What a Treasure!

I teach second grade.  This is my second year of teaching.  When I was setting up my classroom last year, I had to do some serious prioritizing.  One of the items that ended up on my “want” list, was to upgrade my classroom treasure box (and I use that term treasure box very loosely).

Last year, after buying some little toys I realized that I did not actually have a box in which to put the treasures.   I looked around and my eyes fell upon an empty copy paper box (with a lid – if that helps to fancy it up for you) and that became my “treasure box”.  I did not even try to make it more eye pleasing by coloring it or wrapping it in pretty paper.  Nope.  My treasure box is a sad empty copy paper box.

That is until today.

Today one of my students showed up with her mom and in their arms they were carrying a beautiful treasure box.  A box that is worthy of the name treasure box.  For my classroom.

At the start of this year, I made some off handed comment about the sorry state of my treasure box.  I said this more to make sure the students could identify it for what it was and not to complain about it.  I have not brought it up again.  Honestly.  Apparently this sweet little girl agreed with me and felt that something had to be done about her teacher’s treasure box.

Here are some pictures of my old and new treasure boxes side by side.

Treasure Box Collage

Yes, I am a dork and get excited about these simple things.  I gave the treasure box giving student the coveted job of transferring all the treasures from one box to the other.  She was thrilled and so was my class as I presented our new fabulous treasure box.

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Simple Sunday – Sunrise Over Sidewalk Rainbow Dinosaurs

On my walk around the neighborhood with the dogs this morning…

Rainbow Sidewalk

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The Double Standard of Belief (or What to Wear to a Hanukkah Party)

My parents were both raised to believe in God.  Both of them, somewhere along the way, chose to stop.

I was raised to notice and believe in the wholeness and beauty of nature.  That was our belief system, although at the time I would never have called it or thought of it as that.  It just was.  We had a small family farm from which we got our vegetables, our beef, pork, and chicken.  My parents, as most of you may know, were teachers.  My mom a first grade teacher and my dad middle and high school science teacher.  Both of them had higher level education in which science was central.  They met each other while in college when my mom was working in a laboratory studying cockroaches, of all things.

We did not go to church, much to the horror of several relatives.  My grandmother on my dad’s side religiously sent my sister and I bible stories (yes, I realize the pun, sorry)– pamphlets of thin paper with colorful pictures and brief stories of biblical heroes.  I enjoyed reading them and they actually inspired me as I got older to read the bible, but I did not consider, even for a moment, that it could be fact.  The stories were interesting, but outlandish.

On occasion I would go to Sunday school with a friend.  I liked the social aspect of it, the sense of belonging (and the snack of cookies and red punch afterwards didn’t hurt either).  It is this social aspect of organized religion that I think I would enjoy in my current life (and the snacks, although I am not sure if after service adults get to partake in them alongside the kids.)

My parents never told me to feel shame or to hide in anyway my disbelief in God.  It was not something I remember as being a big issue.  During the holidays when family came to visit, there was no bowed heads around our Thanksgiving table.  When it was family’s turn to host, we lowered our eyes, mumbled along awkwardly, and finished with a soft and foreign “amen”.

Husband and I have raised our children to be fully aware of, if not to embrace, our beliefs – not of God but in the energy and simple intricacy of nature.  Just as a Catholic or a Lutheran parent would raise their children to learn about and embrace their beliefs, we are doing the same.  I see nothing wrong with this.

But there is a different.  It does not seem OK to not believe.  There is an uncomfortableness that dampens conversations when Cody or Carter matter-a-factly state that they do not believe in God (or heaven or hell).  I do not want to teach them that they should be ashamed of or should hide these believes.  Why should I?  But at the same time we talk at length about the believes of others and the respect we should have for them.

Last week we received an invitation to a neighbor’s Hanukkah party.  The party is tonight.  I was stewing to Husband last night about what I should wear to such an event (Husband in his factual tone stated that if I wanted to go in the bounce house that would be set up in their backyard, I should steer clear of wearing a dress).

This morning while showering, I was struck with a sense of worry.  Would Cody or Carter offend our neighbors, and hopefully soon to be friends, by proclaiming their disbelief in God?  I hope not.  And I suppose that if they are offended, assuming such a conversation does pop up, maybe that should be an indication that we will not be close friends.

I don’t know.  But I do know what I will wear – nice slacks and a comfy, cute long-sleeved shirt.

I am planning on joining the kids in the bounce house.

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And the Stockings were Sorted

My school district closes for the entire week of Thanksgiving.  Cody and Carter’s school, however, is open Monday and Tuesday.  This means that I had two days off with no kids around the house.  Very nice.

I did the typical things – laundry, lesson planning, lunch out with Husband (hooray!) – and some atypical things – reading in the sunny backyard, locating and lugging out of our storage unit all our Christmas things I so missed last year when we lived in the apartment.

Christmas in my Car

Feeling a bit Christmassy and with half a day of alone time on my hands, I decided to go stocking stuffer shopping.  I love stocking stuffers.  They are by far my favorite thing about Christmas.  I like buying them, I like wrapping them, I like putting them in the stockings, and I love watching people reach into an almost magical never-ending depth of a soft red stocking to pull out the little wrapped gifts.

Stockings are a perfect end to the traditions of our family Christmas (we are the people who open gifts on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Morning there are one or two gifts from Santa and the stockings, also from the jolly rotund fellow.)  The morning is mellow, the large, loudly colored and beeping toys have all been opened the night before.  The small gifts found in the stockings are simple, useful, or tasty snacks.  They are the surprising little twinkling bursts of purple, red, or blue after a large and loud firework.

It is the day before Thanksgiving and the stocking stuffers have been purchased and sorted.  Never have I been one to be ahead of the game when it comes to Christmas.  So yeah, I am feeling a big smug.

Sorted Stocking Stuffers

In an effort to deflect any interest the boys may have if they were to look up at the top shelf in our closet, I have labeled them according to size instead of using names. Carter is big, Cody is bigger, and Husband is biggest.

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Simple Sunday – Practicing Wearing Pants

The mornings have become cold here in Arizona.  The temperatures have been in the low 40’s when I drop the boys off at their school.

And still, they do not want to wear pants.  Finally I insisted.

So Carter wears pants on the weekends, “practicing wearing pants”, in preparation for the school week.

He continues to tell me that he would rather wear “short pants” but my momma guilt is strong and he will not win.

At least not this round.

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The Substance of Grief

This morning, the first day after the day of the death of my father-in-law, I found myself trying to define the sense and complexity of grief.

What could I use to define it?  Grief is a long list of adjectives and those adjectives very neatly contradict each other.  It can be heavy.  It can be light.  It can be overpowering or something lingering and vague.

I finally settled on the idea that grief is perhaps simply a substance just like any other substance.  Grief, as a substance or a form of matter, can take the form of a solid, a liquid, or a gas (yes, if you want to get technical there is also plasma and a couple other states that occur in very rare situations but let us not consider those at this time).

Sometimes grief is a solid.  It is heavy.  It is constricting.  It pushes the air out of your lungs and keeps you from taking a proper breath.

Sometimes grief is fluid.  It flows like a fresh water stream into the salty vastness of the sea.  It can drown you.

And sometimes grief is a gas that can be compressed, forced into hiding so no one can see it.  At the same time it can expand and take over the entire space of your life.  It is wispy and ungraspable.  Maddening.

That is it.  My definition of my grief.  It can elude you in one moment and in the next it can sucker punch you in the gut.

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Simple Sunday – The Small in the Vast

We went on a hike in the desert mountain range near our house today.  I took many pictures looking across the vastness of the city surrounding us.

But what I saw looking down, just off the edge of the trail, somehow holds more than the distance and depth of the view looking out.

Looking down

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The First, but I Suspect, not the Last

Apparently sometime last week, Cody did not eat his snack.  It simply stayed put, forgotten in the dark recesses of the outer pocket of his new backpack.

That is, until tonight.

It took me several minutes to determine what it was I was looking at.

Ah, a banana.  Or what used to be a banana.  It was now a rather offensive brown moist paste, dried around the edges and pealing off in chunky hunks.  It was smeared throughout the entire pocket, oozing from within the inside hidden pockets within the pocket, including in between the teeth of the zipper.  At least it didn’t smell.  Much.

I was more exasperated than anything and so directed Cody to a roll of paper towels and suggested he wet the towels before scraping out the brown paste.  Yuck!

He worked at it a few minutes and then, breathlessly announced that he had to stop because he was afraid he would throw up.  I nodded.  He has put in his time.

I don’t think I made it quite as long as he did before my gag reflex started to kick in.

All I can say is that I am very thankful for Spray n Wash and our poor, poor washing machine.

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Simple Sunday – Soda Fountain Smiles

Happiness is…

Happiness is

a root beer float.

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Day after Halloween Car Conversations

cody:  Carter, wouldn’t it be soooo cooool if we were in an accident and after the airbags inflated and saved us, they popped open and they were filled with candy?!?

I don’t know about you all, but immediately after a high speed head-on collision, I want nothing more than a box of rainbow nerds and a couple mini 100 Grand bars.

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