaped boxes), and then free choice centers and our Valentine exchange and party.

I am sad that I was so busy that I completely forgot to take pictures of the party (not that I would feel comfortable posting them here, but I am compiling pictures from throughout the year for some, as of yet, undetermined end of school thing).  All the kids’ Valentine mailboxes were filled to overflow.  At the end of the day I got many sticky handed hugs and frosting tinted smiles.

And they made sure I did not go home empty handed either.  Wow!  (Can you tell my students know I love owls?)

Valentines Day 8

It was a great day.  The excitement, joy, and energy my students wiggled with helped me keep at bay the thoughts and tears lurking in the back of my mind.

Yesterday was not Valentine’s Day.  It was the day before Valentine’s Day – the day my dad passed away just three short (or sometimes long) years ago.  The hearts and sweet candies of Valentine’s Day will forever be associated with those last moments filled with sorrow and relief for me.  Love and loss and life.  I am glad I had my family and my students to remind me of the good and to lessen the sad of yesterday.

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Simple Sunday – Late to the Party

National Pie Day is on January 23rd.  As luck would have it, I was sick on the weekend we had planned to celebrate it with family and friends.  The following weekend after that was Super Bowl Sunday.

And so it was that this weekend we ate pie and hung out with family and friends.

There were lots of delicious pies…

Pie Day1 2015

And more pies (plus a bowl of chocolate pudding that Carter made.)

Pie Day2 2015

Everyone sampled the pies…

Pie Day 2015 Collage

Conversation turned to the mathematical concept of pi.  This caught Cody’s attention.  Lucky for him, his Aunt is a math teacher and so we busted out the measuring tape, a piece of string, a calculator, and several bowls to prove pi, 3.14.

Pie Day 2 Collage

With pie in our bellies and 3.14 on our minds, it turned out to be a very nice Pie Day celebration.

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Simple Sunday – Go Hawks!!

Enough said.


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Just Trying to Get the Girl

Groundhog Day.

We can add that to the ever growing list of events/items/holidays/things that I know about but don’t really know all that much about.

When Cody became of the question-asking-age many years ago, I realized that my vast banks of knowledge on such things are really not all that vast or deep and that I actually know less about such things than I thought I did.  Now that I am a teacher, I am discovering even more of these black holes of knowledge.  When you have to teach a roomful of second graders about a holiday or a person from history you need to know your stuff.  (Could you teach a gaggle of students who Jonny Appleseed was, why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, or how it was decided which Presidents faces should be carved into Mount Rushmore (and how the local Native American’s who lived there at the time felt about it)?)

Enter Groundhog Day.  I have never really given it much attention.  Here are some things that come to mind when someone mentions Groundhog Day to me:

  • It was a hilarious movie
  • The Curious George Episode where I learned groundhogs are also called whistle pigs
  • There is some famous, and rather fat looking, groundhog in Pennsylvania that gets a lot of attention this time of year
  • It is the day Husband and I got married 13 years ago (mostly because I let him pick the date so he would have no excuse to forget it and he picked 02-02-02.  He has never forgotten it – so far.)
  • Something about a shadow and a prediction about 6 or 8 more weeks of winter

And so it was this morning as I was drinking my coffee and Cody and Carter were partaking in their weekend morning computer time, that I learned an interesting and perfectly sensible fact about Groundhog day.  Cody loves to watch Wild Kratts on PBS kids and this morning he picked an episode about Groundhog day.

cody:  They come up to find a girl.

me: What?  Who comes up from where?  I had no idea what the heck he was talking about as he did not preface his comment with any background or topic type.

cody:  Groundhogs.  You know they are also called whistle pigs.  They are looking for a girl.

me: A girl?  I was slow to catch up.  I only had drunk about half a cup of coffee – that is my defense.

cody:  A groundhog girl.  The boys wake up from their hibernation earlier than the girls.  They are looking for a girl groundhog, not their shadow.

I looked it up, and sure enough he is right.  It is all about getting the girl.


A flower for you, my dear?


Oh, and one more confession regarding my lack of Groundhog day knowledge.  After having written this entire post, I questioned whether the holiday had an apostrophe “s” at the end.  It does not.  In fact it has no “s” at the end at all.  I thought it did and have been pronouncing it like that forever.  I promptly went back and corrected all my Groundhogs days into Groundhog days.

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