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.
I like to look at the elaborately decorated department store windows in New York City! Just imagine what other magical things are for sale inside Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, or Bloomingdales!
There are some particularly unique decorated windows in Fort Worth. When I first saw them, I was so surprised. It happened to be close to Easter and the windows had giant eggs and adorable stuffed bunny rabbits and everything else that goes with an Easter Egg Hunt. Honestly, the decorations were spectacular and obviously completed by a professional. The building was brand new and I really rarely drive down that street. The traffic is very congested because the new building is right in the middle of the hospital district not far from downtown Fort Worth.
I assumed that the building was some type of department store built because of nearby historic neighborhoods that have gained recent popularity. I mentioned the store windows to my husband that night and he said that there was no store at all. The windows were just there to look good. Someone had been hired to create the windows for every season and every holiday.
The Building Is A Parking Garage.
The Windows Are A Façade…A Representation Of The Real Thing!
The windows are located on the side that faces the busy street. If I had been paying close attention, I would have seen the entrance/exit to the garage. The parking garage is built adjacent to a medical building that is associated with Cook Children’s Medical Center. The trim on the parking garage and medical building is blue. All of Cook Children’s multiple buildings have this striking blue trim.
I finally got it! The windows are decorated for the children who might drive by with their parents. Just something else to bring them a bit of happiness in the face of a possible serious illness. In a landscaped area next to the entrance/exit is a giant wooden rocking chair and a giant pair of work boots. The entire scene including the windows is delightful.
No one is advertising anything in the windows. No words are telling an important message. The windows are just there for all the world to see. I call them the ultimate…
Windows of Happiness and Good Cheer!
As you drive through the Medical District in Fort Worth, the series of buildings with blue accents are bound to catch your attention. These buildings are the complex known as Cook Children’s. Cook is nationally ranked in five specialties by a U.S News analysis. We have a special affinity for Cook Children’s. Our daughter had the most serious type of spinal meningitis when she was 18 months old. After the diagnosis at the pediatrician’s office, we rushed her to the Cook Children’s. A nurse literally took her from my arms as we walked in the door.
Like the perfection of the decorated windows, the care that she received was true perfection. We were there for two weeks and it was a very shaky situation for several days. The doctors and nurses were assuring us everyday that they were monitoring her as closely as possible. She was to the point of being in a coma when we arrived. Cook Children’s literally saved her life. We certainly will always remain thankful for their dedication to our little girl.
I seriously disagree with retailers putting out massive amounts of Christmas décor, gift items, wrapping paper (and who knows what else) before we have even seen the leaves change colors. Perhaps the leaves are starting to change in New England. In Texas, we have yet to put the shorts and swimsuits away and we certainly still have the greenest of leaves. Some of us have not even recovered from the Fourth of July. Give us a break!
On Monday afternoon, I had the crazy idea to shop for a little while at Costco. First of all, I spent 19 minutes trying to find a parking space. When I found the place to park, I was in a competition worthy of Super Bowl coverage by the media. I had my blinker blinking away first. To the right, to the right…I AM TURNING RIGHT!! I was here first. Around the corner came a speeding Camaro who saw the car backing out from MY PARKING PLACE, but failed to see my SUV with the flashing blinker. There was a truck behind me inching up closer to my bumper. Evidently they thought that I would need to back up and they would stop me.
Who are they kidding? Me move? No way! My SUV and I would have sat there waiting for that parking place for the remainder of the afternoon. My highly competitive side comes into play the moment I enter a parking lot. I actually look forward to the parking place competition at Walmart. I need challenges like this.
Finally, the person backed out of the much desired parking place and I pulled in like I was an Indy driver. The Camaro driver actually sat there until I got out of my car. I suppose that I did mention that I was first? He actually honked at me as I walked by. I just waved and smiled. After all, I was the clear winner.
As the clear winner…that would be me, myself and I…walked into Costco, I realized the real reason for the unreal popularity of Costco during a typically quiet shopping time…
The Real Reason…Christmas Merchandise!
Three aisles of Christmas decorations and Christmas crackers and Christmas sausages…all aisles filled with shoppers. Did I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” in the background? No, I think it was “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. Well… we WILL be home for Thanksgiving…and we will most likely have over 40 guests for the day. What happened to the…
Thanksgiving Napkins & Plates To Match?
I should have bought them in early August. I saw nothing whatsoever to do with Thanksgiving. If any Thanksgiving items were there, they were surely blocked by the giant teddy bears sitting on the endcap of a Christmas aisle. I thought that it would be more appropriate for the giant bears to be wearing various Thanksgiving hats like we made in elementary school. Oh…I forgot. Children do not make Thanksgiving hats very often anymore. If called upon, I would be happy to dress up those teddy bears for the holiday… called Thanksgiving… that comes BEFORE Christmas.
If Costco Asks For My Help With The Giant Teddy Bears…You Will Be The First To Know!
A beautiful rendition of “Forever Young”, sung by Norah Jones at the memorial service for Steve Jobs. Although Steve Jobs was a brilliant entrepreneur, this post is about our son, Justin and his high school friend, Norah Jones.
When I saw that the prompt today was the word unfinished, I immediately thought of Justin and his unfinished life as the result of a car accident almost twelve years ago. It was not his fault, but that does little to take away the loss. Only time and faith heals the loss.
As I sat at my computer this morning and considered writing about Justin and the word unfinished, an ironical something happened. At the same time, I had a recording of the television show, The Voice playing. I missed the last singer to perform last night and I heard on the news that he was from Texas. Curiosity…I felt compelled to hear what he sang.
The talented young man from Texas sang “Forever Young”…similar to the version sung by Bob Dylan. Our son sang and played the guitar…for fun and for his friends. Bob Dylan was one of his favorites, even though he was well known before our son was born. So I stopped thinking about my blog and listened. Naturally, a few tears came to my eyes. The performance was absolutely beautiful. Quiet and subdued and meaningful…like our son.
I found a version of Bob Dylan singing the song on YouTube and listened to it. On down from the Dylan listing, I saw that Norah Jones sang Forever Young at a the Steve Jobs memorial service. What a coincidence that I would hear Forever Young sung on a show, that I would be thinking about losing Justin, and that I would happen to find a recording of Norah singing the same song. Meant to be? Perhaps.
To hear Norah’s wonderful voice is always a joy to me, but hearing her sing this particular song is incredibly joyful. Justin and Norah attended middle school plus high school together and became friends through participation in the band program. I have a school picture from her freshman or sophomore year with a sweet note to Justin on the back. I do treasure memories of his friends. It has been wonderful to renew Justin’s friendships through Facebook and to celebrate the accomplishments in their lives.
Norah attended her last year or two of high school at a performing arts school in Dallas. Within a short time after graduation, she was becoming successful in NYC. Such a sweet and talented performer. Such a special and good friend to Justin. Such a heartwarming song!
When I first read this statement several years ago, I was blown away by Matt Damon’s personal assessment of the current education system in many (if not most) parts of the United States and particularly in my state. Job security for teachers should not be solely based on the performance of students on a standardized test. I believe that this is the most critical dilemma in education today.
Unfortunately, I have seen teachers criticized for the performance of their students on one test that is administered on one day. There are days designated for retakes. There may be summer school offered because of the low scores for a retake test. Unfortunately, the students lose confidence. The student may not advance to the next grade level. The teacher may not advance to the next school year at their school or be admonished to the point that they quit the teaching profession. I can name at least three teachers from just a few years ago who were employed at the school where I last taught. These teachers left the profession.
These were teachers who gave their best efforts to the school. These were not new teachers. These were teachers with experience and positive records. Their students were learning so much more than what was shown on the test scores. These were mostly students from impoverished homes…homes where the electricity might be cut off at any time. Homes where a parent or a cousin or a family friend or a grandparent perhaps spent regular time at the county jail. I can guarantee that these students had much more on their minds than a state test. They just wanted to survive. Most knew that they need a good education to get out of their situation.
What they currently need is a strong dose of guidance to move forward…to finish high school…in some cases to just make it out of middle school. And yet…these children who usually fluently speak two languages…these children who are polite and kind, but are fearful of the crime in their neighborhood…these children are normally given the very same test as the children from the schools in the most affluent areas.
The basic needs that are being met are very different from the basic needs that are being met in the affluent areas. We are talking about children who barely have their basic needs met compared to children who abundantly have their needs met. The children in the “better”, the far more “affluent” neighborhoods do not worry about their next meal. They do not worry that they have not taken a bath for four days because the water has been turned off. They do not worry that they did not get any sleep because they have to sleep on the floor.
How can they possibly be compared for test performance? It is a challenge, a thought provoker, a sometimes difficult road to get the children from lower income homes to highly achieve. It takes time and patience and continuity. To teach these children is the most fulfilling time that I have spent in any position that I held in my career. The teachers who were admonished for lower scores felt the same way as I did about the students. They were honored for the opportunity to help these children learn. Any amount of advancement should be commended and it is usually not commended.
The children from the “struggling” side of town need art and music and magazines and books. They may not have any of these opportunities at home. If the teacher spends the time needed to pass a high stakes state test, how much time do you think is spent on the joyful parts of learning? I say…precious little time.
This is why Matt Damon’s statement resonates so strongly with me. I’ve made the following statement before and I will keep believing my words:
I see the joy in my classroom when we sing songs, tell funny stories, dance like no one is looking, learn phonics in a totally different way, read book after book after book, share real moments from our lives, talk about fairness and goodness and responsibility, laugh loudly. We need to accept the fact that these children need security and love and direction more than they need higher scores. We need to take the time to encourage a sense of childhood happiness. This might be their first chance to see and feel true joy. Only then can we begin to move forward.
Perhaps I slightly exaggerated the weather, but think about it…76 degrees in September in Texas is downright chilly. I love it! I think that I should take my waterproof PLAYGROUND COAT to the cleaners tomorrow. I guess that I should change the coat name to something else, since I no longer have 22 children to take out to the playground on cold days. How about MALL COAT? Or the GOING OUT TO LUNCH COAT? Or the I NOW HAVE MY FREEDOM FROM SCHOOL COAT?
Oops ! I checked the temperature again and it is now up to 77 degrees. In Texas, the next step may be 95 degrees. One never really knows. Nevertheless, I might want to put a cold (maybe just cool) weather wardrobe together. The following are some truly outstanding choices followed by the inevitable “I won’t even consider wearing that”choices.
Truly Outstanding Winter Choices:
1. This elegantly styled winter coat with matching neutral scarf is versatile and simplistic. The short boots are so stylish this year…good news for the short me.
2. This would be a perfect playground coat if I had a playground to go to…however, I can think of plenty of occasions where this coat would be perfect. I like the buttons even though they look a bit out of sync with each other!
3. This royal blue short boot is the best looking boot that I have seen for the new winter season. I like the color, the contrasting materials, the zipper, and the heel height.
4. Shown is a timeless and well put together casual outfit. The tweed (or what I call tweed) appears to be several shades of brown blended together with a touch of neutral. The red shirt, the boots, and the purse complete a great look. Now to be able to fit into pants that slender! Help!
5. I believe that I am stuck on scarves again this year. They are pretty and warm and can combine with so many colors and styles. This one looks like it might be big enough to be called a shawl. I really need this one, even if the winter forgets to come to Texas!
6. Even with the pink sweater, I like the idea of this circle scarf. That might not be the correct description, but the word circle works for me. I simply like the look!
7. I am crazy about this tall boot, but doubt it would work for me. I am so lacking on height, but it is so very unusual. There are so many interesting details such as the stitching near the toe box. I have not seen any boots quite like these in any of the stores that I have been to recently.
8. First of all, I would forget the flat hat for me. The cut of the jacket, the material, the matching bag (at least, it looks like it matches) are classic. I am wild about this jacket and I realize that it most likely looks like most of the jackets in my closet. I said that to my daughter because I know exactly what she will say!!!
The “Won’t Even Consider Wearing That”
1. I cannot handle the Big Bird coat AT ALL!
2. What is this anyway? I do not have any understanding.
Just Forget Winter in Texas.
I have some more outfits that will never be under consideration, but I cannot explain what they are or why they exist. Anyway… why in the world am I looking at winter clothes? The temperature might be 85 degrees next Sunday. I can put up with my summer clothes until we get some definite word on winter’s arrival. Who knows? Fall may last two days and winter may last one day. I will not purchase the blue boots yet.
Thank you so much to https://amileinmyshoes.com for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award! You will enjoy amileinmyshoes.com! Her blog is insightful and thought provoking and happy…all at the same time!
The rules of the Blogger Recognition Award:
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. State the rules.
3. A short explanation of why you started your blog.
4. Nominate 15 people.
5. Comment on a blog post of each nominee to tell them that they are nominated.
Why I Started My Blog:
I started my blog because I decided that the 2015-2016 school year would be my last year to teach public school. I really yearned for new challenges, plus I wanted to get away from the continuous testing environment. When even four and five year old children are given a state test three times a year, I think that something is not right about the system. I still care deeply for the children, their families, and my colleagues; but I decided to go back to my writing career. I received a degree in Journalism and worked at newspapers for over seven years. I began teaching after our children were born and were ready for school. I taught elementary school for 18 wonderful (for the most part!) years as our children were growing up. Goodness! How I missed writing! I felt like a blog would be a natural and fun transition. I am getting experience expressing myself again through writing! Blogging and meeting people from all over the world has been a joy to me!
My Blogger Recognition Award Nominees:
1. Nomadic Adventurer 007pandas.com
2. Jonna jwalkingin.wordpress.com
4. The Things I Want To Tell Myself-AYOKA gbolaboadetunji.wordpress.com
5. The Green Dog Chronicles. My Life in Navia. greendogchronicles.com
7. Ms. Alheri msalheri.com
8. Frank Prem frankprem.wordpress.com
10. A Simple Dose of Reality onmyjourneybab.wordpress.com
Thank you to Susan Jarreau for nominating me for The Black Cat Blue Sea Award! Susan has a very innovative blog with a strong sense of voice. I am so honored to meet so many interesting and talented writers like Susan through blogging. Please visit Susan at https://susanjarreau.com/
This is an award given and received by fellow bloggers and is meant to be fun. If any nominees are not interested in TheBlack Cat Blue Sea Award, participation is not required.
The rules are as follows:
The questions I was asked to answer:
1. Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because I find joy in writing about the world around me. I decided that the 2015-2016 would be my last year to teach. Even though I still cared dearly for my students and their families, I felt like I needed a new challenge. When I finished college with a degree in Journalism, I worked at newspapers for seven years. Blogging reminds me of writing feature stories about people, places, and ideas!
2. What do you do to unplug and relax?
We have a farm in the pretty piney woods of East Texas. The farm is hilly and we have cleared lots of trails through the woods and down to the creek. We like to ride our four wheelers…such fun and freedom! The only difficult part would be the 2 1/2 hours it takes to get there!
3. Name three people you admire and one of the qualities you admire in them.
#1: Tracy Kidder, author of Among Schoolchildren. I admire him because his clear nonfiction writing helps me to understand and visualize situations…situations that I have not experienced.
#2: Suzanne Thomas, my college best friend and still my close friend. I admire her for being a very successful suburban newspaper publisher and then changing course to follow her dream. She and her partner have a beautiful and historic Bed & Breakfast in Virginia.
#3: Thomas Jefferson. I admire him for the innovative architectural features of Monticello, his estate in Virginia. He brought many ideas back from the time he spent in France and incorporated them into his amazing home.
Little Quack has no plan to jump into the scary water to swim with his brothers and sisters. It was impossible to talk him into being a swimming duck. Oh no! What would happen to him in the cold water? What if he was the only duck in the world who could not learn to swim?
Little Quack had too many questions and there was too much water for Little Quack. His family said, “You can do it! We know you can!”…Mama Duck pleaded with Little Quack to jump into the water. After much thought and fear and more consideration, the baby duck made his first leap into the water! What joy! What excitement! What fun!
When I would read this book to my kindergarten students, they would all loudly repeat “You can do it! We know you can!”…the children were totally involved. Everyone had felt the very same way about something that they were asked to do. Make a list on chart paper of things that the children say that they might be afraid to do!
Part of my chart list from last year’s class:
1. Devon was afraid to pick up frogs! (Teacher to herself: Yuk! They jump!)
2. Kate was afraid to walk down the school hallway! Big kids might be at the end of the hall! (Teacher to herself: I sort of feel the same way about the big kids!)
3. Jason was afraid to write his name with a pencil. He only wanted to write with a crayon! (Teacher to herself: Why? Where do these ideas come from?)
4. Jose was afraid that his Mama would forget to make a cake for him to eat when he got home from school! (Teacher to herself: A whole cake? Yes…everyday…I asked…I couldn’t believe it!)
And on and on until everyone had the opportunity to talk. A good book like Little Quack lends itself to fun and productive conversations and writing activities! Beyond writing, Little Quack teaches a math lesson on virtually every page as we count how many ducks are left on the bank of the pond. There is even a Quack-U-Lator on every other page or so to help keep track of the number!
Review from School Library Journal:
“This delightfully simple story is sure to become a storytime favorite. Imagine Mama Duck’s surprise when her five ducklings are more than a little reluctant to leave their cozy nest for the big pond. One by one, though, she manages to coax them into the water. First Widdle, next Waddle, then Piddle, and Puddle. Little Quack can’t be budged. Eventually, after some convincing from his mother and his siblings, he dives in and guess what?! He loves it!”
Personally, I can’t get past the rolled down hose!!
When thinking about the word style, I naturally think about clothes. What is current? What does Glamour magazine say about clothing this season? What does Vogue magazine say about clothing this season? What are the movie stars and television stars wearing? I say…what a bunch of totally ridiculous thoughts!
I say ridiculous because many times ridiculous is the best word to describe the clothes that I see in magazines. No matter what, I am going to buy clothes that look like me and clothes that make me feel comfortable. However…
I truly love to shop for clothes!!
Stylish clothes and shoes for 2016-2017 that certainly won’t be entering my closet anytime soon and most likely never:
1. Jeans that are already torn here and there and all over.
2. Shoes that look like they were made for a clown.
3. Ruffled dress that is perfect for a dance recital. Not me.
4. The bow and the ruffle are just too much to deal with.
5. Giant shoes most likely would not work for me.
Stylish clothes and shoes for 2016-2017 that I most likely and probably need in my closet:
1. The Texas casual look. Traditional.
2. Pretty dress and accessories. Traditional again!
3. Comfortable and really the look I like for any year, but are the jeans already faded or torn??!
So there you have it! You choose your style so that it goes with your personality and lifestyle. I will pick my style that makes me feel happy and comfortable…no matter what Vogue or Glamour magazines say!!!