ALL ABOUT LIFE BEYOND KINDERGARTEN! Kindergarten is the basic building block for all future learning. It is true that everything you need to know in life was really learned in Kindergarten. The trick is to remember what you learned when you were five or six. What you liked then will most likely be something you will like now. So be true to yourself and who you really are and who you will really be. Look back and you just may find your true self! Yes…this blog is about a variety of topics…because we are all a smorgasbord of thoughts and ideas.
It was just a night out to have dinner at a small pizza and pasta restaurant. Last Saturday night…the night we met a particularly friendly waitress. The waitress we won’t soon forget.
We walked inside from the unusually cold Texas night. The warm atmosphere was immediate. Pretty linen tablecloths. A man playing the piano…beautifully playing Broadway tunes, current songs, jazz. Soft lights. Quiet conversations at several tables. This is not the normal pizza place. We felt like we were invited into someone’s home.
After we were seated, our waitress came over to get our drink order. So outgoing. A beautiful smile. Young. Perhaps in her very early twenties. Friendly and confident. Efficient. She even brought us an extra plate so we could share the salad…just because the salad was large. She thought that we might want to both have a salad with our dinner. Thoughtful.
I remember thinking that she seemed especially mature for her age. Probably a college student making extra money. Parents who brought her up correctly…as if anyone really knows the correct way to raise a child.
We soon found out that her parents were far from good parents. As we were about to pay for our dinner, she looked towards the door. “Oh look! It’s my husband’s dad and brother! I love it when my family comes here for dinner!”
When she brought our receipt back, she apologized for getting so excited about someone coming in who we didn’t even know. She went on to explain that her husband’s family was all the family she had. She truly thought that her husband’s family was wonderful. Her own family was in another city, but she didn’t see them anymore.
She didn’t intend to see them until they got their act together. She doubted that they ever would make it. She told us that her family is seriously into dangerous drugs. She said that their lifestyle is not the lifestyle that she wanted. She had practically raised herself.
Without good teachers, she could not imagine where she would be. Eventually she left home…to make it on her own. She soon met her husband and was recently married. Her family did not even know about the pretty wedding. She was going to college and working at the restaurant in the evenings.
Once she started talking, she told us the entire story. She said that she could have been sad. She said that she could have been totally lost. She said that she had faith and that she knew that she was on the right path. She was planning to be a teacher and help someone else make something special of themselves.
What a heartfelt story. A story with such a positive outcome. A story that made us smile for this ambitious young woman who grew up to be so very resilient. Not an ounce of forlornness surrounding our waitress on Saturday night.
Congratulations to a future teacher. She will probably change many lives!
Last year was constantly serious to me. Politics. World Diplomacy. Economics. Education. Terrorism. Hunger. Climate. Animal Rights. Immigration. Isolation. Fear. Threats. Bi-Partisan Absence. Harassment. Distrust. Argue. More Arguments. The Most Arguments.
Important issues bombard us each day. It is sometimes difficult to leave for our daily responsibilities without a heavy heart. Without a new worry. Without a sudden need to talk back to someone about anything. I believe that this negative response to disagreement is leading us down the wrong turn in the road.
When did our innate happiness disappear? Or did it? I have always thought that a cheerful continence is the route to cohesion. Am I the only one who feels this way? Surely not.
When I read the WordPress Daily topic yesterday, I was intrigued. WINSOME? Maybe we need a dose of that kind of medicine. The word “winsome” brings thoughts of pleasing behavior, charm, kindness, honesty and a general feeling of cheer. The idea sounds so childlike. Right? I am not trying to be a “Pollyanna”, but I have seen some mighty childlike behavior from politicians from both sides of the aisle.
Therefore…I suggest some lighthearted moments. Just here and there. We realize how serious the world agenda appears to be. Constant bickering is not the total way to solve the problems. Personally, I am tired of the instant anger.
Let’s start with the basic way to change your immediate atmosphere and attitude. Quit going around with a frown on your face. Quit wearing dark and uninspiring colors. Brighten your immediate world. Lighten your immediate world. I know…just a tiny start. Find your inner “winsome” self…
Find your winsome self. Smile. Agree. Agree to disagree. Compromise. Just try to get along with someone with a cheerful demeanor. We can’t always be serious. At least…we can dress with winsome!
Teachers can learn quite a lot on the first day of school….as I did about five years ago. When a six year old child arrived in class, he promptly told me that he had a “bad” allergy. He did not have a note from a parent, not a note from a doctor not a note from the school nurse. I asked him to tell me about his allergy. This was his immediate answer:
“Most everyone else has an allergy…so I do too. I am allergic to NOT having chocolate cake every day when I get home from school. If I have chocolate cake, I feel fine.”
The surprising fact was that his mother did indeed make him a small chocolate cake each day. The cake was hot and ready when he arrived home. She didn’t want to make him feel badly for NOT having an allergy.
True story…no kidding! But…allergies are serious and not something to tie in with popularity in a classroom.
Teaching school these days is sometimes like being a physician without a medical degree or a nurse who never attended nursing school or a child psychologist with only nine college hours of psychology. There are multiple allergies in multiple classrooms and these allergies can absolutely be life threatening. It is a very frightening reality…even for a veteran teacher. I must admit that I rarely heard about serious allergies earlier in my career. At that time, I honestly never had a student to become ill from a negative reaction to an allergy source.
What caused the world to change? Medical research tells us that these severe allergies exist and exist at an alarming growth rate. A site titled everydayhealth.comstates the following: “Between 1997 and 2011, food allergies among children under age 18 jumped 50%, according to a 2013 report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)”.
Why are childhood allergies on a quick rise? There are theories. Rarely is a definitive answer found.
A sampling of leading theories:
1. Better hygiene. Our much improved ability to prevent germs has caused our immune system to become off balance. This is referred to as the “hygiene hypothesis”.
2. Some American parents wait to introduce infants to foods that are potential allergens like peanuts. In cultures where peanuts are given to children at an early age, the number of peanut allergies is lower than in the United States.
3. Parents have been reporting food and skin allergies at an increased rate. Doctors are better able to identify children with serious allergies. Therefore, doctors appear to be reporting more cases of allergy.
What foods cause the highest number of allergies in children?
According to NBC’s Today Show, approximately 90% of all food allergies are caused by the following foods:
Since it is January 4, I knew that the Valentine’s Day displays would be more than a little obvious in the stores. I saw the signal that February is just around the corner within thirty seconds after entering Central Market. I am surprised that I even had time to get a shopping cart before I was bombarded with bright red hearts.
Trust me…I would never forget the significance of Valentine’s Day! I simply need to recover first from the busy times around the Christmas holidays. I have not even found a place for the extra wrapping paper. I may do that today.
Nevertheless…I have a wonderful cookie recipe that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. So delicious!!!
RED VELVET THUMBPRINT COOKIES
What to have on hand:
*4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
*1/4 cup sugar
*1 large egg
*1 1/2 teaspoons red liquid food coloring
*1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
*1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*2 ounces cream cheese, softened
*1/4 cup white chocolate morsels, melted according to package directions. Cool.
***Garnish: white chocolate morsels
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg and food coloring. Beat 30 seconds.
2. Sift the flour with the cocoa and salt in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 1/2 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Press thumb or end of a wooden spoon into each ball, forming an indentation.
4. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes or until cookies are fragrant and dry. While cookies are still warm, press indentations again. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).
5. Stir together cream cheese and melted white chocolate in a small bowl. Fill centers of cookies with cream cheese mixture.
***Garnish the center of each cookie with a white chocolate morsel.***
As I have written before, we lost our son in a very sad car accident in October, 2004. To say that it was totally heartbreaking is an underestimate. I knew that we needed to get back to our regular routine as soon as possible. So…we found our strength and found our way back to our familiar life. We focused on our careers, our friends and our daughter who was then a college student.
Crowfoot, a chief of the Siksika First Nation.
I loved teaching school and found incredible joy in getting to know the children and their families. I knew that I would feel much better when I saw those smiling children. And I did! My elementary school at the time was like a “windows on the world”…so many cultures and so many languages. There were many Vietnamese families in the area surrounding the school…wonderful families with a clear focus on giving their children the chance for a bright future through education. The year that we lost our son was my first year to teach third grade… after teaching Kindergarten for several years.
Fireflies streaking through a gorge near the foothills.
Little did I realize how a child in my Third Grade class would give me the hope that comes from understanding the meaning of loss. One of my students had moved from Vietnam just three short weeks before school started. She only knew a few words of English… “hello, goodbye, friend, thank you”. Eager to learn and always kind, she smiled continuously and listened to every word that was uttered in class. She was paired with two older students for thirty minutes or so a day for English tutoring. I learned that peer assistance in any language development is the real key.
Walking among the fireflies.
By Christmas, the young child was virtually fluent in English…a miracle to me and a testament to her work ethic. On the state test in the Spring, her score on the reading part was one of the highest of all the students. During that time, she started reading many types of poetry and enjoyed looking up special topics in the library.
A garden of fireflies.
One sunny Spring day, she quietly placed a paper on my desk during morning announcements. It was a poem that she evidently found in the library. She had added an illustration with her handwriting. As she walked away from my desk, she said…
“Mrs. Davis, I know that you must be still sad about your son. I think that these words will help you!”
To the very smart and very perceptive little girl from Vietnam…now a grown up young woman…”The words you found are still giving me happiness and peace today. Thank you!”
The paper that my young student from Vietnam gave me that sunny Spring day…