Now 13 Days Until First Time, Last Day

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Hallway

UPDATE!!! Closer than believable…Monday is 13 Days Until First Time, Last Day. I have continued my countdown until school is out for good. I started with 34 Days Until First Time, Last Day. At least, it will be out for good for one person. Me. It is difficult to fathom such a major event, yet a somewhat happy/sad event. I am so very near to the point of retiring. It surprised me when I checked the calendar. I actually counted the days three times. This surely was not correct. I had only 34 days to bring about some miracles in my classroom. Now 13 days? No way!

I can’t retire until Table #1 stops talking continuously. Doubt it will happen. I think that I should be the one with the most words to say. I certainly can’t retire until Table #2 has each and every child finish a project at…

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The Gym Dandy Generation

Gym Dandy Surrey

When I was about eight or nine years old, I met a toy that I would always keep safely in my memory. THE GYM DANDY SURREY. I wanted one. I needed one. I never, ever actually owned one. It is over 50 years since I first saw the beauty of the GYM DANDY in a friend’s driveway. It was truly amazing. My parents just could not really understand my insistent disclaimer about this toy. They were from a much different generation.

Now I understand the situation. They were young teenagers when the Great Depression began. Times were rough. Then WWII came along. My dad was in the Navy during the war. After he returned, my brother was four years old instead of the baby he had left. My mother lived with my grandparents while my dad was gone. When the war began and ended, they had barely started their life together. I imagine it was difficult to get back into the comings and goings of everyday life. They worked and saved and were able to buy a brand new house in a nice neighborhood. I was born as the fifties were coming upon us.

The baby boomers, the consumers, the future hippies were born. And the parents who grew up during the depression seemed forever worried about money, success, saving, and conservative viewpoints. Their children were often so very different. I became a member of the consumer generation when I saw that GYM DANDY SURREY. I forgot about it most of the time. I went through a phase of wanting a Ford Mustang. I loved that car when I finally got one. I went through a phase of wanting a Chevrolet Camaro. I had two of those and loved those cars. However, I still would think about the GYM DANDY SURREY off and on for years. My husband thought that I might be quite crazy for having an obsession for a pedal surrey made for children. He had never seen one…how could he possibly understand?

And then we saw one. I couldn’t believe it. We were visiting in Oklahoma City and stopped by a place that sold used and very old parts for Ford vehicles. Our son had a 1959 Ford truck…almost an antique. We walked in and there was the real antique sitting on top of a display…a GYM DANDY SURREY! I stared in complete awe. My husband and son were slightly impressed. Our daughter was about nine years old and thought it was just downright weird. That was my first encounter with a personal GENERATION GAP. I was thinking that maybe I could still find one intact somewhere, someplace. I even asked the owner of the Ford store if he would like to sell it. He said “Are you kidding? That is going to be worth a fortune someday!”…hey wait…I thought that I was the only person in the world with a GYM DANDY need and want. There were other weird people! Validation!

I am still on the hunt for a GYM DANDY. I find them on EBAY and CRAIGSLIST. Some are almost reasonably priced, but need lots of work. Sometimes, the pedals are missing or the fringe on the top canopy is torn off. Sometimes, the canopy is totally gone. Sometimes, there is an absolutely perfectly restored GYM DANDY. The price tends to be on the very high side. I would have bought one by now (maybe one that needs a little work), but they are usually located in New York or Pennsylvania or  Rhode Island or somewhere else in the northeast. No shipping on the GYM DANDY. They are too precious for shipping. Ha! See…I was right! I was the ultimate consumer even as a child.

Our daughter still thinks it is weird that I want one…even when I mention how our future grandchildren will like it so very much. It is just that GENERATION GAP…she is certain that I could spend my money on something far more important than a four seat child size surrey with the fringe on top. Are you kidding? What could be better than a GYM DANDY?

The Slow Stroll

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I’d rather stroll through life at a slower pace. Wait! I am moving with a slower pace. Way slower. Sometimes, I am bothered by being the last one down the hallway at school. Or the last person out of the car. Or the person on the escalator who doesn’t run up the steps as if they are actually just regular steps. I really don’t understand running up an escalator. I just happily stay planted on my one moving step. Sometimes, I am bothered by the fact that I am somewhat bothered by my lack of speed.

A slower pace has brought me some time to look at the world without the blur of movement. There was a time when I would walk quickly on my side of the sidewalk. I passed by people as if they were invisible. I never noticed who was heading in the other direction. Obviously, they were not going where I was going. Maybe I thought they were just not important to me. Maybe I was self-centered or maybe I was enamored by my destination. Whatever. Who cares?

I care. I care a lot. I must have spent my first 28 years in a whirling dervish. I missed the Texas bluebonnets every spring. Too busy. I missed so many orange and yellow sunsets. Too busy. I went to Hawaii, but didn’t see much more than the beach and shops near the beach…on both sides of the island. Too busy. Way too busy planning ways to be even more busy. And then we had our first child. And then we had our second child.

Funny how children can stop you in your tracks. And maybe they should stop you in your tracks. I am all for careers and education. I spent a total of eight years in college…four of those after I had children. However, I had figured out by that time that family comes first. Children need for their parents to slow down enough to lead them in the right direction, to laugh and play with them, to actually be a parent. As a teacher, I have seen too many children who seem to be raising themselves. A few years ago, I had a five year old at school tell me that he was always late because he had to wake up his mother each morning. Perhaps she was too busy the night before to remember why she needed to wake up the next morning. I wonder what happened to that child as he grew up.

After becoming a parent, I learned to stroll through life. We spent time walking and playing at the park. We spent so many hours at the duck pond. I still like to go to the duck pond. We rode the train through the park and went to the nearby zoo. Learning to stroll at a slower pace was calming. Learning to stroll at a slower pace gave me the chance to see the world in slow motion. What a difference! My destination was not the important part. When our children were born, I found my destination. And now that I absolutely have to stroll at a slower pace, I remember when I chose to stroll at a slower pace. It is just fine to be slow. After all, this is my second time to be strolling slower.

Music…A Common Chord

 

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Music intertwines within every facet of my life. I remember melodies and lyrics and rhythms that I learned at Miss Ruby Stewart’s School in my hometown. I was in First Grade and very proud to be in the class with the first playground time. That meant we would sing and play “Ring Around the Rosie” and “High Ho the Derry-O”. We would then go back inside and get milk plus cookies. This has nothing to do with music, but we would pass by the Kindergarten classroom with our treats. My cousin was in the Kindergarten class. I possibly might have been a show-off about my snack since I always held it up high in the air for her to see. Every, single day.

Every, single day, I also got to play in our rhythm band. There were several types of drums, bells, cymbals, blocks to rub together (great sound) and the very popular triangle. The cymbals were the loudest and naturally were my personal favorite. I suppose some people never change. I still like loud music, even when it is not meant to be loud. Last year, I suddenly received a rhythm band set for my classroom! You would have thought that I received a treasure chest of gold coins. I ripped that box open and we had a concert immediately. I forgot that Fourth Grade was having a practice Benchmark test that day. I think that this was a pre-practice test for the practice test before the real test.

Oh dear…my mind wanders when I think of those state tests. So back to my band. We are far enough away from Fourth Grade. No complaints. We have had quite a few concerts this year. We march around the room multiple times. We dance. I taught them my one tap dance move. I sing “When the Saints Go Marching In” in honor of all of my New Orleans relatives. It is quite a musical show. If anyone from the district “higher-ups” were to accidently visit during my concerts, they would probably be shocked. They might ask: “What is your objective?” or “Is this on your schedule?”…I would just have to inform them that you can’t schedule being spontaneously moved by music.

I am continuously moved spontaneously by music. Now that I think about it…more often than I realized. Some of my most memorable musical moments:

1. Jon Bon Jovi and Bettye LaVette singing “A Change is Gonna Come” at the Inaugural Celebration Concert for Barack Obama. Very inspirational…whether you voted for Obama or not.

2. Hearing “The Music of the Night” sung during a performance of “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway in NYC.

3. Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” at any time, at any place. I first heard her sing this song in the movie “Beaches”. I have perhaps watched that movies over fifty times. “Did I ever tell you that you’re my hero? You’re everything that I would like to be”.

4. You’ve Got A Friend” sung by Carole King. Such deep meaning for me. As the words say “Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall…all you’ve got to do is call…and I’ll be there…You’ve Got A Friend”. I really think I learned how to truly be a friend through this song.

5. John Denver singing “Annie”…”You fill up my senses…like a night in the forest, like a mountain in Springtime, like a walk in the rain”. And I can’t forget “Rocky Mountain High”. I felt at home in Colorado on my first visit and every subsequent visit.

6. Bruno Mars bringing back the big band sound combined with way slick dance moves in “Uptown Funk”. And his rendition of “When I Was Your Man” is bittersweet, yet somehow hopeful.

7. Adele singing anything that she chooses to sing. That voice! The best! And I still do not have tickets to one of her concerts. Still planning on going. I need to calm down about it. Maybe I will go ahead and buy a new outfit for the concert. Positive thinking always helps.

8. Dolly Parton singing “I Will Always Love You” and “Coat of Many Colors”. We saw her in concert last year and she was amazing and funny and real. I felt like we were in her home just chatting at the table.

9. “Hallelujah” as sung by four Norwegian singers…Espen Lind, Askil Holm, Alejandro Fuentes, and Kurt Nilsen. The most beautiful rendition of this song that I have ever heard.

10. I could keep going, but I’ll stop with “Hole in the World” by the Eagles. Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey as a tribute to 9-11. The words hold such profound sentiment.

Perhaps searching for profound sentiment through lyrics and melodies and rhythms is the common chord that binds us together with other cultures. That is how music works for me.

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