The Last Day

The last day of anything brings the first day of something so here it goes:

The last day of SOL brings the first day of April

The last day of the week brings the first day of the weekend

The last day of completing report cards brings the first day of a new marking period

The last day of the school year brings the first day of planning for your new class

The last day of finishing the weekly laundry brings the first day of creating the following week’s

The last day of a great book brings the first day of a new book

The last day of a vacation brings the first day of dreaming about the next one

The last day of planting a garden brings the first day of tending to those plants

The last day of wearing that winter coat brings the first day of complaining about the heat

The last day of anything brings the first day of something and that really used to frustrate me. It seemed like I never got anywhere. But now I appreciate life’s cycles more, appreciate their sameness and predictability. And so I bid adieu to March and the end of daily SOL and I look forward to keeping up with a daily writing regimen, or at least SOL Tuesdays!

 

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New York, New York

It’s a wonderful town! And it is. It is an absolute escape. And tonight and tomorrow night I am escaping to New York. Yup, two nights in a row in the Big Apple. Wait a minute, what? Two nights! I am going to be up late two nights in a row traveling into NYC? OMG!

For me, this is Broadway season. All fall and winter I watch for the new shows that are coming out and then one by one I choose the shows I want to see and then I purchase tickets. I try to space the shows out, try to let the fun stretch out. Sometimes I end up with a show two weekends in a row but for the most part I keep them well spaced.

Until this week!

I am attending ‘Groundhog Day’ the musical with my friends from school tonight. ‘Groundhog Day’ the movie is my friend Kathy’s favorite movie. As a matter of fact, Groundhog Day is her favorite holiday (“You don’t need to buy gifts or send cards, just enjoy the day,” she says). Ok, a little different but it kind of makes sense. Anyway, we just had to see the show because of this, ahem, obsession so tickets we did buy.

And then Harry Potter came along. Now we are talking one of my obsessions. HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone is being shown at Radio City Music Hall while a symphony performs the soundtrack. When my sister-in-law asked if I wanted to go, how could I say no? Then the date of the show was revealed, “Oh no, a two-nighter!” The movie was showing the night after ‘Groundhog Day’.

And so I begin two totally fun and totally long days. All I can say is at least at the conclusion of these two days, it will be Friday night and I will have all weekend to recuperate!

The ‘H’ Word

We came to a big day in our reading of ‘Winn-Dixie’ today; the day war is described as

(wait for it)

hell.

Yah, my students got to experience their teacher saying a bad word. And they responded dutifully with expressions of shock, fear, and disbelief. That was followed by a moment of silence. Then the lightbulbs went off and they all said, “Oh!”

Sound odd? Well, I use this moment in the book, Because of Winn-Dixie to underscore a point I have been making all year and the point is this: authors put stuff in their books for a reason, for a purpose, and our job as the reader is to discover why it was put in.

So at the beginning of Stone Fox, when the author compares the 10 years of a boy to the 10 years of a dog (one is young, one is not) there is a reason. And Dumbledore’s ‘Put-outer’ at the very beginning of ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’, there is a reason. And Winn-Dixie’s pathological fear of thunderstorms, there is a reason. Before I read the section of Winn-Dixie with the ‘h’ word, I told my class that there was going to be a bad word. And I told them that they would be shocked to hear me say it but I wanted them to think about why. Why did the author choose that word? What was her purpose?

So that is why my class reacted the way they did and that is why I love that part of Winn-Dixie, because it helps me make a point I have been teaching all year!

Fractions Are Fun!

Yup, that’s what I overheard one of my students say today. I chimed right in with, “They are fun, aren’t they?” Because you know what, learning about something new is fun. Since today is our second day of learning about fractions, it is new and it is fun!

Learning IS fun and all we need to do is sell our students on that idea. Because teaching really is a sales job, isn’t it? We are selling the notion that staying focused and thinking through something challenging is fun. The key is to keep things challenging enough to keep everyone focused and having fun.

Today’s fraction lesson had more than half of my students naturally engaged. They wanted to learn more and were successful enough in their early attempts that it kept them hooked. So what about the students here were struggling with these new concepts? Well, they received a good old strategy. I took a post card and drew a diagram for them to use to help them retain what I was teaching. And that brought smiles to their faces as well.

So I guess it is true, fractions are fun. Learning is fun. Challenges are fun. And you know what?

Teaching is fun too!

Today Is Going To Be a ____ Day

I woke up thinking, “Today will be a long day.” Not long in the dreading sense, just long in the number of hours sense. I have my usual teaching day followed by the usual Monday faculty meeting followed by a dinner meeting that will probably last a few hours. So I expect to leave home about 7:15 am (if I can get this post written, hahaha) and return tonight at about 9 pm. Not your typical teaching day but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

It was that thought I woke up with that got me thinking about how I compartmentalize the day ahead of me upon awaking. Some days are just going to be long. But those long days can be long due to difficulties lying ahead or due to just ‘lots of stuff’ in the day. For example on Saturday, April 8, I will wake up at 3:30 am and say, “Today is going to be a long day,” and I will dance a little jig. That’s because on that particular day the longness will be a result of the fact that my husband and I will be driving to Florida that day. So yeah, long day, but woohoo, long day! Last week I woke one day thinking of how long the day was going to be because it was the day of my husband’s surgery and just waiting for the conclusion of that event was going to make it a long day.

Valentine’s Day, Field Day, class trips, holiday party days, first days of school, even last days of school can all be classified as long days for varying reasons. So what about, “Today is going to be a great day,” and “Today is going to be a terrible day,” or even “Today is going to be a day I won’t want to end,” or the dreaded “I wish today was over.” Each sets us up for the day ahead, maybe in a good way or maybe in a not so good way but we face the day prepared. And I guess that is what I am doing upon waking, preparing myself.

And if they were all good days (with no ‘bad’ days to balance the good) would any of them be as much fun? The weather can’t always be sunny, at least here in NJ, so I guess I will just keep on assessing and taking the good with the _____.

Good Night

Ha!!! Such a busy day, tonight is basically over. It was an amazing weekend for many reasons and now I am just ready to turn in and be ready for my work week.

Couple of thoughts:

Hiccups come and go. Work through them and get over them.

Friends and family remain ever important. They support the smiles and laughter we all need.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and every once in a while do a little dance step instead.

Have a good night!

Bittersweet

Today is definitely one of those days. I have had tickets to see Hamilton for nearly 10 months. I bought them last June after the Tony Awards. A new block of seats was going on sale that night. My friend and I stayed up specifically so we could get tickets. My husband had long gone to bed, he thinks I’m a bit batty for doing things like this. He really just doesn’t get it!

Anyway, the ticket window opened and I got to work. There I was frantically typing and waiting and reading and following on-screen directions and typing and waiting. My friend just sat there saying, “What? Anything?” I would shake my head, or flare my eyes, or shrug my shoulders until…

Four tickets appeared! And the little ‘Pay Now’ box was there. OMG, we were beyond excited. I bought the 4 tickets and then it was just a matter of waiting, for nearly 10 months, to go to the show. No problem, a lot of life was ahead of us in those 10 months so the time would fly.

That month, for Father’s Day, I got my husband the audio version of Ron Chernow’s ‘Alexander Hamilton’, the book that Lin-Manuel Miranda based the show on. I thought I could drum up more enthusiasm for the show in him. He listened to it and really enjoyed it, I listened to it next. We got so involved in ‘Hamilton’ that it was followed by audio books on Jefferson, Adams, and finally Washington. My husband was hooked and we were finally both looking forward to seeing the show.

Then the ‘hiccup’ occurred. I wrote about this yesterday but basically my husband had to have a surgical procedure performed on Thursday (2 days ago) and guess what? No ‘Hamilton the Musical’ for him. He cannot go to the show. He is fine with it. We both are actually because the successful outcome of the surgery (and the fact that it is behind us now) supersedes the disappointment. But tonight will be bittersweet for me.

But when you think of it, bittersweet is ok. It means the good (or great) tempered by life,  right? Tempered by the fact that life goes on and continues to happen, whether we like it or not. Our stories are playing out, one day at a time. Sometimes we watch the events unfolding (like waiting for your husband to get through same day surgery) and sometimes we orchestrate them (like purchasing tickets to a show) but what it always comes down to is we have a story, a life, to live, so keep on living, and enjoy the story!

Just don’t throw away your shot!

Life Hiccups

My husband and I are on the other side of one of life’s hiccups. This is my new term for it. Picture this, life goes along, normal, perhaps a little boring. You make plans, go out to eat, look forward to vacations. Then you get a few symptoms, go to the doctor and next thing you know, you’re in the hospital having surgery.

At first I was terrified. Then I spoke to a few people in the doctor’s office and came to realize that, although scary and inconvenient it would all be ok. His procedure was certainly no fun but he did well and is recovering nicely. We will need to wait on final reports before breathing the big ultimate sigh of relief but we both feel better that the surgery is behind us. But still, it was a hiccup. An interruption. And a reality check.

I remember my friend telling me, after battling breast cancer, that she used to believe that her work as a hospice minister would sort of expunge cancer from her life. After she was diagnosed she felt cheated and let down. Then she came to realize that you go through things in life regardless of who you are and what you do. I get what she means now because my husband and I lead pretty healthy lives. My husband, especially, is so ridiculously fit and healthy. But it still didn’t prevent illness. Just like illness needn’t prevent living your life.

So to all of those hiccups in life, wherever you are and whatever you may be, I say,’Begone!’ You can dance through my life like you probably will, but I will withstand your barrage and so will my family and friends. And dear friend, wherever you are right now reading this, stay strong in the face of life’s hiccups.

By the Numbers

Loved this idea on another post so here it goes!

Autobiography By the Numbers

  1. love of my life, my husband, Rich
  2. sons to be proud of, Daniel and Shaun
  3. siblings in our family, Suzanne, Jack and David
  4. homes I have lived in
  5. new cars purchased in my life
  6. dogs have been my pets
  7. books in my beloved Harry Potter series
  8. years it took to visit all 50 states
  9. years I taught 1st grade before moving to 3rd
  10. day road trips visiting National Parks are my favorite vacations

What Day?

Ha! I started the day with the wrong date on the board. Honestly, I even thought about the date before I wrote it. Then one of the children in the class questioned it. I have learned that when they question something like the date, I am more than likely the one who got it wrong. And yup, got it wrong today. Sometimes, getting the date wrong right out of the starting date is a sign. A sign that this is not going to be your day.

And it wasn’t.

But tomorrow is another day. That is the beauty of this life. There is always another day. And tomorrow is going to be my day, I can just feel it!

If I can only get the date straight, that is!