Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back to Wild and Crazy

Wouldn't you think that when the same event occurs every year that there wouldn't be many surprises. Well, here I am, seven days into the school year and I feel completely behind.  It's been busy, busy.
But just before returning, there was one last day of play.  Pap set up the ladder for the boys to pick the three peaches he managed to save from squirrels on this tree.


Lots of swallowtail caterpillars.  We built a fancy home for this guy.

While her legs are twice as long, this girl's smile is just as sweet as it was when she was my fourth grader, quite awhile ago.  As a teacher, I work really hard to love all my kids and find their talents and give them opportunities to use them.  No work involved with this one.  I loved this child's spirit of adventure, love of critters and creativity nature from day one. I knew I could count her for whatever needed doing.  This is the fourth summer she's helped with me my littles and each summer I've wondered if it be her last, as teenagers live such busy lives these days.  Now, she's a senior. How did that happen?  A senior who happens to be my cadet teacher- yay me!  I so love how easy she is with my wee folk.  I have no trouble seeing her in a classroom, preferably one of those bohemian woodland kind.

 We tried a new project on this last hot and humid day. It was really way above a three year level, but that has never stopped me from letting them try.  They were putting those tiny colored beans in a frame to bake and  make "stained glass." Mr. Smiley asked for help and Jenna said, "Just a minute. As soon as I get this done I'll help you."  He politely informed her, " I need ALL the help."  Umm, excuse me, don't go helping someone else.

A local park had a butterfly festival, so that was the destination last month for Drummer Boy's crew.
They had a few activities and then a scavenger hunt.  

 We finished the scavenger hunt and Pap went back to retrieve our prize of a butterfly loving cone flower and the rest of us went down to the river.
It was sooooo hot and humid.   After our butterfly experience, we were off to have Chinese for lunch.
School began for me on July 24.  Last weekend, Bean swam at state.  I hadn't planned to go originally, as getting my classroom up and going and being "on" and talking non stop all day seems to get harder and harder.  I knew I would be worn to a frazzle. Saturday was his birthday though, and I just couldn't bear the thought of not seeing him.  My scanner no longer works, to share a picture here, but the picture in my mind is clear as a bell.  I didn't know how Ceece would be with us spending time with Bean as a baby.  The Captain was away at boot camp and I so know how overprotective new mama's can be, since I was one.  I was surprised  and delighted when she was good with me having him a few hours every week and I remember sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch just looking and looking at the wonder of him.  My, how many hours he and I spent on the  porch, under the maple trees in the dolphin swing, at the creek, in the deep dark woods.  My delight in him knew no bounds.  I was absolutely besotted and one of those people who annoy others with endless talk of a grandchild's beauty, perfection, genius.   He was a gift.  It turns out he is also a fish, or takes to the water like one.  He did an excellent job at state and I was glad I was there to embarrass his tall, thirteen year old self with hugs and a Happy Birthday banner.  

Then tomorrow, Ceece will celebrate her birthday.  I will celebrate her as well. I am particularly grateful for her willingness to allow Pap and I to be such a part of Bean and Bugg's life.
I had an unusual thing happen.  One of my parent's shared a story on Facebook this week.  In our Catholic School, each class takes a turn doing the readings, petitions, etc. for mass.  Now that our sixth grade has moved to our new middle school, my class is the oldest and does the first student mass.  My class also sings and signs after communion when it is their week.  Well, that's a lot just seven days into school.  I really don't know why I started this, but traditionally now I always have my struggling students do an "up front and speaking" part of the first mass.  My thinking is, I'm still doing lots of just getting to know them activities and I have time to spend with them on being well versed in what they are about to do.  Also, when they are successful, they surprise themselves and it really seems to set the tone for the year. We are getting ready to work with a refugee ministry to do a refugee simulation activity and a service project providing school supplies for refugees locally.  It isn't easy, but I really try to tie mass to real world situations, so these were two of our petitions.
" For those who serve in elected office, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, reflecting the Church's teaching that the moral test of our society is how the weak, the poor, and the vulnerable are faring"
We pray to the Lord.
" That the darkness of stigma, labels, exclusion and marginalization might be dispelled by the light of greater understanding, acceptance and respect for the dignity of every person."

First we said the words, then we learned what the words meant.  Then I asked one of my kiddos if she wanted to give these prayers a whirl.  She said she did, so we started practicing. The mom shares in her story that after years of speech and academic struggles, she just wasn't sure how her girl would handle these two prayers, especially in front of the audience.  She said when her girl read them practically perfectly, it was a proud Mom moment and she teared up.  Well honestly, I was feeling just as nervous.  This plan has actually worked very well in the past.  The kids feel so good about doing such a challenging  job, but those were hard words and well, did I push too hard this time, ask too much?Another teacher sat across the aisle and I could see that she was also holding her breath along with me.  When this little one read not only correctly, but fluently and prayerfully, we cheered (well, you know, a big smile, little fist pump and quiet clapping that she could see).  Apparently, the Mom saw this too and shared in her post that more tears ensued and how grateful she was that her child's current and former teacher were so proud of her daughter.
Over the years I have had so very many students who struggle.  If you have never been in a classroom, ever under pressure to up those state test scores, get through standards that are too many and developmentally inappropriate for a child performing at grade level,  I'm not sure you can understand how challenging it is when a child comes to you behind, maybe a little, maybe two to three grade levels.  Changing everything on the fly to try to bring it to an understandable level is flat out exhausting.  That is my job and I spend a lot of time trying every trick up my sleeve to make learning happen for this kind of kid.  I just want to say, it is nice when someone notices.  I have found when a parent wants to work with me, has some appreciation for my efforts, and the child is trying as well, I will do back flips for that child.  When a parent comes through the gate with an attitude that the student has picked up on and is always critical and inflexible, placing no responsibility on the kiddo, who does nothing to help themselves, it will be a long hard year for us all.   All that to say, I so appreciated that she noticed.  It was not only a wonderful boost to her child's school beginning, but to mine as well.
Today is the Woodland Fairy Picnic, so I best be about getting it done.


  1. Bean had quite the cheering section, I'm forever grateful for the people who choose to make my kiddos a priority!

    a fine way for a new teenager to spend his birthday.